Author Archives: Bernie

Coming Home to the Start of Fire Season

Sad to say, Fire Season is a thing here. Each year everyone hopes for less disaster, fewer homes lost, and that the fire won’t be in their town. It is a very strange ‘season’ that did not use to exist. I have lived in this town for 26 years and while there was an occasional wildfire, it wasn’t an annual occurrence each Indian summer. Now, come August and September, it isn’t a question of ‘if’ a fire will occur, rather it is a question of when and where it will happen.

This morning I looked at the map for California to see where fires were burning and this is what I saw. We had a series of lightening strikes on Sunday and Monday nights this week and many (most?) of these fires were started by those events. There is a fire several miles from our home. It is far enough that I highly doubt we are at risk. There was a point where my parents felt nervous for their home and property so they came and stayed for a night at our house.

My son took this outside his home early this morning.

Up and down the state, land and homes are burning. The smoke and ash are just awful. I am ever so grateful for the responders, firefighters, Salvation Army (who feed everyone working on the fires as well as trying to help those who have lost their homes), the people who set up and run the evacuation centers (which are completely complicated by the need for social distancing and proper care for the Corona Virus), the sheriffs department who is tasked with alerting the neighborhoods that need to quickly evacuate. It is a huge issue and one for which there is no simple answer. Some people (looking at you President Trump) say it is because California doesn’t take care of land management properly and there is too much fuel. I don’t know the answer. But it is awful right now and I am hoping they get the local fire contained soon so we don’t have more homes lost.

Hugging my two girls the morning before we left.

OK – on to less depressing topics. Our trip to Seattle was just wonderful. We were there just over two weeks. We didn’t go out a whole lot – much of the time was spent with our grand daughters while my son and his wife house hunted. Fortunately they found a great place and are under contract for it now. Another 4 – 6 weeks and they will move in. I think it is the perfect home for them.

When I got home I needed to get organized – always so much laundry to be done, groceries to stock up on, etc. Now that is all taken care of so I am anxious to work on some sewing.

Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt, by From Bolt to Beauty

Just before I left, I finished this strip quilt. I had been loosely following along with Michelle, From Bolt to Beauty, who was hosting a quilt along for this free pattern on hers. It goes together so fast. I had about 1/2 of a jelly roll left over from the Postage Plus quilt I made. I added some strips from other fabrics to come up with enough for this lap quilt.

Aren’t these tiny polka dots a fun background?

While the colorful bits were all from my stash, I didn’t have any neutral fabrics in a large enough piece for the background. I decided to use the last of a bolt from the shop. These cute polka dots are from Maywood Studios’ Beautiful Basics line. I think they add a sweet element to this quilt top. I am not totally sure what I will use this one for but I plan to get it basted and quilted up. Otherwise it will be hung in the closet and forgotten.

My fabric stack for the Morewood Mystery Quilt

Last night I started cutting the pieces for the Morewood Mystery Quilt. I think this will be really fun and quite different from anything I have made, based solely on the fabrics I am using. The batiks are a stack of Anthology Fabric pieces that I have had for a really long time. The polka dots are the last of a bolt from the shop. The cut list for this mystery quilt looks super easy which makes me happy. I like easy! If you are interested in joining in, click here for the info. This event is hosted by Cheryl Brickey, from Meadow Mist Designs. Her Mystery QAL is a fun annual event. We are just getting started so you haven’t missed anything yet!

This morning the sun looked like a ball of fire due to the thick smoke. This was taken from my front deck.

OK – I think that is it for now. I am going to go work on a block for the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge. I am a bit behind – July and August are both incomplete. Since we won’t be going outdoors for at least several more days, I will be able to get caught up. How about you? Tell me how you are doing and what you are working on? Sending good vibes and healthy thoughts to all of you!

Family Time, Finally!

For the last week I have been in Seattle with my son and his family! Finally! My second grand daughter was born in March, 2020 but due to Covid, I didn’t meet her until this week. This has been heavenly. Grand parenting is really the best thing ever.

