Friday, April 29, 2011

A new journey

Today is Friday, April 29, 2011. In 35 days my first born son will graduate from high school. This is kind of freaking me out folks.
I just finished making a baby quilt for one of his teachers. Coach and Mrs. Grayson have been a favorite of Noah's and now John's (boy #2). It seems like just yesterday I was the one making plans for the new baby. I think back about all of the favorite was the first ice cream headache. Call me a bad mommy, but it was very funny. No one ever tells you about that one. Occasionally, I think about the lasts, but they more often sneak past me without much notice. Lasts are caught years later when you can't remember the last time you did the last time I read a good night story, or tucked them in bed and whispered "Thank you God for my boy" as he fell asleep.

I get freaked out because life seems to be changing. It moves faster than I am able to. I want to hold on to my boys hand for just a little while forever. That isn't how God made things. Everything is constantly growing or changing. Even mountains get worn down over the years. Little by little the wind and the rain change them. We just don't notice. I forget that God is in control, has been all along. My boy no longer needs me like he once did. He isn't supposed to, and I'm not supposed to help him in the same ways either.

I am ever grateful to an awesome God who has given me the pleasure, and head aches, of raising the fine young man I see before me. My Noah is a joy and a comfort to me, may he continue to be so to all he meets as he takes up his own journey.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Buyers Remorse

I'm waiting for the oh so familiar feeling. You know the one. You go out and spend a lot of money on something that is definitely NOT essential and no sooner have you gotten your purchase home but you break out in a cold sweat and wonder what the heck you were thinking. It hasn't happened yet, and it has been almost a week.

Last Saturday, after the requisite attendance at my son's baseball game, my husband and I went out and purchased a Janome Memory Craft 350E embroidery machine. It isn't the biggest machine you can buy. There is only one needle, and you have to rethread the machine every time you change colors. There are machines have ten needles and change their own thread. They may require an addition to the house as well.
We purchased Janome Digitizer Jr software to go with it. I thought would be fun to try customizing - thinking logos for the boys teams or my brother's businesses; maybe quilt labels. (The type that you make with you printer seem to fade after a few washings.) I wasn't sure what to expect. I am neither a graphic artist, nor a computer programer. In fact, my background is in the classics. I don't think Aristotle can help me with this. BUT it was easy!
I've been trying to think of a gift that I can afford to give to the out going board members of my local quilt guild. After consulting with my Mom, I decided on snap bags. ("Consulting" makes it sound important.) I wanted the gifts to be special. I wanted my team to remember that their service was important to someone...namely me...the president that they served with. AND I wanted to be able to afford it and still have money to put gas in my tank. (Can you believe the prices!?)

Our membership directory lists important things about each person: name, address, phone number, and their favorite colors, fabrics, techniques etc. I used that information to pick fabric for the bags. Then I hand embroidered their name and board position on it.

I am very pleased with the results. Two down, three more to go.
I never thought that I would be so excited about machine embroidery. If I wanted something embroidered, I would do it by hand. Really, machine embroidery seemed kind of tacky. Who knew?
It's good to know that God is still growing me. Turns out I'm not too old to learn something new.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

STUD April 2011 - My Favorite Things...X2

STUD April 2011 - My Favorite Things...X2 by CASharp
STUD April 2011 - My Favorite Things...X2, a photo by CASharp on Flickr.

This is the quilt  received from FlossieBlossoms.  The detail and creativity of the gift are leaving me speechless.

STUD April 2011 - Label detail

STUD April 2011 - Label detail by CASharp
STUD April 2011 - Label detail, a photo by CASharp on Flickr.

The label came curled and stuffed in a 1 ounce bottle of rum...empty of course! 

STUD April 2011 - Label detail

STUD April 2011 - Label detail by CASharp
STUD April 2011 - Label detail, a photo by CASharp on Flickr.

FlossieBlossoms of Eureka Springs, AR is one awesome Swap partner.  Her creativity and attention to details is flabbergasting!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's up with that? Footnote

I couldn't take it...

After boy #3 called to tell me that I had to deliver HIS math homework to school because he didn't know where it was....

