Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gift of Lemons This Week

Hunting for lemonade recipe . . .

Back when I find it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Introducing: chlost

Blogs get added and subtracted from my lists of links fairly regularly. As someone pretty much stops blogging or as my taste in blogs changes, I delete. I keep a group of Favorites on the computer toolbar; these are blogs that have struck my fancy and I check them out from time to time. Sometimes I decide that I really must know as soon as this blogger updates, and in that case the blog moves to my blog's links lists.

All of this happens pretty much without fanfare.

Until now.

Just My Life joined the Thinkers and Theologians category today. I found her a few months ago through another blog, one that has rotated off of my links lists by now. And I just kept going back until I decided that it was time to link her. With fanfare.

She's not a quilter (so far as I know) and she isn't a foodie (again SFAIK), but she's definitely a thinker. And a writer. I like how she thinks. And I like what she writes. Maybe you will, too.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Eight O'Clock Report, 1/27/13

Years and years ago, when Joe was in the Navy, he used to participate in something called the Eight O'Clock Reports. As it was held aboard ship, I never got to attend, and I suspect it wasn't anywhere as interesting as I imagined. As I write, it is a little after 8:00, so here is my eight o'clock report for today.

I've had a good weekend. Saturday was spent doing all kinds of responsible things -- buying food, mailing parcels, picking up dry cleaning, acquiring giftwrap, tidying the desk in the morning room, installing a printer, getting acquainted with the FitBit, going through a bin of accumulated papers and things. I was so virtuous on Saturday that I determined Sunday I would spend most of the day in the sewing studio.

First thing I did was make the binding for the two quilts that I left at the machinist earlier in the week.

Then I cut a bunch of bricks for the Malaria quilt. Later in the afternoon I had a surprise visit from Bonnie, who was out for a walk and dropped by to give me some African fabrics that she had.

I have more than 200 bricks cut and it is time to get going on the sashing. I believe I have written this before. Stay tuned on that sashing.

While I worked, I did at least four loads of laundry.

This picture is a group of twenty blocks for a charity quilt. They were made by a group of different people and I agreed to put them together, add a binding and backing and pass it along to my finishing partner, Bobbi, who has a long-arm.

The blocks are wonky log cabins and needed to be trimmed at an angle to be 12-1/2 inches. The postage stamp fabric will be the border; I believe I put a lighter green piece in the pile for a stopper before the stamps. This project is waiting for a day when a group sews together and there is floor space in abundance.

The guild is having a challenge for February and as far as I have gotten with it is to fondle the fabrics given out and to add some kona black.

What's the hold-up, you may ask? Well, the assignment is to paper-piece a block (or several blocks). I have never paper pieced and am a little intimidated by the idea of it. I promise: If we are fortunate enough to have a Snow Day this week (unlikely), the very first thing I will do will be this paper pieced project. If we don't have a Snow Day (more likely), then I will begin no later than Saturday.

I pressed a couple of infinity scarves and got them ready to gift.

Perhaps the high point of the afternoon was working on my project for Lori's Quilt Along. This is the second time I've participated and have thoroughly enjoyed the process. Lori will provide her instructions for finishing the project, but I have some ideas of my own. First off, I'm going to take that little corner block off and put it on correctly. And then, I was thinking it might make a panel for a tote bag. Or perhaps I'll just hand quilt and bind it and let it be a little table piece. We'll see.

So that is the Eight O'Clock Report and it comes to a close now, which is a good thing because it's time for "Downton Abbey"!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Secret Angel -- Stephanie!

Stephanie drew my name for her Secret Angel partner and I am so happy that she did!

We had to list some ideas for our partner and I indicated that I'd love a table runner.

Here is a picture of the beautiful runner that she made for me. I couldn't wait to get it on my table!

I think I need to straighten a couple of the candles . . . .

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Secret Angel -- Heather!

The guild had a secret angel swap for January's meeting. Back in November, each participant was assigned a recipient. Since I was so new to the guild, the chances were that I would have a recipient that I didn't know. I did. Heather wrote on her info sheet that she liked bright colors and would like a little quilt for the wall of her sewing room.

