Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Mixed Bag

It's hard for me to believe that I've been off work for a week now and it's almost time to go back! Where has the time gone? I've been so busy with so many different things that it just doesn't seem like I've been on vacation.

Today was more of the same--busy all day with all sorts of different things. A good portion of the day--up until mid afternoon--was spent on more Christmas decorating. I've included a few photos for your viewing pleasure. One of the reasons Christmas decorating takes me so long is because I get sidetracked easily. For instance, it occurred to me that before the BIG tree goes into the tree corner, I should pull out a couple Christmas crafty/ decorating books from the shelves that will soon be hidden in greenery. Then, of course, I had to flip through the Christmas books to decide which I wanted to pull out. That meant dusting off a lot of books because there's a little vent right there in the wall that leads to the outside world, and vice versa--dust and dirt comes in (although it sure doesn't seem to go out the same way!) Anyway, you get the idea. Nothing's straightforward.

A couple weeks ago, I pulled a button-up sweater/top/thinga-majig out of my closet to wear to work. Out of four buttons, one was fine, one was completely missing, and the other two were broken, with half of each missing. How does that happen? Is there a rogue gang of missing socks in the dryer that beat up on unsuspecting garments? In any event, I hung the thingamajig on a hanger on the door knob of the Sweat Shop so I could replace the buttons. Today, when I put the Christmas tree up in the Sweat Shop, I realized the hanging thingamajig would possibly hit the tree, so I had to stop the decorating and do buttons.

By mid afternoon, I was pretty tired of all the decorating, so I stopped THAT and started making a couple quilt backs. The weather's been pretty nice here with highs in the mid-60s, so I went outside on the patio and pinned the Valentine quilt that I'm going to be teaching and the Trees wallhanging.

Inspired by a complete burst of originality, for dinner I cooked leftover turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, and broccoli. Bet none of you have had anything like THAT lately! Now don't copy!

With intentions of retiring to the Sweat Shop after dinner to do a little quilting, I found myself instead staring at the pile of men's wool jackets I scored at the Goodwill. Well, I thought, I'll just take one apart and see how it goes. Three hours later, I had taken four jackets apart, and the usable wool pieces are now in the washing machine--hopefully NOT being attacked by rogue socks!

Maybe, after I write this post, I'll wade back into the Sweat Shop and do a little of that quilting I intended to do earlier. But before I go, I bet you're wondering who won the drawing for the two Christmas patterns, right? Hubby picked lucky number 33, and once I counted up the entries, I found the winner is LEAH S! Woo-hoo, Leah! Email me your mailing address and I'll get the two patterns out to you asap!

Oh, and also before I go, here's the next giveaway. Three patterns:

A little wool mini pennies pattern--in honor of the wool I have in the washing machine as we speak; a pattern for a really pretty quilt called Snow Crystals, which you wouldn't necessarily HAVE to finish by Christmas--anytime this winter will do; and--maybe best of all at this time of the year--a pattern for a quilt-as-you-go runner. If you've never made one of these, they make up really fast and look great! I was able to whip out a couple of fast Christmas gifts last year with this pattern, so if you're desperate for some quick gifts for friends, leave a comment and tell me you want in on this drawing. I (or Hubby) will pick a winner on Monday night.

Happy quilting!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday!

Here in the US, the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year, and people actually do silly things like CAMP OUT in front of electronic stores and WalMart, waiting for them to open so they can cash in on the best bargains. Here at Casa de Kim, there's none of that silly early rising stuff going on.

Sometime around 8 a.m., I rolled over in bed and got an instant headache. Rolled back and it mostly went away. Nope, I didn't over-indulge in alcohol on Thanksgiving, but by the time I went to bed last night, my neck and back were killing me--a combination, I'm sure, of feverishly quilting the trees quilt the other day, followed yesterday by intense decorating, and ending with a thorough muck out of the Sweat Shop.

Anyway, when the headache struck, I thought maybe I should get up and take a couple Advil. Easier said than done. When I tried to get out of bed, I felt like I was about 100 years old and every part of me ached. (Note to self: If you're going to abuse your body by trying to do more than sit on your rear end and quilt, keep a glass of water and Advil on the nightstand.)

As you may imagine, the thought of more decorating this morning was a bit too much, so I got some coffee, wandered around the house a little, messed around on the computer, filled out some forms for the quilt classes I'll be teaching, took a bath, got dressed, and then--around 1:30 p.m.--without having accomplished much of anything, I headed out the door to the quilt shop, Bearpaws and Hollyhocks. Of course, there's a method to my madness and it wasn't exactly a coincidence that I returned the teaching forms on the same day the sale on Christmas fabrics began. 40% off. Yep. Good stuff! After that, I swung by one of the Goodwill stores for their 50% off sale.

Judy over at Quilting with Ragdolls has been overdying some wool lately, and the other day, Beth over at Beth's Crafts, knowing of my penchant for thrifting, had mentioned to me what Judy was up. So here's some more quilter's math for you. Men's wool suit jackets as a source for wool + Goodwill + 50% off day = pure wool joy = 5 men's wool jackets. If math makes your head hurt, maybe a photo would be better.

