Saturday, August 30, 2008

When last we met, I was happily playing in the scrap basket and stitched up this little cutie.The goal was to make 'Try' one of the quilts from the book Hey Nonny Nonny
by Virginia Cole of Galloping Pony Press. Check out her blog for lots of inspiration.
Keeping in mind that I have not yet dabbled in the arena of scrap booking, cropping or collage making, I have chosen to stop this little quilt here. The fabric in the background will be the binding.
When working with such small amounts of fabric, it is very easy to cut too much. What can a girl do but stitch up the extra pieces into another little quilt?
Still have leftovers? Well then just make another!
Is there anything more satisfying than hand quilting three quilts from start to finish all in one evening? Viva little quilts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Remember this 'naughty girl?' Today she was given her release to resume normal activity. The only caveat was against playing Frisbee on a hillside. No problem there - this girl doesn't like to return thrown things for a second round causing all such games to end quickly. We can slowly build up daily walks and add some gentle romping in the yard. Yippee!
Here is another quick look at the quilts that I dyed with coffee, tea and vanilla over the weekend. This quilt stays on the gate leading to the backyard and endures the bright sunshine all day long.
This quilt is on the rocker at the front door during the summer months. It receives a fair amount of afternoon sun each day.
They look much better now that they've had their bath. For those that asked, but are set to 'no reply' - I use the vanilla only to add a more pleasant scent. The mixture of coffee and tea isn't particularly inviting. Like the colors, it will fade over time.
Some of you may recall that Hubby and I went to the quilt show in Long Beach last month. There was one additional purchase at the show that I haven't yet shared. Say hello to my new friend, Caasi (pronounced kay-cee which is Isaac spelled backward after Isaac Singer of sewing machine fame.)
We didn't set out to make this purchase, but I have been looking and dreaming for some time. With current space limitations, it certainly didn't seem to be the right time. But the 'show price' made it most difficult to pass up. And dear, sweet Hubby was the one who really encouraged going ahead right now. We delayed delivery until our return from NYC. Now I'm ready and rarin' to go. I'll have a lesson to get started next week.
Because of those space limitations, the table is currently set up at 5 feet although it can expand to 10 feet when we have more room. Guess I'll be making smaller quilts for a few months. Wanting something to practice on after my lesson, I got out the 5" squares box yesterday, pulled out 72 squares, and made a Disappearing 9 Patch.
I 'Googled' the name to make sure I was calling it by the right thing and found a tutorial for more ways to use the Disappearing 9 Patch blocks. I saved half of the blocks from the first top and and after a little play, came up with this.
I am planning on using the black to turn it into a medallion center and adding some vines and berries or other applique to the orange.
Again, I saved half of the blocks and came up with these little hour glass patches. Putting 4 together gave me two 12-ish" blocks. I have never really played with blocks and manipulated them like this before. It was fun to lay them out over and over getting a new design each time.
Today I went back to my faithful scrap basket, and pulled out fabrics for 16 patches made from 1" strips. I'm using a pattern from the book Hey, Nonny Nonny that makes a quilt that finishes at 6" x 8".
Big pieces, little pieces or anything in between - it just doesn't matter . . . quilting is fun!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

All around 'blog land' I keep reading rumblings of fall approaching. I'm happy to jump right on board the Fall Is My Favorite Season bandwagon. While we don't get the fall weather that many experience, I more than compensate by decorating the house and preparing foods that bring the fall feel at least to the indoors.
Some of that will have to wait for just a few more weeks as we enjoy the last bits of summer. The sun has been shining bright and hot the last few days. That makes perfect conditions for coffee dyeing quilts and I have been keeping a little stash of quilts for just such an occasion.
First I put I put the quilts in the washing machine to get them wet. Then they were spread out on the lawn.
I mixed up a strong* solution of hot water, instant tea, instant coffee and vanilla and poured it on the wet quilts.
*if you want lighter color make it less strong or even omit the coffee all together.
Then I scrunched them up to help distribute the solution a little better. Next they are left like this to bake in the sun. The parts that are exposed will become much darker* than the rest of the quilt.
*if you want a more even color, just make sure the solution is evenly distributed and don't fuss with the scrunching.
After a few hours, I hung them on the line to finish drying completely. You can use your automatic dryer if you like, but beware the solution will come off on the drum - be sure to clean it thoroughly before you dry garments. What will wash right out of your quilts will NEVER come out of your favorite shirt.
