Thursday, November 30, 2006

Comfort food

I made a big pot of a Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscany soup yesterday....or at least a big pot of my version of it. I use all the same ingredients (though I doubt they use canned potatoes) just maybe not in the same proportions they do. I have a tendency to use as much of something as I have on hand, so I use "the rest of the bag of spinach" and the small pack of sausage and any cut onions already in the fridge and whatever bacon we have leftover. Then I add chicken stock and other stuff until it "looks right" to me. I don't add the cream until I serve a bowl of it though so I can freeze it without worrying about it. A bowl (or 3) of this and some good French bread and I'm set for the night. I also tend to eat it for several days running and when it gets low in the pot, I add more chicken stock. I can stretch it out for a week and live on it. But not tonight! Tonight, my sewing machine has been giving me FITS and I want some curl-up-and-pet-myself food and for me, that happens to be a big bag of Lays and an entire carton of Ranch dip, with a big glass of orange juice. I can hear the gagging from here, but that is my absolute last resort go-to comfort food. And my DH realized I was on the verge of tears earlier after the top thread broke, then the bobbin thread, then the top thread, off he went for his daily trip to the grocery store and that's what he came home with. It was a sweet thing to do without even saying a word to me. He just handed it to me when he got in.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And Jessie's

Three down, one to go. I have not the clue what to do for the roommate. The best the other kids can tell me is that he plays the drums and loves Sublime and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not much to go on, but I have until Sunday to work on it. They all need to be assembled, but other than that I'm done with them. Not bad for a morning's work.

And my son's

Believe it or not, with the exception of trimming less than 1/2 inch off the back of the heel, this one is exactly the same size and shape of the flamingo. If you didn't believe before that shapes and colors and negative space can change visual perception, I bet you do now.

'Tis the season

For silly Christmas stockings. This is the beginning of the one for the girlfriend, and it's the most detailed. The others should go pretty quickly. I don't think you can tell in the picture, but the wing is a separate little quiltlet so it gives it some dimension to balance the legs. The eye is a push pin temporarily until I find a button I like for it.

About that lack of sleep thing I mentioned....

It was just idle thoughts, not my Christmas wish! If I'd said getting older was my preference, I'd have probably been 63 when I woke up. (I've actually been awake for over an hour already.)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My apologies

To everyone who has commented and I haven't responded to, and also to those of you who I read regularly that I haven't commented on your blogs. It's been a very tough few days and my mind doesn't seem to be tracking properly. I'm still not sure my friend's death has really hit me, but it definitely has me preoccupied and a bit weepy. I've decided that getting old, being on medications, not sleeping, being ill, and emotional upheaval all have pretty much the same effect on me. Too bad I can't pick just one of those if they're all going to make me feel the same way as a result. I'd pick lack of sleep, since I've been dealing with insomnia most of my life anyway. Getting old (strangely enough) would probably be my second choice.

Monday, November 27, 2006

They never grow up.....

They just move away from home. My son called last night and asked me if I could make personalized Christmas stockings for him, his girlfriend, his roommate, and the GF's best friend. They called from the Dollar Tree in Hattisburg, where they sounded like they were having TOO much fun picking out Christmas decorations for the apartment. After a few minutes of discussion we decided on a pink flamingo shaped one for the GF (he has been mortified for years by the real ones in the front yard, so that was a surprise) a ballet toe shoe shaped one for the best friend, a music note one for him and something "hippie and tie-dyed" for the roommate. I got all the patterns but the hippie one drawn off and printed out this morning and since he desperately wants us to come for a visit Sunday, maybe I can finish them in time to take them with me. It may mean writing the names with fabric paint rather than having them embroidered, but it's a small price to pay for a child who WANTS us to come see him. He's excited about having the decorations up, and the GF parents will be there Sunday and he wants us to meet them. That's sort of a scary thought, but he's getting to that age and she really does seem to be a sweet girl. And she makes him happy. What more could a mother want?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

No news, thank goodness

A lazy Sunday so far. DH has a HUGE pork roast started for this afternoon since the oldest daughter announced on Friday that that's what we were having today even if she had to buy it herself. She and the BF are in Starkville this morning and will call when they get on the road back to Jackson so her dad can get breakfast started. That's one of the nice things about the kids being gone for the most part. He gets up and fixes a big breakfast every Sunday morning. Even when I'm not hungry, the smell of bacon frying is enough to kick-start my appetite. Of course, the onions and garlic and olive oil he seared the roast with did that before I ever thought about breakfast.

I think Girl Kitty knows she messed up by being gone a week. Either that or someone had her in their house and she couldn't escape. She has not left my side (and my lap) since she showed back up, and she was never one to be held, just petted. She's also very vocal and has talked non-stop since she got back. She even hopped up on the bed this morning to tell me something. I'm still waiting on delivery of my cat-talk decoder ring so I have no idea what she was saying, but it sure sounded important. All I could think of was "Come quick, Timmy is in trouble!" That's a huge change from Gumbo the mime cat who makes no sounds at all. He just opens his mouth and makes the meow movement.

That's Gumbo at the bottom (notice the white mime gloves) waiting for belly rubs, and Girl Kitty (her real name is Canola) at the top, worn out from helping me sew. And Gumbo is sleeping on a WIP quilt too.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Take the good with the bad....

