Monday, November 29, 2010

I Just Got Back From Vacation So Why Am I So Tired?

Yesterday afternoon we got back from a short trip up the California coast.  We usually try to get away after Thanksgiving for a couple of days, it's a great way to get ready for the holiday season, and by the time Thanksgiving is over, I'm ready for a break!

The holiday went well.  Dinner was on the table on schedule.  We survived the famous "crunch time," (when everything has to be ready at the same time!), and the food was gobbled up in no time.  I had decided that I didn't want to have any leftovers because we were going to be gone, so I was pleased to have just enough to fill up some containers for my folks and sister-in-law (she loves my sweet potatoes).  Now I have an empty fridge and no desire to go to the grocery store ever again.  I think I'd better get over that!

Friday we headed up towards the coast.  For us that means a trip through the Sonoma Valley and the beautiful vineyards.  Harvest is well over, but the leaves on the vines are now red and gold, and although it was overcast you can't beat the scenery.  We stopped in Ukiah to visit with my sister-in-law's family and had a lovely time with them.  Then we headed up through Boonville to Mendocino and on to our hotel in Fort Bragg.

We stayed at the Surf Motel and Gardens and although the rooms were a little faded, they were clean and quiet.  They were also willing to accept our little dog Indy and had a great dog area outside our room, including a fenced in doggie park.  He loved it!  All of the sniffing he was able to do made up for the fact that it rained a lot.

Saturday morning we took Indy for a walk on the beach.  I wasn't sure how he'd do but he loved it.  We took him off his leash and he explored everything.  Fortunately, he wasn't interested in getting near the water so he played in the sand and ran around like he'd never been outside before in his life.  He also got to meet some other dogs, always a huge treat!

Afterwards we headed up to Mendocino to check out the Headlands scenery and do some shopping.  I absolutely love Mendocino!  I used to go up there a lot but it's been about 5 years since my last visit.  For those of you who don't know about it, Mendocino was the setting for the series "Murder She Wrote."  It's very like a New England village but with a distinctive North Coast Hippie vibe.  The folks here are really politically correct, which usually rubs me the wrong way, as I don't like feeling like I'm being told what to do or think.  However, they're pretty mellow about it so it's more endearing than annoying.  Besides the food is great, (the Garden Bakery has the best peanut butter cookies I've ever tasted!), and you can't beat the scenery.

Our favorite shop is called "Out of This World."  It's been there for many years and has a great selection of telescopes and fun games and science type things for kids and adults.  My husband has been considering purchasing a good telescope for years so it's always his first stop.  Of course, my son loves the Lego section, and I just enjoy hanging out with the owners and their employees, who were sweet enough to allow me in with Indy and even gave him a treat!

If you're ever visiting California the North Coast is definitely worth seeing.  The scenery is spectacular, there are lots of wonderful restaurants, and it's unique enough that it doesn't feel as touristy as other areas can.  If you love steam trains, the Skunk Train runs out of Fort Bragg which is only about 8 miles from Mendocino.  We didn't go on it this time, but we've been before and it's fabulous!

The North Coast is also one of those places where it doesn't matter that much if it's sunny or rainy.  We had some severe squalls come through, and then the sky would clear and the sun would come out.  It was definitely the best of both worlds.

The only downside is that there isn't a great quilting supply store in the area.  Fabric Indulgence is located in the Boatyard Shopping Center in Fort Bragg, (at Hwy 20 and Hwy 1).  It's a great little shop for buttons, beads, dyes, and paints.  It also has fabric although the selection is small.  The fabrics are well chosen, however, and the uniqueness of some of the embellishments make it worth a visit.  There's also a Yarn shop down the walk from them, and a great supermarket with a wonderful deli, bakery, and wine section.  It would be a great place to pick up a picnic lunch before heading out for the day.

All in all we had an enjoyable trip, but as I said in the title to this post, I'm very tired today.  It was great to get away, but now all of the things I have to do and want to do are staring me in the face again.  I have a very messy studio to clean up and a guest bedroom to clean out, but I'm most dreading putting all of my Thanksgiving stuff away and getting out the Christmas stuff.  Now, that's a big job!

So, I'd better get to it!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday weekend.

Happy Stitching!

Susan




Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So Much To Be Thankful For!

I was hoping to get a few more posts in before Thanksgiving but considering the groceries I bought yesterday and the chaos my house is in....well, it's not looking good!  Especially since I'm hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year.

So, I thought I'd spend my last post writing about all of the things I have to be thankful for.  There are so many that I can't list them here.  Suffice it to say that family, friends, country, and God are in the top four.  And, of course, the fact that I can afford to bring home tons of groceries and have a home to bring them too are also in the top ten.

Since it's impossible to list all of my blessings, I decided to focus on the quilting ones and hope you have some more to add.

