Thursday, July 31, 2014

Are you ready??

Tomorrow is the big day!  Are you ready?  Do you have your kit or have your selected your own fabric?  (There's still time to order a kit - once you see that first block you're going to want to have a quilt that looks just like ours!!)  Click here: Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along kit and we'll ship it right out to you. Pam has block #1 all ready to go, so check out her blog Friday morning.  Yes it is time to start the sew-along!! It's really hard to believe it's really August!!  Where has the summer gone??

Here's the schedule for the 10 week program:
8/1     Pam Buda - Heartspun Quilts                 
8/8     Paula Barnes - Red Crinoline Quilts       
8/15  Sarah Maxwell - Homestead Hearth       
8/22  Pati Violick - Marcus Fabrics                  
8/29  Gloria Parsons - Olde Green Cupboard   
9/5    Nancy Rink - Nancy Rink Designs          
9/12  Mary Ellen Robison - Red Crinoline Quilts
9/19  Dolores Smith - Homestead Hearth       
9/26  Lisa Shepard - Marcus Fabrics              
10/3  Red Crinoline Quilts - Quilt Revealed     

 We are all really excited about this program and hope you will enjoy it as much as we have in designing it.  Remember the quilt is 60"x60" and features fabrics from Paula's Companions collection.  Here's a picture of the fabrics in case you've forgotten how beautiful they are!!!
                                          Marcus Friends and Companions Sew-A-Long Kit with backing
Starting tomorrow you'll get to see where the designers have used some of these great fabrics.  Have you been guessing which ones are in the pieced blocks and which ones are in the border?  Some of your answers will be revealed tomorrow!!

Now on a personal note:  did anyone watch Sharknado 2 last night?  Peter and I watched the first one in Louisville last year with daughter #1 and I can't honestly believe they made a second one.  Now it's confession time - I did go ahead and DVR #2 last night!!  Why, you ask?  I don't know!!  I love a good disaster movie - not that this qualifies as a "good" disaster movie, but still I bought into the hype.  I am currently caught up on all of my regular shows and not quite ready to start something new on Netflix, so I think I will be watching Sharknado 2 while I sew this afternoon. I'm afraid that it's going to be so bad I won't even be able to sew!!!  I'll have to let you know how this goes.  Should be interesting!!! 

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Good things and sad things

I think I will start with the sad thing first.  A dear friend, Nancy Rink of Nancy Rink Designs, had a large number of her quilts stolen from her studio this weekend.  Nancy designs quilts and also designs fabric for Marcus Fabrics.  Many of you have probably participated in her BOM programs - El Camino Real, Amish with a Twist for example.  I've included a link to Nancy's Facebook page where she tells the horrible story and has posted pictures of the stolen quilts.  Please be on the look out for these quilts and share this story with fellow quilters.  Hopefully Nancy's quilts will be returned to her.
One of Nancy's stolen quilts
And now on to some good things.  Peter arrived home yesterday and brought home all the great things I bought during our vacation - fat quarters, new shoes, big lantern, fun fabric!!  It was also another package day - good package day to be exact!!!  I sorted through the fat quarters and organized a pile for Paula and a pile for myself. I put mine away for when I get sometime to work on my 6 pointed star blocks and Patchwork of the Crosses blocks.  Paula's will get shipped out tomorrow.  

Package number one was more of those "stuff we need" things - a new light, Omnigrid rotary cutter case and more fabric!!!!  Now let me tell you about this light - it's from Stella Lighting and is an LED light with different color spectrums, 5 different degrees of brightness, low heat, energy efficiency and long life.  Jeanne shared these with us when we were at her shop (Country Sampler in Spring Green, WI).  Of course we immediately fell in love with them and added them to our list. I set it up today and can't wait to try it out with some hand sewing.  Should make that needle threading just a little bit easier!  The fabric was Hubba Hubba from Me and My Sister for Moda and Paint Box Batiks from Laundry Basket for Moda.  Great collections!!

