Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ribbons and string

I've been thinking about cancer a lot lately, about family and friends that I've lost, family and friends who are fighting as I type. It rears its ugly head in books and movies and news broadcasts without warning and without apology. You've probably noticed my CLICK DAILY link to the Breast Cancer Site on my sidebar. I am vigilant about clicking, vigilant about wearing my Pink Ribbon Pin, vigilant about checking myself in hopes that I will be around to watch my children become senior citizens.

Therefore, I wasn't surprised while rearranging blocks for my Nicklemania quilt yesterday to see that it was taking shape as a ribbon. I like it. I just don't know which arrangement I like better. I don't have all my blocks cut yet, but I think you can see where I was going with these two arrangements. Which do you like better?

While I was sewing, the kids were being "hooligans" here in the house - Jason's word, not mine. They only lasted a few minutes out in the snow - none of us really like the cold - so they created with Legos, put tattoos on their chests, pretended they were spies and even made tin can telephones. They had to talk where they could see each other because otherwise they couldn't coordinate who was supposed to be talking and who was supposed to be listening. No surprise there - these are the two most talk-ingest kids I have ever met!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I just can't help myself!

Most of you know that my husband is the men's basketball coach at the university where we both work. What you may not know is that we play in an extremely competitive conference, with 4 teams ranked in the top 20 IN THE NATION this year. (We are Division 3, not Division 1, so you'll never see them on TV)

Tonight, my husband's team traveled to Ashland, VA to take on the Yellow Jackets of Randolph Macon College as we do every year. Last week, they were ranked #2 nationwide. This week, they were ranked #9 nationwide. I'm pretty sure that next week, they won't be ranked because...


For the first time since February 1959 - 51 YEARS - our team beat them on their home court. Can you see how wide and bright my smile is right now? I am so proud of and happy for my husband and his team. Go Generals!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Two winners!

When I access the internet, my home page is a page that I set up for myself with links that I use regularly. It also has one of my favorite photos of myself wearing a cowboy hat my mother bought me for Christmas one year - I've always not-so-secretly yearned to be a cowgirl. As you probably noticed, today I changed my Profile photo to this cowgirl photo. It is an older photo, and I am no longer nearly that cute, but I can pretend, right?

My homepage also features a Quote of the Day at the top which changes daily, just something to keep me inspired. You know what today's quote was?

"When I give, I give myself." - Walt Whitman

How appropriate on the day that I am drawing winners for my giveaway! So, as promised, at noon I wrote down on a sheet of paper the names of those who left comments on my 100th post, cut them all apart, and put them in a candy dish that I keep on my desk (the candy dish was empty since I conveniently finished all the candy yesterday afternoon). Then, I went downstairs looking for someone who wouldn't mind having his/her photo taken to pull the winner's name out of the bowl. Here's Kiki - a first-year student at my University who is also our work-study student in the Admissions Office, a wonderfully loud basketball fan, and one of the most helpful and cheerful people you could ever hope to meet - pulling out a name.

Congratulations, Cozy Quilter! Send me your mailing address and I'll pop that fabric in the mail to you.

But wait, do I really want to have to put all that fabric back into the closet? I told Kiki to pull another name, and if this person requested different fabric, then I would send that along, too.
Congratulations, Nancy! And since you can't decide on your favorite, I'm certainly not going to try to decide for you - I'll send you both. I don't need your address - I KNOW where you live! For now anyway...

And today is also a giving day in that I am sending one of my quilts to Kristie, AKA Cowgirl Quilter, to quilt for me as I am hoping to give it as a gift to a special someone later this winter. I've only ever sent one quilt away for quilting, so this is exciting for me. But if I wait until I can hand quilt it to give it away, who knows when that will be. I call this quilt "Calling All Scraps" since I foundation pieced it on pages torn from an old phone book. You can see the shreds of paper at the top of the photo.

I'm pretty sure that this special someone doesn't read my blog, but just in case, I'm not saying anything else for now.

Thanks for reading my blog, everyone. I love the feeling of connection I get when I hear from people all over the globe. Oh, and if you want to see what my homepage/dashboard looks like, you can find it here.

