Sunshine Quilts

Friday, June 30, 2006

Eleanor Burns

I think if I had to name one person who's had the most influence on me as a quilter, I would say Eleanor Burns. The funny thing is though, that I have made her Delectable Mountain quilt a couple of times and the one other quilt that mom took home with her. I have quite a few of her books though. Why would she be my quilting hero? It doesn't matter what I'm doing, or how I'm feeling, if I think of Eleanor, I smile. In fact, I almost laugh out loud! Have you ever heard or read her bio? If not, you really owe it to yourself to read it. For most of my quilting years I had heard about Eleanor Burns. But know what I had mostly heard? I hate her whiney voice! So, even though I could not even remember ever having heard her, I hated her whiney voice too! Probably 8 or 9 years ago, while I was at the Paducah Quilt Show with a friend, someone told us we should go by the Quilt in a Day house. It was a tiny little house down the street from the show and Eleanor had all her stuff there for sale and she did some kind of little show. Being the agreeable girl that I am, I didn't really want to go but went. I was so impressed. I laughed til I cried! She now has grown to where she has a huge production with several huge tents set up in a park. It's really a big deal! My friend, Becky, and I go to the Paducah show every year and Becky really loves Eleanor Burns so we spend lots of time in her tent. Eleanor is just so friendly and approachable and, she's a genious! I know she has help but how does she think of this stuff? When I'm teaching a class or writing a pattern, I try to write the instructions so no one has to buy a special ruler but some of the Quilt in a Day rulers are just worth buying! This one is the fussy cut ruler. How many times have you drawn out a design on paper and taped it to the bottom of your square so you can center whatever you're trying to fussy cut. No longer do you have to worry about it quite so much. These fussy cut rulers are a life saver! The package comes with three sizes. And, what about these flying geese rulers? The flying geese come out perfect every time when using her flying geese rulers. I've been testing patterns so I haven't been using this method but since I was just playing with the batik quilt (no pattern to write!), I used this ruler and oh, what a difference it makes! Nice, straight, square corners . . perfect flying geese. I guess the moral of this story is that we should never let others influence what we think of something/some one. Had I never wandered into Eleanor Burns' little house during the Paducah quilt show, I'd still be saying "I don't like her whiney voice" but now, she's my quilting hero. I think her whole story is a true American success story and everything I know about Eleanor Burns and Quilt in a Day just makes me happy! Judy L.

Welcome Gail!

Not only can I not figure what size I need for my strips and blocks, but I can't remember to list all the new members. In the post yesterday, I forgot Gail at Going to Pieces is also a new member. Please drop by and welcome Gail too. Thanks Linda for pointing this out to me. Judy L.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


First, the Stash Quilt Blog Ring has two new members: KC Quilter and Patchalot. Please take the time to visit these new members and welcome them to the Stash Quilts ring. Jan Mac asked to be put on inactive status while she travels and we look forward to having her back as an active ring member. For those of you waiting to join the ring, for now we're keeping the group to 30 active members and as someone leaves, the person who's been on the waiting list the longest and whose site is ready to be activated is the next one who joins the ring. That's the only fair way I know to do it. Hope that's ok with everyone. Actually, the saying goes: Measure Twice, Cut Once .. but I never seem to remember that! Ever notice how many things go wrong when you're short on fabric? Seems like things go just fine when I have way more fabric than I need but when I'm worried about running short, I make so many stupid errors. Here's the quilt I've been working on. No pattern and I never took the time to figure out yardage. The main blocks are made from various batiks and I knew I had plenty of that. The green . . I knew I had plenty of that. The purple - when I started out, I had no idea what I was going to do for the border and I had plenty of that. But, when I decided to go with the pieced border and then a 4" purple border for the outside, I was short. I went digging through the stash and found two more purples. The first one is a bit blue but the second one is perfect. It very well may be the same fabric because it's a Hoffman 1895 batik and I order a bunch of those from Web Fabrics. So, I have plenty of purple. But, it's the background fabric I'm worried about. It's the latte batik, also one in the 1895 line, and I had started out a while back with a whole bolt of that one. Guess I used more than I had thought. I needed 2" strips for the side borders and 3" strips for the top and bottom borders. Error #1: I attached the 3" strips to the sides so the quilt was then too wide. I noticed when I went to attach the top and bottom borders so I could either have taken the side borders off or trim them down. I trimmed them down so that was a bit of wasted fabric. Then I went to make the flying geese and figured I'd use Eleanor Burns' method because I would get less waste. Error #2: I cut the background squares the size I should have cut the green squares . . another few inches of wasted fabric. I decided to go with the Quilters Cache border. It's definitely the easiest one to piece of the options I came up with and it was about a toss up on which one you all suggested I use so I made it easy on myself. I'm really liking it too but I'll like it all a whole lot better when I know for sure that I have enough background fabric to finish this project. Judy L.

The Things We Accept

They say we don't know what we don't know and I wonder how much I don't know, guess I'll never know! :) Back in my younger days I used to make cheesecake using the Jello Brand Cheesecake Mix. I had never had a real cheesecake and the first time I had one, I thought it was awful! I now love real cheesecake but I just didn't know any better. My favorite flour is King Arthur and I have always ordered it. I had no idea our local Kroger now carries it. I was complaining last week about not having King Arthur and having to make bread using a regular flour. Chad said "I can bring you some home from Kroger." WHAT? They have King Arthur? On the bottom shelf and I never noticed it. I know there are other brands just as good as King Arthur but look at the difference in the size of these two loaves of bread. Same exact recipe, everything was done exactly the same. The larger loaf is made with King Arthur and the smaller loaf was made with probably Pillsbury or something straight off the shelf. Pretty big difference, huh? Even Vince and Chad can taste the difference in the bread. Chad was probably 10 and he had gone to his dad's one summer. He called and he was kinda whispering and he asked me if I could send him some soap. He said "Mom, they use storebought soap!" He was appalled. I haven't been making soap and we're all using storebought soap now and accepting it but if I made soap again, no one would want to use the storebought soap if given the option of homemade or storebought. Vince and I were talking at lunch and I wonder how many people accept that storebought tomatoes are how a tomato is supposed to taste. No doubt some people get good tomatoes at the grocery store. We most often do not. I can hardly wait til my tomatoes are ripe and I can pick one and eat it fresh off the vine. What about the difference in having a fresh egg, just gathered from the hen, or a storebought egg with an expiration date stamped on it? What about the difference in fresh squeezed orange juice or some of the OJ from the cartons? Some if it is downright good and with the price or oranges, I'm thankful for the cartons. But, if a glass of fresh squeezed OJ was put in front of me, I'd surely choose it over the OJ from the carton. What about herbs picked fresh from the garden or the dried herbs in the tins? I sometimes use the ones in the tins because I don't grow everything but the ones I do grow are amazingly better than the ones that are dried. What about fresh shrimp bought directly from the shrimper . . they were caught during the night and he's out peddling them during the day? Nothing like the frozen ones we get at the grocery store. There are many things I know that I am missing out on because either I don't know any better or the better products are not available in my area. This brings me to an idea that I've mentioned here before. I hate going out to eat. Yes, we sometimes do it but rarely do I enjoy it. We seem to lack really good restaurants in our town. We do have one that I love, American Bounty. The picture on their web page is salmon wrapped in crispy fried potatoes and it is so yummy! If given the choice, I'll take homemade most any day over eating out. Today's lunch consisted of Grilled Pork Backbone, Grilled Corn, Baked Beans, Strawberry Walnut Salad, homemade bread and cake. I didn't spend all day in the kitchen. In fact, getting the food on the table probably took less time than it would have taken me to get dressed, get to the restaurant, get seated, order, get the food, come home and . . mine was all homemade and I pretty much know what went into it all. Last night I put the pork on to marinate, took about 5 minutes. This morning I cleaned the corn and soaked it. Took another 5 minutes. The bread . . that took a while but I did it last night. The beans took about 5 minutes to stir up and get in the oven. The salad took a few minutes to wash the lettuce, make the dressing, wash and slice the strawberries and toast the Ramen noodles and walnuts. But it was all so worth it and so good! I love reading Patty's Morning Ramble blog. She is such an interesting lady and such an inspiration to me. It's a rare day that I read her blog that I don't learn something or think about something differently. My challenge to myself is to examine the things I do .. whether it be cooking, cleaning, gardening, quilting. How much of what I do is purely out of habit? How much is because 'that's the way I've always done it' and I just don't look beyond my own self? There is so much in the world for us to experience. It doesn't have to be bigger or more expensive or more showy . . there may just be a better method or a better tool or a better ingredient. I'd like to challenge all of you to think about the things you do day in and day out and surprise yourself with some very small changes that may make a world of difference. Look at the difference in the two loaves of bread . . just from changing the flour! Judy

