Friday, February 26, 2016

OMG! February Bites the Dust!

My February OMG! project is done, and I am reminded of just how nice it is to have a finish =^..^=

"Fall" side of QAYG Reversible Table Mat

BUT, of course ... it's even nicer to have TWO finishes in one .....

"Christmas" side of QAYG Reversible Table Mat

And Bonus ... this UFO is not even a year old!  

Although I was already pretty familiar with the fun quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) technique, I decided to make a new runner when my guild offered a small class at the monthly sit-n-sew last year.  I love supporting our small classes at the guild!  Without the Music City Quilt Guild and its caring, sharing members, my world today would almost certainly be a very different place!  So whenever I'm able to come together with my guild friends and promote the art of quilting, I'm there!

Unfortunately, as is often the case with most of these one-day classes, I never got back to it and it became this....

I have so many of these little half-done projects sitting around!  And my guild's UFO Challenge and the OMG! blog party are perfect opportunities for me to whittle them down to this....

Yay - the EMPTY project box!!!!

Some of you may have noticed that I originally called this the QAYG Reversible "Runner" - any eagle eye readers out there?  Well, yes, this started out as a runner with six blocks.  But try as I might, I just couldn't arrange those six blocks so that they had a pleasing pattern I liked - they were always off balance.....

I was left with two choices:  make two more blocks so I could complete two large squares, which would have made a really large runner; or leave two of them out and make it a smaller square .....  I spent less than two seconds on this decision LOL!!!  And just like that, - voila!!!  It became the QAYG Reversible Table Mat instead!  Those two extra blocks will become candle mats or thread catchers or something simple and cute.

The last thing I wanted to show you is that I used a new binding technique on this project.  Double fabric to match each side of the quilt!  All machine sewn and surprisingly easy to do too.

It did take me a little bit to figure out the measurements of what to cut for each fabric and how to attach it to the quilt, but in the end it worked really well and I'm very happy with the results.

Now, be sure to head on over to Red Letter Quilts HERE and check out all the lovely finishes for this month!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Adventures on the High Seas!!!!

Back in November, I joined a group of 8 other guild friends who signed up to go on a quilter's cruise to the eastern Caribbean in February.  It seemed like such a long time to wait, but then suddenly I was packed and it was time to go!

As I shared here, I was plenty nervous about it too!  This was my first ever cruise, and I have a history of motion sickness along with a healthy respect (bordering on sheer terror!) of great bodies of water.  Yes - I found myself wondering why I agreed to go too!  Never let it be said that quilters cannot talk other quilters into just about anything LOL!!!

Happily, I was never seasick even though the waters were pretty choppy most of the time.  I am thankful to those of you who recommended the acupressure Sea-Bands - they worked beautifully!

And although I suffered a little claustrophobia after we had been at sea for 40 hours nonstop on our way back from St. Thomas, for the most part I was so busy I didn't even think about it.  When I did happen to think about it, I quickly turned my mind away from thoughts about the amount of water churning beneath our ship and what could happen in said waters if we encountered problems that would force me to abandon ship ... like perhaps an iceberg!  Yes, I know, we were in the Caribbean, but stranger things have been known to happen my friends!  Like most of you, I grew up listening to stories about the Titanic you know!

Anywho.... fortunately for all concerned, the voyage proceeded entirely without mishap - no icebergs lurked, no lifeboats were deployed, and a great time was had by all =^..^=

Our ship was the Holland America Line's Westerdam - this was our first sighting of the ship outside the window of the building where we were waiting to board...

The cabin I shared with my friend Joanne was nicely laid out with a balcony view.  I have to admit, I'm glad we didn't just have a little circle hole in the wall to look out of!

Most nights we returned to our cabin to find that our cabin steward had folded cute little "towel animals" on the bed for our amusement ...

While we waited to depart, we noticed quite a few other cruise ships in the harbor as well, lined up and ready to go!

Several times throughout the cruise, we saw other ships out on the horizon, they were especially easy to see at night with all the lights.

Last night of the cruise, and I'm looking rough!!!
The other ship looks so close in this picture, but it really wasn't at all.
Notice the Sea-Band on my wrist :*)
I was constantly amazed at how close to land these behemoths docked...

At one stop, this HUGE yacht was in the harbor.  I wondered if Tiger Woods was in town....

But no....  The Attessa IV is owned by a billionaire by the name of Dennis Washington and it is valued at $250 million!!!  I had hoped to meet him in port, you know, maybe run into him at one of the many diamond outlets on the islands?  Have a glass of wine together, invite him to stop in for dinner in Nashville with me and My Guy sometime?  But, alas, it was not to be.

Before we docked at our first stop in Grand Turk, I attended a little seminar led by our "shopping guide" Jake from the ship, expecting to be told what parts of the island to avoid, where to find what, etc.  

