Sunday, January 30, 2011

Attacked by an Octopus!

This is (was) the sad state of my command center for applique. You might notice that the new Ott lamp is missing. It just didn't work out. I was constantly adjusting both the lamp arm and the magnifying glass. They kept getting in my way. I felt like I was under attack! The last straw was Friday night. I reached to answer the phone - my arm knocked the lamp - the lamp knocked my drink- ya da ya (RED!) all over the place, including the curtains!
Not only did a need a new and differnt lamp, I needed a new system! Every thing for all three BOMs was in a jumbled mess. So Saturday morning I returned Mr. Ott to Joann's and came home with this.
Only one arm! The light is built in behind the magnifying glass! No more octopus attacks! I spent the next hour organizing my BOM supplies. Ta Dah!!!

This is more like it! By the way, the brown basket/box on the hearth contains my Kaffe Fassett collection, at the ready to stitch into a BOM. The cup on the table is where I put my snippets of thread and fabric.
I separated the supplies for the three BOMs into three plastic bins, easily stored in the table. I have my scissors, thimble, and applique thread bobbin in the drawer - it's used for all three. Look at the curtains - can you see the wine stain? Grrr. Better do some laundry! Anyway, I'm trying really hard to live productively!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Day Off

I did a bit on my tie project yesterday. I'm not sure if I like it yet. I'll fiddle with it a bit more and then carry on. My new Ott lamp is very helpful! I am so grateful for the comment from that post, warning about the hazard of fire if the magnifying glass is catching the sun's rays. I would have never thought of that! So I'm very careful during the day - leaving the magnifier positioned safely.

Today was a nice day off. Hubby has sensed my stress over my Dad's impending nursing home admittance, and he want to get me out of the house. So he took the day off and got my mind of things. We visited the brand new library in our area; it opened just before Christmas and we'd not been yet. It is absoluely beautiful, set into a wooded area with a hiking trail just outside the door. There are beautiful areas within to sit and read. And WiFi everywhere. We came home with a three movies to watch together and a few books for me. I know I'll be spending more time there.

Then I asked hubby to drive me by a nearby nursing home so I could see exactly where it is. We ended up going in and getting a tour. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. It was a clean and happy place. We came away with a bit of hope and a bit less worry. It will still be difficult to break the news to Dad, but I'm hoping he will make the best of it. I'll be taking him to the doctor next week to get his assessment before moving forward.

We then went for a nice lunch at a local Greek restaurant and then home again, both of us curling up in bed with the dogs for a nap. Hubby then went to the driving range while I relaxed with a couple of magazines and mindless TV.

What a nice day - just what I needed to get me back on track. We are looking forward to a wonderful weekend - no plans and nice weather - the best kind. I will probably do a bit of sewing, and maybe I'll even begin the huge task of cleaning my studio; it's quite a mess.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Aging Eyes

This seems to be the year for handwork for me. Hubby sees me every night straining to see every little stitch. He suggested I get one of these Ott Lights when a magnifying glass attached. How did he even know about these???? He has a friend at work (a guy) who does counted cross stitch and swears by his Ott Light with a magnifying glass.

Joann's has them on sale for 50% off this week, so I picked one up yesterday. I'll try it out tonight.
One of my bees is having an optional challenge this year to make a quilt with men's ties. I have a drawer full of them, so I'm in. I pulled a few out this afternoon, along with a piece of wool. Hmm. My wheels are spinning!
I haven't had time for much sewing today. I'm up to my ears in my parents' will, their insurance policies, and the internet. I've been assigned the task of figuring out how to get my Dad into a nursing home when he doesn't want to go. We think he knows something is up, but we haven't broken the news to him yet. I'll be the one to do that dreaded deed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another BOM Done!

I finished my first Lollypop Tree block! So far, so good on my year of BOM's. Three different BOM projects, three blocks completed in January with a few days to spare. Plus one "playtime" block made from the scraps of the BOM's. This year I'm committed to being more PRODUCTIVE in all aspects of my life, including quilting. I'm so excited that it's working!

I also worked on another quilt yesterday (for my new book); sorry, I can't show that yet, but I'm thrilled with the way it's turning out!

