Sunday, November 23, 2014

Brazos House Retreat - Nov. 2014

After returning from retreat last May, it took me all of about one week to decide that I wanted to go back.  I called the center and found out that the soonest I could get in was the weekend before Thanksgiving. I jumped on it and started putting the word out.  I could not have been more pleased with the responses and the retreat was filled in no time.  A new group of friends to be made.  Yay!

Preparations started and excitement built.  Finally the day arrives and I am so ready.  In a heavily loaded car, I drop Mister off at work - leaving him to find his own way home by DART - yep loving wife - and zip down the new tollway right to the center.  It is just as I remember and the peaceful feeling of being in the country sets in right away.  Last trip, I forgot to take some pictures of the rooms and so that is my first task.  Before I even unload the car, I make a trip through the house, assigning rooms and snapping a few pre-mess shots.  Kay has set it up wonderfully as usual and I know we are going to have a blast.

I decide to do a before and after shot of Jen's and my room.  What do you think?  Yep, the Celtic Solstice twins came along for the trip.

Once I have the car unloaded, it is time to take a walk around the grounds.  The weather may not last and I want a few pictures with this beautiful sunshine.  Fall is definitely in the air and the grounds look different from last spring, as they should.  I love this time of year though and am anxious to see what the river looks like as well.  I start with scarecrows at the chicken coop.

Heading towards the river - volleyball area and campfire circle (photo courtesy of Debi K.  -- my shot didn't turn out.)  Continuing on my walk, I take a glance back at the lodge.  Isn't it lovely?  I do feel at home here.

Can I see the river already?  Yep.  Last spring it was so low that we couldn't see water until we were right at the edge.  This is a good thing, right?

The Brazos River - I sit and relax for awhile just listening to the sounds of nature and take a deep breath before the hustle and bustle of the retreat get underway.

Drat - It is time to finish setting up.  I walk around the house and towards the front on my way to the car.  The fountain out front is going and the place looks amazing.  One last look back at the horse corral and I am ready for work.  Let's go.

Back at the house, I get my little corner of the world set up and head for the porch to relax and have my lunch.   Where has this morning gone?

Fawn arrives at noon and over the next 4 hours, the place fills up and sewing machines start humming.  We are missing two but they will be arriving later - Val sent an email for a morning arrival and Jen will be in around midnight.  It is time to sew and share and sew and share.  Projects that are almost finished have been brought and everyone is excited to share.

We have a swap table set up and ladies have already been searching out their "must haves".  This was Gena's idea and it is a great one.  We have ta-da moments everywhere and inspiration flows into each one of us.  Women and creativity -- what could be more inspiring to other women who want to create?

Our first meal together allows for us to make new friends and get to know one another.  Since we are having a couple of late arrivals, we are saving the "get acquainted" moment for tomorrow night.  After dinner, Fawn has her ta-da moment and this is the first one totally completed here at retreat.  How on earth did she do that so fast?  Beautiful.  And then, she has another one just a bit later on.

Everyone stays up waiting for Jen and I start to worry so I walk out to the road for cell service and discover that she has opted to drive tomorrow morning when she will be more awake.  Smart decision.  We will have both her and Valerie tomorrow so I let people know and some head for bed.  Others, myself included, keep right on sewing.  Debi has been sewing purses (shown here by Stephannie) like a crazy woman.  Wow.  Janet shares a bright and wonderful quilt top she has completed.

I have been working on a wedding quilt wall hanging for my nephew and his bride and am able to use my Featherweight, table, and Penguin walking foot for the first time.  How fun is this?  Allison sneaks by and takes a picture as I am attempting free motion on my featherweight in the outer border.  This project came together so nice and I am thankful for the wisdom of Janet and Allison in determining how to finish it off.  Their help is always treasured.

 The last ta-da of the night is Allison's back for her Celtic Solstice #2 quilt.  Isn't this gorgeous?  I need to think about putting things on point more.  Hmmm.  It is 3:00 and we need to get to bed.  Oh my.

