Saturday, May 31, 2008

Speaking of Purses...

Well, that's all I've been speaking about for the last several days. At our Crazy Quilting International group (Yahoo), we're having our annual purse contest. So, I prepared an entry - most of the work occuring this week (Crunch Time). The deadline was yesterday, May 30.

Obviously, I cannot post that purse or even talk about it, but I thought I would post a picture of the first CQ purse I ever made about six years ago. It's a basic black and gold drawstring bag, and the sum of the embellishment consists of seam embroidery only.

The picture below shows the purse opened so you can see more of the (very plain) embroidery. Naturally, I've developed a bit since then and my stitching is more complex. But sometimes a walk down Memory Lane helps us realize that we've made progress!

I have used this purse, and it is very serviceable. And it does get noticed. CQ is that way, isn't it???

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Old RR Block Returns Home

Back in late summer of 2006 I began a round robin with a group of ladies across the country. There were 8 of us who'd been doing RR's for almost five years up to that point. Due to circumstances (in other words, LIFE), virtually every participant got sidetracked and we sort of fell apart. It happens. But we all decided to make an effort to finish and get the blocks back to their respective owners. This block returned home to me last week. Eventually, this will be the front panel of a tote bag. There will be a green fern-patterned strip below it and green handles. The reverse has also been pieced similarly but is not yet embellished. I must say I was a bit disappointed that so much was left undone, and that someone added blue against my specific wishes (I'll frog it and replace it with green or orange). And speaking of frogs, I think he may have to go as well - still thinking on that.... Obviously, there's finish work to do, but on the whole, I love it. It's good to have it home. Gotta finish the tote now ASAP since it's supposed to be a summer tote!! Of course, I'm assuming that summer will eventually get here......

Meeting Author Debbie Macomber

What a thrill it was to learn that best-selling author Debbie Macomber (The Cedar Cove book series, the Blossom Street book series and many others) was going to be in town at Borders Bookstore in Murray, less than a mile from my house! So tonight I went down to Borders at 6:30 p.m. and got in line for her reading and book signing at 7:00 p.m.

There were about 25-30 of us there, and Debbie was so personable and fun. The set out chairs in a semi circle around her, and Debbie handed out free gifts to everyone, took questions (rather than doing a reading), and just laughed and talked with us. Then we got our books signed and pictures taken if desired.

Debbie inscribed my book: "To Cathy, What a wonderful smile you have! May all your wishes come true! Debbie Macomber (2 Tim 1:7)"

I'm currently reading her latest release, Twenty Wishes, and that is the book she signed for me. After the signing most people left, but for those of us left talking to her (about 8-9 of us), she invited us to join her for coffee in the bookstore's cafe. There we sat and talked and joked about all sorts of funny things - like how hubbies give us the eye when we bring home more stash. Debbie said she once bought out the shelving from a yarn store that was closing and now has filled it all - and then some! Now I ask you, is she is kindred spirit, or what?!?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

1% Well-Read Challenge

After reading Susan Elliott's blog Plays with Needles, I visited and signed up for the 1% Well Read Challenge.. The goal of this challenge is to read 10 books in 10 months from the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list (hence the 1% number). The Challenge runs from May 1, 2008 through February 28, 2009.

I'm considering this to be additional books for me, because I've already read a couple dozen from the list. There is a spreadsheet here that lists these 1001 books.

My ten selections were based on books I already have and that are actually already in my reading queue (which will take me another 20 years to finish, LOL). I'm just moving them up in line!

1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
2. Cider House Rules by John Irving
3. Billy Bathgate by E.L. Doctorow
4. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
6. Cry, The Beloved Country by Alan Paton
7. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
8. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
9. The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
10. The Age of Innocense by Edith Wharton

I also have, and will read:

11. Portnoy's Complaint by Philip Roth
12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
13. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
15. Neuromancer by William Gibson

Of course, I have two other books that I need to finish first: Back on Blossom Street and Twenty Wishes, both by Debbie Macomber and both are part of her Blossom Street series. They're relatively lightweight, which was my intention. I've been home several weeks now, "decompressing" after quitting a very stressful job and my favorite pastimes are stitching and reading. Life is good!! :-)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Working in the Yard

Hubby and I spent the better part of this weekend working outside in the garden. Whew! First we visited the nursery to get some flowers and tomato plants - things we hadn't started from seed already. Then I weeded while he mowed. And then I snapped some pictures of what's blooming at the moment, so let's take a bit of a tour.

