Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Busy busy busy

Tanya was blogging about how busy everyone seems to be nowadays. I felt like putting my two cents in on that subject.

Everyone in the United States complains about how busy they are nowadays. Some people are truly stretched too thin, especially in bad economic times, working two jobs, trying to keep their house in order. However too much of the time it seems to be middle-class whining. When you ask them what is taking up all their time, you find that it's arbitrary stuff they've committed to do, not responsibilities like jobs or special needs care for their families that they don't have control over. They're booked 24 hours a day because they want to be. It makes them feel important. It distracts them from pesky things like thinking. It makes raising their children easier because they shuttle them from activity to activity instead of dealing with them personally.

I know, that's a little harsh. But it is what I see all around me. People chauffeuring their kids from music lessons to ball practice to church functions to dance class to who knows what. I haven't seen anyone's kids who just go outside and play and amuse themselves in 20 years. I'm not sure they can anymore. It's just run run run from one place to another. So they learn that's how you live. And their parents become a 24 hour taxi service.

And speaking of parents, they're not any better. No one stays home. They run the highways every chance they get, going to the mall, going to the movies, to restaurants, clubs, concerts, classes, here, there and everywhere.

You want to know busy? I can tell you about busy. When I was a little kid, my mom was a whirling dervish of activity. They had one car and no public transporation in their little town, so she drove Dad to work, my brother to school, my grandmother to work, brought Dad home for lunch and took him back to work, picked up my brother from school, my Dad from work, my grandmother from work. All these things happened at different times, you see, so she was constantly zipping back and forth from home to somewhere. It was only a few miles from home to town, but all those trips added up. And on top of that she was taking care of me at home, and doing all the cooking, laundry, ironing, cleaning. No dishwasher, no permanent press, a clothes line to dry the laundry. She made all our clothes at home. They were constantly in the middle of a remodeling project on their old house. She bought antiques when they were still called junk to strip and refinish, to furnish the house.

I was a sickly little kid that caught every germ. I had allergy tests, doctor appointments and weekly shots.

And then my grandmother's cancer recurred, and Mom took care of her too, until she passed away, which encompassed taking her to doctors, and treatments, and hospital stays, and waiting on her at home because she was bedridden.

Now, THAT'S busy.

She scurried through life busier than a one-armed paperhanger, to use an old-fashioned expression. And her life wasn't that different from a lot of women then. None of this stuff was under her control. She couldn't say "I don't want to do that, I don't have time." It was just life, and you didn't have a choice. You coped with it. And people who lived out in the country added gardening and canning and taking care of farm animals to an already full day.

When I hear some people now whining about how busy they are, I have to laugh. Most of them have multiple cars, modern conveniences, and jobs that don't take 12 hours a day/6 days a week from their lives. They can save their complaints for some other audience. It's not going to impress me or get much sympathy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

And the winner is........

Good morning! Time to announce the winners in my giveaway. I took great pains to assure that the drawing was fair. Being the low-tech gal that I am, it consisted of a glass ice bucket and small numbered squares of paper! After I had folded the squares in fourths, I dropped them in the bucket and stirred vigorously.

Then I called my husband to do the drawings while I photographed the evidence. He gave the bucket a good stirring before each drawing too, so I have done everything I could to randomize the numbers.

So, on to the results.....

The winner of the book is robin_titan, who says she loves books, so isn't that appropriate! I hope she enjoys this one. I will be sending it out as soon as I receive your address. Please comment to contact me and I will email you about mailing instructions. Congratulations!

The winner of the batiks is Tanya, and this is exciting to me both because I am a loyal reader of her blog, and because she is in Japan. I have an international winner! She is a very talented quilter, and I can't wait to see how she uses the batiks. Congratulations, Tanya! Leave me a comment and we can exchange emails about your address.

......And (drum roll, please!) the winner of the quilt is Greenmare! I hope she enjoys the quilt as much as I enjoyed making it. Please leave me a comment soon so I can send this little beauty winging its way to your home.

I have enjoyed hosting the giveaway, and hope it has brought some fun to all the participants. Please post about your winnings when you receive them; I would love to see how they contribute to your quilting life. I'll be looking in on the blogs of those who entered; so happy to meet new people and see a little more of the blogging quilting community.

Thanks again for participating, it was great fun!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Entry for the giveaway is closed

As of 7 p.m. the entry period for the giveaway is closed. Thanks for the great response. I'll see you at noon tomorrow with the winners.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

There's still time to enter the giveaway

My giveaway doesn't close until tomorrow at 7 p.m. Eastern time, so there's still time to leave a comment and enter. Go here to see the prizes and rules, and comment. Turnout has been good, but --- the more, the merrier!

