Friday, February 29, 2008

Tulip Quilt--Again

The applique is finally done--maybe. I'm not sure if I want to add anything else, but it's at least to the stage I had planned. I'm contemplating a butterfly. I'll look at it again in the morning and make up my mind. In any event, I think I should be able to get it quilted this weekend, unless I get distracted by other things. And I'm easily distracted!

Work continued to be busy up until about 5:45 today, but the last couple of days haven't been quite as insane as earlier in the week. Still, I'm certainly happy to welcome the weekend!

Back when I was working hard to save the economy, I managed to amass several largish piles of fabric. Over the last few days, I've been concentrating on getting everything reorganized and put away, so the Sweat Shop is finally back in order again--it feels so much better to work in there!

Did you notice that word "amass" that I used? I like it! I doublechecked the meaning and here's how the dictionary defined it--which I think is quite fitting when it comes to newly purchased fabric:

"(1) To gather for oneself, as for one's pleasure or profit . . . (2) To accumulate or assemble a large quantity . . . ."

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Little Something

Last weekend, I made a lunch sack-type bag and I wanted to show you a photo:

It's about the size of a brown paper lunch bag but much cuter! I first came across a photo of some that Screen Door Mel made HERE. Although she gave a link for the free pattern, I'll post it again: Lunch Sack Bags.

They're really quick and simple to make--two fat quarters and some heavy non-fusible interfacing is all that's required besides a button--that's for the larger of the two patterns, and that's the one I made. But what I was thinking about is wouldn't they be cute if you made some with Easter/spring fabrics, rolled the tops down, stuffed them with Easter grass, and filled them with Easter goodies for your friends and family? Something a little different than the traditional basket! And if you used fabrics that weren't strictly "Easter," they could be used later as lunch or gift bags.

I'm sure I'll be making a few more of these!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

That Does Not Compute!

What does not compute? Me! Tonight. Or blog. Much. I'm just too darn tired and every thought has been sucked from my brain. If someone was to decide to do an MRI of my brain tonight, they might think they had obtained an MRI of a raisin. Or Silly Putty. Or bubblegum, as Darlene suggested to me last night--but in a nice way.

And can someone explain how I've managed to post 32 times in February when I pretty much just post once a day and today's the 27th? I guess I must have had a lot to say before. Hopefully that makes up for having nothing to say tonight. I guess if you want to read something more from me, you can go back and see if you missed anything.

And just to make sure no one's terribly disappointed at having stopped by and gotten nothing for their efforts, well a number of you were clammoring for a photo of me awhile back, and after a great deal of careful thought and consideration, I figured I'd oblige.

Stop back by tomorrow--maybe I'll have something for you then. Remember that secretary who has the flu? She called today and said she'd be back tomorrow. Now, if only I can figure out where I put my brain . . . .

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Out of Office Reply:

The Recipient Lost Her Mind and Has Gone Home to Search For it."

That's the reply I sent my boy boss today when he emailed me the gazillionth piece of electronic dictation that I haven't a hope of getting to any time soon. Later in the day, he commented that I seemed a little . . . uh . . . feisty?! Yeah? Ya think?!

Stress is a funny thing with me. Literally. I cope with stress by getting kind of funny. I think maybe stress just pushes my mind past its normal boundaries and on into the land of the absurd. And yes, I can hear some of you muttering that I must be stressed quite often, right? Hummm. Maybe.

Now that boy boss and girl boss are full-fledged attorneys, they're becoming reasonably productive, and they keep me pretty busy. Add to that the fact that new attorneys are the dumping grounds for last minute rushes, and you will begin to see why I tend to be funny on occasion. Now imagine that on top of coping with the demands of boy boss and girl boss, I've had to take on the demands of one of the senior partner bosses because his secretary is out with the flu. Yep, she called me Monday morning from the pharmacy after seeing her doctor. She was running a 103 degree fever and was waiting to pick up some liquid mega dose of antibiotics that was supposed to make her feel like hurling the rest of the day but would hopefully start her down the road to recovery. In the meantime, her doctor wanted her to rest for a few days. I think I need a referral.

And can I just mention here that this week, I'm a disgruntled employee? Yep, I realized that since my pay is based on a monthly salary, my employers are getting AN EXTRA DAY of work out of me this year, since it's leap year. Aargh!

I was hoping to come home tonight and spend a relaxing evening basting the next applique pieces I plan to add to my tulip quilt, but having scrolled--SEVERAL TIMES--through the TV listings, I found there's absolutely nothing I wanted to watch. And generally speaking, I'll watch just about anything, so there being NOTHING that (1) interested me or (2) I hadn't already seen--several times in some cases--is unusual. Didn't the writers' strike end? And what were they doing with all that time off? Couldn't they have at least come up with some ideas while they were off so these TV shows could get back up and running quickly?! Sheesh!

