• 14Feb

    While we only took a day and a half off from working on the house while we were in Sweden, don’t think it was all work and no food!  From the very first day, we made sure there was coffee and a little something to eat, even if the atmosphere left something to be desired.  In Swedish, a coffee break is called a fika (FEE-kah).  And in Sweden, fika is taken very seriously.

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    Luckily, Bertil and Sonja left us a dining room table.

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    Berit and Gunnar came often to help—and bring fika!

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    And our neighbor, Byns Mats and Annacari welcomed us with a pensionärer kaka — a special and delicious cake.  Good thing I’d brought linens!

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    For awhile we had to move the table into the bedroom, but that didn’t mean we skipped fika!

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    My Aunt Evelyn was responsible for keeping my family in contact with our Swedish relatives, and I thought it fitting that I bring her china with me to our Swedish house.

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    I used it for the first time when Sven-Eric and Anna came for fika.

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    It was very special.

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    Fika isn’t always something sweet.  Sometimes it’s a sandwich.   Don’t you love a country whose cheese puffs are shaped like hearts!?!

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    And if we had Coke instead of coffee, there was no problem keeping it cold!

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    One day, when I had to drive to Vansbro to the hardware store, I stopped at the Vansbro Konditori for semlor – wonderful buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream!

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    Sometimes we brought a Thermos of coffee from Torsten’s, sometimes we got coffee at the mini-mart, and sometimes family or friends brought coffee.  Luckily, a few days before we left, we got our electric stove and were finally able to boil our own coffee!

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    So, as you can see, we worked hard, but, like good Swedes, we didn’t skip fika!

     

  • 31Aug

    I recently harvested a lot of lavender from my garden.  It’s all dried and clean, so it must be time to make some sachets!  It’s so easy and they’re perfect to tuck into closets and drawers—and to give away as little gifts.

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    I make these in two parts—a little muslin bag and a sachet pillow from the pretty fabric!  First, I make a little pouch to contain the lavender and cedar shavings.  This can be any fabric.  I generally use muslin, but it’s a great way to use up some scraps or ugly fabric, as it won’t be seen when the sachet is finished.  Cut a piece 5-1/2″ by 11″

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    Fold it…

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    …and stitch down the two long sides.  This is a perfect project for assembly line sewing!

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    I use both cedar shavings and lavender in my sachets.  I got the cedar shavings at the local hardware store in the pet department.  I think they’re used for hamster bedding!  They smell great, though, and are a great deterrent for moths.  In the studio I have a little doll’s tea set, so I used a cup from that.  I’d say it’s about a quarter cup.  I used four scoops of cedar shavings and one of lavender.

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    The bags are cut a little oversized so it’s easy to sew them closed.  I sewed with about an inch seam allowance.

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    Then, to reduce bulk when I put it in the sachet pillow, I trim away the extra.

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    All done with this step!

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    Now it’s time to pick some pretty fabric.  I bought this beautiful piece in Sweden this summer.  To make the sachet pillow, you need one piece 4-1/2″ x 5-1/5″ and two pieces 3-1/4″ x 5-1/2″.

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    You need to finish one long side of each of the smaller pieces.  To do this, press over 1/4″, then press again—another 1/4″.

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    Take the pieces to your machine and stitch down.

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    Now place one of the hemmed pieces on the 4-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ piece, lining up raw edges.  The hemmed edge will be in the middle.

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    Take the other small piece and do the same thing, lining it up with the remaining raw edges.

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    At this point, you could pin, but I don’t.  Just take this to your machine and sew around all four sides with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

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    Trim the corners.  This makes it easier to get nice, sharp edges when you turn the pillow right sides out.

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    Open the little pillow at the hemmed edge and turn right sides out.

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    Push out the corners and press.

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    Now it’s time to insert the little muslin bag.  Just slip it one edge of the pillow cover.

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    Then tuck it up under the remaining side!

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    You may have to wiggle it a little bit to get it to lay in there nicely, but that’s it, that’s all there is to it!

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    You have a pretty little sachet!

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    When I’m making them for gifts, I like to put two together with a pretty ribbon.

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    You can use any kind of fabric for these.  Home dec fabric works great.  Here’s some hand woven fabric that I bought at a handcraft shop in Sweden.

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    I hope you’ll try making some of these—and send me photos when you do!

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  • 27Jul

    A few months ago, I decided it would be fun to have a garden party this summer.  We hadn’t done one in several years.  Then we went to Sweden for three and a half weeks, and when we got home, I had to scramble to get everything ready.  I always say I work best under pressure!  That, and help from family.

