Jul 25, 2009

One of THOSE days

Skyler laying on the clean towels---you may not be able to see just how downhill his head is laying but I don't know that he is in any better shape than I am today.

If one more thing goes wrong, I believe I should take my husband's suggestion and just go back to bed. I stayed up too late reading a short book I had gotten from the library so I was sound asleep when the alarm went off at 5. Normally I wake a bit before the alarm would go off or Skyler sees to it that I do. At first I couldn't figure out what that noise was but since I want to beat the heat and bright sun beating down while I walk, I got up and got going. So far, so good. I even remembered to run DJ's mail to the post office and the water bill to the drop box. Usually he has to ask me more than once as I walk right past them on the way out the door---I didn't write those checks out after all.

First thing that happened? My ear buds kept breaking in and out on the mp3 player. It had done it before but now it was a more constant thing. By lap 5 I tossed them in the garbage can and continued on without it but as soon as I got home, grabbed my checkbook and off to get a replacement set---NOW, before I got busy and didn't have a set for tomorrow's walk.

Still not such a bad day. I decided to bake before it got to hot in the house---that's when I should have turned around and went the other way. I had some leftover buttermilk to use up, enough bananas in the freezer which I had pulled out yesterday to thaw and printed off the recipe for Banana Oatmeal Cake with Caramel Fudge Frosting. I guess because of the buttermilk, it is one of those recipes where you need to alternate mixing in the dry ingredients with the wet. (There is still some buttermilk left but that might go in cornbread or pancakes later---neither of us would consider drinking it) Still so far, so good.

The flour was in the 8 cup measure, the oatmeal, baking powder----I reached for the baking soda container just as Skyler let out a loud squawl. I turned around to see what his trouble was (nothing, just running up high on the pass through again) and promptly dropped the container right in the flour mixture spewing it all over the counter, the stove, the floor, the rug, me---everywhere! Dump that as who knows what is missing in quantities?

I drug out the shop vac to clean up the mess. I don't use this often, we haven't had it long as it replaced an old canister Eureka we had. When I have used it , DJ has gotten it all set up for me. That might explain why I plugged the hose into exhaust opening instead of vacuum one. My mess was now an even worse one--oatmeal, flour all over the floor---great! The current ant invasion is going to love this if I don't get every speck up

DJ came home from his hardware store run and asked why the vacuum is sitting out. No sooner did I relate the story of why I needed the vacuum. oh great---he is laughing and thinks this is funny! No cake for you, Mister if you keep it up, I am thinking! I told him to NOT put it up till I was done with the cake ingredients. I knew that alternating dry and wet usually sprays the counter with flour when you start the mixer back up so I would be prepared for more vacuuming. Wouldn't you know-- the thawed bananas in the ziploc bag decided to release their liquid all the way from the fridge to the workspace. I told him that if the floor didn't need mopping before it did now. Ugh, it even dribbled on my socks and more mess for the rug!

Turns out unbeknownst to me, he had already swept the floor and spot mopped this morning. You see, the floor was tacky from the ant spray he had to put down right at supper time last night. Yep, Skyler spotted them right near the bookshelf and door threshhold. NOT AGAIN with those darned ants! He thought they were after some old cookie crumbs in a cookie jar we no longer use and headed for his tin where they are now stored. They didn't get the word about the marshmallows stored in the other cookie jar with the unsweetened chocolate. We think they left the stored dried fruit and pasta alone that are in jars atop the book shelf. I have lost more food in the last three years due to the ant waves and we have even had them short out our airconditioner unit. Sick, sick, sick to death of them to say nothing about the ones biting me----in the house! I can avoid the ant hills outside but in my own house?

This cartoon from yesterday's Garfield sort of explains our approach to cleaning. Can't wish it away but when it bugs you enough, you deal with it. The house isn't filthy, it is clean enough but neither of us spends all day cleaning house unless we have company coming---THEN we "G. I. Joe" really clean it. We joke "when is Herb coming?" as the house needs cleaning. We vacuum when it needs it, dust when it needs it. It's not my assigned job anymore than it is his. The kitchen and bathrooms are kept tidy. We just don't live to clean, know what I mean?

