Monday, September 27, 2010

A Gifty in the Mail

Here are some pics of the wonderful gifty sent to me by my blogging friend, Wendy, from Alaska. She's obviously noticed my current obsession with hexies. Aren't these adorable?

And some lovely blueberry fabric.
Some very sweet dried pansies, or are they Johnny Jump Ups? Either way, I adore them!
And then there's the motherload! A box full of bottlecaps! Another of my obsessions. Can't wait to dig into these!

Our hectic live continues. The master bathroom remodel continues. The tile on the floor was installed today. I wear the same clothes over and over and over (yes, I do wash them). It's too had to get into my closet, so I keep little pile of shirts and undies and jeans in the guest bedroom. This too shall pass.

We helped Daughter 1 move out into her own apartment over the weekend. She has a lovely place - she's saved half the closet space for her fiance for when he moves in with her after the wedding.

Meanwhile, I haven't had a chance to work at the store on the longarm machine in a few days. I'm going to meet my friend there tomorrow though.

And what do I do when I finally slow down? I make hexies!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back from the Lake

We had a lovely, long weekend at the lake over the last few days. Hubby and I took my parents with us. The only stressful part of the weekend was discovering that my 86 year old father is in worse shape than I realized. Quick visits just don't tell the entire story like being with someone 24/7.
Hubby got the doxies life jackets - doesn't Mickey look like a sausage with mustard?!!!
Of course, I took my hexies! I sat for hours on the porch stitching, with a view of the lake at my disposal. I made four block during my deck time!
Can you tell how relaxing it was, even for the dogs? Prince loved sitting in the back of the pontoon boat with the wind in his ears.
Mickey preferred to be right up front - the hood ornament on the boat. Whoops, they forgot their life jackets for this outing!

Now we're back home to the dust and noise of bathroom remodeling. At least we're past the demo part on the master bath. The pieces are being put back together, and in another couple of weeks we'll be back in our bedroom again.

Oh! I almost forgot!!!! When I arrived home Sunday, I found the most wonderful package waiting for me from a dear blog reader. I do love it, and will share photos tomorrow!!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Big Decisions....

I've been playing with background fabrics to make the connecting hexies for my quilt. Here are the hexies on a white cotton.

And here they are on gray. I'm not sure I like either one. The white seems a bit stark. The gray seems a bit dark. Need some help here! What do you think? Maybe a paler gray? Or do you like one of these choices?

Today was quilt guild - first meeting of the year. Lots of fun and laughter everywhere! I took photos of an amazing quilt - I'll show that soon.

This seems to be a turning point in life, and I have bigger decisions to make than just fabric choices. Daughter 1's wedding is fast approaching - fun stuff! Daughter 2 is away in Italy until early December, studying abroad - great opportunity for her! And here I am, wondering what to do with the rest of my life.

I do love my quilting! You know I do! And I've enjoyed the opportunity to learn to use the longarm machine in a local shop the last couple of weeks. I love getting together with my quilty friends to share quilts and food and stories. And I love my blog. BUT...

Sometimes, I get that little itch. It's a tiny little itch that makes me want to go back to my engineering life. WHAT, you say? Engineering? An 8 to 5 job? What are you thinking?!!!
I have a little voice in my head saying just that. What to do?

An engineering salary for a few years would afford hubby to retire a bit younger. It would allow us to put away more moola for the future (for retirement, trips to Europe - we really want to go back). It would get me out of the house more, which would probably be good for me. I spend way too much time alone (with the dogs!) in our house. And it's not like I would stop quilting. I could never stop quilting! I could still quilt at night and on the weekends. I could still blog about it, too.

I don't know what to do!!! Hubby just wants me to be happy - no pressure either way. What to do?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Learning by Doing

I went back to the store yesterday and loaded another quilt. Please understand, this is NOT my own personal machine. (I wish it were!) But, a friend and I have been assigned the task of getting it up and going. It was moved to a local quilt show a couple of years ago, then set up again at the shop. No one has used it since. And apparently in the moving, some parts were reinstalled incorrectly (part of the frame) or lost (the dreaded rubber O-rings).

It been a frustrating process to get it working, but it has paid off tremendously in our skill level. Because we were forced to learn the ins and outs of the machine, now when I have a problem with the stitches or other issues, I know immediately how to fix it.
The stitches don't show up well on the photo, but if you look at the backside of the quilt rolled on the take up rail, you may be able to see the star pattern I'm using. I was going to town on this one until I ran out of thread. Murphy's Law! I figured that was a sign to quit for the day, so I stopped on the way home for more thread. Today I'll go back and finish this one. I want to get it off the frame today so my friend can test it on one of her quilts tomorrow.

I had a famous visitor yesterday - the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference. He dropped off a bag of t-shirts for me to make a quilt for him (or as he called it, "a blanket.") I've pretty much stopped taking on commission projects like this, but how could I turn him down!!!

