Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thrift Store Buys and Cows

I mentioned yesterday that I'd been to the thrift store on Saturday, and I wanted to show you a couple things that followed me home. I figured Hubby would kill me if I came home with plates, so I picked these up and put them back a couple times. There were three but I just bought two of these salad plates--I think they'll look terrific with my other summer stuff in the hutch.

I always look for wood items, and my favorite finds are small wooden benches and boxes. I couldn't pass this box up--I think it will be excellent for storing fat quarters or other precuts in the Sweat Shop, don't you?

Several weeks ago, I had an email from Mrs. Philadelphia asking for cows. Well, cow BLOCKS, actually. Why? To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure, but I know it has something to do with the fact that she's learned how to piece letters and she's taken to moooooooing and referring to herself as a Cranky Old Woman. So she's got something in mind. Or she's nuts. Either way, I told her I'd make a block, and here it is--

I call it "Do You Think This Bow Makes My Rear End Look Big?" You can see the cows that have come home so far HERE.

I'm glad you could stop by for a visit!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

For those of you in the U.S. who have the holiday off, what are you doing with your day?

I've been quilting the Thimbleberries Applique Basket quilt this weekend and I just have the last border to quilt, but I've put it aside to take care of a couple other quilting commitments first. (I'm currently appliqueing a cow block.) We barbecued burgers on Sunday, and on Memorial Day, I'm thinking about shrimp tacos and coleslaw, although I really have a bit of a hankering for potato salad. Well, I DO have some chicken breasts I can grill if I just can't get that potato salad out of my mind.

On Sunday, I made a quick run to the thrift store on my way to the grocery store, and found a couple things I'll show you, but I haven't taken photos yet. On Memorial Day, the Goodwill stores in our area have everything at 50% off, but I hate the crowds, so I went today. I also want to start getting the patriotic/summer decorations up this week and might do a bit of that on Memorial Day--I've just about taken down all of the spring decorations.

And one more day of sleeping in! Three day weekends are the best, arent they?!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Husband's Affair

My sweet mother-in-law called me today to tell me Hubby--her son--is having an affair. Well, you can imagine how shocked I was!

Every Saturday she visits with her sister, Dee Dee, at the retirement home, and Dee Dee told her the awful truth today. You see, the woman Hubby is having an affair with works at the retirement home, so Dee Dee's well aware of what's going on. Not that it's any of her business, she explained to my mother-in-law, but when she asked this "other woman" for her nephew's telephone number, the woman lied, claiming she didn't even KNOW Dee Dee's nephew, and that kind of made Dee Dee a little mad.

Dee Dee's only been living in this particular retirement home for a couple months, and Hubby visits her about once a week or so. Apparently Hubby's a pretty slick operator given the short period of time he's had to initiate this affair, huh?

I suppose I should mention that Dee Dee is 88 years old and is becoming more and more forgetful. The recent move to another facility was necessary because her mind has started to deteriorate a bit more than the previous home could handle. At least she still seems to have a vivid imagination!

I guess I should make sure Hubby's not visiting that retirement home too often. After all, you kind of have to wonder, don't you?! I HAVE mentioned to him that I'm perfectly okay with the idea of him striking up a close friendship with a rich, childless widow, and I can't help but think it would be just like him to get it all wrong. Sheesh!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend Means . . .

Remember back in the days before this guy starred on Miami Vice?

Remember when facial stubble wasn't attractive? Don Johnson did a lot to change that. Now most of us generally think it's pretty hot. Unless, of course, it's on the face of some down-on-his-luck drunk or other unsavory character.

Yesterday I had to shop for an outfit to wear to the Wedding of the Century (more about that in another post) and I saw a pair of pajamas. Pink and green with big ladybugs. Cotton knit pants and top with ladybug buttons. Cute, right? So I grabbed it--it was my size and I was pretty sure it would fit. And it did!

The only thing wrong? I didn't realize until I got home and put on my new jammies that the pants were cropped. Now, I should tell you that I don't really like capris on me, because I'm kinda short and kinda wide and I think they look silly, but when I thought about it, since they're jammies, who cares? Hardly anyone will see me anyway. And Hubby was really tickled that I'd bought something bright and cheerful because I generally tend toward BLACK.

All night long, though, I had this nagging concern. Leg hair stubble. Because, really, with winter and being all covered up, I just hadn't really kept my legs silky smooth, you know? And all of a sudden, there I was with new jammies that revealed three or four inches of stubble. Well, I guess you know now where I was going with the title of this post. Now that Memorial Day weekend is here, I guess it's time to break out our razors and get busy.

By the way, do you think that if Giselle quit shaving her legs, leg stubble would become as popular a look for women as facial stubble is for men? No, probably not. Why is it that when it comes to women, looking good takes so much more work?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Sew What Do YOU Want?

Gosh, with that post title, I wouldn't blame you for thinking I want to talk about you, right? But no, it's about me. Again. But you'll get your turn. Just sit quietly, try not to drool too much, and wait for it.

The other day middle of the night, I was looking at a few of my favorite blogs, and everyone seemed to be talking about Lori Holt's new line, Sew Cherry. Why didn't anyone tell me earlier? Were you afraid if I knew, I'd BUY it ALL? Sheesh!

I bought some. A fat quarter bundle from the Fat Quarter Shop in the marischino cherry color grouping. It was very, very hard to decide between that and the other blue/brown color group. I also spied some really cute Quilt Soup/Barbara Jones fabric from the Cherry Fizz line--turns out they go perfectly together!

Now here's the "you" part. Well, not QUITE yet, but we're close. First, moi. Despite having more fabric from Christmases past than Ebenezer Scrooge had ghosts, I still broke down and bought a little. Just a teeny, tiny bit. I've loved the last two Basic Grey Christmas lines, so two charm packs were needed--just to get a little taste. (Do you love their washed grunge solid colors as much as I do?) Then, of course, Sweetwater's Countdown to Christmas. Just a few 10" squares. Hardly anything, right?

Now it's your turn. As we're starting to see the 2011 Christmas lines, I'm wondering what you're excited about this year? Seriously, I always enjoy finding out what everyone else is drawn to, so I'd like to hear from you. Not to mention (why do people SAY that when they DO mention?) the fact that you might have found something I NEED but haven't yet found, so it's a good way to get tips on undiscovered treasures. Have you looked yet?