About 5:00 this morning my sweet baby Girl Kitty showed back up on the deck after a week of being missing. I've been feeling sort of like the Crazy Cat Lady out there at all hours of the day and night calling for her, but I'm thankful she's home and if that's what it took to get her back, it was worth it.

About an hour later a dear friend called from the hospital. She's been admitted with a stroke, undiagnosed diabetes and COPD, among other things. CAT scans and MRIs scheduled for today so I'm not real sure what else they're looking for. I'm heading out there in a bit with some treats for her (and NO I'm not taking the candy bar she asked for) and her Christmas present a bit early. She has one 25 year old son who lives in Louisiana but they have a terrible relationship so she's pretty much on her own as far as support goes.

We are much too young to be getting sick and dying. Marion was 53, Terry will be 53 in two weeks. Monday was the 8th anniversary of a dear friend's (and oldest daughter's Godfather, and my boss for 7 years, and husband of one of my oldest friends) death too, so it's been weighing on my mind all week to begin with.

And never let them go....

Very hard day yesterday. Middle of the afternoon I got a frantic call from a young woman I have been close to for almost 20 years. She and my oldest daughter started kindergarten together and have stayed close all these years, even though their lives have taken very different paths. Her mother was admitted to the hospital Thursday evening and by Friday afternoon they gave her about a 1% chance to live. Kristen is the one that the medical decisions ultimately fell to, since it's only she and her brother as next of kin, and the brother is in jail. Knowing her mother's siblings, I didn't hold out much hope for them to do anything other than argue about everything. So she calls practically in hysterics and her only words were "I need you." I raced to the hospital just in time to sit with Marian while the doctor told the family they needed to discuss letting her go. I actually felt fortunate to have the time with her with nobody else in the room. After a bout of pneumonia a few weeks ago and a scare then, she had talked with Kristen about her own wishes, so the decision was relatively easy for her, knowing exactly what her mother wanted. And Kristen is blessed to have a husband who has HER as his main concern. I just can't see him letting her crazy family bully her into anything. Anyway, they came back to the house and ate when they left the hospital and got a chance to visit with everyone, including my oldest daughter and her fiance. After a quick trip back to their own house for showers and clean clothes, they headed back to the hospital to sit with her through the night. She called about midnight and said her mom was gone.

Kristen is 21 years old. No child should ever have to make that decision about a parent and my heart breaks for her. We're supposed to be meeting with hospital staff today to see if there is any sort of assistance for her funeral. The last thing her aunt said to her before her mother died was that they had decided to have her cremated because it was cheaper, and they weren't chipping in any more than $50 each. First off, it's not their decision to make, it's Kristen's. Second off, the bullying has already begun. Kristen has 3 kids and doesn't work, and I just can't see how James is going to come up with funeral expenses, but with the help of the hospital staff and the Church, we'll come up with something. Say a little prayer for all of them, please.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Macy's Parade

My friend and his troupe of gymnasts were in the Macy's Day parade this morning and they looked great. It's the first time I've ever actually watched the parade and it's about the same as an NFL game. If you can watch it muted, it's not too bad. If you have to listen to the burbling inanity, it's damn near unbearable. Thank goodness there were about 10 kids in there with me keeping me aurally occupied so I didn't have to listen to the drivel from the announcers.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


You do a few here, a few there, and before you know it you've actually made some progress. I think of this as my "15 minute quilt" although truth in advertising doesn't exactly apply, since the QUILT isn't done in 15 minutes, that's just how I've assembled it. 15 minutes to cut some wonky strips, 15 minutes to put at least one strip on each center block, 15 minutes to press and cut more strips, 15 minutes to add some rust-dyed stuff to get them closer to square, 15 minutes to lay the pieces out for a progress picture.

Anyway, I'm still happy with the effect of the fabrics and the shapes for this one. By this point, I'm usually ready to lay a project aside and do something else, but this one has kept my attention. Maybe it's the whole 15 minute thing that's keeping me interested. Not any one chunk of time large enough for me to get bored with the tedious repetition of this particular technique. And besides that, I LOVE working with batiks, even though I'm on my third needle so far. My deepest respect to people who can hand-quilt batiks.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Back in the Saddle Again

I just KNEW Rissa was going to jump in with an agreement on WordPress! The only reason I haven't swapped over yet is because she's the only person I know well enough to ask questions of who uses it and I don't want to overload her. Jonathan, you have a great blog yourself and the video tour of other blogs was a stroke of genius. So we can chalk up TWO advantages to the NaBloPoMo movement (with apologies to Arlo) in that not only has it gotten me blogging regularly, but I've discovered some really good blogs I would have never found otherwise.

