Feeling Recharged

For six years now, I have traveled to Waite Park, MN in July to spend a few days with some of the best friends I have ever known; a group of women that felt like forever friends almost immediately after our first meeting. My Grubers Retreat is a non-negotiable event on the calendar. I’ve written about the joys of this retreat in the past; but really, words cannot explain what this week means to me and does for me emotionally. Group8                               L to R: Amanda, Rene, me, Mary, Michelle, Terri, Cindy, Shelly, Stephanie

Amanda produces like crazy every year–many things with her new fabric collection for Connecting Threads this year! She free-motion quilted like crazy, and she and I made micro quilts. Amanda2015CollageRene worked on a scrap vortex quilt most of the weekend. Her 51 Kisses quilt, made for her sister, Michelle, is fabulous. Go check out her MUCH better photos!Rene2015CollageI finished up my Rock Pools quilt top from a class I took in May (it’s Christmas fabric), and worked on my Quick Curve Ruler project from last year’s retreat! My micro quilt is at the bottom left:Doris2015CollageMary made us the adorable egg-cup pincushions (top right photo) with the smallest EPP hexies I’ve ever seen. She worked diligently on a Moda Bake Shop pattern most of the weekend. Mary2015CollageMichelle first joined us for retreat in 2011 (year two). She is Rene’s little sis, and at the time she was just a newbie to quilting. She has come a long way! The girl is obsessed with foundation paper-piecing (and the movie Pitch Perfect, which we watched as a group Saturday evening). The quilt on the top right is the beauty she made for Rene this year:Michelle2015CollageTerri is fun to watch work; she makes the most of her time at retreat. She goes back and forth between projects, starts new ones when inspired by something she sees (see the blocks at bottom right, inspired by one Michelle shared-in my collage above), her creativity is inspiring. She came prepared with her suitcase of fabric (LOVE IT!)… Also, she made us those beautiful Dresden coasters this year:Terri2015CollageCindy accomplished much more than I took photos of. I couldn’t resist snapping the pic of her with the matching Hello Kitty sewing machine! She made us all one-hour baskets with fussy cut license plate fabric–so fitting! A friend made the cute bag at the bottom for her, it’s just too adorable not to share:Cindy2015CollageShelly and I share a ride from Des Moines to Waite Park, about 5 hours in the car (each way). She’s afraid she talks my ear off, but I love the laughs, the sharing, the brainstorming…and she tells the BEST stories. She was working on some top-secret stuff, so not many pics of her work, but she was very productive! I’m still tickled pink that she made us those perpetual journal calendars in the pint box (it’s one of the first projects I ever added to Pinterest and I have YET to make one–don’t need to, now!):Shelly2015CollageStephanie sat next to me this year, I was amazed at how quickly she made the Mini Disco quilt in the Allison Glass fabrics (the back is just as beautiful, photo on bottom right). She worked on a Quick Curve Ruler project as well, a current QAL on the Sew Kind of Wonderful blog.Stephanie2015CollageEach year we make (or “outsource”) happies for each other. Seriously, it’s better than Christmas:Happies4I gave the Cotton & Steel charm packs and scissors key fobs this year, Anna Maria Dresden coaster from Terri, Perpetual Journal Calendar & flashlight from Shelly, Egg Cup pincushion from Mary, Work in Progress bag and pattern, and mini-charms from Amanda, fabric tray and chocolate from Michelle, Her OWN honey and “Sew Sisters” bag from Stephanie (and fresh Michigan blueberries!), License plate basket from Cindy, and Mug and mini-charms from Rene.

Every year I come home feeling recharged and inspired–Love my Grubers gals!

National Quilting Day

Yes, there is one, it was yesterday… and it’s no joke. Quilting isn’t just your grandma’s past-time anymore… Today, quilting is a $3.58 billion industry in the United States with 21.3 million quilters, nationwide. 14% of U.S. households are home to at least one active quilter.

The internet has contributed to the explosion of this industry, through on-line shopping, but also by connecting quilters from all areas of the globe. I have quilting friends in India, the U.K., Australia, mainland Europe & Asia. I’ve met some in person, many I’ve gotten to know through my blog (as well as their’s) and through email and social media. I know my family, friends and co-workers think I’m nuts when I get excited for a weekend that I plan to spend quilting. They just. don’t. get. it. But these quilt retreat weekends have been some of the best weekends of my life.

