Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I haven't been sewing, I haven't been quilting, I have barely kept up my housework. What we HAVE been doing is searching the MLS online and driving around looking at houses and talking to a builder who specializes in just the kind of house we need -- we have to decide what to do. Stay here and put more money in this house to make it work better for us, even though we'll never recoup it? Build a new house? Wait a year and see if the new development we're looking at takes off and shapes up like the builder anticipates? Keep looking at existing houses? ARRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!

It's enough to make a person crazy. If we didn't have such specific needs - handicap accessiblity - there would be a blue million houses in this town that would work perfectly well for us. So far, I have only seen two townhouses with completely step-free entrances, and no free-standing houses at all. We're pretty sure the townhouses wouldn't suit us in the long run, and the only way to get a house we need is to build it. We could perhaps find one that could be modified to suit, but so far I haven't seen a good candidate. The house we have could be made to work, but putting that much money into an older house wouldn't be sensible.

And, quite frankly, we would both like a new house, a little fancier and better than we have had. All our married lives we have been frugal about house buying, and now that we are retired, it might be time to step it up a notch. I'm not talking about those monstrosities you see on HGTV, just a little nicer finishes, higher ceilings, a more open floor plan. No bigger than the one we have (how much room do two people need, anyway?), just a little more wow factor.

We found a builder than specializes in barrier-free houses, and a new development is starting in town, in an area we like. Four houses are already under construction, and if everything shapes up like the builder plans, it will be nice. It is a planned community with a HOA which provides all the lawncare, a clubhouse, a pool, streetlights, underground utilities, sidewalks, located away from the traffic and rush, and peaceful and quiet. The all-brick houses aren't enormous but tastefully done. We have walked through a model and we both like the house. The problem? The money. If you're looking for anything out of the ordinary like this barrier-free house, it will cost you.

Do we make the leap? Do I have the nerves to build a new house? I don't know yet.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Dragonfly progress

Or rather, lack of progress. Eight patches and some basting does not progress make. But I have been doing a lot of everything except sewing this week.

You can see how the dragonfly body pops off the background. There's one small wing segment there too. It's going to be great, if I can ever get back to working on it.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

If you're a homeowner, water is the enemy

I looked at a few houses today, and the theme seemed to be "control water runoff before it gets under your house". The first was a lovely stucco and stone house in a golfcourse community. The house was situated on a corner lot, where the side yard unfortunately sloped up to the street, which was higher than the foundation. The front yard had a beautiful planting bed ringed with stone. A path of irregular fieldstone wound from the planting bed across the side yard into the back. It looked like decorative landscaping at first. When I walked over the property, I realized that it was a gravel-filled french drain trench topped with the fieldstone pieces to disguise it. The owner had laid the drain trench to try to catch runoff before it got to his house. It might work, it might not, but I wouldn't want to trust it. If the curb is higher than your foundation, the water is going to run downhill, come what may, and you're in its path. He also had a crawlspace exhaust fan and had put pea gravel over the dirt in his whole crawlspace, so I have suspicions that the plan wasn't working.

At the second house we saw something of the same situation - corner lot, side road higher than the yard, sloping side yard. This guy was in the process of installing a french drain around his house and had back-filled and seeded the recently installed trench, which was strewn with straw to protect the grass seed. It was all too obvious that there was a problem he was trying to correct so he could unload his house. Pity the poor buyer who doesn't understand what he's seeing. Let's hope he has a good house inspector.

All this can be eliminated of course if the builder understands how to grade off the lot to control the water flow. I've had two houses that could have had water problems if the builders weren't smart. I live in a hilly area of the country, and elevation changes are par for the course in subdivisions. You don't find much very flat land around here, and if you do, it might be swampy. If you lay out the lot around the house site to allow the water to funnel away from the foundation there's not a problem. Where I live now drainage control is effected by crowning the lot at the house site, letting the elevation roll down slightly toward the property lines away from the foundation, and sculpting a slight dip along each property line to channel the water away from the houses and out to the street. It works wonderfully. There is also a small dip in my back yard that allows the gutter downspout discharge to run away from the house, since they don't go to buried french drains. (It's fine with me, because those drains just silt up and clog anyway, and this method always works. Buried drains may be prettier, but not when you're digging up your lawn to clean them out -- and you always have to, sooner or later.) The street in front of my house goes up a hill, and each lot up the street is slightly higher than the one before it. Everybody's house would be catching the runoff from the house above him on the hill, and the guy at the bottom - i.e., me - would have a terrible mess if this wasn't done right. But in the 60's when these houses were built, the builders were smart about it.

