Monday, February 28, 2011

Two Down

Okay, I can finally show you my second quilt of the eleven I plan to finish in 2011--I've been calling this the Back Home Again/Ellery quilt (pattern name/fabric line) for lack of a better name but I'm going to have to come up with something that actually fits. The shades/colors remind me of sherbet. Any suggestions?

This isn't a great photo. The original photo file was sharper but too large so I had to adjust it down a bit. Oh, well. You can kind of see there on the side that I added the white eyelet lace around the edge. You can also kind of see in this photo and the next one the pillow covers I made, but they're on the back pillows, so you can only see the tops of them. I also covered the panels on the wall.

Funny story: The panels are foam core board at their base and are attached to the wall with Velcro. I had only completed the middle one and put it up last night before we went to bed. As Hubby and I were starting to drift off to sleep, we heard the unmistakable sound of Velcro separating. The light came back on, and sure enough--the panel was half off the wall. I resecured it, but I don't think either of us got a very sound sleep, wondering whether we'd be hit on the head in the middle of the night by a falling fabric panel!

This evening (as I watched Amazing Race and the Academy Awards), I pieced a throw pillow cover to match. Can you tell the cats like the new quilt?

When they're cluttering up an area like this, I call it "kitty litter." It's time, now, to go nudge them aside, because it's MY turn to enjoy the new quilt!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Pincushion Ramble

It seems my Chinese pincushion revived memories for some of you who had a relative with a similar pincushion or, in some instances, you had one yourself that was old and nearly falling apart. The comments that were left on yesterday's post started me thinking today about pincushions.

I rounded up all my pincushions and took a photo. The big on on the bottom right was made by Darlene at Quilting Daze, and the brown wool one with an image of a black Featherweight was made by my stitchery friend, Imelda. The hat in the front with a yo-yo flower on the brim was made by a friend who belongs to the same Yahoo group I do--several of us got together at a retreat in Utah and she made everyone a pincushion. I used her idea later and made some for students in one of my quilting classes, and then I modified the pattern a bit more to make the witch's hat pincushion--I made a bunch of them for quilting students in one of my Halloween quilt classes.

The one in the center bottom, made with tiny flying geese, was made for me by an online friend in that same Yahoo group I mentioned, and the one with the cherry fabric was one I made--again I made several and gave them to my quilting students. One of my favorites is the Mary Engelbreit chair--I found that one in a thrift store. Isn't it funny how each of our pincushions reminds us of something--a friend or event?

I can't think about pincushions without thinking about Mar. Mar had a blog called Pincushion Diaries. Each year she attended Alex Anderson's retreat and made pincushions for everyone. You can click on the link above to see some of the pincushions she made one year--there's a photo of them in her blog header. If I remember correctly, it wasn't long after the 2008 retreat that Mar became suddenly and horribly ill and passed away after a long hospital stay. I know the blog world--those of us who have been around for several years and "knew" her--still think of her from time to time. I wonder if any of you reading this have a "Mar pincushion"?

The pincushion below is the one I probably use most. It's small and easy to pack up to take with me for classes and stitchery get togethers and it's also probably the first handmade pincushion I owned.

Oddly enough, despite all of my pincushions, most of my pins are in the little plastic box they came in. And I seriously need to buy more pins--but first, I'll need to find some I like. My favorites are long and skinny. I'll need a lot to fill all those pincushions!

How about you? Do you have a favorite pincushion with a story to tell about it?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Made in China

It's hard to believe that a year ago, I was on leave from work due to carpal tunnel problems. You may recall that I woke up on the last Saturday of January 2010 with numbness in both hands and arms, after spending an intense and stressful couple of weeks at work. Of course, carpal tunnel problems take time to develop, but working for two young attorneys with nothing but rush typing projects was, apparently, the straw that broke the camel's wrists. And the battle scars went deep--I didn't even realize at the time how stressed and emotionally traumatized I was until I'd been off work for a month or so.

After surgery in June, I returned to work at the beginning of August. Secretarial staff had been reassigned while I was out, and I wasn't sure what I'd be doing when I went back. Within a week or so, the office manager talked to me about switching jobs with a friend of mine. To say I was hesitant is an understatement, because the attorney I'd be working for wasn't very well known to me, but what little I'd heard wasn't very positive--she seemed to be somewhat demanding and I didn't think we'd get along at all. Seriously, I was afraid I'd be jumping from the frying pan into the fire, and if things didn't work out, what was my alternative? Looking for another job after being with my firm for 18 years? Not something I even wanted to contemplate. In the end, though, after giving it much thought and talking to a few coworkers whose opinions I trusted, I agreed to give it a try.

And it's the weirdest thing--I really enjoy working for this attorney. She and I have the same attitude to handling cases, with similar experience and knowledge levels. Most of the time we find we are in complete agreement on how to approach a situation and solve problems. And the level and type of work she does is a nice balance for me--she's a younger partner, so her case load is varied and interesting and there's not enough of any one thing to make it boring. And, best of all, she seems to value my input.

