The devil made me do it...

Okay, not really the devil, but the really good pricing at Goodwill. I did not go out shopping for a new machine. I needed a new cabinet. I didn't find a cabinet.

We decided that with the kid in school for Memorial Day, we'd go out and see what kind of trouble we could get into antiquing. Turned out, not much because all the antique stores were closed for the holiday.

So, after a nice long drive in the country and a blood sugar moment that almost turned into an argument, we ended up back in Austin, having not gotten out of the truck for anything but a cash machine. We went to a Mexican Restaurant that I'd been wanting to try...YummY!!!

And, we went to Goodwill on the way home. I spotted this Singer 237 from way down the aisle and it looked like another shopper was going to get it while I tried to decide. The price was right and I plugged it in and everything seemed to work okay, so I brought it home.

I gave it a good oiling and started sewing on it. It's in need of a very good lubrication, but for the most part, it sews great and is very, very quiet. And, it's my first vintage zig/zag machine. All the others have been straight stitch and this owner's manual, which I had to find online, says it will do all kinds of things, including FMQ and satin stitching.

When I got it all oiled and set up to sew, I tried to put a needle in and it wouldn't stay. I was about to start shopping to see if I could figure out what was wrong. If I was going to have to spend money to get the machine to work, I was going to return it to Goodwill and see if I could bargain an even better price. Then I saw this little U shaped part in the cut out next to the machine. It looked like just what I needed to help hold the needle in, but I never suspected it was the actual part I needed. It exactly fit in the groove that I needed it to fit in and after a little fiddling, I got it in and put a needle in and used the machine to finish a pair of lounging pants for Rob. That fixed, all that's left is the light switch doesn't turn the bulb off. I have to unplug the machine. But, this too is repairable. Given time.

No, I did not need another machine. I have more machines than some forests have trees. But, I love these old vintage machines and can't help but pick one up when I see something unusual or underpriced. Maybe...just maybe...one day I'll sell a few. Sydney has already let me know that on my first day in the old folks home, she's going to start putting my machines on the market. Little brat.

Two days of school left. They aren't doing anything but cleaning lockers and watching movies. But, she wants to be there, so there she is.

Take care everyone and we'll talk to ya' soon.



Gonna make some shirts

It's okay to call me wierd. But, I make things to commemorate events. Maybe it's beading a bracelet or a bookmark. Or, maybe small quilt. Regardless, I like to associate things with events and we have a lot of fun pulling something out later and remembering some event together.

So, for our vacation, I'm going to try to make some shirts. The route 66 fabric on top is for a camp shirt for Rob and the stripe is for a camp shirt for me. I finally stopped letting Sydney choose whether to find a pattern for me to make her a shirt and just took her to JoAnn's yesterday and basically refused to leave until she picked something. She picked a pattern and fabric and buttons, all by her own little self.

And, I asked Rob to help me get down the tubs of denim. I have denim, denim and more denim in every color, shape, size. I have it on bolts and I have worn out jeans and I have overalls and...you name it, I have it if it was made out of denim. At one point, I had so much that I just donated all the jeans that didn't have holes in them. And, I adopted a pair of overalls that I can put on over my work clothes to water in the yard in the morning. So Farmer Bill.

Sydney and I had a nice time out yesterday. She was suffering a terrible sugar hangover from the dance the night before. It was just she and I and I didn't try to talk to her or anything. We just celebrated the end of school, quietly.

Today, she gets to pay for telling Rob a lie. Mwahahahaha.

I did get to sew a bunch yesterday, but it's all boring sewing. My quilting was all ditchwork adn the most exciting thing about that is that you can't see it, which is what you really want from ditchwork. And, I'm appliquing, but just leaves. None of the pretty stuff.

But, today's sewing is going to be for stuff I can show, I hope. Finishing a pair of lounging pants for Rob and the last feathers on West of Paris, Texas. And, some bindings. Hmmm. Better get up and get at it. We're on our way to the hardware store to look for a couple pots of color for the yard and new knobs for the cabinets.

Relax? What's that? I wanna go. I wanna do. When I am gone, let them say, he was a dynamo!



Repeat after me...

No, not you, but this is what I had my daughter repeat after me last night.


I am being a dumbass.

And, I am soooo sorry.

I know that there are

only 4 days of school left

and, I promise

to do my best

and to take care

of my own responsibilities for at least that long.

At what age do they stop doing idiotic stuff? She is missing assignments at school. Sydney swore to Rob that she's turned them in. Yesterday, she went to the teacher and pulled them out of her binder to give them to the teacher. She had not turned them in.

Another thing that's missing is a reading log to show her teacher that she reads at least 90 minutes per week. I have to sign off on the reading log. I signed the reading log. But, she didn't turn it in! She reads for hours every week. Hitting 90 minutes is a breeze and should be an easy hundred points for a homework grade. But, because they're late, her max possible score is seventy points. What the Hell?

Lord give this child a brain. Please! I need her to take care of me in my old age and to make sure I end up in a nice resthome.


Last night was the choir concert. It was wonderful. I love the very unconventional choir teacher. She just doesn't let anything throw her. She adapts to it and is not above turning around and pointing out one of her students to the crowd for misbehavior. And, every concert, she chides parents that bring crying kids to a choir concert. Good for her. I know I couldn't do it.

Tonight is the dance. Rob and I have both been rooked into working ticket sales. Imagine, if you will, 350 sweaty, horny teenagers crowding in the door and stopping at the ticket table. They approach like a smelly tsunami, rolling over every obstacle we use to try to slow them down. Now, it's not so much their fault. We'll have several lists that we have to check their names against. That makes it a slow process and they're excited to get into the dance.

Procedures suck.

After taking tickets, we get to go onto the dance floor. We always enjoy that. Now that I've relaxed enough to actually dance with the kids, it can be very fun. And, I know the trouble makers names and their mama's names, too, so I'm expecting some really good behavior.


So, when am I gonna get back to sewing? Tomorrow! I am going to sew tomorrow! I am, I AM!

I have two quilts to bind; one machine, one hand. And, I want to cut out a shirt. And, I'm still quilting West of Paris, Texas. That should give me plenty to do. I've also been asked to make a denim picnic quilt before our vacation in August. So, I'll be pulling out the old treadle machine and doing some denim work. We'll either end up with a denim beach towel, or a quilt that is so heavy that it has to be washed with the water hose in the back yard. Only time will tell.


Okay, so one last thing. While I was in Cleveland, Maryann was able to post my guest blog, so here's a link to Rocknquilts and my guest blog. Please visit Maryann and read about how I started quilting. And, if you wouldn't mind, leave a comment to thank MaryAnn for inviting me. I'm sure she'd like to hear from us all.

Everybody have a great weekend. I'd like to propose that we all plan a vacation together and send our kids to a boot camp. How does that sound?



It is so nice to be home...

Got in last night, went home and ate a mound of spaghetti that the family left me. Almost immediately, it was time for bed, but it was sooo nice to climb into my own bed. It was shocking after days in the low to mid 80's in Ohio to get home yesterday and step off the plane in 97* heat. It just slapped me in the face and almost made me stumble on the jetway, it was so hot.

If you read my post yesterday...the one I deleted because it was too negative, even for me...then you know I wasn't very impressed with the conference. But, the wierd thing is that there was more going on than just the conference and I left feeling very uplifted and inspired to do my job better. I'm going to write a presentation and volunteer to be on the committee for the next conference...hey, if I want it to be different, may as well get involved and change it, right?

All was well at home and I certainly enjoyed getting to go sit in my sewing room this morning and work on a bit of applique. Dorothy was right. There is no place like home.

On the way home yesterday, I got picked for the big search because I gave the woman at security some guff. I objected to having to put my wallet and boarding pass in the xray tub at security, out on top for anyone to see and steal because my bag had already gone through xray. When I asked her if she was going to be responsible for the safety of my important items, she said no, the TSA is not responsible for items that are stolen. I am stupid and voiced, to no one in particular, that it hardly seemed fair that they force me to put my wallet in a tub for xray and then don't watch it to make sure it isn't stolen while I'm going through the detector. Next thing I knew, I was in the full nude xray machine. And, not being willing to stop there, exclaimed that I was so glad I wore briefs that day instead of boxers. That won me a pat down on my front because I had cash in my pocket that showed up on the xray. Turned out I had not actually emptied my pockets after all. For twenty dollars, a man got to touch my willy...I guess I should be glad I got to keep the dollars.

I hearken back to the words of either Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin who said "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety and will soon lose both." I did not feel one bit safer under the new method than I did the old method of security screening. It took longer and I still got through with my scissors and pocket knife. I felt no additional safety.


If you're in an area hit by bad weather, know that my thoughts are with you and yours. Remember that the last government administration assured us that global warming is not a threat and that all weather changes are the result of recurring weather cycles. Of course, they also assured us that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, so we know we can count on what they said.

Take care and have a good Thursday. We've got a choir concert tonight and then the end of school dance is tomorrow night. We are such involved parents.



Things don't usually work out, right?

Looks like the guest blogging thing didn't work out.

That's been my experience when folks have asked me to guest blog or sponsor or be featured. One day I'll learn not to get so excited.

Anyway, back to my life. The travel was okay. It's hard to leave the girl and the man at home to come up here for something that will not be for me what it will be for others. They'll have a wonderful time. Me, I'm just not a networker like that. They'll go somewhere tomorrow for fun and games (I heard the description of the place from the 12 year old that drove to dinner tonight). Me? I'll have dinner at the hotel and get to bed...sober, which will make me one of the most attentive people at the end of the conference on Wednesday.

This whole conference thing is wasted on me. I'd just as soon be at home, with the people I like the best. And, the dog.

But, other than a really bumpy ride from Houston to Cleveland, everything has been okay. I didn't get time to pull my sewing out in Houston airport. I did, however, walk about 2 miles in inappropriate shoes there because they couldn't decide which gate I needed to go to.

Then, I drew the big guy on the airplane. Nothing against big guys, but if he don't fit in one seat, that don't mean he can have part of mine. I paid as much as he did and deserve not to have a fat, sweaty armpit against the side of my face for two and a half hours. But, the good side was, it gave me something padded to bump into as we banged through the sky.

Now, I'll work for a few minutes and then it's off to beddy-bye in what looks like a very comfy bed. Only thing wrong with it is I'll be here alone. That sucks. But, this too shall pass.

Everybody have a great Tuesday. Lane

I'm a guest blogger

I'm a guest blogger on Rocknquilts today. MaryAnn asked me if I'd blog and she's had such a good string of folks talking about quilting, so when she asked if I'd be a guest, I jumped on that.

It's not there yet, so if you get there early, check out some of her other Monday guests.

And, she's been a very busy quilter.

I'm doing my final packing, getting ready for the airport and that means packing this laptop. Everybody take care and I'll be back in a couple days.

Til then, keep quilting.



And, on the third weekend...

With a goal like a quilt a month for Linus, I have to be very regimented. I really thought I'd be behind this month, but have managed to pull it off. On the first weekend, I cut. On the second, I piece. On the third I quilt and on the fourth, I bind.

I got this quilted in 3 hours this morning. It's not going to win any prizes, but it's pretty darn cute for something I just thought up and quilted in.

I just quilted the whole thing with repeating capital cursive L's. Tons and tons of L's. And, in the border, I did two repeats, so they really don't look like L's at all.

So, that's my quilting adventure for the day. I also managed to iron for my trip, so now it's off to the kitchen for a full day of fun making sure the family gets to eat this week while I'm gone.

Take care and have a great Sunday. Lane, with a capital L.

With my


Got that last seam in

And, I added a nice, bright red border, which is the same fabric as the John Flynn pieced backing and I was ready to pin baste. I spent less time piecing this whole quilt than it will take me to finish that pink quilt. I think I did this in like 5 hours. Now, some quick, allover quilting and another donation to check off the list.

I've got it in my Mom's Singer 15-91 right now, working on the ditchwork. All the straight lines do great on that machine, but for some reason, it has been skipping stitches on free motion. I might try one more time, but it's not like it's a big deal. I've got more machines to quilt on than Moses called frogs.

Everybody take care and hope you're having a terrific weekend.


One seam short of a quilt top

It's like being one crayon short of a full box.

So, close. But, alas, I have to get on to weekend chores and leave this on the wall. This has gone together so fast. I can make a block and a separate small four patch in about 3 minutes. The sashing and cornerstones are sewn to the blocks so I didn't have to work with more long seams. Space is at a premium right now.

Okay, so I'm off to it. Have a great Saturday. I'll get back to my project this afternoon when it gets hot around here. Good rain last night so maybe that will keep it a bit cooler.



Oh, the chaos

First thing is that I worked from home yesterday, in this room, with all my quilting stuff and I wasn't distracted...okay, not too distracted. I was in a 3 hour conference call in the morning and I used that time to prep hexies to take on a trip next week. But, that hardly counts because I was still working, right? I was actively listening to what they had to say. I got some training. I shared some thoughts. I did all I was expected to do on a long conference call, plus a bit of fun for me.

Lot's of folks talk about what a prolific quilter I am. I thought I'd show you what that looks like behind the scenes.

You can see West of Paris, Texas on the right hand side, in the machine being quilted. And, you can see that pink quilt across the back of my chair, awaiting borders. But what else is going on?

Well, I decided that the pink quilt is too much work to send to Project Linus. I need easy quilts if I'm going to produce a quilt per month. That quilt has the potential to be really, really cute, but it's going to take some more work to do that. So, I've set it aside and think I might have someone I know that would like it. That meant I needed something else that would be really fast for my May Linus quilt.

I pulled out a bunch of 9" four patch blocks that I put together a while ago and started adding some sashing and squares and that's going to be the May Linus quilt. Easy, mostly pieced already, and cute. I have 13 ready and need 7 more to make a teenager sized quilt.

I can't keep this room cleaned up. I clean it and one project later, it looks like this again. If a mess is the sign of a creative person, I must be creative as all heck.

So, why was I working from home yesterday? Sydney had what I had last week. But the rat didn't feel as bad as I did and by 2:30, she was fine. I'm still coughing and sneezing from something I had a week ago. Every time I came out of the home office, I gave her a Spanish assignment and she did them without complaint. When I came out at 2:30, she was running around the back yard with the dog, so I gave her a huge Spanish assignment. So much that she didn't finish last night and will get to work on it some more tomorrow. We're going to get through the 7th grade...soon.

Take care and have a great Friday. Enjoy your weekend. If you see a man in the Houston airport next week sewing hexies together, it's likely me. I doubt there will be two of us.




Way back in the day...when dinosaurs ruled the earth and school was a 12 mile uphill walk both ways in 2 feet of snow....

And, I was in school, good grades were expected. A's and B's were right. C's were unacceptable. I would have been afraid to have a D or F. The consequences would have been unthinkable. The majority of kids around me felt the same. Good grades were the expectation. Our peer relationships, our parental relationships, the entertainment industry, our teachers and all the other adults that congratulated us for good grades reinforced that.

I don't see that anymore. Peers and the entertainment industry seem to reinforce that failure is to be celebrated. That and boxer shorts that hang out above belt lines. The guy that drops out and rides off into the sunset on the motorcycle with the long haired, buxom blond is the hero. Nobody ever mentions that they both end up underemployed and bored and broke. They just remember that heroic ride into the sunset.

Last night, while I was being hated for taking away Sydney's laptop, I was reminded...by her...that all her friend's parents are just glad if their kids pass school. Who cares whether that's a C or D grade. As long as they pass. That's certainly different than it was back in my day. And, I question the truth that we're the only parents that care. (and I wonder just how many of those friends have laptops)

I was also reminded that teachers don't give enough work to help bring up a bad grade. No mention was made about who earned a bad grade to start with or all the reminders that Rob has given her over the last 4 weeks about her grades.

And, I was told that I could not possibly understand how hard she works at school. All I do is sit in an office all day and do nothing.

That's the one thing I chose to argue with.

At work, I'm an analyst. I use math. I look at numbers to answer questions. I use logic. People ask me questions and I have to find the answer and figure out whether there's a problem. I use language to convey my ideas in ways that others will understand. I use a keyboard to transmit those answers. I use history to help me find workable solutions and to do research. I am part of a peer group that has a pecking order.

In fact, my days are not all that different than my 13 year old's. Except she gets off work at 3:30 and has 3 consecutive months of summer vacation. What she's learning in school, I'm using at work.

And, if she hopes to use the skills at work, then she's got to learn them in school.

I don't know how much of that got through. Don't care. I talk. She sulks. She's mad. I'm unreasonable. I don't do anything. It's my fault that I don't make her do more homework (no mention that her constant refrain is that she has already done her homework).

But, you know what? There wasn't any yelling. There was very little crying (much to Rob's dismay after I promised weeping over the Spanish assignment I gave after her shower). That is soooo different from what it was like 3 years ago. Now we've learned. Give a clear expectation and stand behind it. Administer consequences. No need to argue. No need to fight. I am not responsible, nor do I have to answer, for her disappointment.

Life is so much better than it was Way Back in 2008.

In 2008, we thought we had to explain. We thought we had to argue that we were right. Maybe we did. Maybe that established the base for the expectations we have now.

I gotta tell you. I'd rather she text all her friends about how mean I am than to stand in the kitchen shouting back and forth with her.

And, I just keep reminding her that she doesn't really hate me. She's just pissed off and I'm the goat.

But, I gotta confess. There was a lot of satisfaction in making her do homework while she was so mad at me. tee-hee-hee.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Lane


Pride cometh before a fall

The photos here are just a tease. They're a couple of shots of "West of Paris, Texas". I can hardly believe that this beauty is coming out of my machine.

I was so inspired by the beautiful work I saw at Free Motion Quilting Challenge that I could hardly wait to sit and do some quilting. Feathers, because feathers are truly the most relaxing things to quilt...if I can relax and just let them flow. And, I've managed to relax and look what has flowed.

This first picture is from the center of the quilt. There are four blocks, each quilted with a feather wreath and then the crossing feathers in the longer strips. The longer strips were borne of mistakes that I made and I ripped and retried a couple of times. My last try resulted in one side of the twist and left half the block unquilted. So, I drew the other side and they were perfect together. Next, I just had to reproduce that happy accident three more times. The feathers in the green are from a stencil, but getting that to look just right took a bit of time. The lighter thread really shows up on the dark green sash, so it had to be darn near perfect. Several of those sections came out and were put back in before I was happy.

This next section shows the borders that surround the center. The braided border had to be marked for me to keep my lines of stitches straight. Again, marking that took time, but the result is worth it. Those bricks are also quilted in the ditch, so after washing, I should get a really great look there. And, the feathers are free hand on spines that I traced using bread plates from the kitchen. I used a larger plate in the corner and smaller plate in the straightaways.

All those feathers get a single outline around because I think that outline really sets off the quilting better. I don't fully understand why, because the outline seems to disappear around the main quilting and the main quilting shines brighter. When I compare something that has been outlined with something that hasn't, I can definitely see a difference.

So, I'm watching this perfect outlining come out of my needle and feeling the pride of good work. I get to a corner and reach kind of behind me and to the left and grab the corner of the quilt and flip it around and bang, there goes the coffee cup and I've spilt on the quilt back.

But did I shout a very ugly word and kick something? No, I did not. (not this time anyway) This is not my first time to make the coffee mistake. I seem to do this about once a year. And, I've learned that coffee stains do not have to be permanent. I cleaned up with a towel and blotted all I could out of the quilt and tied of the stitches and carried it to the kitchen and soaked the coffee spot. In my experience, that will blur the edges and blurring the edges goes a long way toward keeping this from looking like a stain. Even if there is some discoloration after I'm done, it won't be much and will fade into the surrounding fabric. Now, I'll finish my quilting and bind it and then I'll find that spot and rub a paste made of oxy-clean and resolve (formerly shout) into it and after that's washed, no more stain. At least historically that has worked and I'm sure (sure, sure, sure, sure!) that it will work this time.

Unfortunately, from now until it's properly washed, when I work on that quilt, my mouth will water and I'll crave coffee. Oh, well. I'm not going to give up my coffee and sewing, so better that I learn what to do when I have an accident.

Before I left home this morning, I went and checked on my stain. Most of the water was evaporated out and I could barely see the original spot.

Take care and have a great Tuesday.



In the pink

Okay, so feeling better is called "in the pink" and it has nothing to do with why my May Linus quilt is so pink.

Thanks so much for all your well wishes. We are feeling better, although both Rob and I found ourselves still tired this weekend. I could do some stuff, but would find myself winded and I still have a nasty cough. So, I spent my time piecing and quilting and sitting relatively still.

This Linus quilt is almost pieced. It is an effort to move as many of these large pieces of pink fabric out of stash as I can. I had the 60 half triangle squares left over and I have a ton of pink 2" squares, so I whipped out the little 4 patches and I cut the rest as 6 1/2" squares to fill it in. A couple of brown borders and some other leftovers that have pink and brown in them will complete this one. I'm going to piece a back out of large cuts of pink fabric.

I bought all this pink when Sydney came to live with us and her color was pink. Now, her color is purple and I can't get her to even consider using any of this pink fabric, so am glad to let it go to Linus where some little girl will love it. I hope.

While I was taking it slow over the weekend, I would wander out into the garden and sit in the sun. This abundance of bloom is what my garden gave me as a "get well". We had incredible storms on Thursday and everything is rushing to bloom before the water runs out, I think.

Okay, so that's it for me. Still behind reading blogs. Too much to do, too little time. But, I'll catch up eventually. Take care and hope you're having a great Monday.



Cough, cough, sneeze and sweat

Rob picked something up and in his loving way, brought it home and shared it with me.

Thursday and Friday were both very miserable days. I managed to work some and of course, my heart is still beating, so I've gotten in some sewing time. My May Linus quilt is well toward being pieced and West of Paris, Texas is about 60% quilted. And, my nose is finally not stopped up.

Sydney had a choir outing yesterday and she's recovering from a day spent riding roller coasters. Rob still isn't feeling up to par and has spent the day relaxing.

Okay, so not much to say now, just starting to peek my head out into the sunshine and going to read some blogs and take care of some business.

Hope all is well and that you're having a great Saturday. Lane


The wonder of travel trailer vacations

Rob and I were talking about our family vacation last night. A while back, we learned that I don't know how to take a vacation anymore. I usually go visit family or work on the house. Rob on the other hand knows how to travel. I find it inconvenient and would rather just stay home.

But, our discussion took us to travel trailer vacations and that brought me to fond memories of vacations spent pulling a trailer from site to site in caravan with friends and it was lucky that today was Way Back Wednesday.

When I was a kid, we owned a travel trailer. I remember when we bought our first trailer. We drove from north Louisiana to southern Arkansas to see the trailer at the seller's home. We were so excited. As I remember it, this trailer was tiny. I was a kid and it still seems tiny. The toilet was in the shower pan and the sink hung on the wall. A large person could not have stood between them to shower. There were tables and sofas that turned down to beds. For a kid, it was all fascinating, having a home that could be towed behind your vehicle.

We couldn't take the trailer home that day. We needed to have the hitch assembly installed. I think my Dad had to find an assembly nearer home and have it installed on our brown Chevrolet Impala. I remember being worried that the welder would explode the gas tank and we'd never get that trailer.

We got the trailer and we took it on vacations and we parked it at the lake and spent weekends there. From that little trailer, we graduated up to a larger trailer and I think there was one even larger after that. At some point, my Dad started pulling the trailers behind a black Chevrolet pickup with a camper shell on the back. He had a CB radio and my Mom made a large mat that could go in the bed of the truck and my sister and I could play back there while we drove from campsite to campsite.

We vacationed with a lot of families from the church. Families with kids and without. People who loved to fish and people that loved to "rough it" and people that loved to see the sites but wanted the familiarity of their own "stuff" around them.

We used to take trips that started at home and made an ice cream cone shape, north east, then a curve that went gradually curved northwest, west and then southwest and then turned south east for a direct route back home. In that curve, we'd see a passion play, Dogpatch USA, rivers and lakes and any other sites that interested us.

Sydney being 13, there probably won't be many more years that we could take a family vacation where we were as close to one another as a trailer would require. And, the economy being what it is, the family vacation may not be an affordable option much longer.

I don't know if I hope that we do it or not. That kind of vacation is a bit intimidating for me as it is way outside my normal routine, but the fun we had when I was a kid makes me kind of hope that we do. It would be a lot of work, but maybe there would be fun in that extra work. If it was up to me, we'd stay home and paint the house, so whatever we do, I hope they don't listen to me.


So, what's up with quilting right now? I need to learn to outline quilt. Tiny, little outline quilting. And, I am not very good at it. In fact, I don't think I'm very good at any quilting where the marks don't wash out, like ditchwork and outlining. I've pulled out my practice piece, where I practiced the leaves and flowers and now I'm outlining them. And, outlining that outline and the next and the next until it becomes a blurry echo.

But, I'm getting better. My line is more a reflection of the line I'm echoing, my stitch length is getting more consistent as is my machine speed, and I'm starting to relax. I'll practice at least 15 mintues each day until i get this down. What you see is about 3 days of practice. It's slow now, but I'm hoping that when I've built up the muscle memory, I'll get faster. That's how it usually works. In the time it took me to do this little bit of practice, I also did all the ditchwork on "West of Paris, Texas". Next project is to cut out a Linus quilt. So much to do, so little time.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. Learn something new.

Coser is spanish for the action verb, to sew.

So, go Coser!



Vegetarian Chili

Sydney says Chili without meat is a contradiction.

She's wrong.

I've been making a "meatless" meal for the family one night a week for a few weeks now. I've gone from following recipes to inventing. This idea came from Rob, who wanted Chili last week when I was trying to think of a vegetarian meal. An idea was born.

Because I came up with it, it's a bit of this and a dash of that, but I tried to give approximate measures. It had a bit of a bite, so if you have "gringo" mouth, cut the chili powder.

This was YUM-mee.

(All the vegetables were chopped into 3/4" chunks.)

1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 onion
a handful of sliced celery
2T Olive oil

1 Large Eggplant, peeled
3 Tomatoes
14 oz can of Cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 pkg Mild Chili Seasoning (we get it in envelopes from McCormick seasonings)
1/2C water
1T Chili Powder
1t ground cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put the first set of veggies in a large sauce pan with the olive oil and heat them until they start to soften around the edges and release their flavors. This is a very frangrant base for the chili.

Add the eggplant, tomatoes and beans and let this cook, stirring often until the eggplant starts to soften. Add the seasonings and water, reduce heat, cover and let cook about 10 minutes to season the veggies. Stir often to prevent sticking.

Don't overcook or you'll get a gluey goo.

Serve with crackers. Sydney added some grated cheese and a pickle.


I'm really enjoying this vegetable meal once a week. Last week it was spaghetti and the week before, a potatoe casserole. This week's meal is a cold potatoe salad. I eat several meatless meals a week, but that's not what I served the family. Now that I've started, they're kind of liking it. It's fun to invent new things based on what I already know about cooking, but it's also good to have a couple of vegetarian cookbooks for inspiration. For example, last week's vege spaghetti was supposed to be something totally different, but, just before it was finished, it looked really bland, so I tossed in the leftovers of a couple jars of spag sauce and everyone dug in like it was Tgiving or something.

On the quilting front, there is less excitement. I'm still working the ditchwork on "West of Paris, Texas". I hate ditchwork. BORING! And, exact. But, soon as that's done, it's all fun until the binding.

Sydney's purple quilt is ready for pin basting. That would be done by now, except I made her press it one last time on Sunday and she didn't want to and the whole mood of the thing came crashing down. I know it wasn't the quilt. Mother's Day is hard for her, and somehow, that's my fault. So, after several attempts to keep the project moving, I had her help me fold it up and we all went on to doing other things. No need to fight about it, even though that seemed to be what she really wanted to do. But, why should I ruin my day to give her something she doesn't need. It's funny. I kept turning my head away and biting my tongue to keep from responding and every time she'd leave the room, Rob would give a pep talk to keep me strong and ready for the next onslaught of rolled eyes and tears and sarcasm. But, we got through that and we have another Mother's day under our belts. We can rest until her Birthday, when, once again, Sydney's Mom won't even send a card and somehow, that will be my fault, too.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. If you have a favorite vegetarian meal that's not too fussy, please email it to me. We'd love to give it a try.



