Thursday, March 31, 2016

First Quarter FAL

Back in January, I committed to finish five projects in the first quarter of the Finish Along. How did I do? Well, see for yourself!

1) Christmas Jelly Roll Race....
read more about it here
2) Bee Block Quilt.....
blogged here

3) Baby Quilt.....
read more here
4) Trust quilt...

5) Explore quilt....
Whew! I finished them all! I'm linking up with the finish along here. Do go and check out everyone elses awesome finishes! Now off I go to make my list for the second quarter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

gluten free in Phoenix

Whenever we travel, I love to explore new-to-me gluten free dining options. Our recent trip to Arizona did not disappoint! Lobster Mac & Cheese anyone?
The Strand is awesome downtown dining with all kinds of Italian fare, including tons of gluten free pasta options. This Lobster Mac & Cheese was delicious and filling, so very cheesy with just enough spicy zing to it.

Picazzo's has been voted the best GF restaurant in the valley and I couldn't possibly disagree! In fact, I've never had a better gluten free pizza anywhere. They have a designated GF fire oven  and the pizza I had was thick crusted, crispy and delicious. I'd love to go back and try some of their pasta dishes and quinoa bowls. This gluten free girl gives Picazzo's five stars!

Chompies is a fantastic Jewish Deli with several Phoenix locations. I enjoyed a hot corned beef sandwich on a delicious GF bun. It was way more food than one human could possibly consume in one sitting (and I arrived HUNGRY!). I hear their GF bagels are amazing too.... can't wait to try them next time we're in town.

Daily Dose  was Leigh Anne's choice for lunch on Saturday and the shrimp tacos I had were awesome! It was a fun place, with a great patio if you choose to dine outside.

Do you have other recommendations I should try on my next visit?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

time out for baseball

Sorry to disappear on you. As much as I love quilting, family always comes first! And if it's family, and Arizona in March, that means baseball! I grew up loving baseball..... well trained by my awesome parents!
It was great to have Mom & Dad join us for a couple of spring training games, along with our two oldest who share our passion for the game....
Truth be told, this was Leigh Anne's planned vacation to AZ, which we horned in on, but she didn't seem to mind!  We enjoyed games at three different stadiums, Surprise, Salt River, and Peoria, and saw some awesome baseball from six different teams! The weather was beautiful, the snow cones delicious and the company, outstanding.

Don't worry, I did talk hubby into taking me to a new quilt shop on one of our non-baseball days.
Modern Quilting is a great new shop in Paradise Valley.  The shop was sunny and cheerful, filled with things that made me smile (and yes, a few of them made it to the car!). The staff was friendly and helpful. I can't wait to go back again some time!

Play ball!

Friday, March 18, 2016

trust quilt complete

Finally, I finished my trust quilt, completing (so far!) my series of Word of the Year Quilts.
Trust was my very first Word of the year in 2011. For this quilt, I English Paper Pieced pluses, representing crosses for me, then appliqued them onto the background fabric. I crosshatch quilted the pluses, then straight line quilted the background, shadow quilting in a few extra crosses (which is hard to see here! Trust me, it's there.)

If you want to read what I was thinking when I chose this word more than five years ago, you can read the post here. Funny, reading this post back again, I realize that even though I have come along way in five years, this is still a conversation I am having with myself (and with God) frequently.

Here is my complete set of Word quilts, which I intend to add to every year going forward...
And links to all of my word of the year posts:
Trust 2011
Gratitude 2012
Strength 2013
Grace 2014
Imagine 2015
Explore 2016

oh, and just for the record, this is my fifth (and final!) finish in the first quarter of the 2016 Finish along! Yay! Will blog more about that soon...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Dallas Quilt Show

I always love to go to the Dallas Quilt Show in March. This year, there were many quilts that especially spoke to me. The show theme this year was Words and Letterforms and there were many quilts entered that fit the theme. Here are some of my favorites....
Please Write by Susan Hogan

Art does not have to match your sofa by Tonya Littmann

Rain by Elizabeth Budd
Rebecca Williams from Southlake, TX entered her Texas quilt called My Heart is Deep in Texas
you might remember the blog hop I participated in almost 2 years (TWO YEARS???) ago and I was thrilled to find the wonky star block I designed in her quilt
A couple more quilts I loved just for fun...
Jadon's Guitar by Kathy Bright