So, here goes:

1) Okay, so this probably goes under the heading of givens, but I am grateful that I have the physical ability to quilt.  I can operate a foot pedal, use my hands to guide the fabric through the machine, and have the vision to see what I'm creating, (except when my left contact lens falls out!).  I'm also blessed with a high level of manual dexterity for hand quilting and embroidery.

2) I'm grateful that I've been able to accumulate a stash of fabric and supplies so that when the quilting mojo hits I can jump right in.

3) I'm grateful for the ongoing support of family and friends for my quilting endeavours.  Sometimes I think they get more joy out of it then I do, but then I get joy from their joy, so I guess we're even!

4) I'm grateful for all of the wonderful quilters-in-arms out there who are willing to go down "that" road with me on occasion.  You know, when I get on one of my crank-o-ramas about one thing or another?  Thanks for not giving up on me and hanging in there.  It may not be always a satisfying journey, but at least I don't think you'll fall asleep at the wheel!

5)  I'm grateful for the quilting industry.  All of the clever and creative men and women who've been making us salivate over quilt related goodies for years now.  What would we do without them?  I tell you, I love seeing what they're up to and then beating myself on the head because I didn't think of that nifty idea first.  "Stupid me, stupid me, stupid me!"  Hey, are those stars or did my left contact lens fall out again????

6)  I'm grateful to all of the wonderful quilting writers and the magazines that publish their work.  Special thanks to Melissa and Jake at Quilter's Home who have been so sweet and generous to little ole' me, (and who can forget those silly emails about my husband's odd predilictions? ... not what you think, by the way, all will be revealed in time...).

7) I'm grateful for the few successes I've had and the many setbacks I've experienced in my quilting life.  Whenever I get frustrated about something not working out my 12 year old pipes up with a comment about how many times Thomas Edison discovered how not to invent the light bulb.  (Why does he have to be right when I just want to whine?).

8)  I'm grateful for my studio.  It's a sometimes well organized space that I know I'm very fortunate to have.  It's also got a great little red chair that my little dog has made a bed in.  It's great to be stitching away and then look up to see him sleeping peacefully there.  Kind of gives me some perspective when I really screw something up.  He'll love me anyway....

9)  I'm grateful for my computer.  Even though my last one crashed,  I've been enjoying getting used to having a laptop and it's not such a bad thing.  I'm sitting in my comfy chair in the family room right now, typing away to the smell of fresh baked bread, and avoiding making my son his breakfast, (one more paragraph, sweetie!).

10) I'm  most grateful that I saw those quilts in that old 1960's issue of McCall's Needlework and Crafts.  I was just a kid then, but I'll never forget how happy those quilts made me.  They still do!

I'm not sure if I'll be posting again for a few days.  I have a lot to do to get ready for the holiday and then we will be heading up the North Coast of California for a few days afterwards.  I'm looking forward to enjoying  a long walk in Mendocino on Saturday, it'll be great to recharge those batteries.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Thanks for everything,

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tossing It

As I've been mentioning lately, it seems like things have gotten a little out of control stashwise at my house.  Tonight my hubby wanted me to explain all of the stuff I have shoved into the guest bedroom closet...Yikes!

It was kind of embarrassing because at least half of it was stuff that I had when we moved into our house over 5 years ago.  I shoved it all up there and I haven't looked at it since.

The same thing is going on in my kitchen.  I've been cleaning out my cupboards and am embarrassed to find things I didn't even remember I had.  I mean, I know I'm getting older and the memory isn't what it used to be, but this is getting ridiculous.  I found 3 containers of dishwasher detergent under my sink, two of them nearly full.  Which means that I bought 2 that I didn't need.  I'll be tackling my dishware shelves next and I'm fairly certain that I'll find baby dishes in there, (and my son is nearly 13).  I actually threw bottles away when we moved into our house 5 years ago, when he was 7....why I hung onto them I don't know.  It wasn't like I was going to have another baby at my age.

I joke a lot about the show "Hoarders" although it isn't particularly funny.  The fact is that many people have a real problem getting rid of stuff and I'm one of them.  Of course I don't have newspapers stacked all over my house, (I put them in recycling as soon as I finish them).  I also get rid of old clothes, magazines, and sell my old books to the used bookstore. 

However, if it's the tiniest scrap of fabric that I think I might need, or a few beads, or some art supplies....

It's a whole different story!

As a child I always wanted more art supplies, (I used to wish I was Samantha on Bewitched so I could wiggle up some Scotch tape).  We weren't poor but I don't think an endless supply of Scotch tape  was in our family budget.  I'd be very surprised if there wasn't more than one occasion when there wasn't any tape in the house to wrap a birthday gift.  I had a real Scottish addiction, (go figure, I marry an Irishman, not a Scotsman....what was I thinking?)

Anyway, now I have all of the art supplies in the world, or at least more than I'll probably ever use.  A lot of that is because of the business I'm in.  Making custom presentations means that you need to have all different kinds of supplies on hand, and since I did I was able to make things happen and happen quickly.

