Saturday, May 26, 2007

It is Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. For some - the unofficial kick-off of the summer season. I hope that all of you enjoy this special time. Please take just a moment to remember those for whom this day is dedicated. Be safe and grill a hot dog for me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tagged.

I have been tagged to list seven random things about myself . . . so here it goes -

1. I love popcorn. I have a popcorn snack almost every afternoon. I am a popcorn snob. I will not eat microwave popcorn. It always smells wonderful but ends up with the flavor and consistency of a packing peanut. I just use a pan on the stove. Shake, shake, shake.
Isn't this popcorn cute? It's called Lady-finger popcorn. Very dainty.
2. I have a hard time letting go. I attach myself emotionally to inanimate objects. This is why I drive a car that is 14 years old . . . we understand each other. When we bought a new washer and dryer, the delivery men thought I was off my rocker when I had to say one last goodbye to my old friends that had served me well for so many years. Knowing they were going into service as organ donors for other machines took out some of the sting of our parting.

3. Because of this attachment, some pieces of furniture in our home have proper names. This causes some sideways glances from company.
The Princess: "Mom, where are the tablecloths?"
Me: "In Max.
The Princess: "Oh, okay."
4. I am semi-ambidextrous. Generally right-handed, I can cut a deck of cards only with my left hand. I often eat left-handed . . . probably because I just want to get the food in me the quickest way possible. So if you sit next to me at the table watch your drink - I forget which side mine is on and I will steal yours.

5. I don't like to wear shoes. When I was in the work-world, I was always cramming my poor feet into some incredibly cute, fashionable and ill-fitting pair of shoes. When I left that world I promised myself no pantyhose and only comfortable shoes. Even still, I find that I am barefoot 98% of the time. I put shoes on but will quickly realize they aren't there any longer. Then I have to search the house to find where I have stepped out of them this time.
6. I know the words to many television theme songs. This along with tons of other useless information is tucked away in the back of my head . . . stopping me from learning useful things, I'm sure. I'm certain that I'll win a big prize someday pulling from my store of useless knowledge. In the meantime, I'll continue to sing both versions of The Gilligan's Island theme while I vacuum.

7. It is a generally accepted fact in my family that I make the best Rice-Krispie Treats. I know - what could be so special? I don't know - but they are really good. When Hubby was stationed far from home, I sent regular care packages. He met with many a scoffer concerning my ability to make the best Rice-Krispie Treats. Being ever generous, he would share his care package of goodies with the nay-sayers only to have them heartily agree with the claim and become a convert.

