Monday, June 30, 2008

Happy Birthday, Porter!

My Baby Sister Mary and her hubby Kelly have two darling kids. The youngest, Porter, just turned one! And I was the happy recipient of first birthday cake mess in my inbox!! Oh boy! Does this bring back memories?!

It looks like sister Mary is not to be out done by sister Joy when it comes to homemade birthday cakes! They have more artistic ability than I ever did in this area, and I love seeing what they both come up with!

Of course, we know how MUCH food coloring it takes to get icing to be bright blue, and bright red (not pink!)!! And when you put that much food coloring in the icing, you know where ELSE it is going to wind up?? *LOL* I'm sure Porter had a great time with his Superman cake, and was taken RIGHT TO A BATH!!

I wish I could have been there Sis, it looks like you had a wonderful time! Love ya!

Buddy's Buzz Cut!

Here are some pics of a very happy Buddy Boy! I should have got the "BEFORE" shot....very long dark golden retriever hair everywhere, including bushy tail and feet and feathering on his legs.

The new groomer was so GREAT with him, he loved her! And of course,he loves the attention so much, and is so lazy, that he just lays there for her and takes all the pampering in.

I just told her to buzz him all over. It makes it easier to find the ticks here :c( I keep flea/tick stuff on the dogs,but the ticks here in the woods are so BAD this year. We've even found them in the house. I am wondering if I need flea/tick stuff for the humans in the household too!

Who would have guessed that there was a yellow lab hiding under my golden!? He was so happy and you could tell it felt so good when I brought him home. Sadie came running to check out who this spiffed up version of Buddy was...and they went running and playing in the back yard. Buddy loves to roll around and around on his back, I bet it feels WONDERFUL to him! It's so funny to watch him kick his legs and squirm to itch all the "good parts", like a bear up against a tree.

His foot is doing better. He is using it more and more as the weeks go by. And the best part is, he is HAPPY! Who can resist that big boy smile??

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rosanne's Spaghetti Salad

I've had requests for the spaghetti salad that Rosanne made last monday at our sewing day!

Here you go:


1 lb. spaghetti
1/2 jar Salad Supreme (By McCormick, comes in a shaker jar thing in the spice aisle)
1 sm. bottle Italian dressing
1 bunch radishes
1 tomato, chopped (Or sliced grape or cherry tomatoes)
1 bell pepper
4 celery stalks
5 green onions
1 cucumber, quartered & sliced.
1 package pepperoni slices
sliced olives

I also think that feta cheese would go great in here, or Parmesan or whatever you have on hand. What about mushrooms? Throw those in too. Grated carrot? go for it!

Cook the spaghetti. Dice up radishes, tomato, bell pepper, celery and green onions. Rinse spaghetti well after it is cooked. Mix all the vegetables with the spaghetti. Add pepperoni and cheeses if desired. Pour the Salad Supreme and Italian dressing over the mixture and stir well. Chill for 2 hours before serving. Mix well again before serving.

This is one of those things that also probably tastes better the next day, that is IF there is any left!

P.S. this is the "INDUSTRIAL" size jar of Salad Supreme...you know, Sam's Club? Costco? I'm thinking that 1/2 a jar of the "normal" supermarket version is probably about 2 tablespoons worth?(Or is this where they suggest 'to taste'??)

Old Inspirations

I am a "historical" quilt book junkie. I've got a couple books from the 70's that call to me as much as newer books do. This one is called New Discoveries In American Quilts by Robert Bishop.

It was this book, and the larger photo in the "America's Glorious Quilts" Coffee table book that really got me intrigued with Salinda Rupps Quilt (now referred to as nearly insane..and believe me,it is!)

What's funny about these 1970 books is they were "pre" rotary cutter and modern methods, so they are kind of funny to read in those terms. They also contain a LOT of black and white photos! What GOOD are black and white photos? I know color printing wasn't as "evolved" 30+ years ago as it is now, and I'm guessing it was VERY expensive at that time.

But having black and white photos can be a boon too, because you start to see things in terms of value, not color. You are free to interpret what you want in the gray scale.

