Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dots and Stripes

Around the first of November, I had at least a semblance of order in my sewing studio.  I knew where things were.  It was easy to find what I wanted, even if a studio stranger probably couldn't.

And then, just before Thanksgiving, a very kind and generous older friend, who was moving to a smaller home, and who knew that I do some charity quilting, very nicely gifted me with a wonderful pile of quilting fabric.  It was all usable and perfect for what I do, and I appreciate it so much.

But, with the arrival of that fabric, there was a to-me audible, although very hypothetical, clunk and all the organizing wheels fell off.  To be followed almost immediately by some large sewing jobs and then the flurry of holiday projects.  There was the once-a-year resurrection of glitz and metallics that surfaced but never returned to its home.  Oh, my.

I do iron, I really do, but my ironing board was buried.  I have a large cutting mat but only a small corner was usable.  Just to calm myself, after Christmas, I started on a little quilt made with charm packs because that was all that was readily usable.  And I wanted to do something.  Although I had to just sew the charms in rows because I couldn't press them.  You know, the ironing board thing.

So, this morning, I did some organizing.  There will be a new tote involved.    Dots and stripes are together in their home.  The ironing board is clear.  The cutting mat is functional.

Now, if I could only find those Christmas gift receipts that I so carefully kept in one spot.  I need just one.  And I knew right where they were two days before Christmas.

Monday, December 30, 2013

After Christmas Sales

The after-Christmas sales are such happy and optimistic times, planning ahead for eleven months from now, planning to mail the pretty cards on December 1 instead of this year's December 30.

I was the gifted recipient of the tent ornament from just such a sale, and of course I love it.  It goes on the tree with one of the tree lights behind it.  I went back to the Hallmark store today in hopes of buying one for each of my daughters, but they were gone.

It seemed like most things were gone, actually, although I guess it is the fourth post-Christmas day.  A full week plus since the Winter Solstice.

One of my best post-Christmas buys, maybe, came from the GAP outlet store, where I bought two pairs of jeans for $1.99 each, with their zippers broken.  I can easily replace those zippers, and if they fit well with the new zippers installed, then score for me.   

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Owl Pillows

Almost all the gifts have been given now, so I'd like to show you this owl pillow.  The little owls are embroidered on linen, and since my piping foot was still out from an earlier project, there is piping around the edges.  I love the look of the piping put on down all four sides separately instead of in one continuous piece.  Designs from Embroidery Library.

The back was finished with my favorite pillow finish, that is until I saw a pillow that Holly had finished.  She'd put in a zipper and covered it with a neat placket.  Now I have to try that.

Holly has a wonderful Christmas pillow at her house, a tree with a bright yellow star floating above it.  Lots of free motion  When I see it, I know I'd like a similar one in my house.  And this year it's going to be one of my first projects.  There, I've written it down.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Sad Part

After such a wonderful Christmas, with family all the time, it's now the sad time.  The good-byes.

The dog dish left behind. 

Every year I know it will be like this, but every year it's new all over again.  The too-quiet house.  The plain old grilled cheese sandwich.  Well, maybe a pimento cheese sandwich, with left-over pimento cheese. 

The heart too full to process yet.  I miss everyone so incredibly much.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Advent Communion Table

Advent communion table at Cincinnati Mennonite Fellowship.  Candles, communion juice and bread, and an urban wasteland.  Somehow, it all works.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Under Construction

Picture from the Party Source parking lot:  the new bourbon distillery under construction.  We'll be back to see this later, although it will be years before any bourbon made here will be ready for sale.

I thought that a weekday afternoon would be a relatively uncrowded time at the Party Source, but I guess not.  I don't even want to think about what it might be like this weekend.  It might be pick a number for a parking space, although there is no empty field for the people waiting for a parking spot so that won't work.

And we're talking serious shopping, too, not just my little couple of bottles of wine and some single bottles of beer.  I wonder where all the parties are. 

Festival of Lights

Last night the temperature was in the 50's, and the big expected rains weren't here yet, which made it the perfect night for the Festival of Lights at the zoo.  I think that most of Cincinnati had the same idea, so it was crowded with families and strollers and wagons.  Definitely "watch where you're going" and definitely wonderful.  Lots of bright lights, lots of music, definitely a good time.

