Sunday, July 31, 2016

Edinburgh, Scotland--an Introduction

We said our goodbyes before 7:30AM to Ben, the Manor Founcroup and headed back to Paris. Our destination was Orly airport where we caught a plane to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was my first experience at Orly. There was a computer problem and the check in process was more than two hours. It was disconcerting to have employees bring lines of people in front us whose flights were boarding and yet, we just stood there. Our daughter, who travels almost every week, took charge and got us to a staff person to check us in. We arrived at our gate with enough time to munch a sandwich before boarding our plane.

Our flight was uneventful and we arrived in Edinburgh late afternoon to rain. (The rain followed us almost our entire trip!) Our cab driver from the airport to the hotel was a terrific ambassador to Edinburgh. He shared his top picks about the sights to see and activities to do while we were in the best city in the world. When he heard we planned to rent a car, he gave us some driving tips. One of which was, "If you find yourself on the wrong side of the road, just keep going and get back on the correct side. If you stop, it will cause all kinds of problems."

On our walk about that evening we entered this office building and saw these figurines. Often, there will be art in the foyers of office buildings which is free to see.  So, we tend to pop in to all types of interesting business buildings!

The figurines were all different. Each one had a different "sponsor" and filled the entire foyer and stairwell in the building. It was interesting to see them! Isn't that an odd color? I liked it because red is my favorite color! I didn't see information posted information about the art; but I did enjoy viewing it.

We checked in to our hotel and had a short walk about to the castle. It was too wet and overcast to take photos and enjoy the view from the castle. Looking at the view in the overcast setting, I could tell it is beautiful on a clearer day. We also checked some souvenir shops before we celebrated DH's birthday at Nandos.

Nandos is a favorite restaurant of ours. Our daughter is partial to the peri-peri chicken and corn on the cob. It is a restaurant chain and there are some outlets in the U.S. but, none are on the west coast. When we see one in the city where we are, we often will stop! The service was terrific and the food was excellent.

After dinner, we went on a scotch tasting tour. We were given a scratch and sniff card that helped you decide what region you might like the scotch made from. I learned the different ingredients used and how the scotch is processed. It was really interesting and we had a couple more tours/cities on our agenda. DH took advantage of his new age with some price reductions at the distillery!

The next morning, we rented a car and headed out to see the country. DH was our brave driver. He said it was challenging to shift with his left hand and to parallel park on the left. Of course driving on the left was exciting at times!!!!!

DD programmed the GPS and we were off to see Scotland and tour several distilleries.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cord Holders- #2 FAL

It was a process; but, I finished stitching 42 cord holders for the fall retreaters and I also made a few extra for Christmas stocking gifts. . .so I completed 49! In the process, I used about two and a half yards out of my stash! My goal at the beginning of the year was to stitch 50 yards from my stash. I've stitched five and a half yards now.

Back to the cord holders!

Because I was making so many of these, I made a production line. I cut the squares of my fabric and had them in stacks. I used batting that I had pieced together from scraps from previous projects. This was a great project to use these pieces. It was virtually "free." I also use these pieced batting scraps for placemats, bags and small projects. Of course, did a take a photo of the stacks in process???  NO!!!

But, I did figure out that if I "pieced" the hole of the stabilizer, I would use less stabilizer. Because this is water soluble stabilizer, I stitched the piece into the hole.

Here it is ready for the fabric. I only replaced the outer stabilizer once so I did save quite a bit of stabilizer with this process!

The whole project is stitched in the hoop and with one thread color so although there were times when I removed the hoop to trim the fabrics, the process was fairly streamlined. It did take about 25 minutes to stitch each cord holder! This was  what it looked like when it was finished stitching. I used 5 1/2" squares of fabric.

I added a snap closure. These were "free" as I had them in my notions stash from when I use to sew and gift western style shirts to all the men on my gift list. This was more than 20 years since I've made a men's shirt!! It was GREAT to use the snaps. I sill have a couple packages left so there are still materials left to play with me!