I got started on a new quilt yesterday, thinking I needed to get in gear making my annual donation to the Draw Down silent auction at the school. It's held in February and I tend to start thinking about it, oh, the end of January, usually. This will be my 5th quilt and it's Aidan's last year at St. Joe. Once she's gone, I may hang up the needles for that particular fund-raiser, but maybe not. After 17 years of daily contact with that same group of people it may be hard to just walk away. So anyway, I had no plan, no design, no well-thought-out idea of what the hell I was going to do, but I was saved by my constitutional inability to EVER put anything back where it came from. Lo and behold, I was tripping over the bin of batiks in all those gorgeous jewel tones and Earth colors. I've been wanting to actually USE some of the rust-dyed fabric I make rather than just making it too, and the colors seemed to work very well together. I made half a dozen or so blocks with curved piecing before I remembered why I DON'T do curved piecing. If I'd stuck with that ill-conceived plan, I'd be making a new quilt come the end of January anyway. Sooooo.....from scratch, wonky log cabin-ish blocks and some weird ladder things and some strange triangle things, and free hand cut strips and not-quite-square rust centers and I was off and running. After a trip to the Big Lots for a new iron of course. Alas, I finally conceeded defeat to an electrical appliance that IS smarter than me. The power strip threw the breaker the first time I used it and the 9 lb cord tended to get in the way. I'll report back on the new Proctor Silex next week after I've used it. Unless I kill it before then. I do like the HUGE water tank on it and the 1 hour shut-off. A simple button on the side turns it back on too. I think I can handle that.

Anyway, the quilt will ultimately be the blocks and filler things, and some of the blocks I'll just keep building on until they're big, some will stay relatively small. I want the rust stuff in the center of the blocks to be spread out sort of randomly over the face of the quilt and not lined up like little tin soldiers in nice neat lines and rows. I will ultimately quilt this one to within an inch of its life with (most likely) copper colored thread. It surprises me how pleased I am with this one too, since it's NOTHING like my usual. Not my colors, too busy, it's pieced, no negative space, and for damn sure no design to it. No metallics, no primaries, no lime green, and no appliques. The blocks in the picture are basically just scattered across the ironing board at this point but you can see the colors and general idea I'm shooting for.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blogger problem

This is what I've been getting since yesterday mid-morning whenever I try to post to my blog.

Blogger Problem
This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate.
Status code: 1-500-3
Please visit the Blogger status page or the Blogger Knowledge Base for further assistance.

They make it awfully hard to post daily if we can't get into blogger.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

More on the HANDS exhibit

Strolling through the backlog of 15 quiltart digests this morning and I came across a post from Barb Douglas at about the HANDS exhibit. I was totally shocked that out of however many jillions of hands they had, she mentioned mine specifically! She said "One touching story is the workman's glove from hurricane Katrina, holding the FEMA bill, from Louisiana." So unless there were TWO gloves from Katrina submitted, she's referring to mine. And even if she isn't, I'm going to allow myself to believe she is and just assume she misspoke about it being from LA and not MS. Any of you who've read my past hurricane posts know how important it is to me that people not forget. At least in this one instance the glove touched someone enough to remember it months after the fact. I don't think we can ask much more than that from our art, can we? She also has a link to with a slideshow at the top which shows all 4 hands I submitted. They're all together in one picture and they are the 3rd picture after the big hand holding the bird if you want to catch a glimpse of them on a real website. Unless I followed my usual pattern and forgot, I may have pictures of the completed hands and I'll post them shortly if I can find them.
OK, I found them, but I apparently didn't get pictures of JUST the hands. Over look the paint-stained jeans and scraped back hair.

Addendum: Mary Ann Littlejohn has some more pictures of the hands up at
Thank you for doing this Mary Ann. I hated to have to miss out on the trip to Houston to see them for myself.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The New Iron

I woke up this morning thinking that since, as a rule, I'm smarter than most electrical appliances that I would just get in the habit of turning the iron off each time I used it. That way I could just turn it back on instead of having to unplug it each time. It was a great idea while it lasted. I soon discovered that THERE IS NO OFF on this iron. The lowest setting is still ON.

So much for being smarter than the electrical appliances.

Just do it!

Glumping around not feeling well has demotivated me to sew, and the longer I went without doing anything the worse I felt. Last night I started on a scrappy quilt for someone else, and once I got past the lightheadness of standing at the table cutting all the little squares, it went together very fast and sort of sparked me to go ahead and finish it up. I did over half the piecing last night and the rest this morning. Everything but the border and cornerstones are done, and I can't do those until a trip out to Hancock since the guy only sent me EXACTLY enough fabric for the squares. This will be THE END of the Aunt Grace stuff (thank goodness) but at least it wasn't the pastel AG I had to use on the last two. Yuck. I think I dislike AG as much as I do Thimbleberries. At any rate, at least I finished something and got back in front of the machine. This one will get a very simple diagonal grid quilting pattern and then I'm done with it.

Next up: A very graphic, limited pallette piece using a pair of hands drawn by my friend. Lots of black and white, maybe some red and yellow. A "study in shape" if it works out as I envision. I also get to do some more thread painting on it and I'm chewing on the idea of making each element a separate piece with them all attached. Why is it that the simplest designs are sometimes the hardest to execute? I'm sort of excited to get to work on it but don't want to jinx the result by overthinking it too much.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

To sleep, perchance to dream.