Monday, March 14, 2016

weaving finishes

I'm learning so much about my loom and what I can do with it! My friend Annie sent me some beautiful hand dyed yarn for my birthday. At first I thought I would crochet something with it, because I was afraid my weaving wasn't up to par with this amazing yarn. But, it really did cry out to be woven and finally I gave in...
The yarn is a wonderful, soft, washable wool. I used a solid gray warp in a similar weight wool yarn and it wove up so beautifully! Of course, today it was 85 degrees outside, so who knows when I will get to wear it!
After posting my first set of dishtowels, my friend Kathie suggested I try weaving with a denser warp. This is best done on a rigid heddle loom by using 2 heddles. So I ordered a second 10 dent heddle and (thank you internet and awesome books) figured out how to warp my loom with double heddles.
It was quite a process but I did it! And the towels I wove this second time? WAY better than the first! The fabric is denser and more evenly woven. Here is one of the original towels on the left and a new towel on the right...
The second set is still not perfect (with the double heddles it's very hard to get a clean shed and I have quite a few threads that are floating but I'm happy!)

Sunday, March 6, 2016

SWL mini quilt swap

I have really been enjoying the swaps held at one of my local quilt shops, Stitched With Love. This time around we swapped mini quilts. I received my friend Paula's name in the swap & was delighted to sew for her! Paula loves cool colors, blues and purples, and expressed an interest in a Sewing Machine Quilt, so that's the direction I went for her...
Of course I included some extra goodies in my swap package for her. Among them was this needle book that I made to match her quilt...
She seemed to really like them both.  I'm so glad!

I received  this WONDERFUL quilt from my friend Sarah....
I really hit the jackpot, didn't I? Sarah has so much talent and really puts her heart into everything she does. The quilt includes my favorite colors, aqua and red,  and also includes Sarah's favorite color, pink. She even fussy cut the two birds for the center, one red and one pink, to represent each of us. I can't wait to hang this gorgeous mini in my studio!

I really must show you all of the quilts that were swapped, hanging together on the Stitched with Love design wall...
Can you believe the talent represented here? I'm so lucky to be a part of this awesome group of quilters.

Friday, March 4, 2016

modern coasters

Tuesday night at our meeting of the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild, we had a modern coaster swap. The challenge was to make four 4 inch coasters and bring them to swap. We got to share with the group what our thought process was making them and what makes them modern. Inspired by these, I made mine while I was at the retreat a couple or weeks ago....
Mine are constructed totally differently from hers. It was fun to make some tiny quarter square triangles for the center (finished at 1 inch) from some of my solid scraps, then add grunge borders. The modern elements in my coasters are use of solids, minimalism, use of negative space and straight line quilting.
I had so much fun making them! I even made a second set to use as a hostess gift last weekend. I can see myself making lots more coaster sets for gifts in the future.

So, the swap..... everyone put their name in the bucket 4 times. When it was your turn, you shared your coasters and your story, then drew out four names and distributed your coasters to those members. Each of us ended up with a mixed set of coasters. Here are the lovelies I came home with...
The top left one was made bye Rebecca (in my colors! I love it so much!) but the pink flying geese was done by Sarah (Sarah is the queen of tiny patchwork and LOVES pink), the Kaffe friendship star was made by Elizabeth and the text print pinwheel was made by Martha. I think they are all wonderful! What a great swap. Have you swapped anything fun lately?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

throwback Thursday

Early last month, when Leigh Anne visited for my birthday, we took a trip to the Perot museum in downtown Dallas. As I wandered through the dinosaur exhibit (as one does) this display caught my eye....
I clearly remembered owning some of those plastic dinosaurs when I was a little girl! And no, I was never a tom boy. I was one of those little girls who changed her dolls clothes a hundred times a day, took them for walks in their buggy and tucked them into bed every night. But those dinosaurs? I knew right away that I had owned them!

Upon further reading, I learned that they had been souvenirs at the 1964-1965 World's Fair in New York City (which, by the way, I did not attend!) There were giant dinosaur figures at the fair which later traveled to Sinclair gas stations. I remembered going to see them. And when I asked my mom about it, she sent me these photos from 1966...

That's my beautiful mom, with me and my baby sister, Diane, wearing dresses she probably made for us.  We were lucky girls! I would have been five at the time, and Diane 2. I wish I still had the little plastic dinosaurs, but I'm thrilled to have these photos to keep forever! Thanks for indulging me in this little trip down memory lane...

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

another quilt finish

A big thank you to the members of Sew Bee It (Mckinney Modern Quilt Guild) for making awesome blocks for this quilt finish! I really love the way it looks folded up at the bottom of my bed
four blocks that came in after I had assembled the quilt top are featured in the big square pillow.

My friend Diann quilted this for me. And guess what? It's finish number four for me in the first quarter of the 2016 finish along! So, I only have one more to complete. I think I might actually get them all done.