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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Greg!

Today is Greg's birthday. We're having a quiet celebration at home tonight and we'll celebrate again later this week when we get together with his family for Thanksgiving. I'm a VERY lucky woman to be married to my best friend, biggest cheerleader, most tolerant critic and the biggest goofball I know. He's my hero. Not only for his outstanding military service and his never-ending support and work for veteran's and POW/MIA issues but also for how he leads his life. He's one of the good guys and I love him for it! (Of course, it doesn't hurt that he makes tea for me every morning either!)

Happy Birthday Lumberjack Man!!!

Timber Time!

We were out in the timber cutting firewood this past weekend. Even though it's a lot of work I still love doing it. We do this several times a year and we usually take either a lunch or snacks and spend a good portion of the day. The dogs, of course, go with us too. I honestly can't tell you which I enjoy more -- being out in the timber getting the wood and watching the dogs play or having nice warm floors all winter long!

I remembered (finally!) to take the camera with me so I've got several photos to share.

Fanny was taking a break and resting up in this big pile of leaves.

Jack (The Wonder Dog!) was on the alert for any dangerous critters that might be in the area.

Myah was taking a break from tracking all the deer that live in the timber. She hasn't caught one yet but she hasn't given up hope!

New Mystery Quilt

I just posted the first segment of the new mystery quilt that I've designed on my website ( If you like doing mystery quilts then you might want to check it out. It's going to be a three-parter that ends up being lap size. I really like this one and I'm anxious to get started on it myself!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I knew this blog was going to end up making me feel guilty! I've been so busy that I haven't allowed myself time to sit down and do some fun things on the computer -- including blogging! Now that things are settling down once again I'm going to try and do a better job of communicating!

I managed to get my two new patterns published in time for the AQS show in Des Moines at the end of October. THANK YOU to my friend Jean for quilting both of the lap quilts. She did a wonderful job and the quilts looked great hanging in the booth! (Jean does machine quilting for people so if you're interested please contact me and I'll gladly pass on her info.)

You've seen these quilts before as top before they were quilted. The top one is Road To Heaven and the bottom one is Fractured Star.

I'm pleased with both of these patterns and they were both fun to piece together. I enjoy the process of designing quilts and sometimes I get so caught up in designing that I forget about how rewarding it is to actually sit down and piece. It makes me feel really good to see the pile of blocks get bigger and bigger until I have enough to do the quilt.

The AQS Show in Des Moines was loads of fun! (My husband claims that I develop amnesia about the setting up and tearing down parts of vending!) We got a chance to hang out with a bunch of our vendor friends from across the country and it's always a joy to catch up with them. We also got a chance to chat with lots of folks who were attending the show and that's always a treat.

I spoke with several people who'd flown in and rented cars so they could get out of Des Moines and see some of the surrounding countryside and they were really surprised at how pretty Iowa is! (We knew that all along!)
I did remember to take a photo of my booth at the show. (Think I can cram anything else into it??)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Okay. So once I started sewing I couldn't stop and I've been trying to finish up projects that I'd started earlier. (Sound familiar?) This is one of those projects. It's called Road to Heaven and I designed it a while back and had it on my website as a mystery quilt. I'm getting the pattern ready for publication and decided that maybe I should actually do the quilt! (Ya THINK?) I love this particular kind of block because there are a kazillion different settings you can make using just the one block. It's not a fancy block and it's easy to piece -- but once you get a bunch of them made the possibilities are endless and that's what makes it so much fun (at least for me!)

I've been making lap-sized quilts lately and that's what this is. I'm anxious to see what it looks like after it's quilted!

Okay. So I don't post anything for a month and now I'm going to inundate you with stuff. Not fair, I know but right now I've got a little time to get caught up so I'm going to try and make the most of it.

A couple of weeks ago we had a rainy weekend which finally gave me a chance to get into my sewing room and get something done. I needed a baby gift and didn't feel like shopping so I used some of the baby flannels that I carry on my website and did a shaggy baby blanket. I had SUCH a good time! I got everything cut and was able to sit down in front of the TV and just sew. (Usually I'm working on a new design and have to make notations or corrections while I'm sewing. Kinda takes the fun out of it!) Here's a photo of the result. It's nothing extraordinary or fancy -- just a useable, washable baby quilt. What's nice about it is that it's DONE and I don't have to send it off to get it quilted and I don't have to bind it either.

I don't know if you can see -- but the flannel has little baby handprints and footprints. I've loved this particular fabric line for years and was tickled when they finally printed it in flannel. I just think it's sweet.
It's been waaayyyy too long since I've posted anything and I apologize! A combination of a sick computer (requiring a trip to the "computer wellness center") plus my own bout with the current Whatever's-Going-Around really put a stop to just about everything for a while. Again -- my apologies! Allow me to get things updated and we'll go from there.

