Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baraboo Women's Center Underground Railroad Quilt & Seminar ~ Badger Gas & Steam Engine Show

There were so many things to do at Baraboo, but one of the highlight's for me was visiting the Women's Center.  They had guest speakers for those of us that wanted to learn a little Wisconsin women's history, wool spinners, candle makers, quilters, and a vintage apron show.  Plus, there were quilts and antiques on display.  I could have spent much more time there.  It truly is a remarkable event that is arranged for the spectators.  Oh... and they also have a quilt raffle that visitors can participate in! :)

Below is a picture of the front of the Women's Center.  Isn't it wonderful?  The vintage John Deere tractor was owned by the family of the guest speaker  and her sister who made the "Underground Railroad" Quilt.  They are very proud to show its newly restored condition.  It was beautiful!

I did not get the full name of the speaker.  If memory serves me correct, her first name was Jan.  My arrival to the Center brought me in half way through her lecture.  She was discussing the Civil War and the Underground Railroad as it pertained to the women of Wisconsin.  She also discussed the idea of quilts being used to direct the slaves in their travels.  It is not her belief that they had secret codes in the quilts, but she did believe that quilts hanging outside could have tipped slaves off to safe houses and that their stories were told in the block patterns.  Very interesting lecture!

Here is the quilt that the guest speaker's sister made for the event.  Isn't it wonderful?  *sigh*  I had the pleasure of discussing the quilt with her.  They purchased some fabric prints inspired by the Civil War Era.  I am not sure whose fabric line they used, but Barbara Brackman has a line inspired from that era that I have been dreaming about. The pattern came from Eleanor Burns' "Underground Railroad / Quilt in a day" book.  Yep, I am ordering a copy! ;)  The last block is the meaning behind each block pattern in the quilt.  They printed it off from the book onto fabric and incorporated it into the design.

There was a mini quilt and another larger one that were  inspired by the Underground Railroad patterns.

Here is a list of the names of blocks that are linked to the Underground Railroad.

I will wrap this post up with one of many splendid quilts that were on display!   It is entitled "Chickens".   The pattern and quilting created by Karren Watson of the Wisconsin Dells.  Love the colors and the cool hens!  You know me and my chickens. ;)  There were some beautiful works of fabric art to view, and it was a pleasurable way to spend part of the afternoon.   Special thanks to all the wonderful women who made this part of the event possible.  *applause*  :0) 

Friday, August 26, 2011

48th Annual Badger Steam & Gas Engine Club Show Review ~ Baraboo, WI

Last weekend was the Annual Badger Steam & Gas Engine Show.  It is a SPECTACULAR event that lasts for three days.  They have so many different things to do and see.  Are you ready for the list?  Let me think... there is :  a small engine show (which is not a small exhibition by any means), a huge farm tractor show, car show, vintage chainsaw show/competition, and a glorious 600 vendor flea market.  Let me catch my breath... And  in the several pole buildings on site,  there are old saw mills, wood working shops,  gigantic machines that ran factories, book store, scale models, craft exhibits, and a Women's Center (that I will post more about tomorrow!)  I know that I have probably forgotten some of the exhibits, since there are so many buildings.  Trust me when I say, this is a "must go" if you are in the area this time next August.  It is like spending a day walking through times past.  I could wander around for hours and did!  And a huge plus... the exhibition buildings are in the shade of the trees. ;) 

Did I forget to mention all of the good food?   They had carnival food, stands from various organizations, homemade ice cream, and loads of various pies by the piece in the craft building (can you tell where I ate at!).  There was a huge pavilion in the center where one could sit in the shade and eat, while listening to some great tunes on the organ and accordion.  The music filled the air with such a festive vibe that I wished every weekend could be packed with such fun!

Need help getting from your car to the gate and back?  These people haulers were ready and running.  I just had to get a pick of the Minneapolis Moline carrier for my son.  I thought that he would think it was neat.  Although, I am sure that he would wonder why an IH was pulling it! LOL  

This is a few views from an exhibit building that housed John Deere petal tractors, a display of a miniature working farm (amazing!), and larger farm pieces.  Below is the view across the John Deere field exhibit.  All I can say is that it was HUGE.

Sorry for the far away pics. :(  This is a view from another entry to the building.  Or as I call it... Everything that isn't a Deere exhibit space. LOL ;)  It was even larger than the Deere area.  This photo shows the starting point.  It ran to the south of the building for what seemed like miles, as we went on the hunt for the Minnis.

Another opening to the building gives you a peek at the 600 vendor flea market.  They get such a wonderful array of vendors.  One of the most well balanced flea markets that I have had the pleasure of attending. 

Oh... and after all of that walking, we hit some pay dirt or better yet "yellow gold". 

My hubby loves to go check out the vintage chainsaw show.  They have competitions with all of the old saws.  As you can see, they are in fine running order and were definitely the work horses of their day.  And might I add, it took a pretty healthy man to wield one of these heavy pieces of metal around!  Thank the heavens for modern equipment.  I would die if I had to haul one of these babies around at a work site!

