Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to everyone! Just so you know, we finally got back our electricity and then a few days later lost it again for another day. So tonight it's snowing outside but I have electricity, a big fire burning in the wood stove and I'm reflecting about 2008 and planning 2009.
When you turn on the news all you hear is how everything is BAD. I've always lived my life as a Pollyanna - I'm usually a very positive person and think how wonderful it is to be alive each day. I especially don't get hung up in negative thinking when it is not in my power to change whatever it is that's going on. A couple of nights ago I phoned an old friend of mine because I hadn't gotten a Christmas card from her. She is one of those people who remembers everyone's birthday and never, ever forgets to send cards. (I only wish I were as good as she is) So I found out that she had been deathly ill, and was in the hospital for 30 days. It made me think about relationships. I think about friends and family every day, but with my incredibly hectic life I don't always tell them that I'm thinking about them. Not that I think they are psychic and will know I'm thinking of them, but I just think I'll get to it later. I have WORK to do .... so if you are like me, maybe it's time to tell each and every one that you love and hold dear to you just how much they mean to you each and every day of the year, not just birthdays or holidays, and that every single day of the year they are in your heart. So here is my resolution for 2009 (and I never make resolutions so this is new for me), I'm going to call and write to friends and family more often just to tell them they are special. I think with my friend's brush with death it made me realize that we need to actively participate in friendships and don't take it for granted that they will be there always. So give your friends and family a hug for me.....Mary Jane

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Iceman Cometh!

If you've listened to the news lately, I'm sure you've heard about all of the ice we've had in the Northeast. We have been without power since Thursday night. But I thought you might like to see a little of what we've had in our yard. I know that this storm has brought troubles to many residents throughout the area and I don't want to make light of it, but you also have to admire the shear beauty of Mother Nature. This little weeping cherry in my front yard is just covered in ice (in fact you can't find a tree that isn't completely covered).

Then there is this beauty right by my front door. Both of the enormous rhododendrons are covered in glistening crystals of ice. Who needs diamonds for Christmas? We have all the bling we need right in our own yard.

And last, but truly not least is this giant beech tree that I see from my kitchen window. It is the first green I see in the spring ... a lovely soft spring green. But right now, it is a frozen statue. I took all of these photos over the week-end. Yesterday we had temperatures in the 60's so all of my lovely ice sculptures are gone - and hopefully we'll have electricity again real soon. Now they are predicting snow tonight and who knows what else lurks on our weather horizon.....

In the meantime I'm going through sewing withdrawal. I was sewing borders on a quilt when the power went close to having the top done that it is driving me crazy. I used the first day to clean one of my sewing machines. A good use of your time, right? I even put in a new needle. But by now, I've used up all of my "non-electric" ideas and I've done so many Suduko puzzles it's not funny. Plus who knew that it gets dark so early in the day this time of the year? So wish me luck and hope that our electric company can bring back the light....Mary Jane

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is It Halloween At Your House??

This past week-end it was Halloween at my house. While most people are getting ready for Christmas, I was busy working on Halloween! No, I'm not really that far behind in my life.....but my friend, Jackie Paton, needed a little quilt made from her new fabric line and asked me to help. This is the cutest panel with witches on brooms, bats, pumpkins and my favorite part - the moon. So look for this Red Rooster fabric line that will be available at your local quilt shop around May 2009. In the meantime, Red Rooster will take this little design and make a free pattern so you can make one for yourself.
If you've ever wondered what Quilt Festival in Houston is like .... well, here's a look at a little part of my booth. It was overflowing with lots and lots of just released patterns and much more! These patterns were so hot off the presses that I picked up the quilts and patterns from the designers at the close of Quilt Market and then hung them the next day in my booth! So this was their first debut to the public!

Well, I'm off to the post office to mail out orders so enjoy the day! Mary Jane

Friday, December 5, 2008

WHEW! I've Finally Added Some Pictures

If you've read my posts in the past, I'm sure you know about my "camera phobia". I don't know what it is that keeps me from taking photos. I love looking at blogs with pictures. We're quilters, right? We love the visual. So I'm starting on my New Years Resolution right now .... do more posts with pictures. Here is a wonderful photo taken by Gregory Case, so I can't take credit for it. It is a picture of "Gentle Violet" and it is the cover photo for the pattern. Greg is not afraid of cameras, so he is the man to call when I need a cover photo done.

"Gentle Violet" was named after my Mother, Violet Hopkins. The pattern has a special place in my heart and I hope all of you who have purchased the pattern since it's debut in October have the same love of your quilt as I do of this one. And if you complete yours, please e-mail me a picture.

I've come to realize that I LOVE ribbon and rick-rack. I just recently purchased LOTS and LOTS of beautiful ribbons and rick-rack. My head has been swimming with the possibilities of where they should be used. This is the time of the year that I get to be creative and I so cherish this time. No quilt shows to pack for ... just the sewing machine and I in harmony (at least, most days).

Here's a look at two ribbons I think are really fun. The one on the left is a brown ribbon with pink FUZZY dots! The dots are so soft and cuddly .... I'm thinking it would be really fun to use this on a baby's quilt. Maybe as the binding?? Who knows what will come of it, but maybe you'll find a picture on a future post. The ribbon on the right is a satiny explosion of beautiful stripes in fuchsia, pink and a soft green. I'm looking for the right fabrics to go with this one.....

The last photo today is a small view of "Santa's Winter Wagon". Again Gregory Case was the photographer so I have to give him all the credit. I'm designing a series of seasonal patterns with wagons. So far the Winter quilt and pattern are done. The Spring and Summer quilts are partially done. My goal is to have them both ready for February when I go to Hampton, Virginia for a quilt show. So I'll keep you posted on my progress.

My task this weekend involves a box of fabric I received in the mail yesterday from my friend, Jackie Paton. Jackie designs fabric for Red Rooster. You might remember my post awhile ago about "Happily Ever After" which was her first line for Red Rooster. It has been a HUGE success. So the fabrics I received yesterday are from her Halloween line (It will be out next year). There is a great panel and Jackie wants me to come up with a design that incorporates the panel and some of the other fabrics. So I've got to put on my "Mathematical" head and figure out what triangles, rectangles, squares, or strips to use. I love this part of quilting. Well, maybe not all of the math but the creative part where you can just put together what you like. And then when it's complete (and if it's wonderful) you feel so great! Who needs drugs to make our day better? We have fabric and lots of ideas for our "high". So put your "creative" spirit to work and see what you can do. Enjoy and I'll talk with you soon. Mary Jane

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm An Underachiever!!

