The Clan of the Red Sneakers

Remember a few weeks back, I posted a Way Back Wednesday post about a pair of red shoes I had in middle school and how they changed my life? Those red shoes took courage to wear because of the grief I took over them. And, they helped me develop a thick skin.

Well, after that post, I got another pair of red shoes. Remembering those shoes and getting them in the perspective of my adult life made me want another pair. I don't expect my new pair to have the same kind of life impact as the first pair, but they sure are a statement about who I am now.

So, Rob took that one step further. On his birthday, after he'd opened his presents, he pulled out these shoe key chains for us and he dubbed us "The Clan of the Red Sneakers."

His thought was that it takes courage to be part of our family; courage to deal with the court system on our guardianship, courage to face teachers and do homework, courage to go to school even when the other kids know you live with two men, courage to let unknown people take over the role of man-mom and dad, courage to learn about the stuff that's important to little girl's and then young ladies, courage to argue our way through it rather than give up and walk away.

That first pair of red shoes changed who I was. My new pair is a symbol of who I became. And our keychains are to show that I'm not alone.

Like I said on Wednesday, I think I'll keep him.

Hope you're having a wonderful Friday. I can hardly wait to start the weekend. Next week is a business trip to Cleveland (which is why I can't make your lecture, Bonnie. Hope you have a wonderful time in the capital of Texas).



Vintage Thingies Thursday - a lovely old quilt

Good morning and welcome to VTT sponsored by my friend Suzanne at Coloradolady. Today Suzanne is featuring a couple of really great old plates, so go check those out, and you can link from there to a lot of other followers who have posted great items.

I'm featuring a great old quilt that we picked up at an antique store. Now, this is the first quilt I ever bought and it does seem like "carrying coals to Newcastle" to bring someone else's quilts to my house. But, I know that no one else will appreciate it more.

Just look at that old pattern. Every section of the curve was hand pieced and then the center was added and that was added to the concave section like a Drunkard's Path. The hand stitching is phenomenal. Then, it looks like the maker joined the sashing and cornerstones by machine and had the whole thing hand quilted in a very familiar, boxy style with a quarter of a square quilted near the corner that echoes outward toward the opposite corner.

She clearly bought the fabric for this quilt and it is not scraps. The back is white feedsack. Most of the blue is gone from the print, but I did find this one piece that still had some. Almost everywhere else, the blue background is gone, leaving just the orange flower buds.

There is only one small tear in the quilt and I plan to repair that and launder it to get any light staining out of it. I think it was quilted by more than one person as the size of the stitches and the straightness of the lines varies...a lot. But, the man at the store said the quilt was made by his mother and quilted on a frame at home. I wonder if the fabric in the quilt matched that bright, rosey border better when the quilt was new?

The batting is a heavy cotton, but it hasn't settled much. This is another great addition to my collection of vintage quilts.
Everyone take care and have a great Thursday. Check out Suzanne's blog and have a great day! Lane


The most romantic story never to be put on film...

The most romantic story that I know of ever to be put on film was "Magnificent Obsession" from 1954 starring Rock Hudson and Jane Wyman. Today, I'm going to tell you the most romantic story that was never put on film. It's Way Back Wednesday again.

Today comes with a mature audiences warning. If you think that romance should only happen between one man and one woman, then you'll probably want to check out some other blogs today and come back to visit me tomorrow for Vintage Thingies Thursday. This romantic story is not very traditional, even in the gay culture. And more's the pity. Too many gay men (and that's the only group I can speak for) sell themselves short and try to make a relationship with the wrong person just because they miss that feeling of family that so many of us lose when we come out. I used to do that. But, then I learned that there was a better way and put some rules out there and I found someone else that had their own rules that were compatible with mine.

So, here goes the most romantic story that was never put on film.

Ten years ago, I was dating a guy. The purpose of dating is to find out about someone and decide whether you can be in a relationship with them. And, this was going nowhere. The more I got to know him, the more I realized that. But, I hadn't reached that point where I was ready to say something.

I went to a friend's birthday and the party ended up in a dance hall for a few beers. This tall, lanky blond drink of water walked up to me and cut me out of the crowd and started to talk to me. It was a light conversation and I pointed out that I was dating someone else, while at the same time checking him out from under my eyelashes in all his cowboy glory. Flirty, but giving nothing. We talked for about 15 minutes and then he was gone.

A couple weeks later, I was out with my date and he walked up to me, out of the blue, and said "I've met someone else and want to date him" so basically, we're on a date and he gives me the boot. That's just rude!

The night goes on and I've had a good laugh at getting dumped in public with my friends, who all heard it and saw him walk away with someone else. There's a guy from out of town flirting with me. And, suddenly, this lanky blond cowboy is behind me. And, his next words were "Can I kiss you?"

Okay, so maybe not the most romantic thing in your life, but for me, that was da' bomb! Nobody ever asked permission before. Even today, he can walk up behind me and say those words and I get weak in the knees, remembering that first night.

6 months of dating and then he moved in. 7 years later, the kid came into our lives. Three years of that and we're still together, through thick and thin. He's mine. And, I think I'll keep him.

And, who can resist someone that looks this happy 97% of the time. This picture is from our first vacation.

And, this picture is from last year. We're under a store sign, but I guess it's become an accurate description of us, too.

This is one of his first birthday cakes. Do you miss these dear? Now, the poor thing is lucky to get storebought...which reminds me, I'm gonna need to leave work early today to stop by the store.
Because today is his birthday! Yes, he's one year younger than me again (notice how I didn't give you any information there, while seeming to do so).

Happy Birthday, Rob. May there be many more; and may I be part of every one of them.
Love ya',


Speaking of quilting...

Okay so I'm not going to get to go to Bonnie Hunter's class this weekend. This is the biggest drawback of not joining the guild. I can never get in the classes they offer. Bummer! But, I'm going to persevere. This disappointment will not make me give up quilting. But, I may spend the weekend dressed in black and carrying a lighted candle in protest (not a black candle, because every quilter knows that any color will go with black). I might even walk slowly around the building where the great lady is training. Think that will make them let me in? Actually, the only place I'd probably get in that way is jail, and they don't let you use sharp objects there, so I better nix that plan. I'll spend the weekend quilting at home instead and pretending I'm in the class. Hmmm, I'm gonna need to pick up chocolate to make that feel real.
So, my family took me to a quilt show on Saturday. No pics yet as I haven't matched the pics up to the makers names in the program. But, we went into the sunken garden adjacent to the community center where the show was held and took some pictures there. Clearly I was not paying attention because there are no pictures of Rob. But, here's a great one of the kid...happy and mugging for the camera.

Here's one of she and I. I wonder what she has behind her back???

And, here are some new pics of my quilt in progress. Someone asked if I really meant that it took 30 minutes to quilt a 3 inch square. Sometimes it does. These sections did. On the left are the swirling bananas (which I finally got to swirl) and on the right is escargot.

And, here is some flame stitch.

I'm about 3/4 through with this quilting. I have several more patterns picked out from Leah's site to try. And, I've done some more Diane-shiko from Diane Gaudynski to fill in another corner. It's been fun, but I certainly don't want to quilt every quilt this heavily. This is a small piece and it seems like I've been working on it much longer than I really have. I spilled coffee on it the other day (much swearing was heard). When I took it to the sink to rinse it, the water just beaded up on top of the dense quilting. It was funny to look at, but I worried that it was going to smell like coffee until it was finished. I finally got it to soak in and all the stain and smell rinsed away. And, it's a good thing.
Take care and have a great day. I'll be thinking of quilting. Lane


Tales from the Dark Side

I don't usually blog from the dark side. If I do, I usually think of something happy or mundane to talk about. But, I thought, just this once, I'd let go and see how it goes. This will never be what my blog is about. But, just for one day, I thought I'd see if this is the self indulgent thing I need to do to start feeling better.

Today started as another dark day at the end of a couple week long string of dark days. Days when I felt so down that it was all I could do to go to work and smile. And, time is missing. What happened during those days other than me staring off into space without the motivation to pick up a pencil? I know that I was doing things. I turned in work. I can see progress. There isn't a pile of dishes next to the sink. Stuff was done. But all I can remember is the blank spots in between when nothing really happened. Time whooshed by and left me standing in the road, dazed.

And, everybody wanted something. Some decision. And, it was all I could do to get a glass of water. Looking through a child that wanted attention. Looking past the aging dogs. Getting frustrated by the questions of a man that just wanted me to tell him what he could do that would make me feel better. And, I couldn't answer because I didn't know.

It's like I wasn't even there. And, the whole time thinking if I could just do one self indulgent thing, it would be for me and I'd feel better. So, I self indulged. I hid away from everything and everyone. I closed the sewing room door and shut out the world. And, I was selfish in my self indulgence. It wasn't self indulgence to give me anything. It was self indulgence to not give anything to anybody else. And, justifying it by saying that if I just do one thing for myself, I'll start to feel better. And, doing everything for myself and not feeling any better.

Unable to enjoy the trees because the forest is so daunting. A myriad of problems that need to be solved. Too many expectations that I can't meet. And, I lose track of any one thing I could do because I can't find it in the pile of things that need to be done.

And, hoping nobody notices that instead of trying, I've sat down.

I'm pretty sure that I can only write this because I have started looking at the trees and forgetting about the forest. Before now, it was thinking what I'd write in my blog for the day. And, when I let thinking about that be all I thought about (a single tree), I figured out how to get it done.

Next, I'll brush my teeth and put on my shoes. I'll worry about what comes next when I get there.

I hope that there will be some brilliant p.s. later in the day that describes what happens after that. I'm thinking there might even be some sunshine. Just because I picked one tree to look at, one problem to solve, one thing to focus on. And, I can handle one thing. Any one of the single things that needs to be done. One thing at a time.



I love migas!

I've been in Texas for 25 years. There are some foods that just stick out in my mind as traditionally Texan. One is Chicken Fried Steak with mashed red potatoes that include the skins and milk gravy spread all over it. This is otherwise known as "stroke on a plate".

The other traditional Texas food that seems centralized to Austin and San Antonio is Migas! (yes, I have to put an exclamation point after the word every time; it's a texas thing).

And, if I'm reminiscing, then it must be Way Back Wednesday.

I remember the first time someone talked me into trying Migas. I was at the Magnolia Cafe (known locally as The Mag) on South Congress Avenue. Magnolia Cafe is an icon where the hippies used to eat until the yuppies found it in the 90's. Now, you can go at odd hours and get a table, but if you're within a couple of hours of a traditional meal time or between 2am and dawn on Saturday night, you're gonna wait for a table. Sometimes for hours.

But, when I started going there, you could get in most anytime except Sunday breakfast. And, they made the best Migas! I tried them one day as an alternative to a heavy lunch. A friend recommended them and I was skeptical. We were there for lunch and I didn't think anybody ate eggs for lunch unless they were ill. You could have eggs for breakfast and you could have eggs for Sunday supper, but that was about the only times there was no meat on the plate. How silly those old "traditions" I used to live by were.

At the Mag, you got your choice of home fries, fruit, or toast with your Migas! (annoyed by the exclamation mark yet?) Home fries and Migas! are a perfect combination. Throw in some refried beans and an extra tortilla and you've got a traditional Tex-Mex meal.

I've tried Migas! at many of the local restaurants in Austin and San Antonio. I've had them made with crispy fried toritlla chips instead of corn tortillas. I've had them with onions and jalapenos and hot Salsa (that feels like you've eaten the sun!) I've had them folded in tortillas to eat like breakfast tacos. I love Migas!

A few years ago, I came up with my own favorite recipe and lately, the kid and I have been having Migas for breakfast every morning. She makes breakfast while I get my lunch together and we sit at the table every day. I know that won't last much longer, but it is nice (even when I'm so mad at her I want to shove plate and all...uhh...down her throat.) Today, while I was packing lunch, I took pictures of her making breakfast.

We started with 3 corn tortillas, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 4 scrambled eggs with salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of salsa and a small handful of grated cheddar. The only thing bad is the cheddar, but hey, you can't make a meal without at least one thing that's bad for you, can you? Corn tortillas are low fat and don't have the white flour that gives me troubles. Salsa is all vegetables and doesn't have to contain preservatives if you're up to making yours fresh (I use the jar, but that's about having limited time in the morning).

First, she tossed the tortilla strips in the olive oil (yes, she can toss them and flip them without a spoon. I taught her that.)

When the tortillas are crispy, push them to the side and add the scrambled eggs.

When the eggs are done, add the salsa and the cheese and stir it all together.

Mmmm! Migas!

They look just like the first Migas(!) I had when I came to Texas. Reminds me of lunch at The Mag with friends that have since moved away. Back in the days before kid.


My life ran away...

I was recently asked whether I had any hobbies other than quilting. My first answer was "Sure I do". I garden, I decorate, I love to cook, I'm a C/W dancer, I have pets, I knit, I tinker with old sewing machines, I can do limited home repair and improvement...

Then, I got to thinking about it.

I had hobbies. Now, I have a 12-year old.

It's a good thing my gardens are established and only require limited maintenance because the last substantial gardening I did was to show the kid how things grow from seed. Now, most of my gardening time is spent weeding and replacing dead plants. Not much else. Not sure if that qualifies as a hobby anymore. It's really more of a chore that I don't mind doing.

I don't decorate anymore. I have a live-in decorator and while I make occassional suggestions, I've become more of a cleaner...clean the carpets, dust the ceilings and fans, vacuum the furniture...all the stuff it used to be easier to redecorate than do.

I used to love to cook elaborate meals that took hours to prepare and clean up after. I baked huge and beautiful cakes. We entertained regularly. Now, I'm glad when I have a half hour to slap something together and get the dishes washed between helping with math problems and bed.

I haven't been out dancing in 10 years. Now, I can't even stay up past 10 and that's when we used to leave the house to go out.

My dogs are a hundred years old and they only sleep and eat and perform the subsequent functions. I have fish and we have cats. Are independent pets a hobby, tho?

My knitting needles are probably rusting away from lack of use. My last big project? Christmas stockings three years ago.

I do tinker with old sewing machines, but in a way, that's related to quilting and shouldn't be considered a separate hobby.

And, home improvement is something we talk about but don't really get to much.

So, how do I spend my "free" time? I quilt. That's about all there is time for anymore. My non-free time is spent with all the nonsense that having a kid requires; homework, clothes, discipline, reward, praise, exercise. There's also a lot of time spent talking about raising a child and disagreeing about what we should do in any given crisis (and this kid loves a crisis). There are fond, but inaccurate memories about how good life was before kid. And, there's every parent's favorite, trying to make sure the kid has a better life than we do and an inordinate amount of time spent worrying whether we're screwing her up enough that she'll end up in juvenile detention or jail.

I had a life. I fed and watered it regularly. I played with it and talked to it. But it still kind of wandered off.

Now I have a child. Did I trade up? We really aren't going to know that until she picks our old folks home. If she puts us in a good one, we must have done right. If she puts us in a bad one or puts us on the street, then we messed up somewhere.

I'll have to let you know.

Can you tell we're having a rough parenting week? Great on Sunday, happy on Monday, crap on Tuesday. Say things we don't mean to say in the heat of a crisis. Apologize and hope we can do better next time. Over and over and over, ad nauseum.

You know, normal parental behavior.

Might have to clear a place in the living room and take that man dancing.



More fancy quilting

Well, I pulled the quilt off the design wall and stacked it so I could get to the book case and went back to my fancy quilting. There were a couple questions about the Magic Genie Bobbin Washers from my list of quilting secrets yesterday.

The bobbin washers are teflon washers that are very thin. I didn't have to do anything to the bobbin case except one final tension adjustment after I started to use the washer. I drop one into the bobbin case before dropping the bobbin in. They keep the holes in the bobbin from getting stuck to anything in the case and take up that last tiny bit of space in the case so the bobbin can't wobble as I sew. They're also smooth and the plastic bobbins I use can slide along them. I know the combination of the washer and the larger bobbin ended my problem of little wads of thread on the back of the quilt. And, they seem to last a long time. I'm still on my first one and it's not scratched or torn or anything.

Anyway, yesterday I did the echo shells that are on the left side of the picture and the double pebble on the right. That finished off the first of the 4 squares. Just three more to go and I have plenty of ideas for other textural quilting to fill the space. What I've been doing is watching Leah do it and then giving it a try myself. Might take a couple of seconds to get the hang of it, but then I just fly along. I can do about 3 square inches of quilting in 30 minutes.

Take care and have a great day. Lane


Rainy weekend and quilting secrets

Saturday, there were flash floods. Of course, we didn't know that because we decided to take a drive because we couldn't work in the yard or clean the carpets. But, when we got home, we had our own little downpour, complete with booming thunder and a lightening show. Rained like that for almost an hour and then it was over as quick as it started. By Sunday, the weather was cool and dry and we cleaned carpets and worked in the yard, both. This is a picture of some wildflowers we drove past.

And, in my spare time, I decided to work on putting this little BOM together. This is from Block Central and was their last year's quilt. During the year, she had us build sections for the sashing and borders, but there was still a lot of work just to get me to this point. I have the rows together, but haven't joined them. There are three pieced borders and 2 solid borders that go on the outside of this. All the pieces are made, but are not put together into their rows yet. This pattern was for a queen sized quilt, but I don't need another of those right now, and made it half size. It should come out about 45 inches square. Each block is 6 inches finished and the sashing finishes at 1 1/2 inches wide.

After the pictures of the fancy quilting last week, Christine asked what tools I use. I'm using a 20 year old Bernina 930. This gear driven machine is powerful, heavy and quiet, so I can sit for hours and quilt and listen to TV without turning it up and waking up the house. I have a custom machine table with a fold up extension arm and I put another sewing machine table folded up at my left elbow to carry some of the weight of my projects. I've been free-motion quilting on marked tops for 4 years and got into free-hand free-motion in 2009.

The first thing I learned that helped me be a better machine quilter was to make sure the tools were set up right. I regularly got birds nests on the backs of my work when quilting, even though tension was great when sewing on this machine. Turned out I was using the wrong bobbins for my bobbin case. They were the right bobbins for the bobbin case that was installed in the 930 one year before mine was made, but not for my machine. I think the bobbin had just enough room to tilt and jam and that caused the top thread to wad on the back of the quilt. Changing to the right bobbin helped that part, but I still couldn't get my tension just right and I ended up with either bobbin pop-up or top thread pop-down, or both. Thought I was destined to use the same color thread in the top and bobbin forever, but then I bought a quilting kit that included the Magic Genie Bobbin Washers and that problem was solved. Now, I get perfect tension so long as I use the same weight thread in the top and bobbin, and rarely have to adjust my tension.

In that quilting kit, I also got the Supreme Slider. The 930 is metal and the bed is finished like a car, so seems it would be very smooth, but it had a drag to it, even when I used car wax on it to make it smoother. But, the Supreme Slider gave me just what I needed. My machine doesn't allow me to drop the feed dogs, so I keep a piece of post it paper with a hole punched through under the slider mat to keep the dogs from eating through the rubber mat. The slider is teflon and slick as a whistle and my quilts just glide on it. Now I can lay both hands on the quilt and use them like a hoop instead of using my right hand to grip the edge of the quilt and pull it along.

The last thing in the kit was the Machingers gloves. I'd used F&P gloves before, but the XL size was still tight, and they were sweaty and the seams gave out. They were okay, but I have to say that the Machingers are like not wearing gloves at all. They're only sticky on the ends of the fingers and they're thin enough that my hands don't sweat. I was worried about how long they'd hold up because they are kind of expensive, but they've done great so far and I've used them pretty heavily for about 6 months and they're still in terrific shape.

All these things are available in a package from Day Style Designs. Leah is also the quilter in the links I posted last week for the free hand motifs I've been using in the quilt. Leah is terrific. She shows a video of how she creates the motif and I can copy that. She's creating 365 motifs and while not all of them would work on this quilt because it needs rounds and curves, many will and I plan to imitate as many as I can. As far as machine speed? I cannot run my machine as fast as Leah and that explains why I can't get a good circle and my curves aren't always smooth. But, I'm practicing and this morning, noticed that I was able to go faster than I could last week. But, it's still slow progress.

Progress is progress, tho.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


First pics

Okay, here are the first pics of the fancy quilt I've been working on all week. I can assure you that the quilt looks better in person than this picture shows...or maybe it's just that I don't want to see all the crooked lines and the camera didn't mind showing them clearly. Regardless, I'm really enjoying this learning experience, even though it does have a long learning curve. It was frustrating to try to take pics because the quilting doesn't show up all that great on the front. The fabric is a light olive green and I used a yellow 100 wt thread, hoping the lighter color would show up on the fabric. But, because of the thread weight, it kind of disappears, except where I went over a line of quilting more than once to get from one place to another. This especially happened in the Diane-shiko (from Diane Gaudynski) section in the lower right of the picture. I couldn't make the tiny filler circles round without going over them more than once. I won't do that next time I use that pattern. The other patterns came from Leah Day at her blog 365 days of free motion quilting. In the lower left, I used pebbles in a stream. Just above center, between the two feather swirls, I used swirling bananas and in the upper right, which you can't see very well, I used gentle flames. I'm going to keep filling it in with different patterns. I sat the other night and looked at all I'd like to learn to do and made a list of the ones I thought would fit this quilt and I'm going to use this to teach myself. It's not as easy as I thought it would be. And, it takes a lot of thread. I bought 4 spools of each thread color thread and I know I won't use all the yellow, but I might need more of the thread I used on the back as it has less yards of thread per spool.

This is the back. You can't tell the colors from this photo, but the fabric is a dark olive and the thread is chartreuse, so the stitching really shows up back here. Unfortunately, no one will see the back except another quilter, because you know we always look at the back, too. But, I'm sure my wall will really appreciate a good view. Sorry this one is so blurry. I didn't realize it in my haste to get a picture in before I left the house, but my hand must have moved while taking the picture.
Now, I'm thinking I might need to take a break this weekend and do some piecing. I need to look at something that's not olive green for a while. I have other tops started. I can certainly pull something out to finish. Maybe some nice applique???
Take care and have a wonderful Friday. I hope to post something fun over the weekend, but that depends on whether we can find any fun this weekend. The weather is rainy and drippy and we have carpets to clean. Oh, and I'm going to be hemming slacks for the kid. Quilters should never have to hem anything. It's an abuse of our skills. At least that's been my excuse since christmas when we gave her these two pair of khakis. Sounds good, huh?


Who taught me to garden?

When I was a child, I gardened with my Grandparents and my Parents. As I walk through my flowerbed, I'm reminded of them both. They taught me to garden in different ways and to grow different things. One taught me to respect the land and one taught me to change it to fit my purpose.

I'm reminiscing, so this must be Way Back Wednesday.

Papaw was a gardener. His father was not. My Great-grandfather, who people called Pop, was a hunter and a fisherman. He wanted to be out and about and left my Great-grandmother to work the land and raise the children, all 10 of them (which proves he did not hunt and fish all the time). My Great-grandmother told me stories about taking those children to the fields and putting them on a quilt under a tree with the oldes, my Papaw, in charge while she plowed all day behind a pair of mules for 50 cents a day. In a long skirt and work boots. (I try to tell myself that story every time I think my cushy desk job is just a little more work than I want to do for money.)

As he got older and gave up the big garden, he still grew tomatoes and a few other vegetables in their yard. But, my Grandmother, Nanny, who I've talked about on Wednesday before, was mostly in charge if their yard. Her yard was laid out very old fashioned, like I see in my gardening books from the 40's. The front yard had beautiful camelias that bloomed at Christmas time and Hydrangeas and Baby's Breath and Roses. The shrubs were huge and planted all around the base of the old wood frame house. In the backyard, she grew blackberries and figs and plums for canning.

This sign came from their yard. It was given to my Papaw by one of my Aunts and when he passed, she didn't want it back. The post was rotted and my Dad mounted it to a new post and my parents gave it to me to remind me of all the good times gardening with Papaw.

Now, my Mama was the big time yard gardener. She grew flowers and I will never forget taking huge white azaleas with their stems wrapped in damp paper towels and aluminum foil to my elementary school teachers from the bed in front of the kitchen window. Nor will I forget the yellow daylilies that grew all along our side of the neighbor's chain link fence or the pink azaleas and red tip photenias at the first house I remember living in. At the second house, she learned to design flowerbeds without the help of a professional landscaper and I remember beautiful flowers growing there too. But, as much as that, I remember the year she had me dig her a rosebed in the middle of the back yard and all the days of trimming and digging and cutting things back that my Daddy and I did to make way for those beds. Of course, I was too young to see all this yardwork for what I was learning from it. It was a chore. And, like all teenagers, I rebelled against chores. But without meaning to, I was learning to appreciate the beauty and that it was the result of hard work. The result of those lessons can be seen in the following pictures. At one point, Mama was growing show flowerbeds that were beautiful and she specialized in daylilies. Many of the ones in my yard were from her sticking a shovel in her yard and handing me a rootball. (these pictures are all from the bed that Sydney complained was too green and had no color. Ha!)

I've been thinking a lot about Way Back Wednesdays. I know I've said that they were just to give me a theme to blog about one day a week, but really, they're more than that. They're a way to show my Parents that I remember the good times and not just the bad. Like the year we dug that looooonnng row of yellow daylilies up and divided them. And laughing hysterically when she'd see a snake and run screaming across the yard...which I later adopted as my own reaction to finding a snake in the yard. Now, I get so busy with cooking and cleaning and yard work and quilting and homework that I needed a day just to think back to when I was a kid and someone else was doing all those "responsibility" things for me and I want my Mama and Daddy to know that I remember. And, with stories this good, it just wouldn't be right not to share them with the world. Can I get an Amen?
Take care and have a great Wednesday. I hope I took you back to some happy, summery, flowery memory of your own childhood.


more sewing toys

I love a good toy, especially if I can find a use for it. The treadle came with a full set of attachments, but no box. Loose in the drawer, they were getting mixed up with other stuff, so when I stumbled up on this box, I snatched it up. Turned out to have a story. It belonged to the lady that was running the shop. When she was a little girl, she had $5 in birthday money. She and her mother went to the store and her Mom explained that if she would put the $5 down on a sewing machine, the Mom would pay the installments and they'd have a new machine. They did it and this is all that's left. (I know. I'm a sucker for a good soppy story and it doesn't matter whether it's true or not. It's become the story of this piece.) The oil cans are not so much of a bargain, but now I have a vintage oil can for each of my vintage machines. I wash them and degrease them and get all the old rancid oil out and then I put just a little fresh oil in them for everyday use and use my big bottle of oil for big projects.

Rob has me trying to think of a way that I can display all the vintage machines in my sewing room, but I'm not sure yet. That seems like an awful lot of wasted table space, but it would be nice to be able to look at them all at the same time and maybe to set each one up for a different purpose and leave it set up for that instead of having to change settings all the time. I certainly have enough machines to assign them each a task and leave them set up to do that one task.
And, my last thing is that Bonnie Hunter is coming to town first of May and I'm trying to get in one of her classes. I'm not a member of the guild so I have to wait until the last minute to register, but I hope to hear in the next couple of days whether I got in. It would be very exciting. But, I'm trying not to get too excited in case there's not a space.
Take care and have a great Tuesday. Today's bumpersticker; and oldie and a goldie: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.


Spring shopping time

I showed a picture of this mock orange last week, but I took the picture too soon. On friday, it really burst open into full bloom and is covered in white flowers.

We went on one of our antiquing jaunts this weekend to the southeast of Austin. In one of the towns we visited, we managed to get this pic of some wildflowers. I forget what Rob said they were. There were fields full of bright yellow and orange flowers and blue bonnets everywhere, but they were all fenced in and we couldn't get pictures good enough to share. I was hoping we'd get one of the very Monet-like shots of the wildflower fields but the camera just wouldn't do them justice.

We didn't have a plan to shop on Saturday, but I needed thread for that wholecloth quilt and that got us all out of the house and Rob brought up antiquing and one thing led to another and we stopped by the house to change our shoes and off we went. He knew I wanted to quilt and so he almost didn't bring it up, but all I cared about was that everyone had a good time and no one argued (remember, we just finished a science project). So, I was good with a little driving and talking and shopping. We had a good time and there were lots of bargains on the things I collect, so I'm really glad he suggested it.

But, the last thing I bought was my favorite. I found another antique sewing machine. We stopped in a junk shop (I can't think of any better description than that). They specialized in purchasing estates and reselling them and the shop was full of the good, the bad, the smelly and the worn out. But, there were some jewels there, too. One was this old girl.

These pictures were taken before I did any cleaning up, except a cursory dusting before bringing her in the house. I walked right past her. She was sitting on the bottom shelf of an almost empty end cap and I didn't look down as I walked around the corner. He saw her as I was paying for the other stuff I'd found and pointed her out. He was fascinated with the hand crank. He'd never seen a machine with one before. She's very clean on the inside and the action was smooth as silk, with just a little clicking that resolved itself with a little oiling and cleaning. There's a bell like ring when the handcrank hits the handwheel and I'm hoping that's because it's missing some kind of washer or grommet that I can get. I spent a good bit of time oiling and lubricating yesterday and Rob has the base so he can glue down a little piece of veneer. I ordered some new parts, like the needle plate and the front bobbin cover plate that were missing or very rusty. She's a Singer model 128 in a bentwood case and she was made in 1913 and is a 3/4 size model of the Singer 128 treadle machine I have and takes the same bobbins and shuttle. It's amazing that she is worth a lot more in parts than she is as a working machine. I could have sold the bobbin shuttle for more than I paid for the machine and if I broke her down and sold the shuttle, the handcrank and the cover plates, I could make more than a 100% profit. I guess some people do that. But, I'd rather have her for what she is. She's been worked hard and used well and also taken good care of. I can't wait to let her make something for me.
I have to point out that we spent our last cash on the other items I bought in that store and Rob had to take me down the road a piece to an ATM and then bring me back to the store so I could buy yet another antique sewing machine. Not sure when I became a collector. I didn't mean to, but these machines keep showing up at the right price when I'm in the mood to buy, so I guess that makes me a collector. We saw some beautiful machines in beautiful cabinets. Machines without a scratch that were selling for a lot more money. But, that's not really the kind of machien I want to collect. I want one that's been used and loved and knows how to sew. I don't mind the scratches or the missing decals. That's what comes from living a good life.
Take care and have a great Monday. I got very far behind reading blogs last week, so I'll be trying to catch up over the next couple of evenings. Don't let anything new happen until I'm caught up on the old. Lane


Where has that man been?

I know. You've been worried. When was the last time "that man" went two weekdays without a post. Is he sick? Has the world suddenly come to an end?

No. There's no catastrophe. He's been working his rear-end off. Literally. Work, homework, yardwork, puppy training. And, all I want to do is quilt.

If you've been keeping up with my New Year's resolution to lose 15 pounds, then you know that I've struggled and stumbled and it's finally paying off. I'm down 10 pounds since the first of the year. Whoohoo! Suddenly it's just started falling off. After that cleanse I did a few weeks back, I changed what I'm eating. I found out I have a problem with white sugar and white flour. When I eat more than just a little bit of either one, I just get hungrier and hungrier and can't get full no matter how much I eat. I switched to whole grain bread and turbinado sugar and now I don't stand in the kitchen trying to find enough food to feel full.

We also finished the science project "MAMMALS...ON...MARS" You have to say it in that 50's announcer booming voice. Anyway, it's 200 years in the future and we've developed enough atmosphere on Mars to create a water cycle and support limited life. She had to pick 3 mammals to take to Mars and build a zoo for them to live in prior to releasing them into the wild. She did a really good job and all we had to do was keep her moving and correct her grammar and spelling and I helped with some formatting. And, there was a lot of encouraging her to think outside the box. She has to give an oral presentation to the interplanetary space commission (her science class) on the mammals she picked and why. She's delivered that to us about a dozen times and we've refined and retyped it. I'm expecting an A. But, there's always the danger that some kids got more parental help than ours did and they'll bump the curve.

And, I can't help but walk through the back yard with my camera. This is a flowerbed the kid and I worked on this year. It dies completely back in the winter and we wanted to add some things that would stay green year round.

Some of you will remember this iris from last year. We picked it up off a compost heap in Boston 7 years ago and it bloomed for the first time last year. This year it is just as lovely.

Well, this is another iris we got off the same compost pile and it is blooming for the first time this year. 7 years of waiting was definitely worth it. Of course, this is just one. There are purple iris just like this here and there all around the back yard about to pop open. I could get them to reproduce, but I couldn't get them to bloom until now.

Okay, that's it for me. I've got that little "wholecloth" quilt pieced and will start drawing on the feathers tonight. I'm really hoping I can start quilting it tomorrow. I'm going to need thread and plan to stop at the LQS tonight to see what they have. They don't stock much thread that is finer than 50 weight and I want an 80-100 weight cotton. But, they usually have a bin of thread no one else wanted and that's where I've had the best luck finding what I want. Weird, huh?

Back to work for me. If I can get enough done, I'm going to try to disappear early. We'll see how that goes. The last time I tried, I ended up being here late. Lane


What is that man up to???

Okay, so after that nonsensical post yesterday, I decided you needed some context. This is what I have in mind.

And, I am both intimidated enough and excited enough to feel giddy about starting it. (isn't it wonderful that at almost 50, I can feel giddy about anything anymore? so glad I didn't grow out of that.)
This is from the 19th anniversary edition of Quilter Magazine. They give the feathers as a traceable pull-out and I've already traced them onto parchment and will trace again onto the fabric. And, then I get to start quilting this beauty. This morning, I picked my borders, a dark blue mottled where her rust border is and a brown with medium scale flowers for the outer border. I started putting together the 12 1/2 inch squares, but am still thinking about the offwhite and beige. Tonight, I'll check out my threads and decide if I need a different color center. The border would look nice with a green center; or blue or yellow for that matter. I'm just sayin'. It doesn't have to be off-white and beige just because the pattern says so.
It's hard to work on something I'm so excited about in 30 minute stints, and that's all I see me getting this week. A half hour here and a half hour there. But, that should be sufficient to make all the decisions and get it assembled so I can sit and play this weekend.
Take care and have a great Tuesday. I'm off to a long conference call and then some serious music turned up, pencil to the paper, quiet, hard work time. Lane


Have my cake and eat it too.

I am really bad about wanting that. I so badly want to get to do something, while at the same time do something else that is mutually exclusive.

For example, I want to eat root beer floats, made with creamy blue bell ice cream, but I also want to lose weight. Ain't happening.

Another example is to be able to compromise on things with the kid, but still be able to tell her when to go to bed. Well, actually, that one is happening. But making the occasional compromise makes her think she can strike a deal on anything.

But, the one that comes up the most is wanting to use a beautiful piece of fabric and also wanting to save it for another project.

I faced that one last night. I want to make a small quilt I saw in a magazine as a practice piece for some really fancy quilting. I need the practice and the fancy quilting is exactly what I want to get better at, and this project is the ideal opportunity. It's made of four 12 inch blocks and you quilt a beautiful feather on each block and then do the background quilting around it to fill the whole space in with very intricate work. It's a pattern I got a few years ago and as I started to work more and more on the fancy work, it's something I remembered and wanted to do. But, the magazine got lost in the chaos of the sewing room and just recently resurfaced when I was poking around for a quilting magazine that takes me more than 10 minutes to flip through and toss to the side (out of boredom, but that's a rant for another blog post.) Anyway, there's plenty of space I can fill in that $5 quilt I assembled this weekend so I want to practice my free motion and then get that one in the machine.

So, I pulled out an off white and a beige and cut out my 12 1/2" squares. As I was cutting the beige piece, I realized that all that tight quilting is going to overdraw any print there is to the fabric, so basically, that beautiful piece of fabric is going to be wasted.

Then, the angel on the other shoulder reminded me that if I quit work and did nothing but sew, I'd never, ever, ever, not in a million stitches use up all the fabric I have stored.

So, I need to get over it!

But, it's still a shame to waste something pretty. Maybe I'll make my practice quilt using a green. I have lots more green fabric than beige and I can use an ugly print because all that's going to be left of the fabric is a color.

Or, I could just get over it and use what I already have cut. But, then I won't get to save that for another project.

Maybe I've just figured out why so many quilters have so much stash stored away. We all want to eat cake...just not our pretty cake.

Take care and have a great Monday. I'm working my rear end off trying to make up for last Friday off. But, hey, it had to be done. Nobody wants a crazy man running around with sharp scissors and if I didn't take time off, that's exactly what I'd be.



More white flowers and a top together.

Just in time for Easter.

This is the next to last white flower display of the year. These are my Indian Hawthorne. They were some of the first shrubs I put in 10 years ago when I bought the house. They're very slow growing and love the sun and are drought tolerant and when they're not in bloom, they make these big green pillow shapes in front of the house to soften all the straight lines. I think Rob wants to try to move them, but I convinced him to wait until after the bloom this year before he tried.

And, this is last year's $5 quilt. The LQS does one every year. I've done the last three but have opted out this year as I"m not starting any new projects until I finish a few. You pay $5 to get in and every month that you bring the finished block in on a certain day of month, you get the fabric for the next block for free. This is the prettiest one so far. I pieced the back this morning using John Flynn's method and hope to get it pin basted later in the day and mayb e start some fancy quilting practice this afternoon. It's rainy here and I doubt there will be much getting out.

We were supposed to be working on the science project this morning to get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of the day, but some pre-teen's first words to me this morning in response to "good morning and happy easter"were "shut up" (and not in the funny way), so she's spent the morning scrubbing her bathroom, cleaning her closet, and folding all the sheets in the house. . But, she's about done with that and I need to go boil some eggs to make Rob his Easter favorite, Deviled eggs. Deviled eggs on Easter seems like a bit of a contradiction, doesn't it???

Bella's doing great. Turned out it was not a problem with the spay, but rather a hernia that we possibly caused. Glad I didn't write to the adoption service complaining. That would have been embarassing.

Take care and have a great Easter. I'm about to surrender the laptop to the charwoman so she can have some free time this afternoon. I can be a great dad. But you gotta treat me right. Lane


Just some stuff...

Well, we've started a good spring bloom around here. Normally, this is when white things bloom in my yard. I've always thought white flowers were so hard to grow, so I don't have many and they all bloom early, while it's still cool weather. The first is this spirea.
I also have some lovely yellow columbine.
And, the crabapple is finally giving me a good bloom after about 10 years of petting it. It started as a stick and hopefully, I'll finally get some fruit this year.
Well, just to prove there's no such thing as a free puppy, Bella has spent the day at the vets office having a little surgery to correct a bad mistake that was made while she was being spayed. Great...I had to pay the adoption service to spay her and now I've had to pay my vet to fix that.
To distract Sydney, we spent the day shopping. I needed clothes and you can imagine how excited she was to shop with me. But, we found some cute t-shirts for her and she needed a new light jacket since she lost her hoodie this week as a consequence for being a dumba$$.
We needed ink to print the stuff for her science project, but wouldn't you know it, it was $10 cheaper to buy a new printer. What's up with that??? Disposable everything. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved my old printer, but it didn't have a scanner and the new one does. I'll keep the old one and give it to Rob when I get a new laptop. The new one can connect to the laptop wirelessly...oooohhh. Fancy schmancy.
And, I pieced the last block of a quilt I started last year and have been adding the sashing. I've been collecting batiks for years and not made a quilt. Last year's $5 quilt was all batiks and that's the one I'm working on. Hopefully pictures soon.
Take care and have a great Good Friday. It's certainly been good to us...well, Bella may not think so. But I'm having fun. Lane


Vintage Thingies Thursday

Happy Vintage Thingies Thursday, y'all. VTT is sponsored by my friend Suzanne. Today, Suzanne is featuring a beautiful stack of plates. I also noticed that my friend Viridian posted a quilt for VTT.

This quilt is one my Mom made and gave me. I can remember watching her work on it and trying to get straight lines, without puckers, and without a walking foot. She must have made it in the early 70's, based on my memories of her sewing space. The stars were pieced and then appliqued onto a muslin background using a zig-zag stitch. Then, the blocks were sashed with muslin. The batting is lightweight and must be a polyester. This would be a great summer quilt to pull up when the air conditioning comes on in the night because it is so light, but it is very fragile. A couple of the stars have pulled away from the zig zag. But, I get to enjoy it twice a year on "refolding day".

Of course, this is my favorite block with the green and orange fruits and vegetables. Very kitschy kitchen fabric. This may have been my Mom's kitchen curtains in the first house I can remember.

And, this one is so bright and cheerful.

And, a bold and masculine one.
So, Thanks, Mom! for giving me my first quilt and starting this whole process. And, thanks for sending fabric money once in a while.
One of the reasons I wanted to feature this quilt is because I talk about it in an article ABOUT ME! Yes, I'm the featured quilter today at the Stitchin Heaven blog. The pics are bad. She and I had trouble exchanging pics and ran out of time before we got it right, but nonetheless, there I am.
I also gave the expectant Mom the baby quilt. She loved it and decided to hang it on her desk. I grabbed a corner and said "April Fools" and before she realized I was joking, she got the saddest look in her eyes. Okay, so that joke backfired. I think I'll stop there.
Everybody take care and have a great Thursday. I'm riding the day high and need to settle down and do some work. Lane

Vintage Thingies Thursday - Hotel Silver

Good morning and welcome to Vintage Thingies Thursday sponsored by my friend Suzanne at Coloradolady.

Today, I'm showing off a set of old hotel silver I have. I don't intentionally collect hotel silver. I think it's beautiful and it's darn near indestructible, but it's not practical for me, unless I'm serving breakfast on a tray, which unfortunately for the man doesn't happen very often.

Anyway, the teapot, the sugar and the creamer all came from my Grandmother to my Mother and then to me. They came from the St Francis Sanitarium, which later became the St Francis Hospital where I was born. The coffeepot came from a CityWide Garage Sale that is a monthly event here. It's about 4 1/2 inches tall.

City Wide has changed to be prfessional vendors that sell their goods for the price they're worth, but years ago, it was just a bunch of junk dealers that bought during the week and sold on the weekend at events like our garage sale all over the area. You could get lots of really good bargains from them because no storefront meant their overhead was very low.

Here's the stamp from the bottom of the creamer showing the hospital, the size and the maker.

All the other pieces have this Benedict Indestructo Silver mark and they're all numbered.

As proof that I'm not a collector, I've never checked to see what they're worth. Maybe I'll do that this weekend. I was never really interested until just this minute. Hmm. How much fabric could I buy for that?

So, that's it for today. Scoot on over to Suzanne's and see her collection of Colorado items and from there, link to all the vintage things collectors are posting.

Have a great day. It was picture day at school for the kid. Got her all dressed up and girlie looking. Take care. Lane