Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Remember THIS?

As I was reading some of your suggestions for quilt names, this song popped into my head:

Do you remember it? Here are the lyrics, adjusted slightly in honor of the quilt, so you can sign along:

HARE they come again, mmmm-mm-mm
Catch us if you can, mmmm-mm-mm
Time to get a move on, mmmm-mm-mm
We will yell with all of our might

Catch us if you can
Catch us if you can
Catch us if you can
Catch us if you can

Now we gotta run, mmmm-mm-mm
No more time for fun, mmmm-mm-mm
When we're getting angry, mmmm-mm-mm
We will yell with all of our might

Catch us if you can
Catch us if you can
Catch us if you can
Catch us if you can

HARE they come again, mmmm-mm-mm
Catch us if you can, mmmm-mm-mm
Time to get a move on, mmmm-mm-mm
We will yell with all of our might

This little trip down memory lane has been brought to you by the Dave Clark Five.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Remember This?

Well, it's going to need a good name soon, because this is what I spent the evening doing--

I'm a little less than halfway done quilting the background "texture." After that, it's just quilting the detail on the applique and then the borders--and I'd guess that the quilt might be ready for binding by the end of the week or thereabouts.

If you're a new reader or missed a few posts, then you probably don't know, but this quilt started out as the Rabbits Prefer Chocolate block of the month by Bunny Hill, until I got a little sidetracked and distracted. Or maybe someone slipped me a hallucinogenic drug. Or a flashback to the 60s? In any event, the rabbits got carried away and turned into something a little different from what they started out as.

Now, of course, the original quilt name, Rabbits Prefer Chocolate, no longer fits the quilt, so it needs a new name. Can you think of one? Suggestions will be accepted through Thursday evening (March 1st). I'll either pick a winner then or, if I can't decide on my own, I'll post a poll with a few of my favorites so everyone can help pick a winning name.

Of course, there's always a prize for winning, and this is no exception. The winner will receive two Redwork Renaissance charm packs. Everyone's gotta love red and white, right? Just like everyone's gotta love rabbits! Good luck and thanks for helping me out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

What I Did Next . . .

I didn't mention it last night, because I hadn't uploaded any photos to show you yet, but Izzy came over (with Soccer Son and His Lovely Wife to Be Someday) on Saturday and met her dog father, the Drooling Dog. Here's a photo of the two of them approaching one another for the first time:

I took several other photos but in each, one or the other of the dogs was a blur--they had a wonderful time romping around the yard together. At first, the Drooling Dog didn't know his own strength and sent Izzy tumbling a couple times, but no harm was done, and he became quite gentle. In fact, she was the one chasing after him much of the time! It was really cute to watch. I'm just sorry the Wild Child wasn't here to see it, but she's settling into her life in New York, and Soccer Son sent her photos.

I sure don't know what was in that hot chocolate I drank last night, but I couldn't keep my eyes open long after drinking it, and I think I was asleep before 11 p.m.! On a Saturday night! I think the last time I was asleep before 11 p.m. on a Saturday night was when I was seven. What a party girl I'm turning into.

I wanted to show you what I've just finished. I worked on the pinwheels a little bit on Saturday evening but I got bored with them and . . . well, you already know about the hot chocolate. Anyway, I got up this morning and worked on this little hanging all day, finishing the binding around 11 p.m.

The center is a screen printed block I purchased online from Olde America Antiques. The have a large selection of vintage/antique images that they print in different sizes onto good quality cotton. If you'd like to check out their stuff, click on their name.

Now it's time to start thinking about the end of the weekend and going back to work in the morning. Bath time, for one thing, if I can get Stitch out of the tub. I'm really not sure what he does in there, but I can hear him thumping and bumping around, and I suspect the bath tub is a little like a skate park where he can slide and roll around.

Pets! At least they're entertaining.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Because You Can't ALWAYS Play . . .

As much as I'd like to spend each and every day playing--in the Sweat Shop, spending time with friends, dreaming creative dreams--every now and then reality slips into my world and I force myself to do the things that need to be done. Like house work.

And that's what I spent most of my Saturday doing. Sure, I thought about doing it one evening last week so I didn't have to give up a weekend day . . . but I didn't. I put it off. Until today.

But now it's done, so I think I deserve a little treat. This is what I think I'll do--

Right after I put on my comfy jammies, grab a good book, and climb into a newly made, soft bed. Yum!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ah, Yes!

Okay, it's done! Well, at least it's done as far as I'm ready to go for now. Want to see? Of course, you do!

I had to lure Spike out to the kitchen with the promise of dinner in order to get her off the quilt top, and then she came back and tried to get on it again while I was folding it up! At least I know SHE likes it!

By the way, I realized I hadn't shown you the pattern inspiration for the original block swap--this pattern was printed back in 2004, and I can't remember which magazine it was in, but I loved it at first sight. Maybe you can click to enlarge the photo to see if it has the magazine name on the page--if you need to know.