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    We put all the tables together, covered them with white cloths and topped them with vintage tablecloths from the forties.  In honor of our recent trip, we decided on a Swedish theme.

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    I loved the look of one long table.

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    Thanks to Melinda…

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    …and Kristine for the gorgeous flower arrangements.

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    We set up beverages and hors d’oeuvre under the pergola.

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    We had three kinds of Swedish cheese, Västerbotten, Präst (priest) and Fontina as well as a selection of hard bread.

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    We also did Toast Skagen, Västerbotten Cheese Bites and a Pickled Beet appetizer.

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    I got out my vintage ringed glasses and pitchers for the Lingon Drink.

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    Sally, super shopper that she is, found these great tubs for the wine, beer, apple and pear drink.

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    It was f fun mix of people.  There were 66 in all.

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    And while it wasn’t sunny, it was very pleasant.

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    Friends from near…

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    …and far.

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    We played the Swedish game, Kubb.  You can guess which team won!

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    We set up the Swedish smorgasbord in our garage.  Note: if you need to clean your garage but can’t get motivated, plan a party where you set the food up in there and you’ll get everything spanking clean!

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    The Swedish centerpiece.

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    Of course the featured food was Swedish Meatballs with Cream Sauce.

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    We also had Little Smokies with Lingon Sauce.

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    There were boiled potatoes with fresh dill.

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    Lingonberry Sauce and Pickled Herring.

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    This cabbage salad is called Pizza Salad in Sweden–as in it’s served in every pizza restaurant.

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    We also had a cucumber salad.

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    Mini Swedish flags adorned the Deviled Eggs with Shrimp.

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    Mom was first to the table!

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    I think everyone enjoyed their meal.

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    And we ended it with Strawberry Torte using Berit’s recipe.

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    Var så god!

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  • 04Jun

    I recently pinned a cute crafty idea from Melanie Dramatic on Pinterest for some fabric covered clipboards.

    Then I got two graduation announcements and wondered about gifts–and the lightbulb went off.  I could make some cute clipboards!

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    I hope they like them!

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  • 12Mar

    My latest fabric collection is called Christmas Morning.  It has this panel:

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    I know it’s a little hard to see, but as I get the blocks embroidered, I’ve been posting them on my Anna Lena Facebook page.  You can “Like” the page and you’ll see the blocks as I finish and post them.

    The blocks tell a story.  The first one is darling kids mailing their letters to Santa.

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    In the second block, Santa has received their letter and is looking it over.

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    Meanwhile, the kids are decorating their house in preparation of Santa’s visit.

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    Now I think these children are just adorable, and I also think they need names!  So, will you please leave a comment with a suggestion for names for these two?  I’ll pick my favorite boys name and favorite girls name, and the winners (the first to suggest the name) will each receive a free Christmas Morning panel.  You have until March 17 to leave your comments!

     

  • 20Sep

    It’s time again for a new round of quilts at A Quilt Block A Day.  That is the Facebook page I have where a group of us does a block a day for three months, four times a year!  We change blocks with the seasons, and, since tomorrow is the first day of fall, it’s time for a new block!

    This is an easy block with a lot of impact—the Tessellating Cross.  This is one I made for my book Fat Quarter Fun.

    In this quilt you have the same design in the light and dark areas.  In other words, you have light crosses, the white, and dark crosses—the black in the sample above and the red in the sample below.

    I’ve chosen to use a bunch of my lavender scraps for my quilt.  Here’s how I did it.  I grabbed my bin of lavender scraps.  I pulled out several hunks that were still full width, i.e. from selvedge to selvedge.  From each of those I cut a 2-1/2″ strip.  Then I cut 2-1/2″ strips of a cream-on-white print. (*See below if you don’t want to use strips.)

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    Stitch the two strips together along the long sides.  Set the seam with your iron.

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    Fold back the dark strip and press.  Do you know that if you have your dark fabric on top, when you lift and press it, the seam below will always be pressed toward the darker fabric?

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    From your strip, cut eight 4-1/2″ segments.  This is enough for two blocks.

     

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    You should have a little more left, so cut two 2-1/2″ segments.  You can use these later in the border, if you want, or use them to make four-patches for another project.

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    Take your 4-1/2″ segments and lay them out as shown below.

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    Stitch the top half, then the bottom half.  Press toward the long dark strip and stitch the two halves together.

