Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Couple Good Ideas

First, a confession, I’m kinda a soap-snob, as well as a closet collector.


A few years ago, when I was on vacation or traveling, and shopping from boutique to boutique on some pretty Main Street somewhere (I don’t honestly remember exactly where - it was quite some time ago), I found these Pre de Provence soaps. Ever since, they have been my absolute favorite personal decadence every day at shower time.



I buy the big 250g bars. You can do a google search and find them several places these days (you couldn’t when I first started looking for them). I’ve always had great luck ordering from The Frenchy Bee (not affiliated with them in any way, I’ve just had good service from them in the past).

And I love all the scents I’ve tried. My favorite scent by far is Lime Zest, but poke around, there are lots to choose from!



I don’t see these small personal-sized soaps on the site any longer, but you might find them if you search around a bit. They’re great for stocking stuffers. For me, I like to throw one in my bag when I travel. I would hate to be without my little scented decadence just because I’m on the road.



Now I’m getting off track a bit, as long as I was poking around in my soap collection. . . you can recognize some of my travels here . .



Any guesses where this came from? Ayuh!



This one was included in a gift from my niece last Christmas - or maybe it was the year before - as you see, I’m not the only one in my family who seeks out these special scented decadences! I decided it’s time to enjoy this one. . .



After all, the message is timely:



I’ll admit to two things, then I’ll move on. There’s something special about feeling connected to someone half a world away every single day--in Sweden, France, or just in Mickey Mouse land!

And the second thing is, since I have this ‘thing’ for nice soaps, if the hotel soap is particularly memorable, I’ll grab an unused bar from my room and throw it in my suitcase to enjoy at home.


But I digress. Back to the gift ideas.

Not only am I a soap snob, but I’m also a sock snob. Proud of it, in fact!

While in Alaska earlier this year, I found these socks - World’s Softest (that’s a pretty big claim, don’t you think?) - in a boutique shop near my hotel in Palmer, Alaska. I just had to see if they lived up to the name. And they did!



I went back and picked up another pair, as a gift for my sister who bird-sat for part of the time I was away. Then I found them online, and ordered another pair for myself, and some for my husband. Don’t tell Dave, but as long as I was looking up the website for this note, I just ordered a couple pairs for his Christmas stocking - pun intended.

Umm, yah! I mean, who doesn’t love to have comfy toesies, especially this time of year!



There. I feel I did my good deed for the day. You are in on my deepest, darkest snob-secrets, and you have a couple of ideas for the soap and sock snobs on your list, too.


Happy Stitching! (and Stocking Stuffing!)



Joan Ford

Thursday, December 7, 2017

An Adventure for All

I've got a list as long as my arm of things to do to get ready for the holiday and to prepare for some new and exciting things coming to the Hummingbird Highway.

Then, why is it, that I find that my mind is wandering to my first travel event for 2018?

The event is the Scrappy Sails Cruise to Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, and St Maarten, coming up March 3-10.

Could it be that the weather has been dull and gray and I'm already aching to sit by the pool or under a tree with a bit of hand-stitching? Or maybe procrastinating over that long to-do list has given my mind an excuse to wander.

OR maybe it's kinda like this silly little roll of spent 35mm print film I unearthed in the back of a drawer while looking for something else. What pictures does it hold? What is the subject matter of those pictures? Who? What? When? Where? It's like finding a mysterious little time capsule!




For the past few weeks, I've been cutting the fabrics for our project on board. An hour here, and hour there, fifteen minutes, between tasks, the length of a podcast. A chapter or two of an audio book. It's actually pretty relaxing.

The cruise operator for this particular cruise, Quilt Retreat at Sea, likes to keep the on-board project a mystery until we’re all on board. A lot like that little roll of film.




I can give you a few hints. . . our project is pretty large, as cruise projects go. And it has lots of blue-ish fabrics. . .




. . . And brown-ish fabrics. Blue and brown - Like the sea and the sand. Very cruise-like. And there's some background fabrics too, to tie things together.





The quilt itself is all done. Lots of really fun techniques and technique twists. Incorporating the blue . . . 





 . . . and brown fabrics liberally, 




and scrappily (is that a word?) throughout the quilt.




For those on the cruise, the quilt is a lot like the photos inside that roll of spent film. You can *guess* where these hints will lead, but you really won't know until we get there.

