I did a baaaad thing…

I went to Goodwill.  I probably should mention that Sandra Dee is the Queen of Goodwill.  Well, really the Queen of Thrift Shopping.  She always manages to find the coolest stuff at  thrift stores.  I don’t know how she does it, but she does have a knack.

So, I rarely find anything really cool at Goodwill.  Mostly cool books and stuff for the boys.  Sometimes I find yarn.  I’ve had good luck with canning jars, too.

This time I went to Goodwill and found this:


Doesn’t it look cool?  Of course I had to take it home.  The price tag was $15.88 and with the cool color and name I wasn’t familiar with made me very curious about it.  I know it now seems like I have a bit of a collection going with the two I brought from my Grandmother’s and the featherweight…  In reality, I have 1 more that I am on the lookout for.  I’ll let you know when I find it.

But back to this lovely green machine.  Once I got her home I found more things that made her interesting.


I found it interesting that the tension jig is on the back side of the machine.  I’m sure I’ll stumble through threading the first few times.  Also, you can kind of see  the throat plate in the above picture, it flips up for access to the bobbin which I thought was kind of cool as most of the ones I’ve seen slide out.

Here you can see that there is a dial for what type of fabric you are working on.  We are guessing that it affects the pressure the presser foot puts on the fabric and perhaps how the feed dogs operate.


You probably noticed the spool holder there on the base of the machine.  It should be used for the thread when winding the bobbin.  There is a bobbin winder by the fly wheel that you can see here.


I was surprised to see that the machine light has a switch to turn it on and off instead of it just automatically coming on when the machine is turned on.  How neat is that?


Here you can see that is a straight up straight stitch machine.  No cams, no zig zag.  Underneath the stitch length settings you can see a little placard indicating nationally sold and made in Japan.  This was biggest clue about the machine.


Isn’t it all lovely green and chrome?  Such fun.  I did plug it in and it does work, although it does need clean and oiled and perhaps a little adjusting.  But back to the made in Japan.  I learned probably as much as I’m going to learn about the machine by googling that.  Apparently after WWII Japan made sewing machines and that’s where we got some of the fun colors of machines from that era.  While Remington is on my machine and while Remington did manufacture sewing machines, they did not manufacture them in Japan.  Another article I found indicated that Remington was able to successfully sue to have their name not put on the machines.  Most of the machines manufactured were modeled after the Singer class 15 machine (thus no zig zag) and so a singer manual should suffice to help me with basic maintenance for this model.  The Japanese manufacturers did make their own modifications and they did make solid good quality machines so I don’t feel like I made a bad decision in bringing it home.  Reading about this part of sewing machine history was very interesting, although it has been difficult to find this exact model.  Inez has been trying to help me and agreed that this machine was probably manufactured in the 1950’s with all the fun Japanese history.  The most discouraging thing has been that even though I have the serial number, I can’t look it up to learn anything about the machine.

I suppose I have my very own Green Mystery Machine (yes, that is totally a Scooby Doo reference).  She most certainly needs to be cleaned and oiled and then I will have to decide what I am going to do with her.  I have heard rumors of a gentleman in a nearby area who services vintage machines so I may just have to take a run down there in case I run into something I can’t handle.

Lesson learned today?  Don’t be afraid to stop at the thrift store(s), you never know what you might find!


Nailed it!

Yep, I totally nailed it this week.  Okay, mostly nailed it. I just have one teeny thing I need to fix.  Just one.

Oh!  And I have pictures!  Yea for pictures!  First, I did finish my April UFO.  I thought I would be nice and take a picture of it with just the first border.  It’s not really doing anything for me at this point….but wait!


Now, here it is with the indigo border.  Bam!  Finishes the look and made me fall in love with it all over again.  I’ll have to admit here that I was a little envious of the one that Sandra Dee was starting with her rabbit panel.  Seriously, hers will be absolutely gorgeous.  I can’t wait to show you pictures, but you will have to wait until the next retreat!


And a couple of close-ups just because, well, more pictures!



