Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quiet House

You know that awful Yoplait yogurt commercial with the female contortionist? Check out the way my grandson was sitting on the couch Saturday night. He has a future in commercials!

It was so great to have our family here this weekend. Dave and Emily were a huge help to me. Dave helped Charlie carry out some old furniture that I wanted to get rid of, and Emily helped me organize the quilting room where the old furniture used to live. Yippee!

The children keep us busy and are always up to something, but we miss them so much when they leave. Do you think my husband looks like a punk rocker in this photo? That's a magnolia leaf wreath on the door behind his head!

I took this picture of Lily right before they left. She was trying her best to get into the snow globe. She still has those huge eyes that earned her the nickname Lily-Bug when she was a baby.

We decorated the tree while the kids were here. Only four broken ornaments---and it was Gigi, not the kids, who broke them all.

They will be back in two weeks. I will probably still be picking up Fruit Loops and M&M's off the floor until then!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Blog Prize- and Family Photos

A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed visiting some of the blogs of designers featured in the Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks. Several of the talented bloggers offered give-aways if you visited their sites when their blocks were featured. Lucky me, when I visited Janet's blog, named Chocolate is My Favorite Color, I was one of the winners! Here is the lovely selection of fabrics I received in the mail yesterday. It is from the Paisley line of fabric which Janet used in her block, named "Thoughtful Star." Thank you, Janet!
We have been enjoying Thanksgiving weekend at home with our family. Right now I have two handsome hunks in the kitchen making breakfast. Our older son wanted his Pop to teach him how to make his famous home-made Southern biscuits and gravy, an artery-clogging family favorite. Actually, Charlie switched over to Pillsbury frozen biscuits a few years ago, but he still remembers how to make the real thing. He used to watch his grandmother and my brother-in-law Kenny's grandmother, and practiced until he perfected the technique. It makes a huge mess in the kitchen with flour all over the place, but who cares?

Avery has been playing on the floor surrounded by puzzles and building toys. I highly recommend Wedgits, a construction toy that even the fourth and fifth-grade students enjoyed when I taught elementary school the past two springs. Here he is, sitting in a sunbeam.

Here is Avery and Lily in a recent school picture. They are looking way too GROWN!

And here is a recent picture of three of my baby quilt recipients. They are my nephew Jason's daughter Lacy, my niece Melinda's daughter Ragen, and our friends Mike and Amy's daughter, Shelby. Those first two girls are definitely up to something!

Today we are putting up our Christmas tree. The guys are outside trimming down the trunk. Charlie brought it back with him from the North Carolina mountains, along with wreaths and roping for the front porch. This should be a fun day!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Turkey Day!

Tomorrow is the day we celebrate Thanksgiving here in the US. Traditionally, a time to gather with family and friends, and have a delicious traditional meal of roast turkey. I made two of these little turkey quilts last year for gifts. There is a pattern called Turkey Feathers, by Rasmatazz Designs, for this 24" square quilt. Fun to make, and pretty quick!

Our weather has been, on the negative side, gray and rainy for days. On the positive side, it has remained unseasonably warm. My daffodils are coming up, Maggy's viburnum is still blooming,

and here is one of my old-fashioned roses that decided it was time to bloom in November! It smells divine! Why is Blogger making it stand on its head?

My grandchildren will be here on Friday, which makes me so happy. Look at this cute hand-painted stool I bought at my friend Carolyn's church bazaar...

It was only two dollars, and will be perfect for them to stand on to wash their hands and brush their teeth. Or sit on!

I just opened this wonderful surprise in the mail...a handmade Christmas tree from Elizabeth Creates, one of my favorite bloggers! I won her blog drawing honoring her 350th post, but did not know which of the three prizes she would send me. We had been corresponding about her Christmas ornaments. Elizabeth very generously explained to me that the stand was vintage wooden spool attached to a wooden disk from the craft store. I guess she knew I would love this colorful little tree! It is made of canvas that is painted and beaded, and decorated with fun fibers at the top. Thank you, Elizabeth! I am so proud to own one of your creations!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, let me just say, I am thankful to all of you who visit me at All Things Quilty, and especially those who leave comments or write e-mails about my little columns. I never knew blogging would be so rewarding, or put me in touch with so many people all over the globe!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Heart Quilt...and Mouse Tales Update

Finally finished a quilt today for my friend Jean. The blocks are Sister's Choice, with a few heart blocks mixed in. The pastel stripe border also features hearts. So, naturally, the quilting is a heart and loop freehand meander.