This morning, I'm getting the materials ready for the drawing:
Oh yeah, I'm so high tech!

Every entry will get a number. I will fold all those little slips of paper and drop them in the ice bucket. My dear, helpful husband is going to draw three as I take pictures for you to see your beautiful winning numbers emerge to say "Congrats! You won!" It's going to be great -- check back Saturday for the winners.

One final warning: I have been vetting the entries (checking to see if there is an email address, or an accessible blog). If your email isn't visible, and I can't get word to you via your blog because your profile isn't available or there are no posts on which to add a comment - sorry, I can't include you. I have to be able to reach you in some fashion to notify you. I'm trying to be fair; I've said this before. So, if you put in an entry and this is the case, it's OK to comment again and list your email address. Still only one entry per person, but I want everyone to be able to play.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

It's giveaway fever!

Giveaways are everywhere! If you're looking for my giveaway, go here.

Simpify has a great one going on now, through the 23rd of November. Comment and pick your favorite pattern from her designs and she will actually make your prize to order from your favorite design. How cool is that?

I wanted to talk about this because it's such a generous offer. Well, that and the fact that I get extra chances in the drawing. Trying to be honest here, people.

Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm having a giveaway!

I recently realized that I have been blogging for over a year and have already reached the amazing number of 250 posts! So, in celebration of this feat, I have decided to host a giveaway.

There will be three drawings. The third prize will be this book:
If you make Project Linus quilts or seem to always have a friend/relative who is expecting, this is a great one. Cute, easy, quick quilt designs.

Second prize is five fat quarters of lovely batiks:
If you do landscape quilts, if you just love batiks, these are a great selection from Lavender Lime Quilting in Chattanooga, TN.

And, the Big Kahuna:

.......which is a mini Kahuna, actually. It's a Jacob's Ladder mini-quilt, measuring 14" x 18", made with Connecting Threads' Jacobean Garden fabrics. I think it's adorable, but, hey, every baby is cute to its momma!

If you would like to enter to win one of these prizes, leave a comment on this post by 7 p.m. Eastern time, Friday November 21. International entries are welcome. One entry per person. The selection will be by random drawing on Saturday November 22, at noon, and the winners will be notified and posted soon afterward. Winners will be selected for the book, the fat quarters, and the quilt, in that order.

Be sure that if I can't reach you on a blog, your email address is included in the entry comment. Good luck!

Addendum: Please be sure that I have your email address. I have all comments routed to my email account, and if the sender's email address shows up as I can't reach you if your name is drawn. This has already happened on one comment. Please, if you have already left a comment to enter the contest and this is the case, comment again and add your email address. I'm sorry, but I will have to disallow any entries where I can't reach you by your blog or email address.

Mommy, can I have it?

I was sitting at my desk, reading email and snacking on some Danish Wedding cookies, which are the "crack" of confections, by the way. I seldom buy them because I end up clutching the box to my chest whispering, "My precious, my precious" - a little "Lord of the Rings" humor there. But those darned cookies could inspire a 12 step program.

Anyway, I noticed that the cat was awfully quiet at the sliding door, so I got my camera and crept up to see. Check out what was perched on the planter at the bottom of the stairs:
Sorry, baby, I can't get you the chipmunk.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Coffee pots

I found from Joan's blog that she collects coffee pots, so I had to show this photo. The shelf is in my back hallway next to the door to the garage. My husband has a collection of these vacuum coffee pots (anybody remember those?) that all actually work. He used this one until he found a new Black and Decker vacuum pot, which we also use to make iced tea. It works the same way but isn't pretty and cool and chrome. This one is special because we found the matching creamer, sugar bowl and serving tray, all engraved with the same motif as the coffee pot.

This pot is probably from the 1950's. He has several, some of which are older. There are both electric models and those you put on the stove. Do you remember how they work? There is a filter screen and a rubber gasket between the top and bottom "bubbles", and a tube attaching to the top one that extends into the bottom. You put the coffee grounds in the top and the water in the bottom. As the water begins to simmer, the increased vapor pressure pushes the water up the tube into the top chamber. A little bit of water remains in the bottom, simmering and keeping up the pressure to let the coffee steep in the top. The water in the top never gets to the boiling point, which is supposedly the best way to make coffee because it keeps the right temperature range to extract all the good stuff from the coffee but not the bitter extracts, which come out nearer to 212 degrees.

Then, the electric element cuts off and the bottom cools until the pressure drops enough that, with a whoosh!, the water flows down the tube again into the bottom. Kind of sounds like it's flushing! It's both a coffee pot and a floor show!