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since my last post! Since then I've been to Santa Clara, CA to vend at Pacific International Quilt Festival, to Houston, TX for Quilt Market and vending at Quilt Festival, and then back to California to sell my handmade items at a boutique! And that's not to mention Thanksgiving thrown into the mix along with my 2 grandsons coming to visit for 3 days. So I guess I haven't been sitting on my laurels, but then I look at my friend's blogs and there are wonderful pictures and postings almost every day and I feel like such an "Underachiever"! Where do the hours go each day?? And to think that the BIG van still has boxes in there that were sent home from Houston. I've decided it is a perfect place to store boxes ... and now I'm not sweating where to put all of it. Who's going to need drapes for a booth right now? Or table covers even? Of course I do have a few boxes containing bolts of I will have to deal with it at some point when I need to get to them for orders. So tomorrow when I drive the BIG van in for it's oil change I'm sure the mechanics will be suitably impressed with these boxes ( all 50 something of them). Just think if they could see the rest of my quilting life too...they would be in for a surprise.

So I'm going to make an effort to get some of my photos posted here in the near future so you can see some of what I've been up to. I had a great response to my 2 newest designs - "Gentle Violet" and "Santa's Winter Wagon". I had a wonderful call from a woman in California who said she hardly ever buys patterns and never kits, but she couldn't get "Gentle Violet" out of her head after she saw it at PIQF in California. So she ordered the kit over the phone, and who knows, maybe she's busy making her own right now.

My other big news is I bought over 6,000 fat quarters (actually fat fat quarters because they are cut metric so you gain a little bit over US fat quarters) from Lecien fabrics. They are the most beautiful fabrics. Lots of basics - tone on tone, small stripes, checks and dots- and then 2 big boxes of the Durham Quilt Collection! That is one of my all time favorite designs from this great Japanese fabric company. The colors are so soft and romantic. I'm working on a new design right now - I'm thinking about naming it "Sweet Adeline" after my wonderful Aunt who was full of life and always surprised me with her humor. So that's in the works...and hopefully by spring it will have hatched off the paper and onto fabric. I wish you all a wonderful Holiday season and I'm going to try and get back here more often to talk with you. Mary Jane

Friday, October 10, 2008

I'm Back But Not For Long

If you've been wondering where I've been since my last post.....I'm not sure I can remember. Each day runs into the next and it is almost a blur! I've been frantically working on TWO patterns. I wrote awhile back about "Gentle Violet" and that is all ready to go, but now I'm finishing up "Santa's Winter Wagon". In fact, the copier is working away as we speak. So tomorrow I leave for California for Pacific International Quilt Festival. The really fun part of this is I get to see my sister. I haven't seen her since November. And since she's not only my sister but my best friend that is far too long. We always have lots of laughs and she'll help me in the booth at PIQF so we'll be spending lots of time together. If you're planning on attending the show (which is FANTASTIC!), please stop by and say hello. We'll have our 2 new quilts hanging plus some beautiful quilts by other designers. Once I return from California, I have about 3 days at home and then it's off to Houston, Texas to attend International Quilt Market where I get to see everything that's new and exciting to purchase for the shop. That is followed by International Quilt Festival which is open to the public. Look for us in Booth # 559 and 561. We'll be there ready to give you a big HOWDY! Until then .... keep yourself in stitches (and I don't mean the medical kind)! Mary Jane

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Almost Done!

I am so psyched! Yesterday I went to the post office and picked up a package from my machine quilter. I've spent the last couple of months working on "Gentle Violet", and it has turned into my "baby". So, after the top was completed I sent it off to be machine quilted. Now if you're like me, you can't always pick out a quilting design that will look good on a specific quilt. That is a talent I do not possess! I rely on the professionals to guide me and then I worry that I won't like it - but my worry was unnecessary! When I opened up the box I took a deep breath and then dove right in. I was so thrilled - the quilting is absolutely perfect and it really did make the quilt. Now I'm trying to get the binding on so I can ship it off to the photographer. It is made from the most beautiful Lecien fabrics .... and the fabric arrived yesterday so I'll be able to make kits. Look for the kits sometime in October. Enjoy your day. Mary Jane

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Woodchuck Story

If you ever have a woodchuck in your backyard and he's eating your garden .... just let him stay! There is probably enough to feed all of you. But at our house, we had to trap the cute little furry thing in a Hav-A-Hart trap. Now, that is the kind way to remove him from the garden, but here's what this kind gesture evolved into..... we went away for a few days right before Labor Day. I told my husband that he shouldn't leave the trap outside because if we caught something it would be stuck in there for a few days and that didn't seem too kind. So he moved the trap into the basement. Then on Labor Day as I was rushing around trying to pack for a quilt show in Harrisburg, PA, my husband said he would move the trap out of the doorway leading into the storage room. So of course I heard him say he was moving it, but I didn't see where it went. But did I find out when I turned around and fell right over it (and it is pretty big) and onto my nose on the cement floor! We spent several hours at the emergency room and found out I had a broken nose. Luckily I didn't break the leg that landed into the cage too. So if you ever take a dive onto your nose, here's what you do .... make sure you put ice immediately on the nose. Luckily I did that and it didn't get too swollen and I didn't even get black eyes for my trip to PA. It only proves that quilters are determined to go to quilt shows ... because this little mishap didn't even slow me down.
On a brighter note - my newest pattern, "Gentle Violet", should be ready in October. I'm really excited about this little quilt and I'll share photos of it once I get the pattern done. I'm also working on a small quilt for each season. So far the main piece is done for summer and winter. Haven't finished fall or spring yet. Who says the seasons have to be done in order? I'm trying desperately to get all of these projects completed and the patterns written before October when I go to Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, CA and then on to Quilt Festival in Houston. So if you attend either of these shows, look for me there! And in the meantime, keep on quilting....Mary Jane

Monday, August 4, 2008

Around The Cape and Back Again

I just returned last night from a quilt show on Cape Cod. What a wonderful place to is so beautiful. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me while I was driving so I can't share the sights with you. But I'll just say the scenery was so picturesque....rivers leading out to the sea and the boats bobbing in the water....oh yes, and let's not forget the fried scallops which were delicious!