However, there is ONE photo I really wish I could see in color in this book! I even blew the picture up so you can see it. Crumb pieced diamonds! I don't even know what size they are, but faced with a basket of odd crumbs, the bare bones of what was left after my students combed through my stash in my crumbs workshop, I decided to just piece a couple. And a couple more....and, okay 20 more... :c)I'm using phone book pages as the foundation. When you trim the blocks,you get fun weird angles along the edges. Many of the blocks in the quilt show recogniseable patchwork parts which I think are fun. 9 patches, 4 patches, square in a square, broken dishes, etc. I hope you can see it by clickingon the pic! So I'm playing. I don't know how I'll set them..maybe in rows like this, or in stars, or alternating with plain diamonds....but I am so intrigued by the little pieces in these diamonds. My 60 degree diamonds are 4" per side.

I took buddy to get a hair cut this morning. I found the card for a local gal who does dog grooming, and she is very close. She was great with Buddy and called me in a n hour and a half saying he was done and ready to pick up! He looks great, and so much cooler!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Another Lil' Stringy Thingy!

Look! The Blue Wizard is home! And she runs like a dream! It wasn't cheap to get her fixed, but undoubtedly worth it. I have NOT heard from the ebay seller...after I sent him pics of the broken mess. He sent one email saying it was UPS's fault. Excuse me? the box was in perfect condition. No holes, no tape off, nothing. The box was too big for the machine, the machine rattled around because there was not enough packing material in the box. UPS didn't do that. Besides..there was no foot pedal,no belt, no bobbin case?? working condition?(okay, don't get my blood boiling again here....)

So..The wizard is home. And she sews beautifully! Who WOULDN'T love to sew on a machine called WIZARD?? Just to prove it, I made this little stringy thingy for Tonya! She has invited me to do a collaborative book with her and I am so tickled. I haven't been able to spend much time with her on it yet, or give much input, but I've had other irons in the fire.

So Ton, Lil' Stringy Thingy is on it's way to Gay Paree! Be watchin for it. Sorry I don't have time to hand quilt it for you myself,but I'm sure you will come up with something wunnerful!

Yesterday I also found a box waiting for me. Oh boy. I'm going to have to ban myself from ebay...I've now got the set of insulated MUGS from my childhood, and the CARRIER they go in! Weeeeeeee! But I'm done now. I certainly don't need an ice bucket, and not sure I want the pitcher..well....we'll see! My family just stands around shaking their heads!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Virginia Wanderings

I am back from teaching in Woodbridge Virginia! We had a great class on Sunday, and it was really fun to see all the variations of boxy stars these ladies turned out. I just love to meet quilters from all over.

I was so tired by 6pm that I went to a local chinese buffet, ate my fill and went back to the hotel room. All thoughts of piecing my evening hours away went out the window. I laid down, and fell asleep to some episode of Law and Order, slept through til after 7am the next morning!

Sometimes I don't sleep so well in hotels. Something about the A/C running on and off and bells of elevators reverberating through the halls, noisy guests late at night who don't seem to care that people are sleeping behind closed doors. Know what I mean? But the bed was extra comfy, and I got the rest I needed!

Monday was an extra bonus! One of the gals at the boxy stars workshop, Roseanne, asked me if I wanted to join her and two of her friends for a sew-in day at her house since I didn't have to be at the guild for my lecture/trunkshow until 7pm! WEEEEEeee! Sewing with other quilters is MUCH more fun than sewing by yourself in a hotel room. I packed up my featherweight, my nearly insane (completely insane) quilt, and off I went to Aquia, about 30 minutes from where I was staying in Woodbridge. we had a GREAT sew day. Roseanne made us a summer spagetti salad that was ultra yummy (we all had to find out how she made it...) and we had chocolate amish bread for dessert. All in all I finished 7 blocks while I was away. Still have a LONG way to go tho!

At 5:15pm I met up with the other quilter gals at Famous Dave's BBQ...oh YUMMY! They have a BBQ salad that is to die for! Not to mention that the corn muffins are more like corn cupcakes...good enough for dessert!

