Saturday, June 26, 2010

I finally got off my duff.....

and made up some patterns for a couple of my sewing organizers and caddies. What prompted this was a phone call from a woman with an English accent named Jennifer, who lives not too far away and has run her own business for many years, a pattern and sewing accessory business, selling patterns and items all over the country and she was picked up by Butterick for some of her things. She is the nicest lady and was very generous in her praise and admiration of my work. I've known about her for a long time, I would see her things in local craft malls and at some local shows. I didn't realize she was so nice, though. :)

At the end of our conversation, she commented one more time on my work and said "you know, your work is so good, you could almost be British." lol That really cracked me up, because as some of you know, I'm what some of my friends refer to as a "Half-Brit". My mum was born and raised in London. So, Jennifer and I had a good laugh about that. It was a very enjoyable phone call.

Anyway, she wanted to order some patterns and some finished product, so I finished writing the pattern and had some printed up the other day. Ordered some zip locks and stuffed them this morning and now they are for sale in my Etsy shop. *shameless self-promotion* For now, the sewing tutorial is still available here on the blog for the travel caddy, but I may be taking it down soon as I can probably make some much needed income from selling the pattern. I'm not looking forward to an unhappy email from someone who bought the pattern and then found out she could have made up her own with a little extra trouble and effort and saved the $9. If any of you have any thoughts about that, I'd appreciate hearing them.

And Nosey Parker was SO helpful this morning as I was folding patterns up. She wanted in on the action and had a wash right where I could supervise her supervising of me.

She's so stinkin' cute, we can't hardly stand it. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Doll Quilt Possibilities....

After a lot of sleuthing and snooping and prowling around, I think this is my plan for a small quilt for my partner. It's called a Spiderweb quilt and I've never made one before. I have great expectations, though and hopefully will be able to start it soon. I have until the end of August to get it done, so it shouldn't be a problem.

These are the fabrics I'm planning to use, along with some solid white.

Hopefully she'll like it! I think it'll end up being about 24" long and 16" wide. I feel a little better for having a plan, I must say. And it was a tough decision but I can't tell you why just yet, in case she's peeking in. :)

And this is what I did this week while Jim was in CO, along with some sewing and making tiny 3.5" quilt blocks for a swap.

This is a before shot- and it was crammed even more full than this photo shows- I've done a little too much fabric shopping this year. *gulp* I was having to move entire stacks to get to the color stacked behind it and it was very inconvenient. So I refolded everything....

And this is what it looks like today!

I think this will be easier for me to deal with. I don't like the look quite as much, but function is very important and it's easier to slide a certain fabric out without disturbing the rest of the pile.

I'm in a beach swap where we all make a dozen or so little 3.5" blocks and mail them off. This month's theme is beach/underwater. I made these little pineapple drinks and also some mermaids, which I'll show you later. I love how these came out!

No Nosey Parker photos today, sorry! Please don't hurt me! :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

A couple of cool cats....

First, we had a bit of company last week, our friend Patrick drove up on his way to Colorado and spent the night. We put him to work dicing onions to go into the buffalo burgers and he said he wouldn't mind wearing my pinnie. Looks pretty good on him, too, wouldn't you say? He's a fun guy and keeps us laughing most of the time.

The next day, he and Jim drove off into the sunrise together but in separate trucks, to head the rest of way to CO, talking to each on hand-helds. After helping Patrick unload a truck full of furniture, Jim intended to catch a mess of big trout. So he's having a fishing vacation and getting to spend time with his buddy, so he's happy.

The next night, as I was lying in bed reading, I saw something just horrible- Beeswax's neck was bright reddish-pink and it just freaked me out, I was sure it was blood. Then I remembered he was wearing a hot pink collar and had gotten caught in a severe rainstorm earlier! Phew! His collar was bleeding, not him! My boy was OK. Scared me, though!

Nosey Parker evidently really misses her Daddy because she has been glued to me all night, every night. Sleeping curled up in my arms, on my stomach, cooking me until I'm sure I'm going to explode, making bread on my wrists and palms until they're a prickled mess, gosh, I just love it! My baby..... she's so stinking sweet when she's asleep!

Up on the fabric hutch, which is usually covered with a white towel....

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Doll Quilt Swap is up and running again!

This is the new hot spot in our house- my friend Jennifer gave me 2 towels when we were at her house a couple of weeks ago. The cats have all commandeered them! They are really soft and squishy, the towels, I mean... well, the cats are too, but I'm talking towels now....and they just all take turns lying around on them. This is Beeswax and Murphy, the brothers, on the lime green froggy towel. I just love these big boys! Parker likes to lay on it or under it in the late evening, before bedtime.

