Monday, April 30, 2012

Summer Day Redux

Sunday was a very productive day. I started off thinking I'd get two Schnibbles quilt tops pinned for quilting but I ended up pinning four! The first one I wanted to work on was this month's Summer Day quilt. I posted a photo of the quilt top not long ago, but I wanted to show you how it looks completely DONE!

I tried to get a photo that showed the quilting and it sort of does, but the piecing is so busy it's hard to see it, so I took a photo of the back of the quilt--I think you can see the quilting much better on this side.

I don't know when I'll get the other three Schnibbles quilts done, but at least they're ready when I am.

And while I pinned quilts this morning, Stitch dreamed he was a wild cat of the Serengeti. Fearce isn't he?!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Country Cottages, Block 4

Sleeping in this morning wasn't quite what I was hoping for. I think I could probably get rid of my alarm clock altogether and our two cats would wake me up every morning at the correct time--because that's what they try to do on weekends. And on top of that, when I awoke, I was having a crazy dream about work and finding out I had been making tons of typos. It was one of those very vivid and real-seeming dreams that takes awhile to shake off. I hope to be more successful at sleeping in tomorrow morning.

I DID get outside and got the weeding done in the front yard--yay me! After that, I thought I deserved a little lunch and a "rest" in the Sweat Shop. As planned, I worked on the fourth Country Cottages block--I'm really loving this Lakehouse fabric line I'm using, Annie's Farm Stand. I remember I first saw the fabric on Nicole's (Sisters Choice) blog and decided I needed some of my own. It's perfect! Thanks Nicole!

About a month ago, I went out to a couple craft and fabric stores in search of button embellishment packets and purchased several seasonal sets, hoping I could use them for my blocks. How perfect these are for the April block!

The buttons will go above the door and windows in that scrolly embroidered area, and I'll add them after I quilt the quilt--that way, they won't get in the way of the quilting and the bulk of the quilt will give the buttons a bit more stability.

Here are all four blocks so far. The last time I put them all up, I noticed the roof of the first house was lower than the others. My friend Nancy suggested adding some snow to the roof--excellent idea! I added the "snow" today and moved the chimney up a bit and now it looks much better.

Here are February's and March's blocks with their button packages--hearts and shamrocks. I also have clear snowflakes to add to January's.

I think these designs have been super cute so far, don't you? I can hardly wait to see what May's block will look like! If you haven't already joined in the Country Cottages fun, you can find the designs HERE.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's Here!

I don't know why, but this week I'm particularly happy the weekend has arrived. Maybe it's the beautiful, 70-something degree weather we're having. Or the idea that I can sleep in on Saturday. Or the quilting projects I'd like to work on. Whatever it is, it has me feeling slightly euphoric!

Most of the time, the projects I end up working on, aren't the same ones I begin the weekend thinking I'll get to. Why is that? Does that happen to you?

I'm just a bit behind on my applique projects, so I'd like to spend a little time on those. I just finished this month's Autumn House block--my little group will be meeting next week to cut fabric for our next block, so it's about time! At least I'm not late.

If you've made this quilt, you might notice I made a couple small changes to this block. I moved the perch a little higher up and have the bird ON the perch instead of on the pumpkin. I also changed the positions of the leaf and berries a little bit. Overall, though, the block is pretty similar to the original. The pieces are all there; they're just arranged slightly differently.

My next applique block? The April Country Cottages block from Shabby Fabrics. I've been working on it but it's not quite done yet. Maybe I'll have that ready to show you tomorrow.

This weekend, I'd also like to pin a couple small quilts and maybe start quilting them. I think I'll set up a table in the living room for pinning--maybe on Saturday.

Non-quilting plans? With our recent rains, the weeds in the front yard are getting taller than the plants. I'd like to get out there while the ground is still a bit soft and get them pulled. And I might do some minimal cleaning and cooking--"minimal" being the key here.

How about you? What are your weekend plans?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Sex Particles: It's All In a Day's Work

I think I've mentioned a bit about one of the dictation programs we use at work: Dragon Naturally Speaking. It's a handy little program that works with the computer. The attorneys speak into either a headset or a microphone and the words are magically transcribed into print. Cool, eh? What do they even need secretaries for?

As a secretary, our job is to at least put the dictated text into the correct format--usually a letter or a pleading. Some of us then return the documents to the attorneys for proofreading, and some of us do the proofreading ourselves and then return the documents to the attorneys for their signature or further editing. My practice is to do the latter--I think it saves the attorneys a little time and it's the same type of product they'd get from me if I had transcribed it from a recording. Old school, that's me.

Sometimes--a lot of the time--Dragon isn't quite accurate. And sometimes, if the attorney is interrupted in his or her dictation and forgets to tell Dragon to "go to sleep," the results can be amusing.

