Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Yeah! It's Halloween time! I love Halloween. The photos above and left are of the wreath I made with black leaves and tinsel garland for my door last year. I love the bow. Isn't it cool? It's a black flocked scene of a witch and bats flying over an old fashioned looking town.

I know many quilters that can't resist Christmas fabrics, and while I'm especially tempted by a toile Christmas print, I just can't deny the tractor beam that pulls me into buying Halloween fabrics! And every year they get better and better. And if they have bats on them, look out!

I found my love of bats during the family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico that we took when I was around 8 years old. Every evening at dusk, the visitors gather on the ledge outside of the visitor center that overlooks the cavern opening and watch thousands of bats swarm out from the cave to hunt for their dinner. My parents bought me the best t-shirt there, it said "Bats need friends too!" and had the cutest cartoony bat on it. If I had known about t-shirt quilts back then, I would have kept it when it got too small! Sadly, I believe most of the bats have left the caverns due to pesticides killing them and their food supply in the area.
Back to the fabric. I made really simple trick or treat bags for Anna, Ryan, Carolina and Santiago this year. I was going to drop off Carolina and Santiago's today but was saved the trip when I ran into DiscoJen and Carolina at the early voting polling place in our town! DiscoJen was about 15 minutes behind me in line, so when I was done voting, I took Carolina upstairs to the library and we read a couple of books while we waited.

When we left the library, I remembered that I had the bags in the car. I showed Carolina the 4 bags and asked her which one she would like to have for her trick or treat bag. She said "I don't know, they are all super cute!" We totally cracked up! She just comes up with the best lines!

The fabric is from the Chic and Treat line by Arrin Turnmire for Moda fabrics. This is my absolute favorite line of Halloween fabrics this year. I made the bags reversible, so the children can pick which they prefer. The handles were made from left overs of the main fabrics. I used batting in the handles so that they would be cushy when they become heavy with candy.
Here are a couple more of my favorite new Halloween lines:
Trick or Treat Too by Marcus Brothers

Batty Halloween by Kylie Kreations for South Seas
Check out these darling little trick or treaters that Kimberly of the Fat Quarter Shop posted a photo of from Quilt Market, which is in progress this week. I hope Northcott manufactures Sheri Berry's designs. I think they are all fabulous, but I especially like the deer in the Christmas and woodsey lines and the fabulous Halloween line.
Don't the bats remind you of the dearly departed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that used to be at Disney World. I loved that ride. I still can't believe they took it down. If you click on the link I provided, you can take a virtual tour of the ride! And this one provides a wonderful synopsis of all things removed or changed at WWD. I love the internet.

Have a safe and Happy Halloween everyone!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Abbie-kins and Coco-nuts

Amy has pointed out that she would like to see a picture of the new dog. There is one little catch to this, as there are two new dogs! Yes, that's right, two. We are fostering them for the moment, but they are settling in quite nicely. We decided to foster because then we don't break any rules on how many dogs you can have and also because there are so many dogs and animals in shelters and rescue organizations due to the economy, the summer flooding in the Midwest, the various hurricanes and because some people are just plain stupid.
This is Coco:

It was rather difficult to get a photo of her because she rarely stops moving, and when she does, she gets up to satisfy her Husky curiosity every time I pick up the camera. She's 5 1/2 years old, so I can only imagine what she was like when she was younger! She actually listens fairly well, at least to me, but needs some formal training. She can be quite vocal as well. When you aren't paying attention to her, she woofs at you. She also tries to sleep on the bed every night, but every night gets kicked off! When she wants you to rub her belly, she lays down by putting her head down first, butt in the air, then kind of flips over. She wants to play constantly with the other dogs, especially Daisy, but Daisy is only just now starting to warm up to her (that's Daisy eyeing Coco suspiciously in the photo).

She was named Josie at the rescue, but answered to Coco, so we went with that. She's also referred to as "Cocobean, Coco-nuts (for obvious reasons), and Beanie Wienie." The poor thing has been in rescue twice now, so she's had 2 homes and in rescue twice. She really is sweet and just wants love. She's gentle with taking things from your hand and is totally not into food, which is good because Daisy and Bug are total chow hounds.

