Archive | February 2015

Maple Leaf Guild Quilt Retreat

Last week-end was the Maple Leaf Guild’s annual quilt retreat held at Epworth Forest Campground in North Webster. I had a wonderful time!

IMG_5164I was tired Thursday and didn’t want to think very hard, so I just pieced these little 9 patch blocks which will finish at 3″. They are made from fabrics leftover from other projects. I try to strip piece as much as I can, but some pieces were just big enough to cut a 1-1/2″ block so I had to do some individual piecing. I actually made more than what is shown, but I had already removed the ‘bright’ ones and put them with a work-in-progress.

IMG_5157I felt more ambitious Friday morning and sewed up the pincushions I have been embroidering this fall and winter. They are from the Patchwork Loves Embroidery book by Gail Pan. My friend Deanna and I filled them with walnut hulls I purchased at a pet store.  I had remembered to bring a funnel along but they still spilled some. After they were filled, I hand sewed them shut. They could have probably used more shells for filling, but I think they look pretty good for a first time. I IMG_5158liked the hexagon pincushions better than the rectangular ones, when I was embroidering them, but now I like the rectangles best. For your information, if  you decide to buy the book and make your own pincushions, I reduced the size of the hexagons to 75% of the original in the book. It was just too big. I just realized, the hexagon pincushions are supposed to have a button in the center, that’s why they are baggy. I’ll get that done sometime.





I had pieced the HST’s ahead of time so I could get right to work on Red Radiance. I pieced the star points Friday evening. Saturday morning I sewed the embroidered pieces together and then sewed the HST border. This isn’t the finished project, there is an embroidered border (I have 2 sides embroidered) and then another HST border (which I sewed together). Once I’m finished with the embroidered border I should be able to finish it quickly. I already know how I want to hand quilt her, so she will be going in the frame right away.

IMG_5159We had a special treat on Saturday, the 2015 charity committee showed us the Relief Sale quilt we members pieced and appliqued blocks for. This is Kim McLeans’ Stars and Sprigs pattern. We have several members who do beautiful applique work so 4 of them each appliqued a border. This quilt will be hand quilted by our guild.



Last August I attended the AQS show in Grand Rapids for the first time. There were beautiful quilts and lots of vendors. I bought a couple kits for small projects but haven’t had time to work on any of them. I brought  Snowman Love along, which I had purchased at the Red Button Quilt Co. booth. I completed the body of the project, but need to do some handwork. I might put this away and save her to finish at the next retreat I attend.


IMG_5168I had two Apple Blossom and an orangey/red Amaryllis bloom while I was gone. Aren’t they just beautiful? You can see there are several more to open in the future. I need these flowers to keep me happy in the winter. I’m pleased that staggering the planting has made the blooming staggered.



All Around Tempe & Phoenix



On Saturday my daughter and I caught the light rail and journeyed to downtown Phoenix. First we checked out the Farmers Market.





The sunshine was very bright. We bought a loaf of cheese bread from this vendor.






Look at the sign in this photo. The cheese is made from Raw Cows Milk! I’m impressed that Arizona allows artisans to make and sell their products from raw milk.





My daughter works on the 12th floor of this building.











The entry door to the offices.






The view out the north window.





We also visited the Phoenix Public Library.





We rode the elevator to the 5th floor. I faced the door as we rose up. I can’t handle heights. This is a picture she took looking down.







IMG_5151While in Phoenix, we checkout the Three Dudes Quilt Shop (of Missouri Star Quilt Co. fame) where I bought some fabric to make a southwestern quilt for the young couple.





The quilt on the pattern was made with batik fabrics but I think the fabric we chose will look very nice. Of course I will have to make the quilt longer. The pattern is for 66″ in length. Since the son-in-law is 6′ 2″ or 3″ tall, it will have to be longer to be able to sleep under.






Palm tree are prevalent in the city but there weren’t any in the desert. I didn’t know there were so many varieties.







I love the smell of rosemary but I can’t never ever get them to overwinter here at home. This rosemary is growing in a flowerbed. It’s been trimmed to give it a rounded shape. Wow! They grow rosemary all year around . . . in flowerbeds!





This is a common bush that I saw growing around the Tempe area. We did NOT see it in the desert anyplace, just in the city.




IMG_5116This lovely yellow flowering bush was growing near the Tempe Public Library. I smelled her before I saw her. I also noticed there were no bees flying around in the blooming bushes. In fact, the only bees I saw were on 1 plant at the Botanical Garden. I guess it was too hot for them.

