Sunday, March 29, 2009

Wonderful Weekend

We all had a good weekend here. Linda got a lot of her things done, and we got to spend a bunch of time cuddling with her.
  • Have dinner out and attend "The Shack Tour" with Natasha on Friday.
  • On Saturday: move furniture, do the painting touch-up, quilt, cross-stitch, clean, grade papers, get items ready for the school auction.
  • Meet Jill at IHOP on Sunday morning.
  • Work inventory at the LQS on Sunday. (Get paid in fabric...woo hoo!)
The Shack is a book that is popular in mostly Christian circles right now. Paul Young, the author, was in Cincinnati and provided attendees with an illuminating, hilarious and touching evening. If you're open to a very non-traditional view of the trinity, you might find this a good read.

Cincinnati is known as "Sinus Valley" and is a mecca for allergists. Linda was down for the count on Saturday. Her ears, teeth and cheeks hurt. You know how that sinus pressure can be. The goal was to feel better by Sunday. I enjoyed having her just lie around. Sometimes I have to hiss Butch out of the way just to get my snuggling time in.

Today was a great day. Despite the horrible rainy, cold weather here, some of the sinus pressure had abated. So a yummy breakfast at IHOP at 8 a.m. with good friend Jill was followed by both of them working inventory at the LQS.

So much was accomplished! Upon walking in none of the 3000 bolts of fabric were on shelves. Everything had to be scanned, organized and restocked. You don't realize how heavy those bolts are until you've been moving them around for a few hours. For quilt addicts, however, it's a small price to pay for fondling all those pretty fabrics. The books were unshelved and had to be alphabetized. Super project for Jill and Linda, who are both sort of anal about that kind of thing.

Working from 9 to 1:30 resulted in a payment of 9 yards of fabric! That's a good haul for a short period of work. A wonderful bonus is that Linda's been hoping to get a part-time weekend/evening/summer job at the shop and today the owner indicated some interest and gave her an application. How cool would that be!?

Sundance (Sunny) is putting her nose of approval on today's salary. There's one yard of each on the table. We're all happy that it's a cat-themed line.

Although this focal print is also cat-themed, it really doesn't go with the other line. But the tone-on-tones and blenders look great with it. Maybe we'll get a cat pillow or two to sleep on? (As if....probably more baptismal quilts in the making.)

I've added a list of quilters' terms and quilters' acronyms on the sidebar. If you know of any I should add, please feel free to leave me a comment.

Hope your weekend also had a balance of work, rest, and spirit.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Weekend's "To Do" List

I'll be Cat in Charge for most of the weekend here. Take a look at the "to do" list.
  • Have dinner out and attend "The Shack Tour" with Natasha on Friday.
  • On Saturday: move furniture, do the painting touch-up, quilt, cross-stitch, clean, grade papers, get items ready for the school auction.
  • Meet Jill at IHOP on Sunday morning.
  • Work inventory at the LQS on Sunday. (Get paid in fabric...woo hoo!)
Saturday includes at least six hours of work around the house. I better nuzzle Linda at about 5:30 a.m. to make sure she gets an early start. Perhaps I could talk Trouble into knocking some items off the night table as well.

Good news: Linda's extended assignment contract ends on April 13, so she's been looking for another job to go through the end of the school year. Yesterday she accepted the position of 7th/8th grade Language Arts teacher. The current teacher is going out on maternity leave so this contract will last until June 12. The other members of this same Language Arts team are also pregnant. We're keeping our little soft kitty toes crossed that a contract will open up for next school year to cover one of the other maternity leave teachers.

As long as young educators keep having babies, Linda will be employed!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

In Focus - "Ethan's Star"

Once a week or so I'm going to focus on one particular pattern or book.

This week's pick is from the March/April 2004 edition of Quiltmaker magazine. It's entitled Ethan's Star and was designed by then QM Editor, Caroline Reardon.

I've made this pattern at least four times using the gorgeous flannels that are available at your local quilt shop. The finished crib quilt measures 42" x 42". One large block is 30". By making nine blocks and adding the borders, you have a quick and easy king-size (102" x 102") comforter.

