Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Catching Up

I've read some people commenting that bloglines didn't seem to be capturing everyone's updates, but didn't think too much about it. I was getting a few updates and I just assumed that many of you were off on Thanksgiving holiday and would catch up sooner or later.

Well, I was wrong. Tonight when I logged into bloglines nearly everyone on my list of 76 blogs had updates. I started looking at a few of them and realized that there were lots of new entries, many of them from over the long weekend. Whatever was wrong with bloglines must have been fixed. I am officially behind in blog reading so if I normally comment on your blog and I haven't sent you a comment for a few days, don't worry, I'll catch up soon.

Anyway, here is a picture of one of the big trucks in the Christmas parade on Sunday afternoon. The parade was great and all the kids enjoyed it. There were lots of big trucks, lots of cute kids, a couple of marching bands and, of course, Santa Claus. Everyone stayed for a few hours after the parade and I was able to catch this picture of Max, Mya and Jake. Max and Mya are twins and Jake is their older brother. They are quite the armful of kid-dom.

I finished the binding on my Magic Ribbons quilt and it now graces my bed. We've used for two nights now and absolutely love it. It's not wide enough to totally cover down the sides of the bed, but we haven't started fighting over it. We'll see what happens when it gets below zero this winter.

Every time I sit down to hand work I never know what to do with the snippets of thread and how to keep my tools neat so I can pick up quickly when I'm done. Sunday morning I decided to use the directions for the bag I made last week and make it with only a fat quarter. I used my FQ of Hoffman Challenge fabric and it took me all of 15 minutes to make it. I didn't put a handle on the bag nor did I put a closure on it. I used it while I finished my binding on Sunday afternoon. It's the perfect size to hold my scissors, thread, my bottle of clips and my needle dome. I tossed in the snippets of thread and when I was done all I needed to do was pick up the bag and put it away.

I love the size of this bag and I was looking it I thought it would make a great little bag for a young child. Put in a box of big crayons and a small coloring book or some small toys and voila! a bag that a two old could carry. Even one of my picture books would fit nicely into the bag. So now I know what I'm going to give my youngest nieces and nephews for Christmas. I told Tasha we could make some for her daycare class too. So this weekend we'll go to Joanne's for fabric since I am still out of children's novelty prints.

That's all the news for now. I'm off to try to catch up on my blog reading.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Try This Meme

I'll post about the parade and my quilting activites over the weekend tomorrow. For now, try this out.My husband sent th is to me and I thought I'd pass it along:

1. What is your occupation? Which one? I’m an executive assistant and a quilter.
2. What color are your socks right now? black
3. What are you listening to right now? NFL Monday Night Countdown
4. What was the last thing that you ate? Lindt Chocolate
5. Can you drive a stick shift? No. I’m not coordinated enough
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Purple. Is there any other color?
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My husband.
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? I hope so since it was my husband.
9. How old are you today? Old enough to know better and not young enough to try.
10. Favorite drink? Coffee with cream, no sugar.
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yup.
13. Pets? Not in a few years
14. Favorite food? Steak
15. What was the last movie you watched? Jurassic Park, the original
16. What was the last book you read? Gwen Marston’s Fabric Picture Books.
17. What do you do to vent anger? Sleep
18. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbie dolls
19. What is your favorite season, fall or spring? fall
20. Hugs or kisses? Hugs
21. Cherries or blueberries? Cherries
22. Do you want your friends to blog you back? They don’t need to blog back, but post this in their blog would be coo
23. Who is most likely to respond? Calico Cat
24. Who is least likely to respond? Don’t know
25. Living arrangements? Apartment with my DH right in Downtown so I can walk to everything
26. When was the last time you cried? I don’t remember
27. What is on the floor of your closet? carpet
28. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to? Seth
29. If there was a fire in your house what would you take with you? A coat, my laptop, a quilt and my husband.
30. Favorite smells? Coffee brewing, as long as it’s in the morning
31. What inspires you? Colorful fabric waiting to become a quilt.
32. What are you afraid of? Death
33. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? Cheese, preferably blue cheese.
34. Favorite dog breed? The one that doesn’t live with me.
35. Number of keys on your key ring? 7 keys, a Patriots charm and a Vikings charm (can you tell I like football?)
36. How many years at your current job? Almost 14
37. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
38. How many states have you lived in? 6, MN, IL, FL, NY, VA, NH
39. Favorite holidays? Any holiday that gives me a three or four day weekend.
40. Ever driven a Motorcycle or heavy machinery? nope

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Day After . . .