My "never fail" trick of coming up with some of my very best design ideas while in the grip of a fever seems to have let me down this time. I'm thinking a low fever works better than a high fever. My concentration and creativity is non-existent the last few days, and I miss lying there drifting off to sleep with the shapes and colors of future quilts dancing in my head. I did get two finished quilts out the door yesterday and another one due to be picked up today or tomorrow. Still waiting on the name block to come back from my friend with the embroidery machine and get that one done and gone, and a simple 9 patch and I'll be through with OPS for a while. Maybe by that time, I'll have some motivation to get back on my own.

I killed another iron the other day, this time the good Panasonic. My one absolute requirement for any iron is an auto-off feature. That's an absolute imperative, between my forgetfulness and my cat's penchant for sleeping on the ironing board. I can do without spade-shaped burn marks on the floor, ironing board, cutting table, fabric, what ever it happens to land on when he's ready for a nap and shoves it off because, as we ALL know, he IS the king of the entire known universe and nothing is more important than his comfort. Well, food maybe, but that's about it. So, back to the auto-off thing. I had the choice of 2 different styles at Fred's so got the lighter one with the shiny sole plate. Only AFTER I get it home, get it fired up, play with the burst of steam thing, press some binding and a sleeve, then come back to it, do I realize that the damn thing shuts off after 30 minutes, whether you're using it or not. And when it shuts off while you're actually ironing, it spits water everywhere. To turn it back on you have to UNPLUG THE FREAKING THING and plug it back in. Not nearly as convenient as the box leads you to believe. I may put this one back for a spare (for the many times I've needed one at night and killed the current one) and go back to Target to replace the Panasonic.

I've had expensive Rowenta irons, cheap Continental irons, and everything in between. I manage to kill every single one of them within about 6 months. For a while I was buying a more expensive one each time, thinking the quality just wasn't there with the cheap ones and a good one would last longer. I did that for a few irons until I realized that the expensive ones didn't last any longer than the cheap ones and I'd rather pay $15 twice a year than $60 twice a year. I have no idea why my mojo with irons is so bad either. They don't get dropped (I do move them off the ironing board when I'm not actively using them....see reference to Gumbo the cat above) and they don't stay on all the time (see reference to auto-off above) and I don't do much weird with them beyond maybe melting some Tyvek or something and I don't let them run dry while on the steam setting. No real explanation of why I can't keep one for more than a few months at the time. By the way, did you know you can blow out the thermostat and ruin an iron if you add cold water to a hot iron? If you HAVE to add water while the iron is hot, turn the iron to no steam and pour a tiny bit of water in first, then add the rest of it. I can only imagine how many more I would have killed over the years without doing that.

I'm telling myself that I will get back later today and post some pictures. Maybe if I post some quilt pictures it will motivate me. Or maybe I'll post a picture of the cat. Something besides words in any case.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

First Five update

I have 2 finished, one almost finished and 2 more waiting in the wings. They should have been done by now, but whatever this bout of the mulligrubs is that we all have has knocked me flat almost. Whatever work I can manage to get done fairly early in the day is pretty much what I get done period. Me, DH and both kids living here have all been 'round and 'round with it this week and I'm ready for it to be GONE.

OK, that was my whine for the week. Come back tomorrow for sweetness and light.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


We had signs all over the interstates that said "Thanks y'all" about a year after Katrina hit. It was for all of the people headed north on the way home after helping with the clean-up and rebuilding. The signs have pretty much disappeared, but the people helping haven't. It's slowed a good bit, but it seems to be steady. This little blurb was in our paper yesterday:

HENNIKER, N.H. — Fifteen New Hampshire college students will spend their winter break in Mississippi helping renovate homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina.The group from New England College will work in teams in the Gulfport area. The effort was organized by Project Pericles, a nonprofit that encourages social activism among college students.The students will go to Mississippi on Jan. 4 and work for nine days, sleeping in permanent tents that were built to house hurricane survivors.

I think it's great that people in New Hampshire, especially young people, haven't forgotten us, and they seem to realize it's not all fixed by now. What does strike me as odd though, is the fact that they use a story from New Hampshire, instead of reporting on the kids and adults from here who are going in groups. My oldest is going twice in the next few months with organized groups. Once with her Church and once with a group from MS State. And there are many other groups doing the same. High schools, colleges, churches, businesses, and just groups of people who feel moved to do something.

One of the hardest things for me to accept is that my memories of the coast are already being altered, and in some cases lost altogether. We drove Beach Blvd the other day and found ourselves discussing what had been on that corner, or what this empty space used to be. Occasionally there were enough visual clues to narrow it down to an almost certainty (thank God for recognizable shapes of signs, and trademark color schemes) but just as often, we passed by without ever deciding for sure what it "used to be." I resisted taking pictures for over a year for the simple fact that I didn't want the permanency of the pictures to become my memories. That's happening anyway with each new trip to the coast. The pictures are all in my head now, and when I remember the drive through Long Beach, it's the miles of Hanes in the trees, not the beautiful homes that my mind conjures up first. The piles of debris and heaved up boardwalks, the prehistoric skeletons of Coke machines and retail shelving littering the beaches, instead of the miles of pristine white sand and sturdy fishing piers. Gone are the kites and jet ski rentals and brightly colored umbrellas and string bikini booths. No more lobster-red tourists from Michigan asleep on their towels, or children with boundless energy running in and out of the water, squealing with each new "treasure" discovered. Now there are front end loaders and cranes, great slabs of asphalt highway waiting to be hauled off for landfill under someone's new home. And the naked ribcages of the piers.