In the summer of 2010, I took a giant leap of faith (for an introverted homebody like myself, anyway) and met up with a dozen quilt bloggers from all over the United States, at Grubers Retreat Center in St. Cloud, MN.  We hit it off, and had so much fun, we made the weekend an annual event! Every July, we trek to Minnesota from Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri, Florida and California for a weekend with fellow quilters that became instant friends five years ago. It’s a shame we don’t all live in the same neighborhood.

Group1This is the group that gave me this quilt last year at our retreat. We keep extending a little more time to the weekend each year, because three days together is just not enough.  In July 2014, we were missing Shelly from Missouri and Michelle from Georgia. However, Michelle paid us a visit via FaceTime and her sister’s iPad:

FaceTimeMichelleWe have a lot of fun chatting, laughing, eating good food, drinking (occasionally), sharing, learning from one another… it’s sort of like a slumber party for grown-ups. We even manage to get some sewing done:

CollageCindy

Cindy worked with these gorgeous shot cottons and she made a Sew Together Bag along with Stephanie and Terri.CollageTerri

Terri sewed with beautiful Anna Maria Horner Pretty Potent fabrics all weekend–stunning! She also brought me a box of Sandi Henderson fabrics that I need to get around to playing with one of these days! CollageStephanie

Stephanie was working on a Tula Pink quilt kit that turned out wonderfully. She also brought her quilt from last year back for show-n-tell (bottom right pic). These are the Sew Together Bags that Cindy, Terri and Stephanie completed over the weekend:

CollageSewTogetherBagsCollageAmandaAmanda was playing with a new fabric line (which I cannot recall the name of!) and of course, her giant scrap basket she brings along each year!

CollageDoris

I worked a pattern from Sew Kind of Wonderful’s new book, and I have to admit it hasn’t made much progress since that July weekend. The fabric collection is Vintage Summer for Blend Fabrics (something I saw at Quilt Market in KC and could not pass up!!!)CollageToniToni (who never really took to blogging) finished up a top she had worked on the year before, such bright and cheerful colors!

CollageRene

Rene worked on piecing her Quilting Bee blocks together–a fabulous quilt! (I love the contradiction of technology at Rene’s workstation!) ;-)CollageMaryMary always produces like crazy at these retreats–she finished the Plus quilt top, and made a pretty good dent in the Heather Ross apple core quilt. (it’s the backdrop in our group photo above). The beautiful Marcelle Medallion (top left) is what she brought for show-n-tell.

We also have a tradition of exchanging “happies” at these retreats, just a little something for no reason but to make someone happy.

2014HappiesCollageTerri gave us each notecards with her own graphic design on them, Cindy made us giant pincushions with storage pockets, Mary made us patchwork bags and homemade caramels (yum!), Toni and I gave everyone a matching towel/potholder set, Rene made us journals and we all got a flamingo FQ from her, Amanda’s happy included a spool of Aurifil and the adorable little “happy” flags, and Stephanie gave us each a mini duffle–adorable.

Each year we talk about how a long weekend isn’t long enough, and we need to have a winter retreat, too. Maybe one year we will get that organized… but this year, three of us had a mini-retreat, meeting in Brunswick, MO (home of the giant Pecan) in early December:

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That would be Shelly and Stephanie showing some love to the pecan.PecanMarker

This was the weekend I finished piecing the quilt tops I started in October. We sewed and stayed in the Sew Sweet Quit Shop Retreat Center (which I HIGHLY recommend). Stephanie and I also had the pleasure of attending the Pecan Valley Quilt Guild holiday party with Shelly–they are such a fun group, we had a great time. StephDorisShellyI very much enjoyed getting to see some of these friends in between July retreats! There is always the possibility of a winter retreat in California or Florida, too. ;-)

Keeping my fingers crossed that this July all TEN of us will be able to be together again! Counting down the days…

Happy sewing,

Doris

 

Far-Flung Friends, Reunited

July was a busy month, and August is doing its best to keep up! The highlight of July, as usual, was my annual retreat in St. Cloud, MN with…

CindyCollage

Cindy

MaryCollage

Mary

MichelleCollage

Michelle

ReneCollage

Rene

StephanieCollage

Stephanie

ToniCollage

Toni

AmandaCollage

Amanda

DorisCollage

and myself.

