Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Dog Ate it!

Although I can't access my email from my office, I do occasionally take a look at comments on my blog, and today I saw that Beth had left me a comment suggesting I go over to Tuesday Morning. I don't know if they have these stores all over, but if you're not familiar with Tuesday Morning, it's a chain of close out stores that handle reasonably nice merchandize at reduced prices. It just so happens that there's a Tuesday Morning only a few blocks from my office, and since I had no other pressing lunch hour plans, I decided to go take a look. I had forgotten how fun it can be to go through such a mix of high end goods and downright junky stuff! Here's my buy of the day--still in the Easter frame of mind, you'll see!

I found this in a clearance section marked down to $3 because one of the welds on the bicycle had separated. I have some kind of crazy craft glue that's supposed to hold everything, so I tried it out and it seems to be doing okay. But if that doesn't hold up, I have another glue specifically for metal. Isn't it cute?! And behind the bunnies are a couple plates and a votive candle holder I found today too--I'm starting an Easter pile. I don't even know when Easter IS this year! Has anyone checked?!

Wendy commented on my blog that she was still thinking about Valentine's Day and hadn't gotten to Easter yet. Never fear--so am I! Today's mail brought a nice little package from Desperate Quilters--don't you love that name? They always send a little something extra, and this time it was a bag of tea and a little pattern leaflet. They also take the time to write a note on the invoice--I always enjoy it when an internet merchant does that because it's almost like talking to one of the ladies at the local quilt shop. And as an added bonus, they had the best prices on these charm packs that I found when I searched. Here's what came in my package:

That blue gingham fabric is by Lakehouse--I've been looking at it online and finally broke down and ordered a panel. I have no idea what I'll use it for! Then there are the charm packs--two packs of Sandy Gervais' Flirtations line and one pack of Deb Strain's All You Need is Love--I wish I had gotten two of those too! I'm not sure what I want to make, but I'm thinking about those woven hearts I used in that "transition" quilt with the hearts and pines. Either that, or I had another thought about some 9 patches. Maybe I can play with them this weekend and come up with something fun. Are you working on anything for Valentine's Day?

On the way home from work this evening, I stopped at the Dollar Tree store and found some more little goodies--odds and ends really--but I have no photos. In fact, the bags are still in the trunk of my car. I also stopped--or at least slowed down--for the Starbucks drive-thru to pick up a little liquid energy for me and my honey. It turns out our dog, Marley, likes cinnamon dolce lattes too! Whodda thunk?! My hubby left his on the workbench in the garage while he came inside to get something, and when he went back out, there was Marley, licking it up off the floor with more dribbling down his head. My husband THOUGHT it was out of reach, but apparently not--it was just close enough for a fairly large dog to get up, tip it over, and enjoy. Boy did he get in trouble! Poor old Marley was sent to the dog house for that little trick, and he's probably still unable to sleep from all that caffeine! But my latte's worn off by now, so it's time to head to bed--tomorrow's another work day. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hoppin' Toward Easter

I had mentioned on Monday that I hadn't checked the mail yet but would show you what I got if I found any happy little boxes in there. There were.

I went on a little shopping spree at 5BucksaYard just because I'm worth it!

Then there was a package from Quilters Quarters. They had a fantastic sale on Theresa's handdyed buttons--I must have ordered about 10 packages of different, mostly red, buttons, but I guess I wasn't the only one who found that sale, because I only received 3 packages. That's okay though!

Then there are the bunnies. Yes, Easter is on my mind. I ordered the little Willie Raye pull bunny above from Quilters Quarters and the bunny wallhanging pattern below.

The bunny sweatshirt pattern is one I picked up on my trip to the local quilt shop on Saturday--I think I'll use the pattern for a wallhanging though, instead of a sweatshirt. These are just too cute! I'm excited about getting started on a bunny project soon!

It's about time for me to get hopping off to work--enjoy your day, whatever it brings!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I'm a Sell Out!

Yesterday, as I was leaving work, I was just opening my car door to get in when I heard one of our attorneys--the only other person in the parking lot--talking. I thought she was talking to me for a minute, but when I turned to look, I saw she wasn't even facing me and was, in fact, unloading files from her trunk. Cell phone.

The other day, I was at the grocery store, reviewing my mental shopping list, reasonably oblivious to everything around me, when I was rudely interrupted and distracted by someone carrying on a loud conversation with himself. In Spanish. Cell phone.

Also in the grocery store recently, I was approached by a woman who was seemingly looking at me, talking. Was she asking me a question? Nope. You guessed it. Cell phone.

And that's not even getting started on stories about all the idiots I've seen driving and talking on cell phones!

I know I've said it before, but just in case you're somewhat new to my blog, perhaps you haven't had the pleasure of reading my anti-cell phone tirades. Heck, I don't even like regular, old fashioned phones! I don't WANT to talk to people most of the time--just e-mail me. Then I can ignore you until I'M ready!

But I've sold out.

The other day, having apparently run out of other products to buy to stimulate the economy, I sat myself down and we had a little chat about purchasing cell phones. (I figured I might as well talk to myself, since that's what I'll soon LOOK like I'm doing anyway!)

See, the thing is, I found out in the last year that when your car breaks down and you're overweight and over 50, you just don't get the same level of assistance as you did when you were a cute 30 year old. Maybe people just aren't as helpful anymore. But I think that's probably not the reason. It seems kind of silly to have AAA roadside assistance if you can't call them when you break down, doesn't it?

Then there's my husband. With his muscular dystrophy as well as another, newer disease that causes vertigo and nausea, talk around our house and among the family has been that perhaps he should have a cell phone in case he gets into any kind of trouble and needs help. Yeah, I'll buy that--it seems like a good reason.

What did we all do before cell phones? Well, I guess we were younger, cuter, and healthier then, for one thing.

So, realizing I'm not getting much younger and probably not any cuter, I finally caved. I sent hubby out to buy cell phones the other day and he has the first one on a charger now. I'm reasonably sure we're not going to be burning up the cell phone towers with all the talking we'll be doing, but we have them. In case of an emergency. Like when hubby's out running errands and I realize I forgot to tell him to stop at Starbucks on the way home. Yeah, like that.

Sidebar Addition

See that photo and caption over on my sidebar to the right? For those of you who have joined me in my global effort to save the economy, please feel free to copy that photo and slap it onto your blog along with the slogan. If I had the computer know-how (and an array of programs that would allow such fun stuff), I'd make up a "real" badge with wording on it, and all the bells and whistles and everything, but I'm a bit challenged in that regard--probably not quite as challenged as I am in the photography department, but challenged all the same. Still, I thought we might want to put something on our blogs to convey to Blogland the dedicated effort we're making. So please feel free to copy my photo and adopt my slogan for your own use and spread the love!

Monday, January 28, 2008

It's Working!

According to an article I just skimmed through on today's stock market news:

"The Dow rose 176.72, or 1.45 percent, to 12,383.89 . . . . Broader stock indicators also advanced Monday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 23.36 or 1.76 percent, to 1,353.97, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 23.71, or 1.02 percent, to 2,349.91."

See what we can do when we put our minds (and wallets) to the test!

I haven't checked my mailbox yet today--I'm kind of afraid to look. But if I find anything there later on, I'll post photos tomorrow.