Package number two - Landon Creek fabric for the new quilt.  I haven't opened that yet - waiting for Paula to send directions - then I will share pictures.  It's in 2 big bags, so I don't want to "mess it up" until I can sort it out the right way!!

Sunday was "personal" sewing day - in other words, work on the Churn Dash exchange I signed up last September when I vowed I would never do another exchange!!  I made all of the big half square triangles, so I can check that off the list and then it was time to move on to the actual Churn Dash blocks.  I had already done some prep work, so in theory all I had to do was just start sewing.  Too bad I didn't bother to read the "directions" first.  Fortunately I didn't get too far before I caught my mistake, so there wasn't a lot of reverse sewing!!  I un-stitched and set it aside - too big a chance for more mistakes if I continued!!  I did get back to it today and finished 1 set of Churn Dash blocks.  At this rate I can probably have it done by September!  Hmm, I wonder what we'll pick for our next exchange! LOL!!

Friday is getting closer.  Have you bought your kit for Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along or are you going to use your own fabric?  I know Pam has been working hard to get the directions for her block all ready.  Paula is up next and rumor has it, her directions are just about ready to be posted too - just a final check and edit!!  Spread the word about this great program!  Oh and did I tell you there are prizes too!!!  You could be the recipient of a package and have a good package day yourself!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I don't know about you, but I love getting packages in the mail - even when it's something I ordered myself and know exactly what's in the box!!! This week has been package week.  I ordered a Christmas present for daughter Megan and it arrived (I hope you are impressed with the fact that I said Christmas present and it's only July) and I ordered moisturizer for myself and it arrived yesterday, so these weren't really surprises, but packages to open anyway.  (Side note: Megan keeps a calendar on her computer and I had to ask her to mark on her calendar for December where I put her present that arrived in July because December 24th will come and I'll be wondering where I put that present I ordered for her way back in July!!)

The best package that arrived was one from Paula with all sorts of "goodies" in it.  But first, have you ever noticed that some of your friends have notions/goodies/stuff that you don't have and you get that "I have to have that too" feeling?  Well that hit us on the cruise we were on in June.  We had been sitting in a room for 7 days with other quilters and looking at all of the "stuff" that they had with them and we decided to make a "We need this stuff too" list.  We walked around the room with paper and pen and asked our fellow quilters which notions they would recommend and which ones they couldn't live without.  We compiled our list and Paula placed our order.  She actually sent me a couple of things before I left for NY that I knew I just couldn't live without, but the box this week was sent to arrive when I returned home.  Apparently it's been sitting by her front door and she's been throwing things in it.  Opening it and pulling things out was a quilter's Christmas!!

As I look back at the pictures, I realize a lot of these notions are to support our recent addiction to English Paper Piecing - small cutting mats, paper pieces, needles, lights, needle threaders, needle cases, and zipper bags. We did manage to get some fabric too!!!

On the left is French General's Le Bouquet Francais and the right is Barbara Brackman's Morris Modernized

Not only were packages coming in, I was sending them out!!  Wednesday was a shipping day for the kits for the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along. The kit inventory for this program is limited.  We ordered fabric for a limited number of kits and at this time we don't plan to reorder, so if you want a kit you need to place your order soon.  Please feel free to use your own fabric for the quilt and I've listed the yardage requirements at the end of this post. Just a reminder, the program begins next Friday, August 1st and Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts will be the 1st designer presenting her block.

I've also been doing a lot of sewing this week, but unfortunately I can't share pictures.  I've been working on a new quilt that we aren't ready to share yet and the SAL, which is a mystery quilt!!  Rumor has it another package is on its way and it has all the "fixins" for a new quilt using Paula's newest collection, Landon Creek.  I'm hoping it's in little baggies, so I can just start sewing!!  I will be able to share this one!! 

