Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Picnic Time and Spoiler Alert

First of all, several commenters asked me what book I was talking about the other day. At the end of this post, I'll tell you the name, so if you don't want me to ruin the ending of a book you may have on your reading list, skip the end of this post, okay? It's not that it's a BAD book--it's just that I was annoyed by the ending; you may have a different opinion and I don't want to spoil it for you.

Second, I've kind of gotten away from talking about quilts for the last couple days, but I didn't want to forget to show you the finished picnic quilt and tote. Last Sunday was open house/meet the teachers at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks, and since that's the next class I'll be teaching (aside from this weekend's Baa Baa Black Sheep/wool class), I was hoping to get it done to bring with me--and I did! Well, except for the binding, and I've been working on that a little bit at a time.

A close up of the tote (front and back look pretty much the same):

And the inside--

I wanted to make it nice and roomy with several pocket compartments for holding napkins, utensils, and everything else needed for a spring or summer picnic. I even included an inside tie to hold a bottle of water, wine, or soft drink. (And, although I don't have it in the tote in this photo, Hubby bought me a plastic insert for the bottom of the tote for sturdiness and stability. Once he rounds off the corners, I'll make a cover for it and pop it in.)

I'll need to make some demonstration pieces of the tote for my class, and I thought I'd make a patriotic red/white/blue version for a 4th of July picnic--AND I'm currently working on a red, white, and blue quilt using Minick & Simpson's Bar Harbor fabric. (Remember what Hubby did to my red, white, and blue quilt?! Now I'll have a replacement!)

Ready for the spoiler? Many of you have obviously read the book already and guessed correctly--it was the Friday Night Knitting Club. I understand from a few of you that the sequel is much better and ties up loose ends, but I don't know if I'd ever be curious enough to read it. We'll see. I just finished a British police procedural/mystery about a serial killer--funny how THAT didn't bother me at all!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Sometimes it's good to just kick back and relax!

(As you can see, Stitch just keeps on growing!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Hate it When That Happens!

I just finished reading a book in which the main character, near the end of the book, is diagnosed with cancer and dies. ARGH! Why do authors DO that? Don't they know that most of us read for entertainment, and investing our time in getting to know and relate to a main character only to have him or her die is no fun?

Some years ago, I read a book by LuAnn Rice, and I really enjoyed it until I got to the end and the main character died of cancer--right after finding Mr. Right. I've never picked up another LuAnn Rice book. More recently, I read a book about a relationship between two friends; near the end of the book, one is diagnosed with cancer and dies. I didn't think that one was quite as bad because there were TWO main character and the story was about their relationship over the years; the death of one of them wasn't quite as much of a shock, particularly when balanced with the richness of the rest of the narrative.

This last book, though--well, I'm just annoyed. In the first place, it took a little bit for me to get into the book--I nearly put it down a couple times. However, there was just enough in the story to keep me reading, and near the end, I had started to enjoy it. The main character had experienced several of life's setbacks but had persevered and was finally becoming successful and finding some happiness in her life. She had several friends, and the book told their stories as well. Of course, just when things were starting to resolve nicely for everyone, the main character was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and died at a fairly young age, leaving behind a teenage daughter.

In my view, inflicting a main character with cancer that results in death is simply an author's gratuitous attempt to provoke a reader's emotional response and/or quickly end a book without putting further time and effort into the story line. And why is it always CANCER? Is cancer "sexier" than, for instance, a ruptured appendix, diverticulitis, or an aneurysm? How about having the main character get run over by a bus? Step on a bar of soap and fall in the shower? Die of a heart attack while jogging? No?

I don't insist on reading only happy books, but when I've spent time with a character who dies in the end--well, I just feel manipulated and I don't like it. How about you? Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to reading?

I had a friend who used to always read the last chapter of a book first. I always thought that was a strange thing to do because I preferred to be surprised, but in this case, I wish I had read the end first. Now it's time for me to go browse my bookshelf and see if I can find something there more worthy of my time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I think I told you Soccer Son is playing football now, right? Yep, he is. He's playing for the Sacramento Warriors, one of 16 teams playing in the Pacific Coast Football League, a minor league football organization. He and a soccer friend are the kickers. And Saturday was the first home game of the season. It was a beautiful day for a football game--just look at that blue sky! The 3 p.m. start time meant that the sun was still warm enough for T-shirts, although it got a little chilly before the game ended.

