Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

As you are all very aware, it has been a very busy time of the year for me. I have been doing all the busy work to prepare for the holiday and now it is time to kick back and enjoy them. I wanted to be sure to wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Years. I am hoping to get back on track with my blogging soon...but it will probably be next year!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. Be safe and enjoy your family!

Love, Jan

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Color of nature….

It is not unusual to have beautiful sunsets like this in Illinois in November.  For many years when I worked in Genoa, Illinois, I would commute on rural roads dotted with old family farms.  This time of the year, I would get to observe really spectacular sunsets.  When I notice that one was brewing, I would pull over to the side of the road or into a farm field entrance and turn off my truck.  There was nothing more peaceful than watching this spectacular event as it unfolds.  It usually lasted 15 to 20 minutes and it was one of those times when you wished it did not have to come to an end.  I do not know why I did not take my camera with me to work back then... The terrain at my home is much different but we still see a good sunset from time to time.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.

These photos were taken on November 3, 2011.  While I was sitting at my computer I noticed this spectacular display as it got started so I grabbed the camera.  I stood on my deck taking pictures and the more I took the more spectacular it became.  These are just a few of what I took. 

Next time you see a fusion of colors brewing on the horizon take a few minutes to watch it. It is a one of a kind show created especially for you. Life is too short.

Maybe this winter I can use these photos as inspiration for a quilt to remind me of this beautiful moment.

I hope you enjoy!

Love, Jan

Friday, November 4, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival


The inspiration for my first quilt came from a photo which a co-worker entered in our annual “Best Vacation Photo” company calendar contest in 1997. This photo was of the Chicago Lighthouse uniquely taken from in the lake looking back at the city sky line. I love lighthouses all my life. I had recently moved from Phoenix to Chicago where it makes more sense to use lighthouses for decor. In Phoenix, people would see my lighthouses and say, “ You aren’t from here are you?” When I saw this photo, I decided that it would be a great piece to hang my dining room on the white fireplace wall.

I sat down one evening with a roll of blank used news paper and drew out my design based on the photo. Then I when to my sewing room and looked at what I had in my stash. I did not have much then because I had not started to quilt yet. It took me a few weeks to find the fabrics and before long I was cutting out the pieces and sewing it together. I soon learned that I did not know what the heck I was doing but I continued on bravely. It is machine pieced and hand quilted.

After I finished this piece, I decided that it was time for me to take a class and really learn how to do this correctly. I have been learning and quilting every since!

Happy Sewing , Jan

Monday, September 19, 2011

Critters who visited today...

From my office window today, I got to observe three fuzzy bandits  for most of the morning...They were pretty funny to watch.  Three of them were all crammed into the hole in the tree.  There was one who was always struggling to get to the surface but the bigger ones always seemed to be on top of him!  They would sleep for a while and then the little guy on the bottom would try to break free and he would wake up the other two again!!!! There just was not enough room for them all...

They are cute but....we seem to be over run by them this year.  You know that you have too many in your neighborhood when you see them during the day!  They leave a nasty mess on our deck.  Most days they think they own the place and they can really cause a lot of damage.. These babies slept in the tree all morning.  Mom came back to check on them several time. Eventually about noon, she woke them all and prompted them to get moving because she obviously had other things she wanted to do!  First they tried to go up the tree but she would have no part of their fun.  She insisted that they come down and off they went. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Charity Quilts

Lucy and I have been busy working on charity quilts. These quilts are for Quilts Beyond Borders!

This is a great organization which makes quilts for orphans in Ethiopia and other places in the world where there are children who are in need. . I decided that this would be a great way for me to get practice on my quilting machine. I met Carla for lunch and she gave me three quilt kits…and then things got crazy…and I did not get right at them. Summer hit and the flower beds need weeding and mulching. Then there was the pool which needed to be opened. My studio windows need to be replaced. We had some really nasty storms go through our neighborhood which knocked down while trees and took out power out for 5 whole days! And then I had a pretty large Genealogy project which had to be finished by mid July. I was able to sneak in time to quilt a couple of small projects which were long over due! Sadly I was not getting the sewing time that I had hoped for.

A couple of weeks ago after I returned from vacation, I thought…I have got to get these done! So two are quilted and need to have the binding done. That will leave one more to do. If I do not get the last one on today, then I’ll do it tomorrow!
Little Girl's Quilt

Girls Up close
And then this one will be perfect for a cute little boy!

Little Boy's Quilt
Boy's Close up

I put the last one on Lucy’s frame when my my sister-in-law was due to visit so she and I could play  for a while.  Carolyn did a lovely job on all the plain blocks, don’t you think. It was her first time using a long arm…Great stippling, I think!

