Thursday, July 28, 2011

At Peace

With a heavy heart, I share that our future son-in-law's father passed away yesterday.  Gary had emphysema and suffered tremendously for the last year.  He is no longer struggling for breath and is free.  His family knows he is in heaven and at peace at last.  Gary will be forever loved and remembered by his wife Sandy, and sons Mike and Chris. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday's Orts

If it's Tuesday, it must be time for orts to land on this spot!
  • Friday night Grant took me out to dinner. A friend and his band was playing in a restaurant/bar the next town over--I was pretty excited just to get 10 miles away from home in a direction not towards work!  The restaurant (Garman's Pub) is owned by a kid I used to babysit for years and years along with his brother.  When I met the family, his divorced single mom was dating her boss and they then got married and moved to a big house.  I later worked for said boss in his optometry business, and he drove us from our wedding to our reception in his Rolls Royce.  It is a small world indeed. The food and setting were great at Garman's and we enjoyed the entertainment.  Grant had a Boxty and I had rosemary chicken. 
  • I was so tired Friday night after we got home about 9:00 that I told Grant I might have to take a nap before going to bed.  I managed to stay up to 10:15.
  • There are two dogs somewhere in the neighborhood behind ours that rile each other up at night.  Bark bark bark bark bark, goes one deep voice, and yip yip yap yap yip yip goes a higher one.  It sounds like a Fox News show because they are not listening, just each barking over the top of the other.
  • Traffic rant:  Drivers blocking traffic to a turn lane because they fail to notice that they need to move up two or three feet to allow another car to go around them.  Dolts!
  • On Sunday I took four quilts down to the Fairgrounds to enter them in our County Fair.  I was surprised to see no line at the Home Arts building.  The gentleman helping me said other volunteers told him entries were way down this year, which is so sad to me. I entered the Rick Rack Road quilt, a mini patriotic pinwheel, the red and white Broken Dishes tablerunner, and the Christmas tree skirt I made for DD Elaine.  I'll let you know what happens.
  • Our fairgrounds is popular with vendors since it is right on the ocean; unlike the inland fairgrounds, it is temperate most days and cool at night.

This is the backside of the grandstand.  Beside the fairgrounds is a newly renovated and restored bike/walk path and permeable parking lot to reduce runoff.  They added that nice seat-height berm to protect from storms and also made a big wide sandy beach. It was a very windy day and the kitesurfers were out in full force. The man on the right was inflating the bar on his kite, a sight I had never seen before. 
    Walking along, I came upon this village of rock statues with a winding path.  There was no signage or explanation but it looked pretty fun.  
    Here's the real eye candy.
    Just one more shot...
    These girls and their horses rode up out of the fairgrounds from a horse show to the beach.  I'm pretty sure a few of those horses were Arabians.  One got spooked when a helicopter passed overhead and the passenger bareback rider got thrown.  She was okay but neither girl could get back on the horse, he was too excited.
    Here is the mouth of the Ventura River.  Pretty icky looking just now.  This river is a mere trickle due to a backcountry dam that may one day be removed to allow the silt and sand that builds up the beaches to return.  Unfortunately, that will cost millions to remove.  I have lived in this city my whole life and I think this is the first time I have actually stood at the mouth of the river.  You can see a train trestle bridge crossing the river in the middle of the photo and the citrus groves skirting the hill far behind.
    A gorgeous late afternoon day in Southern California.  Am I lucky or what?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Design Wall Monday-7/25/2011

It's the last Design Wall of July--yikes!  On my design floor today are the Scrappy Trails blocks.  These started out as a leader-ender project recently but I ramped them up to a regular project to make a quilt fast.