It is such a simple pattern and fun to make. The beauty of it depends upon the four (yep, only four) fabrics you choose. Although it's illustrated as a baby quilt and I've made it as such, you can easily select a more sophisticated or masculine colorway for the special adult in your life.

Here are just two of the baptismal quilts I've made from this pattern.

This pattern might be available directly from Quiltmaker in one of their back issues. You might also consider accessing your public library's periodicals section, order a back issue through Ebay, or visit your local HalfPrice Books. They sell magazines for only $.50 apiece.

One of the ways I stay organized is to go through my magazines every couple of months, tearing out the pages that I want to keep as a reference. You know, those "someday" projects. I then put the torn out pages into clear sheet-protectors. At that point they go into my Idea Binder, which has tabbed dividers by project genre. All of the baby quilt designs are in one place. I'm then able to clear the magazine clutter by putting the used issues into the recycling bin. If you have young children, grandchildren or a local nursery school you might want to consider letting them have the torn up issues for arts & crafts projects.

When it's time to make one of the patterns, I simply remove it from the 3-ring binder. The sheet protector keeps kitty claws from tearing the page and can be easily wiped off on those rare occasions when Linda spills her caffeine-free Diet Coke.

On a different topic, Butch is back to being a very busy, bothersome younger brother. Sundance is also back to her old self, with nary a cough. Here she is doing her daily jigsaw puzzle.

I leave you with this quotation from I-don't-know-whom,

"Asking a quilter to mend is like asking Michaelangelo to paint your garage."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Get Your Groove On

Have you noticed the "Retreat With My Peeps" logo on the blog? A number of members of Online Prolific Quilters will be meeting each other at the upcoming retreat to benefit St. Jude's Hospital. You know, that retreat that Linda's supposed to be gathering projects for?

So an interesting discussion came up on the group. While audio books are fantastic while chain-piecing or stippling, and Enya, Tony Bennett or Sarah McLachlen are wonderful for soothing the mood, what about those times that you just need to get moving?

Who do you listen to when you're ironing and you want to move those hips in the process? Who causes you to belt it out and tap your feet even when you're seated? What songs cause you to reenact the famous Tom Cruise scene from "Risky Business"? What's on your IPOD when you're jogging around the neighborhood or at least running the dust cloth over the coffee table?

Here's some of my top tunes in no particular order:

  • "Addicted to Love" by Robert Palmer
  • "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins
  • "Copacabana" by Barry Manilow
  • "Love Shack" by the B52s
  • "Before He Cheats" by Carrie Underwood
  • "Jump, Jive and Wail" by the Brian Setzer Orchestra
  • "You're the One That I Want" from the Grease soundtrack
  • "Born to Hand Jive" from the Grease soundtrack
  • "Conga" by Gloria Estefan
  • "Get on Your Feet" by Gloria Estefan
  • "What's New Pussycat" by Tom Jones
  • "Delilah" by Tom Jones
  • "Jump (for your love)" by The Pointer Sisters
  • "Jump" by Van Halen
  • "I'm Alright" by Kenny Loggins
  • "Don't Fight It" by Kenny Loggins
  • "Something to Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt
  • "Hit the Road Jack" by Ray Charles
  • "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" by Shania Twain
  • "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John
  • "It's the Hard-Knock Life" from the Annie soundtrack (no, I am not kidding)
  • "Mr. Pinstripe Suit" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (just about anything by them)
  • "All I Wanna Do" by Sheryl Crow
  • "Every Day is a Winding Road" by Sheryl Crow
  • "Circle of Life" from The Lion King
Yes, I could go on and on. I'm interested in what helps you get your quilting, housekeeping, sanity mojo on?

And, for those who want a laugh and would like to get moving now, here's Robert Palmer's MTV video of "Addicted to Love". Look at those very talented, lovely back-up singers!

Your turn.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

National Quilting Day


Iron your fabric, sharpen your rotary blades and rev up your sewing machines. It's time for National Quilting Day!

At our house we are very tired from taking care of kittens. Butch is in one bedroom and Sundance is in the other. They've never been separated from each other or anyone, so they've taken turns crying all night. Whoever isn't spending time being nursed by Linda is mewing pitifully.

