Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thinking About Outstanding Summer Dinners!

I've actually been pondering what I'm going to concoct for dinner out of the meatloaf left over from sometime last week, probably something involving pasta? We had pancakes and scrambled eggs for breakfast, but had a very light homemade soup for lunch so have room for a little bit more of a splurge this evening, perhaps with a nice glass of Pinot Noir.

But thinking about cooking inevitably leads to thinking about eating which, in turn, led to reminiscing about some of the great restaurants that I visited this summer. Dan and I attended the wedding of some very dear friends in Salt Lake City and got to have dinner at a restaurant that I had seen reviewed in a food magazine. It's sort of in the hills above Salt Lake, not right in the city, and it's called Le Caille.

Dan and I and our friends, Steve and Rhonda Lopez (Rhonda owns Nuttall's Fabric Centers; there are 4 locations in Salt Lake) went to the restaurant on an absolutely beautiful night. The temperature was just perfect for eating outside on the patio, so we did.

The appetizers were pretty enough for pictures: two of us had lobster bisque and two, French onion soup.

I got up and took a quick picture between courses; Rhonda looks like she is in deep thought, but Steve and Dan are ready to smile for the camera...

This is the view of the indoor dining from my seat at the table; if you look up on the roof, you can see the outline of the peacocks roosting up there.

Used the closeup function on my camera to see them better.

There were peacocks wandering all over the patio during dinner; we saw one of the baby chicks (I'm not sure if you call baby peacocks chicks or something more specific) fall out of a tree trying to fly to his mom! Fortunately, a rubber plant broke the little guy's fall and then one of the waitstaff rescued him, took him up a flight of stairs and leaned out a window to put the baby right back in the tree so he could try again -- second time was successful -- hooray!

A few days after we got home from Salt Lake, I flew up to Eugene OR to meet with Jerry Tippetts and his daughter Stacy, two of the owners of the Sew Steady company. Sew Steady makes the acrylic extension tables and cabinet inserts that we all use to make our sewing and quilting so much easier.

I'll be in the Sew Steady booth at Quilt Market in the fall; I'll be splitting my time between their booth and the Brother Int'l booth, so this was a planning session to see how our product lines fit together and what kind of synergy we could create to make Market fun and profitable.

My eyes are always open for new ways to help quilters do things more easily; while I was at Sew Steady, we found that using their new polish kit to keep the acrylic surface "slippy" works really well in combination with the Batt Scooters! I know slippy isn't a word, but slippery doesn't describe it, nor does slick -- it's just a really smooth surface that the quilt just glides on!

Of course, if you're gonna plan, you gotta eat, right?

We had a marvelous dinner at the King Estate Winery, located about a 20 or 30 minute drive out of Eugene. I ordered halibut with fresh pea puree and it was so good! I ate about half of it that night, took the other half with me and ate it for breakfast the next day, garlic and all -- brushed my teeth about four times before I went to the Sew Steady offices that day...

Here are a couple of pictures I took on the way in to dinner; the Oregon landscape is so beautiful -- all that green!

Well, enough daydreaming -- I probably ought to think about making some food instead of just thinking about it!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Holler Out to New York City!

I'm scheduled to be at Hartsdale Fabrics in New York City October 1-3 and the classes aren't full yet -- darn! I've never been to New York, other than stopping at the airport on my way to someplace else, and I am really excited about being there and meeting quilters from NYC and environs.

If you happen to be in the area, there's a wine and cheese reception that includes a trunk show on October 1 at 4pm. How fun is that and there isn't even a charge for it; they just need to have you register so they know how many will be there! And there are two fun quilty classes -- my Tequila Sunrise and a kaleidoscope piecing class that I teach using only one pin for the whole darn thing. I've done Simply Quilts episodes on both of these classes so if you're in the area, come sew with us!

Here's a link to Teri Lucas' blog about the classes including pictures of the projects -- there are even kits so you don't have to bring much to class, just your basic sewing supplies!

Would love to see you there!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Appletree Quilting & Viking Center -- Columbia MO

My last stop on my five state trip was Appletree Quilting & Viking Center, owned by Millie Kaiser. Millie has been a Viking dealer for over 26 years and has a big, beautiful shop in Columbia. I flew into St. Louis MO and Ann Regal, Millie's Viking district manager, picked me up from the airport and we got to know each other during the hour and a half drive to the shop.

