Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

I Grow Weary ov dis World

I turned around in the office and caught Gracie doing this yesterday morning (2/28). I quickly grabbed my camera and snapped a picture. She's being absolutely lazy resting her chin upon the windowsill and gazing out onto the world. My sentiments exactly.

Monday, February 27, 2012

About the House

Due to circumstances we cannot live with, we are walking away from the house. There are just one too many issues that we just cannot deal with. So, we are moving on. I will not be looking for new houses. I need a break from it all. However, Dan will be still looking for a house as he is not giving up.

Once I have recovered from the madness of arranging inspections along with a short road trip this past weekend to see my Mother (her birthday is Tuesday), I think life, including blogging, will return to normal.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sporadic Postings from Hereon

This blog will have sporadic postings from hereon as we officially have a signed contract for a house! I want to thank those of you who commented wishing us luck in the house hunting. I really appreciated them!

Now, it is onto the inspections and more. We already have one lined up today for around 2:00pm. If anything major comes (other than the one we know about and investigated), we can still walk away. But honestly, I suspect the house is in pretty good shape -- I will be surprised if anything major does come up in the reports.

I am getting really excited; but, I am also trying to rein myself back because I do not wish to be disappointed should something come up and cause us to walk away from the house. It has been over two years since we first started house hunting. We have gotten disappointed several times. We also took breaks at the end of the years due to the busy holidays.

If this blog is silent, you know why. I will try not to neglect it much as I do love to write and blog.

I will be taking pictures sooner or later. If we should really get this house, there are four major projects we want or need to do to the house. I guess this means there will be new things to blog about if this comes through for us!

Anyway, thank you for your understanding as we hopefully enter this new phase of our lives.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordy Wednesday


I wanted to retreat like Hobbes; but, I went down and survived the tubular slide!

'nuff said.

PS Dan was Calvin in the comics as he was the one that persuaded me to go down this slide.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Second Completed Quilt

Note: The word 'completed' is the key. I have made a trip-around-the-world quilt that is currently basted and waiting to be quilted. It is the one (and most likely the only) quilt that is being hand quilted. The top to that quilt was completed before this one I am about to talk about.

Thimbleberries Book of Quilts by Lynette Jensen

In the year 1996 or 1997, I came across this book. The copyright is 1995 and it is published by Rodale Books. I was surprised I still have this book. But then, I have a tendency to hoard books. So, this should not have surprised me at all.
I think this pattern along with a Tabletop Tree Skirt pattern is the only reason why I bought the book. I knew I wanted to make my Dad this Birdhouse Row quilt because he loved birds. I also thought it would be easy to make.

Anyway, I set out to collect all kinds of bird fabrics. I also hunted for just the right fabrics to use in the quilt top. I even purchased fabric that would be humorous and make him smile. I actually started making the center of the quilt either late spring or early summer of 1997. And, I started before I even found the border fabrics. I am that type of person, the fabrics have to be just right and sometimes meaningful.
Here is the top all in it's glory. By the way, the picture isn't all the great due to both the lighting and the fact it was breezy.

Dad loved this quilt and cherished it. When the quilt returned to me after he passed away, it was soft. So, I knew he used it some even though he had it folded and put up most of the time.
Here is some fabric which I considered humorous. It was the perfect shade of red; but, it had chickens! Chickens do not use birdhouses! Bwahaha! haha. ha? Ahem. This fabric was used in the top right, center and bottom left birdhouses in the quilt top.

By the way, when I made the birdhouse blocks, I did not realize that they were bigger than the pattern indicated until I set out to trim them. I learned my lesson from this experience. Always measure the first block to make sure it is the right size. Anyway, the birdhouse blocks were all the exact same size. So, I set out to use them. That is how I roll. The end result is the quilt was bigger than the finished size quilt in the book.

I remember hand sewing some of the circles on while camping at Garner. I had to do them while making sure Dad could not see what I was doing. I wanted to complete the quilt before Christmas.

I had completed the center part of the quilt before I even found the border fabric. It took some time before I found perfect fabrics to use. Once I saw them, I knew they were perfect.
I actually found the inner border fabric after I found the outer border. As you can see, the outer border has stars. Dad was very patriotic. It was the right shade of brown too. So, I knew it was perfect.

When I came across the inner border fabric, I knew it was just right. It was the perfect shade of blue not to mention that it looked like branches or twigs that could be used in a bird's nest.

