Thursday, June 30, 2011

Feeling Wilted?!

And not just due to the heat, I’m sure…..See this house plant? I have “ONE” house plant. And I can’t even keep THAT one alive…The good thing about this plant is that it perks up if you water it when you see it droopy! LOL!

And it lives on the kitchen counter, so it gets light from the window, and is very close to the faucet, so you think it wouldn’t be nearly as neglected as it is….but…..this is what I saw yesterday morning when I padded into the kitchen in the wee small hours to get a cup of tea. Poor plant! I could swear it hasn’t been that long since I last watered you!

And the same thing for Miss Sadie’s nails! When I posted the picture of her in the van yesterday, I didn’t even NOTICE how long her nails were until I saw them in the picture! So it was definitely time to do something. Water the ONE house plant…and take care of Sadie’s pedicure!

Sadie LOVES to run errands. She is eager to go at a moment’s notice, but this was her first time in the van. And I’m trying something new. She was always up on the back seat in my Saturn, and I never could get her to lie down…and if I came to a stop, she’d go flying.

In the van…..she had LOTS of floor space, but I’m not letting her up on the seats. And she got bored, and laid down! This is a complete WIN!

She loves going to the bank drive up window….they give TREATS!! And she knows when she’s there…you should see her get all excited when we pull in!

Likewise, she loves going into Petsmart. I have to admit I do to. Even if I’m having a blue day, you can’t go in there and look at cute fluffy things and NOT come out feeling better! She sniffed at the hamster and guinea pig cages…but where things are really fun, is when we go back to the grooming area:

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This is only about half the window…I think there were 6 dogs being groomed at once in there…small ones, medium ones, large ones…..there was a huge golden being shaved down for summer, and it made me miss Buddy so much!

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I always wanted a “Lassie” collie when I was growing up….but just seeing this groomer deal with all that hair made me grateful for a little yellow pound puppy Sadie who, though she still sheds, has short hair and doesn’t have to be shaved in the summer!

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This little guy was getting the full treatment…..his tail will be quite the show piece when the groomer is done with him….and the dogs must be USED to this attention. No one was fighting or pulling away…they just looked bored as if to say…”get it over with already, I have better things to do than sit here all day!”"

I had fun watching through the window as Sadie was in getting HER nails done….

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She really wanted to play with THESE two! Aren’t they cute? Are you smiling yet? I mean it….just go, and I know you will walk out of there feeling lighter!

Still don’t agree with me? Okay..I’m pulling out the big guns!

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GOTCHA!!! This sweet little guy is named Buster, and he is 7 weeks old. What a face!

And I have to admit it…I walked over to the cat area and…*sigh* there was a white girl with bright gold eyes that looked so much like my Oscar…..I SERIOUSLY had to make myself get out of there before I did something really stupid like adopting her. She was 7 months old and so sweet. But I know Emmy Lou…..and she has just now started getting to be more social and more loving now that Oscar has crossed the rainbow bridge. She is happiest without any other cats around, and since she is 11, I’ll respect that. Besides…..do I want to deal with more right now? Not realistic. If I was home all the time maybe, but for now…I’ll just go down to Petsmart and love on them if I get that hankering.

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So here is my shy girl! All trimmed! Looking good! She also got lots of loves and pets from the children who were in Petsmart with their parents. She loves attention…….

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All four paws, no more sharp points! No more catching on the berber carpet….Why’d you wait so long, mom?!

And I’m still kitting up projects for Oregon……pics to come later!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Florabunda- Re-Post!

I have received a couple emails asking WHERE to find the Florabunda ((aka Jacob's Ladder)) quilt directions that were posted last week, and it hit me...the directions were posted SO FAR DOWN in that Bloggy Love Day post, and had so much "other" unrelated stuff, that it really needed to be it's OWN tutorial page so I could link it in the top tabs on the blog! That should make it easier for people to find, right? ((I'm already loving the block variations I am seeing cropping up! Way to go!))

So this is a Re-post for that purpose! Have my blocks gotten any farther? Nope! But Maybe today I can kit some blocks up and get a bit closer to being ready for my trip to Oregon in a week!

