Sunday, August 29, 2010

It's Holiday Grand Plan Time!

I know, I went AWOL on you for a little bit there. We had some family stuff and the start of school, which derailed me a bit.

So do you know what week it is? Do you?

It's Holiday Plan Week! I've been doing some version of a holiday plan since back in the 1990s when there was a "Get O" group on AOL. Back when dial-up was totally hip, totally cool, totally now. Back in the dark ages BC (before children).

I love plans. I think we've covered this. No matter how I might fall on my face in the third week, I am drawn like a moth to the light, like salmon upstream every August back to Organized Home. 

I've tried the newer Houseworks Plan the last two years, and it just doesn't feel the same for me.  So I'm switching back to the original, the tried and true, the Holiday Grand Plan.

Anyone interested in following along, just click the links and let me know how it's going.  I'm dreaming of a calm Christmas...if only in my dreams.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

My New Favorite Thing - The Supreme Slider

I told you about how I was having trouble machine quilting my WannaBees Ocean block, right? How my tension was all messed up and I needed to take Rene in for service?

Okay, so I took the machine in for service after being told it would be back the next evening. I went through all the paperwork, etc., and made a passing comment about "tomorrow." The woman helping me got really still and then asked what I meant. Turns out it wouldn't be back tomorrow, but more like next week. YIKES! I needed this block done! I couldn't be without my machine for a week! This is why I didn't leave it when we went on vacation. So the owner of the store apologized and gave me a few tips about my tension and cleaning so I could finish the block and then bring Rene in for service next week (They still have no idea who told me "the next day" or why...did I just misunderstand?)

I went home and carefully vacuumed my machine with one of my other favorite things.  Unfortunately I got a little aggressive while I was doing that, and I really screwed things up.  I accidentally sucked up the blade from my thread cutter, and dislodged another piece that apparently affects my bobbin thread.


So I took Rene back in for service and borrowed my mom's machine.  All well and good, except that she's a hand quilter and doesn't know how to lower the feed dogs.  I've searched out the manual online, only to find that the first 12 pages are all that's included.  How to lower the feed dogs is on page 16.

In desperation I added some hand quilting, but it wasn't enough and I knew it.  When I told the other WannaBees what was holding me up, Jodi said, "Oh!  You can borrow my Supreme Slider!" 

She explained that Leah Day, our latest quilt crush, uses this without lowering the feed dogs.  Why?  Because it messes up the tension!  Who knew?  I went to Jodi's to pick up the quilt and the slider. As she pulled out the slider to show me, I realized...

...I already have one! It's been sitting in my drawer since my mom bought it for me at a show about 2 years ago. It was right around the time I got my new machine, which has all these fancy bells and whistles for free motion, so I never even tried it.

The Supreme Slider is my new favorite thing. I can't wait to try it when I get Rene back, and thrilled I didn't buy a second one. The quilting went beautifully and quickly. The blocks are almost all together, and it looks great. Good news, because the show is only 37 days away!

Speaking of the show, there's still time to enter a quilt online.

Do you have a gadget you've never tried?  One that changed the way you quilt?  Please share! 

I hope this week you find a solution to something that's been slowing you down. 

Monday, August 9, 2010


I'm proud to say I have finally harvested some tomatoes.  And zucchini and peppers, but it's the tomatoes I'm most excited about.

Can I just say that I am half Italian and a southerner, but I have never successfully grown food before?  I do okay with herbs, and I did get one lonely heirloom tomato last year, but this is my first real summer of harvest.

It is so incredibly satisfying to grow something and then eat it.  Very similar to making something useful from scraps.  It makes me feel all self-reliant and productive. 

Last year I grew one tomato plant (and one lonely tomato).  This year I moved up to tomatoes, several shades of peppers, and zucchini.  I'm already planning a small raised bed for next year!  I need enough to make some of Aunt Marie's Fried Zucchini Flowers.  (Apparently you can buy bags of the flowers at farmers' markets up north for about $5, but the guy at Whole Foods looked at me like I was asking for organic alien antennae when I inquired here.)

What does your garden grow?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Summer Reading

I love to read anytime, but summer is my favorite time to lay by the pool or under the fan and cool off with a book and very little movement. 

I've read some good ones lately, and even got a chance to meet one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner.