At first, I was somewhat skeptical about how well the relationship was going because I know there's always a honeymoon period, even in a working relationship; but nearly seven months later, and everything is still going well.

And here's something that I think is kind of interesting about her: I found out early on that she is in a serious relationship with a man who works for a US company who is based, for now, in China. In October, they got engaged, and they'll be married in June. Most likely, his time in China will probably be up before too long and he'll come back to work in the US, but for now, they travel back and forth to spend a little time together every month or two.

Last week, she traveled to China to celebrate his 50th birthday, and much to my surprise, she brought me back a couple of little treats. First, perhaps predictably, she wanted to get me a pincushion--

Isn't it cute? I love all the little Chinese people (babies?) holding onto the edge of the pincushion, wearing silk clothing with hand painted faces and pigtail hair made from threads. (You can see them from the side in the photo below.)

She also gave me a brocade-covered box, and inside was a hand painted glass bottle--

The bottle is painted on the inside. Can you imagine painting scenery like this on the INSIDE of a small bottle? Crazy! What patience it must take!

My job is still somewhat stressful and busy at times, but these days, I enjoy what I'm doing and I don't have to pound on a keyboard all day long. I enjoy the work and I like my boss a lot--who is, as you can see, quite thoughtful. Yep, it's hard to believe that a year ago, I had so many problems. Sometimes it seems like the year's gone by super fast, but then sometimes it seems like a lot has happened during that time. What a difference a year can make!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Well, Yes, As a Matter of Fact . . .

it IS all about me! Hey, it's MY blog, right? Okay, I'm just teasing. I want to show you, though, what I've been working on this week, even if it's not all that much. After all, I don't want you to think I'm a slacker. Seriously, what I've been working on has all been stuff I thought I'd get done last weekend, but the Sweet Spot quilt top took longer than anticipated.

First, I got caught up on the Layer Cake Quilt Along blocks--block 8 and block 9. Here's 8:

The teal floral fabric in block 8 is the fabric I thought I'd use for the sashing strips (or whatever I do to set these) but I think I'll have to wait and see how the rest of the blocks look because now I'm not sure. I have the "alphabet" print from this line (Wee Woodland) that's set on a black background to use for the border and I know I want to stick with that. Anyway, here's block 9:

I was curious to see how the blocks would look so far, so I put the first nine blocks up on the design wall--

I don't know--they just don't look very unified to me at this point. And I really need to applique something into that basket block.

I'm still debating whether to participate in the Waiting for Spring Block-a-Palooza. I thought I might try to get some of those blocks pieced, but I'm just not sure if that's what I want to do with the Sunkissed fabric. I DO, though, like the recent block designs better. But then I saw Sherri had used Sunkissed for the Sweet Spot Schnibbles and it looks awesome! I guess I'll just continue to dither. How about you? I know some of you weren't sure either--have you decided yet?

I finished the Back Home/Ellery quilt and it's on my bed but I don't want to show you how it turned out until I can make the pillow cases and cover the panels on the wall behind the bed. Then I can get a good photo. I think the fabric for the panels will arrive in my mailbox this week, so I started on the pillow cases. I know, it doesn't look like much, but here's the pieced front of one of the two fitted covers:

If you remember the cotton eyelet skirts I found at the thrift store a couple weeks ago, you might be interested to know that the alternating white squares are from one of the skirts I cut up. Eventually I'll quilt the pillow fronts, and I'll probably just stitch in the ditch or something equally simple.

Well, that's it for my little show and tell. Hey, did you see Survivor? Don't you think Phillip's nuttier than a Payday candy bar? I'm not sure why they didn't just get rid of him tonight, but at least he provides a little bit of interesting insanity. And I know some of you don't like Boston Rob much, but I think you have to give him props for keeping Phillip under control at tribal council.

Well, I'm glad we could have this little discussion. Time for me to hit the hay, gals, so I'll see you later!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I Should Warn You About Gran . . .

I think she's getting kick backs from Triple A.

(If you aren't familiar with my Gran stories--and that may well be, because she and I haven't had an opportunity to get together and get into much trouble lately--she's my very good quilting buddy. She's also my embroidery guru, one of the gals who make up my stitchery group, and she has a blog--there's a link in my sidebar if you haven't read it.)

Sometime about a year ago, she and I went on a little adventure up to Paradise and Chico, and just before we headed home from Chico--a town that's about a two-hour drive from Sacramento--my car wouldn't start. We had to call AAA. And the guy came out and started it right up. Suspicious, right? Ah, just wait--there's more.

