Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year


We picked up a bottle of Asti so we can bring in the new year with a toast.

I am not a drinker. My last taste of booze was at my sister's wedding 4 or 5 years ago. And it was Asti Spumante. Sure hope this is the same stuff. I don't drink wine, just like I don't drink vinegar. I find it icky. I don't even like it in that little thimble sized cup you get at communion. I want a sweet drink and I remember the champagne at my sister's wedding was pretty good.

We may not make it until midnight before going to sleep but we will toast the new year. It is bound to be better than 2008.



Happy New Year everyone.

Day 14: Roof Leak

Terry called about six roofing contractors today and only one called him back. So Gilley's roofing will be coming by the house on Friday, January 2nd to assess the damage and give us an estimate to fix the problem. I don't imagine that it will be more than $2,000. Sure hope not, anyway. I just want him to fix it, certify that it is fixed in writing and give us a warranty for his work. In the interest of full disclosure, I want to prove that we got it fixed.

The inside roof leak contractors will be coming to remove their noisy machines from the containment chamber tomorrow, yes New Year's Day, we will have a contractor at our house. Amazing.

Once the outside roof is fixed, then we will get the inside-guys to come back and replace the ceiling and hopefully by then, we will have located 2 or 3 boxes of Pergo engineered wood in the color ginger.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas in Phoenix





It was loud. There was too much food. We all had a blast.



My brother, Jeff, and his family drove up from Texas/New Mexico. They got stuck in Lordsburg, NM for 2 hours on the freeway for some event that was cleared by the time they got there, just a horrible backup of traffic.










Our trip was not without hassle, see my previous blog entry. We had 2 super-heroes on hand, Super Hunter and Super Gavin and Ballerina Madison and my son Jacob and his wife Dana.



My son Ben, the one giving me the skunk eye, flew down from Oakland. It is always good to be with family during the holidays. Just wish it was easier to do.


My sister, Kathy, lives in Scottsdale so she just had to clean house and get ready for 30 people. My brother-in-law's (Fred) family lives there and they were invited to the big soiree. Fred's mother, 80-something, and his grand-daughter 23 months old shows the span of generations that were there.

I think the next one of these family gatherings should be at my new house when I retire. I'll clean house and then relax. No plane, no car, etc.

Day 13: Roof Leak

We got back from Phoenix on Sunday (12/28) and the Am-Tec folks came 12/29 to pull up the "wet" wood floor. Well, the concrete (under the floor) is still wet. What that means is that wood that was not previously wet can wick the water out of the concrete and become wet. So more of my wood floor is getting pulled up than we expected. They have to run the dehydrator (with drain hose) and fan again. Since they put plastic over the 6 x 8 foot hole in the ceiling, the air is not going up into the attic, so it just buffets around in the plastic room. It sounds noisier to me than last time they used it.


More bad news, the claims adjuster told us that he can't find the flooring in San Diego. We went to Lowe's ourselves and were told that Pergo went into Lowe's a few months ago and encouraged them to deep-discount their on-hand stock of engineered wood. I sure wish that I had known that, I would have bought a couple boxes for emergencies. Then Pergo went in last month and pulled the remaining engineered wood stock on hand. They left the laminate stuff there. I think that Pergo is coming out with a new product and they are pulling the old stuff so they can sell the new stuff. The guy at Lowes could not confirm. This is only my theory.

But this much is fact, I bought Pergo engineered wood floor 2 years ago. I could have gotten the laminate and saved a thousands of $$. But prospective home-buyers in my neighborhood expect the real stuff, not laminate. We also chose Pergo because of their reputation and the 25 year fully-transferrable warranty. That warranty means that if something happens to the floor, I will be able to buy/install/fix it with the same product. So where is that product? Where did Pergo hide their flooring?

The other alternative discussed with my husband is that the insurance would replace the flooring with a different product within line of sight of the damage. When I step into the house and take 4 paces, I can see just about see all the wood. The foyer runs into the living room (straight ahead) and 40 feet down a 4.5 foot wide hallway (on the right) and into the dining room on the left.

This so-called "line of sight" equals about 1100 sq ft of the house. We had to stay in a hotel (dog in the kennel), when the wood was installed 2 years ago. Then it smelled of glue for weeks afterwards. It was a giant-sized hassle...or so I thought. If I could have seen down the road to the current hassle, I would have had carpet installed. Just shoot me.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

If a man drives 60 miles an hour, how long will......

It was a good idea. Well, I thought it was. We go to Phoenix every couple of years. My brother and his extended family come up from Texas and our family meets them at my sister's house in Scottsdale. It's like a mini-reunion. I thought that it would be too hard on my two youngest grands (Gavin - 3 yrs and Madison, almost 2)to sit in a car for the 6-hour drive from San Diego to Phoenix. I convinced my daughter-in-law to take the 55 minute flight with me and the 2 smallest kids. My husband, son, and 6 year old grand could drive the car with the luggage and gifts in it. It did not work out the same in reality as I had planned it in my head.

First, we drove to our son's house, loaded up the car and the "big boys" took off for Phoenix. Dana, the 2 kids and I drove to the airport. Well, that is where things started to go wrong. I went to 3 different satellite parking lots and they were all FULL. I finally threw myself at the mercy of one attendent who allowed us to double park on the lot as long we we left our keys there. Okey, dokey.

The shuttle took all of us, including 2 car seats, to the airport. We cleared security, no problem and went to the gate at Southwest thinking that we would be able to pre-board so we could set up the child seats and put us all together. Our boarding passes were A45-A48. Well, the rules have apparently changed on Southwest. No pre-boarding of families.