I walked through their rooms picking up trash, not emptying trash cans mind you, just picking up garbage.  I got two big bags full. 

Then I scoured the sinks and toilets and opened a few windows.

My corner of the house is no longer tainted by the nasty smells coming from their part of the house. 

I apologise to my customers for not working on your quilts this morning; however, I can assure you that when I take your quilt top out of its safe, air tight, and clean bag on my To-do shelf, it will not be contaminated.

Thank you for indulging me in my rant.  Keep the comments coming.

Whats up with that?!!!

I can't believe this...

I'm actually thinking that I'd rather clean than quilt.  Something is definitely wrong with me.

For those of you who are unaware of my living arrangements...I am a stay at home mother to three boys.  Their ages are 18, 15.5, and just shy of 13.  They, my dear husband, two cats, two dogs, and myself live in a largish house in the suburbs of Dallas Texas.  The boys have been given the majority of the second floor of our home - four bed rooms, and two bathrooms, as their space.  My workroom/studio sits squarely in the middle of these six rooms.

The deal - keep your space clean and picked up, do your school work to the best of your ability, and you will earn various age appropriate rights and privileges.  Come "pay day" they all insist that they have done their parts.

I can tell from the stats feature incorporated into blogspot that my daily musings are read all around the world.  (I'm sorry, but I am about to subject you to horrors beyond measure.) The following photographs are of The Boy Zone.

The North Bathroom, shared by 18 and 15.5 year old boys - can anyone tell me how you could possibly come out of this room clean?

The Northeast Bedroom, on loan to 15.5 year old boy - I think he has a sock infestation problem.

The Northwest bedroom, on a short term rent free lease to the 18 year old - why am I wasting perfectly good furniture on this boy?  And really, if he is such a great athlete, can you tell me why the tissues are on the floor instead of the waste basket?  Am I missing something?


The Southeastern bedroom, a.k.a. The Game Room.  Does anyone else think that there has been a party in here?  I think I live in a frat house...only the drink of the day is bottled water.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

I've been shopping!

Oh boy, I can't remember the last time I had such a pleasant day all by myself. (Thank You God!)

I went to visit my friends at Happiness is...Quilting. It is always so nice to step into their shop. I feel like an old friend who is greeted by name and whisked away to be shown the latest treasures. My sweet little sister - not of my Mother's womb but of God - works there and fills their heads with stories of how creative I am. I'm thinking she might be embellishing the truth a bit, but I am honored by her love and affection.

So, while I was there I bought some fabric. (Of course!)

I saw these and instantly thought of a STUD challenge to make an Easter mini. Don't these fabrics make you think of little girls in new dresses and spring flowers?

Selections from Spring Parade Flowers by Makower UK and
This & That pattern for "One Cute Chick"

My photo of the pattern stinks, but, trust me, it is adorable. A little yellow chick with happy flowers and a butterfly dancing over it's head are embroidered in the center. True - they have nothing to do with Easter, but they are sweet and springy just the same. (I finished the quilt on the Saturday evening before Easter. It was way more fun than dying eggs.)

These Christmas fabrics, from the Winter Berry Lane collection by Red Rooster Fabrics, were just what I 've been looking for to make a border for another mini. It has an embroidered center...a snow ma'am unloading a box of quilts. The tableau is captioned with "Quilting Causes Global Warming."
I'm making this for a mini auction raising funds for TAQG. TAQG, Texas Area Quilt Guild, is a group that provides information and other resources to quilt guilds in North Texas. Every year they sponsor a free Rally Day for all members of all member guilds, complete with door prizes, nationally known speakers, and goody bags for all in attendance.

I also bought a book - Benny Harper's Quilt Album by Earlene Fowler and Margrit Hall. It is half quilt patterns and half behind the scenes vignettes of characters in Earlene's Benni Harper Mystery Series.
Next stop was Linda's Electric Quilters to pick up more bobbins and thread for my long arm business.Why is it that no matter how many bobbins you have you always are one short?You can't tell from my picture, but the thread is lovely - orange, blue, lime green, maybe some yellow and hot pink too. It reminds me of Dreams-icles and swimming pools and playing in the sprinklers. It is called Summery Fun by Signature.I hope your day has been just as pleasant!God bless,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Connecting the dots...Life before Quilting?

