Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheerful and Bright

I have been home for 2 weeks and don’t have too much to say about the goings on at home. In the sewing room I am working on a couple of things I can’t talk about… because they are supposed to be a surprise(s) for the recipients.

So I was thinking I didn’t post too many flowers from South Africa. Keep in mind that it was summer and hot, so only the hardiest show their sunny faces. I did notice that by 1 pm most days that the less hardy flowers were done for the day… either wilted and gone or closed up and hiding from the sun and the predominant colors appear to be pink and yellow.

I'd seen several sunflowers while we were riding around in the car, but unable to find one nearby if/when we stopped. This is one of my favorite flower pictures of the summer. I don’t know exactly why. It was a cloudy overcast day with a light mist. According to some critics, (I posted it on a “pro” photo forum… from the critique- everything is wrong with the picture from composition to shutter…). So, what did I learn? Nothing, I still like it and to meet the critique I would have had to pick a fake flower from Hobby Lobby, set up lights and wait for a perfect background to appear! Not real life.

Another one I liked was this Daisy with the water droplets. I was taken on the promenade just above the beach near the condo.

Also found on the promenade was this; I don’t know the name, other than it appears to be a lily of some sort. I like this one too. (OK I don’t think I’ve come across too many flowers I didn’t like)…

I found these two cultivated flowers in Pilgrims Rest. Dahlias love the climate in South Africa and grew everywhere, some in gardens and some that had naturalized along the roadsides. I like this one because the bee had obviously been busy collecting pollen and nectar, just look at his pantaloons of pollen.

The rose, well it’s a rosebud, just opening, but it looks so serene.

The last two are wild. The hanging white and yellow is supposedly a thistle, but it was on a large shrub

and the other reminds me of a Spider Mum…

Anyway in the middle of a very cold Midwest Winter these certainly cheer me up and I hope they bring you a little cheer too.

More Later-

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's DONE!!!

It’s a wedding gift. The wedding was in October, but the quilter was booked up through Christmas. So we had to wait until January. Of course I was gone the whole month of January to South Africa. Anyway I no sooner got home, then I got the call the quilt was done. I spent the next several days putting the binding on and I still have to make the label.  (You can click on any photo to make them larger).

This quilt came about all because I participated in a block swap last year with about 100 others. It was called the Black – White – Bright 9 Patch Swap. Blocks were 9 ½ “ unfinished, and were comprised of a black and white print that read Black and another that read White and the center square was a tone on tone Bright, that read clear. I think I send out 30 or 35 blocks and of course got the same number back. I let it all sit and cogitate in a box for a few months and then I sliced the 9-Patches up and stitched them back together. The blocks sat for a bit again while I thought about the setting. Once the setting was on I know I wanted the quilt to be bigger, but I a- didn’t want to

make anymore of the 9-Patch blocks and b- I know I wanted some appliqué on it too. Originally I wanted a 2 color curved border… black and white of course, but my choice of fabrics was not quite right, so I didn’t like it. It would have worked if the ‘read’ white fabric didn’t have any gray in it. So I wadded the border up and set it aside for another day. I looked at how wide the borders needed to be if I wanted a queen size, and knew that much black would be too much. I knew I had a really nice

 variegated green fabric that became the vine. I didn’t have enough brights in my collection to do the flowers without too many repeats, so I asked my online friends for some scraps and did they come through! So I stitched down the vine and added the flowers and leaves; and then let it sit again.

I took it to a local Longarm Quilter –Julie Karlak of Simply Divine Quilting Co, in Bolingbrook IL. The whole quilt is stitched in black thread. The center is a simple repeat panto because you will never see the quilting, but the borders are all custom, with some fun brightly stitched bugs and flowers in a variegated thread and a custom pattern to fill.

So you ask, did the not so good border ever get used. Yep I pieced a back with all the left over bits of the blocks, sashing, posts and the border that didn’t go with the quilt.

The colors of the wedding were black and white, and I thought how often do we get to match a quilt to a wedding even before it takes place? I also wanted to make sure that it would be something the bride and groom would want. They do!

Personally I really like this quilt. It just makes me smile every time I look at it.

And there'll be More Later!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

and the Winners Are!