Tableau in the wall just before reaching the jewelry shops on the ship...
I thought this one was pretty funny!  The "Bait" of course is a diamond :*)

Turns out his job was to represent all the diamond companies who had shops on the ship and the islands, because all he told us about was the places we could go to get diamonds and other expensive stones, and how much less expensive they would be if we bought them there.  Geesh!!!  I do have to admit though, several of my friends bought some really beautiful pieces of jewelry at great prices while on the trip.

Visiting the islands themselves was different for each one.  In Puerto Rico, several of us visited the rainforest.  I admit, I was not really very impressed, but there were some nice sights.

And may I say, I now understand why my favorite color is AQUA!!!

The famed Caribbean island beaches are indeed surrounded by the most beautiful water I've ever seen!  Half Moon Cay was my favorite of all the islands for its beautiful beaches..... that's our ship anchored out there in the distance, and to its left is the small tender ship that carried us back and forth to the island.  We were told it could hold up to 300 people at a time.

Notice the water colors range from white nearest the beach, to every intensity of aqua, all the way to deep marine blue at the horizon where it is deepest.  Wow!!!  I'm telling you, it was the most beautiful beach I've ever seen!

We had to be taken to the island by tender because there was no harbor for big ships.
The water here was so pure, it was still white quite a ways out .....

Evening meals on the ship were quite an affair, and menus were well beyond my normal fare....

I sometimes had trouble finding something I recognized!  Two nights we had "Fancy Shmancy" night and everyone dressed up.  Some ladies were in very formal evening attire!  Of course, this was an opportunity for the cruise line to take pictures and sell them to us at exorbitant prices LOL!  Mine were always horrible, so I was never tempted to buy.  We did get our waiter to take a picture of all of us our last night aboard though....

One of my favorite experiences on the cruise was the nightly entertainment.  The Vista Lounge was the ship's theater and main show lounge.  It has a full-size stage and auditorium seating capacity of 850+ seats on the main level, plus two balcony levels.

The ship had its own troupe of Westerdam Players who put on several live show productions for us - and they were amazingly good!  Definitely as good as anything I've seen on stage in Nashville's TPAC.

One night they had a comedian and another a magician.  Our favorite performer was Toni Warne.  She was a finalist on The Voice UK in 2012 - and I can definitely see why.  She sang Barbara Streisand, Doris Day, Celine Dion and more - and she did it beautifully!!!  Below is a YouTube of her audition night on The Voice.  I promise you will not regret watching and listening!  She explains in the video why she is bald.  During our performances she wore hats and scarves, very successfully I might add.  She was a very dramatic and fascinating lady :*)

Then early last Saturday morning, we awoke to the lights of Ft. Lauderdale and were docked by daylight.

That's the RC Oasis of the Seas docked beside us.
At 8am we were called to disembark, herded through lines like cattle through customs, and then bused back to the Ft. Lauderdale airport - where we met with total, utter chaos!!!  That place had us all packed in there like sardines. We couldn't even check in until 2 hours before our flight - and some of our group had 3 o'clock flights!  Joanne and I were glad we had booked a noon flight out and didn't have too terribly long to wait before checking our baggage and heading to the gate.

Once at the gates, many people couldn't find a place to sit, even on the floor.

I believe most of the cruise ships had come in during the night and departing flights were crammed full.  Maybe they deal with this every Saturday morning?  All I know is that I would hate to work there if that's the case.  I may have been more claustrophobic here than I was on the ship!

At the gate, we were about 1/2 an hour away from boarding when they started calling a flight for Atlanta to come to our gate for departure 10 minutes after us!  Even the gate assistants didn't know if we had been moved to another terminal.  Finally they told us we were still at B6, and so was the Atlanta flight but it would be delayed an hour or so.  I didn't envy those Atlanta travelers having to stay in that airport for another hour or more!

A few hours later, we touched down in Nashville and were quickly scooped up by My Guy who drove us home.  I have to admit - I missed him SO MUCH!!!!  I don't think I'll be taking any more cruises without him.  I kept thinking how much he would have enjoyed so many of the activities, and how much fun it would have been to experience them together.  This was a quilter's cruise so he really had no interest in coming along, but next time it will be me and him for sure!

I'm pretty sure he missed me too!  He made this cute sign to welcome me home, and had it sitting next to my beautiful Valentine's Day roses....

So there you have it.  My first cruise... done and in the books!  Thanks for reading along and sharing the adventure with me.  If you got this far, I can only conclude that you are really bored and should immediately go sign up for your own cruise adventure - very soon!!!!

Hugs & Blessings!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Goin' Round in Circles .....

Who knew that goin' round in circles could be such great fun?

I've just laid these out for the photo - none of them are stitched down to the backgrounds yet, and they won't be sewn next to each other in this order.  But I this might work as a Design Wall Monday overview of most of the ones I've chosen so far.

