Saturday, May 31, 2008

More Weekend Fun and a Teapot Winner!

Whew! I'm beat! I've spent the entire day cleaning! Cleaning out drawers, rearranging things, trying to make sense of my "altered art" craft supplies and papers (which don't lend themselves to being as neatly arranged and categorized as fabric!), sprucing up my thrifted treasures, finding homes for the thrifted treasures, rediscovering my own "vintage" goodies . . . . The list goes on and on. I'm going to need a weekend to recover from the weekend! But the end is in sight--it's 11:30 p.m. and I need to vacuum the living room and clean the kitchen. Something's telling me the kitchen's not going to get quite as much attention as the rest of the house got today.

Remember that burglary we had a couple months ago? Well, when I cleaned up our bedroom, I pretty much just shoved stuff away wherever it fit. Today I cleaned everything out and filled the garbage with all kinds of stuff like cheap, ugly circa-1980s costume jewelry, old purses, and dried out old shoes. There were a couple pieces of jewelry with sentimental value that I wasn't sure hadn't been taken in the burglary, but today I found them, so that was a relief! And look what else I found!

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember my story about always wanting a pair of thigh high boots, getting a pair just about the time the most recent short-lived fad had run its course, and wearing them to the grocery store where I ran into probably the last person I would have wanted to run into! Anyway, there they are, in all their glory--a little the worse for wear after playing a role in a couple Halloween costumes and collecting dust in the closet over the years. Did I throw them away? Naw! Had to keep them--for now. Maybe my future grandchildren would like to see them and hear wild stories about old grannie!

In cleaning out a drawer I found a 6-pack of Mounds candy from Easter--Easter 2007, I believe, if not 2006. These are my husband's and son's favorites, so I put them out in a newly-polished silver plated dish and set the dish next to my husband's recliner. Happy Easter honey! Better late than never!

Here's another silver plated dish I polished up today and a brass English Breakfast Tea container--earlier in the week, I promised to show you some of my finds from the Great 50% Off Memorial Day Sale. I thought I'd show you a couple things tonight.

About a year ago, after my dad passed away and my mom cleaned out everything in their place, she gave me a big box full of sewing-related "stuff." For the past year, I've been ignoring that box. I had looked through it right away, so I knew what was there, but I didn't feel much like sorting through everything and putting it all away. Finally I took care of that today, so I no longer have a large cardboard box shoved into the corner of my son's former room. It feels good to have that done.

My break from cleaning is nearly over, so it's time to announce the winner of the teapot. TERESA of Stitchin' Friends is the new owner of a white, copper insulator covered teapot. There were 14 entries in the giveaway, and when asked to pick a number from 1 to 14, hubby picked 8--Teresa's number! Congratulations, Teresa!

I hope to get this cleaning finished tonight so I can spend most of the day tomorrow in the Sweat Shop with a clear conscience and a happy heart. Tomorrow night I'll draw a winner for the Schnibbles Decoy pattern, so stay tuned and thanks for stopping by to visit me.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Night Fun!

It's Friday night, and the weekend has officially arrived! It arrived a little bit early for me because I took about an hour of vacation time and left work at 4:30 so I could come home and shampoo the carpet in my daughter's former room. Do I know how to party, or what?!!

Once I was done, as a reward, I took myself down to the Hundred Dollar Store. Here's a photo taken from my car as I was stopped at the light, waiting to turn left to get into the parking lot. Remember my "God's Kar" post? The photo of Gods Kar was taken at just about the same spot. As I was thinking about that earlier experience, what do I see but this limo:

Yes, this is apparently a limo. I think it's about the oddest limo I've seen. I'm guessing maybe this is the limo graduates of the trucking school hire when they want to celebrate successfully obtaining their "degree." What do you think? And when does a bus become a limo? I bet a bus would be cheaper!

So I went to the Hundred Dollar Store to get hairspray. I have really fine, limp hair and to get it to stay where I want it, the best product I've found is Aussie Mega Freeze Spray. The grocery store stopped carrying it, so I had to go to the drug store. Then the drug store stopped carrying it, so now I have to go to Target--and when I do, I stock up on about four cans because that's a really dangerous place to shop. I was in Home Depot the other night; if I had thought about it, I suppose I could have just picked up a can of lacquer and called it done. Sure would have been less expensive! Yes, the Hundred Dollar Store and my trip to buy four cans of hairspray ended up costing $105 and some change. I figure inflation must account for that extra $5. Hubby doesn't know it yet, but I bought a couple new pillows and a cushy mattress pad--the bulk of my purchases. While he's at work tomorrow and I'm cleaning house, I'll "install" the pad and pillows. I may even need to nap-test them! (Yes, I have one of those fun-never-stops weekends planned, ladies! Try not to be too jealous!)