The week ahead looks busy - Peter arrives home from his extended vacation and I'll be sewing.  Peter is driving home, so he has the rest of the things we brought to NY with us and the things I bought while we were up there.  That means the fat quarters I bought on my Shopping the Erie Canal trip are coming home and I will be able to send Paula her share - Christmas in July for her!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen 

Marcus Fabrics
Friends & Companions Sew~Along

Quilt size:  60” x 60”

Yardage Requirements

* For Blocks:

¼ yard cheddar print
½ yard light print #1
1/6 yard red print #1
¼ yard black print
1/6 yard blue print
yard olive green print

* For Quilt Setting and Borders:

1¾ yards red print #2 for outside border
1¼ yards black print for alternate block, inside border and binding.
1 yards light print #2 for alternate block
1 yard olive green print for setting corners and triangles.

4 yards for backing

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cycling/Shopping the Erie Canal - wrap up

Yes, it's over and I am back home, but I wanted to finish my coverage of the bike ride.  WiFi options were not the best at the last few places we stayed, so I decided to just wait until I got back home to let you know how it all ended!!

Day 6 - Rome to Canajoharie: 
     As I mentioned, the bikers' tent city was at the Fort Stanwix National Monument when we were in Rome.  What I didn't share was the fabulous dessert that we enjoyed at Coalyard Charlie's, a tavern from the original days of the Erie Canal. I don't usually post food pictures, but I need to share this dish - it was a sundae, but I don't remember the name. Suffice it to say that it was heavenly and could have been shared by 4 people -  2 brownies, 3-4 scoops of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream,nuts and at least 3 different sauces.
Can you say YUMMY!!!

I did my shopping first thing in the morning at Tiger Lily Quilt Company in Utica.  This was a great shop that is in one of the old textile mills in the city and it is across the street from the Utica Brewing Company.  That was on Peter's list, but he decided 10:15 AM was a little too early to be sampling beer.  I see that on a return trip!! Owner Donna was out, but I did get to visit with Luann, who is the store manager and also a quilt designer and instructor. As I picked up fat quarters for Paula and I, I came across a beautiful batik quilt top and low and behold it was made from Phyllis Anderson's Sweet and Sassy Template.  I took a picture and sent it right off to Phyllis.  It's always so nice to come across dear friends' designs, fabric, books, etc.  It's when I have one of my "I know this person" moments (these often happen in JoAnn's when I'm in their magazine section). I live my life vicariously through other people's fame!!!

Tent city that night was at Canajoharie High School, which we knew was at the top of a very long hill, so I met Peter in town.  Good friends, Susan and Ed, taught in Canajoharie, so we've been up that hill before!!  We did drive up to the top later and saw the great t-shirts that were for sale:  "I Survived the Canajoharie Climb!"  Very appropriate!!  Riding down the next morning must have been like being on a roller coaster!

Day 7 - Canajoharie to Schenectady:
   The morning didn't start out too well - flat front tire on the bike - but the bike mechanic had it fixed in no time and Peter was off down the hill!!  No shopping for me today.  I just enjoyed the drive along the Canal (basically along the Thruway).  I'd forgotten how beautiful that area is in the summer.  It's so lush and green and the beautiful weather was just an added bonus. Lunch today was provided by the Pattersonville Volunteer Fire Dept.

This was the last night, so there was a huge pasta dinner and entertainment for everyone at the tent city on the grounds of the Jewish Community Center in Niskayuna.  The Erie Canal Bikers Choir (bet you didn't know they had one) sang some great songs and some of the bikers told jokes and sang a couple of songs.  There were even some awards:  Most Flat Tires in a Day (5), Most Flat Tires in the Whole Ride (6 - unfortunately the same person), Oldest Rider (90), Youngest Rider (9).  Peter and I stayed in the Stockade Inn in Schenectady - a neat inn from the 1800's.

Erie Canal Bikers Choir in their bright green shirt

Day 8 - Schenectady to Albany:
    Peter really enjoyed this day.  He stopped at a lot of the scenic spots along the way:  Cohoes Falls, Peebles State Park.  The ride ended at the Visitor's Center in Albany.  Riders were greeted by family and friends and a great band!!  We ended our ride at Friendly's - had to get one last visit in before I headed back to Florida, the land of no Friendly's!!  Then it was on to our son's house for one last visit.  Peter relaxed and shared the book he bought for the girls: The Erie Canal, illustrated by Peter Spier.  He actually illustrated the song and the girls had me rereading/singing before they went to bed.
Congratulations Peter - you did an awesome job!!!

