Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Hatfields & The McCoys: A Review

Are you watching the Kevin Costner mini-series? We have been. We watched the first episode Monday night at 8 p.m., a good time for me, Hubby, and the Wild Child. Night two, we gathered at 8 p.m., only to find a repeat showing of the first episode. (I don't get home from work in time to watch the 6 p.m. showing of the newest episode.) So, we had to postpone and reconvene at 10 p.m. We'll be doing the same thing tonight for episode three.

If you've missed it so far, here's what it's about:

Too many guns,
Too much moonshine,
Too much testosterone,
Not enough brains.
The whole feud was a prime example of how natural selection works to clean up the gene pool and make it safer for the rest of us to dive in.

Seriously, I'm not sure why I'm planning to watch the third episode, but I figure I'm this far in, I might as well finish it. At least the actors are pretty good.

Bet you're more interested to find out whose name was chosen to win the Doc Schnibbles pattern than to read my take on the story of a bunch of sweaty men who died over 100 years ago, right? (Thank goodness for the modern convenience of plumbing and the invention of toothpaste!) Marj, come on down! Marj wrote: "I love the way you make a pattern your own by changing up the colors and borders. I would love to win the pattern and make my own version. Thanks for the chance."

Marj, email me your mailing address and I'll get the pattern in the mail to you this week.

When I showed my version of Doc the other day, several of you commented on my somewhat surprising use of red as the background fabric, so I thought I'd write a post with a few of my thoughts about color--just a couple things I've noticed over the years. I'll try to write and post that tomorrow night. In the meantime, thanks for stopping by to visit!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Time to Get Back to This . . .

Remember the Garden Club quilt I've been working on since . . . oh, I think it was probably in the late summer/early fall of 2011 when I started it. When I finished piecing Doc Monday morning, I wasn't sure what to work on next. I'd already finished this month's Autumn House and Country Cottages blocks; did I want to work on Merry, Merry Snowmen? I have nearly two weeks until the next block kit arrives, and this month's block looks like it will go fairly quickly. Or did I want to work on Harrington and Hannah? I have more than two weeks before the next block of that project is posted. I kept feeling like I was forgetting something, and then I remembered the Garden Club quilt. I hadn't worked on that for about two months. What block was supposed to be completed next?

I flipped through the book and the next block was of three topiaries--yep, I could do that easily in a couple days. So I pulled out the bag of fabrics I set aside for this project and started planning.

The really hard thing about doing a block of the month when you're not using the same types of fabrics and colors as were used in the original is trying to keep track of what colors have been used in which places. A really smart quilter probably would have made a photocopy of the overall quilt pattern--because there is a page with outlines of the different blocks that would lend itself fairly well to the idea--and colored in the blocks as she went. Apparently I'm not that really smart quilter.

What I did instead was to lay out the pieces I've made so far on my bed and take a photo of what's done. Then I printed that out as a color reference. Since I only have a couple sections left to make, I think this should work okay for me. Here's my photo, but be aware that it's kind of hard to differentiate between my blocks and the "hat quilt" that's on my bed--they both use many of the same colors and tones--and the photo doesn't really show everything--I was mostly interested in what colors are already used in blocks that border the waiting-to-be-made sections.

The topiary section I'm working on will fit above the chair and beehive on the right side of the quilt.

The nice thing about laying out the pieces on my bed is that I can see it's probably not going to be wide enough--even for the double bed I'll want to put it on--although it's certainly LOOOOONG enough. And in the original pattern, there are two long snakes running along the right side of the quilt--I'm not planning to add snakes to my quilt, so I won't even have the benefit of knowing I can count on the width of the snakes to make the quilt a little larger. What I'm thinking instead is that these quilt sections don't fit nicely together--as designed, there are at least a couple inset seams, and I don't like that, so maybe I can add a little width in those sections by adding in some small pieced blocks. Pinwheels seem right for a garden, don't they? I'll have to play around with the idea and decide.

Anyway, here's the topiary section--it's nearly done but I have two of the green circles to finish appliqueing:

The next section should be pretty fast too, so maybe I'll go on to make it. Or maybe I'll put it away until next month, because there are a couple other projects I need to work on. I don't think I'll ever lack for projects to work on, that's for sure!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What's Up? Doc!

I wanted to show you my version of the Schnibbles pattern, Doc. This was the Schnibbles project "assigned" to us this month by Sherri and Sinta. I've tacked it up on the wall because I didn't have a better place to photograph it, but keep in mind it's just a quilt top so far, so it doesn't really hang all that well.

You know how sometimes you find a fabric you love, and then you just CAN'T use it because you want to save it for the perfect project? The charm packs I purchased a couple years ago of Make Life by Sweetwater were like that. But after thinking and thinking and changing my mind several times about what fabric I wanted to use for Doc, it finally occurred to me that it would look terrific in the Make Life line, and since there weren't too many reds in the line (but a LOT of whites and light colors!), I thought using a red background would work well. I like the way the colors pop, and they're so cheerful, it makes me smile just looking at it.

Originally, I thought I might like to add an outer border--I had a couple border-type fabrics from the Make Life line. But once I put the half square triangles on, I thought if I added anything, it should just be a bit more of the background fabric to make the triangles float, so that's what I did.

Here you can see the original quilt from the pattern, without that added background border:

Would you like a chance to win the pattern? Leave me a comment asking to be entered into the drawing. I'll pick a name Wednesday night and announce the winner on my Thursday blog post. Good luck!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Fair Trade?