I knew that Millie had just added a large classroom space to the shop, but even knowing that, I wasn't prepared for just HOW big! The space includes a kitchen and two bathrooms as well as the spacious classroom that housed 30 people and their sewing machines for my two day Fluff & Stuff class.

The classroom was decorated with Christmas quilts of all sizes and shapes:

But it didn't take me long to find the Halloween fabric!

Had to get some closeups of the cute panels....

I wandered through the store, taking pictures of the fabric and contemplating what might have to go home with me....

I thought the store was very well laid out; as I was walking through, I would be diverted by a display and then drawn into yet another area with goodies to explore...

Next: The animal prints in the front window! If you saw the Africa panel and fabric I bought at Shiisa Quilts last month, you know there was no escape for me......if you didn't see it, click here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to Business, the Brother International convention -- Nashville TN

On the morning of Day 21 of my 28 day trip, it was back to the airport in Lincoln NE, about an hour and a half drive from Kearney. I hopped on a Delta flight to Nashville TN where the Brother International Sewing Machine Company's annual convention, Back to Business, was to be held. I was very excited to be part of the team introducing a new machine to the Laura Ashley line. It's a beautiful machine with a very feminine look -- it IS a Laura Ashley, after all -- and she's PINK!

I had been sewing on a Brother Quattro machine for about a year when I switched to the NX-2000, the wider armed of the two Laura Ashley machines. I wanted to learn this machine because I thought it would be a really good machine for quilters. It's very well equipped, coming with the standard accessories you would expect a sewing machine to have, plus a single hole throat plate, three free motion feet, a quarter inch foot with guide, a walking foot (although it is a closed sole plate; more on that later in this post) and a good sized extension table. I've had some fun with her, done some piecing and some quilting and been very happy with my results.

The Laura Ashley machines and the Quattro (and probably other Brother machines as well; these are the ones that I have spent quality time with, though, and know the most about) are equipped with what I think is the easiest and most reliable needle threader in the business. If the sewer uses the needle up button on the face of the machine rather than the hand wheel to position the needle, the threader will work every single time, even on slippery and fragile threads that I am accustomed to threading manually.

The new Laura Ashley machine is a super addition to that line, coming in at the top. It will be equipped similarly to the NX-2000 (the one I call "Laura"); the main differences that I could see immediately were that it includes an embroidery module and doesn't include the extension table. However, I think it has the same footprint as my Laura, so my Sew Steady table should fit both.

I think she's beautiful! And did I mention that she's PINK?

Her name is Isodore; I am told that that is the name of one of the little flowers that frequently appears in Laura Ashley designs. As I write this, I am in Salt Lake City at the Ivy Place location of Nuttall's Sewing Centers, a Brother dealer. We are planning to un-box the new machine this morning --Rhonda and I are calling her Izzy!

Now I am by no means an embroidery expert, so I was partnered with Carol Bell, one of the Brother educators, in the Isodore classroom. She explained all of the embroidery related features of the machine to the Brother dealers attending our seminar. Carol and I gave the same 1-1/2 hour presentation 10 times! We got pretty good at it!

This is one of the 50 Laura Ashley embroidery designs that are installed on Isodore; I played a bit and saw many other designs. Brother machines are known for embroidering Disney designs, but that is not the focus of this machine. None of the Disney designs are included with this model nor is the machine Disney card compatible; however, Disney designs are available from and can be purchased from there, downloaded and stitched out on Isodore.

Carol also pointed out some of the other things that come with the machine: a circular sewing attachment, a kit for bobbin work, software for monogramming, etc. I'll have a better idea of the whole package when Isodore starts arriving in stores.

What I got excited about is that in my opinion the only walking foot a quilter needs is one that has an open toed sole plate; I only use my walking foot for straight quilting and if I can't see it, I can't quilt it. A closed toe sole plate blocks my view and therefore I think it's pretty much useless for the type of sewing that I do.

So I was talking with Dean Schulman, the President of the U.S. branch of Brother Int'l; when asked what I would do to broaden the appeal of the Laura Ashley machines to quilters, I said that I would come out with a machine specifically accessorized for quilters that included an open toed walking foot. He said, "We can do that!"; they had a few meetings about it while convention was still in session and on the last day Dean told me that it was a done deal -- how is that for a quick response from a very big company!

