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Moving Day!

moving truckI’m coming up on 10,000 views on this blog. It’s been a good long ride so far, and I’ve taken the plunge.

If you want to keep reading my blog, you’ll need to come find me at my new home: 

A new look awaits you. Don’t go into shock. Play around over there. Tell me what you think. Don’t worry, you don’t have to bounce back and forth between sites to get into the archives. I’ve migrated everything over to the new site. So, it looks kinda like here….except completely not like here. It’s like when you take all your furniture to a new house. It’s kinda like home, but not.

But, that’s enough for here. What are you waiting for….go there!

Oh, and make sure you update your bookmarks.

See you at the new place.



Sunday Stash – It’s Flannel Time

Today I went to my first quilt show. I didn’t have a quilt entered; I’ve never even made a quilt that would come close to qualifying for the show, not even if I were allowed into the youth category. I just wandered around drooling and thinking, “Really? Fabric and thread? Humans can do that with fabric and thread?”

I’ll post pictures soon, but I’ve got to do some editing on the oodles of pictures that I took. Plus, many of the quilts came with touching or fun or interesting stories (or a combo of all three), so I want to spend some time looking at the show book for more quilt info. I want to be passing some stories along with the pictures and seeing if I can find some of the quilters on the interwebs to give them the mass kudos they should earn for their creations.

I added some supplies to my stash because Joann Fabrics is having its 70 year celebration, and even though I have a wish list that’s going to need to be taken to my local quilt shop for fulfillment, Joann was having some crazy good sales that were too good to pass up.

Those pictures are easier to post, so here we go.

roll of cotton battingWell, I’m all in. I’ve got to make a go of my quilting Etsy shop because that behemoth roll leaning against the fireplace is 25 yards of cotton batting. For less than $3.50 a yard, I figured it was a worthy investment, especially since it’s 90 inches wide, and most of my quilts finish at less than 45 inches, so I should be able to get two quilts per width of batting. Plus, as a bonus, it’s manufactured in the USA. Um…no big deal. I’ve just got to churn out 35 – 45 quilts to use this up, right?

flannel typewriterI’ve been wanting to play with flannel in a quilt, so today’s sale prices were too much for me to resist. Anything that hearkens to typewriter keys makes me a little weak in the knees, so I’m loving this print that I found. Gray, teal and lime is a color scheme that makes me drool a bit too. I’m going to have to hide this stuff to make sure I finish off my quilt along quilts before I cut into it.

flannel turtles

And, here’s a close up of the other fabric.  I’ve heard that flannel has a nasty reputation for stretching and being a bit difficult, so I picked a simple pattern (at least, it looks simple).  The pattern I chose calls for 13 fat eighths of fabric to go with the main fabric of the quilt, so I picked an array of blues and greens with a little sprinkling of gray. I made the decision to grab the turtle fabric when I realized that fat eighths meant that I was still going to have half of all those fabrics left. Probably if they were quilting cotton, I would have just filtered the leftovers into my stash, but since I don’t have flannel floating around, I figured I’d might as well enact a plan for using up all the flannel that I was buying.

Those are probably quilter’s famous last words.

At any rate, I hope I like working with flannel because I’ve got enough on my hands to make two quilts now. If anyone has any good tips for working with flannel, I’m all ears. I’m particularly curious to hear what you use for batting. Do you use cotton (because I’ve got plenty)? Or, do you prefer something else, maybe even a third piece of flannel…

<a &34;Finding

More summer book shout-outs

I haven’t made any sewing advances to show off, so today seems to be the ideal time to give two summer book shout outs.

Moon Over ManifestMy first shout out goes to the children’s book Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. Vanderpool won the 2011 Newbery Medal with this work, and it was an award well received. The prose was stunning; as a word lover, I was salivating over Vanderpool’s literary cadence and pleasantly surprised at the range of vocabulary that she used — some of it sweetly Southern. If I ever have kiddos someday, this book is going to rank right up with Anne of Green Gables as a tool to ingrain them with words that we don’t use often enough anymore. As beautiful as the prose was, the story was equally if not more so. Vanderpool weaves a tale of regrets and acceptance and what we suffer when we can’t find the secure love that we want more than anything else in the whole world. I listened to the book in audio version from my library, and the narrator did a phenomenal job bringing the story to life, so I’d recommend listening to it if you don’t have time to read it. I just put Vanderpool’s more recent novel Navigating Early on my book wish list, and I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

SwayMy other shout out goes to Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. I scored it used on my trip to Nashville and then realized the library had the audio version, so I downloaded that and got to quilting and furniture painting with the hard copy nearby in case I wanted to highlight anything. If you’re only interested in reading one book about how we make decisions, I’d still direct you to How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer, but Sway was worth reading as well, and it’s a pretty short read.

