Monday, May 24, 2010

Rushing it, just a little

Talk about your over-achieving garden plants! I picked these last night. There was another but a bunny got to it first. Admittedly, the variety is called "Early Girl" and I bought large plants, not those little slips in peat pots, but really! May 23rd? That must be a new record.

They are a bit small, but they are a lovely color and fully ripe. Don't know yet if they're good tomatoes or taste like tennis balls, like those in the grocery. We'll test them out in a salad tonight.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I am currently entranced by this book: It contains some of the cutest simple quilts, in large and small versions using layer cakes and charm packs, respectively. I'm not normally a "quilt book" kind of a person but for Schnibbles I'm making an exception. To the right are two 4.5" blocks I made this morning for the smaller version of the quilt named "Short Story". I'm still scratching my head about the name. Looks more like an hourglass to me. Regardless, it will be part of a small quilt comprised of scrappy Christmas fabric. It could be a nice decoration for the coffee table during the holidays, or I might give it away.

I read the instructions for this block yesterday, including use of the Companion Angle ruler, and they must have stuck in my head because last night I had nightmares about trying to make this quilt. In my dream it kept messing up and coming out wrong. What an awful night I had! I had to get up this morning and make the two blocks to prove I could do it. In the process I realized that the directions for using the Companion Angle ruler on the small block were not correct. That must have subconsciously stayed in my memory and produced the dreams.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who ARE you?

I've noticed something recently in my blog reading that is both puzzling and depressing. You know how it is when you have read someone's blog for a while. You may not actually know them, not in a flesh and blood way, but you think you have a pretty good idea about their personality, how they think and what they value. Then, they post something that has you going "Wha?" closely followed by "Who are you and what have you done with my blog-friend?"

Sometimes it's politics that rears its ugly head. Sometimes it's something else in the real world, like a squabble between members of a quilt guild or family, or current events. But when it happens, stuff comes out of their keyboard that has you scratching your head and wondering if you really knew them at all. There's something about the anonymity of blogs and other electronic text communication media that lowers the barriers in your brain if you're not careful. Witness the current news about cyber-bullying and its destructive results. It's likely that even the most hardened hearts would have a difficult time saying things to your face that they so blithely type. And without the context of facial expression and tone of voice, many statements that might be merely cross can become truly damaging.

When a blogger lets fly out of the blue with what you consider to be a cruel, intolerant or destructive remark, you can't help but wonder if all that you read in the past was a carefully constructed "front" and this is the real person. One that you don't like so much. Blogging can be like dating - at first, you dress up nice and use your "party manners". After a while, you get comfortable in the situation and maybe start to slip a little, and expose some of the warts and flaws you have been carefully concealing. Over the past three years, I have run into some bloggers who appeared to be like that. If I had read their blog now for the first time, maybe I wouldn't go back. But since you feel like you have a "history" with them, you keep visiting in hopes to prove yourself wrong. And mostly it happens. The posts that confused you so were an aberration, a bad day, a slip of the temper.

But sometimes they're not. And you have to sadly bid that blogger's writings goodbye because life is too short to wallow in bitterness and strife. I try to tread the line between expressing my opinion and disparaging others who feel differently. Dear Readers, if you feel that I have slipped into negativity in my writing - call me out on it.

P.S. - I bet a lot of you regular readers are worried that I'm writing about you. It's OK, calm down - I'm not! In the main, through blogging I have found some of the most thoughtful, generous and charming people I could ever hope to meet, and I value our communication.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Who wins? Who cares?

Is anyone besides me completely sick of competition TV shows? The whole genre started, I guess, with Survivor (which I have never watched). Then there's The Great Race, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Design Star, The Next Food Network Star, Chopped, Project Runway, The Fashion Show, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. They never end.

The ones on HGTV aggravate me the most. I turn on HGTV to get design inspiration and to do the house-voyeur thing - you know, you want to see what everyone else's taste is and what houses are out there for sale. I switched on the TV for distraction while I was working on "Stars over Martinique" today and Battle on the Block was on. That sent me scurrying to the other channels looking for "Law & Order" or "Cold Case", my admitted addictions. Anything but that silly HGTV show. First, I don't think doing something like renovating or decorating at breakneck speed against the clock is entertaining, or anything but ridiculous. Second, I'm enough of a perfectionist to wince when I see jobs done sloppily because of lack of time. And third, the fake 'drama' is stupid.