For instance, I was proofreading through a legal document one day and came across "manufacturers and distributors are not rea and is in an and Z you are a you and I and I and is a and I and I and you and I and is a a sonably necessary." Makes no sense, right? How about now: "manufacturers and distributors are not rea and is in an and Z you are a you and I and I and is a and I and I and you and I and is a a sonably necessary"? This is a perfect example of when an attorney's dictation is interrupted for another conversation--it picks up a few things and seems to turn everything into short, easily identifiable words. Mostly. Sometimes, though, if the person dictating to Dragon isn't careful, it will pick up some interesting conversations!

Because attorneys have a bit of a specialized language that includes less common legal terminology and Latin words, Dragon will reinterpret what it THINKS the person is saying. Our use of medical terminology makes it even more complicated. I'll give you a couple examples:

In a medical record summary: "the deep patient was pruning and increasing his activities." No, the poor guy wasn't increasing his activities by getting out and pruning his garden! He was actually "improving" and increasing his activities. We have no idea where Dragon got "deep."

At the beginning of a trial, attorneys may ask the judge to make rulings about what evidence will be allowed and what will not. Those requests to the judge are called motions in limine. Dragon likes "motions in lemonade" better!

In another medical record summary: "20 percent of patients with winter arthritis can have naked server ologies." Sadly, I can't remember what it was SUPPOSED to say, but if you have winter arthritis, try to keep your pants on, okay? You have a 1 in 5 chance of succeeding. I don't even want to think about what you may be serving while naked!

When I took a week off work early in April, another secretary, Teri, helped out one of my bosses. Upon my return, I was surprised when that attorney sent me a Dragon document that said, "I’m sick on Teri's instructions, we will proceed as outlined above." Really? That's not very nice of Teri! What it should have said, though, was "Absent contrary instructions, we will proceed as outlined above." Teri and I thought it was pretty funny! Dragon turned that same boss's own name into "resourceful trolley." To protect her identity, I won't tell you what her name is, but it starts with an "r" and rhymes with resourceful trolley--still, it's really not that close.

I guess that even with a program like Dragon, there's still a need for someone to keep an eye on things. And isn't that pretty much what secretaries DO anyway?

It's a good thing we old school secretaries don't shock easily because yesterday Dragon started talking about sex! Yep! The letter was addressed to an attorney for the other side in a case and said, ". . . refills in up appropriate for you to have sex particles per stations . . . ." Can you guess what it should have said? No? I couldn't figure it out either, so I had to ask the attorney why she was talking about sex particles per stations. Turns out it was "we feel it is inappropriate for you to have ex parte communications . . . ." ("Ex parte communications" are when one attorney communicates with the judge or another official about the case without the opposing attorney being present.)

They say Dragon can be trained but I'm skeptical. At least it keeps us amused.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

What a Mess!

I got home late from work tonight, because I needed to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things. The first thing I did was to head to my bedroom to change my shoes for slippers and discard my work clothes in favor of "play clothes." Hubby was in the living room, watching TV before dinner, Stitch was outside, and Spike . . . well, I'm not sure where she was. All of a sudden I heard a LOUD, loooooooong crashing sound, although I didn't hear anything that sounded like glass breaking. I headed out of the bedroom and down the hall. Hubby called from the living room, "Was that you?" "No," I answered, "It wasn't me. Not exactly." I stood in the doorway of the room I'm in now--our computer/craft/office room--and gazed in horror at the piles of quilt patterns EVERYWHERE! All over the floor, all over the desk, EVERYWHERE!

I like to store my patterns--the quilt patterns I design and sell--in wicker baskets on a couple of shelves in the office. Somehow--and although I don't think Spike had anything to do with it, but if it wasn't her, I'm certain it was a ghost--one of the shelves had given up and the brackets had pulled out of the wall, spilling the baskets and all their contents all over--and you can probably imagine how those slick, plastic pattern covers slide!

I really, REALLY didn't want to deal with the mess tonight, but I knew if I didn't, I surely wouldn't be able to sit down in front of the computer to pick and announce the winner of the Schnibbles Summer Day pattern. So, after dinner and after a little unwind time in the Sweat Shop, I tackled the mess. Finally, all the patterns are back in their baskets, and I'll let Soccer Son--the man with all the tools the professionals use--put the shelf back up on the wall for me. That way, if it ever comes down again, I can blame someone else, instead of myself. Obviously my carpentry skills aren't what I thought they were--or was it the ghost? See? Easier to blame anyone but myself!

Okay, but it isn't all about me, is it? For just a second, it will be about you--well, ONE of you anyway. The winner of the pattern. And for that, I picked Donna of So Sew Crafty. Donna thought she'd like to make the quilt with Sunrise Sunset batiks by Holly Taylor. Email me your mailing address, Donna, and I'll get the pattern in the mail to you.

Thank you all for the compliments on my version of the quilt. I now have at least three Schnibbles tops that need quilting. I'd better put that near the top of my "to do" list before I get further behind! What's on your "to do" list?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sometimes I Scare Myself

Last night, as I was doing quilting stuff, I detected an out of place chin hair. I say it was an out of place chin hair, but really it would have been right at home and in its proper place on the chin of one of the ZZ Top guys. It just didn't belong on my chin. So I stopped doing quilting stuff and got my super magnifying make-up mirror and tweezers and tidied up a bit. (Now in retrospect, maybe I should have been glad it wasn't gray, right?)

