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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

March Weights and Measures

Another successful month - actually 28 days! I am very pleased with the results of my efforts! There are many days I feel like an old woman at the gym,especially while my trainer helps me stretch, and I inadvertently groan or moan. But, I'll get there!

The news is very good - I've lost a total of 12.55 pounds, and a total of 15.5" from my body which is more inches than pounds in the last month. The weight loss is actually 13.2 lbs of fat, but I gained .85 of lean muscle! To be exact:

3" from my hips,
2" from my calf
2.5" from my waist
4" from my bust
2.5" from my neck

Then again, today I was outside with our grandson, Stephen, and now I see my picture, and I think I still have a long way to go. But I have to remind myself, that just two months ago, I couldn't even squat in this position, let alone sit that way for a long time while he talked to all the fish in the pond!

Ode to Tonya

I've been getting ready for my (imitation) birthday this coming March 4, with the Amazing Quilt Babes. I thought since Tonya is away from her goblins and skeletons I would go ahead and post the beginnings of the birthday day work.

It's been hard to stop making the pumpkins, since I have them all cut and ready to sew. And I have to admit that the letters are quite addictive too. But, I've made myself stop now, so the group can have some of the fun too!

This is the first fabric that was audtioned, and the "jacks" stayed overnight on the bubbles. The next day, I decided I just didn't like it for a Halloween quilt with some punch to it.

So I rooted around in the stash, and finally decided on the green leaves for the sashing and the swirly back and beige for the cornerstones. I think the purple will also make it a bit more lively too. If you enlarge the photo, you can see the apostrophe and the small letter "C" that I practiced getting the sizes right.

And I mis-posted the other day. There will be a total of 23 letters for this quilt. I told the girls the other night at stitch group, so I will tell you, too. This is going to be Happy Jack's Pumpkin Patch with a total of 9 pumpkins, all different fabrics for the backgrounds as well as the pumpkins.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The Queen's Room

I have a confession to make. Other than the main quilt display wall where I hang my large quilts in the hearth room, I have no walls on which to hang my quilts.

I have 38 very, very large windows in this house, for which I am glad. But! No walls for quilts, for which I am sad.

I could hang a quilt in the upstairs guest bedrooms, but I wouldn't get to see it, or enjoy it, so I don't. After a few months of being in this house, I discovered that I could use the downstairs powder room, AKA the Queen's room as a display wall, too!

I got busy and stencilled the room, and over the last couple of years, I've found garden accessories that I like, too.

This is the entry wall - it's not really tilted...

Flowers on the bottom of the wall...

And this is above the "throne"...

So now, there is a small quilt rack hanging in there, and all my guests always make a comment after visiting this little room off the hearth room! The quilt that is hanging there is a special wool one that my Not So Secret Quilting Buddy from a small on-line friendship group made for me. It was perfect hanging there since this Christmas. Tomorrow, I am going to change it for Le Fleurs de Jardin.

Thank You! (English)

Gracias! Merci! Asanti! Hsieh Hsieh!
Thank you in Spanish, French, Swahili, Chinese

Or so says the packaging on the forbidden Girl Scout cookies my hubby left out to tempt me overnight! I totally ignored them, and only ate up the written words, doncha see?

Yesterday, like the good daughter I am, I took care of Mom's grocery shopping. Well, actually, I made the shopping list and Hubby went shopping while I was at the gym, and then we both drove over to Mom's highrise. After lugging everything upstairs to the fifth floor - yes, they have an elevator - we didn't find Mom. So we put away her things, and fixed her meds for the next couple of weeks. Then we went looking for her. I tell you, she is just so busy at this place!

Surprise! Surprise! She was shopping! Her retirement community's "What Not Shop" was having their bi-annual half price sale and the library was selling their books too!

Here's what I bought for only $15.00! Thus, the many thanks given to Lakeview Village for all my books! I can't bear to think about being without a book to read.

The stack on the right that are standing vertically are books on tape for a quilting friend of mine who listens while she sews. It only distracts me - I find myself sitting and listening to the tape instead of sewing. How child-like, I suppose! I think back to kindergarten days when the first FM radio was brought into the school for Friday story hour, and we all sat on the auditorium floor, Indian style on our sit-upons. I even remember that the story of Jason's Golden Fleece. But I digress. LOL!

And here's what Mom bought for me. She even had it wrapped up in tissue paper!

It's only about 2" high and 3" long, but the wheel turns and makes the needle go up and down. And it's useful, too! It's actually a pencil sharpener!

So it was a nice day, even though no official quilting or sewing was to be had.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This message sponsored by the letter "H"

The letter "H" wants to say hello! Wonder what other members of the family will be stopping by to say something?

So, all right, already! I'm getting ready for my (imitation) birthday stitch day when the Amazing Quilt Babes will be making 15 amazing letters to go along with the letter H. Should be some fun on March 4!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Asilomar is only 17 days away!

