Monday, March 31, 2008


I just love a good practical joke! Well, I love impractical jokes too. In fact, I enjoy just about any kind of joke. Except maybe knock-knock jokes--most of them, anyway. So I thought and thought (for about 10 minutes in the car on the way home from work) about what I could do on my blog as an April Fools' joke, and everything I could come up with seemed (1) dumb, (2) mean, or (3) guaranteed to worry some of my readers. So I don't have a good April Fools' joke for you. Bummer!

Instead, I thought I'd share with you some April Fools' info. Here's some general background that you probably already know:

April Fools' Day takes place in many western countries every April 1st, and is traditionally known as April Fools' Day or All Fools' Day (aka Poissond'Avril ("April Fish") in France). It is a day when humor reigns and harmless pranks, practical jokes, and hoaxes are sanctioned. Customary practices range from simple tricks played on friends, family, and coworkers to elaborate media hoaxes concocted for mass consumption.

I think some of the media hoaxes are worth mentioning, and you may NOT know about some of these. I found a site that listed quite a few, but I thought I'd repeat for you what they list as the top five:

#1: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest

In 1957 the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied that they should "place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best."

#2: Sidd Finch

In its April 1985 edition, Sports Illustrated published a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and he could reportedly throw a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. This was 65 mph faster than the previous record. Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the "art of the pitch" in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the "great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa." Mets fans celebrated their teams' amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and Sports Illustrated was flooded with requests for more information. But in reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the author of the article, George Plimpton.

#3: Instant Color TV

In 1962 there was only one tv channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white. The station's technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception. All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their tv screen. Stensson proceeded to demonstrate the process. Thousands of people were taken in. Regular color broadcasts only commenced in Sweden on April 1, 1970.

#4: The Taco Liberty Bell

In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

#5: San Serriffe

In 1977 the British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian's phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology. The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades.

DO YOU HAVE ANY APRIL FOOLS' FUN PLANNED? I'd love to hear about any pranks you've planning, any pulled on you, and/or any memorable ones from years past! Have a Happy APRIL FOOLS' DAY!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wasted Sunday

I don't much like being sick, but it's twice as bad when it happens on a weekend and cuts into my play time! I woke up this a.m. at 6:30 with stomach pains and shortly thereafter realized the day was not going to be improving a whole lot anytime soon. I don't know if it was a stomach bug or yesterday's meal out, but boy was I one sick puppy for several hours! My poor husband woke up because I was literally crying in the hallway trying to decide whether it was more important to get out to the kitchen for a glass of water or head the other way toward the bathroom.

The Wild Child was expected to arrive around 9:30 a.m., and we had planned a family dinner here. The chicken was marinading in the fridge and I was supposed to spend the morning making potato salad and dessert. Didn't happen. Instead, I spent most of the morning and into the afternoon alternating between sleeping and being ill. They ended up moving the dinner to my sister-in-law's house and left me in peace--by then, I was starting to feel like I just might live.

I spent part of the afternoon lying around reading, but I finally managed to get myself up, bathed, and dressed around late afternoon. Now, after a few hours in the Sweat Shop prepping some cherries for applique, I'm ready to call it a night. What a wimp! But I'm feeling better, and I hope to get a good night's sleep--after all, it's back to work again tomorrow. But I sure wish I could get my Sunday back!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Another Day, a Few Less Dollars

Did you catch where I said in my last post that I had plans for today? Well, as much as I would have loved to schlep around the house in my jammies all day and do a little quilting, hubby was getting tired of the standard weekend routine and wanted to get out of the house. He didn't care what we did, just so long as we did SOMETHING. Yes, he would even have been quite happy if I had dragged him back to the quilting and craft festival, but I know I wouldn't have been--he'd probably just follow me around, asking constantly why I needed to buy this or that and "don't you already have something just like that?" Nope, not my idea of a good time! Instead, we hit the road, stopped at the ATM, stopped at Starbucks, and ended up at Denio's flea market and farmer's market in nearby Roseville.

The skies were gray and cloudy today but it wasn't too cold. This was near the back of the grounds and the crowds were sparse. We found a couple "treasures" but it seemed like most of the sellers are getting waaaaay too saavy about what us junk collectors are looking for. Not that their prices were way above reasonable, but there were very few bargains to be found. And that's probably a good thing for the state of my bank account! Still, it really was nice to get out for a bit, and hubby was right. But don't tell him I said so--he doesn't read my blog, so he'll never know I admitted it!

Look at ALL that fabric! We saw this booth on our way out. Of course, I don't think there was any quilting fabric in there, but I would have loved to have a reason to go through it all. By this time, though, we were laden down with a quarter flat of fresh strawberries, several bags of fresh veggies, and a couple bags of "treasures," and I was on a mission to get our "stuff" to the car and out of my arms as quickly as possible. Besides that, our tummies were starting to rumble with hunger.

Lately we've been going to Carmelita's in Fair Oaks for dinners out when we get a craving for good Mexican food, and Carmelita's has another restaurant right in Roseville, so that's where we ended up for a late lunch. Yum! And one of the best parts is that since we ate "lunch" at 3:30 p.m., there was no need to cook dinner tonight. Besides, we both have leftovers in case hunger strikes!