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving yesterday. We did. There were only five of us here. DH and I, my two sons and DIL. We ate a full turkey dinner, watched football and napped. I got the binding sewn on my queen quilt and nearly half done with the hand work.

I got to talk to my family in Minnesota. Mom took dad out of the nursing home for the afternoon, but the visit didn't go to well. Dad is very much in his own world and refuses to speak with anyone. Mom is becoming depressed over Dad's behavior and we're not sure how to help her. I also learned the my nephew is being sent to Iraq in January. He will be training security personnel there. Not a very safe job, but I don't how many safe jobs there are in Iraq right now.

I've been debating about whether or not I should go to Joanne's this morning. They had a Rowenta Acti Press iron and sewing machine luggage I wanted to buy. Full price on those two items was $170, but each item was on sale for $35 and there was a coupon for an additional 20% off. For $56 I could have purchased both items for less than the cost of one of them. Yesterday Joanne's sent out an email that advertised daily specials. One of them for today was the iron I want for the same price and free shipping. I decided I didn't need the luggage. So this morning I ordered the iron. I'm glad I did it this morning, they are sold out now.

I also got a present for DS #2 and DIL. They don't have a dining table and we've been trying to find a small set for them. This time Sears came through. They have a bistro height square table with 4 backless stools for $125 and no shipping. Boy, do I like internet shopping.

One benefit of DS #3 visiting is that he's been using my laptop so I've had time to do other activities - like read some quilt books. I did that last night after I my eyes got tired of sewing. I forgot I had purchased Gwen Marston's Fabric Picture Books. I became very inspired to make picture books for nieces and nephews for Christmas. This morning I dug through my scrap cabinet and found a few charms I could use for a book. I worked on it all morning. I'm not thrilled the outcome, but it was a good practice piece. Here's a few pictures of my efforts.

DH took DS and I out for lunch and while we were eating I decided I would go to the LQS to find some summer/child prints to make more books. My stash is lacking in the novelty department. I found some great prints, purchased a half yard of each one, plus a half yard to use for the cover and back page. I have enough fabric to make a few books and a tote bag or two. The fabric won't stay in my stash for long.

Tomorrow will be a laundry and Christmas decorating day. Then we are taking DS #3 birthday and Christmas shopping at a music store and then to the in-laws for a short visit. Sunday is the local Christmas parade which happens to go right by our front window. We've invited the nieces and nephews and BIL's and SIL's to come over and watch the festivities from our second floor "sky box." Should be a fun afternoon.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sunday Ramblings - Not All Quilt Related

Bloglines has been misbehaving this weekend and not showing everyone’s updates so I spent some time this morning clicking on everyone’s blog in my list to make sure I was up-to-date with everyone. I hope the problem is fixed soon.

Anyway, I read some interesting posts that have inspired me to make some comments in my post today.

First up was Elaine in Nebraska. She wrote a wonderful post about sugar beet harvest. It reminded of growing up in Minnesota. The largest crop in Minnesota is corn. Corn fields are everywhere. I remember going on Sunday drives with my farmer grandfather and listening to his comments about the height of the corn stalks. If the stalks are knee high by July 4th, then the crop was going to be good one. Agriculture is so important in the state that on the local news forecasts it is common to hear the agricultural reports before hearing the stock market reports.

