Saturday, October 31, 2009

Material Junkie . . .

come on down! You are the WINNER of a deluxe model Crabapple Hill Twelve Days of Christmas Tea Towel pattern! You may claim your prize by emailing me your snail mail address, and I'll get it in the mail to you next week.

So I'm home! Did you miss me? Even a little? Even knowing that wasn't really ME posting the last few days LIVE? Okay, you're right--I was a-LIVE and I was still posting but just not simultaneously. (Is that right? Maybe not, but something like that!)

We arrived home around dinner time tonight and got mostly unpacked in time to watch Friday night television--and that's about all I did. Isn't it funny how tired a person can get sitting in a car all day? For those of you who left comments hoping my back felt better, thanks! It must have helped, because I went from being in tears Sunday night, thinking there was no way we could leave on vacation, to feeling well enough to pack up and head out on Monday. During our vacation, my back was sore and achy--and you should see me get out of the car and try to hobble around and straighten up after I've been sitting for a bit--you'd laugh SOOOOO hard! But the soreness is nothing like it was, thank goodness! And I kind of think that sleeping in my own bed and being able to move around a bit more might do me a WORLD of good.

I have some vacation photos to show and stories to tell--we really had some ups and downs!--but I'll probably spread those out over the next couple days, so stay tuned.

Are you ready for Halloween? The Wild Child arrived this evening to celebrate the holiday here in Sacramento--she arrived in time to draw Material Junkie's name for the pattern giveaway. My house desperately needs cleaning, and I'll work on that tomorrow while Hubby and the Wild Child take a couple knives, scooper spoons, and pumpkins out to the patio to do a little Jack-O-Lantern carving. We brought back some smoked salmon from the coast; once we've gotten our chores done, I'm planning a little lunch for the three of us--the Wild Child LOVES smoked salmon, so that will be her treat.

She's been invited to a bar/party in the evening and will spend Saturday night at Soccer Son's house. Hubby and I will be on our own, but we're ready for the little trick or treaters who come to the door--I'm tickled that Halloween's on a Saturday this year! I hope you have a wonderful day and a fabulous Halloween night, whatever your plans are.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Ideas and Amusements

Have you ever played a good Halloween prank on someone? While it's not a prank, exactly, I thought I'd pass along my brother-in-law's Halloween idea. You know how every now and then, a teenaged kid will come trick-or-treating, dressed in their sports uniform or something equally unimaginative? You KNOW they're just looking for free candy, right?! Well, throughout the year, my brother-in-law collects condiment packets from fast food restaurants and come Halloween night, he keeps a few handfuls near the door, so when the kids who are too old to be trick-or-treating come along, he thrusts a handful of catsup, mustard, or taco sauce in their bags! Pretty clever, huh? Of course the kids have no idea what they got until they get home and check their bags!

For some other Halloween ideas, watch this:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Frosting the Pumpkin

Awhile ago, I mentioned a couple "pumpkin crafts," but then I didn't end up doing anything--until now. Now that Halloween's almost here and I'm thinking ahead to Thanksgiving, I want to "gussy up" a couple pumpkins--because in my mind, Thanksgiving's a little more elegant than Halloween.

If you, TOO, want to pimp your pumpkins, here's what you'll need:

A pumpkin or two, a paint brush, a bottle of clear drying gesso, and some opalescent glitter--or whatever kind of glitter you like. Just brush the gesso onto the pumpkin in a thin layer, sprinkle with glitter, and let dry. Voila! A pumpkin that's all dressed up and ready to party!

And although I didn't do one here, you can also get metallic rub on paints and just rub some highlights onto your pumpkin--how festive would THOSE look as a centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Because We Can't All Be Geniuses

For more entertainment, click HERE.

Monday, October 26, 2009

While I'm Away . . .

I don't have a laptop so I won't have internet access while I'm away on vacation. Since I didn't want you to get bored during my absence--and Boy Boss impressed upon me that I'd be missed if I didn't post--I decided to write some posts ahead of time and set them to publish while I'm gone--enjoy!

My back's still hurting, but I figure I'd rather be in pain at the ocean than here, so I think we're going to go anyway. I'll bring along a couple embroidery projects to work on in case I have some down time.

When I was looking through my embroidery patterns, I realized I had two of these:

Remember how I just passed my 1,000 blog post? Well, let's have a giveaway! Leave me a comment saying you want to be entered, and when I come back Friday night, I'll draw a name and post the winner.

I'll be back soon! Behave yourself--but not too much!


Can I just say that back pain sucks? Well, I know that ANY pain sucks, particular if it lasts some time--and this back pain has lasted some time. And I'm getting cranky.

We're supposed to leave for vacation in the morning and because my back still hurts just as bad as ever today, I took some Flexeril--which I knew would knock me out, but I thought it would be worth it if it helped. Didn't seem to help. I've iced my back. But that didn't seem to help either. And sadly, I've found that sitting in my sewing chair seems to make it worse. ARGH!

I was going to send Hubby to pick up some fast food for dinner, but he was experiencing one of his Meniere's attacks and wasn't feeling well either. What a pathetic pair we are! I finally pulled a few frozen things out of the freezer and heated them up.