Other news here has not been quite as cheerful. The Wild Child was in a car accident on Saturday when she was trying to pull onto a main road and couldn't see around a huge pile of snow. She thought it was clear, but as it turned out, there was a truck coming down the road. She stopped, but didn't have time to back out of the way, and the truck couldn't come to a full stop in time. She's fine physically, but she didn't have full insurance coverage on the vehicle, and since it was her fault, she's in a world of hurt economically. On top of that, tomorrow's the three-year anniversary of the death of her high school sweetheart. Justin died in a motorcycle accident when his bike slid into a tree. She's moved on with her life, but I know she thinks about him sometimes, and she's kept in touch with his mom. I just wish I could be with the Wild Child and give her a big HUG, but I'll do the next best thing and call her tonight.

Our younger cat, Spike, has been sick since the weekend with something intestinal. The hubby was going to call the vet today and take her in since he had the day off, but then he got sick too, so they both ended up laying around the house sleeping all afternoon. I hope whatever it is that's making Spike sick passes because neither of us is able to take time off work tomorrow, but we'll keep a close eye on her--it's just a bit worrying. At least she's still drinking water and doesn't seem to be in pain, but I can tell she's not feeling very well, poor baby!

Time for me to heat up some of the meatball soup I made yesterday, make a few phone calls, and then head into the Sweat Shop for a little quilting therapy. And remember: Keep the economy strong; go shopping!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tickling the Economy

I have more goodies to share with you. My husband wandered down to the mailbox this afternoon to pick up yesterday's mail and what did he find? You guessed it!

Hummmm. Let's see. Who is this one from?

The other night, I was looking for a particular piece of fabric from the Christmas Past line and found that Rock City Quilts had a terrific clearance price on the leftover fabrics from this line--just $4 a yard. So, since this was one of my two favorite Christmas lines this year, I thought I'd take advantage of the excellent sale prices. Here's what I got:

Besides the Christmas Past fabric, I ordered a couple other fabrics while I was there--one on sale and one not--but I think I did pretty good.

Besides shopping, I've been working on piecing a quilt this weekend that I hope to be able to show you in the next couple days--I just have a little hand work and applique to add. Today I made a crockpot full of meatball soup, so I think the time and effort devoted to cooking in the next couple days will be minimal, and the time for quilting--well, I'm not sure it can ever be enough, but it should be sufficient!

The weekend's just about over and it's back to work tomorrow--gotta keep earning a pay check so I can keep the economy growing. I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Now it's time for me to head off to bed with a new magazine to read. Goodnight!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Doing My Part to Save The World

I hope you know by now that I wouldn't ask you to go out and stimulate the economy if I wasn't willing to make the same sacrifices, right? I think that sharing my purchases with you might take a couple days, so let's get started, alright?

First, I'll show you something that's not actually a new purchase, but DID lead to a new purchase.

My thoughts are turning to spring and Easter (hence the floral offering at the top of this entry), so I pulled out these printed cotton bunny squares I had purchased awhile back. I'd really like to find a project to use them in, so I took them with me to the quilt shop today only to find that the fabric line I liked best with these is Moda's Chelsea Boutique fabrics. Since I have a whole pile of these fabrics in my stash, I left the quilt shop without buying anything for this particular quilt. I DID buy some fat quarters and a pattern, but I'll have to tell you about those tomorrow--I wasn't able to get very good photos with the indoor artificial light.

The bunny blocks got me thinking--and buying--though. A company called Olde America Antiques sells these printed blocks, panels, and block sets. All of their printed images are taken from vintage postcards, posters, and such. I have some vague plans to make a patriotic Americana quilt and I found a printed center panel I liked, so I ordered it. They make these in all sizes, and the one I chose is 12" by 18". Check them out by clicking on their name if these vintage images interest you. They print these on cotton and the squares come backed with removable paper. The instructions suggest washing in cold water with a mild detergent and air drying when you need to wash whatever project you use them in. They have blocks arranged by subject matter, so if you like chickens, for example, you can easily find chicken images that would interest you. When I ordered today, I appeared to me they sell and ship internationally--something that may be of concern if you live outside the US.

Here's another other "ingredient" to my vague Americana quilt idea:

Marcie posted on her blog the other day that she was looking for some Moda flag fabric, and someone left a comment that Thousands of Bolts had the fabric. Being a long-time customer and liking that flag fabric, I had to run right over and take a look. And shop. Yes, indeed I did! I've mentioned Thousands of Bolts before, but if you missed it and/or are unfamiliar with the shop, check it out. The prices are fabulous, although the fabric's older--usually from lines that sold a few years back. Of course, if you're looking for a piece of fabric to go with some you bought several years ago and are now finding that you need more, that's always a good place to start looking.

Here are my purchases from that little key poking expedition:

More Americana stuff, in this first photo!

I thought the fabrics on either side were interesting as potential totes. The one on the left is actually a heavier woven. The center fabric--well, I don't know, but it looked happy, so I said it could live with me.

I like this for a border fabric, but I have no particular plans for it--the crisp wood cut look to the print just appealed to me.

Oh, and of course I had to purchase some "fuel" for the Sweat Shop. Or, more accurately, the fuel is for ME when I'm hard at work in the Sweat Shop. These are apparently new at Trader Joe's and looked pretty good. I'll have to try them out one day soon!

And, like the tulips at the top, these daffodils are another Trader Joe's purchase. The tulips and daffodils brighten up my life--I hope you enjoy looking at them too!

Friday, January 25, 2008

You CAN Make a Difference!

The economy's in a slump. Most of the world's stock markets are riding a roller coaster these days. Here in the US, the Federal Reserve lowered the prime interest rate this past week in an effort to stave off a recession. And just yesterday, there was concrete news of a tax rebate to help stimulate the economy, although that proposal will need to be passed by the legislature first, and we won't see it in our pockets for a few months. It's all kind of depressing news, isn't it?

So I got to thinking. Is it really just a coincidence that right around the time that quilters all over the world pledged to go on a fabric "diet" and stop adding more fabric to their stashes, the economy took a down turn? I think not! And will the reduction of the prime rate be enough to offset Vicky's determination not to poke buttons in the middle of the night? Again, I am not optimistic in this regard.

Accordingly and after much consideration, I personally have resolved to do my part to help the economy, and I hope each and every one of you will think seriously about joining me in this effort. I know I have support out there. For instance, Sharon, bless her patriotic little heart, has been working tirelessly for months and years keeping the economy afloat. Trickle down, Sharon, trickle down! Woo-hoo!

But Sharon cannot fight the battle alone, nor can I. The weekend is here. Won't you take a few moments to visit your favorite quilt shop? They're waiting for you, and they've been lonely since you've been gone. Or, if you don't have very much time for shopping this weekend, take a minute to visit your favorite online fabric merchant and punch a few buttons on the computer. The postage you spend may help to fund our government, so it can remain strong for future generations of quilters, just like you and me.

Please, won't you do your part to help? You CAN make a difference! Join us in the battle to improve the economy. Over the next few days, I'll share with you a few of the measures I've taken to make this world just a little better! Now get out there and buy some fabric!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Only 21 Days Until Valentine's Day!

Are you ready for the holiday? Do you have your decorations up? Shopping done? Gifts wrapped? (One for ME?!) Deja vu! Didn't we just do this a month or so ago? But it's time to start getting at least a little excited for the next BIG HOLIDAY, right?

I've already shown you the "transition" quilt I made with the hearts and the trees, so I won't show that one again tonight. And by the way, my son was over the other day, helping with the fence (remember the one that blew down?) and said, "Hey, mom, what does 'worm hearts' mean?" Yeah, maybe I'm going to have to make my "A"s look a little more like "A"s at some point. But this isn't it. Maybe after Valentine's Day. Or at least before the next one.