The kids moved from Vermont to Washington because my DIL is (finally) done with her residency and has started working for a Seattle group of radiologists. With Covid, the move process has been really complicated. They have temporarily moved into a furnished rental while they house hunt. It has been crazy to see what house hunting in Seattle is like. The houses list and then sell within a day or two. So if one pops up that you might be interested in, you have to look at it and decide if you want it, make an offer within the day and cross your fingers and toes that you get it. Talk about a seller’s market. The kids made an offer on one last night but who knows? The realtor says there will likely be at least a 1/2 dozen offers made and all will probably be well over asking price. It is such a crazy time.

While they look at houses and my DIL settles into her new work routine, Ray, Julia and I are here to help out a bit and play with the girls. Let’s just say we have the easy end of the deal. So far we have been to the Rose Garden, the Arboretum and the Zoo. Seattle is really strict about face masks and social distancing. People respect the space of the other people they come across. At the zoo, we had to have an appointed time to enter so they could keep track of how many visitors are in the park. (I will say I thought it was a bit crowded at the zoo though.). The Arboretum was incredible though and there was plenty of room for everyone on the walking trails.

Want to see a bit of what we have been doing?

Checking out this cool tree bark at the Arboretum.

Does anyone know what kind of tree this is? The bark was really interesting. The shiny stripes were as smooth as a silky ribbon. I haven’t seen anything like it but there were quite a few on a path through the Arboretum.

Princess Mirabelle picking wild flowers in the neighborhood

We brought a big surprise to H – A stunning Cinderella dress and a tiara. She is sure the tiara is a ‘magical crown’ and sometimes she closes her eyes with great drama, bows her head deeply, and imagines something magical happening.

Dr. Mirabelle, at your service

Having a mama who is a doctor means you are quite familiar with scrubs and stethoscopes. She likes to play with mama’s real stethoscope which isn’t often available. Luckily she now has her own garb. Isn’t this picture hilarious? I just love it.

Good to the very last drop

After mama’s first day of work, we celebrated with ice cream. What a great treat. This girl does not let one bit go to waste. Julia is still getting used to the mess one three year old can make!

Tubby time happens every night – This is her evening routine and then it is off to bed.

I love watching her play in the tub. She has such a great imagination. She talks constantly and makes up all these scenarios that happen during tubby time every night.

The next part of the bedtime routine is she chooses three stories.

Grandpa and Grammy take turns reading books before bed.

Mornings are the best

What is better than baby snuggles and good coffee first thing in the morning? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

Can you do this?

Babies are so flexible. This girl immediately goes for her toes during a diaper change. She loves this game. It is crazy how she can lay her leg against her chest like this. I am fairly certain I would not be successful trying this!

Babies and quilts, the sweetest combo.

Somehow I never made this little one her own special quilt. But I did bring this bright strip quilt up for her. (I have carried kits for this one in the shop for a while – I think there is only one more left though.) She is enjoying a bit of tummy time here. Not her favorite activity but she will play like this for a short time.

We are planning to stay for a while yet so my son and his wife can continue house hunting. Hopefully they will enter into a contract soon. Then we will head home for a while until escrow closes. If they need us to come back up to watch the girls while they move into their house, we will be back in a flash. The joy of being (mostly) retired is the flexibility to go back and forth as needed. With Covid, we are planning to drive rather than deal with airports and flights. I am incredibly fortunate to have a good friend (she is also into sewing and quilting) who enjoys running the shop while I am gone. I don’t think I could have both (the shop and trips to see the kids) without her. I am so very grateful to her for helping out.

Hoping you are all well – hang in there and stay healthy. I am enjoying a moment of quiet – everyone but me and the baby took off for a walk at the beach. I am waiting for a certain chunky monkey to wake up from a very long nap. This is the life!

Covid Crafting

Quarantine life goes on and the days are somewhat repetitive. Julia and I continue to look for projects and crafts to keep us busy and mix things up a bit. Recently we decorated two clay pots we found in the garage.

Julia has been into house plants this summer and has quite a few in her room. We thought it would be fun to take a plain clay pot and make it pretty. Wanting to use supplies we had at home (always frugal, right?) we browsed Pinterest for ideas.

When we came across a link for using decorative paper napkins and Mod Podge we decided that would be a fun way to go. We took our inspiration from that post but didn’t do all they suggested.

First coat of paint

First step was to paint the outside of the pot with basic, water soluble acrylic paint. Again, we used whatever we had. Julia chose white and I chose yellow.