Day two:  Ah morning swing talks.  A necessity at retreat.  The donkey and horses are free this morning and roaming the yard.  I love it.

 It's not going to be as nice today.  It is starting to drizzle and I think the day will be a wet one.  Good thing we are nice a cozy inside with machines already humming away.  Most of the gals have gone into town to shop (Fawn is actually out of projects to work on) and the few of us left get to work.  I finish my wedding quilt first thing and have my ta-da moment.  It is totally finished - quilted, bound, and sleeve/label sewn down.  Pat on my own back here.

And Fawn has another one in the finish column.  Jennifer M. is working on civil war blocks and has finished her first one.  Cheers all around!  I move on to making sewing mats and do one for myself as a prototype.  It works and helps dress up my area a bit more.  Now to get in the habit of actually using it.

Jen and Valerie have both arrived and we are complete.  What a great group of women to spend time with.  Enjoy the shots.

Janet and Jennifer S. with layouts.

 Allison's work station.  Look at the lovely vintage ladies on this table.  Gena's Scrap Crystal block coming together.  Sharron's watercolor work in progress.  Oh my.  I have not tackled one of these yet but this is going to be lovely.  The layout alone takes absolutely forever.  Goodness.

More vintage ladies at the second table.

Shirley is making these amazing tiny blocks.  I am in awe.  Debi has completed her purses.  A total of 31.  Yes, you can sew other items at a quilting retreat.  She has been one busy girl as she has a craft fair coming up and needs to fill her booth.

And, yes, Fawn has another one in the finished column.  We are all amazed at her.

Glenda is finishing some Civil War blocks.  You can see that our daylight is gone and we are off into the evening again.

That means that we need a little something special - right?

And with that -- Janet has a ta-da moment.  Her Lazy Sunday top is complete.  Woohoo.  Look at those wonderful bright colors.  Gena pulls out a top and this is a wonderful picture of the support system that we have here.  Everyone drops what they are doing to go over, look, and share ideas.  How incredible is this?

Janet with an original table runner as part of a challenge she is involved in and Jennifer with her stack of Civil War blocks.

Gena has created a strip of Scrap Crystal blocks.  This one is a class I am taking over New Years and am really looking forward to it.

Jennifer S. with a really fun finish.  I love this coffee top.

A quick picture of all my goodies before going to bed.  It is once again 2:30 in the morning and I am laughed out.  The wit and humor in this group just gears up after midnight and I spend most of the time giggling away as I sew.  Such fun.  I was shocked when I got up this morning at 7:15 and found that Allison had been down since 6:30.  Wow -- long but such gratifying days.

Tomorrow is Stephannie's birthday and I did manage to finish a couple more sewing mat's today - one for Jen and one for her.  What fun.  I spent the rest of the evening deboning shirts and got over half way through my stack.  Yay me.

Day three;  An early morning walk out to the chickens has them running towards me.  Check out the duck.  Apparently it stopped by one day and decided never to leave and just hangs with the chickens now.  As I am standing here, I hear hooves pounding on the ground behind me and I turn around to see a horse heading my way full steam.  I don't have any treats and hope it stops before we collide and of course it does.  Silly me.

Our day gets started with some beautiful finishes:

 Jen and I decide to make a trip into town for some fabric to border her quilt and when we return it is lunch time.  Since we want people to enjoy their gifts while here, after lunch Stephannie gets her game going and we do our gift exchange.  Let the Christmas season begin.

Smiles, laughter, and fun during the game and as we are able to find out just what treat we will be taking home.

 This was such a great idea Stephannie.  Thank you so much for doing this for us.  When we are finished, Lucille wants to try some free motion quilting on my Featherweight.  For a new quilter, she is one gutsy woman.

With new material from the store yesterday.  Fawn finishes another top.

Jen has moved on to another project instead of putting her borders on and finishing her top.  I give her the good old "mother" guilt trip and do the same with Allison, who only needs borders on her Celtic Solstice.  Soon, Allison challenges Jen to get their borders on.  Awesome.  Jen's top is complete.  Jen M. is working on the layout for her Civil War Quilt.  It is really coming together nice.  Another day has zipped by us and AGAIN, at retreat, I have neglected to take pictures of the food.  Oh drat.  Perhaps next time.

