Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Quiet Lazy Day

Good morning! Isn't this the cutest cup? It goes so nicely with my quilt too.

I just love cups that have a design printed on the bottom.

It's raining a bit here and I think it's going to be a quiet, lazy day. My son came over last night and is going to spend the day with me. My guess is his laundry needs to get done and he wants a free lunch. He has to work on a paper for school. I may get some reading done. Oh, and I have to work on the Retreat quilt - only 8 more days! Will she get it finished in time? Stay tuned!

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Today is our 27th anniversary. My wonderful husband was grumping at me about something this morning as he was rushing around getting ready for work and so I waited until he was finished and then smiled sweetly at him and said "Happy Anniversary, Hon!" He stopped grumping for a minute and then said "Oh." Guess I won't be any getting diamonds or jewels or flowers unless they have them in the cafeteria at work since I don't think he will be shopping much today, LOL.

The happy couple.  (Mustaches were very popular back then.) What a beautiful dress! Now sealed and packed away in a big box on a shelf in my daughter's closet, waiting . . .

Look - twenty-seven years ago I had a waist! Not a tiny waist, but still a waist.

Well, I don't really remember this moment when it appeared the honeymoon was over before it actually began but I'm guessing he probably just said something to really annoy me, LOL . . . Happy Anniversary, Hon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Birthday Blues

Just kidding - I'm not really blue about it; it made a good title. But it sure is hard to admit to being older than I used to be sometimes. Every year, it's the same darn thing, LOL. Mostly, I become frustrated because I am not quite back to feeling the way I used to feel before all of my health issues from the past year unfolded. The going is slow now that I'm older. But I keep plugging away, trying to be optimistic as I deal with my stresses, counting my many blessings, focusing on my family and pets as well as all of the wonderful things and people I have in my life instead of the stupid health things which do not seem to end.

My old dog and I both had cancer scares recently - he had another tumor which required surgery last week. It turned out to be benign AGAIN. He is recovering nicely but I did not sleep for a week, worrying about the biopsy results. On top of that, my recent mammogram showed a "suspicious" shadow, which of course required further investigation. That also turned out to be nothing to worry about. TMI, perhaps, some of you will say. But it was another week where I did not get much sleep or quilting done. Hopefully, things have calmed down a bit now and I will be able to get back into better shape again before my next birthday. Attitude is all, don't you think?

You saw the doll bed, mattress and pillow I gave to Julia for her birthday.  We actually share a birthday and it was a good day for me too. Someone commented that I was a good friend. It's actually the other way around - I am surrounded by a few incredibly wonderful, caring friends and for that I am so grateful.

Julia gave me a bunch of BLUE presents, LOL, to go along with my BLUES I guess. OMG, she found a beautiful vintage blue and white doll quilt too! How lucky am I?? The vintage bracelet is a heart locket. So sweet, I love it. She also knitted this adorable blue headband to wear when I walk the dogs when it gets cold . . . . I think I definitely came out ahead this year in the gift department, LOL. She's very understanding and I'll make it up to her.

I thought you'd also enjoy seeing a few of the gifts from my daughter and my husband. They spoil me too. A couple of books, a polka-dotted basket to hold my scraps, a sweater and a necklace. Bless his heart, the sweater is in a smaller size than I wear. I must look thinner than I really am, huh? Or those bifocals he just got are  not working very well . . . . My son is going to take me on an architectural tour of Chicago for my birthday when my knee gets better (a whole other depressing story for later). I've been on a Fossil kick lately. Look - Julia's Fossil earrings perfectly match the Fossil necklace my husband bought! How did they know? In cahoots, I'll bet!

To celebrate last week, my husband and son took me out to dinner (daughter is away at college) at a small seafood restaurant in Chicago and then my son found me a gelato place for dessert. Gelato is hard to find where I live but it is becoming popular in the city and I suspect more shops will spread to the suburbs soon.