In just a little while I will be having lunch with an old friend of mine.  I haven't seen her in nearly 13 years, but at one time she was a daily, and much loved part of my life.

Teresa and I worked together for 5 years at the national headquarters of The Boy Scouts of America in Irving, Texas.  Those were some incredible times.  We were both new moms and in new jobs working in the rapidly changing field of compensation and benefits.  Our job was complicated.  On paper we payed the national insurance premiums (sort of) and kept track of the billing for insurance to all of the councils.  In reality we did that and then some. 

My favorite part of the job was research and development.  Teresa and I were continually asked to pull information and examine/manipulate it to answer the boss's questions.  Occasionally we were asked to create simple applications automating these processes.  We kept a file on each project and eventually had quite a library of resourses that made our job seem effortless.  Truth was, we had just learned how to learn from our mistakes.

Teresa was my right hand, a natural leader, and quick learner.  I left the BSA in 1996 to be a stay at home Mommy.  Shortly after that I moved to the other end of the DFW Metroplex.   Teresa stayed on  and was eventually promoted to a professional position as a project manager within the IT division.  I'm so proud of her accomplishments.  

My life before being a "professional" Mommy seems like a million years ago, or perhaps something I once drempt of.  I'm looking forward to connecting with it again....

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me - The Day I Turned 48

I celebrated my 48th birthday on Sunday, April 10.  It was a quiet day.

Flowers received from my Mom.

We went to church in the morning.  It is always a joy to see out friends and praise God together.  I realized that our new building has three different colors of upholstery.  That made me think.  Wouldn't it be a fun prank to play on our dear pastor....I cornered the youth (three of which belong to me) and suggested rearranging the chairs to leave a message for him.  We had fun speculating about what could be written.

While the boys were at youth activities Gilbert and I indulged in a level or two of Lego Harry Potter on the Wii.  I love Lego games.  Their creativity never ceases to amaze me.  Besides that, smashing things can be very cathartic.  By the time the boys got home we were sufficiently stuck and needed their help to continue the game.

We discovered birds nesting in our dryer vent.  Our laundry is on the second floor and the hoses exit from the house provides a nice, although inappropriate, house for neighborhood birds.  As I write I can hear them scratching and hopping about.  It is driving my little cat nuts!  Yesterday he sat by the hose in the laundry - I could see his feral nature churning.  He knew they were there, but hadn't a clue how to get to them.  Today he is streaking across the room every time he hears them.   It is very fun to see my usually quite kitty stirred up a bit.

Sprinkles brand Red Velvet Cupcakes

In the evening we celebrated my day with a plate of Red Velvet Cup Cakes.  My sweet husband made them for me.  He says the dots are a trade mark of the company that produced the mix.  Very fun.  I think there is one left if you can get here before the boys come home from school.  If not, then I'm afraid you will be out of luck.

The best part of the day...hearing my iphone chime everytime someone left a salutation for many happy returns of the day on my Face Book account.  It was like a giant, global hug.

Thanks for sharing the day with me....oh there go the birds again...and there goes the cat!  LOL

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poodles in the Garden

I love participating in on-line swaps.  My favorite is STUD.  Swap 'til You Drop is hosted by Flickr and is a bi-monthly occurrence.

For the March/April 2011 swap I had two partners.  Our theme was "My favorite things." (I mentioned it in an earlier post.)  Yesterday I told you about the quilt I made for FlossieBlossoms.  Today you get to learn about the quilt for CrazyPoodleGirl.

PoodleGirl's favorites?
view photostream

crazy poodle girl says:

These are a few of my favorite things

1. Poodles (of course)
2. Vegetable Gardens
3. Landscapes
4. Birds
5. Butterflies

I took her list with me to Dallas Quilt Celebration.  I had no idea what I was looking for...but I found a fat quarter of what looks to be a reproduction of famous dog drawings on it.  I didn't get the selvage edge (rats) but the print has the name "Tammi Skeefe" on it.  You can sort of see it on the top edge of the photo - it had 4 standard grey poodles on it.

