Tuesday, March 30, 2010

An Homage to Better Bloggers

It's about time to fill you in on the minutia of our days.

I was in Jackson Michigan yesterday teaching a workshop and giving a show and tell for the Pieces and Patches Quilt Guild. A fine time was had by me, but in the immortal words of my friend Sandy "I am too lame to blog". Not one picture. None. I even had my camera out, but I just didn't think of taking pictures. Sad, I know.

When I got home, look what was waiting for me....
The new issue of American Patchwork & Quilting!! If you look about halfway down on the cover you will see our names. Thanks everyone at AP&Q. You made us look good.

Now that the 7 suitcases of quilts have been unpacked and put back on their "Princess and the Pea" bed, it was time for a cold one.
Just like my blogger friend Pam - I want to show you my newest favorite treat. Sprecher's lo-cal root beer. Not diet. Lo-cal!! It's awesome. It's rich, creamy and slightly sweet. It contains sugar and honey, just in small amounts. A 8 0z. serving (this is a 16 oz. bottle) is just 15 calories. It is my new favorite thing. If you can't find this gourmet soda in your local store you can order it online. You will be glad you did.

That's it for today.


Friday, March 26, 2010


Gibby has a new trick. He hops up on the windowsill in the afternoon. He is waiting for Bill to get home from work. It seems spending the whole day with me is boring. So boring, that he starts barking when I sit down at the computer. He is very opinionated. He keeps himself occupied with traffic, and other doggie friends out for a walk when he is up on the sill. I now have nose prints to wash off the window. How could anyone find it boring here?

Polly is getting ready down in Florida for some Spring Break visits. Naples will soon be overrun with Minick grandchildren. I am getting ready for 3 things here in Michigan. 1 - I will be teaching and giving a "lecture" Monday in Jackson Michigan for the Pieces and Patches Quilt Guild. I hope it really doesn't come off as a lecture. Mostly it is just a long "show and tell". 2 - I am working on my berry applique project. Here is vine that the berries will live on.I can't tell you how tickled I am with that picture. It seems I might have finally figured out how to get a close-up that is actually in focus. Oh, what this could mean for this blog! Yes, pictures that are actually in focus. The mind reels.

3 - The June issue of American Patchwork & Quilting will start rolling out to subscribers next week. We have some kits stacked up ready to go out. Look for the kit to be posted on our website later this weekend.
That's about it for today. Hope you have a good weekend


Monday, March 22, 2010

Has it Sprung?

Has Spring sprung where you are? It has here. While dropping a few degrees the last two days, there is no mistaking it. Gibby and I saw these on our morning walk today.As you know, I am no gardener, so I don't know what they are. What I do know is that things are sprouting all over and the days are getting longer. It's about time. It made me think of quilts like these

Tulips. They were all over the market this weekend, but I haven't seen any popping up from the ground yet. Soon, I'm sure.

There were some questions about my berry project. I am done making my ***(number not to be revealed so not to cause shock to the non appliquers) berries. There isn't much too it. I will describe it as best I can.The toughest part was getting a photo in focus. My berries are 5/8" across. I drew out the 5/8"
circles - using a circle template found at any office supply store. I drew them on cardstock and cut them out. This was the least fun thing about the project. I am ignorant of scrapbooking, but if you are a scrapbooker, I'm sure there is a way to cut these babies out quickly and perfectly. Anyways, once cut out, I used the circle template to draw bigger circles onto my fabric. About 1/8" wider all the way around. These can be cut quickly as you don't have to try to be perfect with these. Your berry shape will come from the cardboard circle - these you have to try to be a little more accurate on. Once these are cut - you sew a running stitch around each circle just inside the cut edge. Cinch up the fabric circle around your cardboard template tightly and tie a knot. This was the enjoyable part of the project. It's very portable and I made my berries in the car and in front of the tv.

When you are ready to applique your berries onto your quilt top, take them to your ironing board and give them a spray with spray starch and press. Snip the thread of the running stitch and loosen the thread and take out the cardboard circle. The berry should snap back into shape and it is ready to be appliqued.