There you have it - 7 Random Things About Me. Please feel free to play along if you haven't already been tagged . . . I'd love to know more about all of you.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The 'Libby-style' can get a girl into trouble. Luckily for me, I have lived with Libby my entire life and can usually figure out a way to get her out of a jam.
I like to just get in there and get to work. I don't normally spend a huge amount of time trying to figure out to get to the end result . . . I just go. It has always been this way. When I was around 12, I wanted to bake cookies - from scratch. I found a recipe that included ingredients we had in the cupboard. I called my mom for permission. Then I got to work.
I started at the beginning of the ingredients list, carefully measured each one and added it to my mixing bowl in it's turn. When the ingredients were all assembled in my bowl, I began reading the body of my recipe where I discovered that they were not all to be in the same bowl yet. Yikes!
About that time, Mom came in and discovered the huge mistake I had made. Having grown up during the depression, she was none too pleased at the thought of possibly wasting all of those ingredients. With tears in my eyes, I worked and worked on that mess in the bowl until I finally got it to look like cookie dough. They baked up just fine and they were delicious, too. Crisis averted.
Fast forward 35 years . . .
As I was surfing around the internet looking for the book and the special ruler, I came across this free pattern by the same designer. I studied it for a bit and realized that if I became 'one' with the 30 and 60 degree lines on my rulers here, I could probably make these quilts. I could get some instant gratification while waiting for the book with the Serendipity patterns.
In true 'Libby-style,' I just dove right in, selected my fabric and got ready to cut. My sensible side took over at the last moment and I pulled a couple of scraps and did a test strip first. Not to be a waster of good fabric, you'll see the evidence of the test strip in the second photo.
It was like magic - 2, yes TWO quilts at one time. What fun.
Clearly studying the pattern and making a test strip was not enough to keep me from making a mess. The pattern clearly shows that 2 separate and distinct quilts can be made from one set of strips. Following the instructions, I cut the strips, sewed the strips and re-cut the strips at the proper angle. Going to my 'design floor' I carefully laid out my pieces according to the diagram.
That's when it all began to fall apart. I decided I didn't like the look of the pieces laid out in the pinwheel pattern so I rearranged them to form the hexagon. But wait, I was supposed to get to different quilts from the strips. I rearranged the pieces in the other set to be the pinwheel. Those are the pictures that I shared in my previous blog.
I started sewing. I chose the pieces of the new hexagon to piece first. Why? Because they were closer to the door on the 'design floor.' A shorter distance to walk to my machine. I stitched up the first row and had a look. There wasn't a single point that was anywhere near were it should be. (Let me point out here that I avoid pinning if I can. Surprised? I didn't think so.) I picked the seams apart and restitched them using pins to make the points connect as they should. I had the largest seams you have ever seen.
I looked at my pieces and determined that I could trim down the blocks before I stitched them together, reduce a lot of bulk and have a much more pleasing result in the end. During all the time I was trimming and all the time I was stitching, I mulled over and over in my head how this went wrong. I decided that it must have to do with not having the proper tool to make the cuts. The pattern was designed to use a particular tool. Yeah - that was the problem . . . It couldn't be me. When all the the trimming and assembly was done, the result was this cute little top.

Now on to the next problem. Another set of pieces waiting to be stitched. How would I figure out how much to trim from those pieces to make them fit? I spied the pattern on my sewing table out of the corner of my eye. I noticed that it clearly said to use the triangles with the dark strips at the base to form the hexagons. Is that a flicker of light somewhere in the back of my head?
The key is: While the triangles, themselves, are the exact same size - the components used to make them are not. That means that they MUST be laid out as the pattern directs in order for it to work. Hmmmm - what will they think of next?
I went back and re-arranged the pieces to form the hexagon pattern and started sewing. My, oh my. Those pieces just went together - easy as pie. No trimming, no fudging. Will I ever learn? Probably not.
But I did end up with two separate and distinct quilts from the same fabric strips. They should be the same size. They are not exactly like the pattern showed. But they are uniquely Libby.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thank you all for the wonderful comments on the diamond quilt. And more particularly the guidance in finding a photo transfer product to use on my label. I ordered the Fabric Treasures and it has arrived. I plan on playing around with my photo this weekend and hope to have a label to share next week.
With the diamond quilt complete, I had make a decision on which project to work on next. I have a few things that seem to be always in an 'on-going' state - the hexagons, the whole cloth (which is far to warm to work on these days,) and the quilting of the Holly and Berries. Then there are the UFO's - an old BOM that is dangerously close to being labeled abandoned, Bob - the feathered star. Hmmmm. What's a girl to do?
Start something new, of course. Dawn has been sharing her Serendipity Blocks this week and I have been completely intrigued. They are such beauties and Dawn's excellent fabric choices really make them sing. Just like a spoiled child - I wanna make THAT!
As I was surfing around the internet looking for the book and the special ruler, I came across this free pattern by the same designer. I studied it for a bit and realized that if I became 'one' with the 30 and 60 degree lines on my rulers here, I could probably make these quilts. I could get some instant gratification while waiting for the book with the Serendipity patterns.
I true 'Libby-style,' I just dove right in, selected my fabric and got ready to cut. My sensible side took over at the last moment and I pulled a couple of scraps and did a test strip first. Not to be a waster of good fabric, you'll see the evidence of the test strip in the second photo.
It was like magic - 2, yes TWO quilts at one time. What fun.
Pinwheels and Hexagons.
I have flipped the pieces around a couple of times and I think these are the layouts that I'm going to stick with. Today I'll stitch them together and add some borders. I love quilting

