Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Crumby Retreat

Bonnie and I are having a marvelous time sewing crumbs. We started out from her scraps, but pretty soon added some fabric strips from my stash. Here's a peek:

Pokey is being social and sweet.

Stay tuned for more news.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas

Everything is going great here. I have totally fallen under the spell of Florida. It's so warm and wonderful. I'm so happy I'm not trying to fly into Colorado to see family for the holidays, but boy do I feel sorry for all those folks stranded across the country.

I had some questions from folks the last time I posted an update of my quilting progress on Merry Penguins. Yes, this is regular old quilting thread. I do have pretty nice stitches if I don't say so myself, but that is completely due to not using any kind of hoop or frame. Really and truly. Check out my tutorial in the sidebar. This pic should get quite large if you click on it.

The M is 3 3/8" square if that helps give you an idea of scale. Hey, look at how uneven my freehand fans are - that's part of the charm.

I've been quilting bit by bit, but am not yet even half way done yet.

Everyone have a very safe, happy, healthy holiday.

Friday, December 22, 2006

News from Paris

My husband is slowly getting settled in Paris. Right now he's in a big, empty apartment with no phone, no internet, and no tv. But it's a gorgeous apartment and that counts for a lot. He has an incredible 20 minute walk to work, passing by Cleopatra's Needle (an actual obelisk from Egypt - how appropriate is that?) and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Our belongings from Cairo are supposed to be delivered next week, so things are progressing smoothly at that end.

The cats are doing well here. I usually have a terrible time photographing Howler, but he's been unusually photogenic in this light. If only I could get Lily to stop scratching at the mirrors and cheeping (she doesn't have a meow).

Met my new endocrinologist yesterday and now I tests I have to take, inc an echocardiogram because he heard something screwy with my heart. Sigh. If it's not one thing it's another thing. I didn't realize I had to go off the thyroid meds for 2 weeks before my whole body scan - I hope I don't get too fruitloopy. I'm going to try and reschedule the scan so that I'm not too whacked out during Bonnie's visit.

So today I'm off to the library to pick up some books to carry me through the holidays. I read Monster Island by David Wellington which was okay, but not fabulous. It's a zombie novel that the author serialized online and ended up getting a publishing deal that way. If you need a zombie fix watch "Shaun of the Dead" instead.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We're in Florida

The cats and I are safely ensconced in Florida and my husband should be in Paris by now. I don't envy him the gray skies there, that's for sure. Florida is glorious and sunshiny warm - very good for my soul.

Getting the cats here was stressful. I had to take Pokey out -- to put her carrier through the x-ray machine -- and carry her and she completely freaked out. She peed on my shirt, a bit of poo as well, and managed to give me a nasty gash across the fleshy bit of my palm. When my husband saw that I was about to lose her, he dashed through the security gate to help. Of course the alarms went off and we ended up having to re-do both the little carry-on cats. I completely had no problem with that - security comes first - but I learned a valuable lesson. It's a three person job to get the cats taken care of and don't rush the job.

I'd like to think I'd have held on to Pokey no matter what, but it terrifies me to think that we could have lost her. My husband later saw a little dog wearing a harness and leash that didn't set off the gate alarm, so I'm going to hunt those down for our next move.

Cats have settled in and are enjoying the bigger condo. No more slinking around, which is good to see. I'm hoping that moving becomes routine for them and not such a big deal.

I overdid it with Christmas. Bought a bigger tree than I intended to (smaller ones that I liked were sold out) so of course I had to buy more ornaments too. After seeing what was available in Target, I widened my colors from just lime green and pink, to include royal blue, teal, turquoise, magenta, purple and silver. It all looks fabulous next to the quilt Shells, which ended up finding a home here in Florida. It's on an angled wall from the tree, which is why this looks a bit screwy.

This pic has the purple beaded garland that I added to the tree yesterday. And there's Howler enjoying the sunshine. He's been a real pest at night trying to get behind the blinds.

