Saturday, February 28, 2009

Well, Heck!

I just couldn't stay away! I realized that if I didn't talk to you, I probably wouldn't hear from you either, so I thought I'd stop in and chat a little. Besides that, I've found I'm at a stopping point in the Sweat Shop tonight because I just don't have the "right" fabric I need, so I have a little time after all.

So, I guess I'll take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about what I'm up to. Originally I had scheduled vacation days on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because I needed some time to get things together for the "Spring!" quilt class next weekend, and I wanted to devote some concentrated time to doing what needs to be done to set things up to produce and sell quilt patterns. All well and good.

Then yesterday morning--Thursday--Hubby called my office to say his company had closed down his department and he was out of a job. Yes, despite my best efforts to stimulate the economy, I apparently didn't work hard enough, and now we've been hit personally. It wasn't totally unexpected--there have been rumors for the last month or so--but we were hoping the company would reorganize a bit and move Hubby and the other people he worked with into other positions. Obviously that didn't happen. So . . . .

By the end of the day Thursday, I had decided to shift my vacation up a day so I could be home today--Friday--and help Hubby out with whatever he might need. As it turned out, I was able to offer some computer assistance with his unemployment application, so I'm glad I was here.

In the meantime today I got busy on the "pattern thing." I read about half of a book entitled "Publish Your Patterns." I ordered 100 photo prints of the Spring! quilt on line through WalMart and picked those up. I ordered computer software. I ordered a tape gun for adhering photos to the covers of quilt patterns. I went to Office Depot and bought paper for covers and regular printer paper and doublesided tape to get me through until the tape gun arrives.

What else did I do? I stopped in at Goodwill and found five wool blazers. I told Hubby he's my boy toy now, and among other duties, it will be his job to take apart wool blazers for me until he finds another job.

I went to a fabric/home dec store and bought muslin, stuffing, fabric paints, and buttons for my quilt classes. I stopped in at Bearpaws and Hollyhocks and chatted with three of my favorite people--Lindy, Gran, and Carol. I measured the Spring! quilt that's hanging in the shop so I could include this somewhat vital information in the pattern.

I grocery shopped. I fixed dinner. I made an iced latte. (I found out Hubby had eaten all his Girl Scout cookies and was making in roads on my peanut butter cookies!)

Then I headed into the Sweat Shop and got out mostly yellow, purple, and pink scraps to make tulip blocks so I can demonstrate to the class next Saturday how the quilt is made. And that's where I got stuck. As it turns out, I don't have any suitable light colored background fabric. It's not something that appeals to me much when it's sitting on the shelves in a quilt shop, so it's the one thing my stash lacks. I guess I'll need to do more running around tomorrow--at least back to the quilt shop!

Between the "pattern thing" and the classes, I still have a TON of stuff to do in the next few days. So, no promises on regular posts or interesting content, but it looks like I'll be around. And if any of you want to hire a man to take apart wool blazers, eat your cookies, or keep your recliner warm, let me know--I've got just the guy for you!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Good News/Bad News

The good news is that I'm on vacation for the next several days--back to work on Wednesday.

The bad new--sort of--is that I may or may not post to my blog during that time.

I know--I say that every now and then and keep blogging anyway, so you never can tell with me! Still, I have a lot of things I want to accomplish during my time off, and I'm anticipating that not a whole lot of it will be anything very interesting to blog about. So, if you don't hear from me, I'm just busy getting a bunch of boring things done. And, of course, if anything does happen that's remotely worthy of a post, I'll be sure to let you know!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This blog post is all about class--in its many forms. And possibly even a bit about the lack thereof!

I spent the evening tonight in quilt class--remember the Kaye England Progressive Patchwork class with the really cute suitcase full of fat quarters? Yep, that one! Tonight we made this block:

I still have to make the smaller version, but at least I managed to get this one done despite various distractions and breaks for some quality girl chit chat.

Aren't these classy? I found these bunnies at Bearpaws & Hollyhocks tonight. (If you click on the link, you can see Lindy kissing a llama at Kaye England's Quilt College! Classy behavior at college, yes?!)