Before you go flying off, I wanted to show you why it's sometimes hard for me to type my post each evening.

Quite often, Stitch curls up and sleeps either pressed up against my left arm or with his head on my left hand. Isn't he a cutie? He's a real cuddle bug! And yes, that's my left arm he's sleeping on--the camera flash reflected off my pale winter skin, so it's hard to tell. I guess it's time for bed. Stitch says so.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Send More Thread!

I thought I'd show you how the Thimbleberries applique basket quilt is coming along.


You can see, I think, where I marked some of the quilt--in the dark blue near the top of the photo, I marked cross hatching, and in the red below that, the white line is the center of feather quilting. Much of the time, I wouldn't bother to mark the feather center, but these areas are larger than the center sections I "feathered" before, and I'm a little less confident when the areas are so large I can't really visualize the whole thing as I'm quilting.

So now I'm working on the white areas around the pieced floral border, and I'm using a meander stitch to fill in; I'll go back and add some quilting in the flowers and leaves later. The bobbin thread I'm using throughout the quilt is the same cream color I'm using in this area, and I realized tonight that I might not have enough to finish the quilt. YIKES! So I just put in an emergency internet Connecting Threads order.

I like Connecting Threads thread. My Juki likes Connecting Threads thread. My bank account likes Connecting Threads thread. I did splurge on this order and paid for extra quick shipping though--I figured I didn't want to wait the worst-case-scenario two weeks for delivery, and the lower cost of the thread more than made up for the added delivery charges.

It's an odd thing, but the post I wrote some time ago--around a couple years back--asking for input on Connecting Threads fabric STILL gets more hits than any other post of mine. I guess there are a lot of quilters out there wondering about the quality of the fabric since the price is so favorable. I keep hearing it's really good--as good as any other quilt shop fabric--but I still haven't purchased any. Have you? The only drawback I've heard was from one quilter who said that when she made a quilt some time after she had purchased the fabric, she found she needed more and it was no longer available. I can see how that might happen. Considering the price, perhaps it makes sense to order a bit more than we think we need, which would solve that problem in many instances. Of course, I pretty much ALWAYS work on that assumption!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Too Much Talk, Not Enough Thought

I was driving home from work, sitting at a stop light, and noticed the man in front of me carrying on a somewhat animated conversation on his cell phone. He wasn't doing anything illegal--he was talking hands free (except that he was waiving his hands around a bit). But it occurred to me that this guy, driving an older model Saturn and wearing a beat up baseball cap, was just the kind of guy who would rarely talk on the phone before the advent of cell phones. Now, like this guy, everyone seems to talk all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously.

I STILL don't own a cell phone. I don't want to talk. Why? Well, there's not very much I'd have to say to anyone that's so urgent it can't wait until I can send an email or see the person up close and personal. And sometimes it's nice to have a quiet, peaceful interlude when I can just think about things without interruption.

Did you see the news the other day about the Plain Writing Act? In case you missed it, there's now a law that requires governmental agencies to write their publications in plain language so the public can understand what's written, instead of throwing in all the legal gobbledegook we've seen in the past. Perhaps it won't surprise you that the government also wrote a 118 page guide telling itself what language to use and what language should no longer be used.

I'm certainly not adverse to documents that are easier to understand. Even with my background working in the law and, more particularly, with privileged health care information, when I recently received a HIPAA notification and tried to read it, I didn't understand at least half of it. So, yes, I think some reform is necessary. Language shouldn't be convoluted. Notices meant to inform and advise should actually DO that--inform and advise, not confuse.

But you know what bugs me? I don't want to see our language dumbed down. There's beauty in words, and I don't want to see the written word diminished.

I read a little of that 118 page guide. It said to use contractions in writing. That goes contrary to everything I've ever been taught when it comes to any kind of formal writing. Maybe I'm just a dinosaur. The guide went on to recommend documents be written as we speak.

Have you listened to the way we speak now? Really, we don't do very well. I guess we speak well enough to get our general ideas across, but I can't tell you how many times I've cringed when I've been watching TV and heard news reporters use the wrong words. And they don't even realize it! I always wonder what kind of education they've had--speaking in public is their JOB; is it too much to expect them to do it well? Or at least above average? There's a commercial currently running on television, and I think it's for a cell phone provider, where a guy refers to the "white elephant in the room." What a mixed metaphor! And how does that kind of thing make it past editing?

Okay, so I'm an English snob. But it's my language and I've been writing it for a long time now. And it's my JOB to do it fairly well. But I don't speak as well as I write. People rarely do. From years of transcribing dictation, I know that the spoken word almost always needs to be cleaned up when it's written down, because the written word and the spoken word are never quite the same.

Yes, I think we can write plainly so that what we write is easier to understand. But I also think we should strive to speak better and expand our vocabulary. How about legislating clarity in the SPOKEN word? No, I guess I can't truly expect politicians to get behind that kind of legislature. But maybe if we are all just a little quieter now and then, we'd have time to think before we speak.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Coming Soon

One of the things I really enjoy about the Fat Quarter Shop is being able to "window shop" the Coming Soon section. I don't do it very often, but every now and then I'll sit down, put on a bib to catch the drool, and browse the fabric lines just over the horizon.

I've already ordered a few Christmas precuts, but what comes AFTER the Christmas and Halloween fabrics are released? Well, here are a couple lines I'm looking forward to--so much so that I've asked the Fat Quarter Shop to alert me when they arrive (which is another really cool thing for us customers, and I imagine it helps them plan how much fabric to order for us too).

If the reaction quilters had to Bliss is any indication of popularity, I suspect the Ruby line will do well. I love these colors. And you know what? Now that I think about it, they're the same colors I've used in that OTHER applique basket quilt I've been working on. Imagine that! Now I know why I wanted an alert as soon as this line arrives. Can I stand to wait until October though? Is there a choice?