I DID get one little Christmas project done--

It's a bag to microwave potatoes in. I made a couple last year and they're supposed to work really well, but I didn't keep one for myself--now I have one. If you're interested in making one, click HERE. Fast and simple--my kind of project!

I wanted to make a Christmas stocking today too, but I just didn't get to it. I'm still not sure if we'll be able to leave for vacation tomorrow, but I'm going to go to bed with some Tylenol PM, an ice pack, and a hot pack and hope something works. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Day, A Few More Christmas Gift Ideas

Remember the Christmas placemats I made the other day? Today I made a couple more, but these are non-Christmas placemats--with a little bit of a twist.

A couple of my creative friends were talking and one of them suggested adding a "pocket" for utensils, so that's what I did! In fact, I also made matching napkins and added ties, so the placemats could be rolled up.

And I made a picnic/lunch tote to carry them in. Cute, yes? I'm going to use the tote, though, as a purse for now, because I need one. My friend Yvonne made me a tote awhile back and I use it all the time, but it's quite summery and I needed a "winter" tote; black will never clash with my winter clothes!

Still, when nicer weather arrives, this will double as a great picnic tote--just toss in the placemats (with napkins and utensils hiding inside) and enough food for two!

So, that takes care of another couple projects for my Christmas class. And although my back's been feeling a little bit better each day, after sitting and sewing much of the day, I think it's time to go lay down and put some ice on it, while I read a good book. If I can wrestle the book away from Spike! (She thinks she's hiding!)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Matter of Perspective

Sometimes I call it a bout of unbelieveable laziness and a squandering of time much better spent creating and/or doing.

Sometimes I call it a body's perfectly normal and natural need to have a little down time.

Sometimes I think it's a result of a very busy work schedule complicated by things like back pain and a need to get everything done as quickly as possible.

Sometimes I think it's a result of an unwillingness and/or motivation to move ones a$$ off the couch.

Whatever it is, whatever its cause, I got it. I told Hubby that for the first time in a few years, I wish we had a TV in the bedroom. But we don't. And since I've spent the first large chunk of the evening laying on the couch in front of the TV, it's time to spend the next large chunk of the evening in bed, reading.

And sometimes? Sometimes I just call it Friday night.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Christmas Thingy Du Jour

Well, guess what happened to me this morning? I'd been sitting on the bed, getting ready for work, and I slid off (on purpose--'cause I'm too darn short or the bed's too darn high for my feet to touch the floor) and I found I couldn't really straighten up--at least not without pain. Yep, getting older is H-E-double-L. Years ago, while putting on a pair of pantyhose, I threw my back out and I've never been the same since--every now and then my low back decides to take a vacation and travel south on the sciatic nerve highway.

My so-called friend Teri kept laughing every time she saw me walking down the hallway at work--when I got tired of it and told her to shut up, she explained that not only did I walk funny but the wet spots on my back where the ice bag leaked a little tickled her funny bone too. Somewhat sympathetically, she told me she'd had the same problem last weekend and thought stretching out her back helped quite a lot.

So, when Tylenol didn't do much for the pain, I went into an empty office, closed the door, and laid down on the floor to do some stretching exercises. Of course, once my center of gravity was too close to the floor to change course, it occurred to me to wonder whether I'd ever be able to get OFF the floor again. And the stretching? Well heck! I'd forgotten that I hadn't stretched anything on my body (except my stomach) since 1997! I thought for certain I'd do myself further damage! But no--I soon gave up, quit rolling around on the floor, and went back to my ice pack (and wet back).

Anyway, before I take a Flexeril and go to bed, I thought I'd show you tonight's Christmas project--two foot warmers that were quick, quick, quick to make!

I think one of these in a gift basket with some soft and cuddly socks and maybe some pedicure products (or a gift certificate for a pedicure) would make a terrific Christmas gift for a friend, don't you?! I know there are times in the winter when I think my feet will NEVER warm up again--and I'm really looking forward to trying one of these out when that happens again this year.

My version is slightly different, but you can find a great tutorial HERE if you'd like to make some.

You know what? I wonder how one of these would feel heated up on my back? A little pill, a little ice, and a little heat. Yummy! I'm sure I'll feel better in no time!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Milestone and a Couple More Christmas Projects

Wow! This is my 1,000th post! I started blogging about two years and seven months ago, I think--something like that, anyway. Sometimes it seems like I've been doing this for a long, long time and sometimes it seems like it's just been a couple months. I wish I had a more "important" post prepared, but I don't. I haven't even thought about doing a giveaway. My lack of preparation is a little pathetic! Well, maybe I'll do a giveaway later--after my vacation.

Yes, I'm going to be taking another vacation soon. Next week Hubby and I are going to head to the central California coast for a few days. I hope we'll have a relaxing time. So far, it looks like the weather will be nice for us, although I wouldn't mind a storm--it would be kind of fun to sit in a hotel room overlooking the ocean and watch a storm roll in. Oh, and I'm looking forward to some good seafood--right now, clam chowder sounds pretty appealing, I'll admit!

