Welcome to my blog, we're talking about quilting and other good stuff. I'm glad you stopped by ... look around, add a comment, become a follower if you feel inclined, tell your friends about me, and come back soon!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

'scuse my back! But first, this important message...

Three things to be happy about:
(1) Wishing others well
(2) skimming the newspaper
(3) grainy exfoliating facial scrub

I saw this encrypted note and plea on the 'net today (click for a larger view):
The message reads: "Despite extensive work by our Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU), as well as help from the American Cryptogram Association, the meanings of those two coded notes remain a mystery to this day, .... We are really good at what we do, but we could use some help with this one ... Maybe someone with a fresh set of eyes might come up with a brilliant new idea."

In other words, experts that are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year can't crack the code, but maybe one of us brilliant quiltmakers can.  Now as we all know, there ain't nuthin fresher than a quiltmaker, it's what makes us so creative.  Maybe that note's written in "Avatar."

Now, back to my back!  This is a shot of a quilt I finished a couple weeks ago, but I can only show you the back right now, hehehe.  
I know, I know, you want to see the whole thing!  and you will ... in a couple of weeks.  This is the back of a quilt I made for my retreat coming up in April and I can't show you it yet.  Lest I get smacked by Lady Scrapbag.  So, stay tuned til then   ;o)

I want to say I'm really encouraged by the interest you all showed in my Christmas quilt, it makes me want to jump on it and finish it up before the end of the month.  If I do, it will be the first UFO I finished in the time frame I was shooting for!   As I mentioned, there isn't a pattern; it's all made-up from real life pictures and my fertile imagination.

Have a great day everybody; sew forth and sew on til later

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A little bit at a time

Three things to be happy about:
(1) trees becoming leafy again
(2) getting caught up in a project
(3) talking to yourself

Hi everybody, and look!  We have a 51st follower, hi there Terri!!  I think I agree with Wanda that when the "shadow people" follow, blogger makes them go to the end of the line.  Like a shadow.  You know.  So... that mystery's solved!

Thanks everybody for your comments on my ufo yesterday.  Marcia, I'm glad you got the package and I look forward to seeing how you and your mom finish it.  Actually the 12 blocks I made are enough for a throw size if you add a couple borders. 

This is the fabric I plan to use for borders on my Christmas quilt:

As you can see, it's the same as the 1" pieces between the panels.  My dilemma is what to do for another border?  I was thinking to frame the whole piece with the skinny strips, then place a solid color next to that, then a wider border of the stripes for the outside.  Right now I'm too tired to think about it.

Someone suggested using paintsticks for Mary's head wrap; I've never used them before but a member of my guild uses them beautifully.  Perhaps she can give me some guidance, lest I ruin the panel.

I didn't have a pattern or any kind of guideline when I made this quilt; it's sort of the way my mom used to cook -  some of this and that, and whatever else looks or "feels" right.  I decided on possible scenes I wanted to show, then I found pictures of things to pull them together.  There were other possibilities that I didn't use - the three kings, Joseph leading Mary on the donkey, a single bright star, animals in the stable -  but my layout was based on the amount of real estate I had for the piece.

So basically I got a general idea of the entire quilt (ashamed to admit I didn't sketch it out first!) then made the applique to fill out the panels.  The shepherd did come from a pattern, though.  So, that's the story of The Story of Christmas!

Sew forth and sew on til later...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's UFO time again!

As Andy Taylor of Mayberry would say, "yeah baw-ie". 

Did you all notice I changed my font size?  I decided I didn't really need it to be as large as it was.  Now, this means some of the pictures in my older posts won't be aligned the way I had them, but that doesn't really matter, does it?

I notice we have a 50th follower, yaaaaay!  I don't know who it is though... for some reason they're not in chronological order?  Welcome, earthling!!  Please step forward and identify yourself so we can all welcome you! :o)

This time UFO #2 popped to the top, which I've named The Story of Christmas: 

Of all the UFO's on my list, this is one needing very little more than creativity to finish it off.  Actually it was finished for the 2009 Scrapbagger's retreat, but I wasn't satisfied with it so I deconstructed parts of it.  I admit it - I was working at the last minute, running out of time, and I slapped it together to meet the deadline! 