Let's see. What else did I do on this fine Friday night? Well I took the scenic but slightly longer route to the Hundred Dollar Store right past the Goodwill store. Except I didn't, after all, drive right past. No, I had to stop. Now that the crowds from the big Memorial Day sale have cleared out, I was able to browse at a less frantic pace and I found a couple more wool sweaters and a red wool blazer.

The sweaters would now make nice doll sweaters--yes, I also spent my Friday night out in the garage, doing laundry and shrinking clothing.

But hey! Look what came in the mail! Hubby went down to the mailbox and brought back a box--

My thread is here, my thread is here! Had I gotten that box earlier in the evening--like right after I shampooed the carpet--I might have hustled myself into the Sweat Shop and skipped the shopping trip, thereby saving myself $105! But at least I can get the Prairie Paisley quilt finished up now--and this is the right weight of thread too!

And what else was in the mail? This apparently came a few days ago, and I think hubby was intentionally hiding it from me, burying it under all the other miscellaneous mail on the kitchen table, which was conveniently hidden behind a bunch of thrifting purchases.

Do you see that? Salvation Army is having a 50% off sale! Oh, but wait! When is it? Friday, May 30th? DARN! I missed it! Instead of hitting the sale, I've been watching TV and cutting apart a red wool blazer! I've gotta start planning out my Friday nights better! After all, there are so many fun things to do and only a limited amount of time to do them in!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Dear Ms. Manners:

I'm not sure what the "correct" thing to do is, so I thought I'd ask for some input from you.

My girl boss is getting married in a few weeks. I haven't been invited to the wedding. Do I get her a wedding gift?

This is kind of an awkward situation, it seems. We've worked together since last August and get along well--I like her. As the wedding date approaches, people in the office are asking me if I'm going to the wedding. Well, no. I'm aware that she's invited the firm's senior partners, so there's a little bit of talk about the event. I've also been asked whether I'm going to arrange a bridal shower--I really hadn't even thought about it until someone asked, but my knee jerk reaction is that if I haven't been invited to the wedding, it would be inappropriate for me to arrange an office bridal shower. The whole thing feels kind of weird, though. How would you handle it? Wedding gift? Office shower?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

By Popular Demand . . .

Thanks for leaving me comments--I love to read what you all have to say! Several of you asked about the quilting I'm doing on the Prairie Paisley quilt, so I thought I'd tell you a little about it and show you how it's done.

Yes, the pattern I'm using is just free-hand, free motion, and it's simple as can be!

I think the name of the fabric line, Prairie Paisley, reminded me of this quilting pattern, and I had decided I just wanted to do an all-over quilt design on this one since I'll probably use it as a table topper or small throw, so this pattern seemed ideal. And with the scrappiness of the fabrics in the quilt, using the variegated red, white, and blue thread also seemed like it would work well.

I have a feeling I may have seen a tutorial on this on someone else's blog, but I have no idea whose--sorry! So I just drew out on a piece of paper how the pattern works. Try it yourself on a piece of paper and see how easy it is to do; I bet it will give you confidence to try it on a quilt if you've never done this before!

First of all, I like to start in the middle of my quilt. See where it says "start"? Self-explanatory, I think! From there, you just stitch a loop--see those arrows along the line of the curve? I usually try to go with an oval or tear drop shape but a circle works fine too--this really is a forgiving pattern that doesn't require you to be perfect.

Now change direction and make another loop, echoing the first one.

Finally, a third loop and your first "pattern" is complete. (What I'm calling a "pattern" is what you have when you make three loops--are you with me so far?) Ready to keep going?

Whichever direction you start your next inner loop is the direction you'll end up going when this second "pattern" is done. In other words, if you want to keep moving around more or less in a circle, clockwise, then start your loop going in a clockwise direction. Here, though, I'm making the second "pattern" go counter-clockwise.

Just keep going like you did the first "pattern" until you have three loops and are ready to move on again.

Here again I switched directions, starting the first loop going clockwise, so my third loop will end on the right side of this third "pattern."

And so there's the fourth "pattern" completed, and my "stitching line" (okay, actually my pencil in this case!) ends up on the left side of the pattern I just completed. If I keep switching the direction of the first loop each time, I'll end up with "patterns" that keep going in a somewhat straight line across the quilt, and I don't really want that--I want it to look more random. So, for the next few "patterns," I'll keep the first loop going counter-clockwise and start circling around that first "pattern."

So, that's pretty much it. Simple? The point is to keep going and filling in the open spaces. If you work yourself into a corner, it's not a problem--just stop, clip your threads, and start again at the edge of your quilted pattern where you have some open space to move.

Now I've worked up an appetite doing all this paper quilting. Time for dessert. Look what I found at the store today--

And gosh are they yummy! I know this because we've already eaten some. But this is a BIG container, so we'd best get busy eating more!

