Clue two

Well, this morning, we got the second clue for Bonnie’s Easy Street mystery.

Wild Geese. 



Okay, that’s my whine.  And, that’s it.  That’s all the time I’ll give whining.  But, blech.

The good news is that we need 2” strips of purples, so I was raiding the scrap bins this morning for little bits of purples to give me more variety.


And, I hit the purple section of my stash.


Yes, I know they photographed blue, but I promise, they’re purple.


Unfortunately, I only had time to get one pieced.  All animal prints. 

While I was pulling down one of my big bins, I knocked my  6x24 ruler off the wall.  I didn’t worry about that.  I drop rulers all the time.  So, I hefted the bin out to the sewing room and then went back to pick up the ruler.

Oh, crap!


This is the first quilting ruler I ever bought.  It has paid for itself 50 times over in the last 12 years.  It had knicks in the edges and I could only rotary cut down one side. 

And, breaking it is like losing an old friend. 

I’ll replace it because I can’t really cut from yardage without it, but I will miss this old friend.  Maybe I’ll figure out a way to cut it into a couple of pieces so I can still use it.  Or, maybe I’ll just let it go.  Who knows.  Would it be wierd if I framed it and hung it on the wall?

Okay, so it’s Friday.  My old friend contacted us last night to let us know that she’s ready to move and can we come help.


I guess if you’ve stopped feeding your life and have let it run away, you really don’t think about other people maybe HAVING A LIFE OF THEIR OWN???

That puts a hitch in all my plans. 

Be well, have a great Friday.  I’ll bet my family isn’t the only one having leftovers tonight so that quilters can work on clue two.



The Pink Baby Quilt

I am so happy with how this little quilt came out.


From the piecing and the colors, right down to the giant feathers in the quilting


And, the half inch echo quilting


Even the chain work in the border came out right on the second try.  There’s just the tiniest bit of yellow in the small four patches around the brown diamonds that I didn’t see until I was actually quilting it.  But that tiny bit just helps break up the pink and allow it to shine. 

This quilt is made up of leftover blocks from Bonnie Hunter’s RRCB mystery from two years ago.  I decided to make the quilt a lap robe size and that left me with lots of pink and brown hst blocks and I think that’s where the little four patches came from, too.  It was easy to add the larger pink squares to finish it off and then there were leftover border sections that had pink in them that got added, too.

I remember the first pink quilt I made.  It was also for a co-worker.  At that time, I had maybe one or two pieces of pink fabric in my stash that I’d picked up at some sale or another.  Nothing to speak of.  I added a bunch of pinks for the first pink one I made and now, it’s just keeping a stock of them.

Anyway, there’s another baby, all warm and cuddled by one of my quilts.  At least there will be in January some time, when she decides to get here.  I hope her Mom likes pink.

I’ve still got one more baby quilt to finish by mid-December, but that one is getting simpler quilting, so it will go faster.

For now, it’s off to work I go.  Hey-ho!

Be well and have a great Thursday.  One more day till the next Bonnie Hunter mystery clue.

Jeez, I’m counting.  I feel like the commercial where the lady is standing at the store window chanting “open, open, open…”



Holiday quilts

Yesterday’s post was about a holiday quilt that didn’t come out very “holiday-ish”.  Today’s post is about one that did. 


This quilt always puts me in a holiday mood, with all of it’s themed blocks and bits and pieces that pull it together.  My mentor bought the quilt kit and made it, and Rob and I fell in love with it.  So, in 2009, I borrowed the patterns and photographed her quilt and I reproduced it.  Right down to the quilting. 

We raided her stash and my stash (which didn’t have many neutrals at the time) and I created this. 


Every block had a lot of FUN in it.  Picking out fabrics, learning how to machine applique and how to do a blanket stitch around every piece of applique. 


This was the first Santa block.  Definitely a great one, but  not the fave.


Love the stuffed bunny. 


Another Santa and a snowman.  This was the first applique I’d ever done that extended beyond the background fabric and into the adjoining divider blocks. 


These have the most embellishment, with wooden buttons as the axles in the wagon wheels and small gold bells on the christmas tree.  The original kit came with small red bells, but I couldn’t find those and went with the gold instead.  It made little difference.  It’s still a fun, decorated tree.  And, it was fun to piece the tree before I cut it out for applique.


A crazy angel and a house.  The blue dots on the angels wings were supposed to be holes cut in the wing, exposing the background.  But, I couldn’t get that bit of reverse applique to work for me, so I appliqued the blue on top of the wings instead.  That worked much better and you can hardly tell the difference.


The nutcracker was supposed to have pieced teeth in narrow strips of black and white.  I made that mouth and made that mouth and threw them all out and substituted just a piece of fabric in.  You wouldn’t know if I hadn’t told you. 

My favorite blocks are the last two.  The headless snowman always makes me smile and the sleeping Santa gives me a laugh.  I was definitely tired after I whipped this out in just a couple of months. 

The first year, we hung it as a flimsy, just enjoying the applique.  The second year, I quilted it and now it hangs as a completed piece.  I made this in 2009 and 2010.  