My husband swears that these make the best coffee of any pot. He doesn't drink a lot of coffee, so he sort of goes the "gourmet" route and buys Kona beans to grind himself. My sister-in-law, the "gotta have coffee in the morning" type, has a regular Bunn pot, but she says his Black and Decker pot makes very good coffee too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The woods are full of giveaways

ANOTHER fabulous giveaway at Old Red Barn Company. Three quilts, count 'em, three. All gorgeous, all desirable. I want one! WHAAAAA!

Do you want a little teaser?She's killin' me, I tell you. Now go, shoo, register for the giveaway. You've got until 7 p.m. on November 17th. You'll kick yourself if you miss it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm a winner!

Thanks to G'G'ma I'm winner! She had a drawing last week, and the prize arrived today:It's an intriguing a concept, folding and manipulating the fabric to add texture and dimension to quilts. Look at these folded roses; aren't they great?
This is the second giveaway I've won in two years on blogs; wonder why my luck has turned? Used to be, I couldn't win a cakewalk or a bingo game!

Being retired

You know why I love being retired? Because this morning I flipped over my calendar page to the new week and there was nothing more pressing on my schedule than remembering to put out the recycling on Wednesday. Ah, the joys and possibilities of a clean slate. THAT'S why I love being retired!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I love has to be my favorite quilting supply site right now, because of their great kits and even greater prices. I'm not usually a kit buyer, but I have been known to browse the kits for sale on many websites to get inspiration. Well, recently it's been "Inspiration nothing, I want THAT kit!" The price doesn't hurt either --- and if you can get them on closeout, well, that's a deal too good to pass up.

This is my latest. It's a small wall quilt, 24" square. I love the colors, and have decided that once I quilt it, this beauty will grace my coffee table. The fabrics are just wonderful, that feather print especially so.
The 6 inch blocks are a challenge to your piecing accuracy. I found that I was measuring and trimming each unit, especially the half square triangles, because even 1/32" adds up if you're working small. But, challenging or not, you have to love the instant gratification that a small quilt brings.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cables in danger

No visitors to the live trap in my crawlspace yet, but I know that I have at least one chipmunk still under the house. More wire chewing, although this time I caught it before more than the insulation was damaged. Drastic actions might be called for.
This is all happening because at that one vent, the flap inside it couldn't be closed fully due to wires entering the crawlspace. The poor rodent can see daylight around the edges, prompting him to try to chew his way out. If the live trap is not successful, I might have to resort to more lethal methods.

In the meantime, I made the miserable crawl-and-slither under the house all the way to the far end (and that's about 80 feet) to put electrical tape on the telephone wire, DSL wire and cable coax that had been nibbled, and notched the vent flap so it would close completely around the wires. Then I packed the corners of the vent full of steel wool (chew that, you little varmint!) and taped the dickens out of the wires. If he can't see a possible exit path around the wire he should leave them alone.

I just hope he gets hungry enough to check out the peanut butter and gets caught in the live trap. I really don't want to kill him, just boot him out of the crawlspace. Once they're all out, I think they can't get back inside. Just to head off any habitual behavior, I wrapped the wires outside the vent in steel wool too. What a mess this has been!

Friday, November 7, 2008

College dorms

Man, I just got my eyes opened as to the conditions on campus nowadays. Look at this Time photo essay on the evolution of college dormitories. To say I was amazed at college housing conditions today is an understatement.

Yes, this is a dorm.

I was in college in the 70's. We didn't have pool tables, rock climbing walls, weight rooms or fireplaces. I had a 11' x 18' room, laid out in a bilaterally symmetrical format. Along each opposing long wall (all built-in, no moving the furniture), was a closet, a set of drawers with a mirror over it, a twin bed and a desk with a bookshelf over it. Two people co-existed in that 198 sq. ft. box, with a shared bathroom down the hall. The rooms ran around the outside edges of the building (you got one window per room) and there was a 15'x 15' common area in the center of each floor of the building with a couple of couches. Laundry was in the basement. That was it. The cafeteria was two buildings away in the center of the complex, and there wasn't much pampering happening there either. You got what was on the line, no special orders. There was a TV room in the cafeteria building, but this was 1971, remember, so the television pickings were slim. About once a month, the dorm manager hauled out a projector and showed a movie on a screen.

And, oh yes, freshmen and sophomores weren't allowed to keep a car on campus. My big luxury was a small refrigerator in the room.

And you know what? It worked just fine. I am from Eastern Kentucky, as were many kids at that college. I dare say that for some people who moved into that dorm, the conditions were probably as good, and maybe even better, than their room at home. I'd guess the food wasn't as good, but in every other aspect it was a functional, no-frills home away from home. We were there for the purpose of studying, and other than a pretty good basketball team, there weren't many distractions from that task.

