Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Year in Review

I'm not making any goals for the New Year, because I'm not done with the ones for 2008. I'm sure you have been wondering what I've been up to this year, and were hoping I'd give you a recap so you don't have to slog through old blog posts. I'd be happy to oblige.

It's been a good year for me overall. There was some drama this summer with relatives which caused me to start a new blog, and now we aren't talking to each other anymore, but since we didn't talk before anyway, the repercussions are bearable. I'm happy we are finally getting a new president. The big issue that is worrying me now is the economy, but I'm young and healthy enough to work and have job(s), so we will be able to ride it out.

The photos that follow are the finished projects, as they appeared on my blog. A lot of my posts are about the Shakespeare in the Park which won't show up in the finished category.















So what's next? I'm going to quilt today and tomorrow, to properly bring in the New Year. I'll be working on the orange crazy quilt. It's been calling me the loudest lately.

Have a Happy New Year, and best wishes for 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Danger!

My mother has taken up quilting, not sure if I've told you already. She doesn't feel comfortable with fabric / color selection, so I am the designated mentor. This is very dangerous for me.

First, she made a practice trip around the world quilt with scraps she had around the house. Hand quilted of course.

Then I took her shopping so she could make a sampler quilt for my brother. And of course, during the shopping, I bought stuff for me. She decided not to do the sampler, and do a TATW instead, so I had to help her reconfigure her fabrics. She finished the quilt, and we went again to the store so she could buy border fabric. And fabric for the next quilt. She's got at least two more she wants to make, but I was able to convince her to wait for the rest. I don't have the energy to pick out fabric for more than one quilt at a time. And yes, of course, I bought stuff for me. Again.

She is going to be making pillow cases for me out of extra bedsheets I have around the house. I didn't realize I was supposed to be finding uses for those.

So in this time where she has made two quilts, what have I been doing? Buying fabric. I might have been working on Shakespeare while she was working on her practice quilt, but I haven't worked on anything since then.

Besides Christmas shopping and fabric shopping, I've been trying to find more vegan recipes my daughter can reject, and trying to spend more time with her in general. We saw Benjamin Button this weekend. It was good.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas

I thought you might be getting tired of all the snow pictures, and would want to see our pretty sky. We don't have snow, although we did have rain and freezing rain for a while. We gathered to my brother's house this year, and it turned out lovely. My sister-in-law had the house nicely decorated for the holiday. I, on the other hand, did not decorate my house at all.

I tried to take unobtrusive pictures, so I stayed wherever I was sitting and used my stalker lenses. Unfortunately, a lot of the pictures turned out grainy. It is an interesting effect, but I'd rather not do that too often. And people were aware of the camera anyway. I guess next time I will have to move around and not be so lazy.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Wordle


Mary has done a wordle on her blog, and I thought I would do the same to see what kinds of things I talk about on this blog. It would be interesting to do it from time to time to see how the topics change.

Shopping Yet Again

I've made the list of people I am buying presents for, but I am having a hard time with getting the presents. It has been a Gimme year for sure. I'm usually done with everyone by this time of the year, and generally avoid buying a lot of things for myself during the shopping expeditions. Not this year.

I went to a couple of thrift stores to see if I could find some antique fun thing to give to a particular person. I did find something small for her, although it's not old, but I found a big bag of ties for myself. They remind me of my office days. The ties seem fairly new, and still fashionable (because I'm so knowledgeable on that subject.) I am hoping that the owner became an entrepreneur and decided they would not wear ties in his new position, or maybe he got a promotion and just wants newer ties. I borrowed the book Daddy's Ties from the library, and now have something else I can work on during the winter. So many quilts so little time.

On the grocery front, since I am keeping track, I bought $10 worth of fast food last week. That and the $15 groceries previously mentioned kept me at $25 for the week. For this week, I bought $43 worth of food, let's say that half of it is mine, at $21.50, so I am under $25 this week as well.

I went to CVS - because they are having another free marathon - two pages worth. This time I limited myself to things I would actually buy even if it wasn't free, instead of things I could find a use for if someone gave it to me. I skipped more "free" things than I usually do. I've gotten my credit card bill from my first "free" spree and decided to save some of my balance for gifts. I only found one thing I want to give as a gift. Although I know I can give drugstore things or make up a gift basket, it seems like an impersonal gift to me.

More shopping needs to be done. I've now made a list of specific gifts, so that next time I venture out, I will be able to stick to it, and save some things for others to buy me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Quilting Plans

You're probably wondering about my progress on the quilting front. Well, there isn't any, but decisions are being made left and right! Winter is a busy season at work, so I'm not going to have a lot of time for quilting. I'm trying to think of low stress projects I can work on to still have some quilting progress to show this winter.

I have been debating about the quilting options for the Shakespeare in the Park. It is all pieced together, except for two corners. What I was telling you before about having the same color corners is not true. There are actually two different color corners, and since I already changed them to same, I have to change them back. I blame my crowded design floor for my error. I have been debating about tying the quilt, or quilting it in parts (batting parts) so it will fit in the machine, or hand quilting it. At first, I was thinking that my piecing wasn't all that good on this quilt, and I'm not sure I want to hand quilt something that doesn't have nice sharp points. But now I have decided that since I haven't ever hand quilted anything before, my quilting isn't going to be all that good either! So I am going to hand quilt this quilt size quilt. And get a nice homey quilt out of it. I am going to find some time to borrow some space to sandwich it. Don't expect to see a finished quilt anytime this decade, but I'm sure I'll show you lots of progress pictures in the meantime!

So far this year, my plan has been to finish quilts that are closest to completion. But these quilts are the darker or cooler ones - the trip around the world is mostly gray, the Crossed Kayak is blue. I need to work with brighter colors. The other ones need decisions on borders I am not ready to make. The plan for the winter (oh goodness, it starts tomorrow!) is to work on blocks - to take them into a top stage. This way I can still work on finishing things. I have brought two things downstairs - I know, trouble! One is the Moondance, which needs me to applique the already prepared flowers onto the secondary blocks. It seems like I want to sit around watching tv and have some handwork to do. I hope the flowers look better to me after they are done than they do now.

