Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sister's coming!

My sister is coming to CA in July, Yay! My mom really wanted her to join us and my SIL when we go to the International Quilt Festival in July, in Long Beach. Kathy will spend a long weekend with us and I am taking a couple days off work so we can play. Last time she was here, at Christmas, she proposed we make a quilt as a surprise for my dad's companion. Bear became part of the family a few years ago, rescued from a Post Office sale basket on a cross-country trip, and after languishing on a closet shelf for a while, has become the constant companion of our Dad. It has really brought out the silly in him as he makes up conversations and expressions for Bear, which is so much fun. Bear goes geocaching, too. The fabrics are mostly scraps from the Turning Twenty quilt I made dad. Of course, what do bears eat? Salmon. So we bought a fat quarter of a fish print (or maybe I had one--can't remember!) for the backing.

I appliqued one salmon on the front, for just under Bear's chin if he got hungry while lying under his quilt.
Look at all those yummy salmon!!

The reaction from Dad was priceless. He laughed for a solid five minutes. My jealous oldest brother, however, tried to suffocate and strangle Bear with his quilt!! Here is Bear after rescue, reposing with his new quilt, which he loves.

I can't wait to see what Kathy comes up with us for to make THIS visit!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Another hard week

May is turning out to be a very difficult, stressful month work-wise, not as long as January was (which my first full month working at three jobs!), but difficult staff-wise. The biller was out on family leave early in the month, with me covering part of her job. Our Nurse-Practitioner broke her wrist, requiring surgery including plate fixation for the fracture. That necessitated moving all of her patients from one week to the next. The receptionist's apartment burned and she lost most of her belongings, including her bed and many clothes and shoes; she had to move, plus she went to half-time due to some ongoing back problems and had to have a procedure, keeping her out of work for several more days. This meant extra work for other people to cover her job and still get their work done (including me). Finally, my co-worker and dear friend found out the awful news that her only child's (son, age 43) cancer has spread and he has to have more aggressive treatment. I am devastated for her. All this was on top of our server crashing last week and other computer software problems that have yet to be completely fixed which required a lot of extra work. I hope June brings better news. Next post will hopefully contain some actual quilting news and pics as I try some stress-relieving fabric therapy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where did the holiday go?

In between transcription work I spent more time this holiday weekend working on handquilting Grant's quilt but still not getting finished. I continued dragging my feet at piecing the backings for Nick and Elaine's quilts but they are on my mind (and stacked on my Hoosier cabinet in plain sight!). The table runner's "due date" is coming up June 5; progress was made in cutting the remaining pieces except the binding, and sewing on sashing and the two side pieces. I had to take a deep breath before cutting the angle for the pointed ends. Backing was also cut out and a piece of batting the right size located in my leftovers bin, so next is pin basting. These projects were all in this post so my progress isn't very pic worthy.

A big boo boo happened when I got over enthusiastic about getting some cutting done so I could sit and piece blocks while avoiding sewing backings. I washed and ironed a lot of fabric in between cutting for two different projects. Therefore I screwed up and cut a 3 layer stack of fat quarters completely wrong and in such a way that they cannot be used for their assigned project. Sigh. So tonight after Job #3 (my other other job) I visited my local fabric store and hunted up some replacements. Once again I was searching for the elusive white/cream background with a green print--naturally my mistake in cutting included the one fat quarter I just located a couple of months ago! Oh well. I found some replacements but am resigned to enjoying the originals in some other project later.

My ironing board was very busy as I also ironed some clothing for the first time in a long time. I finally tired of wearing the same five outfits every week to work and now have a fresh crop of shirts to wear. I even reironed the creases in my slacks! This post is occurring way past my bedtime so pardon my rambling...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Blogger, misc.

Turns out what I thought was "my" Internet Explorer problem is actually a Blogger issue. I found that out by reading an entry on Nancy's blog. When it aborts and hangs up, I can usually just open another tab and try again and it will load the blog I want. I hope they clear this up soon but am relieved it isn't my computer that has the problem! I did upgrade to IE 8 as well.

Also last weekend Grant and I went to see the new Star Trek movie. I have been a fan of the show since I was a kid and my dad used to watch it, with that old campy, cheap set and toggle switches for controls! The remake is really fun, going back to the youth of Captain Kirk, etc, and how he got into Star Fleet. There is lots of action and special effects but also humor and really good characters and villains. They used some of the favorite old lines like "Are you out of your Vulcan mind? " It was great fun and there was no swearing or explicit sex scenes/nudity, such an unusual thing these days!