Oh, and by the way--here's a thrifting mystery update. Remember that rolling pin thingy? My anonymous but self-proclaimed "best Bro in law" left a comment for me today, advising that it IS IN FACT for back massages and suggested I try it out on hubby. Here's what he said: "Just don't try and flatten him like you would with a ball of dough!" How about if I just beat him with it instead, best bro in law?! Oh, but wait! Then you'd have to come arrest me, wouldn't you?! Unless, of course, you're one of my OTHER anonymous best brothers in law and not the one in law enforcement?! As I happen to be "blessed" with four brothers-in-law, I'm making an educated guess on which one left the comment. His mention of homemade apricot brandy, though, was a pretty good clue, since most of my best brothers in law are happy enough with plain old beer!!!

Thanks for stopping by to visit! And try out that quilt pattern soon--I bet you'll enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Hate it When That Happens!

I've been quilting away on the Prairie Paisley quilt and I have about two and a half sides of just a bit of the border left to quilt and what happens? This!

ARGH! I've mentioned before that I sometimes use Valdani variegated thread and that I have to order it online, so that's what I had to do tonight--put in an order. Actually, I put in TWO orders. Why? Well, because I couldn't remember if the thread I was using was 35 wt. or 50 wt. because it seemed a little heavier than normal, but I didn't think I had ordered the heavier thread originally. And then I couldn't remember which of two similar variegated colors it was. And neither of two online shops carried both weights. And I couldn't find a confirmation for my original order to check. ARGH! I hate it when that happens too!

And tell me this--when you're quilting with a heavier thread, what size and type of needle do you put in your machine? I was having some breakage problems and switched to a larger needle, which lessened the breakage, but I was still having some difficulty. So any tips would be appreciated!

And another thing--have you ever washed a wool sweater and ended up with a teeny, tiny sweater? I did--but actually that was my intent in this case. Here's my new teeny, tiny red wool sweater:

I have plans to make it into a purse. Yes, this was a thrifting find. You know, it's pretty hard to find wool sweaters here in California! I actually found two wool sweaters. The other one was 85 percent wool, which should be a high enough wool content to shrink, but guess what? It didn't seem to shrink much. Oh well, you win some and you lose some!

And speaking of winning some, I thought I'd have another giveaway. Yes, you read that right--ANOTHER GIVEAWAY! Two giveaways in two days! So let's say I'll draw a winning name for this one on Sunday--which I think is June 1st, isn't it? So I'll draw for the teapot on Saturday and this pattern--

on Sunday--just the pattern; not my not-quite-quilted Prairie Paisley quilt! This is the Schnibbles pattern I used as the basis for the quilt though, so if you win, you can make your own! If you'd like to be in the drawing, please tell me in your comment that you want in the drawing. Same with the teapot--and leave the teapot comment on the teapot post because I'm easily confused as I've already told you. I'm sure there are some of you who may want to comment but don't necessarily want whatever I'm giving away, so if you want to get in, say it right up front; otherwise, I won't bother trying to foist my "stuff" on you. And let's say only one entry per person--don't even try to do what I did to win my former BFF Ms. Red Geranium Sharon's FQ bundle, 'cause it didn't do me any good anyway! (I hate it when that happens!)

Thanks for stopping by to visit--I definitely DO NOT hate it when that happens--I love it, especially if you have a little time to "talk" to me!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A Good Thrifting Day!

Hubby and I hit four Goodwill stores today for their 50% off sale, and boy were they jam packed with people. What does it say about our society when $2.99 is too much to pay for something and you have to wait for the 50% off sale?! It's funny, too, what people find to buy. When I looked at what other people had, so much of it seemed like junk, but they were happy. And I'm sure they--and possibly a few of you--think I'm nuts too, but it was fun, and we came home exhausted after nearly 6 hours of driving around town and pushing through crowds of people, all looking for bargains.

And what did I buy? Well, I'll probably show you some of it in the next few days--the van was pretty well loaded with bags. But today I wanted to tell you what I got for YOU! Yes, indeed, I bought YOU something--if you're the person whose name I draw next Saturday!

Almost the first thing I saw this a.m. was another teapot with a copper insulated cover like the one I bought several weeks ago--one of my great "finds" that started me down the thrifting pathway.

Unfortunately, this one is missing its lid, but covered with the insulator, you'd never know. So, it's not perfect, but then what in life truly is?! Here's how it looks topless:

If you're interested in entering my drawing, please leave me a comment saying you want in. You need to ask to be in the drawing, though, because I don't want to chase off anyone who wants to comment but doesn't want the teapot, okay?

And for my sister-in-law Kathy--Kath, we got you something too! Hubby will probably come by with it sometime this week. Late birthday present!

And Chris from Sacramento--I tried to watch for you, but I was pretty busy hunting for treasures. Your comments come through without an email address, so I haven't been able to write back, but if you made it out to Goodwill today, I hope you had fun!

