No, I didn't get to spend the day with Rachael Ray... just had a yummy dinner last night ;)

Today was the last day for one of my team members, so a bunch of us from work treated her to a fun dinner last night at a rodizio restaurant. Have you ever been to one? It's an interesting experience (and Ireally don't mean "interesting"!)

Rodizio is a Brazilian specialty, I guess, and it refers to an all-you-can-eat meat extravaganza. It's an experience unto itself... the waiters brought skewer after skewer after skewer of food (which in our case was cooked on skewers over an open flame). They slide a morsel of food off the skewer onto your plate, then move to the next person. They served us chicken, turkey, sirloin, filet, sausage, beef ribs, pork ribs, pork loin, some other cut of beef, ostrich, alligator and cinnamon-crusted pineapple. My biggest issue is that they don't tell you at the outset what they'll be serving... I wanted to know what my options were at the beginning, so I'd know what to eat and how much of it! Way too easy to overeat... Nonetheless, most of what I had was great (the chicken, especially), and it was fun.

For anyone still paying attention, I'm obviously not going to get my 200th post on my birthday. I'll save the giveaway for then, but don't worry, it won't be too long! Good news: my finger *did* trigger, but not all the way, and it didn't last long. Not so good: my back is still a mess (hence, the lack of posts). I see the doc again tomorrow, and we're going to have a little come-to-Jesus on my progress (or lack thereof). Fingers crossed for improvement!


This is *not* the way to start the week!

OK, I don't want to be a huge whiner, but a little, maybe, just for today?

I put my back out last week, woke up in pretty major pain Thursday. Saw the chiropractor Friday... I thought it helped a little, but I'm right back today where I was on Thursday. That's not good -- means I also didn't get anything done over the weekend. Well, I appliqued the center onto my mariner's compass block, but that's it -- it was clear that sitting at the sewing machine was not a good idea.

When I was getting ready for bed last night, I grabbed my bite splint (for the TMJD), and discovered it has a huge split in the back, and a crack on the side not too far away. In other words, one good chomp down and I could be choking on a piece of acrylic. Yum. Luckily, I have another (different) one, which I can use, but it's a little fragile from repeated repairs. Rather like the other one, in fact!

Then, I woke up this morning around 4 a.m. (never good!) thinking "gee, my finger hurts"... by the time I finally dragged my bum out of bed almost 3.5 hours later, I realized it's probably going to trigger. Again. Four weeks after the last time. Just shoot me now. (pun intended)


Bluebird of Happiness (UFO Reveal #9)

Bluebird of Happiness
Originally uploaded by AJB30

Well, this is the beginning of box #3... and it's an old photo. Since I'm unlikely to get a better one quickly, it'll have to do :)

Pattern is from Stack A New Deck, and it's basically a wonky, mixed up log cabin. I made it in response to a challenge to a group of forum members who went to the Vermont Quilt Festival. (Dorothy, Sophie, Marcia, Melissa and my mom come to mind... Actually, I think my mom made a log cabin, too.) Anyway: there were two challenge fabrics -- the blue in the block centers, and a red that has a tiny black pattern in it. There's also a skinny blue "flap" before the final red border, which has little bluebirds in it. Not sure of the size, but I think the log cabin blocks are somewhere between 6.5 and 7" each.

Why isn't this done? I ended up not being able to go to VQF the year it was due ;-) [I moved into my house instead.] Plus, it wants feathers quilted in the white muslin, and, well, then I'd have to do them!

Hopefully I'll be back to a more regular posting schedule soon (after all, this is #189, and I need to hit #200 a week from Saturday!) . I commuted into NYC two days this week for a conference, then had to go down the shore today for a work retreat.


Weekend Roundup

Hmmm... what have I accomplished this weekend?
  • I took three naps (one each day -- remember I have half days on Fridays during the summer). I think this is from my thyroid being out of whack... I started the higher dose of meds on Saturday, so hopefully I'll see improvement within a few weeks.
  • I sewed my Mini Booty II top... I showed you the fabrics the other day, but I think I'm going to keep the top under wraps for a bit longer. I like it -- it's very cheerful.
  • I've been watching Mad Men, set in an ad agency in the 50s. It's all very smokey and drinkey and sexist -- probably at least partially like real life! I think I'm on episode six of the first season; I don't get AMC, but the series is available for free through On Demand, so I've had my own mini-marathon.
  • I started my August block for Kate's Birthday block swap on quilting.about.com. Miss August (aka Anne) asked for Mariner's Compass blocks in red, white and blue. Another first for me... although I always admire them, I've never really had the urge to sew one! Luckily, there is a lovely pattern in the Australian Quilters Companion magazine that Lorraine sent me with my ALQS quilt. Here's my progress:

    Mariner's Compass - Progress
And that's it. Not one for the record books by any means, but at least I have something to show for myself!