We made sure to paint to upper part of the inside of the pot. The instructions said to seal the inside of the pot. My guess is to prevent any water from soaking through and damaging the paint or decoupage. But we skipped that part. Whatever happens is fine with us. 😉

We had two choices of decorative paper napkins in the closet. Either Christmas theme or these yellow, blue and white flowers. Guess what we chose. Julia and I cut out bits and pieces that we liked. Then we carefully peeled away the second ply of paper. These napkins are fairly thick and it looks nicer if you just use one ply of thickness. Then we painted the spot we wanted it to adhere to on the pot. After smoothing the napkin bit over that glue, we carefully painted a layer of Mod Podge over the paper. It looks all thick and white but dries very clear.

Julia chose to paint a layer of Mod Podge over her whole pot. For some reason, this layer did not dry clear. It has a brown-ish tone to it but I think it just looks rustic.

Julia’s finished flower pot
My finished pot.
Aren’t these cute?

These were really fun to make and a good way to fill another afternoon at home. Kind of satisfying to make something with supplies we have on hand. Much like sewing from the stash in my closet!! Honestly, the Covid quarantine has had some upside in that we are much less inclined to run to the store for odds and ends. We eat more out of the pantry and freezer and projects are often made with what is on hand. This has been a nice change for us.

Now, for a little sewing related chit chat. Have you all been wondering and waiting to hear whether I have kept up with the 2020 Monthly Color Challenge BOM? I know, I know – how rude of me to forget to post the June block. My apologies to all of you. Hahaha. I did get the block done and it is a cute one.

Kind of wrinkled but still so cute.

Now that the year is half way done (and that alone is very, very strange) I enjoyed putting the first six blocks together for a quick look. I am really happy with the polka dot theme.

These blocks look so happy together.

This month’s block looks to be a nice one but I haven’t even cut it out yet. I have three weeks to go so there is plenty of time!!

That’s is the news from here. Like everyone else, we are trying to make the best of these strange times. Lots of time to make things, bake things, play cards, and take pretty walks. Here are two pictures from this morning’s hike up in Nevada City.

This buck had only one antler. I am guessing he got into it with another buck and lost the argument?
I love this look-out about 1/2 way up the trail. It is just gorgeous.

OK – time to go get to work. The kitchen is a mess and I have a number of orders to cut and ship. What have you been up to?

I hope all of you are staying healthy and sane. Reach out to each other and keep in touch. I think staying in contact is super important these days. I am one who enjoys time to myself but with all of the current restrictions, too much alone time isn’t good. We need to talk, visit, and stay in touch with friends and family. Hang in there. 🙂

Keeping Busy

June is winding down. Not sure how that is possible but really, it is best not to question things these days. Time passes, some days fly by and others feel so incredibly repetitive. Such is life during a pandemic.

I haven’t shared much lately so I need to get caught up! First off – a little crafting. Julia and I have been trying to spend some time together making projects. A few weeks ago, my son and his wife were here for a weekend (the first time we had seen them since Christmas!!). We spent some time painting small rocks Julia had collected outside. The goal was to place them here and there along a local trail so others could spot them as they walked. We pulled out some (really old) acrylic paints and started painting. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon and we made quite an assortment.

Flowers, an avocado, a monster and some sweet daisies

A few days ago we lucked into a nice cool morning so Julia and I walked the local trail and tucked the rocks here and there as we went. Love the monster with the googly eyes and the avocado (my DIL painted). Pretty creative!

Clouds, Gnome, Ladybug, Flag and the scariest Shark EVER!

More fun! They look really cute out there. The shark is probably my favorite of this bunch. Plus he is sitting on the branch of a Manzanita tree and that curly bark is always fun to see. Julia and I will head back to the trail later this week. We want to see whether people leave the rocks there for others to see or if they pick them up.

A play fort

About half way through the loop, there is this huge old oak tree. I have pictures of Julia sitting in it from years back. This time, there was this play fort built around the base of the tree. So many branches were collected and assembled teepee-style around the base. We went and peeked in. So cute!! There were a few bits and pieces of construction paper with flowers drawn on them hanging on the inside with string. At the opening to the fort there was a bit of red glitter sprinkled on the ground. I just love thinking of the kids who made this. I hope it stays in place as it must have taken quite a while to gather the branches and assemble this. There is nothing like pretending in a fort like this. I know my kids would have loved this when they were young.