I also found a sheep pulling an apple cart. (No llamas though.)

I took the Hats quilt to show Lindy and ended up on the shop roster to teach a class in May based on the quilt. I have ideas for making smaller versions (fewer blocks, not smaller blocks) and using a slightly different technique. I know I was a little daunted by the size of the finished quilt, but the hats are SOOOO much fun I'd like to be able to show other quilters how to make them too, without feeling like they're committed to a HUGE bed quilt--unless they want one, of course!

And, as it turns out, I'm also on the Bearpaws & Hollyhocks class schedule to teach in June--I just haven't figured out what that will be yet, although I know I want it to be red, white, and blue with a 4th of July flavor.

And speaking of quilt classes, for those of you in the Sacramento area, if you planned to sign up for the Spring! class and haven't gotten around to it yet, sign up soon. It's only a week and a half away and there aren't many spaces left--but I'd love to see you there!

Finally, I'll leave you with this bit of class--'cause you know I'm all about being classy, right?! When I got home tonight, I found a wad of toilet paper sticking out of my pant leg. Classy, yes?! What I'd like to know is how did it get there and how long was it there? I simply can't imagine! It's not like you can accidentally mistake your pant leg for the toilet bowl or anything. Dryer sheets--I've had those stuck in my pants before and that's quite understandable, but toilet paper? ARGH!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Red Hat Society

So, what do you think about the Red Hat Society? Are you a member?

Recently one of the attorneys I work with turned 50 and was given a red hat with purple trim. Somehow, I don't see her as a Red Hat Society type of person, although I couldn't really say what the "type" is. It just doesn't seem like her.

Some of you asked about my hat quilt and mentioned how great the pattern would look in red and purple for your Red Hat Society friends. Actually, that's the way Sandy Gervais must have envisioned it, since that's what her pattern (above) shows. And some of you asked where to get the pattern. If you click HERE, it will take you to the pattern on her website.

I don't think I'm really a Red Hat Society person, but I might be wrong because I know little about it. Yes, I AM old enough--I hear they'll take you if you've been 39 for at least 11 years, and I'm a couple years past that. But I'm not really much of a group joiner. Still, it might be fun. If you're a member, tell me about it. What do you do? How long have you known the other ladies in your group? Did all your friends decide to form a group, or did you find a group that was already established? Inquiring minds . . . .

When I got the New Hats pattern, although I liked the red and purple colorway shown on the pattern, I wanted to do something different. First I was thinking about pastel Easter bonnets, but I thought the pastels wouldn't provide enough contrast, so I finally settled on the blue, yellow, and neutral colors. And, by the way, I finished it this weekend. Want to see?

The other thing that makes me think the Red Hat Society isn't really for me? I'm not much into wearing hats. Like, I really NEVER wear a hat. In the first place, my head's slightly larger than most hats. Probably because of all those brains in there. Or maybe it's all the thoughts of quilts-yet-to-be-made. And then there's the whole hat hair thing. And that picture of me? See that braided bun? Yeah, it doesn't fit into hats very well. Unless I cut a hole in the top of the hat, and somehow that brings to mind visions of the Old Gray Mare who ain't what she used to be.

No, hats aren't really me. I think I'm more of a scarf person. But not the dressy, fussy kind of scarfs. No sir-eee! They never stay where they're supposed to, and then I'm always tugging and adjusting. No, I think I really prefer this kind of scarf:

I wonder if there's a society I could join that wears those?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Quilt Top

Finished! Of course, I still have to quilt it, but I'm happy to have gotten it this far.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Progress Report

For those of you who decided to make the St. Patrick's Day quilt, how are you coming along? Here's what mine looks like so far--

I was getting tired and having a hard time deciding what to do with the corners of the outside border, so I called it a night with the last two sides of the outer border left to sew on. I'll get back to it tomorrow night.

Hubby received a delivery of his favorite Girl Scout cookies today, so I decided to make some of my favorites for ME! Peanut butter cookies! Yum!

