Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ergo, You Bought Me a Falcon . . .

Have you seen that insurance commercial? Just in case you haven't, the guy finds a way to justify buying a falcon because he used the money he saved on his insurance. I love the commercial, because it's exactly the kind of mental gymnastics I go through to justify my own non-essential splur-chases.

Take today for instance. But first, the background.

When I was in the grocery store last night, I saw this magazine:

Have you seen it? I'm a sucker for holiday mags. After I got home from the store and put my groceries away, I started browsing and found I was captivated by the "decorating with skeletons" section. How cool are these ideas?!

And, of course, there are more in subsequent pages, but you'll have to buy the magazine to see them and find out how they arranged them--you won't be disappointed.

Anyway, after looking at the magazine last night, one thing led to another, and soon I was surfing the internet for skeletons. I finally found the ones I liked best today, and ordered two from the Spirit Halloween store's website.

Yes, the skeletons were a little bit pricey, but here's the thing: Over the past several months, I worked a fair amount of overtime, and the office manager discovered an error in the way one of the categories of overtime pay was calculated. When all is said and done, I should be getting a couple hundred dollars extra on my paycheck tomorrow to fix the error. Cool, huh? I just wonder what Hubby will say when I tell him my office manager bought me two skeletons!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just Some Stuff

Madame Samm is rounding up Ghastlies quilters for a blog hop. If you've caught Ghastlies fever, go visit her and see what it's all about.

While visiting Madame Samm and trying to get in on Ghastlies fun, I ran into a Google/Blogger problem: I can't comment on some blogs when I'm logged in as ME because Blogger tells me I'm not authorized--using my log on--to view the page. I ran into the same problem on another blog I tried to comment on, but I have no problem with most blogs. So far, it seems to be the blogs with embedded comments on the blog post page rather than the type with a separate pop-up comment page. But maybe that's coincidence. Frustrating! I've posted my problem on the Blogger Help Group forum, but I've not had anyone post a solution yet.

I don't know if you'll find this as funny as I do, but I'll tell this little story anyway. Hubby cooks dinner on weeknights and over the last year or two, I've discovered that he really has no interest in cooking. And I think I've mentioned that if he has no direction on what to cook for dinner, we end up having steak. So what I've tried to do in the last several weeks is make out a menu plan, have the ingredients on hand, and assemble the week's recipes for those dishes that require recipes. Tonight Hubby was supposed to cook a simple chicken cordon bleu, broccoli, and rolls. I had the chicken cordon bleu recipe printed out for him (there's a link to the recipe above--one of our favorites), so I was a little taken aback when he called me at work to ask where the recipe was for the broccoli rolls. What a hoot!

I talked to Soccer Son today. His Lovely Wife to be Someday had tipped him off that he HAD to read my blog because it was hilarious. Yeah, uh huh. But, as he pointed out, he's not the one who posted it on my blog. Sheesh!

Here in California, talking on cell phones while driving--unless they're hands free--is against the law, but it seems like everyone does it. And maybe you'll recall that I hate talking on the phone, so I still don't have a cell. And that, of course, allows me to view my fellow travelers with haughty distain as they drive down the road, flaunting the law.

Driving home from work tonight, while stopped at a traffic light, I noticed the older gentleman in the Lexis next to me had his hand up to his face. I was slightly behind him, so I couldn't see clearly, but of course, I assumed he was talking on his cell. About a half mile further on, I was stopped at another light when I noticed the same guy stopped behind me, again with his hand up to his face. There was something odd going on through--I could tell right away that he wasn't talking on his cell, but what was he doing? As I kept glancing back and forth between the rear view mirror and the red light, I finally realized the guy was playing a harmonica and singing. That's a first for me!

I'll leave you with this thought: Rock on, while it's still legal.

Monday, August 29, 2011

And on to the Next . . .

The project I took to work on during tea and stitchery was the binding of the Ghastlies. And I finally, FINALLY, finished it late Saturday night. I don't prewash my fabric, so after taking the last stitch, I threw the quilt into the washing machine and transferred it to the dryer just before closing my eyes for the night. The first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to pull it from the dryer--voila!

Done! And I can finally say I've now completed 6 of my 11 quilt goal for the year.

So what's next up? Well, I've been telling everyone who will listen to me that I really, REALLY need to make myself a new purse, and I have what I think would be an excellent design in mind, but . . .

Do you remember this pattern from a couple years ago?

I fell in lust with it and started collecting fabrics when the pattern first came out. I took everything I needed to quilt camp in August 2009 and worked on it the entire time I was there. Before I could come close to finishing, Halloween was upon us, and I put it aside.

LAST year, I pulled it out again, and worked on it a bit, but I was distracted by other projects. Again, I folded it away.

Then THIS year, I suddenly remembered it was languishing in the dark somewhere, and this morning, I crawled around on my hands and knees, peering under the tablecloth that hides everything I squirrel away in the Sweat Shop, and I found it!

I didn't remember how far I'd gotten, but when I put the "pieces" up on the design wall, I realized I only had two blocks left to make. I made one of them today:

Here's a peek at some of the "pieces" up on the wall:

I should have the last block done in a few days, and then I can start digging orange, black, and cream fabrics out of my scraps and stash for the piano key border. Perseverence just might pay off this year!

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Are kids ever too old to be spanked? 'Cause I'm thinking even though Soccer Son is 30 years old, I owe him one! Sheesh!

