Monday, December 28, 2009

Vanity, thy name is doggie

After my brother retired, he got a dog. Now, he's had a succession of dogs throughout his life, starting with a puppy for his birthday at the age of six. All the other dogs he has had, however, have been regular old outdoor, live in a doghouse dogs, not short furry people with living room access.

Pepper is a striking dog, so named because she's sprinkled with black spots as if well peppered, as my sister-in-law said. Supposedly she is half Australian Shepherd, half Shiba Inu. I will believe the Shiba part, because she has many of the physical characteristics, but she got blue eyes from somewhere else - people eyes, I call them. I think it's disturbing to look a dog in the face when it's got the same color eyes as you do. But, I digress.

Part of Pepper's daily routine is a visit to my mother's house during one of their daily walks, which is just a block from my brother's. She even comes inside the house at Mom's, which I would have never believed in a million years unless I had seen it myself. Mom is not an indoor animal person. She has, however, accepted that three of her "grandchildren" appear to be two cats and a dog, and if I were to visit with my Molly, the cat would be welcomed indoors (who are you and what have you done with my mother? But, I digress again.).

For Christmas Pepper got packages like everyone else in the house - treats and squeaky toys and a very nice light blue rain coat, lined with warm snuggly flannel. I bought this at the Petsmart while surreptitiously eyeing the dogs in the groomer's, trying to find one Pepper-sized to check the fit of the coat. I wasn't sure that my brother would clothe a dog, even though he is very fond of her. But, Christmas afternoon, he suited her up and went for a walk. By the way, Pepper took to the coat like gangbusters and didn't make a whimper of protest. She seemed to really like it.

Up and down the block they went, until my brother turned for home. Pepper would have none of it. Did she want to go to Granny's house? No. Have an off-lead run at the ball field? Not a chance. She lead him down the block, turned the corner and came to a stop in front of the house where one of her playmates lives, a small fluffy white dog who has an array of coats and slickers for inclement weather days.

Pepper stayed rooted to the spot like a statue for quite a while, until my brother coaxed her to go home. We think she wanted to show off her new coat to her doggie pal, as if to say, "See? You're not the only one with a pretty outfit."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blogger is at it again

For some unknown reason Blogger has decided again to stop forwarding comments to my email. Since I've been tied up with Christmas things, I haven't visited my blog a lot recently - just popped in for a quick post; so, since I wasn't getting a heads-up from my email, I didn't see that I had comments and hadn't read many of them until this morning. My apologies for not recognizing and responding to your comments. Be assured that I appreciate and enjoy them.. I have added by email address to Blogger - again - and hope it's fixed for a while.

If anyone else has had the problem of Blogger just up and deciding not to send your comments to your email and you were able to fix it for good, please please tell me how! This is a most exasperating program.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to all

The aroma of roasting turkey is wafting through the house, there's candied sweet potatoes and dressing baking, and turkey stock is waiting to be turned into turkey gravy. Presents have been opened, heartfelt greetings exchanged by phone to loved ones far away, and an aura of goodwill hovers over the house.

It's all good.

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year, especially all the quilters whose work entertains and inspires me throughout the year.

And we've not forgotten the meaning of the holiday. To quote Tiny Tim: "God bless us, every one."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What am I doing Christmas Eve?

1. Baked cornbread to use tomorrow in the dressing (I use my mother-in-law's cornbread dressing recipe).
2. Baked loaf of crusty bread to use in the dressing.
3. Baked pecan pie.
4. Baked pumpkin pie.
4. Cleaned and readied turkey for roasting.
5. Made turkey broth from neck and giblets.
6. Sauteed celery, carrots and onions for dressing.
7. Cooked sweet potatoes for glazing tomorrow.
8. Passed out cookies to garbage truck guys (schmoozing the public works guys is always a good idea - mailman got his cookies yesterday).
9. Cleaned up kitchen, cleaned up kitchen, cleaned up kitchen......

All this cooking is strictly from scratch, mind you. I still have to make the brine solution for the turkey and brine it this afternoon, and make Christmas Eve dinner. Then there's Christmas morning breakfast and fancy turkey dinner tomorrow. Whew. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the kitchen...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Carolina Christmas (aka Autumn in Tennessee) finished

I've finished the Quiltville mystery. Here's a picture before the borders were added (I know, there's a block oriented wrong! I fixed it.): And here's a close-up of a corner after the pieced borders were added:
2392 pieces. Whew!

Now I'm piecing a backing (like it wasn't enough work) of one hundred 10 1/2" squares of all the blues, golds and neutrals (ran out of orange, but it will be the binding) and used EQ6 to lay out the colors. Much easier than crawling around on the floor! I made the picture of the quilt before borders by tacking it to the closet door frames with push pins. I had to stand at the other end of the room to get the whole quilt in the picture. Now that the border is added, it's too big to photograph, at least inside the house.

I'm very happy with how it turned out, and I like my alternate arrangement. But, one group member did an interesting change to tie the colors of the two blocks together and used blue, green and red in her quilt. I liked it so much that I'm going to make a small quilt half scale. Half scale means the red squares will finish at 1", and the outer border will be 2" wide. It will be small and fiddle-y work, but will be really pretty in a jewel-like kind of way.
Those little red and blue centers really add to the design. If I had seen this before committing to my layout, I might have done this too. Caroline Van Maele of Brussels designed this change and made the quilt that has inspired me to attempt this miniature. Thank you very much for the idea, Caroline!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Carolina Christmas mystery at Quiltville

Well, since all is revealed at Quiltville, I guess I can blog about the new mystery quilt, Carolina Christmas. Since I had just made two Christmas quilts, I chose colors that were more evocative of autumn in Tennessee. There was the star block: And the Fox and Geese block:
Which went together to make this:
My arrangement is different than the one on Quiltville. She made blocks out of four stars or of four Fox and Geese and then alternated these larger blocks in a checkerboard pattern. On mine, the orange was so strong I needed to arrange the star blocks in a pattern that would carry the orange across the face of the quilt, so I did two concentric boxes with lines radiating out to the corners. I like it. A Quiltville chat commenter said it looked like Santa Fe Christmas, but I still think I'll call it "Autumn in Tennessee". It reminds me of the yellow and rusty leaves in the Smoky Mountains in the fall.
I'm making some progress this morning while doing laundry; I've got five rows sewn together (but not joined).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What a crazed week

It's been hard to keep up blogging the past week for all the "life" that's gotten in the way. There's been trips to the dentist and dental work, there's been 400 mile drives to my mom's house and snow, there's been sick husband (cough, cough) and there's been Christmas decorating. In between all that there's been a bit of sewing, but I'm still not caught up on parts 3 and 4 of the Quiltville mystery quilt, and part 5 is already released. This one may have to be shelved until after the holidays, which kills me, but it is what it is.