What I mean when I say it's done as far as I'm ready to go is simply that I don't know if I want to add borders or not. You can't see very well, but the quilt is barely wide enough to extend over the sides of the king size bed, which would make it fine for a twin and maybe a double but it isn't as large as I'd like for a queen--and I think I'd like it large enough for a queen. So I think I'll set it aside for now until I pull the monthly Thimbleberries project out of the jar and find I'm to work on "Thimbleberries Tree Blocks"--because I think I might like to make those blocks into a border with the addition of a few more trees and maybe houses. Of course, I might change my mind between now and then and just add traditional borders. But for now? It's on to the next project! I wonder what it will be?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Slow and Steady Wins the Race . . .

Well, not really. What an inappropriate old adage that is when you think about it! I've told many quilters that quilting isn't a race. If you want a speedy hobby, try speed skating. Seriously, I wouldn't mind following Apolo Ono, would you? Of course, HE'd be a little freaked out to look behind him and see ME there--not to mention the rest of you! But I digress.

I cannot tell you how nearly I balked at plodding along on the birthday block quilt tonight. I started the evening by asking myself if it would be a very BAD thing to take the night off from the birthday blocks and start a new project instead. Yep, I was feeling THAT CRAZY about the whole thing! And I think part of it was the thought of working on such a LARGE project--I don't find those very fun anymore, do you? I have plenty of bed quilts and the thought of maneuvering this one through the Juki to get it quilted makes me cringe a little.

But I stuck to the plan and made a good deal of progress. Although it's not much to look at, here's where I am:

I DO have the missing center strip pieced, but it's so large that I didn't want to struggle with getting it up on the wall and taking it down again to add the side sections, so it's laying on the Wild Child's bed--probably under Ms. Spike, because you KNOW cats can hardly wait to lay on a new piece of fabric. And that upper right section isn't pieced together yet--just that section on the lower left. But I think it's looking pretty cool! And thank you Marie for leaving me a comment affirming my thought of using the cream setting triangles--I think that's worked out well.

So although this project is going slowly, steady plodding WILL get it done--I should have this part done tomorrow night and then I think I'll set it aside until I decide on a border. Unless I lay it on the Wild Child's bed and find it's already large enough and needs no borders--which I suspect may be the case.

On a slightly different subject, here's a thought: If you're a small business owner, carefully consider your driving abilities before adding advertising to your vehicle. I don't think I've ever found a business through that particular method of advertising; I HAVE, however, made decisions NOT TO EVER do business with advertised companies if I decide the drivers are idiots who likely got their drivers' licenses out of Cracker Jack boxes, because I think that just might reflect on their abilities to do other things well. And if you're a small business owner with advertising all over your car, and you're driving slow and maybe not all that steady and you get in my way when I'm heading to the office in the morning . . . you're definitely not winning anything.

Sometimes you just gotta rant. Sometimes working on a slow, plodding project gives a person a little too much time to dwell.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Have you wondered why I haven't been posting about thrift store finds lately? I've kind of been wondering about that myself. I think I've just got so much useless crap many collected treasures taking up room in my house that I hesitate to go out and look for more. Still, the urge never quite goes away. During my lunch hour today, I went to a nearby "antique mall" to browse. For the most part, I was hoping to find something Easter-y; just about anybunny would do. The only Easter-y goodies that grabbed me were a couple of postcards. In addition to the postcards, I found a few vintage sewing goodies, and corn holder thingies--made in England, which seems like a fairly good thing. After all, many of my transferware plates come from the same place!

Here's a photo of my haul--

Check out the back of one of the postcards--

I like the way the writer says, "Why don't you write? Is someone sick?!" Can't you just about hear her saying it? I also think it's pretty cool that for two cents a person could send a postcard addressed to another person without any street address--simply a city and a state. I don't know if you can see the postmark very well, but this postcard was from 1919. And seriously, from what I can make of the rest of the writing, there's mention of other people in the family being ill; this was right around the time of the big Spanish flu pandemic, I think. (By the way, this reminds me--have you been watching Downton Abbey? I love that show!) I think it's fascinating to hold a little piece of someone's past, like this postcard--it really brings history to life.

Tonight I finished making the sashing for the quilt I showed yesterday, but it was such a boring, tedious task that when I finally finished, I took a little time to play in the scraps. I have no idea what I'll make, but I now have 24 3" (finished) 9-patch blocks to bank away. Maybe THIS is why swapped blocks never seem to get used up!

The next part of the quilt top--something I didn't feel like tackling tonight--is to cut ginormous squares and criss-cross cut them for the setting triangles. I'll do that tomorrow night. In the original pattern, they used a green fabric for the setting triangles. The other color option I've been considering is using a cream colored fabric. Any opinions? Here's the photo again--

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Well, I Didn't Get That Far . . .

Remember that Thimbleberries project I told you about yesterday? Well, it's going to take longer than I thought. I'll tell you the story behind the blocks though.

Some years ago, my online Thimbleberries group decided to make blocks for each other for our birthdays. We took sign-ups and had around 24 participants, so we divided into two groups. I don't remember how it came about--maybe because I was one of the two swap coordinators--but somehow the block pattern we used was one I'd seen in a magazine and picked; I suspect everyone else liked it too, so we went with that particular pattern.