If you haven't jumped on the Gelato bandwagon yet, it's a sort of dense ice cream. Like ice cream, but distinctly NOT ice cream. It's churned at a slower speed than ice cream, and so not as much air is whipped into the mixture. Regular ice cream contains about 50% air - gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air. And it's not completely frozen, but stored and served at a slightly warmer temperature and has an amazing, rich flavor. Not as much fat either, I hear.

I got the single scoop of chocolate that you see sitting up on the counter above. So rich that a small scoop was even too much for me, believe it or not. Me, the woman who can eat a whole pint of ice cream in one sitting could not finish that small cup. Sad. See what advanced age does to you??

The gelato place was in a trendy neighborhood and, as we were leaving, I couldn't resist taking this photo of the Pedal Pub passing by. Everyone was pedalling, laughing and looking so happy and obviously having a great time. I had no idea what it was (or that they were drinking beer! No wonder they looked so cheerful)  but I looked it up when we got home. Maybe you have seen these in your area?? I believe they were first introduced in the Netherlands and have slowly spread to a few cities in the U.S.

They are pedalling about 5 mph.

It seems that it's like a large bar on a bike - you can get a group together and rent these with a driver and pedal your way to different bars in the city for a genuine bar-hopping experience.

I wonder if we quilters can get a hold of one of these to work off a few pounds as we go from quilt shop to quilt shop, wouldn't that be fun?? Without the beer of course. I say we even try a Gelato Shop Hop someday. Then I wouldn't feel so guilty about eating it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Primitive Doll Bed

It was my friend Julia's birthday a few days ago and I knew for awhile that she has wanted an antique doll bed to display some of her little quilts. I've looked at the online auctions and antique malls but could never find anything that wasn't out of my price range. Then I saw a doll bed at a quilt shop that Karen and her husband had made and I knew it was perfect. So I contacted Karen and ordered it and Julia graciously accepted it as her present LOL! That means she LOVED it. Wouldn't you??

I made a mattress and pillow to go along with it. Originally, I was going to use ticking fabric but decided against it and thought Julia might like this better. I think it turned out quite cute and here it is with a couple of my quilts. I'm so sorry, Julia, this year I did not have time or enough energy to make you a quilt to go along with the bed, but maybe next year.

Luckily, she has a stack of her own that will work just fine. She's made just about every small quilt I have ever designed so that's more than a few LOL.

One of Julia's antique doll quilts.

More than a few of her own . . .

I LOVE this bed so much, don't you? Karen's husband makes them in black or red, large or small. This is the large one, about 12"  x  20". The small bed has a rope mattress. Karen is coming to my retreat in 2 weeks and is bringing some of the doll beds to show everyone. She promised she'd have 2 set aside for me by then - I think I will buy a large black one and a smaller red one. I can't wait to take them home for myself! Karen does not have a website but here's her e-mail address so you can contact her if you'd like a bed for your little quilts too!

Here are a few more of Julia's small quilts that didn't fit on the stack on the bed. She's been a busy lady!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shopping for Inspiration

Three of my close friends are having birthdays this month and so I needed to do a little shopping for gifts this past weekend. I'm still feeling a little creatively blocked and just cannot get going on that quilt I need to make for the Retreat in a couple of weeks. It would be nice if I had something to show when I teach it LOL. 

A trip to some stores was in order to accomplish the buying of gifts and also to feed my soul a little I think. Author Julia Cameron calls it Filling the Well. When you seem to have no inspiration left inside yourself to create, she suggests going out and filling yourself up with images that nourish the process. When the creative pond is empty because it has just been drained by a large creative project, it needs to be filled again and restocked. My husband laughs but sometimes a simple shopping trip fills me up enough so that I become inspired without breaking the bank so to speak. And I've found that it doesn't always need to be quilting-related. Sometimes it's almost better if it's not. I often get sidetracked by what other quilters are making and need a break from it all to create something that's my own.

Look at those colors! Fall is almost here.

I so need to make a quilt using these colors.

Ahhh, dishes! Keep moving, Kathy.