So here are a few pictures you might like.... These are 2 pictures of my booth at this show. It was the 27th annual Bayberrry Quilt Guild show. What a nice group of quilters....and many beautiful quilts were on display that were made by it's talented members.

Next is my husband's domain - the outside.....he practically lives outside year-round, but especially in the summer, and has such a green thumb. We have the most wonderful organic fruits and vegetables! Who knew that asparagus could be so pretty??? We all know it is delicious to eat, but when you let it go to seed after the picking you get this... and it is spectacular.

And if you like dill , but never thought about it except as an ingredient in dill pickles, then you might like this bit of nature's artwork ..... dill growing in the garden.

Also, lettuce and marigolds make a pretty picture....

So here is a view of the garden from a distance - I'm so lucky to have the land we have and this beautiful backyard. And a husband who absolutely likes to make it that way. That way I can have the time I need inside the house, adoringly looking out the windows from my sewing machine (at him and the garden)!

Now awhile back I promised you some pictures from our cottage in Vermont - 8 miles from the Canadian border. We spent a week there in July with our 2 grandsons, Rory and Noah. Rory said it could only rain at night and then only on the other side of the lake .... and he pretty much got his wish. So when it rained on the other side of the lake, we had this magnificent rainbow from our yard looking out over the lake.

And in case you think Vermont is pure country .... here are some elk eating at their trough. This farm has 100's of elk and they are so majestic. I just had to throw a picture of them in.

So now I'm off the Lowell Quilt Festival. I'll be spending the next 2 days there setting up my booth. I've got a few ideas I think will be fun! Then the show is open Thurs., Fri., Sat. and Sun. Stop on by and say hi. I've been told that the quilts this year are the best ever ..... can't wait to see them and you too! Mary Jane P.S. I hope my friend Anne reads this and sees that I can take and post pictures now - thanks to her encouragement!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Free Gift Info

I had hoped to share a few more photos with you today, but there are just not enough hours in the day. I am madly trying to accomplish more things than humanly possible. First there is the cutting and bundling of 100's of yards of fabrics for the show at Cape Cod in a week and then immediately after that is another show in Massachusetts. Next the quilt is almost done for my next pattern. I am really excited about this small quilt...but this small quilt equals hours and hours of work. If you've ever tried to create a quilt from "scratch" the process isn't that complicated, but it does take much "dreaming" and "thinking". After the design phase, there is the fabric selection. For this quilt I've chosen almost exclusively Lecien fabrics...these are fabrics that won't be on the market until sometime in Aug. They are the most wonderful fabrics, but that's another story. So after the blocks were completed, then the borders have to be done. But of course, did I have enough fabric from these "not to be found yet" fabrics?? NO-O-O. But I am fortunate enough to be friends with Nireko who just happened to have 2 far quarters which she kindly mailed to me. PLUS she called Japan (of course it helps with you speak fluent Japanese like she does) and they brought over on the plane Tuesday 1 yard for me . So now the borders can be completed. After that it is off to the quilter. Sounds like cake?? Well, you also have to decide what quilting patterns you want. Of course the quilting really makes the quilts so you really want this to be a good choice. Once that's completed, then it's back to me for the binding. Then off to the photographer for the picture. Then there is the new logo to be designed for the pattern company - Holly Hill Quilt Designs - I came up with a rough sketch but someone has to make it pretty and usable. Then you also have to write the pattern so someone else can make it......get the picture? And if that isn't enough I am trying to design a line of fabric. I've come up with 9 designs so far but I've spent countless hours there too. I am so glad that I love quilting and fabric or none of this would seem like fun. As it is, I am really happy to jump out of bed in the morning and work until almost midnight on something that I truly love. So now you understand why I didn't get the silly pictures scanned. WHEW!
So here's the deal....I want to see if anyone is reading this and I'm not just talking to myself. If you post a comment on this blog, I'll put your name in a box and randomly select one of you to receive a gift from me to you. Now isn't that easy? And doesn't everyone love a present?? I'll draw the name on August 12th (my daughter's birthday) so get busy writing me and see if you are the lucky one on August 12th. You have until August 11th to get your comments in. Good luck. Mary Jane

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Here's Where I've Been

I promised you pictures so here they are. This shows you a little bit of what I've done since the end of May. First off was the trip to Wisconsin to visit with my Norwegian cousins. If you've read earlier posts, then you know that I LOVE Wisconsin and especially my cousins!!! We went to the parade and I couldn't resist taking a picture of this Viking float....

Then after the return from Wisconsin it was off to the New Jersey State Quilt Guild show in Edison. There were so many beautiful quilts on display it was hard to pick out only a few to share with you, but this first one is a close up of a quilt named "Pepto Bismol". The workmanship was incredible and I apologize that I didn't get the persons name who made it. But whoever you are - your quilt is absolutely beautiful!

This next picture shows the quilt from a distance.

I love traditional quilts, but I also love modern quilts. I guess I just love quilts, so here is a really striking quilt with wonderful bright colors.

And here's another modern quilt - what a great eye this person had for arranging the colors.

And just to give you an idea of what I did there besides taking pictures (with my new 35 mm camera - I think I'm finally over my fear of cameras), this is picture of a portion of my booth. In the foreground is Bunny Hill's "I Believe in Angels" quilt. Oh so beautiful!!! It is a "heavenly" design. And next to it is Alex Anderson's "Baskets and Blossoms". You can definitely tell that the color choices were done by a professional. Who would have thought that the wild Hawaiian print would be so great in this quilt?

Then here's another part of the booth where Bunny Hill had a corner on the market. There is "Sugar Bunnies" on the left and "Postcard Cuties for Spring" on the right. The head bunny at Bunny Hill, Anne, is such a wonderful person. Isn't it nice when we can support designers who are not only talented, but are also exceptional human beings?

