Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thankful for the Hodgepodge

More gobble (degook?) this Wednesday. Click and join, will you?

1. Besides U.S. Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week...what game have you played most recently, and who were you with? Have you worked a puzzle of any kind in the past week?

Besides my daily Words with Friends and this new Trivia Crack game that my 12 year-old likes me to play, the last "real" ("live and in person") game I played was Sorry with my son about two weeks ago. (I whooped him, thankyouverymuch.)  

When I watch a little guy on Friday nights--which is not every week--he loves to do puzzles. He's five years old and extremely bright. His spacial perception is amazing--and what's not to love about soft little fingers turning pieces around, and a voice asking, "Does this one go hee-uh? Noooo. I think it goes hee---uh. Yessss!!! I was wight!"

I hate doing puzzles with more than 100 pieces, FYI, unless it's a quilt with fabric blocks.

2. What is one place you were thankful for this year?

Kansas. In particular, my "oldest" friend's house.  Barb fixed up the guest room just for me.  This was her bedroom when we were kids, and I felt so relaxed as I steeped in nostalgia. 

She hung up this little floral quilt that I had given her as a gift from Russia when I went there.

3. Take a nap, watch football, go for an after dinner walk, or hit the stores...whichONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving day? For those of you playing along who aren't in the US, answer as it relates to any big holiday meal.

Well, I WANT to nap, but we will be at my son's house this year, and we usually go straight from eating to playing games.   I am so relieved and excited that my daughter-in-law wanted to host this year because, after at least 10 years straight of all that cleaning, cooking, hosting, cleaning-up after--I needed a break this year.  We're taking a fried turkey that hubby insisted on trying --and we pick it up from Dickey's on the way to the feast ! 

4. Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal?

Any that I don't have to cook.     (Can you tell I'm a bit burned out?)

5. What product from an infomercial would you most like to own?

A new knife set, although I have no clue what's "hot" right now in cutlery.

6. Christmas shopping? Have you begun? Finished? Will you shop on Black Friday? How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day? What percentage of your Christmas shopping is done online?

I have started but this weekend is when I'll be doing the bulk of it online.  I absolutely will not shop in person on Black Friday! I hate that stores are open on Thanksgiving and that malls are forcing store owners to open on that day or risk paying fines. It's un-American!

7. What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to your everyday life?

Our home. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Please pray for the safe return of missing person Jessica Padgett. We know her sister personally and there are just no words to describe the desperation.  I had a dream the night before last that Jessica was found safe and alive, and I felt the Lord gave me a name that relates to her whereabouts (starts with a P and ends with a D.) I am hopeful. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Doll Quilt 6: Pockets Full of Ice Cream

This doll quilt evolved. I had sewn four large pink-and-white vintage patches together in March and then said, "Now what?"  The quilt sat and sat until, one day, while working with this ice cream fabric, I heard 
it speak to me.  (If you're a quilter, you'll understand that fabric speaks.) 

I appliqued the upper left piece on point (that is, diagonally). The next one, upper right, I thought, "Kids love pockets. Let's make this one a pocket." And then I thought, "One is not enough," and --tada!--three pockets.  

In the world of make-believe, ice cream never melts. You can pull a cone or sundae out of your pocket at any moment and it tastes and looks as good as ever. 

Still in my infancy as far as free motion quilting practice goes, I sewed some squiggles. I also drew triangles and sewed over them .

Of course every bed needs a pillow, and little dollies love ice cream as much as their mommies.  So do folks who sew for them. I was eating a chocolate-dipped ice cream bar right before doing some hand stitching, and I dropped a piece of chocolate right onto a chocolate part of the fabric!   Had to chuckle...

The pillow fits inside the pocket. How cool is that?

For extra fun, I pieced the back because I just love the ice cream. And reversible things.

 I like how it gets all crinkly after washing.  This quilt may be my favorite in the bunch

Which fabrics were Barbara's? All the pink ones and the brown calico.
What did I learn from making this one? That pockets are a lot of fun. That echoing the shapes of the triangles is easy .That I wanted to keep this one for my baby niece, but she is not quite old enough to appreciate dollies. Never fear, little girl, Aunt Zo will make another one--or several--in your lifetime , just for you.

Finished in September, 2014.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Doll Quilt 5: Rough & Tumble

What is a fifth of seven? No, it's  not 1/35.   Not today anyway. 
It's this doll quilt!  This one is the fifth of seven that I made and sent to Operation 
Christmas Child. 

