Sunday, February 8, 2015

Brazos House Retreat Feb. 2015

Thursday:  Retreat weekend is here and even though I am present in body, my mind is still grieving and it shows.  I
am sooooo unorganized.  However, I know that I need this weekend and it will be cathartic to me just to be surrounded by the love and fun of fellow quilters so I guess I need to get "the show on the road" as they say.  Mister has opted to work from home for a couple of days which gives me the opportunity to be out of the house and on my way to Rainbow, TX by 7:30 a.m.  Well actually a bit before that but anyway ---- I get to the center right around 9:15 and take a moment to enjoy the calm before the storm.  As always, Kay has the place set up and it only takes me a few minutes to move some furniture for ironing  and cutting stations.  Room assignments follow and the unloading of the car.  Whew.  My room is looking proper with a Lazy Sunday quilt draped across the bed even though I probably won't spend much time there.

I set to creating my own little corner of the world and have just finished when Jennifer M. arrives.  We figure out a
place for her that will work with her Featherweight table and she is soon setting up as well.  It's fun to have someone else here early.  More ladies arrive and soon the place is buzzing with the hum of
machines and the chattering of old friends.  Stephannie and Debi arrive with an infusion of excitement that is absolutely contagious.  Along with her enthusiasm, Stephannie is bearing gifts.  She has made the cutest name tags for everyone and it literally brings tears to my eyes as I hand them out.  Ah, Valentine season -- a time for love to abound.

I spot something on Valerie's table that makes me smile and also causes intrigue.  What a fantastic idea.  Perhaps I can get Mister to find one of these for a machine or two and put some cute feet on it.  Super re purposing of a cabinet that might not have been in any shape to keep.  Definitely on my "look into" list.

The room has filled and everyone is busily working.  I so wish that pictures in here turned out better but by the time we all get our lights on and pointed the direction that works for sewing, well it doesn't quite work for photographing.

Remarkably soon, the moments to show and share start.  First up is a beautiful batik top by Janet.  (I sure hope I'm right with who each item belongs to -- if not, someone please correct me.)

Double Grand Illusion tops by Jennifer M and Jennifer S.  Mine is still in units.  Oh my.  Look at how different they look with just a small color change.

Jennifer M also brought her Celtic Solstice top to share.  It still needs a border but is looking so good.

My day has consisted of a few "small" projects.  I put the row on my batik "row" top and then worked on my block of the months (3) for January and February.  I am caught up there now.  Next:  start the new row for the row robin I am in.  I am using the Talking Turkey block with it's bazillion pieces.  But first, it's time for tea.  How about peppermint tea with a little peppermint schnapps?  Almost everyone agrees and oh, these are yummy.

We have a swap table set up again and as soon as someone new puts items out there --- everyone crowds around to find whatever treasures they must have.  How fun to shop for free.  At one point a beautiful turquoise piece is discovered and then the math begins to split it between three people.  Where on earth was I when this decision was made?  I need a piece for my Easy Street borders.  Ugh.  I guess I need to shop now.

It's getting late and some of the ladies have already gone to bed.  I don't think I am too far behind but Jennifer M has been busy and has completed the first "at retreat" top.  I love this baseball fun and am sure it's recipient will as well.

I'm done -- it's time for bed so I say my good-nights and climb into bed.  However, I don't seem to be able to sleep just yet.  My mind is stuck on setting up for tomorrow and figuring out how to do it.  I finally crawl back out of bed and peek into the main room.  Only Jennifer remains and since she knows all about our project, I am good to go.  Back to my room to gather my baskets of goodies and get things set up.  Oh it looks so good. We fold the sheets up on the edges and place a "do not peek" sign.  Will it work?  Who knows, but NOW I think I can sleep.  Good night.

Friday:  Hello there!  Roosters, donkeys, and even some goats wake us with their eagerness for the day to start.  Either that or they are all hungry.  We have even discovered the largest pig I have ever seen and Allison is treating him to an orange for breakfast.  She (her name is Fatsy Cline, so I am assuming it's a girl) loves the meat of the fruit, but thoroughly rejects the peels.  It's time for breakfast and once again at retreat I am a dismal failure on food pictures.  Dang girl.

