Sunday, May 3, 2015

Brazos House Retreat - Apr/May 2015

The day is finally here!  I am about to go on retreat down at the Brazos House for ELEVEN days.  Yep, you read that right.  I am hosting a retreat for 17 ladies over this weekend, then a friend and I are staying at the center during the week before greeting another group of 17 ladies next weekend.  I am packed, the car is loaded and it's time to get this show on the road.  Come on Mister, let's drive.

Mister is dropping me off as he cannot work from home for such an extended time and  you all know we only have one car so -- we do what we do.  The drive down is enjoyable and I spend most of it attaching charms to the nametags with the nifty tool that Mister picked up yesterday.  Somehow I have managed to get it all figured out over night and they are going on lickety split.  We arrive at the center to find that Miss Allison is already there.  Yay --- the fun starts right away.  She helps us unload the car and soon Mister is on his merry way back to the city for work.  First things first --- get my room and my corner of the world all set up.  Yes!  That's my spot --- way in the back corner of the room.  I like it there!  Now to tackle the remaining name tags so that they are ready to hand out as people arrive.  Don't they look amazing?  Stephannie did such an amazing job and the charms just make them fun.  Every item has special meaning - yep, gotta do things right ya know.

As soon as I have the nametags finished (and ladies are arriving constantly) I set about getting the hand quilting frame set up in the library.  I am so hoping to have some wonderful moments here this weekend and the next.  Perhaps, this quilt will go home ready to bind.  Wouldn't that be incredible?

When I return from the library, I discover that my table has already been bestowed with gifts for me.  Ooooooooh --- squeal.  Doing this over my birthday is going to be such fun.

We have a bit of a gap in arrivals and no one is expected for a bit so Allison and I walk down to the river to sit a spell and visit.  Ah, the stress is already lifting a bit and each time I return here I realize how very much I miss the country life.  We've got turtles today!  That must be a good sign, right?

As we sit and visit we are treated to an overhead show by some turkey vultures soaring overhead.  They are just enjoying riding the "current" overhead.  Okay, it's time to return and finish getting organized.  Thanks, Allison, for a wonderful calm before the storm.

The room is filling and we actually have people sewing already.  Perhaps I should join in.

The first TA-DA belongs to Glenda -- oh my.  Now I know I need to get sewing.

By dinner, most have arrived (Jen, Maria, and Valerie still missing) and it's time to visit and enjoy one of Kay's fine meals.  Then onto a hand quilting lesson and some oh my goodness wonderful fun putting stitches into it.

I can honestly say that this evening is one of the most memorable retreat moments for me.  These ladies are incredible and I treasure their friendships more than I can ever tell.  Miss Allison even discovered her own method for getting from one side of the frame to the other to retrieve a spool of thread.  One would have thought we could just pass it to her.  Hmmmm.  Reminds me of how my small children used to play under the frame as I worked.  Too fun.  Tell me this doesn't remind you of golden oldie pictures.  Yes -- I am being a revivalist.  (I stole this pic from Jennifer's timeline BUT am not completely sure who took it since she is in the picture.)

After the promised ONE hour of stitching, we are all back in the main room and there is another TA-DA.  This time by Shirley.  Isn't it lovely?  Also, Marti is pretty thrilled with her completed HST's.

The fun and laughter continues into the night and around midnight Jen arrives to find that everyone is still going strong.

Mistakes happen while making quilts.  Yes, they do!  When they do, it's fun to take a moment and teach a new trick.  Allison demonstrates to everyone how to use the machine as a third arm to rip out very long seams.  I sure could have used this back when I had to remove 8 borders from Celtic Solstice last year.  What a nifty trick.  (Thank you to Jennifer M for taking this great picture).

I do get a few things finished - some BOM blocks and some tiny blocks for my Christmas quilt.  Not really a WOW ta-da moment though.  Allison does finish her Jamestown Landing top and has her moment of fame in the doorway.  Isn't this just wonderful.  I definitely need to get back to mine soon.  (and go on a diet or stop wearing this t-shirt - egads)

It's getting late and I am ready for bed.  It's time to set up for the morning group project and so with a little help, this task is soon accomplished.  We are ready to go.  Let's hope everyone loves the project.