However, that business is very slow right now, (more like nonexistent), so a lot of the art supplies I purchased for projects, (and that my clients paid for), I don't need any more.  Maybe it's my Scotch Tape deprived childhood that makes me hang onto this stuff, or maybe I have the old artist fantasy, that someday I'm going to get inspired and wouldn't it be awful if I didn't have what I needed right there and then?

Frankly, those scraps of fabric, dried up art supplies, and odd beads could very easily be donated or tossed and I probably wouldn't even miss them.  Now that I've been called on my "tendencies" I'm going to have to do something about it.  At least if I clear out the closet and the cupboards I can start pointing a finger at all of the fishing magazines and boxes of old cassette tapes....

So, I'm going to be starting my Spring cleaning before Christmas, and hopefully will be able to clear enough space that we won't have to pay the deductible on our homeowner's insurance for stubbed toes, (boxes sticking out from under the bed), or concussions, (from falling soup cans).  

Who knows, I might find a few rolls of Scotch Tape, (or a cute Scotsman)!

Happy Stitching!

Susan   

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Coat of Many Colors

Well, it's about time!  I finally finished a project, just in time for the first big storm of the year.

Above is my little dog Indy in his new coat, very snazzy!  The original pattern was very simple, and it went together, (once the patchwork was finished), in a few hours.  I'm very excited about how it looks, it suits him, and with the fleece lining and little fur collar, is also very cozy.

He doesn't usually like coats very much, but he seemed to take to this one.  It gives him a lot of freedom of movement so that's probably why.  Of course, the band around his tummy doesn't interfere with his boy parts so that makes him happy as well.

Here's a detail.  You can see the fur collar and the covered button I used to secure the front.  The part around his neck is attached by velcro, but it was a little long so the button holds it in place.
He's looking a bit pensive in this picture, I think he was just waiting for the photo shoot to be over!

Here's an overview of what the coat looks like.  Ignore the dirty rug, it's right by our back door. This little guy tracks in all kinds of stuff but I guess it's better that he does his business outside instead of on our new wood floors!

That's it for now.  It's so wonderful to have this done and it's inspired me to tackle more projects around my house like cleaning out my kitchen cupboards.  I cleaned under the sink today, (yuck!), and am going to be moving some other things around tonight.  It will be nice to have things in better order before Thanksgiving!

Happy Stitching!

Susan




Friday, November 19, 2010

Multi Tasking


Wow, what a difference a couple of days off can make!  I'm just amazed at how much I've accomplished yesterday and today so far.  I guess I was right when I thought a little "time off" might do the trick of amping up my mojo. 

Yesterday I actually finished piecing my little dog coat.  I ironed it on to some fusible fleece and am going to do a simple machine quilting so I can speed up the process.  I'd thought of doing the quilting by hand but realized that with Thanksgiving coming up, it would be nice to have the coat finished before I get caught up in the holidays.  I don't want this to end up in the WIP pile!

So, if all goes well I'll have more to show tomorrow.  Who knows?  I may actually finish this thing today....woo hoo!

I called this post "Multi Tasking" because I've been tackling a lot of projects the last few days, not necessarily quilting ones.  I'm sure that all of you have things you have to get done, especially with the holidays coming.  My husband is heading to Europe in mid December and will be able to stop and visit his family in Ireland on the way home.  So, I've been putting together small gifts for his nieces and nephews.  They have to be small and light due to luggage restrictions.  He's going to be on a business trip so he can't travel with too much baggage, so it's been a challenge finding appropriate gifts that will fit. 

I'm also going to be hosting Thanksgiving at my home this year so I'm starting to get ready for that.  I try to get a headstart on putting things away and cleaning out cupboards, etc.  It's a good time to do that kind of thing because I'll then have space for all of the holiday food.  And it makes it less embarrasing when guests are trying to help in the kitchen....if they opened some of my cupboards today they'd get hit by flying soup cans and packages of pasta.  Probably not a good way to treat your guests, especially the helpful ones!
 
Since I've been out and about shopping for family in Ireland I always have an eye out for things for my own family.  Today I had a chance to go into one of my favorite bargain stores, Fallas.  Everything is inexpensive and some of it is really cheap in more ways than price.  However, that's part of what makes it fun, trying to find the "real" bargains.

I got lucky today.  My son has been wanting a Giants shirt, they're a local team for us and we've always rooted for them unless they were playing the A's, (it's so handy they're in different leagues).  I guess you could say they're our favorite National League team.  Anyway, because of the world series win, Giants stuff at a reasonable price is very hard to find.  Imagine my surprise when I found this Giants long sleeved thermal shirt for only $3.99!

Of course, as is often the case at Fallas, there was a reason it was so inexpensive.  The "I" and the "A" had been damaged by the ink rubbing off onto the shirt from the tag, (you can see the pattern of the waffle weave on the tag).  Under closer examination I realized that the ink was only sitting on top of the vinyl letters, so I took a chance that I could clean it off.

