Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Year Day!

What will you do with your extra calendar day this year?
By Nancy Lucas for http://leapyearday.com/content/celebrate-spin
I was planning to take a class today, but unfortunately it was cancelled.  I don’t really need the class because I once made an easy Christmas table runner with pre-made tape in a Celtic design.  It came from this book:
And looked like this, only I made mine with Christmas fabric on the outside:
I can’t locate the pic of mine right now and the runner is in a Christmas box that I’m not going to drag out to photograph it.

I had wanted to take a class called Celtic Hearts to learn to make my own bias tape – that pre-made stuff is expensive!!  And I thought I’d get some more Celtic designs because I like them.  I think I can figure this out on my own with little trouble.  My book has instructions for that and I had already bought the bias tape maker for the class – the kind that adds the Steam-a-Seam 2 onto the back for you.  And I have started to search for designs on the web and found plenty, but classes with other people are fun and the instructors usually have great tips to facilitate the process.  I’m bummed but I will persevere.

I did find this free design at Fons and Porter’s site that includes a stencil pattern.  I think I’m going to start with this.
I’ll not be making this entire quilt, but I may make some Celtic Knots and some Cobblestones.  I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Blatant Plug or Good Idea?

Happy National Pancake Day!
Yep, since 2006 the well-known breakfast chain restaurant, IHOP, has been sponsoring National Pancake Day.  Today (Feb 28, 2012), guests at their restaurant can enjoy a free short stack of pancakes and the only request is that participants consider leaving a donation to the Children’s Miracle Network or other designated local charities.  I'm thinking IHOP had a Good Idea.

I am familiar with the Children’s Miracle Network and their hospitals throughout the USA through the Quilts for Kids organization where I make frequent donations.  I was excited recently when I saw that a quilt that I had sent to them was posted in their website’s gallery with a lovely comment about its simplicity and colors.  Click this link to see my quilt I called Hawaiian Party.

And would you like to know what the world record is for stacking pancakes?!  Andy Wrobel stacked up 60 pancakes up to about 2 ½ feet to take over the Guiness Book Record.
Andy is in Melbourne, Australia, and cooks up his pancakes at a restaurant called the Pancake Parlor.  The stack eventually collapsed but I’ll bet a good time was had consuming the structural components ... Yum!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How the Quilt Got Butterflies

The subtitle of this post should be “Read the Directions”…

The quilt top that I have been working on with the cute “cats in the tulips” fabric is from the book “What a Novel Idea” by Pat Sloan.  The picture on the cover is the top that I am making.  See how well the border fits and the lovely triangle in the corner where the borders meet?
Pat Sloan's Book Cover Quilt
Well, that only happens if you read the directions and you square up your half-square triangles to the size given.  The cutting directions give you over-size pieces and I missed reading that step.  So each of my side borders was either too long or too short (depending on how many squares I tried to make it fit).  I ended up with corners that looked like this:
So what’s a body to do?  Unsewing that many squares was just not in the stars.  I thought about putting a green square across the orange corner square (like a snowball corner), but I went a different direction.   I decided to take my corners as they were, add satin stitch antennae and add appliqu├ęd butterfly bodies.  Voila!
Bugs in the fields of tulips with the cats.  Gives them something to chase.  So this top is finished, but unlikely to get quilted this month.  Even with Leap Year, not enough days in this month!
I’m taking a class on making Celtic Hearts and making bias tape this week.  Should be fun.  Watch this spot …

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Little of This and That

I think one of the absolute BEST things about living in the good ol’ USA is the Public Library.  I and my family have always been big patrons of libraries.  We haul out books by the dozens, treat them with respect, then go back and exchange them for more.

I recently went to a nearby library that has a Master Gardener volunteering to come in for a few hours once a week.  I was able to ask about the orchid that I posted about here.  It is continuing to thrive and is now getting a new leaf in addition to the flower stalk that is growing.  I wanted to ask whether it needed to be repotted and when would be a good time if it did.  All of my questions were answered by a knowledgeable person and for free …  What a deal~!!

And the library that I can walk up to just got in this new quilt book:
I have been trying to get out of the box without much success.  Maybe these designs (with explicit instructions) will help – ok, that’s counterintuitive but it’s a start!  Maybe I can see a Funky Chicken in my future …

I’ve just been dabbling in the sewing room this past week.  I finished quilting the Tam’s Patch quilt that I made with leftover novelty fabrics.  This was the one that I had so much trouble with the thread breaking and I had to rip out a few rows of quilting.  I would really have loved it with the variegated thread, but I guess *done* is better than perfectly undone.  This one will go to Wrap-a-Smile.
And I am joining in a block swap with Mailblocks that has us making 3 sizes of blocks (our choices for the designs) and I have been experimenting to make sure my choices work up properly.  These are the 12 and 6 inch blocks.
Two 12" Fair and Square Blocks

Cathy's Campfire - 6"
Fair and Square is from Quilt.com at this site:
 http://www.quilt.com/BlockOfTheMonth/1997/FairAndSquare.html
And Cathy’s Campfire is from Marcia Hohn’s Quilter’s Cache at this site:

Now I need to get serious about finishing my orange and green cats quilt.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday - A Day to Repent

I went for a walk this morning.  I had to.  You see, I ate an ENTIRE bag of Voortman’s Mini Coconut Crunch cookies in two days.  They were good.  Very, very good.  I enjoyed every minute, except the part where my husband said I was worse than a little kid.  Well, I guess that part didn’t bother me too much because I polished that bag right off.