This is just one more example of the axiom - the newer the house, the more careful the buyer has to be. At least in my city. By the late 80's, houses were springing up like mushrooms and had all kinds of problems. The houses built nowadays may be showy, with their granite countertops and such, but if you look at a house that's been there a few years, it will declare its problems. If it's just been there a few months, who knows what you really have?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An apology in advance to realtors, if there are any reading this

Not that what I have to say isn't true, but you may not want to hear it.

I went to see a house in a new development next to a golf course yesterday. (No, we don't golf. But we do like nice landscaping, lakes and built-in lawn upkeep.) I had initially pulled the information on this new house for cost per square foot comparison purposes with the builder-who-wants-the-sun-and-moon. It was cheaper by a significant amount and I was wondering what he did that they didn't. When I showed the listing to my husband, he said it looked interesting and why not go take a look?

So I called the listing agent and made arrangements t0 meet her there. Let me say right now that it was one of those new developments with the clubhouse and pool and the office in the model home where you have to go sign in to see the property. I felt like I was trying to get into Fort Knox. So, I got in the realtor's car and we started down the street looking for the address. We circled through and finally decided that the address listed was the open lot three doors down from the clubhouse. I.E., THERE WASN'T A HOUSE THERE YET! I don't know where they got the picture of the house on the MLS listing, but it sure wasn't here. However, it was one of the standard plans they were building, and there was a nearly completed identical one around the corner so we went in that one.

From the front it looked so promising. Only two steps to a nice front porch, which made the elevation not too high to add a ramp. It was attractive inside, too, with three bedrooms downstairs and a guest room with bath and unfinished attic storage upstairs. We weren't really looking for a house with any room upstairs, but putting the guest suite up there was a practical thing. (I was already figuring out how to make the unfinished bonus space a sewing room!)

Then I opened the door to the garage and it all went to crap. This was a plan with the garage in the rear off an alley. The lot was lower in the rear, enough that there were seven steps down to the garage floor. That many steps absolutely won't work, so this unit was off the list.

As if the house wasn't enough of a disappointment, this realtor is running her mouth the whole time we're looking around, interrupting me as I'm trying to explain what kind of house we have to have. And she's pushing some development up the road, talking about how this house is overpriced and not very well done and Mulberry Park is so much better, yadda, yadda, yadda. I had the distinct impression what was happening is her company was hooked up with this new Mulberry Park thing and she would make a lot more money selling one of those houses.

After I while I just wanted to kill her and hide the body in one of that house's many walk-in closets.

So, we leave and I tell her I will drive by Mulberry Park on the way home (mostly to shut her up). Except it's not on the way home, but waaaaay out of town and not in a handy place. I loop through and peruse the place anyway, and yeah, it's all Craftsman style and cute and everything, but it's very crowded together and I really wanted brick no-maintenance exterior. I stop at the office and check out the available floorplans, and none of them are more than 1800 sq. ft. This after I repeatedly said that we have a 2000 sq. ft. house and are not interested in downsizing.

So here is the root of my gripe: is there a realtor out there that will really listen to you and try to find the house you want? Because this isn't the first time this has happened to me. When we were looking for our last house, I gave the lady a detailed explanation of what our needs were before we even looked at a single property. (Let me add that this isn't me being overly picky, but actual handicap accessibility issues.) And after all that, she drives us to a two story house. I looked at her and said, just what part of one level house do you not understand? It was like she was going to trot us around to all the properties she had languishing on the market in the hopes she could fob one of them off on us. She made no real effort to try to locate a house we could use.

We've found the last two houses we bought by ourselves. I've never gotten any help worth mentioning from a realtor. The realtor for our first house was a bored doctor's wife that sold houses for something to do. She surely didn't need the money; in fact, she cut her commission to lower our price. I've only dealt with one realtor that approached the job in a businesslike manner, and it was a man. (OK, even I winced when I said that.) All the female realtors we've seen try to manipulate you emotionally to sell you on a house and push the properties that make the most money for them.

