More Birthday Blocks

Deb's block finally arrived yesterday -- 14 long days after she mailed it from probably 100 miles away. Apparently, it opted for the scenic route! Jeanne's came today; here are the two latest additions to my birthday star quilt:
Birthday blocks from Deb and Jeanne

I also realized, after a quick look back, that I never posted blocks #3 and 4 to share with you. Here they are, from Becca (l) and Faye:
My birthday block from Becca Birthday Block from Faye

This is going to be a great quilt!


Quilting Makes the Quilt

I've been to several local and regional quilt shows, which are generally guild-sponsored, and seen some great quilts. I'm frequently disappointed, though, at the actual quilting of the quilts on display. I know that every quilt is not destined for intricate, custom quilting, but I get tired of seeing the same two panto designs applied to half the quilts, and a big meander with variegated thread applied to the other half. Boring. My quilts, at least, deserve better, no matter what their purpose. Thoughtful quilting doesn't have to be detailed, but it does have to complement the quilt design.

Because I enjoy the quilting process as much or more than the piecing, I always look at it when I look at quilts. I look for good design choices and motifs that "work" with the quilt. There are allover patterns that work, but I'm usually drawn to the seriously custom work -- it's inspirational to see how people approach design differently. A bigger show (in this case, World Quilt in New Hampshire) helps fill the creative "tank"...

Here's an example (please click for bigger image):
Amethyst Arcs - detail
This quilt by Rosemary Archer is based on a Judy Martin pattern, and this photo is a detail shot -- I didn't even photograph the full quilt, since a) I have the book, b) unlike Colene, purple is so not my color, and most importantly, c) the quilting makes the quilt.

So what's so great about the quilting? Take a closer look -- there is a really neat "ring" of quilting around each of the smaller stars that gives them equal visual impact to the bigger stars. That ring is composed of 6 concentric circles, arranged in pairs to create depth and definition. McTavishing and other kinds of swirly bits make up the background/filler quilting. The stars themselves are very lightly quilted -- enough to accent them, but not enough to flatten them into oblivion.

This is a great quilting solution, and one I know I wouldn't have thought of independently. Of course, I don't have the skills -- or the longarm! -- to do this myself, but nonetheless, it's quilts like these that make me happy I went to the show.


What Was I Thinking?!

I can't believe it -- things were so crazy here when I got back from the World Quilt show that I never shared my pictures with you, or talked about the actual show. I think I'll do that now, since you're all DYING to hear about it ;)

Mom and I took in the show over the course of three days -- no, it wasn't that big, we just had other things to do, too! After class on Friday, we spent about an hour -- exactly what was needed -- in the smaller exhibition hall. Many of prize-winning quilts were hung in this room, with vendors all around. I think this quilt by Sonia Bardella of Italy was my favorite from this room:

Rolling Into Spring

It's so cute and whimsical -- and it also got an honorable mention at the 2007 IQA show.

Saturday morning, we headed north to visit the Canterbury Shaker Village (more on that another day -- I'll admit to being curious about their religion and way of life), and returned in time for another couple of hours before we gave in to exhaustion and headed up to our room and ordered pizza! Two more hours Sunday morning and we were on the road again...

It becomes harder and harder to choose "favorites" -- I found things to like about almost all the quilts. Some highlights, though, include the two Flori, Flora quilts (one shown here), Tropical Island, Prince's Feathers: Rising Sun and Lucy with a Book:

Flori Flora #? Tropical Island Prince's Feathers: Rising Sun Lucy with a Book

You'll find all the quilts (and appropriate labels) in this set of my Flickr album. Grab a cuppa your choice and enjoy a little quilt show in your pjs. Yes, I have eclectic tastes, so be prepared for a mix of gorgeous traditional quilts, innovative wonders and some cool details. Some are details only -- I snapped to remember a quilting pattern or a specific concept. Those are some of the most useful images to me, so I went ahead and posted them all. (By the time I'd cropped and sized 240 pics, I was too bored to edit the selection anyway!)

More impressions about the show later, I promise.

Pet Peeve (literally!)

Why, oh why, my dear George, is my presence required in the kitchen while you partake of your evening meal? Once your head is in the breakfast bowl, I think a truck could drive through the house and you wouldn't come up for air. Is breakfast that much more delicious than dinner? (Should I mention that the food is the same -- it comes from the same bag, is measured with the same measuring cup, and is dumped into the same bowl?)