Trouble, the nurturer, has been skulking the hallway and scratching at the doors trying to get to "her" babies.

I knew it was a rough night on Linda when she stumbled down the stairs to give the rest of us breakfast at 4 a.m. (Yay, for us!)

Since she's going to spend the rest of the day sewing, taking care of kitties and going to church this evening, we're just going to link you to a Youtube video that Linda's son Darren sent her this morning.

I hope it gives you a smile. And if it doesn't, frankly, since I'm a cat and above you, I really don't care. All I know is that I enjoyed it and Linda had to watch it three times until tears were rolling down her cheeks. You'll need to copy and paste the address into your browser.

May you never be brushed backwards,

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Something Smells Fishy....

...and I don't mean in a good way. Not like salmon or tuna. Hmmmm, tuna. I wish I could occasionally talk someone into putting something into my dish besides kibble.

See these carriers? They mean one thing and one thing only. Someone's going to the very bad place.

I'm really hoping that Butch and Sundance are the two making the trip. Logan and Trouble are smart enough to hide as soon as they see the horrible cages come out of the garage. I, however, insist upon checking everything out for my loyal subjects. And then I run away when danger is more imminent.

I've been noticing that Butch has been trying to play with Sunny more aggressively, like biting the back of her neck and then trying to climb onto her back. Sunny definitely doesn't like that. Maybe Butch is going to get a chill pill.

Considering the "to do" list for the weekend, we ought to get a lot of our quilting and cross-stitching accomplished.

  1. Drop kitties off at vet and pick them up later on Friday evening.
  2. Stay home all weekend to nurse kitties. Keep big cats away from them.
  3. Finish sewing 4-patch baby quilt.
  4. Finish puppy block.
  5. Grade papers.
  6. Cross-stitch.
  7. Call Mom.
  8. Finish making spring break arrangements.
  9. Get at least one more project ready for upcoming quilt retreat.
Here's a picture of the 4-patch baby quilt. A couple of the rows still need to be sewn together and then we'll be ready for the borders. It should be just the right size for a baptismal quilt.

Last weekend this kit came to the forefront of the stash. It's a Benartex kit called Acorn Hollow and will be going on retreat at the end of next month.

Did you remember that this Saturday, March 21, is National Quilting Day? Do you have anything special planned? How about joining those of us who belong to Stashbusters for a stay-at-home retreat?

No need to make travel arrangements or pack a project. Just fix something easy ahead of time in the crock pot, or order a pizza when you're ready for dinner. Take some tips from Dawn Ramirez, the Pajama Quilter. Stay in your PJs!! Practice your feathers. Finish a UFO. Sew down the binding on that quilt that's been bugging you. Let your fingers walk through the web to find some FREE online projects (there are tons). Don't let the day slide without taking some time for your favorite hobby.

Now it's time for one of my other favorite hobbies. I need to lick my forepaws for awhile.

Your quilting cat diva,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Got Done?

Time to review our weekend accomplishments. Anything that is crossed out got done completely. The other items got sorta done. For instance, although the puppy block isn't completed, we did work on it a bit. Same with the four-patch and cleaning the bathroom. Unfortunately, the closest we got to cross-stitching was rearranging and organizing some of the materials needed.

  • Grade papers
  • Laundry
  • Complete puppy quilt block
  • Finish sewing rows together of 4-patch quilt
  • Start taxes (hack, cough, sorry....always get a nasty hairball when I think about them)
  • Attend church
  • See "Watchmen" (She'll have to do this without me)
  • Hang two pictures
  • Take pictures for upcoming blog posts
  • Cross-stitch
  • Clean bathroom
  • Take Philip back to campus on Sunday
  • Finish reading The Shack
  • Get at least one thing ready for St. Jude retreat
  • Call at least two friends
  • Go through one fabric bin and fold it using the ruler method. Organize by color.
The quilt shop's inventory was postponed until the end of this month. Boo hoo. However, Linda still gets to work it. Yay!

It took a lot longer to grade papers than either of us realized it would. The end of the quarter is soon. Linda is the writing teacher, so each of the papers must be read thoroughly prior to grading. There are about 125 students and they complete about four assignments per week. That's a lot of reading! Even though it's a job she loves and she gets a lot of help from us (that's Sundance lending a paw), it's very time-consuming.