I've seriously never thought of myself as naive in any way, but I guess yesterday's post proved me wrong, eh? I'm happy so many of you were amused though. THAT joke's certainly on me!

I thought I'd show you some of my safer thrift store finds. No Post It notes on any of them!

I came across this little Limoges creamer at Goodwill. It's really not my style, but I thought it might be collectible so I brought it home. There are no chips and it's initialed on the bottom "J.E."--presumably the person who painted it.

And just in time for the upcoming season--

I've admired these pumpkins at JoAnns and elsewhere the last couple years. When I found this little one for 99 cents, I thought it was a fairly good deal.

You know how I love cherries, right? Even though there was just one salt/pepper shaker rather than a pair, it has CHERRIES on it, so I couldn't pass it up! It looks like Mary Engelbreit, but I don't know if she ever designed for Sakura. Debbie Mumm has, so maybe it's one of her designs? I don't know, but I think it's sure cute.

Buttons. Who could pass those up?

I found the hand embroidered dish towel at a little thrift store when I was on the way to stitching and tea at the quilt shop, so I brought it for show and tell. I tried to tell them I made it, but I couldn't keep a straight face. Well, and I'm sure Gran wouldn't have believed me, even if I was a more talented actress!

Finally, and NOT from the thrift store at all, THIS book came home with me yesterday:

I've picked this book up a couple times at a couple different places and admired it--I thought maybe it was time to buy it and bring it home. Cute projects in it!

My friends and acquaintances on the east coast have been on my mind today. Manager Man, the Wild Child's boyfriend, is in the Hamptons to work at one of the restaurants his bosses own, and so far he's fine. I can't think of any other personal friends or family members in the direct path of Irene, but I know several bloggers who may be affected and we have friends a little further inland who will at least get some nasty weather and other inconveniences. We will all just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings, although with the anticipated power outages, it may be awhile until they're all back to normal. In the meantime, I'm hoping and praying this storm isn't nearly as bad as has been anticipated.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

While Mom's Away . . .

As it turned out, Friday was a pretty good day. Back when my office celebrated Professional Whatever Day (what used to be called Secretaries' Day) in April, the firm gave each of us a certificate for a half day off, and I chose to redeem mine on Friday. My "free" afternoon started with a visit to a few thrift stores and then I joined Gran's last-Friday-of-the-month-tea-at-the-quilt-shop bunch. I wanted to give you a little bit of an idea of what tea's like without photographing all the participants and then having to explain to them that I have a blog and if they'll just let me publish their photos, they'll be famous. So instead I photographed the table with the food. Simpler that way.

Gran sets a cute table with vintage linens and we all bring yummy stuff to share and eat. Then we do hand work and tell funny stories about our husbands. (It's surprising how many of them seem to watch the Lifetime Channel! Who'da thought?)

You'll notice I mentioned I shopped a few thrift stores first, right? I'm back thrifting again. In fact, I've been doing a little treasure hunting this week. One of the little things I found was this girl's wooden jewelry box:

My thought is that I'll do some crafty paint and paper/altered art thing to it to make it cute and then I can store stuff in the drawers. Probably sewing stuff. Maybe buttons. You get the idea, right? When I turn it into a treasure, I'll be sure to show you.

Anyway, I brought it home Wednesday night and had it sitting on the trunk in the living room that serves as our coffee table. When I came home from the Friday tea, I could tell the Wild Child and Soccer Son had both been admiring my find. See their Post It notes?

The top one is the Wild Child's. You can probably understand where she gets her nickname. I'm not sure what Soccer Son was trying to say about "pearls," but I'm sure the Wild Child will edit his note when she gets home from work tonight. And I guess the fact that Soccer Son can't spell "necklaces" despite the fact the word's written on the drawer also says something about why his nickname is sports-jock-related and not something like "Webster."


Friday, August 26, 2011

Coming Soon to a Computer Near You?

I noticed yesterday that Carol's back at her blog (and all's right with the world). And she started back with a post that touched on the need to cut back on fabric buying. Well, that kind of hit home with me, especially since I'd just written a blog about ordering some fabric on the internet and forgetting that I'd done it. And sitting in the Sweat Shop, looking around at my stash--or trying to find a home for anything new I bring in--makes me realize that for me too, it's time to sew more and buy less. Have you reached that place in your quilting life yet?

For some of us, it might be a financial decision. For some of us, it might be a space decision. For some of us, it might be a decision based on the knowledge that no matter how long we live, we're NEVER going to be able to use everything we like and buy. And for many of us, it's a combination of those three things.

I've been thinking for some months now that I'd like to host a quilt along. You might remember I mentioned that possibility some months ago when many of us had geared up for a quilt along and ended up not participating because it didn't feel like the project for us.

Since then, I've had the idea percolating a bit at the back of my mind, but there have been other things going on. So it's still just a bit of an idea, but it's starting to develop. Here's what I'm thinking about so far.

There won't be much direction about how much fabric you need ahead of time, and there are two very good reasons for that: (1) I want us all to use stash fabric and scraps, and (2) I don't know what the quilt will BE yet--and probably won't until it's done. I'm thinking of calling this quilt along something like Kim's Big Scrappy Quilt-Along Adventure. Catchy name, eh?! It will be kind of like a mystery quilt but different because I don't really like mystery quilts!