There hasn't been much sewing going on, the Olympics continue to take the majority of my attention. With all that time in front of the television, I have basted a half yard of aged muslin into 1/2" hexagons for my star project. There is plenty more fabric cut to keep my hands busy during closing ceremonies tonight.
I also have repurposed a couple of blocks from an abandoned BOM project into pillow slipcovers for the couch. I have three more complete or nearly complete blocks that may get the same treatment or become little, individual quilts. Only time will tell.
Last, but not least, there is a picture of my naughty little friend in action. She jumped up on the sofa right behind me the other day when I was catching up on emails. Then yesterday when I came home from doing some errands, The Princess presented me with a picture of the very same naughty girl on a chair in the living room. We have a follow-up appointment this week with her veterinarian, I hope we are given the okay to resume all normal activity . . . seems that someone is ready.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vacation trips are fun but it's always nice to get home again. Sights, sounds, smells - everything is familiar. It is easy to get right back into your routine. Then again, what girl doesn't love a little surprise? I know I sure do. Look at what was in the mail waiting for me from Julie at Through the Barn Door, a sweet little twig basket filled with vintage threads on wooden spools. See the spool in the top right side of the basket? Twenty-five cents is the price stamped into the wood. The Princess didn't really see what the deal was until I told her what I pay for thread today.
But wait, the fun didn't stop there. Julie also included this darling little pinwheel doll quilt. It's going to look great in my house - my kind of colors. There is even a cute little label on the back.
I really must get better at labeling my quilts. Juliann at unwritten issued a challenge to label quilts during the month of August. I gave a half-hearted 'sure I'll join in' just as we were leaving for our trip. I told her to stay after me or I'd continue my slacker ways. Looks like I'd better get busy with a marker and fabric, over half the month gone and not a single label to may credit. Shame on me!
So you ask,'Libby, what have you been doing with your time?' I've been watching the Olympics. Oh I prepare a meal now and then, manage to run the vacuum before we are all covered in dog hair, water the garden during commercials, even the laundry hamper is empty. But I don't peel myself away from the television for very long at all. We don't watch a lot of professional sports. We don't follow any college programs. But the Olympics is a whole other story. The event doesn't matter, winning doesn't matter (okay maybe a little bit.) It's level of dedication it takes to make a team. The passion for your chosen sport or event. The pride of representing your country when all the eyes of the world are on you. I just can't get enough.
All that time in the comfy chair makes for a good opportunity to get some hand sewing done. I have completed the applique on my Halloween quilt. Next I became obsessed with making yo-yo's. I made my first yo-yo for this little pin cushions and knew that I must make more.
I might use them for something, but for now they look so darned cute in their jar just sitting on a shelf. Now I have gone back to hexagon basting. I need lots and lots and lots more to finish up my quilt.
That little baggy of hexagons doesn't look nearly as cute as a jar full of yo-yo's.
Harper is back to her regular routine, too. Here she is in her favorite spot in the back yard. From this vantage point she can watch over the whole yard and keep an eye on the house, too.
The fur on her leg is starting to fill in. Her 'poodle-toe' is not as prominent as it was right after surgery. I'm not so concerned that she'll get a sunburn anymore.
Then there's the garden. Some parts are beginning to really wind down. Others, like the pepper plants, continue to produce like mad. I roasted this tray of Anaheim's this morning.
The squash is just about done for. I picked these yesterday and pulled up all but one plant.
There are enough jalapenos in this basket to make two batches of jelly this afternoon.
And just a quick peek at the rest.
The gourds have blossoms - they are going to be an abundant crop; a quick basil harvest will yield a nice batch of pesto for the freezer; the watermelon vine is healthy looking but I don't think it's going to ever bear fruit; tomatoes are bursting out all over; and the last squash plant standing.
After the closing ceremonies of the Olympics I think it will be time to think about some fall planting for winter harvests. Enough time for that, back to my chair.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Buildings, so many buildings in that big city. Lots are iconic, easily recognizable and were on our list of things to see and do.
As a girl who practically swoons over all things art deco, the Chrysler Building was near the top of the list.Of course, the Empire State Building was on the list, too. I did not care to go to the top. Heights are not my favorite thing.
This is the Hearst Building - a glorious mix of old and new.
Wouldn't this building make a great quilt pattern?