Tonight I thought I'd show you a couple other Valentine's quilts--maybe you can get a little inspiration or the spark of an idea from them.

The quilt above is one of the first I made when I started quilting. In fact, the four larger hearts were made in my beginning quilting class--each uses a different applique technique. I picked the technique I liked best and made the smaller hearts to add to it. This quilt hangs all over the house at different times of the year but there's usually a wall somewhere for it. Right now, I have it hanging over the stove. I figure maybe it serves as a good excuse not to do a whole lot of cooking and baking for the time being--after all, I wouldn't want to damage it!

Last year I became enamored with charm packs and made the quilt above. I used three charm packs--one for the center squares and two packs of squares cut on the diagonal to make the outer parts of the blocks. The quilting was pretty fast and easy--I just quilted some free-form hearts in each block and kept going around and around. I think I had this one on the wall with my Valentine tree last year, but this year it's living on my table (which, of course, isn't getting dirty because I'm not cooking much!).

I also made the small quilt above last year--this one uses mostly 1800s repro-type fabrics. In my Jo's Little Women group, we were given this pattern, but the heart blocks weren't hearts--they were just made up of half square triangles. In looking at it, it occurred to me that I could substitute the tops of hearts for the top half square triangles. If there was only one thing I could pass on to other quilters, it would be this: Look at quilt patterns with the creative part of your mind and think about what you could change to make it "yours." Experiment with a block or two and see what happens. It's fun!

Finally, I know it's not a quilt, but I had to run out to Kohl's tonight for a new pair of slippers and found this little Valentine tree. After Valentine's Day is over, I'm pretty sure it will become an Easter tree. Oh, and check out my stylin' Moda dish towels. Pretty neat, huh? One of our local quilt shops has been carrying some of Moda's Sliced Bread items, and these had to come home with me a few weeks ago. Which kind of brings me to tomorrow night's subject--unless something more exciting comes up: Shopping. Stay tuned! And thanks for stopping in!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Have I Been Doing Lately?

Beside searching the world over for amusing things to share with you, I've managed to get caught up on my Hometown Christmas quilt sections. First, I finished the "wrapped gifts" section. Since I first saw this quilt, this has been my favorite section, so I was happy to finally get to it.

Then I made another section that goes on the opposite end of the same row. I changed this section a little bit. I was bothered that there was no dividing sashing between this section and the center piece, and I thought the long side piece on the house where the chimney goes was a little too long, so I made that part shorter, which gave me just the measurement I needed to add in the dividing sashing. Here's mine:

Now here's the original from the book:

I like the contrast of the darker windows in the original but I wanted the windows in my houses to look like someone was home--of course, that means less contrast on this one in particular. I'm not sure if I'll do anything to "fix" that--I guess I'll think on it a bit.

It's been raining here in Northern California all week long, and we have more to come. Perfect weather for a nice, hot bowl of soup! If you've been reading my blog for a bit, you probably know I'm very much in favor of cooking super-easy meals that taste great, so when I was making some "homemade" soup tonight, I thought maybe I'd share this with you for those nights when you don't want to cook much. Here are the ingredients:

Yep, that's it. It works just fine with tomato soup if you can't find or don't like the tomato/red pepper soup. I just dump a container of that into a saucepan and add a can of diced tomatoes (with liquid). We like the ones with Italian seasonings best, but you can just use plain diced tomatoes and add whatever else you want for flavor--or nothing. Then I cook up some pasta in a separate pot. Tonight I had these mini raviolis to use before they were past the "use by" date, but I've made this many times with bow tie pasta or corkscrew pasta. Anyway, once the pasta's cooked, just add it to the soup. Sprinkle with Parmesan or other hard, grated cheese. Cooking this dinner takes maybe 15 minutes at most. I usually toast an English muffin to go with it, but tonight my hubby and I split a grilled cheese sandwich. Yum!

For the last few weeks, I've been taking projects to work with me to work on during my lunch hour--stitching down binding or doing a little applique is perfect. This week I've prepped another applique block for my Sunbonnet Duck quilt--I talked about this one before some months back. I want to make a total of six blocks and this is the fifth. Sorry the photo is so dark--you know me and my photography skills! I just have all the applique pieces basted and pinned on for now, but I'll probably start sewing them down this week.

On Tuesday during my lunch hour I didn't sew. Instead, I went to my local quilt shop. Yep, I braved the steady rain and ventured out because in my purse was a 15% off coupon for the new Thimbleberries spring line, Gardener's Touch. I'm not sure what I want to make with it, but here's what came home with me:

And here's a better photo of the focus fabric. I think I want to use the flower squares as the centers of blocks, but I don't know what kind of blocks I want to make. I'll have to think about it and look through some patterns and books. I do know that I don't want it to just look like a panel that's been cut apart and had sashings added, which would be the easiest thing to do of course.

I don't know if I'm just getting tired of all this rain or what, but I'm really starting to think about spring. Last night, I was online looking at bunny patterns, and then I dreamt about making a really cute bunny quilt--I just wish I could remember what it looked like now so I could REALLY make it! Do you ever dream about quilts? Sometimes I just dream about individual quilt block patterns. Crazy, isn't it?! I wonder what deep meaning it has? Somehow, I kind of doubt I'd find "quilt blocks" listed in one of those dream interpretation books, but then I admit I've never looked.

And speaking of dreams, it's time for me to get my beauty sleep, so I'll have to say good night. I have a few other things I wanted to show you, but they'll have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Difference Between Men and Women

Maybe you've seen this before, but a friend of mine emailed it to me today and I hadn't. It was SOOOO true in a funny way that I thought I needed to share! Chew your food, swallow your coffee, and read on . . . .


Take off clothing and place it in sectioned laundry hamper according to lights and darks.

Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown. If you see the husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.

Look at your womanly physique in the mirror--make mental note to do more sit-ups, leg-lifts, etc.

Get in the shower. Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah, and pumice stone.

Wash hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.

Wash hair again to make sure it's clean.

Condition your hair with grapefruit mint-conditioner.

Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until it's really red.

Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.

Rinse conditioner off hair.

Shave armpits, legs, etc.

Turn off shower. Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower.

Get out of shower. Dry with a towel the size of a small country. Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.

Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head. If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.


Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.

Walk naked to the bathroom. If you see wife along the way, shake your winkie at her making the Woohoo sound.

Look at your manly physique in the mirror admiring the size of your winkie and scratch your butt.

Get in the shower. Wash your face. Wash your armpits. Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off. Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower. Spend majority of time washing your privates and surrounding areas. Wash your butt, leaving those coarse butt hairs sticking on the soap.

Wash your hair. Make a shampoo Mohawk. Pee. Rinse off and get out of shower.

Partially dry off. Fail to notice water on floor because curtain was hanging out of the tub the whole time. Admire your winkie size in the mirror again.

Leave the shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.

Return to bedroom with towel around waist. If you pass wife, pull off the towel, shake your winkie at her, and make the Woohoo sound again.

Throw wet towel on bed.

* * * * *

Yeah, not ALL women and ALL men fit completely, but isn't there a certain element of truth in there? Thanks for stopping by for a laugh!

Monday, January 21, 2008

For a Good Time, . . .