Demo starts today on our master bathroom. I'm looking forward to getting it underway, but I'm dreading the dust and noise. All will be worth it in the end, I know.
Do you know what these are? These are pine cone "cobs," at least that's what I call them. We have a very industrious squirrel living in a pine tree in our front yard. He picks the pine cones off the tree, and strips them of their little nubs. There must be something yummy to eat in those little nubs! Then he drops the uneaten part of the nub (at the bottom of picture) on the ground. If you're standing outside, it's like a slow shower of nubs falling to the ground around the tree. Once he's picked the pine cone clean, he drops the "cob." Needless to say, the ground around the pine tree is always littered with this mess. Oh well. At least the squirrel is happy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Having Fun!

Today I quilted my very first quilt on a long arm machine! And it turned out pretty well. I made this cuddle quilt top (for donation to a child through our guild) last year, but never finished it. It made the perfect FIRST quilt to practice how far we'd come in the last couple of weeks.
Tomorrow I'm going to try a bigger quilt. It won't be hard to find one - I have a stack of quilt tops just ready and waiting.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor of Love

I spent part of Labor Day with my hexies. I'm becoming obsessed with these! Though my daughter is choosing to sew her directly to each other (a fun look!), I'm thinking I'll sew a "background" border of hexies around the units to connect them. Kona white, maybe???

The changes we've been making around our house have involved setting up twin beds in our guest bedroom. I think it will be nice to have these in one bedroom so we can accommodate more guests (especially my nephews). They replace a beautiful antique bed - it was very uncomfortable and it was smaller than a full size, but bigger than a twin - really not big enough for two people, especially two teenage brothers who would be grossed out at the thought of sleeping in the same bed! I'm thinking this hexie quilt will make a great statement on one of the twin beds.

Someone asked about my new light fixtures I showed on my last post - the new "chandelier" and the lamps all came from IO Metro - my new favorite furniture store. They have really cool products from all over the world, and the prices are very reasonable. If you don't have one near you, just shop online! I'm lucky enough to have one close to our home.

In other news, for the last week I've kind-of, sort-of, had a (gulp!) J - O - B. Yes, that right, a job! And it involves....quilting!!!!

I've been working with a good friend at an heirloom sewing shop. They have a long arm quilting machine (computerized!). It's been sitting there for over a year with no use. Can you imagine? So we have been assigned to learn it backwards and forwards - how to load quilts, how to run the computerized quilting module, etc.

It's been fun, but not easy. Neither of us have ever worked on a long arm. In the process, we discovered that the frame had some parts installed incorrectly - we fixed them. We spent the better part of the week trying to figure out why we couldn't get the computer module to work. After much frustration, and long calls to the manufacturer and a kind man named Ernie, we finally figured out that there were rubber O-rings missing from the wheels the machine rolls on. God bless you, Ernie! A quick trip to the plumbing department of Home Depot to find rubber O-rings, and VOILA! On Friday afternoon, we had success!

We still have some tension issues, but that should be no big deal to adjust. Tomorrow morning, we will get back at it. We're hoping to quilt some real quilts by the end of the week. Can't wait!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

Life is settling back down around here. Daughter 2 has returned to school in South Carolina, and will be leaving for Italy for the semester on Friday. Our downstairs bathroom remodel is finished, except for a bit of touch up painting and the hanging of towel bars. Those items will be done today! Then I post the official "before" and "after" photos. The master bathroom remodel will begin next week. Hubby and I will move into Daughter 2's bedroom for the duration.

Daughter 1 had her first bridal shower a couple of weeks ago in Georgia. What a fun day it was! All the photos are on Emily's camera, so I'll have to get them from her. Below is my present to them.

She'd requested a rust and teal quilt, simply squares sewn together. She even picked out the fabric, a lovely Joel Dewberry collection. I was happy with the results (and so were they).
I'd gotten some questions here about my dining room table (formerly our kitchen table). After 26 years of family meals, it was dinged and worse for wear. So slowly, but surely, I've been refinishing it. The worst part was stripping it. Messy. Smelly. Goopy. Yuk!!! Then I progress to lots of sanding and 4 coats of dark walnut stain. Then I finished up (yesterday) with the final coat of polyacrylic finish. I applied 4 coats of this in total. Ta Dah! I'm very happy with the results - especially since I'd never refinished a piece of furniture before!

I'm still looking for new dining chairs. I found some I adore, but the price was overwhelming, to say the least. I'm going to check with the manufacturer in North Carolina to see if I can get them cheaper by buying direct.
We took down the old chandelier this weekend. What you don't see here are all the crystals - dozens of them. Hubby carefully removed them for me to clean. I wanted to find a new home for it; I decided it would look beautiful hanging in our downstairs bedroom. I'm going to clean it, spray paint the ugly brass a lovely ivory color. Then it be hung in its new spot, and the crystals will be put back in place.
Here's our new dining room chandelier - I do think I'm in love with it. (Can you be in love with a light fixture?)
In the background you can see two new lamps. They seem to balance the room, and if you look closely, you'll see that the brown dots are big buttons. I do love buttons.

So we are making progress around here. This room only needs a rug, and of course, the dining chairs.

Meanwhile, I'm ALMOST done with my latest t-shirt quilt, and I continue to have hexie love each night in front of the TV. I almost forgot - I had my two year blog anniversary last week! WOO HOO!