Last night, I went to Gran's house for our monthly embroidery class. As I pulled up across the street from her house, another woman pulled up right out front, and Gran came out to meet us. I had gathered up my purse and tote bag and was half out of my car when I heard Gran say something about a power failure. I stood up, set my stuff down on the seat of the car, and walked over to find out what was going on--yep, Gran said her power had been off for about an hour and she was going to have to cancel class. Well, I turned to go back to my car and realized I'd shut the door--and I was locked out with my purse and keys inside. See what I mean? I think Gran LURED me out of my car, fully intending me to lock myself out so I'd have to call AAA. Yeah, I know it seems like a bit of a stretch, but can it really be simple coincidence that she's been around the last two times I've needed assistance from AAA? I don't think so!

And there's something else. You know how on Halloween, when people don't want to buy candy and answer the door for trick or treaters, they'll turn off all the lights and pretend there's no one home? Well, just after I was LURED into locking my keys in my car, the lights in Gran's kitchen came on and I saw her hubby and son inside. So of course I have to wonder whether they didn't know about Gran's ploy to stage a fake power outage so she could turn everyone away from class and LURE me into locking myself out of my car, because obviously when they turned on the kitchen lights, there was absolutely nothing wrong with the power.

Hey, you know what they say, right? "Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get you." Yep, exactly! Oh, and that reminds me! Don't forget to watch Secret Agent Underpants on Survivor tonight, okay? It should make for some interesting viewing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Are you getting tired of this quilt? Last photo--I promise! At least until I quilt it.

Frankly, I'm getting a little tired of it too. I had other things I'd planned to work on today, but once I decided on the piano key border, that was it--it took FOREVER to cut and sew those strips!

I realized today that I'd never formalized the 11 in '11 challenge. If you have decided to play along, please comment with a link to your blog so I can set up a list in my sidebar. I kind of think there should be a prize or two at the end of the year, although I haven't really thought it through yet, but I DO know that if there's going to be anything to win, you can only win if you're participating, so let me know.

What? You don't know what I'm blathering on about? Well, I decided my goal for 2011 was to finish 11 quilts, and for myself, I wasn't going to count Schnibbles quilts, because I know they're just too easy for me. I'm really going to try to concentrate on my UFOs in this challenge. AND I've actually finished my second of the year (the Back Home Again/Ellery quilt), although I haven't shown it to you yet--I need to assemble/sew a few accessories before I'll be able to get a good photo.

So, anyway, if this sounds like a challenge you'd like to accept, please comment with your link and I'll put you in my sidebar.

Our long (three-day) holiday weekend is over and it's time for bed--back to work in the morning. I'm glad you could stop by for a visit!

Monday, February 21, 2011

And Off You Go . . .

I have a couple places I want to send you to, but first I wanted to show you how the Schnibbles Sweet Spot quilt is coming along. It's actually complete as far as the pattern goes--

. . . but I want to make mine a little larger. I'm considering a couple different options right now and I'll show you whatever I decide. I think this will look terrific on the kitchen table this summer! I used (mostly) the American Jane line, Punctuation.

My blog friend Robin is a teacher and has a funny post about parents and kids. Quite a few of my quilting friends here in Sacramento are either teachers or aides, so I know they'll completely identify with Robin's post. You can read it HERE. If you're a teacher, work in a school, are retired from teaching, or work with kids in daycare, will you consider sharing one of your favorite stories in a comment here? I love reading about what kids get up to!

Another blog friend north of the border, Cara, recently experienced an epiphany concerning women's shelters and what she could do to help. She has issued a challenge to her readers that you can read about HERE. As if helping those in need isn't reward enough, Cara has rounded up a whole bunch of people who have donated prizes to reward Cara's readers for joining her in doing good things for others. Check it out.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nothing But Time

I found myself being a little lazy on the first day of the three-day President's Day weekend. For some reason, I felt a bit chilled, and even my fuzzy bright pink and neon green striped socks couldn't warm up my feet. So I curled up and read for part of the day, and I played around on the computer for awhile, and then I took a nap with my furry feline family. I'll admit I felt like a slacker, but I think sometimes we all need to take time to relax and decompress. After all, isn't that what three-day weekends are for?

I finally made my way into the Sweat Shop late in the afternoon. As I was sewing this evening, I heard part of a commercial that went something like this: "Sometimes you need tomorrow to finish what you started today." Now, isn't that the truth? Particularly when it comes to quilting, which is rarely ever fast.

Many years ago, my sister-in-law changed jobs--I think it was when she had to leave dental assisting because of her latex allergy and go into an office/desk job. She was frustrated by never being able to go home at the end of the day with everything done--there were always things to come into the next day. And I remember thinking the idea of leaving at the end of the day with everything completed was totally alien--I'd never even thought of the possibility! The closest I've ever gotten was when I've gone on vacation and did what I could to not leave any "fires" for anyone to deal with, but even then, there were always things left to be done when I returned.

So, all things considered, I guess it's okay to take a little time to be lazy, because no matter how hard I try, I'm never going to finish everything, right? I might as well just take it easy and enjoy the journey.

