Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Quilter's Kitchen

Tonight, there was no karate, no cub scouts, nothing! So I stopped at the library on the way home from work to let Jason pick out some more chapter books for himself, and to see if there was any quilting fiction at the library that I hadn't read yet. Lo and behold, there was! I picked up The Quilter's Kitchen by Jennifer Chiaverini

and The Healing Quilt by Lauraine Snelling.
I decided to start with The Quilter's Kitchen since it is such a short little story, really more recipes than stories. I sat down to read it while I drank a cup of tea (my version of heaven on earth!) while Jason sat down to do his homework.

One part of his homework was to read a story in his Reader, Hedgehog Bakes A Cake. At the end of the story, there is a recipe for Hedgehog's Yellow Cake. He brought it over to me and asked if he could make it. How funny that we were both reading stories with recipes in them! It looked pretty simple, so I told him to tie on an apron (don't you just LOVE wearing aprons? I think they are the best!) and we got to work. Or, I should say, he got to work, and I supervised and took pictures.

Less than an hour later...YUM!
My kids are so much fun! And now that I have finished the first book, I'm going to make another cup of tea and get started on the second. With another piece of that yummy cake, of course!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I've just gotta say...


I've been feeling a bit crummy lately as a couple things haven't quite gone according to plan. Sometimes I start to doubt myself and my abilities. For example, last night, I led the Cub Scout Den Meeting. I knew I was going to be doing it because my friend/co-den leader still needs some time after her loss. But, rather than prepare this weekend, I sewed. So, on Monday, after work, I was rushing around trying to make copies and pull everything together. In my haste, I left my bag at home. We were supposed to learn about flags, how to respect and display a flag, how to fold a flag, and then each scout would get a little flag to take home. Guess what was in the bag I left at home? You got it - the FLAGS!

So, since our meetings are at the gym at the university where I work, I went down to the trainer's office to get band-aids, and instead we did the Staying Healthy section - we talked about how to stay healthy, made a healthy habits chart to keep track of some of the healthy things we do before the next meeting, and practiced basic first aid - namely, what to do with a cut. I suppose it all worked out in the end, but I was so angry with myself for not being prepared and leading what I am sure seemed like a disorganized meeting.

I went home and got online. And there you all were! First, with all the positive encouragement, not only about my quilts, but about my life. And then, the way you guys go above and beyond for someone you've never even met. I mentioned someone had suggested building out the stars and adding an inner border on my Scrappy Stars quilt. At the time, I was too lazy to go back and see exactly WHO had made that recommendation. Well, it was Bonnie, who also not only made a suggestion about how to deal with my corners, but even sent me a diagram of how to do it. I'm one of those uber-emotional people who wears their feelings pinned to the front of their shirt for all to see, so this actually made me tear up. Thank you, Bonnie! And all the rest of you, too, for all the little things that you do that make my day everytime I log in.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Steady progress

My plan this weekend was to sew, sew, sew. I had wanted to finish piecing my Scrappy Stars top. I made quite a bit of progress, but I'm not done yet. I have yet to make two of the borders, and I still have to figure out how I want to do the corners. I took someone's suggestion and built out the stars, which is different from the picture of the quilt that I have been working from. Then, I felt it needed an inner border, again a deviation from the original. Which left me with the corner conundrum. Ideas, anyone? I made an extra of one of the interior blocks to try it out, but it isn't speaking to me.

My kids are feeling better. No fevers and mucous production is down, but they are still coughing so hard that it makes me cringe. However, they've been inside all week, and today was a gorgeous day in southwestern Virginia, so I let them go outside to play.

We also had a picnic lunch on the porch.

Most of the week, however, they've been inside reading and watching TV and alternately making a mess in their room and then having to clean it up again. They were thrilled when my mom gave them this little joystick/game thingie to play old school arcade games on the TV - Pacman, Rally X, Galaga.
I've gotta say, even all the grownups in the house have taken a turn or two. It brings back memories - of course my memory is that I stink at those types of games. Oh well, I'd rather be sewing anyway.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Friend and Foe

I had lunch at the home of one of my quilting buddies, Mamanance/Nancy, yesterday. What a treat! I went to collect a label for my comfort quilt (I got it sewn on today - plus, I got the bloodstain out, so it is ready to go join the ranks of other comfort quilts waiting to bring some warmth into someone's day) and some flannel for my buzzsaw quilt.

