Change

Fresh Lemons Quilts blog

This past weekend, I was busy with change ~ a big change. Changes that have been on my mind for at least a year. And if you are reading this on my blog, you probably know what I am talking about! Yesterday, I went live with a big website redesign.

Over the last year, I’ve really felt that I’ve outgrown my old WordPress template, colors, design, and layout. Yep, pretty much everything! Twelve months ago, I set up a test blog on my server and started brainstorming and testing changes. It was so overwhelming and time consuming that I sort of gave up.

Well pretty recently, I decided to revisit the idea. I felt a strong desire to create a more mature, cleaner look. I also wanted specific features, like a menu system in the top header. I had just really outgrown the capabilities of the old set up and my list of pages was just getting out of control!

Fresh Lemons Quilts blog

I purchased a template on Etsy as my foundation and started digging into the code and making changes that aligned with my vision. (These are the times I’m very happy to have a background in computer programming!)

Fresh Lemons Quilts blog

I’m so excited about the new look, I actually couldn’t sleep last week as I was thinking about it. I also know change is hard. Every time the Chicago Tribune or CNN redesign their websites, I am the first person to think “WHY!?!?!” Well, I hope not all of you think that when you see this new site.

** Oh, side note: the first time you load images, it will take longer than usual. It will speed up as they cache in your browser. **

All the blog content is still here. My biggest fear was somehow losing something important – or, you know, everything. The tabs that you used to see in the header are now listed in the blog menu up there. I’ve also made some (hopefully) helpful changes, like organizing my tutorials by category, listing my finished projects by year, creating a page with wholesale information, and giving my shop an easier to remember name.

Really, the best part about this new design though is it’s ability to grow with me. As I offer more tutorials, patterns, quilt alongs, and whatever else might come along over the next years. I hope you will take some time to look around. I’m sure I’ll be tweaking things over the next few days, but it’s mostly here!

Halloween and the Art Institute

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I can’t believe it, but I finished my daughters Halloween costume way early! I don’t think I’ve ever made her a costume for Halloween in all 8 years. But not long ago I pinned some costume ideas on Pinterest and she really loved these bird wings.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I followed the general idea on both this website and this website (this second link for the headpiece as well). I didn’t worry about making each wing a perfect 1/4 circle. I measured the length of her arm and the length down her back. I cut a rectangle that size and then just eyeballed a curved line between the two.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I want her to be able to put the costume on by herself for her school party, so I used some sparkly black elastic about 3/4″ thick that I found at JoAnns for the arm holds. It’s not too tight for her and there is nothing for her to tie (or really, for her teacher to tie).

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

For the headpiece, I followed the general instructions here. (But again, I didn’t make it tie, just sized it to her head.) The ribbon is Renaissance Ribbons by Anna Maria Horner. I’ve had them forever! Happy to finally use them.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

The wings at headpiece use a variety of fabrics (handpicked by my daughter) and wool felt. I love wool felt, it is such good quality compared to craft felt from big box craft stores. It comes in so handy for craft projects. One of my sponsors even carries some in her shop – Fabric Spark!

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

My daughter love, love, loves it. **I know I generally ask you not to Pin pictures with my kids on Pinterest, but feel free to Pin any of these Halloween costume photos.** Now to finish my son’s costume. He has a much simpler request – a skeleton.

Halloween Costume! : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Not quilting related, but my kids had off school Thursday and Friday so we decided to have a little fun in Chicago. We took a day trip Friday to the Art Institute. I had my kids bring sketchpads and colored pencils, and they spent the day finding their favorite artwork and recreating it themselves.

Art Institute of Chicago : Fresh Lemons Quilts

This is such a fun way for kids to experience art museums. It makes them really look at the artwork and not just walk on by, bored after a couple rooms. It doesn’t matter AT ALL if they are artistically gifted. It makes them notice details in the paintings that they would have missed otherwise. The staff in each room allowed them to sit on the floor if benches weren’t around. I think the only time in the past we were not allowed to do this was in special exhibit areas (too crowded).

Art Institute of Chicago : Fresh Lemons Quilts

We are so spoiled to have all these awesome works of art practically in our backyard. The fact that we can drive 45 minutes and then spend our day surrounded by Monet and Picasso and Matisse…just incredibly lucky. I knew my daughter would have fun (we’ve done this before), but this is the first time I’ve brought my 5 year old – very active – son. He LOVED it. He wanted to draw everything he saw. He was so calm and concentrated so hard, he did not want to leave at the end of our time there.