If you're interested in "doing something" to help, has some opportunities. The into to the site is worth watching whether you help or not.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Not only did I miss a day of posting (does it count that I have a bunch of days with multiple postings?) but I missed it because I spent practically the whole day in bed feeling pretty rough. Whoever invented TheraFlu, especially the apple cinnamon flavor, deserves to make a pile of money. I thought I'd shaken whatever bug I had but it hit with a vengence yesterday. Even DH was feeling pretty rocky and he never gets sick. By yesterday evening, we were both hungry so I guess that's a good sign. Things to do, things to do, so no time to be sick this week,

And happy birthday Bronwyn! I hope you have a great one.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Show of Hands

Mary Ann Littlejohn has a few photos posted of the Show of Hands exhibit in Houston, and one of mine is sort of front and center! Third from left in the second row. The one with the ASL hand sign for "I love you."
It was made with a scan of a real hand printed on organza, with a Red Ant Screen prints fabric with ASL letters for the background. The backing was another black and white fabric that has words like joy and peace and love printed on it. I actually had 4 hanging, but these are the only pictures I've seen of the exhibit so far.

about that cake...

looks like I might not have to feed it to the dogs after all. When I got up this morning I noticed there's about 1/4 of it gone already. Nick (our "spare" son) apparently has no problem at all with carrot cake or pecans. He came in from work about midnight and the rest of us were already in bed so I'm assuming he's the one who ate it. Either that, or the dogs have learned how to use a knife. He's a sweet kid and straight A student in the honors college at a local college so I can't complain. My son called last night too and he starts a job on Tuesday. Whew! It's about time. My oldest daughter also called, and yet once again, MS State has screwed something up. We have our fingers crossed for it to get fixed before she has to waste another semester up there. She's already one semester behind, with a bunch of useless classes under her belt, because of bad advice from the school 2 years ago. This time, they neglected to record her PRAXIS math score so they didn't enroll her in the education dept, although they had told her she was already in.

Friday, November 10, 2006

November 10 is Forget-me-not day

and my birthday too. The list of bizarre American holidays is pretty funny and it says today is Forget-me-not day.

My DH and youngest daughter took me out to eat tonight and I filled up on sushi with wasabi that was so fresh it was clearing the sinuses of the guy sitting behind me. Won ton, sesame meatballs and coconut shrimp, duck, and egg drop soup. My daughter and my sister spent the afternoon making a homemade carrot cake for me because they called DH and asked what kind I wanted. I have absolutely NO idea why he thought that was it. Maybe the same reason that after 23 years of marriage he forgets that I don't eat chicken. It's not that I MIND carrot cake, it's just not way up there on my favorites list. And my sister absolutely LOADS it with pecans, which I avoid whenever possible. Growing up, when I stayed with my grandmother, her sister owned a pecan farm so they put pecans in everything but spaghetti. It got to the point where I loathed gathering, cracking, shelling, picking, chopping and eating pecans. That dislike has eased a bit over the years and I cook with them occasionally, but rarely eat them. But my daughter spent the time and the energy on doing it. so I will eat it. She even made the cute little orange and green carrots in icing on the top. Or maybe I'll feed a slice or two to the dogs while they're gone during the day and tell her how wonderful it was as it slowly dwindles.

Now, the box of chocolate covered cherries on the other hand, will be gone within an hour of opening them. Those I WILL savor.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jumping on the bandwagon

Technorati Profile
I have claimed my blog on the incredibly rare chance that someone else would want it. Now they can't have it.

I feel like this should have involved horses and foot-races and Tom Cruse, but it was much easier than that. Any moron can cut and paste code, even if I can't write it.



Just so I don't break my promise within the first two weeks of the NaBloPoMo thing. Maybe more later, but I'm feeling sort of puny right now, and pitiful because tomorrow is my birthday and I don't want to be sick. I guess the advantage to that would be maybe it would head off the guaranteed Thanksgiving/Christmas illness this year. Go ahead and get it out of the way so I don't have to stress out over which holiday I'll be missing this season. It's a family tradition. My mother gets one holiday to be sick, I get the other.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Just a quick "good morning" today before I head out. I'm off to the coast with a dear friend for a couple of days. She's moving back to South Dakota so it will most likely be my last chance to spend some time with her. I also MAY get a chance to at least say hello to my son down at USM. If not him, at least the girlfriend. He's destroyed yet another cell phone and it makes me (and everybody else, especially my mother) batso to be out of contact with him so I'm dropping one off to him. Of course, since he doesn't have a cell phone, I have no way to make arrangements with him to drop it off, hence the girlfriend thing. At least I have a way to get in touch with her.

I'm sort of liking this daily blog thing too. It's a habit I'll probably continue with long after the month is over. Well, maybe not DAILY, but more often than monthly.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I belong to a group that does one "quick fire" challenge a month. We have one week from the time we get the theme until we post pictures of the finished piece. I was the challenge hostess this time and my theme was "Jabberwocky." I spent several days and got halfway through with the original one before I chucked it and did this one in a short period. My daughter has always called the Nigerian scam letters and the insane subject lines and sender names jabberwocky, so what could be more appropriate? I really like this little piece.