So, instead of relaxing, basting, and watching TV, my younger cat and I went to take a nice, long bath. Yes, you're right: I took a bath and she watched. Then she got bored and decided to try to dig up the bath towel I had laid on the floor next to the tub. That part was really fun! Every time she'd start to dig, I'd flick water on her. She'd stop and look around and maybe twitch a little and then start to dig again. And I'd flick water again. Well, this went on and on for awhile until she decided to watch from afar. Then I got bored, and we played peek-a-boo with the shower curtain. See what I mean? I think I've lost my mind.

Once I was all nice and clean and wrinkled to the point that I was starting to resemble my 80-year-old mother, I got out of the tub and got onto the computer and ordered a couple bunny quilt patterns from Canada. What fun! The best part is that since it was Canadian money, I don't know how much I spent! I figure you really can't feel guilty buying something if you don't know how much money you spent, right? I mean: Is it even REAL money? Hummm.

I think it's time to go to bed with a good book, a slightly damp cat, and a cup of hot chocolate. Chocolate's good for stress right?!

Here's The Thing . . .

Okay, I think I'd better defend myself over the whole ironing board issue before someone calls the quilt police! LOL! I don't know if they make those tabletop boards thinking that people won't use them a whole lot or what, but the fabric they use for the covers seems a bit flimsy and not of the best quality--kind of like that somewhat thin but stiff fabric you can find at discount department stores for a couple bucks a yard. Add to that the fact that I often do things like sew up 284 half square triangles and press them open all at once--I have a feeling that doing that repetitive pressing tends to overheat the batting and the board cover and eventually the textiles start to break down. I never leave my iron plate down on the board and half the time I don't even leave it sitting up on the board, so that's not the problem. Maybe my iron is too hot? But I don't really think so.

One of these days soon, I'll need to stop quilting long enough to sew up a new ironing board cover. I have some nice, heavier cotton, and Quilt Nut was kind enough to take pity on me and provide THIS link to a site that shows how to make a new cover for your board which is pretty cool.

I wish I could stay home and play with fabric today--I'm still working on the tulip quilt--but it's time to get ready and head to the job that pays me to show up. Happy quilting and crafting!

Monday, February 25, 2008


Libby has a little thing going on at her BLOG where we're supposed to leave her a comment there and post a photo on our blog of our ironing board. You may have seen her post. If the contest was based on who has the worst ironing board, I'm guessing I just might win. Are you ready for this? No, really--you REALLY, REALLY have to be ready before you look. Make sure you don't have food or drink in your mouth, and if you're feeling at all squeemish, you might just want to go on to the next blog on your list right now.


Okay, here it is:

Pretty pathetic, isn't it? And here's what really bugs me--you can't buy new covers for these small tabletop boards; you have to buy a whole new board. Which I've done several times already. And THIS one is only several months old. For awhile there, they were packaging TWO covers with each board, but not this time. And I keep telling myself that I need to make a new cover, but do I? No, I don't want to stop sewing the FUN stuff long enough to waste time on making an ironing board cover. What's a girl to do? Maybe Libby's prize will be a new, custom-made ironing board cover. I can only dream! Oh, and please don't tell anyone what my ironing board looks like--I would be SOOOOO embarrassed, I'm sure I'd die! So let's keep it just between us, okay?


I made quite a bit of progress on Sunday on the tulip quilt. First, I finished piecing it:

Then I added some applique:

I still have a little bit more I want to add, but it should be ready for pinning and quilting sometime this week, I think--probably near the end of the week, since it's back to work again! I'm looking forward to getting this one up on the wall!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sharon's Tulip Quilt

Thanks for leaving me comments on the name of the tulip quilt book! For those of you looking for the pattern, it's in a book called My Flower Bed by Cheri Saffiote/Indygo Junction.

Time now for me to head into the Sweat Shop and play with tulips. Enjoy your day!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Saturday Day of Beauty

Sometimes getting dressed on a Saturday is beauty enough. Oh, I did make a cursory check for chin hairs and located one or two, but I soon abandoned the search due to poor lighting conditions. In other words, right now I could have a veritable forrest of chin hairs, but since we had this gloomy weather and I'm a middle aged woman with poor close-up eyesight, it just didn't seem like a worthwhile way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

And remember the 75 mile an hour winds we were supposed to get? Didn't happen. It stayed dry but overcast most of the day until late afternoon when it started raining off and on. Tonight we have a bit of wind, but nothing like 75 miles an hour--well, maybe 7-point-5 miles an hour. That's fine with me though. At least I didn't have to worry about power failures.