The trunk show and lecture was extra fun. I love talking to other quilters and seeing them get jazzed about organizing and cutting their scraps into useable sizes so they can turn out more quilts. When the light bulb goes on about leaders & enders...you can just see it in their faces!

I headed home yesterday, taking the leisurely route. I've always wanted to stop in Fredericksburg, and I wasn't disappointed! There are a TON of antique shops there. (all the antique-y pics are from my antiquing jaunts!) I got there before 10am and the antique places weren't open yet, but the old Ben Franklin was! It is an old time Ben Franklin, complete with popcorn machine right at the front door when you walk in. I found a really neat wire basket there, and low and behold..the PERFECT backing for the nearly insane quilt.

I didn't expect to find any quilts to come home with me.....but I surprised myself! A cheddar/brown/green Carpenter's Wheel! LOOK AT THIS BABY!! It was.....tada....$29.95! I love how the center star is different from the other stars, and the other stars alternate in their color pattern too. See? The quilting stitches are really nice...double rows in the border. And even though it isn't so pretty, I appreciate what the maker had to go through to get her green fabric. It's hand dyed. And obviously not long-term color fast. But she did what she could, and I love that about this quilt.

I also found some cute cute hexagon heart pillows. Fabrics are shredding, but the prints are so neat, and they were 25% off in that booth and just said "take us home!" So I did.

After the antiques I walked around and even spent a bit of time at the confederate cemetery.

Another jaunt down the road took me to Meadow Farm in Glen Allen, an 1860 living historical farm and museum. You can take tours of the historic house, and it is furnished. Of course I was all excited about the early treadle machine, and the quilts on the beds. There was one I wish I could have taken pics of, but my battery was dead by this time!

I got home about 11:30pm. Completely exhausted, but happy to have been able to visit everywhere! (and now this is me playing CATCH UP!!)

Friday, June 20, 2008

3am Hot Flash.....

I don't recommend piecing at 3am on a regular basis! Believe me, it will make you a zombie for the rest of the day, and you'll end up taking 2 naps to catch up on sleep, and that will throw the NEXT night's sleep off kilter too!

This little ditty measures about 38X42. Fun working with the solid strings. I want to play with more :c)

I leave in the morning for Woodbridge VA! Getting excited here. We've had this trip planned for a long time. The weather here has been gorgeous, much cooler than last week and I hope it will continue up through VA. The trunkshow is already in the car. I just need to pack my clothes, load my own sewing stuff for in the hotel...and vroom vroom I'm off!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Midnight Observations...

I just got done reading all the comments! Oh you guys! I didn't make my post below in a "woe is me" kind of way. I'm happy with the quilting I do. Honest I am!

It was just weird thoughts I'd had since Saturday...where there I was hand quilting on my scrappy scrappy Charlotte's Baskets quilt, with a gammill with a statler stitching its self into a frenzy to the right of me, gorgeous glorious machine quilting to the left of me...and hardly ANYTHING in the hand quilting category, I know that is dwindling, and that is the one thing that makes me so sad.

It was just observations, no conclusions drawn, no "oh please say nice things about my quilting and make me feel better" kind of post. I love what I do and I'll keep on doing it. I appreciate your thoughts and your listening.

As to what I'm doing up at 3:30am?? Heck if I know! Hot flashes maybe? (oh joy, isn't THIS fun?!) I think Chloe commiserates on the hotflashes too...just look at all this fur!(I love her pink belly...so soft!) Actually, she is doing well, she and Oscar are playing a bit and she often flops over like this for me to give her belly tickles. Good swiffer girl!

I'm dreaming of doing a strippy crazy amishy type thing with lots of solids in all colors with hand quilting all in black thread.....maybe now is when I get started!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Machine Quilting Thoughts....

I have always thought that "To each their own, each in their own way" was a good motto for me. It still is.

I've been thinking lately though, after 13 years of longarm quilting for the public that I was feeling serious burn out, and doubting my abilities as a quilter to keep up with trends and the way things are going.