So here are my purchases for today. We found a small booth with a lot of magazine advertisements and illustrations. I found three I liked. Well, actually I found MORE than three, but I decided three was plenty so I narrowed my choices down, struck a deal with the seller, and walked away a happy camper!

One of my favorite year-round vendors is the used book seller located in a covered building not too far from the farmer's market. Hubby helped me pick out two books with Norman Rockwell illustrations--these will work great in arty projects or just put in frames.

I also like to look for community or regional cookbooks--you know the ones where a group or organization gathers recipes from all their members, compiles them into a book, and then sells the books as a fundraiser? I usually find they have the best recipes--nothing fancy but just simple and good food! I found two such cookbooks today. I haven't had a chance to look through them thoroughly yet, but I'm sure I'll be trying a few things out in the coming weeks.

All in all, it was a good day! I hope yours was too!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Guess Where I Went Today!

The Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival came to Sacramento, so I made a quick dash over there during my lunch hour! If only all lunch hours could be as exciting and stimulating, I'd be a happy, happy girl! Well, not that I'm not happy much of the time anyway, but I'm telling you, it was a much needed and welcome break from the daily grind. But I suppose I should be glad that not all lunch hours are quite so stimulating; otherwise, lunch hours would cost me more than I earn in a day's work!

To tell you the truth, I had heard that Bird Brain Designs had a booth and I really wanted to go see some of their cuteness in person. They had a wool needle felting table set up for teaching and experimentation, and I would have loved to hang around and try out the technique, but my time was limited. Still, I managed to do alright. Here's what they put in my bag--and on my credit card:

These red and white towels were whispering "cherries, cherries, cherries" to me. I have a couple ideas. And some nice quality muslin for some redwork as well as the Turkey Red perle cotton I'll need. And let's not forget the pattern for a couple really cute small wool purses!

I also bought two redwork patterns--but only one photographed half way decently. The other one came out looking tiny and blurred despite my best photographic attempts. So I've stolen a photo off their website--it's below this paragraph. If you'll go over there and buy something, maybe they won't sue me.

I guess they liked me, though, because they encouraged me to come back tomorrow. I have some other plans though. Besides, I'm sure it will be a madhouse over there on a Saturday!

After I left Bird Brain Designs and was racing past the rest of the vendor booths, I spied a rubber stamp/embossing/etc. booth, so I stopped in. I kinda needed to catch my breath from all that racing anyway. I love the Somerset crafting magazines and I saw they had some back issues on clearance at 30% off, so that was a "must buy." Then, and I don't know if you can really see them very well, but I found a small package of "gold" hearts and some "jewels" for embellishment and they're sitting on top of the magazine.

I love playing around with this stuff! Maybe not quite as much as quilting, but when my electricity is turned off because I can't pay the power bill because I've spent too much money at "festivals," then I can always fall back the old paper, scissors, paint, and glue. And don't forget the gold hearts and jewels. See, even if the economy's a little shaky, I'll be fine because I've thought it all through and I have a plan. It's kind of like a 401k retirement plan but different.

Oh, and speaking of money and the economy and all that nasty old stuff, you know what else? At the front gates of the venue where the festival was held, I ran into my neighbor, June, who just happened to have an extra VIP free admission ticket that she happily gave me. Kismet, yes?! A successful lunch hour, indeed!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Picking Up a Conversational Thread . . .

Remember last week when we were chatting about quilting, the machine I use, the batting I use, and the brand of tooth floss I use? (Okay, maybe I was talking to someone else about tooth floss--but I'd be happy to have the same discussion with you, and perhaps someday I WILL when I've run out of other things to say!) A few of you left comments pointing out that I had neglected to drone on and on talk about what kind of thread I use. So this one's for you!

When I finished my two most recent quilts the other night and was sorting out the Sweat Shop, one of the things I sorted was thread. Over the course of quilting the last several quilts, I had filled a basket full of spools to the point of overflowing, so I figured it was about time I put them back where they belonged.

I find the Juki is happiest if I'm using the same brand of thread in the bobbin as I use in the top. There are two brands of thread that I use most often: Essentials (Connecting Threads brand) and YLI.

Essentials is probably not as good a quality thread as YLI or Superior, but I don't have any problems with it, the price is excellent, and the color choices are tremendous. The one drawback is that I need to know what I want and order it ahead of time. I DO have a good selection of "country" colors on hand, though, so if I'm quilting a Thimbleberries quilt or fabrics with similar shades, I usually use Essentials.

One of my local shops carries YLI, so if I want a thread color I don't have and I don't want to wait for an online order, I often buy YLI. In quilting, I love variegated thread, and YLI has a decent selection of the color combinations I'm looking for. It's rare that I have a problem using YLI, but I have had breakage issues a few times. Usually I attribute that to either using older thread that's dried out a little or needle size. Most of the time, though, YLI works well.

For thread quality, I like Superior/King Tut thread. I don't so much like the selection of colors though. My other local quilt shop carries this brand. Sometimes I find exactly what I want and other times I feel like I'm "making do" with the colors available. And, of course, Superior and YLI are more expensive threads. It's not unusual for me to go through an entire spool and start on a second when quilting a quilt, and at $7 or $8 a spool or whatever it's selling for now--well, let's just say I'd rather pay less if I could.

(Valdani threads are on the left; Essentials threads are on the right.)