I've been piecing two blocks at a time so they are their own leader-enders.  One more batch of 10 and there will be more variety to play with.  It is looking a little less wild now that repeats of the prints are showing up.  Most came from a kit of fat quarters I bought last year on clearance at JoAnn's, and I've thrown in stash and scraps to expand the grouping.  Photos sure help with placement--I can already see where I've flipped a block the wrong way and other spots were too many of the same color are showing up.  See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.  Have a good Monday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fixing a Cheat

Saturdays seem to always be a mixed bag of paying work, errands, chores, and sometimes sewing.  Luckily the latter did happen today, including fixing a cheat.  March's UFO Challenge pick was the Rick Rack Road quilt.  Although I called it a finish, it was really only 2/3 quilted.  The magazine (Quilt Sampler Fall/Winter 2007) had shown a sort of stacked feather/flower design filling the background portion of the rick rack, which was beyond my skills.  I couldn't decide what else to do.  

The quilted sashing and colored portions of the rick rack and the unquilted backgrounds.  There were 70+ of these triangles and I could not face filling them with a stop-and-start motif.  Today, inspiration struck.

I did a loop-de-loop with continuous stitching all the way through each column.

I think the big loops complement the rick rack nicely and continue the soft curves of the other quilting.

A bit hard to see, but look at all the texture now.  It is no longer a cheating quilt! 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Progress that Bores

The leader-ender project has gotten ramped up to a regular project.  However, I am sewing the blocks in pairs so am using the two sets as their own leader-enders as I piece.  Last night I did some MATH and reconfiguring, then grouped all the strips and squares into block sets until nothing was left.  I will have extra blocks to play with when it comes time to layout and play Switcheroo, and the remainder will go on the back, probably.  No pictures of the piles, it is too boring. 

In the interest of progress on the UFO/Mystery Quilt, the backing got washed.  I did finish sewing the remaining rows on Monday night and the center is complete.  Yay, me.

The backing was purchased last year just after I finished up the blocks for the Mystery Quilt.  The colors were just right and I loved the big bold print--not something I would normally gravitate to.

Indonesia, by April Cornell.  See the funny bird and big butterfly?  I am considering quilting this from the back but it depends if I truly have enough yardage.  I bought 5 yards but am afraid to do the MATH just now.  As I keep saying, I am a WORD girl, not a MATH girl. 

Tonight's main event was an archaeological dig to uncover a seldom-seen surface.  This ugly wet bar is the first horizontal surface as we enter the house from the garage so has always been a dumping ground.  Those two trays have been overflowing with opened/unopened mail, unfiled filing, and assorted junk mail for months.  Getting mail for five people is a horrendous cycle of sort, shred, recycle, and ignore.  Our filing cabinets in the office need a complete purge and reorganizing.  Again, really boring, but that's what's going on at Casa de Orts this week!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Orts

Another edition of the orts, bits of thoughts that travel from my brain to my fingers once a week...
  • Suddenly it is the middle of July and DD Elaine's wedding is three months and change away. 
  • I'd lost 13 pounds on my eating plan as of Saturday but probably gained two back after the block party and cream cheese pie. 
  • Speaking of pie, I made one Thursday night for my work friend's birthday.  DD Erica spotted it and accused me of not loving her because I didn't make TWO.  So I had to make another on Sunday.  Naturally I had to have a piece from each!
  • Yard cleanup is not exactly enhancing to one's looks.  I came in covered in fine dirt that stuck to the sunscreen I had slathered on before weeding, there were petals from the Mexican sage in my hair and strands pulled out of my ponytail from the wind, red-orange stains on my arm where I brushed up against a spent daylily, and a crazy amount of dirt under my nails despite wearing gloves.  Good thing I'm washable!
  • Traffic rant:  Due to the lack of fine motor skills too many drivers have, especially on the freeway, I am doing this tutorial:  The proper method for exiting the freeway is to SIGNAL first, THEN apply the brakes, not the other way around.  Careening over from the second lane at the last moment without signaling and flying up the offramp is also incorrect.
  • Sometimes a night of couchpotato-ing happens.  I can't help it, I love Wipeout, the game show where adults traverse ridiculous contraptions to win $50,000.  Last week was Nerds vs. Beauties.  Hilarious.  Following that show was another new one, 100 Ways to Leave a Game Show, where wrong answers to trivia questions result in being part of a stunt, such as a car being driven off a cliff with the losing contestant yanked out at the last second by a helicopter.  Silly and entertaining.
  • I love to walk in my neighborhood and see all the yards. This was my favorite from last week:

I love the wide variety of plants and all the textures.  It isn't too "planned" looking, either.
    On the other hand, some planning might help this yard.  While I'm a fan of the overgrown look, this is a bit too much.  Those chairs are wild though!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Design Wall Monday

I missed last week's Design Wall but here I am again!  Work on the July UFO Challenge pick happened yesterday.  I got all the rows assembled of Judy's Mystery Quilt.

Three rows are now together.  I really love this design and am happy my fabric choices worked out for this Mystery! Mini assisted with the photography this morning.  I love her question mark tail.

Here she is sticking her head into the frame.  Good thing she is a small cat.  So far everything is lining up well in the construction.  I'll get the remaining rows together tonight, I hope, for a completed top.  Only 13 days left to finish this before the deadline.

The leader-ender project is coming along.  This will be one WILD quilt.  I'm thinking of giving it to my co-worker, who just found out she has a malignant mass on her thyroid and has to have surgery--she is only 35 and is married with two young children.  The doctor said she has a type of cancer that has a high recovery rate.  She loves modern prints and colors and may love this, but I'll have to bring the top and see what reaction she gives.  See more Design Walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

NQR

That's what a lot of my Saturday and Sunday was composed of, activities Not Quilt Related.  I woke up early Saturday and puttered about, did some paying work on the computer, then got some long past-due yardwork and porch cleanup done out front.  Later on Saturday the cul de sac neighbors came together for our annual block party.  We all met in the middle of the street with tables, shade covers, chairs, lots of food and drink to share, and a couple of jolly jumps for the kids.  Everyone pulled their gas barbecues to the curbs and shared grills. Music was provided by one neighbor's son who DJ'd, there was badminton, volleyball, water balloon fun and other games for the kids, and lots and lots of talking and laughing!  We determined that only four of the original owners who moved into this then brand-new tract still remain (there are 16 houses on our street).  We'll have been here 21 years come October.  Pretty amazing!  It was a really good time for all and lasted into the wee hours of the morning (I topped out about 9 pm and went inside, though). 

This morning I did some more paying work and then got to the sewing part of the weekend, putting together the rows for this month's UFO pick, Judy's Mystery Quilt.  There was a necessary break to make a cheesecake for DD Erica's last night before heading back to AZ.  Then another break to clean up the kitchen and make dinner--tacos tonight.  I buy ground beef in maxpacks of 3 lbs, divide into 1 lb chunks and cook it all at once, then freeze the batches of browned unseasoned meat in separate plastic containers with lids.  This makes it easy to grab one out for tacos or spaghetti, etc.  For the taco toppings, this time I pulled out a vintage turntable that belonged to my mother-in-law.

This corner of the kitchen between the stove and the sink is kind of dark so the candlestick lamp adds some brightness.  That basket was supposed to be a wine caddy, but with two iron rings inside it is perfect to hold my most used tools.  Iron trivets and a handmade tile add some color. The turntable and pottery dishes have no markings of any kind, and since my MIL and FIL liked to go garage sale shopping after they were retired, I doublechecked with Grant to see if he remembered seeing it when he was little. 

He says he definitely remembers it from way back--it was probably a wedding gift from their 1952 wedding. I love that funky two-tone green glaze.  Very very vintage!

Also vintage is this spice jar I unearthed while trying to find something else in my tiny spice cupboard.  It says McCormick 1977.  Obviously I don't use Cream of Tartar very often.  Maybe the number is just the manufacturer's startup date and not the product date.

