Monday, November 10, 2014

A Quilt Festival Newbie

Weekend before last one of the largest quilt shows, International Quilt Festival, was held in Houston.  Before taking a quilting class last year, I had never heard of such a thing much less imagined I would ever attend one.

Well, here we are, almost a year later from taking the class I became a 'festival newbie'!

This all started when CountryBoy and I were getting ready to leave Arizona to head to Texas for the next job.  I had some things for sale at the local quilt shop and when I went to pick them up I mentioned where we were headed next.  The quilt shop owner then told me about this huge quilt show in Houston.

At the time I said "how cool" thinking that I would never attend for several reasons.... a) I don't like crowds, b) I don't like cities, c) I would never do either by myself, and d) I haven't been quilting or sewing very long so I wasn't sure what I would get out of it.

Long story short, I mentioned the show to a friend of mine, who also recently started sewing and quilting, and the ball started rolling.  Needless to say, after months of planning and waiting the time had finally come for both of us to attend the largest quilt show in the United States.  And yes, we had to choose THE largest as our first, ha!  Leave it to us!

To say that it was overwhelming is a complete understatement.  Thankfully, my dear friend is quite savvy when it comes to travel planning so I left that up to her.  Rooms for this convention book a year in advance but she found us a great place to stay near the convention center at the Hyatt Regency.

The hotel was huge.  We were on the 25th floor with a view of part of Houston's cityscape.

Hyatt Regency Lobby
I have to take this opportunity to say that the staff was amazing!  They were very helpful with lots of suggestions for getting around town and to and from the convention center.

But, months before we even got to the hotel there was an overwhelming amount of show information to read through and decipher.  Things like schedules, classes being offered, vendor lists, demonstrations, and on and on.  I have to admit that I started to block it all out.  It was information overload!

This is the only festival that uses the entire convention center, all three floors - it is THAT huge!

Over time, my friend and I started working our way through all the info and decided that our best course of action would be to take a few classes, hit the vendor floor and just get a 'feel' for the quilt show this first year.

We each chose classes we were interested in taking and luckily, we chose a lot of the same ones so it was fairly easy to decide which ones to take.

The first class was Denimania, where the instructor showed us examples of things that could be made out of denim as well as giving us several patterns to take home.

Quilts, wall hangings, duffle bags, tote bags, pillows, stuffed animals, just to name a few things.  I like working with denim; it is sturdy material with lots of color variations.  My friend and I walked away very inspired by all the possibilities an old pair of jeans could make!

We took a class in free motion quilting that was hands-on.  We learned and practiced several stitches which helped us get over our fear of free motion quilting.  (This class was from 6:00 - 9:00 p.m. and I was worried that I would have a hard time staying awake since 9:00 is past by bedtime, ha!  Fortunately, the class was very interesting and kept me awake, smile!)  I still have to work on my motions and body movement but I have the general idea.

Another day, we took a Sampler class where you were free to walk around and check out the many varied demonstrations going on.  We checked out organization ideas, lace ideas, hand quilting techniques, just to name a few.  And then we ended our classes with a demonstration on how to machine quilt large quilts in pieces that can be done on a regular sewing machine and at home.  I'll have to try that one some day.

There were LOTS of quilts on display but we only had time to check out a few of them.  I tell ya, many of these quilts are works of art...


They were celebrating their 40th year so the theme was Ruby Jubilee.

This quilt inspired this year's quilt pin and tote design...

In between our classes, we hit the vendor floor.  An unbelievable amount of vendors!

And this isn't even all of them!

We did manage to visit every vendor that caught our attention and interest over the course of the four days we were there.

And, I have to say, that there was only one day where the crowds were almost unbearable and too thick to see or check anything out.  Fortunately, we were in classes most of that day.  The rest of the days weren't too bad and we were able to move around freely (which we were both thankful for!).