I've been thumbing through the MLS for weeks now, finding a good 90% of the houses have to be removed from consideration immediately due to handicap accessibility issues. The remaining ones are either too small, or too far out of town, or waaaaay too much money.

So I'm irritated and disappointed and depressed with the whole process. It took two years to find the house we're in now, and I was a whole lot younger then. I'm not sure I can do it again.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm disgusted

Well, we found the perfect house for us - but it is obscenely expensive. I figure it's because there are absolutely boatloads of deep-pocketed aging baby boomers out there. We met with a builder who specializes in the perfect type of house for us - adequate size, all one level, handicap accessible, maintenance free exterior, beautiful interior finishes, sensible floorplans - and he wants the sun, moon and stars for his houses ...... and there seems to be a ready population willing to give them to him. There's a new development with four houses so far under construction, and two sold before they were out of the framing stage. This makes me a little ill. I'm willing to pay a fair price for a house - but not the kind of inflated price this guy is demanding - and evidently getting.

We looked at the townhouse but it wouldn't work out because there is no usable exterior space at all - it would be like that apartment we rented that nearly drove us bonkers. The interior of the townhouse was pretty good, but it would have been claustrophobic to have nowhere to go outside. This builder also had one more townhouse available in a different new development close to where we now live that would have been a very good fit for our needs too, but it was way too expensive, like his houses.

Well, I guess we struck out. Back to the MLS.

Dragonfly applique project

Here is my dragonfly applique panel. It's been about a week since I started, and I thought it would be interesting to post pictures at intervals chronicling my progress.
I know right now it just looks like blobs of green. You can see the black area where the first dragonfly body will be inserted. I have four more green patches to add to the right side, and then I will start on the wings, which are made up of smaller patches and will be easier to handle.

All in all, I'm happy with the progress. I think I might rather have picked my fabrics myself instead of using those from the Keepsake Quilting kit, though, if only because the weight and texture of the different fat eights included vary so much. Some are very easy to applique, and some are harder to turn under tiny points and sharp curves because they are thicker. Not all are true batiks. Two of them are printed and have a tendency to show the actual white color of the greige goods on which the pattern is printed in areas around your needle holes if you pull your stitch tight and distort the fabric's threads. (I didn't quite know how to explain that, but you probably get the drift.)

Anyway, it feels good to be actually making this, and it will look great in the living room. But lest I get too cocky, here is what I have left to finish:

A little daunting, isn't it?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

House shopping.....

......or, rather, subdivision shopping. We have been driving around the city after dinner these past several weeks (with a few ice cream stops for rewards) looking at newer real estate developments. Without looking for actual houses, we are taking the pulse of the subdivisions, seeing how busy the streets are, what the houses look like, how many kids are playing in the middle of the street (you think I joke), are there sidewalks and lights, etc.

The thing is, we want to decide whether to fix up the old rancher and stay here, or buy something with less maintenance and in a quieter area. In the house shopping arena, we have several strikes against us: we have to have a one level house, and not only a one level house, but with a minimum (preferably no) steps to enter the house. We also need to have room for the humongous TV and home theater setup, his computer desk (including surround sound and sub woofer - and here I am satisfied with just a laptop!) and my home office stuff as well as quilting stuff. So we can't easily go smaller than the 1907 square foot ranch we have now.

Actually, if you compare apples to apples with this house and a new 2000 square foot house, you come up short on the new house because of all the walk-in closets, and enormous bathrooms, and sun rooms that seem to sprout in all new construction, all of which eat up room and don't mean a lot to me. Oh, I like a big closet as much as the next girl, but I've seen closets as big as whole rooms. And how big does a bathroom really need to be? Those huge jetted tubs are ho-hum to me. I'm a shower girl. What a waste of space.

I have been combing the MLS and finding new development to tour, and sometimes we just pick a major road and drive, zipping into any interesting side streets. Using that plan, we came upon a townhouse development on the north side of the river that seems to have possibilities.