The snowball bush at the right sits on the east side of our house. It's getting the morning sun in this picture. To the left of it is lavender, which is just beginning to reawaken. In front are the tulips, which are mostly spent. I've got to wait until the green leaves turn brown before twisting them off the bulb. That gives the bulb time to store nutrients for next year. Once the tulips are out of the way, there will be some blue lobelia at the front of the bed along the border edging.

And speaking of blue lobelia and this same bed, look at one of my very favorite garden whimsies. It's a sea serpent (in three pieces, but you can almost imagine her "swimming" in the ground!)
That's a rose bush to the left, but in back of her is blue chip campanula and in front of her are the lobelia starts. When they grow in and bloom, the serpent will hopefully be swimming in a sea of blue!!

Now to the front yard. This is our Golden Chain tree. It's a bit hard in this picture to see the golden flower chains hanging down, but they are there. Maybe I can get a better picture in a few days.

Does anybody else name their trees???? I have a Flowering Pear that I named Perry (real original - not! pear - peary - perry). We also have an apricot tree that is of a variety adapted to the Utah climate, and it's called a Mormon Chinese Apricot tree. I've named it DeWong. And finally, there's my Golden Chain Tree. Her name is....... Aretha. (Chay-chay-Chaaaaaiiiin.... Chain of Fools......)

Next we move to a little shady area to the side of the front porch (in my blog header picture it's between the urn and the rose tree, toward the back)

In the forefront is that daylily. Behind it are bleeding heart, a stepping stone, a hosta and columbine........ all of them just waking up for the season.

Bruce got the brunt of the hard work this weekend. He had to get the sprinklers going, put soaker hoses in his newly-arranged vegetable garden, then he planted the veggies and mowed the grass.

And still left to do.......... These are the flowers I still have to plant. Usually we use up all the wood before spring hits, but this year we didn't (because this was the SECOND load!), so it'll probably stay there. The tortoise metal sculpture needs to be hung - we got it in Arizona earlier this year. The lattice work will go up along the grape arbor to replace the panel that broke last year (the grapes were sooooooooo prolific and heavy!). When the grape vines begin filling in and all the plants and flowers are IN, I'll snap some patio pictures. But for now, I'm off to go grab a wine cooler and sit out in my wicker rocker to relax!!

Peacock Round Robin

On the Crazy Quilting International (Yahoo) list, I'm participating in a Peacock Round Robin. We're about 75% of the way done now. This is Cheryl's block with everyone's work to date.This is a close-up of my work. The peacock body was satin stitched with Eterna silk, the feathers with pearl cotton and the eyes with Kreinik metallics. I also did the flower vines above Mr. Peacock, the chevron-cretan stitch combo along the seam to the right, and the flower and ribbon leaves below. I hope Cheryl enjoys it!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fabric Lover's Dream

Today I had the opportunity to visit my new friend Bev at the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City for our local church. Bev does volunteer work there every Monday and invited me to join her. Bev's responsibility? To sort all the incoming fabric donations, which amounts to several HUGE bins every week. But first, let me digress..........

The work of the Humanitarian Center is to prepare kits or "modules" of various items to be sent
for relief and aid worldwide. The Center gives tours several times per day, where the public can see what work is being accomplished. These are some of the display cases in the front reception area that show some of these modules.Shown here are (from L-R): the Newborn module/kit (basic onesie, diapers, cap, booties, soap and specialized babycare items; the Classroom module - a bookbag full of pencils, folders, paper, basic classroom items; and the Childcare Relief Module (boy or girl); towels, soap, toothbrush & paste, etc.). There are also Children's Toy modules (in a toybag), Medical Relief modules, clothing, quilts and more that I can't even remember....

So, getting back to the fabrics, they are sorted into areas that they can be used. Cottons (by yardage or by pieces) can go for quilts or children's clothing, as appropriate. Heavier fabrics can be used for bookbags, toybags, or pants or jumpers. Fleece and flannel have their own bins, too, as does felt, fake fur, and fancies (dubbed "costume fabrics"). Even they old grandma-style polyester doubleknits are sorted (OUT!!, LOL).... In this area, we also see yarn, threads, buttons, lace, sewing miscellany, trims, etc. Here are two boxes into which materials suitable for bookbags go.So, first (the initial reason for my visit) was that I went through the five boxes (like the ones above) of the costume fabric, which are for the general public to take as they would like. I spent two hours doing just that. Imagine, after I couldn't reach in any more, we just brought a chair over and I climbed in. It was PURE HEAVEN sitting in fabric up to my eyeballs!