Vintage Simplicity Pattern

About a week or so back, I posted this picture on Instagram and Facebook. I decided to make a summer dress. I have had this vintage Simplicity pattern for a long time now. It was printed in 1966. I thought this would be perfect for lounging around. The fabric is a voile by Art Gallery Fabric. I love their voiles because they hang nicely and don’t wrinkle after washing. Super soft and comfortable too. The voiles have been quite popular in the shop lately so I am running low. I just placed an order for more and cannot wait until they arrive (maybe another ten days or so?)

The dress took no time to put together. Four pieces to cut out and since it ties at the shoulder, no zipper to fuss with.

French seams to prevent fraying

I used French seams on the two side seams to prevent any fraying. These are super simple when dealing with simple, straight seams.

While it is certainly nothing fancy, it is just what I wanted. Cool and loose and comfy which is just my style. Whether it be 1966 or 2020, the pattern works just fine. Be warned though – sewing with vintage patterns is a little bit tricky. The sizing is very different. Don’t assume you are the same size with older patterns as with current. Rely on the measurements listed on the pattern – that will tell you what size you need to use. It was a fun dress to make.

The kick off for this year’s Mystery Quilt Along happens this week! I am really excited. Probably due to the lack of local quilt guild activity and community quilting (with everyone staying home during the pandemic), the sign ups for this years QAL increased greatly. If you have not participated before, I encourage you to give it a try. I love working with Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs, the host of this event and her patterns are always a hit. Without divulging anything I will tell you Cheryl described this year’s pattern as beginner friendly and it does not require any paper piecing or difficult techniques (eg the dreaded Y seams or curved blocks.)

Here are a few of the kits available. Pop over if you want to see the rest of them!

There are kits available in the shop if you prefer working from a kit rather than picking fabric yourself. Take a peek. They are selling like crazy and I have been cutting yard after yard of fabric this week!

Covid numbers continue to climb. Life is filled with this strange feeling of uncertainty even as we live in quarantine, doing the same things over and over with one day melting into the next. Hang in there, support each other and above all, sew something!

Super Cute, Super Simple Finish

You know how you set something aside for so long and then somehow your mind decides it is going to take forever to finish it and you don’t want to so you just leave it there? Yeah, me too. Last fall I pieced a cute strip quilt using a focus print from Pandalicious. I had yardage in the shop and thought it would be fun to make one and then make up some kits for others to make it.

Last September…….

So I made up the quilt top and got it basted. I started to free motion quilt each of the strips and all was going well. When I got to the large section of pandas in the middle, my tension got screwed up. Of course I didn’t know this and just kept going because the top side looked fine. Ugh. When I saw the back, I knew it all had to be unpicked.

Onward I went and got all the messy stitching ripped out. By then I developed some serious dislike of the project and set it aside? Why do this? It wasn’t the quilt’s fault. But I did anyway. Folded it up and put it on top of a pile of fabric.

Easy Peasy Finish!

This week I thought it was time to finish it. Of course, by now, the fabric is gone and I can’t make any kits. Sigh. Quilting the remaining sections (the pandas in the middle and both of the black and white sections on top and bottom) took no time at all. Like an afternoon of playing at the machine and it was done. So after sitting there for 9 months or so, it is done!

I attached the binding with machine stitching on front and back. It is adorable! I quilted the top and bottom sections with a meandering motif of interlocking squares. I am not sure what was going on, but there are some little tension issues on the back side. Not enough that I am going to fix it though. I suspect after being washed, it will all work out.

Sweetest pandas!

I did a very loose meander over the middle section going around the pandas. They are such happy little guys!

Shady evening sun.

I took the photos in the early evening so the sun was creating lots of shadows. But no matter, just look at how happy this little quilt is. What should I do with this one? I will likely donate it. It will be fun for some child to snuggle under.

Why does the color look so strange in this one?

Happy to cross this off the UFO list and wish I had done it long ago. Makes me happy to get it finished up.

Anyone have anything fun planned for the weekend? Hahaha…. sorry to be so ridiculous! I feel like each day (weekend or not) is so much the same due to the quarantine. Our town is loosening up just a bit but we are still very careful. So it will be the usual. Taking walks, a little bit of gardening, shipping orders and sewing, sewing, sewing!