For thread color, I like Valdani. Valdani thread isn't nearly as smooth as YLI or Superior, but Valdani makes hand-dyed variegated thread and I really love the color selections. Unfortunately only one of my quilt shops carried it for awhile and they've sold most of what they had. I do sometimes still order it online, but again, that takes some planning ahead. Luckily, I still have a decent selection of Valdani "in stock."

I hope that answered some of your questions about thread. Now YOU can tell me this. Amanda (who is also FULL of questions) tagged me the other day to do the "7 Random/Weird Facts" meme. I was also tagged by someone else several weeks ago. But don't I ALWAYS tell you weird and random facts about myself? The other thing is that I did this last spring and I even managed to spread the weirdness over EIGHT blog posts--see, that's how weird I really am! Were you reading back then? Would this be repetitive? Do I need to tell you more? I mean, do you REALLY want to know about my 7-foot belly button lint ball and other random stuff like that? I just don't want to bore you wonderful readers, so let me know what you want, okay? Thanks!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Story of My Life

Reader's Digest Condensed version. Or just a snippet that represents the whole. Whatever.

So, first of all, I came home from work tonight (something I do five nights a week) and when I headed back to our bedroom, I glanced into the Sweat Shop and nearly screamed. For a second there, I thought the burglars had come back because there was stuff all over the place! Here's a photo of my table, but I know this doesn't really give the full impact.

Some of you have mentioned that I seem to get a lot done, so I thought I'd tell you about a typical evening. Tuesday night after work, I stopped at Trader Joe's to do some shopping. I came home, put the groceries away, and cooked dinner. By the time that was done, it was maybe around 8:30 p.m. or so. I decided to check in on a few blogs, write my own, do a little online fabric "research," etc. You understand, right? Next thing I knew, it was nearly 11 p.m. and I was still playing around in front of the computer. And that's okay except originally the plan for the evening was that I'd work on the box I'm making for the Wild Child.

I was tired. I was yawning so big I was afraid I'd dislocate my jaw. So I thought maybe I'd just go take a bath and call it a night. Now, this is probably where my lifestyle and habits diverge from normal people. I was feeling a little guilty about getting nothing done on the box, so I thought I'd just go pick out the papers and things I wanted to use on the inside lid before I took a bath and went to bed. So I did. Then I did a little cutting. Then I did a little paper staining. Then I thought maybe I'd just paste a couple of the pieces. And decoupage over that. And maybe I'd try out a stamp--but that didn't work out so well. So then I came up with another plan to fix my mistake. Then I glanced at the clock and realized it was 1:15 a.m. By the time I took my bath, got in bed, got up again to find a book, got back in bed, and read for a few minutes, it was after 2 a.m.

See, that's why my favorite saying is the one over there in the sidebar: "Time becomes meaningless in the face of creativity." My motto. Well, that and, "I'd like an iced grade latte with an extra shot, please."

The box? Here's the top--I showed this back around December, so it will probably look familiar.

Here's the inside lid so far. There's actually a fair amount left to do, although the basics are there.

I'm so very sorry I sucked some of you into buying yet more fabric yesterday with my post about Debi Hubbs. Well, no, I'm NOT sorry--that's a lie. Really, who could resist a blackbird (or a crow) wearing red high heeled pumps? Oddly enough, Mary Ann (from A Very Mary Design) told me she hadn't heard of Debi Hubbs either until yesterday when she was in Big Lots and came across some address books using Debi's artwork; later she saw my blog post. Cosmic coincidence? Wanting to investigate first hand, I HAD to stop at Big Lots on my way home from work tonight. No, I didn't find any Debi Hubbs, but I DID find a few other goodies, including a refrigerator pad and a list pad with designs by Mary Engelbreit, a set of brushes ('cause I'm really HARD on brushes), a collage book (in case I ever want to know what I'm supposed to be doing), and a couple red plates. To go with my red soup bowls that Santa left me.

Too bad I didn't go to Big Lots LAST week--then I could have gotten the plates from the Easter Bunny. Unfortunately, tonight hubby wasn't quite as amused as he was when Santa brought the bowls. But really, two teeny, tiny red plates! What's the harm? And won't they look cute with my cherries? And my red high-heeled-shoe-wearing blackbirds? Of course, hubby can't get too annoyed with me. He knows I'll probably be awake WAAAAAAY later than him, and he's quite vulnerable when he's sleeping.

I haven't worked on the box tonight. It's 10:30 p.m., and I think I'll go take a bath and call it a night. Maybe.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Debi Hubbs

Do you know Debi? Yesterday at this time, I didn't. Let me tell you a little bit about what I know so far.

First of all, you all know that the NEXT BIG THING is cherries, right? And I think I mentioned that this week, I'm trying to finish a crafty project, decorating a wooden box for the Wild Child, who's coming to visit next weekend. So there's no quilting going on at the moment and all visions of cherries remain dancing in my head. I do, however, have an overwhelming compulsion to keep searching for "Cherries." Not that I really expect to find what I'm looking for, because my cherry visions really don't involve cherry-printed fabrics. Maybe I'm just trying to get into the cherry mood. Maybe I just can't stand to be totally without any quilting stuff going on--withdrawal. I don't know.