It's birthday party time.  Debi has brought a cake for Stephannie and I think she is actually very surprised.  How fun is this?  It's a perfect dessert along with the cobbler that Kay made.  We are indeed spoiled right now.  Happy Birthday Stephannie.  Enjoy your moment.

After dinner, the ta-da moments start coming rapidly.  Jennifer has finished her top and it looks amazing.  Allison is right behind with her completed Celtic Solstice. Lots of pieces in both of them and both so lovely.

As a result, silliness ensues and Janet crowns Allison as the Queen of Completion.  Much laughter follows as she is draped with the quilt and then we start a search for a scepter to go "complete" the look.  Next, we need a throne.  Here is our Queen in all her regalness.

Just after that, I, too, have my ta-da.  My Wanderlust top is complete.  (Update:  I posted this picture on Facebook and received almost 1000 likes.  I have never felt so good about anything.)  I do love this top and am anxious to take it to class and show Bonnie in January.  Woohoo!

Stephannie has completed her patriotic top, made with some 2 1/2" squares from a swap she was in.  I love it.

It is our last night and people are taking more time to visit and relax a bit.  No one really wants tomorrow to get here as that means we have to go home again.  Having 15 women and a totally drama free weekend has been incredible.  Truly.  (Stephannie's late night project)

Day 4:  Drat.  Even with staying  up until 3:30 with Stephannie, the morning did arrive and people are starting to pack up already.  So sad.  Janet shows a completed blocks and says it is her ta-da for all the rest of the circles as well.  I get it -- that's truly a difficult block to do.  Jen is the first to pack up and once she is ready, we grab Kay to take a group picture of us all.  I cannot say this enough times.  What a great group of ladies.

Before this picture I got ahold of Kay's calendar and we have scheduled two more retreats.  I don't think there will be very many openings for new ladies as most will be returning, but there will be a few new faces as well for those who can't make it.  What fun lies ahead.

Valerie's Interpretive Dance #(?) - I can't remember the number.  What a vibrant quilt.  Shirley working away on her small blocks.  I think she told me she completed around 15 this retreat.  Wow, working with anything that tiny impresses me.

Sharron is ready to share her top.  I stop and grab a picture of it still on the machine and then it is her ta-da moment.  This is so pretty.  I think her stabilizer hanging off the bottom looks like a little ruffle.  Funny.

Glenda has been sewing like a mad woman.  She wanted to complete her Civil War top and yes, she does it.

Soon there are only 5 of us left.  Everyone else has packed up and left, but Jennifer S. and I are trying to finish our projects before going.  Allison, Janet, and Gena are keeping us company.  I soon give up and get mine to the point of handwork only.  That is good enough.  Jennifer keeps going though and soon has her final top complete.  This one is all with Asian fabrics.  So incredibly beautiful.

 That's all folks.  The five of us pack up our cars and head out.  This has been a fantastic weekend and I simply cannot wait until the next one.  Lots of great memories and next time, I promise, I will take pictures of food and try to write down the funnier comments.  My memory is not quite what it used to be.  Stay creative all.


  1. You brought back some great memories with your post. I will be very jealous of you all in February but am trying to work on May. If nothing else I WILL be back in the fall. Happy Holidays!

    1. Sharron -- It was so fun having you there. I am looking forward to seeing you at a future retreat. Enjoy the season and take some time for yourself now and then. We'll think of you in February.

  2. Thank you for documenting our great retreat Deb! Blogs take a lot of time an I appreciate ALL your pictures and prose. We all accomplished so much!! Looking forward to more retreat fun in 2015.
    Hugs, Allison in Plano, TX

    1. Allison -- Girlfriend - you are so good for my ego and confidence. Thank you for always knowing what to say and how to say it. I appreciate you more than you can possibly know. See you in Plano for our week of classes.