The last stitching step was to add the hair band to the center. My machine didn't always like stitching through the hair band, but, we survived! Here are the stacks ready to be gifted to the fall retreaters.

The theme for the retreat has to do with music so that is why you see the note motif on the fabric.

This is how the cord fits through the holder and how it is used when the cord is in use. I think having the cord holder stick out like that will encourage me to remember to put the cord in my case when I leave instead of leaving it on the table!
This is how the cord holder looks with the cord inside. Whew! This is the second FAL goal. You can read about it here.

It cost about $6 for the thread; $15 for the fabric and $4 for the stabilizer. I also used three needles for about $2. I bought the hair bands at the dollar store--$3. Each item cost about 64 cents!

The pattern came from an embroidery spree event I participated in at Quilting Delights. Thanks, Thea!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Manor Founcroup

Staying at The Manor Founcroup was a wonderful experience. Ben and Jaye purchased the property in 1993 and have lovingly restored it. Go here to see the grounds, the exterior of the manor and several rooms. It was quiet, peaceful and restful. When you look at the D Day Tours website, you will see what I'm describing and Ben's descriptions are great reads. If you are going to Normandy, I would rate their bed and breakfast six stars out of five. Yes, D Day Tours is that amazing!!

Even though it was cool and rainy while we were there, we still enjoyed leaving our windows open most of the time we were there.

Jaye prepared wonderful breakfasts and phenomenal dinners. Ben went to a bakery every morning. We had fresh croissants and what he called "crack" bread. This bread was my favorite. It was a heavy whole grain artisan loaf that had the most wonderful flavor. The last day, we had to leave early and Ben brought back the loaf that was still hot from the oven! He called it "crack" bread because it was addictive!!

We had happy hour every afternoon; but, it was Jaye's homemade desserts that left us me wanting to move in! The first night she made a strawberry meringue cake, profiteroles the last night and a banana cream pie on a cookie crust that was to die for the second night. I was bold and asked for the recipe. . .

We met Saffron, their 13 year old English creme golden retriever. She reminded us a lot of our English creme retriever that was at the "spa" while we were away. It was nice that Saffron let us scratch and pet her as we missed our girl.

Chickens, Sybil, Edith and Mary, may become a quilt! Mary liked being petted. They welcomed us when we arrived and Jaye says that they never miss a meal preparation because they want to be sure that there are "treats" left for them! They are named after the characters on Downton Abbey.

The window they are perched in front of is the kitchen window! I think this could make a great quilt.

I'm chuckling because I've had a l o n g chicken project in my works in progress pile. I'm stitching on it again. I started this at least nine years ago as a BOM. Until I reached the center rooster block, I kept up. Not only was this a huge block; but, I had trouble trying to figure out what leaf fabrics should go where and I was disappointed that the buds, which are tiny, don't show. I was frustrated with the process and after some half hearted stitching attempts, I shelved the project.

Mind you, I had a lot of money in these blocks! I decided that however it finished, I would finish it and be thankful that I did finish.

Perhaps, this will be the year that I finish at least the top!!! It is the project that I take with me when I'm hand stitching.

In January, I stitched the blocks together so technically it is a "top." What is left for me to do is to complete the appliqué that runs across several blocks.

This project has always been outside of my skills box. That isn't bad. It isn't good either! I've learned loads. My needle turn appliqué skills have improved loads.

One of my small group friends sets asides Tuesdays as "Tenacious Tuesdays" and she has a number of tubs of projects that she can choose from to work on and make progress on them. She says that since she started, she has emptied two tubs! Thanks, Barbara for introducing me to "Tenacious Tuesdays!"

Including today, I've worked on it three times this month. Perhaps, it would help me to progress if I posted a photo weekly about my progress. Perhaps, I should designate a day like Sunday to really work on it. Hmmm, a slow stitching Sunday. (I've heard of slow stitching.) I will think about those options. It would hold me to be more accountable!

