Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Signs of Our Times

I woke up early today to drive my husband to the train station. What a good wife. He's working downtown this week and taking the train is a lot easier than driving.

Because I don't visit the train station myself too often, I had forgotten about this sign until I saw it again today.

In 1979 my town in Illinois created a "Kissing Zone" and a  "No-Kissing Zone" at the local train station in response to complaints about traffic jams at the station caused by couples taking too long to kiss their goodbyes at the drop-off point. Seriously, LOL.

They were probably all newlyweds. I wasn't living here then but I'm pretty sure I would have been one of the cars honking at the kissers. I heard that the UK has now created their own no-kissing signs.

I don't have anything quilting related to talk about, other than my new DOLL QUILT CLUB  which some of you may have heard about before on this blog, LOL. So I got to thinking about funny signs and thought I'd entertain you with a few others I spotted recently that are near and dear to my heart. This one is especially relevant lately . . .

Cafe Press has some of the best signs and many of these sayings can be found on t-shirts, bags or mugs.

 Have a good week! Maybe I'll get motivated and clean my house!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Shopping

Every year when summer arrives my daughter dreams of redecorating her room. Her tastes change so fast I can't keep up. IKEA is the perfect place for teens to dream and get inspired without spending too much. Can't beat it for affordability. So yesterday we took a ride out there to see what was new and exciting in IKEAland.

I told her we could paint her room this summer and get some accessories to finish the look.


Can't decide, can't decide . . . .


She's thinking of coral or green or blue for the walls. Believe it or not, I'm leaning toward the peachy tones but she won't be influenced a bit by me.

Her furniture is white and she thinks maybe this black and white Ikea comforter below mixed with brightly colored pillows and other bright accessories to jazz it up would be really cute. 


This chandelier (made from paper?) was in the running but we opted for something a bit smaller, circular, with little twinkling lights. Sort of like a St. Lucia wreath. Very nice.


I wanted to buy this white cottage style bookcase. I love white and have a weakness for bookcases but don't have room for any more. White wouldn't go with anything else I have anyway, except for the kitchen, which is too small for a bookcase. But I still love it. 


We love wandering around looking at all the displays. Now these are some bookshelves I could love . . . .


 I've always had a fondness for white kitchens . . . .

So we bought the light, a storage unit and some fabric to make pillows and she'll get the room painted and then she'll decide on the other accessories. We'll go back a few more times before it's done. Oh my, I think I know where my summer's going . . .

Monday, June 21, 2010

Summer Means Fun

I hadn't talked to my sister for a couple of weeks and when I called her yesterday she said: "Oh good, I was hoping nothing was wrong--you haven't updated your blog in a week!" No, it's just that summer's here and our power was out for awhile after the storms in the Chicago area last Friday. Also, my son came home from college for the summer last week and there's been a flurry of activity around here ever since.

Good flurry, but nonetheless . . . He brought a few people with him to stay with us for a few days last week and then there's the catching up with friends he hasn't seen all year. So the noise level has increased as well. A constant buzz of music and laughing, World Cup Soccer on TV . . .

(Everyone here loves soccer, everyone.)

 . . . and video games, lots of video games to relax.

He's worked hard at school to get excellent grades and is just getting over Strep throat, so I'm  trying to ignore some of the chaos and, instead of yelling, remind myself that he deserves a little time off until his summer job begins this week. Plus, this may very well be his last summer at home. He tells me constantly that in 10 yrs he does NOT want to be that 30 yr-old guy living in his parent's basement. So things are looking good for some decent empty-nesting quilting time soon  . . . . Think I still have a few more dogs and kids to get rid of before I get my life back and the chaos diminishes though. . . Wait, they ARE my life. How could I forget? You guys with kids know what I mean.

So yes, after a cold Midwest winter and spring, summer around here always means fun, taking it easy, kicking off our shoes, playing with friends, digging in the dirt, having some fun--


Maybe just cruising 'round with the Beach Boys blaring in the background . . . 

(At my age, though, usually I'm just cruising around for bargains, or looking for a good place for the dog to pee, LOL.)

