Thursday, April 29, 2010

Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #7

Here's the latest quilt block for the Darci's Dress Up project.  I think I'm running out of ideas!  I did have fun with this one, though.  A few weeks ago, DH and I decided to go on a day trip to Idyllwild, a town in our local mountains.  We spent an hour or two rummaging through an antique store and I picked up an old hankie with a crocheted edge.

I carefully separated the edging from the hankie (I'm keeping the hankie for another block in the quilt - perhaps an embroidered vest or apron?) and then used the edging for the collar and pocket trims on this block.  I was worried the edging would fray, so I satin stitched the crocheted edging to the block.  A friend also suggested an application of Fray Check.  Good suggestion!

I think we are halfway through this project, not counting actually putting the blocks together into some kind of quilt!  My thoughts now are to fashion the blocks into two small wallhangings for each of my granddaughters.  That seems to be a manageable goal and one that will motivate me to actually finish a project from these blocks.

I started the next block.  The fabric is blue and white, a favorite color combination of mine.  My plan is to aim for an heirloom sewing look.  Let's see how I do!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Every kid has to try it sometime ...

My daughter woke up this morning to the sound of something not quite right in the kids' bathroom.  Seems my eldest granddaughter, Talia, had decided to have short hair.  She climbed up on the bathroom counter, found the haircutting scissors on top of the medicine cabinet, and proceeded to give herself a haircut.

DD tells me that Talia has been asking for short hair for quite sometime.  She sure found a way to get what she wanted!  Why does this not surprise me?  She's determined, bright, resourceful, and not quite as attractive as she was this time yesterday!

I'm sure my DD was angry and upset, although she did manage to tell me that most kids don't do this until they are 5.  Talia, being only 4, is once again ahead of her peers.  They headed out for an early morning haircut to try to clean up Talia's efforts.  Phone picture sent to Oma looks pretty dreadful ..... but she does have a smile on her face!

Friday, April 23, 2010

For sewing enthusiasts everywhere

A website that I frequent, Sew, What's New?, posted a video that I thoroughly enjoyed watching, several times, in fact.  I hope you'll like it, too.  I have never heard of Jan de Vlieger or the IMCA prior to watching this video.

The IMCA Sewing Machine Museum is located near Amsterdam where we will be for four days in September.  However, according to the information that I've been able to obtain on the Internet, tours of the museum are restricted to sewing machine enthusiasts and collectors.  I certainly classify myself as enthusiastic about sewing machines, but I am hardly a collector nor am I knowledgeable about the history of this great invention.  Plus, I'm pushing the envelope asking DH to spend one day of our trip at the Bernina factory in Steckborn, Switzerland!  Touring this great museum is just not in the cards.

Enjoy taking a short tour of the IMCA Sewing Machine Museum!  The music is cool, too.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Look, Ma, no feed dogs!

Last Saturday, I took an all-day thread painting class at a local quilt store.  Wow - did I have fun!  I'm so glad that I spent a few hours the week before the class doing some free motion quilting on the not-yet-finished Easter placemats.  That's Easter 2011; another project that did not quite get done in time for the event.  Sound familiar?

The thread painting was a blast.  There were 12 of us in the class which was taught by Phyllis Binkley, a local art quilter.  Take a peak at Phyllis' work, and you'll get an idea of the techniques that she was sharing with us.  The class was fast-paced which actually helped me quite a bit.  I didn't have a chance to freeze up and worry about whether or not my practice piece was perfect!  The phrase "Just do it!" kept popping into my brain.  I was concerned about missing the next bit of advice from Phyllis or the demos of her stitch techniques.  No time to think about what my hands were doing or how fast my machine was running or where to look next!  I think I understand now why good free motion quilters recommend listening to music or getting into a "zen" type of trance.

My practice piece isn't anything to brag about, hence, no picture.  But I really think I'm moving away from the newbie stage and into a more comfortable stage with free motion stitching, whether quilting or thread painting.  I'm by no means good at it, but it doesn't scare the crap out of me anymore!  I consider that progress.