  •  What did I name the quilt?  Rough and Tumble
  •  Why? Because this was my first tumbler quilt and it went just a little bit rough for me. It wouldn't have, except that I am the kind of person who rushes in "where angels fear to tread." I have beginner's knowledge but expert's confidence sometimes. A tumbler quilt is made from a tumbler-shaped template, and then the pieces are to be sewn in rows, not columns! 
  • I was on vacation at the beach house when I made this; maybe I had drunk a tumbler of something before I sat down to my machine? I kept looking at my columns of sewn scraps, thinking, "Now how am I supposed to sew those zig-zagged things together neatly?" My solution? Don't!  Instead I treated them to the applique method. Hey, it worked, and I kind of like the outcome. 
  •  Who will receive this quilt?  Some little girl in a foreign country. 
  •  What inspired the fabric choices?  Bright scraps from my stash. 
  •  Which fabrics were Barbara's? The fruit, the purple floral, the blue mosaic, the girly accessories, the binding, the Eeyore backing. 
 What is the name of pattern? Tumbler (with my "adaptation"). 
  •  What did I learn from making it?  How not to make a true tumbler quilt. 
  •  When did I start the quilt and when did I finish it? August and September, 2014.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Doll Quilt 4: Posies and Chicks

Clearly, photographing at high noon on a blustery day in November on my front porch 
does not make for the best lighting.   But snow was threatening, the sky was overcast, and I couldn't find decent lighting inside the house either.  In the evening we'd  be packing the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child so this was my last chance. 

This  is fourth doll quilt of 2014 that I made.

  •  What did I name the quilt?  Posies and Chicks
  •  Why? There are flowers on the front and little birdies on the back.  I made sure I wrote "John 3:16" on each  quilt. That verse is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  •  Who will receive this quilt?  Some little girl in a foreign country. 
  •  What inspired the fabric choices?  A trip to my local quilt shop (cleverly called Hoppin' Bobbin) with a gift card last winter. When there are no flowers and lots of white on the ground, on the trees, on your car, reported on TV, in the sky....(get the picture?), then vivid flowers and sunny warm batiks and accents of blacks will jump out at you. 
  •  Which fabrics were Barbara's? The backing. (If you haven't read previous posts, Barbara was a woman from whose widower I bought a great deal of fabric last January. I promised him I'd use that fabric in charity quilts this year.)

  •  What is the name of pattern? Classic four-patch. 
  •  What did I learn from making it?  That quilting a square within a square is rather simple but not as easy as I thought.   I could have marked a perfect square in each one, but I eyeballed it instead  for a childlike, imperfect look. 
  •  When did I start the quilt and when did I finish it? March 2014.

(Yes, I snipped off loose threads before packing.  I try not to give gifts with strings attached!)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Doll Quilt 3: Happy Critters

This doll quilt, the third of seven I finished in 2014, was the smallest and easiest, mainly because it had been almost completed by Barbara before her death.

All I did was add a scrappy border and I made a pillow to go with it.

  •  What did I name the quilt?  Happy Critters
  •  Why? Just look at those little animals. They're all happy. 
  •  Who will receive this quilt?  Some little girl in a foreign country. 
  •  What inspired the fabric choices?  I just wanted to coordinate my border colors with her whole-cloth quilt fabric. 
  •  Which fabrics were Barbara's? The red front piece and purple backing. 
  •  What is the name of pattern?  It's not a pattern. 
  •  What did I learn from making it?  Two things: (1) Not piecing the top or back sure saves a lot of time!   (2) Making a pieced border isn't as easy as I'd thought. I concentrated on keeping the colors balanced which required measuring and playing with pieces ad nauseum because that's me--someone who can complicate an otherwise simple thing. 
  •  When did I start the quilt and when did I finish it? May 2014.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mundane and Miraculous Blessings in the Hodgepodge

I'm grateful for my bloggy friends who brighten my world with their posts and comments.  It's a strange and wonderful thing to feel connected to people you've never met in real life but share a virtual bond. 

One such bloggy friend is Joyce, who dishes out these slice-of-life Hodgepodge questions every week like sweet apple pie. Join us, won't you? Click on this cute button.

1. What's something you take for granted, that when you stop and think about it you feel truly grateful for?

My husband's job and his work ethic.   

2. The color brown-love it or no? What's your favorite shade of brown? Most loved something in your home or closet in a shade of brown?

I like it a lot. Not gonna say love it, but it's a warm and comfortable color.  My favorite brown thing in the house is our dark cherry sleigh bed.

3. What's something you're looking forward to today?

A mani-pedi. All 20 nails really need some TLC.

4. The word 'feminism' is not new, but it has been generating all kinds of headlines in recent days and months. What do you think/feel when you hear the word? If you're a woman, do you want to be described as a feminist? Why or why not?

