Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I wish you all a 2010 filled with peace, joy, and quilty goodness.

Monday, December 28, 2009

better tUesday - surviving Christmas!

I suppose it could have been worse. Last week was so pitiful we skipped weighing in. This week we decided it was time to face the music and, hopefully, be re-inspired for the New Year.

My poor hubby was up 4.5, and there but for the Grace of God go I. I was only up 1.5 lbs. I'll take it! After everything I've eaten in the last two weeks, that's a gift. Suffice it to say that we're trying to crawl back up on the wagon.

How did you do with your challenges this holiday season?

Ben's Famous! or Mary Jo's features a WannaBee

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my readers! I hope you are having a safe and happy holiday season.

We are in the midst of the eat-a-thon that goes on every year from the Sunday before Christmas through New Year's Day. Jillian who?

While sifting through the email that has collected while I gorged on everything from candy canes to a very tedious Buche de Noel, I found out one of the WannaBees is famous! Mary Jo's, the infamous fabric outlet and downfall of many a quilter on a no-buy challenge, has featured our very own Ben Hollingsworth on their blog.

Of course, we've know for ages that he was one of a kind! Congratulations Ben! Can't wait to see your next creation.

Hope you all have a very happy new year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

better tUesday and going to guild

Well, the holidays continue to derail my eating habits. I did marginally better this week, down 0.4 lbs, but that was with 3 workouts with the trainer, 5 days on the bike and a 75 minute yoga session! I feel like I should have lost more for how sore I am, but I confess to being less than perfect with my diet.

Saturday night we were at a friend's party with fabulous food. Then last night was the guild holiday party. After all of us ate (and overate) there was still enough left over to feed an army.

We had a great time and I did very well at the auction. I was pretty short with less than $200 in play money to spend (compared to these little elves who had nearly $1K between them!)
but I still found won the bidding on some fun stuff.

I am especially excited about two books I won, both donated by Fiber on a Whim, that have interesting and inspiring suggestions and project ideas for photos and other mementos.

The first is Sew Sentimental, by Linda Lum DeBono. This book is a collection of scrapbooking style projects that incorporate some very basic sewing. What I love most is how the author has commemorated some of the most simple and easily forgotten memories of childhood, but some of the most precious, like playing in puddles and the "me do it" stage of toddlerhood. They remind me that every day is a celebration, not just the "big" days.

My true favorite, though, is Art from the Heart by Catherine Matthews-Scanlon. This book about mixed media collage is just stunning I love the antique photographs and upcycling of clocks, lockets, frames and watches.
I am dying to try some of the projects, and only regret that Christmas is coming so quickly - they would make wonderful gifts! I'm trying to restrain myself from diving right into these before I get everything else done for the holidays.

Hard to believe that 2010 is right around the corner! The clock is ticking for me to come up with a guild challenge. Don't be shy about sending me your ideas and opinions. Seriously. Not everyone at once now...

Waiting patiently...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Memory Quilts (cont'd.) - Signature Quilt

On Monday I shared my love of memory quilts. Some of these have photos in them, but some just have messages and signatures.

Earlier this fall I worked on one that was actually a 90th birthday quilt/going away gift for a dear guild friend. Bernice and I had grown close when her daughter's schedule changed and Bernice started riding with me to guild. It was always especially fun when Gracie got to go with us. Just before her birthday, Bernice announced that she was moving to Michigan to be closer to more family members, including her great-granddaughter. Although no one, especially the grannies in the group, could blame her, we were sad to see her go and had little time to find a way to celebrate her upcoming milestone birthday.

We had a quick party with a cake in August, but there wasn't time to finish a quilt that quick. The look on her face when she saw the cake was priceless!
I came up with a super-quick signature quilt idea, channeling Bonnie Hunter with the scrappy, and so much fun. One member donated muslin and even cut it to size and ironed the freezer paper on the back. Another had a bunch of Pigma pens left over from a previous project. We asked each member to bring a 1 1/2" strip of fabric and to sign a muslin square.
Then two of us divided the blocks and stitched them up. It came together in no time, and yet another member quilted it for us on her longarm. We got it done in time to show everyone at the October guild meeting, and then shipped off to Bernice. One clever friend had the great idea to put a copy of our guild's directory with it, which has photos of each member. That way Bernice could put names with faces.