American Idol's finale was also terrific. I didn't watch most of the season, giving up after the "Hollywood week" drama, but really enjoyed the season ender and was glad that Kris Allen won, though Adam Lambert certainly will not lack for success as well. The summer TV season will drone on and I'm going to make an effort to watch less and sew more. There is much I want to accomplish quilt-wise these next few months. June is nearly here and the year keeps speeding up. I want to tell it to slow down!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Cutter Quilt Tote Bag

I wrote here about making a tote bag for my Grandma using a cut portion from a quilt she made probably in the late 1930's or early 40's when the feedsack prints were being made. It was machine pieced but hand quilted, and the backing was that soft blue solid. I could be entirely wrong about these being feedsacks but I know that she got the pattern from a newspaper of that period as I once saw the block in a quilt magazine article on old patterns. As I mentioned, we used that quilt as our beach blanket for years--which horrifies me now, knowing how much went into making it! I probably gave this to her about 8-10 years ago and I got it back when she moved to the senior home.



Here's a closer view. I tried to use piping around the block but wasn't very satisfied with my work. Grandma didn't care, she was very pleased at what I had done, though it doesn't seem she used the tote bag very much--it is in perfect condition.

I like to take this tote bag with me when I shop but don't load it up much to avoid damaging the block further. You can see the worn portions in the center square. I made the bag from a heavy cotton duck--I tried to find that soft blue color but it wasn't available, so I made do with the cobalt. It has enough contrast to please the eye, I think. Love you, Grandma!

What A Week I'm Having!

Definitely the most stressful week of the year so far starting from a week ago when our kitchen sink was found to have a pool of water in the cabinet underneath. Monday started off with a phone call early in the morning saying that the server at work would not load our scheduling/billing program. Ooohhhhh, crap! It took three very tense and difficult days before the program was completely uninstalled and then reinstalled by our tech dude. What a mess. Then the next two days were spent calling all the patients back who could not schedule followup appointments or didn't know when their next appt was. The regular receptionist was out as well so yours truly and another employee had to cover her desk. It was crazy busy and the drama will continue into next week. My other two jobs were equally demanding and I'll be covering another employee on vacation this weekend in my transcription job. Plus, Internet Explorer decided not to let me look at many of my regular websites and blogs, saying it was unable to open it and aborting, then hanging up at the website and making me really mad when I wanted to relax! I did play a bit last weekend with the positive words project for Tonya (whose blog IE won't load for me this week!! ) I chose some scrap fabric to try out before using my selected happy fabrics. Here's my sketch and fabric:

Next, my first in a set of errors! Yep, that's sewn on wrong. I needed the straight piece first.

Sheesh, can't even tell where I am going with this, can ya?

Uh huh, it's an O. Sorta. Kinda. Well, maybe.

I was shocked at how much fabric I used up with all my mistakes, making me very glad I used leftovers first! The letter turned out twice as wide as I wanted but I have a better idea of how to construct it "for realsies". It also took way longer than I imagined to make this poor excuse for an O and I discarded multiple wrongly sewn sections just to get to this. My next attempt will be better, I promise. This one looks like the beginnings of a cartoon creature!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

P.S.

I decided, after conferring with the two to whom it might matter most (i.e., the girls), that I am going to revert to calling them all by their names. So please welcome my hubby, Grant, our son, Nick, older daughter, Elaine, and younger daughter, Erica. Whew. That's gonna be so much easier!

Season Finales

Last night I watched the amazing "Biggest Loser" season finale, where a woman a year older than I am won. While watching, I ate a chocolate brownie with chocolate icing :). I get such a twisted kick out of that! I could certainly stand to lose at least another 20 lbs but exercise is the only way to do that and I am too lazy. I even bought one of the simple stepper type devices but it lies neglected and stuffed behind the recliner, which I surely use more than the stepper!! Tonight is my favorite show's finale. "Lost" grabbed me from the beginning and I have rarely missed any episodes over the years. It's been quite a tangled web and I don't try to read too much into it. This guy writes a weekly column that asks both deep and trivia questions and has lots of people guessing and analyzing, which is kind of fun to read too. I plan to read my brand new Quilt Sampler magazine and/or hand quilt during commercials, so quilting still wins out over TV watching. For afficionados: I really hate Kate's character this season and Ben is more fun than ever! Hurley still gets all the best lines and Sawyer is the cutest and cracks wise the best. Jack, I go hot and cold on him. Sayid is sizzling, even if he is a born killer.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

Mother's Day was nice--though there was the usual mad rush before guests came to get things set up and the food all in order. Below is my Mom---my #1 Quilt Pin Baster--and me. Yes, we have the same gummy smiles, and somehow both ended up wearing green sweaters! The redhead in between us is a painting that Mom did some years ago. Isn't she talented?


This is E-1 modeling the hilarious gift The Boy gave me---A Snuggly! She is wearing it "mom" style. See how the nose must be covered?