Last Sunday the participants of DQS9 were notified (something like 200 of them!) by their swap mamas and given the name of the person they would be creating a little treasure for. This was an eagerly awaited notification, we were all chomping at the bit, even the mamas, because they are making for someone also.

To get to that point, though, first the mamas are assigned their group and then they have to investigate each and every person by prowling through their Flickr photostream and their blog, if they have one and also the photo mosaic and/or photo favorites or gallery of inspirational quilts that they have marked. Notes are made on each person in various catagories and then match ups can begin. After that's all settled, emails are composed and ready to go when the time comes and all the "bebes" are notified at about the same time.

Then THEY get to investigate their partner that they are sewing for and come up with plan for a little quilt. Sketches are posted, fabric selections are photographed, discussions ensue from the serious to the bawdy, and a good time is by all. Well, by all who participated in it. There are still some very quiet quilters that don't say much and that's kind of a shame for their partners because any kind of feedback is better than no feedback at all. If I had my way, every single person would devote 15 minutes a day to commenting on other people's photos and ideas. Not only will make those people feel good, it's also inspiring and fun to see all the great ideas and colors and fabrics.

It's early days, though, it's only been a week, but I've already seen one finished quilt and a lot of great ideas posted. We have until the end of August to make them, so I'm hoping to get inspired soon and find just the right thing to make for my partner. I don't know what it'll be yet, but I do know this- this is the most fun swap I've ever been in, it's well run and very organized and the people who take part in it are extremely talented and fun and witty. I'm so pleased to be in it again for the 2nd time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Amanita meets a fellow....

I'm participating in a pincushion swap and this is what I chose to make for my secret partner. I used a pattern by Heather Bailey. My husband named her Amanita Muscaria, after a poisonous mushroom. I hope my partnerperson likes her and gives her a good home. She's a little shy and doesn't make new friends easily, as evidenced by a recent incident in our woods.

Amanita stumbled across a funny little man while out exercising- The Blueberry Man. He was a little startled and scampered up a tree to get to a safe place where the veggie-saurus couldn't get to him.

The view was good from up there, though.

It took a little smooth talking, but he eventually came down and made friends with Amanita.

And they lived happily ever after, until The Blueberry Man's head shriveled up and fell off. Then she ditched him for some younger stud. The End.

(I bought gallons of blueberries today, and when I spotted this one with the 2 eyes, I knew I had to take advantage of it. Pretty cool, huh, the alien eyes?)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family visits and a couple of photos....

Both of my brothers descended upon northwest Arkansas last week to visit us and the parents. Steve and his wife, Nelly, stayed with us and John stayed at the parents' house. We had a great time together even though I didn't get to see them all that much except in the mornings. Of all times, my boss called me to work a couple of days during that time.

Mum wanted a photo of the 3 kids, so we obliged her after a nice dinner on our verandah.

Steve, me, John
54, 53, 55

Steve, John, Pops

Steve and Nelly

Nelly is a lovely lady and we just love her to bits. While she was here, I foisted a set of dinnerware on her, my Pfaltzgraf Naturewood dinnerware that we just never used, service for 8, lots of pieces. I boxed it all up and we crammed it into their car when they left to drive back to FL. Phew! I have room in my cupboards again! Yay. lol

And we took the opportunity to get a photo of the 2 of us, too, it's a little dark because it's under a roof, like the others, but it'll do.

If you're curious, the little house in the background is our pump house, it covers the well and keeps it from freezing in the winter.

It was great to see everyone, it's been at least 2 years since we were all together like this. I know the parents enjoyed it immensely!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I won a giveaway a while back....

...from Jodie, at RicRac....... And boy, did she send me loot! She sent me a bunch of new patterns which I have been lusting over and waiting for her to come out with, like Ernst and Pebble, the adorable turtles featured in her blog a few months back. And trio of adorable softies with their own carrying case/house, and bag pattern and zipper-mouthed monsters, I can see those coming in REAL handy on a trying day! My mother was always telling me to zip my lip, but I think unzipping it would be much more fun!

Also, Jodie sent me things that I can stitch my own pithy comments on, if I'm feeling really bratty! And 2 adorable pins and some genuine Australian fabric, too, a very sweet rose fabric, I just love it all! It all came with a really sweet note, too, with her superhero monkey on the front, what a hoot! How exciting to come home from vacation and find this huge envelope on the table waiting for me, from Australia! I just love the internet, I'm making the coolest friends. Jodie is super talented and still so very humble, it's just a pleasure to read her blog and see what she's making and sharing.

