Saturday, March 31, 2007

Marysville Rest Stop

Boy, am I tired tonight! I made the trip up to Oroville today to take care of some business for my parents and visit, so I've done my "good daughter" stuff for the weekend. Tomorrow is "my" day, and I'm planning to sleep in and then quilt. Maybe I won't even get dressed! Well, I probably will, but it sure is nice to know that I don't HAVE to if I don't want to! I mentioned before that when I travel to Oroville, I like to stop in Marysville, which is about the halfway point. Good thing too, because there's really no other place to stop unless you want to visit someone's orchard or farm fields. The photo above is the view of the lake from the Starbuck's. Nice lake, huh?! LOL! I know, I know--you can barely see it in this photo and I was trying hard to get a picture between cars and trucks, but it's a heavily traveled road so it didn't quite turn out the way I planned. There really is a nice lake and park there, but they've started putting in a little strip mall on the street, and it blocks this particular view. You may remember, if you read that earlier post, that I talked a little bit about these lighted metal supports that criss cross each intersection on the old main street. Well, here's a photo of that (did I mention that I'm a really poor photographer? I really didn't MEAN to feature the garbage can in the photo! LOL!):

You can see the closest one and then off in the distance is another. I'm not sure how many there are, but I'd guess maybe six or seven. They look really cool after dark with the lights on. And right behind me is the quilt shop I mentioned. Yes, I did visit it--first time too. AND the fabric fairies were smiling down on me today! Now I think I have also said that I'm a Thimbleberries fan, so you can imagine I was pretty excited to find some older ("vintage"!) Thimbleberries fabric as well as some older fabrics from other designers. I'll share some photos of my "haul" with you:

Here's the Thimbleberries fabrics--from several of the older lines. They had a bunch of their fabric precut in one yard lengths, so that's what you'll see with some of these. A pretty decent bargain too at $6.50 a yard!

Then I picked up some pink fabrics. I'm not a pink kind of person, but these appealed to me and would look nice made into something in my daughter's former room--I painted the room a light green earlier this year. The top two are from an old Robyn Pandolph line back when she was still with Moda.

Finally, here are some odds and ends. The piece on the bottom is a flannel that I had been searching for. There's a visually excellent but simply pieced quilt that this line was used for--I've seen the quilt made up in shops a few times--and with this fabric, I have the main pieces and can "fake" the rest. So that was a pretty cool find, and I almost missed it because I wasn't really looking at the flannels. The blue piece in the back is more old Robyn Pandolph--really a pretty blue shade. Finally, the middle piece is from Kansas Troubles, an old line called Stitches on the Oregon Trail, I think. I remember this stuff was in shops when I first started quilting.

I guess I'm going to have to stop in Marysville more often! LOL!
Once I got back to the city, I finally did my grocery shopping. After putting it off for a couple weeks, the grocery bill made my fabric bill look quite small! LOL! Now I'm thinking about French toast for breakfast. A blueberry crumble bread for the toast with some whipped honey sweetened cream cheese and blueberry jam between two slices. How does that sound? With a pot of Starbuck's coffee? You're welcome to come over--just don't arrive too early, because I'm sleeping in!

Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail

Isn't this the cutest card? Well, maybe it's not for everyone, but I like vintage stuff, so my friend sent it to me. Perfect! It's joined the other Easter decorations in my hutch in the kitchen. If you're anywhere near the Salt Lake City area, check out Broadbent's--that's where she got the card. Broadbent's is hard to describe but they've got everything a gal could want--reasonably priced and really cute decorations for the holidays and other times of the year and even a quilting/fabric department. We stayed in Lehi when we were there, and Broadbent's is about 5 minutes away heading back toward SLC--can't tell you the exact town, but if you're in the area, just ask and I'm sure someone will be able to direct you.
I'll be spending today hopping down the bunny trail. Okay, not really. Actually I'm up early on a Saturday (*groan*) and heading up to Oroville to take care of some business for my parents and visit them at the nursing facility. My treat for all this self-sacrifice is to stop at the quilt shop I saw on my way back last time I went. Then grocery shopping, which I've been putting off since LAST weekend! Sometimes, though, it's kind of nice to use up what you have in the house, challenge yourself to create a meal from odds and ends. And, of course, it's nice to NOT stop at the grocery store. But all good things must come to an end--like not grocery shopping and being able to sleep in on a Saturday. So, hippity hop hop, I'm on my way.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Are You Reading This?

If you are, welcome to my blog! If you're not--well, you're missing out on my pearls of wisdom and skewed sense of humor, but maybe you'll find me someday! LOL!

What got me thinking was that I found out today a friend of mine who lives up with the Eskimos and dog sleds in New Brunswick, Canada, reads my blog quite often and I didn't know. Okay, I know she doesn't really live with Eskimos and dog sleds, but we like to tease her and pretend to be dumb Americans!

Speaking of dumb Americans, though, I'm not very knowledgeable about world geography. I just love having the map on my blog so I can see where my visitors are from, but I'll admit that I don't always know exactly WHERE you all are--what country or what part of the country. Or even sometimes--YIKES!--what state! Shame on me! I'm hoping that as I have visitors popping in from all over the world, I'll start to get a better grasp of geography.

If you've read my first blog entry, you know that I ended up with a blog by accident. A couple of us were trying to prod our friend Kairle--the first of us with a blog--to start posting again after a long hiatus. In trying to leave a comment on Kairle's blog, I ended up creating a blog of my own. What I didn't know until I started my own blog is that you can go into a blogger's profile and e-mail them directly instead of leaving a comment (which often requires you to have your own blog or a Google account)--or at least you can if they've chosen to list an e-mail address. So if you read my posts and want to say something but can't leave a comment on the blog, feel free to e-mail me. Just don't e-mail me mean or rude comments; but then I suspect that most people who find my blog are quilters, and quilters are the nicest people I know!

In fact, I thought I'd share with you a photo of a few of the nice people I know, people I've met through quilting. This was taken at a small retreat we had in Utah this past October. Three of the gals came from different parts of Canada, and several of us were from the U.S. No, I'm not in this photo and I won't name names to protect the guilty, but we sure did have a lot of fun shopping and sewing!

Now, just a little follow up on yesterday's blog. My husband served dinner tonight--nothing fancy, just KFC that I picked up on the way home. Remember the "throw away" issue? Tonight we had dinner on--what else?--paper plates. Okay, not just paper plates though. HALLOWEEN paper plates! See, I think he's plotting to get rid of everything in the kitchen. Or do you think maybe it's just because he didn't feel like doing dishes any more than I felt like cooking?! Nah! Conspiracy theories are much more fun!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Remember that cake I didn't bake for you yesterday when you came to see the Sweat Shop? Well, I baked it tonight, and it's just come out of the oven--it's cooling now, and I should be able to frost it soon. Chocolate torte with a mousse frosting--doesn't that sound yummy? I'm afraid, though, that it's not going to look as pretty as I would have liked. You see, I have a house in which things disappear. Like my cake pans. I used to have the greatest cake pans with removeable bottoms but I haven't been able to find them for quite some time now. I suspect my son took them--he likes to cook. I even had some not-so-great cake pans, but they're nowhere to be found either. I'm sure it's my husband's fault. It always is.