I enjoyed my visit/vacation in Tempe. I saw many new places and ate many new foods, but what I enjoyed most was spending time with my daughter. She didn’t take off of work everyday I was there. Days I was alone I walked around the city. This place is really walking friendly. (Of course it was nice to walk without worrying about black ice!) Sometimes I walked around the extended block or I walked to the Tempe library. I also toured the Tempe Historical Museum one day and learned a lot about the early history of the area.

I’ve learned there is beauty in the deserts and they are green, just a different shade of green than what I am used to.



Of course I had some hand projects along. I completed 3 more embroidered pieces for pin cushions and I knitted 2 dishrags.



IMG_5146All good things must come to an end so it was with my stay in Tempe. I had flown on a direct flight from South Bend into the Mesa airport. It was dark when I arrived on the 5th, so it was nice to see what the area looked like in the day light. I don’t know why there were 2 police cars parked in front, but I decided they must have stopped in for a coffee break.

I had an uneventful flight home and now it is back to work! I hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures. I look forward to going back again, but NOT in the summer.


Lake Pleasant

One day we drove an hour to the mountains and did some hiking. This is what the desert actually looks like. See the saguaro cactus?




The trail wound around the mountains. First we saw this little creek.







And then we saw a lake! Can you believe it? A lake in the middle of the desert, pretty good size too.


I was too bushed to climb to the top of this mountain to see the whole lake. After we walked back to the parking lot, we drove to the marina. I didn’t take a picture of all the boats. I can see boats here at home.


IMG_5099While we were hiking we spotted this little Arizona poppy. This was the only one we saw in bloom. In several weeks the mountains will probably be filled with their beauty.




IMG_5105I also spotted this bush that had some flowers.







The highway we drove on most of the way had decorative design on the sides of the road right before we would go under an overpass. I wasn’t able to get the whole design in one picture especially while driving at 70 mph! This is the best I could do. Maybe the next time I’m there I can convince her to stop and let me take pictures.


Desert Botanical Garden

IMG_5124What do you imagine when you think of a desert? I think of sand dunes and rattlesnakes. That is not what I found in Tempe. There are 4 deserts in the United States. Phoenix (and the surrounding cities) are a part of the Sonoran desert which extends south into Mexico. Of the 4, the Sonoran receives the most rain, 6 – 8 inches a year. IMG_5140How do I know this wonderful information? It’s because we spent a day at the Desert  Botanical Garden and I was educated about deserts!

I hope you don’t get bored with all the pictures in this post. I’ll tell you straight out that I don’t remember most of the names of the cactus’ and plants.



The native Americans called the Mesquite tree, the Tree of Life. They used every part of it. The ground up the seed pods and used it for flour. They were selling Mesquite flour in the gift shop, but we didn’t want to spend $14 for a pound of it, so I can’t tell  you how it really tastes.





I think this is an Aloe Vera but I don’t guarantee it. Aloe Vera is NOT a member of the Agave family.





I think this is an Agave, but that definitely is a prickly pear cactus on the right side and in the background are more mesquite trees.









I don’t know what this little guy is called. He had long “hair”. My daughter felt the “hair” and said it was coarse, like the switch of a cow tail.








IMG_5127The plant on the right is blooming and the left plant has already bloomed and formed fruit. Again, I don’t know what they are. I guess I should have taken notes, but I was supposed to be on vacation!




There are several varieties IMG_5137of prickly pear cacti. The one on the right is a red variety.


They had this cute sun-dial too. It was noon when we were there.


I’m not a rock climber. If I were, I would have tried to climb this sandstone thing. It is not as close as it looks.



IMG_5123I pretty sure this was called a “Christmas Cactus”. It looks nothing like my Christmas Cactus. The thorns on this thing were at least 3 inches long!




IMG_5138Cyclamen are not a native southwestern flower, at least I don’t think they are. Around here they are a house plant, but at the entrance to the garden they had them growing in flower beds.


Saguaro cactus take a long time to grow but can live for 200 – 300 years. They start as a tiny black seed. When they are 10 years, they are the size of a little finger. Not all Saguaro’s develop arms, but if they do, they won’t grow before they are 75 years old. I thought I had a picture of one from the botanical garden, but I don’t.

IMG_5126Just a couple IMG_5120more plants that I don’t know the name of.








I’m going to close with this picture of a road runner that was sitting in a tree. He must have been used to people because he just sat there and let everyone take his picture.