Well, a little Goo-Gone on a paper towel and some brisk scrubbing got the black ink off and now I have a perfectly beautiful shirt that my son will love and that only set me back $3.99.  Woo hoo!!!

The other thing I love about Fallas is that they have very low priced bead jewelry.  These strands were only $1.99 each, a huge bargain because they cost a lot more in the craft store.  It will take me some time to take the necklaces apart but the pink and purple beads are colors I don't have, and the quality looks good.  So, it looks like I'll be spending part of this upcoming stormy weekend sorting beads!

I'm going to head off and quilt the patchwork for the dog coat and put on my new pair of contact lenses. Now, the contact lenses are a story, but one I'm saving for a day when I don't mind looking like a complete moron!  It's classic me....

Hope your weekend is productive and happy!

Happy Stitching,

Susan


Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Slippery Sloper

Well, I'm back and I seem to have some mojo, at least more than I had on Tuesday!  Yesterday I had some errands to run and was at Target and saw the cutest little dog coat.  Now my little dog, Indy, (shown above) is only about 12 lbs and he gets cold a lot.  During the cold weather he wears a light sweater around the house and a warmer coat outside.

We're expecting a cold front to come through very soon, and I've been wanting to make him a patchwork coat.  He already has a patchwork halter, and it's always a hit, so I thought, why not make him a little coat?

My problem has been finding a pattern for one.  I refuse to pay $10 for patterns but whenever they're on sale, the dog coat patterns are all sold out.  Bummer!

Oh well, I may not be motivated, but if I'm anything, it's creative!

So, when I saw this cute coat I thought, "Hmmmmm, maybe I can use my clothing construction skills to make my own pattern."  Bingo!  So, I bought the cute little coat below.  Now, Indy is a boy and I have to say that if they'd had this little coat in a color other than pink I probably would have just bought it for him and that would have been the end of that, (hint, lack of motivation).  But, curses!  They only had pink!

I love this because it's so simple and will be easy to make a "sloper" from.  Now, for those of you who haven't been through the rigors of tailoring and pattern making classes, you might not know what that is.  Essentially it's a very basic pattern that gives you a good fit.   Most of the time tailors make them for their clients so they can easily adapt them into just about anything.  Once you get the basic fit right, then it's easier to add fashion.  We made them in pattern drafting and they ended up looking like a very simple sheath top and skirt, something Jackie Kennedy would have worn.

Slopers usually don't have seam allowances, but in this case I made it easy on myself and added them on.  Here's how you do it if you have a finished garment and you want to recreate it.  Keep in mind that this usually only works with very simple designs.  Most designers would have an accurate sloper and then make the adjustments to the pattern pieces for more complicated designs.

To make the pattern I lay the garment out on a piece of thin cardstock, (poster board from the Dollar Store works great).  Since this is a pattern that I will probably use over and over again, I want the pattern to be sturdy since I'll be storing it. When I did pattern drafting we used to punch holes in our slopers, put the pieces onto a binder ring and hung them on the wall. 

In this case I decided that I wanted my curves to be consistent on both sides, (very hard to do when tracing), so I'm only making a half pattern.  I lay the garment out as flat as possible, then using a pencil trace around the seam lines, making sure to note things like where pieces are joined, where the collar ends, etc.  I will also mark the buttonhole where the halter ring will come through.  I make construction notes like places where there's binding and no seam allowance, and "center line."  Just think about what you'll need to know about constructing this garment if you go back to make another one months or years from now.  There's no such thing as too much information. 

In this case the pattern piece is so small I can keep it steady with my hand, large pieces may need something to weigh them down so you can get a good trace.  Since this is a dog's coat and the fit is adjustable I'm not overly concerned about small differences between the original and the final.  It won't make much difference, (it's not like I'm on "Puppy Project Runway"!).


Here's the finished pattern, showing the main coat along with the flaps and the collar, (which I will cut on the bias).  It's not the greatest photo but I think you get the general idea.

Now the fun part!  Selecting the fabrics!  Since Indy is such a cute little black and white dog, (so fashionable, and looks good in everything...), I decided to do the coat in black, white, red, and brown, (with a smattering of orange because I love it so much).  I bought the fleece at Joann's for $3.99 a yard, and raided my stash for the rest....Stashbusters!!!

The plan is to do strip piecing to make 1.5" squares.  The smaller squares will allow me to get more color onto the coat, and hopefully they'll be enough left over to make myself a tote bag so we can coordinate.  (This is beginning to get a little bit strange.....)

Here are my selections:
That's it for now!  I have some mojo coursing through my veins so I have to get this going before it's gone.  Hopefully I'll have more to show you tomorrow.  Besides, I want to take the coat back to the store for a refund, (I'm such a bad girl but....note to Target...carry boy colors!!!).

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cultivating Patience

There's an old saying, "Patience is a virtue."

I wish I had more of it!  I don't know what it is but lately I'm having a very hard time getting excited about anything, or focusing on anything.

It occurred to me today as I was doing some piecing that my problem is that I lack patience.  I used to think I was a patient person, but I probably never was.  In the past it was easier to take my time and spend a lot of time working on projects I'd never finish.  Now, however, it really bugs me when things take longer than I think they should, or I have to wait, or things just plain aren't going my way.

Now that I'm over fifty, time doesn't seem to be as endless as it used to be.  Frittering away an afternoon isn't something I do lightly, and yet I seem to do a lot of it unintentionally.  I get hung up talking to a friend on the phone, or going round and round on a graphic design project with a client.  Then just when I feel I can actually get something done, it's time to pick up my son from school and the day's gone.

I remember when I used to work full time in an office.  For some reason I seemed to have more time then, or perhaps I managed it better because I had to.  Now, I have more time, and yet get less done.  It's a dilemma I need to solve, because I know I need to create and my lack of patience is related to that frustration.

So, today I decided to take the rest of the afternoon and tomorrow off.  I have some projects around the house that need to be done, and perhaps I need a break from the creative part of my life.  Forcing it doesn't work, and perhaps if I step away for a day or too my mojo can break through and I'll be back on track.

It's hard getting older but there are some advantages.  I was talking to my mother earlier and I realized that one of them is that you've been around long enough to have experienced the ups and downs of life.  Things don't always run smoothly and often don't work out the way you planned.  As I've gotten older I'm less disappointed by these obstacles, I try to view them as learning experiences and as time that I have to "live through" to get to the more exciting times to come.

So, I'm going to try a little down time and see if that can't recharge my engines.  I actually feel like I'm on the crest of something, but maybe I need to step away to get on top of the wave instead of get smashed under it.

So, I'm going to enjoy the evening with my family, run my errands tomorrow and maybe, just maybe, be on track for some real creativity on Thursday.  One can only hope!

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Monday, November 15, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

A few posts ago I wrote about how my stash was getting out of control.  Today I was pulling fabrics for some Christmas gifts, (those of you on my list, don't get too excited....you know me!), and it dawned on me that having too much can be nearly as bad as having too little.

Now, those of you with stash envy probably think I'm crazy, I know I would have thought the same.  However, it becomes more difficult when you have too many choices to make decisions.  I'm always second guessing myself that maybe that fabric would be better, or that one, or that one, and before I know it I've successfully avoided selecting anything, or getting anything done.  It's a bummer!

There was a great line in the film "Mary Poppins."

Enough is as good as a feast.

I use it when my son, (or me), wants another cookie.  It's really true about everything, even a fabric stash.  The problem is, when do you know that enough is enough?  It's not like when you eat too much ice cream or drink too many margaritas and end up riding the big white bus.  It just kind of creeps up on you, one minute you have plenty of space, the next your house looks like an episode of "Hoarders."

I was feeling overwhelmed today.  I loved everything and couldn't make up my mind what to use.  So, I did what I would do professionally, I narrowed down my choices.  I selected a few of the fabrics that I really loved and couldn't wait to use, selected a pattern with lights and darks so I'd have to meet those criteria, and then picked out other fabrics to coordinate with my faves.

I now have a nice selection sitting on my ironing table waiting to be pressed and cut.  Right now it feels pretty good, but that's because I'm in the "zone."  However, I have to stop now, clean out my dishwasher, start dinner, and then get ready to head out to basketball practice.  Once again life is interrupting my mojo flow...

On a personal note, my son's team lost their championship game.  It was sad because they'd only lost one other game all season but we should have seen it coming.  They were only eeking out wins and luck seemed to be on their side.  Saturday night the other team just overwhelmed them.  The boys were so upset and some of the parents took it pretty hard.  My son was bummed out but he always handles these things well.  My husband thought he should be more upset, but as I told him, he was the one that trained him how to win and lose.  I'm actually proud of my son for taking it so well and supporting his teammates who weren't.  The ability to bounce back from disappointment is a great gift, I'm glad he has it.

Besides, if they had won they would have had to play the team whose parents taunted us out to the parking lot a few weeks ago.  I'm just as glad we won't have to go through that again, and I imagine if they lose this game it could be worse. 

Hope things are going well on your end,

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Facing Reality


I called this post "Facing Reality" because I think there comes a time when that's exactly what we have to do.  I have a capacity to delude myself for a while; there's always that feeling that if I just worked a little bit harder that I could get everything done.  Yeah, really!

Anyway, I've had to accept that I will not be able to finish the Joann's contest quilt in time to make the deadline.  I thought I could but between illnesses, business, and family obligations.... it doesn't look like it's possible.  It's too bad because I think if I had about another month I could do it, but that's the way it goes.  Fortunately, due to all of "the things that came up" I hadn't gotten a lot done so I'll be able to salvage it for something else.  I am disappointed though.