The quilting is very simple, mostly some wind in the sky colored backgrounds and a LOT of ditch work around all the pieced sections and around each piece of applique.  Around the outer border, there is a string of christmas tree lights quilted in, complete with the male and female plug ends.  And, there is not one piece of holiday themed fabric in the quilt.  I really like doing that.  A quilt doesn’t actually need a holiday fabric to have a holiday feel.

There is not one thing original to me in this quilt.  For me, it was important to reproduce a few quilts, just to help me get the hang of it.  And, without worrying about the details, I was able to focus on the skills.  At the same time that I was making this, I was making some really ugly quilting mistakes.  But, the ones that I reproduced really taught me a lot that I can use now to make better color and quilting choices.  And, it proves that not every quilt has to be overquilted.

Sydney’s team won their game last night…by a lot.  The game went quick and I was home early.  We worked this one out that I would go to the game, which was just 15 minutes from my office and Rob would come home and take care of the dogs.  He works an hour in the opposite direction.  Later, there’s a game that is close to where he works and it would take me two hours to get there in traffic, so he’ll attend that one alone.  That way, we can have some support at both those games, without it even feeling inconvenient.  Life is like that.  Sometimes.

Be well and have a great Wednesday.  Day after tomorrow is the second Easy Street clue.  I can hardly wait!  I love a mystery.  Especially a Bonnie Hunter mystery.  Especially now, during what is for most people a very stressful time.  This is a truly great distraction that is just for me and about me and lets me focus on me. 

Yeah, I’m self-centered.  What of it?



The Winter Quilt

One of our traditions is that every year, I make a Holiday quilt.  Except this year. 

This year’s quilt was supposed to be a holiday quilt, but it turned out not to look very holiday-ish. 


And, that’s fine by me.  A winter quilt can be displayed longer than a holiday quilt. 

This quilt started out as a UFO that I bought from the guild boutique at a quilt show.  This year, I pulled it out, thinking I could make the holiday quilt out of it and decorate the trees as Christmas trees.  But, I’ve pretty much given up on that idea. 

First thing I had to do was remake all the blocks that I had bought in the UFO.  There was a reason it was a UFO.  And, most of what I thought were pieces to assemble more blocks had to be discarded because there were a couple pieces of this neutral and a few of that one, but not enough of any of them to match the neutrals in a block and I didn’t want to go more scrappy on the neutrals.  I didn’t care for part of the pattern, so instead of another row of green tree at the top of the block, I replaced that with an extra row of neutral.  That gave me some sashing around the blocks and separated the trees from one another.

My plan was to do the set in triangles out of neutral.


But, that did not make me happy, leaving me with a stack of neutral triangles because why would I check whether I liked it before I cut that yard of fabric up???  So, the day before Thanksgiving, I went on a bit of a shopping spree.  We had seen a darker fabric in JoAnn’s a few days before, but by the time I got there on Weds, it was all gone.  I bought something else that was fun. 


Then, I went to Hancock fabrics and found something else that was less fun, but would still work. 


And, then I went to my LQS and found the perfect green pine cone print, and that’s what I went with. 


I don’t quite know what inspired the borders.  I got this idea that I wanted a neutral strip around the outside and then a brown border because there are only three colors in the quilt; off-white, green, and brown.  The fabric I picked has a wood grain in the background and then all those medallions on it. 


Not sure I’m in love with the way the border looks, but I’m certainly not ashamed of it either.  And, yes, I did fussy-cut the borders, tossing strips away so I could get the perfect alignment of medallions and then, where I had to add a couple inches to get the length, I matched the medallions so you can’t see the seams.  Overall, it’s going to make a cute quilt…one day, when I get around to quilting it. 

Right now, it’s number 5 in a list of big projects that includes hand quilting the Dresden plate quilt and finishing a sweater I started 10 years ago and quilting a baby quilt and even more fun and exciting stuff that must be scheduled around basketball and holidays and work.

Sydney has an out of town game tonight.  We originally did not plan to attend the weeknight out of town games, but we’ve seen how low turn out is at all games, even the ones in our own gym,  and have changed our minds.  We didn’t go to one out of town game, because we had decided we weren’t going to.  And, all that evening, we regretted it because we could have made it.  But, we’re human and we can change our minds any time we want to, so now, instead of just the blanket statement that we won’t go to weeknight out of town games, our new decision is that we will go to any game we can, no matter where it is.  Better decision for us.  And, if we can’t make it, that is not a problem.  Life is like that.

Everybody have a great Tuesday. 

Rah-rah-ree, kick ‘em in the knee

Rah-rah-rass, kick ‘em in the other knee.



Five days of Thanksgiving

Whew!  It’s a good thing that the holidays only happen once a year.  My dishpan hands have dishpan hands, up to the elbows.

Wednesday, after a bit of a shopping jaunt, I came home and Sydney made her first apple pie.  We peeled and cored and sliced together and then I talked her through the pie crust (pillsbury’s all-ready is da bomb!).  If I can find a picture, I’ll share it.  It was a lovely pie.

We mostly just played the rest of the day. 

Then, on Thursday, we had the cook fest.  Sydney folded the napkins (for about two hours).  We each had our own fold.


While the turkey was perfect, I did not have such good luck with my sides. But, hey, it was all good.


Really, does it get much more Norman Rockwell than this?


I have a similar picture, with a similar satisfied smile on my Grandmother’s face as she was putting a big holiday lunch on the table.  Too tired and busy for a real smile, and too satisfied not to smile.  At least I think she felt the same way, too.

Then, there were the dishes.  Yuck.  And, then the nap.  Yay!

Rob already had everything down from the attic for Christmas decorating and he hung the lights while I cooked and Sydney decorated her Christmas tree that evening, while we rested.


The rest of the weekend was filled with other fun stuff, but for now, I’ll leave you with our holiday decoration pictures. 

The famous holiday swag across the living room ceiling.  Sydney says this is her favorite decoration (or I wouldn’t keep doing it, believe me.  four hours on a ladder…sheesh).


The village of Retroville…there is another village I’ll show another day along with better pictures of this one.

The Santa collection


The main tree, decorated single-handedly by Sydney.


And, the quilts, which I’ll show more of later.

So much to see, so much eye candy. 

And, all 192 four patches for Bonnie’s Easy Street mystery quilt.


Really, too much to pack into one post.  I should have been posting all weekend to keep up.

Be well and hope you had a great holiday or weekend, too.  I’ll fill in the details as time passes.  I’ve learned not to tell everything in one post or I don’t have anything for Tuesday.




I have decided that needles, like undies, are a very personal choice.

Everybody has a favorite needle.  Everybody has a favorite underwear style.  Some people like many kinds of needles and some have overflowing underwear drawers…or drawers of drawers.

Okay, I wandered way off topic there.

My mentor gave me a UFO once that had a needle in it that was so short that I couldn’t get a grip on it with my big fingers to pull it out. I had to get a pair of tweezers. And, it was so thin that it was like a stiff gray hair. She has tiny hands. I want a needle that is at least an inch long and big enough around that I can see light reflecting off it.

Anyway, these are some of my needles.


Yes, some of them.  But, before you judge, I didn’t buy all these needles.  Needles come to me.  Every used machine seems to have a card of singer machine needles and a card of hand needles; sometimes big needles for sewing sail cloth and sometimes little delicate needles.  Because everybody prefers their own kind of needle.

This gives me the chance to try a lot of needles.  But, those little cards are not good at holding their needles when you store them on their sides and so, I always have loose needles, floating in the bottom of my needle box.


Occasionally, I turn them all in the same direction and pour them into a little container that came with pencil lead stored in it.  This is very convenient, but you don’t know what kind of needles they are.  There are some in there that I love for piecing and hand sewing and there are some in there that I love for quilting.  I eventually ran out of needles that I was using for quilting in my little pencil lead box and that meant I had to find out what kind they are. 

So, I started pulling needles out of cards and giving them a try.  And, bending them into pretzels or breaking a nail trying to pull them through the quilt.  These were NOT the needles that I had been quilting with. 

I found out that I don’t like quilting betweens.  The eye is big and it makes the sides of the needle flare out, so I can make tiny stitches with the pointy end, but I can’t finish them with that bulging backend.  Next, I tried sharps.  Sharps are nice.  But, they’re wiry and bendable.  Didn’t like them.

I eventually found what I had been using.  They were an applique sharp, which has the strength of the quilting betweens and they’re sharp. 


I also found these needles that I haven’t tried yet. 


I plan to give them a try soon.  I’ve been using the ones in the black package, but I don’t remember what for.

Okay, this is going to sound silly, but learning more about quilting is about learning more about the tools for me.

Do you have a favorite hand sewing needle?

Everybody have a great rest of the week.  I don’t know when I’ll post again over the holiday.  Sydney is still in bed and I’m about to leave for some errands. 

When I get back, I’m going to teach her to make an apple pie. 

Can she bake an apple pie, Johnny Boy, Johnny Boy?

Can she bake and apple pie, Darling Johnny?

She can bake an apple pie and she’s the apple of my eye,

But she’s a young thing and cannot leave her Fathers.

Be well.  Lane


The Gatekeeper

Are you the keymaster?  I am the gatekeeper.

Last night, I worked the ticket booth for the three girl's basketball games.  (Okay, so gatekeeper sounds much more exotic than ticket booth.)

Side note.  Money is the filthiest thing in the world.  After taking single dollars from a bunch of high school kids, I am sure that I have contracted pneumo-cardio-encephaly-coccal-beubonic-ebola.  I came home last night and first thing I did was wash my hands up to the elbows.  Oh, how I wanted a bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer.  I don't use it much because I know it's not all it's cracked up to be, but I really just wanted to bathe in it last night.

Anyway, taking tickets meant sitting at a school desk...which by the way is about as uncomfortable as it gets for seating...and watching all 3 games.  And, it was teacher appreciation night, which meant teachers in free and their families in free and while the stands had lots of folks in them, I only sold about 87 tickets. 

