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Color Inspiration for Irish Heather

How many times have you seen a beautiful sunset or image in nature and wondered if you could capture those colors to use in a quilt?

Staffer Nancy Fallone took this photo on the final miles of a hiking trip in Ireland. We loved the colors so we decided to use it as inspiration for our next “Grand Bundle” that we will be offering in installments as a web special over the next few months. The photo captures the essence of the Irish hills when the heather is in full bloom.

There are a couple of ways you can pull the colors out of an image. The first is explained in this tip on our website.

This method is a little tedious and there is another that works well and is quite a bit faster. This method uses Photoshop. Here are the steps to take:

1.  Open the photo in Photoshop.

2.  Go to Image/Mode/Indexed color. A dialog box comes up asking you to select how many colors to show. I generally click anywhere from 100 to 250.  3.  Click OK

4.  Next go to Image/Mode/Color Table. A chart will come up with the 100 colors (or however many) you selected.

5.  Take a screen shot of the color table and save it.

I like to put the colors into shaded order and that takes some time. I make a box, select the color I want with the eyedropper tool and then fill the box with that color. You will find that many of the colors in the color table are very similar, so I eliminate some as I go.

Here is the photograph with the colors arranged in shaded order.

 

 

The next task, and the most fun, is to find fabrics in the Irish Heather colors.  This is how we created our new “Grand Bundle.” This Grand Bundle will be divided into five “mini” bundles. Once a month for the next five months we will be offering nine of these fabrics as a web special. Collect them all to build the entire Irish Heather Bundle Collection.

 

 

So, the next question is what to do with the fabrics once you have them. It should be no secret to anyone that I love using lots of different fabrics in my quilts and scrappy quilts are some of my favorites. I decided to use the fabrics from the Irish Heather Grand Bundle to create a Thousand Pyramids quilt.

 

 

For my blog at the end of August, I will explain how I arranged the triangles to get an even distribution of the fabrics throughout the quilt. I will also give you a template to download in the size I used for each triangle.

The first mini bundle will be offered as a web special on July 25th with subsequent bundles on sale the last Wednesday of each of the next four months.

Nature so often provides us with a beautiful palette of colors. I hope you enjoy these inspired by the beauty of the Irish countryside and don’t forget to watch for my Irish Heather blog next month.

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Not Too Soon to Plan Our Shop Hop Quilt Design

This is the time of year that I am working diligently on our quilt and pattern for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. The event is earlier this year (October 19-28), so I have to work even faster. As was the case last year, I want to share with you the planning and designing of the project.

The first step is to plan the color scheme. This year, since we selected the cruising theme “Anchors Aweigh,” we chose colors that are often reminiscent of warm tropical waters and sea glass found on the beach.

The next step was to decide on the size and amount of the fabric swatches each shop would have available for the customers to either purchase or receive for free, depending on the amount of their purchase. This year we selected six 2 ½” by the width of the fabric strips. Each shop selected six fabrics that would fit within the color palette shown here.

At our next meeting, everyone brought 10 sets of their chosen 2½” strips and we participated in a “swatch swap.” Each shop went away with 10 sets of fabrics, one set from each shop for a total of 60 different fabrics.

 

The lovely fabric swatches from all the shops.

 

Now is when the fun begins. Each shop must make a quilt using as many of the swatches as they can. They can also add other fabrics if they wish. One of the perks of the Quest is that you receive a free pattern for a shop’s quilt when visiting during the Quest. Participants can collect all the swatches and decide which of the Quest quilts they like the best. Most shops have “finishing kits” available to make their version of the quilt.

Since the cruise destination for our shop is Hawaii, I wanted to design a quilt that would fit in with that theme, and thought the beach at Waikiki with its high rise hotels seemingly emerging from the sea would be a perfect inspiration.

 

Photo courtesy of staffer Nancy Fallone.