But dinner, now that's an entirely different proposition. You greet me at the door, howl for food, and then, almost daily, can't decide if you should eat dinner or sit in your favorite window which I've opened upon my arrival. When you do choose food, you can't seem to focus on the meal and keep wandering back to me. When I go to the kitchen in search of my dinner, you're crying again. You'll only eat quietly when I'm standing in the room. My dear one, why is this? Why the crying and moaning and carrying on, day after day after day? Please, please -- could you get just a touch of laryngitis for a couple of days?!
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The Culprit...


A while ago (who knows how long, honestly), I managed to drop a spoon down the garbage disposal. Of course, I didn't know it was there -- that sucker has the biggest gaping mouth I've ever seen -- and when the sink clogged up, I tried to run the disposal, thinking it might help clear the clog. When that didn't work, I resorted to Dran-O -- which showed me the utensil and helped somewhat with the clog. The spoon was wedged in tightly, and I couldn't get it out with the pliers. It didn't take long before the drain didn't work well again.

I finally broke down this afternoon and called the plumber. He met me here literally less than 30 minutes after I called -- that's SERIOUS service. He had to try three different pliers and other tools to extract the spoon, but that's all it took. No spoon = free flowing drain. He reset the disposer and was gone in 10 minutes. WAY easier than I expected, and much quicker, too. Of course, I haven't seen the bill yet...

If you're in my area, I'd definitely recommend them -- Howe & Bassett -- this is the second piece of great work they've done for me in two years. My realtor recommended him... if you're looking for a service professional of any type in your area, may I suggest Angie's List? It's not free, but it's a great service.


Missing my favorite summertime treat...

Originally uploaded by vanwas

I didn't get home to Michigan this summer, and, thanks to Pat Sloan, I'm now craving one of my ultimate favorite summertime treats -- Pronto Pups. Do you know these delicious dogs? Until this morning, I didn't know they were a franchise...

This is the Pronto Pup stand on the boardwalk in Grand Haven... Two serving windows, with the fryer in the middle. Each battered and deep fried dog-on-a-stick comes wrapped with a cheap napkin around the wooden skewer. Ketchup and/or mustard are painted on by the server with basting brushes. I think they serve chips and fountain pop with the pups, and that's about it.

The lines can be soooo looong... and they're soooo worth it!

Snagged the pic from vanwas on flickr...


Drinking and Driving...

Drinking and Driving...

So, my sister and I "collect" interesting, funny and downright stupid road signs and roadside attractions. We've got some cute ones -- "Drive Friendly" on the Turnpike in Oklahoma and the "Mobile Home in the Sky" in Missouri... but this one might take the cake. I know New Hampshire's State Motto is "Live Free or Die," but dontcha think this is an unusual juxtaposition -- a state liquor store at a highway rest stop?

This one's really bugging me...

Practicing Restraint...

I thought I'd borrow a page from Kate's book (or fantastic blog, more accurately) and show you what I bought at World Quilt over the weekend. From the back left and going clockwise:
  • Martelli 45mm ergonomic rotary cutter (thanks, mom!). I've been wanting to try one of these -- it's a different feeling just playing around with it, but I'm looking forward to giving it a workout.
  • Pattern for a "feathered pinwheel" quilt (paper pieced, all the foundations included, but nothing else helpful, like a yardage chart).
  • Pattern for "Imagination Flower Garden" -- it's designed to use FreeSpirit's Follow Your Imagination line by Prints Charming.
  • Fabric for same -- this project looks like applique, but it's the fabric, silly! (Of course, if it HAD been applique, I'd have left all this behind...) Since it's red and white, I couldn't resist! This was the only item I didn't pay cash for on the entire trip -- pretty good for me!
  • Package of felted wool scraps from a charming vendor. I thought I could use some little bits of various colors on my darling sheep quilt.
  • Bundle of wool pieces, a little smaller than fat eights, from (of all places) Aunt Grace by Marcus Brothers. These still need to be felted, but the colors are gorgeous in wool. Don't know why I needed these, but I did ;)
  • Finally, some gorgeous rayon thread to do the handwork on my Melody quilt. The orange was a half of a two-toned thread -- the other half was a yellow/gold color that looked great on mom's quilt, so we just cut the thing in half. Looks messy now, but the color is perfect.
And that's it -- three days worth of shopping! (We visited the show each of the three days we were there, for an hour or two at a time, mixing showing and looking at quilts as we went.) Hmmm... if I had skipped the red and white quilt, I could have had a gorgeous handmade oval Shaker box instead... Oh well -- the quilt's bound to be warmer!