What??? The gate agent was too busy to explain other than "Get in line with your boarding pass". So does Southwest think that eliminating pre-boarding for families is supposed to be faster? I assume that their metered pole positions (A 1-59, B 1-59) is an effort to improve their old reputation as running a cattle car airline. But the wheels seem to have come off the wagon when it comes to their thinking about traveling with children. It takes a few minutes to setup a car seat in an airplane, buckle 2 separate seatbelt systems and get the kid in the chair. Hopefully all that can be done BEFORE the rest of the passengers are standing behind you waiting to find a seat. The child safety seats must occupy a window seat so we had to sit on 2 different sides of the plane, though thankfully, in the same row. And of course, a crowd always brings out the worst in a Terrible 2 year old and a Tumultuous 3 year old.

I found out later, that families are allowed to board between the A group and the B group. Of course, that means that as many as 59 people get on the plane before you do. Oh, and if it is a continuing flight, then there are already people on the plane before anybody on the ground starts boarding. So, would my grand-daughter end up sitting next to some stranger?

I also found out later that Southwest now has a Business Select class ticket. For a small fee ($18 on a $148 ticket, so 12%), you are given a low numbered A boarding pass so you get to board before the rest of the coach travelers. Hmmm, so essentially family pre-boarding has been sold out for pay-to-pre-board. Shame on you, Southwest Airlines.

OK, rant complete.

I googled directions from the Phoenix Sky Harbor airport to our hotel. My son, flying in from Oakland, and we planned to meet him so he could ride with us in the rental car. Phoenix has moved their rental car to an off-site location. Well, really it's an off-off-off-site location. So we grabbed the rental car shuttle to the off-site rental location and off we went. I wish that I had known that the rental car location was 3 miles or so from the airport. Yeah, those google directions were a waste.

So I called my sister for directions. Unfortunately, she was at the store and I had to try to get directions from my brother-in-law. Why do men say things like
"Go north on University..."

Me: "Oh, let me check my handy dandy compass to make sure that I am going north. OK, we are on University crossing 24th street near the 202 freeway. "

He says "Great, jump on 202 and you'll be here in, blah, blah, blah..."

By then I was screaming into the phone, "202 East or 202 West"

"Huh" he says.

"I'll call you back" I said thinking that I would just wait until my sister got home and call back. I pulled into the first business I found which was a market in the barrio. I went in and got directions. And yes, I was the only weda (white woman) in the place.

We missed a couple turns and had to back-track but we finally made it to the hotel.

Standing in the lobby were my husband, son and grandson. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pinwheels On Point by Susan Baker


OK, this was a challenging quilt. It is a great pattern for Layer Cake fabrics, though. It was a Susan Baker class. I didn't much like it at first. I'm not that great a piecer so this one was a challenge. I finally finished the blocks during a Finish It Friday session at our local quilt shop.

I tried to assemble it on the design wall but could not figure it out so I pulled it down. It was destined to be yet another UFO. Martha, at the CraZy 9 Patch put it back up on the design wall so I could take a photo of the layout. And I still messed it up, ripped it out, repieced, ripped...well, you get it.

So I was finally finished with it and it is growing on me now. I like it. So I took it back to the C9P and showed it off. It took Martha 10 seconds to see the error. Can you spot my humility block?

Day 8: Roof Leak

So we left work early (translated = took vacation time) to be home when the roof people and the insurance adjuster were supposed to arrive. Well, the claims guy called 5 minutes before the roof guy to say he/they were delayed. Isn't that always the way it goes. If I was sitting here in my nightgown, they would be ringing my doorbell an hour before their appointment time.

The dehydrator and fan has been pointed up into the attic for five days now. Rolando, the indoor guy used his moisture detector thingy to test the attic drywall and rafters and declared they are dry. The wood floor was not so lucky, more specifically, the wood floor is still holding moisture. The water from the dehydrator has been draining into a tube, up the inside wall and out thru the rafter vent into my gardenia bed. Hmmm. The adjuster wanted to get onto the roof but "hello" it is dark. If you had been here when you were supposed to be.......

The adjuster thinks that maybe he recommend that they sand my 2 year old engineered wood floor vice replacing the 6 x 8 foot section that got wet. What are the chances that they will get the color exactly right. The wood floor makes up 1100 sq ft of the house. So why couldn't the roof leak in one of the bedrooms where there is carpeting? Grrrr.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Cookie Meme

So what exactly is a meme?

The Blog Meme
A blog meme is a type of Internet meme that requires active participation by the blogger and rarely traces back to an originating source. It's often a series of questions that a blogger answers to share some personal perspective or experience on random topics.

December 18th was Bake Cookies Day - I Totally Missed It

Do you make Christmas or holiday cookies each year? Not exactly, I make macaroons. I also make caramel popcorn balls and fudge

What is your favorite kind of cookie? Pinwheel cookies (store bought) were always my favorite. Then at age 34, I stopped eating things with flour when diagnosed with full blown Celiac's disease. No flour (includes pasta, bread, cake, breaded foods, most processed foods (loaded with fillers) and of course, cookies. Sonow I love and bake macaroons (no flour).

Do you prefer rolled cookies, cut-out cookies, drop cookies or bars? Drop

What is your best cookie recipe?
Macaroons
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1 14 oz package of name-brand coconut (don't cheap out or cookies will flatten when baked)
1 and 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
1 teasooon of vanilla

Combine ingredients. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drop macaroon batter by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes. Allow to cool on parchment paper (5 minutes). When bottom of macaroon is hard enough to move with a spatula, move to cooling rack.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tutu Extravaganza

I think that every little girl is told that she is a princess from the time she is born. And of course, they believe it. Actually some never outgrow that belief.

What little girl has not ventured into Mommy's closet and found such treasures as high heels, colorful scarves and jewelry. As little girls, we are pampered, we play dress up and learn how to pose and preen in front of mirrors. That sweet princess ideal is continued by ballet lessons and tap or cheer classes. When you ask a little girl what she wants to be when she grows up, ballerina is always pretty close to the top of the list. That would be a job where you could play dress-up all the time. Who wouldn't love that job?

