Friday, September 30, 2011

Leaf Peeping...

It's that time of year again in Michigan...LEAF PEEPER SEASON!  Time to drive around and drink in all the glorious color and wonder of the impending fall season.  We are off doing that this weekend, toward the west side of the state to the Saugatuk/Douglas area.  Colorful leaves, cooler temps, gusty winds, apple trees sagging under the weight of ripe apples, tart, fresh-pressed cider, colorful pumpkins piled up everywhere, brisk walks on the shore of Lake Michigan...this is my favorite season. 

Fall is nice in Alabama where I grew up, but it is on steroids in Michigan.  I remember standing on the football field during halftime at Auburn University on an early November Saturday afternoon...poaching/steaming/stewing in a wool marching band uniform as the "lovely fall temps" soared into the high 80's.  Sorry, that's just not FALL!

When I posted weeks ago about airing out "All Around the Town" at the local Saline Country Fair, I had not yet collected the nice prizes I received for getting the blue ribbon in the applique/hand quilted wall hanging category and the overall Best of Show ribbon.  I am LONG overdue in acknowledging the two local stores that offered the prizes!

Ann Arbor Sewing Center donated the prize for Best of Show - a lovely padded sewing basket laden with all kinds of nice quilty treats.  There were also patterns, tools, and lovely surprises.  Thank you, thank you for supporting the Fair!

Then there was this lovely parcel for taking the blue ribbon from Leabu Sewing Center, also located in Ann Arbor...(I recently bought my Janome 6600 sewing machine from them).

There was this lovely book...

...and some fun fat quarters, patterns, etc.

With Boxer Rebellion all basted, I hope to spend some evening time of this mini-break weekend doing some hand quilting while sipping some apple cider.  Ahhhh...fall (sigh).

Well, I have FINALLY passed the 70 pounds lost mark.  I am happy to put that 10-pound mark BEHIND me (or maybe, that's the area the 10 pounds came from?!?  Can't tell...I don't have to look at that side of me...God is merciful...).  When I occasionally help out with end-of-the-year inventory at the local quilt shop, we weigh the bolts of fabric, then the owner uses some magic formula to figure out how much fabric is on hand at that time.  70 pounds of bolted fabric is a HUGE pile (but lovely and alluring in its own way, just like me...).  A recent boxed purchase from IKEA weighed about 70 pounds.  I remember huffing and puffing (and cursing!) as I single-handedly unloaded it from the car.  It is unbelievable that I have been hauling THAT around for so long (and much more).  Clothes are getting baggy, rings are getting loose, granny panties are getting "grannier," bones are appearing that I forgot I had. 

On a related subject, you've GOT to check out Mary Lou's latest post at Cheaper Than Therapy Quilting entitled Amazing Lift.  You will be glad you did (Warning:  go pee first...).

Maybe mid-life is the time for large weight loss...while everyone else around me is complaining about aches, pains, etc., I am just thrilled to see my feet and be able to tie my shoes without setting Guinness World Records for holding my breathe (and turning a shade of blue that I normally seek out when looking for fabric.)   Life is good.   :o)

A HUGE thank you to everyone who offered such wonderful suggestions about watermarking photos, copyrighting original designs, buying good design software and hardware, and all the encouragement following my last post.  I appreciate your time and effort.  I hope to be able to share more with you soon about all that.

If you are "leaf peeping" in lower Michigan this weekend, I hope you can find Jennifer's Quilt Shop in Pinckney, Michigan.  This is Jennifer Burg, the owner and a friendlier, more bubbly person you won't meet.  Her laugh is downright infectious!!

When you first drive up to her shop, just a half block off the center of town, you see a lovely little white cottage with beautiful flowers.  

Then you step inside and think you've stepped into a much BIGGER cottage/store.  She has so much lovely fabric in there.  Once you regain consciousness and start breathing on your own again, you start counting the large list of fabric types that she features.  She carries a huge amount of 30's, reproduction, fun and fresh, seasonal, and color blenders.  She now carries wool as well.