I'm sure you'll remember I was drawing the winner of the above pattern tonight, right? Well, I wanted to have the Wild Child pick the winner, but when I emerged from the Sweat Shop after my late-night appointment with Doc Schnibbles, I found everyone had already gone to bed. Drat! So I defaulted to the old, reliable random number method of picking a winner, and that winner is Mary of Quilt Hollow.

Now the really odd coincidence is that out of 66 entries, Mary's name came up, and I just won a pattern from HER a week or two ago. So we're sort of just trading patterns, in a way.

If you didn't win this one, don't despair. I'll be having another giveaway for the Doc pattern before too long. I'll probably be ready to debut my quilt top tomorrow--I'm really loving this one and I bet you'd love making a version of it too!

Have a happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Weekend Begins

Saturday was a pretty good day--a nice start to the Memorial Day weekend. Our temperatures were in the high 70s--pretty perfect in my book!

I've been thinking for awhile now that I needed to sort out all of my bundles of wool, cut the wool into squares, and list some of it in my Etsy shop, so I started on the sorting and cutting today. I have WAAAAAAAAY more wool than I'll ever use, and storing it takes up a LOT of room! Today I got through about six bundles in shades of blue, teal, and purple; when I say "bundles," what I mean is all of the wool I've gotten from one of the wool blazers or skirts I've felted, so there's quite a lot! I know some of you like to work with wool, so I'll let you know when I've listed some of it, in case you're interested. I'll be listing several sizes of squares and I'll probably also sell bundles of assorted colors/shades.

Besides playing in the wool, I spent part of the day working on this month's Schnibbles pattern, Doc. I'm really enjoying making this one--it's a lot of fun seeing how each block comes together. If you haven't seen the pattern, it's made up of nine card trick blocks--I've always wanted to try that block.

I also did a little cooking. For our dinner, I stuffed and baked the gypsy peppers I mentioned a few days ago, and they turned out great! I stuffed them with fresh corn sliced off the cobb, sauteed onions and garlic, and a combination of cream cheese and feta. I found the recipe HERE, although I substituted the cream cheese and feta from another recipe. The feta I used was the cheese my daughter and I made at the cheese-making class last December. How cool is that?!

While I was cutting wool today, I was watching some of the food/cooking shows on TV, and one of the shows, The Perfect 3, was about pizza. I picked up a couple tips from that show and tried them out for dinner--I think this turned out to be the best pizza I've ever made, too. I preheated a cast iron flat griddle to cook the pizza on and used olive oil on the griddle; I also drizzled olive oil on top of the pizza and cooked it at a higher temperature than normal. The result was a crispier, tastier pizza.

I love weekends, and I particularly LOVE lo-o-o-o-o-o-ong weekends! I hope you're enjoying yours too!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Haven't Done This in Awhile

You're familiar with Lori Smith's patterns, right? Her company is From my Heart to Your Hands. A couple weeks ago, I was looking for the pattern for a quilt I saw at the last Thimbleberries Club meeting and I ended up ordering two different patterns from her website--she has wonderful designs using traditional quilt blocks.

Anyway, she was at quilt market when I placed my order and I guess she felt badly that it took awhile for her to get the order in the mail--not that it bothered me at all because Lord knows I have PLENTY to keep me busy! Along with my two patterns, though, she sent along a freebie for making me wait--

There are patterns for all nine small quilts in the one package. Each quilt finishes at 16" x 20". Are you interested in winning the pattern? I already have several of her mini quilt patterns and I think I might even have this one, so I'm willing to pass it on to a lucky someone. Unfortunately, I can only afford to mail the pattern to residents of the US or Canada. I'll randomly pick a winner on Sunday night and will post the winner's name on Monday's blog post. Just leave me a comment on this post, telling me you want to be entered.

If you click on the link where I mention Lori's pattern company above, it will take you to a page on her website showing some of her patterns. If you aren't familar with her stuff, take a look.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Country Cottages, Block 5

I've been working this week on the fifth Country Cottages block--this is the free block of the month from Shabby Fabrics.

The house and plant hook look like they're leaning a bit in the photo, but I think it's at least partly camera distortion. It turned out kind of cute, don't you think? But I had a little difficulty early on. I'd decided on the fabrics I was going to use and started making the house. I got to the point where I'd glued down most of the parts of the house, and here's what it looked like:

There wasn't anything really WRONG with it, but the colors and fabrics didn't feel like "May" or spring to me, so I started over. No loss, of course--I think this one will work just fine as a block for June or July, and now I have a head start. AND I have the block partially prepped, so I can take it with me to the office and do some applique on days when I don't have any other lunch plans.

The next project I plan to work on is the Schnibbles pattern, Doc. Have you made that one yet? I'm leaning toward using baby fabrics for that one and saving it until a baby gift is needed. If you've made the quilt, what fabrics did you use and what did you think of the pattern?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Unexpected Benefits

The third day of the daily cleaning schedule has come to an end, and I'm still going strong! I don't remember if I told you, but I printed the schedule out and taped it to the inside of one of our kitchen cupboard doors, where I can take a look at it each morning.

On Tuesday, as I thought I might, I cleaned various things in the kitchen while I sent Hubby out for fast food. Not great for our waistlines or pocketbooks but it got the job done. I was thinking maybe next week, we (actually HUBBY) could just make salads and sandwiches earlier in the day and pull them out of the fridge for dinner--that way, I could still clean in the kitchen and not be in his way while he cooks. But here's the cool thing. One of the chores on Tuesday's list was "drawers." I think I'm at least a halfway decent housekeeper, but my drawers don't get a lot of attention*, and I'll often pull one open and think, "Gee, that drawer needs to be cleaned! Maybe I can get to it this weekend." And then drawer-cleaning time never seems to arrive. But on Tuesday night, since it was on the list, I thought it was a good time to start on the drawers. So I picked two drawers to start with, took everything out of them, wiped them down, tossed out the stuff I no longer wanted, and put the rest back. It probably took me about 15 or 20 minutes, and now I have two clean drawers! After a month or two, I think the whole kitchen will be in pretty good shape.