I not only got that but also a pattern that she had accidentally bought two of (caution: lousy photo alert!)

and she lent me her copy of Clare O'Donohue's The Lover's Knot, which I thought I had read until I read book two of the series and realized I hadn't. Great timing, as I leave for a quick trip to Atlanta tomorrow, and this gives me something to read on the plane. (by the way, I LOVE these Clare O'Donohue books!) She also lent me her copy of Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash movie, which I haven't seen yet. That will have to wait until I return, but I'm sure it will be GREAT in my new home theater.

So, that is the friend. The foe is THE FLU which has my children home for the week. You would never know they were sick by their energy level - they never seem to slow down - but they both have fevers and coughs and snotty noses. As a precaution, the entire family is being treated with Tamiflu. Hopefully, none of us will get terribly ill like the folks in the stories they have on TV daily.

No new sewing, other than the comfort quilt label. And for my trip, I am bringing karate uniforms that need patches sewn on - bleech! But it must be done; provided we are all well on Saturday, Jason and I will be testing for our PURPLE BELT!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some progress and a special find!

Yesterday, I managed to squeeze in some very interrupted sewing as I went about my wifely and motherly duties. I pulled out my neglected "Virginia Bound" quilt (I mistakenly called it "Virginia Star" in my last entry) from my Bonnie Hunter book, Scraps and Shirttails, and finished a couple more blocks. This quilt is so much fun to make - so liberating! (I may have been a little too liberal in my interpretation of neutrals, but I'll make that determination when I get a bit more done.)

I have a couple more wedges that still need the neutrals attached, and, of course, I have gobs more blocks to make. I can't imagine why I put this quilt aside for so long - I love it!

In making some of the new wedges, I pulled out the scrab bag I got from Judi recently, since much of those scraps are strips and perfect for this project. Imagine my surprise and delight when I found two orphan blocks! I can't wait to find a use for them.

I also completed a few more Scrappy Star blocks. This quilt is sure to be one of my favorites.

It has been pretty cold here - perfect weather for staying inside and sewing.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Quilt Fiction Catalogued

A local quilting friend, Mamanance/Nancy, recently shared that she had catalogued her quilting books on LibraryThing. With my desire to collect quilt fiction, that seemed like a pretty neat idea, since I have purchased a book I already own on more than one occasion. I set up my own Library Catalog this morning, and I was THRILLED with how EASY it was. Type in the ISBN number from the back of the book, and Voila!, there's a thumbnail photo, the title, the author, everything. I'm so tickled, that I put a widget on my sidebar so I can share some of my quilt fiction. Right now, there are 49 titles, but some are out on loan so they aren't all in there yet. Hopefully, this will help me acquire some of the other quilt fiction titles that I know are out there.

After work yesterday, I did a little more piecing on my flannel buzzsaw quilt. I also rearranged the blocks into 2 fabric blocks to see if I liked more orderly scrappiness. I'm not sure. But I do know that I'm going to have to put this project on hold until I get some more flannel scraps for additional blocks. I have lots of juvenile flannel, but I'm making this quilt with other prints, of which I have much less. I also may decide to make this into two quilts, one with the softer colors, and one with the bolder colors. We'll see.

In the meantime, I plan to work on my Scrappy Stars some more today, and possibly revisit my Bonnie Hunter "Virginia Star" since I now have more neutral scraps to finish up some blocks. And speaking of Bonnie guild is working on getting her as a presenter and teacher in early 2011. Hooray! I told them I don't care when she comes - consider me already signed up! What a treat that would be! My quilting hero right here in person! My fingers are crossed that it works out.

Friday, October 16, 2009

One UFO done!

Remember I joined the New Year's UFO Challenge? I chose 3 projects to complete, and today I finished one. Yay! With all that was going on this week, I felt moved to finish the flannel "Love Crumbs" comfort quilt I began nearly 2 years ago. It is far from perfect - I goofed on one corner while attaching the binding, so it will never be described as having square corners - but I don't care. If it will make some little girl's eyes light up like the kids to whom I gave comfort quilts earlier this week, then it is perfect in my eyes.

(Do you like the action photo with the dog and the kid playing with the Batmobile in the foreground?)

I have to work this Saturday (of course, ugh!), but I plan to do some sewing this weekend. With so many projects in progress, I'm not sure what I'll do. I guess I'll just see what I feel moved to do.