The line for the parking lots stretched far down Vine Street so we parked in the parking garage where Steph works and walked the half mile or so to the zoo entrance.  Besides the lights we saw a few animals, notably the giraffes up close and personal.  They were in their building, and the viewing windows were level with their heads.  Very nice.

You'll notice that the kids' jackets are open, which was a treat in itself during this colder-than-usual and snowier-than-usual December.  Today the rain starts, stretching through the weekend, maybe 3" or 4".  Can you imagine how much snow that would be? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Little Gift Exchange

I'm going to an event tonight where there will be low-dollar gift exchange, and I know that most of the gifts will be handmade. 

So, I'd been wanting to make a decorated fleece scarf, and this was my incentive.  The only color fleece that was out of the box was pink, so pink it was.  I wasn't actually too sure how the serger would work on fleece, but it was fine.  When I was looking for fabrics I spotted a piece of pink (how lucky was that!) that I'd used for free motion practice.  A couple of slices and some three-step zig zag - done!

I hope whoever gets this will like it, but I'll put a little candle in the bag just in case.  Now I'm REALLY wanting one for myself.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Reminder for next year:  have silver metallic in my house BEFORE December 1, when it gets hard to find.  (Although, I have to admit that I'm picky about what kinds of metallic I use.)

Still, the blue-green metallic was a nice substitude.

Design from Embroidery Library.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Train and Lego Display

Sometimes you don't know quite what to expect - $5 admission at Newport on the Levee gets you in to a train and Lego display, visit with Santa, and (the clincher) an hour at Gameworks.  The grands were fascinated by this Lego city, which takes 12 hours to set up and 3 hours to dismantle.  In chunks, not brick by brick.  We spent quite a bit of time at the various displays and it was definitely worth the price of admission.  The Lego city is larger than the picture, this is just the biggest piece.  It was made by a family.

There were also displays by the local Lego club - who knew there was a club for this?  Here is Aaron admiring a replica of Cincinnati's Music Hall.  On the other side is, what else, the inside of Music Hall.

We spent the obligatory hour at Gameworks, then took pictures outside by the tree.  On the way home, we stopped at Graeter's - the peppermint ice cream is so unbelievable, at least according to me.  The kids are traditionalists.  Vanilla with chocolate chunks, and plain chocolate.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Farm Redwork

This morning I quickly put together this little quilt, for a work sample using embroidery done by my coworker.  Sorry, I don't know the design collection, but if you have an embroidery machine and love redwork and farms I can find out for you.

When I dropped it off, I cashed in a gift card from last Christmas and got a pack of 20 bobbins plus 25 prewound bobbins.  I feel absolutely rich having all those bobbins.

At the fabric store I found a dress pattern and fabric for a dress for Nora - it looks relatively uncomplicated, but very pretty and not labeled as a fast sew.  I'm always disappointed by the "quick sew" patterns because the cutting time isn't part of the time and because it always takes me a least twice as much sewing time as promised.  Leaving me to wonder whether everyone else can sew that much more quickly than I can.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Notice the ice all over this snow person.  And the little bits of white around him - those are flecks of paint that have come off with the freezing/thawing. 

I moved the figure out so it wouldn't be under the gutters that desperately need to be cleaned.  Do I have a big tree that dumps tons of oak leaves in those gutters?  Nope.

Then I turned around to go down the steps and promptly slipped and fell, despite the Ice Melt I'd been putting down all day.  The Universe was good to me, though, I was able to pop back up, shakey but ok.  I have a feeling that I turned just enough that my butt hit on the wallet I keep in my back pocket, and of course I also had a coat with a liner.  My arm got bruised and swollen, but, not knowing what else to do, I sat down after a bit and started picking stitching out of a mending job and that calmed me down and allowed me to keep ice on the arm while I kept working.  And soon, the swelling and bruising started to go down.  Today, it's almost gone.

So, it's ibuprofin for my butt, but I can start tapering off.  I'm going out now to do some errands, and I'm going to be careful. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Machine Embroidered Snowflakes - Here We Go

I think that we already have more snow this year than we had all last year, but maybe it just seems that way. 