It's a cold, rainy day today- perfect for staying in and getting some quilting done, along with a bit of housework. Plus I'm going to be looking into getting Power of Attorney over my parents at my mom's request. Dad will turn 87 in a couple of weeks, and Mom will be 81 later this year. She realizes that I need to be able to make decisions in case one of them becomes unable to do so. It's hard to watch what the aging process has done to my Dad, in particular. I'm afraid he'll have to go to a nursing home within the next year, and I know he will not be happy about it. Luckily, they do have an insurance policy which will cover a good portion of the cost. But it's not something I'm looking forward to.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Taking Time to Play

I took a few minutes to play this afternoon. I've been using Kaffe Fassett fabric for both my Lollypop Trees and my Baltimore Christmas block. I keep a small plastic bin beside my applique chair (my recliner), and I've been throwing all the little scraps in it. So today I took the bin up to my studio and stitched away. I let my intuition take over and tried not to think about what I was doing too much.

I trimmed it to 9 1/2 inches when I thought I was done. So if I keep this up, I'll have another lovely stack of blocks at the end of the year.
Don't forget to check out my new blog, Live A Productive Life. This week (starting tomorrow) I'll be focusing on saving money at the grocery store. I saved almost 40% on groceries last week (without a single coupon). And it's not too late to enter to win a Brother Label Maker!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Need More Time to Quilt?

Doesn't everyone need more time? Do you ever feel at the end of the day (or week, or month, or year!) that you didn't really accomplish anything? You look back and wonder what you did. I know I do this a LOT! I think most of us waste tons of time without realizing it.
I would love to be more productive and I'll bet you would, too. I read other quilters' blogs and I'm often amazed at what some of them are able to accomplish - quilt after quilt after quilt! But it's not just about quilting. I want to be more productive and efficient in all areas of my life. I want my housework to be streamlined. I want to spend less time running dreaded errands. I want to save money in all aspects of my life, starting with groceries.

The ironic thing about my productivity goal, is that I was trained to be an efficiency expert! I have a degree in Industrial Engineering, which is about being efficient and productive. Go figure! Somehow my training and work experience never made it into my home life. But that's about to change!

So how do we start? I know you're wondering! The answer is simple. We'll start this journey together. I'm starting a new blog, Live a Productive Life. We'll get organized together, learn to save money together, learn to make our days on this Earth really count! Isn't that what it's all about?
So if you want to join the bandwagon, go to Live a Productive Life. I'm starting off with a giveaway - you don't want to miss it! It's something that will really help in getting started.

By the way, the top two pictures are of my first finish for this year. This was a commission quilt. I have now officially retired from commission quilts for the time being. I only did this one because it was for a Very Important Person. I couldn't say no. But that was the old me!

So now I'm back to working on my Lollypop Trees.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Another BOM finish and a New Hobby

Ta Dah! I finished the January Sue Spargo BOM last night by appliqueing the little red circles around the center of the flower.
The little wool circles are only a quarter of an inch across. So how do you cut such little circles? With a hole punch!
Hopefully the pictures are much less blurry today than yesterday. I tried really hard to focus!
In the last couple of weeks, I've picked up a new hobby. The best thing about it is that it doesn't cost anything! In fact, it's a hobby that saves me money. What could be better?

Daughter 2 has a friend who got her started with couponing for groceries and personal care items. I really didn't think much about it at first. The thought of spending hours clipping coupons and organizing them to save a few cents here and there has never appealed to me. BUT, the more I heard stories of how much she's been saving, the more intrigued I'm become. There's a great website (more on that in the near future) that guides you through the process at any given grocery store or drug store. It takes minimal time to get organized and start saving big bucks.

I'm just getting started, but I'm amazing at what I can do already. Yesterday I went to Walgreens - not for medicine, but for a few items they have on special this week. I didn't even use a coupon! Here's my receipt:
You can see that I spent $14.36 and my savings were $14.37! I saved more that I spent! Plus I came home with a $3.00 coupon for my next purchase there.

I bought:
2 Arm and Hammer Laundry Detergent (buy one get one free)
1 Deoderant (on sale)
1 box of Kellogg's Raisin Bran (on sale)
2 packages of gum (on sale)

I think that's pretty darn good considering how expensive dry cereal and laundry detergent have gotten.

