Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hearts, Blocks, & Fancies

Spring is sooner recognized by plants than by men.
~Chinese Proverb

I didn't know that spring had decided to visit us already.  I knew the last two days had been warmer than normal.....but spring?  If it isn't spring, then someone forgot to let the trees and plants know.  When I was out yesterday afternoon, I noticed that a fruitless pear tree was beginning to honor us with its pretty little white flowers.  And joining the tree's little show was a flowering quince in all its salmon splendor.  Many of the trees are putting on leaf buds and the tulips are starting to stick their foliage above soil level.  And, of course, we have a bumper crop of weeds in the garden this year.  Mother Nature forgot to tell these wonders that winter is not yet over.  I will enjoy them while I can!  Is anything blooming in your area?


Candy Conversation Hearts

It's that time of the year again.  Heart shaped candy everywhere.  Creations out of chocolate, cakes, cookies, and just about anything else you can be eaten.  Have you ever wondered how the little conversation hearts came into being?  The concept of Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, originally called Motto Hearts, dates back to the late 1800’s when printed sayings on colored paper were placed in “Cockles,” small crisp candies formed in the shape of a scalloped shell. In 1866, Daniel Chase, brother of Oliver Chase, who founded NECCO in 1847, invented the process, which allows the sayings to be printed directly on the candy.  The modern Sweethearts Conversation Hearts dates back to the early 1900’s. Cut in various shapes, such as postcards, baseballs or horseshoes and embossed with curlicues, the original hearts had room for much longer sayings, enabling would-be lovers to send messages such as “Please send a lock of your hair by return mail,” or “How long shall I have to wait? Pray be considerate.” One thing Sweethearts lovers can count on each year is the candy’s simple formula. Since the hearts inception, the recipe has remained basically unchanged.  To meet the demand for its Sweethearts Conversation Hearts, NECCO produces approximately eight billion candies throughout the year. The entire production – more than 100,000 pounds a day – sells out in just six weeks. 


One Flower Wednesday

I almost forgot that it is One Flower Wednesday.  With all of my sitting time at the hospital lately, I've been able to create quite a few of these little hexie flowers.

In honor of the upcoming Valentine Day on Monday I decided to share this little heart petaled flower with you.  If you would like to see hexie flowers created by others, just click on the link above or on the button in the sidebar.  And I'd like to say a big thank to Karen for linking all of us hexie flower makers together each Wednesday!
Yesterday's mail brought me another gorgeous block.
This block was made by Alicia, my partner for February for the Quilting Block Swap Australia #1.  I love the deep green fabrics she used to make this Storm at Sea block.  Thank you, Alicia!!  Our group had gotten so big that they have started a second group of swappers!  So, if you are thinking about another swap to join, check it out.  Or, there is always room for more members in the Block Swap Adventure (run by little ol' me).



I spent most of yesterday working on my Garden Fancies table runner.  It had been awhile since I had used a blanket stitch and I felt a bit rusty.  But after an hour or so it felt quite normal again.

Here is one end of the runner showing the five flowers I have stitched to the background wool.  I have also stitched the matching flowers on the opposite end.

Here you can see my stitches a little better.  I'm having a little difficulty keeping the centers of the flowers centered.  But then I figure, even in nature flowers aren't usually perfect.  Two more flowers and a butterfly on each end to stitch down.  Then the stems to add and a lot of leaves plus the words above the flowers before it is complete.  If you have stitched on wool, what do you usually use for backing?  Cotton fabric, wool, or felt?



Today I'm going to make the latest block for the Layered Cake QAL.  It looks fairly simple but has several possibilities for the final layout.  Maybe I will have time to work on the table runner some more.



The Quilting Pirate is having a Manic Monday giveaway.  She is giving away a darling apron.  You can enter daily and the winner will be selected Monday, February 14th.

Hanging On By A Thread is having a 300 Follower giveaway.  Patty is giving away a beautiful hand stitched pincushion and some other goodies.  You must enter by February 20th.

Clover & Violet is having a Think Spring giveaway.  Clara and Jennie are giving away a Brooklyn bag sewing pattern along with a Fandango {by Kate Spain for Moda} charm pack and yardage to help you make it!  You have until Monday, February 14th, at midnight EDT to enter. 

Very Berry Handmade is having a Simply Solids Fabric Store giveaway!  You could win 11 fat quarters from Anna Griffin’s Carmen collection.  You have until midnight on Monday, February 14th to enter.

Kim Sherrod Studio is having a CSN gift certificate giveaway!  You could win a $65 gift certificate to spend at this wonderful online store.  This giveaway ends February 10th.

Snippets of a Quilter is celebrating both her birthday and her blog makeover with a giveaway.  Wendy is giving away a table runner the she sewed and quilted, a charm pack that comes with coordinate fabric in pink and an owl bundle that is a kit for a bag and comes with a pattern. Wendy will draw three winning numbers on Valentines Day.