We found LOTS of cool things but I think we both did very well at not buying everything that we thought was cool and holding out for those things that we couldn't get where we lived or something that we just really loved.  Most times, we would think on the item overnight so that we weren't making spur-of-the-moment purchases then regretting it when we saw something better or something else we would've rather had.

Here's a few of the goodies I bought...

A permanent dye kit to dye lace, some lace embellishments, and some grapevine lace.

This will be so pretty when dyed!

I also purchased a yard of flowered lace but sadly, it did not make it in my bag and I did not discover it until I got home.  I've emailed the vendor but haven't heard back.  I'm expecting that to be a loss of $8.  sniff.  It was so pretty too.

Moving on...

For some time now, I've been looking for a pattern that uses Jelly Rolls (made by Moda) which are strips of pre-cut fabric. I saw this pattern, Strips Ahoy, and instantly liked it.  This particular one is even signed by the pattern maker who happened to be at the show although I did not get to meet her.

Right after spying the pattern this Jelly Roll caught my eye and I thought it would be pretty with this pattern.  I can't even explain why it caught my eye because I don't usually tend to gravitate towards blues, but nonetheless, I liked it and I thought it would be nice to make for the guestroom at the new farm so, I bought it!

I glanced at the pattern and realized that I needed two Jelly Rolls and there was only one in that booth.  Now, I was on the lookout for another one just like it somewhere in the vastness of vendorland.

I told my friend to help me look for it and that the name was Lexington.  Wait, what?  Lexington?  Our new farm is an hour away from Lexington!  Cool, huh?!

Then later that evening as I was emptying my tote bag full of goodies I realized that the blue theme would go along perfect with the water pitcher and basin that I got from my Mom.  For having given no pre-thought to decorating the guestroom  I think it is amazingly coming together!

I bought this roll of fat quarters because they will pair nicely with denim and have that sort of vintage feeling.

These fat quarters just caught my eye along with a couple of others that I will show you in a bit.  I have no idea what I will do with these yet but I know I'll come up with something, wink!

I love totes and purses.  These patterns caught my eye and I'm excited to give them a go.  The one on the right converts from a purse to a small backpack.  How cool is that?  Great for those times when you need to be hands-free!  Also, my friend has made several of this pattern makers purses and she says her instructions are awesome.  We'll see, haha!

After the quilt show was over, I was fortunate to have my friend stay with us a bit longer.  Luckily, after being together 24/7 for four days we were still talking!  And, feeling inspired after such an awesome weekend we couldn't wait to do some sewing.

We decided to use some of the fat quarters we bought to make the Sit and Stitch Pincushion pattern above.

Here's how mine turned out...

Is that not the cutest, most practical thing?!

Now I won't have scissors, seam ripper, tape measure and a spool of thread cluttering up the tiny endtable/shelf  or needles sticking out of the couch.  ouch!  Everything has their place.

Isn't this cute?  I bought these scissor keepers at the quilt shop in Arizona.  I loved the pink bling and the old sewing machine.  One day I'd like to have an old Singer Featherweight in the sewing room at the new farm.  I think it would fit in perfectly at the farm and will be great for straight stitching.

The pincushion is filled with crushed walnuts shells.  Who knew there was such a thing?!  As it turns out, it is used for reptile bedding.  We had to go to a pet store to find it.  But, it is said to help sharpen the needles so that's a plus.

This was lots of fun to make and hopefully I will be making more in the future.  Gotta use up the rest of the 5 lb. bag of crushed walnut shells, haha!

And, last but not least, was my very last purchase...

an oversized safety pin (more like diaper pin size) and a few charms to commemorate this awesome experience!  (Notice the old sewing machine, wink!)

Overall, the quilt show was totally aamazing for these two festival newbies!  The attendees were all very pleasant (with a few exceptions) and welcoming and as I mentioned before, the staff at the hotel was very helpful and accommodating.  Every night we were wore slap out from all the walking, gawking and inspiration but we wouldn't have had it any other way!

This may have been our first festival but it most definitely won't be our last.  Hopefully soon we'll be looking for festivals in and near Kentucky, smile!