I played around with some free-hand writing on the background, and the letter and junk mail ads are intentionally printed on thin fabric so the words underneath show. The individual computer keys on the body of the quilt are the ESC and DEL keys.

Time to get busy

We're headed to the coast tomorrow for a couple of days and I have some loose ends I need to tie up around here first. It's been raining for 2 days but I have to get out in it anyway and run some errands. First up, some exercise. In the voting booth of course. I seem to have the REALLY bad mojo for electronic stuff the last day or so too. Two brand new cell phones, straight out of the box, and neither one works. I also spent over an hour on the phone last night with the morons at Comcast because one of our new cable boxes bit the dust less than a week after installation. I'm still angry over their crappy attitude and customer service and inability to actually communicate with reasonably intelligent responses, so it will have to suffice to say that I am NOT a fan, and they have a ways to go to convince me they are anything but a cadre of idiots.

On the other hand, I've finally gotten the inspiration needed for my most recent quilt, which has been hanging practically in front of my face for a couple of weeks now and getting NOTHING done to it while I spend my time working on OPS (other people's stuff) and none of my own. Periodically I HAVE to do some of my own work, regardless of deadlines or anything else for OPS. If I didn't, their stuff would never get done. It's almost like recharging myself. A couple of hours doing what I want to do and I'm energized to get back to what other people want me to do.

The new piece will have circles on it (I already used a bunch of polka dot fabrics, but I'm adding bigger applique circles) that I intend to make out of cotton cosmetic pads. I'm thinking Heat-N-Bond for the fabric onto the pads and then trim around the pads. Voila! Perfect circles and the cotton will give them some dimension without having to batt each one of them individually. I hope it works like I think it will, but even if it doesn't, I'm sure I'll learn something from the experiment. Still waiting on delivery from some ephemera I ordered from eBay the other day but it will probably come while I'm gone.

Another idea in the back of my mind is to use gloves in a similar manner to the cosmetic pads. Quilt the fabrics directly to the gloves and then applique the whole thing to a quilt. Sort of a trapunto cheat if you will. No idea where my current obsession with hands has come from either. I guess I'll just go with it until something else comes along. I even have a friend of mine doing some beautiful drawings of his own hands for me to use. He sent me the first one last night and his talent just blows me away. We're also collaborating on a quilt for him and I'm looking SO forward to actually getting the piece in my hands to work on it. He's piddling around with inconsequential stuff, like his job, instead of working on it though.

Monday, November 06, 2006

On looking back

Today is my youngest daughter's senior retreat. Each year, the school has us secretly (or not, if they have older siblings they know about it) write letters to the kids about how much we love them and how special they are. It's hard to boil down 17 years into one letter, so we just hit the high points usually. Maybe it's because she is my last one to graduate and I'm sort of looking back at my own last 10 years at that same school, with the same kids they started kindergarten with, and it's harder to let go and realize that THIS IS IT for the kids. The others are already in college, and in 8 more months she will be too. It has been a joy to watch her finally come into her own this year and see her blossom. She's made the honor roll for the first time, and is widening her circle of friends. She also has a lot of the do-her-own-thing attitude her older sister has.

She's a beautiful young lady, and as sweet and compassionate as she is pretty. We are so proud of her and look to forward to seeing what good things she has coming in her life.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday morning coming down

Since blogger seems cooperative this morning, I'll take a shot at re-doing yesterday's post. Rissa asked about the toenail clippers specifically, so I'll start with that. I use the big ones with the flat, rather than curved, cutting edge to trim off shanks on buttons (metal and plastic), to cut jump rings off, to cut off loops on charms if I'm gluing rather than sewing them, and pretty much anything that's small enough to fit between the blades. I use them as wire cutters and to clip those infernal plastic tag hangers too. They're cheap, strong and you can really get some good pressure behind them because of the handles. And they're smaller than a pair of wire cutters or pliers so I can put a pair close to each place where I use them. They work pretty well as tweezers to pick up little bitty things too. I also use baby safety nail clippers to clip threads with when I take handwork to sit in the doctor's office or where ever. They give a very clean cut edge, they're small and they don't take them away from you at the airport. You're also not in much danger of clipping anything besides the thread. It's REALLY handy if you put one of those tiny eyeglass repair magnifying glasses on the chain of the clippers too. I never realized how handy they were, or how much I would use a magnifying glass until I actually had one available.

I keep my needles in an empty TicTac box in my "mobile" handwork kit. I like the tight-fitting lid on it, I can see what I'm going after, and again, it's small. I also keep a very small, brightly colored feather in the kit so when I have to thread the needle again, I can stick the point of it up through the shaft of the feather and not worry about where I put the damn thing. I'm the world's worst about sticking it in the corner of the piece I'm working on while I cut a new piece of thread then spending 5 minutes looking for the needle. Another advantage is that the feather sort of clings to the fabric so I don't drop it as often, and it gives me something substantial to hang onto when trying to thread it.

