Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Happy Mail Day and a May Day Giveaway!

I love coming home from work to a full mailbox - especially when it's loaded with goodies as it was yesterday! Last month I won a giveaway from Joanna over at Fig Tree. Her very generous package of goodies arrived today....three patterns and a fourth which is actually a kit for everything to make two cell phone cases! Thanks so much Joanna!

Another package contained a recent order from Des and Corrie over at Quilt Taffy. They had seen this fabric called Feathered Friends from In the Beginning on Rachel's blog, and had to put it in their shop, then of course I saw it in their shop and you know the rest - don't you love how fast the word spreads?! By the way, Rachel is now a Moda Bake Shop gal! Go on over and congratulate her! I'm planning a project with this fabric that will use some of my new, fun Bernina feet!

Finally, there was a package I was eagerly awaiting from Marin and Colusa. It's a new product called Stitching Lines. Check out their website and watch the video - it makes sewing HST's, flying geese and other similar blocks a breeze! I emailed Mary and asked her if I could mention the product on my blog. She said great! Mary also has a blog where she has some additional information about Stitching Lines. Included in my order were a few samples of the products attached to a little sticker that said to share it with a friend! So I thought I would share the samples in the form of a giveaway! I'm also including a charm pack of Marisa from Moda. I love the soft spring-like colors and there are enough squares for an apron, table runner or whatever you want to make!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post in the form of an answer to this question: If you were given a whole day to do anything other than quilt, what would you do? I'll announce a winner this Friday, May 1st - May Day!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Two Down -- One to Go!

Yesterday was a lovely spring day in the Pacific Northwest. Not too cold, not too hot, partly sunny and the perfect day for a bike ride! Mr. Squash checked the tire pressure in both bikes, and off we went. We rode through downtown, then headed to our favorite park. Here we are taking a little rest. That is Puget Sound in the distance, Whidbey Island on the left - mainland on the right. Tides are -2 to -4 right now - perfect for beachcombing!

Here is Mr. Squash demonstrating his brute strength! On the left in the distance is Hat Island.
Other than working on my Christmas in July Swap gifts, there isn't much going on in the Squash House Studio at the moment. Here is a sneak peek of my second gift. I can't wait to get started on the third and final gift - I know its going to be my favorite!

I hope to have some pictures from the contractor at the Squash House soon to show you. He is supposed to begin installing the butcher block this weekend. As soon as he sends them, I'll be sure to give you a look!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bloggers Quilt Festival

Amy over at Park City Girl is hosting a Spring 2009 Bloggers Quilt Fesitval! At first I didn't think I would be able to participate as most of my quilts are packed away for the house sale. Then I realized that there is one of my favorites residing in Mr. Squash's office at work! I asked him if he would bring it home today so I could photograph it. It's called "Butterflies for Bob" and is one of my earlier efforts. I purchased the pattern and material, began cutting, then realized I was totally confused about one of the pieces. At the time I don't think my right and left brain were communicating well yet when it came to cutting quilt pieces! For some reason I was really intimidated by quilt rulers! So I packed it all away thinking I would come back to it when I was a little more experienced. It kept calling to me from the drawer, though...."Candace, come back to me - I need to be set free and fly - help me"! Well, being the creature lover I am, I just couldn't let this happen.

So out of the drawer it came. With a little thought and determination, I figured out the cutting problem and in no time it was done!

Here is a close-up of one of the blocks. 30's fabrics really aren't part of my usual palette, but I really like these, especially this combination! I believe this was also one of my first attempts at free-motion quilting!
Thanks so much to Amy for hosting this festival! I'm really enjoying everyone's quilts!

Monday, April 20, 2009

One Down, Two to Go!

I want to say thanks for the many good wishes you all sent for our open house event that was held this past weekend! While we didn’t receive any offers, there was some interest and it was a beautiful day! We’re meeting this evening with our realtor to discuss further “strategy”. In this market we realize it will take some time, so all we can do is push forward.

Since we had to be out of the house on Saturday we decided to drive down to IKEA and look for Squash House furniture. Wow. IKEA is like a little city in itself! And Anne, thanks so much for pointing us to the free breakfast deal! Even Ingemar’s yellow VW was parked outside - loaded up high with purchases!

We spent a good deal of time browsing the different departments and looking for good deals. We found a bed frame for the guest room, but realized it wouldn’t fit in our car! Darn - it was exactly what I wanted, but I’m sure there are any number of places closer to the Squash House that have a similar frame - and can deliver!

After IKEA we found ourselves at Fry’s Electronics. Another WOW! And it was just as crowded as IKEA! By the time we finished browsing around it was time to buy groceries and head home.

Yesterday I finished one of my three Christmas in July swap gifts. We’re only allowed to show sneak peaks, so here it is:
I’m nearly done with the second gift, and changed my mind on the third - a new pattern is on the way!