So, whew!  I’ve managed to keep up on this whole UFO thing.  I also got started on the one for this month.  Here is the pattern.  It is from Details By Diane.  She does a lot of stained glass looking quilts but without using bias tape.  If you aren’t familiar with her patterns, you can check her out here.  Anyway, I had started this one a while ago and I wanted to use my Oriental prints.


Here are the blocks.  Aren’t they cool?  all I have to do now is zig zag around each of them.  Today I was able to get through 2 1/2 of them.  I didn’t have much time today.  I also had to send my husband out for black thread because apparently I didn’t have any, well, he was already out so it was just one more stop for him.  Can you believe that?  A quilter with no black thread!  I had black hand quilting thread and black upholstery thread and I have no idea where that came from.


Here is one of the blocks in progress.  See?  She makes it really easy, and no mine are not perfect but that’s okay.  It’s an area where I could use a little more practice.

IMG_1425  IMG_1427

Once I get through the stitching it’s time for the sashing.  That is a little bit harder of a decision.  I went through my stash to see what I could use without buying anything and I came up with two possibilities.  Inez and my husband voted for the first one.  I have not made up my mind just yet but figured one will be the sashing and the other the cornerstones.  If you would like to cast a vote, please do in the comments!

IMG_1430            IMG_1432

Did I not promise lots of pictures?  Don’t worry, I still have a couple more.

I even took a few moments to work on the cat appliqué block.  See?  No more pins.  The head is completely sewn down.  Of course I still need to make a decision on the eyes… that’s okay though…each part gets me a little bit closer to finished.  I still don’t think it needs the tongue. Just an eye and the border.


Now for the part where there is a teeny problem.  It’s with the paper pieced star block of the month.  Now I know it looks like it’s good, but it doesn’t lay flat.  Like, going to have puckers when it gets quilted doesn’t lay flat.  So, I haven’t added the outside border pieces.  I did take it apart once and when I put it back together it still didn’t lay flat.  At that point I just walked away.  Something is going on with it and I’ve put too much work into this block to try to fudge it later.  I’ll have to go back and do some more work on it, but I think I’ll wait a few more days…or maybe until I finish the May block.  Will see how it goes this week….but I’m betting I won’t touch it…at least not yet.  Maybe next week.


Yes, my feet are still on fire! I managed another whole week of 7k steps and so this week I’m bumping it up to 8k.  Yahoo!  I figure I’ll be on 8k for a couple of weeks and then I’ll make that jump to 10k which isn’t feeling so elusive anymore.

Now, it’s time to keep moving forward!




Keeping the Revolution going.

Today feels like a writer’s block kind of day. I was all excited to get to post today and then every idea I had flew out of my mind. It’s kind of been like that all day today.

We haven’t really talked much about our retreats, which is where the whole idea for this blog originated. I’m not sure that I really painted any kind of picture about the retreat except about our shenanigans. Perhaps I should rectify that.

Our retreats are held on a church campground which I may have mentioned prevents us from imbibing alcohol. We kid greatly about this, but no one really complains. We were practically in stitches while helping Sandra Dee unload at one retreat. He husband had loaded the car for her and neglected to load anything larger than a hand towel (which made her showers interesting) and a 6 pack of beer. You know, just in case she wanted to relax. He helped her pack her car another time and included a lawn chair in case she wanted to relax outside.

There are two buildings available to us for retreat and it seem like once you are comfortable in a building you tend to stay there. Each building has 2 bunk rooms – one for boys and one for girls. There are also 2 bathrooms – one for boys and one for girls. At our building there is a large great room with an open kitchen and a 4 seasons porch. The porch is where the Monkeys hang out. The great room has a gas fireplace and the porch has the tv.

There is ample room for us to spread out which we take full advantage of. I don’t know if there are any retreat centers in your area, but if you are aware of one close to you it is well worth it to go on retreat.

What is the pull that brings us back to retreat without fail? It’s a chance for us to rejuvenate. We reconnect. We enjoy our art. We eat. Most importantly, we laugh. Loudly and often, we laugh.