I have been in Weight Watchers for three years now.  I lost the weight in one year and have been trying to maintain the loss for two years.  The cookie bag counted for 48 WW Points.  The Plan lets you have 49 Weekly Allowance Points that are extra you can use for special occasions.  I felt pretty Special.  But today I went for a walk, so there!

The quilt with the cute kitty fabric is getting its borders put on.  Here’s some progress:

And here are the sandhill cranes that I saw recently.

They are usually found in family groups (the young stay with their parents until about 10 months) or in pairs like these two.  They are monogamous.  Our population of Florida Sandhill Cranes increases in the winter when Northern Sandhill Cranes migrate down from more northern states to winter in Florida.  Yep.  More Snowbirds for us.  Although they are found in fields, pastures and marshes, they do not “fish”  like other cranes and herons.  They eat seeds, grains, berries, insects, earthworms and small lizards, etc.; in other words, a little bit of everything.  Unfortunately, they seem to be oblivious to cars and will cross the road slowly with no thought to their safety.  I guess that means that it’s up to us to be on the lookout for these majestic creatures.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Walking on Wednesdays

Talk about your camouflage!
According to the Florida Forestry Association, this tree is a Sycamore, also called a Buttonwood or Plane Tree.  Its bark flakes off annually in large patches and exposes the nearly white, green or tan younger bark.  The fruit on it is about a 1 inch ball that breaks up in early spring when its small seeds are scattered by the wind.  I didn’t know we had Sycamores in Florida until I starting paying attention on my walks.  This branch with the fruit on it was on the sidewalk and caused me to look around and see where it came from – you can see the balls starting to break up and get fluffy:
Apparently teenage boys are requesting camo quilts these days.  When I make another for Quilts for Kids, I’ll drag out this tree picture to use as a guide in color selection!

But meanwhile, this is in the works today.  I’ve had this fabric with the cats in the tulips for quite a while, so I found a pattern in one of my books and am working up a quilt for Wrap-a-Smile.  I need to adapt the size from the pattern so may slow down a bit tomorrow while I try to remember how to do math and figure that out.

Aren’t those cats cute?!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

If you find it in your heart
to care for somebody else,
you will have succeeded.
Maya Angelou

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Whipped Up a Scrappy

Sometimes in the quilting world you just want to work up a top so easy-peasy that you don’t even have to think.  Can I get an *Amen*?!!
This Totally Scrappy top filled that bill for me last night.  I won all of these blocks in a lottery and I just had to lay them out and sew rows and *whoopee!* a finished top.  The blocks were from the Quilter’s Cache website, a design called Scrapbagger:

And for a totally off-topic picture, I saw this little thing hanging in a scrub forest  made up of oaks, cypress, wax myrtles, palmetto palms, etc.
In our area, these are usually for early detection of the Mediterranean fruit fly that can cause very serious harm to our food supply.  Although we often think of how these little devils can destroy the extremely valuable citrus crops, they actually attack over 250 different fruits, vegetables and nuts, including tomatoes, peppers, guavas and mangoes.   This is a close-up of the trap, but it was being used in California against the threat of Light Brown Apple Moths ... doesn’t sound likely here.
Because they weren’t near citrus trees, I can’t help but wonder what they are targeting.  I didn’t find anything on the State Agriculture website, but I’ll watch the newspaper to see if anything comes up.  Just curious, don’tcha know??


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My First Doll Quilt

I blogged about the Lil’ Twister baby quilt that I made recently (see photo in this post).  The baby-to-be has a big sister (aged 2 ½) and I usually give any siblings a little gift along with the baby gift so they won’t feel left out.  This time I had bought a cute stuffed toy known as a “Pillow Pet” … this little ladybug has a Velcro belt underneath that you can undo and lay the critter flat for a small pillow.  I decided to make the critter a little blankie that matched the baby’s quilt.  It is doll-sized at 12 ¼ x 14 ¼ and I love its diminutive dimensions!
And I am making progress on working on my mom’s storage boxes.  This is why there is too much stuff:
These were all in a Baggie from just from one box of bathroom items (there are more boxes) – and she already has other multiples of these scissors, nail clippers and tweezers in her bathroom at assisted living.  These are going out the door ASAP … then maybe my sanity will come back!

Monday, February 6, 2012

National Get Organized Month

I'm not really late - I just didn't report last month about an activity that I had started.

It was January that was actually “National Get Organized Month” which is sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers.   I do watch HGTV and I have seen the people who go into homes and help the messy to recover their spaces but I guess I never paid attention to the fact that there is a professional organization for those skilled people!  Right now, I admire their abilities.