An aside - where I live, you are either north-of-the-river people or south-of-the-river people. Almost no one I know looks upon them as interchangeable. Darned if I understand why. Where I live, and where this new townhouse development are, seem pretty comparable to me.

Anyway, in this development, there are three three-bedroom townhouses for sale. Two are being sold by the original owners, who only lived there 3 or 4 years (why do people move so much?). The third is the model home and is still owned by the developer. It is technically a townhouse, but it is freestanding, no common walls. A real plus to this former brief apartment-dweller, who was almost driven to distraction by neighbor noise. We're going to look at the model home tomorrow and see if a townhouse is a possible for us. I've peeked in the windows and it's got a killer kitchen, but I'm just not sure if it's big enough.

There is another possibility. This builder is starting a "garden homes" development up the street from the townhouses, which are all basically free-standing town homes. The HOA takes care of the outside maintenance like at the townhouses. This is a little pricey, but looks like it has real possibilities. I spoke with the real estate lady today and she is going to email me the plot map and house plans (which I haven't received yet because I suspect she's waiting to set eyes on us tomorrow to decide if we're good for the money!). I'm looking forward to seeing the house plans, because this may be just what we need.

If we go the route of fixing up our house and staying here, the only danger is increased noise. Our little metropolis has an airport with only two runways - the one that is in service, and the spare. The main runway is parallel to us and we don't get any noise from air traffic. However, and this is major, when the main runway is out of service for repairs or such, they use the alternate which puts the planes' approach path right over our house. It's loud, even though the airport isn't that close. It's just in our end of town. If they ever decide to use the alternate runway daily, we are screwed.

The upgrades our house will need, such as replacement windows, will ameliorate the noise somewhat, but it's not a good thing. As is it, on Reserve weekends, we get a lot of military air traffic noise; the helicopters are the worst. There is talk that the Reserve is going to relocate their airstrip, but that may only allow the airport to expand here since they won't have to share it with military craft, and that's no improvement.

These are tough decisions. We're going to have to drop major money on this house if we stay. Replacement windows, new driveway, new garage doors, interior painting, carpet, new vanities and flooring in all the bathrooms, a screen porch or somewhere to sit outside that you can reach without descending a precipitous set of concrete stairs with no handrail out the sliding door in the den. Also rework the front steps so we can add a ramp later if we have to. The house is structurally sound, it just needs a lot of cosmetic updating. We painted and re-carpeted when we moved here in 1993; we replaced the kitchen about five years ago, re-roofed and repainted the outside about four years ago; replaced the heat pump last year. After living here fifteen years, everything needs a little brush-up. Not to mention my yellow bedroom, which I liked fifteen years ago, but is wearing on me now. And the wallpaper in the guest room which must go.

Decisions, decisions. This house has been a good one, and I don't want to jump into a situation where I'm seduced by a pretty new facade. Not to worry about my husband in that regard; he absolutely does not allow emotion to influence major purchases. I've seen him drive a car dealer nuts because he refuses to get pulled in by a shiny new vehicle's charms. He's the same with houses, so he is the official voice of sanity!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gift wrap organization

Suzan made a comment about my gift wrap drawer, and wanted a picture, so here it is. I suspect she was expecting something much more grand!

I made these dividers one day when I went to fetch some wrapping supplies and had to unravel about two miles of tangled ribbon. I vowed to fix the problem then and there. Using what I had on hand, the dividers are made of leftover thin foam core board from my Christmas village display stands. I taped them together with brown package tape, and keep swearing that someday I'll cover them with pretty contact paper.

For now, this works very well. On the bottom are rolls of gift wrap (really have to enact an moratorium of gift wrap buying - but I'm a sucker for pretty paper), gift bags and my bow maker; on the upper left is ribbon and enclosure cards (I'm a big believer in white and gold curly ribbon - makes anything more festive, but I also have some wired ribbon and bright colored ribbon for kids' packages); on the upper right is flat wrapping paper, tissue and bows. I'm almost out of white and solid color tissue papers and need to make a run to one of my favorite stores which is called If It's Paper. This is a particularly dangerous place, since I love stationery and gift wraps.