You know those plastic containers you can buy at the grocery store now that are fairly inexpensive (much less expensive than Tupperware!)? Some companies are selling lunch meat in them. You know the ones I mean. Every now and then, I'll buy a package, or save the containers when the lunch meat is gone. And every now and then I'll hear my husband packaging up leftovers for the kids or other family members and friends, saying, "Oh, don't bother returning them. They're just throw aways." Yep, easy for him to say. Every dollar spent on those "throw aways" is one less dollar for fabric! (Our household is based on a fabric economy, by the way. That stash I showed you yesterday? It's kind of like a 401k plan for my retirement.) My husband loves to take leftovers to work for his lunch every day. Wouldn't it be funny if one of these days there's nothing to package them up in? Ha!

You know what it probably is? Doing the dishes is my husband's "chore." Maybe if he convinces himself that everything in the kitchen is a "throw away," he can justify not washing anything. After all, I'm sure that taking out the garbage is much less time consuming than washing dishes!

So, anyway, I have cake. Funny looking cake. No, it won't look anything like the picture that began this blog. Since I have no cake pans, I made the two layers in pie plates. I think I'll take my husband's piece out to him, where he's watching TV in the living room, on a spatula and serve it into his hands; I'll tell him the dishes are missing--must have been throw aways.

Would you like to come by for that piece of cake now? You're more than welcome! I'll put the coffee on . . . .

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Welcome to My World!

If I haven't mentioned much about quilting lately, it's because I haven't had nearly enough time to actually QUILT since I've had other things going on. When I HAVE had time to quilt, it's been spent, well, quilting, and that's kind of a time consuming process. So I thought tonight I'd take you on a little tour of the Sweat Shop and give you a glimpse of where I live much of the time and what I'm working on. Ready?

Come on in! Don't be afraid! I straightened up in here because I knew you were coming. Well, not really, but I didn't have time to bake a cake and I wanted to make you feel welcome!

As you can see from just inside the door, I have a small TV that I can watch while I sew. This is pretty much the view I see from my chair in front of the sewing machine. Those little quilts on the wall were given to me by some of my close quilty friends; by the way, the sign outside the door was a gift from a good friend too. Aren't quilters the best?! In the bottom right of the picture, there's a quilt rack that's somewhat buried under UFOs--these are actually UFOs that all need some kind of applique to morph into the beauties I know they can become! I'm kind of a Thimbleberries addict, so the entire wire drawer unit below the TV holds Thimbleberries fabrics. Come a little further into the room and see what I've been working on.

Isn't that one of the brightest quilts you've seen? It's actually much brighter in person! I had made a quilt (which is waiting on the applique rack) using one of the great Fig Tree lines of fabric (check out Joanna's blog!) and had a bunch left over, so I decided to see what I could make with it--the green, pink, and yellow are the leftovers. I had this other fairly gaudy fabric in my stash that looked good with all those colors; it also had red in it (pink and red? yikes!) so I pulled some red fabric from my stash too. This is way out of my normal color comfort zone, but I like it, and it will look nice on my bed for spring.

Now come around to the other side of the table.

(To orient you, you'll see that same quilt rack there on the bottom left.) When I decided to use this room as my Sweat Shop, I removed the doors of the closet and added shelves and another wire drawer unit. There's a foot stool (for the cats) and a large fabric basket (to hold current projects) in front of it so you can't see very well, but on the bottom are two LARGE wire baskets for scraps. I keep whichever machine I'm not using on the desk top. Above that are shelves full of swapped blocks, kits, large lengths of fabric for backs or whatever, wool, and other "stuff." (There are a few more shelves above where the photo cut off.)

Heading back out of the room, you can see more of my shelves for "stash." I designed the shelving in the room and my father-in-law was kind enough to build it. The shelves wrap around half the room, from the doorway to the window on the far wall. Only these go all the way to the floor; the rest of the shelving goes from the ceiling to about mid wall. They're only 7" deep, so they hold a lot of fabric but don't take up too much of the space in the room--something that was very important to me since my room only measures 9' by 9'.

Thanks for stopping by! Now I need to get back to quilting. Don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out! LOL!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Art of My Men

I'm very fortunate that my family supports my quilting, and I think that's partly because we all have a pretty good appreciation for art. Here in Sacramento, we have something called Second Saturday when many of the art galleries and venues premier showings and art exhibits, and my husband and I have gone several times. My son and his girlfriend also like to go and look. One of my favorite stops is the studio of Merle Axelrad Serlin, who constructs amazing, large landscape pieces, quite often for public spaces. Although her art isn't the traditional quilt, she employs many of the same techniques we quilters use. The picture above is one of her creations. Check her out by clicking on her name and go to her gallery.

But that's not really what I intended to talk about tonight. I wanted to talk about how creative my husband and my son are. My son is very interested in graphic-style art, similar to street or tagger art, although he doesn't go around spray painting buildings, thank goodness! LOL! He often carries with him a sketch pad and pens and works on his creations during quiet times (like when he's brought a month's worth of laundry over to mom's house and has nothing to do until it's done). It's hard to explain, but many of his pieces depict the word "ghost," which is the name he uses. He's very good at drawing other things but keeps coming back to variations on "ghost"--shading, angles, perspective. The photo below is of one of his pieces--perhaps if you look closely, you can see the word, but it's pretty well hidden.

Here's another sample of his doodles. The center bottom image again says "ghost":

My husband is also creative, but in a different way. He works in fits and starts, sometimes going for some months without creating anything and then he'll work on whatever it is for several days in a row. He's happy puttering away in the garage, looking at all the cast off "junk" and letting his imagination transform it into something rather clever. I'd guess about 95 percent of his time is spent in the imagination and planning stages. Last year he made "Pot Man" and it sits proudly on our patio.

This year, when he was sorting and packing things away after Halloween, he came up with the idea for "Frankenfly," who now also graces our patio.
My husband's creations tickle me because they're so offbeat and unique. A couple years ago, we HAD to invest in a globe from a street light when we visited Hippo Hardware up in Portland, and that's his next project. More than anything else, though, I'm glad he has an outlet for his creativity. We all need that, don't we?!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Time Becomes Meaningless in the Face of Creativity

Quite a few years ago, I purchased a refrigerator magnet at the gift shop of a local art museum that says, "Time Becomes Meaningless in the Face of Creativity." Oftentimes I reflect on that simple statement and how it relates to my life and my quilting.