It’s always sad to leave retreat, but we do make the most of our time there and we are always looking forward to the next one.

(Day 4 – I just keep track so that I don’t forget where I am.)

Time to talk more about retreat.

This year we had some new faces at retreat. In fact, two of them were from close to my hometown.  In fact one of them is the sister to my uncle’s neighbor.  Isn’t that funny?  It was nice to see new faces at retreat.

Now, to get on with this spring retreat.  We did not have quite the shenanigans as we have had in previous years.  Inez left early and we had some new faces sitting with us on the porch.  Overall, I think everything went well.

We did have our moments of laughter, but this time around we did seem to be more industrious.  Blanche brought me some fabric that matched my red for my rabbit quilt.  I also made the executive decision that I just needed to finish it.  Since we had been quilt shopping before I made this momentous decision, it warranted another trip to the quilt shop to get what was needed to finish it.  Here is a picture.  I will freely admit, that it is not the best work I have ever done.  I say this because I started it nearly 10 years ago and my piecing has improved quite a bit since then.  Suffice to say, that some things don’t match up quite perfectly.  However, I am just going to go with it because I’ve waited too long for it to be done.  So, here it is.  The body of my rabbit quilt.  Now I just need to find the right border print.  In case you are wondering, the four corners are the symbols for spring, summer, fall, and winter.



We did share a few laughs – Hattie of course was in the thick of things.  She had two choice comments: I love the smell of oil and gasoline on a man (because doesn’t everyone? ) and I’m good at digging out corns too.  Unfortunately I did not make any notes regarding the context.  I’m also not sure that I would like Hattie to dig out my corns, if I had any….

While shopping at one of the quilt stores, Sandra Dee decided that she loved the above rabbit quilt.  We even searched on our phones for the panel I bought years ago.  Believe it or not, we did find it.  I’m not sure that Sandra Dee purchased it but Hazel and I exerted some peer pressure just in case she needed a push in that direction.  However, she did find some gorgeous fabrics while we were out shopping and was entertaining using the same pattern I was with the fabrics she had purchased.  Ultimately she opted to go in a different direction and created a beautiful quilt with them.  At least she got the  body of it done.

Of course with Sandra Dee and Hazel paper piecing had to come into play.  Don’t worry, they did not begin any paper piecing patterns.  At least not at this time.  Sandra Dee was working with oriental fabrics on this new quilt.  Sandra Dee also loves pandas.  One of our new faces found a paper pieced panda pattern that Sandra Dee could put on the back of her quilt.  Unfortunately the paper pieced panda had a plethora of pieces.  The only really good thing was that we got to practice our alliteration.  Plethora of pieces in a paper pieced panda.  Also while discussing the panda, it was noted that the pattern was only 6″ to which Blanche quipped, “I’ve heard that before”.  Things rapidly disintegrated after that.

We also spend some time reliving our “glory days” of retreat with all the pranks we have pulled over the years.  Yes, I say years because Sandra Dee and I did some math and discovered that we have been doing this for close to if not 10 years.  Can you believe it?  I know I had a hard time doing so.  It also came up for discussion how we haven’t really done a whole lot over the last few retreats with regard to pranks.  Sandra Dee was happy to relive some moments when I would call her before retreat and ask lovely yet bizarre questions such as how do you feel about bugs?  The intent was to find some large rubber bugs and scatter them around, but when we couldn’t find any we (and by we I mean Inez and myself) settled for tormenting her with words prior to retreat and then doing nothing.

After bringing up our lovely history, Sandra Dee began to get cryptic about the meal she was involved in.  I should mention here that we practically had the bunk room to ourselves.  Even though we are not the type that are early to bed, all the others that were in our bunk room were up later than we were so we practically had the bunk room to ourselves every evening.  It was amazingly wonderful.  Until one night we went to bed and Sandra Dee said to me, “good night, sleep tight, watch out for lunch tomorrow”.  She didn’t say anything else after that although I thought I heard her giggle a little.  Well played, Sandra Dee.  Well played.  In case you were wondering, her lunch was a normal lunch.  They made enchilada casserole and a spicy cheese dip and spanish rice.

