Friday, December 17, 2010


For the last few weeks, I've been joining in with Barbara at Cat Patches on her
Foto Finish.  Every week she posts a theme, and you can use Mister Linky to link to one of your photos that goes along with the theme.  Last week the theme was "trees", this time, it's "Red".  I've been having a lot of fun taking pictures of red things!!

 These first two are ceramic trivets that I painted. 
On both of them I was experimenting a bit, and mixed some of my own colors. 
I am very happy with the way they turned out.  :^)

 This one is just some of the 'red' things I found on my desk at work! 
The trivet with the Santa hat on it says "When you stop believing in Santa... you get underwear!!"

And, of course, a "Little Red Corvette"!

Plus a new Camaro for good measure....

And last, but surely not least, my favorite model, Mallory, modeling my newest scarf.  I've been crocheting a lot of scarves lately & seem to be using bigger & bigger crochet hooks! 
By the way, check out Mallory's vintage style jewelry at her etsy shop:  Made by Malcakes

It was so much fun playing with Red this week!  I took all of these with my little point & shoot digital Nikon Coolpix L3.  I carry it in my purse all the time, so it's always handy.  Next week when I'm hanging out with my sisters, I'll have to break out the 'big guy' - my Nikon D5000 digital SLR.  I need more practice with it!

Thanks for sharing my Foto-Finish with me!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Golden Gate Fly-By

This quilt is one of my favorites.  It was made as part of a guild challenge, called "The Whisper Challenge", based on a challenge in Quilting Arts magazine.  Like the kid's game "Telephone", where one person whispers to the next & by the end of the line of kids, the story is completely different!  Our challenge had two sets of 'players' and both used the same photograph to start.  The first quilter in each group made a small quilt, based on the photograph.  They then handed their quilt off to the next person in line, but NOT the photo, and that person used the quilt as inspiration.  Quilter #2 then passed on their quilt to the next in line, & gave the inspiration quilt back to its maker. 
I was second in line in my group.  When I looked at the quilt I had been given, I saw a bird on possibly a Japanese style bridge, overlooking water with Koi swimming below.  The support pilings for the bridge immediately made me think of the uprights on the Golden Gate Bridge, & within just a few minutes I had my whole design in my head!  Next, I went online, searching for pictures of the GG Bridge & pictures of seagulls to use for reference.  I found what I wanted & started drawing out my pattern, then searched through my "fabric shoppe" room for the right colors.
I lucked out, and found everything I needed in my own stash.  I didn't have to buy anything except some Steam-A-Seam.  It really came together pretty quickly....except for the gull.  I fused him together, and decided just where he should go on the quilt, then realized that I needed to do draw in the vertical cables for the bridge before fusing the bird down.  I was working in the living room, sitting on the couch, so I just set him down on the couch next to me & started on those cables.  Once I had them done, I reached for the bird, & he's gone!  Heck, I hadn't moved since setting him there, how far could he go?  I think it took me a half hour to find him, right where I set him...but he had flipped over & blended in with everything around.  Sheesh!  Once again, I find just the spot I want the bird fused, pick the quilt up carefully, and I when I set it down on the ironing board, about 4 steps away---no bird!  A bit easier to find this time, he landed on the burgundy carpet, half-way between the couch & board.  (insert much eye-rolling here)

When I finished all the fusing, I stitched around the edges of it all, then quilted the sky & the ocean.  When I finished the ocean quilting & picked it up & flipped it over, the whole ocean part was a mass of thread loops on the bottom!  Figures, doesn't it, since I LOVED the way it had come out!  Oh well, it was sure easy to 'un-stitch' - one tug & it was done.  Rethreaded the top & bottom of the machine & requilted the ocean & voila!  Finito!  At my next guild meeting, I handed it off to the #3 quilter in my group, to use as her inspiration.  When I got it back from her, it was ready for me to hang up until time for our quilt show.
Or so I thought....
Soon after that, I went up to Northern California to visit my sisters & families, and took the quilt with me to show it off.  Being a holiday weekend (Thanksgiving), traffic was horrible!  There was a jack-knifed semi on the I-5, and I was mostly parked there for a long time.  Since I happened to be in the "fast" lane, and the weather was nice, I rolled down my window & was looking at all the things dropped in the median.  Right next to me was what appeared to be a cable ripped out of something, covered with black, rubber-ish insulation & beautiful copper wire sticking out of the broken end.  I thought, if I could reach that, and take off the insulation, the copper would look awesome on the Bridge!  Of course, right then, traffic started to move again.  But I did tell my sister Judy about it when I showed her the quilt.  About a week after I got home, there was a padded envelope in the mail, and inside was several feet of copper wire!  Did I mention that Judy works at a hardware store?