And finally, I just have to say that the memorial service yesterday was both much harder and much easier than I expected. I am so proud of my strong friend, who stood up to speak and started with "I am so blessed." I was so caught up in what she has lost that I wasn't paying attention to what she has. Even in her grief, she is an inspiration to me. After the service, Jason and I stuck around until the place cleared out - Jason playing with his friend and me entertaining and being entertained by the twin girls. With all the grown ups talking, it was nice to be there for the kids. And you know what? My friend is going to be alright. She IS blessed - with a wonderful family, supportive friends, a strong faith, and 18 years worth of memories of her precious, special, first-born daughter - and she is going to be just fine.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Comfort Quilts

My guild makes comfort quilts to give to local residents during times of need. I contacted the person who coordinates the effort and told her about my friend and her loss. During my lunch break yesterday, I drove out to meet her, and I picked out some comfort quilts for my friend and her three remaining children. I wish I had photos to share, because these were some CUTE quilts. The people in my guild are not only generous, but also very talented.

For one little girl whom my son managed to hook in the head last time we went fishing together, I picked out the brightest quilt with lots of fish fabric and two adorable appliqued fish. For the other little girl, who is always wearing pink and/or purple, I picked out a cute pink and purple caterpillar critter quilt. At least, that is what I call it. The blocks are set to look like a caterpillar wiggling across the quilt with a 3-dimensional smiling face at the end of each. For the boy, I picked out another caterpillar critter quilt, this one with bright dog fabric, since he is always talking about the shenanigans of his two dogs. For my friend, I picked out a quilt that Mamanance made that I absolutely love. Here it is, prior to being quilted, I think:

Picking out the quilts was easy. Giving them was hard. When I arrived at their house with my kids in tow (for comic relief), one little girl ran outside and jumped into my arms, and right there my throat closed up. I hate that these precious little children are suffering right now. I finally gathered them around me and explained that I belong to a group of people who love quilts and who believe that wrapping yourself up in a quilt is like wrapping yourself up in a hug. I explained that we like to give these quilts to people to make them feel better when they might be having a bad day. Then I pulled out the quilts one by one and wrapped them around their shoulders while I explained why I chose each quilt for each child. They were the perfect recipients - their faces lit up, and one immediately smoothed hers out over her bed, and the other two wore theirs around their shoulders up until the time I left. Their mom was out during my visit, so I gave my friend's quilt to the grandmom and asked her to let my friend know that I was thinking of her.
While there, the grandmom also pulled out some professional photos of the 4 siblings together that were taken only about a month ago. It turns out, they haven't had pictures taken together (besides candids) for several years now, so it seems pretty fortuitous that they just had it done. They are such a beautiful, happy family. I didn't want to overstay our welcome, so after looking at photos, I went looking for my kids. The brother, Jason's friend, was wrapped up in his quilt showing Jason all of his sister's things. I asked what they were doing, and he said, "Oh, I'm just telling Jason all about my sister." My heart shattered right then and there, and I went back into the kitchen to cry and let them talk.
So yesterday was hard. I've woken up every night this week with a wet pillow from crying in my sleep. But today will be harder. Today is the funeral. My husband and I talked to Jason about how funerals aren't fun, but that it is important that he be there to support his friend. And I'll be there to support my friend. And my husband, bless his heart, will be there to support Jason and me. I know that human beings are strong and resilient, but I can't even imagine how my friend gets up each morning and functions throughout the day. Would I be that strong? I pray to God that I never have to find out.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The last few days have been a wild ride. I am emotionally and physically exhausted. I arrived home Friday night, and set to work making dinner for the family and making Rice Krispie Treats for the Cub Scout Pack meeting on Saturday. Luckily, I had a little helper.

Then, I gave a presentation at work Saturday morning that went horribly. There were some malcontents in the audience that made the experience very uncomfortable. People have been very supportive, and have been approaching me to tell me that I handled myself well, but ugh! I just wanted to go home and climb in the bed for the rest of the day. Of course, that was not to be. First, I had to make an appearance at the Homecoming football game. Then the kids and I left that for the Cub Scout Pack Meeting, which was a fun, but exhausting 3 hours. For my station, I brought along a student that I recruited from Costa Rica a few years ago, and we taught them some things about Costa Rica and some useful phrases in Spanish so we could earn our Culture belt loop. After that, we went home and the kids let me take a quick nap before we went out to the Homecoming Dance. My kids love to dance! How is it that they don't need sleep, though?