After another wonderful meal, it is time for the big reveal of the group project.  After an explanation on the mug rugs and mugs, it is ready, set, go and soon hands are digging in everywhere.  I cannot wait to see what everyone comes up with.

Hey, turn around a look up here.  We have almost everyone in the picture here.  Janet seems to have disappeared, Maria has not arrived yet, and me? -- Well someone has to take the picture.

As everyone gets to work, I am loving the different thought processes and color combinations as everyone lets their ideas flow.  Jennifer even gets to give her Featherweight a try at free motion quilting and it all goes well.  Yay.  Me?  Well, let's just say that I think I am the last one done after ripping out my quilting TWICE.  Yep -- twice.  Major ugh.

I gather up all the cups and with Janet's help, into the oven they go for a nice warm sauna to set the ink from the markers.  We have a 100% success rate and the mugs exit the oven without a crack in sight.  A quick trip around the room collecting mug rugs, adding some candy, and soon we have our completed project ready for a grand photograph.  Didn't everyone do such a great job.  I am beyond impressed and each person's style comes shining through.  (The rugs without mugs are the samples that Jennifer and I made ahead of time.  Where is Stephannie's sample?)

This also seems like a great place to take our group picture since we have people leaving early this time and I don't want to forget to do it and miss someone.  Kay offers to help and the pic is soon finished.

And guess what? Of course!  We missed someone.  Oh my --- it's time to put my sweetie's talent to work.  I take an individual picture and drop this on his lap to fix.  Will he be able to?  Yep.

With the "required" project out of the way, everyone gets to work on their own tremendously large stacks.  If anyone completes everything they brought (other than Fawn, whom I am sure will) I will be incredibly impressed.

Well ---- most of us get to work.  One little soul has discovered the sun streaming in the window near MY bed.  It seems like a good time for a nap.  There are times when I wish I could be like her and just relax.  Yep, that's right.  Relax.  What the heck is that?  I have a long list of things I want to make this weekend.  If I relax that won't happen.  The difference?  She will be rested after this weekend and I will need days to recover.  Hmm-mm.

A voicemail notice chimes in on my phone but since that is a miracle in itself, I am unable to find out who it is from.  With a bit of worry that my sweetie needs something, I set off down the road to make a call.  It turns out that Mister wasn't the culprit but I get to visit with him for a few minutes anyway.  On the way back, I make a small detour to check out the new windmill and pond that are in process.  It's a beautiful day and walking down the road grounds me and not just literally.  I need to remember to enjoy the beauty around me at all times.  As I approach the front door -- I can see into my room and isn't this just lovely?

Chickens and goats

With the flying geese for my Row Robin blocks finished, I get going on the string triangles.  It doesn't take me long to figure out that I have NOT brought enough strings with me but have no fear -- my peeps to the rescue and soon I have more to add.  These ladies are the best -- I mean, truly.  They just happened to have blue, aqua, green, and lavender batiks with them.  Woohoo.

Yesterday, I had given Valerie a bit of a teasing about her messy station.  I will never do that again, BUT today it is all under control.  Do you want to know how?  Well, it all has to do with the "magic bag" that you kind of see here, under her table.  This picture is out of order, but I neglected to get a picture of just the bag.  This wonderful creation is so magical that all of the items on her table found their own way into it and she became organized.  It is full of  vinyl "pockets" (that MUST be said with a British accent) and holds all of her many items while they wait to be used.  It was indeed magical as you can tell from the next picture.  Parts of her table can even be seen.  Across the table from her, Janet is working on her "less than a thousand triangles" quilt.  Apparently we have to be exact in this count and that was just too much effort.

When trying to get a picture of her with it, she first tries to cover her face as I am snapping the picture above.  She is quite successful as you can see below.  I'm trying no to think "Cousin It" as I write this.

Yay!  I am making progress on my blocks.  I can't stand it anymore and stop the unit making to put together one block and see if I'm even going to like it.  I think I do and thank you Allison for stealing my camera and getting a picture of me actually working so that Mister believes there is progress going on and not that I'm just jabbing my jaws all weekend.