With my next class at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks coming up the first Saturday in November and with our vacation scheduled during the intervening period of time, I've been hard at work, coming up with Christmas projects and ideas to present to my class. A friend of mine who reads my blog emailed me to ask if I'll be giving the class directions for making the peppermint quilt--if anyone else in our area was wondering the same thing, yes, that will be one of the projects I'll hand out along with several others.

Tuesday night I spent the evening drawing a snowman for a couple of projects--you'll probably see him pop up on something before too long. Tonight, I made a couple of quick placemats and peppermint mug mats that will double as ornaments on my kitchen Christmas tree when they're not in use. Here's a photo--

I think I'll make two more placemats to match these, but I'll probably wait and prepare them to demonstrate in class. Tomorrow night, I think I'll move on to a gift idea or two.

Besides work and sewing, I've also spent a little time during the past few days shopping to restock our refrigerator. The repairman came on Monday, and the problem was that the part that defrosts the freezer wasn't properly hooked up, so over a period of time, ice accumulated and the cooling mechanism stopped working effectively. It's fixed now, and I'm well on my way to replacing the food we lost; I think a trip to Trader Joe's on the way home from work tomorrow night will fill the last gaps on the refrigerator shelves.

The work week is simply flying by! We have a "back up" system at work where each of us is paired up with another secretary, and if one of us is out, the other secretary covers the work of both. This week, the secretary I'm back up for is out, so work has been quite busy. I don't mind though--I'd rather be busy than bored! It's hard to believe there are just two work days left, and then the weekend will be here and I'll be off work for a week.

Time for my beauty sleep--morning will arrive much too early, as it always does on weekdays. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Immortals

I was browsing Yahoo news, and I was amazed to find yet another Michael Jackson headline. Well, okay, maybe I wasn't quite "amazed" at the headline so much as I was amazed that we--society as a whole--are still so interested in Michael Jackson "news." (And ARE we interested, or is it just the media that thinks we SHOULD be? Sometimes I wonder.)

Why do we hold onto some of our "stars" long after they've passed away? Yeah, sure I liked Michael Jackson's music. I imagine most of us did, at least during one musical phase or another, if not the entirety of his work. But Michael Jackson, the man? (And can I even type "Michael Jackson, the man" with a straight face?!) Aside from his music--and maybe his dancing ability--I just thought Michael was an odd kid who kept getting odder and odder, as he got older and older. Didn't you?

And, by the way, doesn't it surprise you how many people seem to believe Elvis Presley didn't really die? Here's a little thing I copied off Wikipedia:

"There is a belief in some quarters that Presley did not die in 1977, that he is still alive, that he went into hiding for various reasons. This claim is allegedly backed up by thousands of so-called Elvis sightings that have occurred in the years since his death."

And, oddly enough, there are apparently a lot of people who think the same thing of Michael Jackson. Have you seen some of the Michael Jackson after-death sightings? I saw one video that was supposed to be Michael sitting up in the coroner's helicopter, but it was too blurry to see. Then there are several versions of a video on YouTube purportedly showing Michael hopping out of the coroner's van and being escorted into the building. (You can check out a listing of them HERE if you haven't seen the video yet--there's also a video pointing out why it's all a hoax.)

I wonder why some people feel such a need to believe some of our stars aren't really dead? I'd really rather believe in Santa Claus, a thriving economy, and world peace.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Little Bit of Christmas

I haven't talked much about what I've been working on the last week or so, but I've been trying to get some projects done for the Christmas class I'll be teaching in a few weeks. Want to see what I've been up to?

A couple of years ago, Monica (aka Happy Zombie) posted a pattern for a tablerunner on her blog. I liked it quite a bit when I first saw it but I didn't have time to make one that year, and somehow I never got around to it last year. I had a little bit of a break late last week, so I pulled out a charm pack, a bit of cream fabric, and a bit of red fabric and made Monica's runner. At something like 40" x 16", the size is nice for a sofa table or the center of a larger dining room or kitchen table.

You can find the pattern on her blog HERE.

Now why did I have a break? Because I was waiting for more Figgy Pudding fabric to arrive in the mail so I could finish this peppermint tabletopper/wallhanging:

I already had the peppermint blocks made, but I needed more of the plain blue fabric for the 9-patch blocks, and I found it--for a good price--at Desperate Quilters. More important to me than a good price, though, was the fact that I knew they'd get it to me right away, and sure enough, the fabric I ordered Wednesday night was packaged and mailed on Thursday and arrived on Saturday, just as I was finishing the binding on the tablerunner. By Sunday night, all I had left to do on the peppermint topper was add the binding. Quite a fast project really, and I like the happy look of the peppermints!

(By the way, this is my own design, but I'm happy to share the method with you--to make the peppermints, I just made pinwheel blocks using red and white half square triangles and added snowball-type corners to make them appear rounder.)

Now what's next? Well, I have a couple more projects in mind--and, of course, I'll show you as soon as I get them done. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 19, 2009

It's Always Something

Do you remember back in May--HERE in fact--we bought a new refrigerator? If not, maybe this will jog your memory:

Lovely, isn't it? Well, here it is, less than six months later, and the new fridge has gone out. On Friday night, actually. Why is it that stuff stops working right at the beginning of the weekend? Last weekend it was the main water line, and this weekend it's the refrigerator.