I was a little worried about the scraps at first, but I love how it turned out. It is such a nice size for a lap quilt or to drape across the back of a chair.
What's your favorite signature block?

Have a great day!

better tUesday - post Thanksgiving post

Just weighed in and am up 0.9 lbs. I really should be satisfied with that since last week was Thanksgiving and my husband's birthday. I was more careful about what I ate than in previous years, but a far cry from our "plan."

I was hopeful that the damage wasn't too bad since I did go to the gym 4 times (including Thanksgiving morning!), and worked out with the trainer 2 of those days. Actually it makes me wonder what I usually gain that week. EEK!

It wouldn't be as frustrating if my husband hadn't gone down 2.4 lbs. How did he do that? After not exercising a bit since August - yes, all of his weight loss has been through dietary change - he took the dog for two long walks this week equaling 13 miles total. His body must think it has been kick started! It's hardly fair.

Luckily the leftovers are all gone and this week is back to the routine. I guess I'd better kick it up a notch in the gym and get moving towards my next goal.

Just a hit and run post today to keep myself accountable. I'll try to finish that Memory Quilts post tomorrow.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Memory Quilts and the Party in the USA

I find it so interesting to observe the seasons of one's life as it relates to quilting. For a time I could hardly manage to get all of the baby quilts finished before the babies arrived. Luckily I started my family on the young side, so there were only a few times when my own babies risked going quilt-less in order for me to finish one for someone else.

Nowadays, though, the baby quilts are spread a little thin, and more likely to be donated to charity than crafted for a dear friend or cousin.

But turning 40 myself this summer means that, naturally, I have lots of friends reaching that same milestone. I've found myself making a few memory quilts in honor of a special birthday, and learned a few tricks along the way.

These quilts have always been a favorite of mine, ever since I first stumbled through the one for my father-in-law's 60th birthday. My inspiration was Ami Simms' book Creating Scrapbook Quilts; I return to it for ideas and possibilities every time. For his quilt, I used a very scrappy palette and lots of embellishment. I also added a border of muslin so that the attendees at his surprise party could all sign their best wishes.

I have to say that this muslin border is probably my favorite way of collecting signatures; asking loved ones to send you their well wishes ahead of time is fraught with danger, including mail being misdirected and performance anxiety preventing a timely return. Signing the border while at the actual event is more like passing a group card, so reduces the stress of finding the perfect words and virtually guarantees that all in attendance will participate. The only downside, of course, is that anyone who can't make the party isn't included. This is easily remedied by bringing the quilt or having it out when visiting with those who couldn't be there and providing a pen so they can add their signature.

But back to turning 40...I have made three special birthday quilts in the last month or so since I went AWOL from blogging. (Again I have to apologize for the photos. I have been promised a new camera for Christmas...suggestions anyone?)

The most recent is a 40th birthday quilt involving a small group. Twelve of us went on a getaway spa weekend to celebrate my walking buddy. I asked each woman to send me a photo of herself with the birthday girl, and a message. Since I was dragging it out of them right up until the trip, it wasn't done in time for the party; luckily the actual birth date wasn't for another few weeks. The beauty of this was in being able to include photos from the party in the quilt. For this one I used a controlled scrappy theme - I found perfect pink and brown butterfly fabric to suit her "theme song." Then I pulled all of the pink fabrics out of my stash and went to town. (I couldn't help thinking of the scene in Steel Magnolias where Shelby talks about her wedding colors of "blush and bashful," while her mother mutters that the whole sanctuary "looks like it was hosed down with Pepto Bismol.") I love how it turned out, and even added a bit of her song with a recording device stuck behind the label.

Oh, this post is getting so long and it's getting late! I will have to finish memory quilts another day. Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Not-So-Organized-Christmas and the Magic Elf

Can you believe Thanksgiving has come and gone? Time to start thinking about Christmas for REAL now!

I've fallen off the Organized Christmas wagon for a few weeks, but am determined to get back on in full force.

This week
is when we pull out all of our decorations and organize the storage area where they live. One thing I finally figured out a few years ago was to pack all of the Advent decorations and ideas together so that, no matter how crazy, I could at least pull out that one box in time for the first Sunday. It also helps me stay focused on the point of it all.

