Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Milwaukee Irish Fest

So excited to be heading out this week to Milwaukee for their annual Irish Fest celebration!  Looks like we'll have great weather again to enjoy some amazing music and  Irish dancers all while promoting our 2015 tour to Ireland. 

This year I'll be bringing along a few quilts to share with those who visit the Brack Tours booth.
First there's this quilt designed by Nikki Foley.  Cead Mile Failte means "One Hundred Thousand Welcomes".  I have to say, in my travels to Ireland, I've felt every single one of those welcomes.
and this "Anam Cara" wall hanging.
Anam Cara - means Soul Friend.
And I'm really excited about this quilt.  I created it in EQ7 using two blocks I just love.  One is called Garden Patch and the other is called Summer Winds.  I changed up the coloring on the blocks and shared that photo with Nikki and the first thing she said was "That looks like Summer on my mountain", so of course, that seemed like the perfect name.
Summer on the Mountain

This quilt will be a giveaway this weekend at the Irish Fest.  Some lucky attendee will get to take this quilt home with them! 
Beyond excited to see the Red Hot Chili Pipers too!



Friday, August 1, 2014

Whispers of the Past - A Quilt Between Friends

Last October, I had the chance to spend some time in Ireland with my friend, Nikki Foley.  Some of my most favorite moments of that trip were the opportunities we had to explore together.  We spent an entire day taking in the Slea Head Drive to Dingle, stopping a long the way to photograph some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen. 

One of those stops was at the Kilmakader Church, the ruins of a Romanesque Church dated back to the twelve century.  Step inside with us, won't you....

It's absolutely impossible to enter the church and not feel the spiritual energy that surrounds the area. If you close your eyes and are quiet, you can hear the whispers of the past as the breeze blows from the sea. 
I feel so incredibly blessed that I got to share this experience with Nikki.  It was one of those moments in time that you just know, you'll never forget...forever etched in your mind and heart like the carvings in the archways inside the church. 
Well, as quilters, right then we decided the best thing we could do was to create a quilt to commemorate our experience.  We took extra photos and here are the two that ended up as our inspiration for the quilt we would make.
This is one of the gravestones in front of the church.
These carvings are in the archways inside the church
 We decided our quilt would have a center scene surrounded by blocks to represent the blocks in the archways within the church.   Nikki got to work and created her amazing hand dyed fabrics.

These colors are perfect!

Look at this amazing blue!
Imagine my squeal of delight when these showed up in my mailbox!
 We decided we needed 30 blocks to surround our center panel, so we each created 15 blocks... get this....without telling or showing each other what we were creating.  Talk about exciting the day her blocks arrived in the mail!  Then it was up to me to add the blocks and do the machine quilting and binding and I needed to get it done quickly...because we decided we would enter the quilt in Festival of Quilt show in Birmingham England!!

I've often said that when you add the "quilting" to a quilt, it brings it to life.  Never more have I felt that then when I quilted this piece.  I had to stop quilting several times to wipe away the tears as the emotions of that day at Kilmakader Church came to the surface once heart felt it in every stitch.

So are you on the edge of your seat to see this quilt?   I know I am and I made the quilt!  I already know what it looks like but Nikki and I are so excited to share it with all of you. 

Drumroll please...............................................

Whispers of the Past
I love it so much!  This pic doesn't really show the quilting so I will add a few pics that highlight what I did on this quilt!

Inside of quilt/headstones

Our outer blocks with quilting

Back of quilt


Two quilty girls....who made a quilt together...even though they live 3800 miles apart.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cliff's of Moher

One of the most amazing places we will visit on our tour to Ireland in May is the Cliff's of Moher.  Considering we have quite a few photographers signed up to come along, I'm thinking I may have a hard time getting them back on the bus. 
Now, my first trip to the Cliff's looked a bit more like the photos below.
I was afraid to put up my umbrella for fear I'd become Mary Poppins.
Oh my it was rainy that day!  But it in no way took away from just how magical a place the cliffs are to visit.  Here's a few photos from our trip this past October when gorgeous sunshine was the weather of the day!


I'm so excited to take our tour group to the cliffs and share this amazing place with them!
 I'm also hoping for another meal at McGann's Pub...omg...the food there was out of this world good!

Makes my mouth water just thinking about it!  I had the vegetarian option which was this mushroom dish in a pastry shell.  So good!  Although the fish & chips was amazing as well!
We've got a few spots left if you'd like to join us.....

