Thursday, March 31, 2011

Intricate, Long Piecing Projects

I have a friend who doesn't like to make the same block over and over again, but as quilters, it's hard for us to get away from doing that unless we want to fill our homes with samplers. Still, I think most of us get bored making the same block again and again, don't we? Over time, I've found ways to sort of fool myself and cope with the tedious repetition.

The pieced border I'm making for the applique basket quilt is one of those projects that are designed to induce boredom--29 fiddly little pieces in each block, and I need to make 36 of them. ARGH!

I find that the best way to tackle a project like this--a project that is repetitive and one that will take a long, long time to complete--is to make a manageable number of blocks at a time. That way, I get a little semi-instant gratification every so often.

By making several blocks at a time, I've managed to finish and attach two of the floral borders to the applique quilt. Want to see part of one of them?

I think it's coming along nicely, and I'm certainly glad I didn't first cut all my pieces, and then sew all of the blocks A to blocks B, yada, yada, yada. Of course, I still have 18 blocks left to piece, so I'm only half way there and it took the best part of the weekend to get this far.

When I start a project that I know will be this long, I'll start by cutting what seems like a reasonable number of pieces--I don't really count them except maybe a few of the main pieces; for the smaller pieces, though, I'll cut a strip and then subcut it into squares and get started. (When I get closer to the number of blocks I need, THEN I'll count how many pieces I'm cutting.)

In the photo below, you can see mostly a lot of piles of cut pieces with a few of the individual sections already put together. That's another little thing I'll do--work on subsections once I've gotten bored with cutting fabric.

Here are some of those subsections I've put together--these are the center of the flower:

Next you'll see a photo where the petals have been added to the centers. And when I have a block like these floral chain blocks where there aren't any parts to really line up, I find the blocks go together best if I trim each subsection after sewing them like this--that's why the rotary cutter is in the photos.

Sometimes with a piecing job like this, I think it would be quicker to just do more applique instead, but I think it's looking good so far with the pieced flowers. This week after work, I've been cutting more pieces and making more subsections, and I'm nearly to the point where I can sew enough blocks together and then join them to make the third side of this border.

What do you find works best for you when you take on a long project like this?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Climbing Into Bed Now and Pulling the Covers Over My Head

Gosh, I'm feeling grumpy and anti-social this evening. If you don't want to read my whining words, you'd best click on out of here right now. I'm still bummed about yesterday's cabinet doors incident. And I KNOW they're just a couple doors, and on one level it's not a big deal, but consider how you'd feel if someone felt free to do whatever they wanted with something of yours without asking. For instance, on that same trip to Oregon, same store, Hubby bought a globe from an old street light, and I wouldn't even THINK of taking it for my own use. (Until now, anyway.) I know it's HIS treasure. Sheesh! Enough of that, though. I'm kind of hoping to move past it soon, so there's no point in dwelling.

Besides, I have other issues to complain about. I had to work late again tonight--we're still involved in that trial. I really don't mind staying late and I know it's necessary, but some of the things we've had to work late on lately are just silly--things we've had to revise over and over again because no one seems able to agree. The other attorney doesn't have a secretary, so I'm it. Even the judge faxed me a couple of handwritten documents to type up today. And it's all just been dragging on and on, partly because the attorneys can't agree on anything and partly because the other attorney keeps claiming to be ill--with various different diseases and ailments which seem to change from day to day. Since I'm not in the courtroom, I don't know how much of that kind of thing the jury sees, but I've got to think they're at least pretty bored by now because the case is going so slow and it's just not all that interesting.

What else? My burns. Remember the egg roll incident? A couple of the burns are kind of bad, especially one on my thumb. The last couple of days, the dead skin's been peeling off and the new skin is tender. I feel like a leper. Or a snake. I think I should wear a bag over my hand so I don't gross anyone out. That might also get me out of revising trial documents over and over again since it's hard to type with a bag on your hand. Hey, maybe that's glint of sunshine on the horizon--or the silver lining of a rain cloud!

But what about Easter? Are YOU ready? I got out my Easter and spring quilts last weekend, but that's as far as I've gotten with the decorating. Thank goodness it comes so late this year--I still have a few more weeks. We've been invited to a BYOE party the day before Easter, so I hope I'll be in the mood by then. What's a BYOE party, you ask? Ah, it's a Bring Your Own Eggs party! We'll all dye Easter eggs and eat, drink, and be merry. Or at least everyone ELSE will be merry. If I don't snap out of it, I'll be there doing my best Eeyore impression. I think I'll go to bed now.

"Why, what's the matter?" "Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it." "Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose. "Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

You're Kidding Me, Right?

Some years ago, Hubby and I took a vacation trip up through Oregon. While we were in Portland, one of the places we visited was the somewhat famous Hippo Hardware. Have you heard of it?

Hippo Hardware is kind of like a hardware thrift store. They collect and sell vintage and antique hardware and architectural restoration pieces. For instance, if you have an old home and you need a glass doorknob to match your other doorknobs, Hippo Hardware just might have what you're looking for.

When Hubby and I were at Hippo Hardware, one of the best places I searched was the basement. I was half thinking I'd like to find an old multi-paned window or something like that to bring home, but they were asking more than I wanted to pay. Instead I found several old cabinet doors for around $5 each. Really cool! I had been thinking for awhile about building a cabinet for the kitchen; in my imagination, it would have an open upright spindle-type plate rack and a cabinet above that to store my cookbooks. I figured I could buy two of those antique cabinet doors and work them into the cabinet to make it look like an old piece, so I bought them, packed them carefully into the trunk of my car, and carried them home to Sacramento where we stored them in the garage.

So far, a couple years have gone by and I haven't gotten around to building that cabinet yet. I've talked about it with Soccer Son, who has experience in woodworking and building kitchen cabinets. He also has the tools he'd need, but so far, we've just kicked around a few plans.

Tonight Hubby told me he'd come across those cabinet doors recently and decided to take them to a friend to have them stripped; he wanted to know what kind of stain I wanted. Really? Are you kidding me?

At this point, if I could beat Hubby with patina, I think would, but all the patina I had has been stripped away. I swear I'm never going to let him watch Antiques Roadshow again--it's simply wasted on him. ARGH!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Process This

When I last talked about the progress of the applique basket quilt, I had resized and made a block of the floral border pattern. I hadn't, though, put the block up on the design wall yet to see how I liked it. When I did, this is what I saw:

Too small, right? I thought the block was dwarfed by the rest of the quilt and the appliqued flowers. So I resized the dimensions again, and this is what I came up with next:

Ah, that's better! See how the size of the pieced flower more closely matches the size of the larger appliqued flowers? I thought that size block would provide a better balance to the quilt. And just in case you can't really see the difference by looking at the two blocks individually, here's a photo of them side by side--I think you can really tell the size difference here:

So when I was doing this--remaking the block after the first one didn't turn out as I envisioned--it occurred to me that some of you might be interested in seeing how I make blocks a different size to better meet my needs. Interested?

Here's what the pattern looked like--at least the part I was working with:

When I made the first (smaller) block I decided I'd make piece 3 (see the numbered squares?) finish at 1/2", which meant I needed to make half square triangles that measured 1" (which included the extra fabric for the seam allowance). Piece 4 would measure the same. Then I decided piece 2 would be twice as long as pieces 3 and 4--so it would be 1" x 1-1/2". (Really, in the drawing, it looks like it's not quite that long, but this is what I decided to do on mine. I like to try to keep measurements fairly simple to work with if I can.) And that gave me the measurement for piece 1--1-1/2" square. After that, I fiddled around with how big to cut those little 2a and 1a pieces. And then you can see I've written some measurements on the pattern in pencil for the leaf sections. (Again, my proportions are just a bit different from the drawing, but I think they work.) All of those calculations, in the end, gave me a block that measured 5-1/2" x 2-1/2", which was half the size of the original block in the pattern.