The top thread is a variegated cotton King Tut in pastel colors that match the top perfectly (called "Mummy Dearest"-they are really stretching the fact that it is Egyptian cotton thread).

Her backing is a pale pink flannel, and I used a Super Bob bobbin thread called Baby Pink.

Here is something else I did when I was avoiding organizing my sewing space last weekend...I had some fabric paint out for another project, and I hate to waste any leftover paint on the palette, so I painted some used dryer sheets.
I piled up about three at a time since they are so porous, and painted them with a brayer. Then, I would put the top one on the bottom, and paint with a different color of Lumiere. These are delicious paints that gleam! Painted dryer sheets can be used in mixed media projects to add additional layers of color and texture.
And now, the news you have all been waiting for...
Mouse Tales: The Sequel!
I have gotten several interesting comments on that post, as well as some private e-mails offering advice on the mouse problem.
My son suggested using peanut butter instead of cheese- that's what his own personal mice love! They can't just grab it and run!

So, I put a nice dollup of PB on the old snap trap. Within an hour, I could see where the mouse had stuck his paws through the peanut butter. In fact, there were little peanut butter tracks where it left the scene of the crime. Trap was not sprung. Mouse wins again!

When I took my postcards to be mailed yesterday, I bought some fine new mouse traps at Ace Hardware. In fact, there is a post office inside the new Ace Hardware near my home- how's that for convenience? When is the last time the phrase "Post Office" was used in the same sentence as "convenience?"

I got two kinds. One is the traditional snapping kind that the dumbass on the You-Tube video kept catching his fingers in. Except, these have fake yellow plastic Swiss cheese. You put the prong into one of the holes on the Swiss cheese. The "S" hole is for sensitive, and the "F" is for firm. I am not making this up!

So, do you use the "S" hole if you are a sensitive person, and don't want to kill the mouse? Or, does "sensitive" mean that the slightest touch will set off the trap? Does "firm" mean that it will hold the mouse more firmly??? Curious customers want to know! I opted for "S."

The other kind is the sticky pad that the mouse gets stuck on when he walks across it. It has some kind of crumbs in the center that I guess is bait. This type of trap is what I was cheaply trying to produce at home with duct tape and cardboard. A sad failure...I later found the duct tape and cardboard in the garage with no mouse attached.

Anyway, the package comes with four sticky pad traps. I set the two fake cheese traps and the four sticky traps all around the area behind the garage stairs where I had alertly scouted mouse sign. I know all about scouting for sign, having been married for 38 years to a hunter. You will recognize mouse sign when you see it. Especially when you have seen the live mouse jumping around in the vicinity.

And, despite the fake plastic cheese and the crumb bait, I added additional bits of cashew to each trap. This morning, the cashews were gone from the snappy traps, but they had not been sprung. What was I dealing with here, Mighty Mouse? Darn, I knew I should have picked Hole #2!

But this afternoon, I snared my first mousie! It was a very, very fat little mouse with bulging sides, either from all the cheese, peanut butter, and cashews, or perhaps it was a mother-to-be. It was stuck in one of the sticky traps!

So, finally, Jeanne wins one round. We will now see if it was a lone marauder, or part of a family of mooching mousies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"I am thankful for..." Fabric Postcards

My goals for Monday changed when I realized that I needed to send in my postcards for soldiers in Iraq. One of the ladies in the Carolina Longarm Association wants to send enough postcards for every soldier in her husband's troop, and she asked to have them by Thanksgiving. Okay, that meant mailing them today. And it ties in perfectly with Vicki Welsh's November Postcard Challenge, "I am thankful for..."

So, up to the wreck of a sewing room, searching madly for relocated things, pulling stuff out, trying out my new set-up. I already dislike several things about the new room, but was able to get a few cards done.

I am thankful for our service men and women who are doing a valiant job far from home under sometimes terrible conditions.

Three cards are based loosely on the American flag, but with a field of white snowflakes on blue instead of stars. I used a piece of striped satiny-type uphostery fabric for the red and white part of the flag. They are each a little different.
The first one features lots of zigzag stitching in white and red thread over the stripes, and a luscious blue yarn around the border.

The next one has rickrack to make more stripes in the red area. I just zigzagged the outer border with red metallic thread.

The third one is a little more "artsy." I added a star cut from Angelina to the blue area, red silk ribbons on the dark red stripes, snowflake buttons, covered the whole thing with gold-dot white tulle, and then zapped with my heat gun. Here is a tip: don't put the buttons so close to the edge that you have to zig-zag! Or put the buttons on last!