Saturday, March 1, 2014


A little follow up on the precious post about my quilt project with the second graders.  Our quilt arrived to our deployed soldier, Mike.  He sent us this great photo so of course, I just had to share with all of you!

Here's what Mike had to say about his quilt.
"I opened a package sent from you yesterday, literally the sweetest most thoughtful gift I have ever received. I cannot say thank you enough for this beautiful piece of art that I will no doubt keep for the rest of my life."
  Our story was shared in the District Newsletter as well as the local newspaper...and even though that was exciting for us....there's nothing better than knowing that our Soldier Mike loves his quilt and felt our love and thankfulness.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Guest Blogger on Generation Q Magazine!

How exciting to be featured as a guest blogger over on the Generation Q Magazine site!  Go check it out and you can read more about our trip to Ireland this past October!  As you know, Don and I are working with Brack Tours and leading a group to Ireland in May!  It's not too late for you to sign up and come along with us!  Deadlines are fast approaching to get the best price!  If you've been thinking about taking this trip... NOW is the time to call! 

We've got a great itinerary planned that not only includes the most beautiful scenery you could ever imagine....but also a stop at The Sewing Shed, where owner and my wonderful friend, Nikki Foley will give us a lesson in fabric dyeing.

You can also check out this short Youtube video with just a few of the pics from our time in Ireland this past October.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Thankful Tree - The Story of a Quilt

 For the second year in a row, Don and I spent a "Christmas Craft" day with the second graders at Otter Lake Elementary School in White Bear Lake, MN, where our son John teaches.
I'm not sure who was more excited...the kids, having special guests...or me...getting to teach the kids how everything is better with GLITTER!
While wooden frames were being painted and embellished with glitter and bling, we set up a photo booth where the kids could dress up with an array of silly hats, glasses and other fun props.  A quick trip to the local one hour photo processing store and our gifts for parents were complete!
Once the paint and supplies were put away and desks were clean again (Let's use the word clean loosely matter how good their janitor is...I'd be willing to bet there's still glitter in the carpet!) we were ready to move on to our second project.
When planning our craft day, I contemplated having the kids draw pictures for a deployed soldier, who happens to be the son of a lovely quilter friend of mine.  As a military mom myself, I know firsthand just how hard those deployments heart knows exactly what my friends heart is feeling.  I also know just how much our soldiers love knowing that they are appreciated and getting mail from "home"!
Somewhere in that line of thought came this fleeting question....
"What if I had them draw those pictures on fabric?"
Well, for a quilter...that's all it takes, my friends.
 A quilt was born.
The pictures drawn were to say "Thank You" to this soldier for his service.
Here's a few of those very special drawings.

Sitting on my living room floor the next day, I spread out all of the drawings to see if I could come up with a design for the quilt.  It was then I realized that I hadn't been specific with the kids about creating a vertical or horizontal drawing.  Oops!  That was going to cause a problem, right?
Apparently not.  Within minutes, my quilt began to take a very specific shape.
I could hardly wait to get this quilt together...and I'm pretty sure the top was complete by the end of that day.  The machine quilting took just a bit longer.
The  finished quilt....we've named The Thankful Tree. 
A trees roots run deep, just like the love we have for our family, our faith and our country
close ups on the quilting
My intent was to return to Otter Lake Elementary School so that we could take a photo of the second graders with the quilt before we sent it off to our soldier. Sadly, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have been trying to one up each other on a daily basis here in the Midwest, and it seemed like it just wasn't going to happen before Spring... I really wanted to get this quilt in the mail.
 So disappointing.
And then last Friday, in my basement studio, the second graders and I were able to chat via FaceTime.  By holding up my Iphone on my end...and John connecting the Ipad in the classroom so that it projected on to the screen in the front of the class.... I was able to show them the finished quilt.  They were each able to identify the drawings they had created and to see the piecing and machine quilting that I had done to complete our project. 
 It gets better.... 
Remember that group photo that I wanted so badly to take?
It Happened!!!!!
Not quite like I had imagined...but as they saying goes...where there's a will...there's a way.
Students, Teacher, Quilt, Me!
As soon as we ended our FaceTime chat, this quilt was boxed up and taken to the Post Office and is now on it's way to our soldier.
So excited for our soldier to receive this very special care package!