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by to visit me! I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thrifting Gems

Many of you guessed correctly about my "thrifting mystery," and Erica even knew the name--it's a Butter Bell! You can pack a cube of softened butter into the hollow area in the lid, put cold water into the crock, and the butter will remain fresh at room temperature for about 30 days. Hubby and I stopped eating butter very much when we started trying to eat better--we substituted something called Balade that I get at Trader Joe's--it's a "light" butter. Still, the website for the Butter Bell has what appear to be some yummy flavored butter recipes, and if a cube will stay fresh up to 30 days, I can certainly see using my butter crock in the future. Not a bad find for around $3!

In honor of tomorrow's big 50% off sale at Goodwill--which you know hubby and I plan to participate in--I thought I'd tell you a few of my "secrets" for what has--surprisingly to me--been some thrifting success and fun. I seriously used to get frustrated on the rare occasions I visited thrift stores because I never seemed to find the "treasures" others found. Now my attitude has changed--at least I think that's what has really made a difference in my experiences.

First of all, go with an open mind. Don't head out to the thrift stores with something specific in mind. It's okay to say, "Gee, I hope I can find a wicker chair for the porch," but go for more than that--go with the idea that maybe you'll find something really great that you didn't even know you wanted. Really LOOK at what the store has. And many times I've gone through all the aisles and then gone back again and found things I'd missed the first time. Of course, since they keep putting out merchandise all day long, it's possible that whatever I came across wasn't there the first time I looked, but I think it's really more a matter of looking. Sometimes the real finds might be buried under other merchandise on a bottom shelf--get down there and look.

Use your imagination. Look for things that appeal to you for their color or shape. It's not always important that you know you can do something with whatever it is--if you like the way it looks, it can always just live life as a decoration or a curiosity. And what's the worst that can happen? You donate it back to the thrift shop and you're out of pocket a couple dollars! Remember that weird rolling pin-like thing I found?

I still don't know what it's supposed to be, but my plan is to hang it on the wall in the kitchen and then hang a small quilt from it. I hope I'll be able to show you how that turns out before too long.

The other day when I was in the thrift store, I came across an interesting bottle. I didn't know what I'd do with it, but I liked it and it was $2. Then I found three more further down on the shelf.

As I looked at them, I realized they'd make great containers for some kind of liqueur to be given as Christmas gifts. Hubby's thinking something red would be ideal. Does anyone have a good recipe for cranberry or cherry liqueur or something along those lines?

And speaking of Christmas gifts, I often make up gift baskets for friends and family. That's one thing I'll be looking for tomorrow--nice baskets for that purpose. Baskets are already plentiful and pretty inexpensive at thrift stores; at 50% off, I'm sure I'll come home tomorrow with several, ready to start thinking about what I want to fill them with for the holidays.

Glasses are also plentiful at thrift stores; some are pretty average but occasionally I come across some really nice ones. Wouldn't a couple of fancy glasses and a bottle of champagne make a nice gift for a young couple for Christmas, weddings, or aniversaries? I was chatting with a woman in the thrift store a few days ago who was looking for some glasses she had seen the day before and wanted to get for a friend--they were Kentucky Derby glasses. Of course they were gone already. And if I had seen them, I might have bought them, thinking I could make a gift basket for my boy boss who enjoys horse racing--but no, I wasn't in the thrift store when they were put out and I didn't see them. But keep an eye open for that type of thing--you just might come across something that would make a unique gift for someone.

Thrift stores also have tons of pictures and frames. Often the frames are beat up a bit, but as long as they still have their glass and are well constructed, a little paint or stain will have them looking like new. Of course, that means putting some time and work into them, so look for frames that are worth the effort. I also look for frames with mats--if nothing else, I can use the mats for another picture and it's less expensive than buying new picture mats.

Remember that floral embroidery I found? I found a frame I liked and painted it. Here's a photo:

I'm still not quite satisfied--I think it might need a small black mat or something to set it off a little more, but maybe not. I'll live with it awhile and think about it. In any event, though, it looks nice on the wall in my bedroom, brightens up an otherwise boring corner, and I have the satisfaction of knowing I rescued something someone had put a lot of time and effort into making.

Clothing. Thrift stores have TONS of it. And some of you may not want to shop for clothing at a thrift store, but you can actually find things that have never been worn. I've bought a couple of denim shirts for summer. Still, if that's not quite your cup of tea, there are other things you can use clothing for. Look for clothes with great buttons or trim you can recycle. Or, here's another idea: My friend Kairle bought a few sweaters and turned them into purses. Check her blog HERE. You can also make sweaters into pillows--just measure the sweater, sew a few seams, and stuff a pillow form inside. A week or so ago, I saw an off-white eyelet lace blazer that caught my eye--it was only later that I thought I should have bought it and made it into a pillow--wouldn't THAT have been cool?!

I also like to look for storage items. Baskets, again, make for more decorative places to store things than plain old boxes or plastic containers. I found this little picnic-style basket, and I think it would make an awfully cute lunch "bag."

Then I found one that's the same style but larger. Hummm. It seems to me I've got a "collection" going now! I bet that larger one would hold fabric and things for a quilt class very nicely!