Of course, the repair guy won't come until tomorrow (Monday). We've been told that under our warranty, we can claim food losses up to $250, which doesn't seem too bad until you start thinking about how much all the condiments, salad dressings, and sauces cost to replace, not to mention all the vegetables, milk, cheese, and other perishables. We've taken photos to document the food in the fridge and Hubby went out to buy a styrofoam cooler so we could try to save a few things.

It could be worse. At least I didn't have to cook much over the weekend. And we gave some of our perishables to Soccer Son--I'm sure he and his lovely wife-to-be-someday can put the food to good use. But darn it! I'm really looking forward to life becoming a little more peaceful and predictable. I wonder when it will start?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sports--Just My Opinion

Why I think synchronized swimming is really odd:

Why I think the shot put really rocks!

(Ruth Frith, a 100-year-old from Australia, competes in the women's 75+ shot put final at the World Masters Games in Sydney Olympic Park October 11, 2009.)

Yep, synchronized swimming is for the birds.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I was thinking about time today. Driving home from work, with the sun still up, I thought about the end of Daylight Savings Time--which now comes a week or two later than it used to. It just doesn't seem right that it doesn't get dark on Halloween until around 7 p.m., well after trick-or-treaters are out and about.

The change in when Daylight Savings Time starts and stops--a change that was enacted into law a few years ago--was supposed to help save energy. How? It seems to me that unless you're one of the three people in the US who goes to sleep at 7 p.m. and wakes at 7 a.m., you're using energy, and whether you use it in the morning before the sun comes up, or at night after the sun goes down doesn't really matter, does it? After all, the number of hours of sunlight in a day doesn't depend on what the hands on a clock say. Did someone really think this through? I don't like it.

And February. What's the thinking behind 28 days? Why not borrow a day from January's 31 days and another day from March's 31 days and give them to February, so all three months have 30 days (except in leap year, when February would have 31 days). There'd still be the same number of days in a year; they'd just be distributed a little better. Who came up with that calendar?

When I grow up, I want to be the person who decides time. You know what I'd do? I'd give January, February, and March 30 days each and do away with Daylight Savings Time altogether. Instead, I'd make hours 65 minutes long on Saturdays and Sundays, and 55 minutes long on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Then, just to even out the number of minutes between weekends and weekdays, I'd declare all leftover minutes "happy hour"--kind of neutral territory, you know? Good plan, huh? Vote for me!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Survivor, Boss's Day, and Anything Else That Comes to Mind

Okay, I know some of you watch Survivor. What happened to Shambo's hands? Hubby and I must have missed something, because we both saw her holding her hands carefully, palms up, before the immunity challenge but neither of us saw what happened before that. I guess that's what happens when you watch Survivor while eating dinner. Actually, a LOT can happen if you watch Survivor while eating dinner--especially if they're having a reward challenge where they eat something like sea slug gut smoothies. Still, it's probably easier than eating during CSI.

Do you know that Friday, October 16th is Boss's Day? When I came home from work tonight night, I asked Hubby what special plans he had for me.

I'm planning to cook breakfast for the bosses at my office. I just hope I can manage to drag myself out of bed early enough to do what needs to be done. Unfortunately, I don't think my own bosses will be there, although Girl Boss II will get in a bit later in the morning. Boy Boss is in Ohio at yet another family wedding--it seems like someone in the family gets married every couple weeks. He or his wife must come from a family nearly as large as the Duggars!

Speaking of weird families, did you watch the news about the six-year-old boy who was thought to be stuck in a large helium balloon his family kept tethered in their Colorado backyard? The balloon got free and during the two hour, 50-mile flight, it was thought the boy was in the box or basket under the balloon--which, when it came down, no longer had anything attached. If you didn't hear about it, don't worry--the boy was found, hiding in a box in his garage attic the entire time. By the way, for fun, the family members "devote their time to scientific experiments that include looking for extraterrestrials and building a research-gathering flying saucer [balloon] to send into the eye of the storm." Yeah, typical American family. And if that's not enough, they were on the TV show Wife Swap twice.

Today was flu shot day at work, and I had mine! It wasn't the H1N1 vaccine, which the nurses expect to get in a few weeks, but at least I'm protected from the "normal" flu once again this year. Have you had yours?

Enjoy your Friday and remember the weekend is nearly here!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


I feel like this year's Christmas fabric lines are kind of "ho-hum"--is it just me feeling this way?

I seriously like Basic Grey's Figgy Pudding for Moda, and I like some of Sandy Gervais' Crazy Eight line--and now that I say that, I realize that's exactly my problem: with most of this year's lines, I like one or two prints but not entire lines.

Of course, I'm kind of spoiled. The quilters who came before us used whatever they could find. Me? I need entire LINES of fabric designed and coordinated so they all go together. Perhaps that shows a lack of imagination. But I know that because I teach classes, publish patterns, and have a blog, quilters like to duplicate what they see me make, and it's not very helpful when I'm asked about the fabrics I've selected to say, "Oh, I just pulled those fabrics from my stash. No, I bought them several years ago and I don't think you can find them anymore."