She fills every square inch of her store with cotton yumminess, books, patterns, notions, kits, batting, samples, knick knacks...and somehow she offers all this without making one feel overcrowded.

One of my favorite things about this shop is that they cut (and maintain!) fat quarters of EVERY BOLT!  I love her "11 for the price of 10" policy on FQs.  And they are located right there, close to the original bolt.  Current Block-of-the-Months are also cheerfully displayed.  Just look at all those lovely Farmer's Wife completed blocks.

Sometimes I find myself there for no particular reason and just buy a "pick-me-up" pile of FQs...just a taste of my 10 new best friends.

Her quilt kits are displayed in cute gift bags on top of the shelves...never out of reach.

New, featured and/or seasonal lines tend to be in the center of the store...

...and the color wall is around the outer wall.

Books, books, books...

Novelties under the front window...

...notions and patterns to fill every need.

Neutrals and batiks behind the cutting area...

...and a well-stocked, well-rotated sale area in front of the cutting area. 

I hope you have a great weekend, peeping or not, on this first weekend of October!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Proof-less Tuesday...

There is a saying, "the proof is in the pudding" - I don't even know what that means.  Well, the proof isn't in the post.  I have been very productive the past few days, but I have no pictures to share to prove it.
  • I'm ready to baste Boxer Rebellion so that I can quickly hand quilt it. 
  • I've picked out and cut border strips to finish my positive/negative chain scrappy quilt.
  • I've hand appliqued more little repro basket blocks.
  • I've cleaned up the quilt cave and filed fabrics and patterns.
  • I've caught up on LONG overdue mending of daughter and husband's clothes...zzzzzzzz...
  • I've been drafting a VERY exciting original applique pattern, but I can't share it yet. 
The last item is VERY exciting to me!  I've always wanted to design my own projects.  Hell, I change everyone else's was time to get off the fence, stick my neck out there and just do it!

Before I share what I am working on, I need to learn how to watermark photos of my original work and find the best drawing/design software to make publish-able (is that a word?) copies to share or sell, not that I'm counting on anyone really wanting what I do.

When I was re-drafting Civil War Bride blocks a couple of years ago and making up some new ones, some people wanted the patterns.  I was delighted!  They were just scribbles and I was embarrassed to share them...they reminded me of kindergarten art you find on most household refrigerators.

I wasn't worried about posting pictures of Boxer Rebellion...I mean, if someone wanted to "borrow" my doodles of my naked husband (from the waist up), I felt like, "have at it!"

But this new project is really special, and I've never seen it done...ANYWHERE, so I want to protect my work and make it presentable.

SO...if anyone has any suggestions about design software, PDF writers, copyright rules for quilt designs, photo software that will watermark pictures...PLEASE share!  Then I can share pictures of what I've been up to.  I'm dying for you to see it...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting stuff done...

Boxer Rebellion took a leap forward this weekend...I finished the applique and assembled the blocks.  I need to sneak by my husband's work place and measure the area where this will hang before I decide how to border it.  I need to keep it small (all blocks finish 7.5 inches).  I will sprinkle a few more tiny appliqued hearts around the other two applique blocks, enough to balance the sarcasm and snarkiness in this quilt...I wonder how many dozen THAT will take, LOL?!

Here are close ups of the applique blocks...this one you've seen.

I thought I needed an actual pair of boxer shorts represented...I will add a tiny button on the flap after I've quilted it...

I put an up-side-down block in the mix because I just love to see those on cat and doggie feeds my goofy side (and Steve IS my favorite critter, after all)...

And I guess the musical reference to the song about a dog being gone was inevitable...

Someone emailed me and asked me how I was going to finish his face on these appliques.  I had to admit that I considered myself finished.  I am HORRIBLE with faces, which is why I left the bride's face blank in my Civil War Bride quilt, along with the self-portrait block of our family.  Since I had already done Steve that way for that quilt, I thought I would continue that idea for this one.  I would love to find a book or resource about making easy, real looking faces.  I didn't want to put a face on my bride because I thought it would make her look cartoon-ish, with my very limited art skills.

I totally avoided the face situation with my daughter by putting a book in front of her face, which is true to life anyway.

My sad little design wall is, unfortunately, at the bottom of the stairs in the quilt cave.  As usual, I take great care pinning a project to the wall, and then over the course of time, THIS happens.  Maybe it is a subtle message telling me to get on with it!

I have both a teenager and a cat who like to zoom down the stairs and the resulting velocity is just too much for design lay-outs.  Pretty funny when compared to taking each step s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully like I do, thinking about the consequences of reckless abandon with every step.  Ah, stupid youth.

I took some time to sew the blocks together this weekend...HA!  Let's see those two upset my apple cart NOW.  My next step is to decide on a skinny stop border and something for the outer border.  Any suggestions??  I never know what to do with scrappy things to pull all that lovely randomness to a logical conclusion.

I also glanced in my magic box and it was almost empty!  Time to prep the next few basket blocks for casual hand applique.  I manage to get at least one a day done, waiting for my car full of teenagers to materialize after school in the afternoon.  I've got some awaiting me...all ready to cut out with the freezer paper ironed to the right side of the fabric. 

This is the 4th use of these 20 freezer paper patterns...I peel them off carefully each time to re-use them, and I'm trying to see how many times I can use them before having to make another set. Waste not, want not...(really I'm just SUPER lazy!). 

I hope you found a few moments for quality sewing time this weekend.  I'm still having to make the most of small chunks of time...I would LOVE a big block of time with no cooking, no housework, no job, no mothering, no wifing, and no dental appointments for bite adjustments (hey - I've had 3 days of no pain meds!!  THAT'S progress!).  I am continuously motivated by Victoria's idea of 15 minutes of really CAN get something done in 15 minute chunks. 

Small blocks of time are great for working on projects that are already planned and fairly well organized, but I need more uninterrupted time when planning a project I want to start.  Maybe the lack of that is a sign I need to FINISH the things I have started.  Hmmm...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Yee haw! Pants on fire...

Oh boy, this is getting "funner and funner" - that ain't good grammar, I know, but this project seems to have a wild, crazy, pantless mind of its own!

Boxer Rebellion is beginning to come together!!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

THIS looks like fun...

Canton Village Quilt Works

Jackie, over at Canton Village Quilt Works, has organized a FREE Blogger's BOM to start this month.  Did I mention it was FREE?!?  She has invited some fabulously talented quilters to design blocks along with her.  Go here to get all the details, check out the list of block designers, and sign up.  It sounds like the blocks will be ALL PIECED and measure 8.5 inches.

How wonderfully generous!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Filling out the boxer shorts...

Despite my 2-week toothache (and resulting 2-week drain on creativity...), I managed to get a little more done on "Boxer Rebellion."  I finally finished the 8 pieced blocks made from Steve's old undies (hee-hee-hee) after picking some patterns with funny names...Handy Andy, Grandmother's Favorite, Contrary Wife, Darting Birds, and a few more "appropriately" named blocks for this project.  Thank you for all your block suggestions...that was a source of much mirth while I was moaning and groaning about my tooth pain.  This isn't a very good photo, but I think it will give you the general idea.  Each block will finish at 7.5 inches.

I have hand appliqued the bodies to the comes the fun part...embellishing with embroidery outlines and details like glasses, nipples (oh yes...tiny little French knots...), words/phrases, and the little alfalfa sprouts of hairs on the top of his noggins.  Yes...I AM enjoying this...

The missing block will be one more applique block...I thought I needed to applique a pair of boxers, complete with the "escape flap" and a little button.  Sort of an homage to the source of inspiration for this project.

The blocks were a little boring and flat, so I started adding a little bright orange to some of them (there are some orange/red accents in some of the shorts).  I will probably also add an ultra skinny orange stop border and finish with a small outer border pieced from more boxer fabric...most likely very scrappy.  Then I think all the boxer leftovers will go into the backing.