There are a few snowflakes starting to pile up inside my house, too.  Don't you love those antique-y snowflakes that someone actually crocheted with fine thread and then starched?  I can't imagine how to actually do that, I have visions, not of sugarplums, but of tangles and frustration.

These machine-embroidered snowflakes, though, are so easy, following just a few little tips.  There are lots of designs out there, too.

Your regular rayon embroidery thread won't work well with these because it's just too soft.  Cotton works great, but to be economical I usually just use polyester Maxi-Lock serger thread on the big cone, sitting on a thread stand behind my machine.  I have no idea how many snowflakes you can get from one cone, but it has to be a lot.  I use a regular NEBS prewound bobbin and that works fine even though it's lighter weight than the Maxi-Lock.  I usually clean out my machine after every three or four snowflakes becauser the serger thread is less smooth than my regular thread.

You'll need a very sturdy water soluble stabilizer, and Sulky Ultra Solvy is the only one I know in that category.  Because there are lots of stitches on a small area, you'll need to hoop it VERY tightly.  If you have a single-hole stitch plate, use that to help keep all those tight stitches from going down under the stitch plate.  (Take my word on that one.)

When your snowflake is finished, trim it to within 1/4" from the design.  Hold it under hot tap water until the stabilizer starts to wash away, then move it to a bowl of hot water.  One minute in the bowl is about right, you don't want to see any stabilizer but you do want some still in the threads so your snowflake will be stiff once it dries.

Blot the snowflake on a fluffy towel, then lay it flat on a towel to dry.  Once it's dry, you can press it if it isn't completely flat.  I just love these things, they can easily go in a Christmas card for just a teeny extra touch.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Snowman's Eyes


Taken from my daughter's facebook page - how creative is it to use Dum Sum suckers for the snowman's eyes?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Holiday Project Sort of Morning

This is a different kind of Saturday morning than I'd planned.  I thought there would be a grandboy waking up and wanting to play Chopped and watch videos and ask a million questions about Minecraft, none of which I could answer.  With the snow yesterday, he didn't come and instead partied it up at Nora's birthday party.  From the report I got, he had a very good time and didn't torment the girls.  And five little girls braved the weather and showed up.

So, this morning I could do what my heart has been longing for:  some little mindless holiday projects.  I've been doing some labor-intensive sewing projects in the past few weeks, including making a dress just like one someone already had and altering a Mother of the Groom dress.  So this morning it was nice to just press a few flour sack towels (where did I get these?  They are really nice, wish I had more like it) and press the Start button on my machine.

Lesson for the day:  I almost never hoop anything any more, just hoop the stabilizer, using a temporary basting spray, and place the item to be embroidered on top.  The lines around the design in the picture are basting lines that will be cut out.  If you have this feature on your machine, pull your bobbin thread out to make a 6" tail, and don't skip the basting step.  And if you don't have a basting feature, consider carefully placing a few pins OUT of the embroidery area.  Placement is so much easier using this method.

I was admiring a new machine the other day and was especially envious of the undo button in the embroidery edit screen.  How nice would that be?  And last night, when I glanced down at my machine, there it was, right above the hoop size. 

I looked at the manual and it wasn't there when the machine was new, so it must have been an upgrade.  I was so happy that the upgrade featured an easy way to set up for free motion quilting that I didn't look much beyond that, other than to admire the new stitches.  SO, lesson number two:  do your machine upgrades, if they're available, and pay attention to the goodies you're actually upgrading.  I'm always surprised at the people in classes who haven't upgraded, which is often just about everyone.  It isn't hard and you get some cool new stuff. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

December Birthday

Tonight is Nora's birthday beach party sleepover, and her mom made these adorable beach-y cupcakes for the big event.  There are a few other equally beach-y games and treats as well.

Only thing is . . . it's snowing, really snowing, and Nora and her mom are wondering how many girls will be able to come. 

I remember sitting in Christ Hospital on the day Nora was born, rocking her and looking out the window at the snow flurries.  I guess snow can easily accompany a December birthday. 

Aaron and I had plans for a sleepover here.  There is ham in the refrigerator for that little meat-eater and a big new package of clay and some appropriate tools on the table.  Plans for having the tree decorated when he comes.