Monday, January 25, 2010

An extra day at home

I woke up to the phone ringing - school closed yet again, this time due to flooding. I thought I would still try to go to work since it is a pretty critical time there for me, but I was thwarted. My first clue was the creek at the bottom of the hill. Here's how it usually looks:

Here's how it looks today.

All the little roadside creeks are raging.

And the road disappeared under the river.

So, I'll be working from home today if my children let me. They are getting a bit of cabin fever; they've been out of school since the middle of the day on Thursday and I have limited their TV time so their brains don't turn to mush. Thank goodness we finished the basement. Right now, they are down there playing sock hockey with swimming noodles as hockey sticks. Socks sure do slide well on Pergo floors!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Rewards - for me and for you

Finally, a day off! Two in a row, actually. Saturday was super busy, with Jason and me testing for our Green Belts in Karate in the morning, followed by Jason's first basketball game, then a trip to the store for groceries and hurrying home to listen to my husband's game on the radio. It was all fun, but it was all a bit exhausting, too, so today, I vowed to not leave the house, my reward for making it through the 12 days straight of work and a day of family time.

First, I finished reading Talk Before Sleep. If you need a good cry, this is your book. If you want to reflect upon the strength of friendships, this is your book. If you are fresh out of tissues, don't even crack open the cover.

Then, I decided to try to make something small, something for me. I see people making tablerunners all over the place, maybe I could do that. I started with a quilt-as-you-go technique with strips - pink and white and red for Valentines Day.

Kinda blah. I feel like it needs something. Perhaps some colorful freehand hearts?

Not really feeling that either. I've set it aside to let it marinate for a while.

Then I found this photo of a quilt I had cut out of somewhere at some time.

I don't really need a whole quilt of pumpkins, but a few on a tablerunner would be fun, right? And I have all these small plaid scraps I've been wanting to use in something. So, I threw this together.

Yeah, the color of the pumpkins isn't right, and you can't even tell they are pumpkins at this point, but I am hoping that quilting will help that. The little 1" x 2" flying geese are made the 3-dimensional way with just one seam, fun for a tablerunner, but probably not so great on a bed quilt - they make for some really thick seams.

So, I came up here to the computer to share the fruits (or vegetables?) of my labor with you, and saw that this is post #100 for me. Isn't that a milestone of some sort? Everyone else has giveaways, I should do one, too. After all, I have gained so much from the world of quilting, and from this blog - new friends, inspiration and encouragement, squishy mail, hours of entertainment - that I should give something back.

But what do I have that anyone else would want? (besides my adorable children, but they are definitely not up for grabs!) I'm not prolific enough to have made anything that I could give, and most of my fabric is scraps. Although, there is that one tub of yardage in the closet...

So, from the days before my self-imposed no-buy, I present you with some of my favorite fabric that I bought with no purpose in mind. It has just been languishing in a dark closet, waiting for inspiration from me to transform it into something special. As a thank you for reading my blog and enriching my creative life, I invite you to leave a comment, with the possibility of winning your choice of one of the following:

1 1/2 yards of Dragons Dancing (I've already made two projects with this fun fabric)

1 yard and a couple inches of SpringView (I can't quite figure out how to use this diagonal print)

1 1/2 yards of this multicolored Yoshiko fabric with golden highlights

2 yards of this Bethany Reynolds Stack-n-Whack fabric (I keep meaning to do one of those)

2 1/3 yards of Jane's Exotic Garden (I can't bring myself to cut into it, perhaps you can)

1/2 yard each of 6 different Stix and Stones fabrics (I had planned to make something bright and graphic, but I haven't gotten to it yet)

I know everyone has different tastes, so I tried to pick some distinct options to choose from. I absolutely love all of these fabrics, which is why I am offering them here - what is the sacrifice if I give something I don't like? All the fabrics are 100% cotton and pre-washed. All have wrinkles because I don't iron much unless I am actually creating with that particular fabric. All are from older fabric lines - I think the most recent purchase was two years ago. My home is smoke-free, and my sewing studio is pet-free, for those of you with allergies.

