Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Growing Entirely Too Quickly

Caroline, 1 year, 2 months
Sam, 3 years, 3 months

Monday, April 27, 2009

A Couple of Bags

I totally, I mean totally, espouse this idea of bringing our own bags with us when we go to the store. And since, more often than not despite my wishes to the contrary, my shopping is of the bag-here, bag-there variety rather than one big fell swoop, I'm learning to keep some bags in my car and take one in with me when I stop at Trader Joe's or -- gasp -- Whole Foods on my way home from work.

What I don't like is the type of re-usable bag that we get from both of those places. So it seemed like the thing to do was to make some stylish bags for me and a couple of buddies.

This picture is of the weekend's yield -- two from my William Morris stash. One has already been given away to my house guest who I really never thought of as a bag lady. Until now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Anticipaaaaaation! (cue Carly Simon)

Do you see what the postal person brought me on Friday? Do you? And do you believe everything is still intact? That I've not cut into it at all?

Click, please to see how delicious the fabrics are, how splendid the patterns. Oh, do click!

I am very eager. Little Caroline is sure to be on the Best Dressed List once I get going. I had a few things holding me up, but next weekend, fersure, will be when I start one of those delightful little dresses. What fun!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Quilt for a Little Girl

Like many non-profit institutions, the school where I work depends on various fund-raisers throughout the year to help make the budget. And, like many other institutions, one of our fund-raisers is an auction.

The gal who runs the auction and does many other impossible tasks -- some of which involve keeping peace within the home and school association -- is a delight. She has more energy than any two of the Pre-K kids combined, and an infectious enthusiasm. So when she put out a call on the school email for people to donate things to the auction, I offered immediately to produce a baby quilt.

I had an abundance of wonderful fabric left over from the wedding quilt I had made for Tim and Ingrid, and I thought they would make a nice blended baby quilt. By the time I got done piecing the blocks and setting them, however, it turned out to be a quilt for a little girl. I hadn't done any hand-quilting for a while, and thought this would be a nice project for spring evenings. It was.

I finished the binding this morning -- two whole weeks before the auction. And I like the way it turned out. You can click on the picture to see the pattern.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quiltville Comes To Not Far From Near Philadelphia!

Last night Judy and I had the best time! I'd received email a few weeks ago from my friend Bonnie Hunter that she was going to be in the area, speaking at a guild not too far from Near Philadelphia, and she wondered if I could come over. Could I!

I've been wanting for some time to get involved with a guild. I'd tried one several years ago, the one I believed to be closest to home, and let's just say it was not a good fit. Turbo and I had heard about another guild not terribly far, but the location involved some driving that was more complicated that I care for. I think I'm starting to sound picky. Oh well.

Judy drove and I navigated and through our joint effort we got to Newtown, about 40 minutes away, about five minutes before the meeting. The place was packed! We were signing in and paying our guest fees when we spotted Bonnie, who came over and gave us a couple of big hugs. The meeting started on time and people were surprisingly respectful of the president, who kept things moving right along. We were immediately impressed with (a) the scope of opportunities and projects this guild presents and (b) the friendliness of the members. Bonnie sat with Judy and me and led the cheering section for the show and tell portion of the meeting, at which point we were dazzled by (c) the talent of the members!

It's funny how you can know someone for a long time and think you really know her. Bonnie and I have been friends for about ten years. But I'd never seen her give a presentation before -- and she was excellent! Readers, I tell you, if you have an opportunity to hear her speak, do not stay home. She had us laughing and taking notes like crazy.

Judy and I didn't get home until about eleven o'clock, pretty late for both of us on school nights. But we came away with

--appreciation of a new aspect of our friend
--a thorough understanding of the fabric food chain
--a determination and vow to spend 15 minutes per day -- starting today -- organizing our scrap systems
--knowledge of a lovely group that we both want to join!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Ruffled Capri Pants, Size 18 Months

My, oh my, did I have fun today!

Pattern by Portabello Pixie.

Fabric by Tanya Whelan.

Both purchased through Anthem's Etsy Shop.

Granddaughter by Sherry and Chris.

Can't wait to see her in her new capri pants!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Back to our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Didn't this blog used to have a lot of quilty content? Doesn't she sew any more? Did she give up buying fabric -- not just for Lent -- for ever?

Yes, no, and no. It's time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.