Thank goodness nobody has come up with "Quilt Against the Clock". Ready, set, sew!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Quilt in a box

When we changed over to internet service from the cable provider, the new cable modem came in a lovely little box that I immediately scrounged onto for quilt stuff storage. It's nice white cardboard, 9" x 11", and has a flap that locks in place. It has become "Quilt in a box".

Since I'm into making small projects recently, it is just the right size to store all my cut out patches and blocks while I'm working. I use removable tape to affix an EQ drawing of the project on the outside: and store a picture of the block with the patches inside:
Very cool! I wish I had a dozen of these boxes to round up all my projects, which are currently PIZs (Project in Ziplock Bags) not PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks). These would stack so nicely on the closet shelf.

How charm-ing

This charm pack stuff is addictive.

I might just be the last quilter in America to succumb to French General's "Rouenneries" line. When I first saw it, I said "Well, that's pretty, but I don't use red." However, when I was at the quilt shop Tuesday, I found the last two charm packs and the last bolt of red fabric, all marked down and thought "Let's see what I can do. I can always give it to someone."

A little time on EQ and I had a design. At first, the blocks were to be 12", but after assembling one, I changed my mind and reduced the size to 9". Just can't love large blocks, no matter how much I try! That of course meant assembling the subunit HSTs and four patches and trimming them all to size, a job I detest, but it surely makes for accurate piecing. And the top went together like a, ahem, charm.

So, without further ado I give you "Stars over Rouen".

Monday, May 10, 2010

I love a star quilt

Oh, the dangers of the quilt shop! I went looking for a specific thing (lilac toile - would you believe I found it?) and these charm packs of Moda "Martinique" called to me. Two charm packs, a yard of the large print and some neutrals from my stash, and I almost have a quilt top. Still haven't decided on the borders, but isn't it cute? It's going to be called "Stars over Martinique".I'm back on the "horizontal design wall", aka guest room bed. The design wall I put up in the hall is great for laying out blocks but I can't photograph them there.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I was thinking about something after I posted about my run-in with the city workers cutting my dogwood trees. A lot of bloggers show pictures of their house, but it's always the interior, the garden, the deck, etc. None of the front of the house.

Now, I am pretty domestic. I guess it would be hard to be born in the early 50's and not end up domestic, because girls were just taught that stuff back then as a matter of course. But I love house-related stuff. Decorating, planting, arranging, sewing, cooking, you name it related to home-keeping and I like it. Cleaning, not so much, but I realize it has to be done and can do it. All that seems a little out of character for a retired engineer, but there you are.

So, I love to look at houses. I'm a sucker for an open house, and adore touring model homes. We've lived in this house for 17 years, and while we haven't done a lot to the outside other than maintenance stuff (painting, roof) it looks pretty good. Thanks to the lawn guy the grass is doing fairly well too. Best gift to myself I ever did was hiring that guy to keep the lawn mowed and the bushes trimmed. That has to be my least favorite of house chores; I did it for years but it ate up my precious free time during my work life.

So, without further ado, here is the front of my house:
Like most 60's ranchers, it's proportioned long and not too deep, so it's hard to get the whole length in the picture, even from across the street.

How about it? Do you want to post a picture of your house? I would understand if you don't - privacy and all - but I'm sure that more bloggers than I would love to see it.