On one of the blogs that I visit regularly, Jackie's Quilting, I saw a photo of a little girl in coveralls - she was wearing a tutu. It was adorable. On Jackie's blog was a link to a web-site on How-To for tutus. It is a You Tube video showing the easy steps to make a tutu. My grand-daughter, Madison, is not quite two years old and is all girl. I decided that I just had to try making a tutu for her. The How-To explained it all, 4 yrds of tulle, 3.5 yds of ribbon and scissors. I could just imagine Maddy wearing that tutu on Christmas morning. Then I thought of her cousins, 4 year old Lily and 5 year old Alana and knew that they would love a tutu also. It was so easy, it took me less than an hour to make the first one in 2 shades of pink. The second one was for Alan, the 5 year old cousin, and I bought 2 shades of blue for her tutu. Petite Lily's tutu has all four colors in it. I think that they will love them. Thank you Jackie for the idea and Carrie Grace for the video.

I made my first tutu during a night-time Sit-n-Sew session at the local quilt shop, The Crazy 9 Patch. All the quilters in the class oooh'd and ahhhh'd over the tutus. I went home that night and made the other two tutu's.

I took all three of the tutu's into the quilt shop the next day and we had a little fashion show. OK, now you remember that I said that all girls grow up thinking that they are princesses. And some of them never outgrow that belief.

You give a grown woman a tutu with a satin ribbon and stand back and watch the fun. Most of them automatically went into ballerina pose. It's part of our gender make-up. Plus, all girls love to laugh. The owner, Martha, and worker-bee, Kimmie, along with some of the CraZy 9 Patch staff who came by all got a chance to wear a tutu. Kimmie even had her daughter Katy, home from college, wear a tutu. Jody, Danielle, Dawnell, Debbie, Marilynn and of course, me, all donned tutus and struck ballerina poses for our photos. I laughed until I cried. It was so much fun.














Update on the rain


OK, a crew from American Technologies arrived promptly on Saturday morning to assess our roof leak. The next storm is due on Tuesday so there is no time to waste. The crew used meters to determine the moisture level on the wood floors. It was a much bigger area than I first thought. They did this assessment on the walls and ceiling, too.

As they were doing that, the second crew from Am-Tec arrived to work on the roof. The entire house, except for the garages, is all on one level. The foyer is 2 stories tall, though. They found a hole in the tile roof over what is the foyer. That seems very odd since the foyer is about 30 feet from the ceiling leak. I hope that does not indicate that there are other leaks that we just can't see. We checked the house the day we discovered the leak and found only the ones in the studio. Water leaking in a house is scary especially if you cannot see it. If you don't know it's there, you can't fix it. And if you cannot fix it, it can cause mold down the road. Nobody wants that. Though I am worried about the extent of the damage, we are anxious for them to take care of the entire problem.

So the outdoor crew put up a temporary brace and sand bags with clear plastic covering parts of the foyer roof, and across the roof area of the living room to the back. (Yeah, no blue tarps, thank you very much.)


The indoor crew removed the dry wall from the ceiling in a 7' x 8' section of the studio. The studio is really my living room. We had to move the longarm to the other side of the room. The machine feet were placed on thick wool carpets when we moved the machine from the second master to the living room. We moved it in there several months ago to accomodate my son's family moving in with us. They moved out a few months ago but we have just not moved the machine back to the old studio. We had planned to use that second master while we were getting our master bath remodeled. Hmmm, we may have to revise our plans.

I think we may need to move the machine back to the second master pretty soon as there is no way to quilt in that room in its current state. Plus, when the wood floor is replaced, that will be a mess, sanding, glue smell, yikes. We had the wood floors put in 2 years ago in April. The glue smell was so bad that we opened the windows and left them open for several days and nights. With the current weather, that will not be possible.

So while all this was going on, I sought refuge at the local quilt shop. When I got home, I found a huge plastic room in my living room/studio. If you've ever seen Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo in the movie Outbreak, you will know how I felt. The plastic room is about 8 feet by 9 feet floor to ceiling. The ceiling drywall and insulation have been removed so I'm sure, if you were so inclined, you could see right up to the joists in the attic. There is a machine inside the chamber which hums, a dehumidifier and fan, I think. It runs all the time. The chamber has a zippered door.

We live in the country so we have always known that we share our house with small creatures in the winter. Mice, roof rats, etc come into the attic out of the cold. I do not like it but thus far we have not been able to determine how the little vermin get into the attic. They have never gotten into the house. Of course, they have never had a 7 x 8 foot hole in the living room through which to enter either. The indoor crew assured me that the critters, (if there are any in the attic with all the fan blowing in there) will be contained by the plastic chamber. And yes, I am checking it frequently.

Am-Tec will be back on Tuesday to assess the next step.This is the wrong time of the year for this kind of problem. Well, it is never the right time to have a roof problem. But the holidays are a time for relaxing and enjoying time with your family.

Now that I say that, I remember that several of my quilting buddies in Oregon and New York are suffering through bad storms, fallen trees, loss of electricity and way worse problems than I am. I'll pray for their calamities and I'll try to deal more quietly with mine. Merry Christmas one and all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

All that rain

It's been raining for 3 or 4 days. It's not a downpour, just a steady rain. But, apparently it was too much rain for my 8 year old house. The roof leaked and it was raining in my living room. Since we work all day, there is no way of knowing how long the rain sat on the new wood floor in my living room. Grrrr. We sopped up the water, laid down a sheet of plastic with a layer of towels on top of that and then a couple of buckets and went to bed. No dripping in the morning, thank goodness and we had blue skies yesterday.