And last, but definitely not least, are "Seaside Cottage" by Vicki at Bloom Creek on the left, Alex Anderson's "Hopscotch in Neutrals"in the middle, and "Winter Memories" by my friend, Brenda, at Acorn Quilt and Gift Company. Brenda and Anne are friends too, so that tells you what a wonderful person Brenda is too!

So that's it for show and tell for now. I'll try and post my pictures from our trip to the lake with the grandsons and the dog soon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I'm Not High Stepping Yet

In case you wondered where I've been lately ..... I had knee surgery and today is the first day I could make it to the computer. I won't say sitting on a "real" chair is exactly fun right now, but at least I'm somewhat upright, for the moment. So just wanted to say "HI" and let you know that I actually took some photos in New Jersey that I want to share with you, but right now I don't think my brain can figure out how to hook everything up to the computer and download the photos. So I guess that will have to be a post for another time. Mary Jane

Monday, June 9, 2008

On The Road Again....

I thought since we just returned last week from our 2,500 mile round trip to Wisconsin I might not want to get into another moving vehicle again for a very long time!!! But tomorrow it's back on the road again...this time to New Jersey which is only a 4 or 5 hour trip, so it will be a piece of cake. Of course, I haven't completely unpacked the GIANT van from the last trip so now I have to unpack it so that I can repack it! Is there any logic to this? When I bought this van I never knew what a great storage space it would make when I wasn't traveling. So now there are bolts of fabric, some boxes and other assorted things in there that need to come out to make way for the new. And boy, do I have some wonderful new goodies that I found at Quilt Market. And just so you can be prepared - I finally purchased a digital camera. Of course, it is still in the box but I'm hoping to take some pictures of the quilt show in New Jersey for you. Now if you've read my blog in the past, you'll know that I am camera wish me luck. It used to be a joke at my house when my daughters were little that the only pictures we had were when my parents came to visit or the ones taken at school. Photography is definitely not my award winning talent. (I think my talent might be chocolate eating)So keep a look out....maybe I'll surprise you soon. Mary Jane

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hurray for Vacations!

My husband and I just returned last night from our trip to Wisconsin. And we had a wonderful trip. Who would have thought that driving 2500+ miles with gas over $4.00 a gallon could have added up to such a great time. In case you don't know - my mother was born in a small town in Wisconsin. We took a family vacation there every summer to visit my grandparents and tons of assorted aunts, uncles and cousins when I was growing up. We lived in Los Angeles and we would drive to Wisconsin - in the days before all of the huge interstate highways. We would take 3 LONG days to get there and then 3 LONG days to get home, but the 10 days we were there was heaven to the "city" cousin. There were cows to be milked, eggs to be collected, and my grandfather even let me feed the baby lambs from a bottle! So when it came time to go home, my parents had one unhappy daughter. I had a little red plaid corduroy jacket that I referred to as my "barn jacket" and I wouldn't let my mother wash it because I liked the barn smell. I still have that little barn jacket - it's been around for about 55 years...and even though the barn smell has disappeared, it sure can bring back fond memories when I look at it.
So I met up with lots and lots of my cousins, their children and grandchildren and we all converged on a campground. There was plenty of Norwegian laughter (and for them plenty of beer too)! We even went to the Norwegian parade...when I get my film developed I'll show you some of the floats bearing the Vikings and the Daughters of Norway. I think this might have been one of the best vacations of my entire life. And my husband was made to feel so shows what big hearts these Norwegians have to welcome a Boston raised boy into their midst, just as they did the little girl from Los Angeles all those years before.
Another high point of the trip was taking a ride out to my grandparents farm. They moved off the farm in 1952 or so, but we stopped and the current owners gave us a tour of the house. Now talk about old memories coming pouring back. I could recount where the old outhouse was, the hand pump for water outside, etc. I think I remembered more than most of my older cousins because those things were probably every day things to them, but to someone from Los Angeles they were just wonderful big adventures. Of course, my mother thought I was nuts because she was so happy to get off the farm and to a city.
So now, it's time to get back to quilting. I am leaving in a few days for the State Guild of New Jersey quilt show and I have to start cutting fabric and organizing. Plus I have about 20 boxes of fabrics, patterns, notions, etc. that arrived while I was gone. So guess I'll have to get busy opening them up and checking out the fun things inside. Hope you are enjoying whatever it is you are doing and I'll talk with you soon. Mary Jane

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quilt Market = Candy Store

If you have never been to Quilt Market, just imagine acres and acres of beautiful booths filled with more fabric than you can imagine, incredibly constructed quilts and creativity abounding until your head starts to spin. That's what Spring Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon was like. So I hopped on over to Bunny Hill Designs and met up with my friend Anne Sutton, who is the head bunny! Here is Anne's booth which was absolutely adorable - and she won for best single booth!! Congratulations Anne - you are the greatest.
Then I rolled on over to see Brenda at Acorn Quilt and Gift Company. Brenda is a kind and generous and such an artist. And now she's designing fabric for Henry Glass. Now I was off to visit the Daiwabo booth. If you have ever wondered who is the face behind those yummy Japanese taupes - it's my friend, Maria. And please look close - Maria is sporting new glasses!

What quilt market would be complete without making new friends too. Look what's blooming at Bloom Creek. Here's Vicki who is a wonderful designer. These quilts were absolutely much so that I had to order the patterns and all the fabrics to make them with. I'll put them on my website as soon as they arrive!

Lastly I just had to take a picture of Alexander Henry's booth. They have some wonderful fabrics, but mostly I wanted you to see their banner "WonderShop". It looked like a fabric fairy land.....if only my picture could do it justice.