When I first brought that magnet home, I think I related to it more on the level of being "time challenged." Yes, it's true that I've always taken joy in creating things on some level, but back then, I wasn't as deeply engaged in creative pasttimes as I later became when I discovered quilting. Back then, I would just get caught up in something when I was supposed to be doing something else--like getting to work on time! LOL!

Now, though, I look at that statement and think how apt it is when it comes to quilt making. I can't tell you how often I seem to lose track of time when I'm working on something related to quilting. How many times have I daydreamed about a quilt idea? How many times have I felt a need to finish a block or a section of a quilt before I could start dinner? How many times have I laid in bed with block ideas milling around in my brain, keeping me awake when I needed to get up for work in the morning? Or even worse, how often have I dreamed quilt patterns?

The statement works too when I think about the amount of time it takes to make a quilt. Sure, we all squeeze in quick little projects from time to time, but to carry out a more elaborate quilt project, from cutting to binding, takes an enormous time commitment! But it really doesn't matter how much time it will take, does it? Not when it's a really fantastic idea that screams out to be transformed by fabric!

I remember I attended an AQS quilt show in Reno not long after I began to quilt--maybe a year or so after I started. The featured artist was Zena Thorpe (check out her quilts!), and I got to see some of her masterpieces up close and personal and talk with her about them. Well, of course you all know what quilt novices ask: "How long did it take to make that?" Yep, I was still wet behind the ears and dumb enough to think there was an answer to that question! Luckily for me, though, Zena's a very determined, one-track quilter--not the type to flit from quilt to quilt and amass UFOs. She was able to tell me that most of her larger applique quilts take about a year from the time she starts until the time she finishes. Wow, that seemed like an eternity to me then. But do you know what? I have quilts--one in particular comes to mind--that by the time I finish, I will have probably put in quite close to that amount of time--or I would if I hand quilted it like Zena does. And it really doesn't matter. I don't quilt for instant gratification--not usually, anyway. Not on the projects that matter, and I do like to have a project or two in the works that really gets me creatively excited!

I wish I could quilt all day, but I can't. I have to work. Nevertheless, I manage to put in at least two to three hours after work each day in the Sweat Shop and probably about ten hours on most weekends. At least that's about what I'd estimate. But then again, who knows? After all, time becomes meaningless in the face of creativity!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring is in the Air!

But not for long--I've heard we're getting some cold weather in the next day or so. Well, cold is relative--I'm sure other parts of the US would probably just laugh at what we Californians consider cold! My daughter, who lives in Lake Tahoe, is happy though--she has big plans for some snowboarding later in the week. She's just managed to do her first jumps the other day and wants another chance or two before the snow's gone.

Nevertheless, it was a beautiful day here, and while my husband worked outside in the yard, I spruced up the kitchen for spring. This is a pretty poor photo of the hutch in my kitchen, but I wanted to get a picture--turned out with too much glare from the flash and the light behind me. Martha Stewart probably takes much nicer photos, I'm sure!

This photo is of another little section of my kitchen. I'm not sure you can see it very well, but I managed to get another egg wrapped and stuck on a candlestick. I don't know what I'll do with the next one, because I only have two of those candlesticks! LOL!

The wallhanging you see above is one I made a few years ago. It started out with an idea from Thimbleberries Club and jars of preserves and another idea I had about making a window. I used white eyelet for the curtain and cut a couple of old ladies handkerchiefs for the shelf with the preserves. The flowers above the window are also three dimensional. Kind of a fun project. You can also just barely see two of my bunnies on top of the toaster oven. I wonder how long it will take the cats to discover them and carry them off?!
Finally, I finished all of the straight, stitch-in-the-ditch type quilting on my current quilt project and am looking forward to playing around with some free motion designs this week. I'd sure like to get this one done soon--it's really a springtime quilt for my bed, which is currently devoid of a quilt and looking pretty sad and boring. And speaking of sad and boring, the weekend's over and tomorrow's a work day. Have a good one!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cleaning and Crafting

I spent an inordinate amount of time today cleaning up and organizing my sewing room. What a great feeling to have everything put away, nice and neat and uncluttered! Once I got that done, I went and messed it all up again making Easter/spring/Martha Stewart things!

Remember those pipe cleaners I was dyeing last night? I used them to make those little chicks above, a la Martha. I don't think mine are quite as cute and fluffy as hers, but they have a certain appeal. These babies are tiny! In fact, I'm not quite sure what I'll do with them. My two cats, on the other hand, know EXACTLY what they want to do with them. I'm not sure they realize they're made out of pipe cleaners. I caught the young cat trying to carry one off, and the old cat was eyeing them pretty closely too.

Once I finished a suitable sampling of chicks, I moved on to the bunnies. Kind of cute, but again pretty small.

Kind of goofy too. Why do their whiskers look more like arms? Probably because I'm not Martha! Martha also made some cute little carrots to go with the bunnies, but she used Fimo clay to form the carrots and then wrapped them like the eggs (below). I don't have Fimo clay, so I'm trying to think of something else I can use. Any suggestions?

Finally, I tried wrapping an egg. Not too bad. In the magazine, Martha has eggs on candlesticks, which seems a decent way to get a photo since they just roll around on the table otherwise. My plan, though, is to make several more and put them all in a basket or bowl for display. (That's one of the pair of candlesticks I bought at the Department 56 store in S.F.--I need to get some candles for those.)

Time to go clean up that sewing room again. Sheesh!

Later Note: A friend said my bunnies look like space aliens! OMG, they do! LOL!

Friday, March 23, 2007

I'm NOT Martha Stewart!

Despite Kairle's kind comments about my decorating abilities, I have to post a disclaimer here. I'm not Martha Stewart! Nope, I've never even really liked watching her much. It's not that I don't think she has some great ideas--she does! Good taste too. It's just that she seems so rigid and "proper." Oh, and probably the WORST transgression in my book--very little sense of humor! Nope, I'm not Martha Stewart. Not tonight, anyway. I'm trying to be, but I'm not sure it's working.

If you've read my blog lately, I've had a couple posts about spring decorating and I'm really ready for it, but I can't seem to find decorative "stuff" I like this year. I have a cupboard in a spare bedroom where I keep seasonal and holiday decorations, and while I can't even come close to saying that the cupboard is bare, it certainly doesn't seem to hold anything remotely "springy." It's a long story, but I've been kind of anti-pastel for awhile, which would explain the lack of spring decor, but surely I've done SOMETHING to decorate the house the last few years, haven't I? Hummm. So, off I went to Michael's, searching for "good" spring or Easter decorations. Nope. Not much other than plastic Easter eggs, poorly painted ceramic figurines, and silk flowers, which are okay but not what I had in mind. Maybe eBay? Well, yeah, there are some things I like there--okay, more than "some"--but I don't want to spend a whole lot of money and have to wait a couple weeks before anything arrives. (I had a good chance on a Buy it Now auction for a couple Lu Ray serving pieces but I wanted to think about it a little. Oops! Gone! Yep, I thought it was a good buy! LOL!)