Years back, when my kids were cute and still living at home, I looked for fun, cheap stuff to do as a family. After all, you can't go to Disneyland every day! I wanted to pass on one of the more successful ideas I found and adopted. I know many of you have adult kids now, but maybe you have grandkids and you want to be the most liked grandparent--if so, this is for you too!

This idea involves a family meal--usually dinner. If you're a strict parent or grandparent when it comes to proper eating, stop here--you probably won't like it. Then again, rules are made to be broken, aren't they?!

So, here's the deal. Gather up all the weird things in your kitchen that can be used in place of dishes and utensils. For instance, the lid of a pot can make a reasonable dish. Tongs or wooden spoons will work as eating utensils. Work out in your mind what would constitute a place setting. For instance, a pot lid and a wooden spoon might work for one person. If you want to be really silly, throw in a sock to use as a napkin! Package each place setting up in a paper bag and tie the opening closed--or for a "party," you can have fun decorating the bag. (Or have the kids decorate the bags but don't tell them what they're for--that should keep them busy for a little while!)

Decide what you're going to cook for dinner--this will depend on your MTL (mess tolerance level). Spaghetti is fun. Actually, the harder the food is to eat with the utensils you've chosen, the more fun--but the more mess too. Just imagine a table full of toddlers and proceed accordingly.

Just before you serve dinner, have each family member pick a bag, contents unseen. Let them open the bag, and as they do, explain that they will need to eat their dinner using only what's in their bag. Then serve the food "family-" or "buffet-" style and let everyone help themselves. I swear that even the most somber person in the family will be laughing in no time!

You can add another element to this "game" by giving everyone 5 minutes before dinner to come up with a silly hat. We did this whole thing one year when my parents were staying with us, and my mom wore a bra on her head--I kid you not! (Actually, my mom, being a bit of an alcoholic, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the first time, but at least this time she was EXPECTED to act oddly!)

On another very memorable occasion, we played the "dinner game" on April Fools Day, and I decorated the table with real dirt down the center, fake flowers, clay flower pots, and those small plastic beach shovels--in fact, we had to eat with the beach shovels. Then I made "dirt cups" for dessert--a combination of chocolate pudding and Cool Whip topped with crushed Oreo cookies. I made those in individual clean, sealed ceramic flower pots and added gummy worms and a fake flower for effect. I'm sure none of us will ever forget that meal, nor will I forget the looks of horror and then doubt on my children's faces when I started to eat the "dirt" out of the flower pots! Priceless!

EDITOR'S NOTE: I have no idea who the guy is with the bra on his head, but I know you all like good photos to illustrate blog posts. It's amazing how many images you can find by searching for "bra on head," even with "safe search" on!

Sunday, January 20, 2008


That's the sound of me with a hairball in my throat. Well, not exactly--I guess that would be one of those lies my husband says I tell on my blog! What I DO have is probably just allergies (from all the dust I kicked up cleaning house yesterday?!) or possibly a cold--but more likely allergies. I hate that.

We went out to dinner with friends last night and then went to see National Treasure. Have you seen it yet? It was a pretty fun movie. There were lots of good trailers for upcoming movies too. In fact, now that I think about it, it seems like we watched about an hour of trailers for everything from the new Knight Rider TV show to movies with no release date yet.

Do you remember my blog of a few weeks back about how I don't wear a coat because there's nowhere to keep coats at my office? So, I started bringing my coat to work anyway because it was just too darn cold NOT to, and I've been storing it in one of my empty file cabinets ('cause the work "kids" don't have too many of their own files yet). So last night when we were getting ready to go out, I went to get my coat only to realize it was still in my cabinet at the office. Curses! Now, I know that there are many parts of the US that are experiencing extremely cold temperatures and we're not one of them, so you may not be awfully sympathetic, but it WAS somewhere in the 40 degree F vicinity and I froze my you-know-what off! Brrrrr!

When I haven't been eating, watching movies, shivering, or clearing my throat and blowing my nose this weekend, I've been working on Hometown Christmas. Here's the next section I finished--I replaced a couple "filler" blocks with the tree, but otherwise, this section is the same as the original pattern:

Then, I added some applique to the section I showed you a couple days back. Here are the "before" and "after" photos:

I still need to add some "ribbon" to the packages under the tree, but I'm thinking about how I want to do that and what I want to use.

Back to work tomorrow--we don't have Martin Luther King, Jr., Day off, although the courts are closed and there's no mail delivery. A three day weekend would sure be nice, but at least I scheduled myself a couple vacation days in February, so I figure I have something to live for. In the meantime, since my applique finger is telling me its had quite enough, thank you very much, and it's too late for me to feel like cutting out the next Hometown Christmas section, I think I'll just go to bed with a hot cup of tea and a good book. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Don't Buy Cheap Toilets

It sounds like I should have a really funny story for that title, but I don't--and as I imagine what kind of funny stories a person could tell about cheap toilets, they'd all involve some pretty big messes, so I'm glad I don't!

Nearly two years ago, we did some cosmetic remodeling in our two tiny bathrooms. We spent a fair amount of our budget on a new cabinet/sink combo and a hanging cabinet for the master bath and put in new flooring in both bathrooms, so when it came to replacing one of the toilets, we picked one we thought was okay for a budget price of somewhere around $100. What I think, though, is that the manufacturer saved money on the glazing because that darn thing attracts all kinds of stains, hard water deposits, etc. Although we rarely use that bathroom, I feel like I spend a whole lot of time trying to get the thing clean. So be warned--don't buy cheap toilets!

If you didn't already guess, I'm spending a good part of my Saturday cleaning house. For the last several weeks, I've been doing the bare minimum of cleaning, and it's all caught up to me now. But the good news is that it's a little after 1:30 p.m. and I'm heading toward the home stretch--I just have the kitchen left to clean, and then I can reward myself with a little quilting time before we meet friends for dinner and a movie.

My younger cat LOVES it when I clean house. If I could only tie a duster to her tail, we'd be in business! For some reason, when I start moving around the house a lot cleaning, she sees it as her cue to run around too. And she's such a big help--NOT! For instance, as I swept all the dust and dirt into a little pile in one of the bathrooms, she came running in and lept into the bathtub, using my little pile of dirt as a springboard. Not amusing! (What WAS amusing, though, was the time the bathtub was full of water--have you ever seen a cat turn 180 degrees in mid air?!)

Being a fairly young cat, Spike's all about playing. Here's her favorite toy:

Doesn't look like much, does it? It kind of reminds me of how kids can amuse themselves for hours playing with a large cardboard box--more so than playing with the toy that came inside it. We call this Spike's "feather" because at one time, it had a large, purple feather on one end--until I was cleaning house one day and accidentally sucked it up with the vacuum. No problem, though, because she never cared a hoot about the feather--she just loves running after the stick. The funniest thing is the way she carries it around in her teeth like a dog with a stick and drops it at your feet. She does that a lot while I'm sitting in front of my sewing machine. Then she looks up at me and meows until she gets my attention and paws at the stick so I know what she wants--as if I could pretend ignorance!

When we go to bed at night, we always know when she's coming, because we can hear the stick tapping against the wall of the hallway all the way down to our bedroom; then she leaps up on the bed, carrying the stick in her mouth, and drops it at our feet--just in case we get the urge to wake up and play in the middle of the night, I guess!