In contrast, if you came from a home where your parents gave you every little thing your heart desired (and that they didn't have at your age), and then you went off to a college that coddled and pampered you, what are you going to do when you hit the big, bad world and have to provide for yourself in the manner in which you have become accustomed? Well, a lot of them can't. I hear of more and more parents still keeping the kids financially afloat as they reach 25, 30, 35 and beyond.

I think about this in comparison to the first house my parents lived in when Dad came home from the Army. It had three rooms. Dad built it himself. And, at first, it didn't have indoor plumbing. They survived. And as they could afford it, they moved up in the world.

I am afraid in this economy a lot of people will be having to relearn what are the minimum requirements to live. And that doesn't include rock climbing walls.

Fig and Plum, again

I bought a Jelly Roll and a Layer Cake of Moda's Fig and Plum on sale (deeply discounted!), added 1/2 yard of a neutral from my stash, and have made two small quilts (42" square) with 30 Layer Cake squares left over! Now that's economy! The bindings, batting and backings will come out of my stash, too. The remaining Layer Cake squares will make 30 4" pinwheel blocks for a Project Linus quilt.

Oh, by the way - that little pieced border fought me like a tiger. Funny since the inner neutral border measured out exactly as designed, and I tried sooooo hard to be accurate on my seams in the outer pieced border. Well, I was adjusting all over the place to make the two come together. The pieced border on the other Fig and Plum quilt went together like a dream. Go figure.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Carefully inspected to ensure your satisfaction

This quilt just came back from the longarmer. I took it out of the bag and dropped it on my reading chair in the den. The furry inspector was on the job in an instant, carefully examining each stitch to assure that it was a quality job.

Design wall - done

I finished my design wall this morning and other than being a little cumbersome to work on, it went together surprisingly well. I began by gluing two 40"x60" sheets of 1/4" thick foamcore together with Gorilla Glue, then taped the edges together with white duct tape. Then I used spray baste to position a crib size cotton batting layer (for pin-ability without puff). After it was smoothed out, I turned over the board and taped the edges on the back with more of the white duct tape. I had though of using hot glue to attach the flannel, but the tape was sticking so well that I used it to wrap the board and tape down the edges on the back. A few more reinforcing strips at the corners and voila!
After I photographed it, I realized a picture of a big white rectangle was not exactly spellbinding, so here it is holding my latest small quilt:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Autumn in the southeast

Fall has finally made its way to the southeast, and the leaves are beginning to turn. The small maple tree in my front yard is first, with its gorgeous display of yellow and orange... although part of the leaves haven't decided to commit yet and remain green.
The nandina...
...and the pyrocanthus have burst forth with red berries, adding a bright splash around the house. Even the dogwood trees are turning a rusty red.
My neighbors' trees have begun a spectacular show...

although some have yet to chime in.
Up the hill there is a brilliant scarlet bush, contrasting with the yellow-green of the evergreens behind it.
Time to make the house as colorful as the world around it!

Blame the chipmunks again

We lost our DSL connection suddenly yesterday morning. After my husband did all the troubleshooting he could, he spent 1 1/2 hours on the phone with the tech support people to no avail. When they pinged us the signal wasn't getting through. So, this morning AT&T sent a technician to the house. He didn't find anything wrong at the telephone connection box outside the house or the inside connections to the computer, so he went under the house to follow the wire from the jack to the outside box. Well, this is what he found:

Yes, those are teeth marks.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Design wall, part 2

Well, no can do the 4' x 4' design wall. A 48" wide piece of goods won't fit in my Subaru. So I checked what Hobby Lobby had, and found 40" x 60" foamcore board. It's only 1/4" thick, so I bought two sheets to glue together for rigidity. A piece of thin cotton batting so I can pin to the surface and two yards of white flannel (both on sale!) and I will have a portable design board I can store under the guest room bed. A bigger surface would have been better, but I'm going with what I can transport and store. After a little housecleaning in the morning and a drive to recharge the battery of the car parked in the driveway (it ran down again, rats) and I'll get started on gluing it together. The plan is to stick the two pieces of foamcore together with Gorilla Glue (love that stuff), tape the edges for smoothness, attach the thin batting with spray mount, and lap the flannel around the edge and glue to the back with hot glue. I have a scrap piece of muslin to cover the back for neatness.

This will be so lightweight that if I finally make a sewing area in the guest room (I can dream, can't I?) I can hang it with picture hooks.

Has anybody else made a design wall? How did you do it?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tell Santa to bring me a design wall for Christmas

I've been using the horizontal design board, aka the guest room bed, to lay out this little beauty. My lower back is screaming; I'm too old for this. I really need a design wall but I have nowhere to put it. Even a piece of 4' x 4' foam core covered with fleece would do. I could store it under the bed, which is far better use for it than as a design wall. That needs to be my next project.

Excuse me, I need to go lie down. Ouch!