So what happened when I decided that block was too small? I started over again, but this time I decided the half square triangle piece would measure 1-1/4" instead of 1". And just making everything that little bit larger meant I ended up with a block that measured 7" x 3". Perfect, really, for my needs.

Whenever I need to make a block a different size, I start my calculations with one of the smallest pieces or elements and go from there. Most often, I'll use scrap fabric to make up a sample and see how it will look--unless I have plenty of my "good" fabric and I'm reasonably certain my calculations are correct.

After that, it was just a matter of figuring out how long the sides of the quilt were at that point and how many floral blocks I needed. I figured out I needed to make 9 blocks for each side, and that would allow me to trim a bit of that excess cream fabric away before adding the border.

I think I figured each block has 29 pieces of fabric. VERY slow and labor intense! I also thought I'd talk about how I like to tackle that big a project--but it's bedtime now, so I'll have to tell you more later. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Both Sides Now

I'm not sure I ever got back to it in yesterday's post and made the point, but I'm not a Turning Twenty snob anymore. Heck, I've even made one! Granted, it was one I'd finished on behalf of a friend who had passed away, but still, I made one, and I was kind of surprised that it wasn't quite as simple as I'd supposed. But then nothing ever is, is it? I think you just have to try things out to see what they're really like before deciding whether they're for you or not.

There was a time when I was secretly (or maybe not so secretly) snobbish about the quilting part of making a quilt. I tended to think less of those who sent their quilts out to be quilted by someone else. After all, to me that was part of the whole process, and having someone else finish my project--well, that didn't seem right. I also knew, though, that there were quilters out there who believed a quilt wasn't really of much value if the quilting wasn't done by hand. Eventually, after meeting and talking with more quilters and learning along the way, I came to realize that quilting means something different to each of us. Some people send their quilts out to be "finished" because they just don't enjoy that part of the process or, for whatever reason, they aren't able to quilt their own projects themselves. And I've come to realize it really doesn't matter, does it?

Someone commented yesterday something about knowing their own limitations. Part of me wanted to scream, "No! You HAVE no limitations! Push the boundaries! Try more!" But then the other part of me reasoned that perhaps this person quilts for relaxation and enjoyment, and the idea of working outside the box is stressful. What value then is there in pushing the boundaries? And then again, the use of the work "limitations," may not have even been meant as I interpreted it. But in any event, we all do what it is in our nature to do, eventually.

I read something on one blog this week that encouraged us bloggers to talk more about the PROCESS of quilting and less about the results. Interesting. Hard, but interesting. I was lolling around in the bathtub a short while ago, and when I got tired of picking lint out of my navel, I started thinking about how to blog the PROCESS. It's a little like explaining the PROCESS of deciding what to make for dinner. It's an intricate series of considerations of various elements.

What's in the refrigerator? What can I make with what's in the refrigerator? Would I need to stop at the grocery store? Do I have the energy? Then there are the compromises and calculations to be considered. Elements that need to be factored into the equation are hunger, time, and effort. Should I spend an hour making a really stunning gourmet meal, or should I throw some Kraft mac and cheese on the stove top while I change clothes, tidy up around the house, shovel down dinner, and run into the Sweat Shop?

I think talking about the PROCESS of quilting is a really good idea and I'll try to give it a shot. I'll try to remember to talk about why I make certain design or color choices. I'll tell you what problems I run into along the way and what mistakes I make in my decisions or in the actual construction of blocks. Much of the process, though, is about personal choice, and you might get tired of hearing about what I chose and why, but maybe you'll get something from it. Or maybe I'll get bored. Or maybe by tomorrow I'll have forgotten I was going to try to talk occasionally about the quilt making PROCESS anyway. But know this: my attempts to explain MY process don't mean that I think mine is the only way to do things. There's no wrong in quilting--only what each of us feels isn't right for ourselves.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Quilting Journey

I started quilting about 12 years ago--sometime in 1999, although I can't really recall what time of the year I began. Two of the secretaries I worked with were beginning quilters, and I was interested in what they were doing. They told me what equipment I'd need and where to go to sign up for classes. I bought the class book ahead of time and started messing around a little bit with piecing before I even started the class, and once the lessons began, I loved it.

In particular, I loved applique because it opened up so many more design possibilities, and by my second quilt (the one right after the sampler I did for class), I was designing and hand appliqueing most of it.

Soon--on that applique quilt, in fact--I learned to do the quilting too. Free motion quilting frightened me to death, but I got over it. I even quilted a face into the sun on that quilt.

I entered many of my first several quilts into the local quilt show and then the state fair--and won ribbons.

Looking back at those first couple years, I guess I practically jumped past the beginning and maybe even the intermediate stages we quilters go through. Now that I think about it, I was pretty fearless!

When I'd been quilting for several years, even though I belonged to one of the local Thimbleberries Clubs, I never made the projects just as they were designed--I always added my own twist. For the life of me, I couldn't understand why anyone would want to make a quilt that looked the same as every other quilt made by all the other Thimbleberries Club members.

Then the Turning Twenty pattern came along--and similar patterns followed soon after. And I thought that any quilter who would spend time and money making Turning Twenty quilts must be an idiot. After all, all they were was simple rectangles stuck together with no points to worry about, no half-square triangles--nothing, in fact, that required much skill at all. Why waste the time? Why waste their abilities?

I can't really say exactly when it happened or why, but sometime in the last few years, I became more tolerant. I got over my "Turning Twenty snobbery." In a sense, I even "regressed" in my own quilt making, turning to the small, fairly simple quilts we made in Jo's Little Women Club, continuing to be interested in Thimbleberries patterns, and whole-heartedly jumping on the Schnibbles and charm pack bandwagon.

Why do I now find value in that kind of seemingly simpler quilt making? Several reasons. Working with charm packs is an inexpensive way to try out different fabrics and expand my comfort level--I don't think I'd buy yards of fabric I wasn't completely drawn to if I was making "regular" quilts. Working with smaller quilts like Jo's patterns and Schnibbles has improved my precision in cutting and piecing. Working with different fabrics and, for example, seeing the Schnibbles parades on Sinta's and Sherri's blogs and looking at how different each quilt looks despite being made from the same pattern has taught me something about color value and visual texture. Seeing the small ways some of the quilters tweek the patterns to make the quilts different is interesting too.

Sure, I still make some fairly elaborate quilts, and they tend to be my long-term projects, like the applique basket quilt I'm working on now. And on occasion, I even try my hand at something kind of artsy. Or I make non-quilt sewing or crafty projects. I already HAVE three or four king-size quilts, so I don't really need too many LARGE quilts anyway--sometimes it's just fun to make a small project. Then there's the instant gratification factor too. Or just knowing I have the ability to make something fairly quickly that will change the look of a room. There's quite a lot of joy in that.

In my life, quilting has been an amusing little hobby at times, and at other times, it's served as an outlet for my creativity and artistic urges.