So, if I wasn't plucking chin hairs or tying the cats down to keep them from blowing away, what was I doing today? Well, I was playing with fabric and tulips--fabric tulips, not the real kind. Several of you asked about the pattern for the tulip quilt I had posted yesterday, and I checked with Ms. Red Geranium Sharon who said it was from a Cheri Saffiote book, but she wasn't sure which one. I think she's going to check and let us all know, but since she's still looking for her Hometown Christmas quilt kit . . . well, let's just say that if any of you happen to know the answer, could you please post a comment to let me know? In the meantime, I thought I'd show you what I was doing with my tulips--

The pieces above are just stuck up on my design wall and not yet sewn together in the photo. In real life, I have them about half sewn and will probably finish sewing tomorrow (Sunday). Until we get some info on that pattern, I thought I'd give you a little tutorial on what I've done with mine.

First of all, on Friday night I picked out some pinky reds and pinks and several scraps of background fabrics. For my quilt, I made 13 tulips, so I had 13 different reds/pinks. I cut a 4-3/4" square of colored fabric and one of background. I also cut a 4" square of colored fabric and one of background. I did this for each of the 13 tulips. This morning, I paired up the larger colored squares with the larger background squares, drew a diagonal line down the back of the background pieces, and sewed 1/4" on either side. I then cut on the line and pressed the pieces open, ending up with two half-square triangles. I then trimmed those down to 4". Of course, you could cut your larger pieces a little smaller and not have to trim them, but I like trimming--I think it gives me a more accurate block. So, here are the pieces that comprise each tulip block (they are all 4" at this point--camera perspective makes them look unequal but they aren't!):

Next, without sewing the pieces together, I stuck them up on my design wall in a configuration I liked--

Knowing where I wanted stems, I cut background blocks. For those two larger empty spots, I cut 7-1/2" blocks. I did the same for the two central spaces below the last line of tulips. To fill in the rest of the stem areas, I cut 4" blocks.

To make the stems, I cut 1" strips of green. I then cut each background/stem block on the diagonal and sewed each side back together with a strip of green down the center. Because I wanted this scrappy, I did a bit of mixing and matching of those background pieces after I cut them and before I sewed them back up. (You can see that in the next photo.) Once I had the stems made, they went back up on the design wall.

I then realized that the stems were going to look kind of funny if I didn't add green corners to some of the blocks so the stems went straight all the way down; otherwise, where the blocks joined, the stems would come to little points. Maybe you can see what I mean in this photo--without adding anything, that stem under the tulip would come to a point and the bottom of the tulip would come to a point and I think they'd look a little funny, but this is even more apparent where I have some really LOOOOOONG stems that travel through more than just one block.

So I cut some squares and sewed them on the diagonal at each spot where a block would touch a stem.

I ran into a problem here, because I figured the squares should be 1". Nope, too big, so now I'm adjusting. If you want to try this, try cutting them at 3/4"--I think that might be about right. But try it before you make all of them this size and see if that works, because I didn't test mine first, and I'm paying the price now! LOL!

For the rest of what you see in the first photo of the tulips on the design wall, I just kept cutting 4" background squares to fill in until I was happy with the size, and then I cut some larger squares and cut them on both diagonals to make the triangles to finish the sides. I think I cut those larger squares at 9", and the smaller corners, which were just cut on one diagonal, were cut at 6" (I didn't have the corners up on the wall yet when I took the photo).

Other than adjusting those green corners and sewing some of the blocks together, this is as far as I got today. I'll post more tomorrow of my progress. Until then, happy quilting!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Coincidences? Good Fortune?

Today's been a bit different. Several bloggy friends and acquaintances have reached out and touched my day in different ways.

First thing this morning, as I got my cuppa coffee, a tulip quilt Red Geranium Sharon had shown us awhile back popped into my mind. This is one I really want to make, and I copied her photo onto my computer. Here it is:

(I know that Sharon tends to skim over words and concentrate on photos, so she'll probably see this photo before she reads what I've written and she'll think it looks a lot like her quilt. Then she'll realize I'm posting her photo and she'll probably threaten to sue me. Oh, well, what are friends for, eh?!) Anyway, so I'm thinking about this quilt, wondering whether Sharon ever got it quilted, when I turn on my computer and find I have an email from Sandy No Blog (see, photos aren't the ONLY thing I steal from Sharon! I also steal the "No Blog" name--before I'm done, "No Blog" will be more common than Jones!), and Sandy's talking about the VERY SAME QUILT! Isn't that a strange coincidence? Tonight I'm thinking about looking through my scrap bins because (1) they're getting full and I need to use some scraps, (2) I want to make a tulip quilt for spring, and (3) I'm really only in the middle of ONE quilting project (bunnies) if you don't count several BOMs, so is that really enough to occupy my mind? Anyway, keep an eye on this blog--you may see some tulips popping up before long!