I’m afraid my posts this week will be a bit sparse. I’m hoping to have some completed potholders for the swap which I will post, but other than that, there isn’t much going on in the studio right now. Be certain, if anything interesting and post-worthy comes along, you’ll find it here!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Glorious Spring!

We are finally beginning to see some nicer weather here in the Pacific Northwest! Yesterday Mr. Squash and I walked together at lunch. Below is a photo from yesterday of the park I walk past every day. I was playing around with Picnik and found this new photo collage section for premium members. Pretty cool! Picnik can be used for free - has a lot of neat features in the free section - and even more if you become a premium member. I find it to be more user-friendly than Photoshop!

Saturday there is going to be an all-city open house in our area. Our house will be on the tour and we hope it generates some serious “lookers”. Last fall the realtors in our area did this and they generated 30% more home sales than usual for the same time period from the previous year! Last night I weeded my cottage garden in front and tonight and tomorrow we will be dusting, vacuuming and putting as much sparkle as we can into the house for the tour!

I thought I would show you what the floor in the kitchen at the Squash House is going to look like.

First I was going to go with cork, but after pricing it, I decided to change my mind! I’d heard a lot about Marmoleum (or Forbo as the industry calls it) and decided to do some research. It’s a “green” product similar to the old fashioned linoleum. It can be laid in sheets or tiles and comes in a multitude of colors. We’re going to have it laid in sheets. This chip doesn’t really do it justice, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dance of the Purple Finch

Last evening while eating dinner we saw the first purple finch of the season. I heard them singing outside my bedroom window in the early morning, which is a sign they are getting ready to mate.

Actually, what we first saw was a very fat female finch. She was resting on a telephone wire. Mr. Finch swooped down with a bit of nesting material in his mouth. He laid it at her feet (which promptly fell to the ground), then opened his mouth to sing and did a crazy little hop up and down on the wire. She seemed smitten, then another purple finch flew in and off they all went! It’s nice to see the Purple Finches back this year - they seemed to have vacationed elsewhere last year!

I don’t have any quilting or sewing news today, so I’ll leave you with a photo that was sent to me yesterday from a co-worker of her youngest grandchild. She said mom thought the older kids were watching him on Easter Sunday - apparently not!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Productive Weekend!

I hope everyone had a nice Easter weekend. Mr. Squash and I were happy to stay home after last weekends trip to the Squash House! For Easter dinner I cooked the nicest meal - Lamb Chops with fresh mint sauce (chopped fresh mint, honey, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard and Olive oil), sautéed mushrooms, steamed broccoli and roasted new potatoes.

I worked on two of my three Christmas in July swap gifts. I’m hand-making all three gifts. The two I worked on are nearly complete. I ran into a major snag, however. When I sat down to quilt the first gift I realized I had packed away all but the neutral range of piecing thread! I didn’t have any quilting thread in my sewing table! I also didn’t want to leave the house, so I started work on the second gift and came close to finishing that as well! Since this is a secret swap I can’t show you what I’ve done, but we are allowed to show a sneak-peek...perhaps this weekend when I'm done quilting!

At lunch today I popped into my LQS for some quilting thread and came away with not only that, but a wonderful book on serging. Last October I posted about my new serger here. It didn’t come with much in the way of instruction so I figure I’m going to have to take some classes before I delve into using it. I was chatting with the resident machine expert at the store and she recommended this book:

She also said nearly all sergers are made by Juki - if they have another name on them such as Bernina, Pfaff, etc., they are still made by Juki - just to that manufacturer’s specifications! Although the title of the book and description lends itself to garment construction, it also has a section here on quilting:

I think this book will be great help in learning to serge! Each chapter has great little “hint boxes” like this on the chapter for gathering:

It also has terrific photos of machine mechanisms and techniques, such as this section on seaming:
I’m sure I’ll find this valuable reading and when it comes time to break the Juki out of the box, I should be an expert by then - right?!!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Shine On!

Recently I won a giveaway from Kaaren over at The Painted Quilt. Kaaren is a multi-talented lady and the nicest person! Her giveaway was a very special lamp which she hand-painted and signed and it was waiting for me upon our return from the Squash House. I went out yesterday and purchased a wonderful tin lamp shade for it and voila:

Mr. Squash noticed it first thing when he arrived home from work yesterday and was quite impressed! We both think it’s wonderful, Kaaren, and thank you so very much!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Patience is a Virtue

These days I find this to be true in many ways - patience in finding a buyer for our house....patience in waiting for warmer weather....patience in getting back to some serious quilting....patience in seeing my dream kitchen finished --- the list is long.