Don't worry - we're not hurting for money or anything like that. But why not save when you can? It's really rewarding to come home from a shopping trip knowing that I saved so much on items I needed to buy anyway. And I figure that saving money is almost like making money.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Wooly Weekend

Late last week, the mailman brought my January kit for the Sue Spargo block of the month. Oh what a yummy delight! It came with everything: lots of wool, a bit of cotton, some velvet, some of the most colorful and unusual embellishing threads, plus complete instructions. I had the option of ordering the wool thread to applique the wool pieces to the background - I ordered it and I'm so glad I did! Each month I'll build on my wool thread collection so by year's end, I'll have a really nice variety for future use.

I started with the wool applique, seen above.
Then the beautiful embellishing stitches are done. Each month Sue teaches me (through her thorough instructions) 4 new stitches.

These pictures are blurry today - almost every picture I took is blurry. My eyesight must be a bit off today. Have I mentioned I have REALLY poor eyesight?

This project is off the beaten track for me - and that's a good thing! It's nice to start the year leaning something new. So far I'm on schedule this month for my three BOMs. The Sue Spargo BOM goes very quickly; I'm really glad one of the three is quick. I've already finished my Baltimore Christmas January block (the angels) and have started the February block. And my first Lollypop Tree block is coming along nicely.

Funny news for the day:
My son-in-law is a teacher. For now he's doing lots of subbing until he can get a permanent job in the Fall. Today he's subbing for a teacher who teaches Chemistry......and Quilting! My advice to him was to be careful with rotary cutters, always sew with right sides together, and maintain a quarter inch seam allowance. The basics, right?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soup and Houses

What a nice day! I woke up still feeling rough, but I dug into my list from yesterday and actually accomplished some things. And then after a yummy bowl of roasted vegetable soup (leftover from the weekend) for lunch, I started feeling better. It's about time!
The day just kept getting better and better. The mailman brought me a wonderful prize - I won house blocks from Beth at Love Laugh Quilt! Back in December I sent her a house block for her challenge, and low and behold, she drew my name! Don't you love this Peace house?
And this adorable one with the owlie in the window?
I love me some owlies! I received nine 12-inch house blocks and I can't wait to put them together.

So before I go to bed, I'll make another list and maybe tomorrow will be another productive day.

Happy Fabric

Doesn't this fabric scream happy? I discovered it a few weeks ago while Daughter 2 and I were at Joann's. It was one of those shopping trips when I wasn't planning on buying fabric. We were there to buy the little eyes and nose for the doxie puppy she was crocheting. BUT...this fabric jumped off the shelf and into my buggy.
The squares are about two inches. I can see this as a quilt in itself, with simple straight quilting along the perimeter of the squares. Or it would be an absolute bonanza for fussy cutting. I bought a ton of it - I think six yards. I have big plans for it!
Here's a shot of the selvage in case you want to score some for yourself.

I'm still stuggling to get my strength back. Today I'm trying a new approach - I'm starting the day off with a list of things to accomplish. I just can't keep sitting here in my recliner! I think forcing myself to get a few simple things done may help me feel better. Included in my list today are making a few phone calls, prewashing some fabric for a quilt binding, sketching a few quilt designs on paper (it's time they got out of my head!), and maybe even a bit of machine quilting. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lucked Out!

We really lucked out in our area weather-wise. Birmingham sits right in the middle of the winter storm that came through last night. Some areas not far from here got six inches of snow. But we only got a dusting. However, there is about an inch of ice under the snow, so the roads are all impassable. It is the best case scenario for us. Hubby must work from home (yay!) and we didn't lose electricity (yay!).

So I will continue my recliner sewing that has been going on for quite some time now. I still don't feel that great - I have that dizzy feeling in my head that won't seem to go away. But I know in another week or so, I'll start getting my strength back and hopefully will feel less loopy. I took my last antibiotic this morning.
I started stitching hexies together in a long chain on Saturday. I had hubby place them on the deck so I could get a few pics from the doorway:

Hubby: You want me to put them where? But there's snow on the table.
Me: I know. It won't hurt them.