House Of Bad Cats is having a giveaway to celebrate her 100th post.  Amy is not sure exactly what she will be giving away other than it will involve hexies.  The winner for this mysterious giveaway will be selected on Sunday, February 13th.



I had my 6 month follow-up with my neurologist yesterday.  Nothings changed and I remain an oddity.  But that is a good thing!  I was diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2001.  I have been plateaued (stayed the same) for the last 5 years.  My doctor just shakes her head and chuckles.  I am truly lucky to still be able to care for myself and still do almost everything I love to do.  Being 'strange' can sometimes be good.  Being 'different' can also be good.  If we were all the same and followed the same path, life would be very boring.  I'm proud to be an oddity and plan to remain 'odd' for a long, long time.

Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

Welcome Wednesday with open arms and enjoy its splendor!


Vesuviusmama said...

Your table runner is looking lovely, especially on this frigid morning (spring has not made it here yet). I've never worked with wool, so no advice for you there. And three cheers for being "strange/odd/different"!

Wendy said...

Good Morning Linda, your Valentine flower is cute, love those tiny hearts. And I am amazed at our "early" spring as well. Haven't noticed anything blooming in particular, but the weekend weather was gorgeous. However, I could do without the wind we had yesterday. So glad to hear your neuro test was strange but positive! As always, I enjoy reading your blog. You are one amazing woman!! Take care!!

Needled Mom said...

I'm glad that you remain an oddity!! That is wonderful news.

I loved reading the story of the candy hearts. I had no idea they had been around that long.

Just yesterday I noticed that both of our peach trees are in full bloom too. It is a little early, but not surprising with the warm weather we've had. I hope the bees were around for pollination.

Your wool piece is beautiful and the tiny stitches look so perfect. Nice work!!

Vroomans' Quilts said...

THe only thing looking like spring is coming - is my cat is shedding like crazy. Still snow storms, winds and sub-zero here in NY.
Loved the info on the candy hearts. I always tell MOM to grap them when first in store, cuz they're gone the next day. Super hexie for Valentines - I haven't touched mine in a while. Your wool stitchery is really coming - it will look so different once those stems and leaves get added.

Pokey said...

Amen to being an "Oddity"! Love it that being different allows more freedom for you to be you.

Quiet Quilter said...

So love your valentine flower!And I think of the word, "unique" as well when applied to your situation. BTW, I really like the little tidbits of history info you come up with all the time...

Kim D. said...

Love the GFG block Linda, looks like you've been busy. Oh mother nature does play tricks on us, doesn't it. I hope you get some pears this year. Glad your test came back good and it's okay to be a little odd, aren't we all. LOL

Scrappy quilter said...

Love your table runner. Going to be so cute. Good news on your doctor's report...hope it continues to be good. Hugs

Lana said...

Great NEWS! Don't you just love it when the doctors say that? YAY!

You are so the blanket stitches...and I love that the middles of the flowers look the way they do. More natural I say!
Have a great day!

The Quilting Pirate said...

Well, nothing is blooming here Linda...but this weekend might bring out some bugs -- not too fond of bugs!

Now I have a hankering for candy hearts... :) my kids eat through faster than chocolate!

Great hexie flower and what a really need block you got!

Your blanket stitches look great! This is going to be a pretty little runner indeed!

Thanks for the promotion! :)

WOO HOO on the doctor visit, it's nice to see a positive with doctors for you (since the past week has been a very eventful one)!

Sarah Craig said...

I noticed that my daffodils are starting to poke their heads up - hopefully they won't get frozen out before they have a chance to bloom!!

Rochelle said...

Hi Linda,

What fantastic news from your doctor, even if it is a bit odd. I too received great news from my doctor this week, that I am in remission but I still can't believe it. I haven't told many people yet, I don't think I have my head around it.
So here I am trying to leave you a comment again. I hope for your sake that it works after some changes :-(

Have a wonderful day

Talin's Corner said...

I love your flower table runner. Your stitches are beautiful.

Robin (RsIslandCrafts) said...

Unusual that Spring has sprung so early. I hope it isn't being a big tease.

Another wonderful block! You have been very blessed to receive some wonderful blocks lately.

Those little hearts on your hexie are just too darn cute.

Glad to hear you are being an oddity still. Sometimes it's nice to keep the Doctor's scratching their heads and wondering.

Kathy said...

Glad to hear your good news from the doctor - that's great.

I don't think anything is blooming here - if it is, there's two feet of snow covering it so we can't see it. And now it's frigid again! I'm ready for spring. Maybe this will keep the bug population down next spring - sometimes when we have a really cold winter that helps with the bugs.

I usually back my wool things with brushed cotton, with the fuzzy side on the outside. I like them because they are yarn dyed, not surface dyed, so they don't have white edges where you cut them. I usually just fuse them to my wool piece, and then blanket stitch the outside edge. Have fun with your wool piece! You can always use Steam A Seam on your wools and then they stay where you put them while you're stitching them!

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