Peter left that evening for Syracuse so he could continue the "history" trip. He and his brother are taking 2 nephews to Gettysburg.  Both of them are Civil War enthusiasts, so they are passing it on to the next generation!  One of my suggestions was a stop at the monument to the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, which has a statue of Sallie the dog at the base.  Sallie and her story was the inspiration for our Sallie's Quilt.
Jacob, Donny and Sallie

I flew home on Monday and I am at work on RCQ stuff.  Actually, I am getting the kits ready for the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along.  They should ship out tomorrow.  If you haven't ordered, there's still time.  Checkout our website and order your kit today.  You'll have it in time to start the first block on August 1st with Pam Buda of Heartspun Quilts.

Today I caught up on all sorts of business things, wrote a short To Do list and then wrote the long term To Do list - boy am I going to be busy for awhile!!!  I can happily say I almost finished the short list and hopefully this evening I can work on some of that long term stuff!!  But first I am off to be the cheering aunt.  Niece Paige has her last swim meet tonight, so I am going to watch.  She's 8 and a good little swimmer.  Caitlin began swimming at this age, so I enjoy the chance to see another little girl starting out.

Next will be catching up on all of my DVR'd shows!!  Unfortunately some were deleted as the machine filled up, so I'm hoping I can catch most of them On Demand. Big sewing day tomorrow, so that is just perfect for some TV viewing!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cycling/Shopping the Erie Canal - Part II

Well, we are halfway through - actually halfway plus a day!  Everything is going well.  Peter is doing the riding, despite some rainy periods, and I'm shopping my way across New York State.  I am definitely doing my bit for the economy!

Day 3 was Pittsford to Seneca Falls.  We woke up to heavy rain and thunderstorms and thanked our lucky stars for being in a hotel and not in a tent!!  Peter dutifully watched the weather radar and started about 2 hours later when it looked like all of the storms had cleared out.  I started out to the quilt shops for the day.  First stop was Ivy Thimble Quilt & Gift Shop in Victor and owner Trish follows their slogan: " Enter as strangers, leave as friends."  It's a great shop and you feel right at home as soon as you walk in.  I also got to meet Joanne, one of the long-armers and teachers.  She is also the leader/teacher for the Pastimers - the reproduction group.  Shop #2 was Sew Creative in Fairport and it's actually in an old train depot!!  Great news - they were having their Summer Sale - 40% of all of the fabric.  Yes, I had a little fun there!
Ivy Thimble in Victor, NY
My purchases at Ivy Thimble - baby flannel and Christmas tumbler pieces.
Sew Creative in Fairport, NY
Purchases from Sew Creative.  Christmas fabric to add to my tumblers pack, a Jo Morton fabric (great border) and two little prints that seemed to say "little girl dresses".

The actual ride brought Peter right along the Erie Canal, which he enjoys the most.  He's not big on riding along the roads.  The trail has been pretty flat, but there were some definite hills as they rode from Newark to Clyde - so glad I was in my car!! He stopped a little early so we could get ready for dinner that night - after a couple of stops along the way to see the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge - great place for bird watching. We were meeting my cousin Mike and his wife Jo at Stonecutters at Belhurst Castle in Geneva. Our table overlooked Seneca Lake - beautiful!!

Peter spotted these 2  8-man crew shells on the Canal near Fairport.
Day 4 was Seneca Falls to Syracuse.  Peter headed out nice and early and I got ready for my "special" day.  I was meeting my sister-in-law Anne at the Waterloo Premium Outlets - no quilt stores this day, just some good old personal shopping.  I scored a couple of new tops (always need those), a couple pairs of shoes and a couple of scarves - definitely a good day!  Anne and I headed back to their house and enjoyed some of the wine we had purchased when we did the wine tasting last week!!  

