Design Wall Monday – Off to Quilt Camp!

Awhile back, when I decided to join Design Wall Monday, I told myself that there was no pressure to absolutely, without fail, post something every Monday. I’ve been away and my design wall has been bare for two full weeks. But today I have something fun to show!

Oz overall quiltI don’t have attention deficit disorder but I am easily distracted and sometimes things just don’t get done in the order other people might expect them. Take for example my current project: A great big 95” x 95” Wizard of Oz quilt. Designed several years ago as a block of the month program by Sharon Vesecky at Quilter’s Paradise in Baldwin City, KS, it is whimsical and fun. I saw the finished quilt hanging in Sharon’s shop last fall and bought one of her last full kits with the idea that I would sew a block or two a month and finish it in due time. It was a great plan!

Inspired by a recent visit to The Wizard of Oz Museum, in Wamego, KS, (very fun, by the way!) I pulled my project out to assess my progress, or lack thereof.  

 The blocks sew up quickly – when one spends most of their sewing time doing hand applique’ any machine piecework seems fast!  But instead of slow and steady wins the race, I tend to go in spurts, cutting and stitching 3-4 months’ worth of blocks in a sitting. Then I might need the design wall for something else so I pull the current display off the wall and tuck it away for later. That’s pretty much my system – pinging from project to project. Please tell me I’m not the only one who works that way! Wizard of oz quilt in progress  Here is the upper left corner of the work in progress.

Technicolor film, a little dog, ruby red slippers, rainbow-bargello style, it's all here!

Technicolor film, a little dog, ruby red slippers, rainbow-bargello style, it’s all here!

Good Witch/Bad Witch Block

Good Witch/Bad Witch Block

I have three days of uninterrupted retreat sewing coming up and will be taking this with me along with 15 or so other projects in various stages of completion (I believe in having plenty to choose from depending on which way the wind is blowing!). But there is no pressure – I’ll sew what I feel like sewing and bring the rest home for another day.

What’s on your design wall? Check out what others are working on at The Patchwork Times.


Design Wall Monday – Eureka!

Native of California where the state motto is “Eureka! I have found it!”, and graduate of The College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California, it stands to reason that I might like just about anything that has the word Eureka in it! Today I’m heading out on another trip – this time to Eureka Springs, AR and The Writer’s Colony, where I will be staying for a week. While there I will be working primarily on my “pie project”. The plan is to write and bake pies – I’m booked in a special culinary suite where cookbook authors can recipe test while in residence as a writer. Amidst the pies and computer work I will enjoy one quilt-y day as I’ve been invited to present a workshop on back basting applique’ while “on location”. Click here to see more.

No matter how committed I am to writing and baking during the course of the week, I know myself well enough to know that I will need some handwork for down time. So, although my design wall is empty, my suitcase is packed – with a bed sized quilt in need of hand stitching on the binding, (I’ll sleep under it while away from home -even with an unfinished binding!) and I’m taking along this hand applique’ project:


It’s the center of “Tree of Life Medallion” by Reproduction Quilts. I started it way back in the 2005 or 2006; the tree was stitched with back basting applique’. Now I’m adding the cut out flowers with needle turned edges – they were already all basted in place when I re-discovered this project while cleaning up my sewing room. It was not exactly a Eureka! moment – it was more like an “Ugg, really? I never finished that?” moment.

While in Eureka Springs. I’ll be busy looking for a way to tie my pie story together. Check back later to find out if  “I found it!” in Eureka Springs!

In the meantime, click here to go to Judy Laquidara’s Patchwork Times and see what others have on their design walls (or in their suitcases!).


Inspiration in Unexpected Places

When my husband, Dale, was in grade school, in the suburbs of Los Angeles, CA, he missed the answer to a question on a geography test. The question went something like this: Would Nebraska be considered: a. flat, b. hilly c. mountainous. His grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived in Nebraska – he had been there many times so he knew the answer; b. hilly. But the teacher marked it wrong and in bold red ink circled: a. flat. Obviously, the teacher had never been to Nebraska.

Kansas, sitting right below Nebraska, gets the same generalizing assumption about being flat. Have you heard it’s flat and boring, not a tree in sight, nothing, absolutely nothing, to inspire a person? Wrong. Granted, there are flat parts of Kansas. Yup, flat as flat comes, but even then the road might curve around a river and on the banks of that river you might see trees and wildlife or colors and images that inspire. My own yard is wooded. Not just a tree here and there but lots of trees among wild brambles along a trickle of a creek. I get a lot of inspiration in my own yard but it’s good to change scenery for a few days. It stimulates my creativity.

