Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Breaking the Bank for Fabric?

Of course it isn't just fabric that is going up in cost. Everything is. I still don't look at the price of milk, because we have to have it. I wear my clothes longer (oh, the cuffs on that turtleneck that is currently peeking out of the trash were actually fraying!). We go out to eat less frequently, and now that I'm working part-time, we're more easily able to go to the lower-priced matinees at the movie theatre. So we're adapting to price increases in many aspects.

It's the fabric that's on my mind today. I'm well aware that living as close as I do to Lancaster County, I pay less per yard than many people do. Nonetheless, I find that I actually pause and think before purchasing yardage. It is harder for me to just buy fabric that I like without having a specific plan for it. I experience minor guilt pangs about not regularly supporting the LQS, but $10 or $11 or even more per yard is vastly different from the $8.59 or so at my favorite Lancaster County shop, but figure Gene's place is Denver's LQS . . . .

Been thinking of ways to not spend as much on fabric and have come up with:

  • Continue to work from scraps (even though this sometimes means buying background)
  • Make smaller projects
  • Tackle the dratted UFOs whether I still like them or not
  • Make rather than purchase more of my gifts
  • Consider rediscovering cross-stitch -- floss has gone up, to be sure, but 39 cents per skein vs. yardage . . . 
Do you want/need to cut back on fabric expenditure too? What strategies can you share?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three Things

Three things I do not understand at all but seem to be very important to very many people:

1. Red velvet cake
2. Jelly roll race quilts
3. Zombies

Friday, October 25, 2013

One Finish, One Flimsy

This coming weekend I am hosting a very small baby shower/brunch for the daughter of a dear friend. There will just be seven or eight of us; I am vehemently opposed to massive showers where 30-40 of the bride's or mom-to-be's closest friends are in attendance.

This pregnancy was a long time coming, and the little boy is due on Christmas Eve. Some of us already have begun to think of him as Nicholas. I had a great time making this quilt. The pattern came from Sarah Fielke's Hand Quilted With Love and wasn't difficult at all. If you get the book and want to make this quilt, be sure to check the errata page on Sarah's blog.

I hand quilted it and it took a long time. But I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

This past weekend I wanted to play with some Rowan/Westminster scraps and started cutting 2-1/2" squares because I had Kristy Daum's "Mazed" pattern in mind. Another good friend's daughter has a much-wanted fourth pregnancy and is due in March. Usually I make a quilt for just the first baby among my friends' children's offspring. But it occurred to me that a fourth baby should have something new. With three boys in the house already, I can imagine what the family is hoping. So I put together this flimsy for a baby girl and prolly will start hand-quilting it after Christmas. I have a duplicate of "Nicholas's" quilt in flimsy stage and will get it finished, too. In this case, it is important to me to give a gender-specific quilt, not a generic.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Amazing Day

I wrote about her earlier in this post. Since that time, not quite three months ago, Gina has made incredible progress. Her behavior is much more self-controlled; her tantrums are nearly nonexistent. She and her teacher have moved into a different classroom, a little further from my office, where there are two other students and their teachers. She's doing great! I confess that I miss having her across the hall.

Today something amazing happened.

I went into the classroom to deliver something to one of the teachers, and Gina got up from her chair and walked over to me. I greeted her and she responded. I admired her new boots (Michael Kors!). She stood right in front of me and lifted up her arms and very clearly said, "hug." I was astounded and very carefully put my arms around her. She held her sweet face up and made eye contact, the first time ever with me, really, and held on tight. I looked at her lovely gray eyes with their luxurious lashes and the dusting of tiny freckles on her nose and said, "You are very beautiful, Gina. Do you know that?"

And then I came back to my office because I was starting to cry.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Best Laid Plans . . .

My friend Karen Dianne has sung the praises of a product called Inklingo; she has posted some seriously beautiful quilts that she has made using this system. Her Alabama Beauty is a magnificent quilt.

The Improved Nine Patch block is so gorgeous that I can't stand it.

2013 was the year I was going to try Inklingo.

We are nearly finished with 2013.

At first I thought, well, I needed to finish up more of my UFOs before I started. I finished some. Then I thought, well, I needed to do something with some of the scraps first. So I've fiddled with scraps.

It's been a tough year. Remember, I was told early into it that I was going to lose my job and spent several months grieving that before I found another job. I had some trouble getting going with sewing during that time.

But here we are nearly through October, for crying out loud, and I haven't Inklingoed. Not even once. And deep down I know that November and December are not the months for a new skill.