The remains of the dessert--actually a cream cheese pie with sour cream topping--it was delicious as always.  This counter on the opposite end of the kitchen holds another favorite find, the two-tiered iron holder with removable wooden trays.  As you can see, it works perfectly to hold both fruit and napkins in my small, galley style kitchen.  The narrow tray next to it is also iron with a design of pinecones and pine needles, very Craftsman in appearance but bought new.  The two purple glass sugar bowls and vintage-looking ribbed glass butter dish were also bought new.  I love rustic and vintage mixed together!   Tomorrow, a return to quilt related posting.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Therapy

I was feeling very tired and crappy yesterday when I got home after a stressful day at work followed by a futile shopping excursion to the mall.  All I wanted was a black sweater!  Grant went out and got us some hamburgers (lettuce wrapped--I'm still on the No Flour, No Sugar plan) and after dinner I went to my sewing machine for some fabric therapy.  Progress has been made on all three tablerunners I'm currently making from the On the Run pattern book by Heather Mulder Peterson.

After some stupid mistakes with Steam a Seam (didn't read the directions thoroughly!!) and a stained ironing board cover that had to be washed immediately, I got the applique flower petals attached along with the borders and ends on the Party Time runner.

I'll blanket stitch by machine with some rayon thread around each petal and the center.

Over the weekend the Sweet Escape runner was quilted and bound.

I copied Heather's quilting plan with a motif in the boxes and stippling around the edge.  I'm thinking that the bit of puffiness in the prints will disappear when washed since the charm squares will shrink some.

Two of the three rows of the Baby Boxes runner were completed as a leader-ender while sewing the remaining strip sets for the wedding quilt.

The last movie of Harry Potter opens tonight at midnight at many theaters here.  The "face" in this cut strip looked to me just like the Howler letter Ron Weasley got from his mother in The Chamber of Secrets movie after he and Harry flew the car to Hogwarts.  I loved all the books but I think The Prisoner of Azkhaban was my favorite movie.  It will be sad to see the end of the movies but they have been great fun.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday's Orts

Today's orts are once again a rushed affair...I'm very very late!
  • I'm happy to report that all you wonderful folks following my blog have reappeared on my sidebar, after being missing for several days.  Thank you for coming back!
  • My SIL came over the other day to look at some furs we have that came from great-grandmothers on both sides of the family.  She knew the brown stole was mink and the collar on the black cashmere sweater was fox.  There was also an ermine detachable collar that came from a sweater no longer around.  The black sheared stole she could not positively identify but thought it was either rabbit or beaver.  Luckily she pronounced all in good condition but said they should probably be glazed.  Gee, that sounds expensive!
  • Traffic rant:  In our city we have several marked crosswalks that have embedded lights in the street activated by pedestrians pushing a button.  These are at really busy intersections with poor visibility and high traffic of both the foot and auto types.  The other day I was following a car that drove straight through the blinking lights and was passed by another vehicle doing the same from the opposite direction.  Good thing the pedestrian waited or he would have been toast.  STOP for pedestrians, people--it is the law!
  • On Sunday, Bride to Be Elaine and I went to look for veil making materials.  We ended up spending quite a bit of time at two different JoAnn's stores finding all sorts of wedding things.  We have taught our kids well and they are bargain shoppers--Elaine picked up deals in the scrapbooking aisle and also hit the clearance section.  The first JoAnn's did not have enough of the trim we selected for the veil, plus there was a broken spot where the trim was twisting.  A very helpful young male clerk at the cutting table called and had it put on hold at another store for us.  I asked him how many times a day he is questioned if he sews.  He said, "As many customers as I wait on in a day", and the answer is yes, he sews, but not often.
  • At the second JoAnn's, the price of the trim was $2.00 more per yard--totaling $14.99 per yard.  I mentioned the other store's price and the cutting clerk reduced it for us.  Yay! Plus I had a 50% off coupon, so we got 4.5 yards of beaded trim for around $30.  It should only take me 4-5 hours to sew it all on by hand...
  • My resolve to exercise more has played out poorly, but on Sunday morning walk I did, for 45 minutes around my neighborhood. I took pics though it was overcast and not very good for photography. This used to be a church--I took ballet lessons in the basement there when I was little--and it was brown before the Buddhists took it over a few years ago.