Here he comes--Soccer Son. Time to break out the pom poms! Woo-hooo! Kick a couple field goals for mom, Soccer Son!

Sadly, we soon learned that the OTHER kicker was kicking the field goal and point after attempts today. No points for Soccer Son--or for the other kicker for that matter, although he had a couple chances. In this game, Soccer Son's job was to take the kick offs and punts, and he did a wonderful job, even if I DO say so myself!

Actually, I only say so because that's what I heard other people in the stands saying. Seriously, although I know some basic football "stuff," I have no idea about some of the finer points of football--like where you want to kick a ball when the other team is about to take possession.

Soccer Son's fiancee and I sat together, and unfortunately she had no more idea about what was going on than I did. Lots of whistle blowing though. Hubby wheeled himself down to the FAAAAAAAAAR end of the field, claiming he could see better from down there, although we suspected he just didn't want to be bothered explaining football to a couple of females when he was trying to watch the game.

There he is again! Look at those YELLOW shoes my boy's wearing! Besides the fact that he's about half the size of most of the other players, those yellow shoes made it easy for this mom to keep track of her son! It was kind of like looking for a duck with skinny legs and big yellow feet!

In the end, we lost, 12 to 7. Bummer! Still, it was a fun way to spend a glorious spring afternoon. I hope that you, too, are having a wonderful weekend. Thanks for checking in on mine!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Give Them Biscotti

Looking for just the right treat to take with you to your next tea and embroidery soiree, as I did today? Or maybe you'd like to whip up a nice treat to serve with coffee--a treat that's sweet but not TOO sweet? Try biscotti. No, not the kind you buy in stores--you could break a tooth on it! Homemade is much, much better, and it's really not difficult!


3/4 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
5 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon anise flavoring (I like to powder up some anise seeds in the coffee grinder instead)
1 ounce whiskey
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder


Cream sugar and shortening well, using a mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla, flour, and baking powder; at this point, mix by hand. Add walnuts, anise, and whiskey.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spoon mixture down centers of two baking sheets.

Dough will be very sticky. Dust tops of each with enough flour to pat "logs" into shape as shown below (but don't add too much flour):

Bake approximately 25 minutes until lightly browned and firm. Slice into 1" pieces and return biscotti to cookie sheets, cut side down. Bake for five minutes. Turn pieces and bake an additional five minutes.

Brew up a pot of coffee or tea to serve with your biscotti. Learn a couple words of Italian. For instance, "mangi!" Won't your friends and family be impressed?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Think Zebras

Well, I've survived another bout of cancer--this time it was armpit cancer. No, of course I didn't REALLY have cancer. If you've read my blog for a bit, you'll know that I always think of the worst--and probably the most farfetched--diagnosis for each suspicious medical ailment. Mostly I think I have cancer a lot. In other words, when I hear hoof beats, I think zebras; not horses.

Last week, on Thursday, Gran and I had a little shopping excursion (I'll have to tell you more later--perhaps a Day of Beauty is in order soon) followed by lunch (yes, we DO seem to manage to work food into our excursions, don't we?!). I had been bothered by a bit of pain under my arm for a few days, and on Thursday, by the time we were at the restaurant, it seemed to be getting worse. By Saturday, I had convinced myself it was some kind of cancer that had metastasized into a lymph node. Or maybe it was a cancerous tumor. Cancer of the armpit. (I hadn't HEARD of armpit cancer, but maybe it's just not talked about a lot?! What do they PUT in deodorant anyway? Can it really be okay to use it day after day?) At times, the pain radiated from my armpit toward my back and if I pressed on the painful spot, it was a burning pain--kind of like when you were a kid and scraped all the skin off your knee. Remember that? (It probably wouldn't have hurt as much or as often if I had quit pressing on it, but it was hard to decide whether there was a lump/tumor or just a spot of intense pain, so I had to.)

I was supposed to see my workers' compensation doctor on Tuesday, although I wasn't sure if I should see HIM for my armpit cancer or whether I should make an urgent appointment with my own family physician, but in the end, I decided to wait. The pain was not as intense as it had been, and I finally reasoned that the burning nature of the pain may be due to nerve involvement--the reason I was seeing the workers' compensation doctor in the first place.

As I drove toward the doctor's office, I grew apprehensive. How do they treat armpit cancer? After all, they can't amputate an armpit. Would I ever see my cats again? The Sweat Shop? Hubby? Would I be rushed from the doctor's office to the hospital for surgery? (Was I wearing clean underwear?)