Till next time friends,

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Big Event

In my last post about thrift store shopping I mentioned that I was shopping for some clothes to attend an event.

Well, folks, after months and months of planning, waiting, anticipating it is finally here!  The International Quilt Show in Houston, squee!

When CountryBoy and I were getting ready to leave Arizona, I ran by the local quilt shop to pick up the remainder of items that hadn't sold.  I happen to mention to the owner where we were headed next and she told me that one of the largest quilt shows was held in Houston around the end of October. Really?

Well, I happened to mention it to a friend of mine who is also a newbie to quilting and sewing and the ball started rolling.
And, after almost five months, it's finally here!  The event we've all been waiting for!  OK, so maybe just her and I have been waiting along with hundreds of other people that are attending, woot!

This is our first quilting show that we've ever been to let alone a show of this magnitude.  Hey, if you're gonna do it then why not do it BIG!  After all, this is Texas!

But, to say we are overwhelmed would be an understatement.

We did manage to snag a hotel room nearby and we plan on spending the weekend oohing and aahing over the gorgeous quilts on display, taking classes, a few lectures and perusing lots and lots of vendors and trying to watch what we spend at said vendors, wink!

We have a plan and several days to check out the vendors so, although we plan to do some shopping, we plan to be smart about it and not buy the first item we see.

I also wanted to make us a cross-body purse so that we could be hands-free but one snafu led to another and I only got one finished.  Luckily, my friend already had a bag she could use so she is set.  I'll have to finish hers at a later date.

Here's my denim, patchwork & lace tote...

Made with fabric and denim that I had on hand and lace that I picked up at a thrift store on the way home from Kentucky.  All I had to get were the buttons, interfacing and magnetic snaps.

I made the straps extra long to cross the body and hang by my hips so that I can be hands free to check out the goodies at the vendors' booths.

I think it will serve me well as long as I don't buy anything really big, ha!

I also plan on taking my camera so if we are allowed to take photos I will try to remember to get some shots of the fabulous quilts that will be on display.

This will be an experience of a lifetime and we plan on taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself.

We are so excited!

I'll let you know how it goes, smile!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Recent Thrift Store Finds

Do you like going to thrift stores?

A couple of weekends ago, CountryBoy and I stopped at a couple of thrift stores so that I could find a few things to wear to an upcoming event.  See, most of the clothes I have while traveling in the fifth wheel are casual clothes.  You know, those clothes that are comfy and are 'staying at home' type of clothes. wink!

As a child, I hated going to thrift stores.

Granted, Mom and I rarely went but when we did I wanted to hide.


I love going to thrift and secondhand stores!

Why do I like it?  I like the fact that I can buy perfectly good, often-times brand name clothing for a fraction of the price of the piece when it was new.  I also like the challenge of 'the find'.  Finding those pieces that fit and look decent on me.

Here's what I found that day...

White jeans & skirt, a blouse, a denim skirt and jacket from St. John's Bay, Dress Barn, and Coldwater Creek to name the more common brand names.  Score!

We also found a few other items (another reason I love checking out thrift stores!) such as practically brand new pots,

a couple of storage baskets, a sushi mat and books!

Overall, I think it was a successful thrift store shopping trip!

We also went antiquing and thrift store shopping on our way home from Kentucky.

Here's what I found on that trip...

antique Ball blue jars (cuz one can never have too many of those!) and a Pyrex mixing bowl to add to my collection.

Won't they be perfect at our new farm?

I also picked up a bunch of lace and thread.

What deals have you found recently while shopping at thrift stores?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Back In Business

Well folks, it looks like this here blog 'o mine will be back in business.  Yay!

I have missed blogging.

I have missed y'all!

And speaking of missing y'all, I have recently discovered that your precious comments, that I so love to read, were not showing up in my email even though it is set up to do so.