First off, however, is a hearty thank-you to Tracey, who sent me this wonderful assortment of her gorgeous cards. A good, good person, excellent writer, magnificent photographer, and fabric fondler extraordinaire, Tracey drew my name from her recent give-away. Am I lucky, or what?

Someone asked whether I'd bought any fabric when Joe and I were visiting the Caribbean. Well, yes.

The last island we visited was Martinique, a French colony. We took a guided tour of the island, ending at the market place. I'd told the tour guide that I'd heard about Martinique's distinctive madras fabrics, and she pointed us in the right direction for "fabric row." There were several fabric shops close together, each selling more or less the same types of fabrics. We selected one and went in -- Joe was a wonderful help in getting the bolts up and down from their racks, as we were short on time. I'm not sure what I'll do with this collection of brilliant hues -- any ideas out there?

On St. Kitts we took an island tour with a guide whose personal appearance as well as his vehicle rivaled that madras fabric for intense color. He was quite a character, too, pulling over to the side of the road around ten o'clock in the morning to offer us a complimentary refreshing beverage from the back of the jeep -- imagine our surprise to find good island rum among the selections! Subscribing to the old premise that "it's five o'clock somewhere," we had a little bit of the most delicious light -- and dark -- rum ever!

Back on the road, the next stop was at a place where there were gorgeous gardens surrounding a batik shop. There we saw the batik-making process broken down, and did a little shopping. Most of what they had for sale was made-up merchandise -- shirts, skirts, table linen, bags -- but there was a small pile of 2.5 meter pieces, many of them featuring the local lizard.

Since returning home, I've been happy to do some sewing. We have three weddings coming up this summer among our friends' children. The Good Guys traditionally have showers for the brides, and Emily's and Stephanie's weddings will be in August and September, respectively. Someone thought the theme for the joint shower we will have should be "Christmas in July." This was easy for me to work with. Back last Christmas Nicole was making aprons like there was no tomorrow. At my request, she revealed the name of the pattern she'd been using, and I lost no time in purchasing it. It took a little longer to get the fabric, but when we were out at White Oak last month I stopped at the Old Country Store and found exactly the right subtle Christmas prints. The directions to the pattern are clear, and I had a lot of fun putting these together. I see more apron-making in my future.

Finally, March was my month to send out fabric and get back blocks from one of my internet groups. I had a pattern that I'd been dying to get to, but was a bit delayed by the thought of all of the intricate piecing involved. I also had a group of Civil War Crossings FQs that someone had sent me in exchange for a set of BOM kits that turned out to be more to her taste than to mine. Viola! There will be 13 of these blocks when all of them have come in; meanwhile, I need to get started on the alternate blocks. Z&S is having a big sale right now and I ordered the Civil War Crossings yardage I'll need for those blocks, as well as the shirting.

So, the answer is yes and yes -- she does still sew and she certainly still acquires fabric!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Understanding the Phenomenon

All at once, she's everywhere. The YouTube video has received thousands and thousands of hits, from many different countries. She's the subject of many blog entries, the sought-after guest of television hosts. She's nothing short of a phenomenon.

Most people are cheering for her, excited by her unexpected huge success. A few righteous individuals are deriding the many who were surprised by her talent, saying things like "How dare you judge her on her appearance," apparently not realizing that even mentioning her appearance puts them in the same class. And here and there is the person who doesn't see her talent, her grace, her genuineness.

As I've read the blogs and the comments, I've tried to figure out why so many people -- myself certainly included -- are thrilled by Susan Boyle's story. It is more than just being happy for her success.

So much about reality TV seems to be about humiliation; this time, however, it is the viewers and the judges who get to take another look at ourselves.

Mark Blankenship, pop culture critic at The Huffington Post has proposed an explanation that I think is right on the mark, if you'll pardon the pun. His piece seems to me to be hastily written and could have done with a bit of revision. But that's not why I want you to read it. It's because he goes right to the crux of who we flawed, egotistical beings really are, and how Susan's triumph gives us the opportunity to get in touch with the kernel of who we really are, deep inside the surround of ego. Here's an excerpt:

. . . partially because Boyle herself seems so lovely, but it's also because this clip enacts a story that we want to be true. No matter how much we mock those we consider beneath us, it's much more satisfying to be reminded that everyone has dignity.

Please go here to read Mark's full post. I can't tell you how much it resonated for me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Joy, Near Philadelphia

Dream the Dream

Go here.