I did a goofy thing yesterday, and I thought I'd confess. Blueberries were on sale this past week, so I decided to bring some home and make a blueberry cobbler. It came out of the oven last night looking quite yummy, but when we ate it, the cobbler dough was tough and kind of chewy. I looked at the recipe again and mentally reviewed what I had done and I couldn't figure out where I'd gone wrong--and this was a recipe we'd had several times before.

Today when I was making the peanut butter cookies, I realized--when I made the cobbler, I grabbed the cornstarch container instead of the baking soda! ARGH! And the way I knew? I nearly did the same thing with the cookies! Isn't that a riot?! Luckily Hubby will eat just about anything!

I hope you had a great weekend! Thanks for stopping in to visit.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Project, Part 2

For those of you who have done the following steps and are waiting for the next part, scroll down--I've edited this post to add the next steps for the ribbon border and finishing the quilt top.

* * * * *

Continuing on, we'll add the sashing next. The sashing between the four blocks will be narrower than the sashing around the outside. Again, I'll put measurements for the larger version in parenthesis following the first set of measurements--if you're making the smaller project, ignore them.

From the background/cream fabric, cut:

Two strips 6-1/2" x 1"
One strip 13" x 1"
Two strips 13" x 1-3/4"
Two strips 15-1/2" x 1-3/4"

(Larger version:

Two strips 12-1/2" x 1-1/2"
One strip 25-1/2" x 1-1/2"
Two strips 25-1/2" x 3"
Two strips 30-1/2" x 3")

Lay out your blocks with the sashing as follows--remember the narrower sashing goes between the blocks and the wider sashing goes on the outside (my photo doesn't show the sashing that would go on the top or right side but yours will go all the way around):

Sew the blocks and the sashing pieces together. At this point, the smaller version will measure 15-1/2" and the larger version will measure 30-1/2".

Since I already made two of these quilts a couple years ago, I'm making yet another version, and I thought I'd show you mine so far:

Next we'll make the ribbon border. I'll give you the cutting instructions now so you can get started and I'll be back later to give instructions and photos on piecing the border. Remember you'll probably want to use two colors or shades for this border, and I'll just refer to them as "color 1" and "color 2."

From color 1, cut twenty (20) 2" squares.
From color 2, cut twenty (20) 2" squares.
From the background/cream fabric, cut eighty (80) 1-1/4" squares.

(For Larger Version:

From color 1, cut twenty (20) 3-1/2" squares.
From color 2, cut twenty (20) 3-1/2" squares.
From the background/cream fabric, cut eighty (80) 2" squares.)


Because I decided to make my project larger than originally planned, I didn't have enough of the background fabric, so I've decided to transition on the other side of the ribbon to a light brown fabric. I'm assuming the rest of you have enough fabric, so you'll be using the one background fabric. I wanted to explain, though, so you aren't confused by the brown AND cream in my photos.

On one corner of your 2" squares (color 1 and color 2), sew a square of the background fabric, stitching on the diagonal--you may chose to pencil a diagonal line on the background square to keep your stitching line straight.

On the opposite corner, stitch another background square. Note that these are opposite corners and not corners next to each other.

Press the corners back and trim under layers. Lay out your squares so they look like this, with the "ribbon" alternating in colors and the "zig" going up and then down again. (In the photo above, I hadn't trimmed the under layers yet.)

Sew the border pieces together into a strip. For each border side, you'll use five color 1 blocks and five color 2 blocks. Take another look at the quilt below and notice how the "ribbon" starts at the bottom of each border side and the tips meet at the corner.

Now, add the first two border strips on opposite sides of the quilt top. Cut four 2" squares of your background fabric and add them to either end of the remaining two border strips (see the plain corner squares in the quilt photo above?).