These are the problem areas I want to fix - starting with the top left panel...
The panel was just too plain, it needs something else.  I decided to put a palm tree or two in there, maybe a little moon, a few stars or something.  Also, I need to outline those sheep with black thread, lest they be lost while he's playing on his harp.  And speaking of that harp, the color blends too much into his clothing, looks like he's eating a banana.

The middle panel is the angel heralding the Good News...

Once again, plain, plain, plain!  I need to outline her wings and the words - you can barely see them! - with dark thread.  Maybe I'll toss some stars or whatever behind her, but otherwise I think that particular block is okay.

The third panel - Mary and Joseph, and the Babe in the manger ...

I think Mary's headwrap blends too much into the background.  Maybe I'll put a low wall behind them, outline the headwrap in a dark thread.  To make the manger, I googled "wooden cradles" and found one I liked and made my applique pattern from that.  I sewed raffia in the the manger to similate straw but most of it has broken off by now.  Mary and Joseph were a couple at a clothing site, modelling African garments. 

And then we have the three wise men who brought gold, frankincense and myrrh...

There's absolutely nothing wrong with them, I'm just showing them because they're just so darned handsome!

As for the bottom right panel, I think Mary and Jesus are fine as is, but I might embroider the outline of buildings in the background and do something to the floor, maybe some stonework.

The striped fabric outlining the blocks will do for a border, I think I have enough of it left.  Then, a little quilting and it'll be done!

Sew forth and sew on til later...

Monday, March 28, 2011

A great Mystery Monday giveaway!

Hi everybody!  I just popped in to tell you about a great giveaway, here's one you definitely won't want to miss!  Hop over to Ruby Slipperz and get in on this one, but be prepared to use those brain cells!  Five (yes - five!) fat quarters are on the line.  She has one every Monday.

And oh my, I just noticed the number of followers - 49, woot woot!!  Who will be the 50th follower?  Will it be you??

Sew forth and sew on til later!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two great giveaways!

Barbara at Catpatches is celebrating the return of Fun Fact Friday Freebie with a Great Giveaway!

Fun Fact Friday Freebie

There will be four winners, and each winner will walk off with four prizes! 

Winners will be announced on April 1st

So click on the FFFF link above, hop on over to Catpatches and join in the fun... don't miss this giveaway, or you'll be an April Fool!  ; >)

And here's one you won't want to miss:

At Alderwood Quilts Sue Hauser's March giveaway is a great book - Weekend Wonders - go get it!  This is a 16-page pattern booklet with instructions for 5 beginner-level quilts along with quilting basics. Great book for the new quilter or for an experienced quilter who is looking for a quick project that looks great.

Winner will be selected April 1st.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Foto-Finish Saturday - "Pink"

This week's photo subject is pink, as in "pretty in pink". 

Bath & Body Works is one of my favorite shops, you can always find something both affordable and good to smell!  In January I got the two 8 oz. bottles of peppermint scented anti-bacterial hand soap pictured above because they were reduced to $1.25 each, not a bad deal.  Their products are not tested on animals, so I guess they use people instead?

Now, one of my favorite products in my favorite shop is the Aromatherapy soaps and lotions.

I really like the Stress Relief eucalyptus spearmint fragrance; it smells great, maybe that combination relaxes you?  I know it clears your nose. 

My second favorite is the Energy mandarin lime, it smells so good, makes you want to hop around! I haven't tried the Sleep yet, so I don't know if it encourages sleep or not - this one is lavender vanilla.  I only buy these when they're on sale!

You can click on the Foto-Finish icon on the right to see other interpretations of this week's theme.  It will take you to Barbara's blog at Cat Patches, where you will see their links.

Sew forth and sew on til later

Friday, March 25, 2011

It seemed like a good idea at the time...

But the reality was dirt!  At least, it tasted like dirt. 

