Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Almost Here!

Seems like the blink of an eye and we said the same thing same time last year!  Time sure seems to go faster and faster the older I get.

2014 has been a great year here at the Stroud household.  Many thanks to those of you who take classes, who read the blog, and who are patient at what must seem like interminable gaps between posts.  It's not that I'm not thinking of you--I just need a few more hours in every day to get it all done.  Hope springs eternal for 2015!

If you have plans for tonight, remember the designated driver, and for those of you in the "snowy" states, be safe on the roads.

From Dickens and me, have a safe and happy New Year's Eve.

Blissful hugs,

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Whether you have snow, rain or sunshine, it's Christmas!  Enjoy this special time with family and friends.  It's not the gifts that are important; it's the love that surrounds us.

Special, blissful holiday hugs,

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Panel Was Hung...

in the sewing room with care.  Mitten Girl gave me this panel several years ago, and this year I emptied the design wall in my sewing room and hung it there.  Yes, it's still just the panel--mainly because I can't bear to quilt over the horses' faces.  I just love it.

Still counting down!

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  Thanks again, Mitten Girl!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Testing, Testing

We've all asked the questions--what iron are you using?  Do you like it?  Does it leak?  Does it have enough steam?

I think an iron is as personal a choice as a handbag.  I have an older Rowenta (think double-digit years old) that still works but doesn't steam quite as well as when it was new, and near the iron end of the cord it is getting a little warm.  I have tried other irons and have had marginal luck at best.  I knew I had a lot of pressing to do over the next few weeks, so I meandered down the ironing aisle of a local box store.  I am not a big fan of auto-off, but that seems to be the way of irons at the moment.  

Here's what I came home with: 

Eight minutes until it goes off in the upright position.  Not a lot of time--but when the iron is tipped to reactivate it, it does not take long to reheat.  The cord moves up and down within the stand (which is triangular and very sturdy), so that the cord does not bunch up the fabric you just ironed.  Water reservoir is easy to fill.  LOTS of steam and the iron glides smoothly.

There is one model that is 1750 watts of power, but the color was a dark gray and, with everything outside seemingly so gray, I wanted something brighter.  I like the color of this model (not that color has to be your determining factor).  But it was an extra $10 for only 50 watts more.  In my mind, late at night, brighter won over more power (and you know that is seldom the case in my world of More Power Always!).  You can see the triangular base here.  Lightweight iron overall.  But still gets the job done.

The control panel--steam/no steam lever, burst of steam, spray, filling station.  The only thing I am still getting used to is the spray.  It seems to spray out well away from the iron--like across the width of the ironing board.  But I also have a spray bottle of water close at hand.  A minor inconvenience at best.  And it's probably the crazy person operating it.  And at about $35 I can get used to it.

So now you have my opinion on this iron.  No official testing, just real life use.  I do not get endorsement fees or free products to try.  Please feel free to leave comments about what irons you like and why.

Happy Hanukkah to those celebrating that tradition.

Blissful holiday hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A New Adventure

Well, it snowed and it snowed and it snowed.  Not as bad as what Buffalo got earlier, but enough for us to be snowed in.  I am a firm believer that you never do snow removal while it is still snowing.  So on Thursday, when it looked like we might be done, I trudged to the Casket Company Brewery shed and found that my snow blower didn't start.  (My electric starter went last year, so it is manual crank only now.)  I cranked and I cranked and...nothing.  So I closed the shed, shoveled the porches and figured there's always tomorrow.

With the snow being above my knee-high boots all the way to the road, and heavy, I decided I needed a better plan of action.  So a few phone calls later I found someone who would come and plow for me!  He came a bit later and did an excellent job of moving the snow around.  (Even with four wheel drive I couldn't have made it out the end of the drive before.)  Then the adventure!

My mom also needed her drive done.  Because our drives are long and curvy, it helps to have someone along who is familiar with them.  So I rode with the driver and his very friendly dog up the road and got a first-hand look at plowing from inside the cab!  It was a hoot!  Let me tell you, David can put that plow down on a dime!  We were done in no time and it was a lot of fun.  No, it wasn't on my bucket list, but it pays to say yes when adventure beckons!

To complete the outdoor experience, I went back up to my mom's and did the snowblowing and shoveling of paths.  That snow blower did start, but there was no way I could have done the drive with it.  The snow was so heavy, packed down, and dense that I had to walk in front of the snow blower to break up the snow, then go behind the snow blower and try to keep it moving.  I guess that counts as the second adventure, as I had never used that snow blower before and it looked like a cockpit to run the controls!