And, here's some simple math: $3.50 a jacket. Woo-hoo!

So, there you go--my Black Friday shopping experience. Oops! One more thing I bought today--this pattern:

Ms. Marcie Patchalot visited her local quilt shop recently (What's Your Stitch 'N Stuff) and came away with a few goodies as well as some photos of fun projects she posted on her blog. I saw that quilt photo and, well, YOU know--I just NEEDED to know what it was. Marcie was kind enough to write me back and tell me that it's called Christmas Sampler by Country Faces, and it can be ordered from her shop (click on the link if you NEED it too--it will take you to their website and you can call and order). I think this will be next year's Christmas applique project--one of them anyway!

And speaking of quilt shops and patterns, I noticed that Bearpaws and Hollyhocks has the Trees Up! Lights On! pattern in stock now if anyone is looking for it--particularly those of you in the Sacramento area who may want to save on postage. They also just received another Pieces From My Heart pattern of the stack and slice variety that's ladies' hat blocks--it's one I ordered awhile back. I'd really like to make it in spring-like fabrics--kind of an Easter bonnet quilt.

I'm writing this early and setting it to post later, because it's about time I paid the piper for all the gadding about town I did today--time to go do some of the Christmas decorating I've been procrastinating on. But before I do, here's another pattern giveaway for you to enter if you're interested. The pattern is called Star for Ole St. Nick by Reets' Rags to Stitches. It includes instructions for the stitchery and a 20" Santa "doll." I bought it years ago and made the stitchery--which you can see here along side the pattern:

The giveway is for the pattern only--so no, you CANNOT have my pillow! I'm going to need the pillow. I have a feeling that after a couple hours of decorating, I may need to nap a little.

So, if you want me to enter you in the drawing for this pattern, leave me a comment telling me to add your name. I'll draw this one Sunday night. What fun! Good luck!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Got Time?

Whew! I've been working on Christmas decorating much of the day, and I'm a long way from done. You wouldn't THINK it would take so long, but it's really a good chance for me to do a little extra cleaning and rearranging in addition to the decorating, and then there's rummaging through the boxes of decorations, replacing strands of lights that no longer work, changing out bedding and wall quilts . . . . The list seems to keep going!

I've gotten the bedrooms pretty much done other than some touches of greenery and the little details I'll add in the next couple days, but the main elements are in place. The bathrooms--well, they're more or less done, although there's certainly not as much to do there. I still need to add a few details to those as well. Bits and pieces of the livingroom and kitchen are done, but those are the two rooms that get the most attention when it comes to decorating, so I have many more hours to go on those.

If you weren't reading my blog last Christmas, you may be surprised to learn that I like to have a decorated tree in the Sweat Shop. Yep, it's true. And right now, the Sweat Shop's in terrible condition and in desperate need of some cleaning out and reorganizing. I think you'd need a shoe horn to get a tree in there! (And, before you start visualizing a huge Christmas tree, I should tell you that the tree is an artificial pine that stands maybe about 4' tall.) So tonight I've been working on getting the Sweat Shop a little better organized.

Why is it that I sew and sew and sew but I don't seem to make a dent in the stash? Why does it seem to keep growing?! No, don't answer those questions. I'm in denial. Let's just pretend it's not my fault.

I haven't gotten very far on the reorganization yet, but I DID clean out my basket of patterns, so I thought I'd have a giveaway. Or several giveaways, actually. But we'll do them one at a time!

The reason I ask whether you've got time is because the first giveaway is for two Christmas-themed patterns. With Christmas just around the corner, you'll want to start making these right away. Or not--I think you have something like 390 days until Christmas 2009. So here are the two patterns:

Both from Pieces from My Heart--The Chosen Ones (somehow I bought two of these, so I'll be parting with one) and It's a Wrap. I made It's a Wrap last year, and it's quick to make. I think I had the quilt pieced and quilted in just a little more than a weekend. And here it is, hanging on the wall in one of the small bits and pieces of the kitchen that's mostly decorated:

So leave a comment on this post and tell me you want in the drawing for these two patterns. I'll pick a winner on Saturday night with the hope that I can get the winner's address on Sunday and mail them out on Monday. Good luck! Now it's back to the Sweat Shop for me.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Okay, I promised I'd answer some quilting questions you had, so here it is, and then I'll tell you a little bit about what I've been up to today.

As some of you know, I have a Juki sewing machine I use for quilting. I also have a Bernina I use for piecing. A few years ago, the Bernina's tension on free motion quilting got kind of squirrely and I took it into the shop for repair. They were able to fix the tension problems to some extent, but it still wasn't quilting the way it should, so I decided I'd either need to buy a new Bernina or find another machine for the quilting part of quilt making.

Well, I'm sure you know what a new Bernina would have cost, so I ended up getting the Juki, and I bought it on eBay. I was a bit apprehensive about making such a big purchase on eBay, but it turned out well, and I got the machine for a really good price.