Anyway, last night I came across some fabric by Timeless Treasures--the line is called Blackbird Jubilee and the designer is Debi Hubbs. Here are two of my favorite pieces:

Of course, I had to buy a bit. Erica's had a five-fat-quarter bundle plus some yardage, so my order went in for the bundle and some pies. I'm seeing a bag or a tote here. Plus some pies leftover for something for the kitchen--not sure what yet. Probably something cherry, though.

But then I had to go on over to Timeless Treasures to check out the WHOLE line. 'Cause I wouldn't want to miss anything this cute, you know. And when I clicked on "Debi Hubbs," I got a little bio and a link to her website, Art Blooms.

After being entertained by the story of her life for awhile, I saw a link for her store, which actually took me to eBay. Turns out she has signed giclee prints of her artwork for sale. I think I need a couple of these. I'm thinking about ordering Blackbird Pie:

And After the Shoe Sale:

But I think The Quilters is awfully cute too, and she has that one in a larger print. Decisions, decisions.

And just in case you're as enthralled as I am with Debi now, click HERE for everything Debi Hubbs that's listed on eBay, including the fabric, the prints, applique patterns, and cross stitch patterns. In one of the links I visited somewhere along the way, I read that she'll have a couple more lines of fabric coming out--something I'll definitely be watching for!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Darn! I just talked myself into ordering a little more of the fabric. Cotton Patch Fabrics has it on sale. Although they're out of a couple of the prints, they're expecting more by the end of the month.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Abject Disappointment

During my lunch hour today, I went to a nearby quilt shop. They were closed. My heart cried out in sorrow. So I went to Starbucks and ordered a Venti iced latte. They asked me if I wanted an extra shot of espresso for free. And my heart sang. My pulse raced. The universe was again in balance. I'm easy. (But never cheap!)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I've been a busy little bunny this weekend! I finished binding the Gardener's Touch quilt and gave it to my mother-in-law--she's a great mom and she deserves something for spring!

And guess what?! Yes, I did! I got the bunny/carrot quilt DONE! Woo-hoo! Do I hear a WOO-HOO for me?! Here it is, on the table as promised!

I added the table decor and I think it looks pretty cute! Nice enough to eat off of! ROFLOL!

I stayed up Saturday night until 3 a.m. quilting the bunny quilt and finishing the binding on the Gardener's Touch. By the time I turned my light off and my head hit the pillow, it was 4 a.m. Do I need to mention that we made a Starbuck's stop on the way to my in-law's house for Easter lunch? I think it's going to be a fairly early night for me tonight!

Sunday morning, I got the binding on the bunny quilt and took it with me to my in-law's house. I finished it up after we got back home. We had a nice time with family, and it was an absolutely gorgeous Easter Sunday here in Northern California with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. Spring has arrived!

I think the next project on my list--before the cherries--is to finish the box I started for my daughter, the Wild Child. She and the Drooling Dog will be here next weekend, and I'd like to be able to give it to her. I'm sure I'll be posting some photos of it this week.

I hope you had a wonderful Easter and indulged in as many chocolate eggs, chocolate bunnies, and Peeps as you could possibly want!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Mail and Other Stuff

Are you all ready for Easter? We thought our daughter might come down after all, but then she changed her mind. She and the Drooling Dog will be coming down next weekend to have our mechanic look at her new-to-her car and fix a couple things, and with the price of gas these days, two trips from Tahoe and back were more than she thought she could afford. That's okay with us--at least we'll get to see her next weekend. In the meantime, she sent me a photo of her snowboarding with some friends (that's her in the purple):

My husband went out to the mailbox today and brought in some happy mail. I had an e-mail earlier today from my quilting friend, Synthia, saying there was a cherry quilt pattern in the new McCall's, so I was hoping my magazine would be in the mail--but it wasn't. Oh, well, there were a couple other goodies to put a smile on my face. I've been reading a book called Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick--historical fiction set in England. The book that apparently continues on the saga is kind of pricey--I think it's out of print. The other day, I found one on eBay for a reasonable price, and it arrived today. I'll probably finish this first book in the next few days, so I was happy to see the next one in the mail!

Much to my surprise, I also had a package from my blog bud Red Geranium Sharon! Inside I found an Easter card, a really cute bag she made, a bunny cookie, and the funniest cow "thing" I've ever seen!

Do you remember my earlier post about how she and I started chatting about cows and now it's kind of our thing? Well, somewhere she came across this cow keychain thing that comes with cola flavored candies that you stick in its head and they come out the rear when you press on its hindquarters. It's called "Oops a-Daisy" and it comes "with piles of yummy candy." Thanks, Sharon! You made my day!

Did you see in the photo that under the goodies Sharon sent me is the bunny quilt? I'm still trying to get it done by tomorrow for Easter. At this point, it's a race! Oh, I suspect I'll get it done, but it might not be much before midnight tomorrow!

Today I took a bath, brushed my teeth, and got dressed, but that's about all I've done besides quilt--oh, and I took a little nap since I got up early-ish (for a Saturday) to get busy quilting. As we were watching Antiques Roadshow and eating dinner tonight, my husband started chuckling. "What?," I asked. He said, "You're really having a bad hair day." Well, he's right--I haven't brushed out my hair today and the front has been sticking up kind of oddly, but hey, I don't have to look at it, right?! And isn't it funny that he should refrain from mentioning it until AFTER I had fed him dinner? Men!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hippity Hoppity!