Thinkin' about quilting.

My Mom thinks I think about quilting all the time. Not true. I also think about 7th grade math and the mistake I made at work last week (and can't do anything about) and what needs to go on the grocery list.

But, I do think about quilting a lot.

That's how I can take this figure 8 off one background and put it on another. And, it's how I came up with a great piano key variation for a border. I got a suggestion to use "Crazy 8" as the name, but I'm thinking about "it takes two to make eight crazy" because this is the work of two quilters and working without a pattern is just "crazy".

But, I also came up with two spanish questions for the kid yesterday...if you can answer either one of these, I'll do dishes for a week. Needless to say, I will not be doing dishes this week.

Yesterday was "good parent's day" at our house, formerly known as "man-mom" day. Rob and Sydney did the cleaning and I supervised while they did the cooking.

Most precious moment was watching Sydney massage olive oil into a raw chicken to bake it. "Gross, gross, gross. Nobody should have to touch that".

Most delicious moment was Rob's home made ice cream, which I believe he was making for the first time.

And, my time was free to work on what I wanted, like the ditch work on this quilt.

And, a variety of other things that make me smile.

I hope your Mother's Day was wonderful, whether you were the Mom or honoring the Mom.

Take care and have a great Monday. Lane


My scrap user's system at work

Yesterday I talked about transitioning from a stressful time into a more relaxed time and how one sign of that change was a need to clean. Well, that and a sharp pain between my shoulder blades where that muscle is relaxing after 4 months of being knotted like a rubber band ball.

Part of cleaning is straightening up the sewing room and moving my pile of uncut scraps. These scraps are left from a period of creativity. When I'm being creative, I am not thinking about cleaning up scraps. So, they tend to pile up, no matter my good intentions to never let that happen. Then the pile falls over, and then they start to spill onto the floor and then I find a 1" wide by 4' long string caught between my toes as I walk through the house, like trailing a piece of toilet paper.

Following the FMQ challenge has left me ready to quilt. Not so much ready to piece, but I am ready to get something pinbasted and ready for some fancy machine quilting and I'm going to need the space where my scraps have built up.

So, I'm working on transitioning a pile of scraps that looks like this, left from shirts and all the quilts I've made this year...

Into strips and piles that look like this...

And, leaving all the wierd ends and points and selvage and serging in a pile like this that can go away.

Then, I store them in a drawer system (1 1/2" to 4" strips, sorted and ready to use)...

And, squares, 1 1/2" to 5" (I used to save 1" squres, but really. ya' gotta draw a line somewhere. I still save 1" strips in a large bag of strings, waiting for a string quilt.)...

So I can keep a box of stuff that's cut next to my machine to use as leaders and enders (the basket has a couple hundred joined pieces for a Texas Braid quilt)...

And, turn them into quilts like this, which came completely from my scraps, except for a few pieces of white that had to be cut from yardage.

Thank you Bonnie Hunter for introducing me to a way to handle my scraps. When I found Bonnie's method, I had two bins of scraps that were 12x18x24 and they were both chock full. Now, two years later, I'm down to one bin of untrimmed scraps that is 6x18x24. I knock them out a bit at a time, when I either don't know what I want to work on next, or I don't have the extended period of time that I need to do something like pinbaste a quilt. Sometimes, I'll take a whole weekend and just pull down the bin and trim.

One mistake that I made in the beginning was cutting scraps too small. I wanted to make the Irish Chain above and needed 2" squares and so I cut everything down to 2", so it's taken me a while, but I'm finally starting to get squares that are big enough to make a Linus quilt with.

I'm also getting to the point where I have a smaller stash, from trying not to buy fabric, and a bigger scrap bin and am looking forward to using that in my quilting. If you're thinking of starting your own system, or you're looking at a system and wondering why it isn't working for you, remember that it takes a lot of cutting to get your system off the ground, so don't get discouraged and don't think you have to cut everything down to a tiny square. We all use strips to piece quilts now, so leave some of your stash in strips. And, don't forget to shop from your scrap users system. The quilts you make from your scraps will be just as lovely as the things you made from the fabric originally, just with a lot more variety.

Take care and have a great Friday. I have big plans for the weekend. Lots of little things that want finishing...like this pile of scraps wanted finishing.



To ev'ry thing

(turn, turn, turn)
There is a season
(turn, turn, turn)
And, a time for ev'ry purpose, under heaven......

It is time to slow the whirling dervish. Stop the pinball bouncing off of things. Those things have had their season...at least for right now.

Okay, so when I'm being a whirling dervish, creatively spinning like a top, with partially completed projects flying out of the vortex like debris out of a tornado, there's only one thing that can stop the spinning.

I need a list. And, I need to clean. Those are my anchors.

Rob knows that when I'm spinning around like this and frustrated and stressed, the sign that change is coming is a good clean.

It started yesterday, when I wrote down all my outstanding projects, wrote the steps to complete them, and assigned each a priority number.

Last night, after a very frustrating afternoon at work, I made a plan for how I can change my work experience and hopefully make it a more positive one.

Then, I washed dishes.

And, this morning, I finished my MIL's quilt and instead of picking something else up, or continuing to rip out quilting and replace it, I started working on that pile of scraps and moving them into the scrap users system; picking seams and sorting by size and straightening edges. Making those scraps usable, so now I can use them up. And, leaving a clean space where they used to be.

Rob will be happy because now I can finally finish the kitchen I started painting and have left half done for 6 weeks.

My boss will be happy because, historically, when I settle down, I do some really great work.

And, Sydney was just happy she didn't have to do the dishes last night.

Life is a cycle for me. Up. Down.

Both serve a great purpose in my life. In the up times, I'm creative as hell. In the down times, I'm reflective and caring and am most likely to open myself to new emotional experiences. But, in the transition, when up changes to down, or the other way around, and those two extremes compete for control, I'm a pain in the ass to everybody. Moody. Cranky. Grumpy. All the bad dwarves, except Sneezy (and in spring and fall, he gets inside my head, too.)

I know I'm not alone. So, if you're transitioning, hang in there. Try something comforting and hold on. If you're not transitioning, enjoy the high...or the low, whichever it is. And, if this doesn't describe you, then you're lucky. Hey, I may be crazy, but I'm never boring.

Oh, and you're welcome for the Byrd's song I stuck in your head.



National Junior Honor Society

Last night was the induction ceremony for National Junior Honor Society at Sydney's school. And, she finally got the chance to wear that purple dress.

What is it with kids not wanting their picture taken??? Don't they know that we're proud parents and want to remember this good moment? Don't they understand that we live on these good moments while we're willing ourselves not to strangle them?

I was inducted into NJHS. I was in 8th grade. Things were certainly different then.

Last night, I saw the officers of NJHS light a candle and talk about what each of the NJHS qualifications meant.

Scholarship; Good grades. A GPA of 85%, B average, or 3.0 depending on the scale the school system uses. If they meet this qualification, then they are evaluated on the remaining qualifications.

Service, defined through voluntary contributions made to the school or community done with a positive, courteous and enthusiastic spirit.

Leadership; resourceful, good problem solvers, promoters of school activities, dependable, positive attitude about life.

Character; upholds principles of morality and ethics, cooperation. Demonstrates high standards of honesty and reliability, shows courtesy, concern and respect for others.

Citizenship; understands the importance of civic involvement, has a high regard for freedom, justice and democracy and demonstates mature participation and responsibility through involvement.

Who? My kid? The one that lives at our house?

Somewhere, I have the newspaper clipping where I was inducted. There were 4 of us. This was the early years of Junior Honor Society. I'd had cousins in Honor Society in High School, but had not heard of a branch for Junior High, or Middle school. I couldn't find the clipping despite turning my memory boxes and scrapbooks upside down. So, let me tell you a bit about that day.

This was the 70's and it was the south. Two members inducted were white and two were african-american. Two boys and two girls. Fred was the son of a teacher at the school. Fred was very attractive and very warm and friendly and outgoing. Everybody was his friend. He did not have any of the friend issues I had in school. One of the girls was Denise. I had grown up with Denise and don't remember when we met; I just always knew her. We went to the same schools and the same church. She was a fixture in my childhood. I don't remember the other girl's name. Sure wish I could find that clipping.

I remember that taking the picture was wierd. It was very rush-rush and seemed unexpected and unplanned. I'm not sure all the school staff would have approved of white children and black children in the same newspaper photo and I think the schools NJHS faculty sponsor wanted to make sure her son's picture made it into the paper. And, who could blame her? I remember that they had the two boys pretend to be talking to one another and the two girls were pretending to talk to one another. The headline was National Junior Honor Society Members Named.

We had the whole world ahead of us then. The chance to make a difference and as far as we knew, there was nothing that could stop us.

I had two years in Honor Society and then we moved. The school I moved to didn't put much stock in Honor Society. I don't remember ever meeting or anything like that. Seemed that school was more interested in the football team and the FFA and the 4H club than Honor Society. And, Honor Society passed through my life like so many other things.

When we got home last night, I was a bit dazed. It had all been a bit overwhelming.

First, the crowd. According to school faculty, the turnout for the induction and awards ceremony last night was the biggest crowd the school has drawn for any activity. We're part of a parental involvement trend, I guess. We've been hearing this comment from faculty since 4th grade. We've seen schools have to open extra rooms and expand plans to accomodate us and last night, we saw many familiar faces from the 4 years that Sydney's been in this school district. We are the parents and we turn out. According to faculty, we're the first group to turn out in such large numbers in many years.

It was also the night for the school orchestra's extraordinary performers to do their solos and the first was a cellist and he was fantastic. The second was a violinist and he was better. The third one was...overwhelming. His playing was so beautiful it brought tears to my eyes and just after he started, I heard other people around us gasp at the beauty of his music. After they were released, two and three came and sat in the row in front of us and Rob and I couldn't help but lean forward and congratulate them on their wonderful performances. Oh, how I'd love for my little girl to love anything, to be devoted to anything, to practice ANYTHING like these boys clearly had.

And, I had my own memories of my induction ceremony, 36 years ago, where the teachers each lit a candle and talked about one of the qualifications for NJHS. And, I thought about that newspaper clipping and Fred and Denise. And I thought about how invincible I felt then, before I had lived my life.

I was also confused about how my girl qualified. I spoke this to Rob and he introduced the idea that there is the Sydney we fight with to do homework, but there must also be another Sydney that is helpful and is a good citizen and does care about society. I was like that.

I wish I knew more about that other girl. Someday I'd like to meet her and I hope I will. In the meantime, I'll keep pushing her to do her homework and to learn spanish and math. I'll make her eat good food and teach her to make good decisions. And, I'll try to encourage her to keep writing and trying and I'll be there to help her up when she falls. And, I think I'll buy her something from the online NJHS store that she can keep, like I keep that clipping. Something to remind her of when she was invincible.

Happy Way Back Wednesday,


A distinct inability to focus

Is anybody else experiencing an inability to focus? Discombobulation if you will? I know it's got me, and it's got me bad. I'm hoping it's because school is nearly out and there's just so much going on and that things will get back to their normal pace by end of the month.

So, what does discombobulation look like, when it comes to me? I described myself yesterday as a pinball in an old fashioned pinball game; bouncing from one thing to the other. And, it's been reflected in my quilting. I keep bouncing from one big project to the next, unable to focus on one thing in a straight line. I work on this for a while and then I get bored and I work on something else for a while and I get bored. Consequently, there's a sofa in the sewing room that is stacked with WIPs, WFIs, WFSs, UFOs, PHDs or whatever you want to call the detritus of a whirling dervish. I also have a pile of scraps from my last 3 or 4 quilts that needs to be cut down and loaded into the leader/ender containers.

This quilt was in the pile on the sofa. It is most assuredly and definitely a WFS (waiting for skill). When I got my Bernina 4 years ago, I couldn't wait to free motion quilt something. So, I made this lovely fall quilt for our bed. And, I tried to FMQ this queen sized quilt as one of my first projects. And, I made a mess of it. A big mess. But, it's so darn cute that I don't want to waste it. And, Rob and I both love it.

I thought you'd be able to see mistake numbers one and two in this photo. Mistake one is that I did not have a sufficiently large sewing space to accomodate a queen sized quilt. And, I didn't know about working in smaller sections, so I was constantly pulling and tugging and pushing trying to move the whole quilt around in the throat of the machine so I could quilt over the whole thing at once. And my lines are bad, juttery and jerky. And, my stitch length is...inconsistent (that's putting it very politely). Mistake number two was drawing directly on the paper I used to mark the quilting design on the top. Part of it was marked in sharpie and part in pencil. Both transfered from the paper to the thread, so when I tore away the paper, the bright and cheerful yellow thread is gray and dirty looking and that's never going to wash out.

Mistake three was leaving off the border in hopes it would reduce the weight of the quilt. Yep, all 12 ounces of additional fabric would actually make a difference in the weight of this quilt. Wanna buy a bridge?

So, this one has languished in the top of the closet for 4 years, untouched and unloved.

Now I have the skills to quilt this quilt. I've built those skills from years of wall hangings and linus quilts and other small projects and I'm ready to give this big monster another try. But first I have to pull all the quilting. And, this is almost completely quilted. Last night, in two hours, I managed to pull thread from a section that was about 1.5'x2'. That's going to take some time, but it's a good project for sitting in the LR watching TV with the family. My seat on the sofa is directly under the A/C vent, so sitting under a quilt and pulling thread is not too unpleasant. It's just going to take lots and lots of time. But, hey, what else is relaxation time for, right?

On another happy note, I've decided to pull the circle 8 quilt off the gold background. It is not working for me. I have a medium chocolate brown fabric that I bought on sale to back some future quilt. I looked at the figure 8 against the brown fabric this morning and I'm thinking I might have found my background. So, now I get to look forward to pulling the sewing out of that project, too. I love seamrippers.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. And, remember the lesson my Dad taught me. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Unfortunately for me, that usually means doing it more than once. And, sometimes more than twice.



Weekend projects

As I look back over the weekend, seems that we did very little. Except we actually did a lot.

Friday night, we had a bit of a grill emergency, so Saturday, a few hours had to be devoted to the grill and some heavy elbow work. Fortunately, I had a bottle of an excellent degreaser that made short order of what would otherwise have been a nightmare activity and while it isn't as clean as new, it is incredibly clean. Took two days to get all the grease off my hands, but the grill is clean.

I also bound the April Linus quilt with a foldover binding. More on my Linus quilt progress soon.

Most of Sunday was spent mounting this circle 8 quilt to it's background. It's been appliqued down. And, true to my own way of doing things, I'm not happy and will be taking it off again and adding a bit of folded bias tape to the edge. We talked about it yesterday and I didn't do anything, but after seeing this photo this morning, I know I'm going to have to add it. Probably blue or red and it will go right along the edge and hopefully will only be a quarter inch wide and will keep that light outer edge from blending in too well with the light background. Oh, well. Live and learn, right? But, if I'm careful, I should be able to work that right in with a minimum of effort. As far as I'm concerned the hard work is already done, just getting this huge thing mounted to a back. Undoing a few stitches, inserting the tape and then re-sewing it down should be a piece of cake. The thing is so huge, I had to pin it and do all the sewing on the living room floor. At one point, every straight pin I own was in this quilt. Three different sizes. Hundreds of pins.

I used a blind stitch to applique it on, so only every 5th stitch will need to be cut to slip the tape under the edge. Now, I just have to make about a mile of bias tape. Yippee for me.

There are a couple of funny looking lines in this picture where things come together, but when it was all stretched out on the floor, those were not there, so I think they'll quilt out if I'm careful. Because each wedge is cut on the bias, the whole thing wants to stretch, so if I've done nothing more than stabilized that willingness to get bigger, I've accomplished a lot.

Have I mentioned lately that making a quilt without a pattern is crazy? It's just CRAZY! Lots of figuring it out as I go. Remember that this came to me as two partially assembled circles and a ruler. No pattern, no plan, not enough fabric to finish. So, a few starts and stops are to be expected. And, quite a bit of seam ripping.

And, this is what Rob picked for his birthday present. His previous 65 gallon tank had just sprung a leak and it was worrying him and he was having a good bit of trouble replacing it. But, he found this one that's only a bit smaller and most of his weekend was spent moving water and large fish from one tank to the other.

We are truly fish keepers. Some of the fish in this tank have been with us for over 5 years and came from the guy that gave Rob the tank to start with. Some we've acquired. And, fish that outgrow either Sydney's or my tank go into his tank.

The rest of my Sunday was spent making a belated birthday cake, three banana breads, a pork roast and doing dishes. Again, yippee for me, right?

Take care and have a great Monday.