I was super surprised to see this collection by Jo Morton called Crimson Bouquet. Well, there's the obvious surprise--the fact that a line with "crimson" in the name has no crimson-colored fabric--crimson is supposed to be a deep, almost purplish red. But I don't really care about that part. After all, a bouquet by any other name would smell as sweet, right? But I love these colors! They remind me of when I was a kid and would try to decide which of the colors in my 100 crayon box were my favorite. I'm sure these were some of the colors I pulled out! The other surprising thing? I always think of 1800 repros as being dark and kind of drab, but every now and then, Jo throws in something unexpected! (Coming in November.)

Sweetwater. August. Do I need to say more?

Okay I have a thing for dots, words, and graphic prints. That's why I love Sweetwater. Looks like Cosmo Cricket's Circa 1934 line will give Sweetwater a run for their money. But I like the bold red, black, beige, and white of this line--it would be excellent for a more masculine quilt, don't cha think? (September.)

Riley Blake has managed to collect a lot of fun designers, and Amanda of the Quilted Fish is one of them. Delighted looks like a really happy line, and I'm looking forward to seeing it--coming in September.

How about you? Now that Market has come and gone, are there any lines you've seen and are anxiously awaiting?


I've been plodding away at quilting the Thimbleberries applique basket quilt this weekend and all I can say is that progress seems awfully slow. Then again, when I think of all the time it took to do the applique, a week or so of quilting is nothing, right? Right!

I was also thinking that next weekend would be a good time to change the decorations in my home from "spring/Easter" to "summer," so it would be most excellent if I could get the quilt finished and on my bed next weekend, wouldn't it?! Something to aim for anyway.

I picked a winner of the Fireworks! pattern--it's "Sheddy" who wrote:

"Good to see you are still here. I'd miss you with my morning cuppa coffee. I could use a little fireworks in my life."

So how's that for fireworks? Just email your address to me and I'll get it out in the mail.

Someone asked whether there are Y-seams involved in the pattern. Absolutely not! (Shudder!) I said it was simple, right? If you can make half square triangles, you can make the Fireworks! quilt. And, along those lines, I decided that for those of you whose names weren't drawn this time, I'd give you an opportunity to purchase the pattern--and anything else in my Etsy shop--at a discount of 20% off. Just enter the word Fireworks as the coupon code and it should adjust the price--I've never tried the coupon codes before, so I hope it works! You can click over to my Etsy shop from my sidebar--either from the watermelon tablerunner or the link in the item below that.

As always, thanks for stopping in to visit me. Happy quilting!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm Still Here . . . Are You Still There?

Well, there WAS a volcanic eruption in Iceland and a few earthquakes around the world, but nothing particularly apocalyptic in a worldwide sense. I kind of feel sorry for the people who quit their jobs and gave up all their possessions in expectation of leaving the world on May 21st. Yes, I pretty much figure they were awfully gullible, but then most of us have faith in SOMETHING that can't be proven, and WE certainly don't think WE'RE gullible, right? So who can say? It's just kind of sad. But, hey, we're all still here and doing okay, so that's something to be thankful for.

And another thing to be happy about? Gran called me this morning and said the new shop had sold out of my Fireworks! pattern and needed more. Here's the quilt--perhaps you've seen the pattern in my Etsy store?

It makes a nice lap size quilt and the piecing is fairly fast and simple. I thought since the world isn't ending just yet and my patterns are selling, I'd have a little giveaway. If you'd like a chance to win a Fireworks! pattern, please leave me a comment, and I'll enter you in the drawing. I'll pick a winner tomorrow night, so this will be a quick one. Good luck!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Meet Juki, The FINISHER!

Continuing on with the subject of quilting, I thought I'd introduce you to my quilting machine. As you can see, it's a Juki TL-98Q. It's a simple machine with no computerized parts, but it's a real work horse when it comes to quilting.

When I piece, I work on a Bernina, but several years ago, my Bernina started having problems with free motion quilting, and a trip to the spa (aka repair shop) failed to completely fix the problem. So I started looking around for a solution and found the Juki.

The Juki is much too heavy and industrial feeling for me to enjoy piecing on it, although it pieces just fine--it's just my preference. When I bought the Juki, I paid around $700; now they sell for around $900, although since they aren't computerized, I think a refurbished used machine would work just as well. Still, you can probably see why a new Juki was a better option for me than a new Bernina, right?

I settled on the Juki for quilting because of a number of reasons besides the price. A Juki can be used with a quilting frame system. I really liked the idea of buying a machine that could be used that way in the future, if that's something I decide I'm interested in.

A Juki has a much larger throat opening than most machines, so I can quilt a king sized quilt without too much trouble. I took the photo above to illustrate the amount of room the Juki has--if you look closely, I think you can see the opening is 8-1/2" long . . .

. . . and 6-1/2" tall. Measure the opening of your machine to compare. I think my Bernina is about 7-1/2" long and about 4-1/2" tall.

I don't want you to think you can't quilt on a standard machine though. Before I got the Juki, I quilted a king size quilt on the Bernina. No, it wasn't easy, but it was do-able. The Juki just makes it a little easier.

A word of warning, though, if you're interested in getting a Juki: They're fast. My friend Imelda bought one and ended up selling it because she had a hard time controlling the speed; even buying a stitch regulator didn't seem to help. So if you're an "all or nothing" kind of gal who likes to drive with the pedal to the metal, . . . well, maybe you should reconsider. Or find a sewing machine store that sells Jukis and will let you try one out for an hour or two. Or, better yet, see if you can rent one! But I really do like mine and wouldn't want to give it up--except maybe if someone gave me a really nice long arm and offered to build a large room onto our house so I'd have somewhere to operate it. In the meantime, the Juki's the right fit for me.

Friday, May 20, 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different . . . .

Back to quilting!

I'm often asked whether I mark my quilts for quilting. The answer to that question is: Not if I can figure out another way. Sometimes, though, I do mark--when it really matters. You may be able to see here that I used a white pencil to mark the straight line quilting in the basket:

Most of the time, though, I'll look at the space I need to fill and decide which "filler" design is best for each section. For instance, in the white area around the basket and flowers, I used a meander. I always think the meander stitch looks like jigsaw puzzle pieces, and if I hold that kind of thought or image in my mind while I'm quilting, it seems to somehow transfer from my brain, down my arms, and into the quilting. A meander stitch is fairly easy to do and isn't so interesting looking that it would take attention away from the basket and appliqued flowers.

