Sunday, September 23, 2012

Phew.....! We're back after some kinda summer...

Oh, my heavens ~ what a summer!  HOT,  hot, hot described it best.  How about your summer?  Today it's a beautiful crisp 50F outside, the leaves are beginning to change, and it just feels SO good compared to the incredible heat and steam of our 4 month long summer.
Well, let's catch up!  My heart has continued to give me grief.  The medication I was taking to control the atrial fibrillation  ceased to control it.  I was in and out of A Fib continually and combined with the diastolic dysfunction meant I didn't get enough oxygen, and that meant I was exhausted all the time for the past 4 months.  Exhausted as in I had to stop three times while going up the stairs to catch my breath, having to rest for an hour after taking a shower, only able to walk incredibly s l o w l y, being dizzy all the time, passing out (in my recliner!!).  I've always had great compassion for those suffering, but this has deepened my understanding of how frustrating it is to not be able to live anything close to a normal life.  I've had two sleep studies now, and learned I had Central Sleep Apnea.  With normal sleep apnea, your throat inelegantly collapses while you sleep and you use a CPap machine to deliver a steady flow of air to keep your throat open and you breathing.  Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain doesn't tell your body to breathe while you're sleeping..... dandy, eh?  So now I use a bothersome machine called a Bipap which sends increasingly larger bursts of air into my lungs until I start breathing.  Breath - necessary for life.  I'm so happy I live during a time when we can learn all these new
A month ago I had a cardiac procedure called cardiac ablation done to hopefully correct the AFib.  It was a 7 hour procedure, an over night stay in ICU and then home.  I thought I was doing much better, but my cardiologist told me he "was not happy" when I saw him last Thursday.  Although I don't have AFib as severe, my heart beat is still irregular.  We've scheduled a cardioversion   in a couple of weeks and then maybe Dr. DelC, or as the nurses call him, Dr. Freddie, will be happy.  Maybe I'll be happier.  I'd just like to be able to take walks with my dogs, Tillie, Oliver and B.D. (Beautiful Dog). 
And get back to making quilts, going to quilt retreats, cooking, doing the laundry, running the vacuum....  I'll tell you, when you can't do even the routine things in life, they begin to look good!

Even in the midst of trials, there can be extraordinary events that bring the deepest job to your life.  My very favorite part of this summer was this:
My darling daughter and her long time beau, Cameron, got married on Saturday, July 14 at beautiful Phelps Park in Decorah, Iowa.  Cam and Amy did a marvelous job of putting together what was a simply lovely, personal wedding event in just over three months (once they made the decision to wed, they wanted to get married asap).
Amy being escorted to her groom by her two fathers.
The wedding rings.
The official kiss, with Lily watching  (Cam's daughter - she and Amy are crazy about each other!).
My husband, George, and me - not looking a bit like my avatar.
My very favorite photo of Amy and Cameron.  I wonder what he was whispering to her?

Being eternally optimistic, I hope the best for you and your family!  I haven't forgotten about any one of you and at some point some of you will open your mailbox to a nice little package from me.  Be patient.  I'm going as fast as I can.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Valerie, Gerrimom, Taryn, Lulu - YOU WON!!!

Hey girls, I've been gone for months due to natural catastrophes, but I'm back and sincerely desiring to give some Sue Sparo pin keeps away (Valerie and Gerrimom) and two mystery packets of embellishments ala Sue Spargo (Taryn and Lulu).  I'll wait a week to hear from you gals, and then redraw.  I think and hope that will be fair... I want to fulfill my promise and I DO love to give things away!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Glad to Be Back!

Hello my friends ~ I'm so sorry for the long absence.  It's been a difficult four months, but I've always been a "the glass is half full" person, and always pretty sure someone is going to be right over to top off my glass!