This year, we sadly missed our friends from Missouri and Wisconsin–hopefully they can both make next year.  It’s hard to put this friendship into words; I treasure each and every one of these ladies and I’m so glad I took a leap of faith four summers ago and drove to St. Cloud to spend three days with a group of complete strangers (a very scary and anxious prospect for an introvert like me!)

From the pics above, you get a little taste of what everyone worked on over the weekend, but there was also plenty of laughing, sharing, eating, brain-picking, debating, Instagramming (is that a word?), even a little sleeping.  No one was ever far from their technology (typical, in a room full of bloggers)…

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(In the center photo shows evidence of what happens when a group of bloggers go out.) A few years ago, someone started the tradition of exchanging “happies”… I forgot to take a single photo of the happy that Toni and I collaborated on, but these are the goodies I received:

Happies

a Minnesota trivet and drawstring bag from Cindy

a “pencil” pencil case and luggage tag from Mary

a mini pincushion from Michelle

a wool needle case from Stephanie

A thread catcher and FQ from Amanda

and Montana Cowboy Chocolate from Rene

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Love these ladies — everyone needs a group of friends like this!

Really Random: the 3 R’s

The blog got very quiet when November arrived, did you notice?  November is the month I dread, because at work it is my most challenging and stress-inducing month, and incidentally, seems to be the  l o n g e s t.  At the end of the day I am fairly well spent, and have little time for sewing or socializing, much less blogging about any of it.  Today is the 15th, it’s half over.  Praise the Lord!

I’ve been doing some Pinterest cooking (you know, pinning recipes) and then making them by reading them on the iPad on the kitchen counter. Would you like to see what I’ve made and know how I rated it?

  • I made this Spaghetti with Creamy Butternut Leek Parmesan Sauce.  I’d give it 3 stars; delicious, but mine didn’t look anything like her’s, and the leftovers weren’t fabulous.  A recipe has to provide GREAT tasting leftovers to get 5 stars from me.
  • These I made and enjoyed for days following.  5 stars fabulous.
  • I’m a comfort food junky during times in my life, like “November”, and when the temps start to dip.  One of my faves from childhood?  Grilled cheese and tomato soup. This recipe got another 5 stars.  But sadly, I will never be hired as a food stylist…  Agreed?
  • Gina’s Filipino Adobo Pulled Pork in the slow cooker gets 4.5 stars.  Even my sweetie raved about this one (it’s not that he doesn’t like my cooking, it’s that I am more adventurous with “healthy eating” than he cares to be…) ;-)
  • And he gave the No Sugar Sloppy Joe’s 5 stars, I gave them a 3.5 because I wasn’t crazy about the BBQ sauce I used.  Will try this again and tweak it, ’cause Kelly does write some great recipes, and I love the low-no sugar ideas she comes up with.

I also made pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend, as in, I baked two sugar pumpkins and everything.  Followed this recipe for the most part.  It was fabulous, at least 6 stars tasty.  It is, of course, long gone.

I have a bunch of pumpkin stuff pinned, that I am hoping to try next week.  Well, Pumpkin is one of my comfort foods, too, y’know.

Tomorrow I am heading to retreat.  I am over-the-moon THANKFUL for the vacation day from work and looking forward to hours and hours of sewing time…

Hoping to finish up this quilt top:

btw, go see Stephanie, she finished her Urban Nine Patch quilt top (those 3 awesome blocks on the left) — a  really cool quilt…

And go see Cindy, where I’m linking up today, for Really Random Thursday.

Live A Colorful Life

Happiness, delivered.

BLOGTOBERFEST, Day 12

Yesterday I showed you the wonderful happy I received from Mary. Today, I’ll show what I sent to Cindy in Fresno, CA. Cindy makes all manner of fun selvage items, her most recent came in SECOND in a recent online contest, Texting while Sewing:

I’ve started collecting my selvages, but I had yet to make anything with them.  I knew I had to include something with a selvage for Cindy… but what?   I had seen this pincushion and sewing kit on someone’s blog recently, as part of the Zakka Sew-Along–suddenly I knew this was the item to create for Cindy and just how I would use the selvage!  I don’t own a copy of the book, so I made this up as I went along, and modified it to make it work for me.