When I got home I discovered another fat quarter - this one depicting a vegetable garden - and a ton of scraps from my "brown period"  (That's a story for another day.)

A trip to Happiness is Quilting netted some gardening tools fabric and a cool grassy green.

Poodles, vegetables, gardening tools, brown and green - sounds like Poodles in the Garden.  Sure.

Vegetables, brown earth, and puppies...the start to a quilt

I worked on this quilt on and off during my guilds recent retreat.  Many, many of my friends stopped by to ask what I was doing. 

Design elements pinned together.

My first step was to apply Mistyfuse to the backs of my poodles and cut them out. 
On to the garden.  The vegetables on my fabric were too big to use as individual appliques.  I thought, maybe I could create an appearance of sprouting things if I only showed bits of them.

I once saw a darling dress for a little girl that was made of gingham and pleated so that at different points you saw only red or only white.  My plan was to duplicate the effect in my garden.  I cut strips of equal width and length of my browns and veggies and sewed them together making stripes.  Then I "pleated" the brown rows so that they covered the veggies and sat on them with an iron.  (I also basted the ends and center down so the buggers would get the idea.)

I let that marinate over night.

In the morning I hand stitched some of the brown folds so that they would fall in the opposite direction, and added the gardening tools border, fused the poodles and added a tree to ballance the composition. 

It needed something more....

buttons!!  When I got home from the retreat I took a look in the Just Another Button Company catalogue.  Boy howdy, a plethora of goodies!  I found cabbage, melon, carrots, a dog bone, a little bird, and a pretty butterfly.  Perfect. there are veggies in the garden and the grass is green, then there have to be leaves on the tree.  How do I do that?  Buttons are to expensive to dress a tree with them.  I'd already added a bunch of bulk with the pleated garden and didn't want to do more applique.  What about ribbon?  I went to Joanne's and found a spool of thin green ribbon and embroidered the leaves on....the tree turned a little Willowy.

But a quilt isn't a quilt if it isn't quilted.  Dare I say thought was "Oh crap."  My solution was to disconnect the computer driver on my Gammel and attempt a little free quilting.  This is not where my talents lie.  Kudos to all of the long armers out there who do this every day.

The finished quilt - doodle quilted (I just made that term up.  Do you like it?)  I doodled grass and more leaves in the tree.  I doodles a trail for the butterfly and ruffed up dirt for the poodle with the bone.  Then I got silly and added a "squirrel" and a "bunny".  (Those are in quotes because you have to have a really good imagination to identify the animals.)  I scribbled bark on the tree and melon vines and a cabbage or two; and finally I but a vine/heart sort of border in the garden tool section.

And I added a label!

Ta-da!  I hope that Crazy Poodle Girl enjoys her little quilt.  I think I did.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fun stuff

Carrot Patch Pin Cushion by Just Another Button Company.Hand stitched with felted wool and stuffed with wool roving.

This took me about two hours to complete.

It is so nice to hold, and it makes me grin just thinking about it.

I gave this to my Mom on Easter morning. It was fun giving her a special treat.

Strawberry Pin Cushion by Just Another Button CompanyAlso hand stitched using felted wool and stuffed with wool roving.

This pin cushion took me a little bit longer to make because it was the first one I did.

My thought was to gift it to a friend who loves strawberries...but then I remembered that she is allergic to wool. Hmmm.

I gave it to her anyway. Lol She had just made herself a strawberry needle case. It was a perfect match!

This is the map associated with people who have read my blog today.Holy Smokes Batman!! Look at all of those green places.

Hello people in Brazil, England, China, and Australia, Canada and the United States. It is nice to have you visit.

Saw this in the local quilt shop yesterday. It made me laugh out loud!I had to share it with you.

May your day be blessed with sunshine and gentle breezes. May it sparkle with the love of friends and family. May you know joy.

Make it a great one!

"Aarg I be NP" The tale of a pirate kitty....and fusible applique

This is a tale of the castaways, there here for a long long time...