I keep the spool(s) of thread I'm using in old spice bottles. Depending on the spools and the bottles, I either have one per spool or 2 spools in one. I usually have a spool of regular sewing thread and one of a beading thread. I just run the end through the holes in the top and I'm good to go when I need more thread in the needle. Pull just enough thread out for the top of the spice bottle to catch it and it won't fall back into the bottle either. And when I drop it, thread doesn't unspool all over the floor. On the days I'm really organized and thinking ahead, I thread 3 or 4 needles onto the spool in good light at home so I don't have to try to thread them in questionable light somewhere else. When I need the next length of thread, I just pick up the first needle in line and unspool the thread, letting the additional needles fall below the cut line. One more advantage is that you can knot the cut end coming off the spool so the spare needles stay on the thread too. It takes a little getting used to knotting the "wrong" side of the cut, but the needles are already on it. It's really handy for bad eyesighted people like me, and surprisingly easy. Every time I forget to do it beforehand, I kick myself and SWEAR I'll remember the next time. Yeah, right.

For bead storage and convenience for individual projects, I use the pill stackers that screw bottom to top to each other. I just pick which beads I need for each piece and reconfigure the stacks to only take the ones I need. No holes in little plastic bags, no big clunky bead trays, and if you ever spill one, it's only that one. Can you tell that dropping things seems to be a major consideration in my choice of tools? And they don't get mixed in with the ones in the adjoining compartment either. You can get them at the Dollar Tree or you can pay $3.50 for the same thing at Michael's.

As for the kit itself, I think that's purely personal preference and depends on the size of the work being hauled around as much as it does what's in the kit itself. I personally prefer an old purse or bag with a flat, stiff bottom, even if I have to put a piece of cardboard in it myself. Purses tend to have pockets and I like that. Purses also tend to have top closures and as much as I love canvas bags, they generally have neither. The one absolute for me is a shoulder strap, backpack style if possible. I don't normally carry a purse so my hands are full of car keys and cell phone and credit card/ID case. And if you get a bag (of any description) that you really, really like you can always do some of your own work on it. You'd be surprised at the number of people who will ask about it. It's a good way to showcase some of your own stuff without having to drag out the project du jour for every interested stranger.

Spoiler alert for the First Five recipients

If you're one of the First Five recipients for a little piece of art (SombraKnight, Moon Stars and Paper, Groggy Froggy, Vodka and Diet coke and Rissa), skip this post unless you want details on what they MIGHT be. Ideas still flying around, but they are quickly coalescing in my head so some or all of them will ultimately wind up in a frame. Yes, I decided to actually mount and frame them since I have NO desire to do more fabric postcards. I love the ones I have and I love teaching how to make them, but actually making them on my own is not something I willingly spend time doing unless forced to.

So here are the ideas I have so far. Go away now if you want to be surprised when they arrive in the mail. I picked up a bunch of small frames the other day, some 4x6, some 5x7 and 2 really nice 8x8 square ones. The square ones are hard to find, but I love the way they look so I grab whatever they have in stock. Only 2 this time. I also got a few black and white shadowbox frames that will be nice with the thick frame so there's room for the 3D elements. I won't use glass (monoprints, anyone?) on the finished pieces so the frame depth is important. I hit the $1 placemat table and found some really nice stuff that can be used as backgrounds to work on. One very flat bamboo, one crimson red with tiny sticks woven through it, and a green and an orange that have a nice woven design on the border. I also picked up some very detailed, albeit very cheap, "Japanese kimono" wine bottle dresses. The fabric is obviously poly, but the colors and patterns and tiny little piping and frogs can be individual elements without looking so cheap. They go nicely with the joss paper and bone dominos and wooden tiles and all the other Oriental ephemera I have.

I've also gathered up a bunch of different sizes and shapes of cheap necklace chains (from the 90 lbs of costume jewelry I inherited from the M-I-L) and other junk with interesting shapes. I'll be out on the deck with the acid today to remove the finishes, a sprinkle of salt, and tomorrow I'll arrange them and start rust dying some fabric. I'm hoping to get some good patterns on the fabrics so I can use that for the backing on one of the pieces. Maybe rusty washers and old skeleton keys with it? Still thinking through that one. I may try to overdye the rust dyed fabric with a hint of color too. We'll see.

The one that came to me pretty much full-blown is a music-themed one. Who knew? I have some of those rubber molds for Sculpey with faces and hands and I have a saxophone made from layers of gold and silver metallic cardstock. I'm pretty sure it's a scrapbooking thing, but it's the perfect size for the face and hands. That one might actually get a quilted background for it. Or not. Anyway, it's the one I'm most looking forward to working on.

I have a few other ideas (African themed is always a favorite of mine and I'd like to use the thread painted window screen plains tree again) for these little pieces too. They may wind up as gifts if I make more than the initial 5, and I'm pretty sure there will be more than 5. This is a slightly larger size than the 4x6 postcards, and I'm liking the idea of the frames, so I think I may take this and run with it. I could probably do at least 5 with nothing but the Asian stuff I have accumulated.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

One last try

I've posted twice today already, but blogger is apparently being horsey about it. At one point, they both showed up even though the first time I typed a looooooong post and it said it never published and to save it to my computer. I tried to. I really, really did, but the first time I hit the enter key, I got the dreaded white screen and the whole thing locked up. It's probably published on someone else's blog now. Look for a post raving about the great uses for toenail clippers and buttons and thread and you'll know you've found my errant post.