In the meantime, I've gotten a few Christmas decorations completed. The small lighted trees are on either side of the front door out on the porch and the bigger one is on the sidewalk beside the front steps. My wreath and swag have been hung on the porch and between the garage doors, respectively. I even put a huge red bow on my bench under the oak tree beside the front walk - it looks very festive! This was all done with sustained winds of 22 mph (and gusts of 60) yesterday. I spent more time picking up branches blown out of the oak and maple trees than I did decorating - all the dead stuff gets stuck up in the crown and waits for a good wind to dislodge. Oh, and trying to keep the car cover from blowing off the car parked outside.

Inside, things are not moving as swiftly. All the boxes of decorations are stacked in the dining room but nothing is unpacked except this centerpiece that my brother-in-law and his wife gave us last year. I flanked it with two wooden angels my father-in-law made and left the blue and white candlesticks on the table. The quilt's one I did years ago and just draped on the table to try to make it more Christmass-y.
Yesterday I did transform this:Into this:
That took about four hours. Every year I marvel at how I managed to store all the boxes of porcelain houses and other items in the top of one guest room closet. It's like a Tardis: bigger on the inside than on the outside.

I don't know why I take pictures of the village every year - it never changes!

And, to show you how seriously we take Christmas decoration around here, this is the front of my Subaru:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Letting go of match-y match-y

Part 3 of Carolina Christmas is posted and I'm cutting out patches this morning - 192 blue rectangles and 592 (yes!) neutral squares. I may have to supplement my yardage to have enough neutrals, but that's not a problem. There's a lot more that will work with my initial selections. The thing is, I need to loosen up with the blue rectangles.

I had selected 13 blue fabrics, all various intensities of blue/green. I spread them out this morning and realized something.

I may be able to do scrappy but I'm still too hung up on match-y.

Seen all together like that, there wasn't enough difference between the fabrics. In the interest of cohesion, I had lost variety. Interesting.

So I went into my stash and started pulling more blues, this time looking more for coordination than similarity. In doing this, I incorporated more lights and more darks than I had before. I've got half the rectangles cut and stacked together and I'm liking how it looks. The golds and golden tans in the blocks already made are similar in saturation and tone but vary in pattern. The blue is going to give this quilt its spark, so I better start picking spark-y blues. Here's what I came up with:
Oh, and here's the 592 neutral squares (out of 22 different fabrics):Comfort zone here, me over there. It's a start.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Layer Cake Basket Quilt

First, before I say anything else - man, is it actually December 1st? Wow. OK, now down to business!

This is a not very good picture of the basket quilt I was making between steps of the Quiltville mystery to occupy my time. So much for that plan! It's almost done and part 3 of the mystery isn't posted yet! This quilt is ready to have its edges trimmed and borders applied. I generally don't like quilt patterns where you trim the edges straight after you assemble the center, but this time I did as they said. The edge will be trimmed through the corners of the end squares, making triangles where they join the first narrow border, which will be red. The wider outer border will be the brown paisley in the sashing. That fabric is on the way in the mails somewhere.

I even liked making the sashing scrappy. I started to wait for the fabric on order, but after I auditioned the different brown pieces in amongst the brown paisley, I liked the carefree quality of the look.

This quilt used 35 pieces of a 42 piece Moda Layer Cake and a matching fat quarter. The remaining 7 pieces and two more fat quarters will go into the backing somehow (I feel a stripe coming on!). It probably will be one of my now-trademark off-center pieced stripes. They give you such a nice frame for the label and make the back interesting. That's a habit I'm glad I picked up this year.

Now I have to pick a name for this quilt. The fabric collection is called Simple Abundance, and the pattern is called Aunt Lucy's Baskets by the designer, Ari Dolinger. I was thinking of calling it Simple Gifts, because it was pieced over Thanksgiving weekend and reminded me of taking baskets of food to those less fortunate during the holidays.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Inspiration comes in many forms

This is the Thanksgiving card I received that got me to thinking about blue/greens, golds and oranges for the Quiltville mystery. Isn't it amazing what will spin off a color scheme for a quilt?
I hope Bonnie posts part 3 of the mystery this evening. And I hope it works with the blue fabrics!
P.S. I got the stitches out of my back today. I think they were in residence a little too long. Ouchie!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I don't think they were paying attention

On the Yahoo Quiltville Chat group, there are folders for uploading pictures of your work, usually labeled by each step of a mystery, a completed Bonnie pattern, or other quilt stuff. There is a folder for Christmas Lights Step 3, the mystery that was in Quiltmaker magazine. I loaded two pictures into that folder, one of each of the quilts I made after I split up the blocks into two groups. They are shown here.

The group manager usually chooses one photo from each folder to "label" the folder. I just noticed today that they had selected one of my redesigned Christmas Lights quilts, the one with the star blocks and the new blocks that look like packages with bows, and put it on the folder. Maybe they didn't notice that I redesigned the quilt.

This is a little awkward...

ADDENDUM: Someone changed the picture on the cover of the folder and removed the photo of my quilt. I didn't say anything on the group. Wonder who's reading this blog, saw the post and changed the picture? I don't care one way or the other, but just thought the situation was interesting. I guess my sense of humor isn't appreciated.

Carolina Christmas mystery part 2 done

Not particulary thrilling to look at, but here they are - all 104 of them.

Now I have no excuses and have to clean the house this afternoon.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Carolina Christmas

Bonnie Hunter just posted installment 2 of her mystery quilt (her picture at left). It takes the HSTs I made yesterday, gold and neutrals, and adds more of the gold to make this block. I'm using gold where she used green, so tomorrow's sewing will be more gold and no blue in sight yet. I'm starting to worry that I should have changed around where the blue and gold went. I don't want this quilt to be dull. It's too much work. ARRRRGH!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Carolina Christmas part 1

Well, here's part 1 of the mystery. It's looking more like Tennessee Autumn, which is what I will call it. I hope we use some of my pretty blue fabrics soon. This photo looks kind of dull. The gold fabrics in the HSTs are much brighter in person.

Quiltville's Carolina Christmas mystery is on!

Around 11 p.m. I staggered out of the kitchen after washing the last of the pots and pans. I checked my email before heading for bed to see if I had anything from the family, and there in my inbox was the announcement for part one of Quiltville's new mystery. Well, of course I had to go look at it and print it out, but I was much too tired to do more.

This morning after a quick trip to the post office (that's as far as I was willing to go on Black Friday - luckily it's not near the mall) I started reading the directions. She's given us plenty to work on in the first installment - and, blessedly, no square in a squares! I had to press everything and make a final decision on my neutrals before I could cut, so that gave me one more chance to ponder the color choices.