Dale and I recently took a trip across a section of Kansas (see Quirky Kansas Tour). It was my goal to visit off-the-wall attractions, not to intentionally gather inspiring images. But when you are a quilter you can hardly separate the two so here are some of the colors and shapes, place names and literature collected along the way that caused me to pause and notice.

Interesting color combinations. Is that a white pumpkin?

Interesting color combinations. Is that a white pumpkin?

Swaying sunflowers. I love things in rows.

Swaying sunflowers. I love things in rows.

Just a week after taking this photo I found a fabric that reminded me of the texture.

Just a week after taking this photo I found a fabric that reminded me of the texture.

Random arrangement of shapes compliments of Mother Nature.

Random arrangement of shapes compliments of Mother Nature.

Rows of shells compliments of man circa 1960. Lucas, KS

Rows of shells compliments of man circa 1960. Lucas, KS

More rows and texture. Lucas, KS

More rows and texture. Lucas, KS

Bathroom floor tile. Wilson, KS

Bathroom floor tile. Wilson, KS

Kansas Fish and Game brochure: Fish Identification Guide. Colors, shapes, textures, Mother Nature is a good teacher.

Kansas Fish and Game brochure: Fish Identification Guide. Colors, shapes, textures, Mother Nature is a good teacher.

Kansas Wild Flowers Chart on the back of a scenic byways map.

Kansas Wild Flowers Chart on the back of a scenic byways map.

Kansas Wildflower brochure detail. Great lines in the starburst flower.

Kansas Wildflower brochure detail. Great lines in the starburst flower.

Scenic Byways map - even the names have a bit of inspiration tucked into them.

Scenic Byways map – even the names have a bit of inspiration tucked into them.

Carpet in the hotel hallway

Carpet in the hotel hallway

There isn’t a specific quilt in the works based on these particular inspirations but that doesn’t matter because the images are now logged deep in my subconscious and someday a remnant of one of them may inspire a design. Imagine that – quilt inspiration out of: a. flat b. hilly or c. mountainous Kansas!

Have you found inspiration in an unexpected place?

By the way, my answer is – Kansas is: b. hilly. If you find that hard to believe try riding a bike across it!


Design Wall Monday –

It’s a holiday weekend in the US as we celebrate Labor Day.

Some consider Labor Day the official end of summer but we continue sailing until it’s too cold to be on the water. So, I’m leaving a few works in progress on the design wall as we head out to the lake looking for enough wind for sailing.

I’ve been trying out Marti Michell’s Long/Skinny Sashing ruler to set these sampler blocks together. single block with long skinny sashingsSampler with long skinny sashings Wouldn’t you know it – I am 3 1/2″ short on my inner border fabric so I couldn’t get it finished yesterday! Quilt shop run on the schedule for Tues! These blocks were made using the Marti Michell templates featured over the past year in the Marti and Me Club that I lead at Quilting Bits and Pieces in Eudora, KS.

And here are some sweet little machine embroidered blocks stitched for me by my friend Sherry. (I begged.) Someday I will get them made into a little banner to hang in the cabin on our sailboat.054July emb block June embroidered block

When I cleaned up my sewing room to prepare for my guild’s tour of member’s sewing rooms, I made a list of 59 projects that I found scattered about the room in various stages of completion. I took a few of them with me on our “Quirky Kansas Tour” to have handwork to do in the car. I am happy to show you 4 finished projects. Don’t get too impressed though; that’s 4 down 55 to go!

Winter trees from a Karen Montgomery pattern

Winter trees from a Karen Montgomery pattern

I had to make this project because this is what I see in my yard during the winter months:from Barb 066

Churn Dash Doll Quilt - Reproduction fabrics. Machine quilted on my HQ Sweet 16.

Churn Dash Doll Quilt – Reproduction fabrics. Machine quilted. 5″ blocks

Hand appliqued from a Lori Smith, From my Heart to your Hands, design

Hand appliqued, designed by Lori Smith, From my Heart to your Hands.  16″x20″ machine quilted.


Crochet edge fleece - not a quilt but it was a project on the floor in the sewing room so it made the list!

Crochet edge fleece – not a quilt but it was a project on the floor in the sewing room so it made the list!

I’m linking to The Patchwork Times today. Visit Design Wall Monday to see what others are working on!








Quirky Kansas Tour

My husband and I took a little excursion to visit nearby attractions. Before leaving home I nicknamed this our “Quirky Kansas Tour”. We planned to see famous attractions as well as some of the places featured in the “Weird Kansas” book– places we had read about and were curious enough to take a jaunt specifically to see them. I expected it to be fun and I expected it to be a nice departure from our regular routine. I also expected it to be quirky.