The Juki has a larger throat space than most domestic machines, so I can quilt a king size quilt. It's mechanical rather than computerized, so if I should ever need to take it in for repairs (hasn't happened yet and I've had it for three or four years), the repairs should be less expensive and I'd be able to take it to any number of different repair shops--not just the authorized dealers for the computerized machines. And if I ever decide I want a frame system, the Juki is one of the machines that's often recommended, although truthfully I doubt that will happen because I just don't have much room, and it does a fine job "as is." The drawback to the Juki is that I don't like to do any piecing on it; it doesn't feel smooth and precise like the Bernina does. Of course, that means that when I switch from quilting to piecing, I have to change out machines, but I've gotten used to it over the last few years.

As far as the quilting itself goes, the first few times I tried free motion quilting, I was petrified. All I can say to those of you in the same position is just try it. Practice. You can take out quilting if you're unhappy just as easily as you can take out regular stitches when you're piecing.

For my first several quilts, I did most of the quilting using a walking foot and only minimal free motion quilting. As I got used to the feel of free motion quilting, I did more and more. The meandering pattern was my favorite, because it's a pretty forgiving pattern. In my mind, I would just visualize jigsaw puzzle pieces--you know all the ins and outs of the pieces?--and try to reproduce something similar in the quilting.

As I got braver, I bought a bunch of quilting templates, and I marked my quilts and followed the lines. I even made a few templates of my own when I had a space to fill and nothing that fit just right.

Before too long, though, I got really tired of doing all that marking. To some extent, I reverted to filling areas with meandering quilting. Then I heard about McTavishing--a type or method of quilting pioneered by Karen McTavish--and I ordered this book:

The swirls I used in the tree quilt are a little bit similar to what she shows here--sorry the photo is dark, but hopefully you can see enough to know what I'm talking about.

To quilt the swirls, I just start quilting a spiral from the outside to the center, making the space between the lines fairly wide. When I get to the center, I loop around and quilt back out, between the lines I first laid down. Then I move on to the next swirl. The circular swirls are not all the same size or even the same shape, so I don't need to worry about being very precise in the quilting--it's just kind of free form. If I end up with a little extra space between swirls, I just go back and fill in.

Someone asked whether this was continuous. Yes, it pretty much is, but every now and then I get to a place where I'm stuck or where I'd need to backtrack too far over quilted lines, so I'll stop and restart. Usually, though, I can fill in a fairly good sized area before I have to restart.

My quilting is far from perfect, and I wouldn't win any awards, but it's just fine for the quilts I make for myself and my family and friends.

Seriously, if you have the least interest in quilting your own quilts but are apprehensive about doing it, I'd recommend you give it a try. Pick something you can practice on that isn't quite as special to you. Use thread in a color that will match the background--you'd be surprised at how little those wobbles and bobbles show up when the thread blends in! Start with small areas and see how it goes. And if you don't prewash your fabric, even better! Once you quilt and wash, and the quilt shrinks up a little, your quilting lines won't really show much except to give the quilt texture.

If you've been quilting for awhile, haven't tried the McTavish style of quilting, and are interested, I'd recommend you get the book or look at some of the examples that are out there on line. If you click HERE, you can visit her website and see some photos of the style. I think more than anything, looking at the McTavish style of quilting expands a quilter's own creativity.

Were there any questions I didn't answer? Let me know if I've overlooked something.

I've spent the day taking down and packing away Autumn. Christmas is poking its nose in the door but hasn't made too much of an appearance yet. Hubby, though, decided I should move the living room furniture around, so we have a slightly new look emerging there. Tomorrow--Thanksgiving--while all of you are enjoying your friends, family, and food, I'll be looking at the mess surrounding me and swearing that there will be NO CHRISTMAS next year--LOL!

Tonight I told Hubby he was on his own as far as dinner was concerned, and I dashed out the door to make a quick trip to Safeway for a couple necessities and Long's Drugs. I always try to stock up on a few extra strings of lights, because I know from past experience that several of the strings that were working just fine when we packed them away last year won't be working this year when we unpack them. While I was at Long's, I found these really cute red and white bell ornaments--sooooo cute, I had to take their photo!

When I got back home, I fixed my own dinner and decided I was much too worn out to keep on decorating, so I retreated to the Sweat Shop and pulled out the recently-neglected Christmas List quilt. If Christmas is determined to march in my direction, I figure I'd better get this one finished up and hung.

I used my very-favoritist-in-all-the-world Thimbleberries fabric for the border. I've been gathering up bits and pieces when I could find it and hording it for the "perfect" quilt. I'm sure YOU don't engage in this kind of abnormal hording behavior, do you?! No, the sane ones among us buy fabric they love and actually USE it, right? Anyway, I think the Christmas List is finally the "perfect" quilt for my long-horded fabric. I still need to add two gingerbread men in each of the four corners, but it's pretty close to being ready to pin and quilt and I'm excited about that!

Thanks for stopping in. If you're living here in the US, have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And if you're not--well, have a wonderful day too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So What Goofy Thing Am I Up To Now?