I immediately set about piecing the borders on. When I started piecing the borders, I realized that I didn't have enough for the binding. This was another lesson learned. I now always buy much more than patterns indicate just to be safe. Some time had passed since I made the purchase. This was back in the days when shops were just getting started online. I hunted and hunted for this same outer border fabric. I finally found some at a quilt shop online. I had them put yardages on hold for me, immediately set out to the shop which was quite a drive and was so happy to see the fabric! It was such a relief!
The backing was so much easier to make! I did some figuring and calculated what size squares I would need to make the backing. As you can see, I was a little off in my calculations. But, it only the backing. So, it didn't matter to me that much.

By the way, I fussy cut some squares.

There is that humor again with the chickens. But hey, it had a 'goose' too.

Dad loved ducks too

When I set out to quilt this quilt, I had broken my left wrist again. The doctor did not take X-rays because he didn't think it was broken. It hurt so bad though. I tried to tough it out for a couple weeks and ended up going back. He took x-rays. Lo and behold, it was indeed broken. But, the doctor said there was nothing they can do. Say what? I said I will see about that as I did not want to live with that kind of pain. FYI: I am a lefty and use this hand so much!

I ended up going to an orthopedic doctor that my mother had. I took the x-rays with me. He had MRIs done and it was discovered there was extensive ligament and tendon damage which was the cause of my extraordinary pain. He also speculated that since I had broken this same wrist as a child that the bone never really healed. Instead, the bone chip was manipulated to where it rested upon the main bone but never bonded together. So, when I injured the wrist again, the bone chip just pulled away from the main bone along with the ligaments and tendons. The doctor wanted me to do therapy first before attempting surgery as adding more scar tissue is not a good thing. It turned out that therapy worked. I now have a bone chip 'floating' around in my wrist and as long as I keep the muscles strong, it does not give me any trouble.

But, in the meantime, I was in pain and could not machine quilt this quilt. It was getting so close to Christmas and I was determined to get it done. I ended up enlisting Dan's help by holding and moving the quilt while I machine quilted it in the ditch. It wasn't perfect. But, we got it done! I managed to get the binding sewn on just in time for Christmas of 1997!

An awful picture of me sewing the binding onto the quilt with Chessie who was still a kitten

I did not get any pictures of Dad with the quilt on Christmas day. But, I made him bring out the quilt about three months later and I took pictures of him with it for documentation sake. Everyone was BIG on documenting quilts with labels and pictures way back then.
{The date on these pictures was March 14, 1998}

I hope you all enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I was going to keep it short; but, it turned into a long epic story.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Link Roundup

  • Country Junktion February’s BOM Quilting; Free download {February only!}

  • Pincushion Tutorial Sewing (a tad)
    Uses cookie cutters.

  • Sundae’s Best Pincushion Tutorial
    This uses a pedestal ice cream sundae dish and is way too cute!

  • Tool Time Tuesday: Chicken Feeder for Sewing
    Pincushion in center and “storage” in outer holes. I think this is really neat! And, it sounds frugal!

  • Gardening with Chickens
    Note: I am following a few blogs about chickens because I would love to have chickens someday (along with bees). So, I’m learning what I can about chickens. I wonder if the book the blog author mentioned is any good. She also mentioned a giveaway the publisher is having. Yes, I entered. Ha!

  • 3 types of goals you need to murder today
    Actually, I’d encourage you to murder a few of your resolutions this month.


    Because goals you don’t really intend to meet become anchors.

    They become tall tangled weeds that grow up around the goals you actually care about.

    They become distractions and sources of guilt, and they’re just getting in the way.
    if you’ve got some fake goals squatting on your list, don’t be nice to them. Don’t let them tell you why you’ll maybe, eventually, really care about them or how they’re great goals.

    Kill them. Kill them now. Kill them with fire.

    Your time is too valuable to be spent pursuing something that doesn’t matter.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's State of Affairs: A Finish!

With all that is going on in my life, I am amazed I managed to finish the backing to the Layer Cake quilt. We have been running around looking at houses and whatnot. I have also started up some work to be done around the house. My finger is real sore from doing book keeping yesterday and today not to mention balancing the checkbook which was a nightmare! Yes, I am old fashioned. I fear the death of ALL hard drives; so, I keep a paper record. Ha!