Most of the blocks will actually LOOK like something. What I mean is that I like star blocks, house blocks, tree blocks, etc. I'm visualizing something a bit like a row quilt. Or a medallion quilt with houses, trees, and "stuff" in the center and stars all around. Take a look at THIS quilt I made. It won't BE this quilt--nothing as elaborate and I seriously doubt that I'll make you do applique--but this is a bit of the feeling I'm thinking about--a quilt that's cohesive in subject matter even though it's made from scrappy fabrics.

I think the quilt will be the size of a large wall or throw quilt when we're done. I think the blocks will be of various sizes. I suspect we'll be making a few blocks each week. And I think you'll probably have a front row seat on the design process, since I'll be doing some of the designing as we go. Scary? Maybe. But if we end up with extra blocks that aren't used in the end, they can be used for another project--after all, the idea is to use scraps and stash, be creative, and have fun doing it.

I'm going to try to get my thoughts ironed out a bit more in the next couple weeks and then let you know what the plan is. Do you think this might be a project you'd be interested in participating in?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How Did I Miss THAT?

If you've read my blog for a bit, you probably know how freakish I am about grammar and punctuation. So how did I not know that March 4th was National Grammar Day? I had to look back in my blog to see what I was doing that could possibly have taken priority over a day dedicated to the celebration of good grammar--turns out that's when I was working crazy long hours and stayed half the night at work the night before with my boss trying to get a project out the door.

Maybe you wonder what got me started with the grammar thing today? Or maybe you already know?

Old Navy. Old Navy partnered with a number of well known colleges and universities around the country to market a line of football T-shirts. Unfortunately, the tees were printed with "Lets Go!!"--which is missing an apostrophe between the "t" and "s." Really, how does that happen? (Click HERE to see the tee.) And how will the Old Navy TV mannequins sell these things?

Do you know what else I missed? The Wet Seal T-shirt error. The T-shirt was printed with a fairly tacky slogan that said "If Your Single, So Am I." (Photo HERE.) "Your" should have been "you're," as in "you are." It's a contraction. Sheesh!

On a positive note, The Wild Child hopes to become an editor once she completes her education. It seems there's a real need for editors, just as long as marketers and advertisers wake up and realize it.

Next year, remind me about the March 4th "holiday," okay? I hate to miss these kinds of crazy, fun, wild celebrations!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fabric Amnesia

Do you ever order something online and forget you've ordered it by the time it arrives? I don't do it often, but every now and then, it's like my body double went shopping and didn't tell me.

Late last night, someone brought in the mail, and there was a squishy Priority Mail envelope for me from a quilt shop. Really, I didn't even SEE the envelope until this morning as I was getting ready for work, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember what it could be, and I didn't have time to open it before leaving for the office.

You probably aren't quite as anxious to find out as I was, but even so, I'll show you what I found when I came home from work and opened the package:

Luna Notte and Other Goodies

See that dark fabric underneath? Even as I was pulling it out of the package, I couldn't remember why I'd bought it. Isn't that funny? Finally, when I looked at the charm packs and saw the Luna Notte pack, I remembered.

For last month's Le Petite "club," Miss Rosie's human rewarded each of us who made the George Schnibbles with a layer cake. Except in typically generous Carrie Nelson fashion, we each received TWO layer cakes and a little pattern. Here's a photo of my "haul"--

Miss Rosie Goodies

See the Luna Notte layer cake? Well, I finally remembered that I'd decided to purchase a "neutral" fabric to go with the layer cake and make something; and because the charm packs were on sale, I bought one of those too--and a couple more to keep it company on the long journey from the fabric shop to my mailbox. After all, we all need travel companions.

I can hardly believe I totally forgot about ordering that fabric! After all, it's not like I could forgot what Carrie Nelson sent us. One of these days, I'd like to do something nice for her, but I'm not sure what. If I ever find Aladin's lamp, I'll send that genie off to visit her. Or if she ever needs a kidney, I'm the gal to ask.

By the way, her new book, Another Bite of Schnibbles, will be out soon. It's definitely on my Amazon wish list.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Official!

I hadn't told you before, but when my boss decided to take a leave of absence to spend three months with her new husband in China, I decided that maybe it was time to have carpal tunnel release surgery on my left wrist--I had the right one done last June.

My left wrist wasn't as bad as the right, but the surgeon wanted to do it last August. I told him I'd rather try a cortisone shot and wait and see. After being off work for six months, I was kind of anxious to get back, for all sorts of reasons.

In the meantime, the cortisone shot didn't seem to do much, and my left hand goes numb whenever I drive or talk on the phone--not horrible, but life would be better if both hands worked right.

So, anyway, I talked with the people I answer to in my office, saw the surgeon last month, and got the workers' comp approval for surgery; today I scheduled it. September 20th. Check in at 6:30 a.m. No caffeine before. I think that's the worst!

I'll probably take a little blog break when I have surgery--but I'll remind you a couple days before. Four weeks away and I have a lot of quilting and craafting to get done. I'd better get busy!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pip Berry Garlands and Other Temptations

I've been thinking about autumn off and on. Have you? I thought that when I finally got done dressing up the house for summer, I just might not want to change things again until Christmas, but here it is, just a few months later, and my thoughts have turned to Halloween and fall decorating. It doesn't seem to matter that the temperatures are in the 90s. Just like the swallows coming home to Capistrano each year, every year I start mentally preparing for fall sometime in mid- to late-August.