On Wednesday, one of the chores was "organize closets." I'd been putting off packing away the winter clothes and pulling out the summer clothes, thinking I'd do it some weekend when I had time--and, like the drawer cleaning, so far I haven't had time--or at least no spare time I wanted to waste playing around with seasonal clothing. But tonight? Tonight I took care of it. And it feels so good knowing it's done--besides now I have cooler clothes to wear.

Earlier in the day on Wednesday, I talked to Hubby on the phone. He said something like, "I noticed on your list of chores that today you're supposed to do laundry. I could do that if you want." I know--a lot of you would kill to have your husband offer to do a chore like laundry, but laundry actually IS and HAS BEEN Hubby's chore for a long time. The problem is that I'd decided recently I need to launder my own work clothes because I think somewhere along the line, he stuffs them into zippered snack bags and has an elephant sit on them for three days before hanging them on hangers. So I said, "No, no, that's alright honey. I already started a wash load this morning, so all I have to do is dry them and hang and fold them when I get home tonight. Thanks, though." But here's the really astonishing thing: He then said, "I saw you're also supposed to vacuum the house, so I did that for you already."

So, of course I thought,

When I got home tonight, I asked Hubby, "What was the name of your first pet?" Well, I don't know if it really confirms his identity 100 percent, but for what it's worth, he got the answer right.

Thursday's chores involve cleaning stuff in the bathroom. So, of course now I'm thinking,

I'll let you know how it works out.

[No, the guy in the photo bears absolutely no resemblance to Hubby, but it's MY imagination, so I can dream what I want, right?]

*Up there where I said "my drawers don't get a lot of attention"? No, I didn't mean THAT. I can't believe your mind went there!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Farm Fresh

It's always bothered me a bit that most farmers' markets are held in the morning. Don't farmers have better things to do in the morning? Why can't they spend the morning picking their produce and then bring it to a farmers' market in the afternoon for goodness sake?!

I like fresh fruits and vegetables, but I'm not a morning person, nor am I any longer at an age where staying up all night to greet the dawn is an option. So unless I grew it myself, having fresh fruits and vegetables in the house--I mean REALLY fresh!--wasn't very likely.

Now, though, there are farm co-ops that are happy to deliver fresh, organic fruits and vegetables to my home, and I think that's an excellent alternative!

I recently signed up for home delivery of a box of organic mixed fruit and vegetables every third Tuesday. We can use a box of produce in a couple weeks, and by the third week, I'm kind of excited again to see what arrives next--and I can check online to see what's being delivered that week and postpone if that week's produce doesn't appeal to me.

So every third week, the organic fruits and vegetables equivalent of Santa Claus arrives at my house between 1 a.m. and 1 p.m. and delivers a box to my door. And you know what I said about not being a morning person? It was never so apparent as it was last night when I was making a last check of the house before going to bed, and I saw through my front window a box of produce on the patio table.

One of the interesting things about getting these boxes is that there's usually something in the box that's a bit of a challenge. Kind of like the TV show Chopped! but for the household cook rather than the professional chef. Last time it was baby bok choy--we'd never cooked with it before, and we received a POUND of baby bok choy. Sadly we didn't use it all before it got too old, but we did make stir fry one night. The time before that, it was red chard. My grandma used to cook Swiss chard but my mom never was into cooked greens other than spinach, so cooking chard was a little different for me.

And this week? This week, our box contained (among other things) a pound of gypsy peppers that look like this:

I had no idea what kind of peppers they were--thank goodness for the internet! Now I know they're sweet peppers, similar to bell peppers, and they have a thin skin. I've found a couple recipes for stuffed gypsy peppers that sound intriguing, and they're supposed to be good raw in salads too.

I would love to have a garden to grow my own produce in, but that requires more time and effort than I want to put into it. This year, we've planted three tomato plants in a raised planter, and I'll have to be satisfied with that--my own homegrown, ripe tomatoes and a box of fresh, organic produce delivered to my door every couple weeks. AND I don't have to get up early and go anywhere to get it. Not a bad deal, I think!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Let's Talk

Can we talk about housecleaning for a minute? Normally I clean my house pretty thoroughly every other week, and on the weekend between the thorough cleanings, I do a little bit of touch up of the worst stuff--parts of the kitchen, the bathroom counters, etc. After spending a good part of last Saturday either cleaning or procrastinating about cleaning, I felt like I'd lost a lot of my weekend.

I don't know how I didn't read Anna's blog while I was procrastinating, but somehow I didn't get around to reading it until Sunday. Anna has posted a housecleaning plan--a poster, actually--setting out chores for each day that sounded pretty do-able. Click up there where I first mentioned her blog and it will take you over there; then scroll down to Saturday's post.

Here at Casa de Kim, Hubby cooks dinner on weeknights and often doesn't start cooking until I come home from work, so that leaves me about a half hour of empty time--I hate to start sewing and have to stop again so quickly, so once I've changed out of my work clothes, I mostly just hang around and wait. I figure if I use that time to do that day's chores, I won't be robbing fun time to do house work and it will give me something to do while I'm transitioning from work to home.