So there you have it--hey, wake up--it wasn't that boring a story, was it?

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton and I just finished Private Down Under by James Patterson.

P.P.S.  Lest you think I get in trucks with strangers, breathe a sigh of relief.  David is the grandson of people I have known my entire life.  I may be weird but I'm not that crazy.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Effective Camo

We're being blessed with snow.  And guess who's hiding in plain site?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Blissful hugs,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Morgan Bliss

Back in October, while visiting Vermont on quilting business, I had a chance to visit the University of Vermont Morgan Farm.  Oh. My. Gosh.  

In front of the barn stands a statue of Justin Morgan, the original Morgan horse. 

The main barn, built in 1878, is just beautiful.  The entrance on the right goes into a gallery with pictures, information, and a small room for viewing the video before a guided tour.  The entrance to the left has stalls and more paintings and pictures.  On the level below this, there are more stalls, the grooming stall (complete with an electric horse vacuum, which the horses love!), and the entrance to the indoor riding ring.  You can just see the corner of the roof on the left side of the barn, near ground level.  (I just noticed the clouds in the sky just above and to the right of the cupola--don't they look like stars?)

The weather was warm, but there were dark cloud formations most of the day.  Great for those dramatic pictures!

And foliage was just beyond peak, again showcasing the statue.

Just an incredible place.  I walked up to the Remount barn where the weanlings are housed, saw the filly being raffled to raise funds for the farm, saw the yearlings in another barn, and just reveled in all things Morgan.

This is the abbreviated tour of the Morgan Farm; I know some of you are champing at the bit (no pun intended) for more quilt stuff. Soon, I promise.

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to Festive in Death by J.D. Robb.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Step Back in Time

A few weeks ago, my cousin visited from Georgia and we decided to take a tour of the 1890 House in Cortland, New York.  I had been once several years ago, and now even more rooms are open to the public.

Here's a view of the front of the house.  It was build by the Wickwire family in...wait for it...1890!  Mr. Wickwire was the inventor of wire screening!  Thank you, Mr. Wickwire!  In the basement there is a timeline and display of some of the items manufactured at the Wickwire factory.  Pictures really cannot do justice to this beautiful place.  If you are in the Cortland area, be sure to stop by.  You can also find out more by visiting

This is the main entrance.  The woodwork in the house is just incredible.  On the right in the pic is the banister to the second floor.  To the right of that, not shown, is an actual inglenook with a fireplace and cozy seating.

Here's a detail of the center panel of the door.

And this shows a table setting in the dining room.  The centerpiece is actually several pieces of crystal glassware stacked to create height, with small gourds displayed around the widest part.  And check out those candlestick holders!

The 1890 House will soon be decorated for the holidays--something not to miss.  Listed on the National Historic Register, repairs are costly, and money is raised through fundraisers, donations and entrance fees to the House.  The entrance fees are very reasonable, so don't hesitate to go.  It truly is a step back into elegance and grandeur.

Blissful hugs,

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Flimsy and a Flimsy-Not

Karen H. has been very busy over the past few months.  Not only did she complete the entire Bliss Doubled project (second pic) but another version using only the pieced blocks!  Bliss Doubled combines both hand piecing and hand applique.

Don't you love the spark of color against the black background?  This is finished except hand sewing the binding.

What a difference!  Karen is also adding some crystals to enhance the applique blocks.  

Great job, Karen!  Thanks for sharing!

Blissful hugs,

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Western New York is sharing a bit of their snow wealth with us. About two inches of snow has fallen since 6:00.  And the forecast is for 60 degrees on Monday!  So the motto is to dress in layers, stock the car with extra blankets and emergency supplies, leave extra early for work or school so that you can be more Zen about travel delays (caused by others, of course).

Blissful, and still brrrry, hugs,

P.S. I'm blogging from my Kindle, so no pics tonight.  Blame it on an uncooperative laptop.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Smiling Faces

Last Saturday, six delightful women and I spent the day making Mrs. Keller's Nine Patch blocks at Patchwork Plus in Marcellus, NY.  One of the blocks from my Skill Builder series, this block taught students to rotary cut, machine piece and press to perfection.  We cut actual size pieces and sew them together.  No cutting larger and cutting down later.  No flying geese made from squares and rectangles; we cut half- and quarter-square triangles (no, there are no flying geese units in this block; I'm using it as an example of the skills these ladies are learning in the series).

