Friday, November 29, 2013

It’s Christmas Time….almost!!!

This past week my small quilting group got together to exchange gifts.  I had known about this for over 2 months, but just couldn’t wrap my head around what I wanted to do.

Then, I remembered a blog post by Emma in Australia where she had machine quilted ornaments, resulting in this gorgeous quilt…..

 

I had been very taken with it and decided to play with something similar for my gift.   I started out by free-handing some ornaments and practicing my quilting….

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As it ended up, I wasn’t that happy with the resulting product so decided to make a few changes.

I got online and found drawings of lots of interesting ornaments.  I cut a few out and started playing with an arrangement.   I quickly found that I wasn’t happy with vertical arrangement so started playing with a horizontal one…..

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I fused a thin interfacing to the fabric, traced the designs on it and started looking for appropriate threads…..

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I did the first round of thread painting, only to find that there was a lot of puffiness to the piece……

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SO….here is another opportunity for creativity…..I decided to Trapunto the ornaments to give them some more dimension (and to relieve the puffiness).  I used two layers of a high-loft batting…..

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…..and then basted it with a wool batting and started quilting.   When I got ready to quilt the background, I had planned to do an overall pattern but was afraid that it would be too flat so opted for straight lines instead.

Here is the final product…..

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…..with a few close-ups…..

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And, excitingly, my friend Deb was the winner!!

In return, I received this wonderful Christmas pillow from Brenda……

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Thanks Ladies for a FUN evening!!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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May we be truly Thankful for all

of our blessings!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sneak preview….

My next project is for a challenge issued by my Quilt Guild.   I will post more about it later, but my friend Anita dyed these beautiful fabrics for it……

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….and I found this GREAT print for the backing…..DSC08955

Now I cant wait to get started!!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I have been creating….I promise!!!

I haven’t posted in two weeks, but I have actually had time to work on various projects, but just no time to write the blog and post about them!!

My plan was to first finish up the Aussie fabric top and back.   In my last POST about this project,  I was struggling to get the outside border right. 

When I started working again, I decided to go ahead and put the red border on the quilt.   If you remember, I had debated about using a fabric that I bought in India but was still concerned that it would bleed, so I opted for another red that I had in m stash.

I started making and randomly positioning blocks around the outside of the quilt…..DSC08930

…..ending up with the 1/4 circle blocks in each corner…….

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I am very happy with the final product…..DSC08934

and especially happy with the extended design wall that just fit the Queen size top!!

 

Next step was to piece the back.   I had a lot of other Australian fabrics that I wanted to use for the back with the hopes that I wouldn’t have many left when it was done.  They were all shapes and sizes, so it was interesting to decide exactly how to use them.

Since I knew that the top size was almost the exact same size as my design wall, I cleaned it off…….

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…..and started slapping fabric chunks up…..DSC08941

….sewing and adding……DSC08942

…..making changes here and there……DSC08943

…..until I had the wall completely covered (plus a bit of extra)…..

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I will get it sandwiched so that I can quilt on it a bit at a time during the busy times of tax season.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Product Review…..Tarptent & ULA Packs

 

I wanted to write a separate post about some of the equipment that we used on our trip.

First are our Backpacks…..  On our first Backpacking trip (on our honeymoon in 1977), we both carried frame packs that weighed MANY  pounds when empty….

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When we got ready to start hiking again, Michael did some research and came up with a company called ULA Equipment.  The name stands for “Ultra-Light Adventure” and all of their equipment is sturdy and SUPER lightweight. 

Michael chose the “Catalyst” model  (weighs 3 pounds) for himself and picked the “Circuit” (weighs 2.5 pounds) model for me.   Chris (the owner) was a great help as we decided which size of pack we needed and which type of straps would best fit our body type.   We must have chosen wisely because I barely felt the 18 pounds that I was carrying…..

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….and it is a pretty purple color!!!

We also purchased our sleeping bags from ULA and were plenty warm even though it was in the 30’s during the night.

 

The tent we chose was the “StratoSpire 2” from Tarpent.  Once again, the owner and employees have been really helpful, patiently answering all of our questions about water-proofing and setting up the tent. 

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The tent only weights 2.5 pounds and EASILY sleeps two. 

It was amazing how warm it stayed in the tent during the night.  Between the comfort of the tent and the warmth of the sleeping bags, we actually got too hot….amazing!!!

We are also using Thermarest Sleeping pads…..

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….and “Black Diamond” trekking poles.    For many years we had just used a staff but have both found that having two trekking poles makes the hike much easier!!

The new equipment certainly makes the hiking experience MUCH more fun!!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Appalachian Trail Hike–Day 2

 

We got up around 6:00 and immediately went to check on our bear bag.  Thankfully it was still there……

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We immediately started heating water for for coffee and tea and broke out the Granola bars.   Gotta love this photo with my head lamp on…..

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The leaf colors were fairly dull early on in the hike, but as we moved further South, they became more and more colorful.   They were especially nice early in the morning and just before dusk as the sun would kiss the tops of the trees….

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We cleaned out the tent and folded it down into this amazingly small bundle…..

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I found this cool tree that was covered in Lichen….

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It was even cooler when I put the camera under the lichen and took a photo of the underside….didn’t expect it to be brown…..DSC01383

We left camp around 8:00 and headed on toward our destination.  We had a good laugh about how our trekking poles would pick up leaves along the way…..

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We felt a bit like trash collectors doing community service!!!

We found this cool den built into the base of a tree……

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Interestingly, the tree was still alive, even though much of the trunk was gone!!

We also passed this mass which I originally thought was a dirt covered rock….

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As we passed it, we realized that it actually was a root ball from a fallen Pine Tree…..amazing size!!!!

We walked by a tree stump that had two large gallons of water sitting on it.  This was an example of “Trail Magic”, where non-hikers will go in and leave special treats for the passing hikers……

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We arrived at our destination (Dick’s Creek Gap) at 12:05, covering 6.8 miles in four hours…..not a bad rate considering that much of this part was either up or down……

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In total, we hiked 16 miles and were both a bit sore when we got back to the truck.  After driving 2-1/2 hours to get home again, we could barely get out of the truck!!!  Now, four days later, we are once again walking normally!!!

It was a fun two days!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day one on the Appalachian Trail

 

This past weekend, Michael and I enjoyed a two day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.

We left our truck and met our “shuttle driver” at our destination (Dick’s Creek Gap) and were driven into southern North Carolina to Deep Gap.  We donned our backpacks at  9:40 and headed off for our adventure……

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The first part was hard for me….first of all, I was worried about whether or not I would be able to make it thru the entire trip.  Also, the trail was fairly rocky and was covered in wet leaves, making it really slippery.   I was SO happy to realize that we had covered the first mile…that was truly a milestone for me!!!

I loved these leaves that were tucked away under a tree and were still covered with frost.  I really like how the veins are so well defined…..

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We had to be careful to stay on the trail and not end up on a side trail, but fortunately most of those were pretty well marked……

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The foliage varied through out the trip, including several Rhododendron tunnels….

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We stopped for lunch at 12:05 at Muskrat Creek Shelter (about 4 miles into the hike) and decided to break out the stove and make some Cup-A-Soup.DSC01282

We were interested in the table inside the shelter.  You could easily see where so many hikers had set up their stoves …..DSC01288

The leaves were beautiful, however there were not a lot of good overlooks.  This was about the best one that we passed…..

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We reached the North Carolina / Georgia border and had to take a photo of the famous “Twisted Tree”……DSC01303

We stopped at our campsite about 3:30…..9.1 miles since we started this morning!!!   Michael started setting up our camp……

……first getting a rope into a tree to hold our food bag up away from any roving bears…..

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Next was to re-fill our water bottles from the water source…..if that is what you would call this tiny trickle of water coming from a pipe……

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Michael was able to use our filtration system to dip water out of the pool at the base of the drip.   It came out looking like this……

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GROSSS!!!    But, after putting it thru the filter, it comes out looking like this…..

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MUCH better!!!

Next was to get the tent set up…..

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…..and inflate the sleeping pads.   Our friend, Lyn, had given us this wonderful invention to use to blow up the pad.   You simply blow into this tube a few times, attach it to the pad and roll up the bag to inflate the pad……DSC01340

SO much easier than having to blow it up manually!!!!  

Michael got out the stove and cooked up a Rice, Brocolli and Cheese dinner for us……

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By this time we were so tired that we simply hung the food in the tree, and crawled into bed…..it was 6:30!!!!

The night passed slowly, mainly because our tent was on a slight slant and we both kept sliding to the end of the tent.  It was fun to listen to the silence in the woods, with occasional interruptions from Owls, Hawks and other birds.  Fortunately, we were NOT visited by bears!!!!

Day two to come……

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