Each "birthday girl" was able to specify what Thimbleberries colors she wanted us to use in making her blocks, and as each birthday came around, we would make a block and mail it off to that person. In theory, we would each receive 11 blocks; the quilt called for 13 blocks total.

I asked that my blocks be made in fall colors, so they arrived in red, green, brown, gold, and cream. I ended up with one rogue block in a sort of teal and pink--I'll use that one for a different project or on the back of the quilt.

We also had a couple of participants who just faded away without completing their obligation to make blocks for everyone in their group, but for the most part, it was a successful swap. And without that one rogue block, I ended up with 10 blocks, so I needed to make three more. Simple, but those blocks took a little time to make.

After that, I got the blocks up on the design wall, and started making the sashing. I've got to say that piecing three strips together in 15-1/2" long sections is kind of boring. I need 36 of those sashing pieces and I think I've made about half.

I wanted to get a photo to give you an idea of the quilt--as you can see, it's going to be a large one!

I'll keep plugging along on making those sashing strips and then the setting triangles for the sides. I think it will probably take another couple evenings.

In the original quilt, the borders were small and plain. I think I'll get this part together and then decide where to go from there. One of this year's anticipated "swapped Thimbleberries blocks" projects involves several tree blocks we swapped, and I've been wondering whether they might make an interesting border--maybe interspersed with some simple house blocks. But I'm not there yet. I'll show you how this one is coming along in another day or two.

Thanks for stopping by to check on me!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Harrington and Hannah

Earlier today, I finished the Harrington and Hannah block for February. I made a couple small changes--but don't I always?! You probably know me well enough by now to expect it, right? I wanted a little more wool and a little less embroidery, so instead of embroidering the garden tools in the original pattern, I selected a background printed with garden tools, and instead of embroidering leaves on the heart stems, I substituted wool leaves. Just a couple small changes because this is already a cute pattern.

When I made the first block a few weeks ago and mentioned something I was doing for my stitchery friends, someone asked about it, so I'll clarify. Each month the six of us get together, and each month, I'm putting together little kits of background fabric and wool for each of them so they can make the block. That's my little gift to them this year--because much of the time, we exchange small gifts that are more about thinking of one another than they are about spending money. So when we meet in March, I'll have little kits ready to give my friends.

You may remember that when I cleaned up the Sweat Shop, I found I had several packages of swapped blocks and nearly completed projects--all using Thimbleberries fabrics. I decided to type the name of each on strips of paper and put the strips in a jar; each month, I'll randomly pull out a strip and whatever it says, that's the project I'll finish that month--finish, at least, to the point of being a quilt top. Doing the actual quilting? Well, no promises about THAT task!

This first month, I drew this one--

That's the next project I began a bit earlier today. I'll give you a little sneak peek now . . .

. . . but I won't have more to show until tomorrow. At least I THINK I'll have more to show tomorrow. I took a couple days off work surrounding the three-day President's Day weekend, and I have one more day off before I go back to work on Wednesday. I'll see you back here tomorrow to tell/show you what I accomplished. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Good to Have Stash

I've been working on the February Schnibbles quilt, I.S.T.H. Sinta claims "I.S.T.H." is an anagram for a four letter word--you can probably figure it out--but Carrie Nelson, Schnibbles designer extraordinaire, claims it simply stands for "Insert Snappy Title Here." Whatever it is, it's a fun quilt to make.

For my version, I decided to change the setting a little bit because I wanted a quilt I could use on my kitchen table; in other words, I wanted something that looked the same from all sides and was square. Here's a photo of my quilt top:

Here's a photo of the original pattern, so you can see what changes I made. I love the checkerboard sections at the top and bottom, but I didn't think it would work for what I wanted.

For the most part, I used charm packs from the Blueberry Crumb Cake line, but I didn't have any yardage to go with it, so I had to "shop" my stash. I settled on the blue and white stripe early on, but the fabric I used for the setting squares and side triangles was harder. In fact, I first pulled out a beautiful blue, beige, and green watercolor floral. I even cut all the pieces and put them on the design wall along with the pieced blocks, but I decided the floral pattern overwhelmed the pieced blocks.

I hate to waste fabric and have to start all over again, but as I was trying to decide what to try to lighten up the quilt, my eye spotted this Debbie Mumm bird fabric in my stash:

I thought it was worth a try, so I took down the floral and cut squares of the bird fabric--it looked much, much nicer to me!

I wish I'd taken a photo of the floral fabric to show you, but I was deep into experimentation at the time and didn't think of it until later.

I like the way this one has turned out and I think it will look great in the kitchen for summer, don't you? Of course, I still have to quilt it. Sometimes I feel that having a large stash is a bit of a hinderance, because I wonder when I'll ever use it or if it will just languish on the shelves, but at other times, like today, I'm very grateful to have a variety of choices at hand. During my first few years as a quilter, I felt that having a good stash was as important as it is for an artist to have a variety of colors to chose from. Do you agree, or do you prefer to only purchase exactly what you need for a specific project?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Day After the Friday Night

On Saturday, I added a wing to my naked chicken and made the pieced parts of blocks 6 and 7 of the Garden Club quilt. I trimmed the appliqued pieces to size (I always start with the background cut a little larger than I need) and sewed the parts together into their sections.