My apologies if it seemed I was ignoring you by not replying but I had no idea I had any comments on several recent blog posts until I saw them in my Blogger Dashboard.  I was able to read them but I can't reply from there.

So, all that being said, I am trying to find out why so that I can remedy the situation.

From what I am seeing, I don't think Google likes playing with Yahoo.  But, that's just my guess.

I am connecting my blog with Bloglovin' (if I can figure that out!) and hopefully I can either comment from there or the comments will show up in my email.  Please bare with me as I try to straighten this out.

Also, if this has happened to you, as a blogger, I'd love to hear how you fixed it.

Whew.  Now that the boring stuff is out of the way let's get back to business shall we?!

 Would you like an update on the dream farm?

All the things that go along with the purchase of a house/farm/property are coming along.  Offer accepted = check.  Loan approved = check.  Insurance obtained = check.  Currently, we are waiting on the appraisal then after that the title search.  If all continues to go well it looks like we will be closing on our DREAM FARM in two to three weeks.  Squee!

That being said, I just may have a thing or two to post every now and then especially once we close and especially ESPECIALLY once we are there.  Which makes me happy!  And, I hope it makes you happy too!

Thanks to all who have hung in there with me, you're the BEST!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Dreams Do Come True

As many of you already know CountryBoy and I have had a dream of owning and retiring on a small farm.  But, for those of you just tuning in, I will share a brief history on how we came upon having this dream.

I will try to keep this short but it started many years ago when we sold our house in the outskirts of a small city and bought five acres out in the country.

We were thrilled to get away from the hustle and bustle and immediately felt 'at home' in the country.

We did some minor improvements on the house, then we got some chickens, we built a barn then we tried our hand at gardening.  We loved every bit of it!

The drawback to that property was the sandy soil for gardening and we would've had to do quite a bit of clearing of trees to make pastures.  Money was also very tight so any changes or improvements we wanted to do took some planning and saving and would've taken forever.

CountryBoy was growing tired (literally) of his job in the Emergency Medical Services field and he wanted to get back into his former field of the industrial construction industry as a Millwright.  There's good money in that industry but the problem with it is it requires traveling from job to job.  The traveling is no problem as we both love to travel but it took us away from our home.  But, we decided that if we ever wanted to fulfill our dream then we had to make some changes.

So, we started down that path.  The Lord provided us with a nice truck and fifth wheel for a very decent price but the timing was not right.  We waited another nine months before a door opened up.  CountryBoy gave his two week notice and off we went to Idaho some two thousand miles away in the dead of winter.  (That's a whole 'nother story, wink!)

After getting him set up I flew back home to tend to the house, animals and the garden.  After he was blessed with another job after that one (these jobs last anywhere from a couple of weeks to years - we just never know) we decided I would join him so the animals were sold, the house closed up and off I went.

Meanwhile, during our travels, we fell in love with the beautiful state of Kentucky.  The rolling hills, mountains, farms, sigh, so we started looking online at farms for sale in Kentucky.  We were just browsing trying to get a feel for the different areas of the state, prices, land available, etc.  You know, just looking.  And dreaming.  All while paying off debt and saving money for the new homestead - our dream farm!

He got another job immediately after that (still out west) so we decided it was time to sell the house.   Long story short, my family (who had been taking care of the place while we were gone), bless their hearts, packed up and stored our belongings and listed the house.  It sold in two days!  Two!

That brings us to today... 

We continued to look online at available properties in Kentucky, still browsing, still dreaming mind you, since we had no intentions of buying yet.  After all, we were still traveling and still saving money.

But, then along comes a property that we both fell in love with just from the photos online and the realtors description of the house and property.  It was a weekend but I called the realtor that day and left a message.  She called me back the following day and the ball started rolling.

There was a lot of interest in the place so I started to worry thinking we would lose out since we were a thousand miles away and couldn't immediately go look at it.

Then I realized that if that was the property the Lord wanted us to have then everything will work out and fall into place.  I just had to trust Him.