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    From the back, you can see that I pressed that last seam in two different directions.  On the left, I pressed it up (toward the lavender print) and on the right, I pressed it down (toward the lavender print).  To do this, you have to wiggle the seam in the middle a bit.  It will open up and everything will lay nice and flat!

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    The finished block!  There are only four seams here—three if you strip pieced the first part!

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    When I put four of them up on the design wall, you can see the white cross in the center!

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    So, won’t you come on over the A Quilt Block A Day, click “Like” and enjoy the progress of the rest of the group?  If you make just one block a day (three seams!), you’ll have 90 blocks by the time winter rolls around!

    You can CLICK HERE for the tutorials for previous A Quilt Block A Day tutorials.

    *If you don’t want to use strips, you can use scraps for your blocks.  You will need four 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ of light and the same of dark fabric for each block.

  • 22Jun

    Got scraps????  I’ve got the perfect block for you, then–STRINGS!

    These things are like potato chips–I bet you can’t make just one!  They’re a great way to use up strips and scraps from old projects.

    I keep a bin (well, two) on the bookshelf behind my cutting table.  Every time I need to straighten the edge of a bolt of fabric (or a hunk of fabric), I toss the resulting strip into the bin.  If I’ve been using strips for a project and have leftovers, into the bin they go.  And what about those 2 or 3 or 4 inches of fabric left after cutting out the pieces of a project.  ZIP!  Into a strip and into a bin!

    I like to use a fabric foundation when I do string blocks.  You can use paper, but I hate to tear away paper if I don’t have to!  So, if you’re ready to begin, follow along.  Layer four pieces of your foundation fabric–anything goes!

    Cut into 10″ squares.  I like 10″ because you get the best use of your fabric.  You could do any size.

    String pieced blocks are simple, easy, forgiving even!

    Grab a handful of strings.  I like mine to be between 1″ and 3″.  I like the look of narrower strings in my blocks, but the wider ones come in handy for corners.  More on that below.  The don’t have to be straight.  In fact, some slight angles make the blocks look better!

    Take a string of fabric and place it right side up, diagonally, on one square.

    Now place a second string, right side down, on top of the first string, aligning the right edges, then stitch down that right side with a 1/4″ seam allowance–or not!  It doesn’t really matter!

    Press the top strip over–and repeat until you have covered up your square!

    You don’t have to use white fabric, and you don’t have to use yardage.  Do you have some “ugly” fabric that you are never, ever, ever going to use in a quilt?  It’s perfect for the foundation for your string blocks.  When I do this, I use the back, as it’s usually a bit lighter.  Here’s and example.  This is the back of a red print fabric.  The red was just a bit “off” and didn’t seem to work with other reds in my stash.

    I did my string piecing on it, just like I did on the white foundation.

    When you’re piecing these blocks, it works great just to feed a whole stack of them through your machine, one after another.

    When you’re finished, they’ll look like this!  Notice that I used wider strips on the ends.  You don’t want to end up with a teeny tiny strip at the end.  It makes it bulky when you’re putting your blocks together.

    Just take them to your cutting mat and lay them upside down.

    You can either use your foundation square as a guide for trimming, or measure and trim.  If you use your foundation square as a guide, your blocks may be a little smaller that the 10″ you started with, as the stitching tends to draw the fabric up a bit.  No matter, just make them all the same size.

    There’s a lot you can do with string pieced squares.  Here are a couple of great examples.  This is a vintage quilt I saw on Ebay.

    Here’s one from Em’s Scrapbag.

    But my favorites look like they have sashing like this one from Quilting Board.  Guess, what?  They don’t!  It’s faux sashing!

    Here’s how it’s done.  On your foundation block, mark a diagonal guide that’s 1-1/2″ – 2″ wide, centering it with the points on your square.

    You aren’t going to sew on these lines, you’re going to line your fabric up with them.  If you marked line is 1-12″ wide, your “sashing” will be 1″ wide.

    Lay your first string down along the edge of the line and stitch.

    Press your string over…

    …and keep going!

    Arrange your squares and, magically, you have sashing!

    It’s fun to play around with your squares, arranging them in different ways.

    You can get creative, like this quilt I found from Blue Ridge Girl on Flickr.

    And, oh!  Your  ”squares” don’t have to be square.  They could be rectangles, like this one from Leedle Deedle Quilts.

    And your sashing doesn’t have to be white!  Check out the controlled color palette and black “sashing” in this example from Angelina79.