I walked for almost 9 hours a day for the first 3 days of the show and then 7 hours the final day. I could never describe all I saw, but at least here is a little glimpse for you to enjoy. Mary Jane

Monday, May 12, 2008

2 Days and Counting!

Only 2 more days and it's off to Oregon! Now all I have to do is get over my pneumonia. Yes, the lousy cold and sore throat ended up to be pneumonia. What I have left is the cough, cough, cough problem. Sounds so contagious, but it isn't really. So hopefully when I get on the plane Wed. AM the cough will be gone and my fellow passengers won't think I'm giving them germs. Speaking of Wed. AM - I have to get up at 2 AM - AARGH!! Since my normal bedtime is midnight that's not much sleep. I'll probably be dopey on the plane but hopefully when I arrive in Portland I'll be refreshed because I don't know my way around the city and their public transportation.
Check back sometime next week and see if I've gotten my photos posted. I have the camera out so hopefully I won't forget to pack it. Mary Jane

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

One Week & Portland, Oregon Here I Come

I can't believe it is only one week until I arrive in Portland, Oregon for Spring Quilt Market! I've had a lousy cold, sore throat and laryngitis since Saturday so I'm hoping I'll be all better for the trip (and the BIG buying that I do at Market). Market is so much fun, but it also is work because you are spending tons of money and hope that what you buy is what your customers will want. Because as much as we shop owners love quilting, fabric, patterns, etc. we wouldn't be in business very long (unless we were independently wealthy) without someone buying our products. So anyone out there in cyberspace that has a your comments! I would love to hear what you are looking for.
In the meantime, they should be pretty much finished with the hardwood floor in the big room is coming out really nice! But what a mess to clean on the porch, all the "Junk" from 3 closets scattered everywhere and what I really want to do is lay down on the couch (which is on the porch) and get over my germs. Last night I tried to make dinner working around our leather chair right in the middle of the kitchen. It wouldn't fit on the porch so it ended up in the kitchen. I made a quiche and it was very interesting rolling out my pie crust in such a small area, but it came out really good. So tonight there is no cooking because we have leftovers! I really love leftovers....So have a nice day. Mary Jane

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tomorrow is a New Adventure

I am looking forward to tomorrow when the workmen arrive and start on the hardwood floors! I have never been a fan of wall to wall carpeting so out it goes. I won't say I'm looking forward to the work still ahead tonight...getting the couch, dining room table, etc. out of the room. I moved all of the small things about a week ago, but couldn't quite figure out how to move the big things by myself.
Then next week it is off to Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon! I always get so excited about market because there are so many wonderful things to see. Aisle after aisle of the latest in fabrics, patterns, etc. I usually spend my first day walking every aisle and making notes. No orders until I've seen it all. It is a very long day and my feet attest to that by dinner time! The really special part of this spring's market is where I'm staying. About 10 years ago I was delayed in the airport in San Francisco and met a wonderful woman in the coffee shop. She lives in Portland and has asked me to stay with her. I am really looking forward to it. It is funny how spending a short period of time with someone could result in such a great friendship. We have kept in contact over the years and have a wonderful bond. So Mary, I'll see you next week!
In the meantime, I'll try and post again before I leave. And I'll try and take some pictures that I can share with you after I return. I'm sure you'd like to see what's new too. Mary Jane

Friday, May 2, 2008

May Has Arrived - So Spring Must Be Here!

There is something about May - even here in New Hampshire, the snow is gone, we start to get a glimpse of green, and flowers emerge from their long winter's hibernation. Now I won't say I'm an avid gardener (too much quilting to do), but I really appreciate the colors of spring. There is nothing more beautiful than a beech tree in the spring when the leaves show the most amazing green color. Who would think that spring leaves could have such variations in colors? But each type of tree has it's own spring color, just as they have their own fall color. It is almost like a beautiful living quilt when I look outside. Then factor in the wonderful sunsets, all of the color variations and my visual stimulation is on overload.
Do you ever wonderful how some color combinations work and some don't? Do you ever plan a quilt thinking it will be the most beautiful quilt ever, only to be disappointed with the finished project? Maybe we have to take a lesson from Mother Nature and incorporate a more varied color palette into our quilts. I know myself that I really get into the "matchy" thing and occasionally it appears a little dull. Some quiltmakers think you need to throw in a "zinger" to avoid this. But if you are like me, it is hard to work outside of your comfort zone. Have you ever taken a class from Mary Ellen Hopkins? She has you put your hand into a paper bag and whatever you take out is what you have to use - right then, right now! No putting it aside until that color works into your plan. So maybe the lesson today is to get out some of your assorted pre-cut strips, that I'm sure most of you have on hand, and throw them into a bag, and then start pulling them out and sewing. Throw caution to the won't kill you and maybe you'll find out that sometimes too much thinking takes away from the fun. The only trick I've found with "random" selection is the smaller the width of the strip the less the fabric matters. One of my favorite log cabin quilts was made with some of the ugliest fabrics I had on hand, but I cut them into 1-1/4" strips. When you have a 3/4" finished strip you only see color - you didn't see the Santa faces on the blue fabric, etc. Of course, it takes quite a bit of time to make something large with 1-1/4" strips, but at least it is something that divides perfectly into 2-1/2" jelly roll strips. Have a great week-end and let your creativity shine! Mary Jane

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tuesdays Are Definitely Better Than Mondays

Now that yesterday is over, I can say "Hurray for Tuesday!!". When I arrived home last night the horror show had ended. The wallpaper was all off the walls and the painter (who is a perfectionist - thank goodness) had patched and primed so you would never know the stuff had ever been there. They had started edging with the new paint, so now I could see what it might look like. It is so different from what was there before, I'm sure when I get home tonight and the job is done it will be like coming into a house that belongs to someone else. Of course the full effect won't be had until the new couch arrives (and you'll be happy to know I didn't buy the lime green one), and the hardwood floors are put down (next week's big adventure). I picked out a couch that is pretty modern, but I don't think too wild. My friend Elaine might even approve! It has a soft chocolate brown background (if I can't eat it I might as well sit on it), with 2" circles of light tan, a darker brown and aqua. So the wall color is the aqua color of the circles. Since I haven't bought a new couch in 22 years it was a bit overwhelming. You never think about the style - with a ruffle, a pleat, with no ruffle or pleat, wooden legs, what finish for the legs, etc. and then go on to pick out fabric for the couch and fabric for the pillows. UGH - I spent quite a few hours in cyberspace putting different covers on various couches until I think I have one I'll like. We'll see when it arrives in 8 weeks or so. In the meantime the old one will be there not quite matching the new decor, but what's a girl to do? I definitely need a spot to sit when I sew on quilt bindings.
Speaking of quilt bindings - I'm just finishing the binding on a quilt that I'm donating to Quilt Pink. It looks sort of antique so if you want to see it, look for it under "The Christmas Shoppe, Richmond, NH" on Quilt Pink's site in the future. They will auction off the quilts they receive on e-bay and the auctions will run for several months depending on the number of quilts that are donated.
Today my daughter, Allison, graduates with her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Antioch New England. We're going to celebrate by going to the Blue Trout Restaurant. She has worked long and hard to get to where she is today and we are so proud of her. And to top it off, she received a great job offer I guess it really is "Hurray for Tuesday". Mary Jane

Monday, April 28, 2008

What A Day!!