From my perspective, the quilters who plan to attend are the surprise element. I know a few people who will be on board - there are two Barbara's --both very fun and both from New York State. And Terry and Lynn will probably sit right in the front row in the classroom to keep me on my toes! (*wink*). Can't wait to see Nancy again. I know some folks, but not everyone. . . yet. . .  I do know we'll all be fast friends upon arrival.

We know our ports of call, Caribelle Batiks, pictured below has already been in touch with Jacquelyn - our Quilt Retreat at Sea classroom contact. They can't wait to greet us and show us .. .




. . . how to make batik fabrics, Caribbean-style while we're in St. Kitts.




But we don't *really* know the full extent of the adventures that await at all three ports - Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and St. Kitt's in the Eastern Caribbean. I do know for sure, these stunning island destinations, recovering from a devastating hurricane season, absolutely won't disappoint. And they are READY for us!

Personally, I'm ready, too! Fun? Great quilt project while we're at sea? And lots of secrets revealed?

Bring it on!

In case you were wondering, a few seats are left on the Scrappy Sails cruise. Are you coming? We’ll hold your spot and your quilt kit will be waiting for you! All you gotta do is call Michelle (210-858-6399) to make your reservation. Or tell Santa you want to come. And maybe you’ll have an exciting adventure waiting for you in your stocking when Christmas rolls around in a few short weeks.

Oh my! That just snapped me back into reality. I have to do shopping, wrapping, baking . . . .


Happy Stitching!


Joan Ford

Thursday, November 30, 2017

It's All My Fault

Or, at least, I think it *might* be all my fault.

I’ll explain. Over the Thanksgiving weekend Dave and I had the chance for a little diversion from our usual post-turkey-day activities - not that we have any real hard-and-fast post-holiday activities scheduled.

With a huge shout-out of appreciation to our friends Bob and Julia (Julia is a quilter!) who gave us their tickets for Saturday’s football game between hometown Syracuse University and Boston College. They couldn’t attend, and asked us a while back if we might be interested in taking their seats for the game. Bob, Julia, and I are all SU alum’s. We won’t hold it against Dave that he attended another college for his degree - he’s still a hometown Syracuse fan.





We arrived on campus just as the SU marching band started the day with a pep rally on the steps of Hendricks Chapel on the quad.




We quickly discovered that Bob and Julia really have the game day routine down pat! Their tickets included a visit to the pre-game tent event. . .




Wait, what? Stuff the *birds*? My bird-loving tendencies started to take offense, but then I realized the rival mascots are the Eagles from Boston College.




Inside the tent—a hot brunch along with libations to set the mood.




Back out on the quad, and ready to follow the marching band into the Dome. . .




. . . But not before completing a game-day tradition - touching the shoes on the statue of the great Ernie Davis, Syracuse Grad, and first African-American Heismann Trophy recipient (1961) and first-round draft pick. Tragically, Ernie Davis died of leukemia before he ever got to play pro-ball for the Cleveland Browns. The movie, The Express, tells his story, and is worth a look.




Inside the Dome, Dave and I find our seats, and the excitement (and silliness) builds. That bright green sweater, ugh-hh. It’s the Syracuse ORANGE, not the Syracuse *bright green*. I definitely felt a little out of place in a sea of orange-clad fans!




It’s hard to keep from getting caught up in the excitement when the team makes their entrance on the field. . .Thus the jiggly photo.




From our fantastic seats (Bob and Julia know how to ‘do’ football!) Syracuse (in the dark uniforms) is a few yards away from scoring! (Unfortunately, this was a fourth down, and they didn’t make it across the goal line) But we had *great* seats!




After the game we wandered around campus a bit. The Hall of Languages at the entrance to the main campus is a such a classic building, and the scene of many of my classes, back in the day.




Our walking tour included a visit to Manny’s on Marshall Street (M-Street, if you will) to procure the proper football attire for next time. . .




Unfortunately Syracuse lost the game on Saturday (BC 42, SU 14), and I *think* it is all my fault. Had I been wearing ORANGE instead of that neon green sweatshirt, perhaps our boys would have been victorious!!

Or not.


Happy Stitching!



Joan Ford

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Starting to Finish

Just about every weekday morning I start out with some sewing to set the pace of my day. If I don’t sew in the morning when I’m not traveling, the day just doesn’t start out right. After about 2 hours at the sewing machine, I take my morning shower and get busy on the computer.