My plan on Sunday was to just sew, which I did a bit but not nearly as much as I had hoped. I worked on my scrappy flannel buzzsaw quilt a bit.

My leader and ender project for that session was my Scrappy Star quilt, so I also got one more of those blocks done.

Today was also supposed to be a busy day - a day full of interviews at work, followed by karate and a cub scout den meeting. Just as I was about to start my first interview, my friend and co-den leader who is also the mother to my oldest son's best friend called to tell me that her oldest daughter had just passed away. She was 18 and severely disabled, but this was unexpected and I am still in shock. I feel so helpless and sad for my friend, and for Jason's little friend who just lost his big sister. I don't know what to do - I want to be there for her, but I also want to give her space if she needs it. I have no frame of reference. I've lost a parent and friends, but I can't even conceive of losing my child. I have been emotional all day, but I made it through the workday, and then went to karate to yell and kick and punch out my anger and frustration with impunity. The kids and I went to the cub scout meeting just in case someone didn't get my email letting them know what happened, and I'm glad I did, because someone showed up. Then, I came home and cuddled with my kids and thanked God for every day I have with them.

At bedtime, I didn't draw the line at two stories like I usually do. The third book they pulled out tonight is one that makes me feel weepy on a good day, and I couldn't make it through the book without crying tonight - Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.

It is a beautiful story about a mother's love for her son, and the song she sings to him about how he will always be her baby no matter how big he grows. At the end, the tables are turned as the grown man is now rocking his dying mother and singing to her about how she will always be his Mommy. Being a mother has been the most profound and rewarding experience in my life, and the thought of losing one of my children terrifies me. I know my friend isn't reading this, but if she were, I would want her to know that I love her, and I'm here for her, and I am so, so sorry.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I've been so bad...

A shop hop is not a good idea for someone who is on a self-imposed "no-buy", especially someone as weak-willed as me. I hit two more shops today, and then had to call it quits because really, I don't have the money to go to quilt shops. But before I came to my senses, I bought some 108" backing fabric (as a handquilter, I prefer to not have to quilt through seam allowances on the back, too), one irresistable pink and brown 1/8 yard cut, one 1/4 yard yummy chocolate brown flannel cut for my buzz saw quilt, and ten 1/4 yard neutrals. At least I stuck to that which I know I need, instead of just buying stuff I like, which would have bankrupted me for sure. To think, there was a time in my life when fabric meant nothing to me - now, it makes me drool and open my wallet!

I head home tomorrow. I can't wait to spend time with my family and with my sewing machine. I haven't sewn anything in weeks! Saturday is already spoken for with a presentation at work and a cub scout meeting, but Sunday, I sew! Look for photos!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Luck...or intuition?

Since I am on the road in West Virginia doing school visits, I am done each day by about 3:00 PM. I didn't get my act together and bring some quilting with me, so I thought I'd investigate the possibility of finding a quilt shop to visit and get my "fix". I looked online and found a couple shops close to me. The first two I went to, however, no longer exist! I was pretty bummed! But then, on my way back to my hotel, I thought, let me try just one more. Not only did I find it, but there is a SHOP HOP going on!!!


I got a list of 15 shops, and made it to 4 before they closed. I'm going to try to hit 2 or 3 more tomorrow afternoon. And even though I am on a "no-buy", I couldn't really visit these peoples' shops, take their free patterns, enter for their door prizes and not buy anything, right? I didn't bring my camera on this trip so I can't share photos, but I bought 4 neutral remnants for my scrap quilts and 2 flannel remnants for my buzzsaw quilt that I'm trying to get off the UFO list. At another shop, I bought some fabric gripper circles to put on my rulers to make them no-slip. At another shop I bought a pattern - perhaps the first pattern I've ever bought, but it is BUTTERFLIES, and I think I've already shared my affinity for butterflies. It is this crayon quilt from Black Cat Creations. I've been wanting to do a crayon quilt. I doubt I will actually follow this pattern, but I am excited to have all these different butterfly patterns to copy and use.

Then, at the last shop, I just ate their yummy free cookies!