You KNOW you guys are my favorites, right? So just for you, I went back to the quilt shop, Bear Paws and Hollyhocks, after work today to take photos of the cool/creepy rabbits I've mentioned. Here's the pair:

Lindy (the owner) had them sitting on a bench in the window, but she brought them in so I could get a closer look (and feel!) and a better photo--the sun was glaring on the glass window and I'm not sure the photos would have turned out very well otherwise. The gals from the Department of Justice were meeting in the classroom, so we brought the rabbits in there so we could all get a good look at them. And here's a closer shot of the girl rabbit:

They are obviously NOT your typical cuddly, plush bunnies, are they? And yes, they are made with real fur and suede/leather/skin. If I had some spare money sitting around, I'd sure be tempted to buy one or both of these--they're sooooooo unique! (And yes, as a matter of fact, I DO like weird stuff!) But you know--any spare money I had sitting around was taken by my burglars last week, so I'll just have to enjoy the photos.

So what do you think? Cool or creepy?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The NEXT Big Thing!

Happy SPRING, everyone! I heard on the radio on my way home from work that today's the first day of spring. I sure hope all the snow melted today, just in time for Easter and Easter egg hunts! Around here, even the Starbucks Bears are required to dress appropriately for the holiday!

Can you tell I'm feeling a little less boring today? A trip to the quilt shop always perks me up some. And did I find what I was looking for? Yes, indeedy, I did, I did! In the $5/yard bin, too. That's it there in the roll, sitting on top of the bunny/carrot top. It will really go well as a backing to this quilt.

And what other wonders were at the quilt shop, you ask?! Ah, wonders indeed! Now you'd think that since Easter's almost here, I'd bypass all Easter/Spring fabrics, wouldn't you? But no, I couldn't pass up these couple Easter fat quarters you can see near the top of the photo--I've been kind of eyeing this fabric line for the last month or two, every time I passed the bolts. No, maybe I won't make anything more THIS Easter, but I hope to get around to whipping up a new tablerunner or something next year! Oh, and there was a yard of Christmas sale fabric and a couple polka dot fat quarters too--those always come in handy when you're crazy about polka dots!

You know what, though? I plum forgot until I pulled up in front of the store that I wanted to bring my camera along next time I visited. Remember those really cool/creepy bunnies on a bench in the window I told you about? There they were again, and there I was again--with NO CAMERA again! I'll have to go back soon for that photo. The shop owner, Lindy, offered to let me touch them--she said they feel like something from a taxidermist--but I was on a mission to find some fabric, so I regretfully declined.

Have you been wondering what my next quilt theme will be now that the bunnies have almost hopped on by? I have! Well, actually I've been thinking about it for a few years now, but never seemed to get around to it. So I'm announcing it now--the NEXT BIG THING around here, quilt theme-wise, are CHERRIES! I love cherries! Big, plump, red cherries! So look for a few cherry projects in the next couple months. I have a couple ideas bouncing around in my brain like a Pong ball. (Maybe THAT's why I can't sleep!) Do you have any cherry quilts? If so, I'd love it if you'd post them and let me know.

I'd like to stay and chat some more, but I have to get into the Sweat Shop and work on that quilt back and pin this last bunny quilt. The cherries are waiting to come out and play, but first the bunnies have to go away!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Boring Blogger

Warning: I'm boring today. At least I'm feeling awfully boring right now, so you might as well stop right here and go on to the next blog.

Work yesterday had me so wound up I couldn't sleep last night. I tried reading and that was just fine, but every time I closed my book and turned out the light, my mind would go back to the work day. Then I'd turn the light back on and read a little more. The last time I looked at the clock, it was nearly 3 a.m.

Despite only having gotten about four hours of sleep last night, I seemed to do okay today. Well, except maybe when I microwaved my frozen mac and cheese for lunch. That five minutes seemed to be taking an awfully long time, but I was chatting about quilting with another gal, so I was a little side tracked. Finally I went to check the microwave and saw it had 38 minutes left to go. I guess I must have pushed an extra "0" and had it set to cook for 50 minutes instead of 5. You know what, though? Frozen mac and cheese cooked for 12 minutes tastes a heck of a lot better than frozen mac and cheese cooked for 5 minutes. Funny the things you learn when you're talking about quilting!

What part of quilting is your least favorite? Tonight I cut and sewed binding on the Gardener's Touch quilt and tried to find suitable fabric for the back of the latest rabbit quilt. I'm not sure which task inspires me least. Usually pulling backing fabric from my stash isn't all that hard, but this quilt uses a lot of pastels, polka dots, and spring colors, and I just don't seem to have much of that kind of thing in my stash to pull. I was very tempted to go to the quilt shop tomorrow on my lunch hour and look for something, but I'm planning to stitch binding down and I didn't want to change my plans. By the time I settled on some fabrics that didn't seem too bad, it was time to think about going to bed, so I still don't have a back made for that quilt. Getting it done by Easter isn't looking promising. Can we just turn the clocks back again? Like maybe a day or two?

You know what though? I'm still thinking about going by the quilt shop for a different backing fabric. If I leave work on time, I can get to one of the local shops before they close at 6 p.m. I sure hope the thought of going to the quilt shop tomorrow doesn't keep me awake tonight. I need to have my wits about me. I don't think the frozen raviolis I have for lunch tomorrow could take the microwave abuse.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Bunny Quilt

I had to work late tonight and then do the Speed Racer mad dash to Fed Ex and the post office with only about two minutes to spare. Seriously, I handed my packages off to the postman outside the post office as he was emptying out the mailbox for the last time this evening. After all that, I'm feeling terminally unmotivated to quilt or blog this evening, so I thought I'd just show you what I've been working on lately. I have one small applique piece to add and then I can pin this top and start quilting. Do you think I can muster up the enthusiasm and energy to do that tonight? NO! Apparently not! Do I know that Easter's going to be here in just a few days? Yes, as a matter of fact I do. Maybe the quilting fairies will come tonight while I slumber and take care of it for me. One can only hope!

If the stars align and magic occurs, this quilt will grace my Easter table. Somewhat ironically, it's doubtful any FOOD will actually grace my Easter table this year, because neither of our kids will be home and we'll be going over to my in-laws for an Easter lunch. My husband talked to his mom, and they agreed we'd bring dessert. My husband's talking about making cupcakes; I'm thinking Marie Callender's is right on the way and they make an awesome Kahlua Cream Pie. What's Easter, after all, without some grown-up chocolate? The Double Cream Lemon Meringue Pie doesn't sound too bad either.

Now that I think about it, I have a feeling that if I could just bury my face in a Kahlua Cream Pie right NOW, I might feel a little more enthusiastic this evening. But no, I'll wait until Sunday. Tonight I have two cats to battle for rights to the bathroom--a nice hot bath sounds awfully good!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ask Kim: Quilting

Several of you asked about my quilting, so I thought I'd talk a little bit about that tonight. Actually, what I REALLY wanted to do was to take a bath, but I didn't want to be the evening's floor show for "the girls"--

Hopefully, by the time I've posted today's blog entry, they'll have gotten bored and vacated the bathroom--it's really too small for all three of us.

Yes, I do my own quilting. When I started quilting, I thought I'd be selling out if I didn't do it all myself--it wouldn't really be "mine." Since then, I've kind of gotten over that mindset and wouldn't mind sending a few quilts out for quilting occasionally, but I really can't afford to do that and still buy fabric. And food. And gas. Well, you know what it costs to keep a home and family going these days. So, no, I just can't see spending money to send my quilts out to be quilted.

Yes, I quilt on a domestic machine. I have a Bernina I use for piecing, but a few years ago, I found that my tension wasn't very stable on free motion quilting. I could start off just fine and find later on that the bobbin tension had gotten out of whack somewhere along the way--and that led to having to take out some of the quilting and start over. I hate that. I took the Bernina into the shop and they fixed that problem somewhat, but I still wasn't 100 percent pleased. So I started looking around at other machines and decided to buy a Juki for the quilting part of quilt making. Here's my baby--

There are a number of reasons I went with the Juki.

(1) Jukis have a nice, large throat area, so quilting a king size quilt isn't too insane an idea. Here's a photo of the Juki next to the Bernina, so maybe you can see how much larger the throat area is--

(2) Jukis can be used with a frame system, if I ever want to go that route. Right now, I don't really have the room and I don't feel it's necessary, but at some point, I may get tired of having to switch out machines every time I want to do something different. For now, though, I just like the idea that it's versatile.

(3) Jukis are mechanical rather than computerized. This means that repairs can be done at any sew and vac shop instead of taking it in to a dealer or a more expensive shop that specializes in computerized sewing machines. That in turn means repairs are likely to be less expensive. But I've had the machine for a couple years now, and so far, so good. I wouldn't use the Juki for piecing, though, because it has a very industrial, "chunky" feel to it--I don't think my piecing would be quite as accurate on the Juki.

(4) Jukis don't cost an arm and a leg. I actually bought mine through eBay, and although I was a little hesitant to buy that way, I talked to a number of people and checked sellers' feedback and decided to take the plunge. At the time, the Juki I have was retailing for about $900. I made a "Best Offer" and got it for around $700 with shipping included.

Someone asked me the other day about marking quilts. I don't like marking quilts very much. If I can figure out a quilting design that doesn't require marking, all the better! I quilted the Gardener's Touch free hand by just outlining the floral elements in the blocks and continuing out the leaf pattern, "drawing" with my needle and using variegated thread. Yes, that does take some practice and I'm by no means an expert. But as I do it more and more, I think I'm getting better at it all the time. Like anything else, it takes practice.

When I DO mark, though, I like to use a regular lead pencil on lighter colors. I've never had a problem washing it out so far. The pencil marks seem to show up well and pencils are readily available. On darker fabrics, I use white marking pencils. The ones by Patricia Campbell are my favorite. Chalk is nice, but it disappears too quickly and leaves white powder all over the place, so I don't use it very often, but sometimes it's the only reasonable alternative if I have mixed lights and darks to mark on.

The only other thing I can think of that you may want to know is the type of batting I use. I used to use Warm and Natural because I liked it okay and I could get it at JoAnn's with a coupon, so the price was right. Over the last few years, I've switched to using Hobbs 80/20 most of the time. I like that little bit of loft and drape that the 20 percent polyester gives quilts. Occasionally I've purchased other batting for a specific purpose. For instance, I quilted THIS quilt with a very thin batting so it's a nice summer weight.