Some days don't you just think it might have been better to stay in bed?? Well, today is definitely one of those days. Let 's see - started the day off at 7 am moving things around for the painter. Not such a bad day yet, but when the painter arrived it rapidly went downhill. When the painter came to give the bid on the job, he tried taking off some of the problem and the bid reflected this no problem situation. When he arrived this morning wouldn't you know that the one piece he removed so very easily was the only piece in the whole entire 30' room that would come off. Now he's talking about the length of time = money this will now cost, and my husband is talking about how women always have to change things (even though this wallpaper has been up for almost 11 years). And by the way, which women is he referring to since I'm the only woman in his life?? I'm not sure about all husbands, but at least my husband thinks that anything you have will last your entire lifetime. There is never a need to modernize or change with the times. I believe this about spouses, but not wallpaper - I'm not trying to change him into a younger model! Then the next fiasco is the painter calls to say there is water leaking in around the chimney - of course, that is right where they are painting! This was fixed twice by the man who built the chimney and then next by my husband. It hasn't leaked since my husband fixed it 2 years ago so it would pick today to start again. If I were a drinking woman, I would probably stop at the bar on the way home. But since I don't drink, I think lovingly of chocolate, but I've decided to cut the calorie intake (what a bad time to think I needed that) but when my husband weighed the other evening and I realized that we weighed the was a shocker. So now I'm watching him eat 4 donuts yesterday (only one so far today that I know of) along with many, many other LARGE calorie foods and thinking that I need to IGNORE the donuts, STEP AWAY from the donuts.....carrots are your friend! I overcame the donuts calling me and maybe when I see friends at Quilt Market in Portland next month they will actually notice (HINT-HINT) how hard I worked, and what amazing will power I have. So now I'm on my way home to see just what has happened there today. I'm hoping that the beautiful Ralph Lauren paint I picked it is on the walls and it will all be worth it. I'll try and let you know tomorrow. Mary Jane (P.S. Thank you for the therapy session - I feel much better now!)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hurray for Sunny Days!

Don't you feel wonderful on a beautiful sunny day? Well, today is one of those days in New Hampshire. The sky is blue, there are a few fluffy clouds and it is warm. It is so easy to let your imagination loose and dream about all of the quilting projects you want to complete.....and so easy to forget about all of the dust "bunnies" around your house. In preparation for the installation of the new hardwood floors, I was packing up the CD's (not money, but musical) last night and I found a few of those "bunnies" that were hiding on the shelf behind the CD's. Who knew they were there? And most days, who cared they were there? I have a friend who refers to dust as a "protective coating". Since most of us juggle our lives, there is usually one or two things that kind of take 2nd place. I find that the dusting is definitely on the bottom of the list, especially when I make so much dust every day with cutting and sewing that it is an endless task.
So what is on my list to create soon......I received a shipment of bright fabrics with penguins and polar bears. I fussy cut the polar bears and I'm going to make a childs quilt using the bear blocks and some pieced blocks of bright fabrics. So far I've picked out lime green, orange and pink. I want it to be fun and I think the bright colors might just do it.
Hope you are enjoying your day and if it isn't sunny, just make your disposition sunny and it won't matter. Mary Jane

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Blonde Whirling Dervish

Ok - So it's been almost 2 months since I last posted on my blog. Did you think I was on a 2nd honeymoon, or reading trashy novels and eating bon-bons (this is what my sister always asks me when she calls), or maybe just taking a break? Well, it is none of these. When I returned from Virginia there was 4 weeks of helping my husband recuperate from his broken rib, then I went to Lancaster, PA and vended at Quilters Heritage Celebration. This is a wonderful quilt show and, of course, I love seeing the Amish families. Somehow when you see them working in their fields or in their buggies, it is really easy to think about a simpler time. Our frenzied pace seems to be at odds with their lifestyle. Then from Lancaster, I went to Chicopee, MA for a small guild show. Then this week-end I was in Manchester, NH for Machine Quilters Expo. So there is my life in a nutshell.
Now I have a few weeks off - but you have to remember that I am not a "normal" person. My friend, Elaine, calls me a maniac! So my time off, is not really off. I might work 16 hours a day instead of 18 or 20! Here's my goal before my next show in June in New Jersey: finish my newest quilt pattern and hopefully talk some friends into doing the applique for me, then I'll do the piecing. Go to Spring Quilt Market in Portland, Oregon! Can't wait for that because I get to see the newest designs, fabric and old friends. It is such an experience to see everything. Then at the end of May we're going to Wisconsin to see relatives that I haven't seen in almost 20 years. I have such wonderful childhood memories of Wisconsin and visiting my grandparents on their dairy farm, so I can't wait to see all of my cousins again and reminisce about the "old" days. I also have to get new samples done and off to the quilter so I'll have new and wonderful things to show in New Jersey. And then just to up the stress level we are having hardwood floors installed in our family room and hallway. Since our family room is almost 30 feet long we have to move everything where I don't know, but I guess we'll figure it out by May 6th when they arrive with the hammers! It sure will be much nicer without our 20 year old carpet. Not that it is in bad shape with just the two of us, and Mick the dog and Roxy the cat. But then of course, I thought why don't we talk off the wallpaper - a Warren Kimble plaid 1/2 way up the wall with a Canada geese border on top, and paint. Ten years ago I thought that was really fine, now I'm thinking off with it! I am going to buy a new couch and the "maniac" me was looking at lime green, terra cotta or pale aqua. That is quite a range, wouldn't you say? So who knows what I will come up with, but it definitely won't be "normal". The only furniture I have to work off of is my husband's navy leather Mission oak chair. So who says lime green doesn't look good with navy? Oh come to think of it, my friend, Elaine, said it wouldn't look good. But since I am a native Californian, maybe I have a different style than my New Hampshire neighbors. Well, I've got to run and make a little dinner. We spent the whole day working outside trying to get the winter mess cleaned up so that spring can be seen! Hope you are all well and hopefully I'll get back to posting more than every 2 months. Mary Jane

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm Back!

