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.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Productive sewing day

I set up the sewing machine about 1 p.m. and resolved to get a few unfinished projects ready to be quilted. The first was a backing for Christmas Lights variant number one. I knew I didn't have enough gold fabric to make a solid backing so I searched through my fabrics for a coordinating snowman print to intersperse in a stripe down the back of the quilt. A little red (same as in the blocks) and green (not identical, but very close) and I had my design. One project done.

Before I could make the backing for the quilt created from the Morris Garden fat quarter collection, I had to decide - borders or no borders? The block design I used was taken from a quilt kit I saw online that didn't use borders, but I felt it needed something. I had a red print fabric for the backing that would be good as a narrow inner border against a pieced outer border of 4" x 8" rectangles of leftover fabric. But, if I borrowed some of the red backing, it wouldn't be wide enough. More of the leftovers to rescue. I pieced a strip of 8" x 8" squares to inset in the backing. Rob Peter to pay Paul!

It didn't take long to assemble the backing but the borders consumed the rest of the day. Binding was cut from a piece of the same fabric I'm using for binding on my husband's half a quilt, taking every last scrap.

Of course during all of this I cooked dinner and cleaned up the kitchen. Finally I picked up my fabric mess and put away the ironing board at 9:30. No pictures today, I'm too tired!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Christmas Lights times 2

Finally done - not as planned! After staring at the blocks a while, I determined that a) they needed to be separated into two quilts, and b) I needed more green with the red to make it Christmas-y. Starting with the star blocks, I designed these X blocks to go with them, which are based on a disappearing nine patch. To me, they look like little boxes with bows on top. I put black corners on them so they made a secondary pattern with the gold corners on the star blocks. And I had just enough snowman fabric for the border. (Sorry the quilts look so weird in the picture. They were too long so I hung them horizontally across two closet doors and the framing made a lump in the middle.) Now, I had the red pointy blocks left. I rummaged through my closet and found two Christmas fabrics. The first is a scattered pattern of ball ornaments, and the second is a Thimbleberries fabric with bows, stars and holly. I'm still not crazy about the blocks, but I like how there are lines of small squares running down the quilt through the blocks.
I like the first one enough to keep it. The second one will probably be a gift. Next problem is finding enough matching fabric in my stash to make backings because I am determined I will not buy any fabric for these. They did come out much larger than I was thinking. The top one is 66 x 78 and the bottom one is 70 x 82. The original quilt was described as a lap quilt, but these are a lot bigger than that, nearly bed size, in my opinion.

(Oops, better watch it. I've already expressed opinions about these blocks and look where THAT got me!)

So, that's what I sewed this week. How about you?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's for supper?

Once you get a cat, you'll never cook alone.

One of these things is not like the other...

Yesterday I made a quick grocery stop and picked up a few of the staples and paper products that I keep stockpiled on a shelf in the garage. I hate to run out of stuff like paper towels so I buy at least two large packages at a time and keep them on my "pantry overflow" shelves just inside the garage door. One of the things I bought was toilet paper. Because I was in a hurry, I grabbed the first two packages on the shelf of the brand I buy and stuffed them in my cart. Only when I got home and put them away did I notice this difference. This is the brand and size I always buy, so when I placed them side by side I was startled to see the difference in height of the packages: Hmmm, let's see. They're both nine rolls, same label and same brand. The left one has the Komen breast cancer supporter symbol on the package and October is breast cancer awareness month, so I can tell than it's the latest one the store received. So the new rolls must be narrower, I figure at least 1/2" narrower because the right package is about 1 1/2" taller. Let's look at the front label:Old package: 9 rolls, 450 sq. ft., 400 sheets per roll.
New package: 9 rolls, 385 sq. ft., 385 sheets per roll.

Same price both packages.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

What price "coolest"?

This is a story on Yahoo! Travel today that has me scratching my head:

America's Coolest Small Towns

Every now and then, you stumble upon a town that's gotten everything right—great coffee, food with character, shop owners with purpose. These 10 spots have it all, in perfectly small doses.

Now, I'm as much a sucker for ambiance as the next person, and these towns might be interesting to visit, but I'm wondering how the residents feel about the places - especially now that Yahoo has outed them and they will perhaps be inundated with visitors (that it sounds like they don't have the infrastructure to handle).

OK, so they've got cute coffee shops and bookstores and bed-and-breakfasts, but do they have a decent school system? A well staffed police and fire department? Social services and public works? How about a library? What does it cost the residents for water and waste disposal? These kinds of services can be exorbitantly expensive for small towns, and a yearly influx of tourists may make shopkeepers happy but doesn't put much into the government's coffers.

And it's all very well if you can find a great latte, but how about buying daily essentials like groceries without being gouged. I grew up in a small town; I know about the greed that ensues when there's no competition. And are there doctors and dentists and a hospital, or do residents have to drive into the closest city for health care? Consider that when you kid's sick in the middle of the night.

All that ambiance stuff that brings in the tourism quixotically could make the places more crowded and difficult for the locals, and I would bet doesn't add a lot to their day-to-day life.

Friday, October 2, 2009

And even more variations...

Ooh, I had another idea. This ties into the green and black points on the star. I tried to put this in the previous post, but the "Add Image" tool makes it hard to add a picture after you have saved the post. The new picture is added at the front and then I have trouble moving it to the place where I want it. It seemed that you used to be able to drag it and scroll downward. I can't make it do that anymore. Does anybody know what I'm doing wrong?

Everybody's welcome to their opinion, and I'd like to hear them

Now that I'm faced with a pile of blocks I don't know what to do with, I'm trying new ideas for completing the Christmas Lights quilt. I pulled out all the best options from EQ and I'm going to include them here. If you have an opinion, please tell me. I'd love some feedback - and I promise I won't call you "mean spirited" if you disagree with me!

This is the quilt as designed:
I think the reason this design didn't grab me is all the red. It seems to hijack the whole quilt. So I rearranged the star blocks in a center cluster radiating out to the corners to give them more emphasis, and liked it better:
Still, there's a lot of red. I thought about re-making the blocks with green, kind of like the green boughs of a Christmas tree, surrounding the bright squares representing the lights. I also just put them on the outer edge, and added plain gold setting squares in the center:
Or, since the red blocks are a reworking of a disappearing nine patch, I tried changing them so there were more four patch squares at the corners for more "lights":
Then, I thought about making all four corners of the disappearing nine patch blocks as half square triangle blocks, keeping the red for contrast, and using a lighter green in those blocks and in the setting squares:
Where these new blocks come together with the star blocks it makes divided half square triangle blocks and a sashing effect around the stars.

I think a lot of these changes have possibilities, it's just whether I want to make more blocks or not. What do you think?