We'll see how this day turns out.  I just got an email from Duke Energy outlining how to be prepared for the storm. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

For My Art Quilting Friends

Last Saturday at the Grove Park Inn, the view from the window showed these bare trees with the sun coming from behind just right to make tree shadows on the ground.  Still a lot of green from summer and fall.  With a little snow remaining from earlier in the week.

It would make a lovely art quilt, but this isn't my personal season for doing that.  So, maybe, you can.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Pillow

I just finished making this Christmas pillow, designed by Viking's Marie Duncan.  Her projects are ALWAYS nice. 

The pillow has lots of piping, which gave me a chance to get out my piping foot and review how to use it.  And a triangle "ruler" came off my wall.  Have I ever used it before?  Ummm, probably not.  And, there was the matter of embroidering using programmed sewing stitches, for the sashings.  I'd never done that, and it's wonderful for those wide stitches, they stay so nice and straight.  Marie has great instructions for all of it.

I asked my coworker which colors were big for Christmas this year - she always knows these things.  She said turquoise and fushia, so the pillow has a fushia backing.  And, the piping has a red/fushia stripe.

The white areas have a white tone on tone pattern and mine ended up with the pattern a little crooked, plus they weren't flat after the tree triangles were quilted down.  Some free motion fixed both those little problems.

This isn't a quick project, but it's pretty darn awesome.  And Marie has a great tip for making a smooth, flat pillow form.

You can get the instructions for the pillow here:  http://new.husqvarnaviking.com/en-US/Be-Inspired/Blog/December-2013/FREE-Monthly-Project-Christmas-Tree-Pillow

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Saturday at the Grove Park Inn

The day after Thanksgiving, Steph and the kids and I piled into the Subaru and drove to Asheville to visit Winnie and Sarah.  On Saturday, we visited the Grove Park Inn to look at the many gingerbread displays.

This just happened to be an actual gingerbread house, but there were many creations made of gingerbread and other edible things.  This was was "Christmas Vacation" - check out the RV in the driveway.

Sarah and Aaron sitting in front of one of the big fireplaces.  This little guy loves the "Sarah and Winnie" visits and has a sad time leaving town at the end.

Winnie and Sarah and the kids in front of the big tree in the lobby.

On Sunday, we visited the Arboretum and the Lego displays, inside and out.  We ate at Apollo Flame and then it was time to leave.  It was a late evening getting home, but a wonderful visit.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Petting Sharks

As many times as we've been to the Newport Aquarium, Nora's never petted the sharks, or even the starfish.  She would hang back and encourage Aaron but never would participate herself.  She would set goals for herself, like saying she'd do it when she was 6 years old, but would then change the age limit.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving was an evening event for passholders, with an introduction to Scuba Santa, cookies and milk, and the introduction of two white alligators from Santa.  Pretty low key, dim hallways, less crowded as the evening went on, the usual holiday fun of finding the reindeer.  My friend Michelle took some great pictures of the kids.

And this time, when we got to the petting tank, Nora petted the sharks.  She spent so much time that Aaron was ready to move on and wondered when she would be ready to go.  Other kids came and went and she just wanted to . . . pet sharks.  The attendant told her that the petting tank must be her favorite part of the aquarium, and she agreed that it was.

I'm not sure why, this time, it was Nora's own good time.  Perhaps it was her approaching 9-year birthday, although as I said, she's been quite willing to move the bar before. 

We left and admired the twinkling lights and the tree at Newport on the Levee.  Cold as it was, Aaron sat on a bench and just took it all in.  This time it was Nora's turn to say, "How long is he going to stay here?"  The evening was a good introduction to the holiday season

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Banner Hanging

The church Advent banner is hanging, made by the Art and Spirituality Journey Group with directions from The Leader, Mennonite Publishing Network.  Let the season begin, next Sunday.

We used felt for the background fabric and lots of Wonder Under to add the design.  Lots of stitching.  I ended up doing free motion on the dove with all its ins and outs and changes in direction.