The other thing that came downstairs is the Four Patch Posie. This will be my piecing project. The blocks are done, and I was thinking about a setting for them. I had found a pattern for a completely different quilt that I thought might have a good setting for the posie. It has taken me this long to install EQ4, and try to adjust the pattern to the size of the posies I have. After playing with it a bit, I have decided it is too complicated a quilt pattern for this block (plus it has the square in a square thing that I hate piecing). I tried out some other things and came up with my own thing which I think will work. Even though it may wind up with having even more square in a square blocks. (80! I just counted, but at least it is only one round, and all the other piecing is incredibly easy) I need to play around with the colors to see which fabric I want where.

I'm good at making plans! I'm still being tempted by other projects I want to make (new ones), but I think once I get going on these two, I will be able to avoid that temptation.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fourth Picture

There is a game going around on blogland. It goes something like this:

*Go to the fourth photo file on your computer

*Choose the fourth picture in that file

*post it and explain

*tag four people to do the same

I have enjoyed seeing what other people came up with, and wondered what incriminating picture I would come up with myself. Would it be something that would require me to start yet another blog, or worse yet, ban me from blogland entirely?

I have been tagged by Michele and have searched my files. Lucky for me, my incriminating photos aren't filed properly in folders - and most of them haven't been scanned, so my fourth photo is very appropriate.



It is from a quilt show I went to in March. I took this closeup shot because I really like the squiggly quilting.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Shopping

As a followup to my grocery post, I want to let you know that I had to go shopping on Wednesday. I was disappointed that I had groceries to buy just a few days into the experiment, but I was out of Special K cereal, and I have that every morning. I planned a big shopping expedition, with the help of CouponMom, armed with shopping lists, and paper clipped my coupons to each list. I also took my coupon box with me, just in case.

First, I went to CVS. On Thanksgiving, I went there to buy a bunch of free stuff. They gave me coupons "Extra Care Bucks", which can only be used at the store. It is easy to count the "free" twice, on Thursday when I got the coupons, and again when I use the Bucks. I am trying hard not to do that, so I made a list of things that were on sale that I wanted / needed / would buy anyway. The only splurge was a quilt magazine. The prices were the same as the sale prices at other stores, so I could stock up on normal stuff. I was also looking for gift items. My family members don't have a need or want for small appliances, and I couldn't see anyone getting excited about any of the other items. I wasn't able to use up all my bucks, and got some more on this trip, so I will have to make another trip later. The cashier didn't look happy that I was buying so much stuff. I did have to pay around 50 cents. She said I could use a $1 Buck and lose the rest, but I'm not about to lose $ like that. I don't really care for the Bucks, since you can't use them in whole. They are all in weird amounts, the price of what was purchased, so adding isn't so much fun. And you have a limited amount of time to use them up. On the plus side, I didn't have to fill out any rebate forms.

Next, I went to Walgreens, just for the free stuff they had - foil paper and tape. Everyone was really friendly, and I had several people ask me if they could help me. The cashier found me while I was shopping and told me that she had some coupons for me to use. I told her I had coupons, but if she had a bigger amount, I would be happy to trade for them. I was expecting to get just two things there, but I managed to get about $30 worth of stuff practically free. They had mascara buy one get one free. They had packages of mascara that had two tubes in them - they were buy one get one free. When I combine them, I could get four for the price of one. I had a $1 coupon, but I traded it for a $2. Very nice. For my total purchase, I had a gift card (due to other free after rebate stuff) that I used for the small balance. I'll get $2 of that back in rebate for the tape. I like that the gift cards don't expire, and you can use them in whatever increments you want. I do have to complete a rebate form, but they make it easy because you can do it online, and you only do one form for all the items you bought that month.

Then I went to Kroger. I bought my cereal. It wasn't on sale anywhere, so I bought the largest box to get the best unit price. I also bought milk and bread. And some frozen food. While I was waiting in line, I checked my coupon box for other things I had bought just to see if I had a coupon - and I did! I found three more coupons I could use. I hope I don't lose coupon opportunities like that on a regular basis. I saved about 50% this week, not as good as the 60% last time, but very nice nonetheless. In total, I bought about $30 worth of things. I can't find the receipt, so I can't separate out the non-food items. And I don't know how to count the spaghetti and spaghetti sauce, since it will be shared with other members of the family. There is already a month's worth in the house just for me so I am not going to count it. I am going to guess that I spent about $15 for food for me. I don't think I can manage the rest of the month on just the remaining $15, but I think it would be worth documenting how I do anyway.

Then I went to Staples and got some paper, also free with the rebate and coupon. Overall I was very happy with my purchases. I came away with many bags of things, with minimal impact to my credit card.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Free Magazine

I found a site where you can get a free six month edition of Down Under Quilts. There are other choices of magazines if you prefer some other type of craft.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fabric Basket


I decided to go ahead and make a small project - in between putting the quilt top together. I made the fabric basket. The directions are in Pink Penguin's post. It was really fun and easy to make, and it helped keep making progress on my SITP. I added a yellow fabric for the liner to keep it from looking like a SITP leftover. I pieced the lining, because the yellow fabric is a fourth-yard cut, and I needed 9 and 1/4 inch fabric. I figured I should add a bigger piece of fabric on each side, so looks like I did it on purpose. I think it adds a nice touch.


Kristin has made a nice pattern for a drawstring bag. It just might be next on my list of projects.

This is just to show what I was trying to explain yesterday - the rows have to be added before the corner can be added, because the nonpieced triangle is already sewed on. I only have two rows left! Of course they are the longest rows, but still.