Wooden boxes--I love wooden boxes! Right now in the Sweat Shop I have a shelf that's lined with plastic boxes containing stuff like buttons, lace, ribbons, and other trims. It seems to me that a line of painted and/or embellished wooden boxes would look a heck of a lot nicer and would be fun to decorate as well!

Look in places at the store that you don't expect to find anything you'd want. Seriously! I wasn't looking for a lamp the other day, but I happened to glance over at the shelf holding lamps and saw one with apples on the ceramic base, and apples are one of the themes I use in my kitchen. For $4, I came home with a "new" kitchen lamp. The center post had yellowed, so hubby took it apart for me, and I spray painted it white. I then pulled out some blue and white fabric from my stash and made a ruffle and used the red and white ruffled zig zag I had bought to make an apron--I think it made a rather nice trim!

Textiles. Since most of you reading this are probably quilters, you well know how attractive textiles can be! I love tablecloths, curtains, napkins, and just about anything made from fabric. I continue to hunt the sections containing this kind of thing but I haven't yet found another quilt. Still, I've found other "treasures"--just the other day, I brought home a red and white tablecloth from Crate and Barrel that will look equally great on my kitchen table during the summer or at Christmas. Napkins are also plentiful--remember those Christmas gift baskets I mentioned? Look for red, green, or white napkins to line the baskets. If you have an embroidery machine, you could easily add embroidery for something really special!

The really wonderful thing about thrifting is that you can spend just a few dollars and bring home a few bags full of stuff to enhance or change the look of a room and/or give you hours of fun painting or otherwise transforming what you purchased into something you love. The other really wonderful thing about thrifting is occasionally stumbling across a true "treasure"--an item you found for a couple dollars that you then find is worth ten times as much. But don't go thrifting with the idea you're going to find that type of treasure every time because you won't, and as a consequence, you won't enjoy the experience. Just go knowing that sometimes the small treasures are reward enough! And sometimes the real treasure lies in the dream. What do I mean by that? Well, I didn't really NEED a butter crock--and I didn't even know that's what I was buying! But now I have a yellow butter crock that matches a yellow pitcher I found. Throw in a blue and white checked tablecloth--another thrift store find--and a loaf of fragrant, hot, homemade bread, all served out on the patio on a beautiful spring day--yep, that's what I'm dreaming about now. Not a bad Home and Gardens vision for just a few dollars!

A Thrifting Mystery

The other day I found a smallish yellow crock at the thrift store. I thought it would be a good color match for the yellow pitcher I found the other day, so I decided it would come home with me. When items have lids or removeable parts, Goodwill tapes them all together, so I couldn't remove the lid until I got home. When I untaped it, I was surprised to see this--

What is it? Luckily there was a sticker with a name and a website address on the bottom, so I was able to figure out what it is exactly. Have you seen one before? Can you guess what it is? I'll be back to post later tonight and I'll reveal the mystery then.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Good Start!

How's your Memorial Day weekend so far? My Saturday went pretty nicely. I got to sleep in until around 9:30, and then I puttered around the house, painting picture frames and piecing a back for the Prairie Paisley quilt top. I thought I'd get that one pinned today, but time goes by much quicker than we anticipate on weekends, doesn't it?

I needed to make a run to the pet supply store and Trader Joe's, so I quit puttering in the early afternoon and took off to run my errands. And since the Trader Joe's I went to isn't far from a Goodwill store . . . well, you know what happened, I'm sure! And before I knew it, the afternoon was over and I hadn't pinned the quilt.

I love Trader Joe's! I made the mistake of going on a fairly empty stomach, so I came home with a lot of goodies. But is that really a BAD thing? I think not! We went out to dinner with friends tonight, but I'll be cooking the rest of the weekend. Hubby and I are supposed to be making better food choices these days and--ideally--losing a little weight, but I don't think that's happening THIS weekend. But then it's a holiday, and holidays just aren't holidays without good food. If I whip up anything fantastic, I'll try to get a photo to share. Ms. Red Geranium Sharon gave some tips about BBQing pizza a few days ago, and I've been thinking about it since, so that's one possibility!

It rained here last night--rain in Sacramento on Memorial Day weekend is a rare thing. It sprinkled a little bit today too, but it's supposed to clear up for the rest of the weekend. I don't mind the rain--I like it a whole lot better than our typical Memorial Day weekend temperatures in the 90s!

I don't think I'll have much quilting news to share in the next few days because I plan to do some actual quilting (rather than piecing), and it will probably take a few days before I finish anything. Tomorrow, though, I plan to stay home and quilt! And sleep in. And probably hang around in my jammies until an embarrassingly late hour of the day. I hope your day is equally lovely!

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Room Without Walls

At work, I sit in a cubicle all day long. The "walls" on two sides rise only to about elbow height. Great for leaning; lousy for passing by too closely and hitting an elbow. The third "wall" rises a little bit above my head. The fourth "wall" isn't--it's pretty much just an opening so I can get in and out.