In the evenings I like to relax with tv or an audible book and some hand work.

This little project is pretty much nothin’ but leftovers from my Splendid Sampler quilt project, completed earlier this year. I used the Creative Grids Mini Pineapple tool to turn strips into pineapple blocks. There is more information on this project here.



I debated about the setting for these blocks, then decided to add some pieced sashing and cornerstone units. Separating the pineapple blocks creates a different feeling than sewing the blocks directly to each other. But with only a limited amount of leftovers, and small 6” square blocks, I needed to increase the size of the quilt unless I wanted something doll-sized. So there you have it. Sashing and cornerstones on the scene.



I found the perfect border fabric on one of my last stops in Alaska this summer at a shop in Soldotna. The fabric is covered with moose, in tones of blue and brown to compliment the leftover fabric blocks perfectly. With just a whack of that fabric left, I decided to use it in the backing.



I plan to piece a little bit of bright blue and a lot of the dark brown fabric to each side of the leftover moose print. That’s where I had to leave off yesterday morning. When the backing is ready, the quilt has only to be sandwiched and quilted and it’ll be done. Operative word: ONLY. Ha!



Earlier this week, I finished this quilt top. I started this guy *eons* ago. It’s a Crabapple Hill pattern called Snow Days.



I’s lovely. BUT. I’m not sure what made me think all this detailed backstitch embroidery would be a good idea.



At the time when this pattern was first released, it seemed like a good idea. And it was fun for the first few blocks. But I have to admit, with a lot of starts and stops (who wants to work on a winter quilt in the middle of summer?) it got to be a bit of a drag.

Truly, this is going to be an amazing quilt, but I have to admit that it has lost its sparkle for me.

At 66” square, I think it needs some kind of border. And that stack of fabrics on the stool to the left two photos up are the remnants from the blocks. (I can’t believe that stack of fabrics is still in tact - and even more miraculously that I was able to find them in the far reaches of my stash!)

So now the debate over a border begins. One option is to go right in and sandwich and quilt the dern thing and get ‘er done. But it sure would be a shame to come this far and feel like I short-changed the project just to finish it. What would you do? I'd love your thoughts!

The pattern doesn’t call for another border. But who follows the pattern anyway, right? Says the person who writes patterns for a living.

Before you say it, yes, I have a *thing* for blue and brown together. Can you tell?

Just keeping it real . .

Happy Stitching!
Joan

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Flit and Bloom

Yay! It’s my day on the Flit and Bloom Blog hop! Welcome!




A while back Patty Young, a friend and fabric designer for Riley Blake Designs, showed me a little preview of her newest fabric line, Flit and Bloom, and I went nuts!

The colors and designs are bright and cheery. . .




And there are birds, and feathers, and flowers, (did I say birds?) and  . . .




HUMMINGBIRDS! Oh my!




I immediately thought it would make a great pillow with my bonus pillow pattern! Keep scrolling, you’ll have an opportunity to get a copy of that pattern, too!




The pillow project is very easy, you need a few 5” charm squares and a bit of yardage.




Cut some strips, do some flipping and rearranging with those strips . . .




and before you know it, you have strip sets and 9-patches. . .




A little more sewing and the front of the pillow is all done. To make the flaps for the back, I use a strip of fusible web to stabilize the edge of the flap.




Fold the fabric edge over the fusible web and add some topstitching. . .




Then align all the parts and sew everything together envelope style.




Before turning the pillow right side out, snip the corners at an angle to reduce bulk. . .




A little more edge stitching and stitching-in-the-ditch . . . then stuff in a pillow form.

So easy! And so cute with the Flit and Bloom Fabric! Want some Flit and Bloom fabric? Ask for it at you local independent quilt shop. . .

Do you want the pillow pattern? It's a bonus and you can get it right here! Fill in the form below and watch your email for a message that includes a pattern download. 


At the same time, I’ll set you up with another scrappy label pattern as an added bonus and a subscription to my Good Migrations weekly online newsletter. It's fun, filled with quilty (and sometimes not-so-quilty) tips and musings, and it's free!

Sound good?

Gotta run - or should I say Gotta “flit!”

Happy Stitching!

Joan Ford
Head Hummingbird
Hummingbird Highway