Thanks, Jodie! You made my day for me, at least twice already! You're super and I hope you keep on doing what you're doing, you're on a roll, lady!

Part 2- vacation....

We left FL on a Wed morning and spent the night just south of Jackson, MS. It takes FOREVER to get out of Florida, it's a long state to begin with and then we ran across the top of it, in the panhandle. It was about 10 PM when we finally stopped and we were so tired that we didn't even care much that our door was loose in its frame and wobbly, we just showered and conked out and slept a good 5 hours before getting up a little after 3 and hitting the road again. We were heading to Longview TX and there were fish there with Jim's and Charles' names on them, just waiting to be caught. Got to Longview about 9 AM and after a quick bite to eat, the boys left to fish. Jen and I spent the day catching up and she worked some, she works from home. The men came home hot and happy, having caught a slew of bass and catfish. I think we all hit the sack early that night, it had been another long day for us.

The next day Jen had lots of work errands to do and I was her assistant, pulling real estate signs, labeling envelopes, etc. That earned us lunch out at a sandwich shop called Newks that was SO good, I could eat there every day. We had a chicken/pesto/goat cheese sandwich and a Greek salad, it was all yummy. Mmmm mmm. Now I have to add goat cheese to the shopping list! The boys caught a couple of fish, not as good a day as the one before, so they requested and got an early dinner so they could go out again and do some later fishing. Chicken/spinach enchiladas, that was so good! I have that recipe now, Jim really likes it too so I'll be making it a lot, I'm sure.

The day after that was Saturday and the boys took the day off from fishing. They went to Academy, a fabulous sporting goods store where I had bought some wonderful shirts for Jim(like the aqua one in the photo, $12.88!) and got myself one, too. Jen and I went to the local quilt shop, Sharmin's. It's very nice, not huge but well stocked and I got more fat quarters and ..... vacuum cleaner bags! lol They sell vacuums and sewing machines there, and fabric. That was great, I always have trouble finding bags for my vac.

One night we made shish-ka-bob and corn on the cob. OK, here's what good friends we are- after dinner, we all sat around the table with little flossers in our hands and got all the corn and meat out from between our teeth. lol You couldn't do that with just ANYBODY, you know? *snork* We laughed SO much over this long weekend, we all got along so well and had just the best time. Pranks were played, even a game of Uno and Chinese Checkers (my husband is a whiz at that game, what an analytical mind he has), all in good fun but very competitive, too.

We stayed several days with Charles and Jennifer, had a wonderful time and hated to leave, but our housesitter had other jobs to go to, so we drove home happy and content, but already missing our best friends. Did I mention the boys washed all the love-bugs off my car the night before and that Charles even cleaned my tires? I felt so swanky on the drive home!

Nosey Parker was happy to see us, all the animals were, so that was nice. NP actually came inside and sat with us for hours, during her usual play time, so I think she really missed us.

Here she is on one of the towels Jen gave me, a shark attack towel. Way to feed my fears, Jen! lol Good thing the baby isn't as neurotic as her mother.

Memorial Day Weekend, Longview, TX

My best buddy, Jennifer and me, in her front yard, waiting for Robo-Jogger to run by in the heat of the day, and believe you me, it is H.O.T. there at noon. She was always telling me about this crazy guy with the super-erect running form who runs when it's just too, too hot. So when he ran past just as we got home from shopping, her DH set up a viewing stand in the front yard and got out binoculars and everything for his return pass. Then he stood there and took pictures of the poor guy, and of us, until we got to laughing so hard we were crying. Poor guy must think we're insane, but it was so funny how Charles just pimped that guy out for us.

It's been crazy since we got home- we had to take Artie to the vet to get an ear infection cleaned up, we installed a ceiling fan in the guest room which took all day on Thursday (long boring story, no good way to get into attic, required removal of attic fan and lots of itching and crawling, poor husband and a drive to the big city for parts) and then our pond messed up yesterday and we had to take it all apart and clean it and catch fish, etc. Now he's mowing and I'm off to the grocery because we have company coming tonight, my brother and SIL will be here for a week. My other brother is already here, staying at my parents, he's allergic to pets.

Never a dull moment around here!

Be sure to check out the Doll Quilt Swap button on the right- sign ups are over and the fun is about to begin! I'll be busy with it a lot because I'm a swap mama this go-round, this ought to be interesting!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Home from our FL/TX vacation! This is loooong....