Did I answer all your questions about my quilting? Do you think my audience has gotten bored and left the bathroom yet? Time for me to go check. Feel free to ask me questions any time, and I'll try to answer!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Gardener's Touch

I've finished quilting the Gardener's Touch quilt but I still need to add the binding. I thought I'd show you how it's coming along and give you the cutting directions. As you can see, it's currently undergoing rigorous cat-approval testing.

I'm going to assume that anyone reading my blog who wants to make some version of this quilt knows the basic construction techniques and will just need stuff like cutting sizes.

In making this quilt, I used a panel of the Thimbleberries Gardener's Touch floral squares, two Gardener's Touch charm packs, the border fabric, and the background fabric. I bought 1-1/2 to 2 yards of the background fabric and didn't really keep track of how much was needed, but I would guess it was somewhere around a yard. For the border fabric, I believe I used 1-1/2 yards.

Of course, you can use any floral fabric you want, but if you use the Gardener's Touch panel, I should mention that there are 15 different floral blocks. Since this quilt uses only 13 floral squares, I decided not to use the two blocks with white backgrounds because I thought they'd blend into the alternate blocks and look funny. I'll use those extras for throw pillows or something. For this quilt, I cut the floral blocks at 7-1/2".

For the alternate blocks, I made 12 blocks. (Sorry the photo came out kind of dark, but I think you can see what I'm talking about.) Each block starts with a center square cut 2-1/2" (cut 12 for 12 blocks).

For the middle round, the corner squares are cut at 2" (cut 48 for 12 blocks). The rectangular background pieces are cut at 2" x 2-1/2" (cut 48 for 12 blocks).

For the outer round, the corner squares are cut at 1-1/2" (cut 48 for 12 blocks). The rectangular background pieces are cut at 1-1/2" x 5-1/2" (cut 48 for 12 blocks).

After I assembled the alternating floral and pieced blocks for the center, I added a pieced border consisting of two rounds of floral squares and background rectangles to continue the chain out a bit. I tried writing out the sizes for these, but it seemed awfully confusing for purposes of this post. If this is something you want to do, email me and I'll try to get those measurements for you.

Finally, I added a floral border--I cut the border at 8" but have trimmed it down a little after quilting so it's 7"--the same size as the center blocks.

Happy quilting!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Patrick's Day is Coming!

I've been totally lazy today--sleeping in, doing a little reading, sleeping a little more, and quilting a lot. I was feeling a little too lazy to post to my blog, but then I remembered a St. Patrick's Day joke someone sent me, and I wanted to share it with you. Since St. Patrick's Day falls on Monday, I plan to make corned beef tomorrow. How about you? Do you celebrate? Maybe this will get you in the mood!

* * * * *

An Irishman moves into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walks into the pub and promptly orders three beers. The bartender raises his eyebrows, but serves the man three beers, which he drinks quietly at a table, alone. An hour later, the man has finished the three beers and orders three more. This happens yet again.

The next evening the man again orders and drinks three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town is whispering about the Man Who Orders Three Beers. Finally, a week later, the bartender broaches the subject on behalf of the town.

"I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers." "'Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replies, "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank as a way of keeping up the family bond." The bartender and the whole town was pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then, one day, the man comes in and orders only two beers. The bartender pours them with a heavy heart. This continues as for the rest of the evening he orders only two beers. The word flies around town. Prayers are offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender says to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know-the two beers and all . . ." The man ponders this for a moment, then replies, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, myself, have decided to give up drinking FOR LENT."

Friday, March 14, 2008


Thank you all so much for your kind words of sympathy and support concerning our burglary. Many of you mentioned the feeling of having been violated in the aftermath of a burglary. Oddly enough, I don't really seem to feel that so much this time. Back a couple years ago (okay, a LOT of years ago!), when I was 20 and had my first apartment on my own (post divorce from the first husband), I came home from work one evening to find someone had broken in and stolen my 10-speed bicycle and my TV. I could see they had gone through my things--closet doors, drawers, and cupboards were left open. It was a huge shock! I remember that somehow I replaced the TV--I can't recall if I bought a new one or was given a hand-me-down--but I never was able to replace the 10-speed. On that occasion, I most definitely felt the sense of violation.

I don't know why the feeling isn't so strong this time. Age? The fact that nothing quite so valuable was taken? Or maybe it's simply that aside from the mess in our bedroom, although I could tell drawers and cupboards throughout the house had been opened, nothing was disarranged, and everything was neatly closed--or nearly closed. Given the state of the bedroom as opposed to the rest of the house, I can't help but think there were two burglars and one was much neater than the other. Given the fact that the window they came in was so small, I can't help but think the neater burglar was female. Maybe that's why it doesn't feel quite so bad this time. I don't know, really, but I DO know we're very grateful it wasn't worse than it was.

This has been a long, hard week--thank goodness the weekend is here! Work was tough with deadlines and pressure. I've been sick with something--swollen gland/sore throat/sore jaw and ear on the left side. In fact, I was hoping to leave work and come home sick the afternoon the burglary occurred, but there was too much to get done at the office--and as it turned out, that's probably a good thing! I had quilt classes/meetings on two evenings, and as much as I enjoy those, this week I would have been happy to just come home after work instead. Then, of course, the burglary.

