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


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


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


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


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


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.