First, though, before I quilt in the filler, I start by stitching in the ditch to outline and secure the area I'll be filling. If you look closely, you can see I've outlined the brown area with brown stitching.

I also like to use feathers as a quilt design. I thought the zigzaggy blue area (not visible in these photos but it's the area I "fixed" a couple days ago) and red area were perfect for feathers. First I "drew" (with the needle, not a marker) a line of stitches, keeping the wavy line centered in the space as much as possible. When I got to the end of a section, I came back down one side of the "stem" line making feather loops; then I did the same thing up the other side of the "stem" line. My feathers aren't perfect, but I think they're just fine. I adjusted the size of the loops as was necessary to fill in the area. You can probably see the feather quilting in the red area a little better in the photo below:

And see that triple loop quilting design in the brown section? That's a favorite of mine because it looks so much harder than it is! The only key, I think, is figuring out about how large the inner circle will be and the rest is just looping back and forth a couple times and then moving on to the next. A few years ago, I did a post demonstrating how it's done HERE.

When I begin a quilt project, I start quilting in the center of the quilt and work my way out to the borders. With this one, I'm about half way out to the edge, but if you think about it in terms of square inches, I've got a lot more left to do than what I've done so far. I haven't really planned the quilting designs ahead of time; I'm just tackling one section at a time, deciding what would look best in each. The blue section is next, once I finish the brown, and I'm not sure what I'll do. It might be more feathers to repeat the earlier blue section, or maybe I'll do something different. It might even be a good idea to throw some straight line cross hatching in at this point--which means some marking is in my future.

I'll get a photo of larger sections of the quilt soon, so you can get a better idea of what I've been doing. And I'll probably get a photo or two of how I'm quilting the appliqued areas.

Thanks for stopping in to see what I'm working on.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


No, I'm not talking about how I feel about spending a day in the Sweat Shop. I'm talking biblical. You know it's coming this Saturday, right? May 21, 2011, according to Harold Camping and Family Radio.

Did I talk about this before? I remember thinking about writing a blog post when I started seeing billboards in our area, but I don't remember whether I did.

Well, I suppose it has to happen someday, but I'm pretty skeptical about the May 21st date. How did Camping calculate that particular date? I'll paste in an excerpt from an article you can find HERE.

"Here's the gist of Camping's calculation: He believes Christ was crucified on April 1, 33 A.D., exactly 722,500 days before May 21, 2011. That number, 722,500, is the square of 5 x 10 x 17. In Camping's numerological system, 5 represents atonement, 10 means completeness, and seventeen means heaven. 'Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,' Camping said on his Oakland-based talk show, Family Radio, last year. 'It's the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you're completely saved.' He added, 'I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that.'"

So what's going to happen on Saturday? A huge, world wide earthquake will occur. It will be so tremendous that graves will open and all of the good Christians will ascend into Heaven. Thereafter, the rest of us--and I'm guessing that will include me for many reasons, not the least of which is the way I poke fun at the apocalypse--will hang around on Earth for another five months suffering all the tortures of aitch-e-double ell.

At 50-something, I've seen a lot of end-of-the-world deadlines come and go. The first time I remember was when I was in elementary school and an earthquake was supposed to crumble California into the ocean. For days I was really, really worried, especially since it was supposed to happen the day before Easter at 3 in the afternoon, and I knew I couldn't swim well enough to survive in the ocean long enough for the Easter bunny's visit. On that Saturday afternoon, my family dyed Easter eggs, and when I checked the clock, the deadline had already passed. I can't tell you how relieved I was!

At work today I was thinking about this newest end of the world prediction and wondering what would happen if . . . . So I thought I should email the people in charge of personnel and let them know there was an outside possibility I wouldn't be at work on Monday. Here's my email, which I titled "In Case I'm Not Here on Monday":

"I just wanted to remind you that Saturday, May 21st, is Judgment Day, and while it's NOT the end of the world (which is to occur on October 21st), it IS the day on which Christians will rise up to Heaven. However, unless God is awfully liberal about the whole Christian thing, I don't think I'll be in that group. So I SHOULD be here for the next five months, at least. But also? There are a couple staff members who might be in that first group through the gates, so let me know if there's anything I can do next week to fill in if they're gone."

Yeah, I already know I'm bad--you don't need to tell me. But I really can't take end of world predictions very seriously. Still, I think I'll hold off on cleaning house until Sunday. Just in case I'm wrong.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Remember a couple months ago we all talked about the dumbing down of quilting? And remember that somewhere along the way, there was discussion about blogging the "process" and not just the results? Well, I have another "process" blog tonight.

Quilting. For the past few days, I've been quilting the applique basket quilt. I rather like variegated thread--I think much of the time, it adds interest to the quilting. But not always.

I had used a blue variegated thread to quilt feathers in a blue section. As I went on and later looked back at that section along with the rest of the quilting I'd done to that point, I was less and less happy with it. The thread went from a dark blue to a blue so light it was almost white, and the contrast was too much--the light color stood out like a sore thumb. Want to see?

But quilting is just like piecing. You can "reverse sew." Yeah, it's not easy or fun, but eventually I decided that was what I needed to do. And in looking at my work, I decided I would just take out the quilting where the thread was too light and redo it with a darker blue thread that blended with the rest. Using my seam ripper, I "clipped" every third stitch or so.

I then pulled away and clipped off the under thread, and that left little clipped thread remnants here and there. I soon picked those off and was ready to fill the spot in again.

About an hour later, I'd removed and replaced all the lighter blue sections.

Yes, it took time to "fix" what I wasn't happy with, but I know that in years to come, I would have been unhappy if I hadn't done it. Now I can move on with the quilting. I'll show you more as it progresses.

Do you have any questions about my quilting methods I can answer? I'd be happy to do another "process" blog or two if there's anything you're curious about--just ask.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crazy Weather

I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but in the United States, we're experiencing an unusually wet and cold spring. I heard that in Sacramento on Sunday, we broke the old low temperature record by quite a lot--apparently our high was only in the low 50s. We've had rain, hail, lightening, and thunder, and up around Lake Tahoe, they've had snow. This weather should continue another couple days too.