Today was our Thanksgiving celebration and Hubby and I had a nice time with our son and his girlfriend. Unfortunately, I got a call from our daughter this morning to say she was sick and wasn't going to be able to make it--she has a horrible cold. She's hoping to drive down from Tahoe soon--possibly on Friday if she's feeling better--so we'll still have a chance to stuff her with Thanksgiving leftovers. We missed having her, of course, but we'd rather she take care of herself now and come visit when she's recovered.

Now, though, I can tell you who I was making the Peppermint Twist and tree quilts for. Our daughter LOVES Starlight Mints, so I made the Peppermint Twist quilt for her--it just reminded me of her. I couldn't wait any longer to surprise her with it, so I let the cat out of the bag when we talked on the phone this morning. And I made the Trees Up! Lights On! quilt for our son who seemed pleased to get it. I made bed quilts for both of them some time ago, and last year I gave each of them a Halloween quilt, so it seemed about time to make them Christmas quilts!

Several of you asked about the swirly quilting pattern I used on the tree quilt and/or what type of machine I use. I'll try to answer those questions in tomorrow night's post.

Tonight, I managed to get myself sidetracked again. Our son and his girlfriend left after dinner at around 8:30 to go to a friend's birthday party, and although I didn't expect them to stay later, for some reason I really hadn't thought much past dinner and what I was going to do after they left. With coffee cup in hand, I retreated to the Sweat Shop and started flipping through a couple magazines I bought recently.

I love this magazine! Really, it's more of a showcase for items for sale, but I always find tons of decorating and craft ideas and inspiration when I look through it. And yes, I certainly WOULD like to buy just about everything in the magazine, but nope, that's not going to happen. I can't afford it. So I just browse for ideas I can make and I always seem to find something.

Tonight, as I was looking through the magazine, I saw several soft sculpture Santa dolls, and I was reminded of the wooden rocking chair I found at Goodwill awhile back. I bought the chair thinking it would be perfect for a Santa doll. So I got online and popped over to Etsy to see if I could find something I liked at a decent price. Nothing. All the Santas I liked were waaaay too expensive for me, so I got out a couple books and patterns and started looking for a Santa doll I could make. I finally found a pattern I kind of liked, but I modified it a little bit.

I know it doesn't really look like much yet--certainly it doesn't look much like Santa!--but hopefully it will come together in the next few days. Let's just ignore the fact that I have a boat load of quilts that I should be making/quilting, okay? I swear I have the attention span of a gnat!

Tomorrow I'll spend much of the day packing away the autumn decorations. The garage is now overstuffed with boxes of Christmas decorations that my son got down from the rafters, so I have my work cut out for me the next several days. It's lucky we have Thanksgiving leftovers to eat, because I'm pretty sure there will be a couple days of decorating when I'll barely be able to FIND the stove, let alone cook a meal. Viva la turkey sandwich!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


29 days until Christmas! ARGH!

I'm starting to feel the pressure a little--can you tell?!

It seems that most of today, I worked on quilting the large trees quilt. I finally got the binding attached, but I still have to hand sew it down--that will be a project for tomorrow. Along with cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

About the only other things I accomplished today were shampooing the carpets--just the traffic areas that were starting to show some spots--and doing a little dusting. Oh, and hard boiling some eggs--gotta have those to show off my new egg plate--and making spinach dip. Isn't it funny how these obligatory holiday favorites MUST BE MADE to avoid a family revolt? Tradition!

I forgot to tell you about the goofy thing I did the other day. After I got home from the quilt shop on Saturday, I hurried to pin the tree quilt. I normally set my tables up on the patio to pin quilts, so I needed to get it done before it started to get dark. After I finished and put everything away, I got ready to go grocery shopping, but I couldn't find my reading glasses. Anywhere! I looked and looked all over the house three or four times--no glasses! Hubby even hauled his lazy self out of the recliner where he was planted, watching sports of some type, to help look.

Finally, I retraced my steps--in detail. And, yes, I found my glasses--in the funniest place ever! I keep a plastic tool box full of quilting supplies, including the clips I use to hold quilts taut on the table when I pin. Just on a whim, I looked inside and there were my glasses! INSIDE the Ziploc bag that holds my clips, inside the tool box. How goofy is THAT?! I'm just amazed I found them at all! Hubby sure got a good laugh out of it, as you can imagine!

I took a couple quick photos of the quilt--just to prove I've really DONE something today and not just lounged around eating bonbons and reading quilting magazines on my first vacation day.

I still need to go back and add a little quilting inside the trees, but I'll do that tomorrow too--I don't think it will take long.

Tomorrow's going to be a busy day, and it's time for my beauty sleep, so I'll say goodnight. I'm glad you could stop by!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thrifting, Quilting, Teaching, and Quilty Peeps

I know I promised the other day to show you more of my thrifting finds in yesterday's post, but I was too excited/scared/excited about teaching quilt classes to think about what I'd found at the thrift store. So, here's a look:

Canning jars--I've built up quite a collection of these since I started thrifting, but I can't seem to stop buying more!