I just returned last night from the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA. This was my 2nd year vending at this spectacular show. What a change their weather is for us "snow bunnies". There was green grass and flowers today here in New Hampshire we are having another snow storm with some lovely freezing rain thrown in just for the fun of it. So the van is just going to sit in the driveway under the snow and freezing rain because I surely don't want to go outside and bring in those tables and racks. But thank you to all of the show attendees who helped to lighten my load for the trip home by purchasing so many of the great patterns, books and fabrics that I brought along! And a big thanks also goes out to the great designers who are so creative and come up with these gorgeous quilt designs.
And think of us in the snowy Northeast and hope that my feet are a little more grounded than my husband's. On Friday morning while I was in Virginia he slipped in the driveway and fell, and now he has 2 broken ribs. So if you don't see frequent posts on my blog, you'll know that I'm nursing him back to health and also getting merchandise ready for the next show in Lancaster, Pennsylvania! Think warm thoughts for us, will you?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day!

Happy Valentines Day to all! I hope you are at home enjoying some delicious chocolate. I expect to partake of that sinfully delicious tradition after dinner (even though I have been known to eat chocolate before dinner too).
Valentines Day brings to mind more than chocolate - think of everything this wonderful day of family, and, of course, hearts. I'm working on a new pattern that incorporates heart applique blocks with pieced blocks, and, of course, a little applique around the borders. I have it mostly worked out and now I'm anxiously waiting fabrics from my friend, Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs. She has designed the most beautiful fabrics and I think they will be wonderful for this new pattern. So depending on how many friends I can talk into making the applique blocks, I might have something to show you soon.
Have a nice day with the ones you love....Mary Jane

Friday, February 8, 2008

Am I Computer Literate Yet??

As I started to write this post, I decided to try and post a photo of my friend, Jackie's, new fabric. I'm feeling pretty smart as I download the picture and can view it as I'm writing. Oh, I am so computer savvy (NOT)! But anyway, I can view the picture and, considering that I scanned it myself, it doesn't look too bad. Then all of a sudden it isn't there. Computers, you gotta love them. Or maybe the age of my brain, you gotta love it. So if you see a picture on this post, you'll know that I somehow succeeded. If not, please use your imagination because it's not working and cover your ears because otherwise you might hear me swearing. OK, so now I can see it again, but it's supposed to be after this paragraph. Now I think I've moved it. Oh well, at least I think it is here and I think you'll be able to see it! On this particular fabric there is a large panel and 4 small panels. This is one of the small panels. I made the cutest placemats using 2 of the small panels for each placemat. (OK - so I can't figure out how to center it....but I'm trying!)

So now I'm on a roll and I want to show you a picture of my boy, Mick. He is laying on his blanket on the screened porch of our cottage in Vermont. He thinks it is really fun to be on vacation and likes to sunbathe on the porch. He does, from time to time, get up and look out at the lake, but he isn't really fond of the water. He fell out of the paddle boat when he was a puppy and my husband had to jump in and get him. He inherited his "mother's" inability to swim, so he is happy to walk along the beach and drink gallons of lake water. (Plus he's so pretty that he hates to get his hair wet.) Have a great week-end! Do some quilting and relax.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Heavenly Fabric Has Arrived

I am so excited ..... I just received my friend, Jackie Paton's, 1st fabric line. It is so incredible. I hope to have it scanned and on my website in a few days for you to view, but, in the meantime, let me tell you it is beyond wonderful. Jackie has developed a technique she calls "stencilscapes". She paints the most beautiful scenes on fabric and Red Rooster was able to reproduce them so perfectly. The collection is called "Happily Ever After". It has a large panel and 4 small panels, plus many coordinating fabrics. I bought the whole collection based on her preliminary stenciled pieces. I didn't even see the fabrics itself - that's how sure I was that it would be a winner. I have already made a wallhanging from the large panel and 2 placemats from the small panels. Someday when I buy that ever elusive "easy to use" digital camera, I'll be able to show you pictures. In the meantime, I've added a photo to my blog. Guess who????

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The End of Errors of My Ways

Does the title of this blog sound like a segment from the Jerry Springer Show? Well, it's not quite so spicy. I have finally finished the pineapple log cabin variation blocks I was working on where I had my blonde moment (or two) from the previous post. I didn't make any more mistakes since I decided to actually read the directions after the mistakes on the first 48 block! I am now ready to put on the borders and, of course, I am debating which fabric to use for the 2nd border. I have a really great fabric, but I'm not sure how to cut it so that the design doesn't look all chopped up. I think sometimes fabric designers just make beautiful designs but don't actually think about how their designs will work when cut. Do you cut it to get all of one design and just have a little bit of something else on the edges? Do you cut it randomly (which definitely isn't in my nature)? I've taken classes with Mary Ellen Hopkins where you were supposed to grab any fabric from the bag and use it. Oh my goodness, this is something that can put me into a spin. I like to have the colors biggest "outside of the box" was putting together a 30's quilt and using all of the pastel shades and also using red and blue. But of course, I had to put the red and blue blocks together and the pastel blocks together separately. Heaven forbid if you put a lavender with a red! The color police would have been at my door.
I am now researching digital cameras because I am very camera challenged. If you have any suggestions of a camera that is easy enough for a 1st grader to use and also easy to download photos to my blog, please let me know. I want to be able to share pictures of my works in progress with you.
Have a great quilting day.. Mary Jane

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Blonde Moment (or Two)

It's been a week since my last post and I can tell you it's been quite a week! I've been frantically working trying to get ready for my first quilt show of the year. It's in February in Hampton, Virginia and I'm working on my samples, trying to arrange trunk shows of other designer's quilts and generally running around like a crazy woman (or at least a little crazier than my normal crazy self). Then the telephone rings and it is the vendor coordinator from Quilters Heritage Celebration in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Now I've wanted to be a vendor at this show is a wonderful show! Never did I think that they would actually call me when they have a waiting list that is endless. So added to the craziness of getting ready for Virginia, I'm now also trying to get together my 30 foot booth for their show which is the end of March.

