Wednesday, August 31, 2011

See You In September

Yes, we got our power back on Monday night. Woo hoo! Spent last night reacquainting  myself with how to operate the stove, the dishwasher, the refrigerator.....I even made brownies from scratch! (Katherine Hepburn's recipe, no less).

I've got a couple books that need to be read, so I knocked off  'Room' (loved it!), and now I'm trying to read anything but the bookclub's non-fiction choice--which is strange because this bookclub is the neighborhood ladies Happy Hour/Night book club. Amy wanted a book club, so she's recruited us and chosen the first book, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks".  I don't know how this is going to work out, but I suspect that we're going to wind up with 'Don't Drink and Read' t-shirts by the time this is all over.

While the power was out, it would have been a wonderful time to pin about 3 quilts that are ready for pinning, but blame the DH because he didn't bring the pinning table up from the basement when I asked him, and it slipped my mind after that. So, rather than get started on that now, I've taken my usual run out to left field and I'm working on something else...

Remember that scrappy little Valentines quilt with the totally impossible instructions that I picked up a kit for in Vegas last fall? you remember!

Yep, it's a scrappy little pumpkin quilt kit I picked up in Vegas, and it's from the same provider of less than intuitive instructions that came along with the Valentine's quilt.  I gotta tell ya, I 86'd those instructions right off the bat... I'm doing things my way with this one. Hopefully I'll have something to show you by the weekend.

And hooray for long weekends! I've got a lot planned. There's going to be a field trip to a pretty cool Baltimore establishment (it'll be a blog post, so stay tuned, you're going to enjoy this trip), I need to do my Baltimore Album homework for class next weekend, and I'd like to get those sandwiches made. Setting the bar pretty high, as of Wednesday.

Hope you've got something wonderful planned as well! Whatever it is, play safe, and enjoy yourself!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

iPhone Blogging

Remind me again... What country do I live in?

Fast heading into Day 2 with no electricity. I do so love Pepco. How their management hasn't been indicted on some Federal racketeering charge, received Anthrax in their payment envelopes, had their headquarters set on fire, their tighty whities packed full of concrete and thrown into the Potomac never fails to amaze me.

In the meantime we're delivering laundry baskets full of frozen food and good cheese to our friend's spare appliances, (thank you Anna, and thank you for having 3 refrigerators) filling coolers with ice so we've got ice and cold milk for meals of cold cereal and sitting in parking lots outside of Chinese carryouts with the engine running so we can charge our cell phones.

At no time has Pepco told us when to expect to get our power back. In fact the army of temps they trucked in from Boise to answer the life threatening emergency line ("Do you have a life threatening emergency?" "no, but I'm pretty sure you will if my power isn't turned back on soon"), have been downright rude but nonetheless quite fun to screw got me back good today telling me that they just found a bunch of fuses that blew and were replacing them one at a time...honest to God, he actually said that! ( and I am ashamed to say that I actually believed that for about 10 minutes after I hung up).

I'm a bit calmer now that the meat stash is safe. I can drive 30 minutes and take a hot shower. Eating McDonalds morning noon and night isn't that bad and there's some badass cassette tapes in the basement we can play on the boom box I found buried under a pile of Spandex leggings and off the shoulder oversize tshirts.

As long as I don't burn the house down with the 47 candles we need to read by at night, we're all good!

In addition to playing FUtility (lots of double entendres there, don't you think?) with the electric company all day I did finish a wedding project.

Riders On the Storm

Just hanging out in the non-event that is Hurricane Irene. You can actually hear the wind a little bit now, and it's raining, though not a deluge. This is the most hurricane-like it's been all day.

Yum....favors from the shower, the tux was a Red Velvet cake ball.

My SILs and niece totally skipped out on my daughter's bridal shower today. The one used the hurricane as an excuse--she didn't want to have to drive home in a hurricane. (The shower was over at 4:30 and it was simply raining, with no wind.) If you watched the news....and it was impossible not to as it was all hurricane, all the time on every channel since early Friday morning, you knew we weren't getting anything serious until 10pm. The other SIL and 17 year old niece just didn't excuse, no call. They live less than 10 minutes from where the shower was. Whatever.