That same week, CountryBoy finished setting the fans he was working on and the rep signed off on them leaving him with nothing to do at work.  See, he pinky-promised his boss that he would stay till start-up so even though he finished his job he still has to stay. Which is OK because it's a paycheck every week but makes for long days.  But, with his work being done he asked for the following week off and it was granted.  I called the realtor and made plans to see the house on Monday after our arrival.

The viewing of the house was like no other I've been to.  The seller was present and we were able to ask her all sorts of questions about the house and the property.  She was a sweet lady who loved her house and I knew she would've kept the place if she was in better health.  She patiently answered our questions and stood by listening to our renovation plans of her house that just kept popping into our heads and out our mouths.  We saw so much potential and were already eager beavers even though we tried to contain ourselves from showing so much interest.

The house had been on the market for almost three months and the seller had just dropped the price when we made our plans to check it out.  But, we were told the wrong price and had based our offer on the wrong price.  We offered our original price anyway.  The seller was taken back a bit but did not turn us down.  She wanted some time to think on it.  Come to find out, she had been offered the same price shortly after the house was listed and she turned it down.

Meanwhile, the realtor wanted to take all of us to Snug Hollow, a local B&B for lunch.  (You can check it out by clicking HERE.)  We all sat in front of a fireplace (it was cold while we were there) sipping hot apple cider and just visiting.  We talked more about the possibilities of the property and we talked about our intentions of farming and bringing the house and property back to life and embracing its history.  We also talked about my crafts and they said I would fit in nicely since Berea (a nearby town) was the craft capital of the world.  (Check it out by clicking HERE.)  The property is on the Red Lick Artisan Trail as well as the Quilt Trail.  The realtor mentioned that they didn't have a quilter on the quilt trail and how exciting it would be to have one!  Then we sat down to a delicious gourmet lunch at a 300 acre working farm B&B in the middle of the country.  It was awesome!  See, the realtor wanted to show us the vibe of the community and show us potential opportunities in the area.  We were somewhat excited yet still trying to maintain ourselves since we didn't know yet if our offer was accepted.

Throughout this whole time, even though we were excited and anxious to know if the property would one day be ours we had a peace about it.  We rested in the fact that if we did not get this property, as much as we loved it, we knew that there would be a better one in the future.

Well, long story somewhat short, after lunch CountryBoy asked the seller if she had been able to make up her mind about the offer.  She hesitated only slightly then she stuck out her hand. CountryBoy grabbed it, shook it and asked her if this meant she accepted our offer and she nodded her head.  I cried, gave her a hug and thanked her profusely.  It was all so surreal and unbelievable!

I'm sure by now you're getting anxious for some photos so now that you're up to date let's get on with it shall we?

To give you a feel for the surrounding areas here's a couple of shots from the drive from town to the property...

Did you see the diamond shape on the barn in the photo above?  That's a painted quilt. The property is on the Quilt Trail so guess who's barn will have a painted quilt on it one day?!

Hay bales in a field surrounded by mountains. sigh.

(Oh, and just so ya know, some of the photos here will be from the listing.  When we were looking inside the house I was busy listening to the seller talk about the house and my mind was going a mile a minute with renovation and decorating ideas involuntarily popping in that I forgot to take photos, ha!  Seriously!)

The property is 18 acres of part pasture and part wooded with a house, barn, garden, stream, and several outbuildings.

The house looks like it's nestled in amongst the trees but it's actually clear all around the house.

The front of the house.


Following is the back of the house.  Eventually we will cover the entire roof with tin.

A closeup of the arbor.  At one time the seller had fish in the bathtub!

The barn.

The barn needs cleaned up but has seven stalls, a tack and a feed room.  Eventually, we will put a loft in over the beams jutting out on the right.

The gate leads out to a fenced paddock.  Perfect for a dairy cow & a coupla dairy goats, smile!

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty

We don't know what we'll do with this little structure yet, if anything.  But, there is an existing clothesline which makes me very happy.  Those of you who know me know how much I enjoy hanging clothes out to dry!