So I put the question to my online quilt group: Do you know of any cute spring decoration/craft ideas? Well, they certainly did! Several had read this month's issue of Martha Stewart Living and were kind enough to steer me in that direction.

Okay, have you ever dyed pipe cleaners? That's what I'm doing now. Why can't you just BUY them in the right colors? Having spent what seemed like hours at the craft store, I came home laden with two bags of styrofoam eggs, pipe cleaners, fabric dye, pom poms, tiny ribbon flowers, and various different strings, yarns, and threads for wrapping and decorating eggs. Seems like it's going to take awhile, particularly if having to hand dye pipe cleaners is any indication. And what I thought were reasonably sized bunnies and chicks turn out to be pretty tiny. A couple inches. I'll need a whole herd of each, I think. So that's what I'll be doing this weekend. Hopefully I'll have something to share with you in the next few days. At least I should have some nice hand dyed pipe cleaners, if nothing else. Unless the dye doesn't take. After all, I did tell you, didn't I, that I'm NOT Martha Stewart?!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Little Organization

As quilters, I think one of the biggest tasks we face is trying to stay organized. Projects are begun and set aside. Fabric's cut. Swap blocks are due, so everything else is put on hold. We come home from a monthly quilt club meeting and need a place to put our fabric, our blocks, our patterns until the next month. A binding is sewn on and the last length is set aside. Scraps pile up. New fabric purchases are brought home and need a place to reside. When we work, our sewing area is in a constant state of flux, the landscape of our space shifts from moment to moment.

I have never felt comfortable working in a crowded, cluttered space--not at work and not in my sewing room. Equally unsatisfactory is the realization that in order to maintain some kind of order, I have to periodically interrupt my quilting in order to put things away and get organized. Where are the quilt fairies when you need them?! I'm lucky to have my own sewing room, but it's a small one--about 9' by 9'--so everything has its place. I've found over the years that I'm more comfortable surrounded by "stuff" if it's nice to look at, so I've tried to find storage solutions that are decorative and useful. For instance, I've rolled up and tied all of my unfinished quilt tops and put them in a basket on a desk in the guest bedroom--they're kind of interesting to look at and they're out of my way. Not quite "out of sight, out of mind"--I can actually see what I have better than when I had them all draped over a quilt rack--but they aren't cluttering up space in my sewing room.

I think this weekend will be a good time to do a little more organizing. Life in general has been somewhat chaotic in the last few weeks, and my quilting "life" has been even more so. I was on vacation, sewing, for a week, took two classes, attended a monthly quilt club meeting, made swap blocks, cut strips for another swap, finished quilting and binding a table topper, ordered and received a couple quilt books, and am now engaged in quilting a large bed quilt. Bits and pieces reminding me of all these things remain scattered about, a fabric journal of my progress during that time. And, of course, having been in a quilt shop or two--or three--recently, I have a few fabric purchases that need to be folded and put away as well.

The other evening, after work, I stopped at Michael's, the craft store, to look for a picture frame. There I came across decorative storage boxes on sale. Round hat box shapes in several sizes, rectangular boxes in several sizes, and various other miscellaneous boxes. Great for storing fabric in a decorative way. I came home with a small suitcase-type box that I'll use to hold my fabrics for a BOM quilt. Perfect! Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the "stuff"! Unless the quilt fairies show up tonight while I sleep. If you happen to see any, give them my address!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Moving Along

Today my main focus was on seeing my parents settled into their nursing home. The drive was long and the high winds buffeted my car around on the flat stretches of the highway. A stop at a Starbucks in a small town that marks the halfway point made the journey a little more pleasant. (Have I mentioned that I love Starbucks' iced lattes? I wish I owned stock in Starbucks!)

I was happy to discover that my parents seemed to be doing reasonably well. My dad was dozing on and off while I was there, but he seemed more alert, and I could see that spark in his eyes that told me he was "there." My mom is bruised all over and has discovered a new problem with her hip, but x-rays don't show any fractures; presumably it will just take some time to heal. We had a good visit and talked over financial and other matters, which I'll take care of while they're in the nursing home. Just before I left, a neighbor arrived to say hello: George plays the banjo and his "band" was performing for the residents when I arrived. I left thinking that my parents are in good surroundings, being well cared for, and should do just fine.

The drive home didn't seem quite so long, and by the time I reached the halfway mark, I was ready for another latte. This little town is laid out kind of oddly in that the main street where all the shops are parallels the main road through town but is a block or two over. Along the old downtown street, old fashioned lighted metal framework criss-cross each intersection. I haven't driven down this street often, but it's charming and I found myself thinking that I ought to stop and do some exploring one of these days. Of course, once I saw there was a quilt and yarn shop amid the other little stores, my mind was made up: this is a little town I need to become more familiar with! Although the sign on the quilt shop door said "open," it was just after 6 p.m. and I figured they were probably on the verge of closing for the evening. I also knew I had a husband waiting at home who would be wondering where I was if I was delayed, so I continued on but mentally marked the location of the shop so I can treat myself next time with a stop and a little exploration. Don't you just love "discovering" quilt shops that you didn't know existed?!

As I neared Sacramento, driving along the freeway with rice fields stretching out on either side, I could see the downtown area off in the distance, seemingly stuck out in the middle of flat farm land and looking a little like the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz. I thought about the evening ahead and, as it usually does, my mind wandered to the quilt project I'm working on. For the first time in several days, I felt that flutter of excitement and the lightening of spirit that quilting seems to bring. And I was nearly home . . . .

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I haven't written much about my folks for the last couple days, but I'm worn out tonight and they're still on my mind, so I thought I'd mention what's been going on.

The Good: The folks were transferred today, together, to a nursing facility. From what I understand, they are both Medicare approved and if they exceed the maximum covered stay, their supplemental insurance will kick in. I've reported the auto accident to their insurance company, and the property damage and auto inspection/disposal aspects are being resolved; my dad has med pay which will help with any medical expenses that are not covered. My mom seemed alert and in less pain the last time I talked to her. I'll be going up to see them tomorrow. The neighbors in the retirement community where they live are just wonderfully helpful with everything, and I'm very grateful for that.