I try to limit the palette of colors for wrapping supplies to white, blue, brown and green, except for a few wild colored papers geared toward children. That way I don't have to keep many colors of ribbon and everything coordinates.

I can do "less is more" everywhere but home decorating and quilting fabrics!

(Oh, yes - Christmas wrapping paper is a WHOLE other kettle of fish, and resides in my storage closet in the garage in a Rubbermaid container shaped like a tall tube with a handle on top. I can't seem to weed out or use up that paper to save my life! Somehow more gets dragged in each year than we use.)

Addendum: I covered the dividers with wood grain printed contact paper, and while it wasn't the most fun I've ever had, and there are wrinkles, it makes the whole thing look so much better. I guess you could say I was guilted into the job after posting that picture.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Butterfly lap quilt

I finally got my butterfly lap quilt back from the longarmer today. This coordinates with the colors in my living room and will be draped on the couch for TV watching. It's quilted with an allover large stipple / meander pattern (I've also heard it called maze by panto quilters.) Sorry my picture is so bad. The only place I can hang it up to photograph is the bedroom closet frame, which is narrower than the quilt, so it's droopy at the edges. It looks cock-eyed, but the corners are square, I promise. Isn't the pieced back cool? This is the first one I ever did.

The dragonfly is flitting along

A few interruptions the last several days - my neighbor passed away, so I had food to prepare and deliver, and memorials to attend, and the rest of life just got in the way - but I am back on the dragonfly. I have twelve patches completed (one of them is 2" x 11", roughly, so that's a lot of blind stitching) and seven more ready to applique. I will post a photo when I get enough done that it doesn't just look like a random green blob.

BUT - I got really curious as to how many patches there were, so I nabbed a piece of white tissue paper from my gift wrapping drawer and used it as an overlay to mark off patches as I counted them on the picture. Prepare yourself - there are 160 patches on this thing!!!!!! OK, I'm humbled, and really really scared. Twelve patches -- pfffft! It's gonna be a long summer, readers.

Oh, also - the longarmer called and said my butterfly quilt is done. I'll have pictures tomorrow.

Now to something not scary - do you have a gift wrap drawer? It is possibly the coolest organizing idea I ever had. I took one drawer in the tall chest in the guest room, added dividers to segregate rolls of wrap, tissue paper, ribbon, folded wrap, enclosure cards, bow maker, and voila! Ever so often if I see a really great roll of gift wrap or wonderful ribbon, I add to my stash. I have all occasions covered, so if there is a last minute gift, no worries about wrapping - it's all there. And - my opinion - I don't usually like gift bags; you should have to rip into the paper!

Now I am going to collect a greeting card stash - I hate having to run out to the store for a card at the last minute. Several months ago I ordered a box of embossed pineapple design small foldover notes, about 2 1/2" x 3 1/2", that make wonderful gift enclosure or flower enclosure card. I was hunting for dragonflies but couldn't find them. The pineapple as a symbol of hospitality was even better, or at least more comprehensible to most people (I guess not many have a thing for dragonflies like I do). For kids' gifts, I bought a set of bright lime green small note cards with envelopes.

As you can see, I love love love the Crane's stationery website!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The dragonfly is flying!

Now that I have decided how to do the dragonfly applique, it's going fast. This is a large item, 30" x 40", and the pieces to be appliqued are large too. I sewed on six pieces last night and three today - had to stop for mundane things like laundry! I also worked on the binding for a baby quilt gift that I really must finish soon. But the key was doing it the usual way and trashing the reverse applique idea. That would have been a nightmare.

Brenda has been posting about taking an applique class. I have to admit that what her teacher told her about applique flies in the face of my experience. It would be interesting to have a teacher's input, but I usually just blunder along and figure out how I can best accomplish my goals. I have never taken any kind of quilting class. I have read a few books, but generally find my own way. The key, I think, is that I have been sewing since I was a little kid, and all my dressmaking and home dec sewing background helps. As a matter of fact, by the time I took Home Ec my freshman year in high school I was already sewing my own clothes and was bored to death the whole year. Maybe I'm not the class-taking type!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

That dragonfly applique project

Well folks, I have only one thing to say: NO ONE could possibly make that kit per their instructions. I did a test run and even with the freezer paper fused to the back of the black fabric, and only cutting out one area at a time, by the time I had three pieces reverse appliqued, it was a stretched-out mess! The bias pieces being inset got all squalled, the thin black bands got distorted, it looked terrible. So I stepped back, thought a minute and decided, "I can applique on the top, but there's no way in heaven this is going to work."