The book has no biblical underpinnings, but as I was listening, I found myself pondering the meaning of Mathew 6:24: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Brafman and Brafman take readers to Switzerland in 1993 when the government was trying to identify a town that was willing to become a nuclear waste repository. The first town hall meeting held near the site of the proposed repository consisted of merely informing the townspeople about the proposal and the government’s backing of it. The residents were asked if they would agree to allow their town to become a repository for nuclear waste, and 50.8 percent responded that they would be willing — possibly as an act of goodwill towards their native home.

Now, I think 50.8% is a pretty high number considering that nuclear waste was at stake. Obviously though that leaves about 50% of the population as unhappy campers, so researchers descended on the community to see if they could convince more residents to let the town be used as a nuclear waste repository. They thought that offering individuals the equivalent of about $2,175 a year would increase public support. It didn’t. Now, only 24.6% of residents approved.

Why the switch in support ratings? Brafman and Brafman cite a National Institutes of Health study as a possible explanation. NIH researchers monitored the brain activity of individuals playing video games. The researchers discovered that entirely different parts of the brains lit up depending on whether the individuals were playing to win money for themselves or to win money for a charity. Brafman and Brafman conclude, “It’s as if we have two ‘engines’ running in our brains that can’t operate simultaneously. We can approach a task either altruistically or from a self-interested perspective. The two different engines run on different fuels and also need different amounts of those fuels to fire up. It doesn’t take much to fuel the altruism center: all you need is the sense that you’re helping someone or making a positive impact. But the pleasure center seems to need a lot more.”

As I reflect on Matthew 6, I know that there are many people who give to others without any commitment to God motivating them, but for those who do serve because they believe that God has commissioned them to do so, I think these studies are fascinating. I’d always just thought that trying to serve money would distract me from serving God, hence the biblical warning against it. It turns out that it seems this dichotomy is hard wired into my brain. I can’t have a dual focus to my intents, and since serving people is tough — very tough as I’ve discovered while trying to help someone get back on her feet over the past couple of weeks — I think it was nice of God to design the part of the brain that responds to altruistic acts to be more sensitive to stimuli. A little service appears to go a long way.

WIP Wednesday – keeping up with the quilt alongs

Last night, I promised myself some quilting time after I was done teaching my four hour evening class. By the time I went to bed around 3, I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

Star Quilt Along choice oneYou might remember this fabric that I picked out for the Star Surround Quilt Along. I was excited to get it cut last night, but then, my heart was crushed a little when I found out that a fat quarter of the black and white fabric wasn’t going to be nearly enough to give me what I needed to make the quilt. Since I promised myself to pull everything for this one from my stash, I then set off auditioning potential fabrics.

star surround fabricsThis isn’t the best picture, but this is what I came up with. I decided that the center star will be the yellow and gray. The surround will be black with the white texture, and the background will be red. I’m not quite as excited about these color choices, but I think the quilt will still turn out fine. I did find some fun red and white fabric that has strong potential to become the back of the quilt.

I also had to get to work cutting out my block pieces for Megan’s Star, this month’s Modern Quilt Along block. Again, disappointment set in because I wanted to make this block into a full 40X40 baby quilt, but after I fell in love with the fabrics that I was putting together, I discovered that I don’t have nearly enough to make a 40×40 block. Let me tell you, I did sooooo much math and  even hunted down a  geometry calculators online only to discover that I was going to make the original sized block after all. Sigh…math for nothing.