So, having chatted about tulip quilts with Sandy No Blog for a bit, I read a few more emails and found one from another quilter, Karrin (Karrin's Crazy World), who lives maybe five miles away from me, and we never realized from each other's blogs that we were both right here! For whatever reason, she just read my profile and realized how close I lived. And here I'd been wondering why there really aren't many quilt bloggers in my area, and all the time, Karrin was only a hop, skip, and a jump away!

Now here I digress a little. Sometime ago, someone tagged me for that meme requiring us to write about how we got into crafting, or something along those lines. I THINK it was Carole, but I'm not 100% positive. I'm not very good about memes. I get tagged and figure I'll write about whatever it is the next time I can't think of something to write about, and then that just doesn't seem to happen, so I never get around to the meme. My bad! The other day I was surfing around some crafty blog sites when I came upon A Very Mary Design. Reading through Mary Ann's last few posts, I came across THIS ONE. (I don't know Mary Ann as well as I know Sharon, so I'm not nearly as comfortable about stealing her photos--you'll have to click on that link if you want to see a photo.) Mary Ann was giving away packages of "vintage" feathers circa 1950s or so. The give-away was done and over, but I commented anyway about my first real experience with crafting. Here's more or less what I told Mary Ann and the answer to that crafting meme:

Sometime back around the mid-1960s, a woman my mom knew was making and selling lovely feather birdcages to adorn her customers' livingrooms. They were made using two styrofoam disks for the top and bottom bases and white pipe cleaners for the "bars" of the cage, connecting the top and bottom. The styrofoam was then covered up with feathers. The birdcages were to be hung from the ceiling, suspended from pipecleaner chain links. Lovely visual, huh? I'm guessing I was about 8 or 9 years old, and these were the prettiest things I'd ever seen, particularly because they could be made using any color of feathers. So this woman took me under her wing (yes, the pun IS intended!) and taught me to make these beautious creations. And THAT, my friends, was my first "real" crafting experience.

When I got home from work today, I had an email from Mary Ann, telling me she had been cleaning out some things and came across another bag of these lovely feathers, and if I'd just send her my snail mail addy, they would soon be mine! Goodness knows I have absolutely NO IDEA what I'll do with them. Perhaps I'll be so overcome with memories and emotion, I'll press them to my nose to smell that authentic dyed chicken fragrance and asphyxiate myself with the plastic bag they're packaged in!

To round out my day of bloggy friendships, my mail lady brought me a package all the way from Synthia No Blog, who is currently in Hawaii. I had sent Synthia a sketch of a little applique project and she sent me this cute little bag to hold projects to take along with me. Tucked inside one of the pockets was a shell necklace.

This little bag will really come in handy because I usually try to take some kind of hand work to the office with me to keep me occupied during the lunch hour. Thank you SO MUCH Synthia! And thank you to the rest of my bloggy buds who come into my life in one way or another!

I'm sorry if this post is a little long, but you may not hear from me tomorrow as we're expecting to be blown to the Land of Oz. A big storm's coming in that is expected to rival the one we had in early January--remember the storm that knocked down fences and took out trees? I plan to hunker down in the Sweat Shop with Toto--I mean Bernina--wrapped tight in my arms. Enjoy your weekend plans, whatever they are!

P.S. Sorry that first photo appears blurry. I don't know why it turned out that way, but I tried taking it TWICE. Good lighting, setting on close-up, and still--CURSES! A person could go BLIND reading this blog--or at least THINK they were!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A Good Day!

First of all, can I just tell you how really scrumtious my meatloaf sandwich was today? No, probably not, because words just can't describe it. I'm a purist when it comes to meatloaf sandwiches: bread, a bit of mayo, and meatloaf. Yum! And I was happy to see a number of you thought my meatloaf sounded good and may try it out--please tell me what you think, and if you have any questions, let me know. Tazzie left me a comment, and I wrote back, telling her a little about how time consuming it was to make this before the advent of food processors, but now I can whip out a meatloaf, ready for the oven, in about 15 minutes. Back in the "good old days," we'd use this tool to make bread crumbs:

Yes, I still have it! I don't think my mom knows that I made off with it at some point, so shhhhh! Don't tell! Now it's more of a curiosity than anything else, of course, but it brings back memories. We also had to chop the parsley and green onions by hand, and my mom had one of those curved chopping blades and a big, wooden bowl.