Mini Booty Progress and Little Snowpeople (UFO Reveal #8)

Well, the Apple Core fever is out of my system... and you won't be seeing the results! I opted for a little different approach to my Mini Booty II quilt, and I'm happy with how it's going. In fact, the top is done. I hope my partner likes it! Here's a preview of just the fabrics:
Fabric Palette for Mini Booty II Quilt

And the UFO parade continues, this time with a definite winter flair! Must be the heat and humidity getting to me -- I'd love to get close to one of these little guys or gals right about now ;)

Cross-Stitched Snowmen

My mom cross stitched them, and they're really cute! She swapped me these for a finished top (OK, a top that she helped me finish, but it was still done!), and I designed a little 24x36 quilt for them in EQ:

snowpeople layout

I remember searching for -- and buying -- a light fabric to match the Aida cloth, and even looking through my stash for other fabrics. So why are these little blocks in the UFO box? I probably got distracted by something else. Story of my life. And potentially a problem with evaluating all these abandoned projects -- now I want to work on all of them again!


Batik Jewel Box (UFO Reveal #7)

Batik Jewel Box Quilt Top

Here's a mostly-done top, in the Jewel Box pattern. Teresa hosted a swap for these on the quilting.about.com forum a while back, and I got this far in putting together my blocks. (Are you sensing a theme? Yes, I get swap fever from time to time, and this is what happens. Thus, I really have curtailed my swapping. Honest.) The creamy-tan color is a Michael Miller Krystal fabric that turned out to be practically impossible to find at the time, but those of us who persevered were rewarded with these beautiful blocks!

This top is currently 64x64. I has thought at one time to add borders just on two sides, and maybe some applique in those borders. I saw something in a magazine I kind of liked, but I never could find quite the right applique pattern. And so it sits in this state.

I think now I'll pass on the applique, and maybe do a pieced border with scrappy batik squares floating on the tan. I could quilt it with continuous curves in the chain and some kind of simple flower thing in the diamonds and call it good. Hmmm... not a bad idea ;)

Thank you to everyone for the nice comments on my stash of unfinished projects. I've been wanting to catalog them for a while, so this makes a nice record, and gives me a chance to consider next steps.


Spiced Pomegranates (UFO Reveal #6)

Actually, I'm not sure I can even call this a UFO -- it's actually an Un-STARTED Object! (Told you I wanted to put this box back...)

Spiced Pomegranates Pattern Fabrics for Spiced Pomegranates

I bought this as a kit the year World Quilt Festival was in Grand Rapids, MI... but I can't remember if that was three summers ago or four. Let's say three -- that doesn't sound so bad ;) Some of the fabrics are from Moda Three Sisters lines (and you'll see them again later). The plan is to machine applique this; the last time I looked at the pattern, I couldn't decide how to approach it, though. I've had a little more practice in the intervening time... I think I'll use the Sulky wash-away stabilizer so I can get turned edges without having to starch and scorch. A little blind hem or buttonhole stitch and we're in business.


Pineapple Blossom (UFO Reveal #5) & Update on #4

Well, I opened box #2 today... I kind of wish I could put it back ;) It has two projects in it that aren't even started, and one that's barely a beginning.

Without further ado... the next one up is my Christmas Pineapple Blossom. Colene hosted a swap for these blocks on the quilting.about.com forum a while back (I don't know when, and I'm not sure I want to!). The free pattern is from Quiltville, and it was fun to make. I've got 40 of these 9" blocks, which again, might not be quite enough. I could sash them like Bonnie did in the pattern, but I kind of like them better without it. Here are four block:


This one would be pretty easy to finish up, though!