My husband would totally hate this tree. He's a traditional red, white and green kind of guy. I love it tho, sparkly shiny and glorious colors. There are ornaments that look like disco balls. My sweet friend Siobhan mailed me some ornaments that work perfectly and I love the silver martini glass and shaker - very retro, but not very photogenic.

I bought the bottom of the line Bernette sewing machine, but haven't used it yet. I so wanted to upgrade to a Bernina, but I had to keep telling myself "second machine, second machine." I've now got everything I need to start doing some sewing, but it's been much easier to just sit in the recliner playing Sudoku and loving on kitties when I haven't been out fighting crowds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Poor Kitties

Here is sweet Pokey sitting in the window at our temporary apartment. We've had lots of gray skies this month.

On Saturday, my sweetie and I had to take all the cats to the vet to get health certificates so that we can fly to Florida. It was the easiest wrangling job we've ever had. I just hugged on Habibi until sweetie brought the cage over and I stuffed the kitty in. Howler started with his blubbering, but when cornered ran right into his cage. Good boy. I laughed and laughed at Lily who was trying to hide in an empty cereal box - she's small, but not that small. Pokey curled up on top of the fridge, as far back as she could get - that scared face just breaks my heart.

After the trauma of the morning, sweetie and I escaped to the movies. Casino Royale was excellent. Not nearly as cartoony as previous James Bond movies. Could have done without the obvious product placements tho. Action screetches to a halt as we discuss what type of watch Bond is wearing...

Cats were still rattled when we got back to the apartment. We could not, not find Pokey for ages. The little critter has learned how to open cabinet doors. I've caught her before sleeping in among the snack food, but I never even thought to look for her in the cabinets above the fridge, but that's where she was hiding. At least we know to look for her there next Saturday morning. I don't think it's going to be nearly as easy to get them then - they're still too spooked.

I'm looking forward to getting to Florida and settling in, at least for awhile. My hubby is flying down with us but can only stay one night before coming back up to close the apartment and do the last of his have-tos before jetting off to Paris.

I have something really exciting to look forward to later this month. My talented wonderful friend Bonnie is coming down for a week to sew and gab and keep me company. We'll find out if she's a good influence on me (work, work, work) or I'm a terrible influence on her (tea time - must sit and yack). Bonnie has just put all the lower-case letter tutorials onto Quiltville, starting here.

I'm going to buy a sewing machine for Florida since my regular Bernina will be going off to Paris. All I want is a machine that sews a fantastic straight stitch, no problems with tension. I'd love to have the needle-down option and a daylight light. Any suggestions?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hand-Carved Santas

Vera at KCQuilter has some photos of her gorgeous Christmas display here. Love the hand-carved Santas and the samplers. Go take a peek if you haven't already.

I really miss my Santas. Here is a small selection of them:

I am infatuated with Santas carved from cypress knees (bits of the cypress tree that grow up out of the water in the bayou) - they have the perfect shape for Santa. In this pic, the second and third from the left are cypress knees. That back one is by Bill Evans who is incredibly talented.

A few years ago, back when I was living in Georgia (the state, not the country), I tried my hand at carving cypress knees. Turn out that I LOVE finding the hidden Santa and carving him out:

But absolutely hate everything that comes afterwords. I have no idea how many years you'd have to spend trying to completely sand one of these. I hated that step and don't think I got a single one of them sanded down right. Then I was completely intimidated at the thought of painting on them. I hate cutesy faces and I just was having a heck of a time trying to get the eyes right on paper, let alone the wood. So these guys never got finished, although they have a certain amount of charm as is. They are living with my mom and dad now.

I took my tools with me to Cairo but never picked them up. I hate the idea of trying to carve with the cats around, but I'm sure I'll make another stab at this one of these days.

Anyone else have a hand-carved Santa they'd like to share?

I'm currently reading Heat by Bill Buford, yet another book about life in a professional kitchen. I never ever wanted to be a chef or cook, but I'm fascinated by what a hard life it can be. Routine twelve hour days, no taking off work when you are sick (which is rather repulsive from a customer's prospective) and the amount of abuse that is hurled around.