When I finally got into the Sweat Shop, I started work on this month's Le Petite project, Sweet Spot. I have been cutting the pieces for the star blocks off and on for the past two weeks, so I was able to get the blocks pieced this evening.

I still have to sew them together and then start on the border piecing, and I haven't cut those pieces at all yet.

While I worked tonight, I had a little bit of help--Stitch kept me company part of the time. Doesn't he look like a stern task-master?

Spike, though--well she obviously doesn't need to be reminded that life's not a race.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pride and Joy

Do you remember Ted? He's the attorney in my office who, in his spare time, is the lead singer for a local band, The Q-Balls. I talked about him before when we had our firm "event" at the zoo. Remember?

Well, at another firm "event," our annual holiday lunch, the partners auctioned off various and sundry "services" they had donated, and all proceeds went to a local animal shelter called Happy Tails. Ted's "service" was to take the winner's turn at cleaning the office refrigerator, a task done on a rotating basis by all of the office's secretarial and admin staff. (Yeah, I know--a fairly feudal system really, but no one's elevated me to queen yet, so I don't have the power to institute more democratic policies.)

Anyway, since Ted also sings pretty darn well, we challenged him to sing while he cleaned the fridge. And today was his turn to clean.

So, for your enjoyment, here's Ted.

And while he cleaned the fridge, he sang, a capella, Stevie Ray Vaughn's song, Pride and Joy. You can play the You Tube version, with lyrics, while you watch Ted clean. I know it's not quite the same as actually being there, but it's the best I can do.

Bet you've never seen an attorney clean a refrigerator before, have you? See the paper towel in his hand? That's so he didn't actually have to touch anything icky.

Okay, I have to tell you the truth. Attorneys don't clean refrigerators. They have staff to do it. Poor Ted really had no idea what needed to be done. We tried to explain to him how he needed to check "sell by" dates and remove anything that looked like a science project, but I don't really think he got it.

Still, he sang darn well, so that made up for it. See how he's kind of bent over in the photo above? He actually wrote some refrigerator-cleaning lyrics to go with the tune. Yep, the fun never ends at our office. Now we just need to get the partner who donated a day of his time to staff one of the secretary's desks to pay up. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 18, 2011

California 101

Can you stand a second post of TV commentary?

I love the Mentalist. I love Simon Baker even more. And I love the idea that the show is set in California--Sacramento, in fact. At least that's where the CBI (California Bureau of Investigation, a completely fictitious law enforcement agency) is headquartered. And I live in Sacramento, right? Kind of cool!

Here's the thing, though. Most episodes take place in outlying parts of California. Tonight's show, for instance, involved gold mining and mineral claims. The quaint downtown area they showed looked like Truckee, a town not far from Lake Tahoe's north shore (think Donner Lake--where the Donner party spent their winter vaa-kay one year). Truckee is about a two hour drive from Sacramento. Even if we were talking Coloma where gold was discovered--about an hour from Sacramento. So how can the CBI team rush out of headquarters to catch a bad guy and arrive at the gold mining site so quickly?

In past episodes, they've made it sound like Oakland and San Francisco were just a hop, skip, and a jump away when in fact, they're about a two hour drive. Same thing with several other episodes set up north toward Redding.

Okay, I KNOW these TV shows are fiction. And I know they're written and filmed for entertainment rather than education. But gosh darn it! I'd really like to believe in this stuff a little more. Or maybe it's just that I'd like to believe Simon Baker may turn up in my neighborhood one of these days.

In any event, if you're planning a trip to California, don't believe everything you see on TV. We're a big state. Look at a map. And yes, our coastline is right on the Pacific Ocean, but there are a LOT of Californians who don't surf and rarely hang out at the beach. Really.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Biggest Tool in the Survivor Shed

Did you watch?

I'll freely admit I was pretty much over Survivor last season. Maybe a lot of people were. Maybe that's why they had to change it up a bit and bring back Rob and Russell.

I like Rob a lot. I dislike Russell a lot. And this new guy, Phillip? "A former Special Agent with the former Defense Investigation Services . . . ." What? No, really: What? I can't find any such thing on the internet, but if he's an example, thank goodness the government had the good sense to do away with it--whatever it was. All of their former agents should be sent to far off countries and left in their pink underpants in the middle of nowhere.

If you didn't see Survivor and have no idea what I'm talking about, check out the video of Phillip HERE.

I'm looking forward to seeing how the Redemption Island aspect factors into the game. I think hope it might just be a better season.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Da Vendors

Of course, one of the best things about a quilt show is the vendors. I don't usually take much time to check out the local quilt shops that rent booths--the ones whose shops I go into fairly often--but I really love seeing the vendors who don't have brick-and-mortar shops and who carry more unusual goods that aren't available in most quilt shops.