Milo has to check it out!
Great Stippling!
They were so much fun to do, I told Carla to get three more ready and I’ll pick them up at the machine quilter’s guild meeting in October.

I delivered the finished quilts to the Quilts Beyond Borders / The Quiltery booth at Northwest Suburban Quilt Guild Show yesterday at the Prairie Stone Sports & Wellness Center yesterday.

On to the next projects…some table runners and Grandma Audrey’s Old Quilt but first I am making binding for my Christmas Star Quilt.

Happy sewing!

Love, Jan

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Aprons galore...

Summer is a busy time for everyone because there are so many fun things to do that are the most fun when they are done in warm weather! This summer I have also been very busy sewing. I had thought about making aprons for our annual camping trip for quite a few years but the trip would get here before I knew it and it would be too late again...Not this year I thought! So I started buying aprons in assorted colors in March. In May, I decided to work on the embroidery designs...and coming up with nicknames which made sense for each of the campers...It took some thought but eventually I decided what to do..

So in late June and early July I began to sew the aprons. I decided to make sure that each couple did not have the same color apron. That way there would be no mistaking whose apron was whose! No Apron thieves allowed! Every family has a night that they cook for the whole crowd. So as they got ready to cook their meal, I would present them with this handy apron to wear! Every evening the excitement would build till we finally got to see what the next set of aprons said..  Since we have been doing this event for so many years we have gotten to know each other rather well.  

Some of the nicknames have stories behind them and others are just names that we all own well by our interest and traits!  Sandy is our Beer Babe, Michael is our King of late night snacks, Sharon has always been our Princess, Art has always been King Arthur, Diane is our Princess Di, Matt is our Bungee King( give him a Bungee and he can make anything!), I am the Stitchinfox(this is the only time of the year which I do not sewing at all!), Bob is new to our group but he is the Toy Guy and Sue is our Budget Queen! My husband Greg was missing from the photo but he is a retired fireman and he is our Pyrotech Wizard (and fire guy).  Our oldest sibling,  Pam needs a reminder from time to time so her’s read “Hey Blondie, it’s your night to cook!” Mark and Kelley Ann have not received theirs yet. So we would not want to spoil the fun. I just might have to make up a few more for other members who could not make it this year…. But will likely join us on future trips…Maybe for the Strong Damn Norwegian and his Danish sweetheart!

We had a great deal of fun snacking, camping, cooking, eating, drinking, playing games, kayaking, swimming, sunbathing and spending time with each other!

Hope you created special memories this summer too!

Love, Jan

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lucy and I tangled...

...the Friday before last and she won ...Lucy : 3    Jan: 0.....  I had a french braid quilt that I was trying to get quilted.  It seemed like it was taking me forever to finish it  I had been teaching myself to use rulers and used many different color threads so it seemed like I was always winding a new bobbin with a different color. While using the rulers your fingers are pretty close to the needle as it I got a bit over confidient....without thinking I decided to "just move this one thread...." 

You guessed it...I sewed my index FINGER!  Ouch!....two holes in my nail and a small nick on the cuticle later!  The first stitch was on the nail before the quick! It has grown out and I was able to clip it off but the second was in the middle of the nail. As you can see from the Photo, the nail is cracked at about the half way I am nursing it in hope that I can get it grown out and not catch it on something first!

Oh, I hate when I do that!  I did it once before with my domestic machine as well...years ago.  Lucky for me it did not bleed immediately. I went into the house, grabbed a piece of paper towel.  I wrapped it tight around the finger and went right back to sewing.  I wasn't about to give Lucy the upper hand!!! No, not really...I just have a back log of quilting I need to do.  I have three donation quilts to do and one for my Mother-in-law.

I finished the quilt and will post it when I have the binding on...

The Monday after I sewed my finger we had a Micro burst wind storm go through our neighborhood. It took down so many trees and lines that on Monday 874,000 people were without power in the Chicago area.  It took 4 1/2 days for our electric service to be put back in place.  Thanks goodness we have generators.  We did not lose food in either the refrig or our freezer but it sure was a pain in the neck after the first day or so. 

So Lucy and I have had a break...and so has my finger...

I'll try to blog a bit more once I get to sewing again!

Happy Sewing!


Friday, May 27, 2011

It’s the wedding time of the year….

It's spring, the wedding time of year.  So I thought I would show you one of the things I make for weddings, anniversaries and other family celebrated events….Baby announcements and christening announcement are pretty also.

And then there are special Anniversaries too!

I open my digitizing software and create a design from the phrases used in the wedding invitation. I use the colors of the wedding for thread choices if I know them or the favorite colors of the bride and groom.  You can also use the colors that the couple will be using to decorate the home. Or as in these Golden Aniversary pair, I used beautiful gold thread.

