Thursday, July 28, 2016

Really Random Thursday, 7/28/16: The Grubers Retreat 2016 Edition

Last week at this time I was attending the yearly retreat of the Grubers Girls, in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

I left Fresno early Monday morning, and used some of my time to work on English paper piecing. (In case you are wondering about those scrabble tiles, they are needle minders.)
Usually I am routed through Seattle (using my Alaska Air miles) but this time I went through Portland. I think every time I have been in the Portland airport I have taken a picture of the carpet, thinking I would make a quilt based on it.
They have been replacing the carpeting, but little did I know it was a "thing." So when I texted our son asking if he needed anything Oregon Ducks-related, he said no but wondered if there were some carpet souvenirs. Funny he should ask...and you can actually buy a 12" square of old carpet for $40.
A whole display of carpet-related items!

I ended up only purchasing this postcard. See what it says there? "World famous PDX carpet."
My brother-in-law, Leon, always picks me up from the airport, and then drives me to stay with my good friend, Amanda Jean.
I love staying at her house. Besides feeling like I'm living in a park...
everywhere you look, this is what you see.

On Wednesday, we made the 20-minute drive to Gruber's, where there is not only a fabulous quilt shop, but a great retreat center. So the next four days were spent sewing, talking and laughing.

Amanda Jean gave us a lesson on "squircles" after we fell in love with her quilt based on a project in Carolyn Friedlander's book, Savor  Each Stitch.

Every year we exchange "happies," called that because receiving these little gifts makes us all so very happy. They are always amazing and I cherish each one.
This is what I made.

Rene' and Michelle are both members of the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild, which is busy making quilts after the tragedy at the Pulse nightclub. We each made a block for this one.

This year, for the first time probably ever, I decided to be realistic and not pack too many projects to work on. I always overestimate how much I can actually get done. This turned out to be an error in judgment. I only brought two projects, and neither of them seemed to work out the way I planned.

Project no. 1:

"Find Your Inner Peach."

This seemed like a great idea at the time--working with Kate Spain's new batiks line called Latitude and pairing it with a pretty peach Kona cotton.The single shade of peach made me decidedly unhappy. So in 1 1/2 days, I made about six blocks. And I didn't even takes pictures at this point.

I switched over to project no. 2.

"Quad Control."

I started cutting triangles for kaleidoscope blocks and began working on the blue quadrant. Ran out of white fabric that I will need for the outside blocks, and decided I can't start sewing blocks until all four quadrants are up on the design wall at the same time, and at this point it just looks like one hot mess.

It was getting frustrating. Amanda Jean, who is making one pincushion each day in July said, "Make a pincushion." So I did. It is probably the first improv-y thing I have done and I love it!
It's amazing what a few words of encouragement can do. The pincushion got my creative juices flowing again, but I knew I couldn't keep going on the peachy quilt without making some changes. I ended up adding four more shades of peach and now I'm excited to finish making these 9-patch blocks.
While we eat most of our meals in the little kitchenette right next to the sewing room, one night we always get a little more dressed up and go out for dinner.
From left to right: Rene' (@renecreates), Michelle (@speechyquilter), me, Stephanie (@stephiepeterson), Terri (@terriw), Doris (@madebyabrunnette), Mary (@maryonlakepulaski), Amanda Jean (@crazymomquilts), and Shelly (@prairiemoonquilts).

On Saturday, after a few days of hot and muggy weather, some different weather rolled through. I loved it, as Fresno rarely gets weather like this, and certainly not in the middle of July. But yikes, that was a lot of severe weather in the forecast!
It was raining so hard around noon-ish that cars had to turn on their lights!
A few more snapshots. This is what it is like sitting next to Amanda Jean, queen of scrappy quilting (and endless inspiration). She is always way more prepared than I am, and also she lets me use one of her sewing machines so I don't have to drag mine on and off the airplane!

Among other things, her scraps turned into these:
(I'm not posting a lot of pictures of everyone's works in progress as I'm not quite sure which are ready for public viewing, so I'll wait a bit and show those later.)

I love all these women so very much. These yearly retreats have been life changing. The dates are already on the book for next year, and the countdown has begun.
Sunday was a long travel day. You can tell when you are in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport because you will see Snoopy here and there (Charles Schulz came from this area).
The view from my window before landing in Portland.
And the plane from Portland to Fresno. I was bummed when I had to walk right past the one decorated with the Oregon Ducks, and instead had to board the one with the Oregon State Beaver. Sigh...
Awaiting me was a beautiful vase of flowers. Mark is so thoughtful.
I saw this somewhere.
However, it is not necessary to wait to be cremated. Nope. Just living in Fresno will probably do the trick...

Have a lovely weekend.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Random Thoughts on a Random Day

It's not Thursday. But I'm going to be gone for the week, so here is some randomness before I leave. I'm sure you are thrilled.


While our son and daughter-in-law were in New York City for a week, and four grandchildren were here for the first four days of that trip, we had "art camp" and I wrote about that here.

However, there were lots of fun times besides art camp.

My parents have a favorite donut shop. So one morning we met them for donuts.

Somehow Charlotte found a picture function on my phone I didn't even know existed (she did the one above, with all the circles), and as I scrolled through my pictures after the kids were gone, I found all kinds of interesting pictures.

Example number 1:
Hanging around...
  They love making silly faces.

Levi built a new toy for Ella. It had two pages of instructions. All I did was hand him a Phillips screwdriver.
Did I mention that Charlotte became my personal barista? Wow, do I ever miss that perk. Haha, do you see what I just did there??
She made cookies too. Yum.
The last night they were at our house, we went to the zoo for supper. Our zoo has an amazing African Adventure section, and so you order your meal, sit outside and gaze at the animals. It's really quite phenomenal.

Mark bought a beautiful bouquet of flowers for me. I used the "watercolour app" on my phone and the picture of the flowers went from this
to this. Isn't that cool?
Aaron and Christa brought me a NYC Starbucks mug as a souvenir. They know me so well. Look at the cute little yellow taxi. :)
My good friend, Deborah, celebrated a birthday. Remember a couple of weeks ago when Mark and I went on the train with the rest of the family to have ice cream? Three of us celebrated Deborah's birthday, taking the train and having ice cream. Deborah ordered a banana split.
I'm not a huge ice cream fan (I know, that seems weird) so this is what I had.
Here is a question I like to ask: who is the musician you would pay the most money to see in person? My number one choice has always been James Taylor. Mark was the first to read that he was coming to town and we I grabbed tickets as soon as possible. The concert exceeded even my high expectations. We had great seats but even so, it was nice to see a close-up on the jumbotron.
This is the first time I have ever purchased a fan t-shirt.
So the grandkids had told me about a donut shop in town called Fantasy Donuts. We made an expedition there the other morning. It was already 10:30 so all the really "interesting" donuts were already gone. Although there were still some with "flaming cheetos" on top. Go figure...
Ella loved her chocolate donut. Or maybe I should say, the chocolate loved her.
I love all things Pantone (with the exception of the two colors they chose for Color of the Year 2016). Did you know this?
And finally...
I'll be in Minnesota for the week. Hope yours is a good one.