Yeah, you already know the outcome--it wasn't cancer after all. The doctor told me it was most likely related to the problem with my hands/arms because the pain was located in an area where a bunch of nerves come together and then travel down the arm to the hands. In fact, he thought I may have irritated the nerve as a result of the physical therapy exercises I was given to do at home. Which also supports my opinion that exercise is a dangerous thing, and my physical therapist was a sadist. But at least I don't have armpit cancer. Yep, I'm a survivor. Yay me. (And what color is the armpit cancer ribbon anyway?)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gran and Kim's Excellent Adventure

Today Gran and I took advantage of the wonderful spring weather we're having here in northern California to take a little field trip north (but not too far) to the small town of Loomis--our destination was a little shopping/dining/gardening center and our plan was to visit the Tin Thimble and have lunch at the Conservatory. First stop, after making lunch reservations at the Conservatory, was the Tin Thimble.

Someone asked me if the Tin Thimble was a quilt shop. Well, . . . I'm not sure what the answer is. Sort of. Not really. But I CAN tell you the Tin Thimble is the kind of place a quilter would love to visit. Want to see a few photos?

The Tin Thimble occupies part of a loft-like space in what's called the packing shed. The photo above gives you some idea of the open space. And in that space is packed all kinds of wonderful goodies, many of which are vintage finds and artistic creations.

Vintage embroidery transfer patterns, vintage partially-completed embroidered projects, and newer embroidery supplies filled this corner. (Isn't it reassuring to know that OUR generation isn't the first to NOT complete each and every project we start?!)

Here we found older books and vintage rick rack, bindings, and other goodies amid new notions and other sewing supplies. Not shown are spools of vintage lace and one of those round umbrella-looking contraptions strung with clothes line (like our moms had before dryers became common) on which hung vintage needlework items, such as pillowcases and doilies.

The Tin Thimble is also known for their hand dyed wool and wool roving--doesn't this photo make you want to take up needle felting? Look at the wonderful colors of all that wool roving! There was a class in session when Gran and I were there, and the ladies were kind enough to show us their projects--they were needle felting wool onto white chiffon tunic vests. Click HERE to see a photo of one of these finished creations. They had similarly constructed scarves for sale--I would LOVE to make a scarf!

After what seemed like the fastest hour in history, it was time to leave the Tin Thimble and head over to the Conservatory for our lunch.

We dined inside this glass-walled building, although with all the windows, glass roof, and the large doors open to the nursery, we felt like we were dining outdoors.

Please don't drool on your computer, okay? Next up are photos of my lunch--homemade potato chips with an artichoke/lemon/dill dip . . .

. . . and a spinach/bacon/almond/Fuji apple salad.

Yummmm! Of course, we couldn't leave without a stroll around the nursery.

If Gran drove a truck, my yard would be overflowing with new plants right now. For instance, there were some wonderful espaliered pear and apple trees that I wanted very badly to adopt! As it was, we filled the back seat of Gran's Honda. She ended up with three blueberry bushes, and I brought home something called an Echium, Star of Madeira. (We're still working on landscaping the front yard and this is my very first plant purchase for it--woo hoo!) Here's a final photo of the nursery--this also shows a part of the conservatory where we had lunch. It's DEFINITELY a trip worth repeating--SOON!

Besides the plant, I brought home a little bag of goodies from the Tin Thimble--

You would think that after dyeing all that wool the last couple days, I wouldn't have to buy another piece of wool as long as I live, wouldn't you? But I don't have these yellows, and I just couldn't pass up that blue--which happens to match pretty well with the two kinds of vintage blue rick rack and those blue buttons. Did I happen to mention the Tin Thimble also has a most excellent supply of vintage buttons for sale? I'm such a sucker for buttons, too! And as we were hurrying out to get to lunch on time, I saw a small, vintage, plastic, aqua/teal-colored sewing box. Now why didn't I see that before? Yep, definitely a day out worth repeating soon.

P.S.: If you love vintage but can't quite make it to Loomis to visit the Tin Thimble in person, you can check out their Etsy shop HERE.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Questions and Answers

I've had a couple questions from some of you about the things I've talked about recently, and I thought I'd follow up--I suspect if a couple of you ASKED, there are others who also wondered.