Ok as promised… But let me first say Thank YOU for reading my blog and my small adventures to South Africaat  or the daily bits about home and my generally not so exciting life! I enjoy reading your input, encouragement or views! I made a list of names from those that commented on my blog, chopped it up and had my friends at bee draw 4 names!!! So what are the prizes- A yard of Shwe Shwe (traditional African cotton very stiff from the dyes), a wool wallet from Lesotho, a Zulu basket, a carved wood bracelet, a carved wooden elephant or a hand beaded tulle food/bowl cover. I put each item in a bag and labeled them from 1-6 and emailed or called each in order of the names drawn and had them choose a number…

The First name drawn was Angela- owner of the blog- My Three Sons and she picked #4

The Second drawn was Sue V- she doesn’t have a blog, but she is a ‘big’ time blog reader, picked #3

The Third was Karen S. that has a blog at  A Cre8tive Kick in the Pants picked #1

The Fourth was Sandy B. - she doesn’t have a blog either, but she does read mine! picked #6.

So nobody knows yet which of the above mentioned item is in the bag, and they won’t know until the mail arrives or we meet in person…. Next week!!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now on to more mundane things… My refrigerator has been repaired, but all the stuff that says ‘refrigerate after opening’ had to be tossed out, so I have a very empty fridge. I don’t know when it quit cooling, but I had the repairman take a temperature reading, and it was well above 40, so it was the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. So just about the only thing I didn’t toss was the ketchup and pickled things, (pickles and capers) and mustards. My recycle bin is over flowing… good thing it’s garbage day.

On a quilty note, I am in an exchange, where we are making 4” x 4” Crazy Quilts on Peltex. The only other rule is that they have to be embellished. These are for an online Yahoo group called the “Sparkly Chickens”. This is our 3rd exchange. The first was 12” blocks with a chicken/rooster on it and sparkly, (the last chicken arrived yesterday. She was a replacement for one that got lost in the mail). The second was receivers choice either Fall or Halloween 8” blocks, and again sparkly. We’ve had so much fun. Anyway I have had all my little gems pieced, even took them with me to South Africa… thinking I might start to embellish them while there- HA, yeah right! I did try but the inspiration just wasn’t there. So the last few nights I have spent working on them, doing the embroidery. I only have a few more to embroider, and then the fun part- adding some beads!!!

One of my friends was reading Ami Simms Blog- It appears that Ami Simms is planning to spend some time in Shipshewana Indiana, and has invited anyone that can get there to join her for some shopping and lunch in Amish country. So unless the weather is just too bad… there’s a road trip on Friday!

I have a need to do some fabric shopping. I have become a ‘Great Aunt’ again; my sisters’ oldest child has produced a baby girl. So I need to pick up the supplies for that. I have an idea of what I want to do… but maybe I will be inspired by a fabric!!! There is Yoders Department Store and Lollies over there… and maybe one or two more on the way home… Ericas in South Bend IN and another little shop in Crown Point IN, but additional stops will depend on the weather… We are supposed to get a bit of snow, and since the Weather folks are so good at predicting accumulations, (NOT- never mind the WHEN of a storm).

And, I picked up the Black White Bright quilt from the quilter today. I wanted to quilt it myself, but I am too lazy to wrestle something that big through a domestic machine, so I sent it out. Julie of Simply Divine Quilting Co. is an award winning longarm quilter in this area and she did a marvelous job, which I will show everyone just as soon as I get the binding on!!! Hopefully, this weekend!!!

and as always More Later!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Home Again and the Last Week

I think I have the Jet Lag thing beat… at least I hope I have figured out the solution, (at least for me)!!! Out of four 22+ plus hour flights (not including all the layover times), only the first flight in July, left me dragging for 2 days. The other 3 I have only needed the next regular 8 hours of sleep to be caught up.

Now that I am home, I have collected m y dog, said hello to the cat, gone through the mail, checked the bills and the difference from what I told the auto pay to pay and the actual bills. Didn’t do too badly! Emptied the contents of my suitcases around the house… literally, clothes, toiletries and shoes all put away-check, put the Gifts and artifacts on the dining room table-check, sewing and books in the studio-check, fabric and other sewing notions in a bag for bee-check. I made a quick stop at the grocery for some food. The refrigerator is on the blink. Not much in there to spoil, mostly condiments, so the mayo’s will have to go. It is cool in there, just not cold. The freezer part is fine. The motor that blows the really cold air into the fridge part is not working. Should be all taken care of by mid week, I have a call into the repair guy. Mean while there is a fridge in the garage that I am using for cold keep. But it is cold enough in the garage to just use the garage!