From left to right:  Gale, Martha, Ginny, Pat B., Susan, and Pat A.  A wide range of fabrics--and just look at those smiles!   Thanks, Ladies; it was a great day!

Blissful, if brrrrrrry, hugs,

P.S.  I just finished reading Let Sleeping Dogs Lie by Rita Mae Brown.  I am listening to Stolen Prey by John Sandford.

P.P.S.  Hi Judy and Linda!  Great to see you today!

Monday, October 27, 2014


When I finally got back to riding in September, there was a new horse at the barn--Pompera.  When I went into her stall the first time, I was so surprised--she's a Morgan!  Eighteen years old--and I'm smitten.

I've been riding her pretty steadily since that first encounter.  And I make sure to groom her whenever I'm there, even if I'm not riding.  

And guess what!?!?  I am cantering!  Just in the last couple weeks.  It's amazing and scary all rolled into one!  Remember I didn't say I was good at it yet--just that I am doing it!

So that's the horsey news update.  On the quilting front, I pieced a small top, didn't like how it turned out, ripped off a row and still didn't like it and then took it back to the original squares.  I've documented the progression/regression and when I finally decide what to do (it's up on the design wall now, in pieces), I'll share.

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to Trouble in Mind by Jeffery Deaver and just finished The 7th Month by Lisa Gardner.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


It's hard to believe, but these are actually color pictures!  Taken from the ferry across Lake Champlain looking back at the New York side.

It's amazing what is right around us if we take the time to look.

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffery Deaver and just finished Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Check Out These Flimsies!

My students are just the best!  These flimsies are from classes that finished in June.  And the tops are finished in October!  The class was Monthly Bliss Doubled, the perfect mix of hand piecing and needleturn applique all in one quilt!

First up is Debbie C. from Auburn.  Even more stunning in person, Debbie's choice of fabrics was so effective; check out that beautiful border.

Emily R. of Horseheads, did the same blocks in Civil War fabrics.  What a different look and feel; soft, serene--much like Emily herself!

And Terri H.  This is a rare sighting of that smiling face in its entirety!  Usually she's imitating Kilroy!  Doesn't this look like a breath of spring time?  

All three ladies did an excellent job!  I am so proud.  Thank you all for sharing your quilt tops with us.

Blissful hugs,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Buts Have It

Or is that "butts"?

Who you lookin' at?

These opportunities presented themselves and were too good to pass up!  As I was waiting to board the ferry at Essex Junction to cross Lake Champlain, the mallard was "tails up" every few seconds!  It's fascinating to see them stay upside down using their feet as tiny oars.

Then, as the ferry was leaving the dock, the seagull was on a post, posing with what I think was attitude!  But check out the sharp angles against the curves--an interesting contrast.

And while at the University of Vermont Morgan Farm, these three weanlings formed up with no prompting!

Hope these made you smile!  

More on the trip and what I've been up to in the next few posts.  But for now, the butts have it!

Blissful hugs,

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Season of Change

October 1.  2014 is going by in a rush.  Fall is one of my favorite times of year--the golden cast to the light, the changing colors of the leaves, the crispness in the air.  Usually a time of not mowing the lawn and not yet shoveling snow.  This year, we are still mowing the lawn!  But not yet, thank goodness, shoveling!

It's been a day of finishing a multitude of little things--a bit of sewing, ironing, a bit of paperwork, time spent on the phone with friends.  An auspicious start to October.  How was yours?

Blissful fall hugs,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Great Book

I had flipped through the pages of this book several times, but hadn't bought it.  Then a few weeks ago, I saw it again and it was mine!  Worth every penny!  I've read it cover to cover and admire how much information is contained between these covers.  Just the info on saving your bits and pieces of scraps--and then actually using them--is cause for celebration.

One of the first things I'd like to try?  A small rug knitted on large needles using strips of fabric, including selvages!  (I'm lucky enough to have a crocheted rug made of fabric strips that a friend made for me; there is nothing like the feel of a cotton rug beneath your feet!)

So give this book a look-see.  There's something for everyone!

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to Moo by Jane Smiley, and Jacqueline Kennedy, Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy.  Both are excellent.  (And, Rose P., you were right about her voice; it takes a bit to get used to!)