Since I already had the tools out, I thought I'd do a quick little survey for stray eyebrow hairs. (Isn't it funny that as we get older there are fewer of those but more of the chin variety? Do they drop with gravity and age like the rest of me?) As my mirrored reflection moved from my chin, up past my nose (nose forrest still contained,check), and upward toward my eyebrows, I stopped, looked closer, dropped the mirror, and screamed!

Well, I didn't scream aloud, really, but I felt like I screamed in my head. Because what I saw in each eye were two--TWO!--broken blood vessels! What?! Had I suffered a small stroke? An aneurysm maybe? What is there about doing quilting stuff and plucking chin hairs that would cause bloodshot eyes?

"Okay," I told myself, "don't panic. Think for a minute." So I did and I still had no explanation. Surely it was something serious and life-threatening though.

Whenever I'm certain I'm dying of some terrible disease, just as soon as I've made the diagnosis, my next reaction is denial. So, true to form, I set aside the mirror and went back to doing quilting stuff, trying my best to forget about my stroke and/or aneurysm. And you know what? About an hour later, my eyes started itching due to allergies, so I closed them and rubbed my eyelids to make the itching stop. Eureka! I suddenly remembered doing the same thing earlier in the evening! So I think there's about an 85 percent chance my bloodshot eyes weren't caused by a stroke or aneurysm, after all!

I'd totally have gone out to celebrate last night, but you know what? My throat is kind of scratchy and my voice is a little hoarse, so I think I probably have throat cancer. Or maybe a bio terrorist infected me with bird flu, because my nose is kind of runny too. So I thought it would be better if I just went back to doing quilting stuff and tried to forget the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Do You Have That in a Different Color?

Yesterday I posted a photo of my finished Summer Day quilt top. I really like the fabrics I used, but I started thinking about how the same quilt would look using one of Minick and Simpson's red, white, and blue lines, like Prairie Paisley II. Wouldn't that be awesome? Or a Christmas line? Or maybe a line with Autumn colors--those flying geese make me think of Autumn too.

If you live in the US and would be interested winning this gently used pattern, leave me a comment telling me what fabric you'd use. Sinta and Sherri will have the Summer Day Schnibbles parade on May 1st, so we can see what all the other quilters used for theirs. I'll announce a winner of this little drawing on my Thursday blog post, so leave a comment by Wednesday night to be entered.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More of the Same . . .

I thought I'd get the Schnibbles quilt top done in just a couple hours today, and maybe I WOULD have if I hadn't sewn a couple rows together upside down!

Quilting always takes longer than we expect it to, though, doesn't it? I discovered my mistakes about mid-afternoon and spent a little time reverse sewing until I had to leave to meet family for dinner. In the evening, I sewed everything back together--in the correct order--and finished the quilt top by the time the 11 p.m. news came on.

I did a little more meal preparation today too--I cooked some pasta and put together a casserole for Hubby to bake later in the week. I realized we had a bit of sliced pepperoni and some shredded mozzarella left from something Hubby had made a week or two ago--I added them to the pasta and the sauce I made yesterday, I think it will turn out nicely! Although Hubby cooks on week nights, sometimes it's just easier for me to do a little meal prep ahead of time than it is to try to write down a recipe or explain to Hubby what I had in mind, especially when he calls me at work--I often have a hard time mentally switching gears from my work to what's going on at home. So this is easier for him and for me. Gosh, I even made apple pancakes with sauteed apples for breakfast--I guess maybe the domestic fairy whacked me on the head with her wand while I slept Friday night.

I thought I'd get to work on an applique BOM project or two this weekend but I sure didn't get to it. Something to look forward to this week--I'd hate to run out of things to do, wouldn't you? As if THAT would ever happen! Happy quilting!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I did dream! I had all sorts of dreams last night, but I have no idea what they were about. I woke up a few times, conscious of the fact I was dreaming, but although the dreams were pleasant, they didn't seem worth remembering. I did, though, wake up "dreaming" about this month's Schnibbles project. And as it turned out, the day was nicely productive, so I guess I just needed a good night's sleep to regain my enthusiasm.

When I stopped at the grocery store for a few things on Friday night, they had rotisserie chickens on sale for $5, so I brought one home. That chicken, along with the need to either use or toss a bunch of veggies languishing in my refrigerator, turned into a day of cooking, off and on. A package of cherry tomatoes that were beginning to look a little wrinkled turned into some homemade spaghetti sauce to be used on pasta later in the week.

With the chicken bones, I made stock, and that, added to leftover rice, cream, and a few other odds and ends became chicken and corn chowder. We have one container to eat this week and another in the freezer for another time.

The best thing, though, was chicken and cream cheese enchilladas, which used up the rest of the rotisserie chicken and a partial package of cream cheese as well as a few more veggies and aging tortillas. That was tonight's dinner.