In other news... my mom says the pics of the indigo blocks from yesterday are really pink on her monitor -- like to the point of being ugly. I hope that's not the case for everyone -- they're really very white. Because I love you, here's the 6x6 setting for those beauties:

dear mom bigger

I should have mentioned yesterday that this setting was inspired by Beth Ferrier's Moondance -- a block of the month from a few years back. It's not a copy, but you can definitely see her influence in the lines. Looking at the image now, I think I'd probably do the outer row more as half setting blocks, to finish the "circle" around each block, but not have the blue feet trailing off ;)


Indigo & White (UFO Reveal #4)

I bought these beautiful fat eighths of indigo many years ago at the Vermont Quilt Festival, and set them aside for something special. When I decided to take a class making 40-6" blocks over five months, the indigos called out to me. I paired them with blue and white shirtings to make medium tones, and plain bleached muslin for the backgrounds. The class used Edyta Sitar's "Dear Mom" Quilt Recipe Cards. We had lots of fun in class each month -- two years ago ;)

Indigo & White - 6" blocks (3) Indigo & White - 6" blocks (1)
Indigo & White - 6" blocks (2) Indigo & White - 6" blocks (4)
Indigo & White - 6" blocks (5)

(Ignore the pink cast to the photos -- the blocks are on top of pink foam insulation board for photography purposes!)

I only paper-pieced one of these blocks -- multiple attempts at traditional piecing couldn't produce a 6" block to save my life! One of my biggest challenges was keeping the directional prints in line... many of the indigos are directional, and at least one of my shirting prints. Many in the class worked with the Wuthering Heights line or CW repros to get the effect of the sample quilt; there were some with brights or random scraps, but mine was the only really crisp two-color plan. It always got lots of compliments -- I think it really shows off the tiny pieces!

Why is this one still blocks? I designed two settings for this quilt, and got stuck choosing!

The first is a simple on-point setting with sashing (takes 41 blocks -- not a problem to make one more). But that's only a 58" square quilt, which is kind of a funny size for me. There's enough indigo for a few more blocks, but not a large number... making this setting bigger would require buying more -- and they're not inexpensive, relatively speaking.

The second setting is definitely the result of too much time playing with EQ, but I absolutely love it. It's an uneven nine patch that's 3x6", and it makes a very cool circular pattern around the blocks. I love it -- I just don't love the idea of piecing 84 of those blocks! That one I can easily get to 71" square, though, which is a better size in general.

So, make the quilt I can reasonably finish, or make the quilt I love? I want to make the one I love... I was going to show you the EQ snapshots, but I can't find the project file -- it seems to have disappeared when I moved to EQ6. I can recreate it (I was able to put the blocks in a user library), but not tonight.

And that, my friends, is the end of UFO box #1...


Black & Brights (UFO Reveal #3) and a Finished Mini

First, the finished quilt! Right before I moved, I found more thread to finish my first Project Runway Challenge piece from last fall. Of course, the thread didn't get packed with the piece, or with the other thread, so I remained stalled... until this weekend when I had both the thread and the time to work on it:

Feathered Star Art Quilt

I stitched the last corner... and can see that I was a little "tighter" than in the balance of the piece, but all in all, I like it. I'm still not sure about the binding; I think it would have been better a little wider. But that's all the brown fabric there is that matches, so I think I'll learn to like it. Plus, it's done, so that automatically makes it good! Oh -- it's about 16" square, I think... I didn't measure, and I'm too lazy to get up and do it ;)

Now, for today's UFO... it's a completely finished top. But it's not a finished quilt, so it remains in the UFO boxes. I think I'm going to send it out for longarming, since I really don't like quilting on black.

Sophie designed this quilt as a sampler of all the blocks or techniques used in the Beginner Block Lotto on quilting.about.com in 2007. I think it's about 68x80, which makes it a twin size, I guess. I did consider making this in red and white, but decided instead to do something a little less predictable. Forgetting, obviously, how much I don't like quilting on black ;0 [Sophie, if you want me to remove the photo, just let me know.]


Mini Booty tease...

Here's a little sneak peek at what I'm working on for my Miniature Booty II quilt... I've wanted to do something with Apple Core blocks for a while, and this seemed like a good time to try it out. Yeah, this will get that crazy idea out of my system ;) It took a while to get everything in the right position, so I took several photos of the layout for reference, since it's going to be very easy to mix these up!