You see, I've been trying to come up with some Christmas projects for my November class, and I just can't find any fabric lines I love that are readily available in my area. It's frustrating for me and I'm sure it will be at least somewhat frustrating for my students. After checking several local shops and coming away quite uninspired, I decided to place an order online for more of the Figgy Pudding line. It seems bright and cheerful to me, I guess.

How about you? Are any Christmas fabrics calling out to you this year?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Homespun Thanksgiving Quilt, Part 2

Okay, on to the piecing directions. (See yesterday's post for fabric requirements and cutting directions.)


When I made this quilt, I pieced the flying geese blocks first to get them out of the way. The main body of the geese are the 28 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" rectangles. The side triangles are made using 56 of the 2-1/2" cream squares (the remaining 4 squares are corner blocks). I found a couple of websites that have better directions (with illustrations) for block making than I could give you here. So, to make the 28 flying geese blocks, click HERE and follow the steps.


Divide the 49 4-1/2" squares into two piles: 25 of the lightest squares and 24 of the darkest squares. With the lightest squares, you'll attach the darker 2" squares; with the darker squares, you'll attach the cream colored 2" squares.

For directions on making the snowball blocks, click HERE and follow the steps. HOWEVER, note that instead of 9-1/2" squares and 3-1/2" squares as shown in the illustrations, you'll be using 4-1/2" squares and 2" squares. And remember--add the cream colored 2" squares to the corners of the darker 4-1/2" squares, and add the darker 2" squares to the corners of the lighter 4-1/2" squares.


This is where a design wall comes in handy. If you don't have one, find a space where you can lay out your snowball blocks in 7 rows by 7 columns. Start placing the snowball blocks with a dark-cornered block to begin and alternate dark cornered blocks with light cornered blocks--here's a photo of my quilt so you have a visual reference:

Once you have your blocks laid out and placed so there are no repeats of the same color bordering each other, sew the blocks together, 7 to each row, 7 rows.

For each inner border, sew 7 flying geese blocks together. To the snowball center of the quilt, add a flying geese border to the top and bottom. To the remaining flying geese borders, add a plain 2-1/2" cream colored square to each end; press. Attach these to the sides of the quilt top.

Next, you'll add the final borders. Cut two of the 4-1/2" x WOF cream colored strips 32-1/2" long, and add these strips to the top and bottom of the quilt top. Cut the remaining two 4-1/2" x WOF cream colored strips 40-1/2" long, and add these strips to the sides of the quilt top.

DONE! Well, sort of. To the borders, using your favorite applique method, add the letters that spell your favorite Thanksgiving dishes. (I used wool for my letters and added them by machine as I was quilting the quilt.) Email me if you'd like me to email you a PDF document containing my 4" alphabet--please make sure I have your email address; if you don't hear back from me within 24 hours, it's probably because you've commented and are "no-reply," so I can't contact you.

And don't forget to post your finished quilt to your blog and let me know, or send a photo to me--I'd really love to see it!

P.S.: No time to make this quilt before Thanksgiving? Don't celebrate Thanksgiving? Here's the solution: You could make this quilt in your favorite Christmas fabrics and add the names of your favorite Christmas goodies to the border. This would make a fairly fast, cute Christmas gift as well.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How Wet I Be . . .

Funny how you can go from no water to too much water in just a few days! We woke this morning to the sound of rain--we'd been warned by the weathermen (and women) for the past couple of days that a big storm was coming, and sure enough--those guys were right!

Traveling to work was fun--the first storm of the season always is, since most of us forget during the summer how to drive in wet weather.

All over the area, there were reports of downed trees, power failures, and street level flooding. At around 3:30, our power went out at the office, and although it came back on about a half hour later, the Powers That Be decided to close the office and send us all home.

How fortunate that I had my camera with me! I took several photos and mostly I ended up with the reflection of my dashboard on the window, but I DID get this one for you--just before I had to drive through it. Take a look at the car parked at the curb on the right--that gives you a better idea of how deep it was since the truck ahead of me was so high off the road.

Homespun Thanksgiving Quilt

Several of you were interested in the pattern to make this 40" x 40" tabletopper quilt, so let's get started!

For many years, I've "collected" brushed cotton fat quarters in various plaids; the ones I used in this quilt were from a Kansas Troubles line I purchased several years ago, and I'm not even sure what the name of the line was. However, any plaids would work. This collection contained deep wine reds, forest greens, and navy blues as well as a couple shades of brown, but when put together, overall look was autumnal. In addition to the Kansas Troubles plaids, I used a cream brushed cotton plaid for the background and a dark wine brushed cotton for the alternating snowball corners.

I was also asked what I used for the lettering and the method I used to stitch the words on. I used wool in colors similar to the other fabrics, and I stitched the letters down as I was quilting the quilt. Here's a close up photo:

I think that answered most of the questions, but if I missed anything or if further questions come up, let me know and I'll try to answer.