The picnic quilt. Yes, it's a disappearing 9-patch pattern. If you haven't tried a disappearing 9-patch, there are tons of blogs with tutorials, like HERE, HERE, or HERE (this one has a little twist!). What I really like about it is that the block is simple and quick but it's just different enough to catch our attention. It's a great way to use charm packs or scraps from our stash.

For the picnic quilt (which I'll be teaching during an upcoming class along with a picnic tote), I wanted something simple and quick because it's meant to be used as a ground cover for a spring/summer picnic, not a heirloom quilt. I'm currently quilting mine, and I've chosen a large rose pattern, four roses to each block. I'll quilt some quick leaves in the sashing, I think. These are patterns I can quilt without stenciling them first, so it's fast for me. I would generally suggest an overall quilt pattern for most disappearing 9-patch quilts--but that's just my taste, and it also fits into my "simple and quick" requirements for this particular quilt. Depending on the fabric selected for disappearing 9-patch quilts and the size of the blocks, it might also be a nice opportunity to get fancy and showcase some stunning quilting work.

Dyeing wool. I'm teaching a wool class soon, and I've been experimenting with a couple different processes. I'd like to talk to my students about where they can find different types of wool, what to do with it, and how to work with it. Part of what I plan to talk about is dyeing wool. Eventually I'll blog about some of the stuff I've been experimenting with and what I've found, but if I talk about it NOW, I just know several of my students will show up at class, and I'll find they've already tried it all out and probably know more than I do. (Sometimes I think I should just have THEM teach the classes!) So you'll have to wait, but it WILL be coming before too long.

Yes, most of the wool I've dyed is wool from garments I've found at thrift stores, but wool can be purchased "new" from many sources and many quilt shops also carry wonderful hand dyed wool--and there's a time and a place for each source. Much of what I've been doing lately is overdying wool, which means that I take wool that is already patterned and/or colored in its weave or dyed a particular color, and I dye over what is already there. The results are varied and interesting. So much so that I dyed four more batches today, although I'll re-do one of them because what I dyed turned out much too pale for my needs.

I think this answers all the recent questions that I remember, but if you had a question and I didn't answer it here, please let me know. And make sure you schedule some "play time" for yourself soon!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Tisket, a Tasket,

. . . a VERY yummy basket!

Wool dyeing continued today. The wool in the basket above is the result of two days' efforts; the photo below shows what was accomplished today.

Wool dyeing is a very tiring chore requiring frequent, short naps! Uh-oh, it looks like I woke up one of my assistants.

Yep, I still have THIS MUCH wool left on the Wild Child's former bed so I COULD keep going, but I think that's enough for today unless I muster up more enthusiasm tonight. I've just cleaned up the kitchen, so it's not very likely, but then again, it sure is FUN!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Trip to the Rainbow Sheep Ranch

Maybe you noticed I didn't post last night. The reason behind that is two-fold: (1) my hands/arms have been bothering me the last couple days and so I haven't been doing any sewing and not much typing and (2) as a consequence of my inactivity, I wasn't doing much that was worth blogging about. I did manage to read Love Mercy by Earlene Fowler and I've nearly finished Quilt as You Go by Arlene Sachitano. Both good books. Yeah, I could have blogged about that last night except not the part about Quilt as You Go because that's the one I read today. So . . . it sure would have been a short post.

Today I finally started to worry a little bit about developing couch potato sores on my backside, and I had just gotten some dyes in the mail a couple days ago, so I thought I'd do a little experimenting with a couple different methods of dying wool. The results?

I like it so far. What you see above represents four dye batches--I have many more to experiment with. And those pinks? They're actually two different colors--one was a pink and one was more purple, and I could tell the difference when they were wet, but now that they're dry, it's hard to tell. I really like the way the different base colors and weaves take the dyes differently. It's a surprise each time.

You should see the piles of wool on the Wild Child's former bed. I've visited the thrift store a couple times lately and scored several wool blazers, and I've pulled out just about all the wool from my baskets that I thought was suitable for overdying. Now it's all waiting for me to dye some more. Maybe tomorrow.

The only other quilting-related activity I've done this weekend was to pin the picnic quilt, and I was able to take a little bit better photo of it when it was on the tables--

I'm really anxious to get started quilting it but I don't want to aggravate my hands/arms. As far as that goes, I'm still waiting to hear about approval for the nerve conduction studies--maybe that will come through this week. I'll be seeing my doctor on Tuesday, so I should hear more then. In the meantime, I have a LOT more books, a lot more dye, and a whole pile of wool to play with.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

Another Friday Night Sew-In has come and gone, and as usual, it was an excellent opportunity to plan an uninterrupted evening of sewing fun. The only thing I can think of that would have made it better is if there had been something on TV to watch, but with March Madness going on, most of the shows that WERE on were reruns. Still, there were the cable channels and a couple programs I hadn't seen before.