I pulled out most of the darker neutrals so they would contrast better with all shades of gold but left a few darker tans for interest. I like the selection of golds of all shades and intensities that I'm substituting for the greens, and the good variety of blues which sub for the reds. Instead of the single gold she's using to tie it together I'm using this pretty coral-y orange. I'm happy the colors play well together and have a lot of interest. Now, the only concern is - am I substituting the right colors? It's always a concern when you don't use the colors the mystery designer used. Since you don't have the end result at hand, you can't mock up a block or two in EQ to see how it looks before you cut. I think I'm doing the right thing using gold for green and blue for red, but I can't really be sure until I'm too committed to make changes. This is hard stuff for a control freak.

Well, I've given my back a rest after that stint at the ironing board, so it's time to start cutting!

Oh, by the way, check out the Oct/Nov issue of Quilter's Newsletter (which I JUST RECEIVED - what's up with that?) for a wonderful small basket pattern quilt made from a Moda Layer Cake. Now I just happened to have a layer cake - Moda's Simple Abundance - that wasn't committed to any project so I decided to try it. It's one of those patterns where you sew together patches and then cut to size, and I normally dislike that method, but for this I'll give it a shot. I basted and appliqued basket handles yesterday while the turkey was cooking. I finished all the basting to the freezer paper shapes, but only appliqued 4 out of 12. But I've got a start on it for when I can get back after the mystery.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Every fabric finds its use

See that tan and red print at the top of the picture? It's from Moda's 2000 collection "Trumpet Vine". I bought it then for the backing of a quilt, but decided not to use it. There are at least 5 yards of this beautiful print, and I could never cut into it because I never had a project I felt worthy of it. This is weird because I'm not a red quilt person, and generally don't even buy much red. I do, however use rose and pink often, and have a large stash of small remainders of those colors, as well as some Thimbleberries reds left over from the pieced flower, birdhouse and village quilts.

In the last few days when I was searching for the Storm At Sea pattern, I reacquainted myself with a lot of my quilt books. Interestingly, however, the pattern I found that captured my imagination was in the same McCloskey book as the SAS.

This is it:
I think this simple Ohio Star pattern is so striking and so effective, it will be worthy of my hoarded Moda print. I'll use it for the background, and use the 30 red/rose/pink selections in the star blocks - each one different. The whites in the picture will be the star backgrounds. The sawtooth border will be made of the various reds and pinks.

I wanted to get a real variety of reds and pinks in this quilt. If you look at the large flowers in the Moda piece, you will find many, many shades of red, rose, pink, and even a little coral. So I gulped, stepped outside my comfort zone, and started pulling scraps. There's exact matches, there's sorta-matches, there's lighter than, there's darker than, and there's pieces that shade into the range and coordinate. There's also monotone prints, two color prints, and three color prints. Enough to make the eye dance all over the quilt. I think if you're going to go scrappy, really go for it.

I'm also going to reduce the pattern size. The book gives measurements for an 81" x 100" queen size quilt with 9" Ohio star blocks. I wanted to make a smaller quilt, but not reduce the number of blocks or its complexity, so I downsized everything by 1/3. The quilt will now be 56" x 78" or thereabouts, and the blocks 6".

One thing I liked about the layout was it was a zigzag set, not an alternating block set. That meant that I had to recalculate the setting triangles (there's three sizes) and also resize the sawtooth border. It's my feeling that this quilt will be more interesting on a smaller scale.

I keep coming up with new ideas that line-jump my project list, and this had to be one of them. I'll start it after the Quiltville mystery which begins Friday. Then, "Kentucky Girl Moves to Tennessee" (the blue and gold one) will be after "Ohio Through Rose Colored Glasses" (my name for the new one!). Alas, I won't have much time to work on the mystery or anything else through the end of the month, since I have a doctor's appointment on Monday to have my stitches removed and then find a new cell phone, Christmas shopping and wrapping on next Tuesday so I can take presents home when I visit later in the week, and a dentist appointment next Thursday (the one that means a 150 mile round trip back to my former town). Then I leave town a week from Friday for 4 days. In between all that, I have to get a little time to sew!

Maybe I can take the sewing machine home. Mom goes to bed really early.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Drowning in a storm at sea

There's no reason to ask if you've done this. If you have any UFOs, it's likely this problem has happened to you.

I have a scrappy Storm At Sea that I started an embarrassingly long time ago. I've been in this "finish what you started" mood for a while, and I'm almost done with stockpiled binding jobs. I only have a few small tops awaiting quilting (I hope to do these myself if Santa got me those machine quilting DVDs I asked for). In fact, I'm pretty much caught up and ready for the mystery quilt that starts Friday. That is, except for the UFOs stockpiled on the top shelf of my stash closet. There's about 10 of them. Some of them are UFOs because I bought a kit and never got around to finishing it. Some are half-done and I got bored, bored, bored. Others were too nerve-frazzling for the time I was making them. This Storm At Sea was such a quilt.

I figure it's been marinating up there for about 10 years. Maybe more.

I pulled out all the bagged bunches of fabric. There were the pieces for the 8" square-in-a-square-inside-a-square blocks, the pieces for the diamond sashing, and the 4" square-in-a-square sashing corner blocks. But there were also some 8" square-in-a-square blocks, and some diamond sashing and 4"square-in-a-square corner blocks with the light/dark colors reversed. Wha????

I have no idea how this quilt is assembled.

OK. I knew it was a pattern from a book. Now, which book? Even though I cleaned out my shelves last year, I still have quite a few quilting books. So I pulled up a chair and started thumbing through them. It took a while, but finally I pulled out Marsha McCloskey's wonderful "Quick Classic Quilts" and there it was.
A Storm At Sea quilt with a reversed-colors pieced border. Page 114. It's on the chest at the foot of the bed in this cover picture.

What size is it? 94" x 94".

I guess I know why I burned out on it before. I'll start with the center, and if everything goes well, I'll add the pieced border. Or maybe not.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stitches update

The stitches in my back are going from ouch-y to itchy. I bet a lot of you know what I mean. Don't you just hate that? Luckily they're in a very inaccessible place over my right shoulder blade.

Nothing quilt-y to report, since I'm still doing bindings. I' ZZZZZZ..........

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm in stitches

I had a cyst removed from my back yesterday. I have stitches. Ouch.

I went through this a few years ago with a pre-malignant cyst on my arm (we didn't know how about the pre-malignant stuff until the path report came back). How did I forget how sore these incisions get?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

EQ6 is deeply cool!

The above image was created from EQ6 using imported images of fabrics from the webstore Thousands of Bolts. (This, by the way, is one of my favorite places to shop on the web. Just be sure you have plenty of time to browse - their stock is LARGE. And discounted!)

I originally drew this using sketchbook fabrics in EQ6 similar to those I posted Wednesday. After I assembled that pile of fabrics I was trying to decide whether to use them on this project or on the new Quiltville mystery. I was aiming for "not brown" to please my husband. This pattern, by the way, is taken from a Connecting Threads kit. It has a traditional name but I can't remember it, although I've seen it before. I made a navy/wine/brown/neutral version about which my husband said he liked the blocks but not the colors. So, I sketched it using blue/navy/gold/orange. That got the thumbs up.