My love of traditional antique quilts drives me. I know it's not reinventing a wheel, but sometimes working up a traditional design can be just the outlet we need to put a purpose to some scraps that have been hanging around for a long time. And sometimes, simple units are the perfect place to show a different technique, or a technique that has been around a while, but still needs some explaining!

There is SOMETHING that I have been demo-ing in my workshops that might not be entirely new to you, but might shine a bit of light on why things go the way things go! And while I’m explaining this…I’ll give you the directions to the 9” Jacob’s Ladder variation blocks to recreate this antique quilt I showed last week! Because this quilt was found in Florida, and is made with wonderful 1940s & 1950s Florals, I’ve nicknamed it Florabunda!

Get your printer friendly version HERE!

Yes, I still love this quilt, can’t get it off my mind, and I’ve started in on the blocks! Wanna join me? Here we go! For each block you will need the following cut from two fabrics:

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(1) 2” X 21” strip of floral print

(1) 2” X 21” strip of yellow

(1) 3.5” X 9” rectangle of floral print

(1) 3.5” X 9” rectangle of yellow

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Place the 3.5” X 9” yellow and floral rectangles right sides together, and using your easy angle ruler, cut 4 triangle pairs from each set using the 3 1/2" line on the ruler. Each block requires 4. There is a bit of margin left at the end of each strip set as cushion for cutting and squaring up!

**Note** These half square triangles will measure 3.5” before being sewn into the block, finishing at 3”. You can use any method that gives you 3” finished triangle units.

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Sew the two 2” strips together. Press toward the floral strip and measure the strip set. It should be 3.5” wide. If it is too narrow, your seam allowance is too wide. Adjust where necessary! Sew the triangle pairs as well. Press seams toward the floral. Clip dog ears! The triangle units should measure 3.5". Double check that seam allowance if they are not!

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Tip #1!!

Do YOU do this? I cut the strip set in half…and then layer it with yellow on floral, and floral on yellow…so when I make my sub-cuts, the 4-patch parts are already matched with right sides together and ready to feed through the machine! This saves HUGE amounts of time..just think of all that time it takes to align the two-sies one at a time to get them lined up before sewing pairs. Give this a try! You can feel the seam lock as you lay them together.

Cut five pairs of two-sies! There will be a small extra margin for squaring/trimming left over.

Each block will use five 4 patches! ((I was cutting for two blocks at once, that is why there are more shown here!)) Each 4 patch will measure 3.5" and finish at 3" in the quilt.

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Tip #2

See the left hand pic? All my pairs are stacked the same way! THIS IS IMPORTANT! You will notice the X on the last pair in the pic on the right… "One of these things is not like the others!” and he’s wrong!

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And THIS is why!

See how they are all being fed in the same direction? Florals are leading, yellows are following. Then look at the right hand pic! Mr. No-no with the red X is heading to be fed in upside down! Can you guess why this is a bad idea?! You might think it doesn’t make a difference, but it DOES! Stick with me! I’ll show you why!

Tip #3!

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Let’s spin those seams! I know this technique has been around for a long time, but in the beginning, I couldn’t figure out WHY half of my 4 patches would spin clockwise, and the other half would go counter clockwise. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason, and it meant that when I sewed 4 patch to 4 patch, my seams wouldn’t butt and oppose any more and it drove me nuts. Are you with me?

It all goes back to TIP #2! If you want your 4 patch seams to all go around in the same direction…they have to be fed through the MACHINE the SAME when you are joining the two-sies! SERIOUS!

To get them to pinwheel like this I grab the 4 patch with the center seam going side to side as shown. A quick twist will let a couple stitches loose within the seam allowance and allow you to spin them around. Which way will yours go? Look at the TOP seam allowance to see which way it is pointing. In this case, they are pointing right, so mine will go clockwise, like this:

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Does it matter which direction they go? Clockwise or counter clockwise? Nope! You just want them all to go the SAME direction. The only time it wouldn’t matter is if you are joining all these 4 patches to units with seams that don’t need to match up. And some patterns, no matter what you try, you’ll find you have to re-press a different direction depending what you are sewing the units next to. So think it out. Of course, if you are joining all of these to plain alternate squares, you can press them any way you want because butting up doesn’t matter.