Luckily no rain for the riders and the ride went along the old Erie Canal.  Peter ended in Camillus and took some time for a boat ride on the Canal and a visit to the newly rebuilt aqueduct.  The riders spent the night at Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park and most of them had a chance to see the famous stop light on Tipperary Hill.  This part of Syracuse was largely settled by Irish immigrants and to honor that, the stop light is green on the top and red on the bottom!!  It's even in Ripley's Believe It or Not!  We lived in this neighborhood about 40 years ago and remember well what it was like on St. Patrick's Day!  Peter and his brother Steve enjoyed the All-American dinner at the zoo and the lecture on Engineering the Erie Canal.
Tent City at the Zoo in Syracuse.  Trucks bring the riders' suitcases to the next site.
Day 5 - today - was Syracuse to Rome and it was a bit rainy.  I think Peter was enjoying the visit with his brother, so he started a little later, but I still managed to visit my 2 quilt stores for the day.  Anne and I went to Calico Gals in Syracuse before I got on the road.  Owner Paula is the creator of the multi-state Row by Row Experience program.  She wasn't there, but the gals in the shop were eager to explain it to me.  Check out the link and see if your state is participating.  I loved the license plates that were made up for each shop!!  
Calico Gals in Syracuse
Peter and I met for lunch in Canastota - post rain.  Most of the riders were looking for water hoses to wash the mud off of their bikes and their clothes!!!  Luckily the folks at Three Pines weren't bothered by the mud!  Lunch and a quick trip to the Canastota Canal Town Museum and we were both off for the afternoon's adventures!  No time to see the Boxing Hall of Fame Museum! 
Canastota, NY

Cotton, Etc. in Wampsville was next on my list.  Great shop in an old brick building at the top of a hill.  Joanne was holding down the fort while Paula (the owner) was vending and demo-ing at Quilting-By-The-Lake at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse.  I remember way back when this was actually held by the lake in Cazenovia!  Baby flannels caught my eye here too.  Now I just need some more people to have babies.  I've been building my stash on this trip.
Cotton,Etc. in Wampsville, NY

Peter's goal for the day was Fort Stanwix in Rome, where Tent City was being set up.  At the stop in Chittenango he explored the Chittenango Landing Canal Museum and also learned that Chittenango is called Oz Land.  It is the home of L. Frank Baum, author of the  Wonderful  Wizard of Oz.  I feel very badly that I am an elementary school librarian and I didn't know that.  Definite gap in my education!! 
Tent City at Fort Stanwix National Monument in Rome, NY.  You can just see the Fort behind the tents.
A little more rain this afternoon, but the sun is out know and should be a beautiful day tomorrow.  I have really been enjoying the weather this week - cool, no humidity and mostly partly sunny days.  We haven't even had any humidity issues after the rain.  The nights have been cool and we've even needed a light blanket.  Next Monday is going to be a major reality check when I'm back in hot, steamy Florida!

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the fat quarters I purchased on my first day of shopping.  I'm seeing some beautiful Lucy Boston blocks and 6-pointed star blocks in my future!  I picked up some more today, but I left them in the car and will have to share another day.

Tomorrow is on to Canajoharie.  My  best friend from elementary school lived there for years, but now lives in Florida.  I will have to drive by and take a picture of her house for her!!  I have one stop to make in Utica tomorrow and then I think I am going to try and get some sewing done.  I haven't pulled the sewing machine out the past couple of days - getting lazy in my old age!!