I thought I'd take this time to chat with you--because, frankly, I'm waiting for both my cats to get bored and leave the bathroom. I have my bath water ready, but I'd really rather take my bath alone than with company. By the time I've posted this, they'll both have found something else to do. I went back to check on them a couple minutes ago, and only one of them is persistent enough to be waiting still, although she looks a little bored--

The other was lurking in the hallway. If she sees me head in there, she'll probably sprint to squeeze her way in before the door closes. What IS it with cats and bathrooms? Sometimes I wonder if they're worried about my welfare in a tub full of water. Sometimes I think they just like to see me naked so they can laugh their silent little cat laughs.

During my lunch hour yesterday, I went on a little excursion to JoAnn's with my coupon and gift card in hand. I had heard that a new Somerset Studio magazine was out, but they didn't seem to have it in yet. Still, I DID find this Somerset Life magazine.

Although there's nothing in particular I want to make, just looking at what others make and reading about THEIR inspiration inspires me. And to tell you the truth, I hesitated over buying the magazine until I saw it contained an article by Corey Amaro. Do you read her blog, Tongue in Cheek? Wonderful stuff to spark the imagination! Lovely words, beautiful pictures, deep thoughts to ponder. I've been reading it off and on for quite awhile now.

Did you happen to notice what the magazine is sitting on? Yes, I finished binding the quilt I was working on last weekend for my daughter's former room. Here are a couple more photos:

And working on that quilt during my lunch hour today led to a small but exciting discovery: the new secretary in my office, who just started work on Tuesday, QUILTS! In fact, she described quilting as her "passion." YES! Another quilter! Of course, I let the office manager know right away that she's a "keeper" no matter what her work's like!

I hope you, too, had a good day--maybe even an exciting discovery or two! It's time for me to go discover whether my cats have gotten bored waiting for me to take my bath. Until tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Few Random Thoughts

First of all, we need more horns. I can't claim to be at all musical, but I know what I like, and darn it, we need more horns! When I listen to music, it's alternative rock, and when THIS song came on my car radio on the way home from work tonight, I thought, "yeah, that's what I'm missing in my life--horns!" Horns but with maybe a little more variety in the lyrics. Maybe even no lyrics. Remember Tower of Power? What ever happened to them?

Also on my way home, between watching tail lights and head lights and lines on the road and bicyclists on the wrong side of the street in the dusk, I managed to notice that the moon looked kind of weird. Cool, but weird. Huge, for one thing, since it was just coming up. And it had a chunk missing. Then I started to recall something I had heard recently about it being too bad we were expecting storms all week here in Northern California because there was a lunar eclipse that we'd miss. Well, since the weather people told me I'd miss it, I decided not to get my panties in a twist, and I promptly forgot all about the eclipse until I saw this really weird, cool moon--then I remembered. And guess what? No storms this evening! And as I was watching the weird, cool moon, while trying to keep a watch out for suicidal bicyclists and other morons of the road, I was driving along behind a golf course, and out of the trees flew what I THINK was a large owl. Wow! Shades of Harry Potter!

And you know I'm ALL ABOUT entertaining you with superior photography, so once I got home, at probably the height of the eclipse, I rushed out to the backyard and zoomed in on the moon and was able to get this photo for you:

Total lunar eclipse as seen in Northern California. Good thing there were no storms to obsure my photography!

Oh, and my final random thought--or at least the final one I wanted to share with you tonight--is meat. Actually, come to think of it, I have several random thoughts about meat. Like the one where one of our attorneys, in his closing arguments at trial several years ago, spoke the immortal words: "In the bun of evidence, where's the beef?" Yeah, I still give him a hard time about that one.

Anyway, where was I? Ah, meatloaf. My old Italian grandmother had a meatloaf recipe that I still make today--literally TODAY--so I thought I'd share. Really, in our family, this is a meat-everything recipe, which I'll explain after the recipe. So, here's what you do. First of all you gather this stuff together:

And just in case my superior photography isn't quite what one would wish, here it is in plain English:

2.5 to 3 pounds of ground beef--lean is good.

2.5 to 3 cups bread crumbs, fresh (just toss a few slices of bread in the food processor)

1 cup Parmesan cheese. Oddly enough, the cheese that makes for the tastiest meatloaf is the old green container of Kraft Parmesan. It's pretty rare that I have that though, so we'll go with the semi-fancy-schmancy shredded Parmesan.

2 bunches of green onion. Cut off the root tips and about half way up the green stems and give them a whirl or two in the food processor, along with--

1 bunch of parsley. (Remove the stems first and wash before adding it to the green onions.)

You will also need a can of tomato sauce. 16 ounce or so, but I only had a BIG can, so I didn't use it all. And here's something that didn't show up in time for its photo--milk. (And just in case you noticed that cup of water just peeking into the photo on the left, you don't need that. That belongs to the cat. Don't ask.)