In past years, I've searched out the vendors who sell hand dyed cottons and those who sell wool and wool goods. We don't seem to have as many vendors selling hand dyeds, and that's probably just as well because I haven't been doing as much arty applique in recent years. But the wool folks . . . well, I just LOVE them. You'd think I'd have plenty of wool with all the thrift store collecting I do, but I don't have many lighter shades, and greens are always needed because foliage comes in so many different shades. This time I found two wool vendors and bought several pieces to add to my collection--these are lovely spring time colors.

You can see I also found a few half yard cuts of cotton prints--I think the coffee cup print would make a fun purse or tote, don't you?

Are you familiar with Reets Rags to Stitches? You can click on their name to visit their website. I purchased a few of my wool pieces from their booth as well as the two wool patterns on either side in the photo below. The center pattern is from This and That for a tiny little purse made from charm packs. Wouldn't it be fun if Sherri and Sinta pick that pattern for a Le Petite project this year? But even if they don't, I think it would be fun to make. I'm not exactly AFRAID of zippers, but I need more practice, so this would be a good one to practice on.

The rooster with the cart on the left is printed onto fabric--the vendor I purchased it from got it from Olde America Antiques. I've ordered from Olde America Antiques before and I love their stuff. In fact, I've just remembered that I have some rabbit prints I should make into something for Easter. You can click on their name to go to their website--really great stuff! The rooster print has instructions to make it into a pillow, but I don't think I will. I'm not sure what I want to do with it, but I'm sure I'll think of something.

The kit on the right also makes a pillow (or wallhanging)--an embroidered pine garland with gingerbread men, hearts, and tiny gingerbread cookie cutter buttons. Really cute! The vendor who was selling the kit said they were out of the buttons but would be getting more in--I'd like to make a few of these pillows for friends, so I think I'll call them to order.

I'm a sucker for old books and cookbooks, so I couldn't pass up this reproduction-style pie cookbook. I want to try out a few of the recipes when I get a chance. The Folsom Historical Society had the vendor booth where I found this pie book.

I've saved the best for last. I love bunnies and I have a very small (so far) collection of little rabbits. I first bought a small black glazed ceramic rabbit at a McMenamin's hotel/pub facility on a trip to Oregon with Hubby several years ago, and then I found another carved rabbit button at a quilt show the year before last. At THIS show, I found the third little rabbit to add to my collection--

It's carved from boxwood and it's pretty small. In fact, the blue and white stripes of the cloth he's sitting on are 1/2" wide.

I guess you can tell that I don't usually buy just regular quilt fabric at quilt shows, although I will sometimes buy small kits or precut fat quarters or half yards. What do you usually look for when you visit the vendor booths at a show?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

At the Quilt Show

What's your favorite part of a quilt show: the quilts or the vendors? I sure would have a hard time identifying my favorite! On Saturday, I attended what's traditionally the first quilt show of the year in our area, the one put on by the Folsom Quilt and Fiber Guild.

For Christmas, Hubby bought me a new camera--nothing fancy, but for whatever reason, he decided I needed a new camera. I'm kind of funny about new "equipment"--it takes me awhile sometimes before I get around to trying it out. The dead battery issue the other night and my inability to find the new batteries I thought I had on hand finally pushed me into using the new camera--and I found it takes better photos than my old one. Unfortunately, it seems Blogger doesn't like to upload more than two or three photos at a time. More pixels or something? In any event, I was very patient with Blogger, so I could share these quilts with you. You might want to fix yourself some popcorn, because the show's about to begin.

First I wanted to show you a couple "art" quilts--these are real masterpieces! Can I tell you who the artists are? No, because I'm lame and didn't think ahead to note them down. ARGH!

Lovely, aren't they? This next one is wonderful too but in a different way. I'm not sure what technique was used besides broidery perse applique, but it appears the blue background must have been hand dyed. Can you imagine the time and planning it probably took?

This next one is arty, but in a more traditional way. This is really more something I could see myself doing, so I took a photo to remember it. I think it would be a wonderful way to tell a story, kind of like scrapbooking but with fabric.

I love the appliqued crows with top hats and vests. This looks like a commercial pattern to me, but I don't recognize it--do you know? The look of the traditional mixed with the whimsical is wonderfully fun.

Hocuspocusville. Done. Something to aspire to since I still haven't even started mine.

I think you may just laugh at me (or with me?) for taking the next photo, but this is really the first time I can recall seeing a quilt I taught that was later exhibited in a quilt show. I just got a huge kick out of seeing it there!

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's Day, but just in case you didn't get enough sweets, I'll leave you with this quilt:

This one was made for the quilt auction our local quilters will have in the fall to raise money for breast cancer research and treatment. I'm sure I'll tell you a little more about that in the months to come, because my embroidery peeps are making one too.

Are you wondering where my report on the vendors is? I'll post that tomorrow night. I just didn't have enough patience to wait for Blogger to upload several more photos tonight. I'm glad you could stop in and see the show!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake

I was going to show you stuff from the quilt show tonight, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm tired and full and I want to go to bed.