Oh, and back to the topic of cleaning. I just had a kind of funny telephone conversation with my friend Lisa. She asked me what I was doing--cleaning, of course. She told me I should do what she does and have a house cleaner come in twice a month to do the bigger things like the floors. "It's only $80 a month," she said, "and worth it for the time it would take me to do that stuff myself." (I'm thinking I could buy a fair amount of fabric with $80 a month and keep cleaning my own floors.) "What are you doing?," I asked Lisa. "I just finished cutting out coupons, although I'll probably lose them in my car before I use them," she replied. (I used to clip coupons too, but I'd do the same thing--lose them or forget I had them--so I just don't spend the time doing that any more.) "LISA!," I said, "How much money do you actully "earn" an hour by looking through the ads and cutting coupons? Just CLEAN YOUR OWN FLOORS!" We both cracked up. Isn't it funny, though, that we all have different ideas about what we're willing to do to save money? But take it from me--don't buy cheap toilets!

Okay, time for me to get back to cleaning--it's been fun taking a break with you!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Hometown Christmas and General Quilty News

I've been feeling pretty guilty lately for having fallen behind in the Hometown Christmas project--as of January 15th, I should have had three more sections done than I did have. What kind of "leader" am I anyway? Not a very good one, I guess! I hope to catch up soon, but one of the sections will be applique, so that will take a little longer--it will replace the section that's supposed to look like holly and berries if you squinch up your eyes and turn your head sideways.

I DID get one section done tonight, though--that's it in the photo above. And yes, as a matter of fact, I did change it a bit. This is the one that's in the second row down on the right side--in the original pattern, it's a house, then two trees together to the right of the house, and then a couple filler blocks on the end. I made a different tree (the same tree block I used in the Winter/Valentine's quilt but a little smaller) and reversed the tree and house. The house is the same as the original pattern though. So, now I just have two more sections to make, and I'll be caught up. Well, except that another one will be due by the end of January! You can't see all of the sections (my design wall's not even wide enough for them!), but here's a quick photo of a couple I have up on the wall. I was looking at them tonight, and I think I want to add some applique embellishments to a few. It's probably best if I do that before they get too large to handle easily.

Sometime around the end of December, I said I planned to spend January getting some quilt projects finished up, and I've been doing just that. In the last week, I've gotten three small quilts quilted and bound. The first two are from my Jo's Little Women Club. The 9-patch blocks in the first one are 1-1/2" finished. I think those rail fence-type blocks in the second one are 1" finished. I haven't had a chance to wash them yet, so you'll still see the quilt markings on them--sorry about that!

The third one I finished is one of the two Trees on the Table toppers I made from Marcie's free pattern. I'm either really, really late for Christmas or I'm really early. Since I'm so late on Hometown Christmas, let's just pretend I'm really early with this one for next Christmas! I'm not sure they show up very well in the photo, but I used a decorative machine stitch for tree "garland" and sewed on colored buttons for "ornaments."

The weekend's here! I'm SOOOO envious of all the quilters attending Road to California. My husband and I talked a little bit about going this year but never did make any real plans--maybe we'll go next year. Whatever you're doing this weekend, I hope you have a great one!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

What Can I Tell You?

I just got home from a mind-numbingly boring dinner/seminar/thingamajig about updates and procedural changes in the courts of several surrounding counties. I swear my brain died about two and a half hours ago. I think it happened when I was trying to slice the toughest roast beef I've ever eaten with a butter knife. Or maybe it was when I was trying to gag that one piece back up--the one that I couldn't even really chew through well enough to get down. Maybe in my efforts to not be too obvious about the gagging, my brain was starved of oxygen for a couple seconds.

Or maybe it happened when one of our local court administrators was telling us about the new, improved document handling process they've adopted. Our county is one of the first three counties in the state to try this out. Basically, it's the first large step toward making court files available online--kind of like the big federal boys do. I think it may have been when she told us that getting a certain type of legal document filed and back--one that used to take a day--now takes three weeks or so under the new and improved system. Yeah, maybe that's when my brain died.

I was going to take my camera so I could show you photos of this annual event, but I realized it would look just about like every other dinner/seminar/thingamajig anyone's ever attended before, and if you've never attended one yourself . . . well, I want to be YOU!

I guess restaurants that prepare banquet food have gotten the message that we don't really want to eat overcooked veggies, because the veggies tonight were nice and crisp. Have you ever tried to cut a crisp, undercooked carrot with a butter knife? Those pointy carrot tips make deadly weapons when shot across the table, I'm telling you! And apparently the head "chef" there is one of those who believes a potato is a vegetable if our undercooked scalloped potatoes are anything to go by. Oh, yeah! We had some broccoli too--you know the weedy looking kind? It sort of looks like a bunch of skinny flower stems with little broccoli balls on the ends? I'm not sure how that was, because by the time I got around to it, my carpal tunnel was acting up and I was plumb tired out from trying to cut my vegetables.

At least they had rolls and cheesecake. Too bad, though, that it tasted like the flour they used to make the rolls was past its sell-by date. And whatever they used in the crust of the cheesecake tasted a little bit like rancid nuts. Maybe it was supposed to be some kind of flavored crust, but that's what it tasted like to me--rancid nut cheesecake. The salad was pretty good though, really! Comparatively speaking.

So, anyway, in this numbed mind/brain dead state, I don't really have anything to tell you tonight. I think I had something in mind earlier today, but it's gone now. Sorry! Maybe my brain will grow back by tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's Hairball Season!

And I'm not decorating for it! To tell you the truth, my cat Button's on her own on that one, and she's doing a fine job too!

Of course, if you own--or HAVE owned--a long haired cat, then you're probably already familiar with the season's "festivities." One of my favorites is performing the Mexican Hat Dance as I negotiate my way around a hairball or two--it kind of gives the season that party atmosphere. And serving up some Hairball Salad is always good for a few giggles.

If you have a cat, you also probably know that peak hairball season's likely to last a good six months or more--from the first sign of winter weather to the heat of summer. This is the time of year when the savvy cat owner does NOT energetically leap out of bed in the morning. Not without looking first. And even then, he or she is best advised to gingerly step out of bed with the utmost caution.

Since I'm not a morning person, there's very little danger of me leaping out of bed at the best of times, and with the colder temperatures, I'd just as soon pound on the snooze alarm a couple times and hunker down further under the covers. But eventually there comes a time when each of us must arise and face the day. Being morning-challenged, though, means that once I DO get out of bed, I'm pretty darn oblivious to most everything around me for the first hour or two. Such inattention can be dangerous and may lead to mishaps.

I know that some of you are probably reading this in the morning. I know--because you've told me--that you may be drinking your coffee or eating your cornflakes, so I'll spare you the details. It wouldn't be pretty. But I will say this: Let's all be careful out there! Wear some kind of non-slip protective foot gear at all times, including when you're sleeping. Keep paper towels and rug cleaners handy, and locate them at several central emergency clean up stations around the house. Having an odor-eliminating carpet powder on hand is a bonus as well--you'll be glad you made the investment. Together, we can all get though this people!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Day of Beauty Update

For those of you who have asked and/or are just plain curious, I shaved last night. I know--I'm three days late, but I figure it will last longer. I sure felt cold and naked afterward though--and slightly violated. On the up side, it seemed like my pants fit a little looser today.

And if you're following along with my routine--go shave!

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Blogger's Spouse

My husband has mixed feelings about my blogging, I think. He never reads what I write, but he often finds out. Frankly, if our roles were reversed, I'd be constantly checking to see what he may have written, just in case it was something I needed to be embarrassed about.