Finishes are taking place again.  I think Maria is the owner of this bright top.

Janet's wonderful triangles --- check out the fun Egyptian border fabrics.

Glenda with a fun finish.

At this point, Jen's machine decides to stop working and the advice she is given is to clean it.  I look over and she has a brush and is lightly brushing the bobbin area with a confused look on her face.  I am a terrible mother and get caught up in something else, forgetting to help her and the next thing I know she has Allison over with her and is getting a lesson in how to make her machine happy again.  From what I can tell -- it works and she is soon busily working away again.

Debi has brought her new Featherweight to our gathering and wants to learn a bit about sewing with her.  (Again, I am a terrible friend as that gets lost in my mind too and the machines simply stands as a guardian over us.  Along with the longhorns.)

Evening has arrived and Fawn is ready for something a bit stronger than water.  It is contagious and soon various libations can be seen all around the room, helped by me with some Peppermint Patty's to share.  More finishes make their appearances as well.  Fawn with her dinosaur top.

Debi has completed her top as well and it requires a draping all of its own.  Silliness must prevail.

A top made from the "little black dress" line.  I think it is Glenda behind it.  Oh dang, the peppermint patty's are taking their toll.

Sherri gets a ta-da with her braid --- oh I do love teal and brown together.

As the night progresses, I love how everyone takes time to just visit and share with each other.  These moments fill such a need in all of us.

Jennifer has created a design wall out of a flannel backed tablecloth and half of a ping pong table.  Hey, whatever works right?  I love what she is working on.

The floor in the library once again becomes as design wall as well with Fawn ready to assemble the blocks she has been machine embroidering all day.  It's getting dang late.  Or is it early?  Since it is almost 4:30 when I creep off to bed, I'm going with the latter.  Tables are empty and I leave Allison and Maria discussing antique quilts.  I'm done for today or should that be yesterday?  One last glance at the room shows busy tables and chemistry at work.  Yes, we cover all areas of interest here.   (Also check out the chili pepper fabric for the shirt Valerie is making for her sweetie.)  Good night.

Saturday:  I'm moving a wee bit slow since I went to bed at 4:30 and it is now not quite 7:00.  Short night.  I have discovered that I slept in my clothes and didn't even remove the name tag.  Well that's awesome, I'm already dressed and ready for the day.  Oh my, I start to wonder about the condition of the blocks I worked on all last night.  Amazingly enough -- they look great.  Wow, sometimes I really impress myself.

After breakfast, Kay brings me the calendar to book future dates and we are shocked to discover that there are only 6 open weekends left in the year with two of those being in August.  We grab one in October, our desired one in November, and an additional on for the following February.  Within mere moments, our November one is full.  Wow.

While we are working on this, I miss a show and share by Sherri, but someone has grabbed my camera and captured the moment.  I LOVE this bag and may even be inspired to make one.

Many are making plans to go into town for a stop at Sew Krazee to check out the sale and pick up a few much needed treasures.  Since I actually brought a list of items to pick up for the upcoming two mysteries, I hunt Jen down to see if she wants to go along.  I find her in the library correcting papers.  A teacher's work is absolutely never done.  Too bad the sun isn't streaming in here -- she looks cold.

We have a great time and I return with a nice stack of fabric to pet and she has a new rotary cutter.  The next time we are here, our favorite little shop will be in a new location, but we will certainly hunt it down.   Since Jen brought her quilt to use, I take a few minutes to share the quilting on it.  I can honestly say that I love how this one turned out and feel that it truly is the culmination of a year of practicing free motion quilting.  I also share my labeling method with the group.

You can tell that the hours are starting to get to us all.  Stephannie, however, went to bed last night around 8 and slept until after 6 this morning.  This means that she is full of energy and starts sharing a little love, either by walking on backs or massaging necks.  I think the final decision is that she will work for fat quarters.  Perhaps we really need to consider having a masseuse come to retreat on day next time.  (Second picture stolen from Jennifer M.)  I'm starting to think perhaps sleep would be a good thing.  While this is going on, I think I catch Maria once again checking her garbage as she had a spider living in there but not this time.  Needless to say, the spider was NOT a welcome visitor.