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Diamonds are done!
I got the quilting done yesterday afternoon and had the binding ready to hand stitch while watching tv last night. In a classic demonstration of my inability to think things through all the way to the end, I was 9 1/2" short of binding. I knew I was cutting it close - so close that I chose to make a single fold binding and to cut it in 1 1/4" widths. Even then I could see that it probably wasn't going to make it all the way around.
After having a stern inner conversation over the back fabric last week . . . not enough scraps left from piecing the front to make a whole back, nothing in my stash I thought I was willing to part with. I sat myself down and thought long and hard over the silliness of buying more fabric when there is a closet full right here at my fingertips. I went back, reassessed the scraps and found a nice piece of yardage that coordinated well.
With that still fresh in my mind, I found I couldn't really justify a trip to the store for a minimum 1/4 yard purchase for such a small section of binding. Wait! I didn't use all the leftovers. I saved out the blacks for my stash. One tiny strip cut from a black, pieced into the gap and voila - binding. It's barely noticeable and will leave a question on someone's mind 100 years from now. That makes me smile.
I'm planning on giving this quilt as a Christmas gift. I would like to personalize the label with a vintage photo and I'm hoping for some help and advice. Has anyone had experience with photo transfer to fabric? I'd be so grateful to hear how it worked, what you liked and disliked about a particular method or product. Anything you can share will be appreciated.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Our unseasonably warm (and sunny) weather over the past week has brought a lot of action to the backyard over the last week. It's so fun to open the shades in the morning and see all the colors bursting forth. These little mini-roses so sweet looking.
The stag head fern is looking happier than it has in many months - I feared it wouldn't survive over the winter.
Soon there will be garden fresh squash on our dinner table.
This may be the only apricot we have this year. It could be the most delicious piece of fruit ever.
Oh - and last night I finished the binding on the little mystery quilt. Isn't it darling? Our teacher came up with the pattern after seeing a photo of an antique quilt. Normally mystery quilts are not my favorite, but this was fun. So many different places you might end up when you are just stitching little 9 - patches.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Progress.
Finally I got these pieces up off the 'design floor' and to the sewing machine. Tonight is quilt class and I plan to take this and finish the borders. The brown goes down the long sides and the previously discussed paisley all the way around. No mitering. After I blogged about it last time, I took some of the comments to heart and have decided to skip it this time. The little piece we started in class last week remains a mystery - I'll share it here soon. I'm sure neither of these projects will fill the whole 3 hours. I'm also taking my hexagons. They have been sitting in their basket quietly waiting for my attention to return to them. I have been using my handwork time for quilting on the Holly and Berries, but we have had a good little warm spell crop up. Last night it was too much to have in my lap - enter the hexagons.
It's funny how being away from sewing at the machine for a couple of weeks seemed to put me in a rut. Now that I have have spent a couple of short afternoons putting this top together and an evening with the my hand sewing basket, I'm rarin' to go again. I love quilting!

Monday, May 07, 2007

This morning I'm feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Ready to take on daily life - the chores and the fun things,too. Hubby and I returned yesterday afternoon from a little getaway trip designed just for stress-relief and relaxation. Boy did it work.
Thursday morning we dropped Harper at her favorite pet hotel and then hit the freeway. Someone did forget to tell the Los Angeles commuters that we were looking for a stress-less drive. But we managed to arrive in Cambria, California in just about 6 hours . . . not too darned bad.
We had reservations at the Olallieberry Inn . How can you pass up a place with a name that is so fun to say . . . over and over and over? We were quickly checked in and settled in our room. We both grabbed our books and headed to this spot. Santa Rosa Creek flows right along the back of the property. We quickly staked out a couple of aged Adirondack chairs right along the bank for reading and bird watching. A good deal of the time, we could be found right here.