At noon, all the workers filed into the cafeteria where we were fed a delicious, well-balanced meal. And then............ back to sorting. Once the big incoming bins were sorted into their respective boxes, the finer sorting and filing away of the materials for use was done. For example, the threads were put in bins by color so that the seamstresses making quilts and children's clothing could use them.

So, here is my friend Bev (on the right) with her friend and neighbor (and my new friend) Carol on the left.
And this is me and Bev. Try not to laugh at my ridiculous sweatshirt - it was purely for work purposes, and I don't usually wear it out in public. (But it belonged to my mom and I keep it for sentimental reasons, LOL). Can you see how large this work area is? There are OTHER work areas adjacent to our room.

I can't wait to go back next Monday. I told Bev and Carol that I'd love to work with them on Mondays until I go back to work full time. From here on out, I won't go through the costume fabric bins; I'll just check fabric out as it comes in, and if it can be used for CQ, I'll cut some off.

The coolest thing about this is that Bev and I met through Sharon Boggon's blog. When Sharon invited new bloggers to announce their blog last week, I did. Almost immediately, I got an email from Bev, who lives about 40 minutes north of me. Bev was telling everyone today that "We met in Australia!". Bev has converted the top floor of their barn into her studio. And she wants to learn Crazy Quilting, so I get to teach her!!! We're going to set up a play date in the very near future!

And finally, this is my "haul" when I unloaded it at home.
Tomorrow: a job interview in the morning (I have mixed feelings about that, LOL!) and then must catch up on my emails, blog reading and then stitching!!!!!!!!!! Life is good!

Friday, May 9, 2008

American Idol Visits Home

American Idol is down to three contestants this year. I'm not usually such a "rabid" follower of it, but this year our hometown boy, David Archuleta, has been a favorite almost from the outset. Today was his Homecoming Visit, courtesy of the Fox TV network. Footage will be shown on next week's American Idol shows. But even better, I actually went to the festivities. What can I say? I'm 54 going on 15, LOL.

Murray City is nestled in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley. David's Homecoming was held at the Murray High School football field. I parked a few blocks away at the library and walked the few blocks to the school. No traffic jams for me, thank you!!This is one of the many signs around the packed stadium. On the front of the high school was another one, a couple stories tall, of David singing that said "Welcome Home David!" I didn't get a picture of it......... yet!!

Here are a couple of cute junior high school girls who were my buddies as we stood in the stands and cheered.
If you haven't noticed, Murray H.S.'s colors are orange and black (yuk) and they are the Spartans. So there we were, waiting. To entertain us, there were performances by the H.S. Choir, the dance team, the drill team, etc. etc. Then all of a sudden, everyone was looking up and taking pictures. Is it a bird? ..........
No, it's just an airplane with a sign, circling the stadium (advertising by a local Country station. What' s up with that??) There was also a helicopter from one of the TV stations hovering...
And then the first of the screaming started. Whasssup?? It seems a limo (a limo TRUCK) was arriving. Gee, I wonder who that could be?!?!?
Well, no one really knew who it was. Some of the high school girls said David was already on site - that he'd been there all afternoon meeting with friends and practicing his singing. So maybe this was someone else........

FINALLY, the "parade" started. Where I was standing, the little motorcade actually passed us twice - the first time on its circle of the stadium, and then again as they completed the final few feet before alighting at the stage.