Maybe I'll come back tomorrow and try to re-create it, or maybe I'll just come back tomorrow and natter on about nothing. Either way, I'll come back tomorrow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

favorite (non)tools for quilting

I've been noticing the last few days that I use an awful lot of stuff for my quilting that isn't actually made for quilting. I don't mean the stuff like fiberglass window screen that's actually an element on the quilt either. I mean the stuff I use to make the quilt. Things like the little mesh tubes from the flower shop that the spider mums come covered with. They're about 4" long and stretch REALLY big. I use them to store my cone threads in so I don't wind up with a rat's nest of loose threads in the drawer and bins. Did I mention I probably have 100 cones of thread? The thread fairy periodically drops off 5 gallon buckets of thread cones on my front porch. I have some truly weird colors too. Anyway, the little stretchy mesh things are perfect for storing it and they're FREE from the florist.

Another thing I use constantly is my carpenter's sheet rock ruler. No, not the metal kind but a thick plastic one with inset levels. The edge of it is exactly the right height to run the rotary cutter down and the center is deeper than the edge so my fingers are out of the way. Being 48" long is great too so I don't have to keep moving it and lining it up to cut borders and binding. It's also EXACTLY 2" wide so you'll see a lot of that width in my sashings and borders and such. It's SOOOOO handy.

Another must-have for me is a new discovery. It's Reynolds Wrap Release non-stick foil. And it truly IS non-stick. I played around with it when I got it and fused everything I could find and NOTHING stuck to it. Let it cool for a second and even straight fusible just peels off like it does on the teflon sheets. And you can throw this away and buy more! I can quit worrying about creases or cuts or ink marks on the expensive teflon now.

And my DH gave me a B&D laser level for Christmas. I'm on probably my third or fourth set of batteries I use it so much. I mark cutting lines, use it for blocking, hang the pieces straight on the wall to take pics, use it to get more accurate than 'eyeballing' from one element to another on a quilt top. All sorts of uses for it, including messing with the cats and dogs, but that's just lagniappe.

Last but not least, my favorite seam ripping tool is a pair of suture scissors from the medical supply place. They are the ones with the little hook on the bottom blade right at the end. Half the time, the hook itself breaks the thread before I ever snip it and it gets those tinytight stitches beautifully without catching the threads of the fabric.

Some other things that are handy to have are push pins for sticking stuff up on the wall for in-progress pics. Small bulldog clips for the same reason....they hang on the push pins too and are great for displaying the fabric art postcards. I get them in all different colors. Cafe curtain hooks are another option and I usually have a handful of those around. I've also used the bulldog clips and cafe curtain clips as the actual hanging mechanism on quilts. I'm fairly sure I used some painted ones on Jen's "Alice's Restaurant" piece.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Day 2

Some loose ends first....being as how I'm the smertist woman in the world, my big plans for a follow-along tutorial were for the piece I have planned for Lisa over at groggyfroggy so maybe that idea needs to go on the back burner for a bit. I'll keep the pictures and stuff and just post it later than originally planned.

I am doing several piecemeal (notice I didn't say I was PIECING) quilts for other people right now so I'm forcing myself to not start on any of my own stuff just yet or I'll never get these finished. 2 of them are Aunt Grace fabrics which I loathe beyond words, but they're for the brother of a very good friend. He's developed some serious health problems and was unable to finish the quilts, and not only is his sister my friend, but he sent me absolute MOUNDS of every sort of sewing thing you can imagine. From (several thousand) pins to huge storage tubs of fabrics. It was wonderful and well worth the trade of doing some quilting for him to get the tops finished. Another one is some absolutely beautiful carousel horses in cross-stitch to be assembled for a Christmas present. The gift recipient is actually a friend of my daughter's from high school so I'm happy to do this one too. It will ultimately have a yellow binding and I'm waiting to hear if she is going to let me do a tab top instead of a sleeve. I hope she does since I think it will look better. I notice the colors are crappy on here too. They really aren't in real life. I'll get a better picture and a close up once it's finished.

Side note to blogger: I think there should be a button at the top to automatically insert the "crappy color/picture" disclaimer. Seems like most every blog I read that uses a lot of pictures winds up saying that at some point. Sure would save a lot of typing.

So, once I get these 3 quilts finished (one is completely done and waiting to ship, one still needs to be sandwiched and quilted, but I'm waiting on the name/date block to be embroidered and the one above is down to the final quilting and binding) I have designs in my head for 3 more. For some weird reason, they all involve pianos too. I have no idea what my obsession with pianos is. I don't play, I don't particularly like piano music, I know nothing about them other than what they look like, and yet they keep forcing their way into my work. Maybe I was frightened by a piano as a child. Who knows?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


I've signed up for the National Blog Posting Month thingy. in hopes that it will get me in the habit of posting daily. Well, maybe not daily, but more often than monthly at any rate. I have no clue what I'll post about 30 times this month. Maybe I'll finally get off my duff and do one of those "follow along" tutorials for the next quilt I make. Or maybe I'll just make up crap or natter on about my kids and dogs. We'll see as the month goes along.