Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Update

Gosh, I'm not posting much, am I? I'll try to start doing better, I promise. ;) I've been busy, though! Here's the Carolina Christmas logo I just finished for Bonnie at Quiltville:

I've also put this logo on different items in the Zazzle account, if anyone wants to show their support for Bonnie and advertise for Quiltville.

Here's what I've been working on in the evenings after work. First, the finished Autumn table runner, at the completed top stage:

When we used it on the table at Thanksgiving, Mom decided that it would look better just a little longer, so I added another couple of rows of blocks on each end. I'm glad I hadn't backed it and quilted it yet!

And this is the Block of the Month row by row quilt I've been doing for the last year, finally all sewn together. It was just a little too tall to hang on the library shelves, so you can't get the full effect of the row of maple leaf blocks across the bottom:

Two final borders on this and I'll be done. I can't decide if I want a 1 inch brown, then a 3 inch green, or a 1 inch green and a 3 inch brown. :D If anyone's interested in seeing all the instructions for the blocks we used for the rows, they're all on the quilt guild's website: www.ucquilts.com

And finally, the pinwheel blocks you saw the EQ design for:

I've decided that I've definitely met and exceeded my scrappy comfort level with this quilt. Color controlled scrappy like the brown/cream/green row quilt = good. A billion different colors of calicoes put together like this one = bad. That triple-scrappy sashing between the blocks is too, too much scrappiness. It does look old-fashioned, but the end result is too busy.

I'm now planning to unsew and rip out the sashings you see there and use a fabric that reads as solid instead, maybe a blue or a dark green. I can always cut up the 1 inch sashing strips into segments for 9 patch blocks, maybe even use them between some solid borders for this quilt. I've got 17 blocks finished. I can't decide if I want to make it a 4x4 layout and have one block left over for the back, OR a 3 x 4 layout and have 5 left over for a whole row on the back, OR make three more pinwheels and do a 4x5 layout. Decisions, decisions!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November Update

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Here's what I've been working on the last week. Mom mentioned 4 days ago that she wished she had an autumn themed runner for her table for the upcoming holiday. So I've gotten it pieced, but not backed and quilted yet. Here's the design I drew in EQ:

And the actual thing in fabric looks pretty much like my initial design:

Notice on the bottom right corner between the leaf square and the maroon square that I ran out of bobbin thread on the LAST seam - I lacked about an inch or two. Isn't that always the way it goes?

And here's what I learned how to do on our quilt guild's retreat - Happy Villages. We cut stairstep chunks of fabric, lightly glued them down, added doors, windows, and roofs, then covered the whole thing with a layer of tulle and quilted it.

I've still got to bind this one. I'm thinking blue binding to match the sky/ocean around the top and blue sides, then where the edges turn beige for buildings, I'll switch to tan binding and go around the bottom and tan sides.

It was great fun to make, and now I'm thinking of making holiday themed ones... wouldn't it be neat to make one for Easter, say, and buy some fabric with little eggs on it... then hide them all over the village? A Christmas one with candycanes and gingerbread? A Halloween house in shades of black and gray, with spooky things looking out the windows and pumpkins everywhere?

I also made a design wall... and I must say I love using one more than I thought. It's one of those dressmaker's accordian fold boards, with a cheap vinyl/flannel tablecloth carpet-taped to it... then those inexpensive metal expanding curtain rods are clipped to the top and bottom to hold it out straight.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Third Idea

Here's a third setting idea from my friend Ann (link to her blog on the sidebar - go look at her grandkids... lol)

Ann's a quilter too, and she suggested alternating the dark and light blocks.

Whichever design I end up using, I'd always been planning on adding a couple of borders to take the quilt out to twin sized, I have some deep green and blue calico that should be enough for borders - so I went on and put blocks in that outer border of the two below, then added two more solid borders on. Now which of the three do you like better?

Quilting and Tomatoes

Bet you'd thought I'd forgotten my blog, didn't you? But I've been quilting and tending my tomatoes and working - I'm just more hooked on the facebook games, Farmtown and Vampire Wars, than blogging... lol.