  • It was a bit shocking when they first painted it this deep ochre and red.  I think the Buddha head plaque to the right of those carved doors is beautiful, so I took a closeup.
      It's a little blurry in my extreme closeup but reads "Temple Parking Only". Not sure why, really, but this sign cracked me up!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The British are coming!

Actually, William and Kate, the newlywed royals, have already been in Southern California for a few hours now.  But tomorrow they will pass through my city on their way to the Santa Barbara Polo Grounds, some 25 miles north of here.  It is said to be the only public venue of their trip and tickets are $400-$4000 to see William play polo and Kate award the winner's trophy.  The Polo Grounds are close to ritzy enclave Montecito, where many celebrities have homes palatial estates, including Oprah.  No doubt a sizable crowd will attend and much money will be made to benefit charity. 

I always had a special affection for Princess Diana, as we were born the same year and she was ever in the news all her too-short life, along with her boys and of course Prince Charles, with whom I share a birthday. The newlywed royals seem to have much more in common and to be a lot happier than Diana and Charles ever were.  It was so very sad watching William and Harry follow her coffin in the streets, the flowers on the hood with the card addressed to "Mummy".  I hope William and Kate have much more happiness in their future and hope some littler royals come along soon.  Although with those hips, Kate may require a C-section!

Our youngest arrived last night for an 11 day visit from Arizona.  Erica said that when she landed in Burbank and it was "only 84 degrees" she was really pleased--having been baking in 110 degree plus weather for a couple of weeks.  It is nice to have two of our chicks here in the nest.

There was a free block of time in my schedule this morning so I got my sewing machine going again after its spa day.  Purr purr purr

The last four leader-ender Baby Boxes and the first block of the new leader-ender got stitched along with another row of the wedding quilt.  Talk about multitasking!  DD Elaine/Bride to Be has thought of a couple more things I can make for the wedding so a trip to the fabric store is planned for the weekend. July's list of sewing/quilting goals is pretty ambitious--good thing my machine is in tip top shape! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Leader Enders

Ridiculously cute Baby Boxes have been forming under my needle as a  leader-ender project.  I have been cutting my scraps into strips for a while now a la Bonnie Hunter's Scrap Users system, and all of these fabrics came from my precut bins.

There are so many different quilts represented in these scraps!  That bottom left green was from the very first bed quilt I ever made, a Double Pinwheel for my sister's 40th birthday.  DD Erica and I drove to Arizona to deliver it to Kathy, who was visiting our brother Ted and his family for the Thanksgiving holiday with her kids that year.  We saw wild javelina for the first time, a mama with three or four babies following her, when we went out looking for Kathy's son Jake the first evening, who was off exploring the neighborhood near sunset.  It took Erica and me 12 hours to drive back home that Sunday due to the horrendous holiday traffic (4 hours longer than expected), a truly unforgettable journey. 

It is fun to troll though quilt memories while sewing these.

I cut lots of extra pieces and have four more blue boxes to stitch when I get my machine back.  The spa day was held over as I did not get a call yesterday.  No cutting of the next leader ender happened either.  It has been hot and sticky here, unusual weather for SoCalif, which is exhausting.  These kinds of days make me wish we had air conditioning, at least so we can sleep!   Thank goodness for a short week at work, we don't have air conditioning there either. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday's Orts