The Bad: I'm told the healthcare people expect my folks to be in the nursing facility for quite possibly more than 100 days. 100 days! And I was anticipating two weeks! I had to deal with the phone company's automated phone system THREE times before I managed to get my folks' telephone transferred to the nursing home. Have you ever talked to an artificial man-voiced robot who asks you questions about stuff like ZIP codes that you can't answer, and when you say, "I don't know," he says, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand your response. Please repeat that number slowly, one digit at a time"? Grrrrr! I really wanted to give him one digit in particular, but I'm sure he wouldn't have understood my response! My folks need a TV--21" I'm told. Not sure where to get one, and the rental centers don't seem to have anything under 27", so I don't know what my dad's going to stare at until I can get a TV to them. He likes to turn on CNN and watch the headlines. And complain about the Republicans. Since he's hard of hearing, he talks really LOUD and his political opinions are frequently punctuated by swear words. (Yep, that's my dad; they're gonna love him at the nursing home! 100 days? I bet it's more like the two weeks I was expecting!) My brother seems to think the folks might have a TV in their home that's the right size; the only one I remember is the GIGANTIC set we bought them for Christmas the year before last. I didn't see a smaller one when we were there the other night--probably because of the sweat pouring down my face, plastering my hair to my eyeballs. But I'll look again tomorrow.

The Ugly: Me. I'm feeling like the guy on the right in the photo above LOOKS. I'm also getting really tired of being asked about my dad's medical history, explaining that he has dementia, and having people say, "And he was driving?!" Yes, he was diagnosed in the fall as having mild dementia and was on medication to slow the progression; this is the first indication that driving might not be such a good idea, and he'll never do it again--I promise! I kind of feel like I should have done something BEFORE the accident, but most of you probably know that getting your parents to change their ways may well be harder than convincing a 15-year-old kid! LOL! No quilting time tonight, which is liable to make me real ugly too. I need my fabric fix! And now it's time for bed--gotta get my ugly sleep.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Vintage Illustrations

Vintage is cool! I love vintage stuff! Mostly, I like a lot of the "stuff" from the 20s, 30s, and 40s--or earlier. In particular, I'm a sucker for illustrations in old children's books. I went through a "phase" several months back when I purchased several older books on eBay. The photo above is the cover of one of the books, Peter Rabbit, a New Story, copyright 1932. I'm not sure what I'll do with my books, but I thought some of the illustrations would look awfully cute framed, or maybe I could use some of them for applique patterns or at least ideas. Who knows? In the meantime, since spring is in the air and Easter will be here before we know it, I thought I'd get some of the books out and use them to decorate, perhaps paired with other spring goodies. I remembered, too, that I had purchased a small watercolor from an eBay self-representing artist of two bunnies holding hands, walking down a path, backs to the viewer. I need to find a nice frame and mat for that one--it would look great propped up in my kitchen hutch with my vintage tea pots. I can hardly wait for the weekend, when I'll have time to play with my "toys"!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

An Old Friend

Today I "played" around the house a little bit, getting out some spring decorations and packing up the last of the winter decorations. I still have a some spring-i-fying to do around here, but at least I've begun. And I've made a startling discovery! I don't have nearly enough springtime quilts! Of course, if I EVER get back to my skewed version of the Rabbits Prefer Chocolate BOM, I could add that one to the spring inventory. That's high on my list of priorities, and in the coming week or so, I hope to share with you a few photos of the blocks I've completed thus far. In the meantime, I have a pinned quilt that is pretty darn bright--yellow, lime green, pink, red--and I've started the quilting on that one. Definitely outside my normal color boundaries, but it's kind of fun!

In "dressing" the beds for spring, I pulled out an appliqued farm-theme quilt that I made some years back. In fact, I think this was probably only the third or fourth quilt I made, and it really got me hooked on quilting because it was so much fun to design and make.
It's been in a few shows and done fairly well for itself, but for some reason, I haven't used it on a bed since the last show a few years ago--I know this because I found a plastic tie inside the hanging sleeve. Well, it's out now and brightening up my son's former--and on a few occasions, "current"--room. When I got it out of my quilt cupboard I felt like I was greeting an old friend! That first picture of the sun is the top panel of the quilt--I sure had a lot of fun quilting his (her?) face!

This frenzy of decorating for spring (okay, it just feels kind of like a "frenzy" because I'd otherwise be sitting on my rear and quilting!) began when I went to the mailbox for yesterday's mail (yes, it's been a little hectic here with the folks' accident and arrangements), and found this cute little rabbit waiting for me, courtesy of a little online shop I found called Cute Pink Stuff. My rabbit's not pink though--I don't "do" pink much. My guy's an antique white. My husband liked the rabbit too, but about the first thing he asked me was, "Do you know it's got a spot on its nose where the paint's worn off?" Men! I don't think they get the whole "faux antique" concept!
And see those Hershey's Kisses in the rabbit's tray? They were a gift from my husband yesterday when he went shopping to pick up a few things--a whole bag! The really funny thing is that he used my credit card in the first place, and in the second place, the bag was found mysteriously opened a little bit later. My husband says it was the cats that got into the chocolate, but I'm suspicious!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Good Stuff!

What, you might wonder, is "good stuff"? Consider large, soft, g-o-o-o-ey, hot-out-of-the-oven homemade Toll House cookies with Breyer's Natural Vanilla ice cream on top. Yum! That was our dessert tonight after stuffing ourselves earlier with the complete, traditional corned beef and cabbage dinner. Can you hear the groans and popping buttons?

There was a time this afternoon when I thought completing my shamrock topper was a possibility, but I always seem to underestimate how long any given quilting project will take. Here it is, pretty much my bedtime, dinner's long passed, and the binding is only half stitched down. Gee, can I possibly be any earlier on getting NEXT YEAR's St. Patrick's Day tabletopper finished?! It's all just a matter of viewing things in the correct perspective, right?

Happy Therapy!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
The corned beef's in the crockpot and the veggies will be added in a couple hours. This afternoon, I'll make Irish soda bread. In the meantime, since this table topper doesn't look like it's going to be finished in time, I thought I'd share an in-progress photo anyway. The day is beautiful and my photography abilities are less than, so I thought I'd take everything out to the patio for a photography session. Dappled sunlight makes everything look better, don't you think?

Yes, I did take a very brief opportunity to stop at the quilt shop when we traveled up to Chico yesterday to try to sort out my parents. I couldn't resist! The quilt shop was just a block from the hospital and we had to drive right past it--well, that would be assuming I had the will power drive right past it and I'm rarely ever credited with will power, especially where fabric's concerned! I'll share some photos of my "finds"--I had to be quick because my husband was left behind in the car and I promised I'd only be 15 minutes.
The two "bundles" on the left are a heavier home dec fabric that I thought I might use to recover a desk chair I plan to move into the Sweat Shop. Or it would look equally great in my daughter's former room. I'm sure it will find a home somewhere in mine. The fabrics on the right are cotton velveteen--wine, black, and brown. Each year during our annual shop hop, I pick up a yard at this store; these are only half yard cuts but at least I didn't accidentally duplicate what I already had--something I've done before. I don't think I'm going to participate in the hop this year, so I wanted to grab these while I could. One of these days I want to use them in a quilt--they've been telling me they'd like to be in an applique quilt. We'll see!
And speaking of applique quilts, I picked up a pattern by Late Bloomer Quilts/Elizabeth Scott. She's a Northern California designer. I think this pattern is really cute. I'm also looking forward to reading the Australian Homespun magazine--it looked like there were a few fun things in it. Also in the photo are some black and white FQs in 1800 repro fabrics and a couple small pieces of wool in spring colors. Not bad for a rushed shopping trip!