I bought these nutrition bars from Target mainly because of the protein - 12 grams!  And when I saw the promise of almonds and caramel I knew I had a winner -- not!  I bit into one and it tasted - believe you me - like chocolate-flavored dirt!  So I'm taking these things back to Target.  One little hitch: I tossed out the receipt two days ago and trash was collected yesterday.  Timing is everything!

These weren't so bad, but they were bad enough:
I had them at the office, didn't like them, so I took em to the vending room.  Sure enough, somebody liked em.  There wasn't anything wrong with them, they just weren't my cuppa, so to speak.  At this point I have no idea of the protein or fiber content.

Now these are a much better choice:

Special K protein bars, 10 grams of protein and 5 grams fiber!  For the most part you either get high protein or high fiber, but usually not both in the same package.  By far, these are the best choice for me.

Well, today I'll take my car for its first checkup, there's an issue with the GPS losing its signal but otherwise I have no problems.  My grand plan was to leave home at 6:30 because the shop opens at 7 -- yeah right!  As I'm typing this, it's already 8:25 but shoot - it's my day off!  I don't feel like pushing those arns around too fast today.

Also, today is the first day of the Cherry Blossom Festival, so if I'm lucky I'll get a chance to go down there.  The blossoms are out but they haven't peaked yet; should be good enough for a few photos though. Since they're talking about wet snow this weekend, I'll try to go before those delicate blossoms are destroyed.

Have a quilty day everybody.

Sew forth and sew on til later

Thursday, March 24, 2011

And the winner is...

Hello everybody, thanks for participating in my first giveaway!  I placed all the names in my Random Generator ...

and pulled out a name ...

The lucky recipient of my Stack n Whack UFO is Marcia W!!  I have already emailed Marcia with the news; soon as I get her mailing address, her prize will be on its way.  Congratulations, Marcia!!

And it gets better...   I found the leftover fabric - it's a nice Alexander Henry piece and there's just over 1-1/2 yards of it!  The 12 blocks are plenty enough for a throw, but the extra fabric can be made into a larger quilt if desired.

Thanks again everybody for participating; now that I know you like UFO's there just might be more trotting down the road... just sayin'  :o)

Sew forth and sew on til later

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Looking over my shoulder

Hello everybody! *big elegant wave*  I'm glad you all enjoyed my humor yesterday; Julie we're still praying for you all in Japan, just keep holding on!

Since my June 3 retirement is just around the corner I've started cleaning out my office, I figure why wait til the last minute.  How do we collect and hold on to so much paperwork garbage?
This isn't even close to what I threw out.  Between last week and yesterday I must have shredded 6 inches worth of paper from my drawers.  Old appraisals going back to 1987, pay adjustment and reorg paperwork, old health insurance claim forms... I don't need that stuff!  I kept the last two appraisals, and one pay adjustment, as pitiful as that was.  Everything else, if it containied personal info, was shredded.

Then I came to my "decision" point... I have a lot of coffee cups, how many does the average person need??   Assuming I'm average? My dilemma - which ones to keep?

The one on the extreme left with the adinkra symbols came from the African Museum shop down on the Mall - I think I'll keep that one!  That's an interesting museum, it's underground and has some eye-catching displays, I haven't been there in 5-6 years though.  That Christmas cup next to it came from the Dollar Tree about 3 years ago - you can get some good junk at the dollar store! 

The tall one in back came from the pottery store at Potomac Mills about 7 years ago. I had gone to a function at Hylton Chapel and realized I wanted a larger cup than they had in the hotel room.

I've had the one with snowflakes almost 20 years, I remember getting it from a little gift shop before our office moved from Bethesda to Rockville, Maryland.  The graphics are by Sue Boynton, cats clinging to snow flakes.  The white one on the right came from the dollar store, about 2 years ago, I don't know why I'd buy such a plain cup.

So, my decision... I'll definitely keep the one with the adinkra symbols, maybe the one with snowflakes.  The others will be left at the office along with my coffee maker... somebody'll use em.

I also had 3 containers of the microwavable soup that I didn't want, had expired in January.  I put them in the vending room with a note saying "These are past the expiration date, but you're welcome to take them if you want."  I went back later and one was missing... an hour later the other two were gone.  I looked in the garbage can but they weren't in there either, so somebody took em. 