New Hampshire, on the other hand, may not be so reliant on agriculture, but Dover is home to the oldest continuously owned family farm in the country. Tuttle’s Farm was established in 1630. Recently the family signed papers to protect the farm with a conservation easement.

From farming to Christmas: Laurie wrote how Christmas has become focused on buying “stuff”. I couldn’t have said it better. I also think Christmas has become more of a retail event than the birthday celebration it is meant to be. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not Scrooge at Christmas. I just get tired of the “gimme, gimme, gimme attitude” that has become so pervasive. Even my devout Catholic in-laws buy so many gifts for everyone that the family get-together has become an unwrapping festival with paper and ribbons flying everywhere. The young children get so many presents I can’t even begin to understand how they can’t be overwhelmed by everything.

On to being an empty nester: Morah wrote about getting old and dealing with an empty nest. 
I admit I love being an empty nester. I have been a parent for 30 years (yes, I was a parent at 14 and DS #1 was killed in an auto accident 10 years ago). I didn't have a normal young adulthood and have been looking forward to being an empty nester. Being an empty nester in my 40’s good for me. DH and I make good money, we are able to travel when we want to, we can help out my sons if they need it and we are able to save for our retirement.

DH is 12 years younger than I. He is 11 years older than one of my DS and 13 years older than the other one. I am older than his oldest brother. 

DH doesn't want more children. Neither do I. His two brothers closest to his age are still having children. We are definitely a unique couple in his family and among many of our friends. They still have young children and are enjoying all the parts of being young families. We are very content with where we are in our lives.

Finally I’ll leave you with some quilty thoughts:

Last weekend when Victoria and I were talking about quilt patterns and what quilts we wanted to make I told her that I seldom follow a pattern exactly. Frequently I use the pattern as a “suggestion” of what the finished quilt should look like. Or I use the pattern to teach me a new way to make a block or a new way to set blocks. Victoria, on the other hand, follows the pattern to a “T”. She said she feels guilty if she doesn’t follow the directions.

For example, the bar topper I made for DH last weekend was inspired by All About Me by Atkinson Designs I tweaked the design to fit the fabrics I wanted to use and the size I needed to make. I’m planning to use the same idea to make a quilt with polka dots some day.

I don’t even participate in mystery quilts anymore because I find that I always want to change the pattern along the way and because I don’t know what the outcome is I will get frustrated and stop working on the quilt.

So tell me, how do you make your quilts? Do you follow the pattern exactly? Or is the pattern merely a suggestion for you?

I did finish the binding Tasha’s nephew quilt earlier today. I also made a tote bag for Tasha and almost completed a second one. May provided a tutorial on making bags. Cynthia shared some tote bags she has made. I needed to make a tote bag as a gift so I made two of them with the pepper fabric. I used a free pattern from Lazy Girl Designs. The tote bag works up quickly. I’m thinking of making smaller ones for our nephews and niece for Christmas using fabrics for children. I think the tote bag with a book or two inside would be a cool gift for them.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday Night and almost nothing to do

DH and I had a relaxing day today after shopping at Target and the grocery store this morning. I have a painful callus on the bottom of my foot that I am trying to get rid of and I can't do much walking so an afternoon and evening on the couch was just the ticket. I am almost done with the binding on the quilt for Tasha's nephew. I'll probably finish it early tomorrow.

Dianne shared with me her tip for using hair clips for holding on binding instead of using pins. So today I invested in two packages of the clips. I used them on the quilt I am currently binding and they are great! Thanks for the suggestion Dianne. I only bought 24 clips so I will be on the lookout for more the next time I'm at Target. Mmmmm . . . I wonder if the Sally Beauty Supply store carries a larger bag of them. I'll have to check that out this week.

Calico Cat started this one so I thought I'd join in.
1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?
I have Pat Speth's More Nickel Quilts. Page 18, paragraph 4 talks about sewing rows together and pressing them in opposite directions.
2. If you stretch out your left arm - as far as possible, what are you touching?
My bookcase of quilt books
3. What's the last program you watched on tv?
We are watching the USC/Cal football game
4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
9 PM, actually it's 9:07
5. Except the computer, what can you hear right now?
See #3 above, with an occasional flip to a poker game
6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?
I walked to the corner butcher shop at 4 to buy our meat for the week
7. What are you wearing?
yellow thermal top and a pair of husband's PJ bottoms
8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?
I dreamt about getting a raise.
9. When was the last time you laughed?
About 10 minutes ago while DH and I were cleaning the kitchen.
10. What's on the walls, in the room you're in right now?
The walls are painted mocha brown. Behind me is two framed pages from a Boston paper when the Pats won the Super Bowl. An another are two paintings I did and two paintings done by my art teacher
11. Have you seen anything strange lately?
Not anything I can remember.
12. What do you think about this meme?
It's different, that's for sure.
13. What's the last film you saw? On TV or at the cinema?
Flags of Our Fathers at the cinema
14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?
Build a new house with a media room and an awesome quilt studio, some would be donated to charity and the rest would be saved.
15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
I'm left handed. Can you tell if people are right or left handed if you've never seen them in person?
16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt - what would it be?
17. Do you like dancing?
I love dancing. DS and I danced to the Hokey Pokey for the Mother/Son dance at his wedding this past summer.
18. Last crafty endeavor?
Sewing the binding on a quilt.
19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?
Before I had children I wanted to name them Chad Michael (which I was fortunate to have) and Roxandra (never had any girls)
20. What amused you recently?
DH telling me he liked shopping with me today when we were leaving Target. How many men do you know that like to shop at Target?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My Cool Tool

My favorite and cheapest tool is my Clover Needle Threader and Cutter. I bought a package of two last summer in Oregon. I have fallen in love with this little piece of plastic and wire. The first couple days I hand pieced in the car I hated trying to thread my needle. Then I remembered this handy little tool. One evening I used it to thread six needles on my spool of thread. What a wonderful treat to have needles always threaded, or at least six at a time. I thought my idea of having six needles threaded on the spool was something a lot of people did. When I showed my tip to Victoria I was surprised that she had never thought of having needles threaded. I can't believe I'm the only one who does this, am I?

When I am working on a binding the threader comes out of my hand piecing box and becomes part of my binding kit. It's sturdy, doesn't break, easy to use and cheap. I think I paid $1.35 for two of them. However, I've lost one of them. I've hunted and hunted for some more just like, but haven't been successful. If you find them anywhere, please let me know. I would love to have a few more of these handy tools in my sewing kits.

I'm off to sew some more binding down. My needles are ready. I have no excuses not to sew now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Sick Day

The carpets were cleaned in our office over the weekend and I think I had a bad reaction to the cleaning solution. Yesterday I got a horrible sore throat. This morning when I woke up I could hardly talk and was achy and foggy brained. So I decided the best thing for me to do was to stay home. I feel better tonight, but still not 100%. One more good night's sleep should help a lot.

I did do some office work (isn't it wonderful to have a VPN to access?). I slept for a couple more hours. And, of course, I got some quilty tasks done. I machine sewed the binding to one of Tasha's quilts. I pinned the binding down and started hand sewing it down. I sorted through my scraps of binding and tried to match them to completed tops. Unfortunately I could only get enough batting together for one wallhanging. I made a list of what I need for backing, batting and binding to finish three of my tops and three of Tasha's tops. I also sewed and pressed 360 inches of binding for my Magic Ribbons quilt.

Tracey received a beautiful painting from her DH. She challenged us to talk about one of our Top 10 gifts. I've been thinking about this all day. There aren't too many presents that I get from anyone that I haven't asked for so many of them are not surprises. I do collect cross necklaces. Last Christmas DH bought me a necklace that is Jesus with his arms out wide. It is very delicate and very beautiful. I would rate it one of my Top 10 gifts.