And I still have another tray of enchilladas for another night. Yum! Now my refrigerator--well, I can't say it's empty since I've just made stuff for later this week, but it sure is nice to have it "cleaned out." The only thing I wanted to do but didn't get to was to turn some soft berries into a fruit sauce for ice cream. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow. Tonight I didn't want to stop working on the Schnibbles quilt.

This is what I began with--remember?

I'm not done yet, but I have all the flying geese blocks made and some of the side bars sewn on, so I'm close.

I'm tempted to stay up later and keep working on it, but there may be more dreams waiting for me to close my eyes tonight, and I'd hate to keep them waiting too long. Tomorrow's another day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I'm Sorry

It's Friday night and my brain is sucked dry.  I've got nothin' of any value to say.  When I've had time this week, I've been slogging away at the Thimbleberries quilt, appliqueing the holly leaves and bells, but it really looks no different than what I showed you last weekend.  There's nothing in the news that makes me feel like launching into a blog rant.  And I think I've eaten too much (and maybe drank a little too much) all week long while doing my part to engage in the appropriate level of enthusiastic celebration of Administrative Professionals Day/Week.  I'm done.  Ready to call it a night.  And I bet I'm so lacking in creative imagination, I won't even be able to muster up a good dream.  But I'm going to give it a try anyway.  Nighty-night!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Whew! I'm Glad That's Done!

My firm's been celebrating Administrative Professionals Day Week this week--one week early because our office manager has a law office administrator's conference to attend next week and won't be here.

Each year during the week-long celebration, the office gives us little treats. This year there's a beach theme in play, and on Wednesday we were given beach totes with suntan lotion, sunglasses, beach towels, etc. The day before we each received a wall clock with some type of beach scene--now most of us have our new clocks at our desks. On Monday we were greeted with a jar of toffee nuts and fresh fruit.

Anyway, today (Thursday) was a nice lunch out at a restaurant on the river (as close to the beach as we could get) and an early end to the work day--we didn't have to go back to work after lunch. For me, that meant getting off work about two hours early. Woo-hooo!

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with my extra time off, but in the end? I decided to clean house. I know! Not much fun, right? But now my house is clean and I have the whole weekend to play! I think that's a pretty good "gift," don't you?

I'm not sure what the office has planned for tomorrow, but there's something about a barbecue. I'll let you know what happens.

Oh, and Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are You Old Enough . . .

to remember Dark Shadows? The soap opera version from the 60s/70s? I remember coming home from school and watching it some of the time but it seems like I missed it a lot. I'm not sure I realized it was on every day. But when I watched it, I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread with butter and cinnamon sugar on top.

When Dark Shadows began, I was 10 years old. Around that time, I LOVED to read gothic romances--the ones where a young, attractive woman is hired to work in some capacity in the home of a rich family. Invariably the family is dysfunctional in some manner, and a dark, foreboding atmosphere hangs over the home. The stories often hint at earlier, untimely deaths that remain cloaked in mystery. As the tale progresses, the young, attractive woman seems to be in life-threatening danger but is saved, in the end, by the family's handsome, rich son or widowed, ruggedly attractive father. And of course they get married and live happily ever after. Good stuff.

When Dark Shadows started, it was like that. Within the first year, though, Barnabas Collins made an appearance. I kind of liked him, but it changed the show. Still, for a young girl, vampires made for entertaining television.

Since the show began, it's developed a sort of campy, cult following. It's been revived at least once. And with the current interest in all things vampire, thanks to Twilight, it's predictable, perhaps, that Dark Shadows and Barnabas Collins would make another comeback.

Rumor is that Johnny Depp was always fascinated by Dark Shadows and Barnabas Collins. So was Tim Burton. And Johnny Depp and Tim Burton are quite obviously twins separated before conception and enormously fascinated with one another. Has either of them done anything without the other?

By now, you've probably seen the commercials and know that the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp movie version of Dark Shadows will be in theaters soon, and from the commercials, it seems they've done a bit of a spoof on the character.

I'm looking forward to it. It won't be the same as the original, but I bet it will be entertaining. And you know what? As unattractive as Johnny Depp looks in the above photo, I'm sure that he'll do his Johnny Depp magic, and by the end of the movie, 85 percent of the women who see it will think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread with butter and cinnamon sugar on top.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jenny's In the House

I never pre-order books from Amazon. After all, I can't get free shipping with only ONE book, and I'm all about the free shipping. But this time, I made an exception. Because when it comes to Jenny Lawson, exceptions must be made, in all kinds of ways.

I've mentioned The Bloggess here a few times, and I DO hope you've read her blog. The story of Beyonce, the 5 foot tall metal chicken, is priceless. When I learned Jenny had a book coming out, I put it on my Amazon wish list right away. As the publication date drew nearer, though, I just couldn't wait. I HAD to preorder. And she arrived today.

I need to go to bed now so I can start reading the book. I sincerely hope it's not one of those you can't put down, because I have to get up and go to work in the morning. By the way, if you've looked at the cover and wondered about the mouse, let me enlighten you by linking you to the mouse tail tale on Jenny's blog--click HERE.