My personal faves are the two man saws.  I just cannot imagine that there was a day when these were standard equipment.  Oh yes, they are heavy too!  Isn't it great that these guys take the time to collect and restore these wonderful pieces of forestry history.  Not only that, but they are nice enough to let us enjoy watching them in action. 

They are just to cool!  Thanks guys for a wonderful afternoon!!

I wish that I had thought to take pics at all of the buildings.  The citizens of Baraboo are so lucky to have such a wonderful event in their backyard.  I know that if I lived closer, they would have seen me there every single day!!

Tomorrow, I will be posting some highlights of the time that I had in the Women's Event Center.  And of course, I'll share a few of my finds at the flea market!! ;)

Monday, August 15, 2011

SBS Challenge ~ Blocks # 3 - 7 + Bonus

Hey,  I am still doing the Skill Builder Sampler Challenge!  Just thought you might have thought that I had thrown in the towel with my total lack of updating the blog with my latest blocks.   Geeesh... How could I forget to do that?  And while I am at it, where does the time go?  It is flying by faster than I can make use of it!

Here is the line up so far... Below is block #3 the Churn Dash.  (For some reason, my brain wants to call this the Dash and Churn in the worst way??)  I was scared of breaking into creating triangles and rightfully so. ;) It was a little out of my comfort zone, but that is why it is called a challenge.  Anyways, that is what I kept telling myself!  Upon completion, I felt like I had won a major victory.  ** Sorry Mr. Harshbarger for ever saying that Geometry would never have a place in my life.  Where ever he is today, he can look at this apology as a personal victory!  ;)

So then Leila wanted to inspire us to broaden our horizons and create a block of our own design.  This was considered a bonus block.  Bonus block... sounds like more work to me! LOL  As you can see, my mind was focused on mastering those darn triangles! 

Block #4 was the Pinwheel.  The triangles were a little more of a pain for me than usual.  I am sure the fact that I was pressed for time didn't help.  This one will probably get redone when time allows.  There are a few seams that are off, and it is really bugging me... Grrrrrr!

Block #5 the Arizona was posted, and I thought, "Leila has lost her mind!  Could she possibly throw in a few more triangles???  Yikes!"  Now you can see why I hadn't the time to redo the Pinwheels. LOL   I thought I would never be done with trimming.  But in the end, the result was worth it.  It is a beautiful block, and I am proud to say that I created it. :) 

In fear for her life, Leila posted an easier block with #6 the Bow Tie.  Bless you for this one!  I had just gotten back from vacation with three (#'s 4-6)  cut blocks ready to be sewn together.  The need was great for the last of the three to go smoothly.  This was a fun block and very versatile.  And I am not just saying that due to the fact that it came together fast! ;) 

This is the latest block that is fresh from the sewing machine... # 7 the Virginia Star.   This block is the start of a series of blocks containing  "flying geese" triangles.  This is my favorite block so far.  It is hard to tell from the pic, but the corners are the most wonderful raspberry color.   I flubbed the first try by not reading the directions carefully.  That was a valuable lesson!  The finished product was simple to assemble (when following the directions!), created some dramatic points, and overall makes for a beautiful pattern that is not to busy to enjoy.  I could see myself doing a quilt full of these one day!

Well, now you are all caught up on my challenge blocks.  I have been braking into some different colors on the last few patterns and using a white background.  Since the challenge will encompass many designs, I am letting continuity slide.  Although, I could see some of the blocks being redone in funkier colors.  Yep, I am going down...  the quilting bug has got me!  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract ~ Ready to Use!

Today is a beautiful day here in Northern Illinois.  The temp is in the 70's with a light breeze and bright sunshine... a perfect day!  It sets me to thinking about turning the oven on and trying out a few recipes. *sigh*  Then it occurred to me that today would also be a good day to finish my vanilla extract that had been sitting in my pantry since January.  After around 6 months of soaking, the vanilla beans have given up their flavor to the alcohol and are ready to be removed.  So, I pulled out my bottles from the depths of my pantry.  The extract appeared dark in color and smelled wonderful.   Okay I must confess:   I ran out of vanilla a month ago and snitched a few teaspoons out of one bottle in desperation, and it was definitely ready to use and full strength. ;)  

**For those who did not read my original post for making homemade vanilla extract, you can find it by clicking  here .**

Below is a pic of the bottles with the beans still soaking.  The Club Whisky is a brown bottle, but the others are clear and shows the current color.  My vanilla turned a brown translucent color almost instantly after the first shake.  But as you can see,  it has gotten even darker over the past months.