After lunch, Allison starts packing up as she and Valerie have to leave early.  So sad -- it's hard to say good-bye already.

Time for some more finishes:  Maria

Glenda with her pillowcases:

Fawn and Debi with some table runners:

We say good-bye to Allison and Valerie and then I settle in to trim my triangles for these never finishing blocks.  What do you think of my pretty pink cutting mat?  It's a bright spot today for sure along with my lovely string triangles.

More finishes - Jennifer M with her version of a 3 Dudes block.

Jen finishes her top that was started last retreat.  This kit certainly had it's share of issues but I LOVE the way it turned out.

Janet is preparing to make some bias binding for a quilt she wants to finish and offers to do a lesson.  She quickly has an impromptu class full of eager learners.  We need to do more of this at retreat.  The pool tables gets used for so many things -- from display, to layouts, to pinning tables, etc.  I'm not sure what we would do without it.

Jennifer S. has a finish - look for the stars

Okay it's time to go around the room and get pictures of everyone -- We have such a great group this time and I don't want to leave anyone out.  Eveline has been working like me, on many tiny pieces.  Jennifer S is starting another top but she wasn't really doing anything in this pic so I had her pretend to move something.  I know -- bizarre of me.

Maria at the ironing board and Debi at her machine.

Glenda in discussion and Jen preparing to start a new quilt. (This cutting table is way too low.  Note to self.)

Fawn has a finish with her charity quilt given in remembrance of a friend.  It is so beautiful

Sherri is considering a new occupation and Jennifer M has ANOTHER top finished.

And me?  Well I have finally finished my blocks and am ready to create a row.

Ta-da!  I do have to admit that I love it and the colors.  I made a duplicate row as well but since that one has to be sashed, it will wait until I am back home to put it together.  And that is it!  It is 8:00 and I am going to take a shower and go to bed.  I am sure I will miss all kinds of fun, but the weight of tomorrow is hitting again and I just want to get some sleep.  Night all.

It is our last day and Maria and Fawn leave right after breakfast - more sad good-byes.  Fawn, however, has to return as she left her suitcase and pillow here.  I'm pretty sure she will have a hard time living this one down, especially after she left so much last November too.  Funny girl.  I gather up all of my goodies for a quick picture so that I can remember all that I received.  I think the picture is missing a couple of fat quarters though.

Jennifer M gets another finish --- okay, okay -- she is the new Fawn.

I settle in for a short time and try to occupy my mind with some of my Weed Whacker blocks.  It is pretty mindless and the time passes quickly.  All too soon though, I have to start packing and begin the trek towards Tyler for Jason's funeral.

Once I have everything packed up and loaded, I talk a quick walk around the grounds to enjoy the peace and quiet.  The guinea hens are out as I pass by on my way towards the river.

We definitely need to use this area in April when we return.  Oh -- and Debi want's S'mores when we do.

Hello - who's staring at who?

The last thing as I see when I leave the house.  I think I need to remember this more.  Time to go.

What a great weekend.  I do so love this place and the wonderful relationships that are formed here.  I truly cannot wait to return again.  I'll leave you with from others in the group taken after I left.  Enjoy and thanks for checking out our time and we hope you can come and play sometime.

Thanks ladies --- see you soon.


  1. Had a blast! Great photos! xo

    1. Thank YOU so much for being a part of it. Please do so again. We would love to have you.

  2. Thanks for sharing - looking forward to joining y'all in the future! Lydia

    1. We are looking forward to sharing some time with you as well. Come on October.

  3. Standing ovation! I had a great time and am never leaving early again!!

    1. Thank you my dear. Another superb group of wonderful women to spend time with. It makes us all heart healthy.

  4. And here I am, April 19th, revisiting our wonderful time in February. Sew looking forward to our time together April 30-May 3. Bring on the thread, fabric, laughter, commaradie and general retreat shenanigans!!

    1. It is indeed a special group. I revisit these pages now and then as well --- each time a new memory is refreshed. It's wonderful.