Speaking of chickens, I visited JoJo and saw her updated mariner star block and revamped girls' house. This is one sweet set up for egg layers if ever I did see one! You can read her post here.

I'm practicing selfies. . .I really was there in the flesh!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Winner and Finish #1 for FAL

The winner of my little "pocket" bag is Gail.  Gail commented "I'm in, Terry. I will try to remember. Congratulations--I am looking forward to more good ideas--Gail"

Gail--I'll get your pocket bag to you.
Thanks for entering!

This is my first third quarter finish for the FAL 2016! You can read my list here.

It is a baby bib that I picked up at a sale for fifty percent off twenty five cents! I used some bias tape that was in my grandmother's stash to bind the edges. The package was marked on sale for seventeen cents! So for under thirty cents, I have a nice little item to give away for a baby shower. It didn't take me long to stitch this; but, it has been looking at me for over five months! I wonder how long it was looking at the person before?

I worked on the bib while I was working on my embroidery project. Yep, I'm using fabric that has been in my stash about a year. This was my sample. Because I'm making one for each retreat member, I've a production line going. I'll share what this is in a later post!

I also worked on a pieced back with others for the raffle quilt for the "Airing of the Quilts" show in Milwaukie next year. For the last several years, I've been the leader to stitch a pieced back from the left over fabrics to compliment the quilt that the group made to raffle. This is the front and back of the quilt for this year. That focal fabric is what it the fabric looked like before it was fussy cut for the feathered star and also for some of the LeMoyne stars.

Speaking of backs, this is the back that I pieced for the hexagon quilt. I made a goal for myself that I would sew 50 yards of fabric from my stash at the beginning of the year. I've been stitching from my stash; but, I haven't finished much to make it count.  Yet, the year is half over! I must get to FINISHING!!! There is about three yards of fabric in this back that came from my stash. I can count it because the whole quilt is finished!

You can see the finished quilt here.

Monday, July 18, 2016

D-Day Beaches

One of the highlights of our trip was the time that we spent with Ben Trumbull and his partner Jaye. They manage a bed and breakfast. You can contact them here.

What made the tour so special were his personal touches. Ben shared stories about the battles fought in his hamlet in addition to taking us to the beaches and cemetery. He even took us to meet Lucian who was 10 years old when an American medic administered care to his ailing brother. Lucian was so moved by the kindness of the American medic that he built a wall to honor  allies that fought and fell in the area during that time. He didn't even know the name of the medic until the D-Day anniversary this year!

You can read Lucian's story here.

I was moved to see him at 82,  leave a floral display at the base of his wall. Then he bought out the flags. He built the holder from the wreckage of an airplane that crashed near his home. He tends his wall every day. To anyone dropping by, he will hand them a document that he wrote about the events of that day.

We went to the beaches. There are houses now between the beach and the cliffs. The Germans had cleared all that and the vegetation before D-Day as part of their fortification of the area. We visited the bunkers that the Germans had built. It is surprising to see so much of it intact.  The areas are open and you are free to walk where ever. I saw one sign that stated to be careful. In the U.S, there would be signage everywhere and you would have to stay on a particular path!

Is is miraculous how our forces were able to penetrate and over take the German defense system. I've read:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society--Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
(I made a quilt based on this book--see the end of the post)
All the Light We Cannot See--Anthony Doerr
The Nightingale--Kristin Hannah
The Soldier's Wife--Margaret Leroy
(I made a quilt based on this book--see the end of the post)
The All Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion--Fannie Flag (A book club quilt that is on my list of finishes for this quarter!)
D-Day and Band of Brothers--Stephen Ambrose

I've seen:
Private Ryan--The beginning of the film focused on the landing of Omaha Beach and the end of this film focused on the bridge where so many Americans died.
Here is the proof that we were there.

The Imitation Game--A film about Alan Turing who broke the enigma code and is considered the father of our computers.

I have visited Jersey and some day, I will visit Guernsey.