Art Institute of Chicago : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I definitely recommend checking out the Art Institute, even with young kids, if you are ever in Chicago. We only made it through 3 sections – Impressionism, Modern American Art 1900-1950 and Modern Art (3rd floor in the modern wing) so we will be back to explore more soon.

Five Years and Counting

Fresh Lemons Quilts

It’s a funny thing, how quickly five years can fly by. Today is my blog’s 5th anniversary. I went back a couple days ago, to revisit that first post. (The image from the post lost in the shuffle during a blog transfer a few years ago.) I’m not sure how long I thought I’d be blogging back in 2009. But I’m happy to still be around and have all of you join me each week, reading and commenting and sharing tidbits and your projects with me. Thank you so much for spending a bit of your time here with me.

Much of the last two weeks has been devoted to designing and pattern writing. I can say there are some new, fun quilts and patterns coming down the pipeline. And while I can’t share those just yet, I thought I’d share some fabric and blocks and food.

Kona Cotton Solids : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I’m planning to use some Kona Cottons in an upcoming project. I totally copied everyone else who was cutting up their Kona Color Cards and placing them on book rings. So much easier to pull out colors and plan quilts!

Liberty of London from DuckaDilly : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I also ordered an absolutely beautiful collection of Liberty of London Tana Lawn fabric, cut into a roll, from DuckaDilly.

And – total accident but they were sitting next to each other on my table – doesn’t the Kona look awesome with the Liberty?

Kona Cotton Solids and Liberty of London : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I love it when that happens!

Another project in the works is a pattern based on my Radiant Splendor block tutorial. Although this test block below looks the same, I did some unpicking after I took the photo as the pattern changes up the block a bit. I’m working on writing and testing and hopefully will get the new pattern finished sometime this Fall. For those that like bigger quilts, this one will be Queen sized (ok, well that’s big for me!)

Radiant Splendor Quilt Block : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I’ve also spent a bit of time in the kitchen lately. I’ve recently discovered America’s Test Kitchen and have fallen hard. (I know, I’m the last on the planet, right?) I have had success with pretty much everything I’ve made from both Cooking for Two and The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2014.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread : Fresh Lemons Quilts

This Cinnamon Swirl Bread is in the latter, as well as online (and I saw them make it in an episode I recorded on PBS).

Cinnamon Swirl Bread : Fresh Lemons Quilts

It was *delicious*.

I hope those of you in the United States and Canada have a great holiday week. Yesterday was Canada Day and Friday is Independence Day here (and my husband’s birthday!) I plan on doing some relaxing and enjoying time with family. And hopefully fit at least some sewing (or more pattern writing in) too.

A Trip out West

Grand Teton National ParkGrand Teton National Park

A bit of a warning, this post has absolutely nothing to do with quilting. I just returned from an amazing, nearly 2 week vacation out west and I cannot help myself. I must share photos and stories. :) Last summer after coming home from a trip to Disney World, my husband and I decided we wanted to plan a trip for our family that was a bit more authentic. Nothing against Disney, our kids love it there and we’ve always had a good time, but we were searching for something a bit more “real” this time, if that makes sense. So I went online and started researching Yellowstone National Park. It didn’t take me long to realize people plan their trips to Yellowstone WAY in advance. Like two years in advance! Some of the lodging was already booked, even 12 months ahead of time. So I started booking various hotels and getting a plan in place. Well 2 weeks ago, the time was finally here!

Old Faithful at sunset
Old Faithful at sunset

Our plan was to drive out (20+ hours!) from Chicago to Jackson, Wyoming, taking 2 days for the drive. (We used Jackson as our base camp for the start of our trip at Grand Teton National Park.) With about 3-1/2 hours left on the first day of driving, we hit a big storm in western Nebraska. There was a heavy rain…then suddenly some little hail…then lightening. A lot of lightening. Which struck our car. While we were driving on I-80. There was a flash of light and a big noise, and then I think every light on our dash lit up. Every gauge except the speedometer died. The air conditioning died. The power steering failed. The car could still drive, but was definitely messed up. But fortunately, we were all ok.

Fairy Falls hike, Yellowstone National Park
Fairy Falls hike, Yellowstone National Park

We made it to a gas station to check things out and once we turned the car off, we couldn’t turn it back on. We couldn’t even get it out of Drive or Neutral and into Park! (Fixed that after some looking on the internet). It was a bit overwhelming and scary and stressful. We started making tons of phone calls to try to coordinate help, and I have to give a huge thanks to the Subaru dealer in Cheyenne for coordinating a flat bed tow truck to drive 2-1/2 hours to come get us and our car, and bring us all to Cheyenne (yes, I rode 2-1/2 hours in a tow truck with my family) to get the car repaired. So…a bit unexpected beginning to our trip. We left our car there to be repaired and picked up a rental for the rest of the trip. I’m not exactly a go-with-the-flow type person so this really tested my limits. :)

Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming

So we did eventually make it to Jackson, Wyoming, which is such a great city. My kids are 5 and 7, so one of the goals when planning this trip was to make it fun for them too. In Jackson we went to our first rodeo, a “shootout“, and did a float trip in the Snake River. They had a blast!

Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming

We also spent a few days exploring Grand Teton National Park. SO beautiful. Coming from Illinois, the scenery with the rivers and mountains and wildflowers and animals…it leaves you speechless.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

I tried to keep our hikes with the kids around 1-3 miles roundtrip, keeping in mind a lot of the trails involving elevation gains/stairs/rocks/etc. We took a ferry across Jenny Lake and did a hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point. A bit scary at the end, but the kids did great. We saw a marmot and two moose while we were there.

Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park
Inspiration Point, Grand Teton National Park

We had some great wildlife viewing in Grand Teton as well, seeing a lot of bison up close (from our car).

Bison, Grand Teton National Park
Bison, Grand Teton National Park

Spring means lots of babies!

Bison, Grand Teton National Park
Bison, Grand Teton National Park

Bison, Grand Teton National Park
Bison, Grand Teton National Park

After a few days in Jackson, we drove north to Yellowstone.

North Entrance, Yellowstone National Park
North Entrance, Yellowstone National Park

There was stayed in the park, a few nights at the Old Faithful Inn (West Wing Frontside room) and a few nights at the Mammoth Hot Springs Frontier Cabins. I mention the room types because if you ever plan a trip to Yellowstone, I highly recommend both. It’s hard to book online in a national park lodge, not quite sure what to expect. With young kids, we wanted a toilet and shower in our room, not a shared situation. So these were perfect! And the cabins we selected in Mammoth was recently renovated and very nice.

Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful Inn, Yellowstone National Park

We spent the first part of our time in Yellowstone exploring the southern half of the park (geyser country). I guess I didn’t realize JUST how many geyers and other geothermal features there were in the park! More than I could count!

Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park
Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park
West Thumb Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Probably our most challenging hike was down Uncle Tom’s Trail in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Not because of length, but due to the amount of stairs and elevation. Our lungs just are not used to that thin air!

Uncle Tom's Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Uncle Tom’s Trail, Yellowstone National Park

View of the stairs from the other side of the canyon.

Uncle Tom's Trail, Yellowstone National Park
Uncle Tom’s Trail, Yellowstone National Park

The falls – amazing!

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park

We saw tons of animals. My daughter kept a list, which included bald eagles, bison, elk, moose, 7 black bears (including 3 cubs!), coyote, hawks, marmots, osprey, pronghorn…lots more I’m forgetting I’m sure!

Black Bear, Yellowstone National Park
Black Bear, Yellowstone National Park

Moose, Yellowstone National Park
Moose, Yellowstone National Park

Hilarious Bison, Yellowstone National Park
Hilarious Bison, Yellowstone National Park

Elk, Yellowstone National Park
Elk, Yellowstone National Park

Coyote, Grand Teton National Park
Coyote, Grand Teton National Park

Keeping with the “make-it-fun-for-the-kids” theme, we did a wagon cookout dinner.

Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park

They loved riding out in the park on the wagons and eating some great grilled food.

Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park
Roosevelt Old West Dinner Cookout, Yellowstone National Park

Leaving was really hard. It was so great to be surrounded my such natural beauty and also be away from the distractions and technology of the world at home.

Hiking at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park
Hiking at Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

We drove by Mount Rushmore on the way home, before heading back to Cheyenne to pick up my fixed car.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

I added several new places to my list of states I’ve visited: Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota. All beautiful in their own unique ways! If you are looking for an amazing vacation and love the outdoors, I hope I’ve given you an idea of somewhere new to see. It wasn’t too horribly crowded yet (early June), but I hear July and August are quite packed as that is the busiest season in the parks.

So, as I mentioned, I’ve been away from technology for about 2 weeks. I’m working on catching up, but I have a lot of emails to get through. Please be patient if you need information from me – I will get to you! :) And hopefully back to the sewing machine this week as well!