The Woolworth Building. I read the biography of F. W. Woolworth in elementary school - Nickels and Dimes: The Story of F.W. Woolworth and just had to see this building for myself. It's the only high rise building construction ever paid for in cash. Sadly it is no longer open to the public.
We saw each of the waterfalls that are part of the current public art exhibit. This fall is beneath the Brooklyn bridge.
I have seen Miracle on 34th Street more times than I can begin to count making Macy's a definite stop. This sign is on the opposite side of the building from the famous Herald Square entrance. The other is a more familiar sight, but I fell for the vintage look and feel of this small neon beauty.
Once inside Macy's, my quest was to ride the wooden escalators. I wish this picture better captured the beauty of the wood. There is a patina that can only come from years of polishing. The scuffs on the risers really tell the story of all the feet that have traveled on these treasures.
Hubby and I met while working at a McDonald's. I couldn't resist a photo of this sign in Chinatown.
Then there was the Statue of Liberty. A sight that surely did not disappoint. Seeing it for myself was incredible.
What a trip! We packed a lot into 2 full days and a couple of evenings. Back at the hotel, we put our feet up and read The Times and The Post before heading home on Sunday.
Lots of flight delays and cancellations made our return trip last more than 24 hours. We were exhausted once we finally landed but so very happy to see The Princess' smiling face waiting for us at the airport. She and Harper did a great job of tending the home fires while we were gone.
It was a great trip but it sure feels good to be home - my quiet little corner of the world.

Friday, August 15, 2008

When I was still in jr. high school, I saw our high school's production of South Pacific and began a life long love of musical theater. So you can imagine that a real, honest-to-goodness, Broadway production was VERY high on the list of things to do on our trip. It was very difficult to choose just one show. After weighing lots of pro's and con's, we decided on Gypsy at the St. James Theater.The theater itself was just gorgeous. I don't think there was a bad seat in the house. The size gave a very intimate feel that isn't found at our local civic center which is large and cavernous. Such a treat to see a current production with its Tony winning cast members. It was swell!
With Hubby's work obligations complete, Friday morning we were ready to start seeing the sights on our spreadsheet list and begin looking for those penny smashing machines.
I have been collecting smashed pennies for over 20 years now. They make wonderful, inexpensive souvenirs and don't take up much display room. My collection is closing in on 200 coins.
Our list indicated three machines in close proximity to Times Square - so that is where we began. The first two places, we were unable to locate the machine. At the third, I took matters into my own hands and asked for help finding the machine. A very accommodating fellow at the information desk told me the machines had been removed. As I was about to thank him and walk away, he smiled and said the machines are still in the building and he would get the maintenance person to take us to them. I couldn't believe our good fortune!
Here is Hubby placing coins into the machine. We were in almost total darkness and used the cell phone to provide some light for making selections. The camera flash in the photo takes away from how dark it really was.
Here is a look at what may very well be the last two smashed pennies from Times Square.
We didn't even look for more machines after this. No other could live up to the story of how we acquired these two. That left us more time to look up at the tall buildings. So many tall buildings. I'll share my favorites next time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It was bound to happen someday. I have been trying to put it off as long as possible. Mark your calendars - this is the day I reveal to all that I am a bumpkin. Not just at heart, but through and through. There have been hints here and there such as my propensity to not wear shoes. Most know that I grew up in a rural setting in a small agricultural town. Still I have no problem negotiating my way around San Diego or Los Angeles. But nothing here on the west coast could have prepared me for NYC.
This is the view of the city skyline from our hotel room in New Jersey. Doesn't seem too overwhelming and just a 20 minute bus ride away.Sure I can ride the bus. I did so every day when I went to Hapgood Elementary school. I even rode the Greyhound bus to Grandma's house on school vacations, making the 90 mile trip all by myself. Never got lost once. This did not prepare me one little bit for what I was about to encounter - buses everywhere, throngs of people rushing here and there, multiple levels in the terminal leading to gates where more buses waited to whisk you somewhere else.
On our first evening, Hubby and I went into the city for some dinner and a 'dry run' for me to make my way, on my own, to City Quilter the next day to meet McIrish Annie.
Thank goodness Hubby is patient and wise. Just as I was about to be completely overwhelmed by the decisions, the crowds and the NOISE, he worked out just exactly what I needed to do. He made sure I had the proper tickets for each of the two bus systems I needed to ride, took me to the exact spot I needed to wait for each bus. Thank goodness I didn't have to negotiate the subway. I think my head might have burst.