Megan's star fabricsI don’t like making blocks just to make them, so I’m trying to figure out what I’ll do with this block. Right now, I’m leaning towards adding some borders to it, so it can become a small pillow for a rocker in a nursery or a little kiddo’s bed. I’m open to suggestions. I guess I’ll have to see what the assembled block looks like before I know for sure what I want to do.

And, now since the feeling of being hit by a truck was only partially due to fabric woes and math calculations, I’m off to take a nap. I managed to pick up a nasty summer head cold, and I’m hoping that sleep will help cure it because ideally I’d wake up refreshed and ready to bust out a rough draft of my syllabus for this semester — one of my least favorite tasks of teaching.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

X marks the… nothing

I’ve been in limbo about putting the house on the market since the middle of June, and I’ve alternated between working on final projects with frantic energy and then sitting paralyzed by the thought of all the projects that needed to be done. I hardly ever find it difficult to fall asleep, and I was up until 4 am on Sunday morning running through all the options.

I finally made the decision today, and I’m going to stay put until spring. That will let me pay down the car a little more and save up a little more for a down payment. Plus, as a teacher, there are just some projects that it’s wiser for me to do during my relatively free summers, and packing the entire house, moving, and setting up a new household is definitely one of the projects on that list.

Since an ugly unfinished walkway is not something that will win potential buyers over, some of my frantic activity included making myself go outside at nearly dark to put down the pavers for the new walkway. The timing was an effort to escape the horrendous heat, but on Saturday night, I was getting thoroughly saturated with my own sweat. Sorry, it’s gross but true. Then, I hit something metal. First, I made sure it wasn’t some crazy buried wire that would kill me. Then, I started running through all the possibilities. Dead body. Well cap for a well filled with hazmat waste. Buried treasure.

Yeah, buried treasure.

100_1018The metal that I unearthed was looking like an X. Yes, definitely buried treasure.

But, darkness was settling in to the point that I couldn’t see much, and just in case I was digging up a dead body and not buried treasure, I decided to stop for the night. Plus, I was so hot. Ugh…so, so hot.

I went out the next evening, and I kept on digging. I finally was able to pry the metal out of the ground.

100_1019It’s a…uh…um…metal X with legs?

I dug deeper under it hoping that it marked treasure because stranger things have happened. But, the only reward I got for my effort was a hole too deep for the pavers and more sweat.

Move along folks, there’s nothing here to see.

Still, I’m pretty curious. I wish someone could tell me what this metal object is. I found out from my neighbor that our backyards used to be a meadow behind a butcher shop. I’m guessing that this metal has probably been buried at least since the house was built in the 1920s because it was just deep enough to stay buried during grass planting and just far enough from the detached garage that it would have remained undisturbed during its building.

One friend suggested it could be an old surveyor’s mark. I’m wondering if it could have been used as a sort of cheater foundation at the corner of outbuildings. One of my former students suggest that I go visit the grave of John Cross in the old church graveyard downtown because she swears there is a treasure map coded into his tombstone. Any historians or archaeologists out there with any insights?

Bowling or Travel, anyone?

If you just want some fabric eye candy, scroll past all these long paragraphs about my life to the eye candy. Otherwise, tune in for the developments around here.

So, this week has flown by in a whirlwind. I haven’t necessarily been overly busy, but the decision-making part of my brain has been going 100 mph, which is exhausting. I told my realtor that I’d decide by Monday morning whether I’d list the house. Why is this such a tough decision to make?

Well, barring the lack of central air conditioning and the semi-obnoxious neighbor on one side of me, this house has been  quite a suitable home for over six years. I’ve remodeled and stripped wall paper and painted and stripped more wall paper and painted. I’m almost done with projects and ready to breathe a sigh of relief, and I can look at each room and remember the awesome friends that helped out with each one. At the same time, I’m a single girl who does have a limit to her home improvement skills, and this 1920s house isn’t getting any younger. Plus, at this point, I’ve pretty much maxed out the pricing for the neighborhood. I could add central air, but I’m not sure I’d see a return on investment. Interest rates are low but climbing, and this might be a good time to cash in my sweat equity and move on.