Why is it that borders always take a lot longer than we expect? I thought I'd slap the borders on the picnic quilt in no time and be off on another project, but of course it didn't exactly work out that way. Here's the quilt top once I got the borders on. It's just spread out on top of my bed, so the resident quilt can be seen underneath but I think you can tell where one starts and the other stops. I'll try to get a better photo soon.

I'm pretty pleased with it so far. After getting the borders on, I decided to piece a back for it and cut the batting. Then I laid it all out and clamped it down on the tables on the patio so I can pin it tomorrow. Because the point of this quilt is to be able to make something quickly that can be used for a picnic, I'll quilt it in a fairly simple all-over pattern, and I hope to have it done before too long.

I wasn't sure if I'd continue on and work on the matching picnic tote tonight, but in the end I decided to finish piecing some blocks that had been hanging around on the design wall waaaaaaaaaaaay too long.

You may remember these basket blocks from a few months ago. I'd started appliqueing the flowers and got sidetracked by another project and then my arms fell off, so these have just sat on the wall. The problem was that five of the blocks hadn't been sewn into actual BLOCKS, and so they couldn't be moved easily if I needed the wall space. Now that task is done, and hopefully I'll be able to get back to the applique before too long.

I have one more "clean up" type of "chore" that I wish I could have taken care of tonight, but I ran out of time. I absolutely, positively need to make a new cover for my tabletop ironing board. Every spring, it seems, I find I've worn out the old one. Maybe that's something I'll get around to this weekend. Right now, though, it's bed time. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, March 19, 2010

What About Hubby?

Since I've been off work, lots of people have asked whether Hubby and I have killed each other yet--because, of course, we're both home together, enjoying this little preview of retirement living. Nope, he's still alive, and so am I--obviously. In some ways, things are easier. For instance, I have more time for his (what often seem to be dumb) questions. And I have more time to repeat myself a couple times because he can't hear what I've said the first (and second) times. AND I have more time to check up on him to see if he's done what I've asked him to do.

And yep, I know I can be described sometimes by the "B" word. I guess that's why people check on us. But yeah, we're doing okay so far.

The other day, Hubby went to have his head examined. Uh huh, FINALLY! That's what I'VE been saying for years, and his new doctor agreed with me--but his reasons were different from mine. This doc was concerned that the old doc hadn't had an MRI performed to rule out brain tumor when Hubby's Meniere's was diagnosed. So last Saturday morning, Hubby went down to the medical center and had an MRI. On Monday, he went to see the ENT for some additional testing and was told there was no tumor and his brain looked normal. Of course, he asked her for proof that (1) he had a brain and (2) that it appeared normal, because I've been suggesting otherwise all these years. I guess he thought he'd bring home a film or two for show and tell, but she just looked at him when he asked and went on to talk about something else.

Last week, Hubby finished his latest Pot People creation--actually, it's a Pot CAT that he made for our neighbor. Here's a photo:

It turned out pretty cute, I think! She insisted on paying Hubby and bringing us some wine and oranges from her tree, and she's going to set this guy up out by her koi pond.

Hubby had a go at baking some cookies the other day. As he often does, he burned half of the batch, but Soccer Son believes Hubby LIKES burned cookies and does it on purpose--at least it's one way of keeping other people (like Soccer Son) from eating "his" cookies. Hubby was sweet enough to bake me a batch of my favorite peanut butter cookies and only a few were a little overdone on the bottom.

Yep, I think I probably haven't killed Hubby yet because of the nice things he does for me. I'm not sure why he hasn't killed me yet, but I suspect it's because I can run faster than he can.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Block Wall

Want to see what's up on my design wall? It looks rather chaotic, but that's because these large blocks are overlapping one another right now. This is one of those projects I mentioned being so excited about the other day. Just these happy colors alone make me excited!

There are nine 16-1/2" blocks, and these nine blocks form the basis of a picnic quilt I'm working on for a class I'll be teaching in May. (I'll also be making a matching picnic tote.) The inspiration for the fabrics, though was this really lovely print by Lecien called Sugar Flower which will eventually border the quilt.