And so far, it's worked just great! But really, it's only been a day--a single day of the new housecleaning plan. I'm pretty sure I could even stick to a diet for a day! And I think tomorrow will be harder, because Tuesday's chores involve cleaning in the kitchen, and I'm pretty sure Hubby won't want me cleaning while he's cooking, although I'm thinking about making Tuesdays take-out night. I could totally clean the kitchen while he's out picking up dinner, and it would give him a night out of the kitchen.

So my question is, what do you do? If you clean once a week--or once every two weeks as I do--have you tried a daily cleaning plan? If you ARE on a daily cleaning plan, does it work out pretty well for you? What do you do to adjust if you're away from home for a few days? Do you have any other cleaning routines that work for you? Since cleaning is really the one big thing I do that takes up a lot of time and I resent it greatly, I'd love to hear about other ideas. Talk to me, please!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Seems Like Forever

Sometimes quilt projects seem to go quickly and sometimes they seem to take forever. Block five of Autumn House was one that seemed to drag on and on and on.

We--our group of four quilters working on this project--knew when we met to cut the fabric we needed at the beginning of May that this was a larger block than most months, with two houses and the two crows. In fact, I suppose it was more like making two blocks instead of one. And I kept thinking all week last week that I was nearly done, only to get to the end of the evening and find I wasn't done at all!

But now I finally am. And true to the way the block's gone, I thought I'd be finished earlier in the day--early enough to start another project. But I wasn't. I didn't finish until the newest Jesse Stone movie was nearly over.

What next? With the little bit of time I had left of the evening, I cut out the freezer paper template for the May Country Cottage block. I hope it goes a LOT faster than the Autumn House block I just finished!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tapping Into My Not-So-Inner Clown

When my friends and I were in Carmel last month, I was excited to spot a Lush cosmetics shop. I'd known about the line of products for awhile and I'd even placed an online order for a few of their bath bombs for my kids' Christmas stockings, but I'd never been able to check out their products up close and personal.

To start with, I knew I wanted to bring home a couple of their bath bombs, but which ones? Looking at and the exploring the variety of scents used in their handmade bombs, I felt like a kid in a candy store!

I picked out two I liked--one scented to relieve tension and one scented to put me to sleep. Here's a close up of one of the bombs I brought home--Mrs. Whippy.

And what does Mrs. Whippy do? Here's Lush's description: "We whipped up our decadent strawberry ice cream scented Bath Bomb to fill your tub and delight your senses. Inspired in scent and shape by real soft serve ice cream, Mrs. Whippy has a calming effect on skin that is feeling dry. A rather sophisticated sweetie, invite Mrs. Whippy to join you in your warm bath and watch her slowly fizz, releasing creamy, soya milk powder (yes, it’s vegan!), to soften your bathwater and soothe your skin. An indulgent, relaxing soaker; make sure you leave plenty of time to enjoy her sweet berry fragrance and comforting effects." Sounds heavenly, yes?

From there, I moved on to select a shampoo, a dry shampoo, and a dry skin balm. Then, at the register, I spotted some little pots of tinted lip gloss in a basket--there were sample pots of each shade, and a Million Kisses looked like just about the perfect red. A customer described the tint this way: "I use my pinky fingertip to apply, and any remaining after doing my lips adds a barely-there blush of color to my cheeks. Smells great, lasts and lasts without fading . . . . A little goes a long way . . . ."

Sounds wonderful, right? My experience was a bit similar. While trying to keep control of several bags of previously purchased "souveniers" from Carmel and a purse that weighs about 100 pounds, I also used my pinky fingertip to apply the tint. It went on so smoothly, I didn't even have to think about using any remaining tint for my cheeks, because my pinky fingertip easily glided all over my lips, up my nose, down my chin, and half way to each ear. My friends came along and started laughing, not only because I had lip tint smeared from ear to ear but also because I had glitter all over my nose and cheeks from "testing" the scents of bath bombs.

I love the little bottle of shampoo I purchased called Rehab. I use a Pureology conditioner, and the shampoo has a similar minty scent and does good things for my hair, but I have one little problem with it. Lush, in what I suspect is an effort to further personalize their handmade cosmetics, adds little stickers to the containers showing the guy or gal who makes each product. I've gotta say it's a little disconcerting to be sitting naked in the bath and see this guy grinning at me:

What are you laughing at?! Sheesh!

It's been over a month now since my trip to Carmel, and I was just healing from the trauma of accidentally turning myself into a circus clown in one of the more exclusive little towns in America (after all, what if I'd run into CLINT?!), when I decided to try out this dry shampoo product I'd brought home.

No Drought works a little bit like the baby powder we'd put on our hair back in the day when our hair was a bit oily and we didn't have time to wash it. Except No Drought works better. At the Lush store, I'd asked one of the assistants about the product, and she demonstrated by shaking some into her hands, transferring it to her hair, and fluffing her hair around. Yep, it looked like it worked pretty well!

Me? I don't quite have the technique down yet. In raising my hands to my hair, I think more spilled down my face than got into my hair. And when I fluffed my hair around, more spilled down my face. Before I was done, I once again resembled a circus clown with my powdered white skin. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to complete the look with the Million Kisses lip tint, because they'd been out of that color the day we visited the store.

And just to cap off the humiliation, when I looked down, there was another Lush employee laughing at me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


This morning, I received a recorded fraud alert call from my bank--they detected suspicious activity on my ATM card. Immediately thinking back, I knew I'd used the card at the bank's ATM just the afternoon before, but I couldn't recall when I'd used it prior to that time. A restaurant? The grocery store?

I logged into my account online and sure enough, there were a handful of charges, all relatively small, from McDonalds, a market, a gas station, and a drug store located in three small towns within a two hour drive from my home.