I’ve checked around, and I think I could find a place where I don’t share walls with anyone, a place with central air and replacement windows. Maybe even a place with a cavernous finished basement and a bigger yard to facilitate more entertaining. As a matter of fact, I visited an open house last Sunday, and it had almost everything on my list of things I’d want in a house. I started to picture where the furniture was going to go. But, do I want a higher mortgage even if I can afford a higher mortgage? That can bring its limits. For example, right now, I could almost run screaming into the night and take a job as a Starbucks barista and still afford the place…not that I’m actually planning on doing that.

Pretty soon, I’m just going to need to make the decision before I make myself crazy.

In the meantime, I’ve got to clean up as if this place is going on the market soon. Yesterday, three city firefighters came to the house to install smoke detectors and bring the house up to code. They were super nice and the detectors were free. That had to be done because a house in the city can’t go to settlement without being up to code with smoke detectors. Tomorrow, I plan to finish the cushions for the rockers out front to boost the curb appeal and plan to touch up the yellow paint around the house (brown paint on trim can wait until the last second before the listing photos get taken since the dog is on a personal rampage to scuff it up). And, it wouldn’t hurt to keep tidying up the basement. It’s a basement, but it still wouldn’t hurt if people could see open space for their junk instead of my junk. Plus, I figure that the more I clean and tidy now, the easier packing will be later if I list. And, the house will be ready for its first showing then — preferably the showing that is the day after I list, the showing that brings buyers with a full price contract (a girl can dream, right?)

Ok, on to the eye candy — I’ll be able to get cutting directions for the star surround quilt along on Monday, so much to the electric company’s dismay, I’m further stressing this heat-wave stressed power grid by washing my quilt fabric. I’m going with the yellow, black, red combo that I posted before.

Some time ago I went on a fabric shopping spree through a clearance section,and I thought before I threw everything in the wash to get wrinkled, I’d snag some quick pictures.

Here’s the promised eye candyKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI had a quilt in mind for these fun little bowling pins, but I also want to refinish some lamps and shades this summer to post on Etsy. It just occurred to me that I could make a pretty cute lamp shade out of this fabric too. Maybe if I play my cards right, I can do a little bit of both. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

I have a few kitchen projects that I want to do, so these fabrics are going to go towards them. The colors  clash as much as possible between the three, so they won’t be used together, but I think each fabric is definitely cute in its own way.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThen, I got this line of travel fabrics – postmarks, stamps, and postcards galore. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with all of it. Maybe once I jump into my Craftsy block a month classes, I’ll find a project for them. Or, I’m kinda thinking that with the postcard fabric, I want to go off the map. Visions of appliqueing the postcards  to patches of corduroy and then attaching those to er…some other kind of fabric still to be determined could make a super fun lap blanket.

flowered colorblock fabricThen, there was this fabric. I saw it once at the fabric store, resisted it, and then couldn’t resist and went back to buy it. But, then I realized that the yellow is quite unique, and it could be difficult to find something that I wanted to pair with it.

Until…drum roll, please…

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA I have the pattern that I’m going to use to put these three fabrics (plus a healthy dose of black fabric) together. And, it’s either going to be the gaudiest quilt known to man or the most awesome.

Linking up to Sunday Stash.

Emotional make-over

Here’s a little project that I worked on over July 4th weekend. My sister had decorated her room in gray. I thought it looked nice, but she hates winter and said all the gray made for a depressing  winter. I told her I could make the sacrifice of going fabric shopping, so she could get new fabric for the curtains. I mean, it was going to really stretch me to go fabric shopping, but anything for family 🙂

Then, Jillian got here and said, “I want my curtain fabric to look a little like the old sheets that I had on my bed. You know, the ones with the yellow, blue, and pink flowers.”

I said, “Well, they didn’t have pink flowers. Do you want them back? They are still in my guest room closet because you gave them to me.”

She said she would take them, so now I was down a set of sheets and a fabric shopping trip. Me and my big mouth…

But, she did do some painting for me in exchange for the sewing I did for her. And, I will admit her room does look brighter now.

Jillian's bed before and afterJillian said that now she needs to find a blue bedskirt. I reminded her that I have a white one that I took from her too. But, she can have that back. It will help me clean the linen closet. And, she said I can have the gray comforter to see if I like it better in my black and white room. I guess giving up sheets to get a comforter is a fair trade.

Jillian's window before and after

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