After work, yesterday, the ceiling looked like it was drying. I had been smart enough to mark the spot where it was wet the night before. It looked like the damage was not going to be too bad. So we pulled up the bucket, towels and plastic and that is when I saw the warped flooring. Our house is on a slab so we have engineered wood flooring. It's not laminate. This stuff can be sanded but it is not the solid wood used when you have a crawl space under your house. We waited so long to get wood put in the house. We talked ourselves out of putting it in the kitchen when we did the rest of the house. We were worried about potential water damage if the wood floor got wet. We never thought about the living room floor getting wet. I just want to cry. We're waiting to hear from the insurance company now.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's just a tree

For the first 20 years of marriage we used the same fake tree that I bought on sale at Spiegel catalog. We finally retired it after many years of good service.

I wanted the smell of fresh tree in the house for the holidays. You can smell that wonderful pine as soon as you walk in the house. We did that for 3 years. Watering every day, vacuuming everyday and disposal were less than wonderful. So the warm glow of Christmas wore off pretty quick.

We went to a larger fake tree with the lights already on it. Hmm, that sure eliminates a lot of the burned out bulbs on strings angst that happens every year. We love that tree, set up is easy. It only takes a few minutes to arrange the branchs to cover the bare spots made by laying flat for 11 months in the garage. Then we decorate it with our wonderful decorations. I have decos from our first Christmas together (1976), baby's first Christmas (1980 and 1982), and when the kids were boys in school. Every year Terry has been faithful about buying an ornament that represents that year for us. Some light up, some bubble and some are engraved with names and significant dates.

So we set up the tree. But the ornaments are in Hyloft garage storage that we could not reach thanks to our newest addition to the garage, our son's sand dune buggy (plus trailer). Undaunted, Terry went out and got 3 new ornaments for the tree for this year. We figured that we would get our son to come over and move his dune buggy and grab our decorations stored above it. Great idea.

Jake (son), Dana (wife), and 3 grands came over this week-end looking for their fake Christmas tree stored, where else?, at my house. After moving things (read dune buggy) around, they retrieved our box of decorations from the high storage area and found their tree. They did not find their decorations. Hmmmm.

Yeah, I know, but they need decorations and we do not. So they hesitantly took our box of decorations. My grands need to see our family decos on a tree. I loved that idea. Besides we just bought 3 new decos, right? And where are those new decos....

This really sucks!

Every year we ask our kids (and kids-in-law) for gift ideas for Christmas. I hate returning stuff because it is the wrong size, wrong color, wrong thing entirely. So I ask for specifics. I love my daughter-in-law dearly. She, with a few minutes of of help from my son, has given me the greatest gift possible, grandchildren. So she asked for a Black & Deck Platinum 18-Volt hand vacuum. This is not a gift that I would choose myself, but it is what she wants.

I googled it. I looked all over the internet and found it "backordered" or "not in stock" or "waiting to receive shipment of". After much searching, I found it at boatandrvaccessories.com. $36.99 and ordered it in time to receive it by Christmas.

The box arrived yesterday and it seemed a bit large for a hand vacuum. I turned over the box and saw the photo and stock number. I ordered SPV-1800, they shipped PSV-1800 (a much higher priced item). I checked online and the one I received sells for $66.99. So this is probably much nicer, sucks better, whatever. It is not what I ordered. It is pivotal and cordless but it is not what Dana wanted.



I couldn't call the place I ordered it from, they just forwarded the order to the warehouse in Rialto, CA. Using the invoice, I called the Customer Service number in Rialto, CA and explained that they had sent me a more expensive vac than I ordered and could I please trade it for what I ordered to begin with? yada, yada, "Call this local disctribution center in San Diego". Called that local distribution center and, yada, yada. Grrrrrrr. Who needs this kind of run-around?

So Dana will have a sucky Christmas (pun intended). She'll get this nice vacuum (which she didn't ask for) on Christmas and she'll get an IOU from me for the other. This really sucks.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Brenda's Sampler




This is the fourth one of these that I have quilted. It is from a quilting class taught 2 years ago at adult school. The thing is, these sampler blocks are a huge 24 inches. This is the first one that I have done that did not have borders. It is 92" x 92".

I decided to try some of my new stencils and the new Bohin white pencil that I got from Suzanne's quilt and yarn shop in Iowa.

http://shop.knotsandbolts.com/index.php?p=catalog&mode=search&search_str=bohin&search_in=all

I love this pencil. It is perfect for marking on dark fabric. The lead is 9mm so it does not crumble like so many of these markers do but it is still small enough to fit inside the stencil path. It comes with a refill. I started using the pencil and lost the refills somewhere. So I decided to order 2 more Bohin pencils as Christmas gifts and I loaded up on extra lead.

Wanna See My New Ride...?





I attend quilt classes. For me, it is as much about socializing as it is about learning. I do strive to get at least one block pieced in class before I drift off and start visiting with others.





Going to classes is a cardio workout for me.

--You have to run all over the house retrieving this tool or that ruler

--There is all sorts of bending and stooping to get the perfect background fabric

--Of course, you have to take an iron, starch, pins, seam ripper, chocolate, a pin cushion

--Last but certainly not least, you have to take your machine. I mean, no machine means that you are really ot going to a quilt class; you are just using that as an excuse so you can run off to the casino and gamble for a few hours.

I bought a Juki TL-98Q recently and I just love it for strip piecing. It does only one stitch, straight but it goes very, very fast. I call it turbo fast. I get started, get into my zone of strip piecing and kick that baby into turbo.

The Juki also has a "enforcer-style" quarter inch foot so I don't drift off my seam allowance while I am chatting about the neighbors cat. La, la, la, la etc. It has a huge 9" throat and and great extended table. I don't have to pull up my bobbin thread each time I start and I can cut the thread using my foot pedal. Neato, huh? What I don't like this wonderful machine is its weight.

