A Great Day, indeed

Last weekend we drove to Kansas City to celebrate my birthday. I received tickets to see a favorite artist at the Uptown Theater as an early birthday gift:

On the drive down I finished binding my Diet Quilt

and stopped by Stewartsville to visit the home of Tula Pink:

She wasn’t there, but her mom, who owns the Quilt Shoppe, was, and she bought ten copies of our pattern to stock in the store! She was picking fabrics for a sample to kit up before I even left the store! I could not resist snapping a pic of these…too cute and too clever:

The shop is definitely worth the short detour off the interstate next time you are on I-35 in NW Missouri!

We spent some time shopping, eating at cute independent shops like The Upper Crust (a pie shop!) and Great Day Cafe (that we discovered on our Quilt Market trip in May–it’s directly across the street from a quilt shop–bonus!)

I’d recommend them both. This was on the sidewalk between the cafe and the bakery–wish I knew who the artist was:

I took A LOT of photos, I seemed to be seeing quilts in every building, retail display, and article of clothing I looked at. No wonder Kansas City has such a strong MQG–there is inspiration everywhere! I’ll do a separate post to show all the photos. In addition to the concert tickets, my sweetie gave me this:

Not just a copy of the magazine–a SUBSCRIPTION to my favorite quilt magazine which comes all the way from France! Woo-hoo!

On the drive home I sewed one of my Candied Hexagon blocks before I took over driving:

Today, my actual birthday, was a good one. Started off with a delivery to the office (a VERY rare occurrence)…

…as if the weekend wasn’t enough, Sweetie felt guilty about working out of town on my birthday, so I received a balloon and lovely yellow and white flowers in a cute little paint can container.

My Mom was meeting me after work to treat me to dinner (have I mentioned how wonderful it is to have her living locally?!?–it’s awesome, we moved her to the Des Moines metro area in early June!) but she had to come save me when my Beetle decided to quit working (I think she –the car– may have been protesting the heat wave–can’t blame her!) and I had to have her towed from the front of the Des Moines library:

Not fun–but I have to give the Beetle credit for getting me home from St. Cloud retreat last week (a 6 hour drive), and getting us home from Kansas City on Sunday (a 3 hour drive)!

It was still a great day, lots of wonderful birthday wishes from friends, phone calls, my sister called and sang to me… it’s all good! And, I’ve always said I was easily entertained and easy to please; was surprised to see this when I opened the internet at work this morning:

This is a pic up close:

and when I moved my mouse over it, it reads “Happy Birthday Doris!” How fun–make sure you visit Google on your birthday–definitely brightened my day. I’m going to go open the Google home page a few more times before midnight. And, I think I may continue to celebrate tomorrow.

What was your last road trip? Any exciting road trips planned?

Do you seek out the quilt shops along the way when you travel somewhere?


Weekend Wanderlust

This past weekend brought another trip to the Twin Cities, this time for our nephew’s wedding at the Como Park Conservatory:
A stunning backdrop for a wedding, and I personally couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous flowers:
Once upon a long time ago, I had house with a yard, and a garden, and I grew hydrangeas, foxgloves, roses, etc… I miss my garden, but I have to say, not having a garden to tend to does give me more time to sew!

As always, a trip to a fabric store was in order. On your next trip to the Twin Cities, might I suggest a stop at Treadle Yard Goods, on Grand Ave., in St. Paul:
They are celebrating 36 years in business this week, so everything was on sale. They have cotton quilting fabric from freespirit, Riley Blake, Dear Stella, and many more, but what I really like about this store is their specialty fabrics that I can’t always find locally, such as the “great wall of silk”: Liberty of London tana lawn, that I probably could have stood around and petted all morning (seriously, it’s like silk!):Specialty silks, velvets, and even feather fabric!Just inside the entrance are rolls and rolls of laminates and oil cloth, this is just a small portion of the laminates they carry in stock:
I came home with 50% off Soul Blossoms rayon (Amy Butler) for a summer dress, 30% off Loulouthi voile (Anna Maria Horner) and Tula Pink voile for summer blouses, and just one piece of a new Riley Blake line for quilting fabric.

The drive also afforded me some time to work on hexagon blocks, and tomorrow I’ll post an update of how far along I am (exciting!):Parting shot of the Conservatory as darkness descended:

Exploring in Your Own Backyard

…and discovering a Quilt Show! 