I'll show you my progress as I go along. Tomorrow (Thursday), though, Gran and I have some "(older) girl stuff" planned and I have a couple errands to run, so I'm not sure how much further I'll get on this.

Thanks for stopping in for a visit.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Get Your Green On!

March 17th--St. Patrick's Day. I checked into St. Patrick's Day traditions and came up with this for those of us living in the US:

"There are many Irish traditions people follow to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and other Irish occasions, although not all of them are historically accurate. Some of the Irish customs people are more familiar with include wearing green, eating Irish food and drinking beer. Actually wearing green is strictly a U.S. custom, as the color green is considered unlucky in Ireland. Green is connected to the old green flag and a time when Ireland was not free. Americans have embraced their own St. Patrick's Day tradition of drinking large amounts of Irish beer or green beer, which has no real historical Irish references at all. Another new St. Patrick's Day tradition started by school children is pinching classmates who don't wear green on St. Patrick's Day. This tradition has grown with the times, and even if you aren't a school child, beware on St. Patrick's Day if you aren't wearing green!"

See, we here in the US just make stuff up if it seems like it might be fun. It would make much more sense if we all went out and hunted down and killed a snake, wouldn't it? At least there'd be some historical justification, not to mention the fact that there'd be fewer snakes slithering around.

Hubby's of Irish descent, so we'll be eating corned beef and cabbage, and I'll bake up a loaf of Irish soda bread. It's actually a pretty simple meal to make anyway--other than the bread, you basically just keep tossing the rest of the stuff in a pot of water and keep cooking it until it's done. That means more time in the Sweat Shop. Plus there will be enough leftovers for another meal or two--and even more time in the Sweat Shop. Can't beat that!

And speaking of spending time in the Sweat Shop, I was in there today, looking at the two Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along blocks, and it felt like the second one I made was missing something--that big, white center just wasn't exciting me very much. And I dunno--maybe it was Gran's influence and having been at her embroidery class the night before, but it occurred to me that what that block really NEEDED was some embroidery. So I went on a Flickr and blog search and came across Andrea Zuill and Bad Bird Designs. Cool stuff. Check out her free embroidery patterns and her Etsy shops.

Anyway, at the risk of causing some confusion as to whether it's St. Patrick's Day or Halloween, I'll show you what I ended up with:

Pumkin Girl. Better, don't you think? Bad Bird has a design for another little Halloween guy called Bat Boy, and I'm hoping to use him in another block at some point.

Time for me to go check my closet for green clothing. I sure don't want to get pinched! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tell Me if My Head Explodes

I've noticed lately that I've felt UBER enthusiastic about quite a few things. Now why is it that I'm feeling so "up" NOW when I'm somewhat limited in the things I can do, but I was feeling oddly depressed only six months ago when just about everything seemed to be going along pretty well? I don't have an answer exactly, but I wonder whether it might relate to my getting more sleep and being less stressed by work in the past month or so? That's the only explanation that comes to mind, anyway.

What am I excited about? Well, fabric for one thing. It seems like there are quite a few lines of fabric that are either out or coming out soon that I love. (For instance, have you seen the sneak peeks of Sweetwater's Pure fabric in browns and blues or Happy Zombie's Christmas line for Lecien? Yum!) Projects too--I have several projects that are mostly in the planning stages, and that means I have several piles of "stuff" around the Sweat Shop awaiting my attention. Friends--I had lunch with a friend this afternoon and spent a couple hours this evening with more friends in my embroidery class. Friends are always a mood elevator! Blogland "events" and projects--you'll see several I'm involved in over in my sidebar.

About those things in the sidebar? I had been thinking that last Friday night was the monthly Sew-In, so I was kind of disappointed when I figured out it wasn't, but now I have that to look forward to THIS week! And the Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along? Today (Monday) we received directions for the second block, so now I have made two (newest on bottom)--

The Year of Schnibbles? I've made this month's already (Roundabout) and I'm just loving the whole Schnibbles thing. On top of that, I'm EXTREMELY excited that Miss Rosie/Carrie Nelson is coming out with a Schnibbles book that should be available in April. In fact, I've already scheduled myself to teach a Schnibbles class in May. Martingale (the publisher) and Moda are sponsoring a Schnibbles contest, and I'm hoping to encourage my students to participate. After that, I'd like to use the book as the basis for a Schnibbles class/club that will meet every couple of months. And one of those project piles I have in the Sweat Shop? Two Bar Harbor layer cakes so I can make a larger Schnibbles quilt because the book contains options for making larger (lap size) quilts.