The machine specs state that it weighs 29 pounds. Well, maybe it weighs 29 pounds on Saturn where there is no gravity but here on earth, the Juki feels more like 40 pounds when you are hauling it from your house to your car then again from your car to the quilt shop and then back again. This is not so much a cardio workout as it is a weight-lifting exercise.

Most quilters keep their classroom goodies organized in various bags, carts and carryalls. But my Juki is pretty big and would not fit in the standard tapestry bags from Joann's. When I saw the Tutto bag, I fell in love. It opens at the top and sides. It has bunches of pockets and zippers and slots for all those goodies we have to take to class. It has a handle similar to luggage and 4 roll-in-all directions wheels on the corners. It folds down to be quite flat, though I think that I will keep mine ready to hit the road. And the best part, it's PINK.

A Batik Candy Bar Quilt


Ahhh, the peace of piecing.

I bought a fat jelly roll (4 inch) of batiks at my LQS and decided to take the easy way out. I will use the strips in varying lengths in a horizontal row configuraion. I have heard it called by several names - LaSagna, candy bar, and row quilt. I don't know who designed it so I can't give credit to the pattern designer. I'm not sure what the pattern is even called since you just whack the strips into various lengths and put them together.

It is mindless, really. Maybe that is what I like about it. You just get the peace of the machine purring and get to touch beautiful fabric as you feed it into the machine. No exact measurements required. It is very forgiving of my lack of attention, too. That's always a bonus. No reading and re-reading pattern instructions are necessary for this type of quilt.

So I have about 16 strips in varying lengths (65" -80") hanging vertically on my design wall. I also have a pony wall that separates the main hall in my house from the den 3 steps down. This wall is like a magnet, everything ends up there. So right now, there 3 groups of assembled 70" long strips. There are two 2-strips and a 3-stripper. The point is that the quilt looks so much better when 2 pieces of the same fabrics are NOT next to each other.

So tonight, after I get home from work, I'll tweak them some and see if I can get a few more done.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Should I move my studio back?

I have had to relocate my studio this year. It was in the second master bedroom. I loved that room as it is a big room (20 x 15). It has windows on 2 sides, a separate full bath and a huge closet. But when things got tough earlier this year, my son and his family (read as 3 kids under 6 years old) moved in for 3 months.

It turned our lives upside down, no doubt. But I loved hearing their little voices and getting those good night hugs and kisses everyday. Hunter, the redhead, is 5 and a half and he guides his little brother, Gavin - 3 yo, on adventures around the house. There is no shortage of space ships (closets) and sofas (speedracer) for them to stay entertained. And of course, if it is dark outside (and their father is not around) we play flashlight tag. Too fun.

Madison, the 15-mo old just likes to snuggle. I would be in my studio working on a quilt and in she would come. I have a dozen or so cones of thread within her reach. Of course, she had to rearrange my thread cones first; work first, play after, etc. Once she was done, then she wanted to snuggle or to use me as a transportation device. She would point to the way and off we would go. She loves to be carried around. And somedays, I miss them being right here at home with me so badly, that I have to call them so I can hear their little voices. Well, OK, I talk to my son and DIL all the time, I really miss my grandchildren.

Anyway, I gave up my studio and another empty (guest) bedroom for Jake and Dana and the 3 kids. We moved my studio out to the living room. Who needs a formal living room and dining room these days anyway? My next house is going to have a great room, no formal any-room. The living room had 3 doorways without doors.

The dog and cat have always been able to cruise in and out of the living room. They re-arrange my sofa pillows for just the right amount of animal comfort, look out the patio doors and snooze in the the sunbeams on the wood floors. So they did not understand why that room all of a sudden became off-limits to them. Well, that's not totally accurate. The cat, Razzle (the original scaredy-cat), could not care less about the studio move or the loss of the living room. As soon as the first StrideRite hit the floor, she hid in our bedroom. But the dog, Mokey, found it inconvenient to say the least.

How in the world was she expected to get dog snot the full length of the living room patio doors if she was locked out of there? Locking them out is another story entirely. The Great Wall of China did not encounter as many problems as I had in trying to isolate my studio from my animals.

So when the longarm machine was disassembled and reassembled 40 feet up the hall, we thought that the bulk of the work was done. Hmmm, what about all that batting, rolls and packages and all those UFO project boxes and the loose stash? All those things lived in those nice big closets in the second master. So we built 3 of those Costco aluminum shelves with rollers to hold some of that stuff. Funny how the living room (aka - new studio)seemed to shrink with each one of those rollered shelves. And then I bought one of hte those big ironing boards for pressing my quilt backs. My little computer desk was getting used to hold thread, stencils and whatever I was using on the current quilt. So how do I check my mail now? Grrrr.

Fast-forward several months. Jake and his family have moved closer to their work and baby-sitter. They've actually been gone 4 months but they still have lots of stuff in the 2 bedrooms that they used while they were here. I'm getting tired of my cramped studio since there is no reward of nightime kisses from my grandchildren. We have decided to update our master bathroom so we will probably move into the second master while the work is being done.

As a make-do effort, we decided to use the rollers on those 3 shelf units and we rolled them out o fhte living room and down the hall to the second master. The extra room in the current studio makes it more tolerable.

And here I thought that the only hassle to moving the studio was moving that 12-foot sewing machine.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Batik Pineapples






I love the combination of blue and orange in batiks. It is made with half-square triangles. The tension must have been bad on the piecer's sewing machine because I could see light between the seams. I fixed about a dozen of the seams, gave it a good dousing with Fresh Press for just a light touch of starch and pressed it nice and flat.
I had to quilt it from the front of the machine because I had to be careful that I didn't snag a seam. The back is an azure blue with pineapples. So I drew inspiration from those pineapples and freemotioned a pineapple diagonally in each block. I didn't dare SID the block because it could break the exposed thread in some places. I decided to go the whimsical way and used serpentine (wavy) SID to nail down the edges of the blocks. You have to admire spirit of the piecer. She attempted this half-square triangel quilt as her second project in quilting.She may be trying to run before she walks.