It has gotten incredibly cold here. Okay, yes it is much colder elsewhere, but still, it's COLD. I am not happy. We were actually walking in snow flurries last night. Definitely time to decamp. But first I have to go out in that cold weather to get books back to the library and buy cat food.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quilting Merrily

Here's a peek at my Merry Penguins wallhanging in progress. To see the whole top, go here.

I'm doing the freehand fans all the way around the borders. I'm actually on the last side now. Then I have lots of quilting left to do in the middle. By the way, isn't this a great photo? Took it with my new camera, a Canon Digital Elph SD600. It's very easy to use, takes gorgeous photos and is small enough to carry around everywhere.

I love the retro colors in this fabric. I might take it as my inspiration when I pick out my little tree and ornaments for Florida. I love the idea of using pink and lime green (which I bet my hubby would hate) so I can indulge myself. I'm sure other colors will creep in tho - I've never been able to stick to just one color or theme or anything for Christmas, I just get all that I love.

Did not feel very good yesterday. Had some chest pains, which sounds scarier than it is. It's a side effect from my thyroid medicine, which I am now supposed to be splitting into two and taking in the morning and then 12 hrs later. I'm hoping that evening out the dosage will give me more energy in the morning too.

I have been soooo bad about providing links, so I have a whole list of them. Here are a few:

Hanne made a delightful quilt called Love XOXO using the hugs and kisses blocks combined with hearts in a beautiful mix of pinks, reds and white. I'm loving her Dear Jane Christmas blocks too.

Quilting Rush Laurie Ann is playing with letters again, this time making a doggy-themed quilt for a friend.

Dordogne Quilter Clare finished a delightful family quilt full of meaning, made with wonky houses, letters and special quilting. Clare is issuing a Free Piecing Crazy Scrap Challenge to cheer everyone up in the New Year. Looks like it will be loads of fun.

Kim at Force Majeure Farm has issued the 2nd edition of the Bent Needle online quilt and textile carnival, this time focusing on the holidays.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Visionary Art Museum

Sorry for neglecting you all. A good friend was in town over the weekend and we had a great time eating out (Lebanese and French) as well as going to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. Look at this magnet - isn't it just perfect for me?

I didn't love all the items on display but one artist in particular was loads of fun. Nancy Josephson uses lots of beads and sequins over taxidermy forms and urns - really appealed to the bright sparkly lover in me. The bear and ?gopher? were wearing fezzes, and that was a hoot as well.

I have not had tons of energy, I'm afraid to say. Don't know if it's cuz I'm recovering from surgery or don't have enough thyroid. I have been getting stuff done tho. Made arrangements to get down to Florida on the 16th of this month and have an appointment with an endocrinologist down there on the 21st. Trying to get some addresses changed and I'm sure there are all sorts of things I'm going to forget. Bit by bit, it will all get done.

To clarify my last post, my parents won't actually be down in Florida until January. That's a-ok, gonna have the cats's company for Christmas. I feel much sorrier for my husband who is going to be alone in a new place.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Oooh pretty

Wow, the woman who is our sponsor in Paris got into our apartment to set it up for us to live in (or my husband anyway) until our belongings arrive. Anyway, she took some photos. This is the building:

And I think this is the formal living room: (There is also a family room/sitting room which may just end up my quilting room.)

Doesn't it look beautiful? That floor is gorgeous - I'm really excited. We have loads of windows and even some storage. She sent a photo of the kitchen too, which turns out to be larger than I was expecting. Woohoo. I expect we're going to have a lot more empty space than I was expecting as well. An opportunity to shop!!!

Needed some good news right now. Turns out I don't get to go over to Paris until my medical situation is resolved. I don't know for sure yet, but sounds like that'll take a minimum of 7 weeks. I've come up with a back-up plan tho (staying with my parents in Florida) so I'm pretty upbeat about it, even if my Dad is going to complain about the cats the entire time. It'll be nice to have some sunshine this winter and Florida will have that.