Not all of our spring has been this cold, though. We've had some nice days, and the plants are growing and the flowers are blooming. So that means it's pollen allergy season. And mold allergy season. And change-in-barometric-pressure season. Which means it's also sinus headache season. And I have one. ARGH!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Yay Rob!

The latest season of Survivor is officially over and if you've been interested in it at all, then I'm sure you probably know Rob finally won after being on the show four times. I like Rob. I know some of you hate him, so you're probably bummed, but at least he's unlikely to come back a fifth time. And I suspect that any of the players you would have preferred to have win were long since voted off.

I find it hard to understand how Former Federal Agent Underpants made it to the end, but as it turned out, it was a wise move for Rob. But, really, what an idiot that guy is! At least he burned those saggy, pink briefs.

Next up, the South Pacific. And two more returning players. I wonder who they are? Any ideas? I didn't really watch the after show--did they say? (I just caught the last couple minutes.) Unfortunately, it looks like we have to wait until fall for the next season. I remember when Survivor first began, it was a great program to fill in during the "off" seasons--I sure wish it was starting again in July to give us all something to watch.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Le Petite Eye Candy

This month's Le Petite project is the free Moda Bakeshop pattern, Candy Bar Pinwheels. You may remember I decided to make it using scraps, make it larger, and make it as a gift. Tonight I finished the top--

Well, SOMEBODY likes it! But Stitch isn't the one I was making it for.

It occurred to me that I'll need to quilt the Thimbleberries basket applique quilt before I can get this one done--because I don't have enough quilting pins! So I set up the Juki and started in on it. With all the applique details, though, it's not going to be a fast one to quilt. Oh well, it will all get done, one way or another.

Now it's bed time--because tomorrow I need to get up and clean house, since I spent today playing instead of doing my chores. Goodnight!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Did You Miss Me?

Okay, so if you read my Friday the 13th post, you already know Blogger was down for around 24 hours and I postponed the pincushion kit drawing until tonight. Since I wrote that post earlier today, I've also learned that some of the comments made to posts all over Blogger have also disappeared but are being replaced. (BTW, it was Blogger ONLY--not the other blog hosts, such as Typepad.) If you are worried that you commented for the giveaway and your comment disappeared--have no fear. All comments come into my Yahoo mailbox as emails as soon as they're posted, so even if they disappeared off Blogger, they're still in my mailbox, and that's where I draw winners from. So let's do that, shall we?

My drawings are quite random--you probably know that, right? I just wanted to make that disclaimer because the winner said such nice things about me that you might be suspicious I drew her name for that reason. Here's Carol's comment:

"Oh yes m'am would I love to win that pin cushion kit and visit Gran's shop as well. Unfortunately I live too far away. Am a pin cushion fanatic of every shape and size. And I read blogs on Google Reader each morning and usually scroll through and pick yours as one of the first, if not THE first! always funny and a good way to start the day! from your house cleaning (and the mouse) to your cooking and projects turned out so fast, it's always a good read!"

See? Flattering, isn't it?

Carol, please email your address to me and I'll get the kit in the mail to you.

Now for a little shameless self promotion. Feel free to click away to the next blog at this point. While Blogger was down, I took time to relist a couple of my spring and summer patterns and a few other things on Etsy. If you're inclined to visit my shop, you can get there by clicking your heels together three times and then clicking the link in my sidebar.

See you tomorrow, Blogger willing!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Typical Friday the 13th!

For those of you who missed me--or more importantly, those of you who were checking back earlier today to see who won the pincushion kit--Blogger was down from mid-day on May 12th to mid-day on May 13th. No posts, no comments, no nothing except reading old posts. In fact, they even removed all of the Blogger postings from May 12th, although I understand they will be restored.

So, I'll pick a winner tonight and post it for Saturday. Unless Blogger doesn't cooperate.

Sorry to worry those of you who feared I was sick or dead. The rumors are unfounded--so far. It's still Friday the 13th though.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I Missed Gelato?!

I saw my friends Imelda and Irene tonight at Thimbleberries Club, and they told me that last Thursday they had stopped by the new quilt shop, the Fabric Garden, and then walked over to have gelato. While they were sitting outside eating their gelato, who should drive by but ME! Apparently I'm a very focused driver--although that's not exactly the way they described my driving habits--because my eyes did not stray from the straight-ahead course, even though Imelda was running through the parking lot, trying to get my attention. Bummer, eh? And I could have had a gelato! I think Imelda's going to have to practice running faster, don't you?

A couple of you asked me about teaching and the classroom space in the new shop. I actually took a photo, although I didn't post it yesterday. Here it is--

It's a little bit small, but it looks like it will hold about ten students with their sewing machines, and a few more than that for classes that don't require machines or monthly no-sewing club meetings. The classroom is separated from the rest of the store by a half wall.

Isn't that a cute little "shed" in the photo at the back wall? There's a door on the right side, just out of the photo, and all of the kids' and 30s fabrics can be found in that room. Here's what it looks like on the "inside":

As far as teaching goes, I'm not going to be teaching this year, but maybe I will next. Because I work full time, I really can only teach on Saturdays (the shop is closed on Sundays), and the Saturday class schedule was already pretty crowded with classes being taught by the shop owners and other teachers who had stronger ties to the shop than I do. I'll just have to wait until they're making up the schedule for next year and see if there are any slots available for me.

Gran and I are planning to get together for dinner tomorrow night to catch up--we've both been so busy in the past couple months that we've barely gotten to see one another. Just think: Last year I was off work, being worked up by my doctors for the carpal tunnel problems and Gran had a lot more free time than she has now, so we had time for several "adventures." It's been awhile since we've had that kind of time together, but maybe life will settle back into a routine for both of us before too long and we'll have a little more "Thelma and Louise" time. In the meantime, I'll pass on your comments, congratulations, and well-wishes to Gran about the new shop when we see each other tomorrow night. Thanks for stopping in to visit!

The New Kid in Town

On Friday, my friend Julie-Julia emailed me to find out why I hadn't blogged about the grand opening of the new quilt shop, the Fabric Garden. You see, opening day was Thursday, and Julie-Julia knew I planned to go. And I did go. But when I got out of my car and turned on my camera, it told me the battery was dead. Curses! Foiled again!

And really, what good is blogging about the new quilt shop in town without photos? So I went back today, which was the first opportunity I had, with my camera (and recharged battery) ready, and I took some photos for you. Now, do you think I could have had the presence of mind to take a photo of the front of the shop and the two windows? No, apparently not. So I'll have to show you that another time. But at least I can show you the interior.

This first photo was taken several feet inside the front door, looking past the two cutting tables toward the register area at the back of the shop. (Yes, that's my red with white star fabric on that cutting table there. I felt I had to buy something to support the shop. Uh huh.)

This next photo shows the right side of the shop, where I suspect a lot of the newer collections will be kept. There's a long row of fabric shelves just to the left of the cutting tables above, and those bolts are sorted by color, so I think the shelves in the photo below will hold collections. The shop is, of course, still getting stock in, and actually sold quite a lot during their grand opening weekend. (Jill, one of the owners, is heading off to Quilt Market tomorrow, I believe.)

This area is the embroidery and wool alcove. As you can see, Gran couldn't resist adding some tea things to the shelf. This is the area that Gran will keep stocked with stitchery patterns, wool patterns, floss, perle cotton, and everything else we could possibly need for those times we want to do some hand work.

For its grand opening, the shop hosted a trunk show by Tracy Souza of Plumcute Designs, and I'll admit to buying one or two of her patterns when I visited on opening day. I thought this large pincushion was, well, plum cute!

So I bought you one too so you could help celebrate the grand opening! The kit has the pattern and fabric, but you'll need to supply the embroidery floss and stuffing (ground walnut shells are recommended). Are you interested?

If you are, just leave me a comment saying you want to be entered. I'll draw a winner on Thursday night to be announced on my Friday post. As always, you have to come back here on Friday to see whose name was drawn, because I don't email winners--I like to make sure the giveaways go to my loyal readers who come back day after day.

Thanks for celebrating along with the rest of us. And I'll tell Gran you said "hi"!


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Buy More Schnibbles!

And anything else you can find by Miss Rosie's Quilt Company.

I guess you're probably wondering why I'm promoting Carrie Nelson, right? I mean aside from my normal enthusiasm over Schnibbles patterns. Well, you know I'm part of the monthly Le Petite group, and each month, prizes from the various sponsors are awarded to a few individuals from the group who finish that month's project. Last month we made the Brocante Schnibbles pattern, and my name was picked to win one of the two prizes offered by Carrie Nelson--a fat eighth bundle of Collection for the Cause. Cool, huh?! I could hardly believe it when Sinta announced my name. I thought it must be some other Kim!

Well, today a box arrived from the post office. A box that was bigger than was needed for a fat eighth bundle. And yep, in typically generous Carrie Nelson fashion, she sent along extra "surprises."

I've had so much fun tonight reading the note Carrie sent and looking through the goodies. I can hardly wait to play with my new toys. I know I've said it before, but just in case you missed it: Carrie Nelson is the most generous and personable designer around. And talented too. Waaaaaay talented. So buy more Schnibbles, Miss Rosie patterns, fabric, and anything else with the Miss Rosie name on it, because Carrie deserves all the good things that success brings.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Best Mother's Day Gifts

My family--Hubby, Soccer Son, his Lovely Wife to be Someday, and the Wild Child--gathered today to celebrate Mother's Day, and it was delightful! We put the Wild Child's bartending skills to the test, and she came up with a refreshing concoction that tasted much like a raspberry Mojito. Soccer Son did all the cooking--he served avocado halves stuffed with shrimp and mango, an asparagus/garlic/corn/tomato medley, and grilled chicken breasts. Yum! After the meal, inspiration struck Hubby, and he left to make a run to Marie Callenders for a chocolate cream pie while we brewed a fresh pot of coffee. Boy was I spoiled!

But do you know what the best gifts were? The Wild Child set the table and turned the square plates on point. A little bit later, Soccer Son's Lovely Wife to be Someday came out of the bathroom and commented that she can see why Soccer Son rolls their towels--because all of my towels are rolled and placed on the shelf or in baskets in the bathroom. These are simple little things, I know, but it tickles me to death to know that my kids have picked up something from me somewhere along the way. And the funny thing is that these weren't even lessons I tried to teach them. But I guess they were paying attention after all.

Yes, sometimes life's simple little "gifts" are the best.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers' Day!

The other day, I overheard someone wishing a coworker of mine a happy Mother's Day. At least that's what I think I heard--they weren't speaking nearby, I couldn't see them, and I may have mixed up the conversation. The friend who I think was wished a happy day has never had children and just lost her own mother, so it will more likely be a melancholy Mother's Day for her.

Thinking about my friend made me pause for a minute before wishing all of you a Happy Mothers' Day. I hope it truly IS a happy day for you whether you are a mother, are celebrating with your mother, or are simply taking a few minutes to think about your mother or whoever held that role in your life.

My relationship with my mother has always been strained, and in recent years, it's been nearly non-existant. It hit me like an electric shock today to realize I hadn't even thought to send her a card! Thank goodness my relationship with my children is far warmer and loving than the relationship I've had with my mom. It has, I think, taught me that we need to cultivate our relationships and express our appreciation to the people in our lives as often as we can.

Whatever your situation in life, take time today to reflect upon the people who have nurtured you and who you have nurtured thoughout your life and congratulate yourself--you deserve it! Have a Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You Know You Need a New Ad Agency When . . .

The other day the Wild Child mentioned how stupid television commercials seem to have become lately, and I wholeheartedly agreed. There's nothing clever or catchy about them anymore; they all seem to be unmemorable at best and moronic or distasteful at worst. Tonight I was watching TV and one of the commercials I most dislike came on--I just kind of cringe every time I see it. But seeing that commercial reminded me that I've kind of wanted to talk about bad commercials for awhile now.

That one I saw tonight? Well, I'm hesitant to mention the product name. I noticed that YouTube postings of this oh-so-annoying commercial have been removed, so that makes me wonder if the product manufacturer is aggressive about unauthorized use of their advertising. But maybe you recognize the photo below from the TV ad and know which one I'm talking about? Actually, if you position your cursor over the photo, it should tell you the name of the toilet paper product on your bottom tool bar--it will appear near the end of the gobbledegook. But if you still don't get it, it's quilted. Which I think is kind of embarrassing for us quilters!