Being under the influence of "happy drugs" for tooth pain and listening to radio news stories about the upcoming federal trial of the "underwear" bomber are not a good combination.  Now I'm toying with making some very small free pieced letters that would spell:

"the butt stops here" 

It's a good thing I have to worry about the final size of this thing getting too big...but I could always incorporate that phrase in the backing (although it would be deliciously scandalous to add it to the front outer border...).  Maybe if the letters were very, very tiny...

The tooth odyssey:  Two weeks ago I had a replacement crown made because the bite was severely out of whack.  The new crown is much improved, but they think the resulting pain is due to trying to get the bite right...all the teeth playing nicely.  If a tooth is "high," it can aggravate another tooth into displaying symptoms of needing unnecessary root canals and such.  Now it's grind a little...wait a little...grind some more, wait some more...  I guess now that I am 50 and a slow healer anyway, I was destined to lots of discomfort and happy drugs while all teeth calm down and learn to play nice.

What's a girl with a toothache to do?  Can't eat comfort foods and continue to lose weight...hey look!  The new Hancock's catalog came in the mail...

Go to the computer, point and click, and pieces of Judy Rothermel's Cocheco III just appear at the door a few days later.  It's better to support my local quilt shops, and I do, but this was an emergency!

Even through the glare, they look good!  That catalog is a killer.  There are other Judy Rothermel lines (Pine Tree) and also new stuff from Paula Barnes (also for Marcus), shown here on the adjacent page.  There are some really nice navy and black prints in that Tavern Blues line.

Then, there's  Luscious shirtings and Ascot novelties...oh my...

I feel better already!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Bowling pin kitty...

I've had a toothache since Thursday night...TOTAL bummer since my dentist normally is closed on Friday and it was a holiday weekend due to Labor Day.  Needless to say, I did not feel like sewing all weekend (or smiling, cooking, talking, etc.).  Thank goodness for Ibuprofen and something slightly stronger that Steve did not need following his last dental procedure. 

I did manage to turn in this 15 inch block on Friday morning.  Ola, Mary J. and I designed this for our LQS - it will be the shop's block for the upcoming "holiday hop" (they had to have a block for Halloween).  Drawing the cat was easy...just start with a bowling pin and add ears, whiskers, and a tail, hee-hee-hee.  If customers want to "cute it up," they can add a face.  We decided to leave it neutral, in case people don't celebrate Halloween.  Halloween is HUGE around this house.  It is my daughter and husband's favorite holiday.

I have a dental appointment this morning...then maybe I will feel like mucking around with the boxer shorts.  I have to admit that a lot of weird, twisted ideas were floating through my thick head after taking Steve's happy pills for the toothache pain...I was having visions of boxers...

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Heart Attack-on-a Stick...

Yum (not!)...that's deep fried butter-on-a-stick.  In my last post, I mentioned having entered quilts in a local community fair and mentioned this new midway delicacy.

This was introduced, I think, at the Iowa State Fair, or at least it was highly publicized at THIS year's Iowa State Fair and the circus of the surrounding Presidential Republican Party Straw Poll.

Some of my blogger friends from "down under" and other points across the globe commented or sent emails asking about this intriguing "food" item.  Well, this post is for YOU!  I hope you have a strong stomach.  I feel my arteries hardening just posting the pictures!

Americans will deep fry ANYTHING!  Maybe that is why this country is so fat.  Here is a link to how to make deep fried butter-on-a-stick - you HAVE to see it to believe it:

But this isn't the first deep fried popular item offered at fairs and carnivals all over this country.  There are many new, weird items that have hit the midway in recent years.  Here is a deep fried Twinkie.  The original snack cake has been around for years - literally!  They would have been a good item for cold war bomb  shelters due to their long shelf life.  As if they couldn't get more unhealthy:

Then there are deep fried Oreo cookies:

Deep fried pecan pie:

Deep fried avocados:

This is the "Zucchini Weenie":

Deep fried deviled eggs:

Chocolate-covered, deep fried bacon:

Funnel cakes being fried:

Deep Fried White Castle Cheeseburgers:

Deep fried beer pockets:

Deep fried strawberries:

Deep fried candy bars: I think I'm going to be this point you are either repulsed or heading out to find a state fair.

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)