Once you have the ribbon border attached, you'll want to add another plain border of the background fabric--I would recommend you cut that the same width you cut the sashing before you added the ribbon border--1-3/4" for the smaller version or 3" for the larger version. If that looks like too much background space to you, you can always trim it down before adding the next border. Next, add a finishing plain border to the quilt. I always feel plain borders and the width you make them are a matter of personal taste, and I always make mine a little wider than I need and then trim them down after quilting, so see what looks good to your eye.

This morning I searched my stash for a border fabric I liked. Since I'd like to use this on my kitchen table, and my kitchen is primarily blue, I looked for and found a border fabric with blue and green and a touch of red--I picked my ribbon border fabric to go with the outside border fabric. Here's a look at what I'm going to use:

I'll post a photo of my quilt top when I get it put together.

I hope you've enjoyed making this project! Happy quilting!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

St. Patrick's Day Project!

Are you ready to get started? I'll post this in a couple sections. The first section I'm posting now will get us through making the shamrock blocks. Later tonight, I'll post directions for sashing the blocks and bringing the project up to the point of the ribbon and other borders. Tomorrow we'll finish the piecing with piecing the ribbon border and outer borders. Let's start!

Note that the directions below will make a smallish tabletopper/wallhanging--around 24" depending on the size of your borders. I will also give cutting measurements for making a larger project, twice the size, by making each block larger. This will give you an end project that will be a nice size for a tablecloth or small lap quilt--around 48" square. The cutting directions for the larger quilt will follow the smaller cutting directions and are in parenthesis. IF YOU ARE MAKING THE SMALLER VERSION, IGNORE MEASUREMENTS IN PARENTHESIS!

We'll start with our green and background fabrics. For my background, I'm using a cream/neutral, so for purposes of these directions, I'll refer to it as neutral, but you may chose to use a different color. Just make sure you have enough contrast between the green and the background color.

For this step, you'll need to cut:


Twelve (12) 3-1/2" squares
Four (4) 1" x 5-1/2" strips


Forty (40) 1-1/2" squares
Four (4) 3-1/2" squares



Twelve (12) 6-1/2" squares
Four (4) 1-1/2" x 10" strips


Forty (40) 2-1/2" squares
Four (4) 6-1/2" squares)

We'll start with constructing the stem pieces first. You'll make four of these blocks.

Cut the four neutral 3-1/2" (6-1/2") squares on one diagonal, so each square will be divided into two triangles.

On the bias edge of four of the triangles, sew a green strip, centering the triangle on the length of the strip (the strip will extend about 1/4" above and below the triangle).

Press the seam allowance to the green strip. You should have four pieces that look like the photo above.

Add the remaining triangle pieces to the other side of the green strip and press, again pressing the seam allowance to the green. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, square up the blocks to 3-1/2" (6-1/2") and trim away excess from stems.

Using a pencil, draw a diagonal line on four of the 1-1/2" (2-1/2") squares. (I use the masking tape you see as a lining-up point rather than drawing lines on smaller pieces like these small squares.) Sew one square to one end of each of your stem blocks.

Trim excess (you may chose to only trim the center layer or both center and bottom layers). Press into place (see blocks above the center example).

In the same way you added the square to the bottom of the stem block, add squares to three of the four corners of each of the 3-1/2" (6-1/2") green squares. Trim and press into place.

Lay out three "leaf" blocks and a stem block as shown. These will be sewn together four-patch fashion and pressed.

Make four shamrock blocks. At this stage, each block will measure 6-1/2" (12-1/2").

Check back later this evening for the next step: Adding sashing to complete the center.

* * * * * *

YAY! Winners and More . . .

We have winners for both pattern giveaways! Woo-Hoooo! Hubby picked the numbers, as usual, so two of you have him to thank, and the rest of you can blame him, not me, right?!!

The winner of the applique pattern, Posies in my Pockets, is Victoria M.!

And the winner of the Yellow Brick Road pattern is Anna (Quiltmom).

Congratulations ladies! Email me your mailing addresses and I'll get the goodies in the mail to you next week!

On Saturday afternoon (Pacific time), I'll start posting directions for making the St. Patrick's Day topper/wallhanging, so watch for them.