I have some pudding cups I think I'll put in there tomorrow, same deal...  they expired in October, so it's up to the individual.  Whatever.

What's up with this?

There must have been a good reason to have a hammer in my desk drawer! 

All this rearranging and tossing reminds me a little bit of when I progressed from elementary school to junior high.  We rode the school bus, and it stopped first at the elementary school, then the junior high.  That first morning I had such an urge to jump off the bus at the elementary school, because that's what I'd always done before.  What I'm saying is, I hope I don't have the urge to jump up one morning in July and run back to the office!  I've been doing that for 40 years, that's a long time! 

Oh well, sew forth and sew on til later...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays

Talkin' to myself and feelin' old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin' around
Nothing to do but frown
Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.
sheesh, how depressing!  That song by the Carpenters isn't how I felt yesterday but boy it sure started out dark and gloomy with all the rain we had early in the morning.  I kept my blinds closed until the sun came out, then it turned out to be a really pretty day. 

Do people ever really hear the words to some of those songs?  I don't mean the real ones like we had back in the day, I mean the songs you hear now, that go like pah! pah-pah p-pah!  What does that actually mean?  Do I really want to know??  Probably not.

I wasn't depressed, but a good laugh is always a good laugh...
I wonder how many miles he gets per shoe??

"Oh darn, I thought I bought groceries... and where's my purse??"

And this, dear readers, is what made me finally decide to go ahead and retire:
that white-out works just fine if you don't use the scroll button!

Moving right along...

Thanks everyone for your good wishes on my 100th post!  What that means is, 100 posts ago I sat here at the pc and asked myself  "Are you sure you want to start a blog?  What if nobody comes to read it??"  It also means I sat here at least 99 times since then and wrote stuff and guess what - you came!  Thanks everybody!! I didn't keep a log of the time but I wonder how much it amounts to?  How much time do you all spend on one post, on the average?? 

Moving along again...

Now that Spring has sprung, I need to start my landscaping in the front yard before it gets hot.  This year I won't be using the kids from the summer youth program; last year they were supposed to have planted grass in my flower box (between the sidewalk and street) but that didn't work out.  For days after they were done I'd stand there like a doofus and spray it with the hose, and I saw these little green things coming up... then found out it was weeds!  Those rascals didn't plant any of my seeds after they cleared the area.

This year I'm doing it myself, I don't care if the program has to keep them busy!  They can be busy someplace else.  Mama always said if you want something done right, do it yourself.  ;o)

Sew forth and sew on til later...

Monday, March 21, 2011

100th post and a giveaway!

Three things to be happy about:
(1) First day of Spring
(2) Trees becoming leafy again
(3) Freebies

Well here I am, doing my 100th post, can you believe it!  I intended to do a giveaway when I got my 100th visitor, but I missed it... then I decided to do one for the 500th visitor, but I missed that too.  Yadda yadda yadda, I'm doing my 100th post with a giveaway!

This post also celebrates the number 100 for another reason:  in 1999 I made my one and only trip (so far!) to the Houston quilt festival.  As many of you remember, the 100 Best American Quilts of the 20th Century were on display at that show, and I tell you they were impressive!  My friend Gwen and I took Bethany Reynolds' Stack n Whack class... it was a great class and we were really churning out the blocks!  However... when I got home I didn't finish the quilt, so it became a UFO.  So, these blocks were pieced at the 1999 Houston quilt festival, and I'm convinced they are part of the 100 Best UFO's of the 20th Century That Travelled Into the 21st Century!

Here are four of em:

This is where the giveaway part comes in: 

There are 11 completed blocks measuring 12" across, with the 6 pieces cut out to make the 12th block. 

I had some of the fabric left over that I will include if... I say if ... I can locate it in my stash.  Otherwise, I know you can find matching fabric for the setting triangles. 

If you're interested in these residents of Area 51, say so in a message before 6pm EDT Wednesday; I'll post the name of the winner on Thursday, March 24.  And grab my nice button if you want to help spread the word! 

You don't have to be a follower but if you'd like to be... well, as usual we'll squoonch over a bit to make room for ya!