Unfortunately, every time I tried to strip the insulation from the wire she sent, I kept breaking the little wires.  Rats!  Luckily, I was lamenting about this to another friend, and the next time I saw her, she handed me some lovely stripped copper wire!  (Her husband is an electrician!)  After some trial & error, I managed to couch the copper wire over the horizontal cables on the bridge & I loved it!  Of course, then I decided that the ocean needed a bit more emphasis, so I beaded the white caps. 

It hung in our quilt show with all of the other Whisper Challenge quilts - the 2 groups couldn't have been more different!  You can see them here:  along with the rest of our show.

Happy quilting!


Friday, November 26, 2010

The Kittens with Helicopter Parents

I'm not sure where I first heard the term "helicopter parents", but it just might be the perfect description of my friend, Ellen*, when it comes to her 2 kittens.  Loosely, the term is for those parents who hover over their kids, barely letting the kids ever out of their sight.  In this case, substitute cats for kids.

A few months ago, my friends rescued 2 kittens from the animal shelter, sisters from the same litter.  They had lost both of the cats last year, and had finally decided it was time for some more.  Their prior kitties, Asti Spumonte & Makita, both lived long, happy lives, and were, for the most part, laid-back cats.  Enter the kittens, now named Possum & Riesling (or Ries). 

I don't think you could get any farther from laid-back than these two!  They are full of vim and vigor &  mischief!  Just like kittens should be....

Last week, I got an email from Ellen, asking if I was going to be around & available to look after the cats & house while she & her DH took a few well-deserved days off for a short trip.  Not a problem, I replied, just let me know when you'll be leaving.  So, all the arrangements were made.  A few days before their departure, she called me so we could go over any special directions she had for me.  (I've done this for them for about 20 years now, but these are new cats....)  We got off the phone after about an hour & half of stories & dos & don'ts. 

It seems that Ries likes to look out the front window, while Possum prefers to chase any lights that come reflecting on the wall across from the window.  They are not allowed on the tables or countertops ~ well, at least not when anyone is looking of course.  Don't let them wrestle too hard, or scratch on the throw rugs.  Close the bathroom doors at night or they jump on the back of the toilet & it rattles & will wake you up.  Sleep low on your pillow if you stay over or they might run over the top of your head chasing the lights in the night.....

"Ellen,": I said, "You know I'm more relaxed about those things than you are."  "I know, but, I just thought,..."  "Don't worry, we'll be fine.  I'll just feed them a peanut butter & jelly sandwich & everything will be OK!"  (Did I tell you that their cats always ONLY get CAT FOOD?  No treats or table scraps.  Therefore, I have always teased that I feed them strange people food when 'mom & dad' are gone!)

So, off they went on their little trip.  The first night, I went to the house right from work.  On the counter, Ellen had left me 3 pages of info/instructions for the kittles!  OK, there was a disclaimer that she got up too early & didn't have anything else to do, but really, THREE pages??!? 

The food dishes were still pretty full, but Ries & Possum both came into the kitchen & greeted me, then ate their food while I was there.  I took a check thru' the house & all was secure & in one piece, so I made sure to refill the dishes & water bowls & went to my Guild meeting.  I came again the next night, after eating dinner early at home, this time, prepared to spend the night. 

I did find Possum laying up on the buffet in the dining room, so I told her "no", which she ignored, then went & picked her up to carry her into the living room.  She did not like being picked up & especially didn't like the carrying part!  The more steps I took, the more upset she got, trying to push away from me so I would put her down.  (No scratching though)  Then she started growling & hissing - so I growled & hissed right back at her!  She did not know what to make of THAT.  Guess mom & dad never have done that to her!  When I put her down, she ran & hid for a while.  Look, Possum, I am the alpha cat here!