IMG_5133Thankfully I never saw any snakes!


More Amaryllis Blooms

I’ve been gone a week to the warm sunny Tempe/Phoenix, Arizona area to visit our daughter and son-in-law. Now I’m back home to Arctic temperatures, wind chill factor, lake effect snow and white out conditions. In the next several posts, I will be sharing about my trip, but first I need to catch up here at home.

When I left on February 5th, several IMG_5149of the Amaryllis buds were close to opening. This is what welcomed me home. The white flowers are from the bulb the Farmer gave me for Christmas and the red one is actually a darker red than it shows. In real life it has a velvety appearance. The white flowers remind me of an Easter Lily.







The blooms on the red Amaryllis that was flowering before I left had wilted and the second bud was open. If you look in the center of the blooms, there is a 5th flower that will open in a few days.

Behind the Amaryllis is a happy blooming lavender geranium.



This flower pot was close to the

IMG_5155impatience in a flowerbed last summer. A seed fell in this pot and now there is a lonely impatience flower blooming.




While I was gone, the temperature rose to 40* one day. We have steel roofing on the house and when the temperature warms, all the snow comes sliding off in one big whoosh/thud. This snow is very icy and packs hard. It needs to be cleaned off immediately or it turns into solid ice when the temperature drops, which it has. These are the steps into our house. Fortunately there is a path on the left side to step up. We won’t get the ice off until the next thaw.



The next several posts will be about warm, sunny Tempe!

Autumn Sampler/Country Threads BOM

I just got the Autumn Sampler/Country Threads BOM back from the long arm quilter and the binding IMG_5051has been completed. Tammy Payette, from Three Sisters Fabric, quilted her with a simple stippling.

This quilt was something different from my usual projects. I normally don’t have a hodge podge of blocks next to each other.

This is my first finish for 2015 and that is a wonderful feeling. (And yes, this picture was taken before we received 14 inches of snow on February 1.)

Amaryllis Color!

Starting the 2nd week of December, I potted 2 or 3 Amaryllis bulbs a week until they were all planted. I need some color in the winter! I have 13 big bulbs (including one the Farmer gave me for Christmas) and a pot with some little bulbs that broke off the big bulbs. IMG_5078The first one is finally blooming! Isn’t she beautiful?

There are several other tall Amaryllis’ that will be opening soon. The the rest are short flower buds and a few are just starting to send up shoots. I don’t know what the colors will be until they bloom. I know I have at least 1 white bulb, several reds  and a couple of apple blossom bulbs. Each one is very pretty and I can’t pick a favorite color.

I hope I will have continuous flowers for several months this winter.

Summer Flowers

I took the pictures of these flowers last summer but never used them in a blog post. I thought they might brighten up our dreary winter gloom.












Opening the Driveway

On Sunday we received 14 – 16 inches of snow, at least that is what the national weather service said. I couldn’t tell, it was very windy and the visibility was poor. Church services were cancelled and people were supposed to stay off the roads. We had no one coming to the farm, so we just left the driveway alone and let the snow blow!

Monday was a different story. The milkman was coming and the milkhouse supply truck was due. They might be late, but the driveway has to be open, so the Farmer got out the snowblower. This works on the same principle as the little snowblowers you see in town blowing out sidewalks, except of course, with more power. Ours hooks up on the back of the 42/40 and you back into the snow. You can adjust the blower to the direction it blows. There are 2 augers in the back which spin the snow up into the blower. The Farmer blows the snow into the pasture field so it is out of the way.


He blew the snow out of the driveway down to the road which got the bulk of the snow out-of-the-way. IMG_5065Then he got out the skidloader to push the snow he couldn’t get with the blower. He just pushes piles in the yard and along the edge of the driveway.



We use sand in the free stalls. It also works to add traction on the driveway. He applies the sand with the skidloader bucket, spreading it on the drive.IMG_5075This snow isn’t icy yet but it isn’t funny to watch a milk truck slide down the hill which has happened before.

Ok, now the driveway is open. What about our sidewalk? Cleaning the sidewalk was the responsibility of our children when they lived at home, but they are all long gone. IMG_5068This is how you clear snow from a sidewalk farm style. You drive up to the steps, tip the bucket down and scrape backwards. He’ll do this twice and call her finished. This works great for us. The sidewalk is still covered with snow, but since we wear boots all the time, it works for us. I cleaned the steps off when I went out to the barn for the evening milking. Snow removal is finished until the next snow fall.