I'll let you know if the book's as good as I'm anticipating.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Remember last Friday--Friday the 13th--I asked whether you thought Friday the 13th was lucky or unlucky and if you had any stories to tell? I had a day that wasn't unlucky, exactly, but it certainly WAS frustrating.

Here in Sacramento it was rainy and not too great outside part of the day. I made a lunch hour run to Target for a couple things I needed and that turned out okay. But back at work for the afternoon, it seemed like everything I touched turned into a project that took six times as long as it should have. First of all, I was offered the assistance of a new secretary to help me catch up on some dictation. I guess because she wasn't familiar with my files and I was looking a little closer at her work than I would have my own, I found that there were several things wrong with the information in my files--nothing major but all little things that needed to be corrected. I guess you could call it "housekeeping." Still, on this occasion, when I had help to get caught up, everything seemed to conspire against me to make it take much longer than it should. But then there are just days like that, right?

Because I was trying to get all these little things straightened away before the weekend, I ended up staying late at work. I had told our Saturday stitchery hostess that I would bring chicken wings to share and I'd told Hubby I'd pick up wings and "fixins" for dinner on my way home from work since I planned to stop for wings anyway. Yum!

When I was finally ready to leave the office at 7:30, I decided to check the restaurant's website before I left so I could plan my order. Lucky for me, I saw that they took online orders--if I ordered online, my order would be ready in about 25 minutes. Since it was a 20 minute drive to the restaurant, that seemed just perfect. I placed my order, waited for confirmation, printed it out, and grabbed the order off the printer on my way out of the office.

Outside it was dark and rainy. Traffic was heavy and drivers were crazy. I made it to the restaurant just a couple minutes before my 8 p.m. pick up time.

Inside, I waited in line until it was my turn. I stepped up to the counter and presented my order confirmation to the cashier. She looked at it blankly and turned without a word to go to the kitchen. I could see her there checking the computer and talking to the cook; they both turned to look at me. I kind of had a clue something was wrong.

The cashier returned to the counter and told me they hadn't received my order because their machine "wasn't working earlier in the day." Still, she told me in a way that let me know I should feel lucky and grateful, I could place my order then. In fact, it would be easy for me because she could just copy it down from my printout.

Yes, she said when I asked, I would need to wait another 25 minutes. As I saw it then, my only other option was to stop at the grocery store and then go home and make my own chicken wings for the Saturday gathering. And I figured that would take longer anyway. So I waited.

I understand mistakes can happen, but at no time was I offered a discount, a coupon to use on a later order, or even a free soft drink while I waited for them to make up my order. As a matter of fact, as far as I can remember, I never even heard the word "sorry" pass the cashier's lips.

No, I won't go back. This particular restaurant is a franchise chain and there are other branches I can go to next time I'm craving wings.

That wasn't quite the end of my Friday the 13th customer service woes, though. The previous weekend I'd ordered some tins from an eBay seller, and I paid for Priority Mail postage. The seller emailed me to say she was mailing my package out from Tennessee on Monday. Since the tins were meant as little gifts for my stitchery friends to keep their needles, embroidery floss, thread, and pins in, I figured that would work out perfectly--I'd have the package by Wednesday; Thursday at the latest.

Did I get the package on Wednesday or Thursday? No. After eating a late chicken wing dinner on Friday, I walked down to the mailbox (at least the rain had let up by then) to see if my package had arrived. Nope. No package. It wasn't a disaster because I had already purchased some other tins before I saw these; the package I was waiting for would just give me a better variety to mix and match. The package finally arrived today--Monday. A week after it was supposed to have been mailed, Priority Mail.

I'm not really superstitious, but I think it's just as well that Friday the 13th is over for the time being. And if I'm wrong and there really is anything to the concept of luck, then I think mine is turning. My fortune cookie from tonight's dinner says "There is a prospect of a thrilling time ahead for you." Maybe I'll acquire a successful chicken wing franchise. Maybe my late-arriving tins will become collector's items and skyrocket in value. Maybe I'll achieve fame and fortune writing about nothing much--like chicken wings and tins. Whatever that thrilling thing is, at least you know I'll keep you posted.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Funny How Long Things Take . . .

After working on applique with my friends all day Saturday, on Sunday I thought I'd give my applique finger a rest. I hate wearing a thimble, so the middle finger of my right hand usually has a bit of a callus, but too much applique turns the callus into a painful hole. I prefer not to have that happen.

I thought I might work on this month's Schnibbles quilt, but instead I pulled out the fabrics I've collected for Bunny Hill's Vintage Christmas quilt.

I'd been eyeing the pattern and found out one of my good applique friends had also been wanting to make it. She LOVES making quilts using the original fabrics, but she'd held off on buying the pattern because she didn't think she'd be able to collect enough of the fabrics. Well, guess what? Of the four fabric lines used, I had the fabrics from two of them, so it was just a matter of collecting what I needed of the other two. So I decided to put kits together for the quilt and give her one for her birthday-Christmas-Halloween-Easter-hostess gift present for the next year or two.