But I'm thinking, just thinking, that despite some sort of vague vow about not starting anything else new until more of the UFOs and scraps are history, that it might be the thing to do, you know, to just order what I need for that there Improved Nine Patch (doncha just love that name? As if a nine patch could possibly be improved?) and there it would be -- ready, waiting for me, as soon as the normally quiet, reflective month of January comes around.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Moo Times Two

My sweet neighbor and I were talking a few weeks ago about the changes in the neighborhood. There seemed to be a lot of good things going on: The Lieutenant across the street returned safely from Afghanistan and he and his wife have a new baby; a cute young couple moved in and they are expecting; another new couple with a schnauzer ("Lucy! Lucy!") bought the house in the back, another neighbor is getting ready for a well-deserved retirement. Lots of good things. It's not a neighborhood where there is a real neighborhood feel, if you know what I mean. People are pleasant to each other but there isn't a whole lot of intra-neighborhood visiting. So Andrea and I thought it might be nice to try to do something about that. We scheduled an Event. We sent out flyers to the people that we know or would like to know. (We didn't send a flyer to the Nonspeakers; they wouldn't add much to any gathering.) If everyone we invited came, we'd have 26 adults. And a few kids. The flyer said something like "bring an appetizer or a dessert and join us for a neighborhood celebration" and listed some of the good things. An email and a telephone number were given for reply.

We are now at Event Minus Four and precisely four of the twenty-six  have had the courtesy to reply. Fortunately they are all coming and bringing cheese and brownies, even. But what the heck is wrong with the other twenty-two? Have they never planned a gathering and needed to know how many chairs to set out? The propensity to ignore a r.s.v.p. is widespread. And today I'm really, I mean really, feeling it. Moo!

Oh, and guess who I heard from the other day? Out of the blue? The school where I used to be employed. The school where I worked faithfully for sixteen years before being told my services were no longer needed. That one. 

A piece of mail from the Development Office. They thought I might want to follow the school on Facebook (no, thank you) or Linked In (don't even use it). They thought I might want to come and visit (again, no).

And they thought I might want to contribute to the Annual Fund or perhaps leave a Legacy Gift in my will. How very, very crass; how unspeakably insensitive.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lake Anna, 2013

Andrew and Amy did the grunt work of finding us a house for Columbus Day Weekend, 2013. A seven-bedroom beauty was their choice; it had a table that could seat all fourteen of us for meals and two huge common spaces. It was perfect. A and A also did the organizing of who would bring what and who would be responsible for which meals. All beautifully done.

Unfortunately, the weather and my health were uncooperative. I started with a head cold the day we were scheduled to leave home (and it is still with me). And it rained every day. Most of the day.

We had a wonderful time being together, though, enjoying the big house, reveling in each other's company, and above all watching and playing with the children. I had bought new pajamas for all, and here they are following their Saturday night bath: (left to right) Eli, Nate, Aberdeen, Caroline, Sam, and Miles.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oh, Moo . . .

It's been a while since a cow showed up here.

But she's here today, mooing about . . .

. . . toilet paper.

Usta be, not all that long ago, that there were five of us living in a house with one bathroom. Now there are two of us living in a house with one bathroom and one powder room.

Usta be that it seemed like I had to put on a new roll of toilet paper perhaps once a week, or so. Five people, one bathroom. Now it seems like I'm putting on a new roll about every third day.

Some generous-spirited reader is going to suggest that perhaps the other occupants of the house usta put out the new roll and that's why I didn't have to do it every third day. You are much too kind: Three-quarters of those occupants were kids or teenagers who had perfected the art of leaving perhaps two squares on the roll so that, technically, it wasn't empty and hence replacement wasn't their responsibility.

Is it possible, I wondered, that the TP people are putting far less on the roll than they used to?

Well, yes. The brand currently in the closet has nice "quilted" designs on it and comes 264 squares to a roll. Surely that is fewer than there usta be. On my last shopping trip, I investigated. I found the brand we used previously; it appeared to be more dense on the roll. And it was: 1000 squares.

Bye-bye, silly quilted toilet paper.

Thank you. I feel better now.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Dance Away!

Here's another spectacular image of dancing ladies, sent to me by Blogless Barb down there in Virginia.

I love the graphic.

And the words are wonderful, too.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Genesis 1:26

Against my better judgment, I clicked on this picture yesterday and read yet another story about animal abuse. This near-starved dog had been chained to a tree for four years before being rescued.