Jennifer's latest, Fly Away Home, is not the funniest book she's ever written (how do you beat Good in Bed?) but, just like her other books, makes you laugh out loud and cry within the same chapter.  Also, the food descriptions make your mouth water.  My hubby was reading while fasting for a medical test, and said it was killing him!
I got the chance to meet Jennifer recently at a book signing at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.  If you ever get the opportunity to hear her speak, don't miss it!  She's even more hilarious in person, and so gracious about signing books and posing for cheesy iPhone pictures like this one.

Next on my summer reading list was New York, by Edward Rutherford.  I'm a fan of all his books, but this might be my favorite.  I'm not sure if it was because it was the first one about the USA or my familiarity with the city, but the mixture of history that was familiar with the new fascinated me.  Also, I LOVE the cover. Don't be intimidated by its heft; in fact, this may be a perfect one for the Kindle!

Most recently, I read The Lion, by Nelson DeMille.  I always love John Corey and Kate Mayfield.  This book is a true thriller, with a lot of funny thrown in.  On top of that, it really makes you think about our country and national security in a way that is both eye-opening and a little scary. 
These are just three of many good books.  I'll bring more to you in another post.  What are you reading?  Please share!

Friday, August 6, 2010

WannaBees Unite!

So it was finally time for the WannaBees meeting where we were to unite our challenge blocks. We were all holding our breath, wondering if these blocks would actually fit together, and then if they would look any good.

My block goes in the bottom right hand corner, and I chose to make jellyfish.  I am still having terrible problems with my tension and didn't have time to get the machine serviced, so I hope to add a bit more quilting.  

There was some discussion about the best way to join the blocks, and some last minute bling added.

Then we laid the whole thing out in the hall so we could look at it from a distance. 

Finally we got a sneak peak at the finished project.  It's not together yet, but we are already so excited. 

One question for you:  we are considering binding.  Someone suggested using the circle motif fabric that we all used in our blocks.  Someone else suggested a deep blue.  I was thinking of the kind of binding that you don't see - that is all the way folded back.  Normally I think the binding frames the quilt, but the ocean is not contained.  I think the "no edge" look would be great.  Have you ever used that type of binding?  What would you do?

Hope you manage to get it all together today!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Going to Guild - Part II - Entering a Quilt Show

Our guild is getting ready for our show September 18-19th.  It's not too late to enter!

Have you ever put a quilt in a show?  If not, why not?  My favorite story about "not good enough" is told by our current show chair, Melissa.  She tells about browsing through the quilting calendar she got for Christmas one year and suddenly realizing, "Hey!  Those points don't match!"  Turns out it was a quilt by Alex Anderson.  Melissa had a light bulb moment and realized that, if Alex can have a quilt published with points that were visibly off, then Melissa herself wouldn't suffer public humiliation if she entered a not-entirely-square quilt into our little local show!  She uses this story every time she urges us to register MORE QUILTS!

If you aren't interested in submitting a quilt, you can still take a chance on bringing a quilt home with you.  Our donation quilt is in our favorite black and batik, and turned out spectacularly this year.  Email me if you'd like tickets.

Last but not least, I hope any local followers will attend the show.   Don't worry...I'll remind you closer to the day!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Going to Guild, Part I - Priscilla Hair

Our guest this month was Priscilla Hair, the self-proclaimed "queen of South Carolina quilting."
Get a load of the great shoes and crown someone made for her!  She says she does accept curtsies.  Oh, you know how I love funny mixed with lots of beautiful quilts, and Priscilla did not disappoint!

She taught her workshop, Crowning the New York Beauty, last Saturday, but we had a crazy weekend and I couldn't make it.  Those who attended showed the blocks they made, and they are spectacular!

 Last night she did a trunk show and talked about her quilting journey and her willingness to ignore the "quilt police."  Though she's over 70, she said she doesn't intend to join the Red Hat Society - instead, she formed her own group called The Sandbox Club.

In The Sandbox Club, you can wear comfortable clothes, do whatever you want, there are no meetings or dues, and you are encouraged to act your shoe size!

Remember when you were nine or ten and it wasn't embarrassing or wrong to color a cat purple or dance wildly to a song you liked?  When you were losing a game, so you'd just change the rules?  Priscilla encourages quilters to change the rules if they aren't working for you, and have fun with your quilting.

It was fascinating to see how Priscilla mixed lots of reds or pinks or blacks.  She advised us never to use just one black, but all the black fabric you could get your hands on.  Don't worry about it matching.  The subtle differences give the quilt interest.  Above all, she said, "you really have to not be afraid of color."

The quilts just kept coming - I took dozens of pictures - and it was difficult to decide which ones to show you.  It was a wonderful evening. 

What rules do you break?  Which do you feel compelled to follow? 

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