Over Labor Day Weekend Greg and I travelled to Pittsburg, KS so that I could judge their annual quilt show. WOW! I was truly impressed with the quality of work that was displayed. Overall the workmanship was very good and the creativity was wonderful! I judged 177 quilts and felt privileged to be able to do so. They had well over 200 quilts in the show including quilts done by kids (which were great by the way). I honestly don't know how they manage to put a show like that together every year.

Susan Stewart was awarded the Best of Show ribbon for an absolutely stunning quilt. Susan started life doing heirloom sewing and has moved on to quilting. She does everything by machine and she's got a relationship with her sewing machine that's unbelievable! Here are a couple of photos of her quilt.

I don't know how well you can see this -- but here are a couple of close-ups of her work. Amazing.
Simply amazing.

I had a wonderful time judging the Little Balkans Quilt Show. The quilts were wonderful and the people were so very welcoming and friendly. Plus -- they're darned good cooks, too! Thank you all for your hospitality!

Monday, August 31, 2009

I put out a newsletter from my website this morning and in it I said that I'd found a really good recipe for pizza sauce. As result I've had a number of people ask me for the recipe -- so here it is.

New York Style Pizza Sauce

7 T. water
2 T. chopped fresh basil (dried basil will work too but you might have to adjust the amount)
1 1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste.

Combine all ingredients and mix. Yield is about 3 cups.

I've been using about 2 cups of peeled, seeded diced tomatoes from my garden rather than the canned petite-cut and it's even better than the original recipe. You might want to add just a pinch of salt but I've discovered that if I use pepperoni on the pizza it really doesn't need the salt. I use about 1 cup of sauce for a pizza.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

I'm a member of our counties' Barn Quilts group and we had a meeting last Wednesday night. We're getting ready to produce 0ur first Tama County Barn Quilts Calendar for 2010 and it's starting to get exciting! For those of you unfamiliar with how this all works.............. Our organization works with farmers/landowners who have neat old farm buildings and we supply them with 8' x 8' quilt blocks that are mounted on their buildings. The idea being to help preserve some interesting rural architecture, promote quilting and increase tourism. Not a bad combination! Anyway -- I borrowed a couple of photos to show you what I'm talking about because I thought some of you might find it interesting.

There are several counties in Iowa (and a few other states too) involved in this project and it's fun to be driving down the road and spot a quilt block hanging from an old building.

We've got about 14 quilt blocks hung in our county, several more in-process and a few more that we need to put together and paint. We're planning on having another 12 finished by next spring so we'll be ready for our 2nd calendar!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I know that Mary L. is getting ready for her guild's quilt show in a couple of weeks so I'm tickled that she took the time to send me some photos. (I also apologizie that it's taken me so darned long to get them posted!!)

Mary is my Pattern Tester Extraordinaire and I'd be lost without her! Since I showed a photo of my Fractured Star top Mary sent me a photo of her FINISHED quilt and I thought you'd like to see it. Mary added a tiny little red flange and then an outer border because she wanted her quilt to be larger. Looks great don't you think?

Mary also sent photos of the quilt that I designed as a BOM. She did hers using her own fabrics because I didn't have the fabric kits ready yet. The photo below on the right is her quilt on her bed. (Imagine! It actually made it onto a bed!) The quilt has eleven different blocks and each month people received instructions and the fabric to do four blocks and the built-in sashing. The photo on the left is the back of Mary's quilt. (See? You actually can use up those big pieces!)

Here are both of our quilts. (I FINALLY got mine finished!) Mary's is on the left, mine on the right. I think I need to take a new photo without the shadows (and without the SNOW!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More news from South Carolina! Marj took Anita Bowen's Galaxy class in South Carolina a few weeks ago and sent me photos this morning so that I could put them here for people to see. The first photo, of course, is of one of the blocks. What rich colors!

The second photo is of the finished top. Marj, you work fast!! You put the pieced border around it too! WOW! I'll be anxious to see photos after it's quilted. I hope you had a good time putting it all together because it sure looks great!

Thanks you so much for sending photos. This is exactly how I hoped this blog would work. I have such a good time designing patterns and I really do enjoy seeing how other people interpret my designs. I just think it's COOL! Also, I appreciate the extra effort it takes to send me photos! Thank you!