I browsed Thousands of Bolts this morning while waiting to leave for a doctor's appointment. They had some lovely batiks with dark and light blue backgrounds, an orange monotone batik, and a gold with blue and rust flecks. So, I decided to splurge (if $4.50 a yard for batiks is considered a splurge) and ordered the fabric to make a quilt for my husband.

Here's where the EQ6 coolness comes in: I copied the fabric samples from the web store and imported them into my sketchbook in EQ, so I could color my layout with exactly the fabrics I will use. I have a few quibbles: the light and dark blue pieces have more visible yellow and orange swirls in the batik and aren't as gray as the imported images look, but generally it's pretty accurate. Know before you sew - I love it!

You all probably already knew about this, but I hadn't tried it yet, so allow me my moment of Yippee!

By the way, as I looked at this quilt with light and dark blue, gold and orange, I decided to name it "Kentucky Girl Moves to Tennessee". Blue for University of Kentucky colors, Orange for University of Tennessee, and blue and gold for University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dreaming up a color scheme

See that piece of pale blue/green in the bottom left corner? I woke up this morning at 6 a.m. thinking about it. I used a bit of it in my version of "In Lucinda's Garden". You know you're completely controlled by your fabric stash when it wakes you up in the morning. Anyway, I love the color in this fabric and would like to make something else with it.

I got up and pulled it out of the "blue" box in my stash. Then I started looking to see what else wanted to come along. The gold bits on some of these pieces sent me to that box and there I found batiks with the same blue in the pattern. The, of course, I had to find coordinating neutrals.

The stack was lovely but needed a "kick". I thought about rust, but I'm out of it. Then I found a 2 yard piece of that beautiful orange-y coral. I don't even remember why I have it; I seldom use any shade of red or orange. Since blue and orange are complementary colors, a small amount of this accent could really add life to the resulting color scheme.

I guess I still had Bonnie Hunter's new mystery quilt on my mind, because I gravitated toward a color/color/neutral/accent arrangement. So now that I have pulled these fabrics, what should I do with them? Does anyone have a quilt pattern in mind?

ADDENDUM: Oh good grief! Look at the colors in my new background which I recently added. I think this was a subliminal suggestion!

ADDENDUM 2: And, we got a Thanksgiving card yesterday, with golden and rusty leaves on a blue/green background. Another subliminal suggestion. It's nice to know that some part of my brain works on these things without supervision.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I got bored with sewing bindings so...

...I made this for my cat.
Molly the changeable has taken to sleeping on a chair in the living room. She is now completely shunning her "kitty cube" that she loved so much just a few months ago. And, after over seven years she made up her mind that she can sleep on furniture other than the bed. So she snuggles up in a corner of the living room chair near the hall door so she can keep an eye on the comings and goings.

The problem is, she sheds. And the chairs are upholstered in a cream/blue/taupe stripe from Kravet that isn't made anymore, so I am really careful not to stain/damage them. So, I pulled out a small pink and green Lover's Knot quilt I made for my last cat back when the living room was a different color and scrunched it into a little kitty nest for her on the chair seat.

Molly loves it. I can't express how shocked I was because usually if we suggest anything she immediately hates it. So, I decided on the spur of the moment to make a quilt to use there which will coordinate a little better with the living room.

These are all scraps of fabrics from Connecting Threads left over from other projects. The border design arose because I didn't have enough navy fabric. I would have liked the darker taupe inset strip to continue straight across the corner of the quilt but the navy strips weren't long enough so it came out asymmetrical. Oh well.

I had to piece the backing too. There was a length of a cream print that wasn't quite wide enough so I added a strip of rectangles in blue/taupe/cream/navy. Those inserted strips are a good place to sew on the label. Oh yes, the binding had to be pieced from two slightly different shades of taupe. It felt good to be able to use up all these related scraps, but it was a stretch trying to finish without running out!

Now the trick will be getting it quilted and ready to use before she decides that chairs are yucky and she doesn't want to sleep there anymore. It could happen.

ADDENDUM: I just looked in the living room and she's sleeping in the other chair. Rats.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hand sewing day

I've got the second Christmas present quilt rolled up on my desk to expose the binding I'm sewing right now (third side - I've been at it for hours) and have music playing on my computer (The Wailing Jennys now, Vienna Teng later). My desk is a great place to do hand sewing. There's a nice bright light on an articulated arm so I can see, and a padded desk chair, and when I want to take a break I can look out the sliding door at the golden leaves on my neighbor's sweet gum tree. The wind is rhythmically moving its branches and the leaves occasionally detach and flutter down.

A nice quiet day for completing some of my binding work. As long as I have good music or interesting radio to listen to, I can stay here for hours. But maybe I need to get a pillow for my lower back first...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Count me in and call me crazy

I may be a glutton for punishment, but I'm officially buying into the new Quiltville mystery. So far with these mystery quilts, I'm batting 0.500. I loved Double Delight, wasn't so happy with Christmas Lights, although it made two nice quilts with a little jiggering. So now she announces the new mystery to begin right after Thanksgiving and what do I do? I start pulling fabric and planning a color scheme. (Keep in mind that I still have six quilts to finish binding. See? I need my head examined. Not to mention that the holiday season is nearly here, and I have to start Christmas shopping.)The mystery quilt is called Carolina Christmas, but I didn't want to make another Christmas quilt after Christmas Lights, so I took a suggestion from Quiltville and made a blue/brown/gold/neutral color scheme. The gold is rather mellow. The blues and browns will substitute for the greens and reds, respectively, and were pulled with an eye to variety of shade, scale and pattern. Not all may be used, but I wanted to get a large pool together to stay really scrappy.

I'm hopeless about taking on too many projects, but after I'm committed to a home for the perpetually overscheduled someone will have a LOT of really nice quilts.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quilt labels

I've been in a frenzy of label-making recently, and this is one of my favorites.

For this quilt:Backed with this fabric:
I made this label:
When I decided to make this one last year I picked "calico cat" colors for the fabrics, and jokingly named the quilt after my feline princess. The cat fabric I found for the backing had a little calico standing up on its hind feet that looked so much like Molly I was thrilled.
(Sorry for the wrinkles, the quilt was folded up in storage.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Helpless" women on TV, and why it drives me nuts

I just saw a television commercial that resonated with one of my pet peeves. It's for a Ford car which has a built-in computer that tracks the service requirements on the car and sends you an email when something like an oil change is needed. The girl in the commercial (and I use the term intentionally) looked to be in her mid-20's and would certainly have been driving several years, said something like "I don't know when my car needs an oil change."

Well, sweetie, there's a built-in piece of equipment on your car that can tell you that, and it's not the computer. It's called the odometer.