On the communion table, we did an urban wasteland landscape, also with directions from the Leader.  Sounds a little strange for Advent, but I think it will work, especially with our urban church under renovation and currently torn-up on one side.  Thanks to Violet for salvaging some of the bricks for our landscape.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Holiday Baby Quilt

The donation November baby quilts are in a holiday theme.  And here's mine.

I don't have a name for the pattern.  The instructions are ever so simple.  Cut 5 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectangles from two fabrics and 1 1/2" x 6 1/2" rectanges from a third fabric.  If your fabrics have a direction, like the snowmen, note which way is up.

Sew smaller rectangles to the top of one group of larger rectanges, using a 1/4" seam.  Your block should then measure 6 1/2" x 6 1/2".  Sew smaller rectangles to the bottom of the other group of larger rectanges.  Sew horizontal rows together first, alternating patterns.  And then, sew the rows together, once again alternating patterns.  That's it. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Here She Is

Here she is, the pretty Garden Snow Lady, complete with raffia and crystals.  She was fun to embroider and went together easily.  Anita Goodesign.  She's going to work tomorrow.

It's been a busy and happy week.  After my gym time this morning, I had a flash, just a flash, of what an enjoyable habit it used to be to go to Seabury Gym, back in my pre-Ecovillage Berea days.  Maybe soon the flash will become a little more.  I did try two new machines today.

The gym I'm going to is like a gym warehouse.  Lots of cardiac machines, all lined up, and some weight machines, all lined up.  It used to be a Sears Hardware, about a mile from home.  I'm finding that I really like the "stoplight room," where you use the step box for a minute, then go to a machine, then back to the step box for another minute.

One of my goals for the year was to have my Christmas cards ready before Thanksgiving.  Which is in a week.  Not one card is ready yet. 

One of my Thanksgiving Day pleasurers is listening to Splendid Table on NPR.  Questions are as simple as, "How do you make mashed potatoes?" and as complex as "How do you cook turducken?"  And through all the questions, the host is so gracious, even when someone calls and says they just got their turkey out of the freezer.   

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Behringer Crawford Holiday Trains

There is a small museum in Covington that has a wonderful holiday train display.  A wonderful year-round train display too, actually.  Totally different than the one in downtown Cincinnati, smaller, no lines, up-close viewing, free parking.  The people who put this together put in more set-up time than I can imagine. 

There were also crafts and the usual paddle-boat fun, fishing off the dock with magnetic fish and poles, using speaker tubes to talk with someone on the floor above or below.  I'm pretty sure that Aaron could stay all day, as long as there were other kids from time to time and regular meals.

Tonight I'm pretty excited to get started on Anita Goodesign's Garden Snow Lady, an in-the-hoop project with seven hoopings.  I always love doing these and I have my fabric picked out with my stabilizer and Decor Bond ready.  In some ways it's not really creative, someone else has already done the creating, but sometimes I like to just follow the directions.  Probably in the same way I loved paint by numbers as a kid.  With Anita Goodesign I always know that everything will fit together well and be nicely digitized.  The directions will make sense.  What's not to enjoy?   

Friday, November 15, 2013

Advent Banner

Last night five of us, with one infant to cheer us on, worked on putting together an Advent banner, to be displayed on December 1.  Lots of Wonder Under, plus a good pattern from The Leader (Mennonite Church USA.)  It still needs some sewing, but the hard part is finished.  Yay! for us.  The completed banner has a dove over the pink and red circles.

It's been a busy week with lots of sewing and embroidery, two quilt guild meetings, plus two other evening meetings.  After delivering dinner to a recovering friend, I'm SO glad to be home on this rainy night. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Veteran's Day

Yesterday, Veteran's Day, Nora was off school and we went to a movie at Newport on the Levee.  The website said that the first showing was 10:30, but when we got there it was 11:45.  So, we spent a pleasant hour at the aquarium.  I've learned to keep our aquarium passes with me since some of our visits seem to end up unplanned.

The old guy, above, usually sits in a corner, absolutely still, but this time he was out and about.  We saw several new arrivals, plus others we usually don't see because Aaron is skipping on ahead.  Aaron WAS in school and didn't come on this trip.  We admired Mighty Mike without the usual crowd.