Class with "Mrs. Mel" -- all the details!

We had such a fun time in class with Melody last week. After a little confusion first thing in the morning about which day it was and what class we were taking, we got to dive into a stack of her absolutely yummy rainbow hand-dyed fabric. Good thing the class was small -- that was a little frenzied! Here are my picks, laid out in all their glory:

My fabric #1 My fabric #2

We started by fusing Wonder Under to each piece of fabric, covering it completely, then peeling off the release paper. According to Melody, this allows us to cut shapes freely, and the fabric won't fray because we're not picking at the edge of the paper.

Then we cut a long strip, and subcut into segments, keeping them carefully in order so there would be a progression of color in the chevron units. I'll show you my mom's chevrons, since I failed to photograph mine!

Mom's chevrons and stripes

Next we made our own new fabric, by cutting strips of fabric two, then cutting them into skinnier pieces with fancy rotary blades and curvy shapes. We shared strips at this point, and fused them into new sections. You can see mom's finished results in the above picture, but here are a couple of process photos:

One long strip of each New fabric

From there we cut squares into quarters and made these quarter square units:

My finished QST blocks

Cut more strips, and then the real fun begins! All the leftover odds and ends, as well as any other ideas, became fair game as we tackled the most free-form and artistic section. Here's mine:

My decorated panel

Then to decide how to put the pieces together... You've seen mine (although I just realized I posted it upside down the other day -- I'm going to try to fix that!). so I'll show you a couple of the ones made by others in class:

Finished project #A Finished project #B

Aren't they all fantastic? I wish I had pics of some of the other quilts... hopefully Melody will post the ones she took so you can enjoy them, too! All in all, it was a fun and freeing class. There wasn't too much thinking about the process -- until the third panel, at least for me -- and we got to play with the lovely fabrics and enjoy learning something new.

PS -- click the photos for bigger sizes, or visit my Flickr album for a few more notes...


Merry Melody

My quilt from class with Melody

Just a quick note -- and a little brag ;)
My mom and are at World Quilt International in New Hampshire this weekend, and took a class with Melody Johnson today. She's a founding member of the Chicago School of Fusing, so this class project didn't even require a sewing machine! Pictured above is my finished quilt top. I'm not sure of the size -- it's in the neighborhood of 20" high by maybe 25" wide. This shot was taken on the floor of our hotel room; it's now fused to batting and ready for some hand embroidery before adding backing and machine quilting.

Pictured below is my mom's finished top -- she's more comfortable with a less abstract approach, so creating the flower in her top panel made a theme for the piece and she's excited about finishing it. She claims it'll hang only in the cats' room, but even so, *I'll* get to enjoy it!

More on the class -- and the show -- later.

EDITED: To rotate the picture of my quilt top, since I posted it upside down last week...
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Paybacks are H***

A colleague shared this letter with me this morning; he knows the 86-year-old woman who authored it. It's hysterical!

* * * * *

An 86 year old woman wrote this letter to her bank...The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times.

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month.

By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it.

I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, --- when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person.

My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact which I require your chosen employee to complete.

I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her
financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at MY convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Let me level the playing field even further .. When you call me, press buttons as follows:
#1. To make an appointment to see me
#2. To query a missing payment.
#3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
#4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
#5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
#6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier.
#8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
#9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.
#10. This is a second reminder to press* for English.
While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year?

Your Humble Client


Ah, the wonderful world of teeth...

I know this is a little odd, but Karen and I were talking on quilting.about.com the other day about my teeth. She's a friend, and a dental hygenist, and, well, you all know I'm having some issues.

At my first orthodontic evaluation, they took some pictures of my teeth (and face, but I'll spare you that image, in case you've just had a drink of your beverage of choice!)...

Here's the series that shows:
1) how beautifully shaped my teeth are -- seriously, the assistant said that several times. Ulterior motive, perhaps...
2) how straight my teeth are -- thanks, mom and dad, for the braces!
3) how out of whack my bite currently is. Back molar hitting too soon on the right, making left teeth not come together at all (I'm actually forcing my mouth as closed as possible in these pics. "Midline" shifted in the front (ideally, one's four front teeth should align perfectly).