Silly silly girl

Want to leave you with a smile. Isn’t this just a classic fun-in-the-bathtub picture?? This girl makes me laugh all the time. She is such a joyous kiddo. Enjoy the day everyone!!

Linking to Brag About Your Beauties and Can I Get a Whoop Whoop! Go check them out to see lots of fun projects.

Beneath Missouri Stars, from a Quilting Cozy Series

UPDATE: The giveaway is now closed. I have emailed the winner, Darlene H, to let her know. Thanks everyone for entering. I hope you will encourage your library to carry Carol’s books and/or head over to Amazon and get one for yourself!

I am not sure you remember but about two years ago, I reviewed a book called Tie Died which is the first book in a large series authored by Carol Dean Jones. At that time, it was my first experience with these cozy mysteries. I had a lot of fun participating in the blog hop promoting these books for Carol and CT Pubs. Even better, because of the event, Carol and I became acquainted and now enjoy a nice friendship.

Some months ago, I found out Carol would be publishing book 11 in her series this spring. Titled Beneath Missouri Stars, I hoped to review it. I contacted C&T and they agreed to provide me with a review copy of the book.

The book is really fun. If you aren’t familiar with cozy mystery novels, click here and read my first review where I explain what cozy mysteries are all about. There is some order to the Quilting Cozy series of books but I didn’t really have any problem reading number one and then jumping to number eleven. Lots had happened to the main characters (Sarah and Sophie) in between but the author does a wonderful job of telling you just enough so the reader can fill in the blanks.

In Beneath Missouri Stars, Sarah and Sophie are trying to solve a mystery (typical for these two best friends) which revolves around the murder of a young girl. The crime occurs when a popular country western singer is in town to perform. As Sarah and Sophie work to solve the mystery there is (as always) a sub plot involving a quilt or two. I love how the author (who is also a talented quilter) weaves the quilting tales into these books. There are quilt shops, club meetings at the local quilt shop, community service projects and more. Drawing on her career in geriatric social work, the author also touches on various issues that often arise with older people. This is done with sensitivity and sometimes a bit of humor. The book is well written with several twists and turns to keep the reader engaged.

When Sarah, the protagonist, decides to make a quilt emulating the night skies of Missouri, she ends up with the beautiful dark blue quilt featured on the cover of the book. Of course, behind the scenes, Carol (the author) actually designed and made the featured quilt using the traditional Missouri Star block. Looking at this quilt and the pattern for it (which is included in the book) I was quite taken with it. Two tone quilts (blue and white in this example) are a favorite of mine.

After reading the book, I emailed Carol and suggested we work on a kit for this quilt. The look of lap size (54″ x 72″ finished) quilt is dramatic, just like a starlit night sky. She agreed it would be fun so the two of us got to work. When Carol made her original version, she used squares from two layer cakes as well as a bit of extra yardage. I tried to emulate this and thought it might be nice to offer layer cakes in the kit. But it would have required two full layer cakes to have enough fabric which would have made the kit quite expensive.

Deciding against using layer cakes, we chose beautiful yardage from a PB Textiles line called Spring Blue and a very dark blue background from Terra by Norm Wyatt. It works so well together and while the quilt isn’t scrappy, the effect is much the same.

Included in the kit are three fabrics from Spring Blue, a light, medium and dark print. These work to make up the blocks and the setting triangles used to put the blocks on point. The medium blue print is also used as the binding.

Included with the fabric in the kit is a copy of the book which has been signed by the author. The Quilting Cozy books are a great deal considering you get a novel and a pattern for just a bit more than the price of many quilt patterns. The number of kits is limited so most likely they will not last long. If you want to see the details of the kit, you will find it here.

To celebrate the release of Carol’s 11th book in the series, I have a signed copy to offer as a giveaway prize!! I am excited to share this book with all of you and to send a copy to one lucky winner. Carol’s series is entertaining with fun characters and lots of quilting fun. How can you go wrong with that??