So the oatmeal, flour and banana water is cleaned up and the floor cleaned not once, but twice but I hit some spots he didn't while I had the shop vac out. The rugs and cleaning rags are in the washer. I didn't burn the cake----which at this point would have been par for the course at the rate I was going. BUT I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Since then I have caught myself thinking "it would be just like me to drop the batter bowl and break the glass all over the floor". Or "it would be just like me to spill this whole tray full of cubes from the ice maker".

Well, actually I did sort of cause a problem with those the other day, come to think of it. DJ seldom uses ice and I don't use a ton of it but the ice maker keeps churning it out. About every 4 days or so I dump most of the tray out. DJ went to get out a garbage bag from under the sink the other day and found some water standing. Near as he could tell, the condensation from all the ice melting was dripping off the pipes. I am to dump the stuff outside now or risk getting the ziploc bags boxes, kitchen towels etc all wet again.

Dare I try to sew today with that klutzy cloud hanging over my head? I feel like that character from Al Capp's Li'l Abner Joe Btfsplk about now. (yeah, showing my age too). I will wait till afternoon to find out. Cake should be cooled enough to make that yummy frosting---cross your fingers!

ed note---well, I just about messed the frosting up too as I forgot the butter and brown sugar was on the burner and got distracted. DJ said if that cake is even edible, then we should call it "Miracle Cake". Sheesh, I am dangerous!

Jul 23, 2009


I finished up the 2nd of the Snuggle Up tops today so shanghai'd DJ after he got off his exercise bike for quilt holder duties. You may think you are seeing double and you sort of are, LOL. They are different but subtly so. I think that these would work for either a boy or a girl.

If you read my last post you know about the over calculation I had done on the 1st top. By the time I decided to do another with the extra strips I had cut, I was out of a few of the fabrics.

2nd one

1st one

I was able to squeeze out just enough fabric for the narrow flap and binding for both quilts from the same yardage----woohoo! The only thing that remains is to cut some fabric for backing and then we can pin these at the next meeting. These are such a snap to quilt up too which makes them even better for pro bono tops using as many colors as you want or as few.

So what is next? I was talking to Pat this afternoon on IM and said that I should just close my eyes and reach in the UFO hamper and pull out whatever my hand grabbed first and finish it up. I should be making an effort to empty that thing as I want the space for something else!

A phone call from my mom this morning told me that she and my dad had disassembled an old treadle machine into three sections for transport. They are in purge mode right now tackling the attic and some other rooms in the house. "Less is more" after all. DJ said he didn't understand why they were clearing stuff out---wasn't hurting anything up and out of the way, LOL. The out of sight, out of mind philosophy for him, obviously! (thought you would get a kick out of that, Mom) I had mentioned on one of the trips back this summer that I would not mind having it "some day" but of course, it may have been promised to my sister or sister-in-law who also sew. Mom has had it for some time and it once belonged to the church my dad pastored. The church women sewed for one of the local hospitals at the time. Well someday is going to come a lot sooner than I thought. I guess I know what we will be hauling back in the car next trip back. I haven't told DJ that yet, LOL.

I DID pull out a project bag and it looks like some string blocks that Theramae had made are next. I planned to sash and cornerstone them for a larger top and some of the sewing is already done. I don't think I have to make any blocks to go with it but will count up again to be sure.

It has been a pretty quiet day otherwise---just the way I like it. I took the day off from walking so slept in a little bit though Skyler was bound and determined that I get up at the summer schedule time. I ran a couple errands, fooled around a bit on the computer mostly answering email and looking for a particular recipe that I may try tomorrow. Guess that's it for today's post.

Jul 19, 2009

WIP Sunday---huh?

Yeah it is customary to post this "work in progress" stuff on Wednesday---alliteration, after all. Who knows what I might be working on by then? Knowing me, this same top if I don't get busy on it this afternoon. ( I didn't get the whole thing in the picture---some is hanging below the sewing machine table.)

I was on loose ends a couple days ago--really didn't feel like working on the fusible applique "Be Attitudes" since I normally buttonhole and then quilt it right after I finish the applique---machine still in shop till probably months end.