As I was asked to do in the recorded alert, I contacted the bank's fraud department, and identified the fraudulent charges. My ATM card was then cancelled, and I won't be held responsible for any of the charges, but I DO have to wait about a week to receive my new card.

What really amazes me is how the bank was able to identify those particular charges as suspicious. The amounts were small and the towns were close enough to my home that it wouldn't be unreasonable to think I might be making the purchases myself. It's probably best we don't know how banks catch this kind of thing so quickly, but I'm very grateful they do.

I've read a lot of warnings about using an ATM card at gas pumps, but sometimes it's the only reasonable option. When my friends and I were in Gardnerville, Nevada, last Saturday, we stopped for gas before we headed home, and I used my card there at the pump. I had a weird experience too: It asked me to authorize a 35 cent surcharge for using a card by pressing the "yes" button. I didn't immediately see the "yes" button and pushed "enter" instead. It asked me again to push the "yes" button to authorize the transaction fee, and when I finally located the right button, it declined my card. I went into the mini-mart to see if I could pay in there using a credit card, and I learned they didn't take credit cards, but the attendant ran my ATM card and it worked fine. In hindsight, I'm suspicious now about the machine at the pump. But it might not have been that. It could have been any restaurant I've been to recently. Who knows? It's hard to say.

On my way home from work, I stopped at the grocery store to purchase a few things we needed for the weekend. At the register, I punched my phone number into the electronic payment device mounted on the counter in order to get the store's club card discount, but then what was I supposed to do if I was going to write a check instead of swipe my ATM card? "I want to write a check," I told the cashier, "How do I do that?" "You just write a check," she replied. Of course, I felt kind of dumb! Isn't it funny how quickly our habits change with new technology?

The weekend is here, and I guess I should just hang around the house and sew since I don't have access to my money. Not having an ATM card for a few days might not be such a bad thing after all!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Outsourcing Retirement

Thursday night, I met up with four of my stitchery friends for dinner and a movie--we ate at the Tower Cafe and then walked a few feet to the Tower Theater to see The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Have you heard of it? A lot of people haven't, although our local PBS station has been promoting it. The Tower Theater is one of oldest theaters in the Sacramento area and would probably be classified as an "art house." In other words, they screen a lot of really good, high quality, foreign made and indie movies that don't necessarily make it to the local multi-plex--not until they win Academy Awards, at any rate.

As we--the five of us stitchers--are all approaching our retirement years (one of us is actually THERE already), we probably enjoyed the movie more than a group of "kids" in their 20s and 30s. Having seen the dips and dives our retirement investments have taken over the last few years, it's easy enough to relate to the film.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a British film. Most of the characters in the movie are facing retirement or loss, and their economic futures aren't quite as rosy as they could wish. They are offered the opportunity to travel to India to spend their later years at a hotel serving "the elderly & beautiful." I don't want to give away the plot, but the movie focuses on how each character reacts to the life changes that face them and how they interact with the each other and the people and culture around them.

All of us left the theater talking about how much we enjoyed the film. I bet you would too! If The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is playing anywhere in your area, go see it--I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

There Goes the Neighborhood!

Anne over at Cottons 'n Wool keeps getting me in trouble. She continually tempts me with quilt projects. One of them is Country Homecomings--

Anne, Anna (Woolie Mammoth), Paulette (Sweet P), Mary (Quilt Hollow), and a couple other gals decided to make this quilt and invited others to join in. You can check it out HERE. So I ordered the book.

Now you should know that these gals all fell in love with the quilt because of the homespun fabrics used, and I have a rather extensive "collection" of homespuns too, but when I pulled out a nice stack of homespun fat quarters, they just didn't really "speak" to me. What DID speak to me was the rather large stack of Sunkissed fabric I purchased last year for an online quiltalong that I gave up on pretty quickly.

When it comes to fabric, I think I'm sort of schizophrenic. I really like the country/homespun look, but I also like brighter, happier fabrics. So here are my first three blocks--the doors and windows aren't appliqued yet, but it's something I can take with me and work on anywhere.

I'm not sure what I think. Part of me wishes I'd just gone ahead and used the homespun and part of me thinks this could be a nice little summery project. In fact, THAT part of me is playing with the idea of making these three houses into a wallhanging quilt for a door. Whatever I decide, I'm sure I'll let you know.

What's your fabric "style"?

P.S.: If you're looking for this book at a price that isn't too crazy, try HERE.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Crossed the Line

We started the weekend last Friday night with dinner out with my family. We planned to meet at a favorite Mexican restaurant after I got off work. Hubby and the Wild Child decided to head to the restaurant a little early and I ended up working even later than expected, until nearly 8 p.m. As it turned out, it was just as well since we STILL had to wait about 45 minutes for a table after I arrived--it was much longer for Hubby and the Wild Child. Then, with a restaurant full of people celebrating graduations and Mother's Day, the noise level was uncomfortably loud. On the other hand, the food was excellent! Much better than I've ever had there before. As it turned out, this kind of broad spectrum of highs and lows set the tone for the rest of the weekend.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning, the day of our stitchery group's road trip. Where were we headed? Nevada! Gardnerville, to be exact. A two and a half hour drive from Sacramento to The Quilt House. There were seven of us altogether in two vehicles, and I was one of the drivers.

Non-quilters, when told one is planning a two and a half hour drive to go to a quilt shop, think quilters are absolutely nuts, don't they? But I think most of you understand. And it's not just the destination: it's the fun and companionship along the way!

Our first stop, though, was at Shared Stitches in Shingle Springs--only about a half hour or so outside of town. And I forgot to take photos--we were just warming up, after all.