We--Hubby, me, the Wild Child, Soccer Son, and two significant others--were supposed to go out to dinner tonight to celebrate the kids' birthdays. Soccer Son, however, was sick and couldn't make it, so it was just four of us. Originally the plan was to go to the Olive Garden, but when we arrived, we learned the wait was an hour. ARGH! So Manager Man, the Wild Child's significant other, called over to one of our very favorite Mexican restaurants and learned the wait was only 20 minutes--just about the time it would take us to drive there. So off we went and had a marvelous meal--better, I'm sure, than we had originally planned anyway. Margaritas, guacamole, chips and salsa, and our main dishes. Isn't it funny how things work out like that sometimes?

On the other hand . . . last Thursday, on the Wild Child's birthday, I stopped at a special bakery and bought a small (but darned expensive!), exquisite birthday cake which Hubby, I, the Wild Child, and Manager Man ate (well, not ALL of it, but some). Today I bought ANOTHER cake for all of us to share after dinner--that was before Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife to be Someday cancelled due to illness. So here we were, the same four of us, again with a birthday cake to eat. After that huge Mexican fiesta. See why I'm full? And tired? And just want to go to bed?

Now I'm pondering: When Soccer Son feels better and we finally DO get together for a birthday dinner, do I need to get yet ANOTHER birthday cake?

Not if it's any time soon. I just can't stand any more.

Have a happy Valentine's Day, and if you need some chocolate cake, I'm here for you, okay?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine's Day Treats

Boy do I have stuff to show you from the quilt show! But that will have to wait because I want to show you the other thing I did today. No, not the house cleaning! Yes, I did that TOO, but there's nothing special about that. Nope, I clean house just like everyone else--with three bottles of bleach and a pressure washer. What I really wanted to show you is some easy to make, last minute Valentine's Day treats.

First the ingredients:

You'll need some sprinkles (or chopped nuts), some white chocolate or vanilla candy melts (you could use regular chocolate, but I have issues with bloom--that's where the chocolate turns white--so I stick to the white stuff when I melt it), and some pretzel rods. While you're at Trader Joe's picking up those chocolate croissants for your Valentine's Day breakfast, buy some of their Honey Wheat Pretzel Sticks too. (I'd guess there are around 100 sticks in each bag--just so you can figure out how many bags you might need. Seriously. I got two.)

No, you don't have to get Trader Joe's pretzels, but I like their taste and the length--which is around 5" long. Here's what they look like up close:

I set up a bit of an assembly line. I melted the chocolate/vanilla chips in the microwave (follow the directions on the package) in a coffee mug, filled a small bowl with sprinkles, and lined a cookie tray with waxed paper so I could lay the pretzel sticks down to set.

I just dipped and twirled the stick in the melted chocolate/vanilla candy melts so the candy was about half way up the sides of the pretzel. Next, I held it over the bowl of sprinkles and used a spoon to apply the sprinkles. Easy!

Here's what they look like after they've been dipped and sprinkled, while the candy's hardening.

Once they set, I packaged five pretzels in each cellophane bag and tied it closed with a ribbon.

Don't they look good enough to eat? They taste pretty good too!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sneak Peek

I've finished--sort of. I still need to add the binding and I have another idea too, but here it is so far:

I wanted to get a better photo for you, but just as I climbed up the step ladder, framed the quilt, waited for the auto focus, and pushed the button, the "exhaused battery" message popped up. I signaled back "exhaused quilter" and dismounted--I'll have to find more batteries later, but for the life of me, I cannot remember where I put the last package I bought. Did I use it already? Who knows? ARGH!

Anyway, my idea: I think I want to add a wide eyelet ruffle around the sides and bottom edge. There are two reasons behind that idea: (1) I'd like to make the quilt fall a little longer, because we have one of those extra fat mattresses, and (2) I think the eyelet would look cool and romantic! So, I'll get up in the morning and head out to JoAnn's to see what I can find.

Remember how a couple weeks ago, I came home from work on a Friday night and had so much energy, I got all my house cleaning done that night? Yeah, that didn't happen tonight. So I still have the house to clean this weekend.

Then there's a quilt show too. And the monthly antique fair. And dipping a TON of pretzel rods in white chocolate and sprinkles for Valentine's Day. And dinner out with my kids on Sunday night to celebrate their birthdays.

Boy, it's going to be a busy weekend! I have a feeling that not everything I want to do will get done, and I've worn myself out already just thinking about it. I suppose I'd better head to bed and get some rest. What do you have planned?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Not a Bad Beginning

When it's your daughter's birthday and you want to do something nice to start her day, you might fix her something like this for breakfast:

Trader Joe's chocolate croissants. Have you tried them? Really yummy! And not too horrible calorie-wise. And the best thing? There are four in a box. So when it's your daughter's birthday and you want to do something nice to start her day, you can do something nice to start your own day. And your hubby's. And STILL have one left over.