I can't remember if I mentioned before that this is sort of the result of treatment for TMJD. The panorex x-ray did show that the TMjoint is -- finally -- in the correct position, meaning it's operating properly and positioned as it should be. That's good news, although I seriously dislike the resulting bite (if you can even call it that).

Why am I telling you all this? I honestly don't know...
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A Square Beach Scene

It seemed like a good idea to make my Carol Taylor class piece square... until I pinned it that way yesterday. Turns out I don't like that more than I don't like the asymmetry of the corners. Guess I'll get over that!


Fun with Fonts

Have you heard about the film Helvetica? It's about typography and graphic design, and of course, that ubiquitous font Helvetica (at left). Being the nerd that I am, I'm dying to see the film, so I emailed my friend at the local indie cinema, begging for a booking. No dice, but I won't hold it against him!

Through a weird and circuitous path (don't you love web surfing?!) I found Identifont tonight. Ever seen a font you like and would like to use? One you hate and never want to make the mistake of owning? Wondering how to spice up that boring status report? Go there. My favorite feature is the series of questions about the appearance of the type as they "diagnose" the font name based on your clues. I tested it out by randomly answering the questions, and was pleasantly surprised by the result.

What's really behind this? My graphic designer friend Rosemarie and I were talking yesterday about fonts that are overused and therefore meaningless. See, I think type helps convey meaning (and Linotype -- a major font foundry -- offers some suggestions here). We always worry about readability (make it easy for the reader and they're more likely to actually stick with you!), but different faces have different moods. Just take a look at the "Top 10" list on Identifont. Interestingly to me, they're almost all sans serif fonts -- and Helvetica clocks in at #5 this week.

As long as I'm nattering on about type, can Itell you my two LEAST favorite fonts ever? These make me cringe whenever I see them, which is altogether too often!
1. Comic Sans -- cute for kids and comic books, this doesn't portray a professional image in email. Trust me. Especially when it's bright blue and 14 points. UGH. (Hah -- just noticed Microsoft designed it -- now that's funny!)
2. Lucida Handwriting -- the caps aren't terrible, but the affected, fake script complete with little curved dots over i and j just make me want to gag.

Did I stomp on your favorite font? Any that drive you completely insane? Are you wondering why you're still reading this?! (I'm kind of wondering why I'm still writing it...) Oh, one last thing -- I post in Verdana :)

Image of Helvetica face from Identifont.


WIP Wednesday ... on Thursday

So here's one of my works in progress... I've been pushing to finish the pieced inner border before my vacation next week, and I finally did tonight. One of the curved blocks is AWOL, but you get the idea...

This is work from a class with Carol Taylor, called Sensuous Lines and Curves. I took this class a while back (where I met smart girl Tammy for the first time) and just haven't finished it.

The components are:
Center -- couched threads and yarns, on blue batik, batting and muslin backing.
Pieced inner border -- isn't that cute with the little bits of confetti? I think they could be a little smaller, but overall, the look is good.
Curved blocks -- several shades of tan and ecru, inset with curved strips of brown, copper and green. Curves are cut freehand (yup, imagine me operating a rotary cutter without a ruler!). These blocks have to be cut to a uniform size -- they're just "raw" in this snap. Once everything is pieced together, it gets layered and quilted with a great copper-colored thread.

I've actually been contemplating making is square instead of a rectangle. There's something that bugs me about this layout -- can you figure out what it is? Making it square would resolve that issue. But, my "big idea" (term borrowed from Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr) was Lake Michigan, the dunes and the beach grass... I'm not sure the core idea matters that much at this point, but if I want to keep any sense of beach, this shape makes more sense. We'll see...

"Inbox Zero" Update

I know you've just been DYING to hear if I've made progress on this task. I'm happy to say that I have -- my work inbox is down around 50 or 60 messages, which is significant. One of the key messages was not to let email notification run one's life. I'm definitely guilty of that -- if that little envelope appears in my task tray, I click right over to see what's going on. Sometimes it's important, but most of the time, by far, the email would not suffer for resting 30 or 60 minutes. (Sometimes, problems will resolve themselves in that time!) I'm making an effort to stay "on task" longer, and I can definitely see benefit from that if I can make it a habit.