Around 1 p.m., we pulled into the parking lot of the Quilt House. I DID take photos there, and they're pretty self-explanatory, so I'll just give you a moment to take in the sights and browse a bit.

After shopping long enough to ensure nothing was missed, and after returning to the register with additional purchases a time or two, we finally gathered our wits and purchases together and left the store. We stopped for lunch and gas, and then we headed back to Sacramento.

The trouble started in Placerville, about 45 minutes from home. We left the freeway at Placerville for a little rest and relief stop at McDonalds. Short break over, four of us got back in my car and pulled onto the frontage road, right behind a pimped out car with look-at-me wheels and a gaudy paint job. And on the back of that car? A student driver sign! And I was stuck behind a student driver in a pimped out car going 18 miles an hour down the road back toward the freeway.

Just about the time I was getting fed up and started yelling at the idiot that he/she could get a ticket for going too freakin' SLOW, I noticed a Sheriff's car in my rear view. So there we were, a three car caravan, led by a pimp mobile, four quilters with a screaming driver, and a Sheriff.

Up ahead, I saw a sign for the freeway with a left arrow. We were all in the left lane, approaching a stop sign about a half block back from the freeway sign, and the pimp mobile driver signals a left turn. Thinking he/she was going to turn into a parking lot, I pulled around into the right lane, with the idea of moving back into the left lane before the left turn. Ha! What I didn't realize was that the left turn lane continued on past the first stop sign up to the second stop sign and the two lanes were divided by a 6" white line--which, as I came to learn, should never, ever be crossed in California.

So, yeah, I ended up putting on my blinker and trying to move back to the left lane, and in doing that, I not only crossed the forbidden 6" line, but I also cut off a Sheriff freakin Sergeant who didn't notice my blinker. After that, there were some honking horns and flashing lights, and while the pimp mobile moved off at a snail's pace, the Sheriff and I stopped for a chat on the side of the road.

Why is it that each year, when my new vehicle registration arrives, I don't remove the old, expired registrations from my glove compartment? Do you have any idea how difficult it is to locate a current registration when a Sheriff is glaring in the window at you and you have about eight different registrations? And proof of insurance cards? Well, since Hubby has us on the 6-month plan, those little cards arrive so frequently, it's hard to keep up. A vague memory of Hubby saying, quite recently, that he'd just paid the car insurance flashed into my head, and with a sinking feeling (after handing the officer two expired insurance cards) I realized Hubby probably hadn't given me the most up-to-date card.

I'm pretty sure the officer thought I was a complete idiot. And he was probably right if the way I felt at that point is anything to go by. While I didn't cry, I DID apologize and he let me go with only a 20 minute lecture about 6 inch white lines and the fines that can be levied for drivers without insurance.

On the remainder of the drive back to Sacramento, we calculated that the fine for driving without insurance is two retreats and a block of the month quilt. And while a citation for simply not having a valid insurance card (but having insurance) is a "fix it" ticket, the payment of court costs associated with the ticket would be a layer cake. No telling what a quilter's cost would be for getting caught crossing a 6" white line, but I don't think I want to risk it.

Do you have 6" white lines in your state? Here in California, they're mostly found dividing the left turn lane from the other lanes of travel. In the interests of becoming a better citizen driver, I now pay close attention to making sure I don't cross the darn things, which means I seem to do a lot of swooping and swerving to maneuver into the turn lanes before the lines begin. Try it and see. I'm really not altogether sure it's safe to drive that way, so I'm not sure how long my good citizenship efforts will last.

And you know what? I forgot to ask that Sergeant if I could take his picture for my blog. But I DID ask Hubby for my proof-of-insurance card as soon as I got home! And next time we plan a road trip, I think I'll ask someone else to drive.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Blame it on Mary

On Friday, I had an email from Mary over at Quilt Hollow. Somehow she remembered I like (understatement?) Halloween and she thought I'd be interested in this block of the month project:

Ho daddy, was I! You betcha! Yep, within a few minutes I'd committed myself to giving up buying Halloween candy for the next five years (and then some!) so I could spend the money I'd save on this purchase--which I elected to receive as an all-at-once project rather than month-by-month. I guess there are a few benefits to working long hours--the overtime pay can be used for some fun stuff!

Do you think you need to make this quilt too? So far, I've seen it offered at two online shops and I'm sure there will be more. Check it out HERE or HERE. Have them send Mary the bill. That's what I'm doing.

Then I have Gran to blame for this one. Verna Mosquera/The Vintage Spool's next retreat, in July, called Garden Party. Gran and I have both signed up. The project uses Verna's new line, Veranda. Gran sent me a link to an online source for the Veranda fat quarter bundle, and look what arrived in my mail on Saturday:

Sorry--the flash of the camera blurred it out a bit. Or maybe it's just the indescribable glow that fantastic new fabric seems to emit--that siren song we all recognize. The real colors are a bit softer and prettier.

Anyway, I figured it's only right to do a little temping myself now. Remember the Christmas pixie fabric I showed you a week or two ago? The "go with" fabric I ordered arrived. I have no idea what I'll make, but it's gonna be cute!

And that quilt shop excursion I went on with my friends on Saturday? The one I haven't told you about yet? I found this really cute line called Oops-a-Daisy by Keiki. Isn't it perfect for summer with those ladybugs?

I picked up the single charm pack and eight fat quarters, thinking it might work for a Schnibbles quilt--one where you don't need a pair of every square.