Cars Quilts



The Cars craze has landed at the home of this grandmother of two. She made two of these for Christmas gifts. She beefed up the panel with some coordination blank thin borders and multiple reds and checked fabric. She told me to "just do anything". Oh, that sounds like Circle Lord Swirls to me. I think both grandma and the kids will like these quilts. I used the new Bamboo-cotton blend of batting. It it si soft and drapey. I loved it so much I just ordered a roll of it from Brewer Sewing.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Buckaroo Stars



OK, the piecing on this PIGS (Project In Grocery Sack)is done. I started this when my oldest grandson was born. He is now in kindergarten. It is all bandana and horse-shoe fabrics with big funky yellow stars on it. So now, the second grandson will probably get it, he is only 3. I'll just do a loopy star thing on it, get the binding on and it will be ready to go - only took 4 years.

The pattern is Martha's CraZy Dozen from our LQS, essentially a Stack n Whack. I'm not a big fan of these but I gave it a try in these red, white and blue prints. And well, I'm still not a big fan of stack and whack patterns. But they sure are forgiving. And now I have one less PIGS in my house.

Chinese Coins - Phase 1





This was such a cool pattern when I saw it at the Cozy Quilts shop in El Cajon. It intrigued me so I bought the pattern. Months later, I bought 8 coordinating fabrics and a wonderful pale blue-green Fusion for the background from our local quilt shop The Crazy 9 Patch. The tranquilt feel of the fabric is full of post marks from far away places, bits of elegant flowers all in muted colors with splashes of cranberry. The pattern is strip piecing so was easy when I could break away from the longarm long enough to do some piecing over on my turbo Juki TL-98Q. Love that machine.


I had originally planned to put it on my king size bed with a nice drop. But after looking at it all assembled, it was beyond boring, just too linear for me. I liked it better in small doses. Since I had plenty of the fabric, (I over bought as usual - just can't stop myself) I decided to split the king into to two large lap-sized quilt. The one with Quilter's Dream Puff batting will go to the Friendship Quilters of San Diego, my guild. The other is for me and I will use Quilter's Dream wool batting. I used a new pattern name Palm Fronds 10" from Quilting Design Studio. I have no idea who the designer is but I love the look of it on this vertical quilt.


You can really see the stacked palms on the back of the quilt.




A friend of mine does the binding for me. I can do it but it is never quite right. Since this is going to the guild, I wanted it to be straight and true. So that means Marilynn does it for me.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hug Quilt


There is an amazing woman named Miriam in our little town. Full of energy, wise-cracking and fun loving, she runs our local breakfast eatery called the Kountry Kitchen. We have been going in there just about every week-end for 7 years for breakfast. We know several of the regular customers by name or enough to wave and say "Good Morning". It is not a fancy place. But as soon as you walk in, you are greeted with the smell of good food and a welcome smile.

Miriam has a couple of other waitresses and several bussers who are usually high school girls. She cracks the whip on her staff and expects them to keep up with the breakneck pace that she sets. If they want to be lazy, they don't have a job for long. "My way or the highway" is Miriam's credo. She has greeted and fed my grand children from the time they were babies. Apple Juice, warm a bottle, finger food when ready, she is a good grandma.

Miriam was just diagnosed with colon cancer. She has not been able to work in over a month. Miriam's daughter, Sarah, bought the restaurant a few years ago with the intention that her mother would run it. Miriam had worked for the previous owner. Food service is a hard task master. Getting up at 4 AM to open the restaurant, on your feet working all day and close after the dinner crowd is gone. This pace burns you up and can burn you out if you do not have good assistants. We noticed that her daughter had put up a sign a few months ago that she is planning to sell it. This is not a great time to sell businesses or homes in this economy. Miriam and Sarah may have made this decision knowing about the health problems and being uncertain of the road ahead.

Those that miss and love Miriam continue our patronage of the restaurant. Miriam has some great assistants at the restaurant and they are keeping the place going until Miriam returns. I wanted Miriam to know how many peoples' lives she has touched while she has been slinging hash for these years. I planned a rail fence quilt using fall colors and a white signature strip for her friends. I put up two baskets at the restaurant; one with blank blocks and one with "Messages for Miriam" on the other so then could write their private messages on the quilt block and place it face down in the basket. I picked up blocks periodically and have assembled the quilt leaving some blank blocks. There are always last minute folks in our small town. I added a blacky-brown inner border and a wide print background outer border. I plan to quilt it this week-end using Leaf Pile panto and Signature gold thread . I'll use Quilter's Dream cotton select or wool batting; I want the batting to breath so either of those will do fine.

My hope is that this quilt will represent dozens of hugs for Miriam. She will be able to read the comments and know that we all miss her and want her to get well.

Christmas Tree Quilt for Cathy's Nephew


The Christmas Tree panel has scottie dogs and gift-wrapped present all around the bottom of hte tree. Cathy added several borders to make it a nie sized lap 54 x 65. I used Quilter's Dream Puff batting and PermaCore Egyptian Topaz thread. The back is pieced.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Caramel Popcorn Balls

I've made these caramel popcorn balls for years as a holiday treat. This year, I had my friend, Ana, help me out since I wanted to double the recipe and give them to friends. We made dozens of balls and I had a huge overflowing bowl left. Now you can see that there are other people who like my popcorn balls since the bowl is looking decidedly empty. Anyway, here is the recipe if you want to give it a try.