Let’s finish that block!

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Lay out the five 4 patches for each block as shown. Now, lay out your four half square triangle units for each block as shown. Remember…the yellow is the ladder down the center! All the 4 patches chain in the same direction…

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One block done! The Antique quilt above has blocks set 6 X 8 for 48 blocks. This will give you a quilt center that measures 54" X 72" before borders. As for me? I’m thinking bigger! 8X9 is 72 blocks for a center that measures 72" X 81" before borders. Do-able? Definitely! And a great place to use all those florals I have not had any clue how to use! I'm gonna be RUTHLESS!

A Day of Driving!

Yesterday went by without a post. Did you miss it? I know I did! I woke up late yesterday morning, needed to get my stuff packed and out of the hotel --- and there wasn’t time for editing down the photos I had taken at Sunday’s Nine Patch Split workshop!

And I was --- and still am --- MOVING. SLOW!! Yes, the tired muscles have totally kicked in and are complaining loudly…but other than that I feel good. Stairs are the hardest part >_< The hip flexors just feel a bit abused. Time may heal all, but I won’t be doing another 12.5 miles any time soon! But --- See this pic? I did get some of the deer in the park!!

The best part about sleeping late, and waking late? I had NO trouble finding a luggage cart! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone down to the lobby to get a cart to haul my stuff back to the car, only to find that no one returned them to their rightful place the night before. What is with people sleeping with the luggage carts in their rooms? In my book, that is #1 on the list of just PLAIN OLD RUDE!

But there was a cart, and I loaded up Shamu, and off we went. And because I was so tight and sore, I stopped every couple hours just to get out and walk around a bit. Sitting for long periods of time made me feel like my body was being permanently formed to the shape of my driver’s seat!

I stopped in Richmond, grabbed a sandwich, and enjoyed a picnic lunch in a park nearby. Lots of kids in the playground, fun watching families play now that school is out. And I felt right at home amongst 12 other minivans in the parking lot! LOL! ((Yes, I feel like I've joined a whole 'nuther club ;c) ))

I drove another couple hours, time to stop for gas, and across the street from the gas station?

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SONIC!! And this is how I know I love the camera on my phone…isn’t that a tempting picture?! I know I get teased about taking pictures of my food, but next to fabric, food is life’s “other” greatest pleasure! ;c) I enjoy food –—so the pictures of things I love aren’t likely to stop any time soon. Of course, I enjoyed this delicious caramel sundae by matching it with a route 44 diet cherry limeade….it cancels out the calories in the sundae that way, you know? :c)

While I am driving, I love watching other people and seeing what THEY are driving…look at this little bug I got stopped at a light with:

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Grocery store delivery car? How many groceries can they fit in this bug? LOL! And I love the caption above the license plate…Spread Peas on Earth….LOL!!

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I also love seeing vintage cars on the road! This one had FINS to die for! Little old couple in the front seats. I like thinking about where they might be going….how long they’ve had this car? Are they the original owners?

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We were moving very slow, and that is how I was able to get the pictures…Turns out this truck pulling a trailer had blown a tire and caught fire and we were down to one lane….UGH!! Burning rubber is NOT a nice smell! The fire was only on the one trailer tire…but it sure made a slow down on the road while everyone had to rubber neck and see what all the fuss was about.

As I got closer toward Raleigh/Durham yesterday, some really BAD storms blew through…rain was pounding like crazy, thunder and lightning to beat the band, and I just couldn’t hardly see the cars in front of me…so much water! The wind felt like it was pushing the minivan this way and that way...SCARY! So…I pulled over…at Cracker Barrel! I just thought I’d wait it out. Turns out that even after I ate dinner, and waited and waited, the rain was still not letting up….but by that time much of the traffic had cleared out, so I slowly made my way home. It’s the biggest storm I’d driven through in a long time, and if there is anything that scares me, it’s driving through a storm….