You may wonder why I'm talking about this now, or perhaps you already know. There's been some discussion this week in the Land of Blog about quilting. There have been some personal opinions expressed about what's valuable and what's not, as well as concern about the direction of quilting and our growth as quilters. I've missed some of it, but I know "the dumbing down of quilting" has been bandied about and what that means to different people. And, of course, I can't go without putting my two cents in too. Personally, I don't think anyone's right or wrong from what I've read. I think we're just all at different parts of several different paths all leading in the same general direction. And I can't help wondering what our quilting past would have been if only Baltimore Album quilts were valued--would there have been any quilt makers in Gee's Bend? In my own journey, I find just as much value in the simpler quilt making I've done more recently, because I'm obviously still learning quilting's lessons--and maybe they're ones I skipped ahead on earlier. But I don't think that really matters. What matters is that I'm having fun and enjoying what I'm doing. I hope you are too.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Remember I showed you where I was on this quilt the other day . . .

. . . and I asked for some suggestions? Well I want to thank you for coming up with some great ideas! The idea that was the most unusual to me was Paula the Quilter's link to a Pam Bono design of a floral chain border. I found I was able to buy the pattern for the border as a download, so it was quick, easy, and fairly inexpensive to try out. I'm still not sure that's what I'll do in the end, but I thought I'd start out by making enough pieces for one border side and see how it will look.

Tonight I resized the pattern ("as is," the blocks were 10" long and I thought the proportions were too large for my smaller quilt), cut some pieces, and made the first block. Remember what you see isn't quite what it will look like once it's pieced together--those pointy petals will be more rounded like the side ones are, for instance, because the points will be in the seam allowance.

I thought that if I decided I didn't like it after I've made a side, at least you've given me several other suggestions to fall back on. I don't know yet what might come next if it turns out looking good. I thought I might either add a larger simple border to finish it off--I have a couple floral prints that would work nicely--or I might add some (empty!) pieced baskets--or maybe a combination of both with baskets just in the corners

Our willingness to offer suggestions and help one another is one of the things I like most about blogging. Thanks!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Spark!

Rather unexpectedly, our trial did not finish today, but court won't reconvene until next week, so my late-night assistance wasn't required tonight--yay! Instead, I was able to enjoy a dinner out with Hubby and friends at the Cheesecake Factory--do you have one in your area? We've only eaten there a couple times and it's awfully noisy inside, but the food is pretty good, and we managed to be seated in a section that was a little quieter--accoustics or something, I suppose. But really, no matter where you go or what you eat, spending time with people you care about is the best, isn't it?

After dinner, I had to stop by the grocery store, where I came across this--

Have you seen it yet? Now that I'm familiar with so many designers in Blogland, I find I pay more attention to who designs quilt projects for magazines than I used to, and I suspect many of you do too. And, of course, there were a few familiar names in this one. But the best thing was that in looking through the magazine, I felt a flicker of excitement that nearly--oh so nearly--spurred me on and into the Sweat Shop. Not quite, though, and I'll tell you why.

First, I looked at the clock and it was just past 9:30 p.m. That seemed a bit late to wander into the Sweat Shop and start something. I knew I'd probably just sit in there and look around and do nothing productive--because that's pretty much what I've done the last couple times I've gone in there. I need more time. Hopefully tomorrow night will be a good time to sew.

But the other reason I didn't head into the Sweat Shop was that I just felt like being lazy and reading this evening. When I mentioned reading yesterday, there were a couple comments asking what I was reading. Well, I'm reading one of the series of Kate Shugak books by Dana Stabenow, Whisper to the Blood. The series takes place in Alaska and the stories are somewhat suspenseful mysteries. The unusual thing about Dana Stabenow is that she's not afraid to kill off characters you wouldn't expect, so the books are anything but predictable.

Last week I read the new Jennifer Chiaverini book, The Union Quilters. My friend Julie-Julia was reading it around the same time, and we talked just a bit about it while we were reading. Both of us found the book a little bit slow. I love all the Elm Creek Quilters books and this one is no exception, but I didn't find myself caring much about these characters for some reason; in fact, I kept getting a little confused about who was who and what their relationships were to the others. The book just didn't seem to grab my attention quite as much as the previous books, but maybe that was just me. Have you read it yet? What did you think?

I like to buy a lot of my books used through Amazon, and I indulged in a little book-buying spree a month or so ago, so I have lots and lots of promising books to read. I'm sure I'll regain my balance, though, between quilting and reading before too long. In the meantime, I think I'll go take a bath and then head to bed with the Kate Shugak book. What have you read lately?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Such a Dull Girl!

You know what they say about all work and no play, right? Well, that seems to have been written about me. My boss is still in trial (but hopefully will finish tomorrow) and I've continued to work a fair bit of overtime when I'm not suffering from stomach flu or spending the weekend at home. (I don't mind staying late on week nights, but I find I really, really need my weekends off to unwind.)

And I've been singularly unproductive during what would normally be my "play time." I know you've seen some of the symptoms--like my being stuck and unable to decide where to go next on the applique quilt. I also have a small vintage-image transfer panel with an Easter theme, and I've been struggling to come up with a pieced border idea for that to no avail. Quilter's block, I guess you could say, but not in a good way.

Now I'm not complaining, exactly--it's more that I want to explain why I don't have much in the way of inspiration to pass on to you right now.

I know that sometimes I go through periods where I want to spend more time reading than sewing, and it may be that I've cycled into one of those times now. Then there's that stomach bug I had last week--who in their right mind feels very creative amid nausea and stomach cramps?

I thought I might be a little more inspired to create on Sunday. I spent a good deal of time over the weekend grocery shopping and cooking meals ahead of time, and I thought once I'd finished that, I'd be able to retire to the Sweat Shop for some quality quilty time, but it didn't turn out that way.

The last cooking endeavor of the day was frying up a batch of egg rolls--my family loves them, I wanted to use up some leftover cabbage, and I've been experimenting off and on the last several months, trying to recreate the egg rolls (lumpia) that a Filipino woman I work with makes. I've almost gotten the filling down; next I need to figure out how she makes the wrappers. Anyway, as I was lifting egg roll number five out of the hot oil with a slotted spoon, it rolled back off and into the pan, splattering hot oil all over my left hand. Ouch! (You're right: That's not really what I said at the time.)

Soooooooooo . . . I didn't much feel like sewing after that.

I didn't exactly go to the doctor for my burned hand, although I DID just happen to have an Ob/Gyn appointment on Monday morning, so I waved my hand in front of the doctor while I was there. I suspect she's more used to rug burns than hot oil burns, but she took a quick look and advised me to cover the burn on my thumb--the one bearing a blister that rivals the size of the thumb itself--with a dressing. Now I look a bit like Little Jack Horner except MY thumb is white and not plum.

Anyway, with the luck I've had lately, reading seems a bit safer, even if it does make me a little dull. I'll try to think of something more exciting to entertain you with, but it will need to be something I can do while wearing a helmet and protective padding, because I don't think I can stand any more physical insults right now. In fact, I think it's time for Tylenol, tea, a book, and my bed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Did I Mention . . .

Tonight was the monthly meeting of our embroidery club/class, and since Bearpaws & Hollyhocks closed, Gran--the teacher--has been holding the meetings at her home. Well, I think I told you the story of last month's meeting . . . remember when Gran lured me into shutting my keys in the car and I had to call AAA? Tonight went better.

