Sunday, February 7, 2016

Brazos House Retreat - It's All About the Love

February 4th has arrived.  Oh my --- I have a mystery quilt laying all over the floor and need to get the setting finished before anyone arrives.  Time to sew, sew, sew.  Once I have that finished, folded and put away, I start gearing up for the arrival of my Valentine retreat group.  Yes, it seems like forever since we were together in November and this groups consists of a majority of our original group.  What fun we are going to have.

Jennifer M. has set up a meet up for lunch at Los Primos in Glen Rose before the retreat officially begins and so that is where our story starts as well.  Oh ladies -- your wonderful faces just make my heart swell.  How many times have we been together now?  Is this really only the 4th?  It seems like I have known you all for such a long time and I love that we are part of each other's life now.  Best friends have been made in this group -- lives have changed.

After a nice lunch served by a great waiter, we are back at the center and ready for fun.  It doesn't take long and machines are humming everywhere.  I have visitors at my bedroom window wanting to join and when that doesn't work for them, they head to the front door to give it a try as well.

Still no luck.  Drat for them.

Elisabeth, who missed out on lunch because she had to go back to Dallas for the insert to her machine, has  returned and finished her quilt, thus making her the first TA-DA of the retreat.  Now she is off to the post office to get it mailed.  You go girl.

Gaiety is in the air and smiles are all around me.  Ana is working on those "wonderful" square in a squares for Double Delight and has found a way to keep track of her chain.  What an industrious group this is.    I look over at Eveline's space next to mine.  Look how neat and organized she is.

Now to the left is my space --- hmmm what does this say about me?

Debi is determined to finish setting her Double Delight top and takes advantage of any space she can find to do so.  Design walls are already full all around the room and we have THREE of them right now.

By the end of the day, many TA-DA's have come forward and the joy on each person's face as they finish is by far the best part for me.

Here is Lucille with her "start-to-finish" rag quilt which earns her golden scissors today.  Yes, we are off to a great start.

Glenda (well, and Jennifer peeking) with  Chocolate Covered Cherries.  Or at least I think that's what she told me it is called.

Jennifer M showing some tops she finished at home --- Allietare #1 and #2.  I can't even get the blocks together for one of these.  Hat's off girlfriend.

AND her Talkin' Turkey.  NOW, I really feel like a slacker.  Mine is even a worse state than Allietare.

Debi has her TA-DA --- Her Double Delight center is FINISHED!  Woohoo.  First Kelly last weekend and now this one -- I really need to get in gear.  What on earth have I been doing?

As the evening progresses it's time for the 7th inning stretch.  Arms up ladies.

The late night hours, salty Mexican food, and walks up the hill have taken a toll on Allison's legs.  Shirley to the rescue.  Now, doesn't that feel better?

Sherri with a TA-DA -- the only time she has ever bought fabric without something in mind to make.  I think it turned out stunning.

And finally, my own TA-DA.  My Double Delight flimsy is finished.  Border and cornerstones are on, back and label are made and I am ready to quilt.  Maybe it won't languish in the "to be quilted" pile for too long.

And with that, I am going to bed.  I know I will miss out on fun and laughter, but this old body just needs another night of sleep. My bed is calling.  (Since I went to bed early, no last man standing pic by me and doesn't appear anyone else did either.)  See ya'll tomorrow morning.

Good morning -- it's Day Two already.  Would time PLEASE slow down!!!  Maria has arrived and our party is almost complete.  Oh Valerie where are you?  I don't spotlight the small gifts often, but check out these darling pin cushions that Maria's daughter's made.  I selected one with googly eyes all over it.  Too fun.

Sherri is having difficulty with her machine staying in place so I offer to make her a sewing mat.  Debi's ears perk up and she lets me know she doesn't have one.  Then Elisabeth quietly states that she wouldn't turn one down either.  Well, dang better get busy here.  First one finished:  Debi's

Maria is quick with a TA-DA ---- Hmmm.  She just arrived.  Me thinks this was almost finished already.

Eveline's TA-DA

A few interesting items captured for me to remember.  Shirley's heating pad on the back of her chair.  I gotta get me one of these things.

Also, her cute, cute, cute little baskets being put together.