When I hear the word feminism, I think of pushy, insecure, know-it-all women who bash men, despise traditional marriage, and poo-poo all things truly feminine.   I encountered too many of that ilk in the early 80's when I was in college.  As an English major, I was required to take certain "women's studies" classes and to read enough feminist literature to choke a yak.    

I have no desire to be described as a feminist.  I want to be a woman who feels no need to prove herself, who knows that she is a precious daughter of the King of the Universe, who treasures her role as wife and mother and sees it as a high calling that demands the greatest sacrifices with the least amount of pay. You can't earn zero dollars and still feel immensely rich unless you are convinced of the nobility of such a calling.

5. What's something you personally can't eat without making a mess?

A juicy, loaded burger.  I'm a total slob, which is why I  won't order a big juicy burger with people who don't love me!  I guess maybe I do reserve a slight need to prove that I am couth in every situation. That's a challenge when you're literally dripping evidence to the contrary--  tomato hanging out of your mouth, mayonnaise running down your wrists, and ketchup on your nose. 

6. When did you last surprise someone with a little gift or when were you last surprised by someone with a little gift? What was it?

Last time I surprised someone with a little gift was about two weeks ago. I sent my friend Laurie (in Kansas) some fresh roasted, whole bean 
Strong Arm coffee--roasted right here in Baltimore by my son's brother-in-law. He keeps me stocked and it's so good I just had to share with my self-professed "coffee snob" of  a friend. 
7. Share a favorite quote, saying, song lyric or scripture relating to gratitude.

A grateful heart is a happy heart. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

One of my Christian friends (not a close one, not Renee' whom I talk a lot about on my blog) has been battling cancer for years. She is one of the most joyful followers of Christ that I know. She shares her love for Him wherever she goes, and has been certain of His love for her in the midst of this terminal illness.F

Four weeks ago Lynn underwent an 8-hour abdominal surgery to remove a 9-inch portion of her bowel that was riddled with disease.  Doctors ran additional tests and told Lynn the lymphoma was throughout her body.   

When she was released from the hospital, she quit her salon job and prepared for the end . She herself was at peace but she begged her facebook friends to pray for her family to accept the reality that her days were short. 

We prayed hard. She is my age and has kids my kids' ages plus a young grandson. I ached for all of them.

A week later Lynn had a follow-up test with her oncologist at Hopkins. He called the next day and said, "I don't understand these results . I wondered if I was looking at the wrong patient's records.  But I'm calling to tell you that there is NO EVIDENCE OF LYMPHOMA here."  She asked if he would put it in writing for her to carry in her Bible. He said, "Did you expect this news?" And she said, "Well, I prayed, and my friends prayed, and we believe God can do all things, so I am not as surprised as you are!"   

And she has been announcing her miracle whenever, wherever, far and wide, telling people that it was God and God alone who healed her from Stage 4 cancer!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Doll Quilt 2: Meet Me in the Middle

Yesterday I showed my first doll quilt of 2014 which was predominantly purple and white. I wanted each quilt to have a unique colorway, so for the second quilt I went with blue and yellow .

A simple pillow (5x3-ish) accompanies this queen size doll quilt  (approximately 18x18).

  •  What did I name the quilt?   Meet Me in the Middle
  •  Why? Because in the very center of the quilt is a blue scrap that says "Hawaii". I would love to meet someone there! Blue skies, golden sand.  Yeah, that's my style. 
  •  Who will receive this quilt?  Some little girl in a foreign country. 
  •  What inspired the fabric choices?   I was having the winter blues when I started it, and craving sunshine. Here in Maryland, the winter just never quit. Well, maybe by June .
  •  Which fabrics were Barbara's? All of them. 
  •  What is the name of pattern?  I'm not sure. I just put rail fence blocks together and made a framed rectangle in the middle. 
  •  What did I learn from making it?  Two things: (1) Don't use fabrics that you don't love or really, really like. I "settled" on some of these scraps out of thrift. Now I rate the fabrics in my stash on a 1-10 scale. I won't buy or use anything that isn't a 7 or higher on the "like" scale, unless I make something for an animal shelter.   (2) My first attempt at free motion quilting was pathetic.  But these doll quilts are for learning on and I learned that I needed a darning foot (which I eventually purchased) and a lot more practice. 
  •  When did I start the quilt and when did I finish it? February and June (?). I know it dragged on and on because I wasn't in love with it. But the beauty of a little project like this is that it can be finished quickly once the mind is made up to just do it.  

Monday, November 17, 2014

Making Good on a Promise

The very first doll quilt I made was  this pink and green one last fall for Operation Christmas Child. After experiencing the  joy of finishing and sending it, I was hooked.