After that, I couldn't help but pull out a couple of pieces I made before to see how they look together.

I'm really liking this quilt a lot! I still have something like four sections left to make, not including the borders, but I feel like it's really coming together now.

A couple of you have commented that you have the book but haven't made the quilt yet. I bet you'll love it when you do! The applique is fairly easy as are the pieced blocks. I'm kind of sorry to see this project put away for another month, but it's time to move onto something else. That's the thing about working on block of the month quilts--you might be really into what you're doing and not ready to set it aside, but then again, you probably won't get bored with a project.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Friday Night Sew-In Results

I guess Friday "Night" isn't quite accurate since two of my stitching friends and I spent the entire day together sewing! I arrived at Gran's house at 11 a.m. and started in on my applique. A couple hours later, we took a break to enjoy a lovely big salad and bread for lunch. Then it was back to more stitching.

By dinner time, a fourth stitcher joined us and we went out for Chinese food. Eating and stitching all day--what could be more fun? And, of course, enjoying the companionship of good friends.

Two of our friends were ill and unable to make it today, but I'm sure they'll be back with us by the time we have our next regular get together. We wound up the day around 10 p.m. with a little dessert and packing up. All in all, we accomplished a lot and had a great time doing it.

Up at the top is a photo of the applique pieces I completed--these are from the Garden Club Quilt project. I think I'm going to add a wing to that brown chicken tomorrow--the more I look at it, the more I think it needs something.

Did you participate in the sew-in? What did you work on? Whatever it was, or whatever you did if you didn't sew, I hope you had as wonderful a time doing it as I did!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thrifty Creations

I've been wanting to show you a couple of the gifts I received from my stitchery girlfriends on Saturday, not just because they're really cool and fun but also because I think there are some crafty ideas here that might lead to other creations.

Gran gave me this really great pincushion--it's a big sunflower!

Although this one was made commercially, it could be reproduced with a candle stand from the thrift store, felted wool, and a glue gun. I just love it!

My friend Imelda gave each of us what she called a red neck wine glass--

She made them by gluing canning jars to glass/crystal candle holders she got at a thrift or antique store. They make fun joke gifts, but I also thought I'd fill mine with buttons and add a scrap of fabric to cover the metal lid--maybe something a little fancier than cotton for the fabric, but I'm not sure yet. Of course, I could construct some type of pincushion to cover the metal lid--wouldn't that be excellent?

In the first photo, there's another little pincushion from my friend Sandy. We agreed we're all developing quite a pincushion collection--there's no way we can use all of them, but they're all so unique and fun--just like the stitchers themselves!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

On a Roll . . .

Okay, raise your hand if you're doing the Merry, Merry Snowmen block of the month this year.

Wow! Of the ten people who regularly read my blog, four of you are doing this block of the month! I'm impressed!

And in addition to you, four of us in my stitchery group signed up through a shop online before any of us knew that some of our local shops were also offering it. But a fifth person in our group is doing it through a local shop. And guess what arrived in the mail last Friday? The goodies to make the first block! Wooo-hooo!

Here's mine--

Nope, not letting any moss grow on this particular stone; not when it's just the first month, anyway!

I made a couple small changes to mine. I used a different fabric for the top of the cupcake stand. In the original quilt, it's made with a different taupe fabric, but I didn't think there was enough contrast between that and the cupcake, so I pulled out a pinkish-red French General fabric from another line, and I think it's a better contrast. I also embroidered the "Merry Merry Cupcake" sign in black instead of red. I think the black stands out a little more, and I like that. NOT so intentionally, I used a different toned solid for the square in square blocks and the right side strip--I think the one I was supposed to use is a little more tan. I just didn't realize there were THREE solid fabrics in the packet; I thought there were TWO. I don't think it will make much difference, though.

I'm almost running out of applique projects, and I have a day of stitching planned for Friday with some of my friends, so I'm trying to get the next block or two of the Garden Club Quilt prepped. And, of course, I have several other non-applique projects I'd like to work on this weekend. How about you? Do you have some quilt projects planned? This Friday, February 17th, is the Friday Night Sew-In over at Heidi's--don't forget to sign up! Just click HERE to get the information and add your name to the list. I hope to "see" you there Friday night!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Too Shabby!

Yet another block of the month! But I'm really enjoying Shabby Fabric's free block of the month, Country Cottages, and I think several of you have also joined in, right?

Here's my second block done!

I love the fabric I settled on--Annie's Farm Stand by Lakehouse. And while I was working on this block, I remembered that I'd actually purchased the fat quarter bundles I'm using from Shabby Fabrics--isn't that a funny coincidence? I guess it makes a kind of cosmic sense that I would decide to use them on this Shabby Fabrics project!