I was also selling t-shirts, so lots of money passed through the lock box.

Sydney's team played first and she was on fire.  She just kept sinking basket after basket and she got cockier and cockier as the evening passed.  But, I was proud of her.  She was proud, the stands were cheering her, it was a big night for the little girl.  Still had to stop her from wandering the halls and talking to "boys" and get her back in the gym to support her team.  Rob lured her back in, using a pickle instead of a carrot.

After they trampled the competition...it was truly sad, and I ended up cheering for both teams because the opposition was from out of town and didn't have many parents and they needed some clapping when they scored, I got through the junior varsity game, paying pretty close attention, and then they had favorite teacher recognition and all the girls came on the court with a fave teach.  I got to see some of Sydney's teachers.  But, it was still a long ceremony. 

Then, the varsity played and I've got to be honest.  It was my bedtime by then and during the third quarter, I just read blogs.  I was done selling tickets.  Anybody came in that late, deserved to watch the last few minutes for free.  Luckily, nobody came in, because I don't know if the coach would have agreed with me..

Because I was there with the box of cash, the police officer on duty stood next to me and several times, we talked during the game.  I pointed out Sydney, praying that he didn't know her and he did recognize her and said she was a good kid, but he didn't know her name, which by his own admission was a good thing.

When it was over, I brought Sydney home and we all had a celebratory brownie and I fell into bed and slept the night through.

Today, I'm working from home.  It's pretty much back to back conference calls and I may as well be able to do that from the comfort of my own couch, in my comfy pajamas.  Besides, I can look outside and it is a beautiful day.  Too beautiful to be stuck in an office. 

I told Sydney we'd start cooking tomorrow and she advised me she was sleeping in.  Every time she said when she'd get up, I'd move the time I was waking her back by 15 minutes.  She said 9, I said 6.  She said 9 again, I said 5:45.  She kept on.  At this point, I don't think she even gets to go to bed tonight.  She is very persistent about her sleeping in.

Of course, I'll let her.  It is the first day of Thanksgiving break for her.

Be well and have a great Tuesday.  Lane


Technical errors

I finally got the Hurricane Sandy quilt for Erin’s relief effort finished this weekend. 


It’s a pretty quilt, but really, what a bunch of errors. 

You can’t really see it too clearly here, but the borders are ruffled because the quilting in the blocks is so much more dense than the quilting in the sashing and borders.


But, to have finished the quilt to match what I had already done in the blocks would have taken another two weeks, at least, and Erin is already dropping off the first quilts at Linus in New Jersey. 

So, I finished it off quick, with a foldover binding.


See what I mean about the different levels of quilting?


I hope this is my lesson learned about 1) too much quilting on a donation quilt and 2) even density over the whole quilt.  Those mussel shells, in my mind, were supposed to be as big as my hand.  They just didn’t come out that way. 

I probably haven’t learned my lesson, but I can hope.  This whole quilt should have been done in those leaves from the border and it would have been a whole lot better and a whole lot faster.

Anyway, it’s done.  Now, I just need to mail it and any of you that have ever gotten a package from me know that takes the longest.


You know, I’ve seen a blog topic for Friday finishes.  I need to start one for Monday finishes because that’s the only time I can post a finish, it seems like.

LD’s new coffee table is nearly finished.  The pink baby quilt is getting the binding hand sewn down.  I pulled out a sweater I knitted about 10 years ago, that only needs a collar and to be assembled.  All 13 Christmas tree blocks are pieced and the sashing added and set in triangles cut.

I finish a lot by Monday.

Anyway, those will be blog posts later this week, I hope.  For today, I need to be at work early, and then I have an afternoon appointment and then it’s whisk away to a basketball game, where I’m selling tickets.  Busy, busy, busy and hardly a moment to think. 

Oh, and I can’t make a whole blog post about this, because I’m just not interested enough, but guys in padded bicycle shorts…okay, anybody in any spandex bicycle shorts, but especially the ones that are padded in the crotch…stop.  Okay?  Just stop.  Really, you’re grossing me out.  How can I be expected to ride behind something that looks like an adult in a poopy, wet diaper all the way to work?  It’s no wonder I’m quesy by the time I get there.  Okay?  Just stop.  Blech.  And, if you know somebody in those shorts, tell them…just be honest and tell them.  After those shorts go through the washer and the dryer, they look like crap.  Okay, they look like they’ve been crapped in.  But, it’s the same difference. 

Except, how can something be the same, if it’s different.  

Everybody have a great Monday.  I’ll be driving to work with my eyes closed.



There’s one in every crowd

Sydney comes home some days and talks about the little conflicts she’s had with a peer.  And, the best advice I’ve been able to give her is that there’s one in every crowd.  One that will make mistakes and always blame them on someone else. 

There's one in my peer group, too.

I finished a pair of socks last night.  I guess my needles were rattling because I flew through the last few rows, faster than I thought I would.
I’ve been working on these for over a year.  I started out making a crew sock, but it didn’t take long to realize I didn’t have enough yarn.  So, I decided on an ankle sock, but that meant taking most of one sock apart and starting over. 