I'm taking another quilting class Saturday, this one is from Pat Speth, and is all about using 5 inch squares. We have lots of homework to do before the class, getting all of our nickel squares cut!

But I'm not choosing one of her layouts... typical troublemaker that I am, I'll be using one of these two... either dark IN or dark OUT. Which do you like better?

I know they're not my 'typical' colors or quilts you'll see on my blog, but I really needed to get all these older calicoes out of my stash. I'm not buying a thing for this class - by using the thin strips of calico for a scrappy sashing, and using scrappy variety in the blocks, I've got more than enough calico and small print fabric to complete this. :) I'm glad to finally be using it up - it's funny how my fabric tastes have changed, I'm much more into batiks and tone-on-tone prints now than sweet little calicoes and tiny florals.

And finally, here's an October 22 tomato update for you:

We haven't had a really hard freeze yet here in Memphis, so yes, things are still this green. The Early Girl bush is producing nicely, and as you can see, I'm still rolling in cherry tomatoes, too.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Garden Update for September

Yup, I've still got a garden. ;) During the hottest part of August production really slowed down, but now, at last count, this cherry tomato plant has over 50 little green tomatoes:

And here's my better boy plant, it's got about twelve tomatoes, and so does my early girl plant.

If they don't ripen before the first frost, then I'll be bringing in the containers and finishing out the season inside. Last year, I had tomatoes until after Thanksgiving.

Here's my harvest for this week. We've had so much rain here in Memphis, that I went on and picked the two greenish tomatoes you see in the back - once they start to turn pinkish, they split when it rains, I think. Just being proactive. :)

The banana peppers have been superb - my favorite recipe is to take them, hollow out the seeds and pith, then stuff them with a half a stick of string cheese. Wrap them with a piece of bacon, and bake... mmm.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Class with Susan Else

This Friday and Saturday, I took a class from Susan Else. You can see some examples of the kind of fabric stuff she does here, on her website. She did a quilted skeleton that's amazing, plus some quilted teapots that are very cool.

It was a really good class. Here Susan is standing in front of an arrangement we made *on her background* with all the class samples we did - she showed us how to do a reverse applique technique for making the backgrounds, how to layer things to produce the illusion of greater depth, how to work with color and scale, etc. So much of this will also translate from art, to art quilts, and even to traditional quilts-for-beds.

Lunch each day was exquisite. ;) The china changed daily, as did the table coverings. Friday's theme was Italian, with superb salad and pasta courses, and Saturday's theme was Mexican, with the chilled avocado soup you see there, followed by a chicken enchilada, served with blue chips, salsa. Our snack later on in the afternoon was a rice pudding with tangerine slices. Absolutely fantastic food, both days, catered by Paula Hamilton, the one standing, wearing a pink shirt, in the picture above.

Susan taught us how to do lots of three dimensional things to add to our quilts and wallhangings, the vines you see there, two different techniques for the flowers and leaves, plus how to attach different design elements.

Best of all, she worked with us on designing our OWN 3D animals and figures. You'll see on her website she does people as well as the animals/monsters we did in the arrangement above. We laughed a lot, and learned a lot, both!

I'll post pictures of the things I did personally later, when they're done. Mine isn't in the arrangement above, but she's a bluegreen batik book-toting librarian-monster. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Incubator Quiltlets

Here's four little incubator quiltlets I made for donation to our local children's hospital, Lebonheur Children's Medical Center, here in Memphis. I made the first two bargello quilts during Bonnie from Quiltville's Superbowl Bargello Day, back in 2008.

I can't decide if I like the bright version better (below) or the pastel version better.

This pastel quiltlet was made from a collection of nine patches I had left over from a class several years ago. I matched them with pink squares and made the half square triangles, then added the pink sashing.

And finally, a teeny little Heartstrings quilt made from 6½ inch square string blocks. It seems like I always end up with a surplus of short strings, so this was a good place to use them.