If you'd like to see both of my blocks together, you can see them HERE at my Flickr. Or you could go HERE to see all the blocks uploaded by everyone to the Country Cottages Flickr group so far. They're fun to see and all so different!

And I can't remember if I've already shown you, but if not, it's only fair that you should be just as tempted by cuteness as I have been--and I succumbed. Shabby Fabrics has another block of the month starting in July--of course, THIS one isn't free, but how can you resist?!

Gosh, that first block at the top left looks awfully familiar, doesn't it?! I can hardly wait for July, but I'd better finish what I can of my current projects before July arrives.

I'm glad you stopped by for a visit!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Many Are Too Many?

Do you ever over commit? Probably a silly question--I suspect most of us do from time to time. Right now, I'm wondering if I've committed to too many block of the month projects. How many have I committed to? I don't know because I'm kind of afraid to count them. And I suppose that should tell me something right there!

This year I wanted to devote most of my quilting time to applique, so you can probably see how I've gotten in this predicament. So far, I haven't gotten behind, but then the year has just started, really. We'll see how it's going come June.

In the meantime, here's block 2 of the Bunny Hill pattern, Autumn House. Four of us in my stitchery group are working on this block of the month project.

I gotta tell you--those little leaves were a pain! But they look nice in the block and there aren't any more in the pattern, for which we're all grateful.

Soccer Son and His Lovely Wife to Be Someday picked up their new pup this past weekend. I'd like you to meet Izzy.

Izzy's name is actually Isadora, but they'll call her Izzy. Remember the escapades of the Drooling Dog and his "girlfriend" in the midst of a little party I threw back in October? Nothing actually happened that weekend, but the Drooling Dog was more successful the next weekend and Izzy was one of the results--there were six altogether.

Spike isn't very impressed.

Does that pose look comfortable? She sits like that all the time! Much of the time I was working on the Autumn House block, Spike was sitting in the chair across from me, keeping me company.

What do you think of block of the month programs? Are they a good way to get quilt projects done a little at a time? Or do they make it too easy to start projects but not finish them?

Monday, February 13, 2012

That's A Lot!

I just noticed I've made 1,800 posts to my blog; my first post was March 9, 2007. Time flies when you're having fun! It sure doesn't seem like it's been almost five years since I began.

It's been a dreary-looking day out and finally started raining around dinner time. I've spent the day doing some applique and pinning the Rabbits on Crack (working title only) quilt--I'm anxious to get going on quilting that one so I can get it up in plenty of time for Easter--NOT that I think it's only going to come out to play at Easter time, but I think it would be a nice time for its debut performance. I'll have to post a photo of the Autumn House block I was working on tomorrow night--I haven't gotten it uploaded to the computer yet. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I picked a winner for the Mary Engelbreit "parts"--Cindy in SC. Cindy said:

"I would so, so love a chance to win this one!! My sister is a HUGE Mary Englebreit fan. I am constantly telling her about another project I need her to make for me (it's amazing that after five years or so she hasn't spit not ONE of those out for me - go figure!!). Anyway, this screams her and I'd love for a chance to surprise her with a project I'd made for her that I know she'd love. Thank you for the chance!!"

Cindy, please email me your mailing address and I'll get this in the mail to you. And thank you all for playing along! See you tomorrow--with photos.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Fun Day

Some of my favorite people came over today to spend the day talking, eating, and stitching.

Four of the six of us were working on block 2 of the Autumn House block of the month. Because I was the hostess, I didn't get very much done, so I'm not ready to show you mine just yet--although that's part of it in the photo above.

I've mentioned before that my house is small and it's always hard to figure out where six women can sit and work on their sewing projects. This time Hubby was out of town for the weekend, so I had no qualms about moving much of the living room furniture out to the garage and setting up two tables for us to work on.

And because I moved the kitchen table to the living room, I was able to move the sofa table into the kitchen, and it made for a great buffet table.

And, really, we ate all day. Breakfast (chocolate croissants, OJ, and strawberries), snacks (fruit, cheese and crackers, salami, and a warm beef and cheese dip for tortilla chips), lunch (vegetable soup, rolls, and salad), and dessert (chocolate peppermint cake).

We always exchange little gifts and goodies and I found the perfect gift for them this year. Something I started off this month and will continue each month at our get togethers through the year. Here's my little wagon filled with fun--

I came across this free BOM pattern last month--it's the Adventures of Harrington and Hannah. Last week I made up the first block . . . .

. . . and put together kits for my friends from my wool stash. Each month I'll kit up that month's wools and backgrounds.

Yep, it was a really fun day and now I'm tired and ready to head to bed. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Getting Ready for My Stitching Friends

On Saturday, it's my turn to host our monthly stitchery gathering. I can hardly wait! I've been getting things ready: I've moved furniture (because our home is tiny, it's hard to accommodate six ladies and their projects without some adjustments and space planning. I've done some food prep (I want to spend as little time in the kitchen as I absolutely must). I've put together some little gifty treats (because my friends deserve them). And I've prepped a couple projects of my own to work on. Now I just need to get a good night's sleep and then take care of a few last preparations in the morning. They'll be here at 10 a.m.