This morning? All gone! I’ve unpacked the van, the re-settling has begun, there will be laundry commencing, and things to catch up on ----

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And THIS girl hopped right into the van and seemed to say “You are not leaving WITHOUT me next time!” I think Sadie really misses having Jeff around. She’s become very clingy to anyone who is near…doesn’t seem to matter who, just as long as someone is here. She needs her nails trimmed, and I hate to do them, and because she loves to go for car rides, I might just take her up to Petsmart on my errands this morning and let THEM do her.

Oh, and I guess you are waiting for these! Here are the workshop pics…and because I have a penchant for taking pictures of food…don’t forget to check out our buffet tables! We had salads to DIE FOR! I absolutely love summer and all the opportunities for yummy salads. And WATERMELON!! Yep…it’s summer all right, it’s watermelon season!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Oh My Aching Feet!!

I had the whole day to myself almost…and plans were made to go for a walk/jog about 8 miles from here in Prince William Forest Park. The morning was beautifully overcast….not rainy, just cool and fragrant, one of those perfect days….and off I went.

Waterbottle, jogging shoes, shorts…off we go!

When I pulled in to the park, the sign on the entrance shack at the gate said that they only charge for car entry between 9am and dusk! Well THIS is a bonus! It was 7:30 am so I guess I got to go in for free!

I wound my way around toward the visitors center, found the parking lot….there was only one other vehicle there, some guy had just taken off on a bike ride. A whole park to myself? Wonderful!

The visitors center, of course, wasn’t open yet. So I couldn’t pick up any pamphlets or maps that would help me find my way, but I did find this map in the yard:

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See the road that kind of loops around in the center? It didn’t look too bad! I saw where I was on the map ((Even though there were no dots that said “YOU ARE HERE”)) and off I went. I had been told yesterday during class that this would be the perfect place to go, and that the distance around the loop was somewhere between 6 and 7 miles.

At home I’ve hiked around Salem Lake many times, and it is 7.6 miles around….so….not a problem!

I walked a song, jogged a song, walked a song, jogged a song….and was only passed by one biker the whole time!

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Doesn’t this look pretty!? The air smelled so good and fresh!

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I stopped on a bridge to take a picture of the creek flowing by…..there was not a SOUND to be heard other than the birds…..

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On the off-road trails, it was even MORE secluded! I only took one side hike, just a short one…I was afraid I was going to get lost out in the middle of somewhere where I couldn’t be found ---best to stick to the regular road just in case!

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Don’t you love to see trails and wonder where they go?? I do I do! Look at that green…it was such a beautiful morning!

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This marshy area was SO beautiful! And I saw deer! Not that I really could get any in a picture…

I hiked and I hiked and I ran and I walked and I sang out loud to the nature because there was no one around to hear me….

And about mile 8.5 ---- MILE 8.5?!? ((Yes I was tracking my movements on my phone using the imapmyfitness app)) I started to get worried about where I was! Surely, the visitor’s center has to be coming up soon?

It’s a LOOP right?! Didn’t I stay on the loop? I thought so….when I took that side trail, I turned right around and came back after I hit the creek again…

After I hit mile 10 ((TEN!???)) I stopped to chat to a ranger guy and asked him how much farther it was to the visitor’s center ---- You see, I had passed signs with arrows, I pretty much knew I HAD to be headed the right way, but it sure would have been helpful if they would have said how far it WAS to the visitors center from the sign….

And I walked and I hiked, and I couldn’t make my legs jog anymore, and I felt like crawling -----


Total miles? 12.58. TWELVE and a HALF PLUS miles!!

I swear, that loop of road didn’t look that big on the map at the visitors center! AND..it would have been helpful if there were some clues on that map to tell me how far it was…..I just kept going thinking that I had to reach the beginning of the circle SOON!?

So needless to say, the rest of this day has been much about NOTHING. I showered. I grabbed some lunch ((So hungry I could eat a horse!)) and napped for two hours, and here I am.

I’ve got a lecture/trunkshow with the Cabin Branch Quilters tonight….I’ve got fun pics to edit down from yesterday’s workshop. And tomorrow? I’m headed back home….I don’t think I’ll be hiking anywhere for the next few days…. ;c)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Fine Day To Sew!

Yesterday was the Oklahoma Backroads workshop with the Virginia Star Quilters of Fredericksburg, Virginia!

I’d already had a terrific time the night before, and when morning came I was up and raring to go to get the day a-rollin’!

Now, if you remember yesterday’s post…there was something I wanted to tell you but it was going to wait for this one…but before I just out and blurt with it….let me do a bit of set up.

This last week has been crazy, right? I got home from Florida just last Saturday night after being gone 10 days. Sunday was not only Father’s Day, but the day that Jeff moved down to Columbia SC to start his new life on his own.

((BTW, He has worked two shifts and is happy as a clam --- tired!! Color me a HAPPY MOM!!))

I had the whole ordeal of having to buy a car because he had MY car with him in SC---His needs a new motor and is living in my garage for the time being…stress stress stress, right? Can you see and feel it?

Well one by one, all my stresses were taken care of, and it seemed to be working like clockwork….I got up to Fredericksburg, my new van, Shamu, ((LOL! Love this name for her!)) drove beautifully, I had a wonderful browsing afternoon to see a bunch of really neat antique quilts, met with the guild for dinner and…..

While we were chatting, two of the ladies confessed that they had “ALREADY” finished their tops for the class!

And then it hit me --- like a brick on the head --- an image so clearly in my mind, I promptly inhaled part of my broccoli which sent me into coughing fits ----

The demo quilt for the class was still there at HOME….sitting on the back of the couch!! CAN YOU IMAGINE MY HORROR!? OH NO!

But never fear! It’s a GOOD thing that these ladies had finished their quilt tops..because I could use THEIR tops as my demo for the class! Problem solved? TIMES TWO!

And now I’m really bad at names --- good with faces---and I remember signing books to Joanne and Linda, but to tell you which one was which this morning?! I should have taken NOTES! But they know who they are, and we had the greatest time, I would love to just get together with them and SEW SEW SEW! One lives the other side of Raleigh from me…so it MIGHT happen!

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This was the top that I was so kindly allowed to use as the demo for the class! It’s a fun pattern, one of the freebies on my website called Oklahoma Backroads. All bricks and squares…and you get a BUNDLE of bonus triangles to use in other projects from this quilt….Thanks girls! I couldn’t have done it without you!

Now, that picture at the top of this post? I just cracked up over this seat cushion! Those folding chairs are just not the most comfortable…so Maureen thought ahead and brought some extra padding! LOL!

And without further ado, I present to you a slide show of our wonderful quilty day!

So what does a quilter do when she has already finished putting on the borders of her class project?! Work on BOXY STARS of course!

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Little bit too much backlighting from the windows, but you get the idea! These gals are prolific! ((And sew very fun to hang around!))

After the workshop was over…Shamu and I headed up to Woodbridge for my visit here with the Cabin Branch Quilters. We’ve got a Bricks in the Barnyard workshop this morning……

I grabbed a quick dinner, and found the nearest WEGMAN’S grocery store just to wander and oogle and ogle. Have you ever been in one? If not…and you are anywhere near one….DO! It’s like Whole Foods or Trader Joes on STEROIDS TIMES 10! It’s indescribable.

I was going to take pictures, but couldn’t even begin to know where to start! It leaves me speechless! SO just go. DO it!

I came back to the room with some fruit and munchies and set about to get some sewing done!

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IF you have an IKEA near you?! Those big blue re-useable bags are TERRIFIC for bunches of strings on the go! I can dig and rummage around and paw through and not have everything spilling over on to the floor!

I sewed til midnight….crashed…and wished I hadn’t sewn so late when the alarm went off at 7. Time to get a move on! ((But it was sure fun!)) Hope to do some more sewing tonight….oh, I pity the maid who has to take care of my room! :cD