Anyway, Amy's Creative Side puts up a "One Thing, One Challenge" periodically. When she put one up last week, I decided to pursue the goal of "finishing up the backing" to the Layer Cake quilt. And, I managed to finish it in the nick of time!

I apologize for this poor quality picture. I did not have my handy dandy assistant to hold it up for me and it is currently dark and gloomy due to the weather. Anyway, it is done! finished! terminado! finito! I am so happy!

Here's a sneak peek into what I am doing next:

What in the world am I going to do? You will have to wait and see. Ha!

PS I just noticed that the colors are appropriate for Valentine's day. For those of you who celebrate this day, I hope it is/was a wonderful one! We do not celebrate this day much as we feel that everyday is Valentine's day. We are so blessed.

And now, I am off to rush and get ready to leave. We are going to view two houses. That should be fun in this weather. NOT!

Friday, February 10, 2012

WIP: Layer Cake Quilt Backing

I am slowly but surely making progress on backing for the Layer Cake quilt. It is wonderful to get back into the sewing room without any other worries nagging in the back of my mind. Sometimes, I just cannot relax unless other chores, goals and whatnot are done around the house first. But, after the office purge was completed, I gave myself a week off to do whatever I please. This does not mean that I am neglecting the household chores though. I still cook dinner, do the laundry, etc., and etc. I am just not letting the other things get to me.

Anyway, I ironed and trimmed up the blocks for the lone strip going down the backing on Tuesday and Wednesday. But, before sewing the blocks up, I decided to do an exercise. I wanted to check on the color values. The way I did this was to take a picture:
Note: The shadow on the bottom portion of the quilt is cast by my sewing cabinet and cutting table.

I then cropped the picture to focus only on the strip of blocks:
It looks pretty good, does it not? I then converted the picture to a black and white format:
This helps you see the tonal (color) value of each fabric. I did see two problem areas. One near the top and one near the bottom. Let us look at the top problem area first -- the seventh and eighth strip:
These two strips are from two different blocks not yet sewn together. They look really close in tonal value. If it was in a quilt block itself, I would probably change out one or the other because I would want the block to 'pop'. Remember, this was just an exercise for me to learn more about concept(s). I did not bother changing it up because this was just a strip of fabrics I wanted to use up for the backing.

Take a look at the cropped color picture above. Do you see how that area looks "blah"? I believe this is due to the fact they are very close in tonal value in spite of the fabric having different colors (brown and blue). The only thing that seems to save this area is the slight difference in the scale of prints.

Now, on to the second problem area, which is near the bottom:
Yikes! Again, these two strips are from two different blocks not yet sewn together. I found it interesting the two are essentially the same tonal value in spite of one being brown and the other blue. I think it did not help that they essentially had the same scale in prints. If this was for a quilt block, I definitely would take one or the other out and replace it with a different fabric.

This exercise was valuable for future design of quilts. I think I will do this in the future for all the fabrics I choose for blocks and/or quilts before cutting into them. After all, I would want my quilt(s) to 'pop' instead of just being "blah". Also, I learned that I should not rely upon my instincts alone and use the tools that are available to us quilters. Yes, a camera is a tool.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordy Wednesday

Today's picture is brought to you by...

Chessie and Gracie

Yes, yet another picture of the cats. Stop that groaning. I can almost hear you all groan. ha!

Amazingly enough, these two are getting along rather well these days. Occasionally, Chessie gets a brain fart and goes after Gracie like she is an enemy and must die. Gracie can defend herself rather well in spite of being a tripod; but, I would prefer that they do not get into spats since Chessie is almost twice the size of Gracie. I am afraid that she might actually hurt Gracie one of these days.

Chessie and Gracie were spying on the next door neighbor's cat on this particular day. It used to be a pampered indoor cat. Now, it is an outdoor cat and looking rather scruffy these days. I feel so sorry for the critter because it has been kicked out of the house. But, it is what it is.

Do you see that crate Chessie is sitting on? Well, I set that up for her because she does not fit well on the windowsill. She can now gaze out the window to her heart's content. I also set up another crate on the floor to make it easy for her to get up to where she is at in the picture. She's will be 15 this summer and it is getting difficult for her to jump up to where she wants to go. She is so spoiled that she has even taken over a step stool to get up on top of the safe (where she has a favorite bed).