When I went to my friend Imelda's home a couple months ago, I greatly admired a patriotic garland she had in her dining room, and after I got home, I went on line searching for something for my own home. Eventually, I stumbled upon 1804 Primitives on eBay and found they had lighted pip berry garlands--with several color variations on the pip berries--with rusty stars. Perfect! I decided to order one with cream colored pip berries which seemed to be perfect with most holidays and seasonal decorations. Here's a photo of the one I ordered:

It's not a close up, but you can click over to the seller's store from the link above to see these better--and all the other cool and crafty things they carry. (I also added silicone stars to the lights on mine--they don't come with them.)

So, anyway, when I started thinking about fall and Halloween decorating, I had to admit that the white pip berries just weren't whispering "autumn" to me. So yesterday I visited 1804 Primitives again ordered another one--I'm pretty sure it was the "harvest mix" color. Although now that I look back at the website, I have to wonder why I didn't order the 4 foot pumpkin pip berry garland? Also, not instead of. Well, maybe it's because I DID order several other things besides the garland, and one has to draw the line somewhere, right? Sheesh! I swear I have no self control.

Soon the Ghastlies will be quilted, my package from 1804 Primitives will arrive, and it will be time to get the Halloween and fall boxes out of the garage. I've also been thinking about a new papier mache craft I'd like to try this year.

So how about you? Have you been thinking about autumn yet?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Ghastlie End

--to the quilt instructions, anyway! When we left off, I had given directions up through making all the blocks and putting them together, right? So the next step is to add an inner border all around--I picked a medium tone (grayish) bramble print. This inner border is cut at 2" and finishes at 1-1/2". You can see a bit of that inner border in this photo:

Next, the corner blocks will need to be made. For these, I believe you've set aside four fussy cut squares. I think you might have even bordered them with the black fabric, but if you haven't done it yet, go ahead and do that now, just like you did with the center blocks.

After that, you'll need to add background to bring the corner blocks up to the right size, also just like you did for the blocks in the center. For my background fabric, I used the same fabric I used for the inner border.

The outer border could be problematic if you use the border print. I bought 2 yards and was able to get six rows of the print out of it. I found that the repeat was a little less than every 12". If your shop didn't cut carefully, you might not have enough to make your border as I did, but there are ways to get around that. I'll talk about solutions in a minute, but for now, let's just assume you can cut six rows, width of fabric ("WOF"). For two of those rows, cut them at the center fold and piece one onto each end of the whole WOF strip, so each border is 1-1/2 strips long--I hope that makes sense!

Measure the quilt top and your strips and trim the border strips to the same length. Sew the side borders on and press.

To the top and bottom borders, add a corner block to each end. Press those seams in the opposite direction from the side border seam so the seams will intersect nicely. Finish sewing on the last two borders. Done!

Now, some possible solutions if you aren't able to cut six rows of border fabric. First, there's the "buy more fabric" option.

Second, consider not adding a top border if you plan to use the quilt on a bed--if your pillows would cover it anyway, why worry? I've done this a couple times just to try to keep a king size quilt a manageable size!

Third, add fussy cut blocks to the centers of each border row--or larger star blocks.

Fourth, treat the border fabric as you did with the fussy cut block centers and fussy cut each section and alternate those pieces with plain fabric.

I wish I could say I'm done with the Ghastlies when it comes to my own quilt, but I'm still plugging along. Sometimes it feels like I'll NEVER finish, but I'm getting close--I just have two and a half borders left to quilt and then, of course, there's the binding.

But, I think before I get done, I'm going to need more of that green thread. Isn't that always the way it goes? Still, I'm pleased with the way it's turning out. Happy quilting!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Voice

Okay, so we talked about reality TV the other day and most of you who commented said you didn't watch it. And I think maybe a couple people mentioned reality TV shows like American Idol and similar "competition" type programs. In fact, it seems to me maybe someone said American Idol was based on looks more than singing talent. Or maybe I heard that criticism somewhere else. And yeah, I can see that.

Anyway, today I learned that one of my co-workers, Chris Fields, received an invitation to try out for The Voice. It you click HERE, you'll see I mentioned him about a year ago when he sang with the Q-Balls at one of my firm's annual events. Talented guy.

From what Chris said, I think he feels The Voice is based more on talent than looks, particularly since the judges can't even see the contestants to begin. I haven't watched it--so far. But I've seen the commercials and it looks like an interesting show.

The Wild Child tried out for Idol. From her description, the try outs were so brief that I think many talented people don't get much of a chance, particularly if they don't make an instant visual impression.

Unlike Idol, Voice views applicants' You Tube videos and invites some of the best based on their videos--which seems like a more reasonable way to find people with talent, doesn't it?

I'm excited for Chris. I have no idea how the selection process goes from here and what his chances are, but I think this will be a pretty cool experience, don't you? Did you watch the first season? I'll let you know how Chris does and whether he makes it though the first round of auditions.

Friday, August 19, 2011

For What It's Worth . . .

I have another little quilting/sewing tip--or maybe two--tonight. First, in the block below, see how the seems aren't pressed very flat? Particularly that one seam? It's not THAT big a deal to have the occasional seam going the wrong way or not laying completely flat, but you should be aware that if your seams are pressed flat to one side or another, the seam line will be straighter. Of course, we all mis-press a seam or get one caught in another seam going the wrong way occasionally, but when it happens more often than not, chances are the look of the front of the quilt will suffer too. Paying attention to details really does make a difference in the quality of the finished quilt.