To tell you the truth, I haven't worked on my little embroidery project between last month's class and this month's class, but I've pulled it out again and maybe I'll work on it a little more. It's a little Easter Bunny themed design--

Kind of cute, isn't it? Well, here's a little tip I meant to pass on to you and forgot about. In fact, I wanted to tell the whole class last month but Gran had turned everyone away before I got there.

Remember back in the '80s when all of us crafty folks were transferring designs onto T-shirts and sweat shirts and painting them with fabric paint? Yep, I did that. My poor kids had to wear a lot of dorky T-shirts because of that fad!

A couple months ago, I was at the thrift store and came across one of those transfer books and thought it might have some good embroidery patterns. And yes, there are a lot of dorky images in the book that I'd never use, but there are some nice images too--not bad for $1.50!

The bunny pattern came from the book. Sweet, eh?!

I also don't think I've mentioned that a new quilt shop is opening in Sacramento. Well, I've told a few of you, but not everyone. Guess what? My friend Gran is one of the owners, so we're sure to have a nice supply of embroidery goodies. I'll tell you more as they get closer to opening--which should be in about a month or so.

How's the 11 in '11 challenge going? I occasionally hear from some of you about the projects you've completed, but I didn't really have a way of letting everyone else know who's been doing what, so I thought the best way to share would be to start a Flickr pool where everyone can post photos of their projects. Please join the Flickr group and show us what you've been doing. And please feel free to visit the group even if you're not committed to 11 in '11--because you might find some ideas and inspirations there. You can also leave comments on the photos if something catches your eye or you have a compliment or a question. I've put a slide show in my sidebar--just click on it and it will take you to the group page.

I guess that's all for tonight. It seems like I had something else I wanted to say but I can't remember what it was. Of course, I'll let you know if I remember. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Remember I mentioned I was working on the last corner of applique on a quilt (that I'd been working on for YEARS!) And after I was done with the corner, I'd show you the quilt top? Well, here it is. Please disregard the corners folding down on themselves--I think you can get an idea of what it looks like so far.

This started as a Thimbleberries quarterly or monthly project some years ago and I expanded it and added the applique. When I mentioned it to you the other day, I said I was thinking about adding some appliqued words of a little poem-type thing I'd written. Well, I've decided against it. The words mention spring and keeping warm in the winter, and this quilt seems more like SUMMER to me, so I don't like the sentiment for this particular quilt. And I also, most recently, thought I'd add another scalloped-type border, but I tested it out and didn't like it.

So now I'm trying to decide how to finish it. I'd like to add another border of some sort, because I'd like to make it a bit larger, but I haven't been able to come up with a good idea so far. I love star blocks, but they don't seem right with the central basket and floral applique, and I thought about basket blocks, but would I be happy leaving them empty and not spending another five years adding applique to them? (Deja vu!) But really maybe basket blocks would look best if I can just restrain myself.

What do you think? Does anything come to mind? And, by the way, if you can't tell in the photo, there's a cream colored border around the outside edge right now, and I have plenty more of the brown and navy fabrics to do just about anything, if I just had an idea!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

I Keep Missing Stuff!

When I was checking up on a few bloggers tonight, I realized I had missed the March Friday Nite Sew In last night. I've also missed National Quilting Day today. I did go into the Sweat Shop for awhile this evening, but I was so uninspired by what I'd been working on that I decided to completely shift gears on the project--tomorrow. So I just turned off the lights and shut the door. And, if anyone's counting, this is the third or fourth year in a row that I've pretty much missed National Quilting Day! Maybe if I'd known, I would have been a little more motivated. Did you "celebrate"? What did you work on?

At least I can pretend the pincushion giveaway is in honor of National Quilting Day, right? You won't tell anyone that it's just a coincidence, will you? What do you MEAN you won't tell as long as you're one of the winners?! Sheesh!

One of the commenters mentioned she'd been given a pincushion by a neighbor with Eskimo children surrounding the pincushion (no, the neighbor didn't have Eskimo children--the pincushion DID!), so I had to go looking online for one--and they're really cute! Want to see what they look like?

If any of you know my husband, tell him he can get me one the next time there's a gift-giving occasion and he's stumped on what to get, okay?

I guess it's time to announce the randomly selected pincushion winners, isn't it? The three winners are Gwen, Judy in Michigan, and Mary at Quilt Hollow. Ladies, please email me your snail mail addresses and if you have a strong preference between the two colors--a bright yellow and a kind of hot or deep pink--let me know. I actually have two of each, so I'll try to accommodate your choices.

Now I think it's time to go to bed and read a Kate Shugak book by Dana Stabenow--her series is set in Alaska, and seeing that cute Eskimo pincushion put me in the mood.

Thank you all for entering and congrats to the winners!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cat Tales

Well, I survived the day at work, but I can't say I felt very well. Still, I knew I wouldn't feel any better at home, and since I came down with this bug on Tuesday and didn't seem to be running a fever any longer, I figured it was safe enough for me to return to work and not pass it on to everyone I work with--of course, I probably already did that on Tuesday anyway!

It's kind of funny, though, because when I first realized I was sick, I thought it was all in my head. I figured I'd subconsciously directed my body to break down so I could get a day at home to relax. After all, no one I knew had the stomach flu--it was the head cold/flu that had been running rampant through our office for the last month. Today, though, I returned a call to an administrator at a medical clinic who left a voice mail message for me on Wednesday. When I apologized for not getting back to her sooner because of this stomach bug, I found out it's apparently going around--she said she's had people out sick with the same thing every day this week. Frankly it was almost a relief to know it wasn't just my imagination!

Have you ever noticed how being sick--especially with a fever--can influence your thoughts and dreams? I know I tend to have the weirdest dreams when I'm sick! Well, on Thursday, I kept having a strong feeling of doom and gloom--that's one of the reasons I thought I really needed to get up and get back to work instead of sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself. All day I just felt like something terrible was going to happen, and I couldn't shake it.

Earlier in the day, I caught our older cat, Spike--

. . . clawing a chair in the living room. Well, she knows better and it's really something she rarely does, so I figured she was acting up for attention. I thought a time out was in order, so I put her outside in the backyard--she doesn't like going outside very much. About 15 minutes later, I went to the back door to let her in, but she'd gone off to sulk--at least I figured that was what she'd decided to do.

Beginning in the afternoon, every few hours I'd go outside to whistle for her (both my cats come to a whistle), but she didn't show up. Dark came along and still no Spike. Hubby was starting to worry but I figured she'd show up before long. Dinner time and she still wasn't home. When it was getting close to bed time, I finally started to worry. Where could she be?

I remembered, then, that the last time she disappeared and we couldn't find her, a neighbor spotted her under Hubby's car and we found her stuck in the engine compartment. I knew, though, that Hubby's car had been driven several times on Thursday. Had Spike gotten into the engine compartment and morphed into a dead kitty?

Now keep in mind that I'd been sick with a fever and expecting an impending cat-astrophy all along, so I wasn't very surprised. In fact, I absolutely KNEW right then that Spike had gotten into the engine compartment--the only question was, should I go out and LOOK then to confirm my suspicions or pretend the idea hadn't occurred to me until someone else discovered her poor dead body?

Well, as anyone would, I decided to take a bath and drown myself as punishment for putting poor Spike outside. Then someone else could discover the body, and I'd be dead so I wouldn't have to see it.