Here is Hubby getting his bearings in the middle of Times Square.
He got a big kick out of the recruiting station right in the middle of it all. I can see how some folks might see signing up as their only way out of the hubbub.
The next morning armed with my tickets, bus route numbers and a fully charged cell phone, I made my way into the city. I asked for confirmation that I was doing the right thing from a couple of folks with friendly faces and landed in front of The City Quilter with minutes to spare. What fun to see Ann walking up the street. It was easy to see from her first smile that we were going to have a great day.
With a little time to kill before the quilt shop opened, we went up the street for a nice iced coffee and a little chat before the serious business of quilt store shopping began. In true 'big city' fashion, we had to ring the buzzer for entrance to the store. It was soon clear that it is a VERY popular spot as the buzzer rang at regular, frequent intervals all the time we were there.
Here's a look at my purchases - backing fabric for my Halloween quilt , an copy of Hey Nonny Nonny, autographed and everything, a Big Apple Pincushion kit, and a piece of Project Runway fabric just to have. I'm a little regretful that I didn't pick up the charm pack of Japanese fabrics but there's always online shopping.While having our fabrics cut, there was lots of talk about Project Runway, past and current season's players - the ones you love and the ones you love to hate. Soon talk turned to Mood, the fabric shop featured in most episodes - seems it was just a few short blocks away. No bus ride? I'm game! Mood here we come.
We chatted as we walked and soon we were there, sign in the window - just like on t.v. But wait, it's not on ground level but on the third floor. Inside the building to the elevator with a real, live elevator operator. Are you kidding me? It's just like being in the movies. Then we were deposited into what can only be described as fabric overload. Floor to ceiling racks with fabric rolls jammed into any available space, boxes and boxes of buttons, miles of trims, ribbons, laces, and embellishments. There was cotton, linen, silk, jersey, tulle, rayon, satin . . . just more than I could possibly take in. Upstairs had wool. Oh my, was there wool. We both just about squealed with delight as we tried to make a choice of the perfect piece to take home. I found this great blue that called my name.
Blue is not usually a color I gravitate towards but on this day nothing else would do. I wanted something to forever remind me of my brush with fame. You see when we first walked in the store a couple of giddy shoppers informed us that Suede was in the store.
Ann and I walked the aisles until we spotted that shock of blue hair. There he was perusing the fabrics for a new 'Suede' creation, but not too busy to pose for a few photos and a quick reminder to vote for him as 'fan favorite.'
Purchases in hand, Ann and I went in search of a nice spot for lunch. We chatted like two old friends catching up even though we had only met in person a couple of hours before. All too soon, we had to say goodbye. Ann was headed back to the train for home and I was meeting up with Hubby for an evening on the town. We had such a fun day. I hope Ann comes to California soon. There's lots to see and do and we won't even have to ride the bus.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm ba-ack! My head is still spinning from all that we saw and did last week in the Big Apple.The whole trip was a whirlwind of sights, sounds, smells - good and bad, people, pop culture icons and public transportation adventures. I have many stories and pictures (we took over 500) to share. Before I begin to sort through those and share our adventures, I need to wade through the massive piles of laundry, see what has gone on in the garden and give Harper some over due belly rubs, catch up on emails and blog posts, and fit in a trip to the grocery store.
If you just can't wait - and why would you want to - hop on over to Annie's blog, Quilt Til You Wilt. She was so sweet to come meet me and show me some places (fabric stores!) that I probably would not have seen with Hubby. She and I had a such a fun day.
All right - now you know I didn't fall into a subway grate or get run over by a taxi - I'll be back with all the details of a great trip as soon as I catch up with myself.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm going to the Big Apple.Not this big apple. This is Grandma's cookie jar. It always contained slightly stale lemon cookies. Slightly stale lemon cookies are always served with a 7 oz. bottle of 7-Up, but who doesn't know that?
I'm going to this Big Apple for the very first time. Hubby has a work related trip and I'm hitching a ride. We will stay on a few days after the work is done. The list of things to see and do (Hubby made a very nice spread sheet) has grown long, yet remains do-able. He even included cross references to the smashed penny machine locations at the places we plan to visit.
I'll leave you with this little cutie of a pin cushion. A quilt camp pal sent me the link for the tutorial. Honestly it took longer to select fabrics than to assemble.
The Princess and Harper are holding down the fort for us. It's time to finish packing and make sure I have plenty of charged batteries for the camera. See you next week.