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


These pink calla lilies are so beautiful! Yesterday morning, they had droplets of water left from the early showers and I couldn't resist snapping a picture. As luck would have it, I was working with Karen Gass, the editor of the new Cotton Spice magazine on an article that very basically gets the creative juices flowing. In the article, Karen encourages readers to draw something very simple. I've had Corel Draw for ages, for so long that I think I've paid for two upgrades and have never learned to use it. I could probably do better with Paint but I am determined to learn Corel .. just not today. I could draw a circle and that's honestly all I could do. Not one to give up, I drew my circle and tried to make it into a flower. I told Karen it looked like a splattered egg and I gave up and went back to editing patterns. Ughh! How long can you do that . . especially while thinking about drawing flowers. About 7:00 p.m. I thought . . I can do this! Opened Corel back up and played around til I drew what looked like a calla lily to me. Ok . . no comments because I know that no one would have a clue what kind of flower this is if I didn't tell you. The only yarn or thick thread I had was this pink fuzzy yarn and it reminds me of the pink lupines so I used it. By 10:00, I had this little rascal on the longarm and by midnight (had to stop in the middle of the process and go get Chad from work . . remember he isn't driving!) I had it bound. After I crawled in bed, I realized I worked so hard on the flowers, the leaves don't even remotely resemble the leaves on the callas but it's my wall hanging and I can have any kind of leaves I want, right? If someone had told me to draw a flower and make a little wall hanging, I would have said "I can't do that!" and while it isn't going to win any ribbons, I had so much fun doing it and now I really have confidence that I can draw something. As I was stitching down these very basic flowers, you wouldn't believe all the ideas running through my head. What's that saying? If I can dream it, I can do it! One day I am going to draw a dachshund just like Speck and surprise Vince with a little wall hanging. I was thinking this morning about all the quilt magazines I get. Most have projects, most have informative articles, but it's been a long time since I was challenged . . truly challenged to put aside what I was working on and try something that I was almost sure I couldn't do. Wouldn't that be what it's all about? So, my hat's off to Karen Gass and again, I wish her the best at Cotton Spice. If you're wanting to see a magazine that's just a little bit different from what you've been seeing, one that might really get you excited and cause you to try something new . . check it out! Judy L.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I do not understand!

More to the Story: About 2 weeks ago, the state police really began working the bypass here. I'm the kind of person you hate to get stuck behind.I sent them an e-mail thanking them because the speeders had really gotten bad on there. They wrote me back and said they rarely get thanked for their efforts. Kinda funny now that my son was one who got a ticket today. But, here's the best part. Things kinda calmed down tonight and I asked Chad what the officer said to him. Poor Chad . . he never knows when to be quiet! He told me the officer said "I'm giving you a break. You were going 76 but I'm going to put it down as 70." OMG!!! Are all kids so darned hard headed or is it just mine? Chad is 18-1/2 and never thinks past his nose . . never has! In KY, they can get their driver's license at 16-1/2. We told him if he made A's & B's, he could get a car for his senior year. Didn't happen. When he got 18, he did get his driver's license but he only drove with us in the car. We told him when he got a job, we would help him get a car. He got a job about a month ago and after a week or so, Vince let Chad start driving his car. Vince explained to him that if he got one ticket or had one wreck that was his fault, he was off our insurance and the car went back to Vince. So, he drives pretty much to work and back for 2 weeks. He went a few other places but very few. This morning he was off work. He wakes up wanting to go to Target. Here's the conversation: Chad: I'm going to Target Me: No, you're not. I've ridden with you enough to know that you do not go to the speed limit and until I can trust that you will drive the speed limit, you're driving to work and back and that's it. Chad: Then you go with me to Target Me: I don't need anything from Target. About an hour later: Chad: I'm going to the bank and to get a pizza. That's all about 2 blocks from here . . unless you choose to get on the bypass and go half way around town. Me: Ok but go straight there and straight back. He comes home and hands me this: 1. He's on the bypass which was NOT on the way to get pizza or to go to the bank. 2. He's going 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. Give the car back . . find out how much insurance is going to be to get your own policy and find a vehicle you can afford. He checked on insurance and he's going to have to pay about $450/month. He brings home about $800 now working 40 hours. But, when school starts, he will not get 40 hours so every dime will basically pay for gas and insurance. Makes no sense at all to me but . . we gave him the rules, he chose not to follow them so he now pays the price. I hate to be mean and it breaks my heart that all his money will go towards something he could have had for free but he made the wrong choices and I have to stick by what I said. For now though . . I get my garage back and all this batting that is in my living room can go back into the garage! But, I'm disappointed for him, I'm mad that he doesn't listen to me and overall, I'm just totally frustrated at the immaturity and lack of decision making skills I see in him. Judy

Color Choices

Whew! Now I know how to get comments .. ask for your opinion. Thanks. I did hear from Marcia at Quilters Cache and she is fine with me using her border for a quilt to be entered in a show. Not sure what I'll do. Her border is definitely the easiest to put together. The one on the left is next and the one on the right is the hardest. Thanks again for all your input. Now . . to color! No longer am I going to say I have bad taste in color. Gail and I were discussing color and I came to the conclusion that my color choices may not suit everyone but they suit me. I quilt because I love to piece and quilt, not because I'm making a quilt for a purpose. Thinking back, the few times that I've had to make quilts to match someone's bedroom or to match something, I have struggled with the color choices. But most of the time, I'm just making a quilt so I can have something to piece and something to quilt and therefore, there's no stress in choosing the colors, I just pick what I like and therefore, I like what I've picked! :) My husband is an engineer (need I say more?) and his favorite color is probably any shade of beige. I make him crazy with my colors. I'd love to have lime green walls in my bedroom, with purple carpet! Not glow in the dark, hideous lime . . but just a hint of lime, a very happy shade of lime! One day we're going to have a house that we plan to keep forever and that's exactly what color my bedroom will be and . . I'll already have lots of quilts to match. I want happy colors. I want colors that make me smile. I am so surprised Vince and I ever got married. Remember, his favorite color is beige. We met on the internet . . oh, my gosh. Can you believe it? But it was 13 years ago when things were safer (and I was braver). After months of e-mail and talking on the phone, we decided the safest thing to do was meet halfway so we'd each have our own cars and if we didn't like each other, we could just leave. He lived near Atlanta, I lived in Lake Charles, LA. So, we met at Navarre Beach, FL. Well, I had on black pants and a shocking hot pink jacket with some kind of jewels. He must've wondered right then about me. The second time we met, I had on a very bright (almost neon) lime green outfit and we were waiting outside in line at a restaurant. This little green lizard hopped out of the bushes and almost landed on my shoulder. He kept hanging around and Vince said "he thinks you're his mother because of that outfit." I still have both those outfits but they're about 20 sizes too small! Back to the quilts, I do want to be effective with the colors I choose. Here's an example of colors that didn't work and with just a simple change, they did work. This was a stash quilt and like so many of my quilts, I start out without a clue what fabrics will be used. This is from Judy Martin's book, Shining Star Quilts. The center of the quilt on the left just did nothing for the quilt. Most of the time, I would have said, heck with it and left it but because this quilt has purple and green and orange, (my favorites!), I wanted it to be right. So, I auditioned a few fabrics for the center, decided the orange worked better and then removed the center and replaced it with the orange. That quilt still isn't quilted. I was recently working with an editor of a magazine and we were going over a couple of designs and she told me that my colors were just too bright. She said she couldn't imagine those quilts being used in most bedrooms. So, I tried to tone things down a bit. I was working on a pattern and I made the colors a bit more "normal". When I was talking with the buyer for Brewer Sewing, she told me that she had just returned from quilt market and the only thing people were buying were brights and she thought I'd be better off to make the cover quilt using bright colors! Go figure . . you can't please everyone so I think I'll just try to please ME! I say . . have fun! If you're happy with the colors you're working with, you'll be happy with your finished quilt. Judy