I’ll leave you here for now. I have a rather lengthy story that Sandra Dee shared with us that I just cannot pass up.  I also have our report on how things went with our pillow cases.  I’ll also try to have some pics of what I did get accomplished at retreat aside from the rabbit quilt as well as a bit on what everyone else was able to accomplish on this retreat.

It just didn’t seem fair….

That we were getting ready to run off to retreat and I STILL haven’t caught up on our antics from a couple of previous retreats. So, I thought it might be a little fun to share some more detail on how we all got to be together.  I think I’ve already covered how Sandra Dee and I were totally jealous of Inez and would call out to retreat just to bother her (and this was before we all had cell phones so she would have to stop what she was doing and go to the phone to talk to us about nothing.  She was always so “happy” to take our calls.  After all we asked her all kinds of important questions like What are you doing now?).  She kind of regretted sharing the phone number with us after a while.  Along with Sandra Dee and myself, Ruby started to come along because she was hearing about all the fun the rest of us were having (and I think short sheeting Sandra Dee’s bed was a clincher for her).

Before this particular retreat, Inez had run into Hattie out and about town.  Hattie had been away from guild for a while and had recently undergone a difficult time in her life.  Inez talked Hattie into coming back to guild and also to signing up for retreat.  At this point, Ruby and I had no idea about Hattie and I have no idea where Sandra Dee was or what she was up to.  Inez felt responsible for Ruby and Sandra Dee and myself and made us move out to the porch about this time because she thought we would be less disturbing to everyone else at retreat.  She had also gotten word that Hattie was going to be joining us at retreat and promptly invited her to sit out on the porch with us. Ruby and I were admonished to be nice and gentle with Hattie because we don’t want to scare her off.  It kind of makes us sound like a pack of rabid dogs or wild wolves doesn’t it?  We really aren’t. I believe that we are all up to date on our shots and haven’t recently engaged in any terribly risky behavior plus we all brush our teeth and shower regularly.

Anyway, I think we were so admonished because Inez was going to have to leave us to take her daughter to the airport and was going to be gone for a substantial amount of time.  Thus were we left unsupervised.  The rabid dogs and Hattie.  Poor Hattie.  She never has been the same.  We had quite a fun time while Inez was gone and I think that Ruby and I were just what Hattie needed at that time.  She hasn’t missed a retreat since and is now one of our fearless leaders in charge of the whole shebang.

Blanche came to us about the same time that we were adopting Hattie.  I won’t call it an accidental pairing as I think we were all angling this way and just didn’t quite know it yet.  At this retreat Blanche opted to sit out on the porch at a small table to take advantage of the natural lighting.  Honestly, the porch is a wall of windows.  The light out there is wonderful.  So wonderful in fact that seating can be tricky if you want to sew without wearing your sunglasses.  Blanche  couldn’t help but be encouraged to join in our frivolity.  She had been joining in before, but this time had a front row seat for the shenanigans.  I think she was looking forward to coming out on the porch and joining in our frivolity.  I don’t want to make it sound like those that sit in the main part of the building are not fun people.  They are fun.  We are just noisier and that is why we sit on the porch.  After this retreat, our tribe had grown by two.  Now we were six.  I have to say that what I remember most about Blanche about previous retreats is the chicken tree quilt.  It was some sort of challenge and for some reason it just stuck with me.