That's what I did today--worked on cutting fabric for four kits and I didn't even finish; I still have the fabric for the border applique to cut and package.

Have you ever cut fabric and put together kits? It's WAAAAAAY more time consuming that you'd ever think. And there's nothing that says how much of each of the original fabrics need to be cut, so I've had to study the pictures of each block, figure out what fabric is used, and calculate how much is needed.

I have no idea when I'll get started making this quilt but I suspect my friend will will finish long before I do--she's super fast and good at applique.

Somehow it doesn't feel like I accomplished much quilting this weekend because I don't have anything to show for it, but I know I actually got a lot done. I hope you had a happy weekend!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Join Us!

I spent a lovely Saturday with my stitchery gang. As usual, lots of talk and laughter was shared, food was devoured, and inspiration and creativity were liberally sprinkled throughout the day. I wish you could have been there!

Harrington and Hannah hopped through almost everyone's work area--two of us finished the second block and three of us started on the third. One of us worked on the second Merry, Merry Snowmen block--she needs a little prodding sometimes to keep her going but she's doing really well, especially considering she hasn't appliqued much for quite awhile.

I had a comment on my blog this evening from someone who said she wished she had a group of friends to prod her along to work on Merry Merry Snowmen, and that made me think--I'm lucky to have the friends I do but maybe the next best thing would be a "support group" on Flickr for those of us working on the BOM. So I started one!

If you're working on this quilt, whether as a block of the month or just on your own, please consider joining our group and posting photos of your progress. I've started a discussion that members can participate in, asking whether you're doing the BOM through a shop or on your own and also asking what fabric you're using (if you're not using the Rouenneries Deux fabric that most shops are using for their kits).

I've uploaded photos of my first two blocks. The kit for the third arrived in yesterday's mail, as I thought it might, and I'll get started on that before too long. How about you? You can click on the icon and link in the sidebar, and it will take you to the Flickr group. See you there!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Here's Where I'm Heading With This . . .

The other day, I asked you about three potential border fabrics for the Thimbleberries quilt I'm working on, and although the opinions were a bit divided, I think the favorite border--of the ones I showed you--was this one--

I liked the border but even more, I liked the idea of using one of my older, "collected" Thimbleberries fabrics, so I decided I'd use the bells and holly leaves. I also told you I'd give you a little preview of my sashing idea in a day or two. I finally have a little bit of something to show you--at least to give you an idea of where I'm going. I know it's a bit of a mess still because it's all in separate blocks and probably doesn't look very cohesive, but nevertheless . . .

I'm using the sashing to form star blocks at the intersections and then appliqueing bells and holly leaves on the sashing, with the holly leaves facing toward the blocks with the lighter (gold brown) backgrounds. That makes the center block kind of look like it has a wreath going around it. I've only "prepped" half of the bells and leaves, and they're just lightly glued to the background right now. Tomorrow I'm getting together with my stitchery friends for the day, so I hope to get a lot of what's prepped appliqued down. Eventually, I'll also need to go back and add detail to the leaves and bells--the cream vein down the center of the leaves and the criss-cross "opening" to the bells.

At the beginning of the year, when I decided to tackle a Thimbleberries UFO each month, I estimated that most of my unfinished projects would take, at most, a weekend to finish. I guess that was a little unrealistic, or maybe I just get a little carried away sometimes. Here it is, the middle of April and I haven't even come close to finishing this March project and drawing another slip of paper, telling me what the April project is! Well, I can't beat myself up for it, especially if I end up with a quilt I'm happy about, right? I think it's not always about staying on track, just so long as I keep moving forward--and enjoy doing it.

Have a happy weekend of working on whatever project you're enthusiastic about! I'll share updates with you on my project as it comes along.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the 13th

Unlucky? Lucky? What do you think? Share your Friday the 13th story with us in your comment.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Merry, Merry Still

With the third block of the Merry, Merry Snowmen block of the month program scheduled to land in my mailbox in the next couple days, I thought it was about time to finish the second block. My friends and I signed up for the program through Rossville Quilts and we've noticed the kits arrive around the Friday before our second Saturday stitchery gathering--which is this weekend. Gosh, but it seems like we just got this second kit!

I'll still need to add the embellishments, like eyes, buttons, and ribbon, but all that will be added at the end, after I've quilted the quilt.

If this block of the month is one you've been admiring, it's not too late to sign up--you can click on the link above to take you to the program we're doing or check some of the other online shops. I know this is going to be really cute when it's done.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Such a Tease!

Okay, how about this? Many of you liked the blue grunge fabric but several of you thought I should hold out for white. After mulling it over today, I came home from work and dug through my stash until I found a piece of WHITE grunge fabric--it has brushes of blue and green in it. I know it's hard to tell in the photo below, but those color variations look perfect with the colors in the MoMo fabric.

But I also LOVE that blue grunge, so I thought I'd use it for the border or possibly the "bars" in the pattern (there are three flying geese and a single "bar" border/sashing in each block). I think I'll make some geese with the MoMo fabric and the white and then see how I might work that blue in. Yum!

My idea for the Thimbleberries blocks setting is also coming together in my mind, and if it works out like I envision, I think I'll be quite happy with the quilt. Sometimes my mental quilt images don't translate very well to the actual fabric quilt, so I'll have to try this out and see how it goes, but I thought I'd give you a little glimpse in the meantime.

I probably won't get to work on it very much tomorrow night because I have a Thimbleberries Club meeting, but maybe I'll have something to show you the following night. I just hope the "something" I have to show is a successful idea for the sashing/setting and not a just a pile of broken threads and discarded fabric from "unsewing" everything I'm currently working on!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Are You Ready For Your Audition?

Have you been watching The Voice? This is the first year I've watched it, and I'm enjoying it so far--much better than American Idol the first couple years when I watched that show. For tonight's performances, I thought the gal who did Sting's Roxanne and the guy who did Lenny Kravitz's Are You Going to go my Way just killed it. If you watched, what did you think? One of the reasons I mention the show show is because Soccer Son's Lovely Wife to be Someday told us yesterday that several people recently told Soccer Son he looks like Adam Levine, which is kind of interesting. I never thought about it before, but now I can see a bit of a resemblance. Too bad Soccer Son doesn't have Levine's bank account along with a strong desire to support his mom. He also doesn't have the tattoos.

About the Thimbleberries swap block quilt top I've been working on, many of you commented about how much you liked the look of the blocks and asked what they are. Pat Sloan designed a quilt she named Blueberry Cobbler--if you click on the name, it will take you to a photo of her quilt pattern. The fabrics look much like the tones of the Thimbleberries fabrics, so when our online group wanted to swap blocks several years ago, someone thought the traditional block used by Pat Sloan, known as Anvil, would make a good block, so we found one of the free online block patterns and picked two colorways to use--blue and gold and red and gold. You can find one of the pattern sources HERE. Or HERE. You can also make the block smaller by adjusting the size of the components--we made our blocks finish at 8".

Miss Jean commented and asked that I show you the different border fabric I audition, so I thought I'd try out a couple possibilities--the border fabric will help me decide what to add as a third color if I decide to go that route when I determine what kind of sashings I want to use. So here are three possibilities:

This first print is a little small, but the four-patch blocks measure 16", so almost any pattern is going to look small. This print has both blue and green in it, so I'd have more third color options, and the print isn't seasonal.

I like this print but I tried to use it as a border in another quilt and the pattern looked too repetitive--I'd forgotten about that until I put it up on the wall. Do you agree?

This print concedes that any red and green quilt is going to end up being a Christmas quilt. This is an old Thimbleberries print, and I think I might like it best so far. It is also repetitive but for some reason, it doesn't bug me like the second one does.

What are your thoughts on these border options?

I tried to get my audience's opinion on another fabric matter, but he was feeling much too lazy to be of any real help.

I pulled out the pattern for this month's Schnibbles and looked through my charm packs. I thought It's a Hoot by MoMo would be fun, but what to use as a background fabric? When I auditioned the whites in my stash, nothing seemed quite right. Eventually I pulled out a BasicGrey grunge fabric that I like--a lot!--but I wonder if the other colors would just melt into it? Should I hold out and check the quilt shop for a suitable white fabric when I'm there on Wednesday?


Monday, April 9, 2012

Was It Good For You?

I hope you had as lovely an Easter as I did. Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to be Someday came for brunch, and the weather was nice enough to allow us to sit outside on the patio eating while we watched the Drooling Dog and his dog daughter, Izzy, running around cavorting until they were so tired they were ready to drop. Hubby took some photos of them and promised to email them to me, but he hasn't done that yet; when he does, I want to share a few with you--they're so darn cute together!

In the meantime, I did take a photo of the brunch spread--

This was the first time I made many of the dishes I served, and they all were a hit. I'll tell you what some of them were and give you links in case you'd like to try them out (just click on the name of the dish).

The rolls on the blue plate at the bottom of the photo are Prosciutto and Carrot Bundles, courtesy of Giada De Laurentis--vinagrette marinaded shredded carrots and a basil leaf wrapped in prosciutto. In the large casserole dish, Hash Brown Casserole, courtesy of The Neelys. On the cake stand, Petite Nutella Pochettes from Melissa d'Arabian's show, Ten Dollar Dinners. These are made with a cream cheese dough and filled with Nutella--fairly simple to make. Finally, in the smaller casserole dish, Egg Casserole by Robert Irvine. What makes this casserole a little different is the addition of Italian sausage and sun dried tomatoes--yum! Can you tell I like to watch the Food Network and the Cooking Channel while I quilt?!

After we finished brunch, we all talked to the Wild Child in New York--she had to work at the restaurant all day. She's talked with us a few times lately about her future plans, and we were happy to learn that she's decided to move back to California and go to school up in Humboldt--the "big city" just isn't her cup of tea. Of course, for us the drive to Humboldt to visit her will be almost as long and nearly as costly as it would have been to visit her in New York, especially with gas prices what they are, but Hubby and I DO enjoy heading north on vacation, so we think we'll be able to see a little more of her than we would if she stayed in New York. AND we expect that the Drooling Dog will be much happier living with her in Humboldt than he would have been in New York.

In the afternoon, after the kids left and I took a little nap, I got back into the Sweat Shop and worked a bit on the Thimbleberries project. I said I'd show you how far I'd gotten by the end of the weekend and this is it--

I now have the blocks finished and sewn together into larger blocks, set in nine-patch formation. Visions of various sashing ideas are playing in my head although I haven't decided what I'll do yet. When I asked a few weeks ago, many of you said you'd like green as a third color, and I'm leaning in that direction too. I'll let you know what develops.

My vacation is over and I head back to work tomorrow. It sure seems like the week flew by, but I've had a nice time. It's time, now, to head toward bed. Goodnight!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Just 17 Miles . . .

As I'm getting ready for Easter, I thought for tonight's post I'd share some of the beauties of the 17-Mile Drive. The 17-Mile Drive is a scenic area stretching along the coastline and slightly inland, running north of Carmel. The "drive" is owned by the Pebble Beach Corporation, and sightseers pay a toll to get into the gated community. There are plenty of turn out spots for photos, hiking, and picnicking. Besides the breathtaking scenery, there are equally breathtaking mansions dotting the landscape--my photos capture only nature's beauty, but the architecture is worth the trip too--and it's kind of fun to wonder and speculate about who might own houses on the "drive."

The 17-Mile Drive is also famous for its golf courses, including Spyglass, Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, and Poppy Hills. The receipt for admission to the drive can be redeemed for food and drink at the Pebble Beach Lodge restaurants. The first two photos were taken of and at the Pebble Beach Lodge, where we stopped for a hot adult beverage out on the veranda overlooking the ocean.

Happy Easter! I hope you're relaxing, spending time with loved ones, and just generally enjoying the day!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A Couple of Thimbleberries Projects

Yesterday I said I'd show you what I'd been working on lately. Besides some applique, here are my two most recent projects--

First is the quarterly Thimbleberries Club project that I changed around a bit.

I ended up making more of the pieced flowers and used a trellis-type of setting. It will make a pretty decent sized lap quilt--it's sitting on top of our king size bed, which means it's close to 6 feet square. Of course, I still have to quilt it but that can be done later.

Next is the March UFO/swap block project. I had 30 of these red and golden yellow blocks and after thinking about what I wanted to do for awhile, I decided I'd use 20 of them "as is." For the other ten blocks, I took them apart and started putting them back together with the color positions reversed--red for the backgrounds instead of gold.

The "hitch" is that the background fabric in each block is the same and the pieced design is scrappy, so I have to mix and match and go through my stash, trying to find the right background fabrics. And, of course, I need a total of 36 blocks, so I have to make additional blocks.

I think I'm going to pull out that red and white checked background block. See it? I'm sure you must--it sticks out like a sore thumb because it's too light. I thought it didn't really "go" when I put it up on the wall, but taking a photo sometimes helps to show color value a little better than the naked eye. It's a good trick to try if you're ever not sure about something.

As you can probably see, I'll put these blocks together into four patch blocks and then I'll have nine of the larger blocks. I think I want to put sashing between them and I have a couple ideas, but I haven't made up my mind yet.

Because Easter arrives this weekend, I'm not sure how much time I'll have in the Sweat Shop, but I'll keep working on this second Thimbleberries project when I can and show you how far I've gotten by the end of the weekend.

Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to Be Someday are coming over for Easter brunch on Sunday, and there's some house cleaning and cooking to be done on Saturday. How about you? Are you cooking for the holiday or spending it at someone else's house? Will you get any quilting/play time in?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Back Porch Fabrics, Etc.

During our excursion to Carmel and Monterey last weekend, the only quilt shop I visited was Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, just a hop, skip, and a jump from Monterey and the aquarium. I took a few photos to show you what it was like--Blogger didn't seem to want to upload the exterior photos I took, but they weren't very exciting anyway. So here are three interior shots that give you an idea of what types of fabrics and other things they carry--

I want to show you something. Look closer:

Sorry if it's a little blurry but can you see the bolts stacked there on the left? Ghastlies! The 2012 Ghastlies are here!

Yes, I had to get some of the new focus fabric on the green background--

Remember last year's quilt? If you thought you'd like to make it, now's the time to get the fabric you need. There's a pattern/tutorial link in my sidebar.

And if you checked out last year's Ghastlies blog hop, you might remember a few cool projects, like this quilty masterpiece: CLICK HERE.

What else did I buy at Back Porch Fabrics? They had a really fun selection of black and white prints--I think many of these are from Alexander Henry.

Tomorrow I'll show you the couple projects I've been working on lately, although this vacation has flown by and I haven't had nearly as much time in the Sweat Shop as I thought I would. Isn't that always the way, though?