There are some great quotes about patience. I was surprised to find there is more to the title of today’s post:
“Patience is a virtue, Possess it if you can, Seldom found in woman, Never found in man.”
“All good things come to he who waits.”
“The secret of patience is doing something else in the meanwhile.”
“The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”
“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.” (This one explains me to a "T" - ask Mr. Squash - LOL)

Where is this leading, you ask? This past Saturday while at the Squash House I needed a little break. There is one quilt shop in town, so I thought I would practice some more retail therapy. The first thing I saw when walking in the door were charm packs of Wonderland. Thanks to this great post by Stephanie, I just had to have some - and two popped into my basket!

I wandered around some more and found a half-inch Clover Bias Tape maker. I’d misplaced mine some time ago and my local shops always seem to be out of them. Nothing else really appealed to me (well, there were LOTS of things, but why buy something big only to pack it away again), so I stepped up to the counter to pay. I waited, and waited, and waited for someone to take my money, but no one came. The one employee was helping someone in the back pick out a vacuum cleaner bag. So I started looking a little closer around the checkout counter and on the wall behind I saw a small sign that said "All Bernina Feet and Accessories 50% Off”. Holy smokes - my patience DID pay off! The selection was small, but there were two feet I wanted - the 7 groove pintuck foot and the wide gathering foot! Anyone who owns a Bernina knows how expensive the feet can be!

I’ll leave you today with another photo from Bennington Lake. This is especiallly for Pam who commented yesterday that she hadn’t seen an Osprey for years - this is one of two who were fishing for dinner over the lake. Click on the photo for a better look.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Squash House Report

Mr. Squash and I have returned from 4 days at the Squash House. We intended to drive over a large rental truck with the contents of our storage room, but were met with an unexpected winter storm which dumped two feet of snow over the pass just before and during our drive over! It was agreed that the risk of taking the truck in those conditions was too great, so we threw a few things in the Pilot and off we went!

It was an interesting 4 days filled with much to do as well as some unexpected circumstances! This is what our kitchen looked like when we walked in the door! We knew the old appliances would be gone - donated to a young couple who really needed an upgrade - but we didn't realize that even the kitchen sink was gone!

Friday we eagerly awaited the delivery of the new appliances. What we didn't expect was our contractor telling us to have them delivered to the garage and not removed from their boxes! Oh my - I was disappointed by this - I really wanted to caress and drool over these! So here is how they look lined up in our knotty pine garage - just waiting to be moved into the kitchen!

That same day about an hour later, FedEx pulled up with our butcher block counters! Ted, our builder, just happened to be home (he lives across the street) and saw the truck as well. It was a good thing, because not only was it a very long pallet, but it weighed 480 pounds and the driver said he wasn't allowed to put it inside. Well, as it turns out, Ted and the driver sort of know one another and the driver decided to help Ted drag the pallet into the garage - whew!
We couldn't wait to see how they look, so Ted opened up the smallest carton and brought the piece into the kitchen. My picture is a little blurry, but you get the idea. All of the drawer and cabinet pulls will be replaced with brushed nickel.
After that, Ted brought over his wife, Andrea, whom we had not yet met. When they walked in, I happened to notice that Ted had already installed our new light fixtures! Don't they look great? Two things I didn't get a chance to photograph were the new sink and fixtures - next trip they should be installed.

And here is a photo of the new door in the dining area! The old one looked just like the door on the right. Ted did a really nice job of staining the wood to match the existing mahogany! The light fixture you see just a bit of in the upper left corner is going to be replaced with an antique craftsman-era fixture that we were given.
Below is a before and after of the flooring in our lower level. The photo on the left is one box of wood placed over the old carpet. It took a little getting used to at first, but now that we've seen it in light at various times of day, we really like it! Of course it won't stand out so much after the room is filled with furniture! We went to a large furniture store in Oregon looking for a new bed frame, and found a gorgeous set of Lane furniture to put in here. This room is going to be our TV/family room. The fireplace (partially hidden behind the box) is wood burning - one of two in the house.
Here is Mr. Squash cleaning out the upstairs fireplace with our new "Ash Vac" given to us by his sister and brother-in-law for Christmas. What a handy tool - no mess, no fuss! Thanks again, Barbara and Bern, we really love it!
The weather was fantastic - warm and sunny, so Saturday afternoon, we drove up to Bennington Lake which is only a couple of miles outside of town. This is a picture of Oregon's Blue Mountains on the road up to the lake. The green areas are winter wheat. This is heavy farming country!
We parked the car next to an "alleuvial cliff" and noticed a bunch of holes in the side of the cliff. Wouldn't you know - there was a large owl in one of them! Click on the photo for a better look!
Here is how the lake looked. You can see some freshly plowed fields from the center to left. Lots of people were fishing as well as several Osprey who were also looking for a catch of the day!
Finally, here is a photo of one of our new maple trees! They both wintered well and are beginning to leaf out!

I have a little more show and tell, but will save it for tomorrow. While we were gone we had a showing of our house. Today, they came back for a second look! This is encouraging, but we won't get our hopes up just yet!