Then, here's the process. In a large bowl, mix the beef, bread crumbs, cheese, and green stuff. Add in some milk. It's hard to say exactly how much milk, but you want that meat mixture to be kind of mushy gooshy. Much softer than Playdoh. Use your hands--you want it to ooze through your fingers when you squeeze, but if you use too much, it won't really stay together in a loaf. I just pour some milk in without measuring, but I'm guessing it's probably somewhere between 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup. Maybe. But here's what it looks like--and I should have probably added a little more milk if that's anything to go by:

Now, pat that baby into a loaf and stick it in a baking pan. Make sure you have some room around the loaf for liquid. Another photo for your enjoyment and education:

Now pour the tomato sauce over the top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. I usually take the foil off the last 15 minutes or so, but it's not necessary--you don't want it to dry out anyway. I had a little mishap on my timing and mine got a little over done, but it was pretty good anyway. See?

Okay, now here's the "meat-everything" reference. We use the same mixture to stuff into bellpeppers for baking. We make meatballs out of it and drop them into simmering spaghetti sauce--no need to cook them first, just drop them in one by one and keep simmering for about an hour or so--yummy tender! My grandmother used to make it into patties and cook them in a frying pan, but really I'd rather just BBQ the hamburgers and forget the rest, but it's still something you can do--especially if you don't live in sunny California where it's almost always time for BBQ. We use just about the same recipe, but we brown and drain the ground beef first, substitute a couple cups of cooked Minute Rice for the bread crumbs, wrap it inside steamed cabbage leaves, and bake it (with tomato sauce on top) for some pretty darn good stuffed cabbage.

So, okay, there you have it--a few of my random thoughts for the day. Come on back tomorrow. I'll be here. Eating a meatloaf sandwich and reflecting on the wonders of the universe.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blog Foolery

Most of the time, I read quilting blogs, but I do have a few non-quilting blogs on my favorites list that I like to check in on from time to time. Three of them are written by men: Waiter Rant--a blog written by--what else?--a waiter! He writes well and has a book coming out in the summer. Probably the last thing I'd want to do is serve food to people (just ask my husband!), so reading Waiter Rant gives me a peek into a different world. Then there's Somewhere on the Masthead--another well-written blog by a guy who is a magazine editor in "real life." He's married with three kids and tells some good stories, mostly about his family and his experiences. Finally, there's Cowguy over at Sawdust and Cowpies.

It seems that everyone in the world has had the awful "crud" that's making the rounds, and apparently Cowguy's been hit with it. If you've been sick, if you've taken care of someone who's been sick, or if you know someone who's been sick, you might enjoy his Ode to the Flu. Cowguy cracks me up sometimes.

And just as a side note--and this also kind of cracks me up--I swear that every time I read Cowguy's blog, my husband passes through the bedroom on his way to the bathroom and says, "Whose blog are you reading now? Oh, that cow guy's." Goodness, I almost feel guilty! Turns out, though, that from across the room, Cowguy's photo on his blog looks like my brother-in-law--or close enough to get my husband's attention. Men are funny. Which is probably one of the reasons I like to check in on a few of them from time to time.

Yes, Sometimes I AM Cheap!

Here's another inexpensive (and quick!) Easter decorating idea. (Actually you can use it any time of the year, of course!) My local dollar store has a ton of picture frames, and on a recent shopping expedition, I picked up several, thinking I could have fun decorating them with paper and found (or purchased) objects. I went though my frame stash and pulled out a couple I thought would work, then I searched the internet for "Peter Rabbit" images and printed out a couple. You can see the two framed pictures on either side on this shelf below:

I think they turned out pretty well! You can do the same sort of thing with purchased greeting cards, papers, etc.--just put them in an inexpensive frame. It's a lot of bang for the buck--or two!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dang Tired!

On this, the last day of my time off from work, I got up at 8-ish and started cleaning house and decorating. Well, okay, you're right--first I had my coffee and messed around on the internet, read my emails and a couple blogs, and ordered some fabric I thought I really HAD TO HAVE. But after that, I really did get down to work.

When I decorate, I make a heck of a mess. For a good part of the day, every surface in the house is covered with stuff that's coming down and stuff that's going up. Christmas takes me several days; at least spring only takes one!

Here's a kind of "before" photo. Actually, the table was piled much higher than this at one time, but by the time it occurred to me to take a photo, this is what it looked like. Even my husband asked, "Why are you taking a picture of that mess?!" Ah, he forgets about the blog!

And here's an "after" photo. Better, isn't it?

I wanted to share this little idea with you. I found these little cans at the dollar store, in the wedding stuff, packaged three to a pack. I added some florist's foam and some small silk tulips, daffodils, and a couple other things.

Then I hung them from the pegs on this coat rack. I don't much like the wallpaper on that wall, but I haven't gotten around to getting rid of it yet. Still, I think it turned out kind of cute!