Look in your manual and see how many miles between oil changes are recommended by the manufacturer. Or ask the guy at the service station ('cause I'm betting you never did it yourself). Note the number of miles on the odometer; add the miles between oil change and write that down in your manual. Now, watch the odometer. When it gets to that mileage, change the oil. It's S-I-M-P-L-E.

Well, the curmudgeon in me just came out.

You see, I not only don't think we need to rely on a computer tracking such simple things for us, we ought to actually know how to do them ourselves. Not that we would always have to do them instead of going to the garage, but we ought to know enough about our cars to be able to. And know enough to recognize if a mechanic is blowing smoke. A little knowledge can save you a bundle of money.

It has always been my stance that before a person gets a driver's license, they should have to take a class on basic auto mechanics and maintenance. Learn how the thing works. So many people have no knowledge of how a car is constructed and how it operates. If they get in and turn the key and it starts, great. If it doesn't, they don't have a clue. This class doesn't need to be as rigorous as, for example, a high school automotive shop class, but should cover the basics. How an internal combustion engine works, what maintenance is required, where all the components are located, how to change oil, change a tire, check tire pressure, check fluids, change an air filter, etc. The basics.

Helpless women get on my nerves. Representing helpless women in commercials like that is the norm and it's OK - well, that makes me crazy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Does anyone know the name of this quilt pattern?

I need a little help. In 2008 I made this small quilt, copying a pattern I saw online. At the time, I didn't label it when it was done. Now, I'm catching up on labels and can't remember what the pattern was called. I want to credit the designer but I can't find it online anymore. Here's a closeup of the quilt. I think it's an old traditional block pattern, but I can't find the name.
I just searched through Barbara Brackman's exhaustive (and exhausting!) "Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns" but didn't find it - or maybe just went cross-eyed from all the little drawings and missed it. It is related to an Old Maid's Puzzle or a Jacob's Ladder block. There was another block called Spool and Bobbin that resembled it too.
Does anyone remember this pattern?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Everything's back to normal

My brother-in-law is home safely, he's recovering from whatever crud he had contracted, neither of us got sick, the house is back to normal and the guest room cleaned up, and I have sewn the binding on two of the stack of quilts waiting to be finished. Whew! It's been a long week.

After I completed the binding on one of the Christmas gift quilts, I decided I didn't want to start another one tonight, but I did want to make a little more progress. So I attached the labels to four quilts after dinner. I've got two more prepared labels to affix and three labels for quilts finished earlier in the year that didn't get labeled to design and make. But I think I'll call it a day for now.

Funny how the simplest things become complicated. I left the house yesterday to drive the second, little-used car for a bit to charge the battery and then take it to the car wash to remove the grime that had accumulated over the weeks of it sitting in the driveway. It was dirty, but it was simply dirt, not tar or tree sap or anything really noxious. The weather was a little chilly to be playing in water, so I thought it would be all right to splurge on the car wash. It's a really nice one with new equipment and people to wipe down the cars and clean the windows after it comes through the machine.

On the way to the car wash I got stuck in two, count 'em, two traffic jams due to wrecks. And then when I finally got there, the attendant eyed the dirt on the car and proclaimed "Just so you know, that won't all come off in the car wash." "What?" I responded, a little startled. He repeated his statement that their wash wouldn't remove all of the dirt on the car. "Then why would I pay you to wash the car if you admit at the outset you won't get it clean?" I retorted, and drove away.

I washed it at home. The dirt came off just fine. I guess they only wash clean cars.

Monday, November 2, 2009

House (cough-cough) guest

My brother-in-law arrived safely yesterday afternoon on his way back from the west coast to his home in West Virginia. Snow in the heartland lengthened his trip considerably since he had to detour down through Texas to miss the inclement weather. I made him a good oldfashioned homemade dinner to offset the road food he's been subsisting on since he left Seattle last week.

He also arrived hacking and coughing, and has been sick for weeks, he says. Sounds like bronchitis to me. He has a doctor's appointment back home two weeks from now, but we were afraid by then whatever he has would progress to pneumonia, so we packed him off to the local urgent care clinic. Contagion has been on my mind. Surely by now he isn't, but as things are, if he has any germs to spread they have been proliferating in my house for 24 hours.

This might not end well.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A difference between cats and dogs

I have to sweep the house in preparation for a surprise house guest, so I put the cat in the bedroom with my husband, who is still asleep, and closed the door. Molly is deathly afraid of the sweeper, and I'm hoping his proximity will calm her. I have never figured out how to assuage her fears of the vacuum cleaner. She wasn't afraid of anything when she was a kitten, but as she grew up the sweeper became her major nemesis. I once found her hiding under a skirted ottoman after I cleaned the house, and let me tell you, how she crammed herself under there I'll never know. She's a big girl.

Animal trainers tell you to associate a good thing like a favorite food of your pet's with a bad thing like a sweeper so they will transfer the pleasant feelings from the treat to the sweeper and displace the fear. That might work with a food-oriented dog, but I have never seen a cat eat when it was upset. Cats must have a better sense of priorities:

"You're giving me a treat. Are you insane? There's a kitty killing machine rampaging around the house. Right now I have to hide. Get out of my way. I might have a bite later."

And dogs? "What's that big noisy ---SNACKS!"

I have serious doubts about anything that can be distracted from danger by a Pup-a-roni.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lover's knot quilt, and why Eleanor Burns drove me crazy

Linda posted a picture of Lover's Knot quilt, and got me to thinking about this one that hangs in my bedroom: I don't even remember when I made it, but it was probably 1994. It looks a little sad and droopy because I could never quite figure out how to hang an octagonal quilt. I have a sleeve on the top edge but the little mitered corners flop out like wings. Occasionally I walk by and smooth them down. I also made a pink and green version for a gift baby quilt. I always thought I would make a full size quilt, but never got around to it. This one was quickly thrown together because it matched the bedroom and I had a blank wall.

Lover's Knot was a pattern I got from the old Eleanor Burns quilting shows on PBS. Back then, she and Shar Jorgensen and Georgia Bonesteel rules the quilting airwaves. I watched them all. I liked Burns' patterns, admired Bonesteel's "quilt as you go" method but never tried it, and found Jorgensen a little blah, although I bought some of her templates. Only when I tried a few Improved Nine Patch blocks and found they measured out to 11" did I realize I was not that crazy (and avoided curved piecing for years afterward).

Eleanor Burns made you feel that if she could do it, you could do it. She was straightforward, funny and down to earth. Her quilts were made in patterns and colors I could relate to. Even though I was past the beginner stage when her show was on, I always watched and enjoyed it.

Except for one thing.