Sunny is even willing to crawl into the tote bag to make sure there aren't any papers left. What a good girl!

We put the quilt frame together and it looks great in our upstairs hallway.

The picture above the quilt frame is one of the two we put up this weekend. Here's "Dove in the Window" by Rebecca Barker. It adds such joy and color to our kitchen!

One of the things we've learned in tackling anything, whether it's a quilt, housework, grading papers, or a little bit every day. Flylady has helped us conquer a lot, and it's a great method. You'd be amazed how much you can get done when you set the timer for 15-20 minutes and dedicate your entire focus to that one job.

For us it's also a form of prayer. Each little thing we do is a way to express gratitude and worship; that our hands may be guided in even our smallest endeavors to honor our Creator.

May your catnip be fresh,

Friday, March 13, 2009

Revision to Weekend Goals

Linda is doing her happy dance, which really freaks me out sometimes.

She just got a text message from her local quilt shop asking if she'd like to work inventory at the shop this Saturday, and they're going to pay her in..........(wait for it)........FABRIC!!!

Obviously, there will be some items on the weekend goal list that we'll re-prioritize. My sisters and brother will be delighted to inspect the new material when it comes home.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Weekend Goal Setting

I have tried my best to give Linda a swift kick in her behind to get her moving forward after too much time spent in an emotional quagmire. However, my soft and cuddly kitty paws haven't done a darn thing. I can't exactly perform my very important job of supervising if she isn't DOING anything!

Hey, I like being a couch potato as much as the next tabby, but enough is enough!

And today I saw on her legal pad some signs of life. She's always been a great list-maker. But even that went by the wayside during the past few months. Do all of you humans experience times of inactivity when you're a bit emotionally or physically overwhelmed? In my very sweetest impersonation of Cher, I'm yowling at you to "Snap out of it!!!"

Every Thursday you'll see a post here of the weekend goals. It'll be great to have a plan and cross those items off the list. And even if something happens to revise the list, we can feel good about what's accomplished.

So from Friday through Sunday evening here's what's on the "to do" list:
  • Grade papers
  • Laundry
  • Complete puppy quilt block
  • Finish sewing rows together of 4-patch quilt
  • Start taxes (hack, cough, sorry....always get a nasty hairball when I think about them)
  • See "Watchmen" (She'll have to do this without me)
  • Attend church
  • Hang two pictures
  • Take pictures for upcoming blog posts
  • Cross-stitch
  • Clean bathroom
  • Take Philip back to campus on Sunday
  • Finish reading The Shack
  • Get at least one thing ready for St. Jude retreat
  • Call at least two friends
  • Go through one fabric bin and fold it using the ruler method. Organize by color.
I'll do my very best to keep her in line. But since I love her, I won't put my claws out when I smack her on top of the head if she doesn't get something completed.

May your litter box smell of baby powder,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Butch and Sundance Ride Again

It's time for you to get a closer look and hear the story of my littlest siblings, but the story actually starts with my kitty sister, Jeannie.

Jeannie was my friend, adopted sister and great companion. We were only six months apart and did everything together. Here's a picture of Jeannie. Wasn't she beautiful?

Jeannie contracted a terrible kidney infection and almost died. This happened at about the time that there was a huge recall of pet food, and many people lost their beloved four-legged friends. Although Jeannie had a miraculous recovery, she was always going to be susceptible to future kidney problems. She had to be on a special diet, and my humans knew that one kidney had died, but didn't know how much damage the other kidney had sustained.

Sadly, my dear calico friend, Jeannie, crossed The Rainbow Bridge in October of 2008, at the age of only five years old. She died peacefully at home, with our humans holding and loving her until the end.

Jeannie was hilarious. She would play fetch 20 times in a row, constantly dropping a milk ring or toy at Linda's feet and meowing at her until it was thrown. One of her quirks was putting her toys into the water dish. Linda always got a weird look on her face when she picked up one of Jeannie's toys to toss it and discovered that it was water-logged.

Jeannie's special human friend was Philip, Linda's son. Here they are together, doing what they did best. Jeannie really loved Philip, and the feeling was mutual. Even though other family members have crossed The Rainbow Bridge, Jeannie's passing was especially difficult for a lot of hard-to-explain reasons.