To enter to win the autographed copy of the book, please leave a comment and tell me if you have made a ‘two color’ quilt before. If so, what colors did you use? If not, what colors would you choose to make one with. I love blue and yellow, red and white and also blue and white. I think limiting the colors of a quilt creates a very dramatic look. The giveaway is open until Friday of this week. I will select a winner and notify the person by email. Make sure you are not a no-reply commenter.

Congratulations to Carol on the success of this fun series of cozy mysteries. I hope we haven’t heard the last about Sarah and Sophie!!

Getting Outside

Today Julia and I needed something different to do so we decided to do a few errands and then go for a short hike. We are fortunate to live in an area with tons of gorgeous walking trails. Julia chose Hirschman Trail for today’s walk.

We have walked here several times before. It is an easy walk and there are some really pretty sites to see.

The highlight of this trail is a beautiful pond. It comes up quickly but I look forward to seeing it each time – once on the way in and again on the way back out. Today there were two beautiful ducks swimming. Other times I have seen large turtles swimming at the water’s edge.

Walking along the trail we spotted this bright blue painted rock with a B on it. It was a little treasure nestled in off the side of the trail. There have been lots and lots of people painting rocks for others to find since the quarantine started. We decided to keep an eye out for more and we were not disappointed.

Wonder what the significance of the letter R was?

This little gem was in the crotch of a rotted tree branch.

This was actually a chunk of wood someone painted. Cute little rainbow!

Another spot of color on the trail.

Another letter, was this “I” the start of someone’s name?

We really enjoyed finding these. It was fun to think of people tucking them in along the way. Julia and I plan to paint a few and plant them on another trail. These made us smile so we will do the same for someone else.

And now…. too make you smile! Look at these two cuties!

These sisters really look alike. Older sister is on the left and little sister is on the right. They are surely cut from the same (very round) cookie cutter!

Hope you are finding ways to change things up a little. Getting outside, doing something new, learning something different? It all helps to keep us sane during this crazy season of life.

Mercyful Quilts on Parade

I have been looking forward to the mail delivery and the UPS guy daily. Most days they bring me a wonderful package to open. It’s like Christmas around here!! Sarah’s amazing Hands2Help event is finishing up at the end of the month so quilts are being mailed to various organizations all over the map. Mercy Hospital in Sacramento is one of the (incredibly grateful) recipients.I have opened quilts from throughout the US – Florida, Texas, Arizona, and North Carolina among others!

I thought it was time to share the bounty with you. I took pictures of some of the quilts but not all. This was not done with any rhyme or reason. I wanted to share some of these and it just isn’t feasible to photograph all of them. Not enough hours in the day, right? But I will say this – ALL of the quilts are amazing. Each one is uniquely beautiful and all of them are clearly made with love and compassion.

Let’s take a look at these beauties!

These were both made by Emily of Darling Dogwood. Both have gorgeous batiks in similar colors but the light and dark backgrounds sure make for a different vibe.

I have to say I don’t know Ann but isn’t she a talented quilter? Her choice of colors and patterns are just wonderful! I love both of the patterns she used for her quilts.

Ok – three quilts from three wonderful women. Top left came from Kim C. in Florida, top right was made by Erica in Arizona and bottom center by the wonderful Linda R. in Texas. Thank you ladies!!!

These two are so much fun. Top left is from Anny who lives about 2 hours from me and I have had the pleasure of meeting in ‘real life’. She made this with a group from the Sacramento MQG – so cool that they chose to donate to a hospital local to them! The other came from Selina who lives in Florida. Thank you so much!!

Two more lovelies – Trudie sent her quilt all the way from Texas and Kathryn sent hers over from Pennsylvania. These beauties will bring great comfort to their recipients.

This quilt came from Cyndy in Oregon – she blogs at Quilting is More Fun than Housework. (I got lazy and used a picture from her blog post!!). Anyway, the thing I love about this quilt is it is made up of orphan blocks! Her orphan blocks look like they were planned and made to go together. I was pretty surprised when I read this. It is really beautiful and she did a great job of laying these out and making them work!

As I said before, there are more and I am so very thankful for each of the quilts donated. It never ceases to amaze me how generous the quilting community is. Quilts of this caliber take so much time! Not to mention the expense of fabric and batting. And then, beyond all that, spending $20 to mail the quilt somewhere! I am grateful to know all of you and thankful you thought of Mercyful quilts when you wanted to give someone such a lovely gift.