How much does nostalgia cost? For $2.99, I came home with a picnic basket that looks just like the one my family had when I was a kid. We were only about a 45 minute drive from the Pacific Ocean, so we'd often pack up our picnic basket and head to the beach whenever the weather was nice.

Yeah, another teapot. I love them! And these goofy looking salt and pepper shakers that I think would be fun in my brother's cabin-in-the-woods-decorated home.

Yet another candle holder. I have some crackled glass Christmas balls that are too heavy to hang on a tree, but I think they might look interesting in place of candles. Now, if only I can find them! My son's going to get my Christmas decorations down from the garage rafters this week, so I'll soon find out!

And speaking of Christmas . . . this Santa will likely be tucked into the branches of our Christmas tree.

I've been busy this weekend finishing up the piecing on the tree blocks, sewing the three different projects together, getting the large one pinned, and starting quilting. Here are a few photos:

The big one! This is the one I'm quilting--I need to have it done by Tuesday afternoon. Doesn't it look happy? Just the thing to chase away the winter gloom! Too bad it's not staying in my house, but it's a gift for someone. I'll tell you more about that later.

This one IS staying in my home. It's a good size for a tabletopper or possibly a wallhanging, but I think I'm going to use it on the table. Although I like traditional Christmas colors in most of the house, I get a kick out of keeping the kitchen a little brighter and offbeat.

Finally there's this one--it's a wallhanging that will go on the door of the coat closet, also facing into the kitchen. I added the "Happy Winter!" on the bottom in red wool.

Thank you all so much for commenting on my post about teaching. I'm sure I'll be quite nervous as the time gets closer, but you've given me some good ideas and things to think about as well as friendly moral support. And I'm quite excited that a couple of my quilty peeps from my Thimbleberries Club group--Chris and Imelda--have said they'd take a class from me--or maybe more than one! Imelda knows CPR and, if the worst happens, I've asked Chris to post a comment on my blog letting you all know I stopped breathing, so I think we have it covered!

I'm so happy to NOT have to go to work tomorrow, but it will be a busy day. We'll be celebrating Thanksgiving on Tuesday, so I need to start getting some of the food ready, shampoo carpets, and do my best to get the tree quilt quilted. I'll keep you posted on my progress. Thanks for checking in on me!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

If I Teach It, Will They Come?

When I started this blog just a few months short of two years ago, I explained that I named it Kim's Big Quilting Adventure because if I was going to have any adventures, it was likely to be of the quilting kind, since that's my passion. Well, I'm about to embark on a new chapter of this quilting adventure: Teaching.

About 10 or so years ago, I took a few college classes and the only one I really struggled with was public speaking. Truth to tell, I ended up dropping that class. You see, when I have to speak in public, I get so nervous I don't remember to breathe. And breathing's one of those things that one should do on a fairly regular basis.

So, I'm hoping I'm going to be able to teach AND breathe--multi-tasking. And I'm hoping that just in case it doesn't work out that way, I'll have at least one student in my first class or two who knows CPR. Just in case.

A few weeks ago, I showed Lindy, the owner of Bearpaws and Hollyhocks, the Hey Ghoul Friend quilt, and she asked if I'd like to teach it. Who? Me?! Well, I thought about it a little bit and decided yeah, I could do that. So today I hauled a few of my quilts down to BP&HH and met with Lindy to talk about this new path I've decided to take. So here's what I'll be doing.

The Hey Ghoul Friend quilt will be a 7-month BOM project, and I'll be teaching it in the evening on the third Tuesday of the month from January through July.

Before that, though, the first class I'll teach will be a 4-hour class on a weekend day in the first part of January. I know that once the holidays are safely over, I'm always anxious start a new, fun project, and I'm hoping others will feel the same. This was a quilt I designed using charm packs and some yardage for the background, sashing, and borders. We're calling it "All You Need is Love."

Then, on another weekend day in early March, I'll teach this quilt I named "Spring."

After that--well, we'll have to see if I'm still alive and breathing. And, of course, whether I've had anyone interested in taking my classes! Eventually, I'd like to market my quilt patterns like Marcie and Penni do, so maybe teaching my quilts will be a nice way to start getting them seen and building a customer base.

And speaking of teaching--or at least helping other quilters--I had a comment from Carol who had pieced a "Kwik Crazy Quilt" and wasn't happy with the quilting. Carol's comment came through "no reply," so I can't email her back, but if she'd like to send me a photo of her quilt, I'll post it and ask all of you for advice. Carol, if you go to my profile (click into it from the "About Me" in the right sidebar) and then click on "Email," you can email it directly to me.

One more thought about this teaching thing: If you live anywhere near Sacramento--or if you don't but have built up a nice cache of frequent flyer miles and feel like visiting Sacramento--please consider signing up for one of my classes at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks. Especially if you're trained in CPR!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Thrifting I Did Go!