Last summer I was working on the book and was cranky much of the time because I had so much to do and it was hard to concentrate and my husband was doing a lot of travelling for his job so I had to juggle things at home a little bit more than usual. This summer I'm taking it a little slower. The book is finished and now I'm just waiting for the page proofs to come in next month. I'm drinking my tea iced instead of hot and catching up on magazines and past seasons of "Mad Men". 

Of course I do still have the American Schoolgirl Club --working on making the quilts and writing the patterns and getting the designs printed up and that surely will keep me busy every month. You'll be happy to know I finished the second quilt--Martha Washington's Star for Maddie--yesterday (patriotic for July in the U.S.--red and blue of course). Just need to quilt it. I don't work very fast. Even the small simple quilts seem to take me a lot of time, picking through my scraps, looking for just the right fabrics, setting the blocks, planning. This is what I used to make the quilt if you're looking for a head start.

I'm deliberately not showing the patterns, not to tease all of you, but because I decided it's more fun this way--almost like a "Mystery Quilt" of the month. Everyone in the club is kept in the dark and will be surprised when they get their little doll quilt pattern in the mail around the middle of the month. This one is very cute if I say so myself. Especially if you like red and blue.

But I'm also planning on having some fun. So excuse me if I'm not frantically making lots and lots of quilts or projects to show off. I worked really hard this past year too--so pass the iced tea and the video game controller, please. I promise I'll stay in touch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Pretty Squares

Imagine my surprise when I went to my PO Box today and opened a package that had packets of charm squares just for me. Tara Lynn Darr knows what I love--precut squares! Pretty ones! So exciting. And perfect for my small scrappy quilts and especially good for making my doll quilt club quilts. Tara said she enjoyed my recent post about Ugly Squares and couldn't resist sending me some squares. She's hosting a Charm Square exchange on her website.

Tara is so sweet. I buy bundles and charm squares from her whenever I run into her booth at a quilt show. Some of my best quilts are scrap quilts made with lots of different prints. Some of you have e-mailed me asking where to get "pretty" fabrics like I use in my quilts. If you're looking for some great reproduction fabrics, and you want to collect lots of "scraps" for making your small quilts, check out the charm packs and bundles at her store - Sew Unique Creations . They're great for making those small scrappy quilts with lots of little pieces. Tara, I forgot to ask, do I really have to send 300+ squares back to you now??

Pretty Squares

Everyone had an opinion about my recent Ugly Squares post:

  • "You need some ugly colors to make the pretty ones stand out."
  • "A fabric by itself may look horrendous, but when paired with another fabric, it  looks great."
  • "Reading your post I can't seem to find the ugly fabrics . . ."
  • "Ugly prints make the most interesting quilts."

Okay, it's like this. I'm sorry, I'm still not there yet. I know it's a matter of opinion, and sure they're not really ugly ugly, but even though some of them are blue, I still don't like them very well. And I know everyone says we're supposed to throw a couple of ugly squares into the mix but I like my pretty squares too much! I just can't deliberately buy "ugly prints." No way. If I get some ugly squares along with others in a charm pack, I'll use them in a quilt. Maybe. But I won't buy yardage I don't like. I'm not a convert yet.

Really  pretty squares

I've made a lot of really cute scrap quilts using pretty fabrics that I chose one by one because I loved the prints. This is the fun part!

So maybe sometime in the future I'll try making my quilts with more ugly fabrics, but for now I think I'm just going to stick to using my "pretty squares" to make my pretty quilts.

Friday, June 11, 2010

City Mouse, Country Mouse

Remember that children's book? I used to love to read it to my kids when they were little. Lately, that's what I feel like as I'm going back and forth between Chicago and the suburbs a couple of times a week. I love the city and even though it takes up a lot of my precious quilting time, I am thoroughly enjoying visiting while my daughter undergoes her Physical Therapy routine and Dr appts. Today is not going to be fun however--the parade and rally for the Chicago Blackhawks (Stanley Cup champs) is scheduled for late morning. That means several hours sitting in traffic as hordes of hockey fans descend upon the city . . . Go Hawks? 

It's fun wandering around, maybe because I don't have to live there anymore--I'm like a tourist in my own city. And I won't deny that there are a lot of scummy parts of Chicago, but there's also so much good. I found this cute little park across from the Newberry Library last week. A little knock-off of Central Park in NYC. Never even knew it existed.