For instance, I worked my guild's quilt show this weekend. I was the hand quilting demo person! One of many,but I did my 2 hour stint between 12 and 2 on saturday. This also gave me an opportunity to view the quilts, visit the vendors and get to know the guild members better.

(All quilts here are ones that I've quilted. I added them to the post because it needed color in amongst all the paragrahs just to keep your attention! :cD)

This area has a lot more long arm quilters than Columbia, SC had. Their work puts me to shame. I seriously felt that as I walked the aisles and viewed their incredible work. I can't touch their quilting with a 10 ft pole. I seriously can't. The amount of detail work is incredible. I can't imagine the number of hours, the intense filler stitching, miles and miles of thread, each stitch so small and even. SHOW STOPPING. I was in awe.

And then I felt like hanging my head. Not only because I didn't put ANYTHING in the show, (everything I WOULD have put in was either being used in my traveling trunk show, or off that the photographers in Missouri)but because even if I *HAD* put anything in the show, under the scrutiny of judges I would feel really ashamed at what I pass off as quilting. Okay..maybe it's not that bad but.....

(I don't stitch down my miters on the corners of my binding. I'll confess that right now. I like my "dimensional" 3-D origami folded corners as is. I don't know why this is an important judging aspect, but it appears to be because I've been marked down on it every time..*LOL*)

I make traditional quilts. I don't make show stoppers. I use fabric most people would throw away. As Tonya said, I use the garbage can approach! (when she said this I about died laughing, I love the description!)My quilts are usually SO busy that a lot of intricate fancy show stopping quilting just has no where to show up on my quilts. I can do decent custom quilting, but I don't tend to quilt a quilt to death. I like quilts to still feel like quilts.

I happen to like what the pantograph designers have put out in the past few years. I think panto designing has really come into it's own as an art form. Because of these designers, I am able to put wonderful edge to edge designs on my quilts that really enhance the over all texture and pattern of the quilt. Sometimes I like to just plug those MP3 ear phones into my ears and zone out while following the lines with the laser light. I don't feel like I need to be embarrassed by the fact that I like the pantographs and even use them on my own quilts. Thanks to these designers, edge to edge quilting no longer resembles a mattress pad or a cheap motel bedspread. The pic shown here is a bit blurry, but it is quilted with one of my new favorites, Lime Tree,by our own Keryn Emmerson.

Then there is the whole thing of computer driven long arm quilting machines. There were a couple different booths with different machines at the show. I'm intrigued by the workings....fun to watch! They can do beautiful things as well. But I can't get over the feeling that they really are just an overpriced embroidery machine. I have yet to buy a car that is over $30,000.00. I just can't see why adding this feature to a machine is worth an extra $15,000.00. Do I really want my quilting to be this die-cut and computer-generated? The jury is still out.

Another thing I noticed at the show was the small amount of hand quilted quilts. This makes my heart hurt. As a long arm quilter, I still love hand quilting with a passion. Maybe that is an odd combination too. I remember when machine quilting was SO frowned upon. I was poo-poo'ed by the old tried and true blue guild members and quilt police when I started machine quilting in my mid 20's. At the time I just couldn't see putting all that hand work in quilts that my boys were going to drag around and that were going to need hard washing after many hours of hard playing. I still feel that way. Now it's the opposite foot. Hand quilters are ashamed to put their hand quilting in a show because it just can't compete with the amount of machine quilting that you can get into a machine quilted quilt. You just can't duplicate machine quilting by hand and fill every inch that way without it taking half your life to complete ONE project. Now hand quilters are feeling like there is not ENOUGH quilting in their quilt,as compared to machine quilting. Does this affect the judging of hand quilted quilts? "Not enough quilting" is something I've seen time and again on judged quilts. "needs more quilting in borders." "alternate blocks need to be filled to their edges".

Where are these thoughts leading? I'm not even sure. I'm just throwing them out there. I love to machine quilt. I love doing custom work and feathers in my own way even if they aren't show stoppers. I love covering a scrappy busy quilt with a gorgeously designed pantograph pattern. I love to hand quilt until my fingers are pricked and sore. I love it all.