I use white popcorn as it seems to have fewer hulls. The popcorn must be popped before you start the aramel mixture. We pop it in a hot-air popper, enough to fill 3 large bowls.

1/2 cup margarine
2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup light Karow (corn) syrup
1 can Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 qts popped corn

In saucepan on medium, combine margarine sugar and corn syrup. Stir well and bring to slight boil. Stir in the Eagle brand milk and continue stirring. When this mixture starts to boil, check it for soft ball stage. (see below). It gets to softball stage quickly. Remove from heat and carefully add in vanilla.

Mixture remains hot for a white and is best used while the caramel is still liquid and hot. Be careful not to touch the caramel with your fingers at this point. Use a long handled spoon to stir the bowls of popcorn as you pour the hot caramel mixture over the popcorn. This is best done in 2 steps using half the caramel mixture each time. Stir up the caramel in one bowl, white popcorn will still be visible, and then do this with the other 2 bowls. Go back to bowl #1 and add more caramel until most of the white popcorn is coated with the gooey caramel. Repeat for bowls 2 and 3. If you have any left over caramel, look for white spots and add caramel.

Spread out two 2-ft pieces of waxed paper on a flat surface. After washing your hands, coat them with margarine. Working quickly, shape caramel popcorn into balls the size of tennis balls (or smaller) and set on the waxed paper. It is not necessary to squeeze the balls tightly, just enough strength to make them stick together. If you did not cook the caramel mixture long enough, the balls will start to separate in 5 or 10 minutes. If that happens, the popcorn is still good to eat in small chunks. The balls can be eaten immediately and will continue to firm up as the hours pass. My popcorn balls are usually gone within 2 days so I'm not certain just how hard they get.

So what is softball stage? Before we had whiz-bang candy thermometers to gauge softball, hardball, soft crack etc stages of candy-making, we used a cup of cold water to tell us what stage our candy making was in. I put a custard cup of cold tap water next to the stove after I add the milk to the caramel mixture. As it starts to boils and I stir, I bring the spoon up out of the hot mixture with just a bit of the caramel hanging on the spoon and carefully let one drop fall into the cold water. Then, using one finger, I try to roll the caramel in the water. If the caramel dissolves and the water gets murky, continue cooking for another minute or two, stirring constantly. Wash the cup and put fresh cold water into the cup and repeat the test. When you are able to roll your finger over the caramel in the water and it has a soft but firm consistency, it has reached soft ball. Remove the pot from the heat immediately. If you cook it too long and do this test, you may end up with a hard ball and caramel balls that are a bit chewy. Still delicious of course, they just may rearrange your dental work.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

eBay Quilts


A friend is always extoling the virtues of "getting it on eBay". She buys and sells things using this online sales venue. I decided to give it a try. You have to be careful, though, it can be somewhat addicting. I found a wonderful appliqued quilt top on eBay and decided to bid on it. I was outbid. Bummer.

So I went looking for other quilt tops using the "shop at my store" option on eBay. I found an interesting online store with queen size quilt tops and machine applique. I found four quilts that I was interested in. There was a Double Wedding Ring with embroidered lilac flowers, an Ohio Star block quilt done with red roses and red swags, a purple flowered applique.The backgrounds on all the quilts was white and described as cotton. Bed sheets are also cotton but I do not want to quilt something with a high thread count. I want to quilt on quilting fabric.

So in eBay-speak, I won the auction. Three out of four of the quilts have scalloped edges. The workmanship is excellent, though the stitch length is somewhat long (probably 6-8 SPI). The "white" background is bleached muslin. It's pretty thin but it will hold up well to quilting. It held up to machine applique and machine embroidery. I'm not sure what I will do with these. Maybe the guild auction next April. Who knows. For $29 each, they are a bargain. If nothing else, they will be good practice quilts.







Facing the Unknown

When I first joined the Navy in 1968, things were a bit different than they are today. There were almost 5,000 women in the Navy then and we were not always welcomed. I was mistaken for a Cub Scout leader and a flight attendant. My mother was not keen on my joining and worried about me. I was 21 years old, headstrong and ready for adventure.

I made it through boot camp and school and checked into my first duty station on a Sunday. I found myself in a semi-dark, quiet barracks. I was so far from home and there was nobody to talk to that first night. The quiet surrounded me and I felt so alone.

I decided to write it all in a letter to my mother. I wrote as if I was talking to her there in my barracks cubicle. Just putting the words down on paper made me feel better. It was OK that I didn’t get a response immediately. The words were out of me and so was some of the fear and anxiety. I didn’t feel alone anymore. Letter-writing became a sanctuary and one of my only good habits. Years later my mother told me how much she cherished those letters.

I eventually made some friends and got past that initial rough spot. But I never forgot it. I made it my mission to knock on the door (plastic shower curtain over a doorway back then) of every newbie to welcome them. We always grabbed up the newbies for meal time and movie nights. As I grew those first few years in the Navy, I learned that there would always be some bad days and quiet nights and that I would get through them just fine.

I pulled this long ago memory out of the archives for my friend in the Pacific Northwest. We love you, Patty Jo. And when the quiet gets too noisy, you know where you will always find friends happy to see you.

Swag-a-Rama Update

Well, I just couldn't let this go out with my name on it. For those of you just joining this rant, a customer brought me an intricately-pieced quilt in which she wants much ruler-work and continuous curves using 3 different blues. Ah, oh yeah, the backing is white. Some of the CC work is in star points which are less than an inch long. And the quilting pattern is for a hand quilter. $%#!@

She is a very nice lady so I eased her into the bad news. I called her and explained that:
-- the dark thread on the white background was pretty "stark".

-- The straight lines were ok but their placement left some border seams with no quilting (thus the dreaded pop-up after washing).