Don't forget to order a kit for the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-along.  We were talking about prizes and giveaways today - you're going to want to be in this!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cycling the Erie Canal

Yes, week 3 of our vacation has officially begun!! Peter started his Cycling the Erie Canal bike ride and I started my Shopping the Erie Canal program!  We arrived in Buffalo on Saturday for registration, a kick-off dinner and orientation program.  The actual bike ride began Sunday morning at 8 AM.  It's an 8-day ride from Buffalo to Albany, along the Erie Canal Bike Trail - scenic and historic!  I thought I would share a couple of interesting stats from that orientation program:
     - 485 riders (55% male, 45% female)
     - youngest rider - 9 years old
     - oldest rider - 90 years old - if I remember correctly, I think they said this is his 5th ride
     - average age - 53 years

The majority of the riders stay in a "tent city" that is set up each night at a new location, usually at a school of some sort. I'm not much of a camper, so we're staying in hotels along the way.  This gives me a chance to do some sewing too. 
Peter at the Registration site in Buffalo
Just a few of the tents in "Tent City"

Day 1 began in Buffalo and ended in Medina.  It was Sunday, so no open quilt shops for me.  Instead when Peter stopped for lunch in Lockport, we did a one and a half hour tour on the Canal itself and actually went through two of the locks (# 34 and #35).  Historical note:  the first Erie Canal was built in 1825 and modified 2 additional times.  It was built to connect Lake Erie in Buffalo and the Hudson River in Albany and to provide a means of moving goods across the state.  It was built by hand and the original one was called "Clinton's Big Ditch".  The change in land elevation along the Canal is still handled with the locks.  I have to say it was pretty neat to actually be in the lock and watch how it works.  Now all the door opening and closing, the water flowing in and out is all accomplished by motors, but back in the 1800's it was all done by manpower and animal power.
Inside the lock as it gets ready to fill with water.

I  ended the day with some quality time with my sewing machine.  I'm working on a RCQ quilt that needs to be done pretty quickly, so I'm grabbing any chance I get on this trip to "bond" with the machine!!  I also want to get this quilt finished because Paula is getting ready to send me another packet of baggies!  She has the sample fabric for her new collection, Landon Creek, and she has already designed the quilt, so it is calling my name!  Going to be a busy few weeks, but I really wouldn't have it any other way!

Day 2 - today - was the first day of my Shopping the Erie Canal program and I had a great time.  Peter and I are trying to meet for lunch each day, so I'm planning my shopping time around that.  Today I visited 2 great quilt stores.  I'm sure there are more in the area, but these two met my criteria - along or near the bike ride.  First shop on my list - Heartland Quilt Shop in Lockport. Tara, the owner, was out today, but I met Jamie and some ladies that were there for a class using their Featherweights.  What a great shop and Jamie was wonderful.  I had a great time there and found some fat quarters to use in our Lucy Boston blocks.  Yes, I made sure I bought 2 of each, so I can share with Paula!

Peter and I met for lunch at McColley's, an Irish pub in Spencerport.  After lunch I back tracked to Brockport and visited Country Treasures.  Marie, the owner, specializes in primitives, wools and reproduction fabrics.  Another great shop and fabulous owner.  I  had a great time there and added to our Lucy Boston fat quarter collection.  I guess I'm also spreading the word about Lucy Boston and the Patchwork of the Crosses blocks! 

All in all a fabulous day!!!  The ride ended in Pittsford today and tomorrow it's on to Seneca Falls.  I've got a couple of shops planned for the trip, but I'll share them in my next post.  We're also going to have dinner out with family.  Should be a wonderful day too.  Maybe in my next post I'll share my thoughts on Spandex and are some of these bike riders asking too much of the fabric!!

Now a whiney moment - I  have discovered why I love cruising.  You get on a ship with your suitcases, you unpack once and everyday you end up in a new location, but you never had to repack or drag your luggage to a new location.  On this trip, every day I repack, load my luggage in the car, drive to a new place, unload the luggage, take out what I need and then repack it again and start the cycle for another day! UGH!!!  Maybe I should be cruising on the Erie Canal, not driving along near it!!  I'll suggest that if Peter decides he wants to do this again.

