Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Long and Winding Road!

Hello everyone!! Sooo very sorry that I have been absent for the past week. I have been thinking about my blog and thinking about projects that need working on (that I would love to share), but to be honest with you I have been mostly trying to earn a living!!

Times are really tough right now for people all over the globe. FarmerBoy and I are very blessed in many ways but as some of you know we are facing some truly challenging economic problems in this house and my priorities are focused on those challenges, not quilting!! I have been finding it particularly difficult to focus on projects and sewing, my lack of interest and motivation makes me sad sometimes but this too shall pass. We faced yet another difficult challenge today and spent a good part of the day discussing how to overcome yet another hurdle!!! Enough said!

I hope that you will come back and visit and forgive me for my lack of inspirational posts -- hopefully by the end of this week we will have reached the end of this road and things will be looking a little bit more cheery!!!!

This picture is of a road that we love to travel on!!! I took this picture in November while FarmerBoy and I were out mapping our cycling routes. We never encounter cars on this road and it takes you up into the Mt. Leinster Park which has the most spectacular views of Carlow and Wicklow. I so wish that I could share this beautiful countryside with you!! Our business goal is to get people out of their rental cars and travel these back roads with us, this is the real Ireland!! Whenever I map out itineraries for people that are staying with me for a couple of days, they get a little nervous when I inform them they are hitting the back roads!! Trust me I tell them!!! I will send you to places and you will see things that are gorgeous and are not in your guide books. Well, they return to the house in the evening sooo excited and bursting to tell me about all the great villages and people that they met!!!!!

Now I just need to get my quilting mojo back!!!!!
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Machine Quilting Lesson 2!

First, I took a picture of the bottles that are used for the lambs! We have to make formula several times a day and fill up 5 bottles and head off to the field. Because we have a young family there is always alot of help getting the feeding done. The only problem is being here to do it. If we have activities like most families we have to plan quick trips home between these activities to feed the little lambkins. We were in and out alot yesterday!!! The things we can accomplish when we set our minds to it!!!!

I took a picture of the second step in my machine quilting lesson!! I wanted to quilt flowers on the border and I practiced with pen and paper first, then I practiced on some fabric and wadding. As you can see I then progressed to the quilt with my hands shaking, the thought of having to unpick a messy job was foremost in my mind LOL!!!!!

Not bad if I do say so myself, I think I'm getting the hang of this. I have come to the conclusion that if you want to be proficient at machine quilting you have to work at it every week. I usually let my quilt tops pile up and go months between machine quilting because I have never learned to do it properly or better yet given myself the chance to learn how to do it properly.

I spent some time on the internet looking for instructions and videos on machine quilting and this is how I have been teaching myself. I have half a pad of paper full of continuous line drawings. I thankfully had saved all the remnants of wadding that had been trimmed off previous quilts and used those to practice on.
The last photo is the back side of the quilt. I am glad that I have taken the time to do all this practicing and research, I can confidently say that I have conquered my fear of machine quilting. I can piece quilts with great precision and I have some seriously good sharp points but I was always let down with the final step.

All the best and keep quilting!!!!
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Machine Quilting - Lesson 1

I have spent a few hours last night and an hour this morning finishing up the machine quilting on this quilt. There are plenty of people who can machine quilt circles around me!!! I am a true novice although with each project that I have worked on this week my skills are improving!

This is one of the quilts that I made for the twin grandnieces of FarmerBoy's, he is putting serious pressure on me to get both quilts done so that he can deliver them. With much trepidation I got them ready and away I went. I wanted to keep it simple yet add a bit of whimsy, every so often I would quilt a few hearts! These pictures don't really do justice to the quilt, it has turned out ok!! I have a pile of quilts to machine quilt so I should be fairly proficient in no time LOL!!!!

Finding time to do the above quilting is proving to be more difficult, we seem to be constantly on the go and I have had to take over some of the farm chores this past week. FarmerBoy has picked up a few odd jobs but of course they are time consuming and the jobs have to be done immediately or else they will find someone else. He has been putting in 14 - 16 hour days away from home so myself and the kids have had to pick up the slack. We are getting ready to go load up the jeepwith sugar beet and then spread it around the field so that the sheep have something to eat. Grass is becoming sparse so we need to get them taken care of until beginning of March. The grass is starting to grow, in fact my front lawn needs to be mowed and today would be a perfect day since it is quite warm.
We are going to the garden center this week to start preparing for a veggie garden. I am also going to start my trays of flowers so that my window boxes are blooming in May!!! The house looks so bare without flowers, spring is right around the corner -- Yea!!!!!!!!!
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Anyone care for a Cuppa?

I just finished this, it only took me 6 months to complete!! I came up with this little design myself -- just winged it or rather I flew by the seat of my pants!!!

Last spring and summer everything was about cupcakes... I wanted to do something for my kitchen table or a wall hanging with said cupcakes but I had no patterns. So off I went and thought about it!

A cupcake is usually in a paper liner and it gives the appearance of a fan-fold, how could I achieve the same look?? I made up a square with 1 inch strips (about 10 strips), then I used my steam-a-seam lite and ironed that to the back. after this I drew out the shape of the cupcake base. I had never done any applique so this was a learning exercise for me as well as an exercise in embroidery since I did a back stitch for the cherry stem!!!!

This table runner has also served as an exercise in machine quilting, something that I am not fond of doing. I did a small stipple around the cupcakes and lettering, and a then a floral vine on the border which I am very happy with.
I of course had my companion sitting by my side, basking in the sun!! My DD's little kitten was sleeping on the chair next to me -- what a perfect day.

We have a very busy afternoon here at Casa Kilbora, I have to go get the children, bottle feed the lambkins and then run off to our local town to fulfill my volunteer requirements for an organization we are involved in. I'm glad that I set aside some time this morning to get this finished, now I have to find some fabric for the binding!