I vented on Facebook about that, enjoyed the comments from friends, and just now went in and deleted what I posted earlier in a state of rage.

I didn't delete my Facebook post because I wasn't angry anymore...oh, far from it...I am so pissed that I get cross-eyed just thinking about it. And I didn't delete it under the guise of 'never go to bed mad'----trust me, I am going to lie in my bed and let the remaining steam seep from my ears.  I deleted the post because I didn't want my father-in-law, who is recovering from heart surgery to see the post and feel bad for his granddaughter. He's got more important things to concentrate on rather than his rude daughter and  daughter in law and their lack of family values.

Alright, I really deleted the post because in my wrath I used the 'F' word. While I probably use that word a dozen times a day (okay, I use that word at least 2 dozen times a day.....okay, so I sometimes use that word so many times in a conversation that it would make Scarface blush), I just decided that it had no place on my Facebook page for all to see. :)

Alright already, enough about my f-ing pathetic sisters in law and their lack of consideration for my daughter. Selfish middle-aged bitches. (Oooh, she's pulling out the big guns....'middle aged'...SNAP!). One less quilt I have to make for Christmas.

Moving on....

I started the Halloween top last Sunday....spent the day cutting all the pieces and fussycuts, and I finished piecing it by Thursday night.

Then I spent an inordinate amount of time last night trying to piece together a back a couple inches larger all around than the top. Stupid me only bought 2 yards of backing material.. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I did wind up with some extra motifs on a panel, and some extra border print. I had to use the 2 yards in a directional that wasn't exactly the direction I had in mind, but I had no other fabric that I could incorporate into this back, and I was in a rush to get it pieced last night, so should the power go out in the non-hurricane, I'd have everything ready to sandwich. Got to bed at 4 a.m. I was still a little short and wound up piecing some 1" wide strips from that border together to add to the bottom.

This morning, after doing every piece of laundry I could find, and vacuuming the house top to bottom, I fired up the iron and fused the Heat n Bond to the fall batiks and then the cardstock to be used for the Wish Tree at the wedding. If the  power goes out, the Accuquilt GO! still works.

(Okay, bite my tongue, but we're having a bit of flickerage going on with the lights right now.

Tomorrow is play day now. I'm so enamored with this Halloween quilt that I've allowed it to butt into the front of the line. This is the project most likely for Sunday. If I can get it sandwiched, I'll probably start quilting it before I sandwich the rest of the pile.

There's 64 pounds of ice in the freezer downstairs. Here's hoping we can use them for luge practice tomorrow.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Procrastination Justification

Okay, so I stayed up until the wee hours last night figuring out how I could come up with backing for the Drunkard's Path without taking a trip to the quilt shop today. No matter what, I just didn't have enough of the two Moda fabrics to piece. Until I looked in the closet solid stash and realized that back when I was having fits and starts getting that circular stitching right, I had bought just a small bit extra of the solid ivory background. Well that piece was enough to stretch my other leftover fabrics to a fit.


One would think that I would have made my sandwich and started quilting today, anticipating an August OPAM finish from this, but if one would have thought that, then one doesn't know me at all.

Instead of finishing that project, or instead of pulling out the Baltimore Album notes to see what my homework was for this month, I thought I'd have a much better time standing at the cutting table for 4 hours cutting all the pieces required for the Halloween quilt. (Inordinate amount of cutting  time due to lots of fussy cutting that was required.)

And now that they're cut, and I'm staring at the drunkards top and background pinned to the design wall, I've convinced myself that the best course of action is to fold those puppies up, slide them into the freshly labeled 'To Sandwich' cubby in the studio closet, and head full throttle into the Halloween quilt.

If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy....that's my excuse!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Friday Night Sew-In Progress

It's not as far as I would have liked to have gotten (hey, I HAD to go to Happy Hour) , but it's something.....