Oh - behind the house you can see the electric pole where the unfortunate squirrel made itself into a rodent circuit bridge and got fried. My neighbor found another electrocuted squirrel in the yard across the street a few days ago. I think they need safety classes.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Note to city workers: If you've got a problem, just say so

What a mess of a day. Supposedly the lawn guy was scheduled to bring a helper and work on the plantings around my patio (lawn guy is older and doesn't do a lot of digging anymore - he has younger help for that). Some of the bushes are dying, some just look terrible, and one, the ivy on a trellis, is just a nuisance and needs to go. I had made two trips to the nursery to pick up plants this week to get ready for this. Two trips because you can't carry many bushes in a station wagon. At 8 o'clock I scurried out to move the outside furniture away from the azalea border around the patio, mark the dead/dying/pitiful plants that were to be dug up and replaced, measure and mark where the new azalea bushes were to be planted, lay out a tarp to gather up all the plant materials, moved the bags of compost and mulch around to the patio and generally get ready for the work. Then I waited. And waited. And waited.

All this time, my left eye had been aching. It was bothering me when I woke up and continued to be painful. Both eyes were raw and irritated, but the left one was what was concerning me, since I am using some prescribed eye drops and wondered if they weren't working or just weren't agreeing with me. So after 11 o'clock when the message I left for the lawn guy wasn't answered, I called my ophthalmologist and they said they would work me in after lunch. Thank goodness. I cleaned up and dressed, and walked over to my neighbor's house to ask if she had the lawn guy's cell phone number, since he mows her lawn too, because I wanted to try and inform him I would be gone.

On the way back to the house, I see a city public works truck pull up at the corner of the lot and a guy with a saw get out and proceed to hack on one of the dogwood trees planted at the corner. I scurried over and asked him what the heck he was doing.

To visualize this, I need to describe my lot. I am on the corner of a smaller side street, which the house faces, and a more busy street. There is a stop sign on my side street. At the corner is a cluster of short holly bushes about 5 feet from the curb, and set back from the street 20 feet or so are three dogwoods in a triangular configuration. These are large dogwoods that probably been there since the house was built over 40 years ago. The trunks have many branches which are high enough off the ground that you can ride the lawnmower under them, but not necessarily walk under them close to the trunk. They do not extend to the curb.

The city worker said that there was a complaint that the tree branches were blocking visibility of the stop sign. I can categorically say they were not. I stood in the street where a car would be approaching the corner and could see the stop sign completely unobstructed. I figure someone got a ticket for running the stop sign and used that as an excuse. When I told the worker so, it did not make any difference. I did however get him to stop hacking on my trees.

"Did you even ring the doorbell and try to tell someone that the trimming had to be done?" I asked. Of course they didn't. I told them that if anyone was going to trim my trees, my lawn guy would do it and do so in a way that would not harm them. The city worker evidently didn't know what he was doing, just chopping at the branches and creating a mess. Finally, he left.

When I got home from the doctor's office (thank goodness there wasn't a problem; my eyes don't seem to like those drops and she changed the prescription) the lawn guy was there mowing. I asked him about where his assistant was and found out that his helper couldn't do the work today and furthermore, he told the lawn guy LAST TUESDAY. Which information wasn't passed on to me.

Here's a tidbit you can use, lawn guy: Keep the lady with the checkbook in the loop. So now the work is scheduled for Monday.

Like I said. Heck of a day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tiny little Bonnie blocks

I'm still making the 3" segments for the mini Bonnie Hunter "Addicted to Scraps" blocks. These are arranged like the pattern where the top left/bottom right are one color and the other two are another, with all the available combinations jumbled around, but there are many possibilities so I'm not joining the segments yet until I see the whole picture. The neutrals will be varied, too. There's cream, pink, blue, aqua, beige, yellow and rose.

I still haven't decided what the final quilt will look like, but aren't the little blocks cute? (They're next to a full size block for comparison.)

Monday, May 3, 2010


Here's what I did with some of that fabric I found that I wondered what was on my mind when I bought it. It's sooooo not me. In a small zipper bag at the bottom of some stacks in my stash closet were a jelly roll and charm pack of Moda Charisma by Chez Moi, along with 1/2 yard of a matching red fabric. It was evidently bought several years ago. I puzzled over it for a day and couldn't remember what I wanted to make. Then, I checked EQ and found a layout based on a larger quilt from Lavender Lime's book "Sassy and Sophisticated".

What was I thinking? I almost never buy red, and shy away from brights like this. But, what a charming small quilt for Project Linus it made! Sophisticated? I'm not sure. But sassy? Definitely!