If you haven't seen the ad, perhaps you don't know what's so annoying about it. Well, mostly I find it annoying because there are a bunch of unattractive women with kind of annoying voices suggesting it's time for women to "come clean" and talk about what really happens in the bathroom. Huh? Am I missing something? What's going on in the bathroom that I don't know about? I think I'm probably paraphrasing rather than quoting the ad verbiage, so I might be a little off but all in all, it's just a really weird commercial that I don't think does a whole lot to make the product attractive to consumers.

Here's another one I've saved for quite awhile to share with you--and there are more for this product at YouTube if you want to indulge in a mini commercial viewing festival!

So how about you? Are there any commercials that absolutely make you cringe and/or leave the room when they come on?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Testing 1, 2, 3 . . .

and 4, 5, 6!

When I start a new block project, I usually like to "test" a few blocks before I launch into the serious strip piecing, and that's what I accomplished tonight--the first six of twenty-five blocks.

Now I find myself wondering how white sashing would look between the blocks. Or maybe red sashing. Nah! White, for sure! Anyway, I can see I'm going to want to play around with this one a bit before it's done.

AND I still have no idea what I might end up with for the border, but I DO know one thing: Experimenting is a blast!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Seeing Red

Oh bummer! It seems Bin Laden caused me to lose one of my followers, and for that I'd kill him if he wasn't already dead. At least most of us think he is. But enough about him--he's gotten too much attention anyway. I actually wanted to tell you what I'm up to in the Sweat Shop these days.

Even if you're not participating, I suspect you know about the monthly Le Petite projects, right? This month's project is from the Moda Bake Shop. It's called Candy Bar Pinwheels (because you use a candy bar precut), and here's what it looks like--

Sinta, I think, mentioned being able to make it scrappy, and that started me thinking. Eventually, after the old brain cogs turned awhile, I figured out how I could kill three birds with one stone: Make the project, use some of my overflowing Thimbleberries scraps, and end up with a gift quilt I needed to make anyway!

I called this post "seeing red" because that's what I've been doing:

Well, that AND seeing white too. I've decided to make the project in red and white, but for a little twist, where you see the white in the first photo, I'll use the scrappy reds for the background, and the scrappy whites will be the pinwheels.

And I'll need to make it larger--because I need a lap sized quilt for the gift I'm making. Instead of a two by three block setting, I'll make mine five by five. So, 300 2-1/2" squares and 200 2-1/2" x 4-1/2" rectangles later . . .

And I think I have enough. Actually, I'm pretty sure I have closer to 300 rectangles, but by the time I finished cutting the scraps to the right size, I really didn't feel much like counting them. Tomorrow night, I'll start piecing.

I'm concerned, though, that I may be getting a little behind in the 11 in '11 challenge. My quilt number 4 is pinned and ready to be quilted but has been sidelined by this project--which has a bit of a deadline, and so it needs to take priority. Hopefully I can catch up in the next couple months. AND this red and white quilt will count as one of my 11 quilts for the year.

If you haven't done so lately, click over to the 11 in '11 Flickr group photos--there are some terrific projects to look at, comment upon, and be inspired by. Thanks for stopping by to visit!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Bin Laden Thing

I wonder how many people will stumble onto my blog because they are searching for bin Laden? Probably more people than Google "Kim Quilts Nude" (which will also bring you here, oddly enough). Of course, the search for bin Laden has moved to the virtual realm now that the real life hunt is over.

And can I just start by saying I was kind of annoyed at missing the last ten minutes or so of Amazing Race when reporters broke in to start speculating about the nature of the news long before the president was ready to speak? And by the time he did, it was kind of old news. Still, he gave a pretty good speech, although I was a little preoccupied, wondering who had been eliminated from the Amazing Race this week.

And what did you think of bin Laden's luxury compound? We have a city in Sacramento County called Rio Linda. When Rush Limbaugh had a local radio talk show, he made fun of Rio Linda again and again. You know what? Bin Laden's luxury compound looks a lot like some of the larger homes in Rio Linda. But maybe it was a lot nicer inside than it looked outside? With several wives, wouldn't you think they'd get together and hire a good decorator? Still, what kind of mansion doesn't have a TV?

Seriously, though, I'm a little bothered about the way bin Laden met his end. Yeah, I'm pretty darn certain he deserved exactly what he got, but I think I'm just too indoctrinated into America's justice system and the "innocent until proven guilty" standard to feel comfortable with our special forces dropping in and gunning down an unarmed bad guy. I think there are a lot of other countries in the world who may question the way we went about doing things too. I guess it just doesn't seem very American or very honorable of us in some ways. Then again, when I think about 9/11, I'm conflicted. I guess this type of thing is never pretty, neat, and clean, is it?

The "proof of death" conspiracy theorists seem a little too far out there for my way of thinking. I just can't get behind the idea of faking the news of bin Laden's death because of the incredible loss of credibility that would result if/when it was proved false. Probably worse than that "weapons of mass destruction" thing. But who knows for sure? I do kind of enjoy watching documentaries speculating about subjects like Roswell and the Kennedy assassination. WAS there another shooter on the grassy knoll? I guess there will always be speculation. Same with bin Laden's death.

But you know what I'm looking forward to? A made for TV mini series about the raid on bin Laden's compound. Remember the movie Raid on Entebbe? Like that. I think that would be really interesting, just as long as no news dude broke into the end of the movie because of some other breaking news story. That would really annoy me.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's Happened to Tasty Fast Food?

I don't eat fast very often, but when I do, it's usually at lunch when I'll hit the drive thru on the way back to work after running errands. Lately I've been super disappointed with what I've gotten at different fast food restaurants, and I wonder if I'm just trying the wrong things or if other people have had the same experience.

I'm not even thinking about nutrition, fat, and calories. I think we all know that fast food is generally not great for us, but I do occasionally sacrifice good, healthy food choices to food that's tasty and fast. And historically, most fast food has been bad but reasonably tasty. But not lately, it seems.