The pincushion is filled with walnut shells (why?  They are inexpensive and readily available… and the crushed shells work like emery, keeping your pin and needle points sharp!)

Yep, I buy it at a pet store, a giant bag is under $10.00.  Fill your pincushion with a funnel, and stitch up the opening.  Easy as that.

The pincushion fits nicely inside this roll-up sewing kit, which has small pockets to hold your package of needles, thread, your English paper piecing hexies(!), your scissors, your thimble, etc…

Most of Cindy’a kit came from my scrap bin, except for the green “tree” print used for the binding and one end of the pincushion.  I chose that fat quarter because I had purchased it at Grubers last year, the same weekend I met Cindy for the first time.  The entire kit rolls up and ties nicely, for a fun take along sewing kit:

The band is attached, it is another piece of selvage dots (from a Dr. Seuss fabric as it had the brightest colors I could find!) and satin ribbon for the tie.  Enjoy, Cindy, I had a lot of fun making this for you!

p.s  HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN to my beautiful Goddaughter, Leah!  

(My God, how did sixteen happen?!?)

 

A Challenge

At some point about midway through retreat last weekend, everyone decided on something to challenge themselves.  Either a sewing skill they had never tried, or one they were uncomfortable with, learning a new craft or technique, or just stepping outside the box.  It’s always good to push yourself a little, right?

Stephanie chose curved piecing using her new Quick Curve Ruler (see those awesome Urban 9 Patch blocks?).  She also brought along an amazing medallion quilt for show-and-tell, and her tiny duffle bag made from Lucy’s Crab Shack scraps was the envy of everyone of us!

Amanda challenged herself to learn how to put in a zipper (taught by Terri).  She quilted her Oatmeal quilt (the entire thing) using the cursive e design, and shared her 36 patch quilt that she was making blocks for at last year’s retreat, and she made the cutest little fabric buckets (we each took one home!):
Cindy flew to Minnesota from California for retreat, along with her favorite Singer Featherweight (ahem.  it’s my favorite, too).  She has the most impressive selvage camera strap–seriously, what a great use of SCRAPS!  And her llama quilt blocks are truly awesome!  Cindy’s husband (a Minnesota native) joined her on Sunday and they were spending the rest of the week driving around Minnesota visiting family.  Cindy challenged herself to try free-motion quilting–and she liked it!

Mary’s challenge was trying crochet, she was teaching herself from a book she won on Cindy’s blog last week–studying and learning with all that activity going on around her!  She brought along an intricate piecing project that she hadn’t touched since February, that’s it in top left photo–she nearly completed the top and my photo does not do it justice!
Terri is back in school, studying graphic art and design.  She doesn’t have a lot of time to sew these days, so she took full advantage of her three days of sewing time.  She made two patchwork rugs, a scrappy pincushion, a tablecloth, table runner, a giant pincushion, a wrist rest and I’m guessing several other items I forgot about already!  I don’t recall what she challenged herself too, but no worries, there was no moss growing on her sewing machine.  ;-)
Rene flew in from the Pacific Northwest to join us, and brought along three beautiful show-and-tell quilts, including the peace sign quilt same made for her first grandson, who is just a few weeks old.  She worked on a shot cotton quilt, with fussy cut cowboy (and cowgirl!) fabric, and even challenged herself to go 3-D with a pincushion project after some coaxing from the rest of us.
Michelle, Rene’s little sister, joined us again this year from Georgia, and she still claims to be a new quilter, but this girl has made some serious strides!  She even shared a quilt this year (a challenge for her), the mini quilt in aquas and browns that she made for her sister’s birthday, that blew us all away–it’s beautiful!  And the fabric she bought at Grubers last year made a return trip to Minnesota and were turned into some very pretty window blocks.
I worked on my Love in a Mist Bee quilt top (it may actually be a quilt one day), cut oodles of 5″ hexagons for my niece’s quilt (thank you, Go! Cutter), paper-pieced blocks for a table runner from my scraps… and my challenge was to re-learn Adobe Illustrator, or at least enough to make diagrams for the newest quilt pattern.  I was grateful to have Terri in the room to help when I got stuck.  Diagrams drawn and complete!

  • Do you challenge yourself to try new things?
  • What sewing technique would you like to try (if nothing was holding you back)?