In the meantime, while you're waiting for me, look through your stash for green fabric (the shamrocks will take less than a fat quarter/quarter yard), background fabric (I'm guessing about a half yard but it may be a little more), a bit of fabric in two colors or shades for the ribbon border, and whatever border fabrics you'd like--I used a little more green for an inside border and a floral outer border (about a half yard). I should also mention that I used a variety of scrappy green fabrics for the shamrocks; you can go scrappy or use all the same fabric in your blocks--whatever suits your fancy!

The weekend is here--finally! And I think it's time to have some fun!

Friday, February 20, 2009


I'm up late tonight--I've been busy sewing 24 yo-yos and buttons onto 24 hats!

The really fun part was looking through two large jars full of buttons to find the right ones. Don't you love buttons?! Some of mine have come from the thrift store, so it's a bit of an adventure seeing what I have. I could easily play with buttons for hours and hours!

I still need to add the binding to the quilt, but it's getting closer to being done.

Next I'll search through my stash for binding fabric--maybe something red. I want to get the binding machine stitched and start on the hand stitching Friday night. I hope to show you the completed quilt before the weekend's over.

Don't forget--I'll draw winners for the two patterns tomorrow night and post them on my Saturday post, and I'll try to get directions for the St. Patrick's Day quilt posted this weekend too. And--did you hear? California's budget was approved! Woo-hoo! See what good quilters' karma can accomplish?!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Good Stuff!

First, Lance's bike has been found! Hurray! I didn't see anything in the story about recovering the other three bikes belonging to his teammates, but at least Lance is getting his bike back!

Second, the sun came out today for a little bit and we didn't have any rain!

The California budget? Well, they're still working on it, but if the latest news stories are to be believed, they may be close. Good karma! And thanks to all of you who have entered my good karma giveaways. Yay! And if you haven't? Enter now so we can get the budget passed! Just go to yesterday's post to read about it and comment there.

And here's more good stuff. Take a look at this:

Does anyone NOT like macaroni and cheese? Well, you're right--some people don't. But if you DO, you really ought to try this recipe. It's most definitely our favorite. No calories either!

2 T. butter or margarine
2 T. flour
Dash of pepper (I use a bit more than a dash)
1/4 tsp. salt (I use closer to 1/2 tsp. I think)
1 c. milk
3/4 pound of cheese, shredded (sharp white cheddar is our favorite but I also use the packages of already shredded cheese blends)
2 c. large elbow macaroni (I usually cook closer to 3 cups)

Cook the macaroni according to package directions. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in saucepan over medium/high heat and add flour; stir until bubbly. Add salt and pepper. Gradually whisk in the milk. Heat through and stir until sauce thickens.

In the meantime, when macaroni is cooked, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the sauce and blend well.

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter or grease a 13" x 9" pan. Layer half the macaroni and sauce mix and top with half the shredded cheese. Repeat. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes--check at 25 minutes, but it can cook up to 40 minutes. Top should be brown and a bit crispy. Yum!

Now for some quilty stuff. My friend Julia sent me a photo of her completed Hometown Christmas quilt. Remember that little project I was trying to lead? Yeah, mine still isn't done, but Julia's is!

If you compare hers to the original Thimbleberries pattern, you'll see she's replaced a few of the blocks with blocks she likes better. Excellent job! Did anyone else get theirs done? That's a project I need to get back to one of these days!

And, last of all, tonight I made two blocks to send to Tracey in Australia for the fire victims there. (And check out the blocks sent by Louise in Sweden on Tracey's blog! Woo-hoo Louise! Those look awfully familiar! LOL!)

My friend Gran made two blocks and another local quilter from Bearpaws & Hollyhocks added one to the collection. I'll be getting these sent off to Tracey tomorrow!

I hope you're enjoying lots of good stuff in your life too!