So, not only did I enjoy my shop hopping, but when I arrived home after my last trip and before this one, there was a package waiting for me. It was a book that I ordered back in May, not realizing that it wasn't going to be released until late September. While it was disappointing back in May, it was a pleasant surprise to have a book to take on this trip. So, during my meals and any other stolen moments today, I've been reading the latest Clare O'Donohue book, "A Drunkard's Path". In reading it, I realize that I never read the first book in the series. I'm enjoying this one, so I guess I'll have to go buy the first one, too.

I hope some of you are able to get some actual quilting done. I'm going to climb into bed with my book.

Monday, October 5, 2009

No buy = no problem!

With generous and thoughtful quilter friends, this scrap quilter has no problems not spending money on fabric. Here's my latest bounty - a bagful of scraps from my quilter friend, Judi. Thanks for thinking of me, Judi! This was a long and miserable Monday, and receiving the scraps was the only bright spot until after work when I was able to spend time with my family.

Even though I have new scraps to play with, I haven't sewn yet. I arrived home on Saturday afternoon, and within 2 hours I was off to a cub scout campout with my boys. Fun, fun, fun!

Then, Sunday involved karate, some housework, and a sneak preview in our new home theater which is VERY CLOSE to being completed. We may never go to the movies again!
I am packed up (again!) and hit the road in the morning. Next weekend, however, I am determined to sew!

Friday, October 2, 2009

I've accepted the New Year's Eve UFO Challenge

This week away from home and away from quilting is killing me! Thank God for the internet - at least I am caught up on blogs and am finding more wonderful blogs to follow. (just what I need, right?) Anyway, I'm at least thinking about quilting, if not actually doing it, so Finn's UFO Challenge appealed to me - I work better with deadlines, and I have so many UFOs floating around out there.

I decided that it is reasonable to expect to finish 3 UFOs by New Year's Eve, and I'm going to focus on my flannel tops.

This one should be easy - I am already halfway done quilting it. However, since I am using a super high loft batt (the only thing I had available when I was ready to start) and am a hand quilter, it is slow going. I just need to jump back in the saddle and complete it. It would help if there were something I wanted to watch on TV while doing it - that usually keeps me sitting still long enough to make some progress.

Then there is this top that is already quilted and just needs to be bound (not in the picture, but in reality, it is). Should be easy, right? In fact, the binding is already sewn on in the front. However, I sewed it on wonky, and need to take it back off and put it on again. I hate un-sewing, so that stopped me in my tracks. Get over it, Erin!

And finally, there's this flannel buzzsaw quilt that is still in the piecing stage. I was hoping to receive some more flannel scraps because my motto is "the scrappier, the better" and I am on a self-imposed "no-buy" since all of my money these days is going into finishing our basement (there will be a sewing studio in there for me when done, so the least I can do is not buy fabric!). However, I am thinking I should just make do with what I have.

You know what? While going through my photos, I came across this flannel Strawberry Shortcake top, too. I should finish it up. Maybe I'll keep my total goal at 3, but this gives me options, I can just finish any 3 of this 4 that strikes my fancy. I love having options. Of course, that is probably why I rarely FINISH things.

OK guys. I'd love some cheerleaders to help me finish these, help me stay on task. Of course, I will still be working on my GGG quilt and my scrappy star quilt, but I want these to get done. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

For Kwiltmakr

After yesterday's post, Kwiltmakr left a comment and asked me to go to the church here in Quito where Our Lady of Good Success is to say a prayer for her. I'm not Catholic, but I'm always up for an adventure, so after my school visits today, I went hunting for this church that no one here seems to have heard of. Thank God for the internet - I found it!

Unfortunately, it was closed. Sorry, Kwiltmakr! But I did find another church nearby that was open, La Iglesia de la Compania, a baroque style church built in the early 1600s, so I went in there and said a prayer for you. It is the thought that counts, right?

And I just had to share this little thought with you. Both of these churches were near the Plaza de la Independencia, the square around which Quito was planned back in 1535. Also surrounding this plaza is the Palacio where the Presidente lives,

the Palacio where the Archbishops, Bishops, Cardinals and everyone else of religious power lives,

and the Palacio where the Mayor of Quito lives (pretty ugly modern building, not worth photographing). Doesn't it seem like poor planning to have all these powerful people living right next to each other? Perhaps I'm still sensitive about 9/11, but that just seems like an easy target for a terrorist looking to destabilize the country.

Anyway, just a few more school visits tomorrow, and then I leave for home on a red-eye flight. I can't wait to see my family again.