I have another little giveaway treat for you too:

This is another of those projects I'm clearing out. At one time, I made a quilt top with nine Mary Engelbreit panels and then decided I needed something smaller, so I removed four of the panels. What's left will need to be taken apart and re-done. There are five panels (two designs) and sashing. If you'd like to adopt this project and you live in the US or Canada, please leave me a comment, letting me know you'd like to be included in the drawing. I'll pick a winner Sunday night to be posted on Monday's blog post. Good luck!

As for me, it's off to bed. It won't be long now until my friends arrive.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Applique Block of the Month

Have you seen the free Country Cottages block of the month over at Shabby Fabrics? I came across it a month or two ago and wanted to make it. When I was cleaning up the Sweat Shop, I was admiring the fat quarters of Lakehouse fabric I had and thought it would be ideal for this project. The second block was recently posted, so I'm already behind, but I finally finished--or just about finished--Block 1--

The pattern has white embroidered snowflakes that I haven't added so far. I have some snowflake buttons I was thinking about using instead, but I'd add those after I quilt it, so I have plenty of time to decide which to use.

What are you working on?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Busy, Busy

When life's busy, no matter how fun it might be, don't you just hope for things to slow down a bit so you can spend a couple quiet evenings, just you and your sewing stuff? I do!

What have I been doing so far this week? Well, Tuesday I had to go to the dentist for some excavation and backfill work. Always a ton of fun, right? Then Tuesday night, three-quarters of our little Autumn House group met at Casa de Kim to parcel out the fabric we'll need for block 2. It was Gran's birthday recently, so we had a little celebration. And a little celebration deserves a great little cake, doesn't it? Strawberry white chocolate mousse cake. Yum!

I'm hostessing the larger stitchery group gathering on Saturday, so I jumped on a recent Groupon for housecleaning services, and that was scheduled by Hubby for today (Wednesday). One of the nice things about having Hubby home is that he's able to do things like schedule appointments and then BE HERE for them. So per Hubby, the housecleaners were supposed to arrive at 10 a.m. while I was at work and be done by noon. At 8 a.m., when Hubby was still in bed, sawing logs, there was a knock at the door. Guess who? Yep, the housecleaners! Seriously, folks, although I wouldn't tell HIM, it wouldn't surprise me if Hubby had scheduled them for 8 a.m. and then mis-remembered. He does that sometimes because he never writes anything down and thinks he can rely on his memory. Ha!

So, after the housecleaners went out to their van to get their supplies, I rolled Hubby out of bed and gave the housecleaners a tour. Then I got ready for work in whatever spaces they weren't cleaning at the time. Sheesh! Yes, they did offer to leave and reschedule, but hello! I have people coming over this weekend and if they didn't clean NOW, I would probably have to do it myself. No thanks!

Wednesday during my lunch hour, I ran the Autumn House block 2 "kit" over to the missing member's house--she has bronchitis. Wednesday after work was Thimbleberries Club. Then a little grocery shopping for the weekend. See what I mean about being busy?

Thursday was the only day I had absolutely no commitments, but my friendly dentist did something to one of my teeth that makes me think he's been seeing too many Twilight movies and he's into transforming his patients into Edward-wannabes because this one tooth is a little more sharp and pointy than it used to be. And he wasn't able to see me until Thursday. Sadly, Hubby broke my Dremel awhile back, so no [self-]help there.

So tomorrow I have to work and make time around the lunch hour to go to my dentist. And the way this week's been going, I suspect a few other things will be added to the day's schedule.

And do you know what all of this amounts to? Since I'm off work on Friday, it means there was not one single day this week when my friends and I could have our regular Chevy's-chips-and-salsa lunch. ARGH! Withdrawals are setting in and I'm ready to mainline Chevy's salsa!

Woe is me. But enough of that. Remember that last giveaway I posted about? Those Debbie Mumm parts? The giveaway winner this time is Donna, who said, "It looks so nice. I would give them a good home!" Donna's a regular reader and giveaway enterer (is that a word?) here but I don't remember her winning before. Donna, please email your mailing address to me and I'll get these parts out to you soon.

Now I need to say goodnight and get to bed--I'm sure tomorrow will be another busy day. By the way, it's now Soccer Son's birthday. Happy birthday Hon! [Okay, you're right. Maybe my life WAS a little busier on this date 31 years ago. More painful at any rate!]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Kids on the Block

While I've been cleaning out the Sweat Shop the last couple weeks and not thinking about very much else, life has continued to happen all around me. At work, I have two new bosses.

A few years back, you may remember me occasionally mentioning Girl Boss and Boy Boss. And then Girl Boss 2. I guess that means these bosses are Girl Boss 3 and Boy Boss 2. If you're keeping track.

I may have mentioned Girl Boss 3 before because she started with the firm in December. She's the same age as the Wild Child and played competitive soccer at the same time, so I'm sure they played against one another. Kind of an odd coincidence, don't you think?