We did venture out for a short drive north on Highway 1. The coastline is so pretty when the fog and clouds are swirling around trying to decide if they want to dissipate or turn into a full-fledged storm.
In the afternoon, we took a 'tour' of NitWit Ridge. A local landmark of sorts. I remember driving by this place with my mom in the late 70's and early 80's. The man who built the place would sometimes be standing out on the 'balcony' chasing gawkers away or according to our guide sometimes inviting people in to have a look at his work. It was very interesting to see what this man had done with only found items. Quite a contrast to
this. Also on Friday, we had booked an evening tour at Hearst Castle.

In spring and fall, they offer evening tours of the castle that include docent volunteers dressed in period clothing giving the illusion that you have stepped back in time and are a guest at 'the ranch' yourself.

We chose our tour time carefully in hopes we would still be outdoors at sunset.These are some of the most incredible, unspoiled views of the rolling hills and California coastline. Can you just imagine sitting out on this deck happily stitching away on your latest project?


We were also treated to a garden that was in full bloom. Citrus trees laden with fruit, rose bushes in full glory and these beautiful things. I have no idea what they are (I know someone will tell me *s*) but I just loved the colorful giant blooms.
On Saturday we spent a great deal of our day at the Inn reading books out by the creek side. We were treated to delicious breakfasts each morning and wine and hors d'oeuvre each evening at 5. I really enjoyed the peace and solitude - no television, no radio, no phones - cell or otherwise, no computer. I hated to leave it all behind.
We made a quick stop to take a few last pictures before getting back on the freeways. This spot is along the coast between Cambria and Cayucos. Can you just imagine living in a little place right in that field of wild mustard? A view of the ocean and rolling hills in one direction.

And more coast and even Morro Rock looking in the other direction.
All in all, it was a glorious getaway. Today it is back to reality - piles of laundry, dusty furniture and an empty refrigerator. But the memory of Hubby sitting here relaxing - not checking emails or phone messages is terrific.
I can't wait until we can do this again.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ever since the Princess left last week, I have felt like I have just been spinning around and getting only little to nothing done. It has been very difficult for me to get back to my normal routine. With only a minimum of housework being done and a few loads of laundry, I seem to have precious little to show for my time in the last week. I got out the diamond blocks on Monday and they still lay in the same spot without a change.
I have been working on the quilting of the Holly and Berries quilt. The outlining is complete and I'm filling in the negative spaces. I hadn't planned on doing a ton of quilting on it since it's a Christmas-y quilt, destined to spend the major portion of it's life in the closet. But I just love a lot of quilting and those lines are a lot closer together than I originally intended.
Tonight is my weekly quilt class. I have been out of sync there as well. But tonight begins a new project - a mystery. I have a little cutting to do for preparation. I think once I get in that classroom, see all the samples on the walls, get a good look at all the new things in the shop and spend 3 hours blabbing with the ladies, I'll feel like I'm back in the saddle again.
Because I don't have anything quilty to share, I thought I 'd show some things that are happening in the yard.
This little rose bush is just going to town this year. I am not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination. I buy things that look good to me when I'm the nursery and hope for the best when I get them home. The plants that survive here do so on their own will to make the world a more beautiful place. This rosebush was here when we bought the house . It was definitely the 'runt' of the roses and it has certainly struggled over the years to grow and thrive. I'm very happy for it to be doing so well.This is a picture of Greer- the garden guardin' gal. She watches over the flower bed (which has yet to have new plants this year.) Greer is a little faded and could probably use a new hat this year if not a whole new outfit. I have noticed that she doesn't really seem to scare the birds, but I love to open the shades in the morning and see her watching over everything. I'm sure she wishes I would get busy and plant some things around her.
While I was outside, I didn't notice that Harper was not following my every move in the yard. When I came back inside I was met with this 'innocent' look. Who me? I didn't get into the trash can. Well, if not Harper - then who might it have been? She's not telling.