A few weeks ago, I visited the Colonel at KFC and ordered the chicken strip snack meal. For once, the mammoth cut fries were okay but the chicken breast strips seemed kind of spongy and the taste wasn't that great. And there wasn't any sauce for the strips. Isn't there supposed to be sauce, or maybe they should offer? I hate not knowing what I'm getting and what I'm supposed to ask for separately.

And that reminds me. Awhile ago, I stopped at Chipotle on my way home from errands and grocery shopping one night. I don't go to Chipotle often enough to be familiar with their menu, so as I was standing in line, waiting to order, I read the descriptions of their burritos, tacos, salads, etc. I decided burritos were the easiest things to order and bring home, but when I got to the front of the line, the people behind the counter preparing the food wanted to ask me all kinds of questions about what I wanted in my burritos. Hey, wait a minute! Didn't I just read a list of stuff that comes in the burritos standard? Then why are they asking me? I was so discombobulated, I forgot to tell them I wanted salsa, so our burritos were kind of dry and boring! And besides that, I couldn't remember what was standard and what they charged extra for, so I probably ended up spending a little more than I anticipated.

The same sort of thing happens at Subway. I'll go in thinking about their television ads and the guy who lost all the weight by eating Subway sandwiches, but then when I order, they try to tempt me with stuff like cheese and mayo and there's really no posted "low calorie" menu--you're actually supposed to know what's okay and what's not. I think the sandwich makers should at least know what their company's advertising point is. I've asked them before to make me the low fat/low calorie version of whatever it is, and they just look at me kind of blankly. Sheesh!

Anyway, I've gotten off track talking about the frustration of ordering at certain restaurants when what I really wanted to talk about was the disappointing TASTE of fast food.

I saw a McDonald's billboard recently that advertised a new sandwich--a crispy chicken sandwich with jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Sounded good; looked good. A few days later, I was running errands at lunch with no time to eat, so I hit the McD drive thru and ordered the new sandwich. Mistake. (By the way, I really LIKE McDonald's grilled chicken sandwich--without mayo, which is actually fairly healthy too.) The jalapeno peppers tasted like pure chemicals and the chicken patty tasted like what it was--pressed and formed, breaded and fried.

Today might have been the worst though. I had some errands to run and the only drive thru on my way back to the office was Jack in the Box. I used to like Jack in the Box and they may even still sell a couple decent menu items now, but I don't go in often enough to really know. This time, though, I decided to try one of their newer items, the sirlon burger with Swiss cheese and grilled onions. The meat had a nasty flavor--it reminded me of when I was a kid and my mom would slap some unseasoned hamburger into patties, fry them, and stick them on buns. Maybe it's the flavor of cheap grease or something. Worse, though, was that the bun was dry and stale--it kept breaking apart every time I took a bite. I had ordered the small combo meal, which means this really poor excuse for a meal cost around $7.50, but at least I had the fries, which were somewhat decent. (That photo at the top is what the burger is supposed to look like. Of course it doesn't, but I wouldn't really expect it to, just as long as it TASTES like that looks.)

I wonder whether fast food restaurants are so anxious to come up with the "new thing" that they forget that sometimes simple food, when done well, is really the best. For instance, In and Out Burger, which is only here on the west coast I think, keeps their menu simple--single burger, single cheese burger, or double burgers of each. Onion, tomato, and lettuce. A bun. That's pretty much all. But everything tastes fresh and good, and that's the secret to their success. That and reasonable prices, which they can do because the menu is simple and they don't have to stock a lot of supplies that may not be used. It's just too bad there's not one close to my office!

So how about you? When you have to hit the drive thru, what's your favorite place and meal? Help me out here, because if I'm going to sacrifice health to speed and taste, it better at least TASTE good!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Lovely Day

Yesterday (Sunday) I hosted the monthly get together of our stitchery group. The weather was warm and nice, so we spent the day on the patio. A couple of weeks ago, I realized I needed to replace our mesh patio chairs before summer arrived, and somehow the hunt to replace our old, worn out chairs turned into the purchase of a new patio set. Well, to the honest, our old table had a glass top, and every time Hubby pushed up off the table to stand up, I envisioned him breaking through that glass, so I'd wanted to replace the old table for a long, long time too. In any event, we finally found a set that suits our needs, and it was delivered on Friday, just in time to be put to good use on Sunday.

There are usually six of us who get together, but this time, two of our group couldn't make it. Gran is in Canada, spending time with her mom, and another lady in our group had an out-of-town family gathering to attend. The remaining four of us enjoyed one another's company, and as usual, we spent the day talking, eating, and stitching.

My projects for the day were binding two recent quilts. Julie-Julia told me she didn't realize the mini basket quilt was so small, so I took a photo of the finished quilt with a rotary cutter on top for size reference.

I finished the watermelon tablerunner too.

Originally, I was hoping to finish the tablerunner and use it on the patio table for our gathering, but there's never enough time for everything, is there? When I started cutting fabric for my runner, I cut enough fabric to put together kits for my stitchery friends too, and the fabric in each kit is just slightly different. I'm looking forward to seeing the runners my friends make.

If you looked for my blog this morning and didn't find it, that's because I had computer issues last night and couldn't post. The computer was slow as mud and kept wanting to do security updates but not doing anything; after those issues were resolved, every time I tried to access my blog, I got an error message, so around midnight, I just gave up and went to bed.

I wish I could spend another day on the patio with friends, but now it's time to go to work so I can pay for the new patio furniture. Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Year of the Watermelon

We have a bit of a joke in my Thimbleberries Club group. Several times in the past, one of our group teachers has estimated that a Thimbleberries "extra" project took her about an hour to make, so now we joke that anything fairly easy takes only an hour.

I think this tablerunner took about TWO hours. Seriously. Not including the quilting, which seems to have taken longer than the piecing but not that much--I kept it pretty simple. I used wool for the seeds and stars and sewed them on when I did the quilting.

A couple months ago, I came across a watermelon pitcher at the thrift store and I thought then that a summer watermelon theme in my kitchen would be fun this year. Then I came across this magazine earlier this week:

And that's where I saw the watermelon runner. See it there on the right side? Cute, isn't it? For mine, I just need to stitch down the binding and it will be finished. I DO think I need some placemats though. And maybe other stuff. Yep, I think it's going to be the year of the watermelon.