Here we are, finally at the end of a very looooong work week, and I'm looking forward to a week off. It will be a busy week "off," but it will be a "good busy" and at least I won't have to go to the office!

I worked a little overtime again today, but I decided I deserved a lunch hour--which actually became a lunch hour-and-a-half--to go over to the grand reopening of a Goodwill store close to my office. This particular store had been closed for remodeling since I started getting hard-core interested in thrift store shopping, so it was a real treat! The store actually reopened yesterday, which meant I was a day late, but there were still plenty of cool things left to buy!

Seriously, I'm so tired tonight that the thought of trying to take photos was almost more than I could face, but it turned out to be quick and painless--LOL! I didn't photograph all the stuff I bought but I thought I'd show you a couple things tonight and then I'll take a few more photos and share those tomorrow.

I've been keeping my eyes open for an egg plate for several years, and I finally came across this one today. They had four different egg plates, but this was the one I really liked and--wouldn't you know it?--it was the most expensive at just under $9 but still . . . $9? That's a pretty good bargain, I think.

I really wanted to get a photo of the plate because I'd like my friend Eileen to tell me if she knows anything about it. Eileen's the closest thing to a vintage glass expert I know, since she and her husband used to sell Heisey glass. I've collected a few Cambridge glass pieces and this sort of reminds me of that--maybe the same period? Of course, if anyone else recognizes it, please tell me. I haven't tried searching eBay or the rest of the internet yet--I'm hoping Eileen or one of you might know what it is. And I found it just in time for Thanksgiving! Deviled eggs are definitely going on my Thanksgiving menu!

Then I found these two Christmas plates. The snowman is Fitz & Floyd. The other one--I don't think there's any marking on the bottom from what I can recall, but I thought it was sweet looking.

And tonight's final photo is this waaaay retro plastic snowman. There's a light that goes into a hole in the back and plugs in so it lights up. I suspect many of you remember these from childhood. And while I thought these decorations were pretty tacky back then, I kind of think they're fun now. I suspect Hubby has a different opinion though since he keeps asking me where I'm going to put it.

And believe me, if he keeps it up, I have a few ideas . . . if you know what I mean! Hubby Training 101: Don't annoy your wife when she's worked hard all week and is incredibly tired. Particularly not if you slept in because you had the day off, and then napped all afternoon in the recliner. Yeah, not a good idea.

If any of you are thrifters in or around the Sacramento area, the Goodwill that just reopened is on Arden between Howe and Bell. Highly recommended!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Christmas Gift Idea

Because this made me laugh, I wanted to share it with you--my no blog friend Sharon sent it to me--

It's somewhat embarrassing to admit, I'm not getting an annual bonus and Christmas is tight this year. I will be making bedroom slippers for you all as gifts. Please let me know your sizes. You'll most likely agree that it's a splendid idea, and should you wish to do the same, I've included the instructions below.

How to make bedroom slippers out of maxi pads:

You need four maxi pads to make a pair. Two of them get laid out flat, for the foot part. The other two wrap around the toe area to form the top. Tape or glue each side of the top pieces to the bottom of the foot part. Decorate the tops with whatever you desire, silk flowers (this is most aesthetically appealing), etc.

These slippers are:

* Soft and Hygienic

* Non-slip grip strips on the soles

* Built in deodorant feature keeps feet smelling fresh

* No more bending over to mop up spills

* Disposable and biodegradable

* Environmentally safe

* Three convenient sizes: (1) Regular, (2) Light, and (3) Get out the sand bags.

I've attached a photo of the first pair I made so that you can see the nifty slippers for yourself....

Awaiting your response. It's crucial that I get the right size for each one of you.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time Marches On

Another late night at work. [Imagine the sound of a heavy sigh here.] Really, it's not that bad--I can handle the overtime for short periods and the end is in sight: Two more days of work and the weekend will be here! Thanks for all your sympathetic comments--they are much appreciated!

I think I caught a quick glimpse of my side bar telling me that Christmas is only 34 days away. Where does the time go? I just mentioned something to Beth this morning about the fog we get in the Central Valley around December. To me, the fog is always a sign of Christmas, and when I went outside a little bit later, I noticed we had some for the first time this year. Yes, Christmas is coming, ladies! And tonight, I saw that one of the houses behind us had put up white icicle lights! Oooooooh, aaaaaaaah!

On my way home from work, I stopped and picked up Chinese fast food, so I was able to hit the Sweat Shop by 9 p.m. and make five more tree blocks before the news was over and it was time to shut down for the night. One more block and I'll have enough for the main quilt; five more blocks after that and I'll have enough for the wallhanging; another three blocks and I'll have . . . well, three more blocks! I'm not sure what I'll use them for, but whatever it is is sure to be cheerful and Christmassy! And, as a couple of you mentioned, working with this happy fabric sure helps to perk me up again after a long work day! What's your favorite way to de-stress? With Christmas coming, I'm sure any ideas that work for you would be put to good use by the rest of us, so please share!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Crazy Work Stuff

Today was a hectic, crazy day. This morning before work, I decided to brew a little pot of espresso to mix with milk--sometimes I like to take it to work so I can have an iced latte in the afternoon. Well, I got the espresso machine all ready to go but I didn't remember adding the water--so I added water. I'm sure you can guess where this is going. Yep, I added water twice, so everything overflowed all over the countertop, and I had a big mess to clean up!