I know people who have been out of work for one reason or another--injury, job loss, retirement--who have been kind of depressed as a result. I'm just grateful that I have a hobby like quilting that provides me such rich and rewarding experiences and keeps me from dwelling on the negatives in my life. Now I just have to worry that my head might explode from excitement!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Did You Give Up?

Did you turn your clock ahead an hour on Saturday night/Sunday morning? What did you decide you'd give up doing on Sunday since you had one hour less? I gave up reading for an hour. I'd have preferred to give up housework or cooking, but I didn't have any housework planned, and I'd already given up cooking on Saturday, so I felt compelled to cook. I had some play time scheduled in the Sweat Shop and I certainly DIDN'T want to give that up, so reading it was. And maybe a little bit of sleeping.

What was I playing with in the Sweat Shop? Well, when my hands went numb and fell off at the end of January, it was the weekend before my wool class at Bearpaws and Hollyhocks and I still hadn't designed the third project I wanted to give my students, nor had I prepared all the kits or the handouts. As a consequence, I had to postpone the class until the first Saturday in April (the day before Easter). So here it is, just a few weeks away, and I finally decided on the design for the third project. Want to see it? I still have some stitching to do (the top sunflower), but here it is so far:

The other two projects (see the sidebar) are pillows, but I think I want something different for this one--probably a little wall hanging or something of that nature.

I also started getting the kits put together for this project. At one point, I had pulled out piles and piles of wool, trying to decide what I wanted to use--I thought you'd enjoy seeing some of the chaos:

And that's not even all of it--just what would fit in the photo.

Before I head off to bed, a couple of you asked about the Easter tabletopper in yesterday's post. It's part my creation and part a pattern by Donna Yackey/Hollyhock House called Spring is Here--you can find it at The Country Loft by clicking HERE. For my version, I used a simple pieced background and added some of Donna's bunny appliques as well as some appliqued carrots. One of these years I'd like to come up with my own design of something along similar lines, but I haven't done it yet--maybe next year.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hopping Down the Bunny Trail . . .

Paulette seems to think it's time for me to come back and provide her daily morning entertainment along with her Starbucks coffee. Well, I don't know if I can promise a daily read--not only do I have to watch the typing, but I'm seriously NOT living a very exciting life these days, so I might not have too much to talk about. Still, I'll see what I can do, because Paulette is a sweetie, and as I said yesterday, I miss the rest of you too!

It took me awhile to face the fact that Easter was coming. By then, Valentine's Day was a thing of the past, but I still hadn't taken down my Valentine's Day and "winter" decorations. In fact, it seems to me it was nearing the end of February when it occurred to me that Easter was only a month away, and if I was going to do anything about decorating around my house, I'd better get started.

I know you'll probably find it odd, but these days--despite having nothing but time on my hands--it doesn't seem like I get very much done quickly. It took me several days to take down the old stuff and another few days to get around to getting out the Easter stuff. But I finally did. And since I know some of you like to see what I've done with my holiday decorations, here's a little "tour" of the kitchen:

My physical therapist laughed at me. I happened to mention one day that my back was a little sore from bending and such, and he asked what I'd been doing. "Decorating for Easter," I told him. He thinks it's silly. After he stopped laughing, he asked me if I had one of those wooden signs in my garden of grandma's backside. But then this is a guy who gets his kicks running triathalons. Yeah, I don't get that either. But I didn't laugh at him--I just shook my head and rolled my eyes when he wasn't looking. 'Cause I knew if I laughed, he'd probably have made me do more exercises. Sadist.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Seems Like a Long Time!

Oddly enough, I think I have more followers now than before. I suspect, though, it's because I have only been posting sporadically and there must be a couple people who are tired of checking but want to be alerted if I have anything to say. Well, I have A LOT to say, but I've been trying to behave myself and follow doctor's orders, so I've kept quiet. In a virtual sort of way.

Well I've missed you! I really miss the exchanges between me and those of you who "talk" to me in the comments you leave.