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Opinions Please!

First, several have left comments with questions. Your comments come to my e-mail, as well as being posted in the comments section here. I love receiving comments but some of you have your settings so that all I see is "no reply" or "anonymous" when I try to reply. When you ask questions and your settings are set to where I can't hit "reply" and send you an e-mail, then I have to go back into the comments section, find your questions and post the answers here. So, if you want an answer to any of your questions, you need to change your settings so that I can hit "reply" to your e-mails and it will work. Second, I did a podcast with Catherine at QOV and it is now posted. For those of you who read what I write, you can now hear what I say! Not like there's anything really earth shaking but I talk about . . quilting! :) You can get there by going to QOV Foundation and clicking on "podcasts". The audio is kinda bad in the beginning, gets better towards the middle and then gets bad again towards the end. OK . . here's where I need your opinions. On the quilt I am working on, the border is from Quilters Cache and I don't want to run into any copyright problems so I decided I should change it. I don't feel comfortable if I ever decide to enter this quilt in a show having used her pattern, even though I wasn't going to piece my border like she has hers . . it's still her design. Here are two options that I came up with. Don't forget you can click on the picture and make it bigger. Here's what I would like for you to tell me. (1) You like the one on the left best. (2) You like the one on the right best. (3) Neither of these are as good as the one from Quilters Cache. Don't worry about hurting my feelings. I'm loving this quilt and I want it to be right and, if I didn't want to know what you really think, I wouldn't ask. If the majority thinks neither border does the quilt justice, I'll just keep playing til I get it right. And, if you don't want to post your opinion publicly, you can e-mail it to me: And, don't worry about my green and purple blending. It kinda looks like it does in these pictures but the green is so bright! I don't think there's a color on earth with which it will blend. I would probably not have chosen this green at the quilt shop but it was in my stash and it's going to get used! :) Thanks! Judy

Friday, June 23, 2006


I had hoped to get more blocks done today but I did get 6 more made so I now have 12. If I get 6 more done tomorrow, I'll have all 18 of these blocks done. There's actually two blocks done in each color although they look very similar in the picture. I'll add some more variety of pink and orange tomorrow and then re-arrange them and there's always the alternating block between the so they won't look so blendy .. I hope. I always pay attention to the comments you all leave and I think a lot about what you all say. Evelyn, a couple of days a week, when I feel really sleepy, I will take a 30 minute nap in the afternoons. I set the alarm (cell phone) or I'd sleep all afternoon. In fact, today I hit the snooze button twice! Laurie, Laurie, Laurie . . How can you lose your quilting motivation? Come see me, I have enough to share with you. I never get tired of quilting. Laurie Ann, I play games and little challenges with myself. I feel like if I get up early, I've beat the day but if I sleep late, the day has beat me. I love getting up early. I always feel like I'm racing to get things done in the mornings. The whole day is a head of me and I don't want to waste a minute. By evening, I'm trying to finish the things I had planned to do and didn't get done and I hate going to bed before I finish the things I planned to do. To those of you who posted about color, I really thought about that today too. I probably have the worst taste in color of all quilters! I really don't stress about the colors but I don't stress about a whole lot of anything. I think I enjoy the process of choosing the fabric, the design, cutting the fabric, sewing the fabric way more than actually having a finished quilt. So, I guess the real pleasure for me is the actual "doing" and once the quilt is finished, well, for the most part -- it's just another quilt and the fun part is over for me. I made bread this morning. I'm always trying new recipes but this is the one I love best. It's kind of a packy, heavy bread (not terribly light and fluffy) and it is a tad sweet. It reminds me of the bread the cafeteria ladies made when I was in elementary school. Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try it: Old Fashioned White Bread 2-1/2 cups milk, scalded 3 T. shortening 1 T. salt 4 T. sugar 1 package dry yeast 1/4 c. warm water 7 cups all purpose flour, divided Melted butter or margarine Combine scalded milk, sugar, salt and shortening. Stir until shortening melts. Cool to 105 - 115 degrees. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Stir in milk mixture and four cups flour. Beat two minutes at medium speed of electric mixer or until smooth. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 45 minutes. Punch dough down, gradually stir in approximately two cups of flour. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead in remaining one cup flour. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough in a well greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts for about 20 minutes. Knead dough in bowl two minutes. Turn dough over and let rise 20 minutes. Repeat kneading and rising procedure. Punch dough down, turn onto a lightly floured surface. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Divide dough in half, and shape each half into a loaf. Place in two greased 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pans. Cover and let rise, free from drafts, for approximately 45 minutes. Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove loaves from pans. Brush with melted butter and cool on wire racks. Last but not least . . Chad and I got a hankering for lobster for dinner so we ran to Wal-Mart (the only place around here to get live lobster). We cooked everything on the side burner in the grill so that's why it's all sitting on the grill. Yummmmm . . .

Make it 38

Guess which two quilts I forgot! The one on the left was already done but the two on the right were almost the last two I finished. These were for the "Do You EQ? Contest". To answer some of your questions, yes, I do have a longarm and I love it! I have a husband who travels a lot and an 18 year old son who only needs mom for food and clean clothes so I have lots of time on my hands. Think how much I could get done if someone would take away my computer! :) Judy L.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Do you hate to sleep?

I think sleeping is such a waste of time . . when it's time to go to bed but when it's time to get up, I love to sleep. If I had my way, I'd stay up most of the night and sleep til about 11 a.m. but I don't think I've had my way since I was about 3 years old. The alarm will go off at 6:30 and I will wish I'd gone to bed earlier and will promise myself to do better . . but I never do. Anyway, how can I be expected to sleep when there are quilt blocks on the design wall and I don't have a clue what I'm going to make. This is what I've come up with so far. The border design is from Quilters Cache and I've been wanting to use it for something. Thoughts?