Monday, August 17, 2009

I FINALLY got to stay home this weekend and do some things around the house that I've been wanting to do. I spent Saturday cooking: Mary's recipe for New York rye bread, some fajita mix that turned out to be really and a new recipe for homemade pizza sauce that was REALLY good. It always makes me feel good when I can cook and have the time to enjoy the process. Too often I'm just trying to get something on the table and that's not nearly as much fun. One of our friends also showed up with two big bags of sweetcorn -- about 8 dozen ears -- so that needed to be cut off the cob and put in the freezer. I actually got a lot done!

Truthfully, I had a plan for the weekend -- work on Sat. and then SEW on Sunday!!! It worked! (I can hardly believe it!) I made it into my sewing room and got the last pieces of my Fractured Star lap quilt put together (had the corner blocks yet to sew) and then put the whole top together. It feels good to finally get something DONE! Now I need to decide on a backing fabric and get it to someone to quilt.

I've got another lap quilt cut out and I want to get busy on it but who knows when that will happen. I also started sewing on a raggy flannel baby quilt. I decided that I could do that at night since it doesn't take much brain power to sew X's on layered squares! If I persevere I may actually get some projects done.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Once again I judged quilts at the Iowa State Fair and let me tell you -- it was a heckuva day! I was so tired by the time we'd finished that I could barely get out to the car and my poor brain was absolutely fried.

Let me back up a little bit. I've judged for the Iowa State Fair for a number of years and I feel very honored that they ask me back. It's a job that I truly look forward to each year because, in spite of the fact that it's a lot of work, it's also a whole lot of fun! The Superintendent of Fabric & Threads, Dorothy Faidley, does an absolutely unbelievable job of keeping everything organized and on track and the volunteers are incredibly hardworking and dedicated, many of them returning year after year. You've got to see it to truly understand how hard these people work and how organized they are.

Here's how it works. There were two of us judging this year and we judge independent of each other meaning that I judge my categories and the other person judges hers. The categories are arbitrarily divided up -- for example I'd judge all the even numbered categories. Towards the end of the day if one of us finishes our designated categories we start judging some of the other judge's remaining categories. After all the categories are judged we work together to determine the final awards, for example Best of Show, Best Hand Quilting, Best Machine quilting, etc. We never know what categories we're going to be judging and we don't look at any names or labels that might be on the quilts. We start judging at 8 a.m., take about a 10-15 minute break mid-morning, have a quick potluck salad lunch (which is always WONDERFUL!), take another brief break in the afternoon and keep judging until we're done. This year we finished at 9:30 p.m.!

When we arrive the volunteers already have the categories sorted and divided between the two judges. Here's what I saw when I walked in the door. Silly me! I assumed that they hadn't gotten the categories divided yet -- but boy, was I wrong! There were near-record numbers of entries ........

.....800+ quilts or quilted items!!!

Holy Buckets!!

I was absolutely flabbergasted! After a quick briefing for announcements and to clarify any questions we got started. This photo shows a number of the volunteers as we all got together for our briefing. They are a WONDERFUL bunch of women -- and men too!

I had every intention of taking lots of photos during the day but we were so darned busy that I only managed to take a couple. The photo at left shows my "judging area." You see all those quilts? I judged them all plus more! Just when I thought we'd gotten to the end -- they showed up with CARTS holding MORE quilts! It was a whole lot to judge and I was absolutely worn out -- but it was worth it because there were some wonderful quilts!

After judging the quilts are folded to a 24" width and hung immediately. It would be wonderful if they could hang every quilt full out but there simply isn't room to do that. The Blue Ribbon winners from each category are displayed in a separate room downstairs from the main exhibit. Having them in a separate place makes things a little awkward but it's the only way that the winners can be displayed without folding them too. (Sometimes it's hard to remember that the quilts at State Fair are only a small portion of the actual Fair and we need to share the space with lots of other beautiful hand-crafted items!)
All in all it was a good day. Veerrrryyyyyyy looooonnnnngggggg -- but also very good.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

News From South Carolina!

I just received an e-mail from Pat W. who lives in South Carolina. Pat has ordered a number of things from my website so we were kind of acquainted because of that. Then, this spring when I was vending at the AQS Paducah show Pat found my booth and we got a chance to visit for a few minutes. I love that! It's so nice to have a face to put with a name. When we were visiting Pat said that she'd send me photos of two of my patterns that she'd completed and I just received them. WOW!! I love to see how my patterns "grow up" when they leave home so it's a real treat for me to receive these photos. THANK YOU PAT!! (FYI: Mike & Maia have to approve all of my quilts too!)

Here's what Pat had to say today.

"Hey, Cynthie! Kudos on your new blog. I finally found the pics I wanted to send you. The Galaxy Star I made for a grand-daughter's wedding gift last year and the Red Hot Leftovers I made for myself. As you can see, it received the Daisy (my Yorkie) seal of approval - but don't look too closely - you might find my humility block! I'm looking forward to those new designs you're working on. Keep up the good work!