On the one hand, it seems to tickle him a little that I write something that other people read. Sometimes he's a little surprised at what a small world we live in when I tell him about some of the connections I've made with other bloggers. Mostly, though, he's pretty oblivious to the whole thing. (Literally. Most of the time when I'm writing my blog posts at 1 a.m., he's sound asleep, snoring right next to me.)

My husband is close to his sister Kathy. Whenever there aren't any sports to watch on TV and I fail to entertain him with my quilting, he'll call Kath and go over to visit or invite her to our house. They've been that way ever since he got his first apartment and moved out of his parents' home, and Kath was still in high school, looking for an excuse to get out of the house and find a good party.

I think my blogging has put a little kink in their relationship, though. While my husband is by no means the silent type, I don't think you could call him overly talkative. He'll talk for hours about sports, but day-to-day, polite conversation--not so much. For him, watching TV with someone else is a social activity. So, when he gets together with Kath, I think that much of his side of the conversation involves what's going on in our lives. And now, because I blog, Kath already knows!

In fact, SHE often tells HIM what we're up to. For instance, the other day, she told him he had messed up my freezer system. Now when he rearranged the freezer, I didn't tell him how he had messed things up. I suspect you don't stay married to someone for 27 years by telling him about every little thing he does wrong, especially when he's trying to do something good. And if you DO actually stay married under those circumstances, it's probably just because he hasn't quite figured out yet how to kill you and dispose of your body without anyone catching him.

So, never having even read my blog, he said he told Kath that about 50 percent of what I write is a lie. I won't get annoyed with him though--I figure it's just something he threw out there to give him deniability in case I write about something embarrassing. Kinda makes me wonder what he thinks I write, though. And it kinda makes me wonder if he's figured out that fabric doesn't really cost $2 a yard.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . .

Valentine's Day!

This morning I was sitting in the Sweat Shop quilting in my PJs around 11:30 when my husband told me our friends, Terry and Lisa, were going to stop by sometime during the afternoon. Terry's a mechanic and is always looking for cars he can repair and sell quickly--for a profit, of course--and our neighbor had one to sell.

I quickly did a mental inventory of all the things I'd like to have done before they arrived--like maybe take a bath, get dressed, straighten up the house, clean out the kitty liter box--you know the kind of stuff I mean, right?

And what did I decide was the MOST IMPORTANT thing to do? The thing that absolutely HAD to be done first? Decorating for Valentine's Day, of course! So, I got the new quilt up on the wall and decorated the Valentine tree. There are a few more things I'll probably want to do to get ready for the big occasion (like shaving my legs), but at least the quilt and the tree are up and ready. And notice the bunny at the base of the tree? I'm not sure when Easter is this year, but I thought I'd just cover all my bases. Just in case my husband whisks me off to Europe for a month or so as a surprise Valentine's Day gift. Or my appendix bursts. Or something. You never know, but it's important to be ready!

And talking about decorating for the many holidays, I was driving home from work a week or two ago, listing to the radio, and the DJ was talking to a caller who was ranting about a woman he knew who decorated for every single holiday. And they were kind of making it sound like that was a BAD thing! I got a little worried for a second or two, but then the caller explained that this obviously insane woman decorated for ALL holidays ALL the time--she kept everything out all year long. Whew! Nope, not me! What a relief! I was starting to think maybe I was a little crazy!

By the way, I had a nice email from the designer of the Hearts and Pines quilt, Karie Hougard. She said someone had seen the quilt on my blog and tracked her down to order a pattern. If you're interested in that quilt or other designs by her (I have another one of her patterns called Snow Crystals--she does nice work!) just click on the "Hearts and Pines" at the beginning of this paragraph and it will take you to her website.

Thanks for taking the time to visit with me!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Transition Quilts

I don't think anyone can have too many quilts for any one holiday or season, and I think I have at least a few for most occasions, but sometimes when one holiday passes and another is off in the distance, I'm kind of at a loss about how to decorate.

You already know, I think, that I'm a little nutty about holidays and decorating, and I understand that for many people, worrying about how to decorate between Christmas and Valentine's Day, winter and spring, isn't one of those things that keeps them up late at night. If there was an anti-decorating pill, I'm telling you I'd be the first one in line at the pharmacy!

Several years ago, I found what I considered to be the perfect pattern for a transition quilt--something that looked right for winter but with a hint of Valentine's Day. The pattern is called Scandinavian Hearts and Pines--here's a photo (I guess I could have gotten a better photo if I took it OUT of the plastic--I'm an idiot!):

Well, stuff happens and I never did get around to making this "perfect quilt" until now. I teased you with the hearts last week, but now the quilt's done and ready to hang on the wall in the kitchen.

Yes, I did change the pattern a bit. I used the same blocks but I added more hearts and got rid of the plain setting squares. I added appliqued words at the top and bottom. If you can't read them, they say, "Winter Chills" and "Warm Hearts." (Kind of looks like "Worm Hearts," though, doesn't it?!) The borders--well, I didn't use the original ones at all, because they would have made the quilt too wide for the space I want to fill.

So now I finally have a transition quilt for this odd time of the year, and I'll be able to sleep nights again instead of staring at the ceiling in the dark, worrying about my decorating scheme. Or at least I think I'll be able to sleep again once I finish decorating for Valentine's Day. Maybe by tomorrow night!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Think My Biorhythms Have Flatlined

I sent my husband off tonight to pick up dinner so I could quilt. Did I quilt? No. Not then, anyway. My turkey cran sandwich came with tomato (I'm not a big fan of tomatoes on sandwiches) and was missing the onions, and my Starbucks iced latte straw had a crack in it that made it difficult to suck up any of that liquid energy goodness. Maybe THAT's why I didn't quilt.

While my husband was gone, my brother-in-law called. He was selling Girl Scout cookies and seemed fairly excited about having just gotten the list of this year's flavors--I guess he wanted us to be the first to know. When I told him we were on a diet, he said the Girl Scouts are now selling 100 calorie packs. My husband told me he's NOT buying Girl Scout cookies from his brother. He just might buy some from our niece, but she'll have to ask. I think I read in their Christmas letter this year that my niece was the high cookie seller for her troop. Gee, I wonder how that happened?

Since I was feeling awfully chilled after dinner for some reason, I decided I'd go take a nice, long, hot bath. Oh, Lord, Saturday's day of beauty regimen should probably involving shaving. But not tonight. And does it have to be Saturday? Can't it wait? After all, Valentine's Day isn't for another month.

I was hoping to distract you this week from the lack of quilty content in my blog by telling some stories. Did it work? Finally, though, I have a little something to show you:

This is the first block of my block of the year quilt. It was actually supposed to be a block of the month quilt. The class started a year (or maybe two years) ago, but since the classes were on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m., I cut class a whole bunch. I think I went twice. But I've finished the first block now. I might have this quilt done around 2018, give or take a couple years.

