Bird House Village

My wonderful husband built a bunch of bird houses for me last fall. Over the winter, I painted the bird houses and sealed them with some environmentally friendly paint products. I wished we had a better spring so these could have been installed earlier but the last month has been pretty terrible. So it took until yesterday to finally get these little cuties up!


Ben Franklin Crafts spring Fling Quilt Retreat 2018

I had the opportunity to attend a quilt retreat at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this past weekend. The craziest thing happened that had never happened before. An April snowstorm hit the state like never before. There was so much snow that we had to stay until Monday just to get out of town. Ironically, back home in Oak Creek, we had just a few inches of snow fall during this storm. I can't complain, the resort was gorgeous, even covered in all that snow.

So this retreat was the first one I've ever attended. I was invited by a fellow quilter that I worked with over at Coins and Quilts. She never attended a retreat either, so I wasn't going to get much advice. The retreat coordinator email everyone an instruction sheet which helped greatly. I followed the instructions to a tee, including bringing my own chair. That was a tough thing to do since I drive a Mini Cooper. My car was packed so tight I had very little wiggle room.

The retreat was held in a conference room at the resort where more than 60 quilters had their own space to sew all weekend long. The retreat included some fun group activities but the group I shared a table with wasn't interested in participating. I was OK with that since I really wanted to do some selfish sewing of my own. Scrapbookers were also at the retreat and they shared the room with the quilters. It was a buzz of creativity all weekend long. I really loved the event. Here is a collage of some of the projects quilters completed during the weekend stay:

As for me, I completed 3 entire quilt tops.

We all had an opportunity to pick a door prize and I chose a fabric bundle with matching thread.

The theme of the retreat was 'quilt university' so at the end of the weekend we all got our quilting 'diplomas'.

The entire weekend was great fun. I met some wonderful people and I would love to have another opportunity to do a sewing weekend with them again.

The retreat was sponsored by Ben Franklin Crafts in Oconomowoc, WI and I have to admin, I've never been to the store. I now feel compelled to drive out there to check it out.


Getting Ready for a Quilt Retreat

I haven't had much time for sewing lately. I am prepping to attend my first quilt retreat. Over the last few weeks I've struggled with what to bring along. Since I'm new to a retreat, I did some online research as to what to expect. The first thing I took note of was that it is suggested that you cut all your fabrics before you go so you are ready to just sew. That was helpful to know, but I still didn't know what projects I would bring. Then over the weekend, I just had this crazy notion; don't try to complete projects that are already started, just start fresh. So I dug out some of the patterns on my 'want to make' list and matched up fabrics to go with them. It was so fun.

Since I worked in a quilt shop, cutting quilt kits was something I am comfortable doing. I went crazy pulling fabrics, cutting, and prepping everything into individual kits. After a few days of prepping, I had 7 kits ready to go. I am certain that is overkill but I have to say, it was a liberating process knowing some of my favorite fabrics were going to get used up.

Before I cut these kits, I was sort of paralyzed as to what to pack. Now that I know what I will be sewing, the packing part has become much easier. I know what size blocks I will be squaring up so I know what size rulers to bring, what color threads to bring, and everything else is falling into place. So my lesson learned was to pick the projects, then pack the supplies and equipment.

After all that cutting, my garbage bin sure looks pretty - ha!

What's on the design board?

I have a single bin with these pretty, old-fashioned, not-exactly-my-style, quality, cotton floral fabrics. I would love to use them up just because I'm sure I could donate a finished quilt to church and someone would enjoy it.  While wasting time on Pinterest, yes, I admit it, I found some finished High Five quilts. The High Five pattern can be found in Amanda Jean Nyberg's book, Sunday Morning Quilts and I own that book. It felt like a perfect way to use up the pretty pieces of floral fabrics. I started to make the cute little blocks but didn't get as far as I had hoped. I had much prepping to do over the last week to get ready for Easter dinner.

We hosted today's dinner which was hard work and rewarding. Everything turned out great and it was fun to have the family all here. I did most of the food prep in advance to make the day easier and I did cut a few corners, like the Simma's cheesecake. There are none better...unless my sister is baking. Her cheesecakes are the best but I really wanted her to not have to do any of the work for today's dinner.


Easter Bunny Table Runner

This is a table runner I quilted for a client of mine. It is absolutely adorable. I might just have to ask her the name of the pattern. The hard part about quilting this was that the whiskers are made from pieces of scrap denim. It is pretty heavy-duty fabric which made it a little tough to deal with while quilting. I sure hope she likes the result, it was really fun to work on.


ReStore Finds

My husband loves the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It is like a treasure trove of junk and many wonderful finds. Back in February we walked into the store only to find an entire set of Lloyd-Flanders patio furniture. If you know this brand, you know that a brand new set can cost over $7,000. We sent a photo of the set to my son who lives on a lake. It would be perfect for on the patio over his boat house. He instantly said he would forward us the money for it. Even though the set was listed at the ReStore for $990, I paid $750 for a sofa, love seat, chair, two tables and all the cushions and throw pillows. It was an amazing find and I enjoyed the 'let's make a deal' banter with the manager to get an even lower price than listed.

Today I fell in love with four wrought-iron chairs. They were incredibly solid. As I waited for my husband to get the manager to come over, a few people realized what I was sitting on, and had to come and check the chairs out. I tried to discourage them from looking at them while I tried to cut a deal. The chairs each had a price tag of $39. I thought if I could get them for under $100, it would be a credit to my wheeler-dealer skills. When the manager finally came over I asked if there was 'wiggle room' on the price. The day before we were there the store had 20% everything for the day. I was a day late for that but was hoping to still make a deal. The manager agreed to give me more than 20% off - yay! When I went to pay for the chairs they rung up around $30. I corrected the sales clerk that she needed to charge me that times 4. The manager came over and said the price was for all 4 chairs. I couldn't believe it. What luck!

The day we visited it was 50% off all housewares day so I picked up a candy dish and a condiment dish. Together, I paid a dollar for them. They are so very pretty. I love the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.


60-Degree Ruler Class

I took a 60-degree ruler class at the local senior center earlier this week. We were given patterns to make both table toppers and table runners during the class. The requirements for the class were to bring a 60-degree ruler and 1 1/2 yards of border fabric. I chose an Easter fabric from my stash.

After the class, I cut my fabric based on the instructions which stated to always line the bottom of the ruler up in the same place horizontally. I did that but did not like the results. I think I should have lined the ruler up based on the middle stripe. That might have made for a more connected look with the reversed pieces.


New Coffee Station

A year ago I drew up a simple plan for a tall cabinet that wouldn't be terribly deep with two shelves in the middle. I really wanted to make it out of pallet boards and I want to call it a coffee station. Well, my husband took the plan and made his version from it. His idea was much nicer than mine. He made it out of oak and then proceeded to make a maple butcher block top for it.

I wanted it to hold all my kitchen appliances. My pressure cooker, slow cooker, stand mixer, and rice cooker all needed a home that was not my pantry. I have a nice pantry that would be a great place to hold the larger quantities of groceries that I purchase from Costco and Sam's Club however, it's hard to store things in there when it's full of kitchen goods.

So now I have this beautiful counter-height cabinet. And all those appliances fit behind those two doors nicely.
Now all I need is a new fancy coffee maker for the top and I can clear off my counter top too!