Our itinerary was a big loop, starting at home, near Kansas City.

This was our plan:

1. Bentonville, AR to see Crystal Bridges and the Wal-Mart Museum.

2. Then north and west across the Kansas prairie to Hutchinson, KS and the Salt Museum.

3. North, across more prairie to Salina, KS and the Rolling Hills Zoo and nearby Rock City.

4. Then on to Lucas, KS and the Garden of Eden and Florence Deeble’s Rock Garden.

Three days. No advance hotel reservations. No scheduled meals. As we traveled we decided when to stop and what to eat.  We didn’t check e-mail. Phone calls and text messages were limited due to reception, (or lack thereof.)

Ready? Let’s go!065

Our first stop was lunch in Butler, MO at Koehn Bakery.016It’s a cute little deli/bakery: Special features were huge sandwiches and the surprise seating of brightly colored vintage school chairs – they’re not retro, they’re the real deal! 014We were too full for pie but got a sweet little blackberry turnover for later. 015When we ate it I wished I had bought one for each of us instead of planning to share! Mmmm!

Next stop: Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, AR home to an impressive collection of American Art. 017We saw art by Mary Cassatt, Georgia O’Keefe, Homer, Andy Wharhol, Norman Rockwell – name an American Artist and their work is probably in this collection.  Forget about the French Impressionists and don’t look for Michelangelo – at least not here – this museum houses talent born and bred in America. And most of the subject matter is American:  Portraits of George Washington to Rosie the Riviter to Dolly Parton; Landscapes of Yellowstone, Yosemite, the open plains and waves crashing on the shore; city views and country views; realistic and abstract; paintings and sculptures. The building and its setting is also a work of art with outdoor sculptures dotting the gardens and nature trails. It was about art and culture – and it wasn’t quirky.

The Wal-Mart museum was next. 033Whether you like Wal-Mart or not there is no arguing that Sam Walton was enterprising and passionate and I say if you are going to be anything, be passionate. The Wal-Mart museum was about history – and it wasn’t quirky.

After a little snack at the old fashioned ice cream store we were on our way. 041 037We drove until we were tired then found a hotel and dinner in Joplin, MO. The next day, we crossed back into Kansas and headed west.

It was a great Sunday morning drive through the Kansas countryside with its soft, gently rolling hills, two lane highways and hardly any traffic. The native prairie grass was turning golden under the late summer sun while ripening corn crops provided a dark green backdrop. We passed through small towns with local grocery stores and old style motels, and no chain stores – aside from an occasional Wal-Mart, that is, until Wichita where we grabbed a chain food lunch. A touch of the ordinary wasn’t going to hurt us for one meal!

We arrived at Hutchinson, KS and the Salt Museum where we donned hardhats and emergency respirators (just in case) and took an elevator ride deep into the salt mine – 650 feet. 043My ears popped on the way down as my vision adjusted to the dimly lit interior. Soon we found ourselves in a mysterious, underground world. The salty floor crunched under our shoes. The walls and ceilings were solid salt – not the glistening white salt that we sprinkle on our fries; this salt hasn’t been purified. It’s layered with mud and grit, red salt, grey salt and rarely, crystalline white salt. 044

“Send it to the Salt Mines” – the mine has the perfect underground conditions providing low humidity and even temperatures making the salt mines a suitable storage facility for films, costumes and documents. Somewhere, out of the eyesight of the visitors, are vaults holding our history. It’s a time capsule– deep under the city of Hutchinson, KS. Who knew?048 051

I took a deep breath and tasted salt lingering on my lips. I sort of liked this dust-free, pollen-free environment but after two hours underground my eyes felt strained from the dim lighting. Time to ride the elevator back to ground level. Once our eyes adjusted to the afternoon glare, we hit the road. The mine is one of the 8 geological wonders of KS. It’s educational. Not quirky.

Arriving in Salina, KS we decided to go local and have dinner at an Italian restaurant downtown then catch a movie at the neighborhood movie theater. 

The next morning, our third and final day, we started early.  The Rolling Hills Zoo, tucked into a natural landscape of rolling hills (yes, there are hills in Kansas!) opened at 8 am. The last time we visited a zoo it was the San Diego Zoo and it was crowded.  Would the Rolling Hills Zoo also be crowded? Turning into the visitors parking lot we saw one lone car! We have been alone in a movie theater before, we have been the only people in a restaurant before, we have even been on a Boeing 727 with only 7 total passengers but we have never had a zoo to ourselves before! 055Oh wait! There is someone else – a local who comes here three times a week to walk. Some places have mall walking. Salina, KS has zoo walking!