Monday, April 19, 2010

When a baby boomer faces reality ...

I'm not a baby boomer by the accepted definition since I was born in 1945.  However, I've always considered myself part of the baby boomer generation.  I identify with stories about how "boomers" have a difficult time coming to grips with the aging process.  This seems especially true in California, where physical beauty trumps intelligence, mental acuity, talent, resourcefulnesss, interest, productivity ... etc., etc., etc.

Baby boomers are reluctant to face the reality of aging.  According to published reports, we spend a fortune on exercise, plastic surgery, various treatments and supplements to prevent succombing to the inevitable.  Well, let me tell you, the inevitable is marching forth and there isn't a blessed thing you can do to stop it!

I've become increasingly aware over the last months that something always hurts.  Not a lot.  I can deal with it.  Nothing that stops me from doing what I want to do.  Nothing that interferes with my usual day and my usual activities.  But something ALWAYS hurts.  For instance, my right heel hurts in the morning.  So, I lie in bed anticipating those first few steps after rolling out of the bed.  I limp.  Yes, I limp.  It takes about 30 minutes for my right heel to stop hurting after I arise each and every morning.

Then there is my left knee.  It's okay as long as I stay on the straight and narrow (and level).  However, if I go up or down stairs, Whoa Nelly!  That knee speaks to me in no uncertain terms.  It is basically saying, "Don't rely on me.  I could give out at any second."  Hmmmm .... it also makes some crackling noises that I'm doing my best to ignore.

The undiagnosed pain in the gut rears its ugly head from time to time.  Just enough that I hesitate a moment and wonder if it is coming back.

I love to sew.  Now, however, I need to take an ibuprofen 30 minutes before I do any hand sewing.  Not a big deal.  But different.  Not something I had to think about in my 40s, or 50s.

Another wake-up moment is when I'm driving and turn around to see what is behind me before going in reverse.  Oooooohhhh ... can't quite make my head turn around enough to get a full picture of what is behind me.  The neck kinda freezes up and just won't go where it used to go ...

Reality.  Inevitability.  Annoyance.  Acceptance.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Getting ready for next Easter

As we were leaving to return home after the Easter holiday, my daughter asked if I could embroider the grandkids' names on their Easter baskets.  Seemed like a simple task.  I brought the baskets home and played around with them today.  Fun, fun, fun!  I haven't been doing as much embroidery as I should considering how much I paid for the embroidery module for my Bernina.

I tried to choose a font that reflected the personality of the 3 grandchildren.  Jackson got Child's Play - fun-loving and playful just like him!  I adorned Talia with Guinevere.  Being quite a princess, it seemed appropriate.  I'm just now seeing Natasha's personality, and I like what I see.  Sweet, feminine, a bit alluring and elegant - Audrey Hepburn at Tiffany's!  So, Tiffany was the font I chose.

Choosing the correct stabilizer is always such a chore for me.  If I did more machine embroidery, it would probably become second nature.  I ended up going with a TNT - the "iron on stabilizer that I love" from Carolyn Brown at An Embroidered Affair.  It's a great stabilizer and hasn't failed me yet!  I have no affiliation with Carolyn or An Embroidered Affair, but I highly recommend that you visit her site and consider doing business with her.  She's a wonderful lady and goes above and beyond to provide terrific service.

Here are the finished baskets just waiting for the return of the Easter Bunny.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Keep your hands off our stuff - or else!

A few years ago, DH and I went on a 2-week Baltic cruise.  What a wonderful experience!  One of the ports on the itinerary was St. Petersburg, Russia.  As children of the Cold War, we were excited to be able to visit a country that seemed so forbidden, and forbiddening, to us in our childhood.  We remember bomb shelters, air raid drills and Mr. Khrushchev.