Don’t know why I enjoy making socks so much.  I have to be very protective of them because, for some reason, Sydney’s dog just loves to chew a hole in them, in the front of the ankle, the hardest part to darn.

These will be nice and warm walking socks, for my morning walks with Mable.

Everybody have a good Thursday.  The F1 races are here this weekend and an extra hundred thousand people are expected in Austin, and they’re all going to be driving out near my office.  So, we’ve made arrangements to work from home tomorrow, or take the day off.  Who needs that kind of traffic?  Not me! 

The Hurricane Sandy quilt is moving right along.  I am really trying to finish and get it in the mail to Erin.  Every minute I get to myself, I’m at the machine.  But, so far, I haven’t skipped family time.  That may have to budge a little, tho, because I’m getting desparate to be done.

Be well.  Lane


Cooking by hand

Okay, so this was not a typical meal for us.  It was way more food than I’d normally put on a plate for one meal.  But, it was delicious.


I realized, as we were sitting down to it last night, that I have reached that point where I rarely follow a recipe.  I wanted to share how I cooked that delicious squash, but what is in my mind applies to it all.

Mostly, instead of looking things up in a cookbook, I can envision how I want them to taste and make them come out that way.  That works, except for new stuff, like learning to cook Indian or Thai food…there I still need my cookbooks.  but, for the stuff we normally eat, it’s all in my head.

Unfortunately, it reads like Aunt Lucille’s cornbread recipe.  My Mom wanted to learn to make cornbread like my Aunt, and when she tried for the recipe, it was a handful of this and a pinch of that and a little of the other.  One day, they measured all those hand gestures out and my Mom ended up with a recipe that is as good as Aunt Lucille’s cornbread.

So, what’s the chicken recipe?

Three large, bone-in, chicken breasts, skin removed, because that’s what I could get cheap at the grocery the other day. 

Enough potatoes and carrots so that we didn’t run out of vege while there was still chicken left, or vice versa.  I think that was 4 carrots and 5 small potatoes, red, not peeled.  (This ended up making dinner for two, plus three smaller lunches for me to take to work).

A sprig of fresh rosemary.

Salt and pepper the chicken and vege to taste.  Spray a glass baking dish with non-stick spray, put in the chicken and pack in the vege between the breasts.  Cover and bake until it’s done.  Oh, about an hour and 15 minutes in the toaster oven at 325*.

No cookbook is ever going to want to publish that, and every cookbook has a roasted chicken breast recipe that makes it look much more difficult than it is.

And, the squash?  That was just as easy and just as inexact.  Three squash, cut into chunks, and a handful of onion, salt, pepper and about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Put the oil in a non-stick skillet and let it get hot.  Add the squash and toss to coat it with oil.  Toss in a handful of chopped onion.  Yes, a handful.  Add the salt, pepper and some water.  How much?  I don’t know.  Enough to steam the squash.  Cover with a tight lid and let it go until most of the water has evaporated (if you put in too much water, pour out the excess just before the squash is done.  remember that the squash will render out some water during cooking, so don’t go nuts with the water.)  Reduce the heat and remove the lid and continue to saute the squash, moving it around with a spoon until it starts to brown all over.  Don’t let the onion burn. 

If you want, this is great with a strip of cooked bacon chopped up and added with the onion and some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. 

I used similar recipes for a lasagna and for a pot of chicken soup on Sunday (I bought a LOT of cheap chicken). 

My grandmother always cooked like that.  I only saw one cookbook in her house and she only used it for baking.  She had some recipe cards for Christmas goodies, but for the most part, she cooked “by hand” and I remember that her cooking was the best. 

I especially remember fried chicken from my childhood.  My Mom and my Grandmother both made delicious fried chicken.  About once a year, I’ll pour a bottle of vegetable oil into my deep, cast iron chicken frying pan and deep fry chicken like they did.  But, for the most part, I don’t cook like that either.  I don’t use nearly as much salt as they did and I might go through one bottle of vegetable oil a year.  Mostly, I use olive oil, or peanut oil when I’m cooking Asian. 

Funny thing is, I can taste how the food is going to come out.  Except for once in a while, when we sit down to table, and I start with an apology…”this did not come out as planned.”

Sydney’s team won their game last night.  Yay, team!

Be well and have a great Wednesday.  Lane


Oh, Mr Mailman…

Mr Mailman brought me a package yesterday from a friend and follower, Barb. 

Over time, I’ve written about not having any black on white prints for Bonnie’s mystery at the end of the month.  I had about decided to use white on white instead, but yesterday, I got a care package and in it were all these black on white prints.


Yay!  That, along with the scraps from a shirt I made Sydney should set me up just right for the mystery quilt.

And, buried down in the package was this little ziploc, full of 1.5” squares for my niblets, as Lucy calls them…my 3.5” nine patch blocks.


Ooh, such a fresh infusion of fabrics into my drawer of squares that was getting stale because I’d picked all the best pieces out.  It was like a bowl of nuts, without any cashews.

Yay, me.  And, Yay, Barb!  Thank you so much!

It’s cold here today.  The Coats for Kids campaign is going on;  donate a coat and it will be handed out to kids that can’t afford coats.  We always try to donate enough to buy a coat, but this year, we’re going to have a couple of coats to donate.  It reminded me of the first winter Sydney was with us.  She needed everything that year and I was just learning to buy girl’s clothes and the one thing we forgot to get her was a coat. 

New parents.  That’s the only excuse we had.  That year, she had to pick from my coats for that first cold day of school.  She picked something baggy and green and she looked cute in it.  And, that weekend, she got her own coat. 

Boy, have things changed since that first year.  And, yet, here it is, the first real cold day of the year and she doesn’t have a coat again.  We just didn’t think of it.  I asked if she still had last year’s coat and, no, she doesn’t, probably because last year’s coat was left from the year before.  So, she’ll end up in multiple layers of clothing because I don’t see her willing to wear one of my coats.  And, school is not designed for her to have a coat anyway.  She doesn’t have a locker, so whatever she takes with her in the morning, she has to carry all day long.  And, I would feel sorry for any coat that had to go through that.

Be well.  Stay warm.  Have a good Tuesday.  I’m still quilting the Hurricane Sandy quilt.  And, quilting, and quilting, and quilting.



Not a flimsy anymore

What a weekend.  Even though Sydney’s team lost both games on Friday, they still played two games on Saturday.  They won one.  They’re in 5th place of 7 teams.  Not sure how tournaments work, I guess.

It was a weird day, too.  We saw our first parent ejected from a game.  He was walking up and down the side of the court, following the team, yelling and yelling and yelling like an idiot.  One ref told him to get off the floor and into the stands.  He stood on the bottom step and kept yelling.  Another ref told him to sit down.  He sat on the next to bottom step and kept yelling.  Then, the ref told him to leave, and she put the ball on the floor and put her foot on it and crossed her arms.  There were no school officials or a police presence.  A lady, who looked like a booster Mom, and the coach for the team he was a “parent” of talked to him and gave him two options.  Sit in the top of the stands and be quiet, or leave.  And, he left.  People are sooooo weird.

Between games, Rob and I went out for a bite of supper and then back for the second game.  Nothing exciting happened there, either.  Only remarkable thing was that there were only parents of three or four kids in the stands for our team.  And, the coach sent out another plea for help at next week’s home game.  So, now Rob is volunteering, too, and it looks like I’ll be keeping scorebook for the freshmen and then working the door for the JV and varsity.

Other than that, I was quilting and cooking.  I turned this into a flimsy early Saturday morning.


It’s not a flimsy anymore, tho.  It’s about 85% quilted, just the sashing and borders to go, and part of the last block.  I overdid it.  Rob and I decided I need to set a max for how much quilting I’ll put into a quilt that is being donated, with exceptions for raffles and such.

I did not realize how much work it was going to be to do what I wanted, and by the time I did, it was too late.  It would have taken as much time to rip it all out and start over as it would to finish it.

But, it’s so soft!  Makes me want to cuddle under it every time I sit down to work.

Not a christmas block was made, but I did make a vat of chicken/vege soup and a lasagna and roasted a chicken with potatoes and carrots and rosemary and onion…ummmmm…the house smelled so good and we will eat good until Wednesday with VERY little cooking going on.

Rob and Sydney have the day off.  She has practice this afternoon.  I’m off to work.  hi-ho, amigos



Boring, boring, bored

Okay, I am a person of reasonable intelligence.  I should be able to come up with at least one blog post a day.  Some days, I can come up with 5 ideas during my walk with the dog.  When will I learn to write them down so that on the days when all I'm focused on is Sydney's grades, I have a list of ideas to pull from.

I have writtten and discarded two posts about grades, but dog-gone-it, I am not going to blog about that today.  I am tired of that subject.  Even though the latest is that within 24 hours, her grades all dropped and then came back up, thanks to a very helpful coach that was interested enough in her getting to play in the tournament (we explained what a huge compliment to her basketball skills that was) that he got her in tutoring and got some assignments re-done and those grades just jumped back up to acceptable ranges over night. 

All my quilting energy is focused on the Hurricane Sandy quilt.  I hate only having 45 minutes to sew every morning, especially when I'm in such a creative state of mind.  I have been thinking of taking a quilting vacation; a few days in a row off work to just quilt until I get tired of quilting.  But, that doesn't seem like a very practical use of my vacation time, especially with the holidays looming.  I got all my blocks sewn into sashed rows and I got one long sashing strip attached to each row...and then the clock chimed and it was time to walk away. 

The Singer 401 is running like a clock.  Still got a click in the bobbin or feed dog area and I'm still thinking about buying a new bobbin case.  I know the machine was used a lot and seems like the least I can give her is a new bobbin case, right?  I tried a few different settings because the feed dogs pull fabric to the left and that's messing with my quarter inch seam allowances, just enough to be annoying, but not enough to affect my project.  Do you know what I mean, when things bother you sometimes and other times that same thing doesn't bother you?  That's what it was like with those seam allowances this morning. 

Okay, so I'm boring myself now.  Maybe if I think of something exciting to talk about, I'll toss out another post this afternoon.  I just realized that I didn't take anything out for supper.  Last night's supper wasn't any glowing success either.  And, come to think of it, neither was the night before. 

Lack of time, lack of focus, lack of energy. 

Except that my time, my focus and my energy are all fine.  I'm just not using them on stuff I want to talk about.  So, have a good Friday.  Think of me when you sit down at your machine.  Think about how much I'd like to be right there with you, making something fun...or just making a mess.



Common little 9 patches

My leaders and enders have been these little 9 patches for a long time…maybe 8 months. 


Just little combinations of darks and lights.  I have no idea how many are stuffed into this drawer anymore.  The plan is to alternate them with solid blocks for a Linus quilt next year. 

They’re made of 1 1/2” squares.  I’m toying with the idea of piecing the strips that I’d need to turn them into 49 patches so that I can use larger solid blocks to set them with, maybe saving me a bit of time.

These are so easy.  I have a small drawer where I drop my 1 1/2” squares and I just pull out 5 darks and 4 lights at sort of random and sew them together.  I say sort of random because I can’t just do them at random or all the darks would be brown and black because that seems to be most of the dark squares.  I try to alternate in some dark greens and dark oranges and deep reds and purples, just to keep the variety consistent. 

I love building up things like this for next year, which is a Linus year for me, so I’ll be making several quilts to donate to them.  I donate in alternating years, so all the little extra blocks I’ve made this year will be used up next year.  I read in QNM recently about a lady that saves her extra blocks and at the end of the year, she makes a quilt that is like all her projects in review.  Mine is the same principle.  I make and cut stuff this year and use it up next year for quilts to give away. 

I don’t quite understand why the alternating years works for me.  It seems that it would be easier to make 5 quilts every year than it would be to make 10 quilts in alternating years, but it just doesn’t seem to work out that way for me.

Sydney is in a basketball tournament starting tomorrow and if they win any of their Friday games, then they’ll have games on Saturday.  I’ve decided that it makes me a bad person to hope they don’t win, so I’m not hoping that.  I’m not.  Really, I’m not.  But, it sure would be nice to have Saturday open.  At the rate I’m sewing, I’m never going to catch up to my ambitions. 

It’s good to have ambitions. Keeps me young.

This morning, I got one sashing strip sewn to each of the 12 Hurricane Sandy blocks.  Erin has received enough blocks to make more than one quilt.  And, they’re still coming in.  I am so happy for her, being able to coordinate this.  And, so happy that so many of my followers hopped over and volunteered to help.

Be well and have a great Thursday.  I have 15 minutes I can spend sewing if I hurry and get to it.



The scorekeeper

I pulled it off.  I made mistakes.  I did not get everything perfect.  But, for a first timer, working a freshman game, I rocked.


The guy that was running clock was running it for the first time, too and we were both feeling the pressure.  I am not feeling confident about the nights I have to run the clock.  But, I’ll learn and I’ll get there really early and practice while the girls are warming up. 

Sydney’s team did not win, but it was a really good game, lots of action to keep track of and not a lot of spectators, so any mistakes we made last night passed without notice.  We informed the referees early that we were first timers and the ref checked my books a couple of times and at the end, I failed to summarize everything.  Oops!  I haven’t had to do that when I practiced because I was the only person that cared.  One of the refs was unable to speak.  He used sign language.  I caught on to that quick and was also able to read his lips. 

My biggest mistake of the evening was not really a mistake.  I stopped the game when our girls hit seven team fouls so they could start free throws as the penalty for additional fouls.  The ref was already setting up a free throw, so he gave me a “why are you bothering me” look.  Yah, whatevah. 

I don’t quite know what to say about the election.  Sure, I’m glad that my party won president, I also feel the obligation that we now bear to reach across the aisle and find a way for the parties to work together for the good of the country instead of for the good of the politics.  I compared it the other day to the CEO of the company I work for finding a way for two of his executives to work together, if he didn’t have the power to fire them.  It just has to be done.  No questions and NO EXCUSES!  Nobody gets exactly what they want.  You can either each give up some time cuddling the teddy bear, or tear it in half and end up with nothing but stuffing. 

Okay, that’s my rant for the day.

I wish I had something quilty to say this morning.  I cut the sashing strips for Erin’s Sandy relief quilt.  I did not sew an inch, and I really, really wish I had an extra hour, just to sit and sew.  But, it is not to be.  Life is a busy thing. 

Yay to Desi’s Mom who brought in two huge pots of spaghetti and meat sauce for the girls last night.  Yay to Erin who is being gifted an abundance of generosity and hasn’t cracked yet. 

Yay to the end of the election ads and survey phone calls.

Be well and be kind to one another.  Lane


New things

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve let myself experience new things.  New things are like little presents that I can give myself. 

Tonight, I’ll be officially keeping score at a basketball game.  I know, I should feel nervous.  But, I’m not really feeling it.  I’m actually feeling really confident.  That comes from studying and practicing unofficially.  I think the only thing that I’m nervous about is not being part of the crowd.  I’ll be at the table, at center court, and won’t be able to blend in with those around me. 

I’ve hidden in crowds for my whole life, trying not to stand out.  Always trying to blend into the background. 

At fifty years old, that has started to change.  I entered a quilt show.  I walked around with ribbons on my chest.  Sydney introduced me as one of her Dads at the parent meeting the other night.  And, tonight, I’ll be sitting at the officials table.

Standing out.  Standing up. 

Yesterday, I needed to take our donation of drinks for the concession stand.  I stopped on the way to pick up Syd and got 24 waters and 16 gatorade.  I got to the school and couldn’t park in the fire zone, where I normally park, because I had to get out of the car, and the school district police officers frown on that.  So, I parked further away and I stacked the two 8 packs of gatorade on top of the flat of water and started my walk.  Why I felt that I needed to do it in one trip, I have no idea.  I had to sit them down once because the waters all leaned to one side inside the plastic wrapped flat.  But, then I picked them all up and headed in.  There were kids everywhere.  And, my load was too heavy.  I was struggling and my back felt like it was going to break.  Mental image: an old man walking up with too much of a load, huffing and puffing and stumbling.  It was truly sad.  What I wouldn’t give for my 35 year old body combined with my 50 years of experience.

And then, out of the crowd, a boy walked up and asked if I needed help. He was very polite and I thanked him and let him take the Gatorade.  Several boys were lounging around, waiting for their rides and they directed me into the gym.  And, this one boy carried my gatorades. 

Young man, I don’t know who you are, but I thank you and more especially, your parents for being there for me.  I know I thanked you at least 4 times yesterday, but here’s another.  Because I really needed help.

Sydney’s birthday went off without a hitch.  She loved the Kindle.  She also got a little cash.  At the end of the night, she did need to start an argument, just to prove that it’s not all presents and giggles.  But, we got through that with a few “I hate you” glares.  This year was the best birthday, by far. 

If you haven’t already, please vote.  I want you to vote for my candidate, of course, but really, that’s much less important than taking the opportunity to vote.  Even if you’re in a state like I am, where the outcome is already assured, take the opportunity to vote.  My vote may not make a difference in the electoral college, but at some point, the popular vote is going to be looked at and is going to be considered in the country’s decision making process.

Be well.  Do something today that you’ve never done before.  It’s a great little present for yourself.



I think I ended up with more than one extra hour

Wow!  What a whirlwind weekend.

First thing I did was work on the Singer 401.  I found a free adjusters manual, and even though the pictures were copies of copies and very not clear, I was able to find the problem and fix it and give the machine a good oiling and cleaning and adjusting and now, it is sewing terrific!  Makes a bit of noise, but I’m hunting that down with my oil bottle and will eventually find it.

So, what was wrong?  One of the first things I did was rebuild the upper tension.  I’ve learned that there is usually gunk in a vintage machine that hasn’t been used in a while and so I just started breaking them down.  But, I never knew how important it was to get that tension spring on the side set right.


You know what I’m talking about.  That little spring on the side of the tension assembly that bounces up and down with every stitch.  Well, apparently, the purpose of that spring is to jerk the thread back up after the stitch is made and because that wasn’t tight, it wasn’t jerking and the thread was getting caught in the bobbin area. 

Hey, the more machines I work on, the more I learn about working on them. 

Anyway, once that was fixed, I was sewing like a madman. 

I made 10 blocks for Erin’s Sandy relief effort.  I decided that it wasn’t fair to send her a quilt’s worth of blocks to assemble and quilt, so I’m going to finish this one and send her the finished quilt.


Fun and addictive blocks. 

And, I spent a few hours working on the pink baby quilt.  It’s mostly quilted.  Just some more echo work and then the final border.


Huge feathers and echoes.  It fills, it’s fast and it’s quite becoming on this little girly quilt.

I even pieced some Christmas tree blocks.


I’m up to 9 of the 13 I want and two more are cut and waiting for time to assemble.

Today is Sydney’s birthday.  She wanted to make her own cake.  She made a Mississippi Mud cake.


A doctored up Devil’s Food cake mix (per the Cake Doctor) and a layer of marshmallow fluff and a layer of cooked frosting and a layer of pecans.  It nearly sent me into shock last night and all the chocolate gave me the shakes. 

She got new “snow boots”…like it ever will snow here.  And, she’s getting a Kindle tonight.  And, cards.  Grades are up and she is paying more attention to her school work.  Sometimes, you just have to get her attention.  And, despite the sense of disappointed entitlement that plagued us all day yesterday (yes, you do still have to do your weekend chores, even on the day before your birthday), I’m thinking she’s going to have a happy birthday. 


Or, maybe I’ll just beat her with a stick.  Ya’ never know.

Be well and have a great Monday.  Lane