I felt that I had good background about the area; but, Ben really brought the history of the area to life with his photos of then and to look now, it is more similar than not! He also wove stories of some of the men who fought in the area. I can't imagine touring the area without him!

We visited the cemetery and I was surprised to learn that ALL of the 9,347 graves there have been adopted by French families. A family can adopt up to six graves and the family members decorate the graves at least twice a year as well as ensure that the plot is maintained. Many families have adopted the maximum number of graves. I was shocked to learn what a BIG deal this task is and how the next generation of the family has taken on the adoption.

I have heard how the French are ungrateful and non supportive; but, in Normandy, it isn't so. After 72 years, there are many small plaques, monuments, metal and wood crosses that honor a battle and the men who fought there. We were in the area about a week after the D-Day anniversary and there were fresh flowers at many of these memorial settings. Which at first, I thought rather unique because the memorials are in the countryside. After I saw many memorials with fresh flowers, I was awed. Those who gave their lives did matter and they have not been forgotten.

I've gone on much too long so I'll save what staying in the bed and breakfast was like for my next non-quilting post!

This is the quilt that I made that was inspired from reading Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. There were so many characters in the story and so their lives interacted with each other that the basket weave pattern seemed the perfect fit. I quilted it using my own plates and cups as templates! I also made it entirely from scrapes in my stash. They had few materials to work with and were unknitting sweaters to make socks so I felt it fit! I'm also sharing the label!

This is the little quilt that I made and donated to the Alzheimer's Initiative Research project which was inspired by The Soldier's Wife. The book character loved to garden and had to remove some of her beloved flowers to grow vegetables for food so that she and her daughter didn't starve. It was small enough to fit--lying flat--in a priority size envelope!

It was my first time to quilt the background, then add the appliqué! I also used my machine decorative stitch to add a little more "floweriness" to the piece.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Second Quarter Finishes and Third Quarter goals for FAL

This was my first finish of the second quarter.
I did finish quilting this top!

This was my second and third goal met for the quarter. I did finish piecing the mystery quilt and I did piece the back. 

Below are my third quarter goals:

Stitch the President's blocks into a top. This is a sample of one block at left. I got close to finishing this goal at the end of June; but, didn't quite make it so I'm rolling it over to the next quarter!

I am adding that I will also:
Piece a back for it
Pin Baste it
Quilt it!

Notice that I didn't write that I would also have the binding, label and sleeve finished too!

butterfly quilt--get it pin basted

TQS BOM--figure out the embroidery for the border that I want to add, 

Five past book club and one current book club projects:

Finish this little top.

Add the skinny pieces to liven up the background and appliqué the flowers to finish the top.

Add the quilting to this project. I also want to add some beads which will be a first for me!

Figure out how to fit the bridge on this piece and what to do with the open bottom right corner:

These are two starts to book club quilts. . .Are you seeing a pattern??? I must return to my word for the year. . .FOCUS on finishing!!!


Keep putting in a little time each month on appliquéing the pieces that over lap the blocks on this chicken wall hanging. I only stitched on it three times in the last quarter. I'm thinking that I need to designate a day to work on it each week to really make progress!

Finish the online mystery BOM top. I just have the last clue to complete!

Begin a pieced/embroidery project to keep the dust off of my embroidery skills!

Start new projects.
Finish this little bib. I picked it up at a "sale" for less than a quarter. I figure it would make a good add on gift for a baby shower.

This is the fabric for a pieced, appliqué and embroidered project! I have it cut out; but, haven't started stitching!

I also need a new bag to carry my quilt projects. I have this bag of selvages to work with:

Sew another 50 yards from my stash during the year. I've been using fabrics from my stash; but, since I haven't completed much using them, I haven't listed where I am on that goal. 

Have FUN!

This is a lot for a list and many of the projects are hold overs from the first quarter. I'm okay with that. As long as I'm making progress, I don't mind having long lists!  Also, I have found that if I am more specific about the result of the progress, I make more progress!