Laying there in the hot water, preparing to die, I thought maybe I should let myself live long enough to try whistling for her one last time. So after my bath, I put my jammies on and went out on the front patio and whistled. And whistled again. (And looked over toward Hubby's car a couple times to see if there were any suspiciously dark pools of liquid dripping out from underneath--it's too new a car to be leaking oil. I TOLD you I was sick, right?!) Nope, no matter how loud I whistled, no Spike.

So I went back inside and walked through to the back patio. And I whistled. And I whistled again. Finally, I heard a "meow" coming from the back of the yard where four properties come together. Edging cautiously closer ("edging cautiously" because the backyard is where the Drooling Dog lives and leaves things on the grass), I whistled once more. "Meow," Spike said, "Come and get me." Well, I couldn't see a thing in the dark, and I didn't know if she was stuck in a tree, on the roof of a garden shed, or just in a neighbor's yard and unable to get over the fence, so I went back in the house to get a flashlight.

Flashlight in hand, I returned and whistled again. No meow. Whistle, pause, nothing. I walked around, shining the flashlight on the trees, fences, and garden shed (as well as at the grass at my feet)--no Spike. No meow.

When I returned to the house, I saw Spike looking in the front window, waiting for me to open the front door--which I did. And guess what? STITCH ushered her in!

He had followed me out to the backyard when I first whistled for and found Spike, but then he disappeared when I went to get the flashlight. As it turned out, he must have gone to rescue Spike and lead her home.

Pets are funny! So are people with fevers. I'm just glad Hubby's car still has that new car smell.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Little Something

I've crawled out of my sickbed this morning and I'm planning to make a run at going to work--at least it's Friday and there's only one day left of the work week. My stomach is still not quite right, but I think I'm at the point where laying in bed (and around the house) is making me feel more achy and kind of "dark" in mood than if I got up and tried to go about the day normally, so I think a change of scenery is the best medicine.

And I have a little something for you. When I showed you the pincushion my boss brought back for me from China, several of you thought it was pretty fun/cute or had stories to tell of a similar pincushion your mom or grandmother had, so I went looking for some online and ordered a few from China through eBay--I have three to give away.

If you live here in the US and would like a chance to win a pincushion from China, please leave me a comment. I'll pick winners on Saturday night and post them on Sunday's post, so you need to come back to see if you've won.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sick Leave

Oh, man, I've been hit by some stomach bug. It started Tuesday after lunch when it just felt like my lunch didn't sit well. I worked another late night--until 9 p.m.--getting some trial documents finished, and then I just thought I was tired, but I woke up this morning feeling worse. So I've spent the day sleeping and just generally feeling icky and nauseous. Hopefully whatever it is will pass by morning. I've got too much work to do and quilts to make to feel bad for long!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Something Seems to be Missing!

I have a quilt I've been working on--on and off--for about eight years now. And when I decided I was going to finish 11 quilts in 2011, this was one that immediately came to mind. And now that I've finished my third quilt for 2011 and it's time to pick a fourth quilt, I settled on this one.

Despite working on this quilt for so many years, I haven't named it. For now, though, let's just call it my Thimbleberries applique quilt, okay? Because that's pretty much what it is. And the applique never seems to end. But that's okay--I LIKE applique.

Last time I pulled it out and put it up on my design wall, I decided I was going to add another "round" of fabric of some sort to make it larger, and whatever kind of piecing I chose would have to serve as an appropriate background for words--because I wrote a little poem or some such thing of four lines that I planned to applique into the borders.

First, though, I need to finish the applique in the last corner. Here's what it looks like:

The corner, that is--not the whole quilt. Just the three flowers with the ribbon.

And another thing. Some years back, when I first started this seemingly endless "heirloom" project, I picked out fabric to use for all the applique. So when I pulled the quilt off of my Waiting-to-be-Finished-Quilt-Rack, I went searching for the packet of applique fabric. I looked high and low, low and high. Behind and under. And you know what I found? (No, I mean BESIDES the dust!)

Blocks. Blocks that had been swapped over the years and never set. Several bags of them.

Fabric. Well, of course I did! No surprise there!

Kits. Who even knows what kits are there? They didn't look like my applique fabric packet, so I didn't look very closely. Denial. Besides, it's my retirement plan.

Finally, I found my applique fabric, high, high up on a shelf. And you know what? None of the freezer paper templates were with the fabric, nor were any prepared pieces or bias "stems." So where was that OTHER packet?

In looking, I found more stuff squirreled away. Orphan blocks. Weird give-away notions. Pieces of blocks. Cannibalized wallhangings. Bits of small projects begun but not finished. Two drawers full. But no templates or prepared applique pieces.

I spent the rest of the evening re-tracing the missing pieces from another corner of the quilt and cutting out the freezer paper templates. (In this photo, you can see I've placed the freezer paper pieces OVER the applique in the completed corner.)

Next I'll begin preparing the applique pieces for that corner. Then I'll put this seemingly never-ending project up on the design wall and show you what it looks like so far. And I'll look at it awhile--between bouts of belly button contemplation--and plan what I want to do for the next border "round"--the one with the appliqued words. And then I'll look for that scrap of paper with the sort-of poem comprised of four lines that I want to use.

And in looking for that sort-of poem, I'm sure I'll find even MORE stuff tucked away here and there, waiting to be found. And now that I've re-traced the templates, I might even find the ones I'd been using before.

So back to the title of this post--What do you think is missing? I bet you thought I was talking about the packet of templates and prepared applique pieces, right? No. What seems to be missing is my self-restraint. Or my stick-to-itivity. Or my focus. Or whatever it is that has somehow resulted in all this STUFF that hasn't been finished. Oh, I'm just a mess, aren't I?! I think I'm going to need to finish more than just 11 quilts in 2011. I'm already starting to think about 12 in 2012!

Is there therapy for this?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Third in 2011

I've finished my third quilt--just in time! Bring on the corned beef and cabbage!

How about you? Please leave a comment with a link to your blog if you have some photos to share with us--we'd love to pop in for a visit!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not So Great Service

On our roadtrip yesterday, we went to three excellent quilt shops--So Sew in Marysville, Honey Run in Chico, and Morning Star in Paradise--and one not so excellent quilt shop. Why not so excellent? Well, let me tell you.

There are four quilt shops up in the Chico area that give customers a 10% discount if they bring in a special lightweight nylon bag that they also sell. After stopping at the shops mentioned above, Gran wanted to visit another little shop that's one of the four shops that offers the discount. I wasn't very interested as I didn't think I'd find anything--they specialize in 30s fabrics and 1800s fabric and I wasn't looking for either--but I went along with the plan. I didn't, however, bring my discount bag into the shop.

After looking around a bit, I was somewhat surprised to find a couple things I WAS interested in--a Peter Rabbit panel, a yard of coordinating fabric, and a BOM-type embroidery pattern. The shop owner cut the yard of fabric for me and her assistant took the bolt over to the register (about two steps away) and started hand writing up a sales ticket. (Yes, they're still doing business in the 20th century in this particular shop.) I set the embroidery pattern down with the panel on the counter, and I told the assistant I had my bag in the car; did she need me to go out and get it for the discount? "Yes," I was told. So I rather grudgingly trudged out to the car to get my bag while she wrote up the ticket.

I came back in, she told me the total, and I handed her my debit card. After she chiseled the number onto stone and sent it off to the bank via carrier pidgeon (okay, a bit of an exaggeration--you caught me!), she had me sign the ticket. As I was signing, the shop owner turned and asked if the yard of fabric she still had was mine.