I got so carried away about the walking foot that I almost didn't show you the wheeled trolley that also comes with Isodore so that we can take her everywhere with us! I know that the trolley that I have for my Laura has really come in handy for retreats and other places I have wanted to take her.

During our seminars, dealers got to play with Isodore -- they embroidered out a quilting design in the center of a piece of muslin, layered it with backing and batting and then played with free motion.

I showed a couple of things that I had done to embellish the same embroidery design and then dealers got to play in a creative way....

Loved this free motion -- really jazzed up the very basic embroidery design! I photographed a few of these, but there were so many individual variations....

How fun is this!

This morning I actually get to look at everything, set up the machine and sew -- Hooray!!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Nebraska State Guild Quilt Show -- Awards Banquet

The closing banquet took place in the evening on the last day of Quilt Fantastica and included not only great food (I always notice that!) but a wrapup of all the details pertaining to the show. The people who worked on all of the various committees were recognized for all of their hard work -- so much work from so many hands goes into a successful quilt show and Quilt Nebraska was no exception.

The name was drawn for the winner of the beautiful fan quilt that Phyllis Hamaker had donated to the show.

This is the Quilt Nebraska 2011 raffle quilt -- I had wanted to buy tickets, but all of the tickets were sold! So this quilt was a good moneymaker for the guild....

Closeups of the quilt....

...liked the tiny piping worked into the border!

These are the three challenge quilt winners; I got to be one of the judges of this event, along with Sarah Smith and Sue Tilleman -- it was really hard to make choices! We judged on the workmanship as well as who we felt best reflected the theme of "fans". What I love about judging is that we are able to take the time to look past the surface appearance of a quilt and evaluate the work that goes into making it.

Dessert was not included with dinner on the other nights of the show, but there was a hospitality room where there were cookies, chocolates, etc. But on this last night, at each place was either a plate of tiramisu or the above dessert, which I would call a chocolate cake with brownie aspirations, but the server called creme brulee. NOT!

The next morning (Day 21 of 28) I was on my way to Nashville for B2B, the Brother International Back to Business convention where a brand new machine is being introduced!

Nebraska State Guild Quilt Show -- Some of the Vendors!

There were a couple of booths where I felt compelled to leave money, either by the beautiful display of quilts that I could make or by the sparklies that I wanted to take home!

The first one I visited was The Quilters Cottage booth; I had already been to the shop and seen all of the quilts hanging there so I was surprised to see so many here in the booth....

...obviously Phyllis and her staff spend a lot of time sewing! And, of course, I LOVED all the PINK!

But the booth that I totally stalled out in -- as in I really didn't get anywhere else once I saw this one -- was Bead Ranch! I liked this booth so much that I brought my Embellishment by Machine class here on a field trip!

Here are Sherrill Lewis and her husband who run the Bead Ranch, "wrangling beads from all over the world"...

Although Bead Ranch specializes in goodies for crazy quilting, the booth is full of everything one would need to embellish a non-crazy quilt, garment, home dec or anything else you can imagine that needs a sparklie!

Sherrill's "My Eclectic Journey" was hanging in the booth.....

...but this is the piece of Sherrill's creativity that I fell in love with -- "The Three R's in Green". Just amazing work!

To find out more about Bead Ranch and how you can acquire embellishment goodies to add to your own collection, click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nebraska State Guild Quilt Show -- Some of the Quilts!

On the second day of Quilt Nebraska 2011, I had an early breakfast and went directly to the show area to see the quilts and vendors. Here are a few of the quilts that I especially liked, probably because of the embellishments!

The shape of this tree quilt was interesting as well as all the beading for the leaves....

Some of the following quilts are part of the quilt challenge section of the show. "Fans" were the theme and there was a challenge fabric that had to be used in the quilt:

This is a panel quilt made by Rogene Margritz; it is heavily beaded from her collection of Czech glass beads.

This fan quilt was made by Phyllis Hamaker and quilted by her daughter, Sandi Griepenstroh. It won a 2nd place ribbon at the Nebraska State Fair.

Phyllis donated this quilt to be raffled off at the show! The winning name was drawn at the awards banquet dinner on the last night of the show. Wouldn't you like to be her?

Next -- wandering in the vendor mall....

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