I sterilized some Mason jars to hold the extract, since I haven't had time to pick up any small bottles yet.   Due to the composition of plastics these days, it is recommended that glass storage containers be used.   The vanilla should be put into dark glass to protect it from the light, but mine will be stored on the dark side of my pantry cupboard, so the clear will work for now.  How do you like my ingenious use of paint strainers?  ;)  

How's that for vanilla and some to spare?  One of the jars contains the vanilla made experimentally out of whisky.  Although it definitely has a vanilla smell to it, I can also smell the whisky right along with it.  This could be an interesting mix in the right recipe, but not something that I would be willing to try again.  Vodka is definitely the best alcohol to use.  *** In case you are thinking on giving this a try, most sources agree that the cheaper the Vodka the better.  Expensive Vodka usually has some flavor added to separate it from the competitors. :)

In my Internet search, I have found 4 oz. brown Boston bottles on Amazon.com for 12.99 a dozen, or the 2 oz size for 10.99 a dozen.  They should work well for storing the vanilla and gift giving.   This little adventure has been a fun experiment.  I will definitely do it again.  But by the looks of it, I won't need to anytime soon! :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thrifty Finds ~ 127 Yard Sales

We have been traveling the 127 Corridor Sales for over 8 years now.  My house and basement are filled with the treasures brought home after our travels - from apothecary jars to vintage linens - rustic paintable treasures to antique Christmas ornaments .  The buying can be limitless as we hit several flea markets a day - walking and looking at items from 8:00 am to 5:00pm.  And let's not forget all of the yard sales that we find along the road!   It is truly an amazing event to be a part of.  Our travels span the states of Kentucky and Tennessee, and we are always amazed by variety of items out for sale.  In the larger flea market areas, there are whole antique shops out on display.  Just breath taking! 

These wooden bobbins came from a gentleman, who arrived in Tennessee hoping to get away from the Florida heat.  The weather had other ideas with temps way into the 90's!   He had wooden bobbins of every shape and size.  I mean... bins upon bins of the most wonderful bobbins to display or recycle.   I bought these smaller green ones to craft with, but he also had them in natural and a gorgeous blue color.  *sigh*  Oh... the possibilities!  He had bought out a textile factory and had cheap bulk prices to offer. :)  The factory also made him take the inventory of thread.  Some of the smaller amounts of thread were still on old wooden spools, while the larger quantities were on cardboard tubes.  The thread varied in thickness and type.  Thank heaven (for my husband anyways!) that we had to keep on pace.  If I would have had time to think, this could have been a dangerous spending opportunity! ;)

Here are some feed sacks that I bought in a pavilion in Kentucky.  There are some patterns that I acquired this year that will work perfectly with these.   

Nothing like some vintage linens.  Interesting twist with the blue apples and red flowers!  I think they will mix well with my projects involving my printed feed sacks. :)

Here are a few items from a favorite spot that I have been visiting in Kentucky every year that we have attended the sales.  A man and wife set up with new and used linens.  They sell in bulk, and they sell cheap!! 

On the bottom is a bath blanket.  It is large (close to a twin size) and will work great for a light batting on quilts.  There were stacks of these new from the factory, and she was selling them for 50 cents each!  I think that I ended up buying 10.  I should have bought more at those prices. ;)

I purchased some baby blankets in a variety of prints.  These had been laundered but were high quality, thick/durable, and like new.   I thought they would make a great backing for my cross stitch quilts.  Quite a buy for 25 cents a piece.

I also bought some hospital scrubs that were new in the packages for $1.00 a piece.  New bath mats that came packaged 6 for $5.00 (over stock from the textile factory that manufacture for motels).  And a few other things that I will remember after I unload my two laundry bags that they filled for me! 


This was a golden find for me.  It is an industrial light.  This is the second one that I have found flea marketing.  If you are in the drafting, illustrating, or crafting business, these are priceless.  This one sits on the table and swings around by the arm, and the light can be turned also.  My other lamp that I found clamps to my drafting table.  Trust me when I say... "They don't make them like they use too!"

So that this post doesn't get too long, I will switch to a couple of my hubby and son's items.  They have their own favorite seller on the trip that sets up across from my linen lady.  He is a gentleman that sells De Walt tools at great prices.  This is where the money starts to fly rapidly out of their billfolds!

As you know, my hubby and son love their chainsaws.  My son purchases and restores vintage chainsaws, and he found three on this trip.  I spared you all that photo op!   My hubby is on the look out for the modern varieties, although he did purchase a large Mall two man saw last year.  This year he didn't purchase any, but we did find him these signs for his shop.  He is a Stihl man at heart, and I found him a banner for those on the 127 a few years back, but I think these brands will add to the wall decor! ;)


Another wonderful trip to look back on.  We have about 4 large flea markets to attend near our home this fall.  Then, it will be winter and thrift shopping until spring.  Where does the year go?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

127 Corridor 654 Miles of Flea Markets and Yard Sales

We are back from vacation.  :)  For another year, we have logged in time at the 127 Corridor Longest Yard Sale that extends from the bottom of Michigan to top of Alabama.   Most of the days were extremely hot this year with the exception of our last day hunting.  It made for a nice send off to have some cooler weather on the last leg of our journey. ;)  I highly recommend this trip to those who love to hunt for bargains, antiques, and just about anything else that you can think of!  If a person cannot find a treasure or two or three... ;) on this trip, then he or she is not looking.  My mind is still swimming from all of the wonderful items.  It is a pleasure just to view them.   Plus, the scenery, cities, people, and towns are just spectacular!

I will post some more of my pics and show a few of our finds.  If you are interested in attending next year, information can be found here.  It is impossible to stop at all of the venues.  But of course... You can never have too many sales to choose from! :)