As you can see, I decided on the first Drunkard's layout. I just liked the pattern created by the dark brown.

And then I commenced stitching 64 blocks together. For the most part, it wasn't so bad aligning the one curved line of stitching from block to block, but some of the blocks were a little testy being lined up after that stitch because of how good a job I did (or didn't do) sewing together the pie and the wedge, so there was quite a bit of ripping that went on and swapping out this block for that block so that one block wasn't a quarter inch shorter than the block it was sewn to.

But it's done, and now I'm avoiding stitching those 8 rows of 8 blocks together and aligning all the seams, which I shall get to as soon as I turn on the iron and press their seams in the proper direction.

To assist in my habitual procrastination, my neighbor accompanied me on a whirlwind tour of three local quilt shops that began at 10 this morning and ended at 4, with a stop for lunch and a dash into a new bakery we found to inquire about wedding cakes.

Shop 1 was my source for some backing, sashing and binding fabric to make the Jeweled Forest batik Christmas tree pattern from the Nov/Dec 2009 issue of McCalls Quilting. I was lamenting to the salesperson that the quilt was only wall hanging size and that I had seen a much larger throw size quilt at one of the local shows. She smiled, walked over to the pattern wall and came back with this pattern:

which I bought...though it's  not the quilt I saw at the show. I think that person took the original pattern and just resized it to come up with this:

Onward and upward to Shop 2, where I was excited to find 2 things I'd been looking for.....Print & Fuse (fusible web for applique that you can run through your printer so you don't have to trace), an honest to goodness piece of silk Matka to use on a woofelt/embroidery project, and yet another pattern for some organizers that I'm going to make to hold my applique and woolfelt projects and supplies (I was spurred on by the fact that I've got a stash of Timtex, and a drawer full of vintage zippers, which are needed for these bags...and really, who doesn't have I'm ready to go with this project.

We also learned how to transfer color to fabric for embroidery purposes -- which involved crayons and irons and was pretty neat. My neighbor thought it would be a great way to make a quilt label.

After a stop for lunch, we headed off to Shop 3. My neighbor hadn't seen a longarm, so I took her to my Bernina dealer who also sells the Handi Quilter Avante. And I was tempted by the new Bernina B580 coming in September.  Or maybe I'd rather make a sweet deal on their floor model 830 (they're running the 830LE now in the shop).

 Decisions, decisions.......

Maybe I should stop daydreaming about expensive equipment and concentrate on turning on the iron and getting back to work on Drunkard's Path. There's new projects to be started that can't begin until we finish the old..

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Everyone Should Have a Design Wall

If you look on the Internet, there's all sorts of guidance how to make your own. You can get drywall at the home improvement store and staple gun flannel to can hang 4 cork squares and pin a vinyl table cloth backwards to them (and use them for bulletin boards when you aren't using them for a design wall)....on a small scale you can cover a kid's science project display board with flannel (that was my first design wall--in addition to our bed....

Or you can purchase one of the various pre-made styles marketed to quilters. (or do what I did....put one on your Christmas list). I've got Cheryl Ann's Design Wall, and I like it a lot. It's large, it assembles in minutes, tears down in minutes, has a nice little carrying case, and it's free-standing. I've also seen another that mounts near your ceiling (or over your windows) and the design wall pulls down like an old fashioned window shade. Supposedly you can leave your blocks on it and roll it up to stash your project.

Having a design wall has come in really handy with this Drunkard's Path project. I've been able to arrange the blocks in various configurations before I make the leap to permanently sewing them together.

Another helpful hint is to take a photo of your arrangement and view that before you decide. You'll add a whole new perspective. It's like standing back and reviewing. I'm seeing patterns in the photo that I'm not seeing on the wall in front of me.

Here's wha layouts are currently being pondered:

The last photo is a reverse layout of the first photo. I'll likely use the first, second or last layout. Sewing the blocks together is the project for tomorrow's Friday Night Sew In. Check back Saturday to see what I went with.