Posted by Picasa


Carpenter's Wheel (UFO Reveal #2)

33" Carpenter's Wheel

Here's another oldie from box #1... this is a Carpenter's Wheel, and it measures about 33" square. There's no more of the beautiful green Moda -- maybe a tiny, carefully-hoarded scrap -- so it's basically done at this size. It actually makes a nice table topper "on point," since my dining table is a 36" square. I've displayed it for years in this unfinished state; unfortunately, I see now it has a couple of small spots or stains, probably from being on the table ;)

Why isn't this one done? Another really good reason... I can't decide if I should use batting, flannel or nothing when I "officially" make it a table topper. I want it to be flat, but since the entire thing is made of HSTs, there are a lot of seams and it gets a little lumpy in spots. This one could be done with just a couple of hours of effort on my part, so please advise!


Red, White & Romantic (UFO Reveal #1)

I can't believe how long ago I started this quilt... the magazine is dated February 2003, so it was one of my first quilting projects. Several members of the quilting.about.com forum swapped red and white fabrics to make this quilt... I wonder if anyone ever did?!

Red, White & Romantic - American P&Q cover

I started... and sewed 54 of these 6" Double X blocks. Some of them use just three fabrics, others have lots (maybe too many!). I know I sewed a lot of these hanging out with some friends in Albany, back in the day. Here are just a few of the blocks:

Red, White & Romantic - some blocks

Weird thing #1: I made 54 of these, but the pattern only calls for 42. The pattern makes a queen-sized quilt. What was I thinking?

Weird thing #2: I've had a terrible time finding the right red fabric for the setting. I've bought fabric three times, I think, but none of them ever felt quite right when I got them home with the blocks. Part of my problem is that I used both white and cream fabrics.

Just for fun, here's another way to set these blocks, which could also be called Anvil blocks, with the dark centers:

Red, White & Romantic - four blocks

So why is this a UFO when I obviously love red and white, I love the pattern and the process holds memories? See weird thing #2 above. And, unfortunately, the blocks aren't that well made, and I'm not looking forward to working with them. I haven't even tried to square them up -- I'm afraid of what I'll find!

There are three more projects in this box... My self-imposed rule is that I have to show you everything in the box before I can move on to the next box... there are 4 or 5 total boxes this size, plus a couple of one or two gallon ziplocs. That should keep us busy for a while ;)


So here's the deal...

I look for patterns in things -- what's the next number in the sequence, how are the tiles laid out on the floor, how many steps to get from here to there, etc. A couple of days ago, it occurred to me that it was possible to make my 200th post, my 1-year blogaversary AND my birthday to align. I'd only have to post a little more than once a day to make it happen.

So, you know I have to try. I'll apologize now for the boredom that is sure to follow ;) Hey, maybe I'll photograph all my UFOs/WIPs and post one each day... at least there'd be pictures. Hmmm...

On a happier note, George's bloodwork was all normal. Just one more test for basic kidney function to rule out super early-stage renal issues, then he's in the clear. Lucky him -- that means a new low-calorie, high-fiber diet to encourage weight loss!

One last thing... new season of Project Runway starts next week. Are you up for the challenge?



If you want to see my ALQS contribution again (and really, why wouldn't you?!), visit Teresa, who managed NOT to overexpose her photos :) Check the group blog for some amazing eye candy from 41 talented quilters from around the world.



... has been under the weather. We went to the vet today, where they drew blood (yes, there's a theme for the day!). I was sure it was his blood sugar, given his symptoms and behavior, but that's normal. The doc will call tomorrow... next most-likely issues are thyroid and kidney. Given that he continues to gain weight (23.75 pounds today), thyroid makes sense. I guess we'll see. (This is an old pic, but one of the few where there's enough contrast to see his face!)

Happy Birthday, Joy

My camera arrived today! (All rejoice, thank you.) At long last, here is my 9" New York Beauty block for birthday girl Joy. I signed up for year 2 of the birthday block swap Kate is hosting on quilting.about.com... it starts this month, and Joy asked for NYB blocks in ocean colors. This is my first NYB block ever... it turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself :) Ignore the darker red in the background -- or maybe I should say: get used to it! This is my new pinboard from the other weekend, and highly helpful for beauty shots of single blocks.

My sister picked out two of these fabrics when we were at Quilting Possibilities... the blue dots in the upper right, and the darker spidery one in the lower left. We picked a third, but when I was prepping the block, it looked really green, so I replaced it with the more solid teal. The block is from EQ6, and they call it "Rick Rack."


This is probably TMI -- I really won't be offended if you skip it!

