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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tree Work

Anybody need some firewood?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pink Ribbon Origami Bags

Do you ever get sick and tired of seeing pink ribbons?  I certainly do!  My mom is a breast cancer survivor.  One of my best friends lost her mother to breast cancer, and then her sister developed it.   Thankfully, her sister is also a survivor.  Last fall my aunt was diagnosed.  Following a double mastectomy, she'll be on oral chemo for 5 years. 

When breast cancer once again struck someone close to me - I got disgusted by the cheery little pink ribbons popping up all over the place.  My aunt's cancer was something I was trying to block out of my mind, and those damned ribbons kept intruding on my denial. 

I continued to eye the ribbons with mixed feelings until the other day.  I opened the Sunday paper - and there on the front page was a picture of someone I know crossing the finish line for the race for a cure.  She was sobbing.  It was impossible to tell if hers were tears of joy or grief.  When I read the caption, I learned she too is battling breast cancer.  We work together.  Not in the same building, not in the same division - but I've known her for 20 years.  I had absolutely no idea. 

There's just no denying it.  Its here, and it's extremely unpleasant - but it's also very prevalent, and we need to do all we can to beat the odds:
  • Be mindful of family history
  • Do monthly breast self exams 
  • Give up smoking
  • Maintain a healthy weight - lumps are harder to find in excess tissue.
  • Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Get our mammograms done on time - later may be too late.
When I saw this fabric, I knew I should buy it and help spread the word.  I still sometimes cringe at the sight of pink ribbons.  But I've pulled my head out of the sand - far better to be alert and informed!  :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Strawberry Suprise - Part 2

My wild strawberry patch is bearing fruit, though I'm not sure how big they should be before I pick them.  If I'm lucky I'll have just enough berries to put over one bowl of breakfast cereal!  In honor of this momentous occasion, I pulled some strawberry fabric from my stash and made myself a strawberry origami bag.  :)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

And the Winner Is.....Pat at 501 Quilt Blocks!

Thanks to ALL for your numerous and wonderful ideas about what to put in the Elvis bag for my retiring friend.  

Pat, from 501 Quilt Blocks ( is our winner.  Pat came up with the power bar suggestion, and that triggered idea for me: I decided to put in things that could be used in a variety of ways.

For instance, the fat quarters would appeal to any quilter, but the fabric theme would appeal to a future preschool teacher.  The power bars could be used for Amy's biking, traveling, power quilting or to help her keep up with her preschool students.  The Crayola washable markers could be used in a preschool setting or by a quilter. 

Other ideas I LOVED, but could not locate or make in time included a blue suede shoe key chain, Elvis socks and a blue suede shoes quilted postcard.  Thanks again to all for the great ideas.  This turned out to be a lot of fun!  :)

Wednesday Wellness - Yoga

Until recently, my knowledge of yoga was limited to recollections of 1970s public television, and knowing that my maternal grandmother stood on her head for 10 minutes every morning - well into her 80s.  I didn't realize she did yoga to counter arthritis, but DO recall she bowled and played darts long after others her age were in nursing homes.

Fast forward a few years.  After 18 months of treatment, tests and procedures for back pain and sciatica, my physician suggested yoga.  So I went to my first class, and was blown out of the water.  You have to be strong to hold those positions! 
Over the course of 8 weeks, we've had several instructors - each with a little different focus.  Its been enlightening.  There is yoga for kids (complete with animal sounds), yoga for core strengthening, yoga for bigger bodies, and restorative yoga for seniors.  It improves your strength, flexibility and balance - which is exactly what I (and many other people who sit at a desk all day) need. 
My Sweetie has joined me in taking Yoga Basics.  We quickly noticed he was the only male student.  But our instructor shared some history.  Yoga was developed for and by men.  Monks used it to quiet the body so they could meditate.  Modern co-ed classes, however, have been discouraging to many men because women have greater flexibility.  Our instructor offered a men-only class at one time - with good attendance, but the women objected and prevailed.  Once the class was open to all, the men started dropping out again.  How unfortunate that this highly effective form of treatment/exercise is known to very few men.  
Another barrier to yoga catching on is its roots in Eastern religion.  A local health club refuses to teach yoga for this reason.  As recently as 2005 the Vatican spoke out against yoga.  Western interest in yoga peaked in the 1980s, when  Dr. Dean Ornish "connected yoga to heart health, legitimizing yoga as a purely physical system of health exercises outside of counter culture or esotericism circles, and unconnected to a religious denomination."  Thank you, Dr. Ornesh.  I hope that clears things up!
I'm so grateful my physician recommended yoga.  It provides physical and mental benefits you can't put in a pill.  If your back hurts all the time, talk to your doctor.  There may be a yoga class for you!  :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Phat Quarter Shop & Other Fun Stuff in Galena, IL

Took a jaunt to Galena, IL this week.  There we found the Phat Quarter quilt shop.  It was easy to find because it was just across the street from the trolley.
The quilt shop looks tiny from the outside, but has three good sized rooms, including an area where classes are held.  Downtown Galena is an historic district that attracts many seasonal visitors - so when I asked what the quilt shop's specialty might be, they said "tourists!"  They never know who might walk through the door, so they try to carry a little bit of everything.  They had a nice selection civil war reproductions - which seemed only right given Galena's rich history.
The fabrics for kids' quilts were bright and cheery.  The dog and cat themed quilts on display would capture any child's imagination.
We've all heard of redwork, but this was the first time I'd seen purplework.  Both the cats and purple quilt showed off the lovely batiks in the shop.
The quilt below greets you at the door.  I love the visual impact of the red squares on black and white.
One bit of fabric trivia:  One of the mansions in Galena is home to the original green curtains from Gone with the Wind - the curtains Scarlet O'Hara cut up to make into a dress.  We had a good chuckle recollecting Carol Burnett's portayal of that scene.

But I digress, Galena is certainly worth a visit.  It was once a major trade center that rivaled Chicago.  It was home to Ulysses S. Grant and 7 other generals.  Abraham Lincoln and many other presidents traveled to Galena and spoke there.  The city is built on five levels, into a rock hill.  The upper balconies of the mansions and hotels provided a wonderful place to orate.   These are the stairs Ulysses S. Grant had to climb everyday to go to school - and they say he came home for lunch - so he climbed them twice a day. 
The other thing you should know is that there is a beautiful private garden you'll want to tour. In fact, the garden will be closed to the public after this season. It's owned and was lovingly built by two elderly gentlemen who employ a "youngster" of 89 years of age to work in the garden. Small wonder they all wish to retire.  Also of note, this garden has ties to the Underground Railroad, and features one of the first African American churches to be built following emancipation.  If you have the opportunity, DO make a point to see the gardens while you still can.  :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

There is But ONE Elvis....

...but MANY impersonators!
I've now used all of my Elvis fabric.  Could NOT find more of that awesome black & white zebra striped pattern anywhere.  Then I looked for a black & white stripe (think Jailhouse Rock), but struck out there too.  So I went with the rather tame musical notes.  They are certainly cute, but not as bold. 

The next challenge will be to decide who gets which it my friend Amy, whose retirement prompted me to send away for the Elvis fabric in the first place, or the give away winner(s), or the United Way Silent Auction in November, or the church craft bazaar also in November, or little old me!  I'm starting to think I need to order more Elvis fabric!  It also comes in blue...

If you haven't been following my give away, see my June 16 post.  The contest rules are simple: just read the post and offer a suggestion for what to put in the bag.  The deadline is less then 24 hours away, so don't waste another minute!  :) 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lime Green, Turquoise & Elvis

When I get in the mood to make origami bags, there's just no stoppin' me! 

Here's a better picture of the Elvis bag (sans the purple cast from photo enhancement).  Remember I'm giving away this Elvis bag - and possibly a few more.  To enter,  simply read and comment on my previous post.  Time is running out though, the contest ends at 5:00 PM central time on June 21.  Keep those creative responses comin'!  :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Elvis Bag Give Away

Here's the Elvis bag, closed and open.
This was made from two 18" fabric squares, and measures 6" x 7" x 2". 

How can YOU get an Elvis bag?  Tell me what to put in it!  This will be a gift for a retiring friend/coworker.  She's a quilter, loves Elvis, loves travel, has biked the French Alps, and plans to have a second career as a preschool teacher.  So what sort of goodies shall I tuck inside? 

I have enough fabric to make a few more Elvis bags, so the BEST answer (or answers) will receive one.  Prize bags will have the same Elvis fabric, but the contrast fabric may be slightly different.  The contest will be judged by me (and perhaps some friends and family) and will be totally unscientific.  Entries can be sweet, comical, zany - whatever you like! 

1.  Suggested item must fit in the bag.
2.  Suggested item cannot be a gift card.
2.  Contest deadline is 5:00 PM (Eastern Time) June 21.