Well, after that, it got kind of goofy with the assistant telling me that I hadn't TOLD her that was my fabric and with ME telling her that she'd already WRITTEN IT UP on the sales slip before I even gave her the rest of my purchases, but sure enough, there were only the two items on the sales ticket, and I was purchasing THREE items.

So we went through the stone chiseling/carrier pidgeon process again for a second ticket for the yard of fabric. At some point, the assistant said, "Well, I need the NUMBER of the fabric," and I told her she HAD it because she'd taken the bolt to write it down and the bolt was still at her feet! She seemed a little flustered, but she didn't take the time to figure out what she had done. In fact, in talking to my friends later, they had the impression as she followed us around the shop that she was watching to see if we were there to shoplift, so maybe she was already primed to think we were trying to get away with something.

Very unpleasant. The woman was an idiot. And for the most part, except to tell the assistant to write another ticket, the owner ignored the entire incident as she was waiting on another woman in our group. I really don't think I'll go back again.

And today? It suddenly occurred to me what had happened, and when I checked, I found I was right. The assistant HAD written down the fabric on the first sales slip. Then when she saw my purchases, she ASSUMED the panel was the yard of fabric and didn't write that down. And you know how panels are quite often less than a yard? So on top of the hassle, I was overcharged for the panel. Yep, not going back.

Don't you just hate it when you have that kind of experience? As small as the issue really is when put in perspective, it just seems to cloud an otherwise terrific day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Remember the old 1970s song about truckers riding in a convoy and talkin on their CB radios? Well, what's the modern equivalent? Could it be quilters packed into two cars, undertaking a quilt shop road trip, communicating back and forth by cell phone?

Today my stitchery peeps hit the road. With the thought of all that overtime pay coming my way and fabric withdrawals since Bear Paws & Hollyhocks closed in December I was primed and ready! And I have to say: If there was a prize today for the person who spent the most money? Well, I'm pretty darn sure that would have been me! (But shhhhhhh! Don't tell Hubby, okay?!)

We had a lovely time, but the most unusual episode of the day began at the first little shop we stopped at. When the last couple people were checking out and the rest of us were chatting, I pointed out a small wagon on top of one of the shelves and mentioned I had the SAME wagon! I'd found mine at a yard sale last year and loved it. Perhaps you remember what it looks like?

Another customer--not part of our group--heard us chatting and said she'd gotten one by whining to a friend, who gave it to her. Well, one of our group, Sandy, started talking to the women--I think her name was Marilyn, but I'm really horrible with names--and Marilyn told Sandy that if she wanted the wagon, we could stop by her house later in the day, on our way home to Sacramento. Now how unusual is THAT? She even gave us her address and phone number and drew a map for us. Aren't quilters the best?

Sure enough, on our drive back toward Sacramento, we stopped in Yuba City to visit the very kind and generous Marilyn, and Sandy is now the proud owner of a green wagon. AND the bonus? Marilyn was able to direct us to the nearest Starbucks for a little refueling to get us on our way.

And yes, much of the way home--because it was dark by then--we communicated back and forth by way of cell phones to make sure the "follow" car was still following while the "lead" car put the hammer down. Everybody sing along now . . . .

"Coz we got a little convoy rockin' thru the night
Yeah we got a little convoy aint she a beautiful sight
Come on and join our convoy aint nothin' gonna get in our way
We gonna roll this quiltin' convoy 'cross the USA"

Saturday, March 12, 2011


Not long after I wrote my post last night, I heard the first news of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. The news was so incredible that I wondered if I should post to my blog again, but I thought I'd wait and see what developed.

Of course, by now we're all seeing what's developing, and it's seriously scary. Hubby and I just watched the news and we learned that a quarter of Japan has suffered, and it's not over yet. Can you imagine? And Japan is a nation whose buildings are meant to withstand earthquakes!

I grew up in San Jose, and we had tons of earthquakes. For several years, I worked on the 13th and 14th floors of a downtown office building that had been built to ride out earthquakes, but that knowledge didn't make it any easier to remain calm up there, looking out over the valley floor and surrounding hills as the building swayed back and forth each time a large-ish earthquake struck. I've always thought that one of the biggest attributes of Sacramento is its lack of earthquakes; in fact, as we were watching the news tonight, I told Hubby that I'm quite grateful I live and work in single-story buildings. Of course, that's no guarantee that an earthquake will never hit or that we'll be safe if it does, but it's all relative; at least it FEELS safer.

I don't recall hearing much about tsunamis when I was a kid, even though I lived only a half hour or so inland. One summer, though, my family was camped in a trailer at the beach when word came in the middle of the night of an earthquake in Alaska, and the beach campers were evacuated, cutting our vacation short. Looking back, I think that must have been the summer after the March 1964 earthquake in Alaska that resulted in a tsunami that devastated Crescent City--a city that has again been hit hard by this new tsunami. Santa Cruz, too, took a big hit this time--and Santa Cruz is only a few miles north of that beach we were evacuated from when I was a kid.

Of course, when I was a kid and we were evacuated from the beach in the middle of the night, it was simply another adventure to us. Except for the fact that we ended up with two days less to spend on the beach, it would have been wonderfully exciting. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of kids in Japan--and Crescent City, Hawaii, and Santa Cruz--who aren't finding this experience at all wonderful or exciting; not in a good way. And I hope that for many, the worst that has happened is a change in plans for a little while, but I'm sadly certain that it's much, much more than that for so many more.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Jello Brain

ARGH! As I suspected, I've had a crazy-busy couple of work days. On Wednesday, I took a "lunch break" from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to attend the monthly Thimbleberries Club meeting and then went back to the office to work until a little bit before 2 a.m. My boss and I both left at the same time, and we were both back at work a little before 9:30 this morning. AND I just got home around 10 p.m. tonight.

And on Wednesday? I was only a half hour short of making up the time I missed by taking Tuesday off for Hubby's surgery; but then I'd already worked more than that half hour in overtime on Monday. I think, though, that the crazy hours are over for now, as the last of the big projects we've had the last couple weeks is nearly ready to go out the door tomorrow.

On the positive side, I'll have a little extra in my paycheck at some point, which will come in quite handy because THIS Saturday I'm going on a little shop hop excursion up to Paradise (yes, there really IS a Paradise in California, and of course it has a couple quilt shops!) and Chico with five of my closest quilting friends. Yeah!

Right now, though, I think my brain has turned into soft-set Jello, so I'm just going to take a nice, hot bath and go to bed to read--this:

Bet you're jealous, aren't you?! I just wish I could sleep in tomorrow, but it's back to work again for one more day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Does 29 Mean?

Thanks to all of you who commented on my Birthblogday post! For some reason, the number 29 popped into my head, so I counted backward from the first comment and the 29th person (the 29th person who wanted to be entered as one person asked not to be) was chosen to win the Bette Bunny kit. I then counted 29 again, and then once more for the next two winners who will each get one of my patterns of their choice. First, drum roll, please . . . .

Laurie wins the Bette Bunny kit. She said, "Your blog and a hot cup of coffee is how I start my days. I have to agree with the comments that everyone before me posted. I laugh at the job and the quilting and the amount that you get done inspires me. I hope hubby does well with surgery. Happy Blog birthday!!!!" Laurie, please email me your mailing address.

Second and third prizes go to:

Arlene Ferrigno, who said "Kim, I get an immense kick out of reading about your adventures. Hope all goes well with your DH" . . . .

and Sandy, who said, "Happy Blogbirthday, Kim. You need a nice vacation for all this extra work. Life gets too hectic and we all need to stop and smell the roses. Good luck to your hubby with his surgery."