Oh, gosh, scrolling through this post, I can see I've been a bad, bad girl lately, haven't I? But really, it's not my fault! Totally understandable, right? I wonder how long the "but honey, it's my MOTHER'S DAY gift from you" defense will work? I suspect it's time to put that one to bed for another 11 months, but the good news is, my birthday's coming up in a couple months.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yes, it Was Happy

It was a really nice Mother's Day weekend. On Saturday, I went on a road trip with my stitchery friends--I'll tell you more about that another day because it's a long story. But on Sunday, I relaxed. I spent the day stitching and being pampered by my kids.

On Saturday, one of my friends received her packet for the next Merry, Merry Snowmen block in the mail. Since we get our kits from the same online shop and mine didn't come on Saturday, I knew it was sure to arrive in Monday's mail. Yikes! I thought I'd better get busy and finish block three, so that's what I did.

In the afternoon, The Wild Child made a run to Starbucks for Frappucinos--it was the last day of Starbuck's half price special Frappucino deal. Soccer Son arrived and gifted me with a bag of Reese's mini peanut butter cups--yum! My kids know how to sweeten me up! The Frappucino is long gone but the Reese's are hidden away in the Sweat Shop--just in case I need a little chocolatty good energy to keep me going.

The weather was perfect for dinner out on the patio.

Soccer Son barbecued chicken and corn on the cobb. He also sauteed some thinly sliced Brussels sprouts with bacon and feta. I can't say I'm a big Brussels sprouts fan, but everything's good with bacon and cheese, right? He did a good job.

I hope you had a merry, merry Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A mother's heart is a patchwork of love. ~Author Unknown

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pink Fabric Isn't Necessarily a Rosy Subject

I thought I'd share with you the little story of a gaggle of frustrated quilters.

A year or so ago, a group of quilters went to a quilt shop where they viewed a designer's trunk show. All of them, four or five in number, yearned to reproduce--exactly--one of the quilts they saw. It was a Christmas quilt, with a center made up of simple pinwheels in red, green, and white. The designer, Tracy Souza, specializes in designing patterns primarily for embroidery and wool, so a mostly-pieced quilt was a little bit different. And this one was different in another way.

THIS quilt, although it was a Christmas quilt and was made with red, green, and white fabric, incorporated a bit of pink too. And the entire outer border was a lovely pale pink fabric with embroidered sprays of holly leaves and berries. Would you like to see what the quilt looked like? It isn't yet completed in this photo, but you can see it on the designer's blog, HERE. Click on the photo to enlarge it. Beautiful, isn't it?!

So after the quilting gaggle ohhhhhhh-ed and ahhhhhhhh-ed and made additional favorable comments about the trunk show quilt, they asked the shop owners if the shop stocked the fabric used--in particular, the lovely pink fabric. "No," the shop owners said, "but we will see if we can get it in." So the quilters all lined up at the cash register, Christmas pinwheel quilt patterns in hand, happy as could be with visions of pinwheel pink quilts dancing in their heads.

A few months passed, and the shop owners had not been able to locate the pink fabric. Couldn't the quilters find a different pink fabric that would do just as well? No, of course they couldn't! Further search efforts ensued. Finally, FINALLY, the shop owners located the last two bolts left on the face of the entire Earth, but one bolt was promised to another shop. The last remaining bolt could be theirs; that would have to do.

And this magical and highly rare fabric? Here, observe:

Designed by Verna Mosquera of the Vintage Spool for Free Spirit. Having heard the grumbles and rumbles of the gaggle of quilters for months and months, when three or four fat quarters turned up at the quilt designer's booth (Tracy Souza/Plumcute) at a quilt show, yours truly was finally able to purchase a fat quarter to waive before the eyes of the gaggle like a matador waives a red cape before the bull.

And why, you might wonder, had the gaggle been grumbling so greatly? Because the quilt shop owners had decided to hoard the last remaining bolt of precious pink fabric on the face of the Earth and only offer it for sale to quilters who signed up to take some distant, not-yet-scheduled, Christmas pinwheel quilt class which would one day be taught by the quilt's own designer--if the details could be worked out.

The class has now been scheduled for July, I believe. The class is full, the gaggle have their pretty pink fabric, and the shop owners have maximized their profits.

What do you think? Have you ever paid waaaay too much for a fabric you coveted? I know I've done that on eBay! Do you think the quilt shop owners thought too much about their immediate profit and less about gaining the loyalty of their customers, or do you think they were just doing what they're in business to do? Discuss.

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Hate to Admit it . . .

Seasonal allergies are close to their peak here in the Sacramento Valley, with warm summer-like weather following closely on the heels of a rainy period. I imagine grocery and drug stores are hard pressed to keep their shelves stocked with boxes of tissues and over the counter allergy medications.

The other day when I came home from work, Hubby tried to convince me that his eyes were so itchy that afternoon, there was nothing he could do but close them and nap the afternoon away. Yeah, right! I happen to know for a fact that it doesn't take itchy eyes to convince him an afternoon nap is just the thing!

Tonight, though, I have to admit that maybe he was right. Because my eyes are so itchy, I think I either need to get to bed and go to sleep, or scratch the heck of out them until they bleed. I think I'll just head to bed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Return of the Wild . . .

The Wild Child, that is. Did I tell you? I think I did, but I can't remember for sure. The Wild Child decided New York wasn't the place for her, so tonight she arrived back in Sacramento.

It's really nice to have her home again. As you can imagine, the Drooling Dog is pretty happy too. He picked her up at the airport and it was all Hubby could do to hold onto him to keep him from diving out the car window to get to her.

And although she's back in California to stay . . . at least for now . . . we don't think she'll be here in Sacramento with us for long. She'll be starting school at Humboldt State up on the north coast of California in the fall, and she'll probably head up there in a couple weeks to look into a job and a place to live. If she's lucky, she'll be able to fill a job that was previously occupied by someone graduating from college this month.