If you see something you like, leave a comment letting me know which one you prefer, and I will pick a winner at noon EST on Tuesday, January 26 (something to look forward to to break up the work day). If there is something you REALLY want, blog about me and leave another comment, and I'll give you another chance. You do not need to be a follower to win - if you are like me, you are already following more blogs than you can possibly keep up with.

I hope your weekend was a wonderful as mine!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sitting Pretty



I love it! I used some of the Leaders and Enders 1.5" squares that I've been sewing together for years now. Then, of course, I had to sit and sew a couple more Nickelmania blocks on my machine to try out the chair. I am so tickled! It is so ME!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not like me

I am not much of a planner. I usually get inspired to do something and then just do it, whether it is rearrange furniture or take a trip or make a quilt. But when it came time to quilt the borders of my Bright Idea quilt, I was feeling decidedly UN-inspired. So, I rationalized to myself, since this quilt is so angular, perhaps I should try some curved line quilting. But, if you know me, I don't like marking my quilts, so I thought I'd try some freehand curves. Here's the result -blurry, for some reason.

I hate it. So, I decided to try something else on another border.

Much better in my opinion. And it makes me giggle because that jagged zig-zag reminds me of Charlie Brown's shirt. At least, I think it is Charlie Brown that has the zig-zag across his shirt. Anyway, I'm on border two with this freehand design, and I'll be taking out the previous quilting, which is SO UNLIKE me. I despise un-sewing, and I'm a far cry from a perfectionist, so good enough is often OK for me in my quilting. But this curved quilting has got to go! I'll try again on another quilt - I'm determined to do freehand baptist fans on a quilt one of these days, inspired by Tanya Ricucci, do you know of her? Anyway, once the kids are in bed, I'm going to find a movie on TV and knock out some more quilting. Maybe even a 3rd row of zig zags, we'll see.

Oh, and guess what was waiting for me at work this morning, besides piles and piles of work?
A package of fabric from a woman I met last April at a work event in Atlanta who has quit quilting (people actually do that!?!). She sent me her books and scraps after we met, but apparently she was housecleaning at New Years (wait, people actually do that, too!?!) and came across some more fabric so she popped it in the mail to me, just out of the blue. Thank you, Lisa! People's generosity astounds me! I hope people are also being generous towards those who are suffering in Haiti right now. I can't even conceive of what they are going through.

Don't want to end on a sad note, so here's a photo of my little Mr. Fix-it.
He's very handy. I may hire him out. He will work for apples (quartered and with the seeds cut out), or blueberries, or sometimes Cheez-its.

Friday, January 15, 2010

What to say?

People often surprise me. Unfortunately, however, I am usually surprised in a bad way, and find myself asking, "How can someone be that selfish/cruel/ignorant/insensitive?" But every once in a while, someone surprises me in a positive way. Yesterday, I got just that kind of surprise.

There was a package from Em at Em Celebrates waiting for me when I got home. If you read yesterday's post, you know that she also sent a package to my boys. She's obviously a very generous soul. I figure everyone knows I go crazy for scraps, so I assumed that I had a bunch of new scraps to play with in this box.


A quilt!

I was so stunned. No one has ever given me a quilt before. Well, little placemat sized quilts, which I adore, but my very own quilt to snuggle under? Never. I couldn't speak for a moment, and then I started to cry. I guess only a quilter knows how much work and inspiration goes into making a quilt, how much of yourself. And to have someone give that much of herself to me, well, I really don't know what to say. Thank you just doesn't seem like enough. Em, you are a gem.

(The fella under the quilt, that is my father-in-law, Fella. Yup, that's the name he goes by. Anyway, I was amazed at how well the colors of the quilt coordinate with my living room decor - if you can call my mishmash of furniture decor - so I draped it over the couch for a photo. He was napping, and never even woke up! And I left the quilt on him until I went to bed, and which point the quilt went to bed with me. I felt a little silly, carrying it around like a toddler with a security blanket, but I couldn't help myself. I very nearly brought it to work with me today. Not only is it beautiful, but it smells heavenly. Does your whole house smell like that, Em? What is that smell, and how can I make my house smell like that, too?)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Giving Thanks

I was so frustrated at work on Tuesday, that the word "quit" actually escaped my lips. No, I didn't quit, but I was seriously considering it and weighing my options. But, as usual, when I awoke on Wednesday morning, it was with a smile on my face and a whole new attitude. I am so thankful that I never stay down for long. So the theme of this post is giving thanks and being thankful.