So hurry, hurry, hurry and send me your suggestions!  :)

Elvis is in the House!

Look what came in the mail. 
I think I'm gonna drop everything and make an origami bag right now!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mid-June Garden Report

Last year I had a single Jack-in-the-Pulpit bud, which bloomed on July 7th, and it lasted one day.  I have three buds this year, and they're ahead of schedule. Can't wait to see them open up!
Hit a garage sale the other day and got 10 large pots for 5 bucks.  There were just enough to house all the tomatoes and pepper plants I overpurchased! Don't they look happy now?  :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Two Origami Bags Complete

Ta Da!
Today I bought supplies for 9 or 10 more (not counting Elvis). 
These make great holiday gifts - especially if you tuck a chocolate bar inside.  Last year I made some with fabrics selected for someone in particular - others just for the fun.  The extra bags went into a holiday fundraiser, and fetched $15.00 a piece. These two  took me six months to complete, but if you sit down and work straight through they take less an hour. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Night Sew In - Origami Bags

These are future origami bags.  I started them last fall.  Since I'm between projects, its a good time to finish them up.  I am also looking for fabrics for additional bags.  Just ordered the following from Fun Fabrics/True Legends:
Elvis Red Flower

Elvis on Red
I'm hoping they'll look good together.  Want to make a bag for a friend who is retiring.  She's a quilter, and a BIG Elvis fan, so this fabric was too cute to pass up.  If they don't look good together, I can pick up a fat quarter of fabric with musical notes on it.  Black/Red or Black/White would look good.  The fabric should be here in 3-5 days.  I can't wait!

Meanwhile, I've been wanting to make an origami bag for myself to toss in my gym bag.  When I go to the Y directly from work, I'm usually wearing some sort of jewelry.  An origami bag holds jewelry nicely.  So I looked for sports-themed fabric.  Found the usual, golf, soccer, baseball, etc.   My favorite so far is this: 
This would be unbelievably cute with a red/pink geometric pattern.  I'm so sad this weight-lifting frog fabric is only available in precut squares.  I need 1/2 yard or a fat quarter.  If you like this, it's available from:

Happy Stitching! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Baby Strawberries

Cleaned up my newfound strawberry patch and discovered it's bearing fruit! 

Last night, as I listened to hail pelting the house, I thought maybe there's a reason these little strawberries sprouted up in such a well-protected spot. 

Will have to wait and see if they are June-bearing or ever-bearing.  :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Strawberry Surprise!

One year ago I posted a photo of a single clematis bloom.  This year I have a baker's dozen, with more on the way.  But not all of my garden looks this pretty.   You've heard of process blogging relative to quilts?  Here goes some garden process blogging (at least you'll know what's keeping me from quilting).

My hosta bed is out of control!  I offer you photographic evidence:

Blue Hosta
Giant, Low Growing, Green & Yellow
Green Giant
Green & Blue
Tall Green & Yellow, Giant
Tall Green

Many of the evergreen vinca between the hostas came from an elderly neighbor's overgrown garden.  When I dug up the plants, stray plants came with them.  I planted, nurtured and weeded the vinca lovingly until 2 summers ago, when joint trouble interrupted my plans.  Happily, I'm back in the saddle this spring, but am paying a price for two summers of neglect.  Not only are my desired plants overgrown, so are the stray species.

Until tonight, I've been eyeing the chore of weeding, splitting and rearranging my hosta bed as a fate worse than death.  But today I discovered something wonderful - literally  under my feet.  Strawberry plants, in bloom!  Barely recognizable amongst all the weeds.  I'm amazed they're flourishing in deep shade and still deeper neglect.  I thought strawberries needed more sun and more tending to.  So do I weed them where they are, and see if I get fruit?  Should I move them to a sunnier spot?  Or move them to a nice big strawberry pot?  (I always wanted one of those!)  Will moving them at this time be too big of a shock?  Decisions, decisions! 

To my strawberry-growing friends in blogland, have you any advice?  :)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Humble Beginnings

Did some gardening last weekend. 
Here are green and yellow pepper plants tucked in with my flowers.
My herb garden, confined to the back stoop to keep away rabbits.  But now the dog seems to have an interest in them....
These will eventually be pole beans.
Yellow pear tomatoes.
Wisconsin Red Tomatoes.

Given my track record with chipmunks and squirrels uprooting everything I plant, I put in extra plants, figuring I can thin later if need be. 

I hope to get carrots planted this weekend.  :)