Time to retreat to the Sweat Shop for a little happy therapy!

Friday, March 16, 2007


When I started blogging, I had a goal of trying to post something every day. Well, of course I haven't been blogging for very long and I don't want to break this little promise to myself so quickly, so post I will!

I'm tired. It's been a very long day. If you read my post yesterday, you know my parents were in an auto accident and are in the hospital. This morning I talked by telephone with my dad's doctor and the Social Services Discharge Planner. Both told me my dad was fine and was being discharged; I told them that my plan was to take him back to his home and check on him and bring him food every other day; the neighbors would also look in on him. That was just fine. Not so, as I discovered when I actually got to see him and found out he cannot care for himself and requires 24 hour care and/or supervision. Of course, this all comes down to healthcare assistance, insurance coverage, and finances, and it seems my parents fall into a category where they have just enough income to disqualify them for most assistance but don't have enough to pay for anything themselves. Yes, they have supplemental private insurance, but that's no help in this situation. Catch-22. In the end, the hospital kept my dad and will probably transfer him to a nursing care facility on Monday, but no one knows quite how this will be paid for. My mom isn't likely to face discharge for some time and will probably be sent to a nursing home as well before she goes home. I have to go back on Monday with all the financial documents I was able to hunt down at my parents' place. Their house was about 85 degrees inside. It was dark outside, and the lighting was poor inside. Nothing was precisely where my mom had said it would be. Did I mention that I'm tired?!

I know that trying to care for aging parents is a huge concern for my generation and yes, it's tough. I know that my husband and I are not the only ones to experience it. Yes, I know that, but it's not much comfort. It's hard to know what needs to be done when you're being asked to make decisions about something you've never really thought seriously about. I think eventually we'll have to sell my parents' place and move them into an apartment close to us, where we can help them and check on them regularly, and that's fine with me. Whether it will be equally fine with them is a question to be asked later.

What I'd really, really LIKE to be doing is quilting. I was hoping that by now, I'd be able to share a photo of my finished St. Patrick's Day tabletopper, but it's still half quilted, no further along than it was on Tuesday night--eons ago, it seems! Since both my parents are being cared for this weekend, I won't make that trip up there again until Monday. In the meantime, I need to read and sort through their financial and legal paper work and I hope to get some quilting time in as well. With quiting therapy, maybe by tomorrow's blog, my attitude will be better and I'll have a photo of something to share!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Beware the Ides of March!

Every year about this time, I start to think about the "Ides of March." If you've read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, you'll probably remember that Caesar was warned by a soothsayer to "beware the Ides of March." Predictably, Caesar disregarded the warning, and was offed by his good friend Brutus on the Ides of March. Eh tu, Brute? The Ides of March is another, older, way of saying "March 15th"--today's date. Frankly, I think in modern times, the Ides of April is a scarier date, the day when the tax man strikes!

Every year, the Ides of March passes, largely without incident, but not this year. Tonight, after I got home from work, I got a call from a neighbor of my parents, who called to tell me they had been involved in an automobile accident yesterday. Oh, they're okay, mostly--or it could have been worse, at any rate. From what I understand so far, my 81-year-old father lost consciousness as he was driving out of their mobile home park and hit a tree. My mom, who is 78, suffered three broken ribs and a small laceration to her spleen. They don't think she'll need surgery, but they're keeping a close eye on her condition. I spoke to her briefly on the telephone, and if you've ever had broken ribs or known anyone who has, you'll understand that it was very difficult for her to talk much. I've been told my father wasn't as badly injured, but I'm not certain precisely what his injuries are as I wasn't able to talk to him or his nurses. Tomorrow my husband and I will make the two-hour drive to visit them in the hospital to find out more information about their condition and what to expect later.

I think that in the coming weeks, once they've been released from the hospital, I'll be making several trips a week to visit my parents and bring them food and whatever else they need. In September, my mom fell and broke her kneecap and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks. My dad had been showing signs of dementia and wasn't able to fully care for himself, so driving up there every couple of days, bringing him food, and making sure he was doing okay became routine.

Most of us, in our middle years, are faced with the prospect of our parents reaching a point where they can no longer care for themselves but don't wish to give up their independence, and some tough decisions need to be made. For many reason, perhaps many of which are selfish, neither I nor my brother can take our parents into our homes, and we cannot help them in theirs, which is an hour and a half drive away from me and about a four and a half hour drive from my brother. I spoke with my brother on the telephone tonight, and we decided that after everything has settled down, we'll both set aside time for a visit to my parents' home to meet with them and discuss some kind of plan for their future.

Sadly enough, when I reached my brother to tell him about our parents, I found him at another hospital with his wife and her father; his father-in-law has been in poor health for some years and recently took a turn for the worse; it is expected that he will pass within the next 24 hours. I can't imagine the impact all of this is having on my brother!

Somehow, I haven't felt much like quilting tonight. For me, quilting is excellent therapy, but I just haven't been able to make myself go into the Sweat Shop, turn on the lights and the sewing machine, and immerse myself in threads and fabric. I'm about half done quilting a St. Patrick's Day tabletopper; I'm not sure it will be done by Saturday to put on our "holiday" table, but I don't think it really matters too much. I am not so upset, though, that I haven't remembered there's a nice little quilt shop just down the street from the hospital! LOL! Is that shallow? Maybe, but I think that after visiting my parents, a little retail therapy might be in order. And if it doesn't seem like a good idea at the time, then we won't stop there. I'm also thinking my husband and I might grab a late lunch/early dinner in this cute little town, before we head home; it might give us a chance to unwind a little and talk before we get back on the road. And I'm very grateful to have a husband who, without hesitation, arranged to take the day off work to come with me to visit my parents--his support is deeply appreciated; more, I'm sure, than I ever tell him in words.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Do You Ever Wish You Could Teach a Cat . . .

. . . to clean house? If you have a cat, you know that they get these insane bursts of energy when they race around the house at warp speed. My goofy little one had just such an attack this morning, jumping up on the bed, crouched down, ears back, eyes wide, so excited that her claws were caught in the bedding and she couldn't move! LOL! Once she got herself unstuck, though, she was off like a rocket. Then back. Then off again. Then up on top of the curtain rod, wondering if she could get away with a tight rope balancing act. Then off again. On and on until she collapsed on the bed, exhausted and panting. Wouldn't it be nice to put all that energy to constructive use? Cleaning, doing dishes, vacuuming? Heck, if I could find a way to transfer it, I could probably run my sewing machine off the energy generated by one cat in that state! Horse power for the car's engine? Nope! Just harness up a couple of cats and away you'd go! Until they wanted to take a nap, of course, which would probably be most of the time. And that, my friends, is exactly WHY you can't teach a cat to clean house!