While I was watching TV, they played a bit in the living room, chasing each other from the bedroom through to the dining room, slipping & sliding & having a grand time.  They checked in on me a few times, but mostly just ignored me.  After waking up on the couch about 2:00 am, I went to bed, completely forgetting about the 'sleep low on your pillow' rule, and slept deeply & happily the rest of the night.  No late night/early morning romps across my head or racing through the house.  Just nice, quiet sleep for all of us!

The next morning, Ries came out to play with me for about an hour, and posed for some pictures.  Possum was still irked about the alpha cat thing, so she didn't come out until I had put the camera away.  I knew that Ellen & DH wouldn't be home until dinner time, so topped up the food & put down fresh water & left for my painting time at the ceramics shop.

Ellen called me in the late afternoon, just as they were starting home, so we chatted for a while about the 'girls' & how they were.  She could not believe that they were quiet all night long!

I told her it was the peanut butter & jelly sandwich that did it.  ;^)

*name changed to protect the....well, you get the idea!


There's a big quilty giveaway at Stray Stitches - if you like Thimbleberries, be sure to check it out!


Peace to all ~

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So Much Generosity in Blogland!

One thing that I have noticed, is there are an awful lot of generous bloggers in the blogosphere! 

Here are two that I just came across:

I'm hoping to win this one!

Pink Fig Designs is giving away 2 quilts using Miss Mod fabrics - you have until December 1st to enter.

Allie at Strandz is giving away a charm pack of beautiful fabrics - enough for a quilt.

Besides giveaways, there are so many tutorials & free patterns too.  I seem to find a new one almost every day.  Just today I found one for some lovely ornaments made from decorative paper.  Since I don't have any paper, I'm going to attempt to make them from fabric - I have LOTS of that! 

And then there are all the beautiful photographs to see!  Everything from a bug on a leaf to quilts, to gorgeous scenery.  Each day, something new to lift the spirits & inspire creativity.

Thank you bloggers!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Don's Old Jeans

Enough years ago that I'm not sure how many, my friend Shirley gave me a giant trash bag full of her husband's old jeans.  They sat around for a long time in that room, before that room was transformed by my lovely sisters into The Fabric Shoppe.  At that time, they were taken out of the bag, and put onto the bottom shelf in one of the beautiful cabinets my sisters bought for the room.  And finally, a few months back, when I was looking for some fabric to use in a quilt, I took some of the jeans out & started cutting them up.

I wasn't exactly sure what sort of quilt I wanted to do, until I began wielding my rotary cutter.  Since Don was on the thin side, I could only get a couple blocks from each pair that was 8" square, then more at 6".  Plus every single pair had a hole worn in the front thigh of the right leg!  Only the right leg......I think that's where the remote control rested....  Anyway, I decided that I would make my first rag quilt using the jeans blocks.  I think I had cut up maybe 4 or 5 pairs when ---- squirrel!!  Oops!  Lost focus, once again, and the jeans & squares became  P.I.G.S. (Project In Grocery Sack)

Fast forward to October.  I tripped over the jeans P.I.G.S. and decided to take it with me to my quilt class on Tuesday night & continue cutting.  Then, I actually got out the graph paper & made a plan!

I used two blues & the white just for reference, so I could see the design better, it's all used jeans.  It will have the 8" squares (finished at 7") in the center, then two different sizes of coping strips so that the 6" (5" finished) squares will fit easily around the outside.  I'm using 1/2" seam allowances for the rag effect, except that I will need to piece the coping strips, so where they are joined I've decided to put the seams on the inside & not rag them.

I made a trip to M&L Fabric in Anaheim the next week & bought at 4 different flannels for the back.  This puppy is going to be heavy, but it will be living in No. California & it's cooler up there. 
plain, solid light blue flannel

light blue w/ paw prints

This blue plaid is a bit darker than it shows in the photo

Black w/lt. blue dots

The next Tuesday, I managed to get all the flannel squares cut up too.  I'm on a roll now!!

Please ignore all the stuff around the blocks, it's my desk at work....