Last year we bought a new sofa and loveseat in a sort of tan/taupe fabric. After years of living with busy blue prints or florals on our sofas, we needed a change from that  - so we bought something completely different and bland. Something I could accessorize with color. We could never go with white because of the dogs and my husband wanted something a little darker. He's accommodated my choices and lived with blue all these years so we compromised and bought a very neutral sofa with no real color I like to say. 

I was so thrilled to be able to buy a colorful area rug (with little touches of blue and applique-looking patterns) that didn't clash with the sofa for a change but the problem is that lots of things now clash with the rug LOL. I still have not found time to make a nice colorful quilted throw but that is on my list. It will have to be simple to go with the rug, don't you think? The one you see here is store-bought and striped and usually is in my son's room. But he's gone now and doesn't miss it. It's fine for now but doesn't really match. I'd like to make pillows too because the ones I bought clash a bit since I bought them before I fell in love with the rug. I wish I could just buy some colorful ones like these - but no, they wouldn't work at all.

So pretty though!

Love the blue floral! If only I didn't have that rug . . .

But, oh, the colors in the pillows at the store were so inspiring.

Not my style at all but they sure looked cute and fresh here  . . . Why does it all have to be so darn hard? Wonder what I'll eventually come up with for a sofa throw? And -  will I finish it?

Friday, September 16, 2011

So What Are You Waiting For??

You know those fabrics you're saving, hoarding for the perfect quilt? Maybe it's a big project and you don't have the energy to make it yet, but still, you have ALL this fabric you just had to have. I often buy fabric just because I love it, with no particular project in mind. What then? It gets stacked in a closet, bin or drawer, waiting for the opportunity to come alive in a quilt. I look at it occasionally. What am I waiting for??

Doll quilts have always been a perfect way for me to use up my scraps. Well, awhile ago, I decided to stop just using my scraps to make some of my small quilts. I made a vow to use up some of those special fabrics I've been saving. Not be afraid to cut into the pretty yardage. Small quilts don't really use up too much fabric so I still have enough left if I need it later. No point in just letting it sit there though. Occasionally, what I'll do is cut a few chunks off and then cut those into different sized squares to make scrappy patches until I come up with a design. Then I fold it up and put it  back. This takes a bit of courage I discovered if all you're used to doing is looking at it all folded up nicely. But boy, let me tell you, does it start the creative flow. Do you do this too?

Sometimes, when I finally cut into it, it's actually easier to make that second or third cut and then OMG  - all of a sudden I'm using it instead of hoarding it! And then when I look at that quilt I've made, I smile and think, oh, I love that print so much - I'm so glad it's not sitting in a drawer or bin, but someplace where I can see it and appreciate it, dancing around in a little quilt. Sitting on a table or hanging on a wall, smiling at me. Maybe I'll try to use that same fabric in a bigger quilt too.

I think it actually inpsires me to be more creative because it's so much easier for me to play around with some squares or small pieces and come up with a design than it is to visualize an entire quilt from fat quarters. Does that make sense?

I'll also use small pieces of my favorites in a larger scrappy quilt sometimes. And if it's a really special favorite print, my eye always goes right to that one and then I smile to myself. You all know I'm not a fan of ugly prints. Oh, I have a few that came with kits or bundles but I won't buy yardage of fabric I don't like. I know I wouldn't use it. I suspect the ugly prints work great in a scrappy quilt when you look at it from a distance but I know myself and I know my eye would always go to that print that I hate and then it would taint the quilt for me just a little. I'm working on it and maybe someday it's something I'll overcome. For now, I love almost all of the fabric I buy and thanks anyway for the advice, but I like it that way.

I used a lot of small pieces of my favorite prints to make hexagons awhile ago and the finished quilt lights me up on the inside whenever I look at it.

I didn't know what I was going to do with these - not my typical fabric purchase. But I just had to have them.

The polka dot ones eventually got worked into my daughter's quilt after I saw her eyes light up when she looked at them. Hope they still do when she wraps the quilt around herself and remembers that spark they gave her.