Remember Shakespeare's Julius Caesar? Every year around now, I remember the line, "Beware the Ides of March." If you've blocked old Julius and high school English classes out of your mind, the Ides of March is March 15th, and that's when Brutus killed Caesar, as foretold by a seer. Last year, on the Ides of March, we learned that my parents had been in an automobile accident the day before--one year ago today. As a result of that accident, my dad passed away in April last year. All in all, not a real happy week for us here!

So, I've decided to be good to myself this weekend. I'm going to relax and not push myself to get things done. If I don't finish a quilt project, that's okay. If I don't feel like posting a blog entry, that's okay too. Oh, I suspect I probably will do all the "normal" stuff anyway, but I'm going to try my best to not feel I HAVE to do anything except relax and enjoy the weekend. Oh, and make corned beef for my husband, because St. Patrick's Day is just about his favorite holiday!

Although I haven't had a chance to do any quilting the last couple nights and I'm just itching to get into the Sweat Shop, the idea of taking a nice hot bath, putting on my jammies, and climbing into bed with a good book and a couple magazines is mighty attractive. I might just do that tonight!

Tomorrow though . . . . Well, tomorrow, Saturday, March 15th, is National Quilting Day. Did you know? I'm sure I'll celebrate appropriately by spending quite a lot of time in the Sweat Shop. After all, I WOULD like to finish quilting the Gardener's Touch quilt, and I also want to get my other bunny quilt done in time for Easter. And sometime this weekend, I plan to post those cutting directions for the Gardener's Touch quilt, so if you've been waiting for those, DO check back periodically.

But I think I won't worry about shaving tomorrow. Or plucking my eyebrows or my chin hairs. Or all the other many beauty enhancing rituals I often perform on Saturdays. Maybe I'll just sleep in instead. But not too late, because it is, after all, National Quilting Day! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, doing whatever makes you happiest!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Burglary Saga

Most days, my husband telephones my office at 5 p.m. to say he's gotten home. Tonight I left work a little earlier than usual, at 5:15 p.m., and when I arrived home around 6 p.m., his van wasn't in the driveway. Hummm, I thought, that's odd. Then I remembered he hadn't called me at work.

I gathered up my stuff and got out of the car. I saw then that although the screen door was shut, and front door was open--not too unusual since it was a nice, spring day. I wondered whether my husband had car problems and had someone drop him off at home, or if perhaps our son had borrowed the van. Not thinking too much about it, I went into the kitchen and unloaded my stuff. I poked my head into the garage to see if my husband was there, but he wasn't. I glanced through the sliding glass door onto the patio, but I could hear our dog barking in his run, and I knew if my husband was out back, the dog would be running loose. Ah ha!, I thought--he must be in the bathroom!

Making my way to the back of the house, I saw that the doors of a couple cupboards in my daughter's former room were ajar. I went in and closed them, thinking my husband must have been looking for something. But when I turned toward our bedroom and saw stuff pulled out of all the drawers and strewn all over the floor and the bed, I finally realized what had happened.

About then, I decided maybe I shouldn't be in the house, just in case anyone was still here--although that seemed unlikely. Within about a minute of getting back outside, I saw my husband driving down the street. He had been to the dentist and thought he had mentioned it to me last night, but if he did, I sure don't remember! I told him what I had found and then I went around to the back yard to let the dog out of his run--in case there was still anyone here, Marley could lick him to death, ferocious beast that he is!

Anyway, we called the police after that and tried not to touch much while we waited for them to arrive. We don't keep much of value in the house, but I DID have a $100 bill in one of the drawers in the bedroom--a bit of "bonus" money our mechanic friend had given us when he was able to fix up and sell a car my husband had found for him. I have very little jewelry, but what I have wasn't taken--my wedding band was in an unlikely drawer that I don't think they even searched.

We were actually somewhat surprised at what WASN'T taken. My digital camera was sitting on the desk and that was left. A credit card by the computer was left. None of our TVs, DVDs, stereo equipment, etc., seems to have been touched. In fact, they really seemed to be looking for cash, and if they were hoping for fine jewelry, they didn't find it here! My husband has a prescription for Vicodin and that wasn't taken, so they weren't interested in drugs either. And, of course, they obviously had no appreciation for quilts, fabric, or sewing machines! Obviously uncultured, ignorant types! ROFLOL!

All in all, we were pretty lucky. Oh, and here's what ELSE they left--stuff that wasn't here to begin with: a screw driver/pry tool and a pair of dirty socks. Yuck!

After taking the report, the police left, saying the CSI guy would be by this evening. Sure enough, Mr. CSI Guy showed up about a half hour later, toting his little kit of crime detecting goodies, and snapping on his latex gloves--just like on TV! Since CSI--the TV show--was a rerun tonight, we were entertained by the reality version! This is the window the burglars came in through:

See all that nice black powder? I kind of think there were two burglars; the smaller of the two came in the window and unlocked the door for the larger of the two. Anyway, for all his efforts, Mr. CSI Guy didn't find any prints. We suspected and he confirmed that the burglars probably used those dirty socks to cover their hands while they went through our stuff. I asked him why they would have left their socks and tool here, and he said that's pretty common because then they can't be arrested with "burglary tools" on their persons. Interesting the stuff you learn!

So now I have a mess to clean up and a bunch of things to put away. I guess I'd better get to it! And I still have a few things to check to make sure nothing's missing, but really it doesn't look like it is. But, darn it, I've missed another night of quilting! And that's really the biggest loss!