Lucille is making the QAYG project from last weekend.  Yay -- more materials out the door for me.

While everyone is busy working away and YES, Valerie has arrived so the room is complete -- I snap a few pictures of the swap ROOM.  It has gone way beyond a table.  Oh the ladies are gonna have such fun in here.  We have initiated a lottery system this time in an attempt to make things fair.  EVERYONE can preview items and leave their name in a bag attached to something they really want.  I theirs is the only name, they win it.  If there is more than one name in the bag and it can be split, then it will be divided equally.  If it cannot be split, one name will be drawn from the bag.  Thank you Allison for handling this.

Next sewing mat is for Sherri and when I take it over to her and ask her to lift her machine to place it underneath, I discover that her machine is sitting on a bottle cap.  Perhaps that had something to do with the shaking.  What do you think Sherri?

Valerie delivers a new pink Atlas to Stephannie which sparks attention by us all.  Someday, I tell myself.

And speaking of new machines --- Debi has her new baby out and being cleaned up.  Oh she is indeed happy.

Love ya Shirley.

 Valerie has a TA-DA  --- How DID she do that so fast?  It even looks quilted already.  HAHA -- brought to share.

Another TA-DA by Maria who claims that the way to get a lot of these moments is to bring things that are only a seam or two away from being finished.  I need to try that at a future retreat.

It's time for Ana's small group project.  She has brought little tissue holders for everyone and from the looks of it -- there are four seams and it will take all of 10 minutes since they are already kitted up.  Way to go Ana --- you will never know how much I appreciate help like this.

Before I can even sit down, there are finishes on this one.  Sherri comes running for her "first finished" picture.  Elisabeth is right behind and then they are everywhere.  I need to get in gear.

Allison brings her over and she has added tears to her little owls as an embellishment to her holder.  Oh -- this is so dang sweet.

Okay, okay.  Four seams quickly made and I, too, have a new tissue holder covered with hearts.  Love it and how easy it is to make.  Pssst.  Sleeping Debi --- You really need to make some of these for your craft show.

I am just itching to get out of the house for awhile.  Who wants to go walkin'?  Get your shoes on and let's go.  Top of the hill - here we come.  I have remembered to bring the bag of scraps from the kitchen along and so treats for everyone.  At the last possible minute, our braying donkey makes an appearance and Jennifer S. proclaims that that alone was worth the hike.   

Now that the lungs are revived and I am energized, it's time to get back to work.  A TA-DA took place while we were gone.  Ana and Kitsey each laid out a block for Double Delight.  You go girls.

Elisabeth's sewing mat is now complete and gifted.  Now what shall I do?  This one is so bright and cheery.

Glenda's TA-DA --- I've seen these prints somewhere before.

It's GAME NIGHT and these ladies are ready to play.   Let's get this game started.  First up -- pink or Valentine fat quarters being bet and to the winner go the spoils.

That is IF they can be found for you see Maria has slowly slid the entire bowl under her chair for safe keeping.  Oh to have long legs like that.

Unfortunately she is discovered and has to give them up.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words -- I agree.  These two certainly are.

And this one - although she doesn't look too happy with her prize.  Hmmm.

Next up is a bunch of Bonnie Hunter strips.  Who will the lucky winner be.  I guarantee it won't be Allison or I.  I have to admit that these were the longest games ever since neither of us could stay in the game for longer than about 5 minutes.  Luck was not a lady for us tonight.

Jennifer wins a dressmaker pin cushion for rolling snake eyes.  (Is that a happy face?)  A nice touch and we may need to to things like that more often.  Good idea Ana.

The strips go to Debi in a moment where she doesn't even realize it.  All are happy and another game night is gone -- BUT -- prior to the game I did manage to get shots of everyone and want to show them here.  There's a lot of love in this room.

First up:  Stephannie, Shirley, and Val.  Gotta say - love the hat Val and the glasses and headband Stephannie.

The purple trio -- Jennifer S., Kitsey, and Lucille

Around the circle with Sherri, Glenda, and Jennifer M.

Elisabeth, Debi, and Maria (again a great headband Maria -- where oh where is your tiara?)

And the last four of us:  Ana, Me, Allison, and Eveline - (Ana wins the headband award tonight)  We are missing Valerie as she didn't feel well and went to bed early.