I grew up in Chicago and after I had a job I got a small apartment a few blocks away from the lake. Chicago has an amazing lakefront and I always loved living there. My husband was from the suburbs and hated the city while we were dating--No parking! Noisy! Dirty! Crowded!--and when we got married and my job moved out to the suburbs we moved away too. I missed the lakefront but I was ready for a change.

When I lived there, I remember I couldn't stand the noise, the dirt, the crowds and the traffic myself sometimes and longed for a place with a garden and somewhere to stretch out a bit. Talk about stretching out . . . if I'd known I was going to become a quilter one day I would have bought a house with a few more rooms . . .

My peonies before they got ruined by the recent storms.

Now that I have my little house in the suburbs (with a large yard that keeps begging for lots of my time to turn it into a real garden. Be careful what you wish for  . . . ) I really miss the "energy" of the city. My son says that after college he's going to get an apartment there and my daughter wants to live there too eventually. Hope they'll both get decent jobs cuz I'm not paying their rent . . .

This is one of my favorite churches downtown, a beautiful old gothic nestled amidst the skyscrapers.

I always wanted to be married in this church, but by the time that happened, I was living somewhere else. THAT church had scaffolding up during our ceremony because 1 week earlier they decided that the chapel walls needed PAINTING and neglected to inform us until the rehearsal the night before! And they wouldn't take the scaffolding down just for us so the photographer had to work around it, LOL. I can laugh about it now.

My husband recently said "Wouldn't it be cool to sell the house when we retire and live in different areas of the country for a year at time?" I said "You mean like in an RV?" I don't know . . . Can I get cable TV in an RV?? Can I even take a bath in an RV? How would I quilt while the thing was moving? Maybe that's not what he meant but somehow I'm guessing living in a condo in the city may not be what he meant either.

At a business dinner for his company last year we talked to a couple who sold their house in the suburbs and bought a condominium in a high-rise building downtown to be closer to their grown kids. They were having the time of their lives going to museums and shows, dining at good restaurants, enjoying the lakefront and the freedom from home maintenance. I think if I could afford it I'd like to try that someday too. Just for a year though, because I know this city mouse would yearn for a little green space eventually.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What a Girl Wants

A cupboard full of antique quilts?

A new ipod because her son's ipod broke and--what a good mom--she gave him hers? (Actually I sold it to him to teach him a lesson--ipods don't grow on trees, LOL.)

A few more puppies?

What does a girl want? This girl just wants to feel better and is tired of attending physical therapy to help relieve her pain from herniated discs. Helping take care of her is mostly what keeps me from having  a lot of free time to sew lately. Poor baby. Keep a good thought. . . She just wants to feel better and be able to do things without her back hurting.

She'd take a few more puppies in a minute though . . . Amazing how puppies can always make you feel better.

What does a girl want? This little puppy girl just wants to play ALL the TIME and have mommy's undivided attention!

A playful run in the backyard every five minutes or so . . .

What does a girl want? This old girl in particular just wants more time to sew and play around with fabric and blocks and finish some more doll quilts just for fun.

Plus more time to work on her Dear Jane blocks.

I've been feeling a little under the weather lately. Nothing serious, just a bug. What else does a girl want? A little time to get away for a few days would be nice. Nothing fancy, just someplace remote, near a beach perhaps. (A husband who is able to take time off from work is part of this deal.)


What else does a girl want? More Barbies of course! This one should be arriving in the mail soon . . .

Speaking of the mail, I apologize for the delay in sending out the first Doll Quilt Club  pattern to those of you who are patiently waiting. Last week was horrendously busy with family things and Dr and Vet appointments and I just wasn't feeling great so I slowed down a bit. I created a little something extra for the club which had to be printed up as well. But you'll be happy to know that, as of this afternoon, all the mailing labels are done and the envelopes stuffed. I'll be up early tomorrow to take them to the Post Office (keep a good thought again) and then you'll have them in hand this week. So no, I did not leave town and abscond with your money--they're almost on their way. Those of you who ordered patterns and books as well as the club--thanks for waiting. I am sending those items in the same package. International orders will have to wait a little bit longer but still--better late than never.