The cubicles are very public because the office floor plan is open. The office is nicely decorated, and because of these things, personalizing our cubicles to any great degree is discouraged.

This morning I sat in my cubicle and looked around me. I had a couple photos of my kids in frames that were given to me at one time or another by the office. I had a small, kinda ugly little wicker basket on my desk for holding binder clips. Another office freebie, a Sacramento Zoo coffee cup, held my pencils and pens. Speaking of coffee cups, the transfered picture on the outside of my cup was wearing off and fading after daily use for about the past ten years. My paperclips were contained in a cut glass candy dish--something else that was given to me at some time by the office and originally filled with candy, no doubt. In other words, nothing around me was really "me." And I realized that all of these things could be replaced with things I enjoy looking at without breaking the office rules.

So, that's my latest "mission." Fixing up my office work space--a place I spend so much of my time--to reflect my personality and taste. And I knew just where to start--Goodwill! My binder clips now rest in a cheerful yellow bowl. My pens and pencils seem much happier in a green, polka dotted cup. A white bowl picked up at another Goodwill on the way home from work will hold my paperclips. And my old coffee cup will soon be replaced by a Mary Engelbreit cup. I've brought the kids' photos home so I can replace the frames sometime this weekend. I also have some ideas for making a couple bookends. And have you seen the free tissue box pattern at Connecting Threads? I think I need to make one of those for sure!

I DID think about how funny it would be if I put up some kind of frame around the cubicle and hung curtains, but I'm pretty sure that would only last about a half a minute. Still, maybe it's something to keep in mind for next April Fool's Day! In the meantime, there are a lot of things I can do to make my cubicle my own. I've been with the firm around 15 years now; I guess it's about time to face the fact that I'll likely be there awhile longer and make my surroundings more enjoyable.

But enough about work--the weekend is here, and I am SOOOOO ready for it! I've been playing in the Sweat Shop this evening, framing the floral embroidery I found during a previous thrift shopping spree and sprucing up some of my other thrift store finds. Next on my weekend "to do" list is sleeping in, and I think it's about time to get started on that one. I hope you have a wonderful weekend planned!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Little "Art"?

I have to admit, I do enjoy some good graffiti art. My friend Eileen asked me whether what my son did was similar to what the gang taggers do. Well, that concerns me a little bit on occasion too, but no, I don't think it's all that similar. What I know of gang taggers is that they usually mark their territory--or the territory they plan to move into--with initials rather than full-scale "art work." Yes, we see that around Sacramento, and I think it's a pretty ugly sight. But graffiti-style art work is different, I think. From what I can tell, the only thing taggers and graffiti artists have in common is the medium they use--spray paint.

First of all, I love murals on buildings. I always enjoy seeing, for instance, aquariums with the sides of the building painted with whales, sea lions, and whatever else one might find in the ocean. Or a surfboard shop where an otherwise blank wall is painted to look like a surfer catching a ginormous wave. Or a bakery where the wall facing the parking lot has a giant painting of a grandmotherly-type woman removing fresh baked loaves from the oven. I'm sure there are building codes in most cities that regulate that kind of thing. And I don't think I'd really enjoy it so much if my next door neighbor did something similar on his house! But I like quirky stuff--you knew that already, right?

My route to and from work runs along the railroad tracks, and I often see railroad cars passing by, spray painted with anything from taggers' initials to full blown graffiti art. I like it! I enjoy those "moving canvases" so much more than the standard, often-rusty container cars bearing a company's boring logo.

Much of my drive takes me through neighborhoods that are far from "upscale." The road isn't residential, and most of the commercial businesses along the way aren't looking to attract customers based on curb appeal--businesses like tow yards, light industrial warehouses, an old VFW hall, and a couple of auto repair shops. A bar of some sort has occupied one corner as long as I can remember, looking like nothing more than a cinder block box with two doors--one in front and one in back. It has always seemed to do a reasonably steady but light business. In the last few years, though, I think the ownership has changed. I've often seen, as I drive to work around 9 in the morning, a man in a large brimmed hat sweeping the sidewalks and parking lot. A black drum barbecue made its appearance in the front lot some months back. The building has been cleaned up and some repairs have been made. It's still in an "iffy" location, and I'm not sure it will ever be a success, but now when I pass by, I smile. The art work that's appeared on the building's exterior in the last few months has a lot to do with that. Today I took my camera along so I could take a couple photos to share with you. They aren't the best--I was, after all, in a car that was moving, albeit slowly.

There it is, that blue building: The Railroad Cafe. Right across on the other side of the road I'm driving on are the railroad tracks. I'm not sure what all those things painted on the wall are--some kind of pictures of the foods on their menu--but there in the right front corner is some part of a written menu. I do know it says BBQ. This is the view I see in the morning on my way to work.