New Projects

I am still putting together my SITP. What, you thought that using words like quiltathon and sweatshop would have motivated me to finish in one weekend. LOL Quilt Pixie knew better. I have proper excuses for its slow progress. Because of the way I premade the setting triangles, I have to put together two rows, press, then add the setting triangle, add another row, press again, add setting triangle. Having to press between each step is taking a lot of time, especially since it provides a good stopping point to check out blogs.

And as I have been checking other blogs, I have come across several projects I want to make. Not my usual, add this to a project I want to make someday, but how about I drop everything and make it NOW. The projects are wonderful, to be sure, but they are ones I have seen before, and didn't feel that kind of time pressure. I think it's wanting to procrastinate making this quilt. I am still enjoying making it, but I've worked on it all year, and am ready for something else.

I am not going to quilt it this year. I figure if I work on finishing something else, anything else, or work on some other small project, that might give me the break I need to get excited about finishing this one again.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Quiltathon Update

I sewed all the blocks together in rows, and some of the rows have been sewn to each other. I hit a minor snag when I realized that I had the wrong colors for some of my corner stars. The pattern calls for two dark corners and two light corners. I remember being disappointed that they weren't the same, but went with it. It must have been my subconscious which remembered seeing all four corners being similar in the pictures I saw of other quilts made with this pattern. When converting this quilt from twin size to queen size, the extra row does indeed cause the corners to change to the same color.

It is a minor issue - I just have to change two dark blocks into corners, and two light corners into setting triangles. Then progress can resume as normal.



Kate is having a giveaway of blocks on her blog. You just have to pay the postage.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Quiltathon

Here in the SWEATSHOP, a QUILTATHON weekend has been going on. Quilters from around the world are quilting this weekend. You can click on the link to see what everybody else is up to. Do you think if I keep using words like Sweatshop and Quiltathon, I will get more accomplished?



Yesterday, the snow was blanketing the city outside the SWEATSHOP. The photo shows the beginning. There is more out there now, as it pretty much snowed all day. Inside the SWEATSHOP, the blanket was a fabric kind. The blocks have been laid out - sort of, the living room isn't big enough, and I didn't want to put any under the couch, but I've got the general idea.

I had to keep taking breaks to eat - the turkey smell was making me hungry. I ate lots of fruit. Then I had to package most of it for the freezer - some of it did wind up in the refrigerator, and some of it was dinner. It is delicious. I highly recommend the maple syrup / orange juice recipe. Okay, I combined a couple of recipes. I didn't a lot of water - only enough to rinse out the bowls, and used maple syrup instead of sugar. When I made this a couple of years ago, I enjoyed it so much that I kept defrosting the turkey from the freezer and ate it over and over again until it was gone, instead of getting tired of it and eating other things for variety.

Today, a little bit less than half the rows are put together. They are the ones farthest away from the camera and one row is in the sewing machine, so I can understand if you don't see the difference between the two photos. I am hoping to have the whole top done by the end of the day.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Grocery $$

How much money to you spend on food?

It all started when Judy asked how much money we spent on food. I was feeling pretty smug, as I generally shop for sales, and figure out what to eat from what I have bought on sale. That, plus I have fewer people to feed.

Then last month, I discovered an experiment made by people in a particular state, Illinois, I think. Apparently people there get $25 dollars a week in food stamps. So other people were trying to see if they could limit themselves to that dollar amount. I think I can do that - it is hard because I generally buy other things besides food when I go to the grocery store. And generally my savings on these other things help me be able to afford the food (if I get the toilet paper for free, the price of the toilet paper should be allowed to go to food), so I can't just take them out.

So when turkey was on sale (38 or 48 cents a pound), I decided I would buy one. I have done this the last two years as well. I make the turkey, and freeze it in 1-3 serving size containers. This gives me a convenient, customized-to-my-tastes tv-dinner that is also less expensive.

It's cooking now, and it smells great. The problem with crock pot and long-time meals is that you have to smell the food all day and it tends to make me feel hungry all day.

Then as I was going through my blog list, I discovered the One Dollar Diet Project. This is another experiment where this couple ate for a whole month, spending only $1 a day. Yes per day, not per meal. They talked about being hungry a lot, so I'm definitely not going to try that!

Yesterday, my sister invited me to go to Trader Joe's with her. I bought the kind of stuff I can't get at my local grocery store, cashew nuts covered with sesame seeds, chocolate covered ginger, and all sorts of other junk food like that. I've already passed my $30 allotment in one day!

But I do wonder - is it possible for me to spend $30 this month and groceries? I would have much more food than the experiment couple, because I would allow myself to use all the food that is already available in the house. It's not a good time for me to try this, because I like to stock up in winter for that eventual snow storm, and if we get a storm right at the end of the month, then I won't be prepared anymore. Plus I like to buy things when they are on sale, and at the beginning of next month, I'll have to start stocking up again, and may run out of stuff before it goes on sale.

But knowing that it is possible to eat on $1 a day, I may be able to tweak my grocery budget a bit more than I originally thought.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sweatshop

I've been thinking about how certain quilters make so much more progress than I do. I decided to be inspired by them, and rename my sewing room to Sweatshop, copying from Kim. I think that with sweatshop rules, shorter meal breaks, fewer breaks in general, that maybe more progress will be made.

Unfortunately the boss was away, so I was able to take a long leisurely meal break, and sneak off to do some housecleaning, but I did manage to finish all of the setting triangles for the SITP. The SITP blocks have enjoyed their position as the only project in the sewing room, and have been slowly taking over the room to mark their territory.

Today, they will take up even more space as I try to lay out the blocks on my tiny floor and to sew them together. Of course once the top is pieced, I will be able to fold it and it will take much less room.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quilting News

The sewing room having been put away for the Thanksgiving / birthday celebrations, it is now time to resurrect it. I am trying to think of which quilt will have the honor of coming downstairs first - I do try to limit what I work on and the amount of mess it creates. It doesn't last long, but my intentions are good. I decided this morning that the SITP is first priority - I am afraid that all those little blocks could get lost if I don't put them together into a top. And I promised Dot I would finish it by the end of this year.