The other thing that happens at our house this week is the arrival of our Magic Elf. I know there are strong feelings on both sides of allowing an Elf into your home, and I was on the other side for a LONG time. Finally my daughter convinced me to get a helpful elf, and I caved. I'll have to admit that Candie is a huge help in December when life gets crazy; she decorates, finishes wrapping gifts or addressing cards when I'm too tired, and leaves fun surprises for cold weekend entertainment. We got very lucky not to have one of those mischievous elves who make messes and play tricks!

Does an elf visit your house? When do you start decorating? Are you prepared or in a panic? I love to hear about different traditions.

Whatever you do to get in the spirit, I hope it's going smoothly. Enjoy the end of the long weekend. Tomorrow: more quilty posting!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Keeping Quilt

Remember that guild challenge I was working on with the old wool blazers from Goodwill?


As in, done done. All the way done. With a label.

Here was the challenge: choose a children's book that has something to do with quilts. One of our guild members has a phenomenal collection, and she donated many of them to this project. I have several books myself, but had no idea the vast possibilities for this challenge.

After choosing a book, we each were to make a quilt that represented the quilt in the book in some way. Some books had vivid illustrations, and some only had descriptive language. The quilt was to be 36" x 45" (ish). The quilt and book will be donated and used for educational purposes.

I chose the book The Keeping Quilt, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco. I love this book for several reasons. One is that it is a true story. There is a real "keeping quilt" handed down by the author's family for generations. Here is a picture of her with it.

Another reason is that it seems to me to capture all of the best things about quilting: memories preserved, the community of women, recycling, and art. In the book, a family emigrates to America. The girl's clothing is soon outgrown and worn out, but her mother suggests using it to create a quilt, to remember "the old country."

All of the women in the community come together to create the beautiful quilt, adorned with primitive shapes of animals, flowers, and hearts. The finished quilt is used by the girl throughout her life as a picnic blanket as she is being courted, the huppa at her wedding, and to swaddle her newborn daughter. The story and the quilt are handed down from generation to generation, until the author is holding her own child wrapped in it.

Here is my challenge quilt interpreting this wonderful story.

I am especially proud of the fact that, in my attempt to keep to the story, everything I used except the thread and batting came from the thrift store. And I even used scraps of batting! The wool was from those jackets, and the backround and backing were from an old sheet. The red on the scalloped edge was a shirt. (Only $3!) I had originally planned to hand applique and hand quilt it, in order to be truly authentic, but I had to face the fact that I HATE hand applique and was running out of time for hand quilting. Oh well...

Now a challenge for you: I am in charge of my guild's challenge for 2010. What are your favorite guild challenges? Do you like a wacky fabric to work with? A theme? Lots of rules to make you step outside of your comfort zone? Or would you rather have broad leeway to make whatever you want?

I need to decide within the next month and I have no idea, so keep those cards and letters coming.

Tomorrow I'll update you on Organized Christmas, and then MORE quilty goodness!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sesamoiditis and Belly Dancing

So the first thing I'm going to tell you is about Better U or MYM with Jillian Michaels.

Halloween derailed me a little bit with the eating, and I got a little lax with my diet. With some ups and downs and stay-the-sames, I'm only down about 22 lbs total. I can't complain, but I do need to get with it again.

We were just starting to bump up our mileage to 5 a day when my foot started hurting. Not wanting to go down that same path as my friend last year (plantar fascitis) I immediately saw an orthopedist.

The good news is that I don't have that. Instead I have sesamoiditis, which is basically a pain in the ball of the foot. I am preening a bit that it is most common in active young people. HA!

The bad news is that I can't walk for my exercise, or anything else that puts an impact on that part of my foot, for 3 months. I broke down, joined a gym, and have been on the bike for the last 5 days. I can't say that I love it, but I don't want to lose all the progress I've made.

As for sweet Daisy, she is miserably unhappy. Obviously I can't take her to the gym. I've got the boys taking her in the morning and evening, but they just don't have the time to walk her as far as I was going.

I am hopeful that after the 3 months I will be able to go back to my walks, even if it means shorter distances, but the doctor just said, "we'll see." (According to my kids, that means no.)