In the meantime, the Halloween fabric arrived today. It took a great deal of control to not walk away from the project in process and start cutting fabric for the Halloween quilt. I don't really decorate for Halloween so much, I much prefer decorating for 'Fall', but when I saw this quilt in the August/September issue of The Quilter Magazine, I couldn't resist. And I was able to find all the fabric I needed to recreate it at two shops.

I can't wait to get started, it just looks like such a happy, fun project. I wish the weekend would hurry up and get here.
Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Little Wedding Planning....Drunkard's Path Is On the Wall

The Design Wall is a very patient tool.

The invitations arrived at 7:30 p.m. Monday (a new record for UPS). The hubs, DD, a couple bridesmaids and I  assembled, stamped, and stuffed. Tuesday, I stood in the lobby of the Post Office and affixed numerous stamps to each and turned them over for mailing. Guests started receiving them today. One tick off the Wedding Checklist. Next pies/cake/caramel apple favors.

The dining room looks like a hurricane passed's currently the staging area for Wedding Centerpieces. I'm working on a lit 'Wish Tree' at the moment. Figuring out the best way to adhere Batik fabric to card stock that will be run through the Accquilt GO! and die cut into leaf shapes to hang on the tree after a guest writes a little wedding wish on it. Great excuse to go to the fabric store yesterday ... needed fall colored Batiks. Any glue recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Been piecing curved Drunkard's pieces for a couple of days now.

I'm really liking the decorative stitching and couching I did on each pie.

And as of last night...the last block was pieced. Tonight they all got a quick press and I woke up the Design Wall.

This is the initial layout. It'll stay there for a bit while I decide if it's what I'm going to actually use. Probably tomorrow I'll start moving things around to try something different.

Not sure I'm seeing enough flow with the connecting stitched pies.

And already I'm wondering just how the heck they're going to stay aligned like that once I start sewing them together (shudder!)

Have a perfect Thursday. Think about joining the Friday Night Sew-In (see the link on my sidebar). I'm tussling with the demons on that...on the one hand, I would really like to be sewing this together so I can move on to a cute little pumpkin quilt (or the  Halloween quilt, whose fabric is arriving tomorrow)...

On the other hand, my neighbor has called Ladies Friday Happy Night....and I did miss the last one because I had Strep......

Decisions, decisions...

I did say I had a most patient Design Wall, didn't I?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Drive By Blogging - First August OPAM

I have no idea how I am still conscious and functional.

Last night after trying to catch up with about 500 emails in a Yahoo Group I'm in, I decided to switch out my iPhone and just lost track of time organizing my aps on different screens. Before I knew it, the clock said 4:15, and I said 'heck with it, let's go outside and look for meteors and the International Space Station".

Didn't see any meteors (well, maybe, but it was a little overcast here and there and I couldn't be sure), but I did see the ISS cruise by, so it was worth the effort.

7:15 AM the hubs is handing me the phone, my daughter is on her way to 'boot camp' and can I drive over to where she is and pick up the grandpup? Two and a half hours of sleep (I take naps longer than that), no coffee, and I'm on my way out to pick up a dog in a parking lot.

I figured I'd take a nap later, but I got involved in a couple of projects, and between the coffees and the adrenaline sleep was elusive.

As you can see above, I have procured Running With Scissors. The hubs was in Manassas, VA yesterday for a softball tournament and I rang him up and sent him on a quest. Seems I was a bit vague and only requested 'red', so he brought home a Merlot and a Cab Sauv. Two bottles!!! Obviously, one was going to turn into a studio accessory. So I found a way to attach some actual scissors, and then I began obsessing of what to use in a vignette.

Right away I knew I wanted a pincushion, so I made 4 (heck, as long as you're going to the trouble)

I filled two with poly beads (in case they should happen to leave the country....Customs in some countries frowns upon sand and nutshells and potpourri fillings). The other two are filled with actual beach sand from Florida. (Shh....this is probably not legal...swiping beach sand.)