And here is E-2 enjoying her lunch break from work. She was first to eat so looks a little lonely there! (Ugh, don't look at the carpet)


And here's the oldest of the offspring, with his faithful dog Russell (who is making some kind of a weird face. He's really a good looking red merle Aussie with half blue eyes).


We had 15 for brunch and ate french toast, waffles, mini egg omelets (baked in a muffin tin), croissants and fresh berries. It was nice enough for the patio table to be seated as well, even though it was overcast. The cool marine layer came back in a couple of days ago and helped control that terrible fire in Santa Barbara where 31 houses were destroyed and 47 damaged. They hope to have it fully contained by Wednesday. The afternoon I spent hand quilting G-man's quilt while E-1 watched the Laker and Dodger games simultaneously, wrapped up in the Snuggly! She gave me some soaps I had asked for and E-2 gave me a necklace and earrings. Later I did some more sketching for my Tonya words project, pulled some fabric for it, and ended the evening surfing quilting blogs for a long time. Altogether pleasant!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Free piecing the Tonya way

A new challenge I have taken on is free piecing a word for Tonya's positive words project. I chose the word "soar" and last night played around with graph paper and some ideas. It's exciting to try a new technique that is out of my comfort zone and there may be several versions before I send it off to Tonya by June 15. As a Mother's Day gift to myself, I'll pull some happy fabric and play tomorrow afternoon after our guests depart. Every year we throw a Mother's Day brunch--some years my mom has been off gallivanting around the nation or world on vacation so we have my MIL and any SIL's that are around. I love family get-togethers and just hope my visitors will ignore my 19 year old horrible carpeting and any of the many other flaws this house has acquired over the years! Simple food, family gathered, and lots of laughter are on the menu. Happy Mother's Day to all!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Grandma the Quilter

My dad's mom made a few quilts. She grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska and was the oldest girl in a large family. The Sunbonnet Sue-type are feedsack prints from the 30's and 40's. Grandma left home young and probably made these blocks before then, but the quilts were finished much later with her sisters. They are hand embroidered and hand quilted. One of her other quilts we used to use as a beach blanket (!!) when I was a little kid and it became too tattered to use anymore. Much later, I made a doll quilt from a "good" section and later attached a block to a tote bag that I made and gave her. I still have the rest of the "cutter" quilt stored in my closet.

This one is a yo-yo quilt, also from feedsack prints. She had her church quilting group tie it to a backing. The label says "Made 1934. Tied 1997". How's that for holding onto a UFO!

This quilt lived on the guest bedroom bed and I slept under it many times. It is also hand embroidered and hand quilted.
Unfortunately Grandma has vascular dementia and does not remember making these quilts. She is now 91 and living in a very nice Senior memory care home. My Grandma was a great "from scratch" cook and took care of everyone else all her life so it is difficult to see her struggle now with her mind. Grandma's quilts and sewing baskets came to me when she was moved to the senior home and being of that generation, she never threw anything away. I have some true vintage treasures in needle cases, buttons, notions, and tons of wooden spools of thread. I think I inherited some of her mother's and sister's things as well from when they passed! When I finally get a sewing room, I plan to display Grandma's quilts and the vintage sewing items. I love you, Grandma!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend work/Another top

I spent Saturday morning working on the hand quilting on G-man's quilt, just big stitch quilting with Perle cotton. I am liking the folksy addition and not trying to be perfect, just generally straight!

Below, this is my experiment with leftover 5" oriental charm pack squares and some triangle squares from Susie's quilt. It is going to turn into a table runner for part of a wedding gift.

The orange print will be the backing, making it two-sided. I love the orange! The other print and some leftover mottled black/blue from the triangle squares will make the front.


Lastly, I finished E-1's Batik Zen top. It is really much prettier in person.


Nothing in particular happened in my quilty world on Sunday but I did have spend some pleasant hours there on Friday night (after the earthquake) and Saturday. It was a good weekend though of course went by too fast. Watched "Frost and Nixon" last night on pay per view with G-man. It was pretty good but left me with more questions. I was 12 when he resigned, and was on a long vacation with my Grandparents and a cousin. We were in Port Angeles, Washington, watching on TV the bizarre resignation and "victory exit" by helicopter. I'll never forget it! Politicians do live in their own little worlds, don't they?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Blobs!

I have been thinking about becoming a nudist. Not full time, just in the morning when I am getting ready for work. Frequently, I get either toothpaste or makeup blobs on my clothes. The possibility of my getting either toothpaste, makeup or lotion on my outfit rises exponentially depending on the age/fondness of the clothing. If it is brand new, naturally a blob will appear strategically in the most visible area. If it is my favorite outfit, the blob will be unremovable and therefore unwearable for the day. Skin cleans up much more easily than fabric, so the nudist thing would help there...the only problem would be having to cover the mirror so I don't have the blinding glare from my pale body!