Less email-related but still work-productivity related, I laid down the law at work about proofreading. All documents must come to me and must leave 24 hours for turnaround time. I'm so sick of getting something handed to me that the author expects proofread and approved while they stand in my office. I'm taking back my day -- minute by minute, but I'm doing it!


Snow Day?

Not likely! No snow today -- not surprisingly ;) It *did* rain, which was much needed, though...

Yikes -- I've become a Rochesterian. Rochesterians talk about the weather ALL the time, and never in a positive way, like gee, it's great the sun is shining! My life is apparently very sad, if that's all I have to say today...


Say What?

What does this image say to you? It's Tuesday's weather forecast in Rochester, NY, according to the widget on my iGoogle page. The temperature is supposed to be 91* for a high, 70* for a low. So, this picture indicates a weather MIRACLE -- a miracle, I tell you! Yes, indeed, this particular image means "Chance of Snow Showers." I'm thinking capri pants and snow boots for tomorrow ;-)


The Bat -- Part II

Ding, dong, the bat is gone, the bat is gone, the bat is gone...

I knew it was too much to hope that he went out the way he came in last night, but since I couldn't find him and George didn't so much as make a peep last night or all day today, I remained somewhat optimistic. That, of course, was too good to be true!

Tonight, though, I was prepared. I've had shoes on all day, just in case, and kept my baseball cap, gloves and a broom within arms reach at all times. (The cap is for my own peace of mind -- I know bats don't intentionally fly towards heads or hair, but anything coming at my head makes me nervous, so the cap helps a little.)

The bat flew by around 8:45p. I grabbed my supplies, looked quickly to see that George wasn't anywhere I could see him, and opened the front door and screen door. Last night's theory was that maybe the bat would fly out the door, given the opportunity. I opted to stand outside the door, and look in, sort of watching his progress toward the door and back. It took a few tries, including my absolute revulsion when he wriggled into my kitchen cabinet (sanitizing needed before using anything in there again!), but about the time George wandered downstairs, the bat caught on that life on the other side of the door was going to be much better for him! Hallelujah -- there was great rejoicing by me when he streaked on out. George seems slightly disappointed, but given that he was completely useless this time around, I don't really care.

I do prefer "my" bats dead (after all, it's not like they're invited guests to start with), but it was nice not to have to deal with the removal process, particularly given that they don't always die inside. And maybe this one will tell his friends just how horrible it was to visit. One can only hope. They can squeeze in through the tiniest holes... YUK!

I didn't scream this time...

If I had known that sewing my finger would be the GOOD part of the evening, I'd have gone promptly to bed at 8:30 and covered up my head.

Apparently, my living room looked like a fun place for a brown bat to fly around last night. You know, it always scares the beejesus out of me when that happens. (You're reading the clues right, by the way -- this is not the first time, but rather the third, that I've had a bat for an unannounced visitor.) I didn't scream, but I didn't do anything else right either! I've looked and looked, and can't find him. [See, George got a paw on the first one, and knocked him down and out. The second one knocked himself out flying into walls and landed in a box, which was easily carried outside.] Last night's is still MIA. I did have the front door open for a while last night, hoping he'd fly out... let's hope he did!


Very Important Tip

Seriously: DON'T stick your finger under the sewing machine needle. It hurts like a bitch.

In case you were wondering, my Janome 6500 has plenty of power -- that needle went all the way through my finger. I think manually backing it out hurt even more.

Surprisingly, there's not much blood. That seems good -- running the rotary cutter into a finger causes a lot more bleeding...

Birthday Blocks from Kathi and Kate

I'll confess... I peeked. I just couldn't resist. These blocks from Kathi and Kate are even better in person -- they're going to make a fabulous quilt!

Backing up, Kate is hosting a birthday block swap on the about.com quilting forum. Each of the 12 ladies in my group got to select parameters for blocks she'd like to receive during her birthday month. It didn't work for everyone, but my actual birthday and my swap birthday are the same month -- lucky me!

I asked for 9" finished star blocks in red and white. I'm going to set them on point -- the corner triangles will be pieced and form a frame around each block. I can't wait to see what else arrives in my mailbox this month!
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77 + 4 + 479 = Progress

So I haven't actually read the Inbox Zero "instructions" yet, but I thought I'd take a pass at my work and gmail addresses. Definitely made some progress. In fact, I'm calling gmail done with just four messages -- if I archive them, I'll forget they still need action!