A Play Day

First . . I hope I didn't hurt anyone's feelings about my post on kits. I really am not opposed to kits and probably wouldn't have a clue if something was made from a kit or not, unless it's one of the ones that you see everywhere! I'd probably not buy a kit because I never get things right the first time and I'd be up a creek if I messed up and ran out of fabric. My point from yesterday is probably that I have so much fun playing with EQ and then digging through the stash, that in my opinion, those who only make quilts exactly like those they see in books/magazines are missing half the fun but . . that's the part I think is fun. Thankfully, not everyone is like me! :) OK . . enough of that. Make any quilts you want to make . . just have fun! I have been so busy making quilts but for the most part, the fabric choices were not necessarily ME. It was about this time last year that I signed the contract for the book and just off the top of my head, these are the quilts I've made in the past 12 months:

  • 22 quilts for the book - I like all the colors I used but I was trying so hard to get a nice variety, and most of my favorite colors aren't really what would appeal to anyone else. Ten of these are quilted, twelve remain to be quilted.
  • 4 quilts for two patterns - These are always done in colors that will hopefully attract buyers, again not necessarily what I would choose.
  • Two heart quilts for the American Quilter magazine - I was able to choose the colors.
  • Two quilts - one of which is scheduled to be in the American Quilter project issue. The second one was to test the pattern before I cut the fabric that was to be used for the magazine quilt.
  • Two quilts for the November Evansville tornado victims.
  • A baby quilt for a lady who had a personal crisis during Hurricane Rita. I also sent her a quilt but it was one I already had made.
  • The quilt for my uncle - I had it started and it matched the backing fabric I wanted to use.
  • One for the Mission of Hope Project.
  • One for the Quilt of Valor mystery.
That's 36 quilts and only a couple of them were quilts that allowed me to get in the stash and play! Chad was off today and he went fishing again, Vince is in Louisville at a woodturning convention so I figured if everyone else was going to play, so was I. After spending some quality time with the stash, I decided to do something with batiks, then I narrowed it down to using pinks, oranges, purple and lime green. Those are my favorite colors and I figured what would be better than combining them all together. This was a block that is in one of the quilts in the book and I've totally changed the directions for making it so I wanted to be sure I had it right so I made this block. Still not exactly sure what other blocks will go with it but I want it to be a two block quilt. The plan now is to make 18 of these blocks, all in shades of oranges and pinks. The center is purple. I have a couple of ideas about the alternating block but I need to get all these made first so I don't confuse myself. Definitely a fun day for me! Judy

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Quilting . . Then and Now

Sometimes when I'm alone and quilting, my mind wanders. Today was one of those days. I was thinking about all the quilting gadgets that we have now that our grandmothers didn't dream of having. I suppose it was these new Fons & Porter pins that triggered my thoughts today. I had heard a lot about these new directional pins although I didn't have a clue what they were. Last week I headed to Hobby Lobby with my 40% off coupon intending to buy these much talked about pins. I think you are supposed to use the pins labeled "D" when sewing seams that will be pressed/sewn down; the ones labeled "R", when sewing seams that will be sewn/pressed to the right. Maybe because you really can't teach an old dog new tricks but I stood there and looked at them, and the more I thought about it, the more it seemed the pins would confuse me and I didn't get them. I did get the new Fons & Porter glass head pins that also come in the nice tin. I was thinking about how my grandma quilted. Life and circumstances were hard in her times. They grew their own food and she worked hard in the fields alongside my grandpa, they had no air conditioning and that's almost unbearable in Louisiana. Yet, she found time to sew and quilt. Her patterns were either from the newspaper or patterns friends had given her that they had traced onto newspaper. There were no cutting instructions, no pressing instructions, no fabric requirements and yet there were some gorgeous and much coveted quilts made in those days. Now, the patterns tell us everything! Quilt shop owners tell me that unless the samples are made of fabrics currently available in the shop, they don't sell. People want exactly what they see. No imagination! Quilt patterns have yardage requirements, cutting directions, sewing directions, pressing directions, quilting directions, binding directions .. I am hearing complaining now that some patterns do not include the quilting directions. No imagination! Kits are very popular and I'm surely not knocking kits but I'm just thinking . . I don't want my quilts to look exactly like 500 other quilts made from the same pattern, same fabric, same quilting design. What do you think the next generation of quilters will have that we don't have? I can't even imagine! I guess if I could imagine it, I could create it and sell it and get rich! But I think of the things we have that our grandmothers didn't have:

  • Electric sewing machines with perfect 1/4" feet, some have built in even feed (yes, I want a Janome 6600). The machines have needle threads, and thread cutters.
  • Rotary cutters with all the perfect rulers
  • Templates - there are templates in all sizes. Templates for cutting pieces, templates for quilting designs
  • Fabric calculator - this is a new tool and I love it!
  • Longarm, shortarm and mid-range machines for doing the quilting on the machine
  • Electric Quilt software. I suppose just the computer itself was so foreign to my grandmother that software to design quilts would have blown her mind.
There's probably no real point to this post but if anyone wants my advice (yes, I know -- no one wants my advice!) I would say be creative. Don't limit yourself to what someone else has written. Magazines and quilting books are a great source of inspiration but if you only follow the instructions, you will never know what you might accomplish. When I get a quilting magazine (and I get plenty!), I'll often take a design in the magazine and draw it out in EQ and play around with it and change a few things. I rarely make anything exactly by the pattern. You may be 100% thrilled making things exactly by the pattern but my challenge is to try just a little deviation, you may surprise yourself at what you can do. Judy L.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Monday, Monday!

What do you think about this quilt? I started this probably 7 or 8 years ago and ran out of the yellow. I had a plan but I've now forgotten what the plan was. I like it and I want to finish it but really have no idea what to do next. I think I want it not to be square but I don't know. As it is now, it's 50" x 50". Suggestions are welcome. I doubt I have any of the fabrics left but since they're all kinda tone on tone, I think I can come up with fabrics that will work. This will probably be one of the first quilts I work on when I finish my other commitments. So . . tell me what you think I should do with this. Chad has a friend who has joined the Army and is leaving 6/28 for Ft. Benning, GA. Chad was off today so they planned a fishing trip. They left here at 6:30 this morning. It's amazing that getting up early for a fishing trip is perfect acceptable but getting up early for work or to travel on a family trip just ruins his whole day! Chad had told me they would be home around 1 p.m. but then he called and said they were catching tons of fish and would be staying til about 4. Then he called to say they were staying til dark. They got home about 8:30 and I know they were both so tired! Chad loves to fish like I love to sew and I was happy he and Matt were able to spend some time together before he leaves. I quilted the quilt with the purple/ecru nine patches using the "Fancy This" panto by Jodi Beamish. That is one of the new pantos I just received and I love it! Jodi has the best pantos! Sewed the binding on another quilt so I had a pretty productive day. Tonight was our Monday night quilt group. I worked on binding . . which is what I seem to work on every time we meet. We had been meeting at Kentucky Wesleyan College but we've recently changed to Settle Memorial Methodist Church. The churh has a quilting room set up. They have a big cutting table, all the mats, rulers, two Janome machines, a big board type ironing board and even a hand quilting frame set up. What a place! Judy L.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day