Even though my plan has been to finish WIPs, I have joined the Four Season Quilt swap - link is also on my sidebar. It is such a fun thing to do - although this year, I will try to make two of whatever I make, so that I get to keep one too. This year will be a monochromatic theme. I have still been thinking of that orange crazy quilt - I hope my partner likes orange!

Judy Martin is selling her books for $6 apiece, although it is a surprise which one of her books you will receive when you order it. I haven't ever ordered from her, but I am making one of her quilts. I don't think her directions are for beginning quilters, but she has fabulous designs.

And a whole bunch of bloggers are having giveaways today. The giveaway is hosted by Sew Mama Sew. I don't have anything to give away right now, but you never know, I may in the future.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Festivities

Thanks for coming back to visit me. I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. Ours was great. My mother called last week and told me her plans. We were having our gathering on Friday at her house. The sun was shining at that time and I had lots of energy, so I offered my house. This way, she could deal with the cooking, and I could deal with the cleaning.

It was a good plan, except I had to go grocery shopping, and when I came back, the sun had already gone down. The next few days were cloudy and gloomy, so the energy I had when I made my offer was gone. Although I did some cleaning, I had to force myself to do it. Luckily, Wednesday and Thursday were sunnier, so I was able to do the cleaning, and this way, I didn't have to spend all week cleaning. Yes, that means the sewing supplies had to be removed so the living room could be a living room again. I did have to keep all the bedroom doors closed though!

Thursday I went shopping at CVS. I don't generally go there, but they had a whole page of things that were free - you get extra bucks, which is irritating that you are forced to buy something from the store. When I got home, I realized I hadn't gotten extra bucks for one of the items, so I went back for that. I also managed to buy some gifts to use up some of those extra bucks.

Friday morning, we decided to risk Black Friday shopping again. Woke up at 4:15 to go to the store before it opened. This time, we went to a smaller chain (Staples), and at a smaller shopping center. I didn't have any big purchase in mind this year. There were some smaller things I have been wanting the last few years, and they all happened to be at terrific prices and all at one store, so I decided to go ahead and splurge. We were able to sit in the car in the warmth, and then someone drove up and decided he wanted to wait outside. So then we all had to get in line. It was a small line, but there was a minimum of 6 of each item in the store, and if everyone in line wanted the same item, we could lose out. The manager said we could fill out a paper to say what doorbusters we were there to get, and we could get tickets for those items, which were ours once we got a ticket. No pushing, no shoving. It went amazingly smooth. Compared to our trip last year, it was a completely different experience.

Everything was so smooth, I even went back to the store after breakfast to exchange the printer. I had been looking at the printer speed, but when I looked at the ad again, I realized that the printer I didn't buy had a flatbed, which would be wonderful for scanning photos, so I did the exchange on Black Friday.

I picked up a telescope from the drugstore for my niece's birthday, and all the kids really were excited about it. My nephew put it together in a few minutes without reading the instructions. My neighborhood in the city is well lit, so they really couldn't see anything, but my niece will be able the stars from her house really well.

Now I am going to give my credit card a chance to rest.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Next, a Bird

After finishing a big quilt, I have been wavering about what to do next. There are lots of things that need finishing - my SITP is still sitting our waiting for the setting triangles to be cut. The Dear Jane can be picked up at any time. There are several other projects that have not been completed. There was that orange crazy quilt I talked about the other day for which I have already conducted auditions.

I was doing my daily blog tour, and visited Nellie's Needles again. She tempted me yet again with more of the lovely birds. She even has a tutorial and explicit directions. I already have printed out the pattern. I decided to just do it. They are just so cute!

I made the body, and it came time to attach the legs. I have wire. I know I have wire. But wire is thin and small, and can hide easily amongst other craft supplies. I searched for it, and found all sorts of other projects that need finishing, or starting. My UFO list that is on my spreadsheet doesn't really cover all the thoughts that have flitted through my head and through the store.

I couldn't find the wire, and decided to go to Walmart to see if they had any. See smart, avoiding craft stores! They had this floral wire for less than a dollar, so no big loss. Especially if I make more stuff with the wire. And I also got a blouse for $1. It doesn't fit me, but it is a lovely fabric, and is lined, and has a bonus zipper I didn't notice when I bought it.

I put the wire in, and finished up the bird. Look, she can stand now. I need to add the beak still. It was fun to make - I may have to make a few more. The wire had 30 pieces to a package.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow!

We had snow flurries yesterday. The forecasters have been talking about snow for a while here, but by the time I woke up and looked out the window there was no snow. Today was my first sighting, therefore it is my first snow of the season.

Every time I walked by the front window, and see this wall of white in my peripheral vision, I would be amazed. Wow! Is there that much snow? Nope. The owners of the house next door - the renters have moved out - have contractors working on the foundation, and I let them borrow my driveway. The wall of white I see is this big truck sitting in my driveway. You would think the noise would be a giveaway.

The good news is that they tore down part of my wood fence that was deteriorating, put back the chain link fence that was between the two property lines (they weren't planning to), tore down the honeysuckle bushes that the tenants didn't feel the need to trim, and the sidewalk alongside the house which provided quick getaway. Yep there were two fences alongside the line. The former tenants of both houses had neighborly disputes, so one neighbor installed a privacy fence right after the other neighbor installed the chain link fence. Ever heard of psycho-geography? How the place sometimes holds memories of past events and somehow the new people carry on with it. I have seen evidence of it, but hope that when I do get new neighbors, we can break that cycle.

In quilting news, I have simply been cleaning up. I cut the purple scraps for the rail fence leaders and enders project, and am working on general cleanup. Can't let the dust bunnies grow big enough to form an army.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Purple Parfait is Finished!

The quilt story:
This quilt was started in a class I took in September of 2003. I was still nervous about colors, and I had my sister help me. She asked me what I wanted, and I decided that since the pattern was Peach Parfait, I wanted Purple Parfait. I'm still not sure what parfait means or looks like, but I was thinking of something soft and frou-frou. I had already purchased lots of purple fabric - I made a lot of purple quilts that year, probably after this one - and we picked out the ones that fit the bill. We added some darker tones to make sure there was enough contrast. I had to find a suitable background fabric. I was not able to find any at Joanne's, so I bought it from the LQS. The only quilt shop fabric was probably the lowest quality fabric. It tended to bubble up when ironed.

The cutting was not fun. Each of the fabrics go into each part of the quilt. Yes, I did layer them together to make the cutting quicker, but I did not enjoy it. I felt like a rebel going to a class at the quilt shop with non quilt shop fabric, but I was happy with the color and fabric choices. We used the Easy Angle 2 and it did make the sewing much nicer. No need to draw lines! There were lots of leftover HSTs. Apparently it worked very well. Look at all those sharp points! I'm sure I must have had to redo some seams to achieve those nice points, and it must have been very easy or very hard, but I don't remember that part.

Putting the quilt together was hard, only because it was hard to get a good balance of lights and darks. The directions didn't say this, but it is best to make your fabrics an even stair-step in values. My darks didn't stair-step very well. And they seemed out of balance no matter where I placed the blocks. The quilt instructor had the same problem.

Preparing the quilt for quilting was a little bit difficult, as you know. I clipped a corner.

The quilting was fun and easy, even with thread breakages, and shortages. I think quilting free motion really makes a quilt. All those bumps and wrinkles give it life. I just hope nobody tries to psychoanalyze me by the scribbles I made on the quilt. I did a simple meander in the body. The outer border has what was supposed to be an S shape, but I like the result, even though it isn't an S. After binding, I decided the inner border also needs quilting, so I put on some scallops to mirror the design of the fabric.

Photographing the quilt is difficult. This quilt doesn't really match anything in my house, and it is bigger than most of my open floor spaces. Picture it draped on a white wicker chair, in an enclosed porch, with lacy curtains blowing in the wind, which show some pretty green plants and flowers.

It's a big lap quilt, big enough to tuck under my feet, and my chin at the same time, and all around me, and it is big enough to cuddle in. And it comes in pretty princess colors, so I can feel frou-frou while I watch tv.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Temptation

I am thoroughly enjoying handsewing the binding down of my Purple Parfait quilt. And as I do, my thoughts are wandering about what I am going to make next. The plan is to finish up another one of my UFOs. I did promise Finn two finished quilts, and I have several quilts that simply need quilting. I enjoy quilting, and I want to have all my quilts finished, so there is no reason to not follow through with the plan, right?

As I wander through my blogs, I find a quilt from time to time that strikes my fancy, and I note that I may want to make that someday. Sometimes it is a simple design, that makes me think I can finish it off quickly. Sometimes it is more elaborate and just appeals to me. Today it is this bright orange crazy quilt made by Daniela in Romania. We won't mention that the quilt I am working on was started years ago, and I have a long list of projects I already have started, kitted up, and the recent fabric purchase which will be counted as stash unless I designate it for a project right away. This one - the orange crazy quilt - is definitely being added to the list.

Is My Slip Showing?

Has this happened to you? The top has shrunk during quilting, so when the sandwich is trimmed, it now leaves exposed edges. I tried to pin it really well, especially at the corners, but apparently it wasn't enough.

I've already fixed it, and am working on the binding now. But I was wondering what you do to avoid this sort of thing, and what you do to fix it.

Edited to add: I don't think I was clear when I wrote this post. This is the front of the quilt. I trimmed it by lining up my ruler on a border.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Intervention

I am sure that if you lived closer to me, you would have read that last post about needing new thread, and realized how dangerous a shopping expedition could be. You would have called me and told me that you would get the thread for me. But you don't and you didn't.

This meant that I went alone, armed with my 10% coupon. It started out innocently enough. I bought the gray thread my mother needed. There were three shades of light purple I bought a while back. The lighter purple was used up earlier. I used the darker one for the quilt. I could have used the medium color for the quilt, but decided to treat the quilt right for a change, and get the correct shade from the store. It looks like they have changed the numbers and/or discontinued that particular shade. Since I had my bobbin with me, I tried to find the right shade the best I could.

Then I wandered over to the fabric area. You know, since I was in the area and all. I bought lots of yellows. I don't have a lot of yellow in my stash, not that I want to have a stash, but I saw a pretty yellow and blue quilt. And I might have bought a few other colors as well. I haven't bought a lot of fabric this year, and I made up for it in that one trip. I even bought weird fabric for a crazy quilt I may make someday.

Then I went home, put the thread in the machine, and quilted away. And wouldn't you know, I got the wrong shade of purple. It is the light shade. My medium would have been darker, and matched better. Oh well. The machine was already threaded. The quilt is now finished. I need to bind it and I will be finished.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Busy

When my daughter wanted me to come over last weekend to deliver the squishy package that had arrived for her, I told her I was busy and I had plans. I wanted to finish a quilt, and clean my house. I wound up going anyway, because she had a DVD that was due at the library and couldn't be renewed. At $2 a day, I could make time.

Then this weekend, she wanted me to come over again. She has a cold and needed some cold medicine. I then realized that both of those things that I had wanted to do the previous weekend were still pretty much in the same state as they had been last weekend.

I decided to do something about it. I looked for the masking tape again, and it was in the first place I looked. It was a good sign. I sandwiched the quilt, and am more than 8 / 12 done. I ran out of thread - I used the almost whole spool for this lap size quilt. Just a little bit longer before the grand reveal. Of the quilt, not the cleaning. LOL

The photo is misleading - most of the leaves are down now. My yard trash bins are full, so I am going to have to mow the rest of them into mulch. I read that was good for the grass, but it didn't say how much was too much.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Coupon Lady Strikes Again

Edited to add photo.