(P.S.: That part about there being no calories in the mac and cheese? I lied! But you probably already figured that out, and it was done with the best of intentions--making sure you have plenty of good stuff!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In the Local News . . . (or Bad News/Good News)

Did you see we stole Lance Armstrong's bike? For the past several weeks, we've heard a lot on the local news about Sacramento hosting the Amgen Tour of California. We were told that hosting the race would bring tourist money into the Sacramento area at a time when businesses could really use a shot in the arm. Then it looked like the weather was going to turn bad--and it did. Still, that didn't seem to keep any of the spectators away from the event. The kicker, though, was learning Sunday that sometime Saturday night, an equipment trailer was broken into and several racing bikes--including the one Lance Armstrong rides in time trials--had been stolen. Way to go Sacramento! Yeah, that was sarcastic. And yeah, I know it wasn't all of us in Sacramento who stole the bike--probably just a couple of us citizens--but gosh darn it! Couldn't it have happened somewhere else?

And have you seen the stories about California's big budget battle? California has something like the ninth largest economy in the world and our governor and law-makers can't agree on a budget, so our state workers are facing lay offs, the state can't pay its bills (or issue tax refunds, for that matter), all state-funded projects are coming to a halt, and huge cuts are being made everywhere. And still they can't agree on a budget.

Because of the budget problems, we're looking at major job losses in our state. That, in turn, means the housing market will likely get worse. It also means taxes and other forms of state revenue will decrease. And the state will be even harder pressed to raise the money to fund the budget--which they can't agree on anyway. Catch-22.

Tonight was the second session of the Hey Ghoul Friend class and one of my gals nearly missed it because she works for the State Senate. Over this past weekend, Saturday and Sunday, by my calculations she put in as many hours of work as I do in a normal week. And after our class? She had to go back to work until 3 a.m. when another member of her staff relieves her. Crazy!

And that bad weather I alluded to earlier? Today was the worst of the rain--more specifically, late afternoon was really nasty. In order to get to quilt class, I had to drive through several flooded intersections. Two of my ladies called and said they couldn't make class because the weather was just too bad.

So I figure it's up to me, now, to dispel all this negativity hovering over my city. How? How about a giveaway? How about two giveaways? How about two giveaways and a freebie? Yep, maybe THAT will bring some good karma to Sacramento!

First up:

A fairly simple applique pattern designed to bring a breath of spring air your way!


That old favorite, Yellow Brick Road.


The freebie. Sometime in the next several days--as soon as I can find time to get it all together--I'll post a tutorial on how to make yourself a St. Patrick's Day tabletopper/wallhanging.

So here's what I'd like you to do. Leave a comment if you want to enter either giveaway and tell me which one--the applique pattern or the Yellow Brick Road. (If you want to enter both, you'll need to leave two comments, so I can put each in the correct drawing.) I'll do both drawings late Friday night and announce the winners on Saturday's post. I'll probably include a couple other little goodies to send to the winners. By this weekend, I hope to have directions for the St. Patrick's Day quilt posted.

And if this karma thing works? By next week, Lance will have his bike back, California will pass a budget, and the sun will come out again. And you'll all know who to credit with turning things around, right?!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Seasonally Confused

Sometime back, I heard a man on a radio talk show telling the host about a female relative who decorated the house for every holiday. "Okay," I thought, "so what's wrong with that?" Turns out she leaves everything up all year round. Yeah, okay, I admit that could be a problem.

Oddly enough, though, I now find myself in much the same predicament.

As I look around the house, I see Valentine decorations. And winter decorations. Snowmen, for instance.

And I'm starting to think about Easter and Spring decorations. I even have a few things out in my daughter's former room--stuff I've picked up at the thrift store in the last few weeks.

Also in my daughter's former room there's quite a pile of Halloween decorations and "stuff." Once a month, for my Hey Ghoul Friend class, I pretend it's Halloween and do a little decorating.

(Here's a guy I found at the thrift store and named the Maltese Owl. He'll be coming along to visit with my quilters at the Hey Ghoul Friend class tomorrow night.)

And not to be left out, there's some Christmas stuff in my daughter's former room too.