I don't really have any pictures of my dad, unless you want the one with his bloody head from cleaning up after Hurricane Rita so this is one of mom and dad together. . . ok .. that picture is gross so don't look at it if you don't like blood. After the fact, it was funny. Dad was trimming limbs that were on the roof, one popped back and hit him in the head, cut his head and broke a tooth. He tried to send the dentist bill in to FEMA and they wouldn't pay it! He didn't expect them to pay it and was kinda joking about even sending it in but he figured . . what the heck . . it's worth a try. He was showing this picture to everyone and telling them that FEMA wouldn't pay for his damages! Anyway, I called dad to wish him a happy father's day and he had gotten up at 4 a.m. to go to DeQuincy (about 25 or 30 miles from home) to pick four bushels of purple hull peas. Thankfully they have a pea sheller so mom already had them all in the freezer. I think I have the best dad in the world! He honestly knows everything about stuff that matters. When we were growing up, he could solve every problem we ever had. I now know that some of the things I remember about my childhood probably aren't exactly as I remember them. I guess it's that way with most kids. When Chad was probably 7 or 8 and I was a single mom barely surviving, I managed to save enough money to buy season passes to Astroworld in Houston. We could easily drive to Houston, spend the day and then drive back home in one day but I would watch for weekend specials and if I could find a reasonably priced room and if we had leftover cash, I'd get a room and we could go to the theme park for Saturday and Sunday. That summer, we may have gone to Astroworld 5 or 6 times. The other day Chad and I were talking and he said "mom, remember the summer we had season passes to Astrowold and we went EVERY weekend?" So, some of the funny things I remember about my dad may not be as mom and dad remember them but, from my memory, they are:

  • We would always go out in the woods for our Christmas tree. Dad would sometimes cut down 2 or 3 small pine trees (that's about all there is in southwest Louisiana that will work for a Christmas tree) and then he'd saw limbs of one and either nail them or tie them to the one tree we were going to use to fill in the uneven spots so we always had a perfect Christmas tree.
  • Dad could fix everything. Back when a normal person could work on cars, I came home one day and told him there was something wrong with my Mustang. I couldn't tell him what was wrong but it was definitely something. Going up the I-10 bridge, it just didn't want to go. I told him the best thing I could describe was that the back wheels were trying to catch up with the front ones! He thought about it a minute and decided it needed a tune up . . and that solved it.
  • Once we had gone to town, back when Sears was in downtown Lake Charles and dad lost the car keys. I just knew we were going to spend the night on the sidewalk but he opened the hood, hot wired the car and home we went!
Dad is the type dad that never had to tell us twice to do something. He said what he wanted/expected and we knew exactly what he meant. No waivering, no need to whine and beg, no need to sulk .. what he said was how it was going to be. In high school, when skirts were a bit too short and I was one to push the limits, I'd start to leave the house and dad would say "you forgot your skirt!" No use pretending I didn't hear him or didn't know what he meant . . I knew my only options were to change clothes or stay home. I have never seen my dad lose his temper at anyone and I've never heard him say anything mean about anyone. Dad can get along with everyone and he would help anyone in need at any time. I'm pretty lucky to have him for my dad! Judy

Friday, June 16, 2006

No News!

There's absolutely nothing of interest to report from my little spot in Kentucky. So no one fears that I have fallen off the face of the earth, here's what not so newsworthy events have taken place here:

  • After the post about not being from here and the wheat berries, I got the urge to buy a mill and grind my own wheat and make my own flour. Tracey helped me out a whole bunch -- she mills her own flour. Just today I found a local co-op where I can order wheat and all kinds of other good stuff but they just ordered so it will be a month before I can order. It doesn't matter because I just yesterday ordered 25 pounds of flour from King Arthur.
  • The new dishwasher and microwave arrived today. Even though we hadn't paid extra for installation, the delivery guy felt pity on us and installed the microwave. Vince installed the dishwasher tonight so now I can have clean dishes and melt butter! :)
  • On the quilt front, I'm hoping to finish the quilt with the purple/white nine patches tonight so I can maybe quilt it this weekend. Chad is off tomorrow and Vince is always off on weekends so I may not get much sewing/quilting done.
  • Made Ciabatta Bread and Patty's Cinnamon Rolls today. Yum! I do love bread (and it shows!) I can't find her recipe on her blog now but they are so good!
  • My friend, Becky, has a real garden and she gave me onions, potatoes, zucchini and some HUGE cabbages so I spend a day making cabbage rolls for the freezer.
That's about it . . told you it was nothing exciting going on around here. Judy

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Recipe - Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

It seems I go in spurts - sometimes I love my crockpot and sometimes I don't use it for months. Here's a recipe I made for lunch tomorrow and it smells so good. I did have a little taste and this is a recipe worth sharing. I buy chuck roasts when they're on sale and I chop them up to make stew meat. That way I can cut away the fat I don't want and I feel like I'm getting better stew meat. Crockpot Beef Stroganoff 1-1/2 pounds beef stew meat (I used a cut up chuck roast) 1 T. oil 2 cups sliced mushrooms 1 medium onion, sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1/2 tsp. oregano 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. thyme 1/4 tsp. black pepper 1 bay leaf 1 can beef broth 1/3 c. dry sherry 1 - 8 oz. carton sour cream 1/3 c. all purpose flour 1/4 c. cold water fresh parsley 1. Brown the stew meat in the oil. Drain on paper towels. 2. Combine mushrooms, onion, garlic, oregano, salt, thyme, pepper and bay leaf in crock pot. Add stew meat. Pour broth and sherry over all. 3. Cover and cook on low heat for 8 - 10 hours. 4. Remove bay leaf. Turn to high heat. In a medium bowl, whisk sour cream, flour and water til smooth. Stir about 1 cup of the hot liquid into the sour cream mixture. Return all to the slow cooker. Stir. Cover and cook an dditional 30 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. 5. Serve over cooked noodles.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cleaning the Cutting Mat

This is one of my favorite tips. Do you know that you can use these little bath scrunchies to clean your cutting mats? I could never get all those threads and fuzzies off the mat - they just want to roll up and stick to the mat but these little scrunches just brush them right off. Last time I was working on a black quilt, the black fabric trimmings just turned to what looked like coal dust and made the biggest mess on my mat. My yellow scrunchie was almost totally black by the time I was finished so I threw it in the washer and it's good as new now. If you have a dollar type store near you, they usually have bags of the little scrunchies for $1 or so. Judy L.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Wasted Days/Wasted Nights

Maybe not really wasted but not much sewing around here the last couple of days. I did get a bunch of nine patches made last night. I do love nine patch blocks. There's more that goes with each block so that these 3" nine patches are in the middle of a 9" block, and there's sashing too, and then more 3" nine patches in the border. Saturday our heat index was in the upper 90's and my poor little house stayed so hot. The A/C kicked in about 10 a.m. and at 11:30 p.m., it had not shut off once and it wasn't nearly cool in the house. I opened the windows and it cooled down and thankfully yesterday was a fairly cool day. This morning I called the A/C repairman and figured he wouldn't get here for a few days but when I looked at Accuweather Saturday, it showed our heat index for June 20 to be 101. Thank goodness it has changed and it is now saying it will be only 97. I know some people like summer but I hate it! Anyway, I was just hoping the A/C man could get here before June 20 so when I called first thing this morning, the answering lady got in touch with a repairman and said there was one in my neighborhood and he would be here when he finished the stop he was on. I still had my pj's on so I took the world's quickest shower, washed the dishes leftover from last night, mopped and vacuumed in about 10 minutes. Guess what! He didn't even come in the house but the front part of my house sure looks nice. So, he gets here and I knew the filters were dirty because you have to about take the whole unit apart to get to them and there are screws in there that scrape your hands and I can't change the filters and Vince hadn't been around enough to do it. We don't actually change them but take them out and wash them. Yes, they were dirty. They need to be washed every couple of weeks during the summer. But, it was the outside unit. The guy asked me when it had been serviced last. Serviced? We put it in four years ago so it hasn't needed servicing. WRONG! How was I supposed to know you're supposed to wash that outside unit at least once a year? The bad part was that the dryer vent blows about 2" from the outside unit, and all that fuzz and lint goes right into the unit and attaches itself to the coils so they were all clogged up. Oops . . won't happen again. Now I know! He told me to clean the outside unit every 6 months because of where the dryer vent is located. So, if you have a central unit and you haven't cleaned the outside unit in a while, go do it! Cool air again! I'm ready for whatever heat index Mother Nature has in store for me but I'm definitely ready for Fall! It was mostly a day of running errands. Chad was off today and we spent most of the afternoon running around . . bank, library, Lowe's, insurance agent, photographer (got my new pix . . anyone notice the new bio picture?) Got a bunch of new pantos from Jodi at Willow Leaf Studio. I'm anxious to quilt them. I always love her pantos. Maybe I'll load a quilt tonight and do one of them tomorrow. Yesterday I downloaded Thunderbird and Firefox and am so happy to be using both of those again. I had never switched from IE and Outlook since getting the new computer. Tomorrow is another whole day by myself. Chad is working all day, Vince is still gone so I'll get a whole lot done . . I hope! Judy