When I was a child, I used to clip and use coupons. My mother would pay for the groceries, and I got to keep all the coupon earnings. This means I have been using coupons and refunds regularly for a long time. I even subscribed to coupon magazines and coupon swaps in the past. A cashier called me the Coupon Lady. He was always impressed at my savings. I did take some time off recently, and decided to get back into it a few months ago.

Today, this receipt shows that I bought $123 worth of groceries. [I'll get the photo tomorrow, I don't have the camera right now.] Well the receipt doesn't have the total, it shows I spent $50.88, and had $73.53 in savings. I also bought four other things on separate receipts. They are all free after rebate, and I needed separate receipts to mail in. That totals another $18. So technically I bought $141 worth of groceries for $50.88. I paid less than 40% for my groceries. I could have done better if I was doing it for show, by not buying the coffee and the dishwashing detergent, milk, cheese, bread, etc. Things that were on sale and sometimes also had coupons, but didn't have the stellar savings I got on the other items. It does, however, also include stuff I can't use myself - like two small packages of free dog food, which I will give to my brother. Other not counted benefits are the points on my credit card, the fuel savings and marketplace holiday bonus points.

I wish I could do this well every time I shopped!

When I read the message boards of people who make fun of couponers, because they think it takes a lot of time and work, I just chuckle and go back to clipping more coupons while watching my favorite tv show.

By the way, I have joined Kate's Birthday ATC swap. What a great way to honor fellow quilters on their birthday!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Day

In our state, there are several ways people could have voted. They could request an absentee ballot, and when they receive it, simply fill it out and drop it in the mail, postage paid. Then there was Early voting. There was one location you could go to and fill out a paper ballot early, presumably to avoid the very long lines we had at the last presidential election. There were people who waited up to six hours in this early voting.

I worked on Election Day, having to get there at 5:30. Yes that would be a.m. We were told to pack a lunch, and take anything we could possibly need because with the big turnout we might not get a chance to do anything more than sneak away for a few minutes at a time, and only if absolutely unnecessary.

When we got there, there were people waiting in line to vote. Yep, at 5:30. Polls open at 6:30. We introduce ourselves to each other, and come up with a game plan for how the machines should be arranged, and check what supplies we have. The machine judges set up the machines while the paper ballot judges and the people in charge of the poll books set up their tables. By this time, the line has wrapped all around outside the gym, and the pressure is on. We want to get these people out of here as quickly as possible because they are already getting impatient, and they are probably going to have to go to work afterwards.

The people in the line were very patient, most people had prepared to wait in line for a long while. I was a greeter, which was the first time for that position. I was nervous, because that meant I was in charge of crowd control, and I wasn't sure I was up to the task, with my short body and my small voice. People said they had waited in line for an hour and a half. And that time kept getting shorter and shorter. We had a glitch that three of our twelve machines were not loaded with paper, but the technician came right away to fix that. By eleven o'clock, there was nobody in line. People could come in to vote, no waiting. And that actually continued for the rest of the day, even during lunchtime and after work. The only time they had to wait was if they came in with someone else who was in the same poll book, which happened pretty frequently. Not just that people came with other family members, but they came at the same time other people with last names that were close to theirs in the alphabet.

Since I was done with crowd control, I just filled in wherever it was needed. When I worked the polls before, we rotated jobs, so I was familiar with all of the positions.

The presiding judge was very laid back, which caused several of the poll workers to step up and decide how things should be. I had to check myself several times to stop doing that, because I know how irritating that can be.

We did have some irritated voters that came in in the afternoon. They had moved, and didn't bring identification, and they were upset about having to do provisional ballots. I thought it was very strange considering they didn't have to wait in line, and got a chance to vote anyway. The last person who came in at 7:30 lived in another section of town, far away, and just wanted to vote, because she had just moved to Ohio. I figured there would be someone coming in at 7:30 to test the system and I was right.

Our biggest glitch came when we were shutting down the machines. The first eleven machines were shut down without any problems, but the twelfth one got hung up, and kept calculating. Neither the technician nor the Board of Elections were answering their phones. when we finally got a hold of BOE they told us to call the technician. When we got a hold of the technician - he came in actually - he told us he couldn't fix this problem, and we had to call the BOE so they could walk us through the proper shut down procedures. This was very frustrating because it had been calculating that last machine for an hour by this point, and we weren't getting paid by the hour, and the first eleven machines were able to shut down just fine, so it was obviously not operator error. Calling the BOE again, we finally got somebody who told us how to cancel what we had done on that machine and try again. It still got hung up, but the third try simply touching the screen helped. We then got the supplies packed up, and headed for home. I had a little scare when the clock in the car said it was 11:00, but it was 10:00 p.m. From 5:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

I hope you were nice to your poll worker as you went through the line.

By the way, the photo is not of our sticker - I couldn't find a picture of it on the web, but it was a highly valued thing. Many people were very anxious to get their sticker.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Back to Normal


Last week, I was hoping to be excitedly showing you a finished quilt. One that was quilted and bound. Well, I am excited anyway, because I have a finished quilt top. Again. Everything is back to normal. I had to do some fabric substitutions, and steal some fabric from the border, so I will be adding another border. I'm using leftovers from the fabric I am using for the back. Not quite what I had in mind, but it doesn't look bad. I don't feel like looking for the camera right now, so there isn't a picture to show you, but I am sure you can imagine it from the last two pictures.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Good News and Bad

I have been unusually calm about my problem from yesterday. I would call it a fiasco or disaster, but my sense of calmness keeps from making this into a bigger problem than it is. I didn't even get the initial heart dropping feeling. It's strange, but it is good. After all, it is only fabric. And since it has been a while since I made the top, the sense of loss (time wasted to make, more time wasted to fix) doesn't feel so strong.