What I really wanted to talk about here, though, is tension. See the wavy line of the bobbin thread in some seams? I think you can especially see the loops in the seam on the right side of the photo where a blue square meets a blue and gold half square triangle, right? I've had that same thing happen with my Bernina, and no matter how I adjust the tension, it still isn't right. I probably should take it in to be cleaned and checked out, but I've been procrastinating.

Berninas, however, are pretty well known for that type of tension problem, and there's a simple solution that I've never heard from any "official" source, but it's been passed on to me by other Bernina owners. If you have a Bernina and have had wonky tension--and if you don't already know about this--maybe this will help.

All you have to do is run the bobbin thread through that little hole in the doo-hickey, like this:

Here's another look from a different angle.

After running the thread through the hole, just pop the bobbin into the case and sew as you normally would.

I don't know if there are similar tricks for other machine brands, do you? If so, please share in the comments.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Public Scrutiny

I was watching TV briefly tonight between arriving home and dinner time, and there was a story on one of those gossipy entertainment news programs about the suicide of the husband of one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I thought it was interesting that the host interviewed various "regular folks" about whether reality TV had perhaps gone too far.

In all the Real Housewives shows combined, there were something like 39 couples, and something like 13 couples had split up after being on the show (I didn't write down the figures, so I'm just going by memory). Of course, studies show that about 50 percent of marriages result in divorce so maybe the Real Housewives stats aren't that high, but then again, those splits occurred in a fairly short period of time.

Historically people--most people--have always been nosy and gossippy. Back in the day, we watched and talked about our neighbors; now we have reality TV and . . . blogs!

I've been left comments in which I've been taken to task for blogging on subjects that should stay private. Yep, I'm pretty open about my life for the most part, but sometimes I keep things private--but, of course, you don't know that. For instance, I try to be conscious of what friends and relatives would want me to talk about and what they would not want me to talk about. I like to tell you funny stories about the people in my life, but if the stories might embarrass those people, I don't.

The difference, maybe, between reality TV and blogging is that bloggers get to edit themselves. I'd hate to have someone follow me around filming everything I do and then let them decide what to show and what not to show. Offered a chance to be in a reality TV show ("Real Quilters of Sacramento" sounds pretty catchy, doesn't it?), I'm pretty sure I'd turn it down. I can't imagine that constant attention--I'd snap, I think!

Do people on reality TV shows simply get what they bargain for, or do you think reality TV has gone too far? Most of the "regular folks" they interviewed on TV said they didn't think reality shows had gone too far, but then again, they were edited. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

On the Mend

I stayed home from work today and I'm feeling better this evening, but there's really not too much to talk about since I just slept about as long as I could stand, and then read and quilted some. Back to the real world tomorrow. Thanks for the well wishes!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Oh, Heck!

I seem to have a stomach bug tonight. Did you see the movie Bridesmaids? You know the scene where they all go out to lunch and then go to the bridal shop to pick out bridesmaids' dresses? My stomach sounds like that. Hopefully it won't quite BE that bad. I've got nothing else to talk about tonight though. I'll be back tomorrow--unless it IS that bad!

Gotta go now.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another Stellar Day

Except for the part where I drove around Sacramento for an hour this morning, all for nothing, the day was another excellent one! And why did I waste time driving around? I wanted to go to the Second Sunday Antique Faire, but when I got down there, traffic was truly horrendous, and I just couldn't imagine (especially after circling around the area a few times) finding a parking spot a couple blocks away and trying to battle through the crowds in the summer heat. Nope, didn't sound fun. So I headed to a favorite thrift store downtown that I don't get to very often--but it wasn't open yet. I gave up. Not wanting to go home empty handed, though, I hit the Starbuck's drive thru for some morning fuel. And guess what? Hubby was still sound asleep!

I unpacked my goodies from the stitchery get together and thought I'd show you the loot. Julie, the hostess, gave us the glass with candy flowers and floral fabric--the fabric is a kit she put together for each of us to make a small quilt. Cute!

We also each received two potholders--the green silicone one was from Irene, and the red chenille one was from Sandy, as was the emery strawberry. Julie also gave each of us crosses from a mission she visited last week. It doesn't show up very well, but it's the prettiest thing made of glass. Last but not least was the card Imelda had made for each of us--it will look excellent framed and hung up in the Sweat Shop.

After I gave up on driving around Sacramento and armed with a Venti iced latte, I headed to the Sweat Shop to continue working on the project I took to Julie's with me--a Christmas pillow. My sewing was interrupted a few times today, but by the end of the 11 p.m. news, here's how far I'd gotten on it--it just needs to be stuffed and the last seam stitched closed:

Cute, isn't it? That's the pattern I bought from The Quilt House. I made my pillow a little larger than the pattern and added ruffle, but here's the pattern in case you're interested:

It's by The Quilt Company--the glare from the flash washes out the name a bit.

If you want the pattern and can't find it, give The Quilt House in Gardnerville, Nevada, a call--she even has extra packets of the buttons, so you can make more than one and give them to friends and relatives.

Besides sewing, Hubby and I took my car to the car wash and went out for a good dinner--I had a birthday coupon for a free entree at one of our favorite Italian restaurants. Yum!

And sometime during the weekend, I cleaned house, did laundry, made up the week's menu plan, and did the grocery shopping. It feels really good to have accomplished all that and still had a marveous time! Sadly, the weekend's over and it's off to bed for me--tomorrow's a work day. I'm glad you stopped in for a visit!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

An Evening With the Q-Balls

All six of our stitchery friends were able to get together today at Julie's house for our monthly gathering--it's been some months since all of us could make it, so it was quite a treat! Julie made a yummy pasta salad and we certainly didn't lack for food--between what people brought and what Julie and her daughter made, we ate all day long! Some gifties were exchanged too, but I haven't unpacked mine yet--maybe I'll get a photo or two of a few things tomorrow to share. I'm pretty sure I'll get a photo of the project I worked on because the stitchery part is completed; I just need to make it into a pillow. It's really cute; you'll like it! And the ironic thing? I bought the pattern from the Quilt House when they had a booth at a local quilt show some months back. This, of course, was before Hubby cheated on me and took someone else to the shop (see yesterday's post if you haven't already).

And, by the way . . . no, my birthday, our anniversary, and Mother's Day are recently past, so I'm certain he didn't stop to get me a gift. And I'm about 97 percent certain he didn't think ahead to Christmas. This is a man who has been known to tell me on my birthday that he just didn't have time to get a card. Like he didn't know it was coming for a whole year.

Anyway, beside the point. After a wonderful day of stitchery and friends, three of us continued on to the park to see the Q-Balls perform. This is the band that Ted, one of the attorneys I work with, plays in.

The photo above doesn't really even give you an inkling of the size of the crowd. It extended to left and right of the photo and behind me, and kept growing through the evening.

It was a hot day in Sacramento--probably in the upper 90s and close to 100 would be my guess. But by the time we arrived at the park around 6:30 p.m., it started cooling a bit and we had a nice shady spot.

Want to see the band a little better?

Throughout the evening, I took several photos, but quite a few were blurry, especially after it started to get dark. And no, the photographer hadn't been drinking anything stronger than a Starbuck's iced latte! But I just couldn't find a camera setting that would take an "action" photo in low light.

All of us had a great time, and the day as a whole was pretty near perfect. Wish you could have been here. And the weekend's only half over--yay!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


Gosh, I feel cheated on! By Hubby! But I'll let you be the judge.

Remember I mentioned yesterday that Hubby was in Reno with his friend Gene? Remember they went to Reno for Hot August Nights to look at CARS? And, no doubt, to do other manly stuff?

Okay, well here's the thing. On the drive back from Reno, Hubby took Gene on the same scenic detour WE traveled coming back from our little Reno trip to see Dana Carvey. But that's not the worst part--after all, ANYONE can travel the same roads, and many people do. But THEY STOPPED AT THE QUILT HOUSE!

How could Hubby take someone else to "my" quilt shop? And not even tell me they were going so I could ask him to pick up stuff for me?

The story they're trying to sell me is that they stopped so Hubby could show Gene this old wooden sled:

Are you buying it? Me neither! And did Hubby even get me a GIFT while he was there? Heck no! So what do you think? Betrayed?

I'll be spending the day with my stitchery gals--I'll have to see what they think. It seems to me that payback might include a retaliatory shopping trip. After all, isn't there a saying that goes something like "Hell hath no fury like a woman left at home when there's a quilt shop involved?" Sheesh!

Friday, August 12, 2011

And They're Off!

Oddly enough, two people have asked me within the last day whether my boss liked the quilt I made for her and her new husband. I thought I had posted about it, but I guess I didn't! (If you missed it, the most recent of my 11 in '11 projects was made for her.)

Did I tell you she was taking a three-month leave of absence to spend time with her new husband in China? His contract there is up in October and then he'll probably come back to the States, but in the meantime, they'll have some time together.

Anyway, she liked the quilt so much, she thought it was one of the things she would take to China with her. She flew out yesterday--finally! And I don't know if she ended up taking it or not, but I could tell she genuinely loved it. Isn't it nice to make quilts for people who understand the amount of time and work that goes into them?

As a thank you for the long hours I've been putting in over the last few weeks, getting things ready so she could leave, she gave me a Visa gift card with a note instructing me to treat myself to something special from my favorite quilt shop. Nice, eh?! She's really a good person to work for, and I don't at all mind working hard for her. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't think I told you that when Soccer Son was having surgery, she put together a "care package" for me to take, filled with things she thought I might need, like chocolate and a Starbucks card. She's very thoughtful.

Anyway, right now it seems that everyone is off somewhere--not just my boss. The Wild Child is in New York until next week, and Hubby went off to Reno with his friend Gene for Hot August Nights--an annual event that revolves around restored old cars and hot rods. I know they're having a wonderful time.

And me? Well, I took the day off today to spend quietly at home. It's pretty rare that I end up with the house all to myself for a day, and I wanted to make the most of it. I didn't do much--at least I didn't get much accomplished--but that was more or less the plan. I slept in, I read, I did some stuff to my hair so I could continue to look 29 years old, I made a new recipe for a dip to take to Saturday's get together of my stitchery friends, and I messed around in the Sweat Shop doing this and that. It was nice.