There seems to be a popular new buzzword getting a lot of use these days–a “stay-cation”–where you vacation close to home.  The concept isn’t really new, I’ve always enjoyed exploring my own town, county, state, etc.  As a former Museum Curator and later director, it was part of my job to advocate “looking in your own backyard” for fun things to do, meaning visiting your own local tourist destinations; museums, zoos, parks, etc… But as a museum employee, I also knew MANY people, if not MOST people do not visit the attractions that are close by. 

Two weeks ago, I was looking into a place I’d heard about (while in Minnesota in May) called the Wallace Centers of Iowa.  It’s named for Henry A. Wallace, a native son that served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in the 1930s, U.S. Vice President (during WWII) and Secretary of Commerce following the war.  He also is the founder of Pioneer Hi-Bred, now an international agri-business giant.  The Country Life Center of the Wallace Centers of Iowa is located on the birthplace of Henry Wallace, near Orient, IA.  It’s is approximately 50 miles from where I live, but I’d never even heard of it before May 2011.  When I looked into the website two weeks ago, I saw that they were having a Garden of Quilts show the following Tuesday.  I said “Sweetie, we’re taking a road trip after work on Tuesday–keep your calendar clear!” 

They have amazing gardens on this site, operate a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, educational programs for schools and agricultural groups, a recreated tallgrass prairie-like what once covered most of the state of Iowa, hiking trails, stunning artwork and sculpture among the praire grasses, an orchard, an organic cafe in the barn (above)…and much more.  They have a Farmer’s Garden, a Fairy Garden, a Wedding Garden, a Cottage Garden, A Fishpond Garden, an Herb Garden (outside the door of the cafe kitchen) and Henry’s Garden.
Most of the quilts were on display outdoors, in the gardens, on a very hot and humid July evening. The event takes place every July, and on an evening from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  
The event is a fundraisier for the organization, admission was only $3.00.  Seven quilters had their creations on display as well as some vintage quilts from their personal collections.  Connie Nielsen, her mother and her daughter have all crocheted quilts. These two are 100% crocheted quilts!!!

My favorite vintage quilt was this grandmother’sflower garden with the bold, lime green background:

Also inside the barn is a mural painted by Iowa artist Ray Sorensen, commemorating Henry Wallace and his contributions to American Agriculture.  The pansies and strawberries, though much larger than life, looked good enough to pluck off the wall!

The mural also includes a portrait of Henry A. Wallace, and this quotation “If I were to draw conclusions from my life so far, I would say that the purpose of existence here on earth is to improve the quality and abundance of joyous living.” 

There were art quilts, this is Piqued Peacocks by Cinda Long…

A small modern quilt by Cinda…

This one was titled Bora Bora:

This was part of a row quilt that also included pinwheels, cats, a flamingo and poppies (I’m not sure of the connection between these items, but given where we were, I was enthralled by the ears of corn!):
My sweetie really liked the quilting on this one, and he knew the artwork was Mary Engelbreit.  (I have no idea why or how, but he knew…) 
This was fun, a New York City themed quilt, smack dab in a garden in the middle of rural Iowa:

But my favroite of all was this bright beauty hanging over the railing outside the entrance to the barn cafe:

This is a Lakota Star quilt pattern, made entrirely of bright solids.  Stunning.  Naturally I had to get closer…

And as I did, I noticed someone else admiring the quilt “closer up”!

So, do yourself a favor, look around and see what’s in your backyard, or just down yonder, that you might be misisng out on.  Because, as Henry A Wallace said, “the purpose of [our] existence here on earth is to improve the quality and abundance of joyous living.” 

A Diamond in the Rough

Have you ever stumbled across something–a place, an object—something you weren’t expecting to find, that just wowed you–a hidden gem of sorts?  My sweetie and I found one of these gems a few days after we were wed.

We only had a few short days for a mini-honeymoon (we are hoping to make a big trip later this year!) so we drove north, to Red Wing, MN.  The day after we arrived, it was cold and damp (we actually saw snowflakes–in MAY!).  We decided to visit Tower View, an estate built in the early 1900s that now serves as an Artist Residency Program, an alternative high school, an art center, and local meeting space rental. 