When I got to work, I found out that one of our secretaries had to leave for Colorado unexpectedly because of the illness of a family member. We're somewhat short staffed this week with a couple of our secretaries off on vacation. This particular secretary--the one who had to leave for Colorado--was covering another vacationing secretary's desk in addition to her own. And, because I'm one of the people who helps cover HER desk when she's out, I inherited HER boss, besides my own two. Add to that the fact that I'm going to be off next week myself with a lot to get caught up on before I go, and as you can imagine, work is nuts. I didn't leave the office tonight until 7:30 p.m., and I expect the rest of the week will likely be the same.

But at least today was donut day at work. Around mid-morning, I went into the kitchen and picked out a sugar donut. As I arrived back at my desk, I somehow bobbled the donut and it jumped out of my hand, hit the back rest of my desk chair, and landed on the seat, showering sprinkles of sugar all over the chair and the floor. It could have been worse, I suppose. At least it wasn't a jelly donut. And, more importantly, at least the donut didn't hit the floor! After I finished sweeping up, I was able to sit for a minute or two and enjoy my donut and a cup of coffee. Despite my best efforts with the broom, though, the floor crunched every time I got up from my desk for the rest of the day.

Hubby was kind enough to fix leftover spaghetti and meatballs with pasta for dinner tonight, but by the time I got home, I just didn't really feel like eating much, so I settled for a nice bowl of cereal. I know--it doesn't sound like I made very wise meal choices today, but for lunch I had a weed salad (at least that's what it tastes like--you know the kind I mean, right?) and an open faced turkey sandwich so I didn't just eat a bunch of junk.

I can't tell you how heavenly it was tonight to change into my comfy old clothes and head into the Sweat Shop for a little quilting therapy. Of course, if you're a quilter, you probably know.

I expect the rest of the work week will be about the same, minus incidents with espresso makers and donuts, but quite possibly with the addition of other dorky mishaps to fill the void. And I'm telling you this because it's possible in another day or two, I just might come home late from work and not have the energy or brain power left to write a blog post. So, if you don't hear from me one night or if I get lazy and just write a very brief "I'm still alive" post, you'll know why. And you'll feel terribly, terribly sorry for me, right? Just email me if you need my address so you can send gifts to cheer me up, okay?! LOL!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

About the Trees

Thank you all for the comments! I had so many, I thought maybe I was doing a giveaway and didn't know it! LOL!

Many of you asked questions about the tree pattern, so I thought I'd answer some of the questions tonight.

The pattern is called Tree's Up! Light's On! and it's by Sandy Gervais/Pieces From My Heart. Click HERE to go to the website. The pattern is a few years old, so your local shop may not carry it, but if you don't like ordering online, you might ask your shop owner if she/he can get it for you.

This is a "stack and slice" pattern, similar in technique to many of the Buggy Barn patterns. The idea is to trace a pattern onto freezer paper, stack fat quarters in a certain way according to the written pattern directions, iron the freezer paper pattern onto the top fat quarter, and then cut along the lines with your rotary cutter. You would then "shuffle" the pieces as the directions specify to get the color variations and then sew them back together.

Someone asked me whether these are hard to do, and someone else told me she just can't seem to get these patterns to turn out right. Since I'm working on this now, there are a few tips that come to mind that might help if you've either never made one of these before or if you have trouble.

When you are sewing two angled pieces together, you need to line up the pieces so that the edges meet at the point where you'll sew your seam. See the red and green pieces on the left in the photo above? The tip of the red piece extends beyond the edge of the green piece, but where I'm going to sew my 1/4" seam, the two pieces of fabric meet perfectly. You can't see it as well, but the two pieces on the right are sewn together and the tip of the red piece that's underneath the green extends a bit so the fabrics are lined up just where the seam is.

You may also notice that when you sew two pieces together, one piece will end up longer than the other. It's definitely not what we're used to with normal piecing. With these patterns, though, you would just trim each section as necessary in order to get a straight edge to add the next piece or section on. It's also important to work from the center of the design, so when you're looking at where to line the pieces up to begin your seam, line up the edges that are closest to the center of the block.

See the red and green pieces above? These are the same ones I sewed together in the preceding photo. After sewing my seam, the red background piece ended up being longer than the green piece. The green is a tree piece and is "key" to the block design, so I always want to maintain the shape and lines of those triangular tree pieces. With that in mind, I know I need to trim the red piece before I can add on the next part and if you look closely, you can see where I've drawn a line on the red fabric. I'll trim that little bit away before adding on the next piece. While piecing these, only trim away what's necessary to add the next part.