"Stuff" That's on my Mind Today

This morning, I got out my favorite Irish cookbook, titled, appropriately enough, A Little Irish Cookbook. This is the book I go to when I want to make soda bread. In fact, it's a neat little book filled with yummy-sounding recipes.
Last year, I thought it might be fun to make some "real" Irish meals occasionally. I figured my husband must have some kind of genetic memory and would be yearing for the foods of his ancestors' homeland. So, with that in mind and excited about the idea of trying something different, I went surfing the internet for Irish cookbooks and picked two that had gotten good reviews. Eventually they arrived! Well, I have to tell you that it was a little disappointing to find the books filled with recipes for foods made from animal parts and other "stuff" that we in the US normally don't eat, except maybe on a dare and even then we'd probably think twice! Great photos of the Irish countryside in one of the books, but I found very few recipes I'd be willing to "risk" cooking. I tried to find those cookbooks this a.m. but they weren't on my shelves of "favorite" cookbooks, and they weren't in the pantry/closet where I keep the lesser used cookbooks. Nor were they on the bookshelf in my son's former room where I keep miscellaneous "reference" books. Hummm. Maybe they've headed back to Ireland since they're so obviously unappreciated in this home! On the other hand, at the same time I ordered those books, I ordered the little book of afternoon teas. I half forgot I had it and haven't had a chance to make tea goodies yet, but the idea appeals to me and the recipes in that book look much more appetizing than the ones in the Irish cookbooks!

Tonight's my monthly Thimbleberries club and I'm looking forward to the meeting. We have show and tell each month, and I have a stack of things to bring, including the projects I finished up on Sunday and the My Friend's House top I posted a photo of last week. I also have a completed quilt to show. I still have to add the label on the back, and I'll do that during my lunch break, but it's otherwise finished. The pattern is called Stars Over St. Louis and is one of Linda Ballard's--who is a very good teacher, by the way. I started the quilt in a class a year ago and finally got it all quilted and bound a couple months back, right around the end of the year. I really just love the way this turned out and I can hardly wait to put it on one of the beds when we get a little closer to summer. I changed the pattern slightly by adding another round of stars rather than a plain border.

Sorry the photo doesn't show the whole quilt, but you get the idea.
I'm still trying to recover from the whole Daylight Saving ordeal--what a cruel joke that is! I must go get myself another cup of coffee so I can wake up enough to apply my make-up; otherwise, I might leave the house looking like Mimi on the old Drew Carey show!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Getting Ready for the Holiday!

In our family, St. Patrick's Day is a big deal. Maybe not as big as Christmas or Easter, maybe not quite as big as Halloween, but it comes close. We're Irish, you see! Well, perhaps I'M not Irish, but my husband and his family are Irish descendents and they love "their day"; in fact, my husband's name is Patrick--what else?! LOL! I remember one year the florist delivered green carnations to my office from my husband--THAT's the kind of really important occasion it is!
I have the corned beef, cabbage, onions, carrots, and potatoes waiting in the refrigerator. The buttermilk is ready for the Irish soda bread. Now I need to finish quilting the shamrock tabletopper I pieced several weeks back. I quilted one for my mother-in-law (who says she's going to leave hers on the table until fall!), but I set mine aside for a couple projects that required my attention. Last night, I got out my Juki sewing machine--the one I use for quilting--and got started. Hopefully I'll have it done by Saturday for the BIG DAY! In the meantime, I found a photo of an Irish chain quilt so this blog would look appropriately festive. And here's an Irish saying for the day:
"Drink is the curse of the land. It makes you fight with your neighbour. It makes you shoot at your landlord-- and it makes you miss him."

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hobbies and Friendships

I am blessed in many ways. Or call it lucky, depending on your view point. Over this past weekend, I was thinking about a couple of the things that I'm grateful for.

I am grateful to have a hobby I love--quilting. It engages the creative part of my mind as well as the analytical part. When I'm not pressed into thinking about anything else, my mind strays back to my quilting projects, and when I get home from work, quilting is a great way to unwind and to get something accomplished at the same time. And, not least of all, I'm grateful to have a husband who appreciates the quilting I do and encourages me in my hobby.

A few weeks ago, my boss took the day off work to have a colonoscopy. Unexpectedly, he showed up at the office in the middle of the afternoon, after the procedure. He shouldn't have. He shouldn't have been driving, but was. There was nothing at work that he needed to take care of. Why did he come in? Because he didn't have anything else to do!

My sister-in-law mentioned that sometimes she gets all her "chores" done and sits down and then wonders what she can do with herself. She does have some creative projects going on occasionally, but nothing you could really call a hobby.

A gal I work with just turned 65 and is looking at retiring this year but doesn't want to because she'll be bored with nothing to do.

Now that my kids have grown up and moved out, I'm not sure what I'd do with some of my time if it wasn't for quilting. It gives purpose and direction to my leisure hours. I can't imagine a time when I'd feel at a loss for something to do.

The other really great thing about having a hobby is meeting people and forming friendships with others who are interested and involved in the same thing. I am grateful for all my quilting friends. I've met and gotten to know many quilters who live in my area. I've also gotten to know a number of quilters who live in other parts of the country, and I treasure their friendship.

I have been a member of a small online group of 50 women for several years now. One of the first real friends I found there has since passed away, but I'm grateful for having known her, even if we never did get a chance to meet in person. I have three other close friends I've found there: Eileen in Maryland, Patty in Florida, and Kairle in Utah. I have gotten to meet these ladies a few times over the past couple years, and we correspond via e-mail quite frequently. There are several other ladies in the group that I consider my friends too; some I've met, and some I haven't, but the friendships are no less real for not having met in person.

I am also grateful for my close non-quilting friends: Lisa, whose husband and mine went to school together, and Kathy, my sister-in-law. Even though we live in the same town, we don't see each other as often as I'd like, but we do try to get together for a "girl's night out" at least once every couple months. They don't understand my obsession for quilting and probably think I'm nuts, but we have other things in common. They have been my support through all the years that I've known them--something like 27 years now.

Yes, I'm very grateful that I have found a wonderful hobby in quilting and have found wonderful friends along life's path. Both have enriched my life tremendously.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Quilty Sort of Day

Yesterday I went to San Francisco with two girlfriends to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday and see Menopause, The Musical--we had a wonderful time! Tomorrow, I go back to work after having a week off. I decided today would be a good day to get some miscellaneous quilting tasks done.