We saw so much during our two-day visit, including a performance of the Bolshoi ballet.  One of the highlights was a morning visit to the The Hermitage, Russia's premier art museum.  The museum is located in The Winter Palace, home to Russia's emperors for centuries.  The items in this museum are so precious, so irreplaceable, so valuable to the Russians that there are female docents in each and every gallery to protect the collection.  These ladies were austere both in dress and expression.  They sat on straight-backed chairs and watched every movement as tourists flocked through the large galleries.  They scared the hell out of us!  No way were we going to break any rules and risk a scolding by one of these ladies.

Few museums allow flash photography, but the rules at The Hermitage were explained to us in a very strong voice with lots of conviction!  You will not - nyet! - use the flash on your camera.  One very brazen young lady in our group took a photo with a flash and was sternly reprimanded and threatened with expulsion from the museum.  Her excuse?  "I don't know how to turn the flash off!"  Duhhh .... no wonder American tourists have such a bad reputation.  Either (a) learn how to turn off the flash, or (b) don't take any pictures!!!

In today's edition of the Los Angeles Times, there is a wonderful review of a solo exhibition by photographer Andy Freeberg.  Mr. Freeberg visited The Hermitage and took photographs of these dour-faced ladies guarding these precious works of art.  Well worth your time to read the review and perhaps visit the exhibit which is at the Kopeikin Gallery in West Hollywood.  Mr. Freeberg has fully captured the mood of The Hermitage as you walk by these sentinels.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Darci's Dress Up Quilt - Doll #6

I'm feeling challenged by my fellow quilt guild members who have come up with such adorable and creative dress designs!  I decided to try my hand at a sleeveless version of the dress for this block.  Inspired by one of Martha Pullen's tv shows, I tried my hand at a scalloped border.  It was a bit of a chore to do the machine appliqued blanket stitch on the scallops, but I'm happy with the result.  Not perfect, but what the hey .... it's done and I learned something new.

What do you think?  I'm pretty happy with this one.  A trip to a brand new Michaels store just across the freeway (hallelujah!) yielded the cute little teddy bear charm that I used as a necklace.  The flower trim came from JoAnns.

Whoopee!  I am caught up with the blocks and ready for the April fabric selection!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Uh oh - the earth is moving again!

Okay, now I really want to know what is going on!  This afternoon, a 7.7 earthquake occurred in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia.  This is the fifth major earthquake in a matter of months.  I'm not easily disturbed by things like this, but I will admit to feeling a bit "unsettled."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Whole lotta shakin' goin' on ....

I spent the last few days helping my daughter out with babysitting and preparing to celebrate a combination Easter holiday and birthday party for our son, who turns 35 today.  Lots of fun times with the grandkids to tell you about in future posts.

I was busy peeling potatoes for Easter dinner in my sister's kitchen in Simi Valley yesterday when the 7.2 earthquake occurred in Mexicali.  My sister was on the couch and said "we're having an earthquake!"  None of the rest of us felt anything, but she insisted that she had felt a quake.  We turned on CNN in time to hear the first reports come in.

We've been in Southern California since 1976, and I can't remember a quake with so many aftershocks.  There have been hundreds!  Of course, we're used to the ground moving and shaking and bouncing all over the place, but we're not accustomed to the quantity of seismic events that this large quake has produced.  Take a look at this site - it's pretty interesting, I think.  If you go to this site, make sure to hit your refresh button now and then in order to see the most recent information.

As usual after a sizeable earthquake, everyone is now talking about "The Big One."  There are two camps:  (1) those that welcome these larger earthquakes as a way of releasing the pressure beneath us and (2) those who believe that when earthquakes cluster as they have recently (Haiti, Chile, now Mexicali), we're in for BIG trouble.

I choose not to talk about it at all since there's not a damned thing we can do about it!  The only certainty is that Mother Nature will have her way.  The only question is when.

Extra batteries - check.  Locate the utility turnoff valves - check.  Water supply - check.  Flashlights - check.  Shoes under the bed - check.