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Owensboro! What a funny little town. I'm not saying I don't like it here . . it's just the strangest place. I guess what causes it to be this way is that most everyone who lives here would be a descendant of those first settlers who arrived in Daviess County in 1780. Why they stopped here, I will never know. But, they did and if you can't trace your roots back to there, you might as well stamp "I'm not from here!" on your forehead. You may not believe this but there is rarely a time that I go out that someone doesn't say "you're not from here, are ya?" I used to say "No, I'm not. I have all my teeth!" But I soon learned that was offending to the natives! Anyway, I went to Hancock's today to get something to cover my tomatoes. The bread store is right close so I stopped by there. They have the most wonderful bread and my friend, Becky (who is from here and will not like this entry!) gave me a gift certificate from there for my birthday. Thanks Becky! They had this little flower pot of "seeds" sitting on the counter with ink pens in it. I should learn to keep my mouth shut (not gonna happen) and no one would know "I'm not from here!" but I said "are those some of the seeds you use in your bread?" I could tell from the look I got that they were not seeds used in the bread and I should have known better. The nice lady proceeded to explain to me that they were wheat berries. Now, how many of you know what wheat berries are? She explained that every morning they mill the wheat berries for the bread and she told me the difference about how you get white flour by shelling (I don't think that's the word) the outer part of the berry off. It was very interesting and then she said "haven't you seen wheat growing?" Yes, but just from the road. Then came the dreaded "You aren't from here, are you?" No, damn it. I am NOT. She was so sweet and she wasn't being mean at all . . it's just something *everyone* around here says! I guess I looked at her like I was offended and she said "That's ok . .you're just not a country girl!" On the way home, I'm thinking . . what am I? I'm surely not a city girl! I have a rabbit living in my back yard who has decided he's part of the family. I have tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, flowers and herbs growing in my back yard. I have a generator because we're so far out in the county and the power goes off in the winter for days. My home address is a highway number . . not even a cute street name. I have to pay extra for UPS deliveries because I'm rural! Goodness. City folks would think I am a country bumkin! This is why I should move back to Louisiana where I'm just ME! It doesn't matter where you're from, where your grandparents live, and I doubt anyone there knows about wheat berries! I did get netting and covered the tomatoes. I probably should go out there and weight down the bottom of the netting with bricks. Probably won't get me on the cover of Progressive Farmer magazine but I think this will keep the Japanese bettles and the birds away. Judy L.

Almost Missed the Weekend!

I am definitely turning into my grandmother. I never know what day it is anymore. Vince is out of town, Chad works almost every day so . . how was I to know it was the weekend? Guess it doesn't really matter if it's a weekday or a weekend but after having worked for so many years, I will always love weekends! Anyway, Chad left to go to work and he told me he was going by the bank on the way home. I told him I needed to go so we could go when he gets home since he gets off at 2 today. But, the bank closes at noon on Saturday. Vince is in NY and I knew he was going to his brother's for the weekend. He called this morning to tell me he was at Louis' and I said . . wait a minute . . is today Saturday? Yep, sure is. Oh, well, doesn't really matter I suppose. My garden is so happy. I honestly think if I sit out there long enough, I can see the plants grow. My favorite tomato is Juliet, a mini-Roma. These babies are just the right size . . they just need to get ripe. Trying to judge by where I had the different plants planted last year and the plants that came up volunteer, I hope I might have 4 or 5 of these plans. One plant will produce more than Vince and and I can eat (and I eat a LOT of them!). Chad would die before he'd eat a tomato. I'm afraid I'll have more Mr. Stripey than anything else though and that was a good eating tomato but not so good for canning. There are so many birds out there and I know they're watching the same things I'm watching -- tomatoes! I think I will run to Hancock's today and get some cheesecloth. My little patch is so small, it will be fairly easy to cover it enough to keep the birds out. Once the Japanese Beetles get here, there will be no cheesecloth to be found in this town. My first callas are blooming too. I have pink and white ones. The yellow ones didn't make through the winter year before last and now there's no room to put more so I'll have to live with pink and white ones. My neighbors dig theirs up every fall and then start them inside in pots. Way too much trouble . . so far mine have come back every year, with the exception of the yellow ones. Zucchini is blooming. I think I now have enough basil that I can make pesto this weekend which will make Chad very happy. Hollyhocks are blooming. I'm trying to watch them and cut the spent blooms and remove any seed pods. Those rascals come up everywhere. I think they're harder to control than mint! On the quilting front, I plan to do the final writing on three patterns today and then spend the evening sewing. Here's the fabric I'm going to use today. Notice it has lime green and purple . . it will be a fun quilt for me to make. Hope everyone has a fun weekend! Judy L.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Cost of Homemade