So I went to have my lab work done today... easy-peasy, just draw three tubes of blood. Luckily, I'm not needle-phobic, nor do I faint at the sight of blood. Neither the doctor nor the nurse told me they wanted a urine specimen, too. I always want to do fasting labs in the morning (since I definitely need breakfast in order to function), so I'd been up for about 90 minutes at this point. Who's got a full bladder after only 90 minutes time and no input, other than the swallow of water I had with my morning meds? So I give them what I've got, carry it back through the waiting room to the lab, where the tech frowns at me and my sample, because it's not really "enough." Well, if you wanted more, you'd have given me the cup last week so I could do it at home this morning. Wouldn't that have been better for everyone? I'm just saying...


My to-DONE list

... is rather short this weekend!
  • I stitched all but eight of my Fresh Squeezed blocks. 41 blocks - 8 unsewn - 1 test block = 32 blocks done. Technically, I sewed four of them last weekend, but that's still 28 new ones done. I wanted to finish them today, but I had a headache, so I took a little nap instead trying to kill it before work.
  • Read a book (The Watchman by Robert Crais).
  • Tested the template (!) for my Miniature Booty II quilt.
  • Covered two events for work (Thursday night and tonight).
  • Packaged my Stamp Basket blocks to send to one of June's Lotto winners.
  • Cooked dinner once. (Hey, this is an accomplishment for me!)
  • Saw my new doctor, and I think I like her. Lab work tomorrow (fasting - sigh), but I got all my meds, no problems.
  • Made a vet appointment for George for Monday afternoon. Oy... He was more social this weekend -- wanted to be in the same room with me -- but he's still not his usual self.
My camera is supposed to arrive tomorrow. Look forward to pictures!



Good news... my finger is getting better. It's still not terribly functional, but it bends probably 60* now at the middle joint. Maybe I can avoid the cortisone...

So, I've just been hanging out, watching Wimbledon and What Not to Wear. I did some sewing yesterday on my Fresh Squeezed Monkeys quilt -- I think I made 12 blocks yesterday (maybe 16, but I think 12). There's a long way to go yet, but it feels good to see the piles of units shrinking and the pile of blocks growing!

I *want* to be working on my birthday block for Miss August, but I don't think precision cutting pairs with the trigger finger... I'm clumsy to start with, so I guess I won't tempt fate with that idea. Luckily, Fresh Squeezed is past the cutting stage.



I've got a trigger finger -- basically, a finger that's stuck in one position. The image shows the traditional bent "stuck point," but mine is stuck in the straight position. It's my left hand, middle finger. While one occasionally has a need for a stiff middle finger, it's not really useful as a permanent or persistent feature.

Basically, the tendon (and maybe its sheath) is inflamed or swollen, causing a nodule. The tendon can't slide through the sheath due to the swelling, so it sticks or catches. I can feel the nodule at the base of the finger on the palm side; it hurts, but not like the finger hurts. H.O.L.Y. cow.

I had this happen once a few years ago, but with my left thumb. I was sure it was broken, although I couldn't figure out how it happened, and it wasn't swollen. The ER doc was very nice, and didn't laugh at me ;-) That one went away within a few days.

This one seems worse. Or maybe my tolerance is just lower. Either way, it needs to just go away quickly -- I don't like the treatment options at all! (Cortisone, and if that doesn't work, surgery to open the sheath to make room for the inflamed tendon to slide.) I guess it's get through the weekend, and reevaluate.

I guess the upside is that my finger is stuck in the stretched position (straight out), rather than in the trigger or bent position. I can at least do a few things... like flip people off ;)

I'd ask you to cross your fingers that it gets better quickly, but that's too much even for me!

Image from webmd.com.


Get ready to "make it work"

Bravo's highly-anticipated fifth season of the three-time Emmy-nominated and Peabody Award-winning creative competition reality series Project Runway returns Wednesday, July 16 in a new time slot -- 9/8c. Returning to the runway, host and supermodel Heidi Klum heads a panel of industry luminaries, including judges, top women's and menswear designer Michael Kors, and fashion expert Nina Garcia, as they decide who is "in" and who is "out." Tim Gunn, Chief Creative Officer at Liz Claiborne, Inc., will once again act as a mentor to the designers as they take on weekly fashion challenges. The 16 Project Runway contestants will be whittled down week-by-week to the finalists who will show their own line in front of an audience of fashion industry movers and shakers at New York Fashion Week.