My turn for a challenge for all of you. What is your coolest and cheapest quilting tool? A tool that makes some part of quilting easier to do without costing a lot of money. You tell me yours and tell you mine tomorrow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Retreat Report

Victoria, Tasha and I had a great quilt retreat weekend. We sewed a lot, we talked a lot and ate chili, homemade cookies, Chinese food, and some munchies. All in all it was a lot of fun.

I finally finished the binding on my BIL’s quilt. Only there is one problem. The red fabric bled onto the rest of the quilt. What is the name of the cleaner I need to buy to see if I can get rid of the spots? I can’t give the quilt to my BIL the way it looks.

While showing Victoria how I plan my quilts in Excel we decided to make a bar topper for DH. When I was cleaning off the table yesterday I noticed that the part of the table where DH mixes his drinks was sticky. I thought it would be cool to make a little bar topper he could use to keep the table clean. I pulled out some Red Sox fabric, some Patriots fabric and some poker fabric and we designed the topper. Victoria did most of the cutting and trimming and I did the sewing. I was able to finish the topper tonight and it is sitting on the bar for DH to find when he gets home on Tuesday.

I also made quite a bit of progress on my Birthday Quilt. I have four of the seven rows sewn together. The rest of the rows are each done, I just need to attach them. I will have to make my piano key borders longer, but I knew I would have to do that.

Tasha had a very productive weekend too. She tied the quilt she made for her newest nephew. She finished a top for a quilt for Isaac’s big brother, Peter. And then, the backing she was making for Peter’s quilt turned way too big, made makes a great quilt all on it’s own. She started with a variegated green and yellow check fabric and a variegated red check fabric. Victoria gave her some black to use as sashing. She cut the check fabric into 14 inch squares and the black was cut into 5 inch strips. We jokingly called it a Tic Tac Toe quilt. Late this afternoon when Tasha was almost done with the back and we realized it was too big to be the backing we had planned on, I told her I loved it that way it was and she should keep it like it is. She agreed.

Between mine and Tasha’s quilts I now have two quilts ready for binding, one quilt waiting to be tied and I need batting for another six quilts.

Here’s another question . . . When you piece batt together is there a guideline for how many pieces you can safely use? I imagine you don’t want to use lots of little pieces. But I’m wondering is using three or four pieces for a baby sized quilt is OK? Does it make a difference if you tie a quilt versus quilting a quilt?

Well it's time to hit the shower and go to work. Monday mornings are always tough, aren't they?

Friday, November 10, 2006

One Block Done

I got an early start on my weekend quilting retreat. I left the office at 4 instead of 5:30 and made a stop at Wal-Mart for some munchies for the weekend and some greeting cards. One more quick stop at the corner grocery market and I was home and eating dinner at 5 PM.

I decided to start sewing at 6. I completed the third hour of my Gratitude quilt and started working on the 25 patch blocks. I got one 25 patch done and added the four sides to it. I love the colors together. The red is working well. I'm not happy with how wavy it is. The side pieces were longer than the completed patch so I think I'm going to have to do some trimming to them to make them work better.

Tomorrow Victoria will be here by 9:30 and Tasha will be here around noon. I don't know what project I'll work on first tomorrow. I like having several projects available to work on. I won't get bored when I change from one project to another.

Check back tomorrow to see what trouble we get into during our quilt retreat!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

What? No Pictures?

I just looked through all the new entries on bloglines and not one of them was showing pictures. Oh, there were pretty blue boxes with question marks, but no pictures. I didn't want to leave comments until I can see pictures so if you have posted lately and I usually make comments to you, don't worry, I'll be there.

As for me, I spent Saturday buying fabric for members of a birthday club and I found some adorable Christmas fabric that I think I'm going to use in my Gratitude quilt. Sunday, DH and I went to the Patriots/Colts game. Unfortunately for me, the wrong team won and our quarterback had the worst game of his professional career.

I've been slowly working on my Gratitude quilt. I have the strips sewn and cut for the second hour. I haven't trimmed anymore of my HSTs since last week which means I still have half of them to trim. I was going to cut the red for the 25-patch blocks, but it's sitting in my hand piecing kit which is in my car. My car is not here tonight so I can't cut it.