She's smart, self-possessed, and has a great personality. She fits into the office really well and everyone likes her. And, most importantly from my perspective, she's easy to work with.

Boy Boss 2 started last week. He's from England and initially practiced law there. His wife is a medical scientist, and she was offered a temporary position at a large medical university here a couple years ago, so they came over to the US. When that position became permanent, Boy Boss 2 studied for, took, and passed the California bar exam, so now he's a practicing attorney.

Boy Boss 2 is the same age as Soccer Son. And, since he's from England, it's no surprise he has a great deal of experience with soccer too. Another odd coincidence. Soccer Son came in to have lunch with me the other day and I introduced the two--they talked soccer for quite a bit. Of course, I only understood half of what they were talking about.

Boy Boss 2 is a nice guy and seems easy to work with so far. And I knew he was pretty okay when I saw some of the artwork he brought in to put up on his walls. Two pieces were drawings of Liverpool landmarks and the "fill" (for instance, the designs of the buildings that make up the skyline) was patchwork. How cool is that?

Working for two new attorneys isn't easy in the field we work in, and in the way our firm is set up. There are always rush jobs to be done at the last minute, and the pressure can be high. I hope I can keep up and not let myself get too stressed out. At least these two seem like a good pair to work for.

Part of what the firm expects of me when they pair me up with new attorneys is to teach them the practical aspects of practicing law in our field, at our firm. Since I've been in the field for a gazillion years and with this firm in particular for nearly 20 years, presumably I know a couple things I can impart to them. I really knew I'd slipped into teaching mode when I had a dream the other night in which I turned to a new attorney and said, as two people walked into the office lobby, "and these are plaintiffs." For those of you who aren't in the legal field, it's a little like explaining to someone "and these are cats." In the dream, I quickly realized I had absolutely nothing to add to that statement and I felt like an idiot. I guess I need to remember that not everything in life is a teachable moment. Sometimes you just need to sit back and let life happen.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Do You Feel About Lemon Chicken?

I like lemon chicken, don't you? And not just the kind you get at your local Chinese restaurant either. When I roast a chicken, my favorite thing is to stuff the cavity with onion, celery, and carrots (and put a layer on the bottom of the roasting pan too) and then rub lemon pepper seasoning under the skin. After that, I rub a little oil over the skin and sprinkle it with some sea salt, and then into the oven it goes.

Here's the thing though. How would lemon pepper chicken soup taste? Well, I'm here to tell you: not so great.

I always ("always" means probably about 90 percent of the time) use our leftover roasted chickens to make chicken soup. And most of the time, the leftovers consist of the carcass and breast meat from one of the breasts. And I've never had it turn out with a noticeable lemon flavor . . . until this past weekend. Really, really odd. And I can't figure out why--I really didn't do anything differently. The soup tasted kind of interesting at first, but by the time we were about half way done with our bowls, we were really tired of lemon.

Keeping in mind the rather large container of leftover chicken soup in my refrigerator, I decided today to ask some of my friends who have pretty good cooking sense what they'd do to cut the lemon flavor. All agreed it probably needed some kind of cream--half and half or maybe a little sour cream. And maybe just a touch of honey. Or perhaps a can of cream of chicken soup would help. So I came home and added a can of cream of chicken soup, a dollop of sour cream, and about a tablespoon of honey. Now it tastes pretty good. There's still a slight lemon flavor but not in a bad way, I think. Of course, I haven't eaten a bowl of it yet, so only time will tell if we can make it past the half-a-bowl point.

And speaking of leftovers, although I'm done cleaning out the Sweat Shop (I think!), I still have a couple things to give away. Here's tonight's giveaway:

These are parts that were leftover from the first bed-sized applique quilt I ever made--kind of a farm animal applique using Debbie Mumm fabrics. I'm sure I've shown the quilt on my blog before, but I'll have to take a photo or search to see if I can find an old one to show you. In the meantime, if you're interested in becoming the recipient of a bunch of star blocks, nine-patches attached to triangles, and a few other miscellaneous pieces, please leave me a comment saying you'd like to be entered. I'll draw a winner Wednesday night. The second place winner might get some lemon chicken soup--but only if it turns out that I still don't want it. Good luck!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Did You Notice I Was Missing?

So Saturday night, I was working in the Sweat Shop when I felt this tug on my big toes, and the next thing I knew, the floor under the sewing table opened up and I was sucked down a giant tube slide into the land of the quilter's elves. Remember when you'd go to the drive-thru at the bank and they had those vacuum tubes? Same thing! It was rather frightening at first, especially since the elves didn't speak English and I couldn't understand what they wanted. Well, and I didn't even know they were quilter's elves at first! But they soon had me relaxing in a hot tub, sipping on champagne, watching videos of George Clooney and Johnny Depp, and nibbling finger foods and chocolate. And did I tell you about the mani/pedi? Most excellent!

As midnight approached, I told them I had to go back to post something on my blog, but they said no, I had to stay with them until they were done with me. Of course, I put up a little bit of a struggle, because I knew some of you would miss me and worry, but they insisted.