I made her this little Dresden Plate using Kaffe and Kaffe-ish fabrics, and the same background that I have been using for my own modern Dresden Plate project. This block is a few inches bigger than my plates are. I hand appliqued the plate, the center and the center-center and then hand quilted it in a thread that matches the lighter blue of the border. Heather was pleased! I also made her a little notebook cover and a pair of pot holders.

Stephanie had my name, and in my next post -- I hope -- I will show you the lovely gift that she made for me.

Monday, January 21, 2013


 I wonder if I've turned into a Multiple Personality Quilter.

To the right is what is becoming my Leader-Ender project. Wanda had shown a project from African fabrics a few weeks ago, and I wrote to ask if she wanted to get right of her scraps -- I'd like to buy them. She sent a bulging parcel and when I showed them to the Usual Suspects on Saturday, I thought they might stage a hold up right then and there!

I serve on the SWAT Team at my church -- we have committed to raising $25,000 over three years as part of the campaign to provide mosquito nets for two villages in Uganda, part of a much larger effort to eradicate malaria worldwide. I offered to make a relevant quilt to raffle.I have only begun cutting, but my project is going to be similar to this one of Linda's, using black where she shows tangerine.

Over the weekend, after a long delay, I got around to attempting to make an infinity scarf. There are six of them now, these two finished, and the other four waiting for me to do the handwork.

My coworker Gabrielle wears these things all the time -- I swear she makes one each morning when she gets dressed! They are as easy as she said they would be, and there are many different free patterns for them; just Google "infinity scarf." Many are made from voile and, I tell you, as soon as I can get some of that, production will continue!

Upstairs in the living room, where I watch Netflix with Himself, is my current handwork (apart from finishing up the infinity scarves), hand applique of the plates, the centers, and the accents. I am surprised at how much I enjoy this particular work.

So, apparently I've developed MQP. And I haven't even shown you the center I made from CW fabrics as a part of Lori's current quiltalong, Abundance! This is my second quiltalong with her. If you have been thinking of participating in one, have a look. She breaks the project down into sensible units and provides clear directions and warm encouragement! I started doing Lori's quiltalongs because I wanted to explore small-size quilts.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Granny Ganoush?

I survived a difficult week and was so happy to see Saturday come. The Usual Suspects gathered to sew down at the church. It felt like a long time since we had done that, although many of them had been together a couple of weeks ago when I was unavailable.

Each brought her own project to work on. I had put the finished granny squares up on the wall the night before along with the lattice and cornerstones, and pinned them together in rows with labels on them, so the assembly went pretty smoothly. I did most of it yesterday and finished today.

Here it is with a sample of the Baba Ganoush that I plan for the border. I only have a half yard and need to order some more before I can finish.
This quilt is really too small to be of much use, and I'm not all that crazy about it. The gray background isn't showing up very well, but trust me: it is gray and not mauve. Three of the prints have turquoise in them and I thought a turquoise border might improve its appearance and also give it more potential for use.

Joe is of the opinion that the turquoise isn't right, but he doesn't have a better suggestion.

I think my problem with this little quilt is that it has too much color in it. I believe I'd like it better if it had about half again as much gray as it does now.
Here's another view of the granny squares. After I took the photo that is above, I decided that I wanted a narrow pink border before the Baba Ganoush.

I love making these blocks. I don't love trimming them and latticing them, though. I use the method that I originally learned for them, cutting squares all the same size and then after assembly, trimming those outer zig-zag edges. This method wastes fabric. But worse, unless one is careful to the point of perhaps OCD with the assembly, the trimming yields little V's here and there, some of which protrude into the seam allowance.

I know I'll make more granny square quilts. But  next time I am going to just cut the squares for the center and two surrounding rows, lay them out on point, and cut side triangles to fit. This will yield a nicer result and be better for my nerves.

I like that pink inner border.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Can't Think of a Title at the Moment

Not long ago, I posted about my dislike of blogs that had audio-advertising on them. A few days later, I visited a blog that I'd bookmarked at one time, and was blasted by what sounded like an advertisement. I went on to write a post about the experience, suggesting that others who did not care to be blasted by advertisements avoid that particular blog. Mistake #1.