So I peeled the freezer paper off the back and junked it. I cut another black fabric rectangle, used my dressmaker's carbon paper to mark out the design on the wrong side, and started cutting up the freezer paper for templates. I've finished sewing three segments on already and it will be a breeze. It's big, but I imagine that if you added all the projects completed since the first of the year I have already appliqued an equal area.

Having the black fabric on the top and the colors inset into cutouts would have been neater, but -- ain't no way!

Diamond log cabin part 2

Here's a photo of three diamonds from my diamond log cabin. When I discovered the free Moda pattern, I made up a sample block and discovered I disliked the size of the finished diamond -- way too big. I also didn't like the larger center diamond. It seemed to dominate the block. You can see that by reducing the size of the inner diamond to the same width as the strips, it makes the diamond a little more petite and more log-cabin feeling. (I really love this pattern now.) The fabric is the Moda Allspice Tapestry line and it's lovely. The quilt will be set up alternating diamonds with dark and light outer strips.

I discovered very early that the strips are stretchy and you can make major variations in diamond size with pretty small errors. I drafted a finished size diamond and used it to cut patterns for each segment of the diamond. My strip sets are sorted for each block. As I start a new block, I trim the strips to length using the paper patterns. This would be a great rotary cutter template set idea! I have to lay the paper pattern on the strip, align my small ruler on the edge of the paper, and then trim. Kind of slows you down.

Diamond log cabin

I have started my diamond log cabin quilt. This is a sample of a similar block from the Moda free patterns site, called "Flutterby" after the fabric line used in its construction.
I'll post a picture of my blocks after I complete a few more. I'm not sure what the pattern is really called, but I've dubbed it the diamond log cabin. I drafted the pattern with a smaller 60 degree center diamond the same width as the strips.
I'm using some jelly rolls of Moda's Allspice Tapestry that I found on sale. Haven't decided yet how the border will be finished. I may carry the diamonds to the edges as they did, and finish with half and quarter units. One thing I have learned is that because the jelly roll strips are cut cross-grain, there's ample opportunity for stretching. Pair that with all the bias edges, and the block can be a nightmare. But it feels good to finally be working on this quilt. The fabric was bought and the design planned in February. (Of course, I have some UFO's languishing in my closet that could be grandfathers to this project - they have some REAL age on them!)

Now, if I'm speedy I can finish and get to my Boston Common quilt before fall. I guess I need a little "me time" at the sewing machine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Here's a REAL applique project

I've had this kit for years, but never had the nerve to start it. The design is reverse applique, so the black fabric looks like leading on stained glass. It's 30" x 40" too, so it going to take a while. Even tracing the pattern onto freezer paper has taken the whole evening, and I'm not done yet.
Maybe I'm getting too cocky about my applique abilities. It would be simpler to applique the cut out colored shapes onto a solid piece of the black background, but I'm afraid that process would impact the resemblence to stained glass leading. My husband thinks it would ruin the effect. (Easy for him to say. He won't be sewing it!) Still, when you start cutting into the black fabric and turning it into swiss cheese while inserting the colors behind the cutouts, this thing is going to get stretchy and unstable real fast. I will have to work with very small sections, only cutting out the shape for a single area, basting the turned-back edges and reverse appliquing the single shape before proceeding. I might re-fuse new freezer paper on the back of the finished sections to stabilize them while I'm working.
I'm not sure my applique abilities are up to this, but we'll give it a try!


I talked about how I wasn't happy with my February Hearts A Flutter block. After photographing all the blocks a few days ago, I resolved that now was the time to fix it. Because I would one hundred times rather make a new thing than try to work over an existing thing, I made a whole new block. I fixed the stem width and fabric choices I wasn't happy with, and made the arrow points a little better. Improvement? You decide.