The incubator blankets had to be 24 inches square, and they're used not on top of the preemie, but on top of the incubator itself, to add both insulation and to block a little of the light for the babies. I hope they find a good home. ;)

All four were quilted and bound by my friend from the Uncommon Threads Quilt Guild, Marge N. She does superb quilting, as you can see. I'm just in awe. I think my favorite is the teeny stars and loops on the pastel bargello, the first one on the top ... but the feathers on the heartstrings one are so well done too.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Finished House and Reading

Here's the finished house. I'm happy with the paint job, especially the shutters, they're a slightly darker green than what I had, and it's prettier.

If the grass looks a little shaggy, it was - my yard guy came the day after I took this picture. Can you see the kitty in the window? That's Libby, she has to watch everything that goes on. Toby is in the middle window, but you can't see his little black nose, just the fact that he's pushed the curtains aside. ;)

Not much news, just the usual round of work, read, sleep. I have proofed a couple of books this week, and enjoyed them both. I'm also reading David Baldacci's First Family, and one by Rupert Isaacson, called The Horse Boy.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Peppers, Tomatoes, and Repairs

I made a great chicken fettucini alfredo last night, and along with the chicken and some mushrooms, saute'd my first banana pepper. Stirred the whole thing together... mmm. I'd cut into the pepper and cleaned out the seeds before I remembered that I hadn't taken a picture of it - so here it is, with a couple of cherry tomatoes slid in there for eyes. That's my harvest for the last couple of days. Anyone know how long an un-cut-into unrefrigerated pepper will keep? Will it get hotter or milder as it ages, or will it stay the same?

Here's my banana pepper plant now. It doesn't look as green and nice, the leaves have spots, and something is eating them... but it's making great tasting peppers. Can you find the little peppers about to bud out? The inch long one you see had been pea sized for a while - then when I cut the two ripe ones off, within a day, bam, it grew an inch.

And I'm finally getting more new tomatoes. I suspect it was just too hot for a while, then we had some rain and cooler weather, now I've got little tomatoes again. The CD's you see there are for bird-scare. The wind catches them and blows them back and forth, the sun glints and flashes off them as they move. Between that and picking the tomatoes before they get too red and enticing, I haven't had many bird problems this year.

I'm going to wait until the end of August, then start another crop of snow peas. The package says they'll grow well in cooler weather, even through frost.

And in other news, I'm finally getting some repairs done to my house, painting and replacing of masonite board and trim. This board over the carport had some warping and birds had gotten in and made nests. Now it's all clean and neat again. They've been doing some sanding too. I had a trumpet flower vine growing up the post, and it'd spread those little root-things on the wood. SO nice to have it gone.

Here's the back door, out back by my container garden. They've replaced some door trim that had water damage and a whole sheet of masonite.

There's supposed to be thunderstorms tomorrow, hope it doesn't slow the repair work down. The paint will be the exact same shade it is now, Navajo white, with forest green shutters.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Feeding the Stash

First, a stashbuster report:

I haven't bought any fat quarters in over two years. What I HAVE been buying is yardage, and for the B's: borders, backing, background,and binding. Here's my latest acquisitions:

This blue batik with daisies will be for the backing of a king size quilt. There's 12 yards here, and if there's enough left, after I've cut the backing, I plan on making a couple of king size pillowcases to match.

Of course, while I was shopping on eBay for backings, I just had to pick up a few more batiks. These are all three yard pieces, from Phillyfabrics, one of my favorite sellers.

That top one has more lavender in it than you can see from the photo. I plan to use it as lining. The green with lizards and the aqua with leaves are even cuter in person. Most of all, I think I like the sherbet colored one on the bottom - I may have to make another fabric shopping bag with it, so it gets out of the house. :D

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Another Quilt Finished!

A couple of months ago, my guild had a UFO challenge - and it provided the impetus for me to finish the blue/purple pinwheels quilt you saw a few posts down, and this one, also, that I'm finally getting pix of up on my blog.