Can YOU get to "Inbox Zero"?

Is it possible? Can one really have an email inbox with zero messages in it? And I don't mean a brand-spanking-new-right-out-of-the-box-email address, either. I mean your real everyday active addresses, the ones you use day in and day out.

True confessions... how many messages are in your inbox, waiting for action? Wasting space? Making your head hurt? Here's what Merlin Mann at 43 Folders says:
Just remember that every email you read, re-read, and re-re-re-re-re-read as it sits in that big dumb pile is actually incurring mental debt on your behalf. The interest you pay on email you’re reluctant to deal with is compounded every day and, in all likelihood, it’s what’s led you to feeling like such a useless slacker today. Maybe? Think about it.
Ouch. I'm at about 160 at work (a lot got ignored today while I tackled a big data project, but that number's been creeping up again lately anyway). Only 78 in my gmail. I'm scared to look at my other account (it gets digests from Yahoo groups) -- oy, it's 482. Clearly, I need help. I don't know if I can ever maintain "inbox zero," but frankly, if I could get to about "Inbox 40" in each account, I'd be thrilled.

I do use email folders at work, but email, like paper, doesn't file itself. I guess it will filter itself, though... more investigation needed! I've got housecleaning to do this weekend, but I'm going to read the system and give it a try next week. It surely can't hurt!

via Mental Floss

Counting Sheep

I've developed an affection for sheep in recent years... I used to have a thing for black and white cows, but have decided sheep are kind of cuter. I don't want to acquire tons of sheep decor items and clothing (yup, my family and friends went a little overboard with the Holsteins), so I've been keeping this quiet. Until now, I guess!

You see, on the cover of the previous Connecting Threads catalog was this (top left corner) utterly darling wool quilt with sheep applique, designed by Paula Stoddard. I must have called my mom every day for a week to tell her how much I loved that quilt and wanted one for my very own. Not surprisingly, she got a little tired of my refrain, and kindly asked me to stop telling her about it -- she had eyes, after all, and could see for herself just how cute it was. Being the obedient daughter that I am (eyes rolling), I did stop bugging her.

I was delighted this morning to find, in one of my birthday boxes this morning, the kit and pattern to make it for myself. I'm so excited! And apparently, I'm lucky too -- Connecting Threads isn't showing the kit anymore, which leads me to think it's probably sold out. (I know, one could acquire the wool not in kit form, but I'm into instant gratification these days!)

This should help feed my hunger for "working small" -- I don't think the sheep themselves are more than 4" tall. I'll be machine appliqueing them (Aurifil has a wool thread I'd like to try), and then will have to get my mom to help me with the embroidery and embellishment. Of course, I'd better clear out some other commitments first...


Happy Birthday... almost

Happy birthday... to me (tomorrow) and to my blog (today). Shall I sing? (Say no, trust me!) Tell you what, YOU sing and I'll listen. Much better plan.

So here's the deal: Many of my friends are well-established here in blogland, and I've been happily reading about their lives from a generally-safe distance. For some unknown-to-me reason, I've been "bitten" by the blogging bug recently. (Yikes -- who knew it was contagious?! Was there a vaccine I missed? I'm surely allergic to any antibiotic that might work... ) Ah well, seems I'm joining the party, perhaps a little more than fashionably late, but I'm here now and my dress is fabulous! Someone bring me a glass of champagne...

Totally kidding, of course -- I'm sitting here in cutoffs and the free t-shirt I got yesterday from an orthodontist I'm evaluating. (Gee, it sounds FAR less scary to be turning 35 and contemplating braces -- again -- when I'm evaluating him instead of the other way around! See, Sophie, there's hope for perspective after all.) It's not a shirt I'd wear out of the house (let's think here, 35 and advertising an orthodontist?), but it was perfect for cleaning the refrigerator tonight! (It's best you don't ask about that... let's just say 24 hours without electricity in 90+ degree heat. You'd have emptied it too. Luckily tomorrow's trash day!)

So, patience, please, as I work to populate this blog with hopefully somewhat-interesting content and some links to other great blogs I read. (Someone please tell me I don't have to do that one link at a time... )