And now for a commercial moment:  have you checked out the information on the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along?  You are really going to want to be part of this!  Great designers, fabulous fabric and a beautiful quilt.  Did I tell you that there are also going to be prizes.  Each week, the sponsoring designer will be giving away a prize and at the end there is a grand prize that all the designers and Marcus Fabrics is contributing too.  We should have pictures of the prizes in another week or so.  Remember it starts August 1st and continues for the next 10 Fridays.  Kits are still available:  Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along kits.

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Thursday, July 10, 2014

FQA - Future Quilters of America

Way back, when I was in high school (no, don't even ask the date), I was a member, and at one point treasurer, of the FTA - Future Teachers of America.  We also had the FHA (Future Homemakers of America, FNA (Future Nurses of America) and FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), but we were on Long Island, so there was no FFA (Future Farmers of America).  Now I think we need to start a new club - FQA - Future Quilters of America - and I have our first two members - my two granddaughters Sydney and Julianne.  

We began week 2 of our vacation in Syracuse on Monday, but not before I had a chance to finish the quilt tops with the little girls.  I had a great time "sewing" with the two of them and thought I would share some of the pictures. Please feel free to chuckle!!!  I certainly did.

Sydney is 6, so she was able to reach the pedal and do the actually sewing, while 4 year old Julianne enjoyed pushing the pedal and letting me do the sewing.  Let me just say that I thought my back was going to break as I leaned over and helped each of them!!!  Sydney would go nice and slowly, but Julianne was all about speed - probably says a little something about their personalities!!  Sydney was very good about arranging her quilt top and like a true quilter, she moved squares around to achieve the design she wanted.  Julianne, on the other hand, wanted each row exactly the same.  I asked a couple of times, but this was the way she wanted it and that was that!!  I did joke that I could have just cut 4 long strips instead of 20 squares, but that's ok!!
Sydney and I on the first day when we sewed the squares together.
Julianne "sewing" her rows together with my help.

Sydney sewing her rows together.  I love the concentration!

And finally, here are the finished quilt tops!!  I added the backings and now they each have a doll quilt that they made themselves.  Julianne has added hers to her pile of "friends" and blankets that have to go to bed with her each night.  Sydney asked when we could do this again!!!  Success!!!  Maybe now I will have someone I can pass all of my fabric to!!
Julianne wearing her quilt top on her head!!  Don't you just love that smile!!
Julianne and her finished "ordered" quilt top.

Sydney and her finished top
I have to say that when we plan these trips to NY I always worry about the weather.  It can get as hot and humid as Florida on a good day and not many homes are centrally air conditioned - a major issue for me - but the weather these past 1 1/2 weeks has been wonderful.  We had some heat and humidity at my son's home when we first arrived, but by the end of the week we had cool and low humidity days and evenings.  Now we are in Syracuse and so far so good.  We've had some rain storms each afternoon, but they are actually keeping the temperature down!!  Hurray!!  Yesterday we drove to Geneva, on Seneca Lake (one of the Finger Lakes), and spent a great day at the Three Brothers Winery tasting and purchasing some good wine and at Parkers Grille for a late lunch.  This afternoon we head off to spend a couple of days at my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house on Lake Ontario.  Checked the weather for the rest of the day and it looks like we may need to bring a light jacket!!!  Yes!!!  I am loving this!!!
View of the vineyards and Seneca Lake from Three Brothers Winery.

I may be traveling, but I've still had a chance to check on our orders and so many of you have signed up for the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions Sew-Along and have ordered our kits.  Remember they will ship around July 21st, so if you have placed an order and are wondering where it is, just give me a chance to get back home and then they will be shipped.  If you haven't ordered your kit yet, there's still plenty of time.  Just go to our website by clicking on this link to the Marcus Fabrics Friends and Companions kits.  The Sew-along begins Friday, August 1st on Pam Buda's blog, Heartspun Quilts, so mark your calendars and get ready to have a great time while you make a beautiful quilt!!

Sunday is the first day of Peter's bike ride along the Erie Canal.  Today I am heading out to get a copy of Quilter's Travel Companion.  My plan is to visit as many quilt shops as possible along the same route!  Thank heavens he'll be driving back  to Florida! I'm definitely going to need the van to get my purchases back home!!

Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July

It was a long 2 days, but we arrived safely at our son's home on Monday night for the first week of our 3 weeks in upstate NY(remember I am a New Yorker, so  these trips back home really make me happy)!!  Both of our daughters arrived on Tuesday, so we are going to celebrate the 4th of July with a week of family and fun!!  I did manage to do a little sewing during the trip - binding on Brett and Meredith's Bordeaux quilt and a couple of EPP 6 pointed star blocks.  We were barely in the house and Meredith already had their new quilt on the bed.  Doesn't it just warm your heart to know that what we enjoy doing makes everyone so happy!

One of the 6 pointed stars I finished.

We spent Tuesday with the granddaughters (Sydney and Julianne) - swimming, shopping and sewing.  The girls are 6 and 4 and lately they've been asking me to show them how I sew.  I have my sewing machine with me, so this was the perfect opportunity.  Part of our shopping was a trip to JoAnn's (no quilt store convenient to here and I knew they would be all about "character/novelty" fabric and Grandpa wasn't too excited about doing too much shopping) for fabric for 2 doll quilts.  I wish I had taken a video while they were there.  The two of them were a riot as they selected their fabrics.  Sydney found Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fabric right away and I was able to convince her to use that for the back.  She found a pretty sparkly butterfly fabric for the front and we added pink, yellow and green for the other fabrics.  Julianne spotted a cupcake fabric and she was in heaven.  Grandpa Pete found a blue cupcake fabric and we were good to go.  I was able to convince her to add purple and hot pink also. A pink Disney princess fabric will be her backing.
Sydney and her first row
Julianne and her first row

I cut out the squares and we have completed the rows.  I'll do the pressing and then they can sew the rows together.  Sydney is able to sit in a chair and reach the pedal and still see her fabric.  Julianne and I work together  - she does the pedal and I guide the fabric.  A new generation of quilters has been born!!!

Wednesday was a trip to Yankee Stadium to see the Yankees play the Tampa Bay Rays (yes our home team).  I have to say I enjoy watching baseball in our covered air-conditioned stadium in St. Pete.  It was hot sitting out there in the sun.  Fortunately we finally had some shade after an hour or so.  We had a great time at the game - a first visit to the new Yankee Stadium for some of us - even though the Yankees lost.  It's really all about the hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and cheering!! Check out the size of the pink popcorn bucket that both girls are diving into!!  Rumor has it this one will be used for crayons and markers!
Julianne with her cotton candy smile and Grandpa Pete

We ended the day with a trip down memory lane as we drove around Poughkeepsie - our old stomping grounds.  We lived there for 17 years, so both Megan and Brett are products of the Arlington School District.  Caitlin only lived there for 11 years, but has some great memories.  It was actually Megan's birthday yesterday, so we celebrated with dinner at Mariner's on the Hudson in Highlands, NY.  It is right on the Hudson River and was a favorite restaurant of ours when we lived there.
Mid-Hudson Bridge at night!

Poor Meredith had to go to work today, but the rest of us spent the time around the pool enjoying our "Robison vacay".  Tomorrow we will celebrate the 4th with Meredith's mom and dad - another day of good food, family and fun!!  I hope all of you will be doing something  you enjoy to celebrate the 4th.  I will save my yearly viewing of Independence Day for some good sewing time back in St. Pete.  It is probably one of my all-time favorite movies!!

Monday it's on to Syracuse for some more family and reminiscing.  We lived there for 7 years and it is actually  where both Megan and Brett were born - a long time ago!

I've been checking our orders and quite a few of you are going to be joining us in our very first Sew-Along.  Paula and I are really excited about this new venture.  We are working with some of the fabulous Marcus Fabrics designers and we think we have a fabulous quilt for you to make.  Remember, you can purchase kits from us to make the quilt or you can use your own fabrics.  Yardage requirements were in our first blog about the Sew-Along. (Click on "blog" for the information).   
 Until next time, happy quilting,
Mary Ellen