So, tell me - do you actually use your fabric or just hoard it for  .  .  .  Someday?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Come September

September is probably my favorite month. The weather becomes slightly cooler and I always seem to have more energy. I'm anxiously awaiting Fall.

I've always been most organized in September. Old habits from school days. When I used to shop with my kids for school supplies, I always came home with a few new notebooks, folders and supplies for myself too. This year was no exception. I'm a grown-up schoolgirl, I guess. Always a schoolgirl at heart come September.

There's something exhilarating about writing in a fresh notebook with a new pen. Forget January 1, September is my clean slate. New beginnings. A fresh start on goals. A pretty place for making lists. Time to de-clutter - Get a Little More Organized.

I'm hoping to find time to plan some new projects. I think it takes a certain amount of courage to create, start something new.

In one of the notebooks, I made a small list of things or areas I wanted to clean out. Only three things for now. Lord knows I have hundreds of things that need to be cleaned out, but three is doable for me right now, this week. I'll add more as I go on. Yesterday, I cleaned out this cupboard that had been in a messy state for awhile and then neatly stacked some of the small quilts that are finished. I have another suitcase full of small quilts I take with me when I travel for my trunk shows. Quite a few small quilts. But even smaller steps.

I placed the unfinished quilt tops in a drawer and hopefully will stack them in the "finished" cupboard soon. It feels good to have accomplished even a small thing like this. I hate stuffing things away in bags or bins. Bringing them out into the light of day makes it seem possible that they may actually get finished sooner. I'm reminded of how much I liked working on them. Wouldn't it be great to get them done, I told myself? Then I could look at them all the time.


I bought a new pocket planner. Sometimes it's easier for me to keep to my goals if I write them down on a calendar, with a schedule for meeting them.

Could be much worse -  only about 7 or 8 unfinished little tops. Should be a snap, right?

Oh dear, can't forget this one. I've been meaning to finish it since Spring . . .

What are you up to in September? Organizing anything?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Texting for Seniors

OMG - that's about me! We have spent more than a few weeks this summer trying to get new phones for the family. My daughter had an unfortunate accident with hers awhile back and needed a new phone before she went away to school. It was very expensive to upgrade her phone with the service plan we had so we were all doing the research to change plans and get the best phone deal (if there even IS a deal with those so-called Family $$ Plans.) My daughter left the state and my son moved into an apartment all the way into the city so we had to make sure that the plan provided good service here, there and EVERYWHERE. 

Talk about headaches . . . But we did it and we're all happy with our phones and think it encourages us to keep in touch. My kids don't always seem to answer their phones if they're busy (apparently they don't want to be THAT close to Mom - imagine, having to actually listen to my annoying voice) but texting always works since my messages are shorter and I don't nag so much when texting. I almost always get an answer if I text.

I'm still getting used to texting on the new phone - my chubby fingers and the tiny touch screen don't always get along. So sometimes the messages are a little garbled and they  text back -  WHAT??? You can almost hear the Big Sigh and see the rolling of the eyes. The first few days after I got the new phone, every time I turned it on it seemed to automatically dial my son - "Mom, NOW WHAT???" Oops, sorry again, I haven't had time to play with the settings yet. My daughter jokingly said she is going to set up a Twitter account just so I don't have to bother texting her so much - she can "Tweet" me several times a day to let me know what's going on  - what she ate for breakfast, yes, she's wearing a jacket, etc. I thought maybe I'd just go to abbreviations to keep it simple, the way the kids do it.

Someone I know recently went to her 40th high school reunion and has been feeling old but still has maintained her sense of humor about it, thank goodness. She sent the following to me. I don't know why, because I'm really not old yet. She must have me confused with someone else. Perhaps you've already seen it, received in an e-mail from a friend who also thinks you're old and will appreciate it. It was too good not to share with those of you who may not have seen it. I'm not quite ready for these yet (well, maybe one or two . . . )


Since more and more Seniors are texting and tweeting, there appears to be a need for a standard STC (Senior Texting Code). If you qualify for Senior Discounts, this is the code for you. Please pass this on to your children and grandchildren so they can understand your texts.