After her years of living in Tahoe, we know Humboldt will be the perfect fit for her, and she'll be able to take the Drooling Dog with her--he was sure bored and lonely while she was in New York! The only drawback is that it will be about a six hour drive for us to visit her--not much different than it would have been for us to fly to visit her in New York. But we expect it will be a little more comforting to us to know she's living in the same state.

Welcome home, Wild Child!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I.S.T.H. Again

Remember I pinned four quilts a couple weeks ago, all Schnibbles? Well, I finished quilting a second one, I.S.T.H.

I.S.T.H. is one of those patterns I changed a bit. Here's the original pattern cover picture so you can compare:

I made mine using Blueberry Crumb Cake (Blackbird Designs) charms, and I think it will look perfect on my kitchen table around August--after I've grown weary of red, white, and blue but not yet ready for orange, gold, and dark green. The brown shades of wet and dry beach sand and the blue shades of the August sky and the ocean--that's what it reminds me of.

My version is similar to the original but I wanted mine square (I like square quilts best) and so I thought I wouldn't break it up into three columns as in the original, and I also left off the checkerboard borders on the two ends.

Here's the funny thing, though. You know how I'm always talking about my dislike of marking quilts for quilting? I'll do just about anything to avoid it. Well, this time I gave in and marked the quilt for quilting--sometimes you just gotta do it. I used a stencil I had of a five-pointed star with scallops around the star--kind of like flower petals. That all went fine, although it was a bit time consuming for my taste, but then when I got to the border, I was stumped. I didn't have a border stencil of the right size and with the right design feel to it, so instead of quilting the border right then, I started on the binding and finished that while I pondered the border. In the end, I decided to repeat the same star stencil in the border, but I varied the positioning a bit and used the border space to complete the design I'd stenciled part of in the setting triangles.

The quilting's not perfect, but for the way I plan to use it, it doesn't have to be. All in all, I think it turned out pretty okay.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Voice: Who's Going to Win?

Have you been watching The Voice? This year is the first time I've watched, and I've really enjoyed it.

In case you haven't watched it, from left to right: Jermaine Paul (Blake Shelton's guy), Chris Mann (Christina Aquilera's guy), Juliet Simms (Cee Lo Green's gal), and Tony Lucca (Adam Levine's guy). These are the four finalists.

I've pretty much been pulling for Juliet Simms most of the season. Her voice, reminiscent of Janis Joplin, is different from most, and she has the looks to stand out. I think she'll win. But I've noticed lately that she really has to have the right song to stand out; when the song isn't right, she's pretty mediocre.

Of course, at this level, all four of the finalists are excellent. I found myself, though, really liking Tony Lucca. Why? Of course, I like his voice. But I also like his personality and his stage presence. I like Adam Levine. And maybe much of why I like Tony Lucca is because Christina is so rude to him and as far as I can tell, he doesn't deserve it. They were both Disney Mouseketeers together, along with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake so they have history. Tonight, when Lucca had an opportunity to thank Levine for mentoring him through the process, he took the opportunity to thank all four coaches for what they've done for the contestants, and as the camera panned to the coaches, Christina appeared to be texting instead of listening. Did you catch that?

So I've voted for Tony tonight, but I think Juliet will win. We'll find out Tuesday night. How about you? Who do you think/hope will win?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Harrington and Hannah--April Showers

Over the weekend, I finished the Harrington and Hannah block for April.

Can you believe I forgot to give them eyes?! I soon remedied that little oversight (Ha!) but I didn't take another photo since I'd already uploaded this one to the computer. You'll have to imagine them with little black eyes.

Speaking of rabbits, when I was driving back through the countryside from spa day, I thought I spotted a few up ahead in the road. Nope, not rabbits!

Ducks! Or are they geese?! Whatever type of bird they are, it was a momma and her three babies out for a Saturday afternoon stroll. As soon as I got close, she led them off the road to safety.

I hope you had a lovely weekend!

P.S.: Did you see the new Country Cottages block is posted over at Shabby Fabrics? Check it out HERE!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spa Day

At my office, our managing partner is a woman, and she invited the staff up to her home for a spa day--and today was the day. Back about ten years ago, when she was a fairly new partner, she started spa day, and invited us up to her home two years in a row, but then she started on a long course of remodeling, so spa day went by the wayside. Now the remodeling is done--or nearly so. The last little bit that needs to be done is to add a railing on one section of deck--you can see the unfinished edge in this photo.

She lives in the foothills and the view is spectacular. On a clear day, you can see the downtown Sacramento skyline. I thought the view would be great today because it was fairly windy, but I think there was so much pollen and other "stuff" in the air, the city was barely visible.

We spent much of the time in this great room--with window walls on two sides and awesome views. Our hostess brought in a massage therapist and had also arranged for someone to do pedicures, but the pedicurist sprained her ankle a couple days before and wasn't able to make it. It didn't matter, really--we had a wonderful time anyway.

In the photo above, you can see the massage chair over in the upper corner, and the massage therapist is giving one of the ladies a foot massage while we all chatted . . .

. . . and drank and ate.

The hostess's significant other was kind enough to cook up some treats for us before he left for a bike ride.

Check out the media room. Someone suggested the next "spa day" be a chick flick/pajama party. Wouldn't that be fantastic?! There was cool original artwork in every room--see the ceramic horse? And the painting on the back wall? This room also looks out over that expansive view in the other photos.

Speaking of which, I'll leave you with one more outdoor view--of the pool and beyond. I know if I lived here, I'd have a hard time leaving home to go into the office!