For now, I think I'll throw on a scrappy busy and try a pantograph I've been dying to try!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Nearly Insane (& Ebay Finds!)

I played hookey today after going through a gazillion chapter edits on the book! I went to sew at my friend Mary's house in Asheboro. We have been doing this a couple times a month since I moved here, and it is always so fun to get together and SEW!

Today it was just us two crazy girls....and I decided this would be a great time to see if I can light a fire under myself and get going on that "Nearly Insane" I started what...about FIVE (or more) years ago! When ever the book came out....anyway..that was when I started it, and it was soon after moving to SC from TX, so..at least 5. I'd been in love with this quilt FOREVER. It was made by Salinda Rupp in 1870 in Pennsylvania. It has the weirdest blocks I've seen in my life! They definately take a bit of time and concentration, and when life got busy for me with school and then massage practice, it got put away. The first picture is a scan of the original quilt from "America's Glorious Quilts." The next pic is of my first 6 rows together.

It's half done. It's more than half done...but I got stuck on this one block and just could not get over this speed bump. I think these kinds of blocks you have to be in the MOOD to work on,and this one I was just NOT. It wasn't even the hardest block in the quilt, or the one with the most pieces, but it is a lone star with chopped off star points and everything has to just fit just SO...I paper pieced it in a gazillion sections, and I am proud to say it took me only about..umm....four or five hours..*LOL* 88 pieces in the lone star. All in all I sewed TWO blocks today, and they are only 6 inches a piece!

I'm thinking I'm going to bring this with me to work on in my hotel room in VA this next weekend. I'll be there for 3 nights. I have most of monday to myself because the guild meeting isn't until monday night, so it will be a good hotel project, just me and my featherweight.

Anyone want to come play? If you are in the Woodbridge VA area, just let me know!

I love rescuing cutter quilt pieces from ebay. Lots of times I'll just square them, bind them and use them decoratively as table toppers, etc. This is a pic of a double wedding ring piece I adopted! It was in pretty bad shape...FILTHY. And it was as stiff as starch....funky smell. Yep. Definately bleechh! So I squared it and bound it with a piece of vintage red I had. Then very carefully I soaked it in a bucket with a bit of oxyclean...no agitation. I put it through a "hand wash" cycle in my machine to rinse and spin it, and then laid it out flat to dry.The first pic is it before washing, the second, after. You can see how much of the yuck came out. And that red whatever that looks like it bled in the first one is completely gone in the second. A couple patches came unstitched, but I can redo those. Considering how gross it was, I'm happy with how "primitive" it just looks now! I confess to hating "pretty" double wedding rings. I made one! I hate *IT* and I think those feelings transfered to all double wedding rings! However, I love how maverick this piece is, and it's going to be a great accent somewhere.

My other find? I'm almost embarrassed to show you these, because you will think I'm nuts! I'm definately "NOT" a "RETRO" type gal. Let's just face it, if an item is YOUNGER than I am, it's just not vintage! *LOL* But I came across these tumblers and ice cream bowls in my wanderings, and they brought back SO MANY MEMORIES of visiting my grandparents that I had to snatch them up. I even sent pics to my mom to see what she said, and she remembers these too! They were really popular in the 1960s.....melmac insulated tumblers, with a layer of raffia/burlap in between the outer and inner parts of the tumbler. I even have a picture of my brother having a rootbeer float in one of these when he couldn't have been more than 4? A couple years ago I was at a family reunion and we were talking about things we remember, and these where what I brought up. Now they are mine. It's like reclaiming a part of my childhood...I've seen a pitcher and ice bucket on ebay, and I definately have my eye on those too!

I think I'll go have a root beer float to celebrate!

Sue H left this comment:
Oh, how fun! We had lots of those insulated pieces. My mom worked at a factory -- Cornelius Company in Anoka, MN -- where they made that type of product. We had mugs, tumblers, ice buckets, but no bowls. Very cool.

This explains the other "regional" mystery! I was born in Minneapolis MN. My grandparents lived in Edina, MN. No wonder I attribute all my memories of these fun tumblers to visits to my grandparents IN MN!!! Thanks for the insight, Sue!