Do you remember biorhythms? Sometime back in the 80s, my husband and I belonged to a bowling league with Terry and Lisa--yes, THAT Lisa. I'm not sure why--Lisa's not much of a bowler and neither, really, is my husband. But Terry used to bowl and I used to bowl (but not together), and somehow our spouses decided to give it a try. Hey, what could be more fun than spending Friday nights after work at the bowling alley? The highlight each week, at least for me and Lisa, was feeding quarters into the biorhythm machine on our way out of the bowling alley after having a few beers in the bar. Ah, the good old days! The biorhythm machine would spit out a piece of paper telling us which days of the month would be best for stuff like health, luck, money, and romance. And all this information was graphed out, looking like waves traveling across the paper, going up and down. Sometimes one category--like health--would be up while something else--like romance--would be down. I haven't seen a biorhythm machine in years, but something tells me mine are probably pretty much flat tonight. Yeah, I guess I really ought to shave at least. It's not like I can do a whole lot to improve my health, luck, or money levels in the next day or two, but shaving might help that romance part.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Trip Down Memory Lane

The other day, Marcie sent me THIS link to a List of the Day post that showcased a bunch of family studio portraits circa the 1970s/1980s or thereabouts. (And why do all those people look so familiar to me? I keep thinking I KNOW some of them, but I'm sure I must be mistaken!) If you're anywhere between the ages of, oh, say 40 and 65, tell me this: What were we thinking?! Were we really that stoned in the 70's or what? And what was the point of it being the age of free sex if we all looked like this?! Heck! It HAD to be free, 'cause no one who looks like THAT could charge! Thank goodness hair stylists have gotten a whole lot better, too! Or maybe it's just that my eyesight's gotten so much worse.

And just in case that wasn't quite funny enough for you--or if you need to get some of those portrait images out of your mind--check THIS List of the Day post. For some sophomoric reason, foreign translations just seem to crack me up!

I'll leave you with this old photo of me--here's what I looked like on June 29, 1980.

This was right after my audition with the rock band KISS. I almost got the gig, but they found out I don't play a musical instrument, can't sing, am tone deaf, and have absolutely no sense of rhythm. They kind of liked the make-up though, but they didn't think the nose quite worked, and apparently my tongue's not long enough. Boy was I devastated! But at least I didn't have a mullet.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This and That

There have been a couple things going on the last few days that by themselves, didn't really make for much of a post, but I thought I'd do a little mish mash of catch-up items tonight.

First a little story. This was pretty amazing to me, but I'm not sure I can tell it in such a way so as to convey the heart pounding sense of excitement to you. It may just be one of those "you had to have been there" things. Bummer for you if it is, 'cause I'm telling it anyway!

Tonight I was driving from my office to the quilt shop for my monthly Thimbleberries meeting. Now, I know most of you don't know Sacramento, but for those of you who do, I was traveling down Folsom Boulevard toward Bradshaw. To my right was the light rail line, which parallels Folsom Boulevard all the way out to Folsom. During commute hour, which is usually when I'm heading out that way to the quilt shop, I'd say about 60 percent of the time, I have to stop at Bradshaw, waiting to turn right, until a train passes.

As I approached my turn at Bradshaw tonight, maybe a couple city blocks distant, I noticed the railway lights flashing and saw the guard rail arm coming down. But wait! Something was wrong! It took me a couple seconds to figure out what was going on because I had to get a little closer, but I soon realized that the guard rail arm was coming down on top of a semi truck/trailer. In fact, by that time, I noticed the semi seemed to be dragging along the wooden railway crossing sign. With the railway lights still flashing their warning, the semi came to a dead stop right across and blocking the rails, and two men jumped out of the cab. Had they stalled? Were they jumping out of the cab to escape an approaching train? Was the train going to slam into the side of the trailer and push it toward me? YIKES! Yep, my life started flashing before my eyes along with those flashing red warning lights, and I started to think about possible evasive maneuvers.

Looking in either direction, I couldn't SEE a train, but I knew those lights were flashing for a reason! Just about that time, the semi lurched in a decidedly bumpy manner and crept forward, dragging the crossing arm and the wooden railway sign until it came to a stop on the other side of the tracks. I realized then that the truck, in making its right hand turn, had taken out the entire light rail control box and just about everything else on that corner.

Eventually the cars in front of me cautiously completed their right turns, and then it was my turn. As I passed the truck, I noticed the logo blazoned across the side: Western Trucking School. Somehow, I don't think that guy got an "A" for today's driving lesson!

When I passed that way again some 2-1/2 hours later, there were about eight light rail maintenance trucks out there, trying to repair the damage. Uh oh!

* * * * *

Remember our back fence that blew down in the big storm last week? On Monday, just before I left for work, I saw a guy out there wearing a tool belt and messing around with a pick ax. I'm not much of a carpenter, but I haven't seen a whole lot of fence repair done with a pick ax. We don't know those neighbors and no one had come over to talk to us about repairs--or ask for a monetary contribution for that matter--so I just figured "whatever!" Rain was due again, and I didn't really think the guy planned to do any serious work anyway. Besides, it was time for me to get to work, so I didn't hang around to find out what the guy with the pick ax was doing. When we came home that night, though, a brand spanking new fence section was up, replacing one of the five sections that blew down.

Tuesday morning, the same thing. Except there were TWO guys and no pick axes that I could see. Again, I noticed this activity just as I was getting ready to go to work, and again we were expecting rain--in fact, the weather people were predicting another pretty good storm with 40 mph wind gusts, so I didn't think they'd get very far with the fence. That night we came home to find the rest of the fence posts set as well as some of the cross pieces.

Wednesday morning, no one was out there. Nevertheless, when we came home, we found that two more sections had been put up. Now there are only two sections left. The curious and somewhat amusing part is that these mysterious fence repair guys propped two of the old fence sections up where the new sections will go, and the two "missing" sections are ones that need to be nailed from our side. My husband figures this is a silent message to us that it's our turn now to complete the job. I wonder what they'd do if we just didn't do anything? Kind of makes me want to leave it as is for a few weeks and see. But they DO have pick axes, so I don't think I want to make them mad. And we have some fence boards left over from a prior project, so we'll probably pick up a few more and get our son out here to pound a few nails. Since he installs cabinets for a living, I'm pretty sure he has some handy dandy power tools that will get those last two sections installed in about 10 minutes.

* * * * *

Annemiek of Carpe-Quiltem awarded me the "You Make My Day" Award. I am flattered!

The rules for this award say to choose up to 10 people whose blog brings you happiness & inspiration and makes you feel happy about Blogland. Let them know by posting a note on their blog so they can pass it on.

I'm glad to know that my blog brings happiness and inspiration to some of you who take the time to come visit me. And speaking of those of you who come visit me, I wanted to say "hi" back to some of my newer commenters! Thanks for leaving me comments--I love to hear from you, because it means that the time I spend writing down my thoughts, sharing my quilts, and telling my stories isn't wasted. Unfortunately, some of you are "no reply," so I can't write back. Still, I wanted you to know that I appreciate each and every one of you!

I've never counted how many blogs I read on a fairly regular basis, but I DO know that it's LOTS and LOTS! I don't know how to narrow down who I'd give the award to because I love reading about what all of you are doing, and I enjoy feeling like I'm part of a global community of quilters--and even a few non-quilters. Still, I'll mention a couple bloggers and tell you why I've listed them. Most of you are probably familiar with the blogs already, but maybe you'll find one or two that you didn't know about.

Vicky at LA Quilter. Waaay back a couple years ago, I started reading a couple blogs occasionally. Then, and I can't remember why, I stopped. Later, when some friends of mine started their own blogs and I got interested again, Vicky's blog was the one I remembered reading before and wanted to find again right away. I'm not sure why, but I think it's because she's so honest, funny, warm, and friendly. I've never met Vicky in person, but I feel like I know her. If I only have time to read a couple blogs, Vicky's is one I'll pop in and check out.

Cowguy Jace over at Saw Dust and Cow Pies. Jace isn't a quilter but maybe his wife is--at least I know Vicky knows Jace and his wife, so they must be okay, right? Cowguy is a new blogger and talks a lot about cows, sheep, poop, and other stuff that's about as far from quilting as a person can get, but he's pretty amusing and tells some good stories.