While Inez was blissfully ignorant of our activities while acting as a chauffeur, Ruby and I were staying up until the wee hours of the morning where we hit on the idea of sock monkeys.  I have to confess, sock monkeys make me laugh.  Hysterically.  I don’t know why but I do know that when I am especially tired sock monkeys are the funniest thing on the planet, along with singing “She’ll Be Comming Round The Mountain When She Comes”.  The song didn’t really lend us anything usable so we stayed with the sock monkeys.  Visions of super large monkey clings in the windows of retreat with our names on them.  Where would we find these?  Why, at the sock monkey factory of course!  It would be a super fun place to work and everyone there would be fairly happy.  There’s always one who tries to ruin it for everyone.  I know you’re probably wondering what is wrong with us.  The answer is nothing. It was 2 am and we were very tired and didn’t want to go to bed.  Instead we had a bad case of the giggles and focused on sock monkeys.  That was when Ruby and I decided that our slowly enlarging group needed a name and the Monkeys on the Porch were born.  Well, the words weren’t quite in the order but for propriety’s sake I have rearranged them.

Blanche really enjoyed her time on the porch with us at that retreat.  She also has a tendency to bring along her ipod where she can listen to books on tape or music or gentle noise to tune us out when she needs to.  Sometimes we each need a bit of quiet time.  Inez likes to bring a book along and take a nap.  Hattie has her curtains and naps.  I like to stay up late after everyone has gone to bed and watch movies while I sew.  We all have our own thing.  It’s another part of why retreat is so relaxing.  Anyway, this is the retreat where we began our bond with Blanche and Hattie and when we started plotting to have the porch to ourselves where we could talk and express our monkey madness without offending the rest of the building.

The Monkeys decide to give back.

I know, I have a lot of catching up to do. I totally missed blogging about the last retreat (not to mention the times in between) and now we are just getting back from our fall retreat. First thing I want to share though is something that happened at the retreat that we just returned from.

We decided to do a charity project. I know! I’m actually kind of excited about that. We all sat around talking (I know, big surprise there) and we got around to food pantries and the like (don’t ask me how we got there, I couldn’t explain it if I tried). Ultimately we decided to do a pillowcase project. We even volunteered our very own Sandra Dee to solicit businesses for pillows to go into the pillowcases.  She is really good at that kind of thing.  The big pull is that we are keeping everything local by giving back to the food pantries at our churches. The pattern we are using is a simple one – the hot dog pillowcase. They have good pictorial instructions here.  If you find their instructions confusing google “hot dog pillowcase” and you will get a whole bunch of results to peruse.  We do modify ours a tad…instead of 1/3 yard for band we use 1/4 yard.  This way when you purchase 1 yard of fabric you have enough for the body and a band.  Also, we tend to sew the band on before squaring up – we do that after completing the hot dog part.  Or at least I do.  They really are very simple to do.

However, it gets even better.  We are talking about doing this at our next retreat and including everyone.  I know, you are wondering aren’t we the only ones at the retreat?  Not by a long shot.  We aren’t looking to take up a whole day, just a few hours between lunch and  dinner on one of the days for anyone who wants to participate.  There are 3 of us that have sergers where we can serge the edges rather than doing the french seam.  Exciting isn’t it?  So now I need to go through my fabric and see what I have that can be used for the project.  Thus far I only have enough to do bands, but that’s okay.  Every little bit helps.  As we talked about this, our retreat coordinator came to talk to us some more and that is how the discussion opened up to include everyone in the building as well as having a designated time where we could all come together to get them done.  A goal of 100 pillowcases was talked about, as to whether or not that would be reasonable but I have a feeling that some may even want to do some ahead of time and bring some finished ones with them to the next retreat.  After all, we have a bit of time between then and now.

As we talked about the details of the project we decided that it would be prudent to purchase more than just children’s fabric.  After all, there may be some adults that are in need as well and they may not be so excited to have a My Little Pony pillowcase.  We are figuring that we will have a mixture of cottons and flannels to work with.

I would love to put in a pitch here that if you want to donate any fabric or pillows to leave me a comment and I will let you know where you can send them.  However, I am not going to do that.  Instead I am going to suggest that if you really like what we’re doing perhaps your local church or food pantry could use some pillow cases themselves.  Rather than sending money or fabric to our community, why not do the same thing in yours?  Sometimes one person can make a world of difference.  Ask around, you may have a friend who does some volunteering at the food pantry.  They may be able to give you some insight about your local food pantry.  Remember, even though they are a food pantry things like personal care items such as soap, toothpaste and toothbrushes are appreciated too.  If you are not a sewer, maybe on your next trip to the grocery store you could grab an extra can of beans or bar of soap for donation.


