Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving at home

Keith and Mom at the holiday table
Mom checking out the lights sparkle in the crystals above

Keith's arrangement of leaves and end of season flowers and herbs 
My quick sketch of Keith's arrangement 

 Keith and I went home for two nights to Manassas to have our Thanksgiving day celebration with my mother and brother. We took a pumpkin pie and 20 pound roasted turkey he made and Mom made all the other side dishes and dressings for our biggest meal. The extra large turkey was to ensure plenty of left overs for meals to last the next few days. Brother David seemed to think we short changed him in past years on left over turkey... so we bumped it up a few pounds this time. We arrived and threw the turkey giblets in a pot and mom got to work making her gravy and sauce to moisten the bread dressing. I sliced the turkey for dinner and picked the bones clean to set aside the meat for chilling. We were all feeling good and hungry by 2 PM when we sat down and enjoyed the bounty. It was all delicious and no one seemed to have pushed beyond their comfort limits to achieve a well made meal. With dinner cleared away and all the left overs put up and the china and silver clean and dried Keith and I set out to the National Battlefield for a walk before the sun set and while the weather was still a mild 60ºF.
Ball family graves 

field and wall of the Ball cemetery

tombstone with weeping willow and monuments relief 1832
We took cameras along and I enjoyed taking some snap shots of the walk that lasted about an hour. It felt good to be outside in the fields and woods moving and watching birds as the sun slowly sank into the horizon. The sky was crystal clear and on the trail we saw an amazing assortment of birds. Blue bird was the first, then tufted titmouse were were with the black capped chickadees. Further in the woods we saw two different kinds of woodpeckers and heard but didn't see crows. There were others we could hear but never got a good enough look at to tell who they were. So that was entertaining to enjoy as we walked to a new section of the battlefield we hadn't explored. We discovered a Ball family cemetery enclosed in a walled area of a field. This must be the Ball family who give the name to Balls Ford a place where one could cross the Bull Run creek with horse drawn wagons of the years gone by. There is also a Ballsford road near by. I have never seen this part of the battlefield that I recall and it was fun to see there is still more park to explore and discover for future visits. As it was we had to turn around at the cemetery to get back to the car before dark.

Keith looking at hollow red cedar tree on the trail

Henry house 

Stonewall Jackson sculpture

sun sinks into the trees

blue ridges in the distance

 The next day was about taking it easy and figuring if we wanted to do any "black Friday" shopping. We started at Good Will. Keith dropped off some of his old clothes and mom went to the book shelves and selected a few books to read while I looked for quilting fabric to fit my current projects. No luck for me there but we went by Joann's Fabric store later and I got a nice deal on white pin point dots on a red cloth for the back side of my Seminole quilt. I may have enough use as red binding edges on the Rose-star quilt but first the Seminole has to be put together. Once we had a nice lunch at Pannera of Big Kid's creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich with bacon we hit Target and found a few things then it was time to do our next big plan. We headed over to the movie theaters and got in line to buy a ticket to see Lincoln the new Spielberg movie with Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field and a huge cast of famous actors. We found the show we wanted to see was long sold out and the next one sold out while we were in line. So we chose a later showing and got tickets and went home to rest and come back. It went just perfectly we got a break and then went early and got the best seats for the 7:10 show.
The film was great entertainment in so many ways. We all wished there were more like it in theaters all year round. Lincoln is a moving story about something that is very hard to make a good entertainment about: government. It was based on a history book that won the Pulitzer Prize about Lincoln's cabinet. I would recommend the Lincoln movie to you all if you care about history, even a little, you will certainly learn something more about how US government in Washington DC works or does not as seems to be the case in recent years. 

local color

Orange yellow red brown are some of this season's color palette which comes mostly from the changing leaves. Not everyone gets to see this seasonal change so I went for a walk last week and made some pictures of leaves that caught my eye as being bright and inspiring.
barberry bush always shows us the best color this time of year

sweet gum "liquid amber" tree across the street is just beginning to show it's rich colors 

On Dan and Pete's street the ginko tree had a nest built in the lowest branch! 