And here's what I see coming home:

See the train painted on the side? Above the train cars are snow capped moutains and clouds in a blue sky. Near the front corner on one of the cars near its roof is painted "Entrance." Right there is a door, although you can barely see it, even in person.

Then, here's the front of the building:

The engine, of course. And there's a real window there where the engine's window would be. I don't know who did the art work but I think it's wonderful! So much more fun to look at than what the building used to be.

Of course, the work done on this building is much more elaborate than the fairly quick "greeting card" left for my hubby by our son, but this is more the kind of "art" my son enjoys when he has the time and space. And although I haven't seen it in person yet, I've seen photos on my son's cell phone of a rather large mural he painted on several sheets of plywood in his garage.

Are these the Piccasos of the 21st century? Well, maybe not. But who knows? I do know that I enjoy seeing this kind of art a lot more than some of the things it covers up!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


How do you know when one of your kids has been by your house while you're at work? Well, around here there's usually some evidence left behind, like a couple of dirty dishes in the sink, cats that were left inside are found outside, missing food, and the fact that you've been logged out of the computer because the kid had to check his emails.

This is a new one for us though. My hubby came home to find the kid in question had rummaged around the garage to find two old shelf boards and several cans of spray paint, which he then used to craft an extra large greeting card:

If you can't really read it--and really I'd be surprised if you could--it says "2 my Dad." The "Dad" is that part on the bottom that looks like red, blue, and black runny, melty goo. I'm not sure about the blue skull-looking thing. We DID call him to ask whether he intended with the skull to say something like "death to my dad," but he denied it. And laughed. Don't know where he gets his sense of humor from!

Maybe we should consider changing the locks again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Treasures come in many forms--those that find us and those that we find.

Over the past few days, I've continued to recover from that nasty cold I had last week, and I'm feeling so much better! A little bit of cough and congestion linger, but it's about what I have when allergies hit--in fact, it may just BE allergies.

At the height of my illness last week, my husband brought a package in for me from the mailbox from my blog-less friend Sandy. I can't tell you how much that package of goodies brightened my spirits!

Sandy sent me a tea pot embroidered apron that I promptly hung on one of the pegs in my kitchen--I think she knows I love tea pots!

The box also contained an assortment of goodies from buttons to fabric to a chicken pincushion! It was such a treat! Thanks so much, Sandy! You are a treasure! I also want to thank the rest of you who took the time to leave me "get well" comments--I appreciate each and every one of you! I'm glad you found me and my little blog.

I was determined last weekend to get out of the house for a little bit on Sunday, and although my hubby and I weren't exactly feeling our best, we decided go out and get some breakfast and do a little thrift store shopping. Our hearts weren't really in it, so we didn't spend a lot of time searching for treasures, but just as we were talking about heading home, I found something that excited me--an embroidered picture!

Some of the attraction of thrift store shopping is in finding things other people have made and treasured themselves, things that are now being passed on for some reason. Do you thrift shop? Do you imagine stories about the items and the people who owned them and why they're no longer treasured? I do--at least with some things. Being a quilter, when I saw the embroidered picture and knew how much time the person who made it had put into it, I had to take it home with me. The frame's not good, but I found another frame today, at yet another thrift store--I'll want to paint it and then see how the flowers look in it. When I get it "fixed up," I'll try to remember to take another photo to show you.

At the thrift store I stopped at tonight on my way home from work, it seemed that quite a few items had been donated from the home of someone who was "into" country decor. I gravitate toward that look myself to some extent and had to restrain myself from picking up a bunch of "bargains" that I wouldn't know what to do with later! There's a blue wooden apple wagon I came home with--you can see it in the photo with the embroidered flowers, near the top of the photo--as well as a wooden shoe form that's also right above the embroidered flowers. The wooden shoe form had a circa-1980s "country" pastel ribbon and some dried flowers glued onto it, but I pulled those off. I'm not sure what I'll do with my "foot," but my grandfather was a shoe repairman, so the shoe form brings back some memories.

From the same "country lady" I think came two bags of wooden blocks, houses, and other decorations. For now, those will go in my craft closet, but I see future possibilities there.

I also "collect" these turquoise/green canning jars and I found three tonight--two are imprinted for the bicentennial, which was kind of interesting.

Besides collecting tea pots that I've mentioned before, I'm kind of nutty about pitchers, and I found this yellow one with a Restoration Hardware imprint on the bottom. I love the bright and cheerful look!

Then various other little "finds." There's a green cabbage bowl there in the upper left that someone made--or glazed, anyway--for her mother for Mother's Day back in the 70s, I believe--it's inscribed on the bottom. I have a larger, white cabbage soup tureen that looks quite similar by Metlox Pottery. Maybe someday I'll have a collection of cabbage pottery! A blue polka dot pot on a yellow polka dot plate. Stacked red, white, and blue star boxes--there's that patriotic theme again! A couple little pictures and frames. The sailing ship is hand painted and not a print--that one's destined for a new frame (maybe the white one it's sitting on after I repaint the frame black) and will go in my son's former bedroom along with a couple other nautical-themed drawings I've found at thrift stores lately.