We're in the midst of construction to build a new studio for my husband, and a garage to replace the carriage house lost in the fire.   Ulysses has made a marvelous recovery from his burns.  I'm still working on the inventory for everything we lost in the fire - much to my husband's consternation!  Memories of items stored in the carriage house pop into my mind at the oddest moments - "oh....., the pet carriers!"  I get a lot of questions from friends about how I'm going to prove that we really did have those items stored in the carriage house....  Fortunately, we live in a small community, 30+ years now, and our insurance agent knows us well, so there is a huge trust factor at work.  I do research on line and come up with a mid-priced item as close as possible to what we lost.  Everything is recorded on a thumb drive.  I do have 6 friends who will sign a deposition stating that indeed there were 8 large tubs of  yarn, and 6 large tubs of vintage Japanese kimonos, etc., etc., if required.  Having helped me pack and move it all, they are superb witnesses if we need them.  Two weeks ago I had a truly exciting moment when a box that had been stored elsewhere revealed the three antique Navajo rugs I inherited from my great-aunt Verna.  I was positive they had been in the carriage house and lost.  What a wonderful surprise!

I had a right & left heart catheterization (  6 weeks ago ~ arg!  While it wasn't screaming painful, I kept thinking of movies where aliens do strange things to humans.  Why do aliens always want to torture humans???  I've been out of breath doing the simplest things around the house, dizzy, and very tired over the past year.  I learned I have diastolic dysfunction (, which combined with the atrial fibrillation I have makes quite the combination.  Those two are not good travel companions!  I'm still trying to process the information - seems sort of unreal.  There's no treatment for diastolic dysfunction, so the best I can do is to be diligent with a prescribed exercise program and learn to live with it.  And of course, slapping on some lipstick helps almost anything!

I'm slowly getting back to my normal routine and my plans are to follow up later this week with some photos.  It was disappointing, to say the least, to be off to such a grand start with this blog and then have such a crash and burn experience
Stay well, count your blessings, and don't lose your lip gloss!

Blessings  ~   Angela!

P.S. I haven't forgotten about things that need to be mailed out!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fire, Sorrow, Death

There's no photos for this post.  It's taken me this past week to get to the point where I thought I'd be able to write this.  We had a fire in our carriage house Thursday night last week.  My husband had restored the building with the intent of using the downstairs as his pottery studio and the upstairs as his gallery.  Since we are still working on the interior of our home, we've used the carriage house as a storage area for lots of our belongings and a work area for carpentry, etc.  My two cats - Petey and Ulysses, also lived there.  We had so many workmen (and women) coming and going in the house that I didn't want to subject the kitty boys to more stress.  They loved their large "cat house".  We don't know how the fire started.  We do know there were a series of explosions, two small and one large, and that the building was engulfed in flames within minutes.  It was a fierce fire - damaging nearby buildings.  Everything in the carriage house was destroyed.  Electric lines came down, communication lines came down, and many people were in harms way containing the blaze.  My three dogs and I spent a sleepless night (well, the dogs slept) at my good friends' home.  My agony was my two wonderful cats - I was sure there was no way they could have escaped.

In the morning I wandered over to look at the charred ruins... shock does funny things to you.  To my absolute amazement and wonderment I heard meows that could only be produced by Ulysses coming out of the summer kitchen (yes, there really is one), which is next to where the carriage house was.  He sort of staggered out - singed fur, melted plastic-like material all over his fur and paws, burned ears and nose, fur burned off around his eyes, burned off whiskers...  We rushed him to a superb vet clinic in La Crescent, Mn and then to an emergency 24 hr vet clinic in Rochester, Mn.  He is going to be all right.  The damage to his lungs, from smoke inhalation, and burns to the eye corneas were a huge concern, but it appears that his eyes have healed and his lungs are ok.  As my husband said, Ulysses is the only bright spot in this.  He is a bright orange star in the darkness of the situation.  He will now become the most spoiled cat in the universe.  I found Petey's body in the ashes last Saturday (I wish someone else had found him) as Amy and I tried to salvage some family photos.  I had to walk away.  Today we are driving out to our land to bury Petey where he was born and lived most of his life.