So a month to the day of her passing was rough on my humans. God has an interesting way of taking care of His people and His animals. He does a great job of match-making!

Linda is a teacher. And when she went to school that day a fellow teacher sent an email to everyone on staff, saying that there was a mother cat and five kittens living under her grandmother's back porch. Apparently the mother cat was feral and had burrowed herself under the shelter of the porch to have her babies.

Now the kittens were six weeks old, the weather was turning cold, and the family was hoping to find homes for them.

Enter Linda and Keith. They emailed back and forth about it and decided to adopt two kittens. A day after Thanksgiving, the rescue was made. These kittens had not been around humans so they were very, very scared.

Within a 24-hour period they were taken from their mother, put into a large cage in a house, transported across town in a cat carrier, introduced to their new home and litter box, stuffed in the carrier again and taken to the vet, got dewormed and their first vaccines. No wonder they weren't too sure what to make of all of this!

The first several days they hid under the dresser, which is only about 2 inches off the floor. They'd slink out for food and the litter pan and then scurry back to their hiding place at the slightest sound.

Linda named them Butch and Sundance, because they quite literally crawled out of a hole in the wall and they were VERY hard to catch! Butch is the orange tabby and Sundance is the gray kitty. Since Sundance is a female, we sometimes call her Sunny.

Within just a week or two, they became great friends to Trouble, who seemed to take on a maternal role with them.

And now you can see that they are ready to enter the life of quilting quality control apprentices. They're already mastering the first step, which is making sure that a quilt is accessible on every recliner, sofa, table top and bed. This picture shows a well-deserved rest after readjusting the quilt on the recliner several times.

Now, we'd love to hear about your quilting buddies!

P.S. Despite this entry, I still don't know how I feel about the kittens. I alter between smacking one on top of the head for no reason, hissing at them when they enter a room, or allowing them to groom me. Well, I mean, I AM their queen!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Christmas Marches In

When Linda's car pulled in the driveway all of us were lined up in the living room picture window waiting for her as usual. Usually she smiles at us and says "Hi" as she's walking to the door. But not this time.

As soon as she saw that the mail carrier had left a few boxes, she was too excited to notice us at all. I'm indignant. Once she opened the door I made sure to let her know that the job of feeding us comes first. She took the hint.

So what arrived? She ordered several items from Rebecca Barker and most arrived today.

First of all, we have three Quiltscapes books now, one of which will be donated to the upcoming St. Jude's quilt retreat. Some lucky raffle winner will receive a signed copy of Quiltscapes I. We're keeping the other two here.

Just look at how lovely the pictures are, and the patterns are included. A treasure for any quilter and we now have two great coffee table books for our house.

Also, this beautiful print that we're going to have framed. (Another print is on the way and you'll get to see it when it arrives). Look at the colors, texture and lovely detail!

And a variety of note cards. Aren't they great?

As if that weren't enough, Ms. Barker was kind enough to send along this complementary mouse pad as a thank you gift for the order! It's proudly holding our mouse right now. (Mouse, hmmmm, mouse.)
Our home is quickly turning into a comfortable, cozy, warm quilter's refuge. We're hopeful that friends will come over who also love (or are tolerant of) cats and would enjoy quilting with us.

Another arrival was a quilt rack from GWiz products. I think putting it together is going to be a weekend project. I'll be sure to help with the tools and the directions. And then we'll be able to get some of those quilts out for display!

This is Logan watching the action in the room surrounding how to put the quilt rack together. Linda can't seem to tell one expression from another with us cats. I, on the other hand, can take one simple glance and tell that Logan is overjoyed. How can you not see that?

We're so happy with our new purchases and this is our "Lost" night. We also have two movies from the library that we've been wanting to see..."Burn After Reading" and "Charlie Wilson's War." By being frugal with things like DVDs we're able to get the decor for the house that we want.

That's also why we're stashbusters (great group!) Using up what we have is not only efficient, but requires us to be creative. More on this philosophy in upcoming posts. In the meantime,
I'd like you to get "Lost" too, but in a good way.