I can't believe how disgusting and lumpy the area is around my incision. It's huge. Guess it's that big inside my throat as well which is why it has been difficult to swallow. Bleck.

Guess what, I started quilting last night! First time since the surgery, so that feels good. Sci-Fi Channel is running a marathon of "Heroes" so I think I may just tune in to that and get some more work done. Unfortunately my quilting callous has come off, but I think I can get it whipped back into shape quickly.

It's also sunk in that I just won't have my Christmas decorations this year. Not a chance. I always figured I could buy some in Paris, but that's not going to happen. If I work up enough energy tomorrow I have a plan for a holiday quilt top. Even If I just get the top done, I could put it up with painters' tape (like Dawn does when she takes photos) and enjoy it that way. This is an opportunity to be creative. As I said, I'm feeling upbeat today. Life is good.

Thank you all for the continuing support and well wishes. I appreciate each and every one of you. Hope you had some sunshine in your lives today too! Thank you.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh Shoot

Got some not so good news yesterday. The thyroid was indeed cancerous (Papillary - the "easy" kind) which was not surprising. The surprise is that they also detected traces of cancer in the lymph glands, which means it had spread. Sucky, sucky, sucky.

So now there is an additional test I have to do, in which they send iodine throughout my body and see if cancer shows up anywhere else. Of course I can't do that test right away because I had an MRI with contrast and you can't do this other scan for 4-6 weeks after. Aaagh. It's all this waiting around that's the pain.

Can I convince the endocrinologist to give me the go ahead for moving overseas and having the treatment there? Can we convince the beaurocratic layers at my husband's work that it's okay for me to have the treatments overseas? What will happen? I have absolutely no idea.

As usual, I hate the waiting and the not knowing. I don't like limbo, not a bit.

Monday, November 27, 2006

No News

Visited the surgeon this morning and got my sutures out. Still haven't gotten a really good look at my scar - it remains covered up with tape. My husband has surprised me by being fascinated with the wound. I think it's freaky and avoid looking, but not him. Plus, I swear he watches me drink to see if liquid is going to start leaking out my throat.

Unfortunately the pathology has not been done yet on the thyroid. Guess that isn't surprising because of the holiday. Also, I misunderstood the resident. Turns out that he told me it was the lymph node that was benign. They'd just had to take it out because it was in the way - not because it was cancerous. So don't know what it is up with the thyroid at all.

I'm feeling better. Less fuzzy, which is excellent. Have an appetite back - actually ate pizza last night (pineapple, ham and onion - my favorite). Generally I feel pretty much the same now as before the surgery - no over- or under-active thyroid symptoms. Hope I'm going to be one of those people who easily finds their dosage level.

I finished reading Max Brooks' World War Z yesterday. A novel about the Zombie war. Probably not the happiest reading I could have been doing, but certainly so far removed from reality that I was able to escape myself.

Hubby and I finished the first couple discs of Stargate SG-1 Season 9. I miss Jack, but have been very pleasantly surprised by Cameron Mitchell. Fun character and he has a bit of that Jack levity. Plus it was fabulous to have Varla back for awhile - I hope she makes a return appearance soon. I'm so not into the whole Jaffa thing - hope we don't have too much of their politics - rather boring.

I've become sucked into Sudoku. I bought a whole book with a variety of levels, but the easy and mediums are too boring. I'd rather be challenged and lose badly than do win without making my brain hurt. I've just started doing those again today, so that's another sign that I'm becoming functional.

Lily must think I'm doing better now too. Up until last night, she has slept curled up at my side and not left the entire night. I've been drugged up enough that I'm not tossing and turning, so it's easy to sleep with my arm around her. Very sweet. And Pokey has been extremely sweet - she spent hours and hours curled up on my sweetie's lap while he watched old movies on TCM this weekend.