Well, the multiple personality quilter is back at my doorstep! I've finished up my samples of the connecting block, star and houses for my small friendship group exchange for this year, and I've put them away for a while.

I've decided that maybe it's time to get my fabrics all ready for my trip to Empty Spools Seminar at Asilomar in March. I absolutely love going to this week long retreat! It's is in Pacific Grove, CA, and it's so very relaxing!

They provide 3 meals a day plus snacks, and a quilt shop comes for the week, right on site - the Cotton Patch. There's a program every night along with show and share. A shuttle bus that runs every afternoon to the two quilt stores downtown: The Handmaiden and Back Porch. What more could a person ask?

Well, for a kid from Kansas, the ocean is just icing on the cake, too! I always sleep with the windows open so I can hear the surf all night long!

This is my friend Wendy (from Martinez, CA) standing behind me in 2002 just before the surf got us!

A blurb from the Asilomar web-site tells a bit more:

"Nestled along the shoreline of California's famed Monterey Peninsula, Asilomar is a tranquil ocean front retreat cradled by forests and white sand beaches. Designed by acclaimed architect Julia Morgan and embracing the Arts & Crafts architectural style, Asilomar harmonizes with its natural surroundings and has played host to thousands of visitors since its founding in 1913. Rich with history, scenic beauty and serenity, Asilomar is the ideal location for group meetings, corporate retreats, weddings, family reunions and vacation getaways."

There's a short video that shares more of the sights on the grounds of the retreat.

This will be the sixth year I get to go, but if their prices get much higher, I don't know if I can do it again or not. I am in the second session this year with our favorite Gwen Marston for liberated strip quilts. Can you imagine? An entire week with one instructor! To date, it's the only quilting retreat that I have found that keeps you in one class with one instructor, and you can really soak up the flavors of the technique or process.

So far, I've been with Judy Dale (absolutely fabulous!), Lynn Kough, Jane Burch Cochran (stunningly fun and liberating!), Mary Lou Weidman, Sue Benner, and Lura Schwarz Smith (wonderful magic!). (I know this is already 6 instructors, but I got to go TWICE in one year!)

This is a picture of Judy Dale (left) and I the year after I took her class on designing and sewing curves and points. This is my original design called "Joy" that is hand quilted. I thought she would like to see a finished project!

So back to the class: The supply list says to bring 20 or more fat quarters. Most people will probably bring 1800's or 1930's reproductions. When I talked to her on the telephone (YES! She called ME!), she said to bring a border fabric that I absolutely love. So here is my selection of fabrics to take.

Not reproductions, are they? LOL! I always seem to be the kid that walks to a different beat. The bright red fabric with the yellow/turquoise and pink flowers is my border fabric. I've been saving it for something special, and I think this just might be it! I've pulled hand dyes to go with, and a few bright batiks from my scrap basket. Now, not a single one of them is a quarter cut. Most are fat quarters, and some are fat eighths. I haven't counted how many of them there are, but I'm sure I will be cutting a lot more than other people in the class!

Here's the final selection, all boxed up. Of course, there's still 17 days to go before I leave, so who knows how many other pieces might get slipped in there! The year I went for Mary Lou Weidman's class, I took 250 fat quarters. How many did I use? Only 4 of the ones I took! LOL!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Warning - Construction Ahead!

Use extreme caution when navigating through the mezzanine levels of fabric.....

The tables can be hazardous with piles of color that make you dizzy.....

Pattern books may disappear when your back is turned.....

But a starry night finally comes into view, and you're home safe!

There will be 9 stars, 4 house blocks and 12 connecting blocks. None of these four have been sewn together yet - just auditioning colors!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Quilts, blocks, babies and cats!

I finally got the baby quilt completed, and it is now sitting patiently waiting to be gifted until my friend can settle down. She's on a high because her new little grand daughter arrived a couple of weeks early - on Valentine's Day, no less. Baby and daugher come home from the hospital today, so I am thinking that by this weekend, this quilt should be at her house!

The anvils were finally completed and put in the mail for the swap. I went to put away the identical ones that I had made (and kept making and making and making), and I discovered that in my haste to finish them, I hadn't finished them at all! I still have four left to piece, and I think they will be finished by tonight.

My small friendship trio have decided that we want to do another exchange of blocks this year, too. So after deciding on a particular pattern, we then re-drafted it to suit ourselves! LOL! It will be houses ala Freddy Moran (sigh-not Tonya), and stars ala Alex Anderson with 6" blocks inside the stars. We are all using the wild and crazy brights. I think I want my backgrounds all black with white and the other two gals want their white with black. Now, I have to decide what my stepping stones in the joining blocks will be - probably red. Anyway, here's the first house I made for myself.