In short order, I received two emails from the owner of the blog, thoroughly scolding me, and explaining that what I had experienced as an unwelcome advertisement was actually a video clip from a previous post running on auto-play. Having been corrected, of course I immediately took down the blog post. I should have let it go at that.

But instead, I wrote back to the blog's owner to tell her I had taken down the post, and apologized for having made a mistake, acting hastily, and upsetting her. I thought that would be the end of it. Mistake #2

Before long, I received another email, this time telling me that taking down the post was insufficient. It seems that seventeen people had clicked the link to her blog and may well have marked it as one to avoid or a couple of other possible actions. There was a suggestion that I was lacking in gumption because I had failed to issue a public retraction of my defammatory comments.

This blogger self-describes as sarcastic and, in fact, has a kind of cute little badge on her blog indicating that her soul has been removed for all of her sarcasm. So I thought she might appreciate my drawing her attention to the irony that I had sent her no fewer than seventeen potential followers. Mistake #3

Cate's next email pointed out that I had more or less blown my opportunity to be remorseful and respectful, and ended with her being glad to have copied my entire offensive post before I had taken it down. Not sure what that was all about. But it didn't sound like she'd appreciated my observation.

Needing to move on (and to demonstrate the abundance of my gumption), please note the following public retraction: The blog I had cited does not contain and apparently has not ever contained audio advertising. In fact, it contains no advertising whatsoever. I was mistaken in my perception of the audio message I received. I write this with the full awareness that by providing the link to the blog, I very well may be driving additional traffic her way.

I remember now why I had bookmarked this blog in the first place. It was her post reviewing Fifty Shades of Gray. I liked it a lot. The post, I mean.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Book Reviews, January, 2013

When I was really, really sick back at the start of December, the thing that really helped me to hold body and soul together was this wonderful book. A gorgeous first novel by Amanda Coplin, The Orchardist tells the story of a solitary man who provides shelter to a pair of runaway teen-age girls, the the consequences of his action. The characters are beautifully created. While I could not always agree with the choices they made, I found them to be real. I have recommended this book to many people, bought a copy as a Christmas gift, and urged my husband to make it the first download for the Nook he received.

I've never met a Louise Erdrich book that I didn't like, and The Round House is no exception. It is one of those boys-of-a-certain-age books, though these boys are a little younger than usual. The storyteller himself is irresistible, and his parents are carefully portrayed. I could picture them, the whole family. The book opens with Joe's mother having been attacked, and the unfolding story shows how Joe and his father, Bazil, handle this horror. It was hard to put down.

I just started The Lifeboat but it isn't going to take me long to finish it. The book is that compelling. While it isn't the kind of fine literature that the other two books represent, it surely is a page-turner. Grace Winter, newly wed and newly widowed, is a passenger on a lifeboat built for fewer people than it holds. Some hard choices must be made, or all will lose their lives. We know that Grace survives, as the book is written as her memoir, but there is obviously much more going on since she speaks early on of lawyers helping her.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baby Girl Crumb Quilt

I think it was about a year and a half ago that Bonnie came to town and taught a workshop as part of a fund raiser that our church was having. Maybe it was two and a half years ago. The time passes so quickly. The workshop was on crumb blocks, and while I had a fantastic time that day, I doubted that  crumb blocks would be something I would continue to make.


I made Pictures at an Exhibition for myself, another large quilt of bordered crumb blocks as a thank-you gift to some generous friends, and a queen size crumb block quilt for Sherry for Christmas. Some of these quilts had the 4-1/2 inch blocks that Bonnie taught us; others had 6 inch crumb blocks. I became utterly addicted to crumb blocks, making countless mug rugs, pot holders, and small table toppers.

And apparently I haven't gone into any kind of remission yet.

To the right is my fourth crumbs quilt, before the borders are sewn on. It is a baby quilt for a colleague. I don't always make quilts for coworkers; they are a fairly fertile bunch, producing a couple of babies each year, doing their bit to support enrollment for the school. This baby is due in a couple of months and is a fifth child in a family, a fourth girl. I thought she deserved a quilt.

