A beautiful backlog.

Dear friends,

My blogging has been more than sparse lately, but what hasn’t taken a hiatus is my sewing. Between quilts and small fabric projects, my nights and weekends have been happily filled with a variety of creative diversions.

I received an email yesterday from my preferred long-arm quilting shop that two of my recent creations were on her schedule for next week. I can’t wait to get them back home for binding so I can photograph them for you before shipping them to their happy recipients.

I started thinking about the page on this blog that I devote to my quilts — and about how far behind I am on showing you my finished products — so consider this a catch-up day. Here’s what the Magpie has been up to:

You might recall I spent 2017 purging, cleaning and organizing my home. While I didn’t stop sewing all together, it did mean I focused on small projects. My new favorites are baby quilts, pennant banners and pillows.

Here’s one I made for the newborn boy of a co-worker. (This was the first time I used this particular pattern and I liked both the geometry of the design and the opportunity it affords to showcase larger pieces of selected fabrics.) His name is Grayson and I personalized it on the back (as I often do).

I tried my hand at a technique known as EPP (English Paper Piecing), not to be confused with Foundation Paper Piecing (featured in this quilt), and discovered that these miniature hexagons were not only soothing to handstitch, they make adorable pillows.

Here’s one I made for myself:

And one I made for a lifelong friend:

And one I made for another friend who recently remodeled her home:

And another one, this time a Christmas gift for a colleague.

I also made myself a slipcover for my ottoman. (I’m getting better about sewing the occasional project for myself.)

And then I got distracted by a pennant banner kick. I sewed a few in vinyl for friends to decorate their outdoor seating spaces. Here’s just one:

And here’s one I made for myself:

And here’s one I made for my cousin’s grandson, with a baby quilt to boot:

You might have noticed I had a little fabric left over from Grayson’s quilt and I incorporated it nicely in Hunter James’ quilt.

The biggest project I’ve worked on that you haven’t seen is a full-size quilt for my friend Julie. Several years ago, I committed to making a quilt for each of my lifelong friends that I call the “Js.” Johnna’s quilt was the first one I completed and you can see it here.

This quilt for Julie came about because I had started one but stalled for a variety of reasons including the difficulty of the pattern. Both Julie and Janet (whose quilt is still in progress) were getting antsy. One night during a sleepover with my friend, we were lying in bed talking about the promised quilt and Julie suggested I take an easier approach. She showed me several quilts on Pinterest that she liked and encouraged me to abandon the hard quilt for an easier one.

I can’t say this one was easy — but I had a lot more fun working with these cheery fabrics than the first attempt.

I’ve also enjoyed saving my fabric scraps and repurposing them into twine. I learned how to make handmade fabric twine from a Pinterest tutorial. Besides being thrifty, it looks lovely on wrapped packages.

By the way, it’s not like all I’ve done is sew and clean my house. Another pursuit I haven’t written about here is that I learned to ride a motorcycle. Specifically, a Beta Xtrainer 300 (a model perfect for off-roading). Here I am fully “geared up” after a ride in the woods.

And here’s Mr. Mom with both our bikes after a challenging ride in the Mark Twain National Forest.

By the way, that’s my bike on the left. Ain’t she a beaut?

I know dirt bikes don’t really have any relation to quilting, metaphorically speaking. (Or philosophically speaking. Or existentially speaking. Or any kind of speaking.) But I like ’em both. And they both give me a little thrill, so that’ll have to do.

With gratitude {for the great luxury of spare time},

Joan, Hoarder of Fabric, Matriarch of Motocross, Princess of Pastimes

The creek done rose.

Dear friends,

I don’t know about your place, but it’s been raining here.  We put the work week to bed with rain and we started the weekend with rain.

The clouds finally parted for a bit on Saturday and Mr. Mom and Parker took a walk in our woods. What is usually a trickling stream snaking through our acreage was a superhighway of rain waters. Take a look at the photo Mr. Mom took with his phone:

We’ve had just enough rain and sunshine in the last month to persuade our woods to show off its foliage in nearly neon colors.

See that trail that runs through the brush? That’s where Mr. Mom and Parker and their friends ride their motorcycles. You can’t tell very well from this photo, but Mr. Mom has worked hard to clear a labyrinth of trails through our property. Every weekend, there’s a group of somebodys riding out back, including a group of mountain bikers Mr. Mom befriended. I don’t know about the cyclists, but the motocross boys love to ride through the creek. So does Ed. (Well, he doesn’t ride; he runs, but I guess you knew that.)

I don’t run through the creek (guess you knew that too) but it might surprise you to hear I’ve been running cross country through our woods. It’s a nice change of pace from road running, sticker bushes notwithstanding. I’ve got two new scars on my right leg from a wayward thorn.

Heat hasn’t been an issue so far, but I was surprised the woods are about 10 degrees cooler than the road. Assuming it doesn’t get too buggy, I might find summer running relief on my own property.

One of our neighbors even likes to walk our trails with his Labrador Retriever. Best we can tell, Fruitcake (the Lab) really likes it, too.

Here’s a photo Parker snapped with his phone and tweeted. I was kind of stunned by its beauty when I saw it.

I’m an original prairie girl, so I’m surprised how much I enjoy having a tract of wooded land.  I didn’t realize I would find it so scenic. And I certainly didn’t realize the riders (and walkers) would flock here, but I’m more than happy to share our little garden spot with anybody who can enjoy it.

With gratitude {for a lovely place to call our own with all sorts of wooded nooks and crannies to explore},

Joan, who always thought all she needed was a cabin and a pinafore and she could be Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Couch Potato has landed.

Dear friends,

I’m a little late posting today. It was a big night ’round our place yesterday. First, Mr. Mom drove all day to pick up a new toy. I wish I could say it was a boy toy because I think Kate and I might enjoy having one around. But it was a boy’s toy, otherwise known as a trials bike, and it looks like this:

That’s Parker on the bike. Doing what boys do. I promise if Mr. Mom attempts such a thing, I’ll show you a photograph. But first I’ll remind him — as I often do — that if he ends up in a sip-and-puff, he’s on his own. (For women not married to stuntmen, a sip-and-puff is a breath-operated wheelchair for quadriplegics. And, yes, I’m callous enough to bail on any man with a self-inflicted spinal injury.)

After the bike arrived, Mr. Mom and Parker made a furniture delivery for me. I am now officially a couch potato.

I am also now officially happy.

It’s a banner weekend, folks. Kate’s rounding it all off with a birthday party/bonfire/cookout tonight. Don’t worry, no teenager reeking of smoke will be allowed near my new sofa. I’ll be hogging the whole thing anyway.

With gratitude {for children old enough to peacefully co-exist with white upholstery},

Joan, who thinks the sip-and-puff rule is the only rational response to extreme sports