 

Sixty-degree diamonds are one of my favorite shapes, and since they are very easy to cut from 2 ½” strips, a fragmented, shaded diamond design seemed a perfect choice for the Studio’s quilt. Value placement is so important in this type of design so I always do preliminary designing in black and white. I tried shading the diamonds in two ways, dark to light lengthwise and dark to light sideways. I played around with the configurations of these two block units until I arrived at a design I liked. It is actually a takeoff on one of my personal quilts from several years ago…I will share this with you when the finished quilt is revealed.

 

 

Stay tuned. Next week I will share with you how I sorted and shaded the fabrics.

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Visiting Sacred Threads – A Unique and Inspirational Quilt Exhibit

Neon Image One
With my friend Carole Nicholas holding “Neon” by Laurie Cessay

 

This morning I was given the wonderful opportunity to visit the Sacred Threads exhibit as finishing touches were added. If you are not familiar with Sacred Threads, I would guess that you’ve probably never seen anything quite like it.

 

“Pyrite Ammonites” by K. Lacy
“Pyrite Ammonites” by Kimberly Lacy

 

 

Pyrite Image Three

Back in 1999, fellow quilter, Vikki Pignatelli, gathered a small group of women to discuss their idea to present quilts with topics that you wouldn’t ordinarily see at quilt shows, giving quilters a venue to freely express themselves.  Their idea was to create “a dignified exhibit of artwork that would touch all those who viewed it on both spiritual and personal levels.”

 

Sandy Goldman and I discuss “Winter Solstice” by Seminar staffer Ricki Selva featuring many of my fabrics.
Sandy Goldman and I discuss “Winter Solstice” by Seminar staffer Ricki Selva featuring many of my fabrics.

Since 2011, we have been fortunate enough to have this exhibit here in Northern Virginia.  Four former members of the Studio and Seminar staffs are on the committee and they invited me to take a sneak peek.

 

Members of the committee fine-tuning the exhibit.
Members of the committee fine-tuning the exhibit.

 

 

Waiting for the final drapes and labels.
Waiting for the final drapes and labels.

This biennial exhibit is divided into the themes of Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing and Peace/Brotherhood and does not focus on any particular religion or faith.

As I first stepped in, my eye was caught by a quilt so obviously filled with joy.

 

Happy Image Seven
You can certainly feel the joy in “Bali Boys” by Linda Anderson.

Throughout the exhibit, the quilts told the stories and experiences of life but it was also fascinating, as a quilter, to see how these artists expressed themselves whether their work leaned towards the traditional or abstract.  The workmanship of so many of these pieces amazed and impressed me.

 

“Florida: Black Skimmer” by M. Wolfe
“Florida: Black Skimmer” by Martha Wolfe

 

 

Honor Image Nine
“In Honor of My Father” by Joan Bratton

There was even a special exhibit in honor of Yvonne Porcella who passed away last year.  I was able to look through these quilts before they were hung and they certainly brought a smile to my face as they reminded me so of Yvonne.

 

Tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Susanne Miller Jones
Barb Hollinger & Jinny with a tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Susanne Miller Jones

 

 

Tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Lisa Ellis
Tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Lisa Ellis

The exhibit runs July 7th through July 23rd at the Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. Visit their website, www.sacredthreadsquilts.com, for hours and directions.  You’ll also find information about “Meet the Artist Weekend” including dinners and more, plus location and dates for the traveling Sacred Threads exhibit. I encourage all who live in the area or who will be visiting during the time of the show to see the spectacular, inspirational exhibit.

 

“A New Dawn” by R. Schwartz
“A New Dawn” by Roxanne Schwartz

 

 

“Fall Was Her Favorite Time of Year” by H. Wilmarth
“After the Rain” by Rosanne Flack Williamson

 

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The Birth of a Fabric

Usually a fabric is chosen to work with a specific pattern or design. In the case of this story, the reverse was true.

As you all know, I love to work with border print fabrics and other prints with mirror imaged motifs. When we select a border print to go around the outside of a quilt or to use inside the quilt, we often have a lot of leftovers. I’m always looking for ways to use these extra bits.

About a year ago I decided it would be fun to use up border print scraps in six pointed stars. I used our 2 ½” acrylic template. Six identical pieces were needed for each star. I sorted through scraps to come up with a color scheme and began making stars. It was such fun to see all the different ones and how the design changed depending on the placement of the mirror images. All the kaleidoscopic results kept tempting me to do more.