1 yard total from a variety of medium and dark fabrics
1-1/4 yard of off-white fabric for backgrounds
1/3 yard of dark fabric for snowball corners
1-1/3 yard of backing fabric


From the variety of medium to dark fabrics, cut:
49 4-1/2" squares
28 4-1/2" x 2-1/2" rectangles
From the dark fabric (snowball corners), cut:
100 2" squares
From the off-white fabric, cut:
60 2-1/2" squares
96 2" squares
4 4-1/2" x WOF (width of fabric) strips

Piecing instructions will follow in the next post.

I will try to scan the letter templates to a PDF file tomorrow and will let you know when I've done that--I'll be happy to email it to anyone who wants the letters. I have also uploaded two fabric kits to my Etsy shop, made up of the same fabrics I used and already cut in case anyone is interested. Please note, though, that those kits DO NOT contain backing, binding, or the wool for the letters. I've uploaded a separate kit containing the wool I used; if you're interested in a wool kit and the one in my Etsy shop has already sold, please email me. (For the kits, I've only listed postage within the U.S.; if you're outside the U.S. and wish to purchase a kit, please email me.)

Happy stitching!

ADDENDUM: The kits have sold but please don't let that stop you from selecting your own fabric and making this tabletopper!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Today is Thanksgiving in Canada--I hope all my Canadian friends are sharing good times with family and friends!

Personally, I am thankful to have water restored to our home. While Soccer Son didn't exactly show up at the break of dawn, he DID arrive a little later in the morning, fixed the pipe, and restored water by around 10:30 a.m. Yay! Yes, as someone said, the bathroom situation was the worst part; at least the water was back on and I was able to take a bath and brush my teeth before it got to be very late in the day. AND--most importantly maybe!--we had enough bottled water for me to make a pot of coffee, so no one had to die.

And speaking of Thanksgiving . . . . Remember that glimpse I gave you last week of my current project? Done!

Originally, I started this tabletopper-sized project thinking it was going to be a kind of homespun Christmas project, but as it evolved, it reminded me more of Thanksgiving than Christmas, so I ended up adding a Thanksgiving "menu" to the border. I think it will look pretty cute on my kitchen table once Halloween is over and done.

I was also thinking I might include the pattern directions in my Christmas class packet as a kind of "extra" project, and I was wondering if you would like me to post them on my blog too?

You know what else I'm thankful for? Tomorrow--besides the fact that it's Thanksgiving in Canada--is Columbus Day here in the U.S. And guess what? My office observes it as a holiday, so I have one more day off! WOOO-HOOOOO!

I hope you find much to be thankful for today!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How Dry I Am . . .

About a year ago, I showed you a photo of my front yard--we were letting everything die so we could dig it up and start fresh with new landscaping. We had set aside money for landscaping and three or four companies came out to bid the job. Then the economy got scary and the landscaping was put on hold. Good thing, too, because Hubby lost his job and that bit of money we'd set aside gave us a little cushion. Late in the spring, or maybe it was early summer--in any event, once the dust had settled from the economic fall out--our thoughts again turned to landscaping.

There was a time, BQ (before quilting) when I loooooooooved to garden--that's what I spent most of my spare time doing. So I know a bit about gardening and landscaping, even if it's not what I chose to spend my time doing anymore. And all those bids and plans we'd gotten? Well, I wasn't too excited about them, particularly when it came to the plantings. So I thought and thought, and talked with Hubby, and we decided what we'd prefer to do was hire Soccer Son to do the muscle work and I'd select the plants and do the planting. Soccer Son liked that idea because the economy had not been very kind to him either, so the thought of a little money in his pocket was an attractive proposition.

When our weather finally cooled down a little a few weeks back, Soccer Son and Hubby got started on the job. They rented a rototiller and Soccer Son dug up the yard. During the past week, he's worked on leveling the area where we want to put in pavers, and Hubby went out on Friday and picked out the pavers and the other materials they'll need and arranged for everything to be delivered on Monday.

This afternoon, Soccer Son came over and started digging a couple post holes for supports for a pergola. After a little bit, as I was sewing in the Sweat Shop, I heard Hubby yell, "Sh*t! He broke the water line!"

So we have no water now.

I had planned to go out to dinner with a couple girlfriends tonight, and just before I left, Hubby came home with the necessary plumbing supplies. I told Soccer Son the water HAD TO BE FIXED TONIGHT by the time I got home. Guess what? It's not. It got dark outside and they were having a hard time seeing what they were doing, so they quit.

Before you ask, yes, I did mention to Hubby before the job started that he needed to get the utility companies out to flag the yard so we wouldn't interfere with the utilities. Did he? No. Why? When one of my friends asked him, he said "Because I didn't." Good logic.

It's funny how cranky a person can get with no water. Not much to drink. No bathroom facilities. No water to brush one's teeth or wash one's face. And I don't EVEN want to think about what's going to happen in the morning if I can't make coffee. It's not going to be pretty. All I can say is I hope Soccer Son's planning to be here at dawn; otherwise, someone might die.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Recipe--Pumpkin Nut Muffins

Yum! I had a couple of requests for the recipe Hubby made last night, so I decided to share. Hubby was kind enough to send me off to work today with 1-1/2 dozen of these and my coworkers loved them as much as we did!