What to work on instead though? Earlier in the week I had drug home a bag of stuff one of the Belles had brought. A few blocks that needed the sashing removed from a donation top--did that but will re-visit the piecing back together later. Also in the bag was a pile of appliqued floral blocks with pieced half star baskets. Hmmm, interesting-- but only 5 or 6 are completely done and a bunch more to work on. Not yet but possibly down the line---and with different fabrics if I have to do them. (Looks like poly-cotton which you know will not crease properly but I could be wrong about that fiber content)

When I went to stow those sections away in the closet, I pulled out a stack of 3 1/2 inch cut strips I had found at our meeting place at the church---that white, gold, striped and leopard looking print you see in the picture. At one point before it got put away, I had pulled some fabrics from my stash to pair with it: an gold pinecone looking print, black with stars and crescents, a stylized graduated rust landscape print with what looks flocks of birds on it, and so on. I think I had planned an old pro bono fav Snuggle Up top. Obviously judging from the picture, I got busy on a top.

There were 10 strips of that jungle piece--more than I really needed--or so I thought. I loved the cobblestone looking giraffe piece but alas, it was only a fat quarter and I had cut a big hunk out of that for an "I spy" section. With some piecing, I was able to squeeze out two strips. I could use another scanty piecein that set aside pile in between those. Once I started cutting the other yardage I had on hand, I had 5 strips available in 6 different fabrics. Perfect, I thought!

Well, actually it ended up being TWO tops I am making. At some point when I was sewing it occured to me that 30- 3 inch finished strips would make a quilt that was 90 inches long!! Not a bad idea if I were not making a donation top and we shoot for 40 x 60. DUH, 20 strips, not 30. Okay, 10 strips towards another top then. I raided my stash (again) and came up with a few other prints that will work with the greens, golds, brown tones--using some of the extra Hearth and Home yardage I got for my upcoming Strip Twist for the FAB retreat. Some cat and dog fabric Mom sent home with me will work too.

Actually the first top has 21 strips in the final strip set and the 2nd, 20. The 2nd is not shown but the strip sets are made, joined and looped and cut, just waiting for me to finish up the 1st one. I was able to squeeze out 11- 3 1/2 inch strips vertically from each strip set. I left off yesterday on Snuggle #1 with vertical strips joined in pairs. I plan borders on this one with that rust colored squiggles old Fons and Porter (I think) print but maybe a narrow inset of black between the top and the border. I only have one small square section left of that squiggle stuff along with a pile of narrower strips after I cut for the quilt (s) but I may have enough cut to border both. I'll find out soon enough! I might be back to piecing to squeeze it out but hey, if it worked for our quilting foremothers it will certainly work for me.

Stash busting is the name of the game, after all.

Oh, some final thoughts on this pattern---switching horses in midstream with the strip pairs, messed up the direction that I had pressed the strips. If you look at the strip sets when joined, on the back of the piece, the strips should appear to be raised up and them the alternating looks strip indented and narrower across the back of the yardage. Let me see if I can explain this better--every other strips has its seam allowances pressed AWAY from it. Pressing in that manner will allow the seams to nest perfectly when joining vertically. Actually the pdf file of the pattern has a good illustration of how the back of your piece should look before looping.

The other thing? When sewing strip sets, join the consecutive strip (or strip pairs) by starting your sewing line from the opposite direction or the piece will start bowing. You need the feed dogs to work their magic and ease the middle strips in. I think I may have picked up that tip in Billie Lauder's Bargello quilt----it also uses this loop idea as does Bonnie Hunter's scrappy bargello though I don't think she says to do direction switching.

Hope you have a good day with whatever you chose to do------

Jul 14, 2009


He is sitting up on the desk for some reason but what? I don't know, LOL. He has given up on puffballs and wants to play but with what? I don't know that either. Silly boy! Looks like he is giving me the stink eye. Normally he just walks towards the camera when he hears it power up.

Here is the last of the friendship blocks for the FAB retreat. Norma requested house blocks any size, technique and color for her block. I kept coming back to this link from the Mary Engelbreit site for a hot pad. Cute and folk arty but I needed a bigger image so re-sized it on the computer. Somewhere along the line I probably flipped the image too as the fireplace and door wound up on the opposite side of the block. I had fun digging around in my fabrics for the block. I prepped the block on Sunday so I had some handwork for the Bama Belles meeting yesterday.