 

1. origina bp stars

Then the question came of how to sew the stars together. I thought of joining them with black diamonds.

 

2. stars on black

However the stars kept calling to me that they needed a narrow border around them. So I thought of cutting a narrow border from one of my border prints. This Corsica border seemed perfect with my colors.

 

3. corsica boder print bold

I only wanted to use this small bit that is outlined here.

 

5. diamond
In order to get the border next to each star, I had to break the diamond into four smaller pieces so the diamond could be completely surrounded by the border. Two are cut one direction and two are reversed.

I began sewing the stars together with the “border print” diamonds.

After I sewed several together, I realized that if the quilt was going to be a decent size I would need anywhere from 12 to 15 yards of the Corsica border to get enough of that small stripe for all the diamonds.

That is when I thought of designing a fabric that was only made up of the small border with black in between. It takes about a year from the idea to the fabric and finally this week the Mini-stripe fabric arrived. I did it in five colorways.

 

Mini Stripe Borders on Bolts

I remade the quilt with a larger (3”) diamond template and the new mini-stripe. I am thrilled with the outcome.

I’m calling the quilt Arabic Tiles, have created a pattern and also made an acrylic template set to make cutting the diamonds easier.

 

Arabic tiles glamour- lighter

 

arabic tiles quilt queen

You can use all your leftover bits and pieces of border print, or we have also made a kit in the colorway shown here.  There are two sizes……wall and double

Margot, one of our customers, has already started using her scraps to make stars. She said it is addictive and so much fun to see how different each one can be.

 

10. margo with her stars

For the Arabic Tile quilt, you only need two yards of the fabric for the diamonds joining the stars instead of 15! I’m dreaming up all kinds of other ways to use the fabric as well. Stay tuned for more projects and let us know if you find innovative ways to use it as well.

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Half Square Triangles

The half square triangle is certainly one of the most used shapes in patchwork. Have you ever thought about how many different arrangements you can make by simply putting a light half square triangle next to a dark one and then arranging them in as many ways as possible?

 

half square triangle illustration (1)

 

Here are just a few examples that are in my book, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

 

Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns

 

Blocks from QA

With my interest in all things patchwork, imagine my delight when during my recent visit to the International Patchwork Festival in Sitges, Spain, I encountered 55 benches with decorative patchwork tile designs, all made with half square triangle tiles.

 

Promenade

 

promenade 2

I was walking with my son, Sean, along the promenade that runs along the beach when I saw the first bench. I remarked on how neat that was. Then sixty steps later there was another one and another after sixty more steps.  Before long I realized that each bench was different, with a different design.

We walked for about a mile and a half and altogether I counted 55 benches, all made with half square tiles. Each dark triangle was paired with a light one to create a square and then those squares were arranged in a variety of ways—48  squares (96 half square triangles) along the back of each of the benches.

Some of the benches appeared to be newer than others. Each bench had decorative tiles on the sides that corresponded to the designs on the backs of the benches. The older benches had spaces for 10 squares (20 triangles) and the newer ones had spaces for 6 squares (12 triangles).

So far I have not been able to find any two benches exactly the same. Some had duplicate designs on the back of the bench, but maybe the colors were reversed or the design was upside down on one of them. Also I found benches with the same design on the back, but one was an older style with places for 10 squares on sides of the bench and the other was the newer style with a spot for only 6 squares. A few were the same design but with different colored tiles.

 

bench images 1

 

bench images 2

I only made the discovery of these benches on our last day in Sitges. I wish I had had time to study them more carefully. I photographed most all of them and show 30 of them here.

I would like to know the history about these benches, who came up with the idea, how old they are, etc. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Meanwhile, how many other arrangements can you come up with using the same configuration of 10 square tiles across and three down?

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Studio Staff Projects, Part II

As we left you last week, we still had projects from about half the staff to share with you. One of our favorite things in the Studio is when customers stop in to share their work with us or send us photos through email and Facebook. Here then, with Jinny just back from Spain and probably still jetlagged, we are turning the tables and sharing our projects with you.