As far as my carpal tunnel (or some type of nerve impingement) goes, I've finished the first round of physical therapy and I'm told I haven't made the progress the doctor and therapist hoped for. So next up are nerve conduction studies. If it's carpal tunnel, there's a fairly simple, quick surgery that can be done; if it's the radial nerve, as the doctor thinks it may be, there's no simple, quick surgery to repair the damage. I'd keep my fingers crossed for carpal tunnel, but I suspect crossing my fingers for an extended period of time is something I probably shouldn't do. A friend of mine had the same thing I have with the same fingers (and thumb) and hers turned out to be carpal tunnel. She had the surgery and lived happily ever after. So I'm hopeful I can be just like her.

At this point, a little keyboarding is okay--I just can't type as much as I'd need to in my job. And Hubby will help type too. So I'm hoping to blog a little more frequently than I have been for the past six weeks.

Bet you wonder what I've been doing, right? I've been doing a lot--and not much at all. I'll probably talk a bit about that in the next few days. In the meantime, I thought today I'd show you what I've been doing as far as quilting goes.

I finished this month's Year of Schnibbles quilt--the Roundabout pattern. Right about the time the pattern for this month was announced, Gran and I had gone on a little shop hop (more later) and I'd picked up a couple charm packs of Fig Tree's new Whimsy fabric line. The yardage wasn't out yet, so I used some brown fabric from my stash as a background fabric.

These colors are quite different for me, but I love the vintage look of this line--it reminds me of American Jane in toned down, softer colors. And I found some rick rack at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks that comes pretty darn close to the blue in the fabric--blues are always SO hard to match too! I'm happy with the result.

You've already seen the Rooibos Schnibbles I pieced before, but I'd forgotten to get a photo of it once it was quilted, so when I visited Bearpaws & Hollyhocks, I managed to get a photo:

Probably nearly two years ago, I won the pieced table runner you see below as a door prize at Thimbleberries Club. I'd set it aside to add some applique to it and quilt it, and I finally pulled it off the "to be finished" rack and finished it up last week:

Most of the fabric is Thimbleberries--a couple of older prints. I added wool applique and sewed the applique down by machine as I quilted it. This will make a nice, new tablerunner come fall! I have two more quilt tops that I've pinned for quilting. It seems to me the process of quilting is okay for my hands since my arms, wrists, hands, and fingers are held pretty darn flat while I'm quilting. So you may well see more finished projects before long.

Well, that's more than enough typing for today. If you're here in the US, don't forget to turn your clocks ahead one hour tonight. See you again soon.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Carrots, Anyone?

From one year to the next, I tend to forget exactly what decorations I have for each holiday, and when I get everything out, I get really, really excited again--yes, I'm just like a kid! Anyway, I had, of course, forgotten all about the carrots I've made for the last two years until I unpacked a bunch, and I thought those of you who are new to my blog might enjoy making some yourself. Click HERE for a link to the tutorial I posted last year. Really, they're fast and easy--it's probably something you can even do with a child or grandchild. Happy gardening!

Rooibos Winner!

I've been busy the last few days having an adventure or two and doing some sewing. I'll tell you what I've been doing in the next couple days when I can get Hubby to help do the typing. In the meantime, I promised a post announcing the winner of the Schnibbles Rooibos pattern and my leftover scraps from the quilt I made (for some reason, it seems I forgot to take a photo of the finished, quilted quilt, so here's the photo of the top you've seen before--ARGH!)--

Normally I ask Hubby to pick a number, but he headed off to bed when I wasn't looking, so I used a random number generator this time. I'm happy to announce the winner is Susan of A Work in Progress blog.

Susan, please email me your mailing address (click into my profile and then click on "email" where it says "contact")--I'll get this out in the mail to you shortly. Congratulations! And thanks to all of you for playing along.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Along

I recently joined this group (button in my sidebar)--it looked like fun! I haven't "collected" very many jelly rolls, so I wasn't sure what I was going to use, but I soon realized I had this in my stash:

I had to "borrow" the background fabric from what I'd set aside for the Hocuspocusville embroidery project, but I've ordered more to replace it. Since the quilt along will end in August, I thought this was a perfect chance to make a Halloween quilt--I should have just enough time to quilt the finished quilt before it's time to decorate for Halloween! Here's my first block:

Each block for this project is being designed by a different designer and a new block is posted twice a month. If you're interested, check it out! We'll be posting photos of our blocks on Flickr and there will be prizes--and who doesn't like prizes? Just in case you don't have any jelly rolls, I think it's okay if you want to use your scraps. Maybe I'll see you over in the Flickr pool!