This morning was spent cooking instead of quilting. If you do not like to cook or if you truly do not have time to cook, and I know some of you do not, then this whole entry will probably not interest you. I'm really not cheap but I hate wasting money. Before you ask, buying fabric - even fabric I'll never use is not wasting money. I've already settled that in my own head. We rarely go out to eat and it's simply because we don't really enjoy eating out. I'm not knocking going out for dinner and when we travel, we eat out and enjoy it. I think it has something to do with fact that I usually have to get dressed because a T-shirt with holes in it from the pins on the longarm, no bra, ragged jeans and lime green Crocs aren't appropriate for leaving home. So, by the time I shower, put on makeup, get dressed . . it would take less time and hassle to cook in my own kitchen with my holey T-shirt, ragged jeans and lime green Crocs, right? It is dang expensive to eat out. We ate at O'Charley's for my birthday Monday and for two of us with one appetizer, two entrees, two soft drinks and the tip was over $40. This translates to about 5 yards of fabric in my brain. One morning last weekend, we had breakfast at Cracker Barrel. With drinks and tip, it was over $30. That would buy a little over 3 yards of fabric. Think about it . . would you rather eat out twice or buy 8 yards of fabric? I know exactly what I'd rather do. Then I began to think about how much it costs to cook at home. My goodness! Almost nothing!! Have you ever figured it out? I'm amazed. If I'm careful and watch the sales, I can cook really good meals for less than $10 for 3 of us. If I do just a little planning, I can cut my kitchen time in half too. When I was living at home (as opposed to living at the house in town . . I am not homeless), for many years I would do all my cooking on Monday for the entire week and I would make extras so that on the 4th week, I didn't have to cook at all. I'll go back to doing that when I get back to my larger kitchen and freezer space. Here are some examples of my cheap meals at home. Kroger has green peppers on sale this week for 3/$1.00. This morning I made stuffed peppers. I made 14 but I ate one for lunch so you only see 13 in the picture. Here's what it cost: 14 peppers - $4.63 2 pounds ground meat - $7.20 2 cans tomatoes - $1.40 1 cup raw rice - .10 seasoning - .10 onion & garlic - .25 cheese - $1.00 Tomato soup - $2.00 (Wal-Mart brand is .48) Total cost - $16.68. That comes to $1.19 per pepper! I'll freeze them on the cookie sheet and then put them in individual ziplock bags, then put them in a big freezer bag and just take them out one at a time as I need them, let them thaw, put the cheese on top, pour tomato soup around them and bake them. One dish to wash and no hassle to have dinner on the table . . and a very good dinner! I love stuffed peppers. Figure I add a salad which could easily cost upwards of $4 if I'm buying tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, black olives, radishes, etc., a can of green beans and two of us could eat for less than $8. Tonight we're having smoked chicken. I'm smoking two chickens and the total cost was $7.10. Chad will eat one breast and I'll eat two wings and maybe part of a breast so we'll have one whole chicken and 2/3 of another one left over. The cost for tonight's chicken is probably less than $2. We'll have some kind of frozen veggie (they're on sale for $1/bag at Kroger this week), eggplant/tomato salad which probably costs about $3 to make but it will be enough for at least two meals. Maybe I'll fix beanie weenie for Chad and that might cost .75. We have a Cookshack smoker and we love it! I smoked a brisket when mom and dad were here and they loved it so much, they went home and ordered themselves one. I think they smoked chickens yesterday. It's so easy to use. I used a rub on the chickens yesterday, let them sit in a Ziplock bag in the fridge overnight. Stuck them in the smoker this morning about 8 with 2 oz. of apple wood and they were done at 1:00 p.m. The skin doesn't get crispy in the smoker so I'll stick one of them in the convection oven for a few minutes before dinner. The smoked chicken is great for other recipes. I'll take the leftover chicken off the bone and divide it into about 1-1/2 cup sizes and freeze it for chicken enchiladas, chicken salad or King Ranch casserole. I have rolls rising that probably cost less than .50 to make so tonight's whole meal will probably cost less than $6. These rolls are great. They're called Jailhouse Rolls and the dough keeps in the fridge for at least 10 days so once it's made up, all I have to do is roll them out and let them rise. I've made these rolls for years. They were something we always had at family night dinners at church. Here's another one . . a bit more expensive but still a great meal. Tomorrow night we are having flank steak. The marinade (fresh ginger, honey, soy sauce, olive oil, cider vinegar) probably cost about $1.50. I paid $13 for the steak, $1.25 for the potatoes for baking. Add another $1.50 for potato toppings. Chad doesn't eat salad so I'll slice a tomato for me so that's another $1 and we'll have rolls again, which adds another .50 to make so there's a great meal for $17.75 and because the potatoes are huge and the steak is more than we can eat at one meal, I'll have leftovers for my lunch the next day so the meal really is less than $17.75. Yes, yes .. it does cost some amount to prepare the food at home, whether I'm using the smoker outside, the gas grill, or the stove inside. But, I'm betting it costs less in energy costs to cook the food, and clean up the kitchen than it does in gas to get to the restaurant and back! Looks I like just earned myself a trip to the quilt shop! :) Judy L.

The Quilting Journey

I love sharing pictures of my quilts and talking about my quilting but I sometimes think it can be a little intimidating to new quilters or to those who have less free time for quilting. So, here's the "rest of the story" to help put it all in perspective. The quilt shown above is my very first quilt. I obviously started quilting in the early 80's. It is all pieced and quilted by hand. How else would a good quilter make a quilt? I started a few others but can't remember another one that was totally hand pieced and hand quiltd. At some time during the late 80's and early 90's, quilting took a back seat to smocking and French handsewing (by machine) but as you can see, I went back to quilting. The discovery of machine piecing changed everything and that's when my *real* quilting began. I was working part-time and Chad was young (and wild!) so my quilting time was pretty limited. I hand quilted a few tops, mom hand quilted one or two and I had some of them quilted by a longarmer. In 1997 we moved to Kentucky and I no longer worked outside the home. We bought a house that had several acres, with woods and a shallow pond nearby, and no neighbors. Chad was in 4th grade and when he wasn't at school, he was outside playing hard! I suddenly had lots and lots of time for quilting and the tops began piling up. I wasn't able to find a longarmer here who would do the type quilting I wanted and that's how I ended up buying my own longarm. As I mentioned in a previous post, mom counted 90 quilts here. I have gone back and tried to list the quilts I've made. I know I'm not remembering all of them and wish I had kept better records but in addition to the 90 that are here, I have listed 55 that I have given away so that means I've made at least 145 quilts, with most of those having been made in the last 8 - 10 years. You may be wondering how I have time to make so many quilts. It's all I do! Today is a good example. Chad left at 7:30 for work and will be home at 5:00. Vince is out of town. Other than doing a few household chores, I will quilt all day. I won't leave home, I won't see anyone else . . I will spend the entire day quilting. Chad probably has plans for the evening so I will quilt all evening and half the night. I won't leave home, I won't see anyone else . . I will spend most of the night quilting. That's how most of my days/nights go. I am very thankful for my quilting obsession. One day things may be different. We may live where we have family closer, or where we've made friends and I'll have less time for quilting but for now . . quilting keeps me sane. Judy L.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Someone Loves My Quilts!

The good news is that we were able to get enough stuff out of the garage that we can now get two vehicles in there. It has been years since I could get two cars in a two car garage but, thanks to the kid across the street who would slit my tires in a heart beat, the garage now houses what it was meant to house . . cars! The bad news is all the stuff that was in the garage is now inside the house. This is a tiny little house and if you imagine nine rolls of batting and at least 90 quilts (my mom counted!), along with all the other stuff a packrat type quilter has in a tiny little house, I probably need not describe our current state of crowdedness. Anyway, until I can find a safe place to put all the rolls of batting (not enough corners in this place), I have a couple of them laying in the middle of living room floor. I didn't want them standing because I was afraid they would fall on Speck. I had been working on the binding on this yellow/purple quilt and laid it across the rolls of batting and look who decided it was a comfy place to sleep! The solution to this overcrowding as I see it: Each roll of batting should be enough for 10 quilts so, as soon as I've quilted 20 quilts, the two rolls of batting will be out of my living room. Only way to get that done is get up an hour earlier . . . who needs sleep? Judy L.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Quilter's Garden

If you've read my blog any time at all, you know that all I do is quilt! I clean house just enough to get by, I do enjoy cooking but seem to be doing less and less of that lately. I do love fresh tomatoes and I always try to have some kind of a little garden. At the house in town, the back yard isn't much bigger than a peanut. We had a mild winter and that means volunteer tomatoes are everywhere! It's so hard to pull those rascals up and toss them and they have just about taken over. I wasn't sure what was coming up since I had several kinds last year and I definitely wanted some Romas so I bought four plants. At last count, I have 35 tomato plants growing in this tiny little spot. There's also a couple of parsley, cilantro, pepper and eggplants in there somewhere amongst all the tomatoes. And, what do you think I'd use to tie them up? Leftovers from the strips of fabric and that makes the plants so pretty! They all have bright colored cotton ties. There's a hole that I've been trying to fill in and I throw all my weeds and rocks and dirt clumps in there and what do you think I have growing down there now . . tomatoes! Here's a little corner where I have basil, parsley, ginger lilies in the green pots, callas and some lavender. Pretend you don't see any weeds! :) It's all a little weedy but I can't do everything, right? Judy L.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Very Neglected Friend

I love longarm quilting and never ever get tired of working with that machine but I have not touched it in about three weeks. There's normally rarely a day I don't use the machine so this has to be a record. I was busy getting ready for mom and dad to get here (translates into I'm a slob and it took at least a week to get the house halfway decent), then we had graduation and I've just been plain old busy. See what happens though when the machine isn't getting used daily --things are beginning to pile up on it. Yep, I am a quilter and I do not take time to clean house and put things away! Tonight I will finish piecing the bright star quilt with the dyed fabrics and maybe get it loaded. I think I'm going to do a panto . . it just needs to be finished quickly! I'm thinking I might do Jody Beamish's Starflower using gold thread but I have time to change my mind. Judy L.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Quilt Industry and New Quilt Magazines

Last week, or was it the week before that .. sometime fairly recently, Quilt Market happened. I'm on the Quilt Designers group and there was a big discussion about whether quilting is becoming less popular. Seems as though market was kinda slow for some, while others reported that it was great. Probably pretty typical I suppose. It further seems as though there are many quilt shops closing but from what I hear, there are quilt shops opening. After having been to the Paducah show, if there's any slacking in the industry, I surely didn't see it! While I don't have any answers, I just don't see the quilt industry suffering too much. Yes, the price of fabric is getting sky high, the cost of getting quilts done by a longarmer is pretty expensive so some of us may be cutting back a bit on what we spend. The online shops sometimes have better prices than the real storefronts and I do order some online but there's nothing like the experience of feeling and fondling the fabric. I cherish the advice of my local quilt shop owner, Betty. What I got from the discussion on the designers' group is that the quilt industry just needs to continue to move forward. New ideas and techniques sell. And, speaking of new ideas, there are two new quilt magazines available. The first one is Quilter's Home. I knew it was coming out and had been looking for it. This morning Vince offered to take me to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. I wasn't about to pass up that offer. He wanted to stop at Wal-Mart after we ate. NO!! I have nothing against Wal-Mart but when I need something from there, I go early in the morning during the week, NEVER on Saturday. He promised to be quick and he was but while I was tagging along, I thought maybe they had Quilter's Home. I had gone to Books-A-Million yesterday looking for it but it wasn't there. Yep, Wal-Mart had it so my trip there was worth the while. Mark Lipinski is the editor. I think this magazine is going to be a big hit! There are the normal type projects in this issue but there's so much more. And, they're on pages that are meant to be torn out, whole punched and saved! There are recipes! I've often wondered why quilt magazines didn't have a few recipes in there. We all have to figure out how to get something on the table every now and then. This is the kind of magazine you really read . . cover to cover. There are funny stories! I was laughing out loud. I even read a couple of stories to Vince and he thought they were funny. Quilter's Home is new and it's different - and I like it a lot! There's a lot of good stuff in there! There's an article on copyright, which has been a hot topic lately. There's an article on podcasts which I need to try. I recommend that you all buy this first issue and see if you are not impressed. The second new magazine is Cotton Spice. The first issue isn't out yet but the online issue is available at the web site. This one is published by Karen Murphy Gass. She is doing it all on her own and I can't imagine what a challenge this must be. I've read the online issue and am looking forward to receiving the printed issue . . maybe next week! Karen has been a quilter for years and if you read the online issue, you will see her story about starting Cotton Spice and her thoughts on the need for a magazine with "contemporary fresh" ideas. I believe this will be another great magazine and have already subscribed. Congratulations to Mark and Karen on having a dream and taking the steps to make it happen. I wish you both much success! Judy L.

Friday, June 02, 2006

It should be Illegal!

Do you ever think we have too much fun with our quilting? You know why I'm thinking that? You all know about my goofy neighbor. Really, it's just one. The rest of them are great but you know what they say about one bad apple. Last night the mom was absent. In fact, I think she had been gone for a day or so. The kid is 14 and he's really a problem child. Beginning about midnight, they decided to have a party but they weren't using the door. They were going in and out the house through his bedroom window. And, they were loud! It was after 3 this morning when I finally fell asleep and I think it was from pure exhaustion . . not because they finally calmed down. Anyway, I was looking forward to going to bed early tonight but what do you think happened? This pile of fabric began calling to me. Remember when I bought dotted fabric back in April, I had three quilts to make and I saved this one til last because I knew it was going to be so much fun. I got the other two done, plus those two for EQ and I couldn't wait any longer. I've made all the sashing strips and am just now starting on the blocks. The brights were a gift from dear Vicky from Starr Design Fabrics (hand dyed) and they feel so good. They are fun, fun, fun to work with. I love dots too so I knew this was going to a delight for me to do. The picture above is part of one block, part of the sashing, doesn't look like much now but it will be really neat when it's done. I have everything started but not enough done to really look like anything. I can only hope to get some sewing time this weekend but . . it might not happen. Oh well . . there's always Monday, right? Judy L.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Entries are Submitted

The entries for the Do You EQ? Contest are due June 16 but my goal was to get them in the mail by June 1. I just now handed them to the mail man. Here are all three of them, Stars in the Meadow, Memories of Navarre and Licorice Delight. I finished the binding on the black one (Licorice Delight) late last night and hopped out of bed not long after daylight to get pictures of that one and the log cabin star (Memories of Navarre) before the rains got here. Have you ever really thought of what goes into making a quilt, especially if it's a quilt you want to enter in a contest? Not that the contest quilts always get more attention during the making process but there are all the extra steps.

  1. Decide on a design. It could be something we've seen in a magazine or a purchased pattern. Or, we could draw it all out using our favorite software. Mine happens to be Electric Quilt. If we're designing it ourselves, we have to figure out the instructions and how much yardage we need.
  2. Choose the fabric. Do you make the quilt just like the one in the pattern? Do you use your favorite colors? Do you use the colors that match your decor? Do you buy the newest and greatest fabrics at the local quilt shop? Do you just use whatever's in your stash?
  3. Make the top. Now we spend days or weeks or months making the tops. I always have fun at first til I see how it's going to turn out and then I get a bit bored with doing the same blocks over and over.
  4. Quilt it. Do you quilt it yourself? By hand or by machine? Do you send it to a longarmer? If you quilt it yourself by hand, that takes a long time. If you quilt it by machine and you do it on a sewing machine, that's not an easy task if it's a big machine. If you send it to a longarmer, that gets expensive and you may have to wait for months if your longarmer is really busy.
  5. Bind it. I try to make the binding when I finish piecing and I try to put the binding on as soon as I take the top off the longarm. Then I have the hand work to do and I always think I'll save that til some time when I have nothing else to do . . which never happens.
  6. Label it. Don't forget the label. That is so important and I am guilty of not always adding the label but I'm almost always sorry when I don't.
  7. Block it. Do you block your quilts. Every now and then I can get by without blocking one. Licorice Delight was not blocked and it hangs very straight. Not sure why they are sometimes straight and sometimes not and I seem to always do them the same way. To block mine, I lay them out in the family room floor with a sheet between the quilt and the floor. I use the flower head pins and pin about every inch or so, spritz with water and let it dry.
  8. Photograph it. When I first began entering contests, I paid a photographer $100 per quilt to photograph my quilts. Most shows required slides and there was nowhere around here to have slides made so I'd deliver my quilts to him, he'd take the pictures and in a week or so, I'd get my slides. The $100 per quilt was beginning to get expensive so I found a place online where I could e-mail digital pictures and they would make slides for me. This meant I needed a 5 MP digital camera so I bought a new one. It was about $500 back then but the 5 MP cameras are cheap now. I still love it though and have no desire to get a new one . . yet. Most of the shows now allow us to send in photos on CD's that we make at home.
  9. Forms to fill out. Every show/contest has different forms. I'm really not very organized and getting everything filled out, all the requirements as to pictures needed, fees, etc. is the hardest part for me.

It all makes me very tired just thinking about it! :)

Judy L.