Last week's Orts were swallowed by Blogger's bad behavior.  Let's hope this week's aren't!
  • Things sure change when you get older.  I was on the computer after 11:00 pm the other night and got an instant message from my daughter:  "Mom, go to sleep".
  • Mini the cat has a specific requirement for her dry food.  There will be a complaint if she can see the bottom of the dish and she will not finish the orts around the edges.  However, Russell the dog will take care of those at night when we are all asleep.
  • I've lost 11 pounds on the No Flour, No Sugar eating plan.  But I was definitely off the diet when we ate the delicious dinner DD Elaine's future MIL made for us on Friday.  Homemade lasagne, caesar salad, garlic bread, zucchini and yellow squash with cheese, and homemade lava cake for dessert.  Oh my!
  • Traffic rant:  As my mom and I were driving out of a parking structure at the local mall the other day, some idiot decided to make a U turn in the middle of the entrance/exit, blocking both lanes.  Seriously?
  • On HGTV recently I was watching that program "For Rent", where the hostess shows potential renters three apartment options and what she would do to redesign or fix problems to make it more livable.  The renters give her a "must have" list, usually things like indoor laundry, 2 bedrooms, big kitchen, etc.  In the episode I was watching, one of the renter's "must haves" was WALLPAPER.  Huh?
  • My sewing machine is having a spa day tomorrow, which means I'll spend tonight doing a lot more cutting for the new leader-ender project!
  • I could not resist taking this photo at Big Lots discount store of an unusual item I have never seen before:
Anyone know who the handsome mate is in the photo? 

Monday, July 4, 2011

Design Wall Monday--Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day to all Americans, everywhere.  Our family will gather at our parents' house and there will be lots of food, fun, and fireworks to watch. 

On my design surface today are two projects.  First, the wedding quilt for DD Elaine and Chris:
Almost three rows laid out before I ran out of pieces and had to cut more. 

Since there were so many pieces in each row as I stacked them, bag clips bought on the cheap came in handy to keep them all together. 

My worries over MATH were allayed when I stitched together the row I was the most concerned about.  The pattern called for four 3.5" white squares and I eliminated those in my re-drawing, which changed the way the rows were assembled.  Fortunately my numbers were true and the segments all matched up.  Whew!  Lots more sewing will be necessary to get all the pieces laid out and the rows sewn.

Next is the quilt on my list for the UFO Challenge this month, the Mystery Quilt from Judy's Patchwork Times last June.  I did a bit more switcheroo after this layout.  If you'll notice, there are too many darks at the top and all the lightest blocks are in a diagonal row.  I have backing bought, fabric for borders but decisions to make on that, and of course quilting and binding to do before I call this a finish.  See more design walls on Patchwork Times

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday Layout

Early morning wakeup this Saturday and time to play with layouts for the wedding quilt.
Yesterday the sections were cut from the strip sets. 

Here laid out according to the pattern and my original vision of my fabric choices versus the magazine.

I was bothered by the high contrast between the rust stripe and the green--those complementary shades intensify each other--and the dark appearing too deep with the rust stripe around it.

Second layout. 

The neutrals seem more balanced in this layout with the tan and rust more prominent, which is what I want.  Opinions?

Friday, July 1, 2011

July UFO, and I can't help myself

Judy's UFO Challenge has been a great motivator for me.  The number picked for July is #2, which on my list is the Mystery Quilt from Judy's blog last year.  I was hoping that quilt's number would come up!   My June UFO was finished early last month and I posted about it here .  It is supposed to be on its way to Oklahoma, but I haven't stitched on its label or gotten to the post office yet.  That's priority for tomorrow (sorry, Kate!).   I've been terrifically distracted by all the new projects I started in June.  Let's see, there are two tablerunners, a wedding quilt, another tablerunner leader-ender, and as of last night, the beginnings of a new leader-ender project.

I found this Gypsy kit at JoAnn's fabrics on the clearance aisle last year, marked down to $20.

It had these 12 fat quarters in pretty wild prints, with a 1/2 yard cut for borders. But I didn't like the pattern--it was too random and there were too many different sizes of squares, rectangles and strips to cut, I felt, for this diverse of a fabric grouping. It just looked a mess to me.

So I selected this pattern I had instead (Charlene Westerberg Designs).  I think it will make a great leader-ender project.  Last night all the fabric got washed and a cutting diagram was mapped out for the fat quarters.  Now that the MATH is out of the way, I can start cutting and sewing!