A few of you mentioned to me that you were getting the itch to visit a thrift shop or two. Have you gone yet? Did you find any treasures? Here in our area, Goodwill is having a HUGE sale on Memorial Day--50% off. I guess you know where hubby and I will be for at least a little bit of the day, right? And there are probably about six Goodwill stores within about a 20 minute drive from our house. Of course, I have a lot of quilting to do too this weekend with two patriotic quilt tops ready to be pinned and quilted, but I'm sure I'll need to get out for a bit and stretch my muscles, right?!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Prairie Paisley Project

I just have a quick post for you tonight because it's kinda late--I've been playing in the Sweat Shop, trying to get a top finished.

Remember this from the other day? I mentioned I had bought this little Schnibbles pattern and two charm packs of the Prairie Paisley fabric. The Schnibbles pattern sample actually uses the Prairie Paisley line, so it's a perfect "fit"!

When I started cutting and making the star blocks, I found that I could just squeeze out 13 star blocks instead of the 9 called for in the pattern. In other words, I could make a larger quilt top using a diagonal set with 13 center blocks. I did have to cheat a little and use one 5" square of the red with white polka dot fabric from the Mary Engelbreit line--I thought the reds matched pretty well. I also had to add more neutral fabrics than was called for in the pattern. I think the pattern called for 1/3 yard to be used in the star backgrounds. I needed about another 1/2 yard for the setting triangles (what I used was from the Christmas Past line by the same designers) and then I also added another fat quarter and about a 1/2 yard for the outside border because I wanted that to be wider than the pattern. So, anyway, here's how mine turned out--it measures around 46" square instead of the original 30" square:

(By the way, if you're making a quilt top from this pattern, take a look at the cutting directions for the blue fabric to make the star blocks. Instead of cutting the charms in 2" strips and then cutting those 3-1/2" long, cut a 1-1/2" strip first and add it to the pile for the blue inner border strips. Then cut the remaining 3-1/2" pieces into rectangles that measure 2" x 3-1/2"--that should eliminate some of the waste.)

I've enjoyed working with this fabric--something about it reminds me of summer days, those old-fashioned red and white or blue and white handkerchiefs, and picnics. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it somehow evokes memories of childhood summers. I know the line is wildly popular--have you made anything from it yet?

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Lucky number 20! Whoo-hoo! Come on down! But I bet you'd like to know who number 20 is, though, wouldn't you? Well, first of all, I figured I'd explain how my extremely high tech winner-selection process works.

As each of you comment or email me, I read your message and if I like what you had to say, I move your comment or email into a special "Giveaway" file in my email box. As the time approaches for the selection of a winner, I check to see how many comments/emails I have. In this instance, I had 32 entries. I then hack off carefully cut 32 pieces of paper that are numbered 1 through 32.

With great ceremony, I select the appropriate vessel to hold the numbered, carefully cut squares of magical paper. Since we're feeling patriotic, I thought you'd all appreciate the selection of a nice red and white bowl.

I then confer upon someone special in my life the honor of selecting the winning number. In this case, it was me because the cats aren't very good at selecting winning numbers (unlike some of the pets out there in Blogland) and hubby's laying in bed with a damp washcloth across his eyes because they're itching from his allergies; he's ignoring me and half pretending to sleep as I play Hail to the Chief on my kazoo.

I then grab my own washcloth and tie it around my eyes, reach into the special bowl, and pull out a winning number. When I peek, I see it's NUMBER 20!

But that's just half the fun! Because I then go back into my "Giveaway" email file and count from oldest to newest to determine who was the 20th person to comment/email me. I usually have to count this several times because in moving from one page to another and scrolling up and down, I inevitably lose my place somewhere in the count. Sometimes I have to do this two or three times at least. And then I double check. And triple check. So, here's the winning entry:

"QuiltingFitzy has left a new comment on your post "Celebrating!": No, PICK ME, PICK ME! Love you, love your "show"!"

Ms. Fitzy, please email me your snail mail address and your full and complete name as reflected on your 2007 income tax return, and I'll put your prize in the mail to you! (And don't forget to report your winnings on your 2008 return!) Congratulations! And thanks to all of you for playing!

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I'm celebrating feeling a bit better this weekend and being excited about finishing the patriotic quilt top, so I thought I'd share a little bit of the joy with you. And, as you probably know, in Blogland that means a little giveaway! So here's what I'm giving away:

There are eight flag squares by Moda--these are what I used in the patriotic quilt top. There's also a small Liberty panel, also by Moda, from an old line by Deb Strain. Just to give you an idea of what can be done with the Liberty panel, I used one several years ago to make this little quilt:

Leave me a comment saying you want in the drawing or email me directly and I'll put your name in. I'll draw before I post Sunday night and announce the winner of the flag squares and Liberty panel then, in my next post. Good luck!