I have never used this technique before. I an a needle-turn appliquer and have needle turned all my circles. It is a bit more slow going than needle-turning other shapes. The advantage of needle-turn is that there is no prep for the applique shapes. But.... these berries were so small (and a little more difficult to needle-turn) and I needed so many, that I tried this technique. I am happy that I did. My berries are ROUND and now that I am sewing them down on my quilt top - the process is very speedy.

Honestly, they are more ROUND than if I had needle-turned them. I am kind of liking this even though it goes against my grain. I try not to get caught up in "perfection" quiltmaking. It's counter productive in the long run. Second guessing every imperfection (in our opinion) just means that less quilts get made, and less adventuresome quilts get made. Whenever I get stalled over a quilting decision or thinking my technique or fabric choice just isn't good enough, I go back and look at my favorite quilts. Almost every one of them is way less than perfect, all of them make up for it in exuberance and joy. This one is a prime example.Have a joyful day.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Another Day In The Neighborhood

This is the view from my back door. It's a glorious day here. When I uploaded this picture I noticed all the telephone and electrical wires running through the neighborhood. This is 2010. Aren't we supposed to have all underground cable by now? Isn't that what we are paying for in our utility bills? Oh, and aren't we all supposed to be driving "flying" cars by now? That's what all the movies told us 20 years ago. This is the kind of stuff I contemplate when I am doing chores. You too?

This is the view slightly below.It is our yard. Or garden, if you will. We are not gardeners, though. Far from it. Bill clears off this stone berm every fall and we contemplate what we should plant while looking at the barren wall all winter. It's all talk. We know every April and May this thing will explode with whatever was planted by the previous owners. Don't ask me what it is because I don't know. If you want gardening expertise go here. I think gardening is like car maintenance. I am forever grateful that someone knows how to do it, and do it expertly, but I don't have the inclination.

I went out today to the post office, the library, and the grocery store. Here is my booty. Salad to go with our leftovers for dinner and a movie for Bill. This is definitely a Bill movie. I could probably be persuaded to watch if it wasn't for all the explosions. I hate the noise. General rule of thumb here - if a movie has explosions I don't tend to watch it. If a movie has actors talking in an English accent and wearing clothes from another century, Bill doesn't watch it. The acceptance of this fact is the core of a happy marriage.

Once my chores were done it meant I could get to my current project. This is one of my little sewing tins. It contains berries. Lots and lots of them.Excuse me while I pop in a movie (one with costumes and English accents) and make berries.

Hope you have a great day too.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pizza Rustica

Today I made a Pizza Rustica. I usually make it this time of year and usually only once a year. It is also called Italian Easter Pie. More closer to a quiche than a pizza, it is a very rich, tasty treat. We had a small wedge and a large green salad for dinner. A perfect spring meal. The recipe is from "How To Bake" by Nick Malgieri. This recipe can be found here. This is a favorite cookbook of mine. The only change I made was to lessen the amount of sugar in the pastry crust. While odd sounding, a sweet crust is terrific with the savory filling. I thought the original was too sweet, though. I changed the amount from 1/2 cup to 1/4 cup.

Oh, it's rich. A thin wedge with a salad will satisfy completely. Another reason it is a favorite is that it keeps pretty well. Bill and I will eat on this for several days. The leftovers wedges don't lose flavor or texture after it is microwaved.

I don't bake as much as I used to. I just don't have the time for it. So, it is nice, that when I do, it is a real treat. Gibby has been fascinated with all the goings-on in the kitchen. He makes a bee-line for it once he hears any activity. He loves all the noise, aroma, and drama. I know he is also waiting/praying for something to fall on the floor, but he is good company. Can't you tell?I am very busy with a new project. I'll be posting pictures soon.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I Can't Draw

I spent yesterday sketching.

Polly and I both agree that the biggest challenge in designing (fabric, quilts, and rugs) is getting the ideas that are in our head - down on paper. We are not talented with drawing skills. Our sketches would fit right in displayed on your fridge with your kids and grandkids artwork. Because we are handicapped in this department, we have learned a few tricks.

First lesson: Remember 1st grade. Simple shapes work. Don't try for detail when simplicity works. My most treasured lesson is cutting snowflakes. Remember when we folded up paper to make these classroom decorations? The principle still works. Any shape you can cut once - will make a perfectly symmetrical shape if you cut it on folded paper.Here are my templates for a leaf and vase. Both used this trusted technique. I am working on a border for a future applique quilt. Symmetry is your friend when designing a border. Remember that you only have to draw half of something. Once drawn, a mirror image of this sketch and be added to make a complete sketch.

My second favorite trick - vellum tracing paper. I can't stress enough how much I love this stuff! It's kind of expensive and I had to buy a whole roll of it at the art supply store, but oh, was it worth it. I now have a lifetime supply of graph paper that 1) is see-through and allows me to trace images on it. (see symmetry-mirror image hint above). 2) Vellum is sturdy and holds up to many, many erasings. This is very important. Last night, when I was done sketching, my office chair wouldn't roll on the wood floor. This was because I was sitting in a pile of eraser leavings. Little puddles of spent eraser. It's no exaggeration that I go through more erasers than I do pencils. This is the corner of the border. Because of my see-through traceable graph paper, I know that the mirror image of this will neatly turn the corner of my quilt.

Oh, and blue painter's tape. It leaves no residue on paper or wood. Another good tool. I taped, retaped, and taped again my graph paper over and over each other to get the final product. It was a day well spent.


Friday, March 5, 2010

What Are You Doing This Weekend?

Oh, not much, how about you?This is the view beside my drafting/cutting table. I am going to cut a few kits. The plan is to be done by Sunday night so I can relax with a bowl of popcorn for all of the Oscar regalia.

What kit? Well, if you remember last summer I had guests. Jennifer Keltner from American Patchwork & Quilting just happened to stop by with photographer Beth and took some pictures for an upcoming issue. That upcoming issue is very near. If you have a subscription, you will get your copy at the end of the month. For the rest of you, the copy hits the news stand the first week of April. Along with the pictures of my very clean house (last summer- not now) is a quilt I made with Bar Harbor fabric. You will be able to purchase that kit from the website. Don't look for it now - it will be posted in a couple of weeks when the issue hits your mailbox. I don't even have a photo of the quilt yet. It is still in Des Moines at AP&Q. But..... I did cut a few kits last night of our Stars and Bars Quilt
You can get that from our website right now, if you can't wait for the surprise quilt. Oh, and Polly tells me there in only 1 kit left of her Sailboat hooked rug kit. So, if you have some time on your hands we have the solution. We don't want any of you to get into trouble. Idle hands, and all that. Have a great weekend.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"They Call Me Mr. Gibbs"

Gibby had the stitches taken out of his ear yesterday. Everything is looking grand. The vet warned us when the stitches were put in that it would leave a lot of scar tissue and he could have a "cauliflower" ear. Heh. Boxer?..... Cauliflower ear? Am I the only one who thinks that's funny? Well, while he does have scar tissue, he is as handsome as ever. Quite the lady killer even though he can't do anything about it (see post about neutering....) He received an invitation in the mail this weekend for a play date with Clara. He's playing it cool, but he is pretty pumped about it.

As you can see, Gibby is often posing on quilt covered furniture. All the furniture is his, but he does share it with us. We understand the concept of keeping pets off the furniture and we kind of agree, in theory. We were going to stick to our guns with this dog. But, that first day when he snuggled up beside us to take a nap - we were done. Our fate was set and we have accepted life with quilt covered furniture and much laundering of slip-covers. Actually, it's a pretty good trade-off.

I am back to work and as usual all upside-down. I am thinking Halloween and designing patterns for that dark, scary holiday. Weird, as it is sunny and bright and the days are getting longer and longer. We should have these patterns proofread and to the printer shortly and I will post them as soon as possible.

The weekend was fun and you can read about it here. Lynne and I had a great time, although our shopping wasn't as we planned. If only we wore a size 2 (Lynne is a bit closer to that size than I). We could have had a field day with the fantastic vintage clothes.


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