Ana has the last TA-DA for the day - She's already moved into March.

The rest of my evening is spent cutting out another secret project which seems to take me most of the evening to do.  Elisabeth has helped me by using her drafting skills to give me a wonderful cutting list.  I'm pretty excited about this project.  More to come on it tomorrow.  For now, it's time to say good-night from the four of us.   Signing off in Rainbow, TX.

It's our last full day together and even upon waking, I can sense a change in the air.  These lovely ladies are way more about visiting and making memories today than they are into sewing.  That doesn't mean the machines are quiet -- not at all -- but breaks are taken and laughter is in full swing.  The first TA-DA of the day belongs to Lucille who completed her QAYG table runner.  It turned out oh so good.  Love, love, love.  I should take lessons from her instead of the other way around.  Jennifer M. has brought a small group project to share and quickly passes out kits and information to all who are interested.  I am oh so interested but knee deep in my project for my sweet Mister.

Random shots around the room:  Elisabeth's skateboard blocks on the design wall and some gorgeous fabric draped over the ironing board.  Oooooh.  What will it become?

Jennifer S's medallion block on the quilt she is working on.  This scares absolutely everything out of me.  Also Ana's Double Delight units coming together.

Sherri's sock monkey is hanging out on Allison's light pole.  Yep, all the creature comforts come to retreat here.

Jennifer M. brings over her needle book to show what she is sharing with everyone.  Oh I love it and again wish I could focus on one and get it made, but I have orange, yellow, white, brown, and black staring up at me big time.

Look how cute the inside and back of this book are:

 As I quilt away, several stop by to show me their needle books as well.  First up:  Allison's

Ana slips in her TA-DA with Patches and Pinwheels by Bonnie Hunter.  What a beautiful top.  I like the constant blue tone to show off the pinwheels.

Next up is Elisabeth's needle book:

And Sherri's behemoth TA-DA ---- WOW is that ever huge.  I think this is the one where the rows got mixed up and miraculously came out right anyway.  Lucky girl.  Doesn't it look incredible?

Glenda with another TA-DA -- everyone is finishing up for the day.  I think I've heard rumors of fun for this evening.  Perhaps some have already started.  This is so light and feminine.  Beautiful.

Kitsey and Shirley's TA-DA's.  I am in awe of both -- the straight lines and rainbow effect are mesmerizing and the tiny baskets are just perfect.  Both ladies are definitely out of my league.

Shirley also finishes up a bag she and Ana have been working on.  Somewhere in the process, she showed a pattern for a little tool tote and everyone, including me jumped on board to make them tonight.  We have sent Eveline into town (well in all fairness she was already going) to pick up the stabilizer we need.  Now I HAVE to finish my project.

Will someone PLEASE get Allison a glass of wine.  She is freezing as she tries so hard to finish her top for a ta-da moment.
If Valerie is at retreat -- so must interpretive dance be.  Shirley joins in and Ana just says, "HOW."  Ah, the wine has begun.

Another bag TA-DA with Ana and now people are lining up with request to make this one too.  I see a bag retreat in the future.

About this time Sherri announces that is is "Gonna get her golden scissors."  What?  It's the last night and that requires a start to finish.  You go girl -- I can't wait to see what she turns out.  Within no time, she has her blocks put together, has made a batting from the scraps we salvaged from the swap table, and has her backing cut.  Look out, she is definitely a driven woman.

Wine taking effect?

At last!  I  have finished Mister's surprise birthday gift.  It is entitled Doug's Mondrian and inspired by a dish he made a couple of years ago.  Debi is going to put it up in his cube at work on his birthday since I will be out of town.  I LOVE IT and think it is probably technically the best thing I have done so far.

Happy Birthday Mister.

Now -- I think I should go and get dressed since it's time for the group picture and I'm still in jammies.  Yes -- that is how focused I have been today.

Look at all these wonderful smiling faces!  Oh my heart is full just seeing this.  Back row:  Ana, Val, Lucille, Jennifer M., Glenda, Allison, Sherri, Maria, Debi K., Elisabeth, me.  Front row:  Valerie, Kitsey, Jennifer S., Eveline, Shirley, and Stephannie.  Ladies, I am so very lucky to call you friends.

Ick -- it's our last dinner together.  That makes me sad, BUT it definitely calls for some pics.  Almost everyone is here at once.  Let me tell you -- that is rare.

After dinner it's time for our pillow exchange game.  Look at how lovely these all are.  Oh my.  I will be thrilled no matter which one goes home with me.

Before the game:

I think we have a stowaway from Fiddler on the Roof.  Poor Allison, she just can't get warm tonight.

And AFTER the exchange --- everyone with their treasure to take home.  The lonely heart in the lower left is mine --- all mine and look -- Valerie won the scarecrow one I made.  Can't wait to see it in it's new home.

After dinner, Allison gets her TA-DA and I manage to ruin the picture.  Ugh --- if anyone has a better one, please send it to me.

Eveline has a top finished as well:

Meanwhile in the kitchen, shenanigans have begun.  The laughter is permeating out to the main room and before long, a wonderful party is underway.

All of this while Shirley is teaching us how to make the sewing totes.  Yep, we are just THAT good.

Allison finishes the binding on her Garden Party for a TA-DA and this time I manage to take a wee bit better picture.

Maria has one last TA-DA as well

All focus is on these totes and I finish mine before joining the others in their "milk" party.  Thank you Ms. Shirley for being a patient teacher and for getting me through this with a finish.  Woohoo.

Guess who has been quietly working away in her corner of the world?  Sherri.  And guess what else?  She has managed to do a start to finish, quilted and bound project today.  Yep --- she has EARNED those golden scissors.  It's even hand bound which nets a second charm.  Additionally, it looks awesome.  Such a great job and such focus.

It's 12:40 and only one person has ambled off to bed.  No one wants this to end and we all just want to spend every last minute together that we are able.  Glenda won a sewing trivia game off the swap table and soon Val is asking questions and everyone is playing along.

The milk kicks in and soon Jennifer S and I are having a go at the piano.  Yep I feel like a teenager again.

After that wonderful performance, apparently I am not finished.  How many cups of  milk did I have anyway?

It's getting late now and people are starting to wander off.  We sing Lucille up the stairs with a VERY on tune version of "You Picked A Fine Time to Leave Us Lucille."  Yes, I know that's not the name of the song, but wasn't sure just writing "Lucille" would suffice.  Perhaps if I had said -- by Kenny Rogers.

While all of this has been going on, Debi has been steadily sewing along on her tote and has her finish made on her wonderful new-to-her 301.  Way to stick with it girlfriend.

Stephannie has also been sewing away and finally has her TA-DA as well -- made on her new-to-her Atlas machine.

Okay -- I'm done.  And if I'm done it must be time for the last night last man standing picture.  It's the most we have ever had up at 1:30 in the morning.  Another testament to not wanting this to end.  It's time for bed ladies.

Sign of a good retreat.  Enough said.

The last morning is pack up and say good-bye time.  It sucks.  There really isn't any other way to put it.  I quickly finish Mister's koala quilt -- quilting and burying threads as well as put the binding on another sewing mat before packing my own things.  Maria is still working away and I have the chance to teach her how to use the Easy Angle ruler.  Guess what?  She loves it and makes the cutest little block.

Soon, my sweet Mister arrives and Allison, Elisabeth, and I are packed into our cars.  The kitchen is clean and it's time to go.  Mister and I take one last quick walk down to the river which Allison captures in a couple of pictures that I do indeed treasure.  Thank you, my friend.

 Thank you, thank you, thank you all from the bottom of my heart.  I truly cannot wait to see you all again.  You are so supportive to me and make what I do see like magic.  Retreats are just the best thing there is for time with women.

See ya'll soon and remember --- It's all about the love.

Good-bye Brazos House.


  1. <3. These retreats are such a special treat I can barely wait to show up for the next one every time! Thank you for being such a great host, for documenting all our fun and generating the opportunity for our camaraderie! Love you!

  2. A magical retreat for the books! Thank you for a great post to help me relive and smile at all the memories we made together! This group of women is simply the B.E.S.T.!! Happy to get in on the ground floor of this retreat opportunity. Many grateful hugs, Allison