I took this photo with my phone and don't know if it will enlarge. If not, do not be frustrated. When it is finished I will take a good photo to share.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cow-a-bonga, Dude!

Mooooo! Cranky Old Woman here! I've written in the past about my preference for ad-free blogs. On those occasions, I always hear back from people who point out that there is nothing wrong with trying to make money from having a blog (absolutely true, but not my thing at all) and that advertising is everywhere and why shouldn't it be on blogs (what next -- ads on toilet paper?). I still visit blogs that have visual advertisements, but not as frequently as those that don't. Now I'm aware of a new phenomenon, so dreadful that I might possibly come to believe that visual ads on blogs really aren't that terrible!

I'm speaking of audio ads! Recently I've had abrupt loud advertisements come out of my computer, seemingly at random. Observation shows that these horrible ads stop immediately if I close the tab for the blog that I'm reading. I don't see anything on the blog to indicate that there is going to be a loud ad, but, then, since it happens very close to the time I open the blog, I don't have a lot of time to look around.

Anybody know anything about this?

I vow that if/when I actually pinpoint blogs that have these uncontrollable audio ads, I will immediately delete them from my links, favorites, and every place that I have blog lists. Please don't tell me that there's nothing wrong with them and that advertising is everywhere. I should have some say in this.

Mooo!  Mooo!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pot Holder Prizes

In order to keep health care costs down, our school formed a wellness committee; this was mandated by the consortium we belong to. An interesting initiative was proposed by the consortium for "the holiday season": A Maintain, Don't Gain Plan. According to this plan, anyone who wanted to participate registered his or her starting weight in mid-November with the consortium coordinator and then this week to register the ending weight. Every participant throughout the consortium is entered in a drawing. Participants who maintained or gained only a tiny amount would have a second entry. The grand prize is a laptop computer and there are additional prizes of Kindle Fires. Our school decided to add some more prizes for our own participants. The "big prize" will be a Barnes and Noble gift card. I made two pair of pot holders as additional prizes. They could also be used as rug mugs.  Here is a picture of one set.

And here is the other.

How happy I'd be to win that laptop! Mine has turned into something that I'm convinced Bill and Karolyn Slowsky would be thrilled to own. Me, not so much.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Holiday Card

I received a couple of questions about our holiday card. We ordered the cards from, no affiliation, but we had admired ones they had done for a family member. I found their software easy to work with, their delivery time accurate, and their price appeared to be reasonable, not that I did any comparison. Here's the whole card, which was accompanied by one of those letters telling the high points of the year.

2013 Hello

I guess I wasn't ready to embrace a new year until I had to. Which means today, since it is the last day of my two-week winter break from work. The school always closes for two weeks at winter break; most years, about half of the time is before Christmas and we return on January 2 or 3. Because of the Tuesday holiday this year, we worked until the Friday before Christmas and go back tomorrow. I've enjoyed the time off, though I was a slug for most of the time that we were home. We traveled for nearly a week, visiting our sons and their families in Virginia.

Miles Thomas was born to Andrew and Amy ten days before Christmas and it was just such a joy to hold and snuggle with someone so new. He's a nice baby, more even-tempered (so far) than his brother had been.

I worked on the granny squares; there are twenty of them finished and they are trimmed to size. Three of them may need to be redone as the trimming invaded what would be the seam allowance. I've set them aside to ponder. My present hand-sewing project is the Dresden plates.

The photo is one from our Christmas card, celebrating my quilting's taking on a more modern look and Joe's taking up serious woodworking -- he made not just that Adirondack chair but three more as well as two ottomans. And You Know Who just had to be on our card.

I think I mentioned that Judy and I have resigned from our previous guild and joined Philly Modern and are finding it to be so much fun! The membership is smaller, and I feel as though I am actually already getting to know some of the people. We have a Secret Angel project going on now; I finished the gifts for my recipient yesterday and will share photos once the exchange has occurred.