I did the same thing with a tea cup.

Oh, yes, the carrots. See a bunch stuck up on the clock in the upper left corner? They look cuter in person, I think, but you get the idea.

Then I put the last three carrots in a carved wooden basket/bowl. There's lots of stuff you can do with these! I swear the carrots are a lot better than last year's Easter craft experience when I tried out a couple of Martha Stewart's ideas. (You can read about that HERE.)

Around 5 p.m. or so, I was about ready to drop, but my sweet husband got me an iced latte from Starbucks and I found a little more energy to keep going. AND he was kind enough to go out and pick up sandwiches, because at that point, I couldn't even FIND the stove. Now it's 10 p.m. and my house is decorated and reasonably clean. Ah, just in time to get ready for bed so I can get up at the crack of dawn (7 a.m.-ish) and go to work tomorrow. The party's over. But at least it's only a four day work week, and then the party can begin again!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

What's Up Doc?

I've been sidetracked once again from doing what I had planned. Remember I mentioned having all these gazillions of ideas in my head? Today I woke up and it felt like a good day for making carrots instead of pinning a quilt. So I got out my carrot-making stuff. Would you like to see how they're made?

First I cut a 16" square out of freezer paper. Then I drew a line from one corner to the opposite corner on the diagonal. This would give me two 45 degree templates for the bodies of the carrots. To give me a curved top edge for the carrots, I drew an arc using a 16" string tied to a pencil--the same idea as using a protractor, but I don't happen to have a 16" protractor, so that worked just fine. It doesn't have to be precise. It's not rocket science; just carrot science. Then I trimmed on the line of the arc and cut the two carrot "bodies" apart. In other words, each carrot body forms a 45 degree wedge with the top edge curved. Here's what one of my freezer paper templates looked like (see how that top edge is curved?):

Then, using the templates, I traced the pattern onto muslin and cut out six carrot shapes:

Next I sewed each shape closed at the seams, starting at the top and working down to the pointed tip of the carrot:

After I turned the carrots right side out, seam side in, I was ready to stuff them.

Amid all my crafty supplies, I found an old bag of batting and started stuffing. The nice thing about stuffing carrots is that you don't have to worry about lumps and such--lumpy carrots look just fine!

After I had them stuffed to a point that looked good to me--about 3" from the top edge--I gathered the top together and tied it with a scrap of muslin that I had cut about 1/2" wide. I wrapped the muslin tie around twice and tied a knot. Then I cut the tops about every 3/4", from the end to about 1/2" above the tie, all the way around to make a carrot top "fringe."

Carrots! Okay, white carrots. Now what?

Next I got out some craft acrylic paint. Using mostly an orange with a little bit of brown dotted in, I painted the carrots orange. Adding layers of slightly different shades of orange and brown will give your carrots a bit of texture and will make them look more real, but it's not really necessary.

After my orange carrots dried a bit, I got out the green paint. I added a little bit of water so it would soak into the fabric a little better and go a little further. Then I painted the carrot "fringe" tops. Voila! Carrots! All ready for the Easter bunny!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My Son's Birthday Celebrations

My vacation's more than half over, and I can't believe it's going by so fast! Only two more days to play before I have to go back to work. Where has the time gone?

We took our son and his girlfriend out for his belated birthday dinner tonight--he picked the location, a local Mexican restaurant that my husband and I hadn't tried before. Oh, the food was wonderful! Our friends, Terry and Lisa, came along too. We tried to get my sister-in-law, Kath, to join us, but she's just moved into a new place and had spent the day cleaning the old one, so she was too pooped to feel much like going out.

The oddest thing happened. When my husband and I arrived at the restaurant at 6:30, everyone else was already there and seated at a table. Now this may not seem odd to most people, but I'm not sure I've ever arranged to meet Lisa and had her arrive first. It was kind of a Twilight Zone moment. To walk in and see everyone already seated despite the line of people waiting for a table made me wonder whether WE were late. Nope. As it turned out, Terry and Lisa were in the area looking for new flooring (because their kitchen pipes broke and flooded their house in the middle of the night on Wednesday) and had finished early and went over to the restaurant. My son and his girlfriend--well, I suspect they wanted to arrive early to see our expressions when we walked in and saw the boat-sized margarita they were sharing! I swear you could have bathed a baby in that glass!

And you know how restaurants will sing happy birthday and sometimes bring the birthday person a dessert? Not this one. This one DID sing happy birthday but instead of a dessert, they brought my son a shot of tequila. Like he needed another?! Good thing his girlfriend was driving! Last weekend, on his REAL birthday, they went out to eat, drink, and play pool, and after all his friends stopped in and bought him various drinks, he went back to his girlfriend's place and threw up in her landlord's patio plants. The landlord discovered my son's little "indiscretion" a day or two later and called his girlfriend to ask her to clean it up. These kids today, huh?! I'm sure I never did anything like that! I'm telling you, he takes after his father!