This is Abbie:

We know a little about Abbie, and she's obviously had a hard life, but despite that, she remains the most gentle and sweet little girl. We know that in 2004 she had to have her collar surgically removed from her neck. We know that she was adopted out of rescue in Missouri, but those people moved to Texas and brought their other dogs with but left Abbie in Missouri, supposedly with some other people. She was picked up by animal control completely flea bitten, with giant bald patches on her body from the flea infestation and scheduled to be put down.
The authorities scanned her, found her chip was registered to the rescue organization and contacted them. The rescue tracked down the original adopting family, and told them that they were legally obligated to get her out of the pound and fly her to the rescue organization here. I wanted to wait to show her to you until she had been groomed. Isn't she pretty! You should see the pictures of her when the rescue first got her back. I just don't know what's wrong with people. If you get a dog, or any animal, it's a life long commitment, not one that's just for when it's convenient for you. You wouldn't just give your child away when they weren't cooperating, as much as you might like to, and it's the same concept.

She has really taken to me in particular. She gets all bouncy and happy when I come home, but just calmly greets everyone else. She is about 8 years old and had a botched leg surgery, so she walks slowly and kind of drags her one back leg a bit. She doesn't like to sit, and I think it's because of the leg. She'd rather lay down. Of course, but would rather lay down too, but that's because she's the laziest Husky ever created. Abbie just kind of wanders around the house and yard, keeping to herself. If I'm around and it's not one of her daily dozen nap times, she'll find me and gently poke me a couple of times with her nose to let me know she's there and needs a pat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My first original applique!

Now this is exciting! I developed more of my really old film and found photos of my first applique and originally designed quilt! I made this before I really had any clue what I was doing. It's pretty cute for having no clue, don't you think?
I made this for Anna's first birthday. She turns 7 this coming January. Time sure does fly. Her room was painted in an under the ocean theme with these darling sea critters all around. I had found them for Donna on of all things, wrapping paper from Target.

To make the appliques, I enlarged the critters on the copier, then traced them onto the paperbacked fusible web, cut them out and ironed them down to the quilt top. I used a large zig zag to secure them to the quilt, but after I made my quilt sandwich. In the empty bolcks, I quilted a coral pattern that I found on a set of Martha Stewart's sheets on her old Martha-by-mail website. I really miss her store. I also enlarged the coral, traced it onto cardboard and used that as a template. I don't recall what I type of quilt marking tool used to transfer the pattern to the quilt top.

I distinctly remember being up really late the night before her party working on it, as well as getting up early to finish it! I don't think I finished it entirely though, because these photos are at my house, not Donna's.

Some lessons learned:
aFusible web is your friend. And the answer to almost every problem that plagues you.
aIt always takes you longer then you think it will.
aIt's easier to sew down your appliques on individual blocks as opposed to the whole quilt when it's already put together.
aAngled tweezers are your friend for holding down unruly pieces while you iron.
aMartha comes through for me everytime.
aInspiration is every where, you just have to keep your mind and eyes open.
aYou really shouldn't wait 6-7 years to develop your photos, but if you do, Photoshop is your friend.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

It's all coming back to me now...

Back in 2002 I went to Torino, Italy to help pack my sister up and move her back to Chicago. Her company had sent her there for work for about a year and I got to go with to help move her there and back. Sweet!

Because Torino is in the North of Italy, we were able to easily take day trips to France and Switzerland. We also went down to Florence and Venice for overnight jaunts. Can I just say that Venice looks absolutely nothing like it did in the Scooby Doo cartoons of my youth?

These statues are in the main thoroughfare in Florence.

Why do I tell you all this now? Because I just got some of the film back, and I have about 20 more rolls to develop! Some of which are from my 2001 wedding and honeymoon in Scotland! Yes, I did say film! I didn't even have a digital camera back then! As my friend Peter would say "Pah-the-tic!" (to be said with a Michael Caine-like disdain in Miss Congeniality sort of inflection).