Now they're ready to be matched up & sewn together with a big X.  Hooray!  But will the quilt be finished in time to give it away at Christmas?  Or will it ~ squirrel!!!
To be continued...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Addicted... reading blogs!
I started out innocently enough.  One of my friends started a comedy website & wrote an occasional column, called "Rant-Man".  I looked forward to seeing what he had to say every week & would try to remember to check. (Now he's moved it to an occasional blog:
Then another friend started a blog (, & I signed onto blogger so I could follow it.
A friend posted a link to a blog that makes me laugh so hard I have tears running down my face: - Allie Brosh is made of awesome.
Then Quilter's Home Magazine published a list of blogs relating to quilting & I was sunk.  I started with one, and that one linked to another...and another...and another.  Some of them even have giveaways, like Stray Stitches (!  Now I find myself lost for hours, reading blogs, looking at some fabulous photography, following links.
And, as you can see, I've even started my own blog.  Maybe my blog will cause an addiction too some day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Numbers, numbers, numbers!

My life is filled with numbers.  Vehicle Identification Numbers, Personal Identification Numbers, User Numbers, Repair Order numbers, Labor Operation Numbers, Part Numbers, Technician Numbers, Employee Numbers.  Add them, subtract them, multiply & divide them.  Cost plus 40%, retail minus 10%.  Please pay this amount.  Don't forget the phone numbers:  landlines, cell phones, fax numbers.  House numbers, condo numbers, apartment numbers, space numbers.  Numbers on the clock, channel numbers on the TV, station numbers on the radio.
Then I decided I wanted to be a quilter.  No math there, right?  WRONG!  Numbers on the rulers.  Numbers on the credit card to pay for the number of yards of fabric bought at the quilt shop. 
I think I'll go read a nice novel.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oh. Well, that's all right then.

"But his smile when he turned it on you was quite remarkable.  it seemed to be composed of all the worst things that life can do to you, but which when he briefly reassembled them in that particular order on his face made you suddenly feel "Oh.  Well, that's all right then."" (from Young Zaphod Plays It Safe  by Douglas Adams)

I think smiles are made of awesome.  It's one of those things you can give away for nothing, and get so much in return.  I have found, especially during the upcoming holiday shopping season, that smiling at those who are working can really make an amazing difference ~ in their day & mine too.

I've been following a couple of blogs that make me smile...well, one of them makes me laugh out loud, a lot.  Let me tell you a bit about them.

The first is Secret Agent L, All Around Swell Chick Specializing in Anonymous Acts of Kindness and Day-Brightening ( Agent L & her affiliated agents do things like leaving a note card, a Secret Agent L business card, and often a small giftie, in unexpected places.  Sometimes on car windshields, others on park or bus benches, sometimes in the workplace.  The cards are addressed to "You, yes you!".  One of the first of the missions that I read about was done in an airport.  The affliated agent left their gift on a computer keyboard.  The person who found & opened it was an airport security guard, who went online & left a comment with S.A.L., that he had been having a horrible day & that surprise turned it all around for him.  The creativity & ingenuity of the missions often astound me.  Be Kind. No Exceptions.

If want to laugh, it's time for you to go see Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half.  (  I thank Jim MacQ everytime I read her posts, for pointing me in her direction.  You might not want to read it at work, or at the library, or in class.  And definitely not when you are drinking any sort of liquid.  Not unless you don't mind others looking at you like you have completely lost your mind because you are laughing so hard the aforementioned liquid is coiming out of places it shouldn't have been in the first place.  When you go to Allie's blog, look for the Alot.  I love him Alot.

Go, smile, laugh...and share those with everyone you see.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Girlfriend Tour (part 1)

The Girlfriend Tour began in April of 2007.  I had 2 weeks to visit 3 of my girlfriends, Elizabeth in Texas, Sara in Missouri, and Robin in Idaho.  I drove on my own, and spent about 8 - 9 hours driving each day.

My first stop was in Sun City, AZ (Dad's place).  Spring in the Arizona desert was absolutely beautiful!  The Palo Verde trees were all in bloom, their bright yellow blossoms lining Interstate 10.

When I left Sun City, I drove for around 2 hours, and stopped at Picacho Peak & visited the Arizona Nuthouse - how could I pass that up?  They had a nice gift shop with Arizona-made crafts, plenty of nuts, candy and ice cream too.