Fans of Bonnie Hunter will recognize it as her Carolina Crossroads mystery, with sashing. I've had this one as a completed top, tucked away with it's backing, for a long time, awaiting quilting. I didn't add a border. As you can see with it hanging on a fence, it's 72 inches square (six feet). That's a good size for a card table cover - a 4 foot square table with 2 feet of tablecloth drop on all sides. I suspect I'll use it mostly at the library, under displays of Christmas books.

Most importantly for me, as you'll see on the closeup picture below, it really allowed me to make a dent in all the Christmas fabrics I have somehow collected.

Mary S., in Missouri, did the all-over stipple for me, and did a great job, too. ;) I knew it didn't need anything intricate, as busy as the top was. And yes, those nine patches are made with 1½ strips, to finish at three inches. Even the backing is Christmas fabric.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Garden Update for Mid July

Have you been wondering about my little container garden? Here's the status. First, some tomatoes - The Better Boy and the Early Girl plant both have maybe 4 green tomatoes on them, a bit bigger than golf balls so far. I ate a ripe one tonight. Here's two from the Early Girl:

My Cherry tomato bush is producing one or two ripe ones per day, barely enough to keep me in snacks. I really like these things. This is two of the clusters on the bush.

Finally, my banana pepper plant has finally started doing something, LOOK! Two cute little banana peppers. I got a turkey cold cut sandwich at Subway just the other night, with banana peppers, and was wishing mine would grow... and it HAS! I have Peppers! :)

And the bush is full of little hard peppers that aren't even half an inch long yet, I'm so excited.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Winner and Reviews and Authors

First, the good news! Nessa, from NJ, won the muse from my random drawing over here. I have your snail mail addy, and she'll be on her way to you tomorrow. :)

Next, a little rant - regular readers of my blog will realize I don't do this often. ;) In fact, I can't remember any post yet, in years of blogging, where I've been even slightly negative.

As a "follower" Friday on Riding With The Top Down, I DID have a good time with the responses, some were pretty funny. But I'm disappointed too. Despite links to here, on the bottom of my post there, not ONE of the ten authors came over here to post. I don't mind if they didn't want a muse, pipe cleaner dolls aren't for everyone. But if I were an author and saw a post showcasing my most recent book released, I'd comment - even if only "Hi, glad to see you bought my book!" or... "Glad you bought my friend's book, hope you enjoy it!" Then I read This Post on authors relating to readers over on Editorialass.blogspot.com and it really made me think. So I'm gonna share.

You guys have seen the little Shelfari on the left sidebar there, filled with books *points to sidebar* and you know I sometimes review books here - being a librarian, I can't help it. With these three books I bought, I had been planning on doing what Mom taught, growing up ... If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. So I wasn't going to review any of the three books that are in the pictures below. But then I realized, they won't come over here to see it anyway, so why not be honest? I'm NOT giving them a mediocre review because they didn't come visit, either. I'm just going to tell about what made ME stop reading each book.

Granted, I don't read as much straight romance as I do other genres. I read more romantic suspense, mystery, etc. The two on the left WERE probably the first Harlequin/Silhouette paperbacks that I'd bought new, not at used book sales. Ever. I thought I'd give the Suspense and Nocturne lines a try. I read all genres, and mostly, I get my books from the library, on my card. And I have a time-tested way of sorting thru the multitude of books that I see.

Every day, at morning break, I'll pick from the carts of books-waiting-to-be-shelved. The book I pick gets a ten to fifteen minute read as I drink my diet soda. I read fast, usually thru the first chapter, sometimes more. At least 20 to 30 pages. If, at the end of break, the author has caught me up in the characters and story, to where I want to keep reading and find out what happens, then I'll stick in a bookmark, and leave it on the break room table to read with lunch. If I'm not interested, it goes right back on the cart with the other returns and new, but not bestselling books. After my 30 minute lunch read, the book goes through another quality check ... do I put it on the cart, or leave it on the table for further reading on my afternoon break, or put it on my library card?

This gives me three categories:

Uggh. Fifteen minutes of this was enough. Not my style, and I won't recommend it either. Probably only about 10% of the books I pick up. We have good book selectors in purchasing, and it shows.