Original block:
Replacement block:
I personally think the replacement is much better!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another "Somewhere in Time" BOM

Finally, my last BOM in process, the same "Somewhere in Time" but full size (the black and tan version is 2/3rd size). There are seven blocks so far, and each is 18" so instead of photographing each one, I put them all on my guest bed. You can see the color scheme is blue, olive and rust. I hadn't decided what to do with the quilt, because it will finish smaller than queen size but when I spread the blocks on the guest bed it came to me that I can use it there. Or maybe I'll give it away for Christmas - haven't decided yet.

BlockCentral "Somewhere in Time" BOM

These blocks are my homage to my calico avatar, Molly, whose picture you see at the top of the blog. It will be a true "calico" quilt - black, white and tan!

Debbie Mumm Christmas BOM

Here are the blocks so far for Debbie Mumm's Christmas wall hanging BOM. You can check out the design here. I've enjoyed making these simple blocks, and it will make a nice addition to my Christmas decorations.

And now, for something completely different......

Same pattern, different fabrics. All 3o's repros from my stash. (All the backgrounds are the same, btw. It's my terrible photography.)

Hearts A Flutter BOM using Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum fabric

These blocks are made using SuzGuz Designs' free Hearts A Flutter BOM patterns. All fabric is from the Rock Mountain Quilt Museum line. They are in order by month, and are part of the quilt blitzkrieg that's been happening since Sunday. (Finally caught up, yeah!) The samples from SuzGuz Designs are made using the Swell fabric line from Moda for the samples. It's amazing how different these blocks look using subdued fabrics.

Monday, July 7, 2008

I was THAT close!

Sewing the last leaves on my June Hearts A Flutter BOM, almost caught up on BOM obligations, and I check my email and find the July Hearts BOM newsletter! Arrrrrgh! I was so close! No matter what I do I end up behind and scrambling.

Home grown tomatoes

Oh, the bounty of summer! I have seven ripe, juicy tomatoes from my potted tomato plant waiting on my kitchen windowsill to become pasta sauce later today. Aren't they gorgeous?

We're already enjoying tomatoes on our burgers and BLT's, but when the plant gets this far ahead of me, I start thinking marinara sauce.

Meanwhile, my little bell pepper plant is still languishing, despite my best care. It has finally produced blossoms, so maybe by first frost I'll have some peppers!

Friday, July 4, 2008

It's about time

Finally, I am a sluggard no more. Quilt fabric has passed through my fingers today and I am almost caught up with my BOM obligations. I made two blocks for the Christmas wall hanging, and four blocks for the BlockCentral BOM (two in blue/rust and two in black/gray/tan). Two more applique blocks for Hearts A Flutter BOM and I will be done for the month. At that point I will bind the gift baby quilt, bind my butterfly lap quilt and quilt a few Linus projects.

All this sewing in addition to 4th of July cooking and watering/tending the outside plants. Whew!

Pictures tomorrow, folks, too tired tonight.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Nation's sweatiest cities

I'm sorry, this is gross but I just HAVE to comment on it. MSNBC reported on a study of the nations sweatiest cities here, and we in the soggy southeast have to respond: Phoenix? NOT!

Here are the top 5:
1. Phoenix, Ariz.
2. Las Vegas, Nev.
3. Tallahassee, Fla.
4. Tucson, Ariz.
5. Memphis, Tenn.

OK, they did select Tallahassee and Memphis (which was nasty even when I was there in late September, for heaven's sake) but all these desert towns? They explain the study by saying they measured the sweat produced, not the sogginess of the inhabitants. Now, I've been to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tucson, and the ferocious heat and low humidity guarantee that you may be sweating but not a drop reaches your clothing, because it evaporates as soon as it hits your skin (that evaporative cooling being the only reason you don't keel over, probably). If you're sweating but your clothes don't get damp it just isn't as uncomfortable as when you have to walk around fairly dripping on the sidewalk.

Middle and eastern Tennessee made the list down in the 30's and 40's, but for sheer miserableness they should be higher. And the South Carolina and Georgia coasts? They're down in the 30's too, but I drove through there in June once and about died. Heck, go stand around downtown Atlanta in August and see how you feel. I spent a morning at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix some years ago, and other than the liberal amounts of sunscreen I drowned myself in I was very comfortable at 95 degrees. When it's 95 degrees here, I don't even go outside.