(I found this papier mache snowman "bucket" at the thrift store last week for $1.99. Kind of creepy looking but I like creepy if it's vintage looking creepy. When I took the wrapping off, I found there was a whole family inside--)

(Kind of cute. So I went back and bought a second one. Then today, at the BIG 50% OFF SALE, I found these vintage looking stars.)

Sheesh! I really need to figure out what season it is and get everything else put away before people start talking about me on the radio.

Last week, one of the attorneys in my office asked me if I decorate for EVERY holiday. Well, no, I told her. For instance, I don't decorate for Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, or several other holidays. And since today was Presidents' Day here in the US, it's a darn good thing I DON'T decorate for it, because I'm already confused enough as it is!

Monday, February 16, 2009

In This Economy . . .

Over a year ago, I posted a photo of our dead front yard. We were planning on having our son help us dig everything up and start fresh, but his work and soccer schedule was pretty full, and before long the rains came and we postponed the work.

Last spring, we decided to call a landscaper acquaintance of ours and get an estimate on how much it would cost to hire someone to do the work we had in mind. Well, we went back and forth with that--the first estimate came in under our budget, so we talked about doing a couple other things, and that came in over our budget. I can't remember what happened after that, but again we postponed the work.

Now we're looking at getting it done again, and we're a bit more serious this time. Hubby went to a home and garden show about a month ago and came home with information from several landscapers. He called three companies and had them out to our house to look at the space and talk about what we had in mind, telling them what our budget was for the job. Each of the three companies was to come back and meet with both of us to discuss what they would do and how much it would cost.

The first company was to come over and meet with us this past Friday night at 7 p.m. Work, errands, bad weather, and traffic prevented me from getting home until 7:05. I arrived to find they had come early, made their presentation to Hubby, and left. Their estimate was $800 over our budget.

The second guy--the president of his company--was to come over Saturday between 1 and 1:30 p.m. He called to say he had another stop to make, and he arrived at 2 p.m. He was wearing a button down shirt that was unbuttoned one button too many, Levis, and dress shoes. He kept calling us "you guys." When talking about workers' compensation insurance, he talked about "the men" that made up his crew. All these things--and a few others--bugged me, but at least his plan for our yard was a little more workable; still, he still came in at about $400 over budget. Well, actually it was $1,400 over budget, but he said he'd knock $1,000 off the price. Seriously, I felt like I was buying a car from Mr. Slick; not getting a front yard landscaped.

I think the third company comes over tomorrow night with their proposal, and I believe this is a husband and wife team. We'll see what they have in mind.

The two most important criteria for our landscaping is (1) that it be low maintenance and (2) that it be within our budget. We would like a small patio outside the front door, and we have about half the bricks that would be required. There's a natural drainage depression that will require something--we thought perhaps a dry creek bed, but we're open to ideas--we aren't looking to turn it into a "feature," but we need to make sure water can run off.

It puzzles me that in this economy, companies aren't making more of an effort to satisfy their customers' needs. Why did neither of the first two companies arrive to meet with us when they said they would? Why did they both come with plans that were over our budget? And yes, I can understand that when they priced out what they believed we wanted done, the work may have been more expensive than we planned, but why didn't they come with ideas for changes that might better fit our budget?

The second guy, Mr. Slick, advised us to book the job quickly because his company is starting to get busy with all the leads they picked up from the home and garden show, so maybe the economy isn't affecting him. Maybe it's not as bad out there as everyone tells us. But I know our pocketbook has been affected, and I'm a bit leary of even spending this money now to have the work done, let alone committing to go over our budget.

I hope this third company has something better to offer us. If not, then we'll need to look at other alternatives. Have you had any similar experiences? Hired a landscaper? Found companies more appreciative of your business? I'd be interested in any tips and suggestions you may have.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hope You Had a Happy Valentine's Day!


After she woke up, a woman told her husband, "I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Valentine's day. What do you think it means?"

"You'll know tonight," he said.

That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife. Delighted, she opened it - to find a book entitled "The Meaning of Dreams."

And how was your Valentine's Day?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wooly Bully

I don't know how many of you are old enough to remember that song by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs back in the mid-60s, but the title of the song is fitting for what's been going on around here lately.