All the pieces but the windows were prepped with starch and templar methods. The round pieces like yo-yo's but I prepped the leaves and fireplace top the same way. The two windows were fused as I could think of no easier way to deal with the panes of glass areas. Since the machine I like to use for buttonhole applique is in the shop I did that part with two strands of black embroidery floss by hand. A little tough slogging on those windows. I was afraid of the blue shadowing through the light house fabric so backed it with interfacing so there are multiple layers of fusible stuff with 4-5 layers of fabric. My needle pushing fingers feel like it but I love to do hand work or would not have chosen an applique project for Norma. I didn't trim it down to any certain size. She can do that if she wants to make it fit her future design when she includes the other blocks made for her. I might be the only one who appliques so it would be easier to alter mine if it needs it.

Great news too! Pat sent word that she has her plane, hotel and rental car all arranged for the trip next month. NOW its official and 3 weeks to go! Woohoo. FABS plus 2 is gonna happen.

Not much else going on around here. I took the day off from walking when I awoke with a horrid headache after a rather sleepless night. Essentially stayed home and stitched on the block today. Will probably watch at the least the start of the MLB All Star game tonight and read a bit after that. Get up and start it all over again tomorrow.

Jul 11, 2009

checking back in

Yesterday I had a fun day with several of the Belles on a little field trip. They were having a 25% off everything in the store at Heart to Heart in Trussville (AL) excluding machine quilting. Lots of tempting fabric and in fact, I had to talk myself out of buying a collection of "Objects of Desire" fat quarters. I'm going to need some spending money for my trip to Oregon next month so I settled for this little bag you see. The bags measure 6 x 9 and for 5 bucks you could stuff as much fabric from a pile of bolt ends etc as you could get in there but the ziploc part MUST seal.

My selections might be a little boring but all in all, there is about 3 yards of fabric in the bag. All but one piece was WOF and measured 9 inches to 17 in length. I needed the white on white for a block I needed to make. The blue is a nice moda marble that could be used for sky in a realistic block. Yellow, well I seldom pass those over, but it might be a purse lining at some point. Three pieces of black on white---one says meow with paws, a second has only paws--good for the cat collection. One piece was obviously a backing cutaway but a nice cream on cream about 6 inches wide. I'm happy with my selections. Can't argue with the price. I also ran down to Sew Bizz which is a few doors down in the strip mall to get some bobbins for my Brother machine.

We went to the Chocolate Biscuit tearoom for lunch. One of the girls had not been there before so the rest of us were suggesting their salad plate. LOL, one of the salads is that yummy broccoli salad which I know her husband doesn't care for so she sometimes makes a batch when we have a potluck lunch. Since I will be out of state when my birthday comes around, I was treated to lunch. ( Thanks, Jane!!) Actually all 4 of us have summer birthdays and Jane's is the first in the series--we should have gotten HER lunch! Tasty food and good company.

I put that white on white fabric to use last evening and made my own friendship block using that funky pink print again. Lots of colors that the FABS can play off ---purple, hot pink, green. If I need another block for whatever set I chose I'll do that later. The sections above will be part of Pam's quilt-let--she requested her beloved Mary Engelbreit fabrics and plans on hanging it in her kitchen display spot. House block for Norma remains a project in mind but I am pretty sure I know what I am going to do though it needs to be re-sized first.

Today's project (beyond a few household duties this morning) was to get the sleeve on the FAB challenge quilt that Cher made for me a few months back. A run to Wal-mart for the rod and some cup hooks plus DJ's help got the quilt hung. Well, Skyler thought he could lend his assistance as well but mostly he wanted to play under the wallhanging when we were taking it up and down to hang the rod, LOL. Sometimes he walks atop the headboard so it might be safe from his playing with it yet. It looks like it was made for that spot, doesn't it? I should consider changing it out for each season.

The other goal was remodel my recently purchased pillow. It was far too plump to suit me and showed no signs of mashing down. I pulled out a grocery bag full of fiberfill and will give it a whirl.

Not sure what crafty thing I will work on tonight--maybe nothing. At some point I will have a pile of donation quilts to quilt but with my preferred machine for that job in the shop, that stuff will wait. The house block first and I think maybe the fusible applique on the July "Be Attitudes" after that. I would like to get back to my version of "Cheap Trick" last seen HERE --sounds like I just decided my week's goals in the sewing department.