Arlene and Sandy, please look at the patterns in my Etsy store (you can click there through the link in my sidebar) and email me the name of your pattern choice and your mailing address. (Don't order them through Etsy--just let me know which one you want.)

Winners (and anyone else, of course!) can email me by clicking into my profile and then clicking on the email link.

Thank you all for your loyal readership over the past few years and your encouraging comments. I truly appreciate it.

[P.S.: Hubby's surgery went fine and he's home and resting.]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thank You!

Thank you for all the nice comments that helped to make my Birthblogday special! Your words are particularly special because I had already told you that you didn't have to tell me you loved me to be entered into the giveaway!

Some of you mentioned you hoped I'd gotten a better night's sleep or some rest over the weekend, and I can tell you that yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Saturday night was much, much better and I think I probably slept around eight or more hours. I really needed it, and finally by Sunday, I was feeling much more "normal." It's funny how working long hours and not sleeping well for just a couple days can throw a person off so quickly!

After a good night's sleep, on Sunday, we went with another couple to see a play at a small local theater. One of the women I work with, Lee Marie, is an actress in her "spare" time, and she was THE actress in the play, Shirley Valentine. Shirley Valentine is a British play about a 40-ish woman whose children are grown and whose marriage isn't what it once was. She wonders what became of "Shirley Valentine," the person she was before she got married and had children and settled into a life filled with expectations, but by the end of the play, she finds herself again. And yeah, it IS one of those stories that makes you laugh AND cry. The tough thing about the play is that it's a one-woman show, and my friend Lee Marie has mastered two hours of dialogue--in a British accent, to boot! Can you imagine? We were all very, very impressed. And it's a great script too--if you ever have an opportunity, go see it and take all your girlfriends!

After the play and on the recommendation of another friend from work, the four of us had dinner at a really yummy gourmet pizza restaurant that's opened in the last year or two. One of the friends we were with had lunch there before, but the rest of us were unfamiliar with it. As it turned out, it was a perfect choice, and we all had a marvelous time.

Tomorrow is Hubby's surgery--a few of you wished him well. The surgery he's having is similar, I think, to varicose vein surgery in that they will close off one of the veins in his leg because the doctors are concerned it could cause problems in the future. With Hubby's healing problems and skin ulcers, the vascular surgeon feels it's better to take care of it now. So, it's not a huge procedure and it's done on an outpatient basis, but it's still a surgical procedure, and we appreciate your well wishes.

I DO think work will be crazy again later this week--on Wednesday and Thursday--but at least the week is starting out slow. I'd better get some sleep now, while I can, because I have a feeling there will be less of it as the week goes on. See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 7, 2011

By Golly! I Think I've Got It!

Okay, loyal blog peeps, I've come up with an idea to celebrate my fourth Birthblogday! Woo-hoo! Here's the thing though: I don't have very much time this week. And what does that mean?

Well, first of all, let's keep it kind of low key. I'm certainly not going to ask you to post it on your blog, become a follower, or otherwise advertise on my behalf. I'd rather just make this about you guys--the peeps who come back here day after day and read whatever I may have to say.

I'll just keep this open two days unless something crazy happens and I have no time to pick winners on Tuesday night. But I should. Hubby's having some fairly minor surgery on Tuesday, so I won't be working late--at least I don't think I will. Winners will be picked late Tuesday night and posted on my Wednesday blog post.

The prizes? First place is a kit to make the Bette Bunny wallhanging--it contains everything you'll need except the binding. I should also mention that the fabric for the yo-yo flowers in the kit is slightly different, but the rest is the same.

I spent some time today putting together a couple kits for my Etsy shop, and I'm setting one aside for the celebration. Second place? Well, the second place winner can either pick a Bette Bunny pattern or a Spring! pattern. If you click over to my Etsy shop HERE, you can see them both (Spring! is also in my sidebar). Or, there are a couple other patterns there, if the second place winner prefers one of those.

And if there are a lot of entries, I'll pick a third place winner who will get the same offer as the second place winner. What are a lot of entries? Well, let's say if there are over 75, okay?

And I'm not even going to make you stand on your head or tell me how much you love me. Just leave a comment. And come back and see if you've won--because I won't email you to let you know--I like to make you come back and visit again. I'm funny that way.

At the start of this post I mentioned I'm not going to have much time this week. So the other thing that means is that I might not be able to post every night like I normally do. Or I might post from work in the middle of the night to say I'd rather be chatting with you but I'm working instead. I know you'll understand. And hopefully this week will be the last crazy one for awhile. Keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? Do that right after you leave a comment so I can enter you in the giveaway. Thanks, as always, for stopping by to visit.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Restful Weekend?

Well, not quite.

I don't know why exactly, but I had a really hard time sleeping Friday night. Maybe I was TOOOOOO tired? I think I was somewhat dehydrated--I don't think I made enough effort to keep hydrated during the work week, nor did I eat right, and I know I sat for periods that were too long. But whatever it was, I woke up every hour and a half to make a trip to the bathroom, and just about every time I woke, I was having an unpleasant dream.

I tried to take a nap this afternoon, but just as I was drifting off to sleep, Hubby came in to say he was going to run a couple errands and did I want anything? Yeah, SLEEP!!! And it's hard to get mad at someone when they think they're being thoughtful. Then the Wild Child took a shower, which seemed to involve a lot of banging and bouncing off walls, and the neighbors were working outside in their garden with their oldies music cranked up, so no nap.

Seriously, it turned out okay, though. Tonight we surprised my sister-in-law with a 50th birthday celebration, and we had a great time.

It's been really tough trying to keep it a secret and to make sure everything worked out okay because she kept trying to plan her own party! In the end, we were able to make sure both plans meshed--we had a buffet dinner that my brother-in-law planned, held in his favorite sports bar with cake after the dinner, and later in the evening, those who wanted to keep the party going went dancing at a local bar/pub/club. (Hubby and I elected to come home after the first part of the celebration, and I was able to sneak off to the Sweat Shop for a little quilting--something I hadn't gotten much of all week!)

The birthday party was fun, particularly because people attended who we hadn't seen in years, and almost all of the family was there. There were a few weird instances when strangers helped themselves to the buffet, but the bar was still open to the public at the time, and it was kind of like a wedding where no one knows exactly who everyone is. In fact, the only reason I know that some of the people helping themselves to food were strangers was because I'd overhear things. Like one man, who had just filled his plate with food, turned to see my brother-in-law--the one who planned the event--and asked him what he was doing there! But we had plenty of food, so it was all fine.

I had taken a few photos of friends, and I THOUGHT I was turning the camera off but instead I must have pushed the wrong button, because suddenly the flash went off and I captured a photo of the Wild Child--

I have no idea what she was looking at, but I thought it was a pretty good photo. (After the dinner, she headed up to Chico to spend the rest of the weekend with Manager Man.)

I think I'll take a Tylenol PM tonight and try to get a more restful sleep. We have another social outing planned for tomorrow, and I don't want to be a grouch.

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend! I'm glad you could stop in for a visit.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

March 7th . . .

is my four-year blogiversary. Or birthblogday. Yep, I think it's my birthblogday--because you know I always like to be different, right? I wanted to celebrate with a little giveaway, but I haven't had a chance to come up with a prize idea these last few days. Well, I'll give it some thought this weekend and we'll see what happens.