But I digress, I was in Italy. I spent 2 sweet weeks there with an apartment, car and translator! It really is wonderful to have a sister who is gifted with languages. I wish I were. I only dabble a bit in Spanish these days. I have found that I can sort of read both Italian and French though. And I totally mastered how to say "Gianduja gelato per favore!" (If you want an absolutely hysterical tribute to Gianduja, visit the Bon Appegeek. I'm totally with her in the second paragraph.)

Torino is the home of Gianduja, so it's a great place to be based. It also has Fiat and the Shroud of Turin, but really, can that compete with chocolate hazelnut heaven? I think not. There's a fabulous photo of those delectable, mouth watering, mound shaped chunks of chocolate hazelnut goodness wrapped in gold that we ate plenty of, on David Lebovitz's blog. He also tells all about it's history and how it's made. Very fascinating stuff. Makes me really want some Gianduja about now.
This is my sister eating some kind of tasty Swiss pastry we found in Mont Blanc (I'm pretty sure it's Mont Blanc at least.) Mont Blanc is the mountain behind her, I think.

Since the photos are like new to me I thought I would share them, because couldn't we all use a European vacation right about now?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Two dogs and a Wedding

I figure I have some positive karma going this past week. I saved two dogs and we helped save a wedding at the retreat last weekend.

Thursday night after our guild meeting, I was standing in the parking lot chatting with Jan when I noticed an unattended Beagle. He went down a driveway with purpose, so I thought he belonged there. Then he popped out around another house and crossed the street. Then he crossed the other streets a few times. I crossed the street to see if I could get him to come to me. It worked. He came over, tail wagging and let me grab his collar. His name and phone were on his tags so I called and left a message. I tried again, and realized that I had transposed 2 of the numbers the first time I called! So there's someone out there w/a message on their machine about their dog Skooter that they don't have! The second time I got someone and they didn't even know Skooter was out. It ends up they were just a couple of houses down. The wife and son (probably in his early 20's) came out to get Skooter. They said the electric fence must have been off. This is why I like my 6ft tall wood fence. I know if my fence is down. The son expressed surprise that Skooter would come to me because he's shy. Jan just shot me a look. She knows how I am about critters. The mom gave me a big hug and called me an angel.

On Saturday night Debbie's husband drove out to our retreat to have dinner with us. We were on our way to Belvidere to check out the quilt store there and eat at the really good Mexican restaurant on route 20. In downtown Belvidere a little, tiny, furry black and white dog ran out in front of 4 lanes of traffic. There were several Hispanic children, under the age of about 9, trying to get the dog, but not wanting to go into traffic, rightly so. Three out of the 4 lanes had stopped, but a giant silver suv came barreling down the lane next to us and literally came with in an inch of killing this poor little dog. That was it for me. I told Dean and Debbie that I was going out there. The kids were hopping up and down yelling "Chiquita! Chiquita!" So I walked toward the dog and in my sweetest voice called her name. She cam running straight into my arms and kissed me all over. She was the cutest little thing! The children were over joyed. I gave her to the oldest girl and told her to be careful with her because she was almost smooshed. I'm pretty sure they will, they saw her almost get hit by the suv.

As I was leaving the car I had heard Debbie say something to her husband. It ends up she told him that he might as well pull over because Vicki was going out there and she's going to open up a can of whoop-a%$ on someone about that dog. She was right. I didn't do any whoop-a$#ing though. Dogs get out. It happens to the best of us. That's why we have the air lock system in place in our house.

Later that evening at our retreat, a lady came in from the wedding in one of the other rooms. The bride's bustle had come undone and she was trying to find something to fix it. She had gone to the scrapbooker's room first and they sent her over to the quilters. Debbie gave her a bunch of safety pins to pin it back together. I was glad for that. I thought she was going to ask us to come and sew it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Our quilting guild retreat was great. I believe a good time was had by all. I swear we made PittyPat cry because she was laughing so hard a few times. It’s funny how many people have told me that they get so much inspiration at these retreats that going to their 9-5 job is really getting in the way of their quilting. I didn't get as much finished as I would have liked, but I got things figured out that had been boggling my mind for sometime, so I can start them now. Sometimes it takes a village to create a quilt! Or perhaps it was belting out Copacabana with Barry Manilow that got the creativity flowing. Who can tell?