Good morning all!  It's a new day and after coffee, visiting, and breakfast -- we are ready to dive into the group project.  Everyone gathers around the supplies (pool) table, get their instructions, and start their selections.  We are making the retreat quilted cuff pillowcases and mini design boards that I showed in my April update.  Once everyone has their supplies, I announce that the first one done receives a charm.  The reaction is swift and within 45 minutes we have a winner for the pillowcase and just moments after that -- a design board winner as well.  Ah, this is fun.  Congratulations Allison and Val.

Yes, some pillowcases are already finished and our Sleeping Beauty arrives to the party.  She is now down in the storage bins selecting her materials.  She just thought she was hidden.

Some of the best moments come unexpectedly at retreat.  While divulging the exact conversations around this item (picture on left) is forbidden (what happens at retreat - stays at retreat) I will say that we kept laughing over it the entire weekend.  Maria arrives at the retreat and takes up Debi's spot making her pillowcase selections.  Yep, gotta have the good stuff.

Lunch is being prepared by Kay (our wonderful retreat center owner) and the smells are divine.

Janet has decided to do a "mini" pillowcase for her travel pillow as that is the one that goes to retreat with her.  She is so creative -- I would never have thought to do that.

Oh goodness Ana and Gena --  you two do look like you are really concentrating here.

I have been working on my pinwheels and somehow the discussion in the room turns to our overuse of technology.  Always the opinionated one, I share my thoughts and the conversation goes for quite awhile.  At some point, I sat back down to sew and Miss Janet thought it appropriate to take a picture and post it on Facebook with the caption "off the soapbox and back to work?"  It seems fitting for me to use that technology we were talking about and steal her picture for this entry.  And what is it that I am back to work doing?  Pinwheels of course.

Jen and I take a little time to put together a "birthday" cake for Janet from all of the fat quarters I asked ladies to bring.  We top it with a tiara as requested and are ready for the party tonight.

For some, the party gets started a bit earlier and fun hats come out.  I'll admit I played a bit early as well.

In the kitchen, Irene comes in to share something and I have to take a picture of her -- yes, she has been busy.  So many threads.  Oh my gosh, with Irene in the picture I need to share one of the best lines of the retreat.  She was remarking on how her husband had been offered a job in Anchorage, AK.  Now keeping in perspective that Irene was almost always bundled with jackets or blankets, her comments was "Can you just see me up there?  I'd be a little Mexican popsicle on the side of the road."  Truly awesome.

Let's break from the storytelling and just enjoy a bit of eye candy.  Jen feeding the horses:

The view into my window.

Now back to work.  Right about now I mention that my arms can no longer do the quilting on my domestics the way I have been doing it and that I would simply love a frame that I could use my machine with.  No need for a long-arm machine, just the frame.  A miracle occurs at that moment and Val tells me that she has one she needs to get rid of.  She gifts it to me right then and there and again, I cannot divulge what happens after that, but needless to say --- I am one happy and excited gal.  Thank you thank you thank you Val.

Debi K. has discovered how to free motion quilt on her Featherweight and is in her own little heaven.  Look at her go.  Relax the shoulders a bit Debi.

A few more TA-DA's from Glenda --- she is focused!

Ana and Shirley have decided to collaborate on a purse project that they have both brought to retreat and are forming a fun friendship to watch.

After a wonderful dinner, it is party time!  Our fruity drink is Pimms and sparkling lemonade -- yummy.  A toast to Janet and a happy birthday candle on her cake --- the candle plays music -- yep -first class all the way here.

Unbeknownst to me, darling Janet has also been preparing a birthday treat for me.  It is so fun to share a birthday with someone and surprises are wonderful.  Check out my basket of lusciousness.

Ana suggested a fun game for retreat this time and I happily turned over the reigns to her.  With LCR dice, 2 jelly rolls, about 50 fat quarters, dollar bills, funny hats, and boas of all kinds, we are ready to go.  A little Pimms in the system certainly gets things rolling.  For all of our memories:  Shirley and her giggles.  Jennifer M and "It's not long enough."

Winner of fat quarters.  I don't think Marti is very happy about it.

Miss Moneybags -- ya had to be there for the whole story.

A picture worth a thousand words.

The winner of the first jelly roll - Maria --- and the second one - Jennifer

As much as we hate for the party to end, we have run out of prizes.  Oh well, back to sewing and a couple of TA-DAs:  Lee Ann with an outfit for her granddaughter and Irene with a beautiful log cabin quilt top.  Congrats to both.

Shirley and Ana are still working on their bags and do manage to complete them.  However, they both declare that they will not make another one.

I take a break (from what? you rightly ask) and when I return it appears that my camera has been used for evil against me.  Apparently my mess is quite the conversation piece.

I do seem to have gotten a wee bit out of control today.  I am not entirely sure how it all took place as I have literally accomplished very little.  I do manage to get about half of my pinwheels made.  That's better than nothing.

We have more TA-Das:  Allison's baskets and Jennifer M's Easy Street

Allison's Grand Illusion and Glenda's stars:  (Pictures taken by Marti and Maria)

Maria's bright rectangles and Allison's strips for her Grand Illusion backing.  Night all.

Good morning day 3 --- I am greeted by goodies on the top of my sewing machine that make me giggle all morning.  What a fun group of ladies I am blessed to have in my life.  I truly could not be more thankful.

Janet starts out the day with a TA-DA.  Isn't this the sweetest baby quilt?

Miss Valerie arrives for Derby and Happy Royal Baby Day.  She comes bearing gifts of more Pimms and is spending the day with us.  What fun for all.  So glad she could make the drive for just a few hours.

Her arrival with buttons allows for great fun and I select one that says Stitchy Woman.  Love it.  Allison, however, goes a wee bit further with her buttons.

Yes, we are women -- hear us roar!

More TA-DAs from Val - love the pink socks my dear.

And a TA-DA from Valerie before she leaves us.  Yes, I've been here three days and NOTHING.  She comes for an afternoon and gets a TA-DA.  My hat is off to you Lady.

Debi K brought an older machine for the swap table and Allison couldn't resist getting it up and running.  It went home with her to join its vintage sisters in the Bayer Collection.

I have tried to sew this afternoon and manage to finish my pinwheels and sew them all to the four-patches I brought with me.  Unfortunately, I didn't pay attention to the direction I was sewing the four-patches and now need to rip out most of the 88 units (a few were right simply by luck).  Ana takes pity on me and we go out to the porch swing with glasses of wine to unstitch my mess.  Awesome friend.

Debi K also had one request for this retreat and that was for us to have S'Mores and a campfire.  Well, if nothing else, I can be obedient now and then so:  request granted.

Dueling Marshmallow Skewers

What a great night.  Additional Moment to remember:  Yellow plane overhead and Debi K saying hello as only she could.

Maria has another TA-Da before everyone calls it a night except me.

I stay up working on my Christmas block, finishing the units for my Old Tobacco Road quilt (the ones I had to rip out earlier tonight), and a layout on the design wall.

Jen has been gone all day doing family "stuff" but returns around 2 a.m. and promptly heads off to bed.  I can relax a bit now as I know she is here safe.

I cannot believe how long it takes to get this up on the wall and I know it is still not right BUT, I am indeed loving the way it looks.  Fun.  It's 4:30 a.m. -- dang, time for some sleep.

The last day of retreat -- so sad.  Time for pictures of the group projects, last minute TA-DA's, group pictures and good-byes.  Jen is staying the night so we get to have time together today for some additional sewing and fun.

In between her travels and trying to get an assignment done on her Master's program, she does get in a TA-Da.  I am jealous.

Well, I guess this extra long post must end here.  I hope everyone had a great time and cannot wait until we are all together again.
I didn't mention this, but EACH night we spent an hour or so working on the blue quilt.  It's looking great and thimble charms have been earned by those who helped each evening.  What a magnificent time and memory that has and will be for me each time I snuggle under this quilt.

Thank you to everyone for making my weekend oh so special and the best birthday ever!  Love ya all.  Here's to:  Jennifer, Valerie, Ana, Shirley, Glenda, Val, Gena, Marti, Allison, Lee Ann, Janet, Maria, Debi, Irene, Arelene, and Jennifer.  I love ya all.


  1. Awesome post, awesome retreat, awesome Lady for pulling it all together. I AM GRATEFUL!! Hugs, Allison

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It was truly the best time ever and will be hard to top it but we will give it a valiant effort in February.