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Office Purge

I believe I have mentioned that I haven't taken much in the way of pictures due to an office cleanup and purge. I have not done much sewing or crafting either due to this reason.
We can now fit comfortably in the office. Gracie is very happy because it is the one place she feels very safe. The small cat tree fits perfectly under the windowsill. Dan can pick up playing his Banjo again. And, I am no longer going insane from the madness of boxes, crap, and whatnot. I took pictures of everything except the last Goodwill trip. Here is proof that we did do a major purge.
I recycle papers at a nearby school. I call it "the dump" because it is where we can dump papers, newspapers and cardboard into community dumpsters to be recycled. Note: The 30-gallon bag on the left is full of shredded papers from the filing cabinets and more.
This is the second trip. We got rid of tons of paper along with some cardboard boxes, did we not?
Our first Goodwill trip. Note: I forgot to take pictures of the second trip to Goodwill which was two and half boxes full.

Did you know that Dell and Goodwill have a partnership where they accept most computer equipment of any brand? We donated an ancient Hewlett Packard printer several months ago with no questions asked. Anyway, Dan donated several ancient laptops he was hanging onto. The Cheer box in the picture above contained tons of computer equipment and power cords. I am real proud of Dan for getting rid of what he did. He still held onto a few things that he thinks he can use in his future office. He really wants a multiple computers setup someday.
These are all books plus a few software and music CDs. By the way, for most of the software we own, I keep the original packages along with papers.

We took these boxes to Half Price Books yesterday. We were both surprised that the store bought everything. (I had told them that whatever they cannot buy, please give them back because we can take them to Goodwill.) We gained $52.50 for all five of these boxes.

Before anyone gets on my case about Half Price Books not being a good place to sell back books, let me tell you that I already know this fact. I am just not inclined to take the time to sell them individually over the internet. It is a lot of work to set up online sales, box up the book(s), and ship them to the buyer(s). At least, this way we get a tad back for the books and I know people will be able to buy them cheaper and still enjoy the books.

These pictures do not reflect the tons of trash we threw out too.

Are you not proud of us for decrapifying our lives? Yes. I know 'decrapifying' is not a legit word; but, it should be one. Ha!

Maybe now life can return to normal? Yeah, right. The next major room to go through is the Master Bedroom and I am NOT looking forward to that project. I am taking a week off before beginning the work in that room. I will not be taking pictures this time around; but, believe you me, there will be a major purge of clothes from dressers and the closet. I also need to go through the bookcases and the Master Bathroom.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Link Roundup

First of all, I’d want to tell you about a couple new sweepstakes I have come across.
  1. Recipe Kitchen: $25,000 Kitchen Makeover Sweepstakes
  2. Better Homes & Gardens: Room Refresh Sweepstakes
I realize that these are not quilting or crafting related. But, we have resumed our house hunting. There is a possibility we may land a home soon and it would be lovely to win $25,000 towards a kitchen makeover because the house we are interested in definitely needs a brand new kitchen! And, the other sweepstakes ($5,000) would be cool to win because some of the rooms need updating/refreshing. Note: it is highly unlikely that we will land the house we are looking at as we have entered a bidding war for the property. At least, I am not getting my hopes up for the home.

Anyway, please check out the Giveaways Tab above for more details on the giveaway I just mentioned.

Moving on.

  • Pincushion Jar Tutorial Sewing (a tiny bit); Crafting
    Uses a short wide mouth jar – too cute!

  • Monster Hat Crochet Pattern Free; for toddlers and young children.

  • Linky Followers
    A new alternative to Google Friend Connect, which is being phased out because Google wants to force all bloggers to use Google+. Linky Followers is still in beta form. In other words, it is still undergoing testing and may possibly have bugs (problems). It is also still a diamond in the rough -- it needs shaping up which will most likely occur over time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Wordy Wednesday: After the Storms

I woke up to tons of lightning one night. Dan said the wind was fierce and he thought he heard the chairs were blowing about. When I got up in the morning (January 25), this is what I found in the backyard.
The stalk from the Agave plant fell over. Yes, it's dead. It's been dead for a very long time. We just didn't know what to do. We still don't know. We tried pulling it out by ourselves; but, it's still rooted to the ground. It has since settled to almost being horizontal to the ground. We told the landlord about the plant; but, she's doesn't seem too concerned. I'm thankful that it fell on our side of the backyard instead over the fence into the neighbor's yard. In the meantime, what to do? What to do?