2/3 c. shortening
2-2/3 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin (16 ounces)
2/3 c. water
3-1/3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
2/3 c. coarsely chopped nuts
2/3 c. raisins
1/2 c. shredded coconut

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Either grease cupcake pans or use cupcake papers--the recipe will make about 2-1/2 dozen muffins.

In large bowl, cream shotening and sugar until fluffy. Stir in eggs, pumpkin, and water. Blend in flour, soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in nuts, raisins, and coconut.

Fill cupcake pans/papers about 2/3rds full. Bake approximately 35 minutes until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool muffins and top with cream cheese frosting if desired. To make frosting, beat 8 oz. of softened cream cheese with 1 pound of powdered sugar. Add 1 tsp. vanilla. Add approximately 2 tablespoons of milk, a little at a time--enough to make frosting smooth.

Now, sit down with a muffin or two and your favorite warm beverage and enjoy Autumn!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Once Is Not Enough

It was another beautiful fall day here in Northern California, and yet another friend of mine from work twisted my arm behind my back and frog marched me out to her car on our lunch hour. She then drove me to Sloughhouse (me screaming in protest all the way) and made me buy more pumpkins and such. Okay, yes you're right--not all of that is exactly true, but it's certainly the story I told Hubby when I popped my car trunk tonight and he saw all those pumpkins in there. (The first thing he said was, "You bought more pumpkins?," and I told him no, I actually STOLE them and he should have seen me with them all under my shirt, trying to get them out to the car before I got caught.)

Not ALL of these are from today's trip--there were still a couple on the table from Tuesday, because I need to redistribute pumpkins in the house and haven't gotten around to doing that yet. (Although to be truthful, there were a few more bought today and distributed already.)

You'll recall, I think, that I mentioned when I went out to Sloughhouse the other day, that I'd forgotten a couple things I'd planned to get, right? Well, here are two of them.

The BIG orange pumpkin is a gift for Soccer Son, and the fairytale pumpkin is a gift for his Lovely Wife-To-Be-Someday--when they were over last weekend, she really liked the two fairytale pumpkins I had. I wish the Wild Child lived closer, because I'd fill my trunk with pumpkins for her too! Sadly, I can't but I'm wishing her tons of pumpkins! (In the photo, there are also green beans, hot red long peppers, jalapeno peppers, and a bag o'corn for SS & his LWTBS.)

And yes, as a matter of fact, I DID buy more corn today. My friend who made me go happened to mention corn chowder soup, and I thought that sounded mighty good--in fact, that's one of the reasons I didn't fight her too hard about going.

By the way, as I'm writing this, I can smell the batch of pumpkin muffins Hubby's baking up tonight. Heavenly! The ironic thing, though, is that when I was cleaning out the kitchen cupboard the other day, I found we had a ridiculous amount of canned pumpkin--something like FIVE CANS! So, even though I have all these pumpkins sitting around, the muffins are made with canned pumpkin.

Do you like pumpkin muffins? With cream cheese frosting? If you're anywhere in the area, stop by and have one--or two! Just remember--as far as Hubby knows, I was kidnapped at gun point and forced to buy pumpkins today or risk certain death, okay? Thank you!

This blog post brought to you by the Pumpkin Rescue Foundation. Please adopt a pumpkin today!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hmmmmmm . . . . .

What's this? Something new being created in the Sweat Shop? Yes, indeed, and it's very demanding of my time, so I'm heading back in . . . .

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An Autumn Trip to the Market

Yesterday I told you a friend and I were planning a trip to a local (just out of town) farmer's market/fruit and veggie stand. Unfortunately my friend couldn't make it today, but I decided that getting out in the beautiful 75 degree weather for a little drive was still the perfect lunch hour plan, even if it meant going by myself. And when I arrived? Tons of pumpkins greeted me!

Pretty cool, huh? I didn't take home any of the varieties of squash you see piled into this wagon, but aren't they a delight to look at?

Check out all of these weird gourds! I brought home a few--I just couldn't resist!

I thought about buying a couple dried gourds too (and maybe some of those corn stalks in the back there), but in the end, I didn't--I just brought home a photo.

I took this photo while I was waiting in line to check out. I realized I'd been so busy shopping, I'd forgotten to take many photos, so I took one more.

Of course, I HAD to bring back little pumpkins for my work "kids," Boy Boss and Girl Boss II. Boy Boss drew a face on his already. I gave him a pumpkin last year and I think he still had it in July!

Did you think I came home with just pumpkins? Nope! Corn on the cobb, Roma tomatoes, and green beans came home with me too. Sadly, I think this will probably be the last of this season's corn--and fresh picked tomatoes and green beans too.

NOW I'll show you the pumpkins--and gourds and squash, and who can even tell what's what? Probably the farmer who grew them, but I'm just going to enjoy them, whatever they may be!

That BIG pumpkin up front? That's Hubby "gift"--he'll carve it for Halloween.

And you know what? Remember my friend who couldn't make it today? I'm going to tell her that if she wants to go later this week or next, I'm up for another trip. I know it's hard to believe, but before I went to the market, I had a mental list of pumpkins I wanted to get, and somewhere along the way, I lost the list. I'll let you know if I go back.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

You Can Never Have Too Many . . .