this tree is a mystery, there are a couple on 12th St. NE... what great oranges 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

trip report: Colonial Williamsburg

Frederick under the orange Colonial Williamsburg Courthouse maple tree
We had a great time walking in Williamsburg and enjoying the chilly autumn air with the hard slant of the sunshine's rays lighting up the colorful leaves. Blue skies and lots of orange leaves... We were treated to a great lodging by my mother at the Marriott Manors in Fords Colony in the woods. It was hard to find but worth the hunt once we got there. The gas fireplace worked great for a quick bit of cozy and the beds were like warm butter so perfectly suited to our achy bodies and warm under the nice duvets I wanted to bring the mattress home.
We ventured through Colonial Williamsburg twice during the week then once to Jamestown Island and finally to Yorktown to complete the colonial triangle of historic places. Yorktown was the site of the surrender of the English to General George Washington and French ally Rochambeau who cornered the English in Yorktown by sea and land, they were trapped with no help on the way. Oct. 17,1781 Cornwallis ended the American Revolution by surrendering his sword to the Americans and our French allies.

It was nice weather for long walks, cool enough but not too cold for a brisk pace. Since we have been down there many times we did not get into all the touring of houses and lectures and entertainments that are so magical when new. Instead we just soaked up the atmosphere and enjoyed our time with Mom and her best pal Mildred Cunningham and let them duck the cameras for all week for a change. Hence no pictures of our great ladies from this trip will be forth coming. Instead I was stingy with my camera finger and only took 63 shots the whole week. I used my eyes instead. Looked without the camera in my view most of the time. It was different for me but felt right for a change to just soak it up and let the record be inside my head. I did take a few and a few interesting shots will help give you some of the color and feel of our views.
Williamsburg the old white mulberry tree

Orange leaves in the big courthouse maple

fence patterns in Colonial Williamsburg look like quilts to me 

down the alley a special fence behind a spectacular green gates

this design makes diagonals look like a fish bone pattern 
 Jamestown Island:

Captain John Smith's monument in Jamestown colony, the first successful English colony. 

view of the river inlet making Jamestown an island

Jamestown Nat. Park full of pine needles and cones underfoot 

Black point under high tide on the James river, look closely and you see the other side of the river

Keith blustered by the stiff breeze with a smile

Black point beach cove on Jamestown island 
On the way to Yorktown, view of lake on the Colonial Parkway

Yorktown had loads of quilts in the visitor's center gift shop

I like this red and white quilt a queen sized masterwork 

One of the colonial era homes in the little port town of Yorktown and the marble 98 foot tall memorial column in the background. 

The York river from the memorial field atop Yorktown heights. I loved this huge hack berry tree Keith is there giving us some scale to measure the mammoth tree. 
 Colonial Williamsburg second visit:
back in Williamsburg the second time the fife and drum corps 
fife and drum corps sit on the curb till the clock chimes assembly for the parade

old mulberry near the capitol building fence

Williamsburg tavern and trees 

The capitol building 
Thanks to mom for a great week and Mildred for keeping mom company while we went on our long walks. We always enjoy having Mildred's company on these trips and will miss her when she moves west to Colorado.  I am happy to have accomplished some quilting on my rose star project, hand quilting evenings while listening to TV.  It's about a quarter of the way to complete.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

red + yellow = Orange

Bold patterns are the important part in this quilt. Seminole is based on a design that the Florida Indians developed over 100 years ago using western fabrics. I first saw Seminole in a old quilting book my partner's friend Sally Ann gave me earlier this year. 

Seminole is a strip piecing project, I thought looked fun to try using my newest tool, the rotary cutter. It allows me to cut strips of fabric very precisely. The tricky part is working with fabric strips recut on the bias (against the grain) and then reassembling them into the lines of pattern you see here. I took detail shots to show how the strips look up close.
 It was all basted on the first strip of diamonds in this image of solid red and the calico yellow, red and tiny green leaves. The other fabrics were selected to complement the red yellow theme.
 The checker board (at the bottom) is only about one inch squares, finished in red and red gingham check. I spent a whole day making that strip cutting and sewing them back together.
 The entire finished top (seen below) is edged in the solid red and might have a yellow calico binding but that doesn't have to be decided today. I plan to use this 76x52 inch Seminole pieced top to improve my machine quilting when I get home from a trip back to Colonial Williamsburg, Va with my family. I wonder what exciting new pattern ideas I will find on this trip?
finished Seminole quilt top before quilting