Hmmm. This is only okay. After 45 minutes of reading, I might recommend this to readers who like this genre. I may or may not finish it, on my breaks. Probably about 60% of the books I pick up and audition.

Good! The books that I didn't want to put down. Characters I care about, enough conflict to keep me interested, so I'll check it out and take it home. I read a LOT, so 30% of the books I pick up, I probably take home.

Now back to the three in the pictures below - I'm still not finished reading any of them. For books I have at home, that's very unusual. The library didn't own them, but if I HAD picked them off the cart to look at, they wouldn't have come home with me. All three are that Hmmm category. Books that are okay for others, just not for me.

Kylie Brant, Terms of Attraction: For a tough, smart, sharpshooting sniper of a female character, Ava made too many dumb decisions. I stopped reading the first time after page 63, when Ava locks her door, goes to bed, then slowwwwly, groggily wakes up to find the main male character holding her down. She gets one good slug at him till he pins her. It's her BOSS. He climbed across, from his balcony to her balcony, to get in her room.

Sorry, but - no. I put the book down. You wake me from a sound sleep by breaking into my room and climbing on top of me in my bed, then think I'd still be working for you the next day? Even if you're the sexiest thing on the planet, that kind of behavior would be a deal breaker for me. I picked it back up later. I'd bought it, I should finish the book, right? I got to page 93 when this time, she wakes from a sound sleep, but is immediately fully alert, puts on her bulletproof vest,and is running down the hall with her gun in less than ten seconds. Barefoot. In a sexy camisole.

Bah. She should be smart enough to sleep in a bit more than that, after what happened the night before, especially! And plz, girl, take half a sec. to slide your feet into some shoes as you're putting on the vest. I put the book down again, and have yet to pick it back up. Now I know that the first book in the series has just won some awards, so I might have to finish it. Maybe the ending is better?

Michele Hauf, The Highwayman: I thought I was going to like this one, a main character who shapeshifts into a cat. You ALL know I am a cat person. But the character has only shifted a few times so far. First time is when she sees this guy who's been following her ... she becomes the cat, leaves her place by way of the cat door, walks across the street to his car, then, at his invitation, joins him inside his car and shifts back. But her clothes don't shift with her, so she's sitting there in only his coat. Why didn't she stay human, and dressed? I couldn't find any motivation for her shifting in the first place. She does do some nicely catlike behaviors, rubbing on things, curling up to sleep, hating to swim, the kitty characterization is good - but in general, the book is entirely too easy to put down, and even after two weeks, I still haven't cared to finish it. Maybe someday I will.

Lois Greiman, Unscrewed: Not sure what it is about this one I don't like either. A couple of my degrees are in counseling/psychology, so again, I thought I'd get into this, with the main character as a psychologist. But so far, she doesn't seem to really care much about the clients, she's too stupidly obsessing about this sexy cop/detective she's met in the previous book. She somehow strikes me as too old to be that dithery about her date with him, she's not in high school, after all. He knocks on the door to pick her up, instead of letting him in, saying... "Hey, c'mon in, I'm almost ready, have a seat." like a normal person, she goes all hyper. If she's a counselor/therapist, she should be a bit more together than that. So I quit reading this one too, and haven't picked it back up, instead, moving on to other books.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Does Blogging Sell Books?

Does Blogging Sell Books? Well, it certainly worked on me. And don't even ask why a librarian goes and buys books!

After meeting one of the ten authors, I started following this blog:

Riding With the Top Down

Lately, I've been reading their chat about their latest releases. Some of the little blurbs they wrote sounded interesting, so I copied their names and titles down and went off to WalMart to see what I could find. The picture above shows what I was able to score. ;) My book budget was thankful I couldn't find books from all ten of them!

I've been invited to be guest blogger over there for 'Follower Friday' tomorrow. And I've also decided to have a drawing. ONE person who posts over there *points to link to RWTTD above* and ONE person who posts over here will get a little pipe-cleaner muse that you see posed on the books in the picture.

Commenting on any post, even from way down the page, or from my archives, over here will count, I have all responses e-mailed to me. ONLY responses on my 'Follower Friday' post will count over there. Otherwise I might miss you. ;) I'll use a random number generator to choose the winners.