I usually have Christmas dinner at my house, and my sister has Thanksgiving. This year however, she is going to be in Australia for Thanksgiving, so I will have dinner. I don't have any Thanksgiving stuff though, so I decided to make my table cloth for it at the retreat when I'd have long tables to cut and press it. I put it on the table last night and realized that it's a tad bit narrow.
I'll have to force myself to adopt DiscoJen's motto of "oh well, it's done!" There's no way I could have made it any wider. It's already 116" long! Do you know how much more material it would take to match the pattern on the fabric, which is the Dorothy line by Anna Griffin for Windham Fabrics, by the way. It kills me to use such a beautiful fabric as a table cloth, but better to use it then to let it sit around collecting dust, right? I have to make the napkins next. I’m going to try out a couple of binding feet to make those. Debbie and Sophie got them at the Rosemont quilt show. It will be interesting to compare what they each can do.
I also got the majority of this quilt top sewn together:
It’s the Let it Snow line of batik fabrics and pattern from Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. Pictures do not do this fabric justice. I bought the kit at the Madison quilt show and have been unable to resist putting it together immediately! It is absolutely FREAKING STUNNING! I had the blocks laid out on the floor to sew together and Pittypat came over to exclaim over their beauty. She said that it reminded her of the Caribbean! Jennie and I looked at each other in bewilderment. We weren't quite sure how snowflakes remind one of the Caribbean! PittyPat said that the color looked like a pool to her and that she wanted to swim in it. I think I should name it "PittyPat's Pool". I'm going to try to quilt it in metallic thread. I've never used metallic thread to quilt before, so it should be fun to play with. I just have to sew the last two rows together and put the border on it. Only one border! I don't know if I can accept that.
I have to share what Robin, Sharon, Karen and Linda made at the retreat. They all did the same pattern, Mexican Stars by South Wind Quilts. They were all totally different, and all gorgeous!

What you can't see in my photos is that the triangle parts fold back on themselves forming a cathedral window curving effect. It's really wonderful. Isn't it fun to see how different a pattern can look in different fabrics? That's why classes are good. You get to see how all of the different fabric choices turn out.
This is what the hubby did while I was away:
It was a lot of work, but worth it! It's amazing how different the kitchen looks with back splash tiles! I just love it. I sit and stare at it quite often. Every time he does tile work he says "I'm never doing this again. I'll write a check for it next time!" Then he gets the quote and says that he'll do it instead. He does beautiful work, even if he hates doing it. See the cutting board up on top of the cabinets all the way over on the right? My friend Bill made that for me for Christmas last year. It's really lovely. So lovely, in fact, that I'm not allowed to use it. The other metal things are my bundt pans. I kind of have a bundt pan collection. And darn that Williams Sonoma for coming up with new ones all the time!

The hubby also got us a new Husky while I was away. He was apparently very busy while I was gone. He left me a voicemail saying to call him back because he has an important announcement. I thought he was going to tell me the tile was done. Imagine my surprise when he told me that we were getting a dog I hadn't even met! She's from Free Spirit Siberian Rescue. They took her photo down already, so you can't see her. Her name is Josie. Donna, DiscoJen and I don't really like that name though, so we think we will call her.....Mojojo!!! The hubby even took Robbie along w/the other two to meet her. Robbie was happy with him all weekend after that! It's amazing how he loves the hubby while we are in the car or going for walks, and when he has meat, but otherwise is all nervous nelly around him. The hubby works hard to get Robbie to like him, but Robbie just prefers me.

It's funny what the men do when the women are away at quilting retreats. PittyPat's husband got a new tv last fall while we were away, and mine got a dog this year! I can only guess what will greet us next time we dare go away for 3 days!