All the best and keep smiling!!!
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Sunday, February 8, 2009

When is Spring Coming?

Very soon my little friends, very soon! Here are a few photos that I took this past week while out amongst my flock!!!

I feel so sorry for them, the snow melted with in 24 hours but still it must be miserable for them. The lambs look at me as if to say, please let me go with you into the white house over there.
The mothers let me get fairly close to the lambs which was amazing, the must be getting use to us being around them. Come summer time they will run the minute we climb over the fence.

I was standing at my bedroom window ironing 2 weeks ago and 2 cars pulled into our lane and a load of people got out, including children. Our home is on a hill and the lane way is 1/4 mile long but you have a clear view of the entrance. Anywho, these people lined up along the fence and I could see flashes going off!! They had no idea they were being watched!!!! The sheep thought it was me (they aren't too bright) and started running for the fence thinking it was meal time!!!!! The flashes were going off at an alarming rate, they were there for a good while. FarmerBoy told me that I should have brought down the bottles and had them do some bottle feeding for us!!!!

We often have guests in the B&B going out to feed baby lambs, my husband rounds them up (the guests!!) and brings them right out to the field. My daughter is the best, she took a group of Italian tourists (at the age of 7) out to the field to introduce them to our pet lambs -- she was talking away to the people and not one of them spoke any English!!! LOL I hope my kids remember all of this when the are older...
Speaking of which, I think they need a lesson in snowman building!!!!!! It looked like the leaning tower of Pisa!!!!!

Have a good one, I need to go and make icing for a special little girl's birthday cake.

Keep smiling!
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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Snow in Ireland!!

Yes, you heard me right -- we have had a good deal of snow this week!! We probably won't see this much stuff for another 20 years so I spent some time taking photos and encouraging the kids to play away in it.

The first photo is around 12:00 on Monday, after which I received a phone call to pick up the kiddos at school. The second picture was taken later in the afternoon, it was piling up fast. Now, just so that you understand how serious this could have been, we don't have snow plows or trucks for spreading salt or grit!!!!! The council grits the roads with sand but mostly the main roads which leaves most of the poplulation stranded in the coutryside. The backroads were frightening, really frightening!

My children don't really remember snow, the oldest kinda does or so he says. They were so overjoyed that they could actually play in the snow before it melted and when school was called off for Tuesday, holy cow you though we had won the lottery!!!

I would like to add however that it was not fun going out and bottlefeeding some of our lambs. Some of the little creatures had sought shelter in the ditch, this meant that FarmerBoy and I as well as the kids had to climb through the briars looking for them. Two of the more delicate lambs died. We speculate that they just weren't strong enough for the cold and wind. By right they should have been in the sheds but FarmerBoy has been helping out other family members and was not able to get home before dark to move them in.
The next morning was gorgeous, bright and sunny and my three darlings pulled out a sled and plastic bags (Feed Bags) and set about hitting the slopes on one of our fields.

I am hoping to get some quilting done this weekend, I have been working on one of my old projects and am planning on getting some BOMs done. I also want to get one of my quilts pinned for machine quilting. So many things to do and so little time!!!

I have been a very bad blogger the past two weeks, I have to get back to doing this more regularly. Maybe I should keep a small notebook and jot down ideas for blog posts. I often find that I don't know what to blog about. Some weeks are filled with family and farm activity and then some weeks I get to do alot of quilting!!!

I have more great photos to share with you which I will do in the coming days!!

Bye everyone and keep smiling!!!!
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Retreat Irish Style!

What a weekend!! A group of 10 women gathered here in my home from Friday evening until this afternoon for a weekend of sewing and chatting! I had the pleasure of working with two new quilters who are working on their very first projects and it is a great deal of fun to see the sense of achievement with a beginner!!! These photos were taken earlier on Saturday before the rest of the group arrived from Clare/Tipperary.

These gals put in some serious sewing time, I even heard that a few came close to seeing the sun rise this Sunday morning!!! Yikes...

Plentiful food, good wine, Margaritas (thank you Cathi!!!) and a viewing of Mama Mia!!! What more could you ask for?!

I have to say a big thank you to my DH and children for allowing me to do this! My children are very good at not only entertaining themselves and guests but for also being so helpful. DS1 made breakfast for everyone on Sunday morning, Pancakes I might add, while I slept in. He also was great about making pots of tea and pitching in with the kitchen!!

DS2 was his usual entertaining self regaling any willing participant to his "imagine if you" stories -- you really needed to be there to understand that one just ask Laura and Michelle!!!

Of course nothing would be complete without my DD pitching in. She sat with Jessie and encouraged her with her quilting. Jessie is idolized by my children because she is always prying them with delicious treats!!! On her recent trip to Minnesota for Christmas she loaded up on tootsie rolls for them -- my picture on the mantle will soon be replaced by hers!!!!! In fact Jessie's fabric is the second picture, she calls it her Mary Tyler Moore fabric -- it reminds her of the decor in MTM's apartment!!

A very big thank you to Alanna for pitching in and being an enourmous help to me!!! Alanna and Jessie were my students for the weekend. Alanna picked a project out but when we went to start we realized how difficult it was going to be for her. I know it will be slow going but she will be thrilled with the end result.

Well, I am going to sign off because I honestly can't keep my eyes open and I need to get the uniforms washed for school tomorrow and my DH wants to sit and watch a movie. I am sure you will be able to read all about the retreat from Sherry and Cathi who were present and are also bloggers

Thank you all for participating especially the women who came (Laura, Michelle and Allison) not knowing anyone and jumped right in with Sherry, Cathi, Rebecca and Linda. All the best and looking forward to another gathering!!!
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