When they finally returned me home at 3:30 a.m., guess what I found? The elfish cleaning crew had been hard at work in the Sweat Shop, finishing up the cleaning for me! Yay elves!

Now you'd think that I'd have all Sunday to play, right? Well, in all the time I've been working on the Sweat Shop the last couple weeks, I've let the rest of the house go, so a good part of the day Sunday was spent in cleaning up the house and putting up the Valentine's/spring quilts. Finally, FINALLY, Sunday night I was free to sit down in the Sweat Shop and survey my domain. But what should I work on first?

I decided to work on a little project that involves some embroidery and some wool and some other things, but I can't tell you what it is just yet. I've made up little kits for my stitchery friends because we'll be getting together on Saturday and I don't want to ruin the surprise. I CAN show you my first two embroidered snowflakes though. At least I THINK I can--they probably don't show up very well because it's white embroidery thread on a cream fabric background. Here, take a look:

I wanted to give you a quick little look at the new and improved Sweat Shop now that the elves have cleaned--before I make a mess. In many ways, the room still looks the same, but it's crazy the number of containers--baskets, buckets, totes, etc.--I was able to eliminate because I could finally get all the fabric onto the shelves.

One of the hardest things I found was figuring out how to store precuts, and they really ended up being all over the room, but in an organized way. For instance, I have two places I'm keeping charm packs. You can probably see a bit of a little suitcase open on the desk--that's full of charm packs. Layer cakes were a challenge, but I finally removed the cardboard backing and rolled them up and put them all in a wire basket--

This surface also has many fewer things cluttering it up. That wicker suitcase basket now contains all sorts of little "kits" and projects--most of them are little wool stitchery things I've collected over the years and not gotten to. Most of them had been stuffed here and there--too hard to find even if I'd wanted to work on something!

And see that blue topped glass jar up on the shelf? That jar contains slips of paper with the names of 12 unfinished projects--many are simply blocks collected from swaps or BOMs that weren't finished. All are Thimbleberries. I've decided to draw a slip of paper out each month and try my hardest to complete the project sometime during the month--most should be fairly quick.

I also took everything off the bulletin board that's behind my chair and replaced only the things that I really needed/wanted there, like the month's projects. If you look closely, you'll see a strip of paper pinned to the board; it tells me that the first project I drew was Thimbleberries birthday blocks. You'll see what that is as the month goes by, I think. And then there's this month's Schnibbles pattern. Important stuff.

I know many of you have either been cleaning out your spaces or encouraged to start. If I see them again, I'll send the quilter's elves to visit you and help out, okay? Until you've experienced it, you just can't imagine what a blast it is to party with the elves on Saturday night until the wee hours.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Garage Sale Day

I first want to apologize to long-time readers who are no doubt bored to tears right about now. After all, there have been no funny stories and no cute projects for awhile--just a bunch of drivel about cleaning and selling unwanted stuff. I'm sure if it wasn't for the occasional giveaway, I'd probably only have two or three readers left. I certainly hope to change that soon so we can all get back to our regularly scheduled program, but at least for today, I have to devote this blog post to promoting my "garage sale." Bonnie over in Quiltville is acting as a central location for links to garage sales all over Blogland, so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity.

In this post, I'll list some of the fabrics I'd like to sell, with photos and prices, and then I'll upload them to my Etsy shop--because it's really much easier for everyone concerned to arrange payment, etc., through Etsy. In my Etsy shop are also the kits and fabrics I listed earlier this week. There's a link to the shop just above, a link in the sidebar, and a link near the end of this post, so pop on in at any time.

NOTE: I'm amending this post to remove the items that have sold and add a couple new items, so if it looks different to you--it is!

Thimbleberries Scraps. I was surprised to read in Bonnie's comments that several people were hoping to find scraps at the garage sale and didn't, so--well you know I had a hard time closing the Thimbleberries scraps drawer--I thought I'd gather some up. I put together two packages of scraps, approximately 12 ounces in each. This pile (and one similar to it) fills a large Ziploc bag. There are many "vintage" Thimbleberries fabrics in these bags. Price: $15 plus $3.50 shipping in the US.

And you all know I've been cutting 5" charm squares of Thimbleberries fabrics. I'm going to list two of these in my Etsy shop. These also contain a number of "vintage" Thimbleberries fabrics and there are 105 squares in each packet. Price: $12 plus $3 shipping in the US. [BOTH SOLD! THANK YOU!]

Debbie Mumm Woodland Santa fabric, $12.50 plus shipping.

Debbie Mumm Garden fabric, $7.50 plus shipping.

Thimbleberries Evergreen Lodge--pattern included for tabletopper/lap sized quilt, $25 plus shipping (page 2 of shop listings):

A little frog music, $35 plus shipping.

Click HERE to shop! [THERE ARE MORE FABRIC GROUPINGS IN MY ETSY SHOP THAT AREN'T POSTED HERE--TAKE A LOOK.] I've also listed shipping prices to Canada in the Etsy shop. And thank you all for your patience. Someday soon I'll get a life back.