The reason I’m interested is that I have started to clear out my mother’s storage area – whew! – what a task!  I started in January with the goal of moving her stuff from a very large unit to a much smaller (and less expensive) unit.  She used to have furniture in there, but that’s gone  so if I could reduce the size and number of the boxes, I could manage it better.

Last month, I selected box after box that was labeled “seasonal” ….. these all held silk flowers, knick-knacks, stuffed animals, etc associated with an event such as Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, etc.

My mother is now in an assisted living facility and has limited space to display all of her memorabilia.  The problem is that she has not only accumulated her own stuff over her 85 years, but that she also has stuff from both sets of my grandparents.  I am doing my best to weed out duplicates and ascertain which have sentimental value for her.  Then I’m saving a few for each season/holiday and putting them into separate boxes so I can haul them over to her when it’s the right time.

This is a photo of part of the “unsorted” seasonal stuff, after I had already polished off the huge amount of Christmas stuff and the final sorted stuff after I boxed it up to go back to storage.  Believe me, it’s reduced – took me two days to finish.
That's spring and Easter on the right
And this is the next load that I have in my spare room to sort.  I’m determined to get her into a smaller storage unit by April.  Wish me luck!
I did get my Craftsy BOMs for February finished today.  These were designed to teach people two methods of creating half-square triangles.  I’ve used both methods before so it wasn’t new-to-me and they went quickly.  The third block is because I had some scraps and thought I’d send this “matching” block along with the others to my group’s monthly block lottery.  The one on the left is called a Balkan Puzzle, the one on the right is a Zig-Zag and the third is just a scrappy.

If I turn it sideways, I could call it railroad gates to go
 with the kerchiefs and little trains in the blocks above!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

QOV Update

I met with my Quilt of Valor group yesterday and took my finished top.  When I took the close-up picture, I forgot to get the detail of the inner border.  It was a bugga-boo to put on.  The fabric was originally rows of the letters *USA* separated by stars in a square.  The volunteers had already cut it apart when I received it, so I had to be careful when sewing it on so that I didn’t cut off the tops and bottoms of the letters (not a full 1/4 inch available).  But first, I had to piece the borders in such a way that the integrity of the letters was maintained (no mitering like I normally would do).  Then I kept trying to fit the border so that nothing was cutoff.  I finally gave up and let the ends at two corners read *US*.  Best I could do!
Bonnie Hunter Pattern - Fourth of July
Now that I am more familiar with the pattern (I printed off my own copy from Bonnie's website - she gives blanket permission to do that), I know that many of the squares are not turned properly.  My next one will be much better!  Other members brought back finished tops, too, so the group now has 5 tops at the long-arm quilters (volunteers).  Our next meeting will be spent making up lots more kits that can be signed out and brought back.
Another top ready for borders
And yet ANOTHER top having borders sewn on
And yes, we went out to lunch again, and I readily admit to succumbing to the allure of the raisin toast.  I had tomato rice soup and the toast and both were wonderful!

Now I’m planning on a lazy weekend.  The weather has been so great here that I just want to get outdoors and piddle around – no heavy weed pulling, no extreme walks, just leisurely enjoying the balmy temperature while it lasts.  My azaleas and day lilies are blooming and my lone orchid has a new stalk.  I was so excited to see it since I was pretty sure I had brown-thumbed the poor plant to death.  But apparently, it is happy, so I fed it and we’ll see if it makes it to flowering!


The stalk coming out at the top left is the flower starting to form -
 I'll hitch it to the green stake when it gets a little longer

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

Groundhog Day has its roots in Candlemas Day in Europe when early Christian clergy blessed candles and distributed them to people in the dark of Winter.  An old English saying had it that if Candlemas was fair and bright then Winter had another flight, but if Candlemas brought clouds and rain, then Winter would not come again.

Here in the US, the Delaware Indians had settled in an encampment known as Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (about 90 miles north of Pittsburgh).  For the Delaware, groundhogs were honorable ancestors and they watched for them to see their shadow to predict the continuation of Winter.  The Germans had watched for a badger to predict the same and brought their traditions to America.  The two rituals have blended together into our modern day event of Groundhog Day.

The earliest American reference to Groundhog Day comes from 1841 and is taken from a Morgantown storekeeper’s diary.  James Morris’ diary can be found at the Pennsylvania Dutch Folklore Center at Franklin and Marshall College.  Morris says:

            “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy re remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”

So, today Punxsutawney Phil, as he is affectionately known, did see his shadow, so unfortunately, there will not be an early Spring.  On the plus side, Phil has only a 39% track record of being correct.  To read more about Groundhog Day or to know more about the making of the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray, go to http://www.stormfax.com/ghogday.htm
Here in my sewing room, it is pleasant and bright.  I am working on a Quilt of Valor.  Today, I will be putting on an inner and outer border then I’ll turn it in at the group’s meeting tomorrow.
the tags on the left are row numbers so I could keep them in order!