Tomorrow it's back to work for me--one more work day and then the weekend arrives. Hubby will be back sometime tomorrow. After work, I'll have a few more things to do to get ready to spend Saturday with my friends. Life will be normal and busy as usual. For the next couple hours, though, I still have the house to myself, so I think I'll take a nice, relaxing bath and go to bed and read a good book. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Neat and Tidy

I'm not compulsively tidy. Really. But remember the other day when I said that being precise matters when it comes to quilting? Well, being careful and orderly in quilting does too.

There are pattern designers--and I can't tell you who they are off hand, although I CAN tell you I'm not one of them--who will show us on their patterns which way to press our seams. And I suspect many quilters either don't notice the arrows indicating which way to press the seams, don't know what they mean, or simply don't care. But if you've ever tried to get two seams to intersect nicely and just can't do it no matter how hard you try, the chances are both seam allowances are pressed in the same direction.

I took a few photos when I was making the friendship star blocks the other night so I could illustrate what I'm talking about. In this first photo, I've sewn the three separate strips together and I've pressed the seams away from the half square triangle squares and toward the plain squares. They tend to lay nicer this way.

But even if that middle piece of the middle strip was a half square triangle square, I'd STILL press the seams toward it because that way, the two side strips attach nicer.

In the next photo, I'm holding one of the side strips to the middle strip and showing you how the seam of one goes one way and the seam of the other one goes the other way. Now when I sew them together, they will nestle up and form a nice, flat intersection.

After sewing the three strips together, here's what the star block looks like:

And the back of the block looks nice and tidy, doesn't it?

Because the seams are well organized, I can do the same thing even with small pieces.

And here's the back:

At our monthly Thimbleberries Club meeting tonight, I passed around the Saturday Night Leftovers mini I just made. I wish I had taken a photo of the back of the quilt top before putting it together to show you, because even with such small pieces, the back looked pretty orderly. Taking care to make sure the seams are all pressed straight and not caught going every which way helps to make each part of the quilt look better--especially when working with tiny pieces. Some of the quilters tonight were surprised at how small some of those pieces were, but they really weren't much harder to make than the larger versions--just as long as I paid attention to the details, like getting the seams to lay right.

Yes, there are many times when no matter how hard we try, our seams will not fit together nicely, but there are various tricks for getting them to work. I remember seeing one of them--where you clip the seam allowance almost up to the seam to press part one way and part another--in a Schnibbles pattern recently, and I think it was probably the George pattern. Keep an eye out for these kinds of tips and tricks because they really DO help make for a nicer quilt and a quilter who is a lot less frustrated by trying and trying to make blocks come together correctly.

Sure this attention to detail takes a little more time, but before long, it kind of becomes second nature. And, of course, I know I'll spend a little less time ripping out and re-sewing seams because they were too far off. Give it a try next time you piece something and see what you think.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saturday Night Leftovers

The ladies who run our local Thimbleberries Club challenged us to make mini quilts this year--we can bring one a month for show and tell and each mini qualifies us for one entry in the end-of-the-year prize raffle. This will be my second mini for the year.

One of the prerequisites to qualify for a ticket is that the mini must have a label, which--at least to me--means coming up with a name for the quilt. Maybe I was stuck for a name because the quilt was made up of a hodgepodge of mixed blocks. Maybe it was the Chef Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares marathon I watched last weekend. In any event, "the dog's dinner" popped into my mind. THEN--and thank goodness because who wants a quilt called The Dog's Dinner?--that led me to think of leftovers. And since the leftover mini Midnight Sky blocks were what started the whole thing, and I worked on both the large and small blocks most of Saturday, it seemed like Saturday Night Leftovers worked for a title.

While I was writing this post, Stitch jumped up on the desk and started whacking the mini, trying to make sure it was dead, I suppose.

Maybe I need to make a new label: "Tuesday Night Kill"

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some Basics

A friend of mine who made blocks for the Midnight Sky quilt I worked on asked whether any of her blocks were poorly made--you may remember I told you that a couple were too small, and a few were too large and had to be remade; in remaking them, I couldn't figure out how the person had cut and stitched the pieces for one of the blocks because they were not at all straight or precise. As I told my friend, I had no idea who made which blocks and it didn't really matter anyway; I just thought the subject would be a good learning topic for some of the less experienced quilters who read this blog.

The funny thing is that my friend also told me that since reading that post, she's been paying closer attention to her sewing and trying to be more precise, and that's exactly the purpose of that post--because we can all get better with experience and practice, particularly when we pay attention to what we're doing.

I think at least one person said they had a hard time figuring out where to line up for the quarter inch seam allowance. Most sewing machine manufacturers sell a quarter inch foot for their machine, and there are also generic feet that will fit most machines. Still, it's an expense that not everyone wants to invest in, so there are other ways to get a fairly precise seam allowance.

Below is a close up of my machine--it's a Bernina and it has a quarter inch foot on it.

Besides using the edge of the foot, the plate has markings showing where to line up for a quarter inch seam. See that little line in the metal just to the right of the fabric? But if I had neither of those references, I would use a piece of masking tape or painter's tape to tape off a line I could use as a guide. I would do that by placing an acrylic ruler under the foot with the quarter inch mark lined up with the needle and the edge of the ruler extending a quarter inch to the right. I'd then stick the tape to the plate along the edge of the ruler.

Someone also commented about having trouble cutting width-of-fabric strips so they're straight. Here's the method I was taught. First, press all the wrinkles from your piece of fabric and hold the fabric up with selvage edges lined up as they are in the next photo. (Normally I would hold the fabric, not pin it to a design wall, but I couldn't take photos that way!)