We lost:
Most importantly, Petey the cat.
My grandmother's silver
Navajo rugs I inherited from my great aunt
Our potter's wheel
My loom and everything connected with weaving
Spinning wheel
My beloved Viking sewing machine
Embellisher machine (new and in the box)
My high speed straight stitch machine (new and in the box)
The Presencia embroidery thread store display with all the threads, from the quilt shop
All my wool and cotton embroidery threads
All my Sue Spargo kits and BOM kits & embellishments
Hand dyed wool, silk and cotton fabrics and silk ribbons
Wool dyes and dye tools; my Procion dyes & auxiliaries
PFD cotton and silk, and wool for dying
Velvet, silk, batik, oriental, & reproduction fabrics - literally hundreds & hundreds of yards
The quilt I designed for Quilt Sampler Magazine in 2007 (for Yellow Bird Art)
At least 7 full size quilts and at least 10 smaller lap or wall quilts
A minimum of 50 Japanese kimonos
Kitchen supplies
Antique cabinets and other antiques
Tools of all kinds
Our family photos including the kids growing up and my wedding....

That's not all of it ~ just all my mind can handle right now.  I'm profoundly grateful the fire didn't destroy the summer kitchen (the front of the building is a bit charred) or spread to our house, and of course I'm so relieved that no human was injured or killed.  It was a very dangerous fire.  

We've had a couple of people say that we were lucky that "only" a cat died or that "only" a cat was injured.  I'm not angry ~ they just don't understand.  Love is Love, whether a friend, spouse, child, family or pet. And grief and loss is grief and loss.  There is a huge difference between losing a spouse and a pet, but you still go through the grieving process.

Somehow, a television news crew heard about Ulysses when we went to the vet.  Here's the link if you're interested... Cat Survives Fire

I'll be back next week (probably later in the week) with the rest of the tutorial.  Can you believe it?  What a way to get your blog going - eh??  I'll be spending time getting lists together for the insurance company and all the paperwork that comes with this sort of incident.  I will very happy to get back to doing "normal" things, and talking with all of you!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hey kids!  Angela's daughter, Amy,  here.  Just wanted to let you know that Angela will be back soon with the rest of the tote tutorial and lots of other good stuff.  Her computer was sick this week, and there was a bit of a family emergency in the last couple days.  No worries though- everyone is fine, and we're getting the computer all fixed up and feeling better.  She'll be back before you know it! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sue Spargo Kit Winners! Hooray & Congratulations!

I love giving things away and sharing the blessings!  Sharing the bounty God gives us is a wonderful to begin this day.  Here are all the wonderful women who entered the drawing.  If I missed you, or didn't enter you the correct number of times, please, oh please, let me know asap?

 And the names go into the bowl:
Valerie, gerrimom and jeanne have each won a Sue Spargo "Yellow Bird Pin Cushion & Pinkeep"  kit.  Being a softie ~ looking at that bowl full of names ~ I just had to pull three more.  Pip, Taryn, and Lulu are each going to receive a little mystery package of sewing/quilting goodies from me.  Please e-mail me your address, etc!

I so deeply appreciate your visits to my blog and all the encouraging and uplifting comments!  I think I'm on my way to figuring out my photo posting problems (please, Lord), so please hang with me as I work this out.  I'll have the remainder of Part 2 of the ToteBag tutorial posted today ~ hopefully very soon! 

SIGN UP FOR THE TOTEBAG GIVEAWAY.  I'm giving a complete kit in the same fabrics I'm using for the tutorial to one lucky winner, and I'm also giving away the completed bag I demonstrate in the tutorial!

Here's how to sign up  for the giveaway - on this post or Part 1 (Fri. Jan. 20) or Part 2 (Mon. Jan. 23).  You can have three, yes, three huge chances to win!  BE SURE TO LET ME KNOW HOW MANY ENTRIES TO GIVE YOU!  You cuties you.
  1. Leave me a comment on a post.  I'd really like to know what styles of fabric you purchase and like the best.
  2. Post about the giveaway on your Facebook page with a link back to Summer Kitchen Quilts.  If you don't Facebook, it's a great way to keep in touch with friend and family, or become completely obsessed by it (don't do that, ok?)
  3. If you have a blog, write a short blurb about this fabulous giveaway with a link back to, yes, this will probably be a huge surprise, Summer Kitchen Quilts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Part 2: Let's Design ~ Totebag Tutorial and Giveaway!