Since I last posted, I've been doing some sewing on curtains, pillow covers, and a quilt for my daughter's former room. I had found some fabric on sale a couple weeks ago that I thought would look "springy" and cute in there. Here are a couple photos of the curtains and the pillows and quilt--it's just a quilt top so far.

Tomorrow (Sunday), I'll get it pinned and hopefully quilted. I still have a lot of spring decorating I'd like to get to before I go back to work on Tuesday.

I hope you're enjoying your weekend! Thanks for stopping in to see what I'm up to.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Report

I was feeling Sharon's pain this morning--you know how grumpy she gets about people calling and waking her up before 10 a.m.? I was similarly rudely awakened (awoken?!) this morning when my older cat, Button, decided to lick me awake. Knowing that she was hungry and fearing for the ultimate safety of my arm, I chose to obey her summons. Well, vacation or no vacation, it seemed that 9:30 a.m. was a reasonable time to rise anyway.

Did you have a good Valentine's Day? Mine was mixed but mostly great! The only disappointment was that I had ordered two dozen roses to be delivered to my husband from an online flower company, and they never arrived. UPS has them somewhere as near as I can tell, but they didn't arrive today either. Luckily I had planned his favorite fat- and cholesterol-laden meal, so he was happy enough. Cooking really IS the way to a man's heart--in more ways than one! Of course, the fat and cholesterol could give him a heart attack, but he'd die happy, right? Still, its back to chicken salads tonight.

For my Valentine, my sweetie has been working away in the garage for the past couple of weeks, and I haven't been allowed out there (which, by the way, was just fine by me!). I knew he was working on one of his garden creations, but I didn't really know what. As it turned out, he had made not one but two creations that have now found a home on our patio. Here's the first one:

Isn't that bee cute? The blue globe it's hanging onto has a light inside. We already had the plant hanger but hubby added the greenery to hide the electrical wires. Pretty cool, huh? And did you see he even has a little red stinger?

Then there's this guy:

I'm not a huge fan of spiders, but as my husband's Valentine card to me said, this is probably the only spider I'll ever love. I DID catch a glimpse of this guy a couple weeks ago but I only saw some legs so the rest was a surprise. He, too, lights up--there's a bulb in the bowl that forms his body. Oh, and yes, he's holding a flower, which is very appropriate for Valentine's Day, don't you think?

I love both of my new "pets." But even more than that, I'm pleased my husband has a creative hobby that he enjoys. And much like my quilting, his hobby results in creations that add personality to our home.

I'll leave you with a quilty photo so you can see how the bunny quilt's coming along. I have the background sewn together and the appliqued bunnies are basted and pinned, ready to sew onto the background. For now, though, I've set this project aside--at least for this afternoon and evening--to work on making some spring curtains and pillow covers for my daughter's former bedroom.

The weekend is here and I hope you have some wonderful things planned! For me, it's back to the Sweat Shop to do some more sewing. Bliss!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

I hope you're all having a wonderfully romantic Valentine's Day! Or, if it's not one of the romantic variety, I do hope you're enjoying it, whatever you're doing!

It's wonderful to have a few days off work. I have several things planned to work on quilt-wise as well as things I want to do around the house. Last night I sewed up a spring/Easter pillow--spring has been in the air this past week, and I'm getting inspired. The center is one of those printed fabric pieces from Olde America Antiques I mentioned before.

I wanted to sleep in this morning, and my husband very thoughtfully shut the cats out of the bedroom when he left for work, but I woke up anyway at the time my alarm normally goes off. So, I got up, poured a cup of coffee, and had a little computer time before climbing back in bed with my cup of coffee and a good book. Before long, I got sleepy and took a little nap. Time off work is good!

This afternoon, I've been working on a spring quilting project. When I was in Bear Paws and Hollyhocks last week, I bought another pattern by Donna Yackey (of "Christmas List" fame! LOL!) called Spring is Here. I'm modifying it a little bit--but you probably figured I would!

Today I've been working on cutting and piecing the background for the hopping bunnies. I think this will be really cute! The colors in the photo aren't very true--the yellows aren't nearly that bright and what look like plain white squares are actually polka dotted with pink.

Shortly my honey will be home from work with my Valentine's request--a Starbuck's iced latte. Potatoes are in the oven baking, and soon HIS Valentine gift will go on the grill--steaks! (Which is a WHOLE lot better than having to wear one of those skimpy little nighties, I'm telling you! LOL!) And with that, it's time for me to go make a salad to go with the steak and baked potatoes. Happy Valentine's Day!