Second good news is that I have scrap fabric. I went straight upstairs to a brown paper lunch bag that has the leftover HSTs from this quilt - this quilt created bunches and bunches of them. Underneath that bag was another bag that contained the scraps. I thought I had forgotten about that second bag, but apparently some part of me knew it was there. Since these are the only scrap bag I have - usually scraps get thrown in a box of random scrap fabrics, it makes me wonder why I was saving them. Was I anticipating this? Or more likely, was I planning on making an applique border?

The bad news isn't all that bad. First I think I gave the pattern away. I remember telling someone I wasn't planning on making this quilt again. I just hated the cutting - each fabric goes in each part if the quilt, so lots of cutting of different shapes. I think I enjoyed the piecing though. Since there are only a few shapes I will have to figure out the size, I think I will be okay, even with the limited amount of scraps I have. I think the original pattern was called Peach Parfait. If you own that pattern, I would really appreciate knowing what size to cut these pieces. Otherwise I'll have to do my own figurin' and you know how that can go.

Second, I used tiny stitches to make this quilt. Maybe because of all the bias seams, I wanted to make sure everything was secure. I was planning on ripping out the whole corner and making it again, but with the bias seams and the tiny stitches, now I am only removing the parts where I got happy with the scissors.

And in case you were wondering. When they say you have to cut corners in this economy, I don't think they meant quilt corners. That doesn't seem to help!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Scary Sight for Halloween

I put the quilt top on the batting to measure how big I needed to cut the batting - just an estimate since I was cutting it big. I didn't realize that some of the top had folded under. yikes! Now I'm going to have to find scrap fabric - and the pattern - from this top from years ago. Hopefully I have some.

Stalkers, continued

I have stalkers, bunches of them, all of them wanting to help me decide how to vote on Election Day. Sometimes when the phone rings, and I am downstairs doing laundry, I run up to get it, my heart is pounding and my breath is heavy as I lunge to the phone, only to get some recording. Or I am in the middle of an interesting part in a show, or in the middle of cooking something, etc.

My reaction has to disengage. I no longer answer the phone. My callers know I am screening calls and that once they start talking into the machine, I will pick up the phone if I know it's them. Of course, that also involves having to run to the phone, since I don't want to inconvenience them to have to leave a long message only to find me home.

But there are also other side effects. The volume of paper that needs to be taken to the recycling bin has increased exponentially, not to mention the wear and tear on the shredder since I shred everything that has my name or address on it.

Today I had someone I didn't recognize come to the door. I assumed it was someone wanting to make sure I didn't need any help getting to the polls. These people are relentless, I tell you. It turns out it was the postal carrier with a squishy package. It in't for me, but still, tomorrow I have to go to the post office to pick it up.

I can't wait until Election Day, and my life can resume as normal once again.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cake!

We generally have potlucks at our family gatherings, and I generally get asked to bring a side dish. I'm not good at side dishes, so it is always a search in the recipe books and some last minute concoction that gets to the table. This year I volunteered to make the cake. At first I was really excited. After all, I made all sorts of cakes when we were all living together. Then I got scared. There were things I had learned that I have since forgotten. How I am supposed to double the recipe for the batter, but not for the topping. How I'm supposed to use this batter with that topping. How I need to reduce the butter or the sugar. And besides that, I haven't had the recipe cards since I moved out.

Since any cake I would make would be a research experiment for the family anyway, it was a general search through the internet for the right cake. I decided this time to try to find something vegan to match the needs of one of the birthday people. It has normal ingredients. I made Moosewoods chocolate cake and used coffee instead of water so that it would have a normal flavor. I did well. People even commented that it tasted like normal cake, and they wouldn't have suspected it was vegan if they hadn't been told. There was so much food at the party, you might have suspected that there was a wedding going on, and the people from the other side of the family were going to arrive at any moment.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the fabric shop experience also went well. They were having a big sale, and I bought four fabrics for backings instead of the two I went for, but because of the sale, I thought it was worth it, and wound up paying about the same money. And now I have extra fabric that will hopefully help another couple of quilts to quicker completion. My mother has decided to make a full sized scrappy sampler quilt, so she bought a lot of fabric, which means she bought a lot more than I did. A lot of the fabric we bought wound up being the end of the bolt. More time at the cutting counter, and sticker shock at the cashier. I think the cutting counter lady and the cashier were probably happy when they got to my order since it was relatively smaller.

Hopefully this means that you will soon (maybe this weekend) have a finished quilt or two to look at.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Quilty Content

Don't get too excited, but there has been touching of fabric here on the High Road. You probably haven't noticed the lack of quilty content, because there has been a lack of content, period, but I haven't done anything since I finished up the Happy Jacks quilt.

I decided to change that yesterday. I had the option of resuming the Shakespeare in the Park quilt, or to quilt up a top. I entered Finn's challenge a while ago, and was thinking I could use the Happy Jacks quilt as one of my two finishes. Even though it never became a UFO, it was prevented from becoming one, right? I wasn't sure if that was cheating or not, but I figure the other one should at least fit the rules precisely. And who knows, I might get two UFOs finished, and not have to cheat at all.

I wasn't sure why the tops were unfinished. Maybe I was having trouble with free motion quilting. Maybe I had trouble choosing a quilting design. Maybe I didn't have the proper color thread. I have thread now, and batting. And I am going to do a simple meander, cause they are fun and I like how they look on a quilt. What I thought I knew for sure was that there was backing fabric to go with the top. Nope. I moved on to Plan B or is that Plan C with another top. I don't know if I imagined that, or if I stole the backing fabrics for some other quilt, but the reason they are still UFOs today is that there is no backing fabric now.

This means I have to go shopping for backing fabric today. I've been so good about not buying any fabric since June, no temptation even. I'm afraid it might get me started again on a fabric buying binge. I will try to resist.

I did make some quilting progress yesterday though. I haven't cut the fabric yet for the setting triangles, so I cut the 14 squares for SITP. It's not the progress I imagined showing you today, but anything is better than nothing, right? Now I need to cut the remaining triangles, and piece the top together.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Preparing for Winter

I've been meaning to paint the garage door for a while now. I even washed it one day, in preparation, right before it rained and splattered the dirt right back onto the door. I was debating whether it was too late to paint it now. The leaves are already falling and I wasn't sure I wanted to make a leaf collage on my garage door.

The wind was calm and the sky was sunny, so I washed and painted the door (well both the big door and the small one) on the same day.

So now, instead of spending all winter (at least when I use the garage doors) being disappointed that I didn't paint the door, I can simply be disappointed at my imperfect workmanship on my imperfect door.

The photo is from the library, in celebration of Family History Month. It was really interesting, since they had hung the photos in layers in their display room. You really had to be there to see the neat three dimensional effect it made.

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Still Here

I'm still here and thinking about you, but I haven't been able to come up with anything interesting to say on the blog lately. Last week I even got my daughter to take some pictures for you.

I've been having computer problems, I have to go through a couple of blue screens before the system actually works, so it takes me longer than usual to get my day properly started. I think today I might have found and destroyed the culprit. Keep your fingers crossed. That, and work and classes and homework for classes have kept me busy. And let's be honest, new tv shows. And the book shuffling continues. I think it is when I don't have time to read that I wind up borrowing the most books. They all seem much more interesting. I also did some yard work to prepare it for winter. No, not the yard work most people do, mulching, turning beds, planting mums, etc. I just try to trim the hedges and mow the lawn so that it isn't an eyesore all winter.

And since I am busy, I also want to clean out the garage and the basement. Funny how those things don't occur on my to-do list when I have time to do them.

Also I have that dreaded coffee addiction. My body gets used to drinking coffee at hours in the morning I had forgotten even existed. Really, I think they are still part of "night". So on the weekend, when I think I can sleep in a couple of extra hours when it is actually morning, my head screams for coffee. And even when I have had said coffee, it still punishes me the rest of the day for being late with the coffee delivery.

I haven't gotten any quilting done, but I've been thinking about finishing all of them up as well. Since I don't have time to do them, I've got lots of motivation!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Finished!

When I let myself get tempted by the pattern Kim presented at Kim's Big Quilting Adventure, and gave myself permission to do Kim's Happy Jacks quilt, I gave myself severe mandates. "You must get it done, and you must get it done quickly. Kim's done three of these in a week, certainly you can get it done quickly as well." Well I'm nowhere near as quick as Kim, but I did keep my focus on this quilt, even to the point that other things on the to-do list were skipped, and now it is finished! Definitely one of my quickest finishes.

The fabric choices were easy - the first fabric I find that works, is it. No agonizing over choices. The cutting was fine. The sewing was fine as well. Anything that wasn't, was trimmed off! The hardest part about the quilt was stopping. I wanted to make more pumpkins, and I wanted to make more faces. See, here is a photo of some scraps of fabric that fell onto the floor.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Library Shuffle

When you borrow things, there comes a time when you have to return them. I borrow lots of books from the library, and lately it has been a juggle on returning them. The library lets you borrow books for 28 days, and then you have to return them. Sometimes you can renew them, if nobody else wants it. The library lets you renew them online, but if someone else is reserving a book, then you can't renew it. Sometimes though, someone cancels a reservation on a book, or someone else returns theirs earlier, and then all of a sudden, you can renew a book.

I've had lots of books that are coming due soon. And I have been trying to read them in the order they are due, so I can get through them before I have to return them. Lately, there has been a lot of shifting, so that the book I thought was due first is able to be renewed. Or a book I thought I was going to renew when it is due is reserved and suddenly it is higher on the due date list.

I think I shifted between 4 books this month! I read some of it, only to find out something else is due earlier. Which is interesting in a way, because you make connections between topics you might not otherwise make. Bu there is pressure to read something fast, and suddenly the pressure is off on that book and on another one.

I thought I was doing pretty well with my little shuffling act, until my daughter sent me a message that I had an overdue library book. Apparently, I had checked it out on her card, so I hadn't included it in my library shuffle game. Want to know what book it is?

Seems ironic, doesn't it?

Friday, October 3, 2008

It's Kim's Fault

It's been pointed out that I have made a lot of blue quilts. And that's true, sort of. When I was pulling out photos of blue quilts, I found lots of them, and I probably didn't even get all of them. There were only a few other colors that I didn't include in the blue quilts post. I was trying to figure out why that is, because while I like blue, I don't really have a favorite color - or it changes from time to time. I think I've figured it out.

In the summer, I like to work with the coolness of blue. Since I look forward to summer in the spring, I can work with blue in the spring as well. And when autumn comes, I'm almost done with the blue quilt, so I go ahead and finish it off. By that time I am thinking of autumn colors, and start a quilt using those colors. The problem is, winter comes, and then the autumn colors are too dark, and I want to work on something bright and colorful. Since the days are shorter then, I don't get a chance to finish that off before spring is back and I am back to working with blue.

That may be the reason I keep getting tempted to work on something different from my blue stars. The weather is getting colder, and I haven't turned on the heat yet. The tree across the street is starting to turn colors. That, and people like Kim not only show beautiful quilts, but also give directions on how to make them. And since she made two and wrote up the directions in such a short time, surely I can whip something like that out too, right? Couple of hours tops, right? I am trying to make this from my stash only, but may have to buy a border fabric if I can't find a suitable one.

Besides, I have to make more (and finish) quilts in colors other than blue, so I can give you a proper show.

The fabric on the left is in the border of my Celebrate quilt, and will be used in my stack and whack quilt. The one on the right was used in some house blocks I made for a swap, and some other harvest color quilts. The yellow background was used in my daughter's Japanese quilt. The green stars in the sashing was in my summer swap quilt which I showed you recently.