Meanwhile, my friend is thisclose to hitting her 50 lb goal! It is so exciting and motivating. As a celebration for 40 lbs, she has arranged a belly dancing class for about 15 of us. That should be a fun time for everyone. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tomorrow I will update you on actual quilt related items of interest. Yes, there are finished quilts in tomorrow's post. I know you'll hardly be able to sleep tonight!

Hope you all had a great Black Friday.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I know I have been MIA for awhile, but I will be back tomorrow. I have so much to tell you all, and some finished quilts to show you.

But for today, I just needed to say how thankful I am for my health, my family, and my friends. It was a beautiful, wonderful day that filled me with gratitude.

I hope you had a great day, too, and that you counted your blessings instead of your calories.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Update - better U, Organized Christmas, etc.

So sorry I have vanished off the face of the earth for three weeks. Football season is always crazy, but this year is even more challenging than normal.

In case you don't watch the news, Atlanta is drowning. We have had more rain in the last month that we probably got all of last year! We are very fortunate not to have had any serious damage, while some people have lost their homes and a few lost their lives. So I'm not complaining, but it's true that rain like this can throw a wrench into the best laid plans and make everything take longer than normal.

Then there's the sickness. Holy crow, the wave of illness in all three schools has been incredible. Again, I have been so grateful that none of my kids were seriously sick and just had the nuisance nausea, headache, cough, sore throat. Just when we thought we were through with the H1N1 cases, a stomach virus knocked down a big percentage of the elementary school. Crazy!

So I haven't been updating much. I haven't been walking much with the weather and kids being home, so I haven't lost much. But I'm still on the MYM plan with Jillian, and I'm still moving in the right direction.

I was reviewing my progress today. At the beginning of summer, back when I started Better U, I was at my highest weight ever. If you remember, that's when I gave up the diet Coke and all fast food. It was kind of disappointing to see that, by July when I started walking really regularly, I was only down 0.9 lbs. Then we started walking several miles a day. I was even more disappointed to realize that, with all of the ups and downs, I weighed exactly the same in August when I started Jillian's plan as I did in July.

So it's not like I haven't tried. But now, on the MYM plan, I am down 19.9 lbs since June - 18.8 lbs of it since August! My BMI has dropped from the "obese" range to merely "overweight." And I have lost at least 4" off my waist, bringing me very close to that magic number (35" for women) that reduces your risk for diabetes and all kinds of other health problems.

I'm a believer!

The Houseworks Holiday Plan is making teensy tiny baby steps of progress. Last week was supposed to be for your closets. I did go through most of my closet and try everything on. I had a huge giveaway pile, sadly not because I've lost too much weight but because even if they fit they are hopelessly out of style or worn to threads. (Did I mention I hate clothes shopping?) I have a small pile of things that need to be mended (mostly buttons that popped off the waist - how embarrassing!) and a few things that just need desperately to be ironed. The good news is that I have plenty of things that now fit if I get invited to a formal event. How many black dresses does one girl need?

I've barely touched my sewing machine and have a guild challenge due in November. I have another birthday quilt to finish, although the participants are not really cooperating (as usual). And I have to quilt the signature quilt for my cousin. And my camera isn't working well.

I guess I have my work cut out for me. But it looks like it's stopped raining, so I think I'll take Daisy for a quick walk first.

Have a great day! And let me know what you're up to.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Quilt Shop Visit -Sweet Home Quilt Co, Conyers, GA

Thursday I had the "privilege" of driving an SUV full of 7th graders over to Madison, GA for a retreat. On my two hour drive home alone, I decided to channel Allison from Within a Quarter Inch, google "quilt shop" on my phone, and indulge in a little quilt shop therapy (in lieu of the alcohol others suggested). What a great idea!

(I apologize in advance for the quality of these pictures. I am having camera trouble and took all of these with my phone!)

I found the Sweet Home Quilt Company in Conyers. This beautiful 109 year old house is gorgeous enough to walk through and enjoy, even if it weren't filled with fabric! It took me several trips through just to take it all in. I love that they had samples everywhere, kits and bundles and patterns and ideas as far as the eye could see. But what made it so special was the way the house still looks like a house...

The antique hoosier, just like one my mom used to have...