Yesterday, little Stephen joined us for the morning and for lunch. He is growing so fast, it's hard to keep up with him. And when he goes home, I am just tuckered. We have a large tire swing that was made into a horse - don't ask me how they do that, but it's pretty nifty. The last few times he was here, I held him on it, and he just loved it. His mother says he throws a tantrum at the playground when they have to take him out of the swing, so we know he loves it. When mom came to get him yesterday, she made the mistake of showing us the new swing she brought for us to hang in the tree for him - he just had to get in it. So instead of a tree, my hubby and daughter got to use their muscles. And yep, he threw a big tantrum when we took him out!

And last, every time I get up to answer the phone, or get a snack, or check the computer, this is what I come back to. Can this really be comfortable?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day!

This quilt is probably one of my most favorite display quilts! It's 84" square, and I travelled back and forth to Colorado when I was making it. I think I lost as many of the geese on the road as what I actually made. It was supposed to have a fancy schmancy pieced border on it, but it just didn't want to fit. So, here it is, in all it's glory.

When I put it up, it signals to me that Spring really will come. Even if there is snow on the ground and it's below freezing, I know when I see this red and white sparkling on the wall in my hearth room, the seasons WILL change.

I'm like our friend Finn these days. Spending more time at sewing and with friends than at the computer. But, when I am in blogville, I stroll through the paths my friends send me on, and smile, and shake my head and laugh occasionally, too. Valentine's Day can be for our friends too. So I thank you all for sharing your smiles and stories and loves and laughs.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Where has the time gone?

So where has all the time gone, eh?

I've been running in circles, doing errands, housework, celebrating my hubby's birthday, and doing a little Ebay listing. Other than that, nothing on the quilting front, nothing on the completed front at all.

BUT, last week, when I was at the gym, I experienced extreme dizziness, and almost passed out a couple of times. I had only seen my physician last week, and my resting pulse had gone up about 20 points, too, since then. On Monday, my resting pulse had raced up even higher to 100 bpm! Whooee! Was I ever worried!

Well, turns out that the weight loss has already paid off! I saw the doc Tuesday afternoon, and got the word that my blood pressure medication could be cut in half, and probably in half again in a couple of weeks. Now, that makes me happy!

In celebration, here is a picture of my Bonnie girl, giving her last hugs to this wacky baby quilt I made a couple of years ago. I really liked the Alexander Henry circus print colors, but could never think of what to do with it, until I thought about the wacky technique of skewing the blocks like Gwen Marston.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Anvils and dollbabies

I finally have all the anvils completed to send out for the swap.

I am so talented! I can really make the fabric pay for itself with all the different ways I can sew it! If there is a half square unit, I can sew it 6 different ways, including wrong sides together, and each corner going the wrong way. Each unit incrementally increases the number of times I can sew it together wrong. And if I have sewn it together all the different ways, I can even sew it exactly the same way wrong again!

To make matters worse, for each of the anvils I am sending in for the swap, I decided to make one more for myself. So I've officially made 30 of them, but if you count the number of times I have sewn them together numerous ways, I probably have made about 120!!

On a bright note, my small stitch group, The Amazing Quilt Babes arrived early Saturday morning, each with their own doll baby. One member is busy getting her daughter's wedding party's dresses ready, so she made the sashings, and the hearts. She also helped put it together. So now, we have the top done!

I am very proud of myself. I didn't volunteer to do the quilting, nor make the label nor do the binding. Aren't I a good girl?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Safety first

Do you always remember to put your blade away? My friend, Carolyn didn't. I think she didn't really want me to see it, but she didn't have a bandaid in her sewing kit, so she had to ask for one. Of course, she got a good scolding. Then what did I do? I used her blade, cut something, walked away and left it open, too. Give me mine that has the automatic retractable blade anytime! LOL!

But then, Carolyn told us the story about an employee at one of the quilt shops in Iowa she visits a lot. Apparently, she was cutting something with an automatic retracting blade, put it down, and then knocked it off the cutting table...right on top of her foot, and of course, it opened somehow.

In that instance, I think fate was telling her she needed a quilt fairy to come and cut everything for her!

What am I doing today?

The Babes were here this morning working on a group project and left around lunch time. Now, I am making anvils, of course! More than 4 and less than 15. HA HA HA! When I complete them all, I will explain why my numbers keep multiplying!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Weights and measures

I actually got weighed and measured officially at the gym on Monday, but I truly had no time to post until now. I'm still making anvil blocks, of course!

The news is good - I've lost 10.5 pounds, and a total of 7" from my body. To be exact:
2" from my hips,
1" from my calf
2" from my waist
1" from my bust
and my neck stayed the same, but the double chins don't wag so much anymore.

So all in all, not a bad report, eh? Considering my first weigh-in was before Christmas, and we've had the holidays plus my island trip since then, I think 10.5 pounds is quite respectable!

Back to the anvils! Only 4 more to go!