He patiently stood by while I zoomed in and clicked away. He's a good dog, as I always tell him. The ultimate compliment.

And yesterday I felt compelled to start the Baltimore Christmas block number 2. So much for my break on this project! I was thrilled to discover that this block is much less intricate than the angel block!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lollypop Tree

The year of the BOM continues. You already know I'm working on the Baltimore Christmas quilt, and I'll also be doing the Sue Spargo 2011 BOM project. But wait! There's more! Hubby got me Kim McLean's Lollypop Tree pattern along with plenty of chocolate Kaffee Fasset Aboriginal Dot for the backgrounds.
These are big, easy curves to applique - a walk in the park after the Baltimore Christmas angels! And it's really fun to fussy cut wonderful Kaffee fabrics to stitch.

There are 16 blocks in this quilt, so it's not truely a BOM, but it will be fun to work on this year.

We have a forecast of up to 8 inches of snow here Sunday night. Along with ice. Oh dear.

Hubby and I are ready in case the power goes out. We have stocked up on peanut butter and jelly, along with trail mix so we won't starve.

We've stocked up on batteries for the flashlights so we can see.

I did all the laundry so we'll have clean clothes.

We stocked up on paper plates and cups in case we can't wash dishes.

We even went the extra mile and rented a generator to power our television Monday night so we can watch our alma mater in the National Championship game.

Bring on the snow!

Friday, January 7, 2011


This is how I'm feeling today - a bit blurry, but slowing coming into focus. This morning Daughter 2 left for college, so I'm alone in the house for the first time in over a month. My antibiotics are beginning to kick in - by Monday I should be fully focused.

I've set myself a few small goals for the day so I can get back into the swing of life without overdoing it.

1. Thoroughly clean kitchen. Check.
2. Clean den. Check.
3. Vacuum kitchen and den - still need to do.
4. Make roasted vegetable soup for supper. Check.
5. Go to Costco to pick up new eyeglasses - still need to do.

So I'm making headway. Once the house is back together, I'm going to get my studio in order. That may take a few days. Then on to my next big project - pulling my next book together. I've been designing quilts in my head during the holidays and I'm looking forward to putting them on paper and then selecting the fabrics for the samples. It's going to be a good year!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One BOM done

Despite not feeling well, I've managed to sit in my recliner and stitch. Yesterday I finished the Baltimore Christmas January block. Okay, so I haven't done the embroidery yet, but the applique is done - yay me!
I put a dime in the middle so you can see how tiny the shoes are - smaller than Barbie shoes! The funny thing is that the first pair of shoes I stitched ended up being the best! Somehow, as I progressed through each angel, their shoes got bigger and wonkier!

The next block has candy canes and gingerbread men. I'm going to take a break before I start it. I think my Sue Spargo BOM kit for January is supposed to come next week.
Thanks for all the nice comments on Daughter 2's crocheted dachshund puppy. The pattern came from this boxed calendar I gave her for Christmas. I got it at Joann's near the checkout counter.
Here's the publisher. There were lots of cute patterns inside!

Happy Birthday to Elizabeth, Daughter 2! My baby is 21!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A New Puppy!

Isn't he adorable? Daughter 2 whipped him up this week with her crochet hook in hand. Next best thing to having another real one.

I'm feeling a bit better. Hopefully, tomorrow I'll have more energy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Inevitable

After getting through the wedding, Christmas, and New Year's Eve and Day, my cold turned into something worse. I can't complain though since I made it through all the celebrations. I went to the doctor today and was given a lovely steroid injection. Came home and crashed on the sofa. Hopefully, I'll have more energy tomorrow.

So why am I showing you mushrooms and pearl onions? Because before I got so sick, on the 30th, Daughter 2 and I spent the entire afternoon making Beouf Bourguignon, Julia Child's recipe. One year I gave her Julia's book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, for Christmas, and she gave me a copy of the movie, Julia and Julie. We had seen the movie together months before.
We had never attempted to cook something quite so complicated and time consuming. It was so much fun doing it together. Special memories! And the dish fully lived up to its expectations - very delicious!!!!

Be back soon with crafty goodness. Sniff, sneeze, cough....