Retreat Roundup

It’s time for a retreat recap. But first I thought I would make good on my promise regarding Blanche’s pin cushion.  However, I do need to put a bit of a little disclaimer on it.  You’ll understand in just a second.  Here are the pictures of her pin cushion.       See what I mean about being super organized?  Here’s the disclaimer.  See all those yellow and white pins in the second picture?  That USED to be ONLY yellow pins.  However Blanche decided to shake thing up a bit and mix the yellow and white pins of the same head size.  Really, check it out, they are all organized by the pin heads.  Does your pin cushion look like that?  You have to share pictures if it does.  Really, you absolutely do.  It’s a requirement.

Okay, back to our retreat shenanigans.  We had lots going on this retreat.  Inez and Ruby were unable to be with us so we had to soldier on without them.  It wasn’t a total hardship but they were missed.  Hazel, Sandra Dee, and I were on for dinner the first night.  We love to cook on the first day so that we can get it over with and just enjoy sewing and goofing off.  Wait, did I really say goofing off?  Well, I suppose that’s just being honest.  We had it all planned out that we were going to make lasagna.  Well, I should say that Sandra Dee was going to make lasagna.  Hazel was handling dessert and I was bringing in garlic bread and an antipasto platter.  We always have a lot of salad so I was looking for something a little different.  I can hear Sandra Dee and Hazel groaning now. Well, they can’t groan too much, they had to know this would “make the blog”.  “Make the blog” has become our new catch phrase any time anyone does, well, anything.  However, I knew that something was up when I met Sandra Dee at our local Hardee’s for breakfast and as we were walking in she said something about tortillas.  I suppose I should mention here that I had just had a birthday and you know how the monkeys are, no good deed goes unpunished.  I also know that I have been a big part of some of the bigger shenanigans and sometimes you just have to be the good sport.  So, I just kind of ignored her comment figuring that they had something up their sleeves.  I was right about that.  I just didn’t know what.

As I said, I celebrated a birthday just before this retreat and it was one of the bigger ones.  I turned 40.  Yep, I knew that was something that would not go unnoticed.  I should also mention that I am currently expecting.  Yep, 40 and pregnant.  Does it get any better than that?  Seriously, we are very excited for the new small person that shall be joining our family (and of course the monkey tribe) this winter.  Anyway, Hazel decided to send her husband on a reconnaissance mission to talk to my husband to find out what was pleasing to my palate.  Number one: Spaghetti.  Can’t get enough of it.  Tacos also go well, too.  However, someone had already booked spaghetti and that’s why we had lasagna.  Hazel and Sandra Dee decided that since someone was doing spaghetti that we should do tacos.  Only, they didn’t tell me that they were switching to tacos.  So, here we had garlic bread and an antipasto platter (cured Italian meats, cheese, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, you know…) and they brought taco meat, shells, and all the trimmings.  It all goes together doesn’t it?  It was a very interesting meal.

However, dessert was the main event.

  Dessert started with this.  Don’t you like the tiara?  I do.  Every woman should have one. They are even better when they light up.    It ended with this.  Lovely cupcakes.  Prune juice.  Tootsie Pops.  And of course a ceramic monkey with a strategically placed nut cracker.  Sandra Dee and her finds at Goodwill, you just never know what she is going to show up with.  He may just have to make regular appearances at further retreats.


Sandra Dee and Hazel also had monkey plates and ice cream and monkey party hats.  Yeah, it was a lot of fun and we laughed a ton and many photos were taken.  It was a good celebration.  I love my friends.  I think I’ll just bask in the warm glow that comes with knowing there are people out there that really care about you and do some crazy things to show it.  All in the name of friendship and good fun.  Don’t worry though. There are more retreat stories to be told.