Friday, June 25, 2010

What it lacks in size it makes up in numbers

Our Early Girl variety tomato plant is amazing. The fruits are small, not much bigger than cherry tomatoes as you can see, but there's a lot of them. These were picked this morning, along with one Rutgers. I'm having trouble keeping up with the harvest. I mean, I like tomatoes and everything, but fourteen in one day?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Windmills of Provence

I just finished adding the last border to this Project Linus quilt, which I would call Windmills of Provence if I could name it. Unfortunately, Project Linus won't let you label your quilts. Sometimes I think that's a shame, because if the Project Linus quilts are still around in the future people won't know who gave their time and love to make a quilt to comfort a child, and quiltmakers are anonymous enough as it is. It isn't a "grab the glory" thing, it's "credit where credit is due". This is made from a couple of charm packs of "A Breath of Avignon", a yard of the blue/white fleur de lis plus some white and red from the stash. It's about 46" x 55".

I started out modeling it on the Schnibbles pattern "Dulcinea" but after I had made the windmill blocks I decided the colors were too busy to put the blocks side by side. The small red spinner blocks were just the ticket to separate them and add another design element.

What's next? A blue and yellow basket quilt, probably. And a lot of binding! I have a backlog again.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Puppy news

Well, last night my neighbor's younger son told me that she had called the local animal shelter to come and pick up the puppy, and this evening I peeked around the fence and didn't see it anywhere, so I guess it's gone. I know that puppies are adopted at a much higher rate than older dogs, and he was very cute and personable and friendly, and had a good temperment, but I am so scared he will be put down before someone wants him. The local shelter is a low-kill, not a no-kill, shelter, but there are so many animals there right now.

The other bad outcome would be if he were adopted by someone who wanted a pit bull dog because of their reputation and trained him to be mean. He's a big love bug right now but such awful things could happen. Please pray that he finds a good home. I'm going to have nightmares about this.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The car tag renewal form came in the mail today. I keep getting flashbacks of my husband's car being inspected -and it flunking. Flunking is not an option for my car - we're down to one and it has to work. Nor do I want to spend a bundle on it right now. Nothing seems amiss, but like that tells you anything. I didn't know there was anything wrong with my husband's car. The check engine light wasn't on - because the check engine light had quit working! Mercy. My Subaru's seven years old. Please think good thoughts for me.

Puppy trouble

My neighbor, owner of the two "rat dogs", the miniature pinschers about which I have written, has taken to feeding a stray puppy. It's a pit bull mix, perhaps part retriever of some sort, caramel tan brindle with the most striking gray/green eyes and white toe tips. He's a young dog, probably less than three months, but obviously going to be big when he's grown. Her daughter is calling him Caramel, in fact. He's an attractive animal but I'm hoping that she doesn't keep him.

Her twenty-something son, according to her youngest daughter, is in favor of keeping the puppy and finding a new home for the min pins, a difficult task because they are over 10 years old and not reliably house broken, and she doesn't want to split them up. When you think about it, the son's preference is obvious, though. What pet would a young man want - a pit bull mix or a couple of yappy rat dogs? But none of the family seem to be very pet-oriented past the "have a dog out in the back yard" level. The min pins were the late husband's dogs, and my neighbor has already said that she's only keeping them because he liked them so much. She's a self-admitted non-dog-person. The youngest daughter is even allergic to dogs. No one in the family seems to give them a lot of attention, although they get good treatment - food, water, shelter, vet care. It just seems that they don't get much interaction, socialization or love. I feel sorry for them and try to fill in with love and attention with I can. They were both consummate escape artists and were constantly slipping out of the fence and roaming the neighborhood. Neither dog has any road sense at all and were in danger of being hit by a car. Thank goodness it seems that the neighbor has finally solved the escape problem because neither has been outside of the fence in several weeks. I go to the corner of the fence to talk to the poor dogs and toss dog biscuits.

The puppy and the min pins aren't getting along - the pup's already bigger than they are and very rambunctious, and the other dogs are older and probably don't appreciate rough play. If she is going to keep this puppy, she needs to instigate some rules right now or the min pins are in danger of being harmed. The male min pin has hip issues an the female dog is very small and fragile. Even unintentionally, the puppy could hurt them. I don't discount pit bulls out of hand, but I have known several people with pit mixes, and while they were great people dogs, they were intolerant of other animals.

Since my neighbor and her son work a lot of hours, and the daughter goes to school and is allergic to boot, I can't imagine that this puppy with get the attention and training that he's going to need to start him out right and make him a good pet. I envision an awfully lot of barking and car chasing in the future, as well as unmannerly behavior and possibly aggression. So it's kind of a mess. I've already started my "the neighbor lady is really nice" training this morning with petting and dog biscuits and also trying to instill some manners by discouraging jumping and clothes tugging, and making him sit down to be petted. It's only smart to be on this dog's good side if he's staying. Hey, it's worked for years with other neighborhood dogs. Haven't met a dog yet who couldn't be bribed with a cookie.