Lions, tigers and bears – the Rolling Hills Zoo has them all, and more. We got up close and personal with the Rhinos, watched the tall giraffes looming overhead and saw a pair of black swans showing off. 057The African dogs pranced about their cage and the snow leopard paced along the fence, his big, bushy tail swaying from side to side.061 Butterfly gardens of native plants decorated the path – all plantings native to the prairie. What a pleasant zoo tucked in the rolling hills on the plains of Kansas. There is nothing quirky about this zoo!

Next stop: Minneapolis, KS, home to Rock City where strange boulders were deposited millions of years ago, scattered across fields and valleys – over 2000 of them dot the landscape.067 070

Dale standing among the rocks. See? They are huge!

Dale standing among the rocks. See? They are huge!

080 Their edges were worn into ridged spheres when ancient water washed away the silt, sand and soft limestone leaving hard rock. The erosion continues today with the wind and rain washing over the stones. It’s peculiar, maybe even a little bit quirky.

In three days we have gone from a layer of underground salt stratas set down millions of years ago to an outcropping of stones deposited millions of years ago. I feel so young, like a tiny speck of dust in the big picture of the world.

We enjoyed a home-style lunch at a roadside diner in Lucas, KS (with a slice of yucky chocolate peanut butter pie) then it was on to the final two stops of our quirky tour – The Garden of Eden and Florence Deeble’s Rock Garden.

SP Dinsmoor built his garden and house as a tourist attraction showcasing his religious, political and social viewpoints.107  His wife complained that he spent too much time building his garden and she never saw him so he created a sculpture of himself waving to her outside the kitchen window so she could see him any time she wanted.105

It’s a strange and curious place. My favorite part?  The statue of Eve.106 Mr Dinsmoor gave her generous hips. I liked that. But was his garden quirky? Oh yes!

“Weird Kansas” listed Florence Debble’s Garden as one of the state’s weird attractions. During my trip planning I discovered that it was right around the corner from The Garden of Eden so of course I wanted to see it. Part of the Grassroots Art Center, the house and garden is open for tours. It was hot and near the end of the day so we just took a peek around the garden instead of the whole tour.

Got an extra ironing board you don't know what to do with?

Got an extra ironing board you don’t know what to do with?

How about some old LPs and action figures?

How about some old LPs and action figures?

Ceiling fan blades turned 'bad hair day'?

Ceiling fan blades turned ‘bad hair day’?

Quirky? You betcha!

Crystal Bridges is not quirky – it’s a center for serious art lovers in a modern ‘state of the art’ building.

The Walmart Museum is not quirky – it’s a history museum documenting the life and business endeavors of the largest private employer in the country showcasing his vision and passion for helping people live better.

The Salt Museum is not quirky – it’s a working salt mine that produces the rock salt used on our winter roads and houses vaults holding the documents and movies of our life and times.

The Rolling Hills Zoo is not quirky – it’s a perfectly sized zoo and museum tucked among the gently rolling hills of the Great Plains.

Rock City isn’t quirky – but it is peculiar with its strange outcropping of gigantic eroded stones.

The Garden of Eden – is quirky, built as a tourist attraction in the early 1900s it touts political and religious sentiments of one man.  There is no denying that he believed what he believed with a passion.

Then there is Florence Deeble’s Garden – the quirkiest of them all!113

In the end, it was barely “The Quirky Kansas Tour”!  But it sure was fun! Try it for yourself! If you don’t live near enough to follow our tour route I bet you can find some unusual attractions in your own neighborhood to stage your own quirky tour.


Cover Story in Basehor Sentinal

I love the Basehor Library– it’s home to my weekly writer’s group, so when my friend Donna Thomas, fellow quilter and author, suggested we do a quilting program for the library I enthusiastically said yes.

It was such fun to dig deep into our sewing treasures to find tools, quilts and publications to illustrate our talk. We thought it would be fun to show library patrons how much quilting has changed over the past 40 years by setting up a display for each decade from the 1970s to the present. And it was fun! If you build it they will come – nearly every seat was filled.

The library staff report that the patrons have really enjoyed seeing the quilts on display and they (the library) wants to keep them! We have politely declined! But in exchange I have convinced some of my local quilting buddies to put their quilts on display at the library. To see a local news article about our event click here.

Showcasing quilts and books at the Basehor Library

Showcasing quilts and books at the Basehor Library

Quilts on display at the library.

Quilts on display at the Basehor Library