I've been starting to think lately about Easter. I know--Valentine's Day isn't even here yet, right? But do you know how FAST time flies?

Anyway, do you recall the Bette Bunny wallhanging pattern and the kits I put together a couple years ago? Well, I was thinking about doing something along those lines--maybe a Mr. Bunny. Yes, I did make a male bunny at the time, but I want to refine him--or maybe make a wallhanging with the pair of them. As you can obviously see, I'm just getting started on the thinking part of the design. But one way or another, I knew I wanted more white wool for bunny making, so I hit the thrift store at lunch.

And today was a good thrifting day.

Yes, I found two white wool blazers and Hubby is once again employed as a garment deconstructor. Too bad the job doesn't pay much more than a chocolate croissant for breakfast. Besides the blazers, though, I found two identical 100 percent cotton white eyelet skirts with tiny ruffles between the panels.

Originally I thought I would probably make pillow cases or something like that out of them, but then I started thinking about mixing pieces into a quilt. See, that's what I love about thrifting--it gets me thinking about possibilities, and that gets me in a creative frame of mind.

I also found a white linen skirt with a bunch of cutwork and tone-on-tone applique around the bottom edge. Again, possibly a pillow. I didn't take a photo of that one though. Then I found a couple scarves. I photographed two to show you but they look like some kind of dead animals here, don't they?

I think they're hand crocheted or knitted using eyelash and a pom pom yarn. One's black and white and the other is black, blue, and purple. I hand washed them when I got them home and in the photo, I have them laying out on a towel drying.

I also found a few houseware/glass items that are in the dishwasher, but this pitcher escaped so far--

I think some kind of watermelon motif tablerunner is going to have to be made before too long. In fact, I think watermelons may be the look this summer--at least in my home!

I hate to end such a nice day, but it's just about that time again. I hope you're having a good day too, but if not? Start tomorrow with a chocolate croissant. It really works!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Just Some Stuff

I bet you're all anxious to know whether Soccer Son survived his 30th birthday. He did. At least he survived the sky diving part and I think his evening was going to be a little bit tamer, so there's every reason to believe he made it through, safe and sound.

Guess what? Now it's the Wild Child's birthday. Yep, she's three years and one day younger than her brother, so she turns 27 today. No sky diving is planned, thank goodness! People always ask how I managed to have two kids with birthdays one day apart, and I don't really have an answer to that, although I'm absolutely positive she was conceived on Mother's Day 1983. That morning, my sister-in-law picked up our son and took him over to visit grandma and grandpa; Hubby and I were to follow a little bit later. Yeah, uh huh. And it's really odd, but I KNEW I'd gotten pregnant right away--like that minute. Even though we were trying not to--sort of. But it all turned out fine. And I think for a lot of couples, there's no "right" time to have kids anyway--they just seem to happen, and it usually turns out okay, one way or another.

There hasn't been much talk of quilting here for the past several days, and the reason for that is that I'm just quilting along on the BIG quilt, taking breaks now and then when my neck and shoulders demand it. And really, they demand breaks so often, you'd think they belong to a union! I've finally gotten to the outside border, and it only goes around three sides of the quilt; I have half of one side quilted. So the end is finally in sight--maybe another night or two of quilting and then it's on to the binding.

On the quilting front, though, since you mentioned it, I'm looking forward to getting caught up on all of the blocks I've fallen behind on--and I'll do that once I finish quilting the current project and get my Bernina set up again. I'm even getting more enthusiastic about Block-a-Palooza now that I've seen more of the designed blocks, and I know I can simply change the few that don't suit my style as much. I just clicked over to Monica's blog as she's the next designer to post, and I truly LOVE hers--but then I knew I would.

But enough about that. If you work in an office, like I do--or maybe even if you don't--you probably get tired of the same old stuff for lunch every day. I spotted some new Stouffer's frozen meals at the grocery store the other day that looked pretty promising--soup and "melt" combos, and they make three different meals. I decided to try the three cheese and ham melt with tomato soup--I even took a photo because I thought it looked pretty good despite being served on a paper plate with a plastic spoon.

No, I haven't started putting paid advertising on my blog--I see this more as a public service announcement. If you want to try one and would like a $1 off coupon, click HERE and follow the links on the Stouffer's site--you can also see the other two soup/melt combos there. Really, I think they're pretty good, and have I steered you wrong yet?

Finally, I wanted to welcome my new followers--I see quite a few more have hopped on board in the last month or so, since the Be Mine Blog Tour, I think. I hope you enjoy visiting with me. And for those of you who have been around longer--and I know some of you have been around since the start--well, I always enjoy "seeing" you, but I hope you know that already.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

You Can't Unring the Bell

One of the things I like about working as a legal secretary is coming across interesting phrases--like the title of this post. For instance, I remember when I was a fairly new secretary, my boss was fond of using the phrase "we'll take the laboring oar" when writing to a client. What it meant was that we would take the lead--and do most of the work--in a case where there were multiple defendants working together. Most of the time, this kind of stuff can't be used in everyday conversation--not without people looking at you funny and talking behind your back. So mostly I hear these things, figure out what they mean, and tuck them away in some gray matter crevasse. Rarely do they even pop to the surface.