So, I guess you know that my work has been crazy. I brought my camera to work to take a photo of the big stack of papers we finally sent off today, but I couldn't figure out how to take a photo without breaching confidentiality, so you'll just have to imagine.

My boss uses a voice dictation system that types as she speaks, and it's kind of cool, but it's far from perfect, and that's where I come in. My job often seems more like that of an editor than a typist because I'm usually proofreading and correcting documents. (Sometimes the dictation program comes up with the funniest things!) We then revise documents several times, adding in and taking out and tweeking them until they're either perfect or we're out of time. (Mostly we just run out of time, but I think they're pretty good.)

This particular project required around 70 pages of typed legal argument and analysis along with a stack of exhibits--A through N--that was about an inch and a half thick and was taken from all of the different written evidence in the case so far.

As it turned out, my boss and I were at the office until 2 a.m. on Thursday night (actually Friday morning, I guess) before we figured we were far enough along to be able to meet the noon deadline. After going home and sleeping for a few hours (and doing laundry, in my case, so I'd have clean pants to wear), we were back at work at 9 a.m. on Friday. My plan was to get off work early, around mid-afternoon, and come home and take a nice nap but because I really needed to get a jump on next week's deadlines, I ended up staying until 7 p.m. And you know what? I guess 7 p.m. IS early compared to what the rest of the week was like!

There was one kind of funny thing that happened when we were working Thursday night. Around 10 p.m., my boss could see flashing police lights in the parking lot not too far outside her office window. (We're in a one-story, somewhat sprawling building, and the whole building is ours.) There's a courtyard between her office and the parking lot, and a fence obscures her view, so we decided to move to another office with a clear view to see what was going on. Just as we were standing there, looking out and trying to see what the cop was doing, a second police car pulled into the parking lot, sweeping the building--and US standing at the window--with a spot light. My boss panicked and said something like, "Oh my God, they can see us!," and started to run out of the office until I pointed out that she was making us look like fugitives, hiding from the law; so then she decided we should turn on the office light to let the police see what obviously upstanding citizens we were. Anyway, nothing really came of the whole incident except for our enjoyment of a rather goofy interlude, but it felt kind of funny (as things often do when you're beyond tired). As far as we can figure, the first cop may have turned on his lights so the second cop could find him more easily because they certainly didn't have anyone in custody nor did we see any suspicious characters lurking around the building (except us).

Now the weekend's here and I need to catch up on a little sleep. It's only around 9:30 p.m., but I'm going to take a bath, put on my jammies, and go to bed and read. Yep, I need to do some serious relaxing. Because next week will probably be crazy at work too. Next week we have an appellate brief due. And a whole bunch of other things that need to be filed with the court in a case with a trial starting the week after next. I'm telling you, being a legal secretary is just filled with never ending glamour and excitement.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Yep, Still at Work

It's after midnight. If I was sleeping instead of working, I'm absolutely positive I'd be dreaming of all the fabric I'm going to buy with my overtime pay. I'll be back tomorrow with a bit more time to chat. See you then!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Whistle Ran Out a Couple Hours Ago

I'm writing this from work to post a bit later. It's 9:30-ish. Last night I worked until 8-ish. This week, we're working on another one of those crazy projects that has to be out the door on Friday, so--to use yet another really trite expression--we're burning the candle at both ends. (The idea of working on a computer while talking about using candles for illumination is kind of amusing. Or maybe I'm just tired.)

So I have nothing much to chat with you about tonight. Tomorrow night . . . maybe nothing then either since that will be crunch time, but we'll see. Sometimes I get SOOOOOO tired, I get pretty funny; maybe my loss will be your gain. In any event, thanks for checking in on me. And if you stop by and see me sleeping with my face planted in my keyboard, wake me up, okay? I've got work to do.

P.S.: What did I miss on Survivor?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hey, Here's an Idea!

I don't know if you noticed, but I started a list in my sidebar of people who want to participate in my 11 in '11 challenge with links to their blogs. A couple of participants don't actually HAVE blogs but they do have profiles, so I've linked to their profiles in the list. Would anyone else like to join? Just let me know and I'll add you.

I've had some questions about what counts toward the goal of 11 projects and I've answered some of you individually, but if you've wondered and haven't asked, here's pretty much what I've said: It's whatever YOU think counts. I'm not the quilt police. All of us have different levels of experience, different needs, different budgets, different interests, and differing amounts of time to devote to the craft. So challenge yourself--and make it something you CAN accomplish if you put some effort into it, just as long as you don't make it too easy. Think about what your biggest stumbling block is when it comes to quilting and incorporate THAT into your challenge. For me, I have a tendency to finish quilt tops and set them aside without quilting them. I also have some UFOs with applique that aren't all that far from being done and then quilted. These are the kinds of things that will be a challenge for me to work on this year. What do you find is your own challenging area or task when it comes to quilting?

Another idea is to pick a couple things you've WANTED to do but haven't so far. Maybe you've always wanted to hand quilt something but haven't had the time. How about making one of your challenges a hand quilted project? Or try a new technique and carry it through to completion. Or maybe you want to make a quilt for a special person or occasion. Only you know what kind of challenge is right for you. Make a list now if you work best that way or simply have a few projects in mind and be flexible enough to add to it as the year progresses--whatever works best to keep you on task. And most of all, remember: it isn't supposed to be a chore!

I'd like to also encourage you, if you're participating, to post comments on my blog from time to time, letting us know you've completed one of your challenge projects so we can visit you and see what you've done. You could set up photos in your sidebar showing your progress as I have. Or set up a Flickr account for photos of your projects and link to it in your sidebar.

As I said earlier, a couple of participants don't have blogs, so I've linked to their profiles, but please let me know if you have a Flickr account (or anything similar) for photos and I'll change the link to your Flickr account. Or consider starting a blog--it doesn't have to take a great deal of time and effort, and you don't have to write regularly; just upload photos of your completed projects with descriptions so we can see what you've done. (Blogger is very simple to set up and has templates you can use for your blog format.) It's a great way to track your progress through the year.

And for those of you who don't want to make the commitment for whatever reason? Well, the rest of us are sticking our tongues out at you. That's quite alright, but please enjoy looking at what the rest of us are doing and cheer us on--I know you will!

And as always, whether you participate in the challenge or not, I'm glad you stopped in for a visit.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Next Up: St. Patrick's Day

I've decided which quilt will be my third of eleven for 2011--

All things considered, it might not seem like much of a challenge, but here's the thing. Or actually, here are TWO things: (1) quilt number two was an awfully BIG project with "accessory projects" so I feel justified picking a smaller quilt for my third selection, and (2) even more importantly, apparently it IS a challenge for me because I've had it in my "waiting to be quilted" basket for two years. You see, I made this quilt top two years ago as a free pattern/tutorial for my blog readers. You can click the link in my sidebar if you'd like to make one, but you should be aware--because I get questions a lot--that this was a multi-part blog post and the last part will be the first section you'll see--you need to scroll down to get to the first part and work your way back up. That's just the way Blogger sorts it if I use tags for searching and posting links.

And, by the way, you COULD just make a small shamrock quilt with four shamrocks and borders, and you don't even have to get all fancy with a ribbon border like I did. You can just keep it simple. In fact, you COULD make SINGLE shamrock blocks and then use them to make potholders for all your friends so they can protect their hands from being burned when they make corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick's Day. So there you go--make some shamrocks.

In the meantime, I'll be quilting mine.