Linda quilted up a storm and now has lots of binding to do with more handwork involved on this lovely soft-edge piecing. (Jinny has a great video tutorial on this technique on our website.) But her more important job these days is completing an Elizabeth Hartman pattern called “Fancy Forest” for a special request “Boho” baby quilt for her new granddaughter who is due next month.

 

Linda Soft Edge Piecing

 

Just need to add the binding and then all done!
Just need to add the binding and then all done!

 

 

Linda's Forest Friends

You may not be surprised to learn this but, yes, even our accountant is a quilter. Julia is piecing blocks for an on-line mystery quilt. The name of the mystery is Meadow Mystery by Cheryl Brickey. She chose fabrics from her stash and the completed quilt will go to a military patient at Fort Belvoir Hospital.

 

Julia

 

Dana sent her photos and her story. We decided to let her tell it: “When I married Alen, I knew in my mind that for our 10-year anniversary I wanted to make him a double wedding ring quilt in our wedding colors- red and purple. I have had the Judy Neimeyer pattern for ages along with the fabrics, many of which are Jinny’s. So, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary last October and do you know what he got…a picture of the pattern and an IOU. I felt guilty and decided I better start working on it. I was a bit intimidated as I had never paper pieced before and it just didn’t sink in with me but I decided to give it a try. This pattern is written so well, I am now hooked and am quite enjoying the process. Now every time Alen comes into my work room and sees me working on something that is not red or purple, he’s like “hey what about my quilt?” I told him let’s shoot for 20 years!!!”

 

Dana Project One

 

In addition to the quilt, Dana saw a high-end designer jacket with cats that was well out of her price range. She purchased upholstery material, broke out an embroidery machine that she’s had forever and added her own personal touch to the back to make this chic jacket.

 

Dana Project Two

 

Rebecca proudly boasts of making progress on her UFO pile. She says she “finally” quilted this one and is sewing the binding on. It is pieced with batiks using a pattern by Carrie Nelson, from the Another Bite of Schnibbles book.

 

Rebecca

 

Judy is trying to finish the quilt from a Kaffe Fassett workshop back in October. She had all the squares up on the design board and kept rearranging them, finally deciding how to put it together. The border also changed three times until she decided the big flowers worked best. She’s also working on a BOM from an online blog using Kaffe stash fabrics.

 

Judy Project One

 

Judy's BOM using Kaffe Fasset fabrics.
Judy’s BOM using Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

 

And, finally, Cathy recently finished this top framing it perfectly with a Milan border print. Along with that, she put the finishing touches on this Midi Bag which was a Weekly Web Special last fall.

 

Cathy Milan Border

 

Cathy's Midi bag will surely come in handy!
Cathy’s Midi Bag will surely come in handy!

 

Thanks for letting us share our projects with you and don’t forget that we always love to see yours.

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Studio Staff Projects, Part I

While Jinny catches up after teaching in Spain, we, the staff, are taking over her blog. This past weekend, we celebrated National Quilting Day, a day to “appreciate and to recognize quilt makers, along with all of their long labor, love and skill that goes into the making of each quilt.”

We also hope that you take the time to celebrate the camaraderie of quilters. For generations, quilters have come together to share more than stitching…but, oh, how we love our stitching. Here at the Studio, we share our projects, give praise, offer advice and learn from each other. Here, then, is a look at what we have under our needles.

Elaine purchased an incomplete quilt top on eBay a few years ago. She calls it “Scrapple” because so many of the pieces are SO tiny! Fabrics range from the 1890s to the 1930s. She completed the top using antique fabric from her stash. She didn’t like her first attempt at machine quilting so she removed all of it. It took her several hours! It was then re-basted and quilted using a home-made spiral stencil. Now, she says, “I love it!” That’s quite a lesson of sticking with something until you think it’s right.

 

Elaine scrapple

 

Close-up of Elaine's Scrapple
Close-up of Elaine’s Scrapple

 

Diane has been furiously stitching away on her La Passacaglia from Willyne Hammerstein’s Millefiori Quilts book. This amazing quilt contains only Jinny’s fabric. Diane and her quilt will appear on The Quilt Show later this year.