And I'm pleased with the final display:

The scissors you see lying there are a paper cutout, and there's a white button that doesn't show up very well in the photo. And oh, yeah, the glass of wine is empty now..but you expected that, right?

Maybe tomorrow, after a good night's sleep, and a small bit of house cleaning I'll be ready to tackle the Drunkard's Path project--though I may surprise myself and try monogramming some napkins (feeling daring today). It's time I started paying attention to the philosophy of the 'bling'.

Friday, August 12, 2011

She's Alive!!

I've been busy, busy, busy. The sore throat I've had for over a week turned out to be Strep, so I was forced to skip Happy  Hour with the ladies last Friday. Sitting idly in front of the sewing machine, wishing I was swilling back wine and hors d'oeuvres with the ladies, I decided that the studio needed a bit of refreshing, so in between an 8 hour tour of Hobby Lobby/Michaels/JoAnn in Columbia with DD on Saturday (we were on a wedding centerpieces mission),  I did a little tear-down...

I pulled things out of drawers...

The piles of junk fast overtook the sewing desk...

And so much 'stuff' was pulled from the closet that I just began heaping it on the floor.

Two and a half days (I moved really slow) later, we were somewhat back to normal in the studio.

The pièce de résistance ..... the studio closet ...

And just in case the Quilt Fairy sneaks in one night...


I've labeled the 'task shelves' in the closet so there's no question about what needs to be done.

In pulling all my solid whites and naturals out of the cutting table cubbies for a refold, I sorted out the smaller pieces,  pulled the batting scraps I'd been saving and made a mess of quilt sandwiches for free-motion practice.

The weekend before my daughter picked up some more storage boxes for me on a trip to Ikea, so I was able to reorder the closet shelf.

I love my P Touch label maker. Each box and plastic bin has been tagged for what's inside.

These little bins are from Dollar tree and make great containers for my CDs and DVDs.

Those strip dies for the Accuquilt GO! were just not being stored effectively in the die rack...they took up an excessive area of flat space, so I pulled out the P Touch and labeled them on their ends and stacked them against the closet wall.

And now the die rack takes up half the space since it's got smaller dies in it.

I was forever fishing out hoops from behind the cubes in the closet as they would fall off of the pushpins in the closet wall, so I raided my bedroom closet for the perfect storage solution....

Yep, it's one of those belt rings. Now the lot of hoops just hang on the closet rod where I can grab the size I need.

Cleaning out the solids from the cutting table gave me some room to move in some other project fabrics. I try to keep an entire project of fabric in each cubby, or if I'm still collecting, a theme of fabric per cubby...i.e., dots, Fall, Halloween. I can get about 10 yards of fabric in each's all about the fold. :)

Cleared off the cutting table. It's all business now, except for the waving good luck kitty--which reminds me, I should go check last night's Powerball ticket... not a winner :-(

I picked up another small ruler holder in Hershey to maximize how many rulers/templates I can store on top of the table. I've got 12 on the longboard and 7 on the short (are you diggin' the 'surfer speak'? )

All that's left now is to reorganize the bookshelves.

DD also got some magazine files for me at Ikea so those pretty scrapbook paper-covered ones need a go-through to make room for incoming. I'll move what's not current to the shelves in the guestroom next door. This is a project for Friday night, and then I've got the rest of the weekend to spend some quality time bonding with my Bernina over the Drunkard's Path project.

 In class last Sunday, Mimi Dietrich mentioned a wine called 'Running with Scissors',

 so I'll be on a quest to hunt that down tomorrow on my lunch hour. I want the cork (and check out the seal to the left of it).

Today was our 39th anniversary, and since last week's Gladiolas had seen better days, the hubs stopped at Costco on his way home and picked up a lovely mixed bouquet for the sewing desk. There is always something in bloom in my studio, and a Yankee Candle tart in the electric tart warmer. Ripping out a seam isn't so bad a task when you can 'stop and smell the roses' every now and then'.