Slide the selvages back and forth until the fabric hangs straight. In the photo above, it's hard to see but the fabric didn't hang straight until I slid the front edge a bit to the left in the photo below.

Most of the time, you can skip this first step if the fabric is properly creased on the bolt. You can usually tell by looking along the selvage edges to see if the are evenly aligned down the length of the fabric. If they are, then chances are the center crease in the fabric is fine.

Often times for cutting, it's easier to double the fabric over once more as in the next photo.

The same process of aligning edges and shifting until the fabric hangs straight is used. I then line up the edge of my ruler along the center fold and make the first cut along the bottom of my ruler to trim the edges. Then, after I've cut the first strip, I unfold it to see if the cut is straight and true before continuing on. I will then usually cut about three more strips before lining up the ruler with the center fold again to reestablish a straight edge because after a few cuts, chances are the fabric and ruler have shifted slightly and the strips are no longer as straight as they should be.

That's all I have for you tonight, and I hope it's helpful to some! Thanks for visiting.

Monday, August 8, 2011

An Excellent Weekend!

My weekend was very productive--and I had fun too.

Remember the quilt blocks I was working on the other night--the ones that my quilting group contributed? I made a few extra blocks and put all the blocks together and added simple borders. It turned out larger than I expected, but everyone was generous about making blocks.

The quilt is a Thimbleberries pattern called Midnight Sky, and we've decided to make ours mostly in Christmas colors. It's a relatively forgiving block because there are very few seams to line up. This quilt will be a gift for someone, and I'll be passing it on this week to the woman who volunteered to do the quilting.

I've been stuck on the idea of making spaghetti and meatballs since last week when a couple of the women I work with made spaghetti sauce from some leftovers and dished it up for us on Friday. You'd think my craving would have been satisfied by their pasta, but for some reason, it just made me want to make a batch myself--something I rarely do mid-summer! But I went to the grocery store this morning and bought everything I needed and Hubby and I had some great penne pasta with spaghetti sauce and meatballs for dinner. I swear it turned out better than I can remember making it before. Yum!

I also bought what I need to make lasagna. That's the great thing about spaghetti sauce--it can be used for so many different meals. I hope that investing time this weekend in spaghetti sauce will pay off in quick weeknight meals so I can get into the Sweat Shop earlier after work each evening!

I ended with three extra blocks I had made for the Midnight Sky quilt, so I think I'll make them into a tablerunner. I also ended up making four teeny tiny Midnight Sky blocks with leftovers. Today I turned those into a mini quilt--

It's just 19" square. To give you an idea about the size of the blocks, the red and green pinwheels are 1" square and each of the nine blocks (including the four Midnight Sky blocks) is 3-3/4". Crazy, huh? I'm planning to quilt it tomorrow night and get it bound the next night. I think I'll bind it in a cream colored fabric to pull that color to the outside, but I'm not certain. What do you think?

Time for bed. The weekend's over and it's back to work tomorrow. I'm glad you could visit!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Oh My Stars!

Are you ready to make some Ghastlie stars? (Of course, you don't have to use the Ghastlies fabric for this quilt--you can use any focus fabric in place of the Ghastlies, but I think the Irish chain with star center block as an alternate block is a nice way to tie any focus blocks together.)

First, you'll need to do a little cutting. The number in parenthesis is the number of pieces to cut to make the full 12 star blocks I used in the Ghastlies quilt, but if you're making a smaller version, use the first number and multiply by however many blocks you need.

1 (12) 3-1/2" pink square for star center
8 (96) 2" pink squares for star points
12 (144) 2" white squares for chain
4 (48) 2" by 3-1/2" green strips
4 (48) 2" by 6-1/2" green strips
4 (48) 2" by 9-1/2" green strips

For each block, you'll need to make four flying geese blocks using the 2" pink squares and the 2" x 3-1/2" green strips. For instructions on making flying geese, click HERE.

I'll give you the piecing directions for one block--please feel free to chain piece for as many blocks as you're making, of course! Refer to the photo of the block for placement of colors and pieces.

Starting with the 3-1/2" pink center square, add flying geese pieces to two opposite sides. Press seams toward the center pink square. To the two remaining flying geese, sew a 2" white square on each end and press seams toward the white square. Sew the second set of geese to the star center. Press seams toward the center. This completes the star part of the block. Do a visual doublecheck to make sure the geese are sewn on correctly to form star points--every now and then I find myself starting to sew geese upside down!

To two opposite sides of the resulting star block, sew a 2" by 6-1/2" strip. Press seams toward the center. To the two remaining 6-1/2" strips, add a 2" white square to each end. Press seams to the white squares. Sew the second set of strips to the star center. Press seams toward the center.

Repeat as above with the last set of strips and white squares.

There you go! The alternating star blocks are done!

Alternate Ghastlies blocks with star/chain blocks and sew the center together. For the large quilt like the one I made, start with Ghastlies on each end of the top row and in the center (that makes three Ghastlies) and use two star/chain blocks between them. Reverse that order for the next row using three star/chain blocks. Keep reversing back and forth until all the blocks are used. I found it very helpful to use a design wall so I could decide where to place each different Ghastlie block. As you sew the blocks together, press the seam allowances toward the Ghastlie blocks.

Once you get the center together, all that remains is the borders and corner blocks. I'll give those directions soon. Nice job!