Pat, SC

Here's Pat's Galaxy. I did this pattern several years ago and it's been really popular. I think this looks spectacular and it's a great color combo!

Daisy's a sweetheart and I'm glad Red Hot meets with her approval! Good job Pat! I really like the mix of reds and backgrounds! Red Hot Leftovers is my current favorite quilt -- probably because I did mine in reds too and that's my favorite color. I really want to do one in scraps because I think it'd be great but I just haven't had time.

Once again -- thank you so much Pat! I really do appreciate the photos and also the kind words.

Change of Subject: Tomorrow I head to Des Moines to judge quilts at the Iowa State Fair. It's a wonderful job and I look forward to it all year but it's a really long day. Last year there were somewhere around 675 entries to be judged. There are two of us judging but that's STILL a lot to do in one day. The bad part is that my brain just get TIRED. The good part is that I get to see so many wonderful quilts! I'll report back and have photos later this week.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I need to piece quilt blocks. I need it for what little remains of my mental health. What's really wonderful is that I'm lucky enough to have a husband who understands that and friends who share the piecing/sewing addiction with me. So, I decided to have a sewing day at my little shop last Saturday. A couple of people got a lot done, a couple of us -- not so much -- but ALL of us enjoyed ourselves, talked, laughed and discussed the world's (at least OUR world's) problems! Of course people brought Show & Tell. (What would a Sewing Day be without S&T??)

(Okay. Now I"m going to try and upload some photos. Wish me luck!)

(Hey! Success! Whaddayaknow!!!)

Here's Sheila with her latest quilt. Sheila does hand quilting for people because that's the part of quilting that she loves. The quilt that she's showing off here is a Double Wedding Ring that was pieced by her soon-to-be-daughter-in-law and Sheila hand quilted it for them. It's gorgeous and I wish I'd thought to take some close-ups of the quilting. Sheila designed some of the quilting patterns herself and they're really nice. The back of the quilt is almost as pretty as the front (because you can see the quilting better there)! Sheila's still got to do the binding and then it will be ready for the wedding. (Can you believe it? A quilt DONE before the wedding?)

Here's a quilt that Sheila pieced from one of my patterns (Potluck Pinwheels). Isn't it fun? She used all 30's reproduction fabrics and then, of course, hand quilted it in the ditch.

This is an antique quilt that Sheila found in a shop for a bargain price. (That sure never happens to me!) It's a simple little quilt with gorgeous hand quilting. The flowers are blanket-stitched to the blocks and it's got a little sun fading on one border -- but it's still a wonderful quilt. We're assuming, because of the fabrics, that it was made in the 30's some time.

Maud brought this piece that she's working on for a challenge. If I understand it correctly, all the participants were given a photo of a garden and were supposed to interpret it in fabric. This is Maud's take on the photo. She designed the block herself and it's really got some interesting piecing. Maud's still working on the machine quilting.

You might get the idea here that Maud likes color! The fabrics are all stripes and the blocks are all curved piecing. (I apologize for the shadow in the photo!) I love this piece -- it's striking!

Maud decided she wanted to use up the last of her oriental cotton fabrics so she pieced and quilted this quilt. Talk about a change in style! I love that vine wending it's way up the panel. All the leaves are hand appliqued and made from dupioni silk. (If you've never worked with dupioni silk -- it's wonderful!)

Linda just finished this wall quilt a couple of weeks ago. She's been working on it for a while between making her purses (you'll see those in the next photo.) She pieced the blocks, appliqued the hearts and then machine quilted it on her sewing machine. It's beautifully done and lays so nice and flat! (I REALLY need to spend more time practicing my machine quilting!) It looks great hanging on her living room wall!

Here's our little working (?) group looking over the handbags Linda brought. (Her company is Linda O Designs.) She makes these bags and they're WONDERFUL! You simply can't find anything like this in the stores. They're beautiful, extremely well made, Scotchguarded and machine washable.

Just so you know -- gathered around the table from left to right are Maud, Cindy, Linda and Sheila.

So -- that's the story of our Sewing Day.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ya Gotta Start Somewhere!

I've had people crabbing at me for a long time about getting a blog going. I've been really hesitant about doing so because I honestly don't believe that I've got too much to say that's noteworthy! However, I've become frustrated because people are kind enough to send me wonderful photos of projects that I've designed and they've completed and I need a way to share those photos with others so................ A blog seems to be the best alternative for doing that. Please be patient with me while I'm learning!

Feel free to jump in with questions or comments any time you feel the need.