Sew forth and sew on til later...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Steve Harvey introduces Jesus

Hello everybody, my video share day; if you've seen it already, why not watch it again!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Foto-Finish Saturday - "Spring"

For this week's photo finish assignment, Barbara at Cat Patches chose "spring" and I'm ready for it!  So long snow, icy roads, uncleared sidewalks, messy commutes, and maniac drivers showing off their 4-wheel drive. 

What says spring better than good ole forsythias!?  I was over at the Fabric Peddler (in Capitol Heights, Maryland) yesterday and I just happened to have my camera with me, so I snapped a couple shots of the forsythias in front of Nadine's shop.  

The close up below is from another angle, they're really full and look so pretty in real life. 

As pretty as these are, my intention was to go to the orchid exhibit at the museum down on the Mall and get some shots, but I didn't have time.  I didn't get any pictures for today's theme but I still have until sometime next month to see the exhibit!

Well, that's my spring photo; click on the Foto-Finish icon on the right to see other interpretations of this week's theme.


Today is also national quilting day!  This is a springtime postcard I made for a coworker's birthday last year; her birthday was March 14 ...

I free-cut the branches from a piece of fused brown fabric, and the music came from a piece of black-and-white fabric.  She loved it!  She said "oooh that's nice, maybe I'll keep this!"  sheesh.

Well, enjoy your Saturday!  Sew forth and sew on til later...

Friday, March 18, 2011

The original celebrated curiously strong tin collection

... That's Altoids, in case you're wondering!

I have a somewhat large collection of Altoids tins at the office that I'd like to show you today.  How do collections get started??  There's one guy on the sixth floor who collects hot sauce, but that's another story, I better let him tell it!  This one came about  like this...

I used to buy a tin of Altoids every once in a while and, because the tin was so interesting, I'd toss the empty in my desk drawer because it would have been a shame to throw it out.  You know.  One day I was digging through there for something and I noticed 4-5 empties, so I took them out and placed them on a shelf in my cubicle. 

Then when I'd go to buy some, I started really noticing how they looked, looking for designs I didn't have yet.  

People started noticing them and they'd say something like "Oh, you collect Altoids tins, you can have mine when it's empty!" 

Also, they'd bring me other tins too.

Before I knew anything, I had a pretty good collection going...
... and I had them lined up along the window like little celebrated, curiously strong soldiers

in a variety of colors and flavors. 

The office I inherited has metallic walls, so I glued magnets on a couple and stuck them on the wall next to my calendar.
There are a few that I have more than one of - here's the roll call:

Altoids: Creme de menthe (in unopened "mint" condition); Dark chocolate dipped creme de menthe (also in "mint" condition); Wintergreen; Cinnamon; Peppermint; Dark chocolate dipped cinnamon; Liquorice (ewwww!); Spearmint; Ginger (these will open up your sinuses!); Dark chocolate dipped peppermint (in "mint" condition); Dark chocolate dipped ginger; Apple sours; Citrus sours; Sugar free smalls - peppermint. 

Also these three Altoids limited editions: Pink heart-shaped tin (cinnamon); cinnamon Fire Monster and wintergreen Abominable Snow Monster.

The ones dipped in chocolate were actually good, you have two sensations going at the same time.

Others: Dragon fire sugar free hot imperial cinnamon gum (from an oriental lady on rotation to our office); Hershey's cacao reserve milk chocolate truffles - 35% cacao; Hershey's cacao reserve dark chocolate truffles - 65% cacao;  Ragold's cinnamon mints and Ragold's sour alerts - extreme orange; Celestial seasonings zinger teas; C. O. Bigelow peppermint "The awe-inspiring herbal mints"; Hint Mint cinnamon (from Eatzie's) - "you need this mint"; Brown & Haley extra strength cinnamon Zingos - says "sugar free" in a bright green star, then in small print says "not a non-calorie food"; Velamints chocolate mints - sugar free, fat free; and last but not least, Binaca Power Blasts sugar free cool peppermints. 

So, that makes a total of 35 tins, whew!

Need I say more?  Nope - sew forth and sew on til later...