For me, this was the trickiest part and it took me a little while to figure out what I needed to do here. You're looking at one of the green tree triangles with the red background sections. The red section you see near the top has already been sewn on and pressed back. Next I need to add the background on the other side of the tree triangle. You can see that I have the tip lined up so the fabrics intersect where I'll sew a 1/4" seam, but it's also important to at least eyeball to make sure that the background piece is about 1/2" wide where it will meet the top point of the tree triangle. The reason for this is that when you press the piece back, 1/4" will be taken up in the seam allowance, and you'll need another 1/4" to cover that seam. Does this make sense? In other words, once you sew that second seam and press the fabric, it will look like this:

This will then give you 1/4" above the point of the tree triangle so you can attach the next section without cutting off your points in the seam. Eventually, your tree will start looking like this:

This is basically the same technique you'd use for any patterns of this type. I would recommend, though, that the first time you make one of these patterns, you add in a few extra fat quarters so you'll have a couple experimental blocks. If they turn out, you can make pillows or a table runner, but if they don't, you won't have to worry about ruining the whole thing. Since this quilt used three colors, 10 fat quarters of each, I decided to add an extra fat quarter of each color. In the end, I should have three extra blocks--which seems much better than ruining a block or two and not having extra!

Finally, someone asked me about the number of blocks I was making, which I mentioned was 48. Well, now you know that I'm making three extra blocks "just in case." The quilt pattern calls for 30 blocks. So if you do the math, you'll realize I'm making an extra 15 blocks. Why? Well, the quilt will be a gift, but since I love these trees, I'm making the extra 15 blocks so I can make a "half quilt" to keep for myself. It will be half the width of the pattern but the same length. I'll use it as a wallhanging to hang on a closet door. Cool, huh? And the extra three blocks? Probably a tablerunner if I don't need them to replace botched blocks. Botched blocks. Can you say that three times, really fast? This late at night, I don't think I can--time for my beauty sleep!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Can't See the Forest for the Trees!

I've been making trees all weekend. Yesterday it was mostly the cutting. Today, it was making blocks. All day. Except for a little break to do some house cleaning.

I'm making 48 blocks and I think I have somewhere around half of them done. I like the way they're turning out and I could have gone on sewing, but my neck and shoulders had other ideas. One of the voices in my head said, "Enough with the trees already!"

So I stopped and made zucchini nut bread. Yum! I think I posted the recipe on my blog awhile back if you're interested. I'll probably take a loaf to work tomorrow with some cream cheese to share with the gang.

While the bread was baking, I went to bed with a good book. I was feeling awfully lazy and seriously thinking I did NOT want to stop reading to write my blog, but I kind of got a second wind. Talking about bed, though, reminds me of something I wanted to ask you. Is it abnormal to have a couple different sets of sheets in different colors so you can change them out to go with your quilts and/or the season? 'Cause it seems perfectly reasonable and natural to ME, but some of my coworkers were teasing me the other day. I think I read a similar question on someone's blog about a year ago and it was about half and half whether people had more than one set of sheets. So, tell me: How about you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Out and About

If you can measure the success of a quilt shop by the amount of money I spend in it, then I think the newest shop in the Sacramento area should do okay!

You may remember several months back I went into Running With Scissors the first weekend it was open and I was a little disappointed. No one greeted me despite the fact that I was in the shop for about a half hour, and their stock was a bit limited. I left without having spoken to anyone or spent any money there. Not today though!

I don't often leave the house on Saturdays--usually I just do my hermit thing, relaxing and sewing after the work week--but today I decided the weather was lovely and I should get out and do something, so I got dressed and headed out to give Running With Scissors another try and make a run through the Goodwill next door.

I was still looking for some green fat quarters for the tree quilt that's next up on my list. When I pressed and stacked what I had, I wasn't very pleased with the combination. Running With Scissors helped solve my dilemma! I came home with a nice pile of green AND red fat quarters, and I'm happy now with the variety I've collected.

The gals at Running With Scissors were much more friendly today too. The shop had a much wider range of fabrics this trip than they did last time. I sensed that they are geared a little more toward the younger, newer quilters, with several Amy Butler bag patterns and fabrics, several simple kits, and a number of pre-printed panels, but they also had plenty of fabrics for quilters of any level. Their selection of patterns was fairly limited and what they had tended toward simple, quick quilts, but hopefully they'll get in a little more variety in coming months. And I'm sure I'll be back to check it out.

Goodwill also didn't disappoint me. There I found a wooden compartmented box that would be excellent for holding rolled fat quarters or other "treasures"; a doll-sized wooden rocking chair; a Christmas plate (99 cents, and I'm thinking it would make a great gift when "accessorized" with a loaf of nut bread and pretty cellophane wrapping and ribbons); and a couple of Christmas idea and recipe books.

After shopping, I came home and got busy in the Sweat Shop. My assistant was more than happy to help out.

She's all about recycling and finding multiple uses for items. Like turning freezer paper into cat toys.

Finally, I wanted to mention that if you've looked for Carol's Craft Closet blog lately and haven't been able to find it, she has a new blog, Carol's Crafty Creations. You can click on the name link and go on over there and say "Hi"!