The (still working) footed bathtub. The previous owner lives nearby and claims to have taken many baths in this tub. In the tub are "all or nothing" bundles from the end of the bolt at $5/yard.

The kitchen where baskets and jars hold notions, patterns, and fat quarter bundles...

And the iron bed that belonged to the owner's grandfather when he was a boy.

There were little touches all over that caught my eye. This window treatment from grapevine and antique hankies is so cute I might have to duplicate it!

A tiny hallway where a line of fabric and some notions are tucked away...and apparently the cat has come in from the rain!

The hooks for a display of purses and totes along the banister...

And finally the parlor where you check out. I restrained myself and didn't do too much damage, but oh the temptation! When I left, I felt so much more relaxed and ready for the rest of the trip home.

Next time you find yourself on a long drive, try doing a search for a shop. You never know when you will stumble across a gem like this that turns your whole day around.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Houseworks Holiday Plan Week 5 - House Room Week

On to Week 5 of the Houseworks Holiday Plan!

It was another week that really needs two, so it's a good thing that this week is all about the Guest Room and hospitality. After so many years of doing this plan (and so few actual guests) this room needs very little of my attention. I keep a permanent hospitality basket in my guest bath, and the room itself stays pretty clean since it is on my main level.

That's good news, because the kids' rooms and toys could use more attention. I did have them all clean out their drawers and closets and do a pretty big clean, but it still needs Mother's eye to bring it up to par. Plus the toys in the basement really need a big sort out, and I just didn't get to that.

I did tuck away all of my patriotic quilts that I use as decoration from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and pulled out my fall decorations.

Is this helping at all? Is anyone else following along or even thinking about the holidays yet? Or am I just annoying you?

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

another better tUesday!

Apparently there is some weird cyclical thing going on with me. It's Week 5 with Jillian and MYM, and I am down another 5.1 lbs, for a total of 17.4 since mid-August!

My biggest challenge this week was going to my cousin's birthday party, catered by a yummy Mexican restaurant. Luckily it was set up as a buffet, so I made a plate with grilled onions and peppers, black beans, grilled chicken, fresh salsa, lettuce, tomato, and just the tiniest bits of cheese and sour cream. It was delicious. I totally skipped the chips and cheese dip, and since it wasn't on the tables I had no problems. I was also very proud of myself for passing on the homemade birthday cake that looked great.

My biggest smile - when the Wii said "that's overweight" instead of "that's obese" for the first time! Yes, my BMI is under 30. w00t!

The walking was tough this week, and only getting harder. In case you are living under a rock, Atlanta is drowning. We walked in the rain a lot last week, and got in 17 of our 20 planned miles, but so far this week we haven't made it yet due to the lovely addition of thunder and lightening, plus schools and roads being closed this morning. Little details like that.

Stay dry, my local friends, and have a better tUesday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Houseworks Holiday Plan Week 4 - Close to Home Week

We're rolling into Week 4 of the Houseworks Holiday Plan, and it's finally starting to feel...well, not totally insane. The weather (at least here) is getting cooler and the leaves are starting to change. Now that it's officially fall, people won't look at you like you're crazy when you mention thinking about holiday plans.

I was working frantically on a birthday gift quilt this week (can't wait to show you!), so I didn't do all of my chores; but, the major dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning out under the bed in my room feels so good! I turned the mattress, washed everything on the bed (including dust ruffle, mattress cover, pillows - everything!) and cleaned the fan. Sweaty, dirty work but heavenly when you go to sleep at night.

Week Four is Close to Home Week. Brutal. The deep clean this week is the kids' rooms. I don't know about you, but that alone just might kill me. Luckily the boys are old enough to do a lot of it themselves. Gracie just gets overwhelmed and needs me there by her side to help her decide what to do about a lot of things. Then, just when you feel the need for medical intervention, you're supposed to declutter the toys. Yippee. But won't it feel nice when it's done? Yeah, let's focus on that.

There's much much more at the link, as usual, but this is my focus. I don't even know if I can stick with a day to day list this week - I may just have to wade in there and call for reinforcements if it gets too bad. If I don't post by next Sunday, please send the Marines! LOL!

There are less than 100 days until Christmas. Can you believe it?

Hope you have a wonderful week!

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