Hope you have had an enjoyable weekend in whatever you chose to do------

Jul 10, 2009

some sewing 'round here

I got some sewing done for the first time since the 29th of June yesterday working on a couple of friendship blocks for the FAB retreat. Two of the girls requested wonky blocks and while it is not my "thing", I did as requested as I am a friend after all. They may not be all that nuts about MY choice as it involves HSTs.

Cher's wonky house with instructions from Tonya's tutorial. I wasn't sure if you were just supposed to cut it with scissors or NOT sew a 1/4 inch seam but this is about as "wonky" as I could make myself do it. The window area is too small and down too low if you ask me as I put that piece above the door all the way across. I guess with this form of piecing there is no right or wrong though. IIWII.

The door color is off in the photo---it is a hot pink/fuschia. Cher bought some of the funky pink piece for me years ago on a visit to Alabama. Some will go back to live at her house now. The raspberry stripe was a bonus from an online quilt shop purchase and had been stuck on my bulletin board for some time so I thought Cher, who loves color and brights would appreciate it. Measures 11.5 inches square.

Next up is a block for Pat who wanted yellow backgrounds and blue wonky stars. She directed us to a tutorial HERE . Actually I had an easier time on this one being more spontaneous and I did this block first. I love that Moda Marble dot I used.

I am waiting for a bit of Mary Engelbreit fabric to come to make Pam's requested block section. She and I are using the same traditional friendship quilt block but in different sizes and different ways. I do need to make one of my own though. I am considering what house block to do to fulfill Norma's request.

One more pic before I close---I need to quickly hop in the shower as I am going to the Trussville quilt shop with the girls soon. Skyler had a visitor yesterday. Chico was rolling all around the doormat on the other side of the glass and Skyler was trying to get closer and be friendly. I think Chico would make two of my little guy, LOL.

Jul 8, 2009

home again

I arrived home yesterday morning from a trip to IL with stops in TN coming and going. At this point I am glad to be seated in something that is NOT moving, LOL but it was so good to see my family! I am the oldest of six children so parts of this might be confusing to follow if you aren't related to us, but I'll do my best.

Shown below is the oldest of the nieces and nephews from a Christmas celebration some years back. I pulled the picture off the wall collage to scan it. Of course, they are young adults now and making their way in life. My sister from Colorado was "home" that year as the youngest child you see in the picture will be a senior in high school come fall. so we could probably figure out the year if we wanted. As time went on two more of us would move out of state. 6 more grandchildren would arrive---4 girls, 2 boys as well as foster children for one brother. My, how time flies!

I left here on Thursday morning with planned stops along the way. DJ had elected to stay home with Skyler and hold down the fort. He only goes back every other year anyway and this was the "off" year. When the woman who had planned to ride along with me to Boaz earlier in the week had to cancel, I decided to deliver the t-shirt quilt tops on my way out of town. A bit out of the way but as long as I ended up on I-65 N at some point it worked for me. My Viking 500 and a friend's serger were dropped off at the sewing machine shop in Albertville. Then onward to Huntsville. I don't think I had ever been on US 431 past Lake Guntersville though I have been to parts of Huntsville before but from alternate routes and angles. I finally know where the Huntsville Space Center is since I drove right past it.

I arrived at my brother Steve's home near Lebanon, TN about 3 p.m. The plan was for me to travel on up to the family gathering in IL with them. My long time friend Cindy lives in Mt. Juliet (just to the west about 9 miles) and we had planned to get together to visit and have supper. Given directions on how to get to her house, I took off for Cindy's so my family could spend one last evening with their former foster daughter going out for her fav meal, etc. Several years back I had gotten Cindy hooked up with my SIL Jan when they were considering their move to the Nashville area so it is only natural that my family spare me for a bit, LOL. My friend is now their friend too! Good to catch up with her and her husband!

My sister-in-law was staying home this trip but my niece Beth, foster niece Rose, Steve and I took off for IL on Friday morning. We were heading for a sort of "Christmas in July" family gathering with my folks, siblings and their families.

Only thing was, my youngest brother Phil and his family had made out of state plans--one son was at scout camp, the other two males were going on a fishing trip to Canada while the females were headed to Florida to visit friends in the Sarasota area. My SIL Jen and her twin almost 10 yr old girls were not leaving til bright and early Saturday morning so we got to see them. Jen and Phil had offered us the use of their beds for the weekend to cut down on hotel expenses so we took them up on it. Rose's bio parents came to pick her up at my parents house Friday afternoon so she didn't stay over but the Colorado cousins stayed there on Saturday night.

I stayed with my parents on both Friday and Saturday night. Mom needed my help in the kitchen on Saturday to prepare food for the gathering on Sunday plus I had to prepare my "dish to pass". I made a Tex-Mex sheet cake and two batches of Maid-rite loose meat for sandwiches. I broke up the pork meat that had been cooked the day before for BBQ. I knew we were going to have an ice cream bar and made good use of some of my dad's bountiful yellow raspberry supply by making raspberry sauce and pulling some of his strawberries from the freezer and making strawberry topping too. My sister Diane was in charge of the hot fudge sauce and a cole slaw type salad while another SIL had "fruit salad" of some sort as her assignment. Mom decided to make some chocolate Rice Krispie treats at the last minute too. She kept busy chopping onions, celery and making the necessary store runs. Mom was doing the prep work for Hopi Tacos for our evening meal, a dish and recipe that came to the family after a church mission trip.

By mid afternoon Saturday my sister Janet and her family arrived from Colorado after an overnight stay in the Amana Colonies in IA They had also gone to the town we used to live in near the Quad Cities--a little out of the way but not all that much. It being Independence Day by then, we had hoped to see fireworks that night at the small town just north of where they live but it had rained much of the day and no one was aware of what the town's contigency plan was till we saw the Sunday paper----5 area celebrations were on for Sunday instead. Woohoo--we weren't going to miss it after all!

A lot of talking, eating, laughing in between Jan's arrival and Sunday fireworks. All but one nephew in the grandkids above was there. The family of 6 and Steve's wife was not there as previously stated but the majority of the family was "home". I had brought my camera but didn't take a single picture! I know I can get copies from someone else's digital camera so I'm not worried about it. The old stories were told on each other and they still crack us up. New stories and experiences were shared. Mom and Dad had been doing some cleaning in the attic and had envelopes with old pictures in for each of us kids---trust me, those were good for a few laughs!! The hairdo's alone in the school pictures---oh my! Sorry, Diane and Janet but I am cracking up all over again just seeing those in my mind's eye.

Grandma and Grandpa opted out of the fireworks but the Colorado branch along with the TN-AL connection went. Chenoa holds their fireworks on the high school football field and we could see a lot of folks on the grounds of a church right across the street so we figured that was the spot to be. Since it was not quite sunset when we arrived. we set the chairs up in a circle so we could visit face to face. The girls were clowning around taking pictures and entertaining us. Turns out where we set up the lawnchairs was right near some friends of Jan and Rich, two girl cousins and their spouses and some of their kids, from my dad's former pastorate. The friends were going "hey, that looks like Jan and Rich. But it can't be--they live out of state" then progressing to the questioning hello and hugs all around. One of the girls parents came to join them later and Steve and I went to greet them and chat a bit. We were also set up near the spot where they set off some of the ground displays intermittently during the fireworks display while the aerial stuff went off over a vacant field. It was really cool--a bit like being right near a giant sparkler with glitter coming out of it. The girls have some video taken of it and you can hear the whizzing sounds of the stuff on it. What fun!

Sunday night I stayed at our brother's home as we were leaving for TN early the next morning. Steve lives about 7 hrs away so Monday was essentially spent driving. We went out for Italian food that evening and rented "Curious Case of Benjamin Button" to watch that evening. I left yesterday for home a little before 6. Had I not needed to stop at the Gadsden Wal-mart to get a pillow to replace the one I inadverently left behind I would have been home a little after 10.

Guess that's about it for the travel story and vacation. I have errands to run, groceries to get ( husband tired of running out for food) Here I am still in my nightgown, LOL. I started this post two hours ago. Obviously I didn't walk this morning! Phone just rang and I have an invitation to ride along to the quilt shop in Trussville and out for lunch at the Chocolate Biscuit tea room come Friday. Maybe I am not as tired of the car as I thought! Best get crackin' here----------