Wrong story.

This one is tropical, though not about Gilligan and his friends.

This is the story of a swap quilt made for the March/April 2011 STUD swap on Flickr.

I was assigned the task of making a little quilt that reflected one or more of my partner's favorite things.

My partner, FlossieBlossoms (great name isn't it?!) listed these as her favorites:

FlossieBlossoms  Pro User  says:

Whew, just made it! :)

1. Mermaids
2. Pirate stuff
3. My white cat, Nosey Parker
4. Beach/Tropical
5. Margaritas/Limes/Humor ('cause I needed to slip that in somewhere!) I know, brand new and already breaking the rules, for SHAME!
With that in mind, I went to the Dallas Quilt Celebration looking for inspiration.

What I found was a kit for this quilt, a half yard of fabric with surfing pets on it, and a handful of tropical looking batik fat quarters.

I disassembled the kit and replaced most of the fabrics with my new happier ones.  One piece of fabric that I did keep was the bit of creamy Minkee that was intended for the kitty's body.  (Oh yeah!  This kitty was going to be soft.)  The pattern I kept.  It is called Mushkit and was created by Helen Knott's of Story Quilts.  You can find it here, along with a slew of other deliciously fun critters.

Step one: Fusible Applique
Although Helen doesn't advocate one type of applique over another,  in her directions she gives instructions for several, I chose the fusible route.  Minkee can be a tricky fabric to work with.  It is very soft and wonderful to include in a quilt; however it is knit (causing it to stretch a bit) and plush (making for lots of fuzzy edges.)

The makers of my kit included a bit of light weight fusible stabilizer.  Brilliance!!  This worked perfectly to keep the stretchiness under control.  I ironed it to the back of the Minkee.

The next step was to iron Mistyfuse to the back of the fabrics I selected for the rest of the kitty.  Mistyfuse is a paperless thermoplastic polymer resin fusible that is ultra-fine.  (Did you like all of that?  I copied it off of the package.)  Once applied to your fabric it stays soft and pliable, almost imperceptible, and indistinguishable from fabric without fusible.  (Very impressive.)

Mistyfuse is available here:

If you use Mistyfuse you will want to use a pressing sheet with it.  Because there is no paper backing it is nearly impossible to use the stuff without getting your pieces stuck to either your iron or the ironing board.  (Go ahead, ask me how I know.)

The sheet I used is called "The Applique Pressing Sheet" produced by Bear Thread Designs.  I don't know what it is made of, but I can tell you it isn't just a piece of cloth.  It is like a Teflon sheet that you can see through.  Nothing sticks to it.  This allows you to apply fusible to your fabric pieces as well as fuse the pieces of your applique together before placing them on the final background.  At the moment this is my favorite tool.

I physically copied the pattern with my printer - making a paper template that I could cut up and not loose my original pattern.  With this project I used regular printer paper.  In hind sight I wish I had used freezer paper.  (Cutting around pins is a pain!  Freezer paper eliminates that.  Just don't forget to use the pressing sheet when you iron the freezer paper pattern pieces to the right side of your fusible fabric.  Go ahead, ask me how I know....again!)

Placing the pressing sheet on top of the original pattern, use the drawing to help position the fabric pieces.  When everything is set how you want it, fuse the pieces together.

This be the ghost of the dread pirate NP....before I sewed everything down and added the details.
Step two: The fun be in the details!
I really believe that true.  The individual steps to making any quilt are not particularly difficult, or glorious.  The thing that sets one quilt apart from another is the details.

My kitty is only on a tropical beach because I chose fabric that implied it.  She could have just as easily been a desert or mountain kitty if the background were different.

A bright batik frame adds to the happy tropical feel.  Sewing down the fused pieces helps add definition.

Quilting further defines the kitty and it's location.
The eye patch (blingy because it is a girl pirate kitty) and treasure chest were added using pin backs.  My thought was that FlossieBlossoms could then rearrange NP's accessories to change the appearance of her quilt.  Can't you just see a hibiscus flower tucked behind her ear, or a string of pretty beads on her neck, maybe even a mask....the possibilities are endless.