We saw Free Birds, with the turkeys trying to get off the Thanksgiving menu.  I can see its possibilities in DVD sales as a holiday movie.  Nora picked out a little stuffed animal at Claire's, we had lunch, and that was our day out.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

What Happened?

Aaron goes to public school kindergarten Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Friday, more or less.  That's the way kindgarten is at his school.  On Mondays and Wednesdays he goes to Montessori kindergarten. 

Today was his Friday off, and I enjoy only child time with both him and Nora whenever the chance comes up.  I took this picture of Aaron eating chocolate ice cream at Graeter's and wondered . . . what happened to the little boy he once was?

We went to the library and Graeter's and he played video games and read a Bob book.  He is very happy to be reading and does a good job of it.  He loves math.  He's a little boy no more.       

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Riddleview Park

My house is halfway up a hill, and to get to the park at the end of the street you go down, a little, and up, a lot.  And there it is, a nice green space on top of the hill, in the city.  There are some nicely marked hiking trails and some new playground equipment.  Thank you, Mr. Mayor.

The grands like to make their way to the park and they always get to the top of the hill before I do.  Who knows why, but the big climber always turns into an ice cream shop.  Yesterday there were pretend Thanksgiving ice cream flavors, pumpkin pie, cranberry, turkey, and the disliked gravy ice cream.  With cherries and chocolate sauce and every kind of drink you could want.  There was no hiking, little climbing, no swinging, just . . . ice cream shop. 

The autumn trees were beautiful, but my picture just looks flat.  You'll have to take my word for it.   

Friday, November 1, 2013

Day After Halloween

I only had five Trick or Treaters and it looks like one of them lost something.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Different Sizes

Turns out that all the tiny quilt square ornaments are different sizes.  I don't know whether it was meant to be that or I just measured wrong, but I sort of like it.

Trick or Treat is tonight, despite storm warnings that may or may not hold off until after the fun.  Some across-the-river communities are rescheduling for tomorrow night, but I have a feeling that on this side of the river, Friday night football is an institution not to be messed with.

Speaking of which . . . I didn't realize that the Bengals are playing tonight.  Reason enough to watch tv for once.  I also hadn't realized that all the games can be televised now, whether or not they are sold out.

I had my annual physical this morning, which I always dread.  I have a new doctor, though, and I really like her.  She seems to come from a wellness perspective, which I so appreciateSo maybe, next year I won't dread it as much.   

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

So Tiny

I love quilting and art quilting magazines and sometimes it's hard to resist buying them . . . but, that's another story.

Last year's December American Patchwork and Quilting magazine featured three tiny 2 1/2" quilt block ornaments in three patterns.  I've meant to try them out, and finally made the easiest, a pinwheel.  Very sweet, and not as hard as I thought.  I actually like my teeny binding better than the one in the directions.  If I could just make one every day, I'd have a pretty selection to put on packages (but I probably won't.)  The square-in-a-square pattern has such teeny pieces that I can't imagine anything other than paper piecing for that one, so I'll see what I can do with that.

The background is my all-time favorite Life Is Good pajama pants, welcome again with cooler weather.  It's supposed to rain on and off ALL day today.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Favorite Sewing Tools

I'm making a few potholders to demonstrate the Viking Circular Attachment, and I realized how many of my favorite tools I'm using in this teeny project.

1.  The Circular Attachment, of course.  It makes beautiful circles and pedals with no tracing, no fusing, and no fuss.

2.  The Interchangable Dual Feed Foot, which puts quilts together without any shifting.  I can attach the binding with the 1/4" foot, then snap on the open toe foot to use a pretty stitch to sew it down.  By far the priciest of these tools, but so worth it.

3.  Those Clover Wonder Clips around the edges.  No pinning.  New this year for me, and I'm addicted.

4.  My new Gingher applique scissors.  The angle is just right and they are so sharp.  Why did I wait so long for these?

5.  Another "why did I wait":  the package of 20 Viking watercolor bobbins.  No more unwinding a bobbin because I need a new color.  This should be a no-brainer but I put off buying them for far too long.  And I love the colors.  Some of the green bobbin traditionalists complain that it's harder to see the thread color, but I've had no problems.  Whatever machine you have, get yourself some extra bobbins - you'll feel wealthy.

6.  The Fons and Porter rotary cutter.  I have to admit that I was attracted to it just because it's red, but it's far and away my favorite.  Great for right and left handed cutting, easy to swap out blades, and so easy to lock.  With little ones in the sewing areas occasionally, that's important.  Ok, I'll admit it:  with me in the sewing area, that's important.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pillow Top

Since I'm teaching a class in making this pillow on Saturday, and since it's been about a month since I made the sample, I stitched up another one.  I did a lot more free motion this time, making lots of organic bubbles, and now I feel better about the class and have a good hand-out, too.

How fun to have my neighbor knock on my door today to see if I wanted to go to lunch.  And to wander around the shoe store while she took care of an errand there.  I've worked down the street from this mall for six year and shopped there many times and never went in the shoe store.  How did that happen?  And yes, I saw a very cool pair of Merrell's but I've already blown whatever shoe budget I may have had on my athletic shoes.  Which I love.

People just a little north of here have been reporting sightings of snow.  However, what I'm looking forward to now is those few precious days at the end of October or the beginning of November when the weather turns warm one last time.  When the temperature is in the 70's.  It's such a gift.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Quilted Elephants

One of the nice ladies in our baby quilt group gave each person some fabrics - one with Ed Emberly elephants, one with orange squiggles, and one blue mottled.  We could add some of our own fabric, if we wished, to make a challenge baby quilt.  Fun, and so generous of the giver.  My first quilt, above, had lots of the elephants, I really love them.

I had just a little elephant fabric left, as well as some orange and blue.  I bought a different orange and a turquoise fabric and made the second quilt.  I'm taking a Craftsy class by Joe Cunningham called Pattern Free Quiltmaking, and that's where the ideas for the improvisational quilts developed.  No knowing ahead of time just what the quilt will look like, but the thing is, I always like it.  Lots of organic wavy machine quilting.

I started another quilt with the group this morning, then was reminded that next month we should turn in a Christmas quilt for those holiday babies.  Maybe I'll need to put this morning's quilt aside and look at my Christmas fabrics.  One of my year's goals was to NOT buy any Halloween or Christmas fabric this year, I have lots.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


We had this wonderful idea to go to HalZOOween at the Cincinnati Zoo for trick or treating today.  We'd done it before and it's fun for the kids to see other kids in costume and to collect some treats at various booths set up along the paths.

But, it rained all morning plus half the afternoon and it was chilly to boot.  Our first clue that this wasn't a usual zoo day was that half the primo covered parking lot was blocked off and it was easy to find a spot in what was left.

It was still a wonderful day and there were some costumes and it was easy to see the elephants smashing pumpkins.  There was no wait at all for the train.  Aaron had a light saber duel with another Darth Vader.  The kids collected treats.  There were little creatures to admire and pet.

If it's a nice day next Saturday, that place is going to be packed. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cut Flowers

It was a cool and rainy morning, but the guild guild's floral committee kept the work coming on the back porch of the Nature Center.  In the end, there were many lovely arrangements to bring inside for the guild's annual fall show.

I think I made the same goal last year, but this year I'm going to remember it.  I'm going to be more intentional in planting flowers in my yard and in cutting them to bring inside.  This morning I cut rosemary, sage, broomplant, and grasses, thinking that I didn't have much to contribute but knowing that we needed things.  And mixed with cosmos, zinnias, and dahlias, they were so pretty.  There's no reason why I can't have little arrangements for almost no money to brighten my house.

So, I've already added this to my list of goals to come for next year.  If I put it on my goal list, it usually gets done. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Which Artist?

My cousin Gregg and his father, Darvin, were both wonderful potters, and both were professors at Bluffton University.  Darvin died earlier this year, in his 90's.  Gregg, nearing retirement, is still at Bluffton.

A couple of weeks ago I was at a meeting at a church friend's house when she put the coffee cream in this charming little pitcher and said it had been made by my uncle Darvin.  I had been eyeing it, but thought it had been made by Gregg.

So, today I sent a facebook message to Gregg with an attachment of this photo, asking him whose work it was.  Both signed their last names only to their pottery, so no help there.

I'll let you know whose work it is.