In the meantime, the local shelter probably isn't the place to take a stray dog right now because the Humane Society yesterday raided a pet store in the local mall and carted off all the puppies and other animals because of substandard treatment. This has contributed to the city Animal Control's chronic overcrowding issues. I'm all for this raid because the puppies in that pet store looked sickly (products of puppy mills), but there is only so much room in the shelter. While it's not a no-kill shelter, it does keep the animals longer than other places I've seen and has a pretty good placement record. They try to only put down animals that are non-adoptable due to aggressive behavior reasons or bad health. But, if you look at their "Pet Parade" program of dogs available for adoption on the cable On-Demand channel, almost every one there is part pit bull. It's obvious. So this little guy may not have a good chance if he's taken to the shelter. It's a mess, all right.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Clothes Hoarding

Clothes hoarding is what I call that stash of not-quite-big-enough clothing we keep in the back of the closet for when we lose that last X pounds. You know what I mean. We all probably have them.

I had some - I'll admit it. Over ten years ago I went on a lose-weight-or-die mission and dropped a bunch of weight. Little Me (or Littler Me) appeared for the first time in years in the late 1990's. I shopped and purchased a new wardrobe. I also kept some of the clothes I wore during the weight countdown that were a size or two larger than the final size I ended up after the diet. But like all dreams, it didn't last. My Waterloo was a medical issue that ended up requiring that I take prednisone daily for over half a year. If you're not familiar with the side effects of oral steroid dosage, one of them is unfortunately weight gain. Oh boy, was there ever weight gain. I went up one size in less than a month. And unfortunately, it didn't stop there.

I repurchased a wardrobe and hung the smaller clothes in the guest room closet. Finally after several years, I gave up and sorted and packed donation bags for Goodwill. Some of the things that were on the larger side of the spectrum were saved, mostly because I was unwilling to let go, but hey, you never know. They were hung back in the closet and the rest went to charity.

Flash forward to this spring and my diagnoses of diabetes, which caused my current weight loss. I have been "shopping" my guest room closet and pulling out stuff that now fits. Yay for me. But I unfortunately found that some of the things that I lovingly saved are going into the donation bag. Why? Because my tastes and my "fashion eye" have changed in ten years. Things that looked good then, even though they fit now, just aren't right. I have two words for you. Pleated pants. Get the picture?

I did another try-on session this morning and pulled out a couple more pairs of khakis that fit, and some short sleeved sweaters. But there are three pairs of dressy pants that didn't make the cut. And there's a couple of knit tops that evoked the "Ah---no" reaction too. I'm still on the fence about two dresses. I think it's the shoulder pads. If they are replaced with smaller less 90's versions and the dresses are hemmed, I think these can be salvaged.

The moral of this story? Even if you get back into your "someday" clothes, will you wear them? Take a long unbiased look at what you have in the back of the closet. If they are being saved for inspiration, great. If they are for vindication and affirmation (hey, I wore this in high school), fine. But I fear that these items won't go back into regular rotation, even if they fit. After a certain "sell-by" date, clothing, like dairy products, expires.

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I want it!

Oh, I wish I hadn't dropped by Lavender Lime Quilt Shop yesterday. If I hadn't I would not have seen this: The Handiquilter 16 Sit-Down machine. And I would not have tried it out. And I would not be trying to figure out how to spend $4200 on a quilting machine.

Oh, the agony.

First, let me say that I'm a piecer more than a quilter. My free motion quilting is somewhere between pathetic and sad. I know, I know, if I practiced more I could improve. But using my Juki sitting on the kitchen table gives me such a pain in the neck and shoulders from the position you have to assume to maneuver the fabric - arms raised and elbows akimbo. Since I don't enjoy neck aches, I don't do enough quilting to keep up with my prolific piecing. And my longarmer is assured that she can vacation in Florida every year. I probably pay her enough on my quilting to gas up her motor home.

This is different from a longarm machine, more like a very nice setup using a DSM to free motion, except the machine throat is 16" and there is a lovely large table surface where the machine is flush mounted. And you can sit comfortably and whiz along. Admittedly, it doesn't have a stitch regulator, but if I could get pretty even stitches after a few minutes practice, anybody can.

I want this SO BADLY.

But there's that pesky $4200, and finding a place to put it in the house. I don't know. I just don't know.

If I had the guest room to myself (and was significantly richer than I am) I would buy this, the Olivia sewing machine cabinet by Arrow, and the dropleaf cutting table that Lavender Lime has on display. In a heartbeat. And I would be SET FOR LIFE.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Big and beautiful

I keep trying to make quilts with large blocks. The instant-gratification portion of my personality doesn't want to slave away on 6" or 8" blocks unless they are for a wall quilt (or unless I get suckered into it in a mystery quilt). But every time I make a 12" test block it looks clunky and unappealing and I end up resizing it, like "Stars Over Rouen".

But I fell in love with a pattern in "Schnibbles Times Two" called "Nice Day". The version made with a layer cake had 12" blocks. It had too many strikes against it. 12" blocks. Piano key border. Oversized subunits and setting triangles to be trimmed to size, all things I don't enjoy. I debated reducing the size of the blocks and cutting everything exactly. Still, I deliberated. Then, when I found the layer cake for Moda's "Cherish Nature" I had the fabric that would do justice to those large triangles and make the book's construction methods worthwhile.

The collection had such pretty patterns and colors it was a shame to cut it into small pieces that wouldn't display them to full advantage. Butterflies, honeybees, bird eggs! They had to be showcased.

So, without further ado, I give you my latest quilt top, called "A Nice Day For A Walk In The Park": Not to mention it's my favorite color combination in the whole world.
Even the backing is cool. Bird eggs!
This one is going to the longarm quilter next week. It's going to be my new favorite nap quilt.