I am of the opinion that if obstacles keep being thrown in your way that it's God's way of telling you, "Don't go there girl!"  I try to remember this when I'm frustrated because I know that things usually work out better when I go with the flow than when I fight it.  If something is supposed to happen and will be good for me things will fall into place.  When they don't and frankly create huge hulking walls of doom.... that's a good clue that it's time to move on.

One time I keep this in mind is when I'm trying to get somewhere and I just can't get any luck getting there.  I can't find my keys, I hit every red light, I get behind a slow poke who has no idea what a gas pedal is for...you know what I mean! 

About 2 years ago there was a horrible accident near my home.  A woman was hit head on and killed instantly.  It happened about 2:00 in the afternoon, on a street that I drive down at about that time on a regular basis.  That particular day, there was a last minute thing I had to take care of at work so I ended up running about 20 minutes late.  At the time I was frantic because I didn't want to be late to pick up my son at school.  So I was rushing to get home when I hit a major traffic jam on my regular route.  There was an overpass with an exit so I took it instead, knowing I could get to my son's school quicker if I was moving than if I was sitting.

It wasn't until the evening news that I found out that the accident had happened.  The victim was driving where I would have been if I hadn't been held up at work and she was hit by an out of control driver.  It could easily have been me.  So, now I try to remember that close call and not get too frustrated when I get delayed.  I'd rather get there late then not at all.

It's that way with everything.  It seems like life keeps throwing up obstacles and I keep dodging them, (when I can), or dealing with them, (the more likely scenario).  I had a friend years ago whose favorite motto was "Live for the moment!"  At the time I thought she was just free spirited but now that I'm older I realize that the moments need to be lived and appreciated as much as the longer spaces of time.  I keep reminding my son who wishes something would be over, that you should never wish away time, that you need to try to make the best of even the most difficult circumstances.  Although there are times when time seems to stand still, (like waiting at the DMV), most of the time it's racing by, never to come back again.

So, I decided to put away my Joann's quilt and continue to work on piecing together my scraps.  The photo above shows some of the strip piecing I've been doing.  As soon as I finish here I'm going to start trimming and playing and seeing what I come up with.  My son is now home sick, (yes, I am the Typhoid Mary of my house!), so he's resting and I get to be "Mommy" again.  Isn't it interesting how you're "Mom" until they get sick, then it's "Mommy" again like when they were 3?  Hate the sick part, kinda like the "Mommy" part....

Hope things are great on your end and you don't have any sick bunnies at your homes!

Happy Stitching!

Susan


Monday, November 8, 2010

Cold Comfort

In my last post I wrote about how I was going to go to the Raider's game on Sunday.  Well, the best laid plans don't always work out.

Late last week I was feeling a little under the weather, kind of like I was getting a cold.  However, I didn't take it seriously until Saturday afternoon.  By then my voice was nearly gone, so I was squeaking out cheers at my son's playoff game, (they won).  I was pretty well medicated so I got through it OK, thank God for Day-Quil!

However, by the time we got home on Saturday night I had a fever and spent the night alternating between broiling and having chills, it was no fun and such incredible timing.  By the time I woke up at 5am to get ready to go to the game it was obvious I wasn't going anywhere.  So, I helped my husband and son get ready and get on their way and sat on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket, with my little dog on my lap all day.

I was also feeling very guilty because it was pouring rain and my family was trying to tailgate and not get drenched.  Fortunately, by the time the game started the rain had stopped but then they had to deal with the crazy, foul mouthed Raider crowd.  We had hoped that since most of our section would be our players and their families that it wouldn't be too bad, but things got a little intense when a girl dropped her nachos and her father blamed one of our 13 year old boys.  My husband and a few of the other fathers jumped to his defense and were able to get him calmed down, (my son's 6' 5" coach was the main reason!), but it put a damper on the whole game.

They moved the boys onto the field so they got to be nearby when the Raiders tied the game, and then saw the overtime play close up.  They also had a positive encounter with one of the Raiders who came over and encouraged them.  Then when the game was over they got to go out on the messed up sopping wet field for a scrimmage.  The boys enjoyed the play, but by that time everyone was "over it" and couldn't wait to get home!

My husband and son did not really enjoy the day, it was one big nightmare from the early start, to the parking lot traffic jam, to the drenched tailgate, the foul-mouthed fans, and the run in with the nacho drenched girl's dad.  Right now they can't see the silver lining of it, which to me is obvious.  My son won't be begging to go to another NFL game, he has new found respect for his Dad, he became closer to his teammates, and there won't be any more complaining about sitting at home on a Sunday afternoon watching football.  His comfy chair is looking pretty good!

Next week we have our league championship game, and then it's on to the Super Bowl, if we win!  I really want the boys to go all the way but I am really over football.  He's going to miss two basketball games with his long-term team so that's a real bummer.  I think if we'd known that this would be the football season that never ends we might have thought twice about this!

Oh well, I'm feeling better today, the voice is beginning to come back and I'm no longer coughing and sneezing.  Unfortunately, my hubby is coming down with it.  And I wonder why I can't get any quilting done!

Such is life!

Happy Stitching!

Susan

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Raider Nation

I've been posting a lot lately about having a hard time getting motivated.  A lot of that has to do with how busy our lives have become since my son started playing football.

He's nearly 13 and is playing in a local league.  His team is 8-1 and has a playoff game later today.  If they make it today, then they have a championship game next weekend, and then it's the "Super Bowl" the weekend after that.  This season goes on and on.

Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day.  My son's league has been offered the opportunity to have two of its' Varsity teams play a scrimmage on the field at the Coliseum after the Raider-Chiefs game.  Of course, my son is on one of those teams so we'll be hanging out in Raider Nation tomorrow from 8:30 am until God knows when.  It's going to be a long day.

I lived in Oakland for 14 years and grew up in Northern California so I'm very familiar with the Raiders.  However, I've never been a fan.  My family were 49er Faithful and still are, even though the glory days are long gone.  Of course we were fans before the Glory Days, so it's not so hard, at least we had them!

We have our tickets but we're not sure how close we're going to be to the dreaded "Black Hole."  My husband is concerned because of all of the stories he's heard about it but I told him to just wear silver and black and keep your "Go Chiefs" to yourself.  We'll be OK although we may hear some colorful language.

My son is excited because he's going to be able to play on an NFL field, and it will be his first NFL game so it should be fun.  Of course, it's supposed to rain, and I'm coming down with a cold....

It's becoming more and more apparent why I call this blog "the cranky quilter"!

Oh well, as Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day!"

Happy Stitching,

Susan





Friday, November 5, 2010

Stashbusters!

                                    

OMG!  My stash is beginning to take over my house. 

It's the result of one of those good news/bad news scenarios.  The good news is that there've been some fantastic fabric sales!  The bad news....well, I was seduced by the great prices.  What can I do?  These fabric websites and quilt stores have seriously got my number.  Offer me a $10 per yard fabric for $4, then let me buy only half a yard, and don't charge me shipping.  We'll, I'd just have to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic not to indulge.

Of course, now I have a problem.  What to do with all of this stuff! 

I've had this off and on love affair with fabric for years.  I've been known to go 6 months without buying anything, and then go on fabric benders that only end when I can't squeeze any more in.  I'm in the no-squeeze zone so I have to pick it up a notch and do some serious sewing.

Problem is, I haven't been in the mood.  What's funny is that before I go to sleep I have all of these wonderful ideas of things I want to do.  I'm all excited about it.  Then I wake up, get my son off to school, run errands, work around the house, and then get sidetracked on some unimportant project....only to discover that it's 3:00 and time to pick my son up from school.  Then it goes downhill from there; there's homework, then football practice, then dinner, then bedtime, then I once more get excited about sewing only to fall asleep and start the whole routine all over again.

Yesterday I decided that I was going to tackle my scrapbox.  I have a lot of strips in different sizes and my plan is to start sewing them together randomly and make my own patchwork fabric.  I've been piecing off and on all day today and things are moving along pretty well.  Unfortunately, I have to constantly battle the voice inside me that says, "It's not working like you'd planned, maybe you should give up..." 

I really hate that voice!  It's so annoying and disheartening.  I used to think that it came from some imagined slight in my childhood but I've come to the realization that I'm 100% responsible for it.  By not pursuing my ideas I'm taking away the possibility that they could be disasters.  Of course, I'm also taking away the possibility that they could be great.  That voice really needs to shut up!

I always do soooooo much better when I can silence that evil twin.  I often think about what I could have accomplished in my life if I hadn't given it so much power.  It's an interesting thought.  What could I have done if I'd shut that loser up years ago?

I guess there's no point worrying about that now, but I'm going to remember to share that insight with my son and my nieces.  Stopping yourself from fulfilling your destiny is just plain wrong.  I've got to work on that one.

In the meantime, since I'm not listening to ol' cranky killjoy today, I'm going to get back to my piecing and see how it turns out.  It might be crappy, but then at least I can say I've used some of my fabric stash up.

Gotta look for those win-wins wherever you can find them!

Happy Stitching,

Susan

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Looking for Inspiration

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know that I struggle with motivation and inspiration.  Today was one of those days.  I had some time to quilt but was feeling unexcited about it.  That's not good for me.

There is nothing worse for me than to be bored.  I rarely am, but lately I'm dealing with a lack of inspiration.  So, I decided to take a cruise around my web "favorites" and revisit some sites that have gotten those creative juices burning in the past.

The first place I went is http://www.crownandcrumpet.com/.  It's a delightful tea shop in Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco.  What I love about this place is how whimsical and sweet it is.  It makes me salivate just looking at their photos of crumpets and pastries, not to mention the whole look of the shop.  It's just so "girly" isn't it?  What a relief from months of stinky football and baseball uniforms.......ahhhhhhh....
The next site I visited was http://www.pillowandmaxfield.com/, they design really cool and fun fabrics.  So fresh and lively, and full of the bright colors I can't get enough of.  It's enough to really wake you up, but in a nice way!  They also have great ideas on how to use their fabrics.
The last website is one I heard about from a friend of mine, http://www.amyatlas.com/.  If you're new here you might not know that for the last 10 years I've been involved in the high-end catering business, (that's what most of my website, http://www.gillygaloofus.com/, is about).  So, whenever something new and interesting comes up in that realm I like to know about it.

Amy Atlas designs dessert buffets for her clients in New York City.  They're very "Martha Stewart"ish is some ways, but her use of color is more intense and whimsical.  I happen to know that it's very hard to do what she does so kudos to her, her buffets are beautiful.  Here's a few to whet your appetite:
Aren't these creative and fun?  The color combinations are great but what I love is the repeating patterns.  I can visualize some of these as quilt blocks, especially the last photo.  Hmmmm, I just got some great dots, maybe I'll see what I can come up with tomorrow.

There are over a hundred photos in the "eye candy" section of her website.  I find them very inspiring, but also craving inducing.  Oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles!

Happy Stitching,

Susan




Monday, November 1, 2010

She's back......

Well, here I go again.  It's been over a week since my last post.  I really have to get better about this!

As usual, it's because of computer and associated chaos, not to mention school, sport, and family events.  And the Giants in the World Series, (I've got to watch that!)

I'd love to say that during the last 10 days I've been doing tons of sewing.  Nope, Nada, Nothing...  Yikes! It's really rather sad and depressing, and I wonder why I'm feeling unmotivated.  It's hard to get motivated to do something when you look forward and see all of the commitments coming up; all of those things that are going to keep you from quilting. 

I don't know about you guys but this election is driving me crazy. I registered as "do not declare" so I get robocalls from everybody, (and I mean everybody!).  It seems like my phone has rung nonstop for the last two weeks.  Last week I got 4 calls one right after the other.  I don't know why campaigns think this is going to make me want to vote for their candidate.  It just makes me want to throw the phone out the window.  I do have caller ID but several of the people I talk to regularly block their numbers, so I never know.  The worst is that if I don't answer my voicemail fills up with messages that I then have to clear.  Thank God tomorrow's election day! 

Now, in case you're wondering what the wedding picture is for.....

I had a family party yesterday for my parent's 56th wedding anniversary.  56 years and they haven't killed each other yet, it's amazing and inspirational.  The party was very small, just my parents, my siblings and their spouses and children.  It's a small group, but it was great because we were able to surprise them by having part of the family arrive later.  They thought they were just coming over for a visit and didn't realize it was a party.  It did make things a bit frantic for me and my husband as we couldn't completely set up until after the surprise was revealed, but it was well worth it.  It was great to get everyone together, and my parents were thrilled and happy.  I'm just so grateful that we were able to do it for them.

It got me to thinking about what's really important in this life.  It's amazing how much your perspective changes as you get older.  It used to be that I could look at my family around me and didn't even think about how many more times we'd be able to all be together.  But now, I think about it all the time.  When are those chairs that were full of happy faces going to start emptying one by one?  I've been more fortunate than most as I still have both of my parents, but as I looked around the table yesterday I realized that we are all getting older.   Health problems are beginning to rear their ugly heads and we're all moving slower then we used to.  Hair is graying or disappearing, and all that laughter from previous family events has resulted in a ton of crow's feet and wrinkles.  

I think back on the family that sat around other tables years ago and remember all of the fun we had.  It's not over yet, not by a long shot, but it made me realize that I have to appreciate it more and facilitate it happening more often.

I also need to reach out to the younger members of the family and start being the "crazy aunt" I'd always wanted to be.  So, we made a plan for me to take two of my teenage nieces and my son on a trip to San Francisco before Christmas.  We'll have a blast and hopefully create some memories.

Because, isn't that what it's all about?  When you come down to it all of the quilts you create, your clean house, your college degrees, even your collectibles mean nothing if you didn't have your memories.

I plan to enjoy and share mine.

And hopefully do some quilting!  I have a very small thing to do tomorrow and then I should be free.  I'm still hoping to get the Joann's quilt done, and I want to make a little coat for my dog Indy before we go on our trip to the North Coast after Thanksgiving.  We found the cutest website about a little dog named Hairy Putter and his adventures.  He has a whole series of fun places to go with dogs where we're headed so we're going to check them out.  Then, hopefully, we'll send an email to Hairy Putter from Indiana Bones with photos.  It should be fun.

Happy Stitching, and I will post something tomorrow.

Oh, and I almost forgot!  Brita won the Art Quilt DVD in my giveaway.  I've already sent her an email but I'd like to thank all of you who entered, and I hope to have something else to giveaway before Christmas.  I really got some work to do!

Susan