You know when she would square off the torn edge of her fabric and then toss that little strip over her shoulder onto the floor? I cringed every time. My mom later told me that she couldn't watch Burns for that reason. We are both just too much of a neatnik to throw scraps on the floor as we sew. Mom doesn't even get threads on the carpet; I'm not that good yet. But whole pieces of fabric? Never.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Car maintenance

Well, the battery's dead on the second car again, which is to be expected because it is never driven, just sits on the side of the driveway under the oak tree. We always take my Subaru everywhere both for logistical reasons and because I like to drive it better than his large sedan. I was never much on big cars; probably shouldn't have learned to drive in my first VW Beetle.

I just set up the battery charger and I'm keeping an eye out for rain, because, well, an electric cord hooked up to your car in a downpour would not be a good thing. The rain seems to be staying to the west so I may be able to charge it up and drive it around for an hour this afternoon to get the fluids stirred up and the flat spots off the tires. It was easier when both were in service daily, but now that we are retired my car doesn't get moved more than 3 times a week, and his not at all, unless I'm doing the recharge-the-battery dance.

It would be nice to live somewhere you could walk to do errands, like the place where I grew up. Well, in my case we lived outside the town and had to drive in to school and dad's business, but once there, and if you lived inside city limits, you could walk anywhere in just a few minutes. I used to walk to dad's business after school and ride home with mom at dinner time, and she walked to the post office, and to pick up their lunches at noon. Everything was human-scaled.

It would even be pleasant to live in an urban area if normal errands were within walking distance and walking was feasible. Having to jump in the car to do everything is a nuisance. Even where I live now, inside the city limits, it's too spread out to go anywhere except by car, and there aren't necessarily sidewalks everywhere. And, there are stretches of road between my house and the stores/post office/etc, such as the intersection where the ramps on and off the interstate merge into a divided four lane road, which would be nearly impossible to cross by foot. I don't think I've ever seen anyone try it. The regular traffic light intersections further on are hard enough, what with the turn lane signals and all. I've seen a few brave souls sprint across, as well as one older lady who tottered across the four lanes and a center traffic island with turning cars stopping on all sides to let her pass. I held my breath the whole time.

You notice I didn't mention public transportation once during this whole post? Well, I am in the southeast, an area of the country which seems to have some of the worst city bus systems in the whole country, and no other options available. So it's drive or nothing.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


My plan to catch up on binding six smaller quilts has hit a snag. You've seen the two that I have finished. There are four more in various stages of completion. One of these is probably going to my former neighbors as a farewell gift, one is for the wall of my husband's computer room, and one is for the back entry hall. All was going well when. . . . . .the longarm quilter called that my latest quilts were done. So, now I have to shift my interest to at least two in this stack, which are going to be Christmas presents.
I guess I'm overly rigid, I hate dropping one job to start another.
But don't all the quilts look pretty piled up in my den?
Oh, well, I did make some progress. The completed teacup and saucer quilt is very nice decorating the den wall. I haven't taken the Christmas sampler quilt down from the closet door tension rod yet after photographing it - I just wanted to enjoy it for a while. (But I can't get into that closet until I do.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Debbie Mumm Christmas Sampler 2008

I just got this one bound and had to show it off. I don't usually particularly care for Debbie Mumm designs, a little too country/cutesy for me, but this sampler was fantastic. I'll be very happy to display it this Christmas.Here's a little close-up of Sherry's quilting work: she did holly in the sashing and the border, and quilted each block according to what worked for it, with outline/meandering/patterns. It's just lovely. I hope she doesn't mind I added a link to her blog - she might get inundated with work!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Here is what my mowing guy built in the back yard yesterday. He put in the landscape timbers around my birdbath flower bed earlier (you can't see them because they're covered by the last of the angelonia) and I laid out an addition on either side to hold tomato and pepper plants, herbs and flowers. The new beds are each seven feet long but only three feed wide, so I can reach the back to weed. It will be an improvement at watering time because the large pots I used to grow tomatoes before, while effective, dried out too fast.

One of my backyard neighbors had the mowing guy build garden beds in his back yard yesterday, too. It must be the nip in the air; everyone is already looking forward to next spring. I thought he had placed one in a rather funny location; it was too near the side fence and shaded by the small trees on the other side in his neighbor's yard. Well, this morning I heard chain saws and looked out to find two guys with a saw and a ladder reaching across the fence and chopping the trees down to a four foot tall bare trunk. I'm a little confused. His neighbor had been clearing out the scrubby trees in her back yard because their proximity to the house worried her. She also had taken out an old shed building which was next to these threes that were topped. I don't know if she struck a deal with the guy across the fence to help cut them down, or what. I hope she's not going to have a really big surprise when she gets home from church.

And, since I was joined by the dogs next door while I was outside, consummate escape artists that they are, here are some pictures of them too: This is Fritz, erstwhile alpha dog of the little pack. He's far too nervous to make a good leader, but hey, someone had to do it. He's only about 10 pounds and not exceedingly smart. He looks a little mean but he's not. I think he would have loved to be an ankle biter but he was too scared. We're great buddies now. Funny how dog biscuits can do that...
And this is Sparkle. She's a tiny thing, barely five pounds. Fritz is small but he towers over her. He also tries to boss her around but she does what she wants. She's the leading escape artist of the pair, finding places they can get under the fence. Sparkle is needy. That's actually an understatement. If you're outside with her and not paying attention to her, she barks at you as if to say "Look at me!" She's a complete mess but you can't help but love her.
Their owner tries to keep them home but they are so small they can slip out nearly anywhere. They come scampering over whenever they hear us outside, to get a cookie and a little pat. I think they are lonely since my neighbor died last year. They were his dogs exclusively and they took it very hard. So, I'm trying to give them a little affection. I can't resist a hard luck story.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thanks, but I'll take the bus

I've never enjoyed traveling by air. I've never been scared of flying but the discomfort factor was enough to kill the experience for me. For one thing, I'm a chubby sort and I don't fit in coach seats very well. Spending three hours with my shoulder pressed against a stranger kind of creeps me out. And, truth be told, I have control issues.

There is news recently, however, that might upgrade my dislike of flying from discomfort to outright distress. Take the headline today, for instance:

Pilots should have had warning of airport approach.

Call me crazy, but shouldn't they have kinda noticed that they passed the big clump of lights around the city they were flying to? This is not a story that makes for confidence in our airline pilots:

Two Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their destination by 150 miles before turning back should have had numerous warnings as they approached and passed Minneapolis: cockpit displays, controllers trying repeatedly to reach, the city lights twinkling below.

Yet the pilots didn't discover their mistake until a flight attendant in the cabin contacted them by intercom, said a source close to the investigation who wasn't authorized to talk publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. By that time, the plane was over Eau Claire, Wis., and the pilots had been out of communication with air traffic controllers for over an hour. (Associated Press)

Their explanation? They were having a "heated discussion over airline policy". Yeah, that's right, a heated discussion. Over "airline policy", no less. That sounds, pardon my French, like crap. I'll bet you they were asleep.

There is continuing discussion whether FAA and NTSB regulations adequately address the issue of pilot safety due to sleepiness and lack of off-duty time between flights. And now there is concern about the effects of sleep apnea on pilots' ability to be adequately rested and refreshed after a night's sleep. I know several people with sleep apnea; although it sounds like the disease of the week anymore (you ever know anyone who went to a sleep clinic that wasn't diagnosed with sleep apnea?), it's very real and can wreck havoc with your body.

Anybody worried yet?

And let's not forget this little tidbit:

In January 2008, two go! airlines pilots fell asleep for at least 18 minutes during a midmorning flight from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii. The plane passed its destination and was heading out over open ocean before controllers raised the pilots. (Associated Press)

Open ocean. No emergency landings there. Oops.

I guess my major concern with flying is my control issues. Let's, see, you stuff yourself into a metal tube with wings and put your life into the hands of two guys you have never met, have no information on their skills or experience levels, have no idea if they are rested, sober and emotionally stable, and have no way to assure yourself that the plane itself is mechanically sound? Sure, the statistics claim that I am in less danger flying than driving on one of the interstate highways in my city. But, at least in my Subaru I have control over whether I feel good enough to drive, whether my car is in good repair and when I'm on the road (hello, retirement - goodbye, rush hour!).

I don't travel much, but if I had to and I couldn't drive there, I might be catching a Greyhound. And sitting right behind the driver so I could poke him if he so much as nods his head!

A south-of-the-border YUM

Anyone who has access to the America's Test Kitchen website needs to look up their recipe for Enchiladas Verde. I had never eaten a tomatillo or a poblano chile before dinner today. My husband wasn't sold on the taste of the tomatillos, but I loved this dish. If you're a Mexican food fan, make this soon. I don't know about other recipes for this dish that you can find online, because it's the first time I have eaten it. I trusted America's Test Kitchen and they never steer me wrong (well, maybe not that scalloped potato recipe with the garlic - but almost never). I would recommend seeing if you can find canned tomatillos and poblanos because roasting them and peeling the peppers is a pain!

I am wrestling with the ethics of including the recipe here. It's on the PBS TV show for free, but you have to be a member to get it online at their website. It's in the cookbook, but I bought that. ARRRGH! I hate copyright issues!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cups and saucers

Slowly but surely, I am finishing the binding work that has stacked up. This is the one I did today. Longer ago than I am comfortable in admitting, I got my teacup quilt back from Deb Levy, who did the most amazing quilting job on it. It was much more than a collaborative design - I gave a few ideas, but she selected all the special motifs that make it so spectacular. I would never have been able to design the quilting that she did. Here it is, in my den: The picture is so washed out from the flash; someday I will try to get a better one in natural light. I want to show off the wonderful quilting. Each teacup has a motif quilted on it that relates to the fabrics in that block. For example, this one has a sailboat because of the lighthouses on the saucer rim. There are leaves and flowers and swirls and dots and feathers, each different. All the cups have a swirl of steam rising from the rim, and the blocks have the background checked off in tiny diamonds. The sashing also has a figurative steam swirl. And the background print is divided off and quilted to point up each part:
I just can't express how happy this quilt makes me. Deb, you're a genius.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's not easy being green

What's this?It's my recycling station, nestled in the laundry between the pantry and the washing machine. It's a nifty container with three plastic bins each under a lid with a step-on pedal for hands-free operations. With it, you can easily and cleanly sort and store recyclable materials.

It's also one of the more superfluous things in my house. Let me explain.

Back before I bought this, I had a wicker hamper lined with a plastic bag. It wasn't very big, and since it was weeks between the curbside recycling pickups, it would overflow. In order to keep down the mess, I would sort the contents by type (aluminum, steel, paper, plastic 1, plastic 2) into paper bags and haul them to the recycling station down near the park. This was what my husband referred to as "driving the garbage around town". I had been doing this for years ever since we lived in an apartment complex without recycling pickup. Things got easier when the city put a satellite recycling dropoff in my end of town, but I still had too much recycling to let it lie around the place until the curbside pickup.

So, if I was going to sort it and dump it, I thought it would be easier to add pre-sorting into the mix and got my neat stainless triple sorter. So, cans went in one bin, plastic into another and steel/glass in the third. Paper went into a basket near it in the laundry. On recycling day, I picked up the bins out of the recycling station, put them in the station wagon and used the nifty handles to carry them from the car to the humongous labeled skips where I deposited each kind of material. Then the bins went back into the car and away I went. Easy-peasy, with the sorting done ahead of time.

Then the city got all eco-conscious and decided that we would have biweekly recycling pickup. They also cancelled our scheduled monthly brush and grass clippings pickup, but that's another gripe. So, now every other Friday the big green truck comes around to pick up our bagged recyclables. All they ask is that we put the stuff in blue plastic bags or bins so they can discern it from just plain trash. You can even mix all the types of materials in a single bag. It gets sorted and screened at the dumping point. This is good, except the bins in my recycling station are black, and would not be recognized for what they were, so I have to put the contents in a blue plastic bag (Isn't that inherently wasteful? And do you know how hard it is to find blue plastic garbage bags? But I digress.)

Now, I take each bin, dump it in one of the small blue plastic bags I found and set it on the curb. The bags are so small I usually have three - aluminum, plastic and paper. I don't collect up much steel so I save it for months to make a load, and the glass can't be left at the curb - I still have to take it into the satellite dropoff. If I could buy really large blue bags I could put all the contents into one of them and comingle the contents - the city doesn't care.

So all my pre-sorting work is out the window. I could use my wicker hamper again if it hadn't fallen apart. The only thing positive about all this sorting and separate bagging is that I can imagine the city workers pointing at my house and saying "The people who live here have the tidiest recycling in town!"

Lights up...lights down

It's always something when you own a home. I just didn't expect a light show in my living room.

For several months now, the living room lamps have been flickering. For no reason, the brightness will go dooooown, and then uuuuuup, taking several seconds to do each excursion. The pendant light in the kitchen was doing it too. Then, the overhead light in the den tried the maneuver. That isn't good. That's all I knew about it.

Electricity scares the whiz out of me. I once installed a mercury vapor light outside of my house on a pole, and the whole time I was up on the ladder I was begging my husband - "Just tell me the power is shut off again. Are you SURE?" That's kind of embarrassing for a retired engineer to admit, but hey, I was a mechanical engineer. I took electrical circuits classes in college, but having knowledge about something doesn't preclude having irrational fears about it!

So when the lights started doing that, I wanted to go to the professionals. I knew that my neighbor had just had some electrical problems right after the power company had gone through the neighborhood cutting vines off power poles and clearing vegetation near the wires. Her lights had been going on and off, too, and other strange things happening (a circuit breaker and a wall oven computer control damaged). There had been some sort of damage done to the connections on the pole where her service was taken off, and the power company had to do repairs - she didn't understand exactly what. Meanwhile, of course, they wouldn't accept responsibility for any of the electrical stuff and she had to buy a new oven and ask her son to replace the bad breaker.

The first thing I did was call the power company to check the line coming into the house. My husband (the electrical engineer) had said that a weak neutral on the transformer would cause voltage fluctuations that would make the lights dim. So, remarkably quickly, the power company people showed up. They tested the voltage and current coming into my house on their side and on my side of the meter. Not a problem was found. So, gulp, it was in my hands.

This was an excuse to do something that had never been done in the forty years my house has existed - map the circuits in the breaker box. Of course, I approached it like a retired engineer - I drew up a schematic of the house, locating every outlet and wired fixture and identifying them by a numbering scheme. Then, I made sure a lamp or something I could monitor was plugged into every single outlet in the house, turned them on, and then turned on every hardwired light fixture. My house looked like Las Vegas.

I warned my husband that his computer should probably be shut off, and then out to the garage I went. Then, for almost two hours, I did the following:

1. Turn off a breaker.
2. Wander the house, noting which outlets/lights/appliances were now shut off.
3. Annotate my schematic to show which of the above were attached to that breaker.
4. Turn on the breaker.

Repeat - 16 times. Blessedly, someone had the forethought to label the 220 volt circuits to the heat pump, the water heater, dryer, oven etc. So I only had to worry about the 110 volt lighting section. That was enough.

When I reached the third from last breaker (which controlled the living room lights) and turned it back on, I heard a sizzling sound coming from it, like someone was frying a pan of bacon. Oops. Think I found the problem. So I finished the last two quickly and told my husband about it. His response was to turn it off immediately. The contacts in the breaker were arcing - definitely not a good thing. We'd have to replace it. It's a simple job; there was only one problem. The service into my house does not have a main disconnect.

I kind of stood there with my mouth hanging open when I realized that. Heck, the electrical panel in my older former house that had fuses instead of breakers, for heaven's sake, had a main disconnect. What crazy electrical code was this place built to? So anyone who worked on the box would have to do it with the power live, or call the utility company to turn off the service and then reinstate it. My husband said he could replace the breaker anyway. Heck no, I said. So I ran an extension cord from the den to power the TV and a table lamp that night while I considered options. A quick canvass of my neighbor and friends revealed that no one had hired an electrician and had any recommendations.

The next day, husband said he was going to fix the breaker. It was ridiculous, he said, to pay $200 for such a simple job. But, I retorted, I wasn't emotionally attached to the electrician - he was expendable. Husband convinced me it would be OK. So, I gathered up my courage (and rubber gloves and a rubber door mat for him to stand on!) and thus outfitted, and hopefully insulated, he went into the garage and swapped out the breaker, me standing there the whole time holding my breath with one hand near the wooden handle of the broom, which I was going to use to pull him away from the panel when the sparks started flying. Of course, he did it without any problems at all (he's a professional!).

So now the issue is fixed and my lights don't look like the marquee of the Tivoli Theater. What a relief.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cat quilting motif and cat tales

I'm putting the binding on my husband's half a quilt, and I wanted to show the panto motif the longarmer used: Isn't that just the most adorable kitty pattern? I haven't started his applique cat quilt, so I put cats in the quilting on this one.

Speaking of kitties, Molly and I had a run-in yesterday. Since she won't wear a collar, I wanted to get a harness or something I could put on her if there was an emergency, since she's pretty hard to hold on to if she's upset. I keep her carrier in my closet in the bedroom in case there's an emergency and we have to grab her and vacate the premises, but I worried that without a way to hold her securely, she could get away from me and escape outside the carrier. Plus she wouldn't have her tags. So, I went to Petco and bought a cat harness and short leash yesterday. I needed to see if the harness would fit her ('cause she's a big girl!), so I put her on the table and slipped the harness on her.

Boy, was she upset! Let the biting commence! Of course, not full-out biting, just nips to show me that she was not amused. I adjusted the harness (let it out all the way, actually) and then tried to take it off. It has one of those little plastic quick-connects that have tiny ears on either side to depress to unlatch it. It's ridiculously hard to unfasten. While I'm wrestling with it, she's wrestling with me, and by the time I got the harness off her, she was beside herself.

You see, she hates to feel that she's being pushed around. I think that's why she hates the vet so much, because she doesn't have any control over what is happening to her. When I put the harness on her she felt like I was manhandling her and she got very angry. I have never had a cat that did that. My last darling kitty, Sasha, would just give you a look like "Well, okay," if you had to brush her or bathe her or clip her claws. She would look so dejected, as if to say "Why are you doing this to me?" When she had to have IVs after she got sick, she went along with whatever happened, because her people said it had to be done.

Boy, not Molly. If she feels bullied, she just goes nuts. I gave her a little kiss-and-make-up turkey afterward, but I think she's still mad at me. I reached down to pet her head as I walked past her and she had a tantrum at me today, nipping my feet. I wanted to calm her down, so I sat down on the floor beside her thinking I could give her a belly rub and get her over her bad mood. She didn't want a belly rub even though that's her favorite thing, but she wasn't running away from me. She was just sitting there next to me, looking very irritated, so I had a little talk with her about how I didn't like being bullied either. Molly looked at me very solemnly, and then raised her little face for a kitty kiss, as if to apologize. She cracks me up, sometimes.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh, give me a home...

...where my glasses won't roam!
I breezed through HomeGoods looking for Coimbra pottery today and found this pretty little tray, which will join my the Coimbra vase/pencil caddy and trinket box/stamp holder on my desk as a home for my glasses when I'm not wearing them. At least, I won't be hunting for them constantly.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quilt backings, and a new scrap quilt

Here are some quickly made and pretty terrible snapshots of the backings I made yesterday. This one is for the first quilt I made from the Christmas lights blocks shown here. I used a large Debbie Mumm snowman print and leftover green and red to stretch 3 1/2 yards of fabric large enough to back a 66" x 72" quilt. It kinda looks better in person! It's off-center for a reason, because you never know exactly how the longarm quilter is going to load it on the machine and it's hard to get a motif perfectly centered. This way, it doesn't matter.
And this one is for the second quilt made from Christmas lights, second quilt shown here. Seventy-two 10" squares taken from leftovers from the front and coordinating green, red, black and cream from the stash. As my husband said, that's not a backing, that's another quilt. Amen.
This backing is for the new one that finally got borders added yesterday. I had 5 1/2 yards of fabric and it was going to take every bit for the backing. The stripe is to replace 8" of fabric I borrowed from one length for the border. (The stripe's off-center a little bit, too.)
And here's the quilt:
I think it's very pretty and it's going on my guest bed. The pattern really appealed to me, which was a surprise because the blocks were rather large. Each star shape is made of four 8" blocks. The fabric's a Moda collection called "Morris Workshop" and the colors are exactly my style - muted "foggy" tones.
I promise, better photographs after they're quilted.