 

Diane Millefiore

 

Our newest staff member, Elizabeth, is almost all done with this one. The pattern is called Rock Candy by Jaybird Quilts. The fabric was from a scrap bag of Jinny’s batiks. It is hand pieced and quilted.

 

Elizabeth

 

Some of us like to have both machine and hand work projects going at the same time. Nancy made this this cute little table topper as a carry-around project. Does it look familiar? Check out Elizabeth’s project above. It’s hand pieced and made with Jinny’s Malam batiks and 60° diamond template. She’s about to machine quilt it while hand stitching the binding on a baby quilt.

 

Nancy Rock Candy

 

Nancy2

Many of you saw the staff tuffet class on our Facebook page. Lura just finished hers. Nice! She’s hand piecing these rose star blocks for a wall hanging for her sister using vintage Jinny borders. She also continues to make pie trivets/potholders which are great gifts. She’s discovered the perfect “crust” fabric is Jinny’s Palette #112.

 

Lura Tuffet

 

Lura-trivet_ph

We are sad to say that Marion will be leaving us this summer to return to the Netherlands. Before she goes she’d like to finish her toothbrush rug started in a Studio class last fall.

 

Marion, TBrug

 

Marion's Toothbrush Rug
Marion’s Toothbrush Rug

 

Kelley has three projects going. As a member of a pincushion club with a group of quilting friends from Virginia, Arizona, Texas, and California, she learns new skills on one small project each month. She is also taking part in the “Primitive Triangles Sew Along” with Lisa Bongean using Jinny’s Casablanca collection. The blocks finish at 4”. And then, of course, there’s her Farm Girl Vintage from Lori Holt which just needs the binding completed. Her quilt has 56 blocks that finish at 6”. She asks, “Can you tell I like small pieces?”

 

Kelley's Pincushion

 

Kelley Triangle Sew Along

 

Kelley's Farm Girl Vintage
Kelley’s Farm Girl Vintage

 

Well, when we started this it seemed like a nice little blog post but we soon became aware that we, as a group, have a lot of unfinished projects that we are currently trying to finish up. Can any of you identify with that? Check back next week for Studio Staff Projects, Part 2.

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Building Art One Piece at a Time

I just returned from a visit with my grandchildren and their parents. One of the things we did was to go to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to see their new exhibit “The Art of the Brick.”  We had to wait in line for more than an hour to get into the exhibit, but it was worth the wait.

 

Lego Six

 

Oh, what fun we did have!
Oh, what fun we did have!

 

 

This exhibit features the work of Nathan Sawaya, an Oregon artist who builds his amazing art with Legos! I have to say that I was just as in awe as the children were. We as quilters build our art with fabric and thread, one piece at a time and it was easy to see some of the parallels in the creation of the Lego art.

 

Polly hugging the Lego tree.
Polly joined the Lego people and hugged the tree.

 

 

Emmett and the glowing skulls made of Legos.
Emmett and the glowing skulls made of Legos.

 

 

Lego Seven

 

I took several photos with the children to put into perspective the size of some of the pieces.

 

Lego Three

 

Lego Nine

 

Lego Eight

 

If you ever get a chance to see an exhibit of Mr. Sawaya’s in person you should go. It is truly inspiring.

 

Lego Ten
Polly, Emmett and my son-in-law Rob
Opening your heart to art and loving what you do!
Opening your heart to art and loving what you do!

 

You can see examples of his art on his website: http://www.nathansawaya.com

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Borders – The Finishing Touch

My recent trip to Nepal this year and India last year was an eye-opening experience. I lived in that part of the world for nearly five years. At the time, I didn’t recognize the impact this region was having on me because I was not yet a quilter. Going back recently was like going home. I discovered how profoundly my time there has guided me throughout my quilting life.

Probably the most powerful influence was the borders you see everywhere, both simple and elaborate.

Simple can be seen as just a small edge to stop the pattern of a wall of bricks or a plain fabric in a different color to stop the eye around a shirt, sari, or pair of pants.

