Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Little Bite of the Big Apple

For me, Thanksgiving was a very relaxing holiday. I enjoyed time with family and friends. But no sooner was the table cleared from the big feast, and I was off to New York City for a whirlwind one-day tour filled with shopping therapy.

About a week ago, my neighbor sent out an email. Her nephew was playing in a big hockey game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, November 24. She had rented a bus to take the family to see the game and she had a few extra seats. "Would you like to ride along?" she said in her email.

It didn't take long for me to decide a day in New York would be just the ticket to kick-off the holiday season with some shopping therapy. So my quilty friend, Wenda and I climbed on the bus. Our goal: To answer the question "How much 'damage' can two quilters do in an afternoon in New York City?"

Here's a few pictures to address our 'research.'

Shortly after noon we hit the ground running, so to speak. Just a short walk and we arrived at The City Quilter on 25th Street. No surprise, we managed to make a few choice purchases!


Then it was on to Purl SoHo on Broome Street, just a few blocks south of Houston Street (SoHo), an area known for swanky shopping opportunities.

Purl Soho Entrance

From inside

In between, we walked through neighborhoods and parks, like Washington Square near NYU, which has a fascinating history, as it turns out.

As day turned to evening, we found a yummy restaurant near Union Square, where the Holiday Market - jammed with wonderful shops - offered a unique city-style shopping experience.

And of course, we had to do some window shopping, taking in the holiday displays at Lord and Taylor on 5th Avenue

and at Macy's at Herald Square.

And of course, a stop to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. Decorations in progress. . .

Wow! And I thought I had storage problems. Look at all those boxes of lights!

On the way back to Madison Square Garden, we wandered through Times Square with about a million of our closest friends.

Back on the bus, and back to reality. And back to making holiday treats . . . more on that soon!

Have a terrific week!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Starting with the Basics

A while back, my niece Karen asked for some advice about making her first quilt.

She lives in Chicago, I live in Syracuse, New York. (And she's a lobster fan, like her aunt!)

 There are about 1,000 miles between us. Might as well be a million, right?

After a few emails back and forth, we decided it might be fun to take this quilty journey together--online. Why not?

So, I put together a very basic quilted table topper pattern called First Timer Table Topper. Set up a button on the Hummingbird Highway website and on this blog, called Quilting 101 that links to a separate blog that will take Karen, and anyone else who would like to follow along, step-by-step though making a first quilt.

Each step will be introduced with lots of detail. Karen will blog about her experiences, also. And we'll comment back and forth. You are welcome to follow along, too!

It is not a race to the finish. No deadlines. Each step will take as long as it takes. A new post will appear when it appears. It's the beginning of the holiday season, after all. It's all about fun, learning a hobby, and chatting about it.

Check it out. . .

Speaking of 'the Basics' . . .

For the last several years, I have included a small hand-made Christmas tree ornament in our holiday greeting cards. About this time of the year, I start to stress over what to make.

Then once I decide what I'm going to make, I tally up how many 'whatevers' I need to make for all the cards on my list. And I start to stress again.

But then it all becomes fun as the plan emerges and production begins in earnest.

Well, I'm stressing, right on schedule.

But . . . I think I may feel a plan beginning to emerge.

It's going to involve some pieces of felted wool. The yummy kind, in bright fun colors.

And some embroidery thread. 12-weight, Valdani pearl cotton is my favorite, in fun colors! Maybe some 8-weight too!

And freezer paper I can throw in the printer. (Well, maybe not 'throw', but you get the idea.)

Some tools: nice sharp scissors to cut the wool, my favorite pair of thread snips, and That Purple Thang. Oh, and maybe some small batting scraps.

Now what?!

Stay tuned . . .

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's a Sister Thing. . .

Every year, my two sisters and I take a break from a hectic fall schedule to head to Fly Creek Cider Mill in Fly Creek, New York. It's a bit of a drive; Fly Creek is about two hours by car from Syracuse. But it's the one day all year that we get to run away and have some fun, just the three of us.

We try to schedule the trip so we can enjoy the beautiful fall foliage in Central New York. Well, more often than not, we lose track of time and miss the colors altogether. No matter, it's still fun to go.

We even have a 'uniform.' Several years ago, we all got sweatshirts at a craft sale, each shirt with an applique pumpkin on it. We almost match. For some reason, my sweatshirt is a slightly different color than the other two. (My sisters would say that's because I'm different!) The shirts are starting to show a little wear-and-tear, but tradition is tradition, after all.

I must admit, it feels a little goofy walking around wearing matching clothes like we are triplets. We're not triplets, but I guess you can say we are pretty goofy. Eh, well.

It seems like I write something about this trip every year. Sorry if this sounds familiar. There will be new material next week . . . or not! Eh, well . . . again.

What fall adventure is complete without a tractor full of pumpkins?

Once inside the mill, visitors are greeted with an amazing array of yummy tastes and treats. Dips, marinades, sauces, soup mixes, and unique kitchen utensils. Lots of items are available to try before you buy.

Peek upstairs for a taste of the holidays! Wish they would come to my house to put up my tree!

Shelves full of colorful items to buy for a gift or for yourself!

It is a real working cider mill, too! First the apples are crushed into mash (the barrels on the left), then the mash is placed in layers under the press. Then the cider press squishes the living daylights out of the apples to make cider!

On the way to the check-out, don't forget the fudge. There are about a million different flavors. Yum-yum!

Uh-oh. Somebody (me) got a little carried away! My receipt is about a mile long!

You can purchase cracked corn to feed the ducks that live in the pond adjacent to the mill. This duck is ready for snack time!

To wrap up the day, we always stop at Gems along the Mohawk for more shopping and for lunch. That's my sister Valerie on the left, and Cathy on the right.

Me on the left and Valerie. We couldn't find anyone to take a picture of the three of us together. Notice the goofy shirts?

Okay, now that the official Fly Creek visit is behind us, it's time to turn my attention to my Christmas cards. Each year I try to make a hand-made ornament for my greeting cards for friends and relatives. I'm running out of time already, and don't have the slightest idea what I'll be making this year. Got any suggestions?

Have a terrific week!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Making Friends at Quilt Market

Smiley Scrap seems to find her way into my travel bag from time to time. She managed to make it all the way to Houston for Fall International Quilt Market.

At the Robert Kaufman booth, she found some inspiration in the Oh, the Places You'll Go! book and fabric line.

So, Smiley set out to make some new friends. These ladies from The Quilting Warehouse in Sulphur, Louisiana had some really cute tag holders. Smiley loves birds!

Smiley even found some hummingbirds to hang out with in the Alexander Henry booth. I'm not sure how much she liked being in a cage!

And Smiley likes to find quilting celebrities. Here's Smiley with Deb Tucker of Studio 180 Design!

Mostly Smiley seemed to be seeking out some soft spots. Like here at the Bellagio Enterprises booth. She almost felt like the Princess and the Pea in this huge stack of pillows! 

Speaking of softies. This branch full of so-soft birds in the Shannon Fabrics booth seemed a good place to set a spell. I think Smiley may have tweeted this. 

Smiley found another nice resting place in the Swirly Girls Booth. I think she really likes their new fabric line Poppy Love from Michael Miller Fabrics.

Smiley liked the Swirly Girls so much, she went back to their hotel room for a sleepover one night.

She didn't say much about her sleepover adventures, but I noticed a definite change in her choices the next day. Hmm.


No matter what, it's always good to get back home to your very own scrap bin!

Happy Stitching!