-- the navy blue thread continuous curve "inside" 1-inch long star points and "inside" the 1.5 inch by 2 inch flying geese is cleary visible on the back and shows every wobble and seam crossing as I move from star-to-star or goose-to-goose.

-- the stacked swags in the pillowtuck look like Barnums tent at the end of a season.

She laughed....she hasn't seen it yet. I also told her to bring her nitro-glycerine tablets.

Of course, we will work thru it. It will be on my machine for way too long. I'll go over alternate quilting ideas. I'll be ripping those navy blue stitches out until Valentine's Day. I should just cut my losses and pay her to take it back.

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's not really mail....

Let me just go on record as saying that I hate chain letters. Those nasty things with which friends (now former-friends) fill up your email Inbox. I love to get mail from my friends and relatives. I see the Sender's name in my Inbox folder and click it with some anticipation.

It's a chain letter. These ought to be against the law. It's not mail, it's a promise of sorts. If you [insert gimmick here], then you must send it on to a dozen of your friends who are likewise appalled at finding it in their Inbox. You must also sent it back to the original sender to ensure that you are put on a permament chain-letter mailing list, you big LOSER. Then the power of the chain will reward your devotion with riches, great health, yada, yada. And if you do not follow the rules, egads, break the chain(insert eerie music here), you will be expelled from friendships the world over. Yeah, right..

To a lesser degree, forwards should also be outlawed. You see the "FW:" in the the Subject line and groan "Oh crap, not another (pick one) [political cartoon, photo of an enormous vegetable, funny joke, animated PowerPoint holiday card].

But again you recognize the Sender's name and despite a bizillion warnings "Don't open email's with attachments", you click on it. And there is not a single original thought from the sender. It's just the content of an email that was sent to them. It's like a time bomb . It doesn't have to have a virus or worm hidden in it to be trouble. It has just eaten up your time in opening, reading, deciding whether to bomb them back, deleting the email, emptying your Trash folder and then finally, deciding if you want to add the sender to your Blocked email list.

The worst emails are those unsolicited offers for cheaper medicine (spelled mEd1c!ne so it gets past your email filters), enlarging your penis, refinancing for your house...you get the idea. It makes me wish that stoning was still allowed. I would like to wrap their emails around a stone and heave it at them.

It's not really mail. It's like somebody dropped a flaming bag of dog poop on your front porch, rang the door bell and ran away.

Long weekend - Swags give me a headache

Oldest son and DIL and the grands went to the desert for the long week-end. I have never figuerd out the attraction of breathing dust and riding a big-tired motorcycle up and down dunes. Nope, not for me. Anyway, we had a nice meal just husband and I.

I spent most of Friday marking a custom quilt. The problem is this quilting pattern is for hand quilting. OMG. Another minimum wage quilt, for sure.

6 hours just to mark the swags. It has a pillowtuck and she wanted stacked swags on that. Huh, swags are already stacked semi-circles so stack of semi-circles on top of stack of, huh, where was I? Luckily, she is a pretty good piecer. Actually, she made this quilt from a magazine and brought the page so I can quilt it like the magazine. Mostly ruler work, lots of parallel lines and 90 degree angles. The parallel lines cross 2 borders so SID is out. Some of the straight lines in the magazine, she wants continuous curves on, thank goodness. I thought that I was pretty good at CC until I saw what it looks like from the back with no frame of reference to indicate that you CC'd a star.

For threads, she wants 3 different blues (navy, iced, yale) as well as white on the front. Warms Soft and Brite poly batt. I'm still OK with all this until I realized that she gave me a WHITE backing. Woe is me. I did the stacked swags and every wobble, every stop and start, and every traveling line overstitch shows like a beacon on the back. In one word, it is Horrifying. I already have 13 hours in this quilt and I am not yet to the mid-point.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Time to winterize the garden....



I love to garden though I don't have the time or energy for it anymore. In southern California, this is the time to cut things back in preparation for what we call winter.

Cut back the butterfly bushes, Eucalyptus trees, Trumpet Flower and Passion Vine. The Lantana plus the passion flowers will feed my butterfly garden next spring. The lantana is cut back to 1 foot and allowed to hibernate. The Trumpet still has huge white flowers and blooms with it's own schedule. It blooms on new wood so it will get whacked way back. Same for the Cannas. But there is still time to catch a few blooms before the trimming begins. I got the last of my friend Christie's Zinnias before she mows them all down.

The Eucalyptus are in bloom. I had a tree-trimmer here last year and he took out 3 of my Eucs that were diseased with the borer beetle. I was concerned with my shaggy looking Euc with the pink feather-duster flowers. It seemed to be listing to one side. But the trimmer said it was fine. I think that his "fine" really meant "I don't want to try to steady a ladder over those boulders and trim your Euc". Our house sits next to a horse trail and there are piles of granite boulders that mark the edge of our property. The Euc is leaning toward those boulders. I have watched it grow this past year and lean even farther over. We have some much-needed rain coming so I decided to prune as much as we can reach of that Euc.Well, I decided to nag my husband enough to get him to trim part of the tree. The weight of rain on those blooms might be enough to tear it out of the ground. His trim job is not terribly neat but it'll do. I had to capture some of the blooms for the kitchen.

We were also treated to a beautiful sunset. Am I the only one who thinks that Terry looks drunk?





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My life has changed in the last couple of years - some bumps, I retired from quilting, and then I moved to Texas. I'm anxious to see what new adventures await me in the next phase of my life.

About Me

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Ramona, California, United States
I started quilting when a quilt shop opened in our little town in January 2004. I have been hooked ever since.

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Books I"ve read lately

  • The Help (Kindle)
  • The Appeal by John Grisham
  • Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
  • To Kill a Mockingbird (again) by Harper Lee
  • Bleachers by John Grisham

This is called Fruit Cocktail

This is called Fruit Cocktail
It is all batiks