These are wonderful personalized gifts!  Let me make one for you to give to your next bride, new mom or family celebration. 

Happy Sewing!

Love, Jan  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weeds are growing and there is no time to sew…

The weeds are growing and I am frantically trying to keep them at bay!  A couple of weeks back we bought mulch during the Home Depot Mulch sale!  One hundred and eighty, (yep…180)  of them.. Greg made three trips with the truck full.   Last week we had 32 bags of yard waste for the garbage pickup and 13 this week…I have put down 80 bags of mulch … is no wonder I am so tired….

We have split all the Hostas in the front flower beds and gave many of them to neighbors and friends or relocated them to a new place in the yard.  I have a few left to relocate and a wagon to put out by the driveway for 2 bucks each! Today a neighbor brought me 8 large variegated Hostas that I will plant next week and a couple of Woodland Poppies!

We have a whole in the front yard where we had to remove a tree last year.  I found the tree that will fill the whole!  It is a beautiful Red Japanese Maple from Home Depot.  Wednesday we stopped to look at them and they were $140.00.  I told myself that was too much money…Later I got an email from Home Depot and found that on Thursday that Japanese Maple went on sale for $90.00 in the new weekly ad.  So yesterday Greg and I went and got one. Next week we will be planting the new tree.  For now it is hanging out in our two wheeled cart next to the garage.

On the sewing front, last week I quilted a wall hanging with Lucy!  She like the exercise and so did I.  We had her all covered up for a few weeks.  We had some tuck point repair work done on the concrete block part of the wall under the windows.  Then we had Euro-Tech come in and replace four windows with some super energy efficient ones. We are currently scraping the concrete blocks to get them ready for a coat of paint. I am hoping to get my studio all redone this summer while the weather is good!  I promise to keep you posted. 

Also did a cute little baby blue blanket for Phineas Stabe!  He is going to live his new blankie!

Happy Spring !

Love, Jan

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring has arrived in Fox River Grove .....

...and I have spent a great deal of time this winter sewing and quilting….I did not realize that I had so many things to complete! Binding, Binding and more binding!!!

I guess I got caught up in the "making" of the projects…Got them quilting and piled them in my sewing room to bind them but got backed up on the finishing!!! I really need to let Lucy help me with this. It is really just a mindset change. Either sewing machine is capable if doing the binding job. It is just putting your mind to it and finishing on a rainy spring day, I did!

So here you go…I finished a few of my Halloween projects from the fall!  Now I will really be ready for next October! I am not rushing it…just ready!

Now that is Halloween! 
Everyone needs a dancing witch!

And a ghost in the yard and a stranger in the hallway!  Cute little panel for over the fireplace!

And last but not least, who would not want to play checkers with this cute Halloween set. I think I need a couple more buttons but I have time! Happy sewing…Now that I have totally finished my late fall and winter stuff we’ll start on spring!

Love Jan

Friday, March 25, 2011

I'm a little late for Saint Patrick's day...or really early!

In early March I had a house full of visitors. It was so much fun to have company but in order to get ready for their arrival, I stopped sewing for a bit and start cleaning. As a result, I had a pile of green fabric all ready to be stitched but I had to put it away!  So a bit late or really early, here are some really cute ideas for St. Patrick's Day runners that we will get to enjoy next year!!!! 

These are Ten Minute Table Runners except the one on the right with the extra stripes….That would be a Ten PlusTen Minute Table Runner!

I think I could get away with using the Green Hydrangea one in the summer too!

Green, green, everywhere and a wee bit of  orange too!  And luck be with you all! Happy Sewing!


Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Stars on a Christmas Night"

The Christmas Star Quilt is complete. I'm going to call it, "Stars on a Christmas Night".  It was so much fun to first exchange the twelve in blocks with all the ladies from the yahoo group. 
These are the 24 blocks which I sent to Kim in Ohio. In return a few weeks later, I recieved 24 blocks in return. One of block from each of the sets of blocks that she recieved. It was so much fun to open the package and see all these beautiful Star blocks!

Then the search was on for for just the right back ground fabric and decision on how would I set the block in the quilt. It did not take me long to decided on the dark blue Moda Fabric with the gold metallic stars.  After laying out the blocks, I decided that I was a couple of blocks short for what I wanted to do so I made two additional blocks including the Lone Star in the center.

After a few nights of sewing the blocks were complete and it was time to put the top together.

Then it was time for a border or two. After much thought, I decided to add a one inch white border followed by a three inch Green border and a five inch red border. So here it is...all done.

Since I am so new at machine quilting, I'll be sending this out to be quilted. They plan to display some of these Star Quilts in the MQX West Quilt Show in Portland in the fall.

SO here it is...."Stars on a Christmas Night"

Happy Quilting. The new projects....they are brewing!