And while I'm thinking about amusing people and cows, I guess I'd give the award to Sharon over at Red Geranium Cottage too. The "cows" part would involve a long explanation but we first "met"--or started chatting at least--because of cows. Zany Sharon always manages to brighten up my day!

Then there's Anna over at Thimbleanna. I love her writing style and her "nicknames" for the people in her life that she writes about. I love her blog content--she's very talented. I don't like the fact that her photos are so much better than mine, but what can I say? I can't hold that against a person, because if I did, I wouldn't like anyone much!

I think the last one I'll list now is Angie at The ThreadCatcher. You probably all know Angie, but for some reason, she's a recent "discovery" for me. I think I really want to give her this award just for her infatuation with red shoes. Red shoes really deserve something, right? But she also cracks me up. And that makes my day!

There are so many more of you I just love--the bloggers whose blogs "everyone" reads and knows about, the bloggers with fairly new blogs and not too many readers, the bloggers in other countries whose mastery of English amazes me and delights me as well because I can learn so much about quilters in other countries . . . . Well, the list could go on and on, and does--the links between us and the sharing of ideas here in Blogland is tremendous! Truly, you ALL make my day! Thank you for including me in your lives!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Know He Meant Well . . . .

I'm a little schizo on the organizational front. Part of me is extremely well organized, and part of me--well, not quite so much. For the unorganized areas of my life, I rely on routines that I've established over the years. I suppose it's what we'd call in the legal field "custom and practice."

For instance, let's say you're a nurse, and every night when you come home from work, you kick off your white nurses' shoes and leave them where they land--well, that's not all that organized, is it? But if by seeing those shoes sitting out where they don't really belong it's a reminder to you that you need to clean them and apply a coat of white shoe polish, then maybe your practice of leaving them laying around is actually reasonably efficient.

Some of my routines that keep things running smoothly are a bit like that. I admit that I certainly could be more organized, but the time it would take me to do that would seriously cut into my quilting time. In fact, I suspect the effort expended in the act of just BEING organized--not even in getting whatever job it is DONE--would probably take longer than doing the task at hand. And in those cases, yeah, I could do better. I admire those of you who keep notebooks and journals of what has to be done and when. But what I do generally works for me.

My husband helps out quite a bit. When the kids were little, it seemed like I never had any leisure time while he had loads. Now, we both have our chores, and his are equal to--or possibly even exceed--mine. (Shhhh! Don't tell HIM I said that, okay?!)

When I come home from work each night, I cook dinner and then I'm pretty much free to do whatever I want. HE does the dishes. I clean the house; HE does the laundry. (Mostly. Except a few things that I don't quite trust him to wash.) HE does some stuff out in the yard; I shop for groceries and whatever else we need. Pretty even, I'd say.

The other day, I guess he was trying to be helpful when he rearranged the stuff in the freezer out in the garage--it had gotten pretty bad and needed a good cleaning out. And it's my own fault, really. It's something I had been saying I needed to do for several months and hadn't gotten around to. But I guess he thought that at least if it was nicely organized, it would be better than leaving it "as is" until I got around to cleaning it out. But I have to tell you that his act of rearranging the freezer threw off my whole freezer organization method, which is generally a little similar to the kicking-off-your-shoes-when-you-get-home analogy. You see, my method for figuring out what might still be "good" in the freezer and what might be freezer burned or otherwise not quite so good was based on how far back in the freezer it was. NOW I don't know. I have absolutely no idea if the Lean Cuisine on the top of the stack is one that's been in there for two years or two weeks. Before, I knew that if I was pulling a hunk of meat out from the middle of the freezer, I should probably plan a back-up meal in case the meat turned out to be freezer burned. Or if I discovered when it was defrosted that what I thought was steak was actually stew meat. Now it's all a crap shoot.

I'm going to have to think about this a bit. I figure I have a couple options.

I can make sure I always have a $20 bill in my wallet so that if the planned meal, once defrosted, is inedible, I can send him off for fast food.

I can clean out the freezer and toss out most of it, keeping only the things that I pretty much remember buying in the last several weeks.

Or I can just ignore the whole thing for another four to six months and then toss out everything, because by then, none of it will really be worth eating anyway. I'm guessing this is probably the choice I'll end up going with. After all, I think this will probably give me a reprieve on cleaning out the freezer for several months, thus allowing me maximum quilting time.

Monday, January 7, 2008

A Cry for Help?

Sorry about the dark and weirdly blotchy quality of the photo--you all know by now that I truly suck at photography. Kind of looks like I tried to slash my wrist, though, doesn't it? Maybe when I was trying to decide which quilts I wanted to make this year and realized just how hopeless the idea that I could make all the quilts I really, really, really like is?! Nah! Just an overly enthusiastic but inaccurate grab for a hot iron the other day. It got me thinking, though, what a dangerous "sport" quilting is.

Burns. Aching muscles. Upper and lower back pain. Cuts from rotary cutter mishaps. Failing eyesight from peering at tiny applique stitches. Arthritis in the joints of the hands. Serious stuff.

I always say that exercising is dangerous. It seems that most of the people I know who get injured, do it while engaging in some form of strenuous physical exercise. That's why I don't exercise--it's just too darn dangerous.

But think about how dangerous quilting is! The last time I visited the emergency room was a few years ago when my rotary cutter flipped out of my hand and up into the air, coming back down on my finger. Yep, that hurt! And spending a Sunday night in the emergency room getting stitches was no picnic either. But you know what? The doctor didn't seem at all surprised when I explained how the accident happened, which leads me to believe it was no freak occurrence. There are probably hundreds of quilters out there getting injured every day.

I remember exchanging stories with a group of women about quilting accidents awhile back. One woman told us about the time she was in a class with another quilter whose boyfriend came in. He asked about the rotary cutters and was skeptical that they could be so sharp. In a "here, let me prove my point" testosterone-enhanced display, he ran the blade down the pant leg of his denim jeans, slicing open his leg. (Probably one reason more men don't quilt--our tools are just too dangerous!)

Despite the physical dangers involved, though, the thing that really scares me most about quilting is its addictive properties. I used to have a life. My lifestyle involved varied activities. My husband and I occasionally went out to dinner or a movie. We saw friends. We spent time with our kids. Now I quilt. Well, I go to work, and then I quilt. Most of the time, I can manage to refrain from quilting on the job, but some days, I just need that little bit of quilting on my lunch hour to get me through the work day. Hello. My name is Kim. And I'm a quilt addict.

No, I don't think so. I don't think I need a 12-step program or an intervention. I think maybe it's possible to taper off a little bit at a time without going cold turkey. I think I just need a little self-control. Maybe an occasional evening away from the sewing machine, going to a movie or reading a book.

Or maybe quilting's really not that bad after all. Most of the physical stuff can be cured--or at least improved--with a little ibuprofen. And what could be so bad about doing something you really love to do, even if you do it ALL THE TIME?! After all, I DO manage to get out at least a couple times a month for a little social interaction with other quilters. It's not like I'm a closet quilter or anything!

Do me a favor, though, okay? If you ever catch me stealing stash from other quilters to support my habit, please arrange an intervention. If I start lying about all the quilting I do, encourage me to attend a 12-step program. And if I start acting crazy, shave my head bald, and neglect my family so I can keep on quilting, call Dr. Phil.