I also finished a little winter scene that features a fabric pine tree, a batting snowman, and silvery snowflake stitching. For fun, I added some button mittens and snowflakes. Same comment about the buttons being too close to the edging. I used tiny black pompoms for the snowman's face. I sprayed the whole thing with crystalline glitter mist, a new product I had not used before.

And finally, because this one looks like a wintry mountain scene, I sent one of my postcards from the October postcard challenge. (Vicki, don't count this one again.)I hope these cards might bring a little joy to a soldier far from home during the holidays.

Sewing Space Organization

It is getting to be that time of year again when you can't post pictures of your latest projects...because they are destined to become holiday surprises! I am making something for the gift exchanges for both my local bee, The Whacky Ladies, and my larger group, the CyberBee.

But, while Charlie is at deer camp, I finally decided to bite the bullet and organize my sewing room- a long overdue project. In fact, I blogged about moving out my son's stuff and painting his bedroom back in February, 2008. Then, in July, 2008, I made the flannel-covered design walls. Since then, the design walls have just been propped up, and I never got around to putting this room together. I put my embellisher in there and enjoyed surrounding myself with projects on the design walls.

Then, I got a new sewing table, but it never got out of the box until this weekend.

Finally, it got to the point where I had to do something. I am having to step over boxes and bags, my cutting table and ironing boards are loaded with fabric, and I can't find things I know I have in there SOMEWHERE. So, this weekend I started trying to organize. It is slow and painful. I am not very good at hanging things on the wall with screws. I'd rather stop and work on a project than de-clutter. Wouldn't you?

My space is a finished attic that has two small rooms and a landing. I have decided to put my sewing machine and embellisher in the newly painted room, along with an ironing board, cutting table, and most of my fabric.

The other room will have all my drawing and painting supplies, the long table I formerly used for sewing, a large wooden bookcase with all my quilting/art books, most of my UFO's (UnFinished Objects), PIGS (Projects In Grocery Sacks), WIPs (Works in Progress), etc. and a workstation desk with slanted top for drawing/designing ( which I bought with a half-price coupon from Michael's about two years ago and is still in the box).

Both of the two rooms have two narrow closets with hinged doors. Since it is an attic space, there are knee-walls and sloping ceilings, which limits the space quite a bit.

I bought a 4-drawer file cabinet for $5 at a roadside flea market, de-rusted and painted it...and finally put it together a couple days ago. This will house my patterns and all those articles I print off from the computer and snip out of magazines. It will live on the landing between the two rooms, along with my small refrigerator and some wire bookshelves for my copies of Quilting Arts magazines.

So far, I have:

  • set up the sewing table and put my machine in it, and plugged everything in
  • put up a pegboard next to the table and organized my threads and sewing tools
  • Set up the ironing board behind the sewing machine and plugged in the iron
  • sorted out my embellishments like rick-rack, fibers, ribbons, and yarns, and put them in labeled drawers
  • moved my color-sorted clear plastic containers of half-yard and larger pieces into the new room in a 9-hole cubby
  • Mounted one of the design walls- will wait for DH to help with the second
  • Replaced the bulb in my Ott light and replaced the overhead bulbs in both rooms with brighter, white light bulbs. Ah, much better!
  • Moved the stack of wrapping paper and gift boxes off the landing (okay, now it is on the stairs leading to the third floor and needs to be dealt with)

Today's goal: finish one customer quilt, mount and begin the next customer quilt (another "flower power" quilt), and clear off the cutting table and move it to the new room.

Better GOMA (Get Off My A_ _) and get busy!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Smile for You

Just because you deserve a smile today! My favorite is the black lady in the flowered skirt.

"Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth."
— Mark Twain

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mouse Tales

There is a mouse in my garage.

At least, I hope it is just one mouse.

We have had assorted animals in our garage over the past fifteen years, including hummingbirds, squirrels, toads, and the amusing five-lined skinks. And the neighbor's cats. We live kind of in the country and have woods and fields nearby.

None of the above have been much of a problem. The cats and squirrels quit coming in when I put the dog food and bird seed in a big Rubbermaid container.

But I do not want a mouse in my garage. Ewww...

I thought I saw one the other day skittering behind my recycle bin in the garage. Brown. Fast. Ignored. Hoped it was a skink. But they are kind of blue.

A couple days ago, I opened the door from the kitchen to the garage, and something leaped behind the freezer we keep out there. Can't ignore any longer.

Normally, this is when I would hand the problem off to DH to deal with. (All car problems, electrical problems, and extermination of vermin are assigned to him!)