Win a finished "To Market, To Market" Tote Bag or a complete kit.  Find out how to register to win by reading Friday's Post!

Question:   Our readers are just casually wondering, Summer, are you always late?
Answer:  Well, one of my life goals is to be a punctual and trustworthy woman.  Unfortunately, despite frequent commitment to getting projects completed in a timely manner and desperately desiring to be on time to appointments, I frequently fall so short of the goal as to make one weep.
Question:  So, Summer, what is your plan?
Answer:  That's puzzling...  I just find myself side tracked all the time, and it's not unusual for me to find myself in a room (after rushing there) with no idea why I'm there or what my mission there was.  All I can do is to continue to commit to do better, and plead for grace from those who are waiting for me!

Preparing to sew:  It's generally a good idea to begin a project with a new sewing machine needles.  Did you know that machine needles are only designed to last for about 8 hours of sewing?  It's true, and you'd be surprised that lots and lots of sewers don't know that.  When our customers had issues with stitch quality on their sewing machines one of the first things we did was to change the needle!  If you hear a punching sound when sewing you probably need a new needle.  Stock up on needles, especially size 10, 12 and 14 when you find them on sale.  Please don't use no name cheapo brand needles - Schmetz is what I normally use.  A size 12 to begin our project is good, and we may switch to a size 14 when we have to sew through the 6 layers of fabric!  

Buy a good quality thread ~ please.  Cheap thread is cheap thread.  It can produce lots of dust and lint which is B A D for your sewing machine.  It can split and break and make weak seams.  If you're on a budget, stock up on good quality thread when you find it on sale!  Wind several bobbins of your thread.  I hate having to stop in a project and wind more bobbins.  Thread can get old and brittle, so if you have breakage or other thread issues, try switching out the spool of thread.  There are occasionally just bad batches of thread and it can happen with any company.  We got one lot of thread from a high quality thread company that was simply terrible - balling up in the bobbin, tangling, breaking, etc.  We contacted the company and they swiftly replaced the bad thread with new thread which performed perfectly .  Our customers got a new spool of thread if they called or came in, but how often do you think that the sewing problems might just be that new spool of thread you just bought?  I felt so badly about the folks who were at home pulling out chunks of their cute hair because of crummy thread who never contacted us!
Sohere we go!  Get your fabric, rotary cutter, rotary ruler, trims and cotton belting out.  I'm going to publish as I write, so please excuse typos ~ I'll go back and edit later.  Press your fabrics!

Cutting Directions:  1/4 " seam allowances unless noted otherwise.
  • 1 - 2 yard piece of 1" wide cotton belting  (you will cut this in half later in the tutorial directions)
  • 1 - 2 yard piece (a correction from 4 yards!) of  1/4" to 5/8" wide ribbon to trim the cotton belting (I used velvet)
  • 1 - 1 1/2 yard piece of 1 1/2" wide ribbon to trim the top of the bag and both pockets. (This is exact, so you may want to purchase a bit more for oophs...not that I ever have any!)  Cut the ribbon as follows:  2 pieces @ 10 1/2" long ribbon to trim pockets, and remainder of ribbon for the top of the bag.
  • 2 complimentary fat quarters for the exterior fabrics.  Cut two pieces of fabric #1 into - 15" long x 10 1/4" wide pieces.  Cut two pieces of fabric #2 into - 15" long x 6 1/4" wide pieces.  You will sew these two pieces of fabric together on the 15" long sides to make a finished piece that is 15"L x 16"W.  Make two.  These are the front and back exteriors of the bag.  Do pay close attention to the placement of directional prints!       The front and back are referred to as "A" in the printed pattern.

  •  1/2 yard fabric for the lining.  Cut two pieces 18"L x 16" W.       The lining fabrics are referred to as "B" in the printed pattern.

  •  1/2 yard fusible fleece.  Cut two pieces 17 3/4" x 15 3/4".   Fuse the fleece to the back side of "B" fabrics, the lining according to manufacturer's directions.  The fusible fleece is not in the original printed pattern.  We are adding it to create more body.