This is the garden complete with raised beds and a fence on three sides.  With a bit of clearing and replacing the fence on the fourth side this area will be wonderful for our vegetable garden.  Oh, and there are several cherry trees planted in here as well as a few down by the barn.

We were told that this structure was the chicken coop at one time.  We are tentatively thinking about turning it into an outdoor kitchen for canning.  (Canning produces a lot of heat and to can in the summer months in a house with no central air is not something we want to do.)

Behind this gate is supposed to be the chicken coop that was most recently used by the seller.  I did not attempt to go in to check it out even though I had my boots on, ha!

Here's a shot from the listing that shows perspective of the coop, the shelter and the clothesline.

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty

There's even an outhouse!


That will be cleaned up and lots of mint planted around it to ward off spiders and hopefully snakes just in case we ever have to use it, wink!

There are a couple of other outbuildings that I did not get photos of; one is an insulated shed that we will convert to a living space while we renovate the house and then will eventually be made into a guest house and the other is a shed also.

I did not get a photo of the stream but it's a small stream that runs across the front of the house.  We have plans to clean it up and add a pond.

Are you ready to go inside?

The house was built in the 20's probably in 1924 according to some paperwork that was found inside the walls when it was gutted many years ago.

One of two front entrances and the dining room.  Plans here are to simply remove the ceiling fan and replace with a coupla barn style lights.  Isn't is gorgeous?  I can see our white tiled farmhouse table sitting in here.

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty
This is the living room showing the other front entrance, stairs and straight back through the door is the kitchen.  To the left is a double-sided non-functional fireplace.  The other side heats the dining room.  Our plans are to have the chimney put back and the two sides combined into one large fireplace.  The mantel you see on the right is decorative and is just leaning against the wall.

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty

The kitchen looks bigger in this photo but is actually quite small.  In fact, the seller moved the fridge to the mud room for more counter space.  (It used to be where the microwave is.)

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty

Love the stove though!

Our plans are to completely gut the kitchen, remove a wall and add a pantry.  In time.

Shall we head upstairs?

Here is a shot of the landing.  Our plans are to add a SolarTube for natural light so that I can use this space as a sewing area.

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty
We also want to get this fireplace back in working order.  Especially since there is no central heat or air.

I can't wait to do some sewing while listening to the crackling of the fire and feeling its warmth.  So cozy!  I might even put a comfy chair up there so I can read a book!

In the master bedroom (as well as the second bedroom) we plan on using the attic space to raise the ceiling.  We will also raise a few of the windows.  All the ceilings in the house are very low but at least we can raise the bedroom ceilings (note the top of the dresser in reference to the ceiling). 

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty
There is no bathroom upstairs but there is space for one so we intend to put a full bath upstairs and convert the downstairs bath into a half bath and probably a nice size walk-in pantry.  (You know, to store all those canned goods from our garden, wink!)  Here's the space for the full bath upstairs.  There's a toilet and sink in a closet to the right but they're not hooked up.  We will demo the closet on the left as well as the closet with the toilet and sink then we'll come up with a floor plan for a rustic full bath.

Photo Credit - Joyce Marcum Realty
Our goal for all the renovations and the additions is to make them seamless with the original charm of the 1920's farmhouse.

Looking back I can see how the Lord had His hand in this whole thing and literally paved the way for us to find this particular property and the seller to feel led to accept our offer even though she'd had a previous offer of the same price.  We feel truly blessed to have found this property in what seems to be the perfect location and community for us and our future desires!

Dreams do come true and one day I will be able to change my industrial blog banner back to a country life banner.  Yay!  We have BIG dreams and plans for this homestead and are excited to see how it all plays out!

Thank you for your interest in our desire to own a small farm and for taking the time to read this long post.  I do hope that you will stay tuned as we bring this 'ol Kentucky farm and farmhouse back to life as well as this blog!

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