    So, are you ready to try string piecing?  I hope you do.  And I hope you’ll join my Facebook page, A Quilt Block A Day, and share your photos.

     

     

  • 20Apr

    A Flat Stanley arrived in our mail box recently.  He was sent to us by our grandson, Justin.  Justin enclosed a letter saying Flat Stanley was looking for adventure on the Long Beach Peninsula, and we were asked to be his guides.  Following is the story of Flat Stanley’s time with us.

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    We welcomed Flat Stanley into our home.

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    He immediately made friends with the Dala horses.

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    But he’d heard a rumor there were tractors in Papa Bob’s shop.  He loved Miss Alice, because she matched his shirt.

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    But then he decided John Deere green is really his favorite color!

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    He said the pretty mint green on Grandma Karen’s old Dodge was almost as pretty as John Deere green.

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    He took a sewing lesson on Grandma’s Featherweight…

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    …but decided it was more fun to play hide-and-seek in the fabric bolts.

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    We took Flat Stanley on a trip into town.  He wanted to drive, but Papa said, “No.”

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    So he rode on the dashboard and watched for the Welcome to Long Beach sign.

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    He was getting hungry so we went to Doogers for lunch.  Flat Stanley ate crab!

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    While the grownups were visiting, he climbed on the pilings….

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    …and hung around in the fishing net.

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    But what Flat Stanley wanted to see the most was the ocean, so we drove down the beach approach.

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    We thought about having a picnic at the pavilion, but we were too full.  And, besides, there were too many seagulls there.

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    Flat Stanley found a sheltered spot out of the wind and did some sunbathing and played in the sand.

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    He even got to ride on a silver salmon!

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    There are lots of things to do in Long Beach, like fly kites and go to the Kite Museum.

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    But one of the most fun things is visiting Marsh’s Free Museum and seeing Jake the Alligator Man.

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    There were lots of seashells and coral there, too.

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    And a great white shark!  Flat Stanley wasn’t even afraid to have his picture taken in the shark’s mouth.

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    It was getting cold, so Flat Stanley slipped inside this sweatshirt pocket.

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    Like a good citizen, he visited city hall.

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    He learned that the rhododendron is the state flower of Washington.

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    He was even more excited to learn that Long Beach is the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail, and that William Clark carved his name in a tree here over 200 years ago!

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    After all this sightseeing, everyone needed some refreshments, so we had a hot chocolate at Angie’s coffee shop.

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    Then we went to Uncle Sidder’s grocery store.

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    Uncle Sidder let Flat Stanley play with his baseball bat collection.

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    Flat Stanley knew all about cranberries because Papa Bob used to be a cranberry farmer.

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    He looked in the vines for some cranberries, but it was the wrong time of the year to find any.

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    But it was still fun to be at the bogs.

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    Flat Stanley asked if he can come back in October for harvest.

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    Then we went to the port dock in Ilwaco, where the fishing fleet is moored.

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    Flat Stanley got to go onboard a boat!

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    But just as we were leaving, Flat Stanley was snatched up by a giant condor!  Luckily Papa Bob was quick and grabbed Flat Stanley out of the condor’s mouth.

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    Grandma and Papa were worried that Flat Stanley had been hurt by the condor, so they called an ambulance.

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    The paramedics put Flat Stanley on the gurney and took him to the hospital.

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    The doctors in the emergency room checked Flat Stanley out.  Luckily, he was okay.

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    And he was very glad get back to Grandma and Papa’s house after his big day!

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    The end.

    Well, except for this one…..I don’t know who needed it more, Flat Stanley or Grandma and Papa!

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  • 19Mar

    I got to be Guest Blogger at SewTimeless this week! I was asked to create a project from my new Red, White and True Blue fabric collection and came up with these quilt-as-you-go placemats.  There’s a complete step-by-step photo tutorial.

    Once I finished them, I knew I had to invite my sister’s Charmin’ Chatty over for a tea party!

  • 29Jan

    Well, I’m going to be on the radio–tomorrow!

    Do you know about American Patchwork and Quilting Radio hosted by Pat Sloan?  It airs every Monday, and Pat usually has four guests.  Tomorrow, I’m one of them!  We’ll be chatting about fabric design, design inspiration—all kinds of things.  To listen live, tune in at:

    4pm Eastern
    3pm Central
    2pm Mountain
    1pm Pacific

    I’ll be the third guest.

    If you miss the live broadcast, you can download a podcast and listen later.  Just click this link to find all the info.

    http://www.allpeoplequilt.com/radio/index.html

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