 

Bricks
Bricks with borders.

 

 

Nepali Dress
Nepali dress with simple but colorful borders.

 

 

Treadle Machine
Notice the band around the ankles of the pants as this woman treadles.

 

 

Nepali dresses and fabrics with borders.
Nepali dresses and fabrics with borders.

 

Elaborate borders abound as well whether it is one surrounding the window or doorway of a home or temple or borders around the outer edges of entire buildings.

 

Doors and Windows
Doors and windows, all with borders.

 

 

The Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India.
The Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India.

 

 

Red Fort
Red Fort in Agra

 

 

Red Fort Agra
Columns at Red Fort

 

 

Detail at Red Fort
Detail at Red Fort

 

Even the written language has a straight line across the top of the characters.

 

Written language
Written language even has borders.

 

No wonder when I began quilting I wanted to add borders to everything. There was just a need to stop the design and give it a proper frame……sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate. It is like framing a picture. It looks so much better when the frame sets it off.

So at least from me, you will get borders on my quilt designs, sometimes elaborate, sometimes simple, but whatever is needed to stop the design and showcase it.

 

Simple borders on Labyrinth.
Simple borders on Labyrinth.

 

 

A pieced border on Windows.
A pieced border on Windows.

 

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The Treasure Box

I visited my grandchildren a couple of months ago and Polly carefully showed me her Treasure Box containing all kinds of items that were going to go into the trash that she rescued for projects. There were empty tissue and paper towel rolls, an interesting button, empty spools, odd pieces of yarn, etc. She and her brother, Emmett, have amazingly creative minds and put together all kinds of creatures and art.

Dolls made from felted balls that I brought back from India.
Dolls made from felted balls that I brought back from India.

So in anticipation of Polly and Emmett’s visit this Thanksgiving, I started collecting items for a Treasure Box here. The box contained plastic tubes and pen holders, threads that accumulated at the shop from tearing fabric for fat quarters and kits, scissors, scotch tape, duct tape, lots of fabric scraps, felted wool balls, and so much more.

When they arrived and I told them about the box, they could hardly contain themselves and wanted to delve in right away. Of course, it had to be emptied where the activity was going on…….the kitchen table. So for a week we ate in the dining room and the kids had their on-going projects to work on in the hubbub of activity.

Projects

Recycled pen displays make great fairy houses.
Recycled pen displays make great fairy houses.

The first thing they went to was the fabric and they said they wanted to make Halloween costumes for next year. Emmett wants to be Darth Vader and Polly wants to be a peacock. I told them we would need larger pieces of fabric than what was in the box so we went to the shop. Emmett immediately found solid black fabric and Polly found a batik that she thought would make a perfect peacock skirt.

I decided it was time to introduce them to the sewing machine so that went on the kitchen table as well. They both caught on very quickly.

Creating 2
A natural born sewer
Love those batiks!
Love those batiks!

While I was showing Polly how to work the machine, unbeknownst to me, Emmett had cut a hole in the middle of the black fabric for his head, two holes for arms and found a decorative belt to go over his shoulder. He made a hat from a black file folder and my black microwave vegetable steamer and his dad helped him tape batting inside so it wouldn’t slide around his head.

Creating 3
Darth Vader

Among other sewing, Polly and I made holiday napkins for her mom and dad for Christmas along with her peacock skirt. Emmett made a quilt with squares, a hat and clothes for stuffed animals and dolls. What a wonderful feeling to share my love fabric and sewing with them!

Creating 4
Prepping the fabric for an upcoming weekly web special.

Of course, in the middle of all the activity, our washing machine died Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. We were able to get a new one Friday and the kids immediately latched on to the box it came in and spent the next several hours creating their “Time Machine”.

Five rolls of scotch tape and three rolls of duct tape later……

Where in time shall we go???
Where in time shall we go???

In the midst of all the projects, we also had cooking activities and fed and took care of the animals I borrow from a friend whenever the children come for a visit.

Cooking with Polly

Take care of animals

Hi!!!
Hi!!!

Needless to say I’m a bit worn out. But happily so!