As it turned out, the day was devoted to Thimbleberries projects. First I finished up some 9-patch blocks for a swap with my online group. Those will go off in tomorrow's mail to the gal hostessing the swap.

I moved on to cutting strips for another swap with the same online group. Those will also go off in tomorrow's mail. Then I can just sit back and wait for the goodies to come back to me in the mail in the next few weeks!

My Thimbleberries Club meets on Wednesday, so I thought I'd make some pot holders--this month's extra project. I didn't want to make heart pot holders, which was the suggested project, so I pulled three Christmas-themed star blocks from an earlier swap with my online group. Won't they look cute in gift baskets for Christmas?

The last project I completed today was a block for the Thimbleberries Club block of the month quilt. I'm making the quilt half the size of the original pattern. I've modified this month's block slightly (besides shrinking it) by adding a colored center. This year's quilt is called Home and Garden; I think the pink and red center makes the block look a little bit like a flower.

Then I spent the rest of my time working on the appliqued center of the quilt I began in Jo Morton's class on Thursday--Emma's Quilt. No photos of that one yet, as I still have some way to go. Now that I have these done, I'll be switching out my Bernina for my Juki so I can get a St. Patrick's Day table topper quilted and onto the table before the holiday. Not tonight though--this quilter has to go back to the real world tomorrow, so the Sweat Shop is closed for the evening.

Saturday, March 10, 2007


We all form attachments to people and places, and that's completely understandable. But why do we form attachments to THINGS? From early childhood we become attached--to a blanket, a stuffed animal, a pacifier. We think we grow out of the need for security embodied in a "thing," but I don't think we really do. For instance, I have a favorite top I like to wear. It's gotten so ratty looking that even I realize I can't wear it out in public anymore, but am I ready to toss it out? NO! I'll wear it at home, sewing, cleaning, whatever. I've even thought about ways I could applique stuff on it to cover the worst areas! LOL! It's comfortable. It's familiar. I put it on and don't think about the clothes I'm wearing--it's just there. Not to hot, not to cold. Soft. Perfect!

It's not just a human trait either. I started thinking about this when I was looking at my little cat, Spike, and her "feather." When she was a kitten, my daughter bought this long plastic, bendable stick with a big purple plume feather on the end. Spike loved chasing after that stick! Yep, the stick--not the feather. She could care less about the feather end.

A couple years later, and there's no feather left. Well, there are a couple straggly strands of purple stuff taped to the end, but you can't really call it a feather. Some time back, I bought her one with a blue puffy feather on the end to match her eyes--same stick. She really just doesn't like that one nearly as much as the original feather. I think it must be like wearing an old, familiar top. She carries her feather around, scraping the stick against the hallway wall as she prowls up and down, looking for a human to play with her. Sometimes I'll be sewing and hear a "meow." I'll look down and there's Spike, looking up at me with her ratty feather sitting at her feet. And somehow, it's such a pathetic site, I'm compelled to play. Spike with her ratty feather and me in my tatty top! What a pair! But we're happy with the things we're attached to.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Fabric Infusion

The fabric fairy arrived today, all dressed up just like my mail lady!

My friend Patty and I decided recently that we would each design six applique blocks for a patriotic quilt. Each month, for six months, we'll mail the other person our design. Pop over to Patty's blog on March 8th--there she explains the general premise of our maiden designing voyage. (Click on her blog in my Friend's list.)

Anyway, Patty, who's always very subtle but equally very successful at somehow persuading me to buy quilty things, wrote to me about some of the textural fabrics on Debbie Mumm's website, and I bit. One of the nice things about the site is that you can order fat quarters--which may well be all you'll need for an applique project. A couple days have gone by since then, and here's the fabric fairy knocking at my door. (She probably knew that I had diligently cleaned house today and deserved another reward!) Here are the fabrics I picked up--I don't know if I'll use them all in this project, but I've used her fabrics before and I'm sure I'll use them in the future.

So, I've spent a little time tonight looking at my new fabric and some of the other fabrics I have on my "patriotic shelf" in the Sweat Shop. I think when I go back to work next week, I'll work on designing my first block during my lunch hours. The idea in my mind is a flower pot with flowers and flags poking out. Funny how Patty and I came up with similar ideas without talking about it first--I think our ideas will mesh pretty well, always assuming we don't design the same things!

Making Bargains

Do you set goals for yourself? I'm not necessarily speaking of long term goals, like retiring by the age of 50, buying vacation property, or saving up for that vacation in Europe in five years. I tend to shy away from those kinds of goals, probably because I'm afraid they might involve having to give up buying fabric or something equally devastating. Nope, I'm talking about short term goals. Like losing 5 pounds by next month so you can fit into a dress for a special occasion. Cooking and eating in more often so you can save money (more money for fabric!). Cleaning house. Ugh!

Today was housecleaning day. Yeah, I know I said that a couple of days ago, but hey! I'm on vacation! I realized today--sadly--that my vacation is quickly drawing to a close, and it was time to face the real world. This morning, my real world consisted of dust, cat hair, and unidentifiable spills on the kitchen floor. I'm pretty good about setting these kinds of goals--like house cleaning--and sticking to them, but the trick is setting small goals within the larger goals with a few rewards along the way.

This morning I made a bargain with myself: Once I finished the small quilt top begun in Wednesday night's Jo Morton class, I would clean house. Then, once the quilt top was done and presumably because THAT task was so exhausting and required a reward, I made another bargain: As soon as I prepare (baste) a few applique pieces, I would clean house. (By the way, the photo above is the quilt top I finished today. It's a pattern by Jo Morton called Hattie's Baskets.)

Well I DID say I'm pretty good about setting goals and sticking to them, didn't I? I also seem to have a pretty healthy sense of guilt, so I finally got down to business this afternoon. Normally when tackling something I don't like to do, like cleaning house, I make bargains with myself. Pick up and dust the living room and bedrooms and earn a little time to baste a couple more applique pieces. Clean the bathrooms and vacuum the carpets and earn a cup of coffee and a cookie or two. (Or three. After all, you really DO have to keep up your energy, right?) Clean MOST of the kitchen and earn a little time for petting fabric or looking at a quilting magazine.

Of course, it then seems like I've spent all day cleaning when in reality, it was maybe just a few hours. Am I just prolonging the torture? I'm not sure. Occasionally I'll set different types of goals. Like telling myself I have two hours to clean what I can without breaks and when the two hours is up, I'm done. Yep, that works too. I guess it just depends on my mood. But I do find that life's a constant bargaining process, even when the bargaining is just with ourselves!

Well, now that the cleaning is done, I'm certain I've earned a BIG reward: Round Table Pizza for dinner. After all, I wouldn't want to mess up that nice, clean kitchen! And did I mention I'm still on vacation?