For 2014 I set a goal to make 7 doll quilts for OCC.  In January, I replied to a Craigslist ad and ended up buying all this fabric  from a widower named Lee whose wife had been an avid quilter until she got sick (I'm assuming from cancer).    Barbara passed away in November of 2012, leaving an entire basement studio full of fabric, machines, notions and finished quilts hanging on the walls. (He was not selling the quilts, thankfully.)

While we were chatting, I told Lee that I would be using the fabric to make charity quilts, mostly for children. He said his wife would have liked that.  I choked back tears as I knew he was grieving the loss of not only his wife, but all the quilting supplies that had once brought her such joy.

So, since January, I have been making good on that promise. I have made seven doll quilts for Operation Christmas Child, one for Dolls for Very Sick Kids, and a chemo quilt for my friend Renee' who was diagnosed this past summer with breast cancer.  Each quilt features at least one fabric from Barbara's collection. I've also made a few little home dec and gifties from that stash.

I will be featuring the quilts on my blog, along with
a template of sorts for each one, beginning with the first one of the year .

  •  Quilt 1:

  •  What did I name the quilt?   Purple Pinwheels
  •  Why? Because sometimes I just like to state the obvious. 
  •  Who will receive this quilt?  Some little girl in a foreign country. 
  •  What inspired the fabric choices?   I love purple and my favorite block is the pinwheel. 
  •  Which fabrics were Barbara's?  Almost all of them .
  •  What is the name of pattern?  I don't think it has a name. It's just rows of pinwheels. 
  •  What did I learn from making it?  That this is an easy block to make and that on one of the blocks, I should've used higher contrast. The lavender gingham next to a white sort of gets lost, but I can live with it. Children aren't quilt police.  I also learned that this was a king size doll bed quilt! The rest I made ranged from "twin" to "queen"--sizes that fit much better into a shoebox if you want to include the doll and other stuff!
  •  When did I start the quilt and when did I finish it? January and March, 2014, respectively. 

I made a coordinating pillow for each little quilt.
                                      Used purple backing as well. My son, who has a good eye for color,
                                               chose the teal fabric for the binding.

So there is the first of seven doll quilts that have already gone out in shoeboxes for OCC.  Stay tuned for six more.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Daybook Entry 11.4.14

Linking up today at The Simple Woman's blog . It's a helpful meme for handling the melting pot of life's internal and external happenings
when there's not enough to say (or too much to say) about any one single prompt .

November 4th, 2014

Outside my window...

I am thinking...  about how to save money for my dream machine. After a year (plus) of sewing to see if this hobby "sticks", I am confident that it borders on an addiction. I want a machine that can handle bigger quilts. 

I am thankful... that my friend Renee', although she is battling cancer and has been in and out of the hospital a LOT, has such a strong support system.

I am wearing... warm socks, blue jeans, and a navy blue V-neck sweater --along with my sticker that says "I VOTED".

I am creating...  
or rather, have created, seven doll quilts to send in shoeboxes to Operation Christmas Child. I made a coordinating pillow for each one. Here's the last one I finished on Sunday.  It's called "Kin and Barbie." 

The front and pillow: 
                                          The back. (All fabrics are by Riley Blake except the butterflies and black.)
I am going... to clean and do some laundry for my friend tomorrow before she gets home from the hospital.  I have a slight cold so don't want to risk being around her, but would love to give her place a "spiff and shine" before she comes home .

I am wondering... what my son's report card will say tomorrow. 

I am reading... The Bronze Bow , aloud with my son. Yes, he's in 7th grade and can read just fine alone, but I've never read this one and have always wanted to. 

I am hoping... that Jesus comes back very soon! 

I am learning... slowly, with piddly progress, how to make nice, mitered borders on quilts .  I've watched umpteen Youtube tutorials on the skill, but it's just not "clicking" with me. 

Around the house... I continue to go through things and get rid of what I don't use or love. We may sell this house next year and I certainly would love to have purged quite a bit of STUFF before putting it on the market. 

In the kitchen... are apples waiting for me to make a Jewish apple cake. 

I am pondering...  the brevity of life.

A favorite quote for today... "We're opportunity kind of kids," said the 3 year old girl that my daughter nannies of herself and Little Brother.

One of my favorite things... hearing the little girl I work with squeal with delight when she sees me walking up to her front door.  Last week I was five minutes later than usual (but still on time) and she said, "I was so sad, but now I'm HAPPEEEEE because you're here."

A few plans for this week: I got my hair cut  today which was at the top of my to-do list. (Yay!). I voted. Attend parent-teacher conferences. Get the oil changed in hubby's car. Visit my favorite 5, 3, and 1 year-olds. 

A peek into one of my days from last week... 

 Last week wasn't pretty. Overflowing toilets, rain and more rain, 
car repair shops. Who wants to see those?