At work today, I learned that one of the women I work with had been to a local farmer's market over the weekend--just one farm, open all year long, with a TON of stuff in an area outside of Sacramento called Sloughhouse. She came into work talking about all the wonderful pumpkins, gourds, and squashes they had. She, though, bought only a few of the small, weirdly shaped and lovely colored squashes; she admired some of the pumpkins but said she just didn't have room.

Now I know some people just can't stand "clutter" and I'm one of them in some ways--but not when it comes to decorating. I don't like clutter on my desk or work surface, but I love to look at all kinds of stuff around me--and that includes pumpkins! I kind of think you could live in a closet and still have room for a pumpkin or two in the corner.

I posted that photo up there--it's a little arrangement I put together last year--just to show you an inexpensive idea for displaying pumpkins. For that display, I picked up some inexpensive candleholders from the thrift store--three candleholders at different heights and styles but with similar finishes. I also like to tuck small pumpkins into bowls in my hutch in the kitchen or stick them on the floor next to furniture where I know feet won't step--like right up against a desk or bookshelf.

Tomorrow another friend from work and I will take a lunch hour excursion to the farmer's market. (You can see where we're going HERE.) It's about a 20 minute drive each way, so we won't have much time to shop, but I don't think we'll NEED much time! I'm going to put my camera in my purse right now so I'll remember to take a few photos to post. And maybe, over the next few days, I'll come up with a few more pumpkin ideas to share. Have you hugged a pumpkin today?

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Little Lesson

A few people asked about the quilting I did on the witch quilt--the swirly "sky" background quilting. It's pretty simple to do--really! And I'll show you how.

Set your machine for free motion quilting--feed dogs down (or covered), stitch length "0," possibly adjusting your foot pressure depending on your machine, and changing your sewing foot to whatever you like to use for free motion quilting--I use an open toed circular foot on my Bernina and a closed circular foot on my Juki.

Start near the edge of the space you're going to fill in--see the dot on the paper below? That would be my starting point. My first loop identifies or marks the space I want to fill with the first "swirl."

I then continue sewing in a spiral to the center.

I loop around in the center and follow the path back out, sewing between the first stitch lines.

When I get to the outside of the swirl, I start the next "swirl" in the open space next to the first one.

At the center, I loop again and stitch my way back out. I then continue the curve to reach the next open area. I try to keep my swirls a uniform size, although some deviation just adds interest, I think.

Keep filling in, moving from one swirl to the next.

By this point, I have quite a few swirls and have filled in the space, or maybe I've boxed myself into a corner, so I'm ready to stop and move onto another area.

But before I do, I look at what I've done and check to see if there area any areas that may need a little more quilting to fill them in--I see a couple spaces, so I travel to them by quilting over my earlier stitches or, if they're too far, I just stop and restart.

If I end up with areas that are too small for a full swirl, I might continue the line from a neighboring swirl or--if it's right up against the border--I'll add some half loops.

I hope this helps! If anything's not clear, just ask and I'll be happy to explain further. And, if you haven't seen it yet, for more quilting "lessons," check out this blog--365 Days of Free Motion Quilting. Very cool stuff with video demonstrations and everything! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Another Saturday Night . . .

The sad thing about Saturday nights is that it means the weekend's half over. But the weekend's been really nice so far! This morning, I began by sleeping in and then making orange cinnamon pancakes--recipe courtesy of Kelly Ann who mentioned in a comment last weekend that she was going to make some. I hope she won't mind me telling you, but all you need to do is add grated orange peel from one orange and a teaspoon of cinnamon to your regular pancake mix. I also substituted the juice from the squeezed orange for some of the liquid in my pancake recipe. Yum!

I wanted to show you the If the Hat Fits quilt I made from the Frightfully Crazy book from Buggy Barn. I finally got it all done Friday night and hung this a.m.

And a couple of close ups so you can see the quilting--

Soccer Son and his lovely wife-to-be-someday came over tonight--I invited him to come cook us dinner. Having a kid who can cook pretty well is a good thing to have. He'd mentioned a week or two ago that carne asada tacos are a real treat, so when I stopped at Trader Joe's earlier this week, I bought one of their marinaded carne asada bags o'beef and brought it home and invited him to cook it. While he BBQ'd the meat and fried the taco shells, I prepped all the other taco ingredients and then we sat down on the patio for our feast. Yep, he was right--they really are a treat!

While we were having dinner outdoors, it started to sprinkle--lightly and not for long, but just enough to tell us fall really IS here. Funny that just last weekend, we were still running the air conditioning because it was around 100 degrees outside!

Oh, and look what came in the mail!

I finally opened the Amazon box tonight and promptly dropped the book right on my foot. Now I'm pretty sure the pain I experienced is nothing compared to all the horrible things that have happened to Claire over the years and are surely going to keep happening to her, but it did hurt a bit. No, I'm not going to dive into the book just yet--I'm in the mood for something a little lighter (figuratively and literally) so I think I'll hold off for now, but it's nice to know it's here when I want it. If you haven't read the Outlander series . . . well, I just don't know what to say except run right down to the bookstore and buy the first book--Outlander.

Now, it's on to the rest of the weekend . . . .