Today, though, I kept thinking about the phrase, "you can't unring the bell." Usually that phrase is used in trial to mean that if the jury hears something by accident--some kind of evidence--then even if a judge instructs them to disregard it, it's impossible to take it back; it will always be in the jurors' minds.

By the time you read this, it will be Soccer Son's 30th birthday. I have a little birthday celebration planned that includes lunch and something else that I can't tell you about right now in case he reads this. He was supposed to let me know when he'd be free this week for a couple hours mid-day so we could have this little get together but we didn't get a chance to talk until Tuesday afternoon. By then, he knew he'd be going out of town for the weekend, leaving on Thursday, so he only had a little time free on Wednesday--and probably not enough time for my plans. As he explained, he had a massage scheduled in the morning and sky diving in the afternoon.

Yeah, it's that sky diving thing that "rang the bell" for me.

As far as my little birthday treat goes, we've opted to wait until next week--assuming, that is, he survives sky diving. And I really hate heights; have I told you that? He went sky diving once before; both my kids have. And when I watched the video of that first dive, even though he was sitting right there with me, I was sure he wasn't going to live through it.

So I guess you can see where I'm going with this, right? I'm going to be worried sick until I hear from him later in the day and know he's survived. I think his 30th birthday may be harder on me than that day 30 years ago when I gave birth to him. And I bet I get a couple more gray hairs too! Darn kids! I wish he hadn't told me until it was over.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


I'm feeling particularly self-indulgent this evening. And sleepy. For some reason, I had to battle staying awake at work all afternoon, and I probably came closer to dozing off at my desk than I ever have in my life. I haven't done it yet though. Have you?

I came home tonight with the thought of going to bed early with a good book--which I'll do pretty soon. In the meantime, the idea of going to bed with a good book got me thinking that it had been awhile since I had an up close and personal experience with Amazon dot com. So while Hubby was fixing sandwiches for our dinner, I decided to pop in and see what they wanted to recommend. Want to know what I saw there that kind of got my blood stirring and woke me up a bit?

No, it's not out yet, but I think Amazon said it would be released on February 22nd. Yay!

And although THIS particular book isn't out yet, Amazon dot com had several others I felt I needed. So I placed an order. Then I ate dinner and placed another order. And that doesn't even count the several used books I clicked on. I guess I'd better go to bed now before I have nothing left in my bank account. I just love a good book. Or 20.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl . . .

. . . and super plates too--eating was what the day was all about. Super Bowl Sunday seems to be an excellent day for eating, whether we're going out or staying home. This year it was just Hubby and me at home; we spent a little time watching the game together and a little time watching the game apart when I wandered off with a full stomach to see if I could quilt a couple calories off--which is a nice delusion since quilting isn't exactly a fat burning, aerobic exercise.

I saw a story on the internet the other day about how main dish "cupcakes" are really hot now--they talked specifically about lasagna. So I thought we'd start off with pizza "cupcakes." These were really easy to make. I just browned a half pound of Italian sausage with a half pound of sliced mushrooms and threw in some chopped shallots near the end as well as some minced garlic. I let the mixture cool and added about 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, and 3 or 4 tablespoons of grated parmesan.

I used pre-made pizza dough (Winco and Trader Joe's both sell fresh dough) and flattened 12 small balls of dough, which I placed in the bottom of each cup of a muffin tin that I'd sprayed with cooking spray. I then divided the pizza mixture among the 12 cups and pushed it down so the dough rose up the sides a bit. I topped each cup with a very large pinch of shredded Italian cheese (a mix of parmesan and mozarella) and baked them at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes until the tops were brown. Really yummy! I served these around the start of the game.

By half time, I had egg rolls ready. A woman I work with makes the BEST egg rolls, and I've been getting tips from her. These weren't quite as good as hers, but I'm getting better--this was the second time I've tried.

Finally, sometime in the fourth quarter, we had tequilla lime chicken wings with chips and guacamole.

Besides the yummy food, Hubby won a share of a football pool, so it was a pretty great day all around!

Speaking of winners, we picked a winner for the Rural Jardin charm packs and Mon Ami Schnibbles pattern--Sandy A, "Scottylover." Hubby picked a number and it turned out to be Sandy's. Congratulations, Sandy! Email me privately with your mailing address and I'll get your prize into the mail in the next couple days.

I hope you had a lovely Super Bowl Sunday--whether you watched the game or not. Sadly, another fine weekend is at an end and I'm off to get my beauty sleep.