ATD: At The Doctor's

BFF: Best Friend Fainted

BTW: Bring The Wheelchair

BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth

CBM: Covered By Medicare

CGU: Can't get up

CUATSC: See You At The Senior Center

DWI: Driving While Incontinent

FWB: Friend With Beta Blockers

FWIW: Forgot Where I Was

FYI: Found Your Insulin

GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!

GHA: Got Heartburn Again

HGBM: Had Good Bowel Movement

IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On?

LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out

LOL: Living On Lipitor

OMMR: On My Massage Recliner

OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas.

ROFL... CGU: Rolling On The Floor Laughing... And Can't Get Up

TTYL: Talk To You Louder

WDICIHF: What Did I Come In Here For?

WAITT: Who Am I Talking To?

WTP: Where's The Prunes?

GGLKI: (Gotta Go, Laxative Kicking In)

When I turned 50 my husband signed me up for an AARP card as a joke. Haha, very funny. I got over it and I'm now proud to be old - we actually use it for discounts so what the heck. And I love to read those articles about older celebrities. Who knew some of them were even still alive??

GGBMF - (Gotta Go Buy More Fabric),

- Kathy

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In other news, The Girl and The Quilt made it to the college campus safe and sound last week. It was one of the first things she unpacked!

Quilt's new home.  (Room still in unpacking mode)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Goodbye to Summer

It's finally nice and a little cool here in the Chicago area this morning, and I'm reminded of the old days when school started the day after Labor Day and the mornings were always just a little chilly. Now it seems like most schools begin the middle of August. Labor Day in the U.S. typically is the "unofficial" end of summer. Vacations end, pools close and, oh yes, as my mother used to tell me, it's time to put away your white shoes and purse and bring out the cardigans. If it's September, it's always the beginning of  fall for me. Not everyone loves it like I do though. As school starts up again, my kids always used to say: Fun stops. Homework regimens kick in, the days get shorter and the weather cooler and mom gets a little more intense and strict about bedtime and video games. The fun stopped for THEM but it started for me when they were back in school and I had my days free again, LOL.

So I'm officially declaring that summer is over around here even though I'm sure we'll probably still get some 90-degree days. It wasn't the best summer I've ever had, so I can't say I'm sorry to see it go. In fact, I'd like to say good riddance to the heat, mosquitoes and cicadas. I never seem to get much quilting done during the summer and being sick and getting so behind with stuff only made me more stressed, I think. Who needs a stressful summer??

It wasn't a very exciting summer, either. No time for a real vacation with my husband's work schedule. Mostly I spent time with my kids, trying to rest and recover a little, catch up with work and neglected household things, running around at half-speed. Get my daughter ready for college. Make that quilt. A gazillion trips to Target. Then there was the knee thing that really tripped me up and made me slow down and take rests right after my other enforced rest from surgery. Ugh. Too much necessary resting. But I read at least 8-10 books and got much better at phone Scrabble. I enjoyed hanging out at the pool with my sisters and my daughter.

Aren't they cute? They're my older sisters but they're having so much fun playing in the water like little kids. Water Babies for sure. This is what retirement does to you, I guess. Thank goodness I was the one with the camera . . . there are NO pictures of me in a bathing suit, thank you. And if there were, would I be stupid enough to put them on a blog??

Once my daughter goes away to school this week, maybe things will settle down and I'll have more time to myself and perhaps get in the mood to do more quilting, planning. This fall I don't have a book to finish or any other deadlines so maybe I'll be able to make some things for myself under a little less pressure. I really need to make a nice throw for our sofa. Some pillows too. Or, make something out of these maple leaf blocks from last year's block swap and finish the table runner I started a long time ago. I can't wait for fall!

So, Goodbye summer - Hello quilting!