First of all, big thanks to Emily at Em Celebrates. I won a giveaway, and she sent a package to my boys - even addressed it to them, much to their elation. Jason pulled out his 11-in-1 Cub Scout tool to cut open the package.

In that, another package.

In that, a bag (very clever, Emily, you kept them going for a while!).

And in that, some fun fabric and a book. Both perfect gifts for my little quilter/readers. Thanks, Emily.

(Do you think I could snip off a couple edges of this cute fabric without them noticing?)

Part of my attitude adjustment yesterday was to actually leave my desk for lunch. I've been working straight through lately, even though I know that isn't healthy, either physically or mentally. I got in the car, and ended up at the Habitat Resale store. I was half-heartedly looking for a bed frame when I came across this chair.

It may not look like much, but it was PERFECT! You see, I snipped this photo out of a magazine recently, hoping to customize a chair or two for my sewing studio.

This sturdy $5 chair already has the previous seat covering removed, so putting a new seat cover on should be a snap. I like the wood, so I don't think I'll paint the chair, but who knows. Oh, and to give credit where credit is due, I was also inspired by a photo from Victoria's BumbleBeans blog. I can't wait to get started. Of course, I have to work all weekend, so I probably won't get a chance to get to this right away. Grrrr! (Be thankful you have a job, Erin, be thankful you have a job...) Perhaps if I just keep repeating that to myself...

And finally, I am thankful that my husband's team won their game last night. They didn't play well, and ended up going into overtime, but a win is a win. Go Generals!

(Who IS that handsome coach!?!)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Silver linings

I try to look for the good in everything. Usually, I am successful.

I learned this week that one of my quilter buddies, Judi AKA Karate Quilter, got engaged (YAY!) and is moving to China (BOO!). That makes 3 quilting buddies moving away in just 2 years. As someone who is used to being the one who moves away, not the one left behind, I am finding this difficult to deal with. So what is the silver lining, you ask? I am the beneficiary of stash reduction measures as she packs up to move - woo hoo!
I'd rather have her stay, but I'll settle for her stash scraps.

I played around a bit more with the Nickelmania blocks from this weekend's workshop. I still haven't chosen a layout, but I'm having a great time exploring my options.

Of course, I'm not sure when I'll get to play with it again. I'm off to work shortly, and I am working 12 days straight. Ugh! Sew a little extra for me, won't you?


I should be further along hand quilting my Bright Idea quilt, but I've been distracted. First, I stumbled upon a blog of a wonderful wonky quilter, Emily at Em Celebrates, and have lost myself in enjoying her quilts and her adventures. It's funny, I've seen several of her quilts before on Judi's blog, Green Fairy Quilts, but I didn't come upon her blog through Judi. Anyway, upon going back through her entries, I found a quilt that really spoke to me, and immediately thought I could do something like that to use up some of the yo-yos I inherited a while ago (envision yo-yo flowers in urns or vases). I started putting some blocks together trying to stay within a certain color scheme - green, purple and tan/gold (don't ask me why).
I like the blocks, but I don't really like the colors. Do I continue?

Luckily, I didn't have to decide because our Guild had a Nickelmania workshop today with Ann Littleton, using up 5" charm squares that we've been trading in our Guild. Ann brought lots of samples of layouts using the 4-patches and HST that we were making:

Of course, I challenged myself to come up with a layout different from all those presented. Perhaps something on the diagonal. Here are the layouts I played with:

I'm itching to go down to the studio and whip up some more blocks so I can flesh these ideas out a bit. But first, I leave you with some photos of Jason, who sat on the bench with the team today and kept track of the score and timeouts and other basketball-y stuff. For those of you who know my husband, doesn't he look JUST LIKE HIM? Gorgeous! You'd think I had nothing to do with his creation...well, except for the poor kid's height. Mea culpa.