Unfortunately, he is not available until next week. (Yes, brother Jeff, I probably should not be announcing such things on the Internet for the world to see.)

So, time for Jeanne to put on her Big Girl Panties and deal with mouse.

First I searched the garage for a mouse trap. (I was kind of afraid that in searching for the mouse trap, I might find the actual mouse.) Okay, found an ancient, nasty mouse trap that I picked up with a paper towel and cleaned off.

Problem: Hate to admit, I don't know how to set mousetrap, having previously assigned all such tasks to DH.

Solution: You Tube has a video for everything! Including this very funny one which I had to quit watching when it started to creep me out.

Attempt 1: Mouse wins. I set it with a nice piece of cheese behind the recycle bin. Within a half hour, the cheese was gone, the trap still set. Tested trap with pencil...SNAP!

Attempt 2: Mouse wins. Reset with cheese, but moved position of cheese. Next morning: trap still set, cheese is gone.

Attempt 3: Mouse wins. Ditto. He will probably never leave now that he is getting such good groceries, when previously all he got was what remained on any cans in the recycle bin!

Attempt 4: Remembering that when we had mice in the media center where I worked at the middle school, the custodians put down these sticky paper traps. There was one media specialist who was not grossed out by actually catching a mouse on these. She would put a cup over the mouse, carry it outside, and release it. Brilliant....I could do that. We don't have any of those sticky traps, so I took a piece of cardboard, rolled up a length of duct tape (Duct Tape Use # 2001?) and stuck it to the cardboard, and put a nice big cashew on the tape. Put near mousetrap. Result: no sign of cardboard, duct tape, or cashew in garage.

Has he dragged his little mouse self somewhere under the house while attached to cardboard?

Has he eaten cardboard as well as cashew?

Next attempt may be to purchase new traps.

Anything but actually clean out the area of debris in garage where mouse is hiding.

Now that is a truly disgusting task!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Layered Waves Workshop

I have enjoyed a lot of quilting activities in the last two days. On Thursday night, I met two friends from my bee for a Mexican dinner in Raleigh before we attended the Capital Quilters Guild meeting with Karen Eckmeier as guest speaker.
We had the largest Show-and-Tell that I can remember in my twenty-one years of guild membership. What talented quilters! Then, we presented Mike Dorman of Military Missions in Action with a check representing the proceeds of our Heritage Day quilt auction and raffle: a whopping twelve thousand dollars! I am so proud of our group for making this donation possible. MMIA exists to help disabled veterans make adjustments and renovations to their living space when they return home from the war. Every dollar goes to the actual cost of building materials and other necessities. And I can tell you, Mike Dorman is such a compelling personality that people seem to just go out of their way to help this worthy cause.
Finally it was time for our guest speaker, Karen Eckmeier of The Quilted Lizard. She is a pattern designer and quilt artist who gave a delightful slide show and trunk show of her quilts. You may be familiar with her Accidental Landscapes patterns. This photo is from her website.
Then, this morning, I got up at 6:30 AM, packed up Sweet Sue the Subaru, and headed to Raleigh for her Layered Waves workshop. I really, really, liked this technique. There is no drawing, no gluing, no stabilizer, just lots of fun cutting curves and top stitching them to each other. Loved it! Here is my creation, using hand-dyed, batik, and commercial print fabrics in teals, blues, purples, and some black and white prints to make it all "pop."

Not sure what this will become...maybe a jacket. Karen was wearing a layered waves jacket made from a sweatshirt...I loved it! Here she is holding up some of the class projects. She held each one in all four orientations to see how we liked each one. Sorry, some of these photos are a little out of focus.
I would say this piece goes to the head of the class...Susie had the over-under technique that looks like woven ribbons.
My friend Darlene from the Anything Art bee used a color palette similar to mine. This one was all blue...

This one used a theme print and then coordinated colors to go with it.

I like the colors in this piece, which remind me a western desert.

And Dorthy's fabrics had lots of movement and bright colors.
Karen showed us how to make the points, ripples, and crests.
Her own quilts were available to view for eye candy and inspiration.

I highly recommend Karen as a guest speaker and workshop instructor. Very pleasant, amusing, and genuinely nice!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Buried Treasure

Yesterday was my reunion with my good friend, Marcia, who was back in Raleigh for a few days. The weather has turned rainy here, but our leaves are still pretty. All these trees are near the State Employee Credit Union on Wake Forest Road.
Marcia had her mother's fabric stash, minus a car load that another quilter drove away with in Greensboro to donate to their guild charity. What was left were five or six of those plastic boxes that fit under the bed, all full of fabric. And a few baskets and tote bags...Marcia's mother was an excellent hand quilter who can no longer sew due to medical problems.
The main goal was to find the fabric that they bought in Paris and other places in Europe, so I could make a quilt for Marcia's daughter who is living in the Netherlands. These look like the colors and prints of Provence...
It looks like there is about eight yards of this paisley, which could make most of the back, although I took a lot of coordinated pale yellows to piece into a back if needed.Marcia gave me some things I was interested this lovely selection of velvets, grosgrain, and a shiny lining fabric in red, blue, and green. And this lovely piece of lace.

My guess is that these were intended to become Christmas stockings. And here is a rabbit fur stole (feels like the real thing) with one section cut out that definitely was used for a stocking top!
Marcia found a beautiful embroidered linen tablecloth that she did not know existed, and pulled that out to take home. But here is the treasure of the day...
which she also did not know existed!

It is a beautifully pieced, completed Around the World quilt top, in lovely shades of rose, brown, and blue. Tiny, perfect little squares!

I have this home with me to quilt and finish for her. No deadline. :)
That is good, because I have several customer quilts waiting for me and projects galore to complete. And look what just arrived at my local library branch with my name on it:
It is the latest in the Outlander series, An Echo in the Bone, by Diana Gabaldon. I was number 252 on the waiting list, and it arrived right when I am so busy! I am longing to get into it...all 832 pages! This is the seventh novel about a time-traveling British nurse who is transported into the 18th century when she visits a Celtic stone circle on the eve of an equinox. The love story of Claire and Jamie, a highland Scot, and their journeys through historic places and events is fascinating. In previous novels they have moved from Scotland to America, and end up in the mountains of North Carolina---which sounds like the general area where our cabin is located! If you read these, start with the first, Outlander, and read them in order. They are long, but well worth the effort. I might have to request the audio version of the latest if I can't get it read.
Our library branch in Wake Forest is barely adequate, but it is part of the larger Wake County library. You can go on the Internet and request the books or audiobooks you want, and they will send them to be picked up at your local branch when they are available. Listening to great novels while sewing is a way to double my pleasure! The latest book I "read" while sewing was Shannon, by Frank Delaney, about an Irish-American priest who is shell-shocked upon his return from battle in France during World War I. He is sent to Ireland to "trace his roots," and recover from his post-traumatic stress, a disorder that no one knew how to treat back then. His adventures through Ireland, the wonderful and odd cast of people he meets who help him, the corruption of the Catholic church in Boston, civil war in Ireland...all make this story memorable. I just checked out another Delaney novel, Tipperary, because I loved this one so much.
That's all...I have projects calling my name!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Work-in-Progress: Flower Garden

Okay, back to quilty subjects. I did get all of last Wednesday's WIP blocks and sashings pieced together. I like the way the greens in the sashings blend the assortment of varied green fabrics used in these exchange blocks from the late eighties or early nineties. The blocks had every shade of green from mint to emerald to khaki.

I also like the crispness added to these old blocks through the use of the black "coping strips" and posts, and the bright new fabrics used in the outer borders of each block. I think I am still going to add another border of the Moda rose fabric, which will make this quilt large enough to be a bed topper or a nice-sized snuggle quilt.

Yesterday I made a fast trip to Fayetteville, NC, to visit the Loving Stitches quilt shop.

This delightful shop is also a Bernina and Gammill dealership. With 10,00 square feet, they have a large selection of fabrics, kits, threads, and other supplies that many local shops do not carry. There is a lot of eye candy on the walls and displays.

And I was able to purchase an entire 40-yard roll of Hobbs 80/20 batting without paying shipping charges. Of course, I found lots of other fun things while I was there.

Since I had to come through Raleigh on the way home, I did a little more shopping. I am happy to know that Jerry's Art-a-Rama has a whole section dedicated to fabric dyes and paints. They carry a good supply of Jacquard fabric paints, Procion dyes, iColor dyes, Shiva Paint Stiks, and best of all, they have Caran D'Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayons available on open stock.

I have a large tin with many pre-selected colors, but for some reason it did not include any yellows, oranges, or browns. I took care of that problem!

Today it is off to lunch with one of my former teaching buddies who now lives at the beach. Her mom was a quilter, and Marcia wants me to use some of her stash to make a quilt for her daughter. They have fabric purchased in several trips to Italy, Holland and other travels. I don't really need another project or fabric from someone else's stash to add to my crowded sewing room, but I would like to do this for her. Problem: she wants a double wedding ring, which I don't really know how to make. Maybe I can talk them into something with squares...