So here we are in a new year. As usual, I make no resolutions but have a few hopes. I have some ideas for new sewing projects and vague plans for the UFOs.

To those who read this little blog of mine, I wish you only good, good things in this new year! And thank you for visiting . . . .

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The Quilts of Christmas 2012: Four/Five

This quilt has been shown on this blog previously; it is the first thing I made after entering my Kaffe Period. I was delighted with the way it turned out and when I showed it to Sherry, I said I thought it looked like something a little girl would like. I can't stand the thought of Disney Princesses on a quilt and wondered if Caroline, age 4.5, would like this quilt for her bed. Sherry was confident that she would.

And we were both right.

Caroline is devoted to her stuffed dog toy, Woofie, and likes to dress the dog in clothing that matches hers. So I knew what I had to do.

Generous Woofie (center) shares with two friends.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Quilts of Christmas 2012: Three

Three married children, three queen quilts. And what adventures ensued with the making of the one for Amy and Andrew! When we visited them, there was much sneaking around to view their bedroom, not a place we normally go. We didn't know what the color scheme was! Joe actually took some pictures to confirm that the walls were a pale mushroomy gray and the drapes were dark blue. The furniture is dark, too.

I had seen a pattern for a giant bow-tie quilt on Katy's blog, and thought that would be just the thing. I carefully wrote down how much background yardage I would need and how many FQs for the ties and headed out to Intercourse to shop. The store wouldn't cut FQs, but since I was using batiks, I really didn't mind a bit. I was thinking of a plain gray for the background, but stumbled across a gorgeous fabric that I couldn't resist: a slightly creamy white with the tiniest tiniest dots in the palest shade of mushroomy gray. I just loved it.

My goal was to have the blocks all made before our autumn White Oak event, and put the rows together and apply the border there, so I plunged into the blocks immediately. Then it hit me: the border! I checked my instructions and found I had neglected to buy 1.5 yards of the mushroomy for the border that the pattern planned. Aaargh! I called the store, who told me the fabric was all sold and they weren't getting any more. I embarked on a google search based on the selvedge information and found three stores that had my fabric: One in New South Wales and two in England!

Two weeks later, Royal Mail had delivered my precious border fabric.

Off to White Oak I went with my blocks, my left-over scraps, my border fabric, and my bonus triangles. Got the blocks all put together. Turbo took one look at the top and declared that the mushroomy border was not to be. She fooled around with my left-over scraps (remember, I'd had to buy half yards instead of FQs) and the wonderful bonus triangles and came up with a couple of plans. I had some solid gray along for another project and we used that for a slim stopper border and then the real border. 

I love how it turned out. So did A&A. I gave it to them with a set of mushroomy gray flannel sheets.

And I still have my gorgeous yard and a half of mushroom for Another Project!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The Quilts of Christmas 2012: Two

Once I had decided that I was going to make a queen quilt for Sherry and Chris for Christmas, it seemed only right to keep going!

Tom and Anastasia have a queen quilt that I made when they married. Their bedroom is on the dark side of the house, and the black background of that quilt adds to the darkness. I wanted something lighter.

Their furniture is blue. I had some blocks from a wonderfully successful swap I had run a couple of years ago: cool color batiks on white background. I only had to make two or three more blocks to have enough for a queen quilt. 

I gave this to them during our Christmas visit (more about which later), along with a set of white flannel sheets. They were pleased.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

SSCS 2012

I have lost track of how many years Chooky Blue has been running the international Secret Santa Christmas Swap, but I know that I have participated each and every year. It is fun to be assigned a quilting blogger in another country and to "stalk" her for a few months, learning her tastes and her interests, and then making a gift (or two) for her and sending it off in time to arrive for Christmas morning.

We are under very strict instructions to not open our gifts until Christmas. Some years I do better than others at following those instructions!

This year I received a generous and lovely parcel from Lisa in Australia. 

In addition to the items pictured above and to the right (is that little birdie notebook adorable or what?), Lisa sent me a small red birdie ornament for the tree, which I forgot to photograph.

Thank you, Lisa, for your lovely gifts, and Chooky, for organizing this most wonderful swap!