What good is a pipe cleaner muse? Inspiration! Works for quilting, writing, and anything else creative you may be doing.

How to use a Muse

First, take your muse down from her perch. (I have my two green ones hanging from the ceiling fan chain, where the cats can see them, but not abscond with them.)
Second, put on some music, and dance around the room with the muse. This serves a dual purpose - gets some blood flowing to your brain, and entertains any pets or family you may have.
Third, contort her little arms and legs, place her carefully on a backdrop and go get the digital camera to take a picture.
Fourth, rescue the muse from the cat. Lie and reassure the muse that the cat was only licking her chops and she was not in imminent danger of being eaten. Take the cat off the cushy backdrop. Use some masking tape to dehair the area. Re-pose the muse. Take the picture.
Fifth, go get a salad. Put some protein on top of the vegetables. Cheese, HB egg, tofu, tuna, ham, chicken... pick one. Oh, heck, dump them all on. The combo of vitamins and protein are good for the brain. Finish your meal with some chocolate.
Sixth, NOW you're ready to go back to whatever creative project you were stuck on. And since, if you're like me, you'd completely forgotten where you were, you'll be able to get a fresh start. Worked well, didn't it? :)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Tote and Fabric Letters for Header

Here's some other things I've been working on lately - a tote bag that folds up into a purse sized roll. There's a neat tutorial here, but it has a pocket that turns inside out over the bag. I changed the pocket just a little by adding velcro and leaving the last inch not sewn, so that mine becomes a roll instead:

It unfolds into exactly the same size as the plastic bags you get at most stores, in fact, you use a plastic bag as a pattern.

I've also been working on letters spelling my screen name, for a header for my blog. Inspiration from Tonya, of course, and the incredible header she has on HER blog. ;)

I was working on this at the quilting retreat, and also had my Seminole strips out to finish too - I'd done the larger version, but had about 20 inches more to do on the smaller size. The quilter sitting next to me thought I was making the Seminole strip for border around my ForestJane header... so now I may just have to do that.

It looks big in the picture, compared to the name, but the strip is only two inches wide, while the blog header above is about 20 x 14, without borders. Guess it'll be a wall hanging when I'm done. I was thinking back, and realized that I've been ForestJane online now for over fourteen years. Gosh, I'm getting old!

Monday, June 29, 2009

June Retreat

Back from the quilt guild's board retreat, and finally all caught up on my sleep too. ;) Here's the progress on couple of the projects I took to do.

This was started from a block of the month. I won the drawing, but I'd only gotten six of these blocks. So I connected them with sashing and made this center that I posted about last June. I still didn't like the quilt, though, and it had languished in a grocery bag ever since. Here it is after yesterday:

I did take out and replace one half square triangle that was too 'off' to suit me. Finally, this weekend, I decided to round out the shapes on the edges, by connecting them with border fabric, then I added a solid border fabric row. Now I like it much better. Maybe this week, I'll scrounge some backing fabric for it and get it quilted. A little one like this, I ought to be able to do myself, right?

And here's the status on the row quilt the guild is doing as block of the month this year. This weekend, I made the 80 half square triangles needed to go in the blocks of that friendship star row going across the top. The friendship star row will be row six of ten.

I went on and connected the star row to the houses and trees row, and then I really liked the looks of putting row one under the houses. I think I'm going to wait and connect the other rows later, though.

In other news, I'm enjoying my tomatoes - made a wonderfully sloppy sandwich today, with turkey deli meat and 4 big slices of homegrown tomato on it. Was so messy and drippy I had to change my shirt when I got done eating, but the flavor was so worth it. :)

I've about eaten the last of the Spring crop of snow peas, but early September, I plan on putting in a crop for Fall.

The tiger lilies are doing great this summer, that's the only flower I have growing now. Here's a couple of shots from the bed of lilies I have growing along my carport:

Some of the lilies look like two flowers nested in each other, some three... and the one below looks almost like there's four petals stacked up:

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