P.P.S.  I have updated my class schedule here.  Maybe I'll see you at a class this fall!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Half a Jelly Roll

While perusing the All People Quilt website, I found a great pattern for a table runner.  You can find it here.  You needed eighteen 2.5 inch strips.  I was lucky to find a half-jelly roll (20 strips) from Lunn Studios and off I went.

I pieced the first runner.  The green polka dot fabric in the center and the border is the only extra fabric you need beyond the strips.  (As always, remember that my piecing is better than reflected in my pictures!)

With lots of fabric left, I figured I should be able to get another runner--and I was right!  I am not as fond of this one as the first one, mostly because I had to cut the proper length strips from what was left, not necessarily for how I wanted each block to look, as I had in the first one.  

And then, what do you do with what's still left of the strips?  Mug rugs, of course!  I stripped five pieces together and machine quilted them with a flame-like design.  One of the rejected strips was used as the binding!

Still a bit left, so I pieced six of them together for another mug rug, again using a rejected strip as the binding.  As you can see from each of these, the quilting distorted the straightness of the seams.  The pieces are square/rectangular because I trimmed them after quilting and before binding.  I am a hand quilter, but you know what?  I am so thrilled with making mug rugs that I am using them as a chance for creativity and joyful abandon!  Will I try to do better on the next ones?  You bet.  But not at the expense of enjoying the process.

And I got pretty darn close to achieving my goal--nothing of the 2.5 inch strips left.  Most are pieces under 2 inches and the longest one is 17 inches.  I think I did pretty good--especially when I started out to make one runner! 

Enjoy the start to the work week!

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to The King's Deception by Steve Berry.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Check This Out!

Traci L. won an honorable mention for her Flower Garden quilt at the New York State Fair this summer!!!!!

Using my patterns, Traci hand appliqued all the blocks, and our friend, Laurie, did the machine quilting.  It is just stunning!  

Congratulations, Traci (and Laurie)!

Blissful hugs,

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Purple Thumb of Productivity

Bet that title had you doing a double-take!  But here it is--the purple thumb of productivity--in living color!

And what, you ask, made my thumb so purple?  Why making hundreds of muslin nametags!
Cut from muslin and then stamped.

And neatly stacked, with pins in place.  Ready for a student's name and the fun to begin.  I think there are close to 300 stacked here.  Ready for the start of a new school year.  Even though I teach quilting year-round, I still divide the time into semesters, just like college.  It's September already and I have a new tote bag to cart all my stuff (yes, still a giant LL Bean Boat & Tote!) and I've sorted and eliminated and re-organized it.  And tried to make it a bit lighter!  Not sure how well that part worked!

Did you have a purple thumb of productivity today?  

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts.  And I'm giving a WOW to Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline--never saw that coming!

Monday, September 1, 2014

There's a Fungus Among Us

September 1.  2014 is sure flying by.  For tonight's viewing enjoyment, I give you fungus!

These were in the woods in the Adirondacks.  Very tiny.  You almost miss them among the leaves and other debris on the forest floor.

I've been busy sewing and doing the dreaded paperwork.  I finished appliqueing and adding borders to a small applique project and machine pieced two table runners.  Ideas are churning in my alleged brain for some new class projects.  I'll share the table runner pics soon.

For teachers and parents:  The wait is almost over!  For some (parents) that's a good thing!  For teachers?  Probably a  mixed bag!

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to Keep Quiet by Lisa Scottoline; very suspenseful, hard to stop listening!

P.P.S.  For those of you who prefer to leave comments under the Anonymous handle, that's fine.  Just put as much (or as little) of your name as you want or give me some other clue who you might be!  It's fun to guess--but better to know for sure ;-)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It's All in the Details

It's fun to inspect flowers up-close-and-personal.  Enjoy!

Blissful hugs,

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What a Surprise!

Last night on my way home, I came over a hill and found:

Not at all alarmed.  I kept several feet back and pulled out my camera (after closing my mouth from the surprise!)

Amble, amble, amble.  Sometimes looking left, sometimes looking right.  Apparently enjoying the attention.

A right turn into an opening in the hedgerow.  Disregarding the Posted sign ;-)

A blurry picture of the wing spread.  He spread them, but did not fly off!

These are close-ups of this Great Blue Heron.  They are so cool to see, and this is the closest I've ever been!

I'm a lucky girl!  And I count every blessing.

Blissful hugs,

P.S.  I am listening to The Collector by Nora Roberts.