Above is Utah Governor Jon Huntsman and the First Lady. Guv's right arm is in a sling. (Must've accidentally gotten between a teeny bopper and David Archuleta!) And then we have Murray's colorful Mayor Snarr. Colorful in more than one way - take a gander at that handlebar moustache! When they show him on TV next week (and they WILL show him), hopefully they'll use a wide-angle lens to capture that handlebar moustache!!!
OMG - and then the SCREAMING!!! Was it the Beatles??? Ooops - wrong generation!!! Well then, it must be David Archuleta!!! Yep. Now, I must explain something here. I was excited, too. So excited, that when I had the PERFECT CLOSE-UP SHOT, my finger hit the picture-taking button. Well, oops, that was the on-off switch. Dang - who designed this #*%@ camera anyway?? I'll catch him next time around.......... Right. Then there was no good shot........ but here's what I did get:That's his mom in the yellow jacket. Any other female would've been lynched!! Here's another young lady who was standing behind me and was kind enough not to drool on me.
So, once David made it to the stage, there were several speakers. Governor Huntsman declared May 9, 2008 as David Archuleta Day. Mayor Snarr read a letter from Paula Abdul - she's picked a Billy Joel song for David to sing next week (no, I can't remember it at the moment). And then David sang!

And as one guy (an OLD guy - at least 30, LOL) said, "He sounds even better in person than he does on TV". And he was right!!! So after David sang 4 songs, I made my way out of the stadium and hoofed it back to my car. By the time I got there, I was 54 again......

Thursday, May 8, 2008

First Playtime with Embellisher

I bought a Babylock Embellisher over a month ago. At first, I was disciplined and made myself finish up some round robin commitments before playing with it. And then construction began on the remodel of the bathroom right off my studio, so I had tarps over everything for about 10 days. I didn't want to bring the machine out until the construction was over and the dust settled and cleaned up. Today was the day!!

With no particular goal in mind other than to experiment with the machine, its feel, the fabrics and other "stuff", I pulled earthtone browns and metallics and set out to make something. What I ended up with was the following piece, several broken needles and some valuable knowledge.

The needles loved the taffeta, silk, metallics, sheers and fibers. It did NOT like the two synthetics I used, which were fancy fabrics of unknown composition. Even going S-L-O-W, they ate up more than a half dozen needles on this piece alone. Lesson learned (talk about slow, eh? LOL). I tried scrunching a lot (that was fun!) and left some fibers loose and hanging intentionally. Don't know what this 9x9" piece will be - maybe a pillow? Or a small wall hanging??? I'm going to let the Embellisher rest tomorrow because I have to finish piecing a purse for the CQI purse competition (a Yahoo group I belong to).

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Fabulous Fan Block Finished

This block is for Jo as part of our "Fabulous Fans" round robin in Crazy Quilting International (a Yahoo group). This is a "DYB" or "Do Your Block" round robin. Each participant makes 6 blocks (6x6") and sends them around in order. When they come to you, you pick one of the blocks and embellish it in its entirety according to the wishes/instructions of the owner. When the blocks have made the round, they come back to their owner fully embellished and ready to be made into a wallhanging or whatever.

This, then is my block for Jo. It was sure a lot of fun! And now I'm on to a peacock-themed block for the next Round Robin.

Monday, May 5, 2008

First CQ Project From 2000

Happy Monday! I thought I'd throw in some eye candy here, as most of the rest of my news for today is non-CQ related. The first project I did (after a starter needlebook which I pieced but never embellished or sewed up) was a spring vest for myself. After it was completed, I had to tear it apart and make it smaller. After losing weight a few years ago, it is still really big, but I can and do wear it occasionally.

This is a detail shot of af silk ribbon enhanced vintage lace flower. I made the carved MOP buttons into flowers and made the Victorian hand "holding" the lace up.....

The printed fabric with the gray background was from a vintage Japanese obi. The vest colors were primarily lavender, green and pink.

DH Bruce also finished prepping the garden area for planting. He bought loads of mulch and chipped bark. He spent most of Friday off-loading them from his truck to the garden. The bark paths are for walking areas. I'll finally have somewhere to walk as I tend my roses and flowers along the raised flower bed (barely visible along the left). As soon as he lays out the soaker hoses this week and gets the sprinkler system started up, we'll be able to plant! The recommended planting time in the Salt Lake Valley is after Mother's Day, as a general rule. After then, the chance of a frost is only 10%......

And finally............... the downstairs bathroom remodel is complete. Somehow I must've deleted the "before" pictures and the gutted shower area. It had been leaking long before we bought the house (we found out) and even the studs (in some areas) and the drain had to be replaced.

Here is the only "before" picture I could find:

And three weeks later, this is the "after":

Boomer approves!

Now they're busy demolishing the master bathroom.......... and we're set for another three weeks of noise and dust......... but it'll be worth it!!! I never did get any "before" pictures of that, either.

Must stitch............