Thanks for all the positive comments about my husband's choice of the red fabric. He kept asking me what everyone was saying and when I told him all of you liked the red he just smiled and said, "I knew it was a good choice." Got to love a man who is confident in his choices.

Tonight I sandwiched two baby quilts. One for my FDIL's sister who gave birth to her second child yesterday morning. The other one is for our friends who are expecting their first child in early December.

This weekend I'll be having my own in-house quilting retreat. DH is going out of town from Thursday until Tuesday. Saturday a friend is coming over and we are going to quilt the day away. I'm excited! Tomorrow night I need to straighten up my quilting room so there is room for us to work. I just need to decide what I want to work on . . . I have a few more inches of binding to do on one quilt, quilting the baby quilt for our friends, work on my birthday quilt or work on my Gratitude quilt. And just in case I want anything else to do I need to make and sew on the binding on my Magic Ribbons quilt. I wish I could sneak in a day off from the office either Friday or Monday, but I can't do that. I do have to take next Friday off because our big screen TV is not working and I have to work from home while waiting for the repairman. I hope he can fix it. I'm not ready to buy a new TV. Although I wouldn't mind buying a new TV for my quilt room, but that's for another day.

Friday, November 03, 2006

One More Time

I'm still trying to find a fabric for the 25-patch block in my Gratitude quilt. I have lots of purple fabric. I have lots of green fabric. I have NO green and purple fabric.

Tonight I called in my emergency fabric chooser - my DH. Bruce has a terrific sense of color and has never let me down when I've asked him for his suggestions. I showed him what I wanted to do and what my dilemma was. He dug through my FQ drawer (and yes he kept it somewhat neat) and chose a marbled red piece. "It makes it look like a Christmas quilt," he said. At first I didn't like it, but after looking at it for a few moments I think I like it. The red provides the spark I was looking for in the block. What do you think?

I sewed a few more inches of the binding on my Contrary Quarters quilt. I need to get it done before my BIL starts his new job next week. But no more for me tonight. I'm tired and I'm off to bed. The temps are going to be in the 20's tonight. Our coldest night this fall. Winter is on it's way and I can't wait!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Looking For Opinions

I started trimming my HSTs last night. I sat in bed using my breakfast tray as a small table and trimmed away while watching Jericho. I only got 40 of them trimmed.

Here's my question: I laid out the 25-patch block and the strips around it. I'm using green for the purple in the pattern and the purple for the lavendar in the pattern. I thought about using another color for the green patches in the middle, but not sure what color would be good. Anyone have any thoughts? Should I stick with the green, perhaps another solid color, or maybe even a novelty fabric that works well cut that small? Wow, now that I said it, I'm thinking I should check out my novelty FQs and see what I have. But I think I'll wait until I hear from you.

UPDATE: I woke up this morning thinking about this block. I looked through my novelty collection and found this heart and flower print. It looks OK, but I'm not sure it will work. Opinions?

Now that's it's November I need to review my October goals. I only had three: finish by Dad's Chiclet's quilt - DONE. Machine quilt my Autumn Table runner - I got one line of quilting sewn. Finish Contrary Quarters Gone Awry - I'm two-thirds of way around on hand sewing down the binding. Not too bad, especially when I take into account I got carried away on my Birthday Quilt. I'm pleased with my progress.

Now for November:
1. Finish Contrary Quarters Gone Awry
2. Machine Quilt Autumn Table Runner
3. Work on Birthday Quilt
4. Work on Hour-A-Day Gratitude quilt
5. Work on Chalkboard Mats

I have a stay at home weekend treat next weekend. A quilting friend is coming up for the day so I hope I don't get too distracted. This weekend I won't get much done as DH and I have a dinner date on Saturday night and on Sunday we have tickets to the New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts. Woohoo! The rest of the month I should have plenty of time to quilt.