  • 1 fat quarter for the pockets.  Cut two pockets 16" x 9 1/2".  The pocket is referred to as "C" in the printed pattern.  The size and placement are different from the printed pattern.  Follow the tutorial directions.

  • 1 fat eighth for the pocket top border.  Cut two borders 4 1/2" x 9 1/2".  This is not in the printed pattern, follow the tutorial.

Handles:  Get your 2 yard piece of cotton belting and 2 yard piece of ribbon to trim the belting.

It's not a bad idea to pre-wash the cotton belting in HOT water with a bit of soap (did you know soap makes water wetter?) to preshrink the belting.  Cotton belting can shrink quite a bit, and since we are applying ribbon which is probably made of synthetic threads - which doesn't shrink much (in my experience), the first time you launder your totebag, the handles can get a bit puckered.  I have had some success with stretching the belting and then pressing it from the backside.  Don't use a hot iron on that ribbon! Use a press cloth or you may have melted ribbon on your iron!  If you just want to get sewing, it won't be the end of the world if you choose not to pre-wash the belting.  (I'm lazy and usually don't.)
Sew the ribbon you've selected to the cotton belting.  I don't cut the belting in half until I sew on the ribbon.  I eyeball the placement unless I'm working with slippery trim.  Just sew slowly and stay as close to the edge of ribbon you're attaching as possible for a nice neat look.
I finish both ends of the belting with a narrow zig-zag stitch.  Then mark the center of the 2 yd piece of belting, sew a narrow zig-zag stitch on each side of the center mark, and then cut the belting into 2 one yard pieces.  Your handles are prepared!

Pockets:  You need a fat quarter for the pocket body and a fat eighth for the top border.

I mean, really, how clever of me was it to get out my little spiral notebook and write down measurements!  So if your eyesight is anything like mine, here's the big print!  For the main body of the pocket, cut two pieces of fabric 16" x 9 1/2" from the fat quarter.  There will be a pocket for the front and the back of the tote.  Cut two pieces of contrasting fabric from the fat eighth.  They measure 4 1/2" x 9 1/2".  Ta-Dah!

Put the top contrast border and the pocket body right sides together, aligning at top edge (9 1/2" width) and sew a 1/4" seam.
 Now, align the other two 9 1/2" raw edges of the border and pocked and sew another 1/4" seam as pictured below.  You'll be making a fabric tube.
With right sides still together, fold the "tube" in half, with the seams matching each other as in the photo below.  I do turn the seam allowances in opposite directions to reduce bulk.
Sew a 1/4" seam on each side of the pocket, carefully trim the corners with a small diagonal cut to reduce bulk.  This will help create a sharp corner when the pocket is reversed.  Leave an approximately 2" opening on one side of the pocket to allow for reversing.  Back stitch a few stitches at the beginning and end of each seam to lock the stitches.
Turn the pocket right side out through the opening.
Press flat.  Don't be concerned about the opening.  It will be stitched closed when we sew the pocket onto the bag body.
Prepare the second in the same manner.  Cut 2 pieces of the wider ribbon about 11".  Pin it to the top of the pocket with the top edge of the ribbon just covering the seam.  You'll take the pins out just prior to sewing over them.  Never, ever, sew over a pin ~ if your sewing machine needle hits a pin and pushes broken parts of needle and pin down into your sewing machine it can damage your machine and cost $$$$$ to repair!
Wrap the excess ribbon (it's 11" long so you'll have about 1" excess on each side) to the back of the pocket.  Notice the vertical straight pin in the above photo - it's holding the ribbon that is folded to the back.
GRRR.... computer issues.  Well, we're going to push on.  The photo below should be rotated clockwise, but despite saving it 4 different times this is what we get.  So, you're going to sew the ribbon to the pocket just along the edge of the ribbon.  I changed my top thread to match the ribbon color. 

Sew the length of the ribbon, stop, drop the needle, turn, sew along the end of the ribbon, stop, drop needle, turn, sew the length of the ribbon, stop, drop needle, turn, sew the end and back stitch.

Okay kids.... more later.  I've got to figure this non-compliant save issue out.  Boo-Hiss
To be continued.  Don't give up on me.  I think I've almost got my computer issues solved.