My last week in South Africa, was interesting and just kept right on going!!! (remember you can click on a photo for a larger view).

Our friends, Fanie and Elmarie loaned us one of their cars while they were visiting with us at New Years, so on Friday January 22nd we left at a bit after noon for the Pretoria/Johannesburg area about a 5-6 hour drive. DH said that we could make a stop back at the quilt shop I found between Christmas and New Years, (with Elmarie). So we did, I spent about 30 minutes in a frenzy, spent much more but I have some orange giraffes….and a few other bits and pieces. We made it to Jo’burg at about 6:30 and unloaded the car.

One of our big disappointments was the box I shipped at the beginning of December did not get there in time for Christmas. It had our gifts for our friends, Fanie, Elmarie and the kids. We put a trace on it and it was found and delivered to us, 3 weeks late. I got the gifts wrapped and they came with us to Jo’burg. So we had our friends Christmas in January. Fanie and Elmarie gave us, at Christmas in Darkest Africa, some really neat authentic leather South African Bush hats. We wore them a lot, since it was hot!!! And you really need the shade when it’s that hot.

We stayed overnight and the next morning we left early for a drive to the east of Jo’burg, with plans to stop and have breakfast in a neat little town called Dullstroom. It is a very nice and quaint village of art, galleries and fun shops. We didn’t get to shop in all of them, but we did do some damage in one or two. Breakfast was delicious!!! I had sweet pancakes… Crepes filled with a dark chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream and some hot French press coffee. What a way to start the day!!! DH had the savory pancakes… Crepes filled with Bobotie, (a traditional South African dish), and the same coffee.

We took a road trip toward the East from Jo'burg, for a wonderful day of stopping and seeing all kinds of sights and sounds in the South African countryside… Fanie and Elmarie showed us some wonderful rolling (almost mountainous) hills, some very quaint villages and towns.  DH liked some of them enought to consider moving there permanently... do you think maybe the fishing might have something to do with it?

We stopped in a little village called Pilgrims Rest, where we saw some native ladies doing some bead work on a porch.

We also stopped at a waterfall, and a place where the water carved some holes in the surrounding stone while tumbling down a ravine, called Bourke’s Lucky Pots.

We also stopped at a place called Gods Window, and it surely must be. What a view. It was hazy, for us, but stunning none the less. I’d like to go back and visit on a really clear day. It was mentioned that maybe we should come back in the morning for the sunrise. After getting up at 3:30 to see the one in Lesotho… I was not so eager!!!

Our path ended for the day at a place on the Sabie River (click the link to see the accomodation), for the night. It is a camp resort where you stay in a tent. Not the canvas tents of old, but the new fashioned vinyl tent with screens, electricity and plumbing. It was truly relaxing listening to the river flow past all night.

The next day we made our way back toward Jo’burg, the long way with breakfast again in Dullstroom, but at a different place- misake, food was not as good. Just outside of Dullstroom is a bird sanctuary, where birds are rehabilitated or used in a breeding program. Most had been handled by humans when very young and imprinted, so are not able to be wild. We stayed for the bird program, where they were brought out and flown for us. There were only 4 birds in the show, but what a show. We saw a Kite, Peregrine Falcon, Tawny Eagle and an Owl really close. The falcon was flown using a lure and he had it zipping in right over our heads, the same with the owl!!! He flew these 2 birds so we could experience, the noise difference of wind through the feathers of those 2 birds in flight. My camera battery was dead, so I didn’t get any pictures of the show, and damn if I’m not a bit upset, (we didn’t have the correct converter for the outlet with us to charge the battery). I have plans to go back!!! DH really liked the signs about what some of the birds ate… can you guess what had him interested?

We finished our drive with a quick run up to Pretoria and shown the city center, where we would be spending the next few days. The Capital of Pretoria is an amazing structure and the gardens are wonderful. I’d love to spend some time just looking at the flowers. (no camera no photos)

We then collected our stuff from Fanie & Elmaries home, and drove back to Pretoria. DH had some business to conduct at the US Embassy. I spent my part of my days sitting on the verandah of the hotel reading a book -which after traipsing around South Africa for 5 weeks was a welcome change of pace.

Next post… the Give Away-

As always- MORE later!