The comments under the story were predictable: (a) that the owner of the dog should be chained to a tree for four years and (b) people should be more concerned about abused children and not get so wrought up about a dog.

There's one of these stories every now and then; the follow-up articles announce that a record number of people have offered to adopt the abused animal. These stories stick with me for a long time, and always involve my wondering why the abuse was permitted to go on for so long a time.

My belief is that when God gave mankind dominion over the animals, that wasn't just power over them, but also a responsibility to care for them, to be kind to them, and not to abuse them.

Today is a day set aside to honor St. Francis. The church where I work and the church where I worship are each holding a "blessing of the animals" service. Joe and I were speculating about what it might mean to "bless" animals. "Bless" means to ask God to look favorably upon.

I'd rather see the emphasis be on our looking favorably upon animals, our having the courage to intervene when we become aware of an abusive situation.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The Week that Was, Near Philadelphia

He used to be a redhead. Joe, I mean. Though it looks like Vincent was, too. Most of y'all didn't know him then; he's had nice white hair for a good many years now.

Fair-complected redheads are at increased risk for skin cancers, and Joe's been visiting a dermatologist regularly. She's identified lots of little basal cells and snipped them away. I tease him, saying she's trying to take him away from me in bits and pieces.

Recently she took off what looked like another basal cell type on the tip of his ear. Turned out to be a different type, turned out also that the margins weren't clear and there was a bit of nerve involvement. Which led to our recently having a consultation with a specialist to learn about a Mohs procedure. We liked the specialist right away, the procedure made sense, and we were very, very pleased when the arrangements were made for the procedure to be done in just a couple of days.

A phone message reminder confirming the appointment led to some confusion. It referred to a different office, about thirty minutes drive away, rather than the nearby office we'd visited initially. Joe phoned to clarify and was told that the message was correct; we were to go to this other office. It took longer to get there than we'd anticipated (stopping for a long time at a railroad crossing), and when we arrived, we were told that we were supposed to be at the original office, not at this one. We were more than a little bit irritated, especially since the doctor had agreed to come in early to fit us in.

So we drove back towards home, feeling stressed, and arriving a half-hour late for the scheduled appointment. Everyone was apologetic. And after that, everything went just fine. We'd been told to allow up to four hours because there was no way to tell in advance how many tissue removals would be needed. Dr. P was his usual easy-going and pleasant self, the nurses were terrific, and the whole thing took a little less than two hours.

A huge bandage dressed the ear until this morning, when we took it off. It isn't very pretty right now, but I can tell already that Dr. P prolly would do very nice applique; his stitches are tiny and perfect. Joe isn't allowed to do anything really strenuous yet, not that he really wants to. He's been a good patient, with a minimum of complaining and no whining at all. I'm feeling thankful for Frederic Mohs who developed this technique and for Dr. P, who carried it out. And also for my dear sister, who came to visit the patient the next morning, bringing --

-- wait for it --

a nice bouquet of sunflowers.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Baby Bureau Quilts

Over the summer, our little monthly hand stitching group decided to make quilts to donate to the Baby Bureau, my current favorite cause. Most of us brought them to our October meeting last night. Helen was still putting the final stitches in her binding and Emily left hers for me to bind since she's having trouble with her hands. Marsha had made three but left them at home. The quilts are all very, very pretty and I imagine that the Baby Bureau lady will be pleased to have them to give to under-resourced moms for their babies.

Honna held them up (you can't see her smiling) while I took photos of them and they are shown below. Some of them are a little blurry; I'm finding that I'm having a bit of trouble holding the camera still lately.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Happy Stairs

When I went to the Mancuso quilt show a couple of weeks ago, one of the booths showed a terrific nap-size quilt made all from batiks. It looked like stairs. They were selling a pattern for the quilt. As sometimes happens, I looked at the quilt long enough that I didn't need to spend $10 or thereabouts for the pattern.

One of the terrific things about baby quilts, I think, is that they provide a nice opportunity to try something out, to experiment with a new technique, to play with a new and different block, without making a huge commitment.

So I decided to try to make a small version of the quilt I'd admired. Here's the finished top. I don't think a border would make it any more attractive of a quilt. I kind of like the implication that those stairs climb up before and after the quilt itself began.

So it will go in the pile to be finished when I lack handwork. It might be a baby quilt for the Baby Bureau. But then it might not: One of the women from the parish where I work is employed by the VA Hospital and she thought that some of the baby blankets that had been donated for the fair would also be nice lap covers for wheelchair patients.

So, we'll see . . . .