The original buildings are amazing… and the sculptures in the garden are wonderful.  The horse above was my favorite; we didn’t walk the entire sculpture garden, as it was just too cold.   Loved this bench, The Courting Bench by Marcia McEachron:

But the true gem?  They have a permanent art collection, which we would not have even seen, if one of the resident artists hadn’t seen us wandering the halls gawking at the photography exhibit that was hanging, and asked “would you like to see our permanent collection, I can go unlock it for you?”  Umm… “yes, please!”  I had no idea…

There were prints by Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Willem de Kooning….

Andy Warhol

Man Ray….

and Henri Matisse… just to name a few.

And these are just the pieces I could get a half-way presentable photograph of.  Mostly prints and etching, some sculpture, Calder mobiles… very important works from the 20th century art world.  I have a Master’s Degree in Art History and Museum Studies, so naturally, I was thrilled with this discovery.  My sweetie doesn’t share the same knowledge of these artists, but he was equally blown away that these were just there for the viewing in the basement of this art center in semi-rural Minnesota.  Let this be a lesson to all who scoff at the Midwest and make fun of Minnesota and Iowa (and places like our’s)…you should never judge a book by its cover, or a place by it’s geographic location.   

I leave you with two of my favorite finds of the day, Marc Chagall’s Psalm I

and his beautiful Green Bird

I felt very inspired to go home and create after this discovery…

Sittin’ On the Dock of the Bay….

At least, that is what I was doing a few weeks ago…and am daydreaming that I am doing again now….  See don’t I look like I was enjoying myself?

We had eight wonderful days away…fabric shopping our way North (My sweetie is almost TOO willing to find the quilt shops along the way, not so good for my wallet!)  Taking in the sights…

Getting lots of fresh Lake air…

Taking some steps back in time…

Enjoying the waters…

and eating some fabulous meals!  This was my sweetie’s Bison Burger, by far the prettiest plate of burger and fries I ever laid eyes on (tasty too!)

I did alot of reading by the water, some hand-sewing (pics to come soon!), staring out at the lake, a little swimming, went for a boat ride, or two, fell off a JetSki (I really do not like those things.), and had an overall fabulous time.

I’ve been back to reality for a week now, am just starting to get my sewing mojo and my work mojo back.  I think I may need another vacation. 

Buy Local

Huh…. that was a completely unintentional (and long) blog break. Life has just been incredibly busy, not much time to create, and even less time to shoot photos and write something about it!

I have some things to show you this week, so be sure to check back… But today I want to show you some goodies I purchased over the weekend at a few Iowa shops that are sadly closing their doors. I went to visit my Mom, who lives about 100 miles away, northeast of Des Moines. On the way to her house, I stopped at Grinnell Fiberworks, a shop I once adored, but was forced to seriously downsize a few years ago and are now closing. All of their merchandise is marked 50-60% off and they had some great fabrics still available. This is what I picked up:

Some great Kona Cottons, a few yards of the fabuolous Michael Miller Jet Brown solid, an older Amy Butler print, an older Kaffe Fassett piece, some batiks, reds, dots…all great basics! I picked up some thread, my favorite applique needles, and handbag hardware as well.

On Saturday morning, Mom and I took off for a road trip to my Favorite Quilt Shop in the world, Yellow Bird Art in Lansing, Iowa. Sadly, it is closing at the end of this month, and this was most likely my final visit.

Lansing is nearly a five-hour drive from my home, so I have not been there often in the last few years, but I’ve ordered from her online shop. The owner, Amy, is such a gracious host and great shopowner. Sadly, the economy is forcing her to close the doors on her business dream.

Her shop is located on the banks of the Mississippi River, in a 19th Century building made of local limestone. Her shop has just as much personality and charm as Amy!
‘Yellow Bird Art was once featured in Quilt Sampler magazine. It’s been open for a little over five years, and she has the same employees/staff that she had when she first opened the doors. That says alot about the kind of business she ran, I think! This weekend was a good reminder, for me, of why we need to support our local businesses.

I brought home these lovely fat quarters…aren’t those the softest colors you’ve ever seen?

And some yardage for a few projects I have brewing in my melon…

And this thread holder, which I’ll make a cover for to keep the light and dust off my threads when I’m not sewing.

Be sure to show your local small business owners some extra support this Spring. It’s been a tough year and they deserve our support.

Happy creating,