Here's where the blonde moment comes in.....(and I can say this because I am blonde, so no offense meant to other blondes out there in cyberspace).....I decided that I would make this wonderful variation of a pineapple log cabin. I get together a few bolts of reds, greens, and medium blues....find a great fabric for the border and get to work. I had to cut 48 2-1/2" strips of reds, greens, and blues, several strips of background fabric, tons of squares (148 of 4-1/2" squares of background, just for starters) and thought I really had it together. I used my Accu-Cut die cut machine for the strips and then with a flash of genius, realized that I could use the 5" square die to make my 4-1/2" squares. How might you ask? Just cut them at 5", then cut 1/2" off two sides! Much easier than cutting it all from the I'm feeling pretty smart! Forget about cooking, cleaning, or anything else. I'm just focused on this quilt. So I've just finished Step 2 (we're talking about 48 blocks now and it took awhile to get through Step 2) and realize that I mixed up the background and the strip fabric placement in Step 1. I looked at the diagram because, really, who actually reads the written directions of the pattern? In the diagram it showed a light fabric and a dark fabric....wouldn't you think that light meant the background fabric (especially since their quilt had a light background), and dark meant the other fabrics? Now it dawns on me that I have just made 48 blocks the wrong way....AARGH! And there is no way to take them apart and re-do them because of the trimming you do along the way. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I lay them out on the table (and thank my lucky stars that I didn't get through Step #4 before I realized my mistake) and find that I have made a rather interesting design. Of course, not the one I wanted to make or anything that resembles the pattern, but, nonetheless, it is usable. There is no time to complete this interesting "error" now, but I'll put it aside and finish it another day. Yesterday I went back to the cutting process again and I've started to remake my 48 blocks. I'm through Step #3 now and so far I've stayed on track and my blocks are put together the way the pattern shows. If I'm lucky I'll complete them tonight and let you know soon how they look. Until then....READ YOUR PATTERN DIRECTIONS and you won't have all of the cutting fun I just had. Or if you strive to be a blonde, try it my way! They say blondes have more fun. Did they lie?

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Where Does The Time Go?

I can't believe how quickly time passes. When I was growing up my family used to take a vacation every summer to Wisconsin to visit our relatives. My father would take 2 weeks off of work and we would drive from Los Angeles to Wisconsin. Somehow those 2 weeks seemed to last forever....and the memories of the fun we had have lasted my whole life. Now 2 weeks seems like minutes. Is it because we have so much more to do now compared to when we were young? Or is it just some kind of time "vacuum" we are in and the vacuum is compressing time? So my way to gain a few hours each day is to give up some of my sleep. This is not a wonderful solution, but it is a way to find a few more hours each day.
I usually start my projects about 8 pm each night and work until 11:30 pm. You would be surprised how much you can get done in those few hours each night. I started a baby quilt this week and it is so adorable. I am using a fabric similar to Minkee, but made by RJR. It has more of a nap to the fabric than Minkee and it is so soft and cuddly. I cut 5" squares of white, pink, and a pale lime green. I'm putting together a row of green and white squares, then a row of white and pink squares. Once I have the top together and the back on, I'm going to use jumbo rick-rack and put it diagonally between the green and pink squares. (Someday I'll get a camera so I can show you pictures of projects in the works, but that's a whole other post to write about my camera challenged existence). I absolutely LOVE rick-rack .....give me the baby size, jumbo, whatever....I'm happy! Rick-rack reminds me of my Home Ec classes. We made an apron and put 2 rows of rick-rack on the bottom. My sister still has her apron and we take it out sometimes to reminisce about those days. We also made pot holders, which have long since gone to pot holder heaven. Maybe the pot holders were my first endeavor into a variation of paper piecing, because they had us sew on paper first without thread in the needle so we could get used to following lines (and hopefully not sewing our fingers). So now it is time to sign off and get on with the day. Mary Jane

Thursday, January 3, 2008

From The Frozen Tundra

When I climbed out of my nice warm bed this morning, I knew it was chilly. Then I looked at the thermometer and it said 10 degrees BELOW ZERO, so I knew it was more than chilly. Even Mick, our Sheltie, who loves the cold weather, since he's always dressed up in his fur coat, thought it was too cold to stay out very long. He usually wants to engage in a game of chase the snowballs, but not this morning. Now they are talking about temperatures getting up to almost 50 degrees by Sunday. I don't know if I should get out the shorts and sleeveless tops, or put on my long johns! Oh to think that this is only January 3rd....what will the real winter months bring?

I finished the blocks on my last quilt of 2007, but I didn't put the borders on yet. So I guess now it will become my 1st quilt of 2008 once I put the borders on tonight. (Of course, I'm already planning my next project.) And those of you who are reading this that live locally, I'm going to have a 1930's party on January 12th. The price of "admission" is to bring a dessert to share with the other "party" people! We are going to make a small 1930's project, so make sure you sign up because space is limited to 6. And you will need to get together your "party" supplies so you can complete this cute little project. Happy Quilting....Mary Jane

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Spreading Happiness in 2008

Now that we are in the 2nd day of 2008, I think it is time to reflect on our goals for this year. I'm not talking about New Year's resolutions .... they are too easy to make and far easier to forget! We can all think that we'd like to lose 10 (20, 30) pounds, etc. but maybe it is time to make realistic goals that can be attained, that are actually fun and might bring happiness to someone else. Most quilt guilds do community projects, such as quilts for babies and children staying in the pediatric unit of the hospital, quilts for residents of nursing homes, Quilt Pink participation and more. If you do not belong to a quilt guild, you might approach a local medical center, nursing home or hospital and start a program yourself. The residents will be so happy to have a handmade quilt they can call their own! And the happiness you bring them will stay with you all year.

So that's it for today from the immensely snow covered Northeast!