They're definitely measuring the wrong thing. What should be investigated is the amount of water your clothing absorbs in an hour. Chattanooga, we're No. 1! We're No. 1!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bunny still in residence

Here's my now much larger rabbit in residence, wandering around the back yard eating clover. He was under my dogwood tree yesterday at dusk having a little bedtime snack, and this morning I startled him under the side yard hedge when I went out to water flowers. I don't think he is full grown yet, but how much bigger he's gotten in only a week or two! I'm waiting for when he figures out he can reach my tomato plants by standing on his rear legs and stretching. For now, the pot is too tall and the tomatoes are safe, but it's only a matter of time.

The perils of real estate shopping

I've been reading a lot of blogs recently about people shopping for a new home. Having spent two years finding our current home, I think I have a little experience in this area. You want to hear my real estate pet peeve? Six little words. "Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed."

If I went shopping for a sweater and found one that was labeled "100% wool - information deemed reliable but not guaranteed", do you think I would even look at it? How can you begin to evaluate the merits of a house if you can't be assured of the basic information? The whole process is based on the seller hiding as much as possible and the buyer trying to find out what the seller isn't saying. One poor blogger had to find out from the house inspection that the whole place had to be rewired! Not "new wiring would be nice" - "had to be rewired". You think maybe that little tidbit should have been in the seller's disclosure statement?

My husband and I have been contemplating whether we should move now that we are retired. This house is older and needs updating, and is noisier here than when we bought it (we're on the corner of a street that's gotten busier and busier). I had thrown out the idea of townhouses or condos for consideration since we hire the yard work done now, and neither of us is Mr. or Mrs. Green Thumb. After dinner we have been driving around our area of town looking at the newer developments.

Most of them make my husband gag, and I'm not much more tolerant. Pretentious, over-ornamented little crackerboxes, covered with vinyl siding and faux stone, gables sticking out everywhere, on a lot the size of my driveway. And, by the way, priced twice what I could get for my all-brick single level 2000 sq. ft. house. For all of this you get to drive twice as far as I am now to the grocery, doctor's office, stores. Using $4.00 a gallon gas. I don't think so.

We did find a new development of townhomes that was all brick, located in a handy area and didn't immediately make us avert our eyes. Several were for sale, so when we returned home I looked them up online. The price made me wince, but if they were really new, 2000 sq. ft., all brick units, maybe I should take a closer look.

The on-site sales office in the model unit was supposed to be open every day, so I visited yesterday. When I arrived, there was a sign on the door saying the agent was out showing a house, and listing a number to call for assistance. I called, got her voicemail, and left a message that I was at the office and would hang around a while - please call back and let me know if and when she will be returning. After getting rather warm waiting in the car, I got out and walked around the development, and then returned to the office. I tried the door, and to my surprise it was unlocked.

Fine, I said to myself, I'll get to take a look at the model without the agent breathing down my neck. Not to mention waiting in the air conditioning. I had my camera in my purse, so I made photos while I poked around. There was a stack of xeroxed floor plans on the credenza, so I took one of those, too.

It seemed rather small. I know what 2000 sq. ft. looks like, and it wasn't this. Oh, the finishes were nice, the high ceilings were attractive, the layout was pretty good, but where was the rest of the house? After mentally rearranging the furniture multiple times, I realized that we just couldn't make it work for us.

This morning, I looked at the MLS listings again for two of these three bedroom units - same footprint. One says 2000 sq. ft., one says 2100 sq. ft. Remember, information deemed reliable but not guaranteed? Where did the other 100 sq. ft. come from on the second one? I pulled out my copy of the floor plan. No dimensions, but I had paced off several of the rooms, and could calculate the size. I couldn't even get 2000 sq. ft. if I counted the garage and the screened porch (which you aren't supposed to, btw - only heated areas). This crap is what makes me hate real estate agents. Just tell me what size the darned thing is. If you had said "About 1750 sq. ft.", I would't have bothered looking, I would have known it was too small. Drat!

If they can't even be honest about the size, what else aren't they saying? Don't they feel at all guilty for doing this kind of nonsense?