February 1 was my "official" Quilty 365 start date, but you may remember from this post that I had a cruise on my horizon?  Yep, I did!  And it came up much more quickly than I ever dreamed it would ... I just returned from my 7-days at sea last weekend!  I've already written up a post to share tomorrow with some of the fun details of that trip, so be sure to check back.

For today, let's keep it as Quilty as possible!!!

Obviously, I didn't spend time cutting circles on the ship, so I had quite a bit of catching up to do when I returned.  I'm sure you're not surprised that many of my choices reflect my adventures on the high seas!

Upper left of course represents the ship we sailed on, the Westerdam, and yes, I made sure I knew where the lifejackets and lifesavers were!  (Our lifeboat was just below our cabin - I could have jumped right in it if needed LOL!!!)  Upper right represents an amazingly talented singer who entertained us one evening (more about her tomorrow).  Lower right is a bathing beauty, which represents me, of course, sunning myself on those gorgeous Caribbean beaches ... well, okay, not so much LOL!!!  But a girl can dream, can't she?  Lower left is a beautiful Laurel Burch mermaid, which represents the gorgeous Mystery Quilt project we made in class.  Here's a quick peek at my finished top ----- you all know how much I LOVE Laurel Burch, don't you?  So you can imagine my squeal when I saw these fabrics!!!

I don't normally do mysteries, but it was part of the class package and we were told it would be a Memory Quilt project to commemorate our cruise experience, so I went along, hoping for the best.  I was so glad I had not passed on it when she revealed it our first night at sea!  I'll share much more about this and our other classes in a later post.

This next group of circles showcases some of my favorite sea creature prints .... granddaughter Sara was with me when I purchased that adorable octopus print 

And then a few circles chosen to represent those aforementioned Caribbean beaches....

The bottom is a tropical flower, although I have to admit, I didn't see many of these.  Even on our Rainforest drive, there were only a couple of flowers, and they weren't anything to ooh or aah about.  Top right is of course the incomparable Caribbean waters - yes, they really are absolutely clear and unbelievably beautiful ....

And upper left is the best I could do for the delicate white sand on their beaches - can you see the sparkles in this closeup photo?

I think it comes pretty close to the real thing.....

The next group of circles were for Valentine's Day week!

The first one is for the stunning vase of dusky-pink roses My Guy had waiting for me upon my return ... oh yes, have I told you he's a keeper? *wink*

And then the next grouping were chosen for the nonstop gloom in Tennessee for three days after our return....

We left beautiful 80 degree temps and sunshine only to see THIS on my roof the next morning .... followed by rain, rain and more rain - Ugh!!!

The bright colors and happy houses in the Bottom Right circle is about my JOY when the sun finally peeked out to brighten up my world!

I love, love, love that pink text print in the Upper Left ....

This was cut from a scrap left over from my granddaughter, Genevieve's, quilt a couple of years ago.  The words are about warming influences, illumination, brightness, "restore to freshness", rejuvenation - any wonder why I love it so?  It was pink, so a natural choice for the week of Valentine's, and it also makes me think of Spring - which I sincerely hope is right around the corner!!!

Last but not least are a few that represent daily life events ...

The first circle is about something fun which I haven't yet shared with you - I bought a new Pfaff Creative 4.5 sewing machine a few days after Christmas!!!  Yes, I love it!  She's quite a bit more noisy than I would like, but she sews like a dream, and I couldn't imagine giving her up.  I chose this circle last week when I went to my last class.

The middle circle is of course my beloved Carolina Panthers who sadly fell short of their Super Bowl quest this year.  There was a Super Bowl Party in the entertainment center of the Westerdam and we got to watch the game on a huge screen - it was awesome!  Well, except for the "losing to the Broncos" part LOL!!!  And of course, how could I resist a Downton Abbey circle there on the right?????  It's off center I know, but that was the only way to get the entire name on it.  When the 1/4" is turned under, the name will be just on the edges, so this will just have to do.

As I shared in a previous post, I'm using an array from white to black with various tone-on-tone light- to dark-grays in between for my backgrounds....

I managed to get all the 5" squares cut, starting out using a cutting die for my Sizzix machine.

It cut all the white squares beautifully...

But then, disaster struck on the silver squares!

That is the BLADE on the top, stuck in the cutting mat!!!  It was stuck so deeply that it broke off and then into pieces when I tried to lift the die.  My Guy had to use pliers to pull it out of the acrylic mat!

Look carefully and you can see the piece of blade still sticking up in the right-hand corner

This was a new die, just opened for the first time, so I'm not sure what happened.  Maybe it was defective, or maybe my acrylic mat was too scarred?  I'm hoping Sizzix will take care of making it right when I contact them - those dies are expensive!  Needless to say, I had to cut the rest of the squares the old fashioned way.

I'm happy to finally have this project well under way!  I love choosing a new fabric each day, and I'm finding that it's a bit of a challenge to keep it from becoming something of an I Spy project.  I'll catch up on stitching them down by doing several each evening until I'm caught up.

Hugs & Blessings!

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