Barrel Cactus at the AZ Nuthouse

Picacho Peak
I think that this may have been my longest driving day of the whole trip.  It was a great day, and taking pictures with my little Nikon Coolpix worked out pretty good.   Many of them taken through the car windows while on the road...shhhhhhh.....


I loved the piles of boulders at the rest area.  Doesn't this one look like a big lizard?

I never did see any snakes.  I think that was a good thing.

Not much traffic.  A nice change from the daily commute.

Almost to New Mexico.
This really reminds me of all those Westerns I watched when I was a kid.

I stopped at the first "Welcome Center" I came to in New Mexico.  While I was inside, one of the other travelers was talking to the woman behind the counter & I heard her (the tourist) telling the story of this sign.  It seems that her father designed & built these signs for New Mexico.  After having been at the state borders for many years, it was decided that they weren't big enough to be safe & would be replaced.  Lucky for me, they moved at least this one to the Welcome Center, instead of just trashing it.

I didn't run into any dust storms in New Mexico.  It was clear & calm all the way across the state.

I actually took this picture to show my friend who's husband works for a company that hauls giant loads like this  - they moved the Spruce Goose - and was happily surprised to see the Continental Divide sign!

I loved this metal sculpture at one of the rest areas!

  Just the Roadrunner, no coyote. 

I ended the day, after driving from Sun City, AZ & all the way across New Mexico,
in El Paso, Texas.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Being Afraid?

A few years ago I took a 2-week-long roadtrip for my vacation.  It seems that whenever I talk about it, one of the first questions I am asked is "Weren't you scared to do that by yourself?".  No, not really.  I drive alone every day!  Why should a road trip be any scarier than the freeways in SoCal?  I did charge up my pre-paid cell phone & add some minutes to it - something I don't usually do.  (Yes, I am the one that doesn't normally carry a cell phone!)  I didn't do much driving after dark & I didn't stop in deserted areas.  At that time I didn't have GPS either, but I had a plethora of maps.  I may not be very good at geography, but I AM very good at reading a map - even a topographical one.  I only sort of got lost once.  I say 'sort of' because it turned out that I was going in the right direction, but the road construction tricked me a bit.  Well, that, and the disappearing house at the end of that day's drive....but that's for another day.
It would have been nice to have had a co-driver, so that each day's driving could have been farther. Less of my pictures would have been taken through the windshield.  We could have stopped & looked around more often.  I think I would have gotten off the road in Texas where I saw my favorite sign - it was painted on the fascia of the roof of a gas station next to the highway.  It said:  "DIESEL     FRIED     CHICKEN".  Not sure I want to eat that chicken, but the sign just tickled me.  Oh, and I wouldn't have had to talk to myself so much either.
I'm thinking about another roadtrip, maybe next year.  Anyone want to tag along?  Try some diesel fried chicken?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Quilts for our Soldiers in Afghanistan

I'm not sure just how long ago I made this quilt top.  I am pretty sure that I made it as a mystery quilt on a one-day email mystery.  It had been languishing in my UFO (UnFinished Object, for any non-quilters who may happen upon my blog) cabinet for quite some time.  Then, one of my online quilting group posted a topic that changed that.
"Jan in VA" wrote that she had been talking to her daughter on the phone, and much of that call was about Jan's son-in-law, an Army Captain recently re-deployed to Afghanistan.  He had asked his wife if possibly her mom & some of her mom's friends could make a few small, colorful quilts for his men's barracks.  Jan, in turn, was asking us if we could send her some quilt tops (she would arrange for them to be finished).  I immediately looked at my UFO cabinet, got this one out & measured to see if it would fit the bill ~ and it did!
I got it mailed out & it actually turned out to be one of the first ones she received!  :^D
I'm not sure how many she's gotten so far, but on just the first page & a half of the post, there were at least 10 promised & there are many more pages than that.  Many of them are even finished quilts.  Her home quilt guild members are also contributing quilts & helping her with all the finishing that needs to be done. 
I was quite honored when Jan told me that she had sent my quilt top with someone to use as a visual aid in some fundraising for the project!  It may have already been layered & quilted by this time, and hopefully it will soon be on one of our soldiers cots, spreading a little (a LOT) of brightness in their desert.