Play the video.

Do it now.

You won't be sorry!

I wasn't.

Trust me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Other Island Scenes

The Caribbean islands we visited held some of the most beautiful flowers I've ever seen, many of them just growing at will here and there. There were breathtaking views of the coast, the coves, the rain forests.

I'd like to say that everywhere we looked there was beauty.

But we also saw a great deal of tremendous poverty.

One of our guides told us that although most people on that particular island held jobs, they were not paid quite enough to make ends meet. Thus, they had fruit and vegetable gardens.

They raised chickens for eggs and meat. They raised sheep (tails down) and goats (tails up) for food. They made do. They didn't need multiple seasons worth of clothing as we do. They certainly didn't need to heat their homes. So they made do.

Driving along the roads, seeing their poor homes, their obvious poverty, I began to understand in a new way the concept of privilege. I thought to myself that comfortable Americans should not witness this way of life without being moved to somehow do something to help to effect change. I began to try to think of things I might do upon my return home that might make a difference.

From time to time the vehicle we were riding in would stop at a particularly beautiful spot to provide an opportunity for photographs. My eyes would be drawn away from the scenery to the shack across the street, to the small souvenir stand at the parking area.

At one such stop, I wandered down to the stand where a woman was selling cheap plastic mementos along with hand-crafted necklaces. I spent some time looking over the necklaces, and with the feeling that I really had to do something that very day to help, I selected a string of beads that I didn't want or need and indicated to the woman at the stand that I wanted to buy them. They were turquoise and, at least, matched my Crocs.

"Good morning," she said to me. "How are you?"
"I am well," I told her. "How are you?"

"I am blessed," she replied.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Word Cloud from Recent Posts

created at TagCrowd.com

Someone recently gave me an URL to make a word cloud and I thought it would be fun to do one about my trip. I still have another post or two to do on that subject, but this is what the word cloud has yielded thus far. I love it.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009


The four people on the water sports team for Royal Clipper all came from Sweden. They are young, fun-loving, easy-going people. The rumor aboard ship was that the owner's wife was a Swede and she insisted on hiring the water sports people. True -- who knows? I did see a portrait of the Queen of Sweden in the ship's library and wondered about that since the ship is registered in Luxembourg.

At the beach, the sports team would always plant their flag so people would know where to come back to catch the tender to return to the ship. I loved it.

The day that we were in Antigua, the cooks moved much of their food and equipment to the beach and prepared a barbeque for us. It was a lot of fun and something different.

The first morning on Royal Clipper, there was fresh pineapple among the breakfast offerings. It returned on the luncheon buffet. It was the best pineapple I'd ever tasted. And so at night I developed the habit of asking for a piece of fresh pineapple for dessert. And it was cheerfully prepared for me as a special order. The day of the barbeque, a very special treat was in store for me: Grilled pineapple! To die for.

The scenes from aboard ship more or less blur together. Each island had a pretty little town at the coast and many sailboats at anchor offshore. The islands, except for Barbados, were very similar in appearance, very hilly from their volcanic origins.

Sailing off into the sunset.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Scenes Aboard Ship

The front three triangular sails are shown in this picture. I think they might be called jibs, but Joe would know for sure. There were a couple of sets of them on Royal clipper. At sail-away time, they would be hoisted first, and then the squares would be let down later. Sail-away, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, is a majestic time, and very moving. This picture was taken just before the order was given to hoist these sails.

Moments later, the sails are unfurled, the sun is setting, the music playing, and all of the passenters are entranced.

Several flags fly on Royal Clipper. In the back (the stern?) is the flag of Luxembourg, where the ship is registered. In the bow is the Star Clippers flag, a blue triangle with three large white stars (one for each ship in the fleet). Interestingly, when the ship is in a port, as a courtesy, the flag of that country is flown. Shown here is the flag on the day we spent at St. Kitts.

Take a look at this sewing machine! This is the ship's sailmaker and he was busy on the deck each morning, repairing sails. I was fascinated -- the machine is huge and has the same basic threading as my Bernina. The captain told me that if I asked, the sailmaker would let me take a turn at the machine, but I didn't ask. You know, you have to save something for the next trip.

One thing I wondered about was how quickly the machine's bobbin ran out of thread. I never found out because I just couldn't bring myself to say to this man, "Would you show me your bobbin?" :-)