This is the lighthouse at Sanibel Island, FL.

We had a great trip, saw 2 different sets of cousins and 2 sets of friends, too. First we stopped in Homosassa, FL to have a visit and breakfast with Jim's cousin Peg and her friend, Jimmy, that was wonderful. We had time for a nice chatty visit at their lovely home in their wooded neighborhood and a great brekkie at their favorite local restaurant where everyone knows everyone else, a real fun place.

Then we headed south to Pine Island to visit his other cousin, Joan, and her husband Charlie. Joan and Charlie are an absolute delight and so much fun to be around. They have a lovely home on a waterway where we saw manatees toodling about and a pod/school/swarm of baby manta rays, they were so cute! ( I wasn't quick enough with the camera, darn it!)

We went out in their boat on Friday and went over to Sanibel Island where I BRAVELY went into the (shark infested, in my mind) water and walked on the sand bar looking for shells, up to my armpits at some points. Eeek. Scares me now, just thinking about it. Jim and Joan and Charlie came along to protect me!

Then we scooted over to the Sanibel Harbour Resort/Marriot for a lovely lunch which got funnier and funnier as the time passed. Our waiter, Chris, kept bringing us huge glasses of iced tea with bendy straws. Every time he'd come, one of the straws wouldn't work- there were holes in the bendy parts and you'd be sucking up air instead of tea. Finally, after the 3rd one, Jim told Chris that he would be sure to never buy condoms from him. OMG. We all just died, right there on the table, laughing. Even Chris played along, saying "is that why I have 6 kids?" lol He was a fun, sassy waiter in what could have been a bit of a snooty atmosphere, but he sure made it fun for us. (All four of us were in wet clothes from being in the water earlier and while we ate outside on the balcony, we still didn't feel like we were dressed correctly.) After lunch, and with MORE iced tea in to-go cups, we went back to the island and Joanie and I walked the beach for a while. That was nice, too.

After a nice boat ride back to their house, we swam in the pool, ate more wonderful food, drank nice wine, dinner and dominoes! We played Mexican Train every night- first it was every man for himself, then the next night it was the girls against the guys and then mixed couples. It was riot, we had to learn their rules so we made them conform to some of ours to even it out. It was lively to say the least. :) I think I didn't fall asleep until about 4 AM that next day, all that iced tea really affected me! I don't usually drink caffeinated stuff, wow.

The next day was Saturday and it was my birthday. Joanie took me shopping, I wanted to go to some quilt shops and spend birthday money. :) We went to 2 of them, they were both wonderful, then she treated me to lunch out and then we went to a Joann's and a Beall's to get some shoes for Jim and a shirt to fish in. What a lovely store! Then we headed back to find the boys at the door with glasses of cold adult beverages in their hands, for us! They had worked all day on getting the boat ready to leave for the summer, as they summer up north. They were pooped but not too tired to fix us a lovely shrimp scampi dinner to celebrate. And we had Angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. What a wonderful day!

Here you can see all the fabric I bought over the course of the vacation.

I needed more black and whites after starting that hexagon quilt.

I always need more blues and greens!

I even found some precious Heather Ross tadpoles! Man, that's yummy soft fabric! And I think I'll make a bag out of the mermaid fabric.

The word bubbles and the blah, blah, blah are Maxine fabrics and just above that is some hard to find Laurel Burch rainbow hearts hummingbirds, 4 fat quarters, woot!

And I was getting low on oranges, reds and purples, too.

After a few wonderful days at Pine Island, we headed north a bit to Indian Shores. We had a great brunch of crustless quiche and dandelion salad at Patrick and Katie's townhouse and a fun visit before heading over to the condo they graciously lent us for our visit. It was on the 5th floor and practically across Gulf Blvd from their home. Very convenient. And lovely, it had everything anyone would need there, even a Christmas tree in the closet! This is the view from our balcony, overlooking the beautiful Gulf.

We were only there for about 2.5 days, but it was fun and we ate out some, in some, and out again. The beach was pretty quiet, too, I guess a lot of people canceled their plans thinking of the oil spill. There was NO oil at all, the beach was as wonderful as usual. I think we found about 15 fossilized sharks teeth in one day.

I got to visit a friend for a bit and hit my favorite quilt shop in Dunedin, Rainbow's End, and Jim and I did a few repairs for Pat and Kay at the same time. Jim is such a handy guy! He fixed a leaking water line in their fridge and rehung a broken kitchen cabinet door. None of which was easy, but the man got it done!

Then we headed for TX, after coffee the last morning with Pat and Kay...

to be continued.....