Lake Superior, Winter and Mom’s “Non” Party

I was lucky enough to grow up on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Sadly, I don’t get up there much anymore – especially in the winter, but my mom retired and had a “big” birthday (I think you can figure out which one) so we made a rare trip north after Christmas this year.

Yup!  That’s me (far right), Mom and my sisters – even the blonde one!  A fun night that was a NON-party (per Mom’s request) with relatives and lifelong friends that ate food at a restaurant, had a few beverages at a bar and danced to the band that played real live music.  That was a pretty fun NON-party good time!  Hey Mom, let’s have another NON party for Kate’s 40th birthday next month! Ok?  Good.

So, since I don’t get to Grand Marais much in the winter, I wanted to take some of home with me.  Yes, it’s cold there, yes, it’s true that Lake Superior brings colder than usual air, below zero wind chills and sometimes A LOT of snow, but whether it’s Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, there’s just nothing like “home”.

 

 

 

Goodwill, a Quilt and a Happy Friend

I’m really fortunate to have some really special friends.  The kind of friends that you just can’t go to the store and pick out a gift for – especially when you are a crafty person (you know who you are)!

Every Christmas and birthday I struggle with what to give my close friends.  I remember a time not so long ago, that I worked for a looonnggggg time on a beaded, hand woven peyote bracelet with layers of embellishments and the like for my friend, Heather’s birthday.  I know her style.  I know how put together she always is and I know that I can’t just give her some bracelet that I picked up at Walmart (ok, I’d never do that – even for someone I don’t like so much).  So, I gave it to her and before she opened it, I said, “I really hope you like it and if you don’t, please pretend you do otherwise we might not be friends anymore”.  Of course she loved it.  I think.

Circa Christmas 2012.

Ah, another holiday requiring special gifts for special friends.  I’ll admit, it was down to the wire.  Like most things I do, it was last minute and I was drawing a blank.  Who knows where the idea came from but it was a good one.

A couple of months prior, I picked up this ugly piano bench at Goodwill for $5.  It was sturdy and I knew I could make something fabulous with it (insert “curse you Pinterest”)!  My husband keeps complaining that I keep bringing home junk and don’t do anything with it.  I had to prove him wrong and I’m 90% sure that wasn’t my only reason for concocting this little treasure.

I’d love to tell you I spent a month on it.  Sanding it perfectly between coats of paint and drawing out my quilted pattern, but I didn’t.  I made it in a weekend and it was so much fun!

I started out by giving the bench a good cleaning and light sanding and painting several layers of white paint to freshen it up and hide the “imperfections”.  Then I went to work on the quilt top.  I measured the existing cover and figured out how big my squares needed to be so that the pattern wouldn’t get lost.  These squares measure 6″ x 6″ and there are 12 of them.  They are paper foundation pieced and the fabric came from my stash.  Make sure to allow “extra” quilt top to wrap around the bench top so you can staple it without it showing the edges.

I wanted the top to have some cushion, so once the top was finished, I layered it like I would a regular quilt with cotton batting and backing and then quilted them together with my sewing machine.  There’s no need to finish the edges – they won’t show.

Wrap the quilt top around the existing top, staple it good and reassemble!  Viola!  Instant gratification and a very happy friend. (Well, at least that’s what she lead me to believe!)

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions – Eventually!

We all do it.  We have the best of intentions to lose the weight, work out more and blog regularly.  In my case it’s all of the above.

It’s easy to make excuses.  I mean, I don’t want to be one of those people who shows up at the gym on January 2nd only to disappear two weeks later, and of course, then there’s the extended holiday season – leftover cookies, retirement/birthday party for your mom and the belated office Christmas party to keep you from starting that diet AND those damn juju hearts that I love so much and are only available this time of year!  Argghh!

So, I bought new shoes, I’m making my first blog post of the year and am swearing off the juju hearts.  Three weeks are gone from 2013 and I’m ready to go.  I’m putting it out there, for the world (or my 3 blog readers) to see!  Happy New Year – plus 3 weeks!

Let’s do it!