My name is Kim and I'm a Wooly Bully.

And you may ask yourself (another song reference! Any guesses on which one?), "What the heck is she talking about now?!"

For awhile now I've been buying wool skirts and jackets at Goodwill, and it takes much longer to deconstruct them and "felt" the wool than I have time for. So with Hubby sick with a sinus infection and incapable of doing much besides sitting in the recliner and napping and watching TV, I've forced this job upon him. For hours he sits with one of my seam rippers and a pair of scissors, taking apart a jacket, and as soon as he's done one, I'm right there, handing him another!

On Monday, there's another big sale at our local Goodwill stores--50% off--and Hubby goes back to work on Monday--so, just at a time when I'll have a good opportunity to bring home more wool at a discounted price, I'm going to lose my source of cheap labor, darn it! Still, I'm sure I can bully him into a little more wooly business in the evenings while he's watching TV.

Hubby and I don't have any big Valentine's plans this weekend, what with him being sick and all, but I picked up a couple steaks for dinner--and it seems like men love steaks like we love chocolate, doesn't it? So he should be a happy and contented spouse for the next several days, at least, and willing to do my wooly bidding. Do you have any romantic plans for the weekend?

By the way, speaking of Valentine's Day, have you seen the hearts table topper Carol over at Carol's Crafty Creations whipped up? And did you see that cherry border? Luscious! (Also scroll down and check out her other crafty creations--I love her heart basket!)

Time for my beauty sleep--thinking about wool progressed into thoughts of sheep and sheep counting, so I'll say goodnight. Before I go, though, I'll leave you with this lovely wish that a co-worker called out to us as she was leaving the office tonight: Happy VD!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Little Catch Up

It's been a bit quiet around here this week with nothing too exciting to talk about, but I thought I'd use this post to follow up on a few things.

Thank you all for the get well wishes earlier in the week. I'm pretty well recovered now with just a few minor lingering symptoms, but as it turned out, Hubby DID have a sinus infection. When he got up the morning of his doctor's appointment, his breathing sounded shallower and somewhat labored to me, so I was glad he had made that appointment. After the appointment, he called me at work and said, "Well, when I got to the doctor's office, my temperature was 109 degrees." "Honey," I said, "If your temperature was 109 degrees, you'd be dead. I think you mean 100.9 degrees." Yeah, 100.9 degrees isn't nearly as impressive as 109 degrees, but I know he really felt lousy. He was given antibiotics, cough syrup, and who knows what else. He even got himself a new thermometer because the doctor wanted him to monitor his temperature. I DID mention I thought we might have one or two rectal thermometers around from when the kids were babies, but I don't think he was feeling well enough to find that nearly as amusing as I did. So, under doctor's orders, he's been home all week. He's finally starting to notice a difference although I think it will be another couple days before he really starts to feel human again.

Remember the cherry fabric panel I showed you a few days ago? Did you happen to also see cherry fabric on Red Geranium Sharon's blog about a week ago? Turns out both are from the same line, Cherry Picked by Wilmington Prints. If you click on "Cherry Picked" above, you can see the whole line. After I saw Sharon's, I decided I needed some of that print too--

But now--NOW I see they also have an apron panel! Hummm. I wonder where I could find that one?! I guess I'll need to hunt some down.

I've had to work a bit of overtime this week, so I haven't gotten as far along on quilting the hat quilt as I hoped, but I HAVE gotten half of the blocks quilted.

I'm particularly anxious to finish the quilting on this so I can switch out machines and stitch up a few blocks to send to Tracey in Australia for the fire victims. Tracey, by the way, mentioned that some of you have volunteered to send her blocks and she's very excited about the response--thanks to all of you!

Time for my bath and my beauty sleep. It's now Friday the 13th, so be careful out there! And if it's bad luck to have a black cat cross your path, then perhaps it's good luck to have a sort of white cat draped across the recliner! Here's wishing you a day filled with nothing but good luck!