I haven't quilted in at least a week though. Way back then, I put aside Cranky Witch and started working on Merry Penguins - I want that one finished and up on the wall. I'm doing free hand fans in a spiral around the border, but in the center I'll just go in one direction. I'll show you a pic one of these days. Quilting isn't a good thing for me to do right now. Looking downward is hard - it closes up my throat and makes it hard to breathe. I'll be glad when my throat is back to normal.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Hanging in There

I'm hanging in there. It's taking seemingly forever to recover from the thyroidectomy, even tho I've felt tons better every single day. I just want to instantly be well. No surprise there.

I'm still on pain meds and a bit fuzzy. Not as much as before tho. As I said, getting better every day. I think the resident told me that the immediate tests on my thyroid showed that the nodules were benign. I was a bit out of it when he was talking to me though, so I'll have a much better idea of how the surgery went after meeting with the surgeon on Monday.

Thanksgiving was pretty pathetic here. My darling sweetie ate a chicken pot pie and I was able to eat a couple of crackers, as well as jello and applesauce(during the day, not all at once). Sweetie made me a pumpkin pie (made as in put it in the oven and cooked it) so I was able to have some of that last night.

I put up our limited Christmas decorations. We have our Egyptian applique stockings (to read more about them, go here) which are bright and happy.

I'm having a hard time focusing on this, so I'm going to sign off now. Ya'all take care.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

On the Schedule

I'm having the thyroidectomy on 21 November. That's two days before Thanksgiving. I'm not worried tho - I can go and have a nice turkey dinner before the surgery and we weren't planning to get together with friends or family anyway. I'll be eating lots of ice cream and jello since I'll be on a liquid and soft food diet after the surgery. I'm happy to have a date on the calendar for the surgery.

Yesterday was an excellent day. My friend M came over and we worked on her quilt that has been in progress for 15 years. That's how many years ago I taught her to applique and she first started working on the blocks. When I was in town 3 years ago we started basting it and yesterday we finished basting it. She did get about 10 inches of quilting stitched into it tho. I just hope she'll keep working on it this time since she's actually at the fun part.

She also showed me a very cool part of Bethesda that's full of restaurants and a big Barnes and Noble bookstore. Even better, it's only a few blocks away. I kind of feel like an idiot for not getting over there myself, but at least now I know where it is.

It's improved my mood immensely to have had glorious sunshine yesterday and again today. Hope you all have had some lovely fall (or spring for you down-under types) weather too.

I watched the Sci-Fi channel miniseries The Triangle. I knew going in it would be stupid fun, and it didn't disappoint. Gotta say the air turbulence and high seas were too realistic. I had to keep quilting and NOT look up during those scenes. That's so much easier to do when my sweetie is here to harass - What's going on now? What did I miss?

I hate using the computer in the common room. Not very conducive to staying for long and getting creative in my posts. I'll do much better once my husband gets back with the laptop. Not that it will be the same laptop as before, since he managed to spill coffee all over that one. Glad that was him, not me. Anyway, I am totally behind in reading blogs - sorry about that.

Do check out the first issue of the Bent Needle - textile goodness now on blogstands near you. I haven't gotten a chance to check out all the links, but it looks like loads of fun. Go on, go look.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Hi guys.

The appointment with the surgeon on Tuesday went well. He thinks the best option is to take out the whole thyroid. On Wednesday I had an MRI of my neck done so that he would have all the information he needs going in. His surgery coordinator is supposed to call and tell me when my appointment is, but so far I've heard nothing, which is making me crazy. I'm afraid to wander away from the phone. I'll be a pest tomorrow. The surgeon said he thought the earliest he'd be able to do it was in a couple of weeks. So it's gonna be awhile.

Today I did a lot of quilting on Cranky Witch while watching Emma (the tv version with Kate Beckinsale, most definitely not the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow). Jane Austen is so wonderfully comforting. I then watched the Project Runway marathon on Bravo. I hate couture - what ugly clothes. But the show was fun, even if my favorite designer didn't win.

I miss my sweetie, but the cats are keeping me good company. I haven't been spending much time on the computer at all, but I have gotten your comments and emails. Thanks for the good wishes. I'll catch up with you later.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


A picture from Cairo. This was when I was trying to sort through my sewing and craft stuff to figure out what I was going to toss and what was getting packed. Cats of course had a great time.

Ya'all are very sweet. Again, thank you for all the supportive comments and emails. You're fabulous.

Turns out my sweetie and I were overreacting. We'll still make it to Paris. We just need to stop worrying.

My husband is leaving this morning to go out of town for two weeks. This has been planned for ages and there was no compelling reason for him not to go. My marvelous friend M lives not too far from here and is willing to step in and take care of the cats and me if it turns out I can actually get in to surgery in the next little while. Which I hope I can.

He's taking the laptop which means I won't be spending as much time on online, but not to worry, I will keep in touch.

On the good news front, my favorite aunt and uncle are in town. We all went out last night for dinner and it was wonderful to get caught up. I considered doing some sightseeing with them today, but then decided I really didn't want to see the capitol building, so maybe I'll just meet them for dinner.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Still Sighing

We're lucky to have cats that all get along with each other. Even so, the combination of Lily, Pokey and Howler all sleeping together is unusual. Much more likely to see the little girls with Habibi. Anyway. In size, one big cat would be equal to three of our little ones. They are big cats. And fat.

Well, the bad news is that the biopsy results came back with a "suggestion" of cancer. The good news is that it's the easy cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is highly treatable and curable. So now I have to find myself a surgeon to remove the nodule so that tests can be done. Have to say my endocrinologist was completely unhelpful, so I've spent some frustrating time on the computer researching exactly what kind of surgeon I need. And are they covered by my medical insurance. Sigh. Think I've got what I need now and I'll start calling this morning.

My sweetie and I do NOT want to lose the posting to Paris, so he's going to investigate whether or not he can go on ahead and then I'll come over with the kitties as soon as I'm done with all of this. I'd rather take care of this on my own than miss out. It sounds doable. But can I just say it again, what a pain in the ass.

Thank you all for your kind words and wishes. I'm hanging in there.

Update: I've got an appointment with a surgeon at Georgetown University Hospital for next Tuesday, so all is good. Sorry for being so whiny - I'm better now.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Heavy Sigh

The fabric is washed but I have yet to actually sew. The dining room in the apartment is just plain dark. Cats are making use of the fabric anyway.

I still haven't gotten the results of my thyroid biopsy. Heavy sigh. Turns out the doctors have been consulting and now my endocrinologist needs to give me the news in person. That can't be good although it's not necessarily bad. It may just mean that the test was indeterminate and now I have to have some other kind of test like a surgical biopsy to know for sure. I can't get in to see the doctor until late this afternoon, so that gives me way too much time to worry.

This whole thing would not be such a pain in the ass if it weren't for our impending move. We're living in an expensive temporary apartment and just want to get to Paris. I imagine whatever the news is it's going to throw a monkey wrench into the works.

Sorry to whine to ya'all. Just needed to talk to somebody. Thanks for being here for me.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Aliens Invading Halloween

Alien Invasion. Coming soon to a planet near you.

I've written about this quilt before, but hopefully this is a better pic. This is the quilt I liberated from my storage facility. I was rather horrified to discover that I didn't sign, date, or do any of the things you are supposed to do. Bad Tonya. Anyway, I pieced it and Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville did a marvelous job of quilting it.

For the most part I used one bit of aliens fabric for the center of the stars. (It's the same fabric that inspired Space 4 Rent, which I made after this one.) I did however use my favorite eyeball fabric for two of the stars.

And illustrating my point in yesterday's post about Lily having to get underneath the fabric:

Go check out Force Majuere Farm if you haven't already recently. Kim is working on a blog "carnival" which sounds something like a magazine. It's a collection of posts relating to one topic, in this case quilting and textile arts. She's in the process of putting together the first issue of The Bent Needle, so go help her out and get involved.

Threadlines Kathie recently posted a pic of the most incredible antique silk pineapple quilt top. Oh, I want it. And Quilting With the Past Lucy just sewed several UFOs together to come up with an amazing orphan quilt top. Read this post, and then this one. I LOVE orphan quilts - they have so much energy.

Yesterday I ended up doing lots of hand quilting. That seems to be what works for me at the moment. I realized that around this time last year I had these same horrible headaches for weeks at a times. Must be something I'm allergic to both here in Bethesda as well as Cairo. I'll be happy when it's over.

On a happier note, HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Kitten in Fabric

Sweet Lily has to jump in whenever there is fabric in the offing. That also includes diving in under the sheet when I am trying to make the bed.

I am a fabric washer. Too many chemicals on the fabric that aggravate my allergies for me not to wash. All my new fabric goes into a pile and never makes it into the stash until it's been properly washed and ironed.

I've now washed just about everything except the reds and pinks, but I won't need them for the Halloween Noises project. Now I have no excuse for not starting the quilt, except for this darn headache I just can't seem to shake. It's been aggravating me for days.

My sweetie and I went to the movies together for the first time in ages. A matinee costs $8.50 each? Ack. And then of course we get the giants sitting in front of us and my husband was kicking himself for not wanting to drive an hour to get to the theater with stadium seating. No wonder we get our movies on DVD. Think I'm getting crankier and fussier as I get older.

We saw The Prestige, a movie by Christopher Nolan who also did the fabulous Memento and Batman Begins. The movie was enjoyable in a "figure out the puzzle" way, but almost every character in it is repugnant and hard to care about. I'd still recommend it tho - it was interesting.

I was saying in the last post how I love to handquilt to silly movies. Yesterday we watched The Third Man which I thoroughly enjoy. Such a classy movie and I love the black and white images. Harry Lyme's speech about 500 years of peace producing the cuckoo clock is one of my all-time favorites. BUT... can I quilt to that? Nooo... That's why I gotta have stupid, silly, fun movies - a concept my husband just doesn't understand. He doesn't want a DVD unless it is a 5 star movie.

The maids come today. We're not living in a hotel, but there are some amenities and weekly maid service is my favorite. Anyway, got lots of straightening up to do.

oh, wait, before I go. Linda, thanks for the comment. Would love to read your blog, if you ever feel like opening it up.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Scary Christmas - Happy Boo Year

I had completely forgotten about how I'd started working on the previous quilt until ya'all reminded me. Yes, the colors are Christmasy. That was the whole reason I'd bought that novelty fabric - I wanted to make some quilts that would work to span the Halloween and Christmas seasons.

Scary Christmas - Happy Boo Year has a big chunk of the focus fabric and then has the words around it. It's quilted in the usual freehand fans. It's a lousy photo. The real quilt will hopefully be on its way across the Atlantic Ocean soon.

I then wanted to make a houses quilt to go along with this one. So I fussy cut creatures to go in the doors and windows of my houses, which I'd then make out of non-holiday fabrics as well as some Christmas prints. I made about four houses before deciding it wasn't working at all. I used the remaining doors and windows and the non-Christmas fabrics to make Crimson Halloween.

I watched a silly movie yesterday: Virus with Jamie Lee Curtis (strong Ripley-esque woman in the first half and Queen of Scream in the second) and Donald Sutherland chewing scenery. Silly movies are just easier for me to rewatch than serious ones. Plus they're easier to quilt to.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Halloween Noises

I've been wanting to make a quilt showing different ways to make the letters. Different "fonts" if I can call them that. I had considered just doing "a b c" over and over again, but that's a bit dull. I decided today that maybe I'd do Halloween noises instead. Not sentences or phrases - just short exclamations, etc.

Here's what I have so far: agh, argh, boo, cackle, clank, creak, eek, groan, growl, grrr, gurgle, howl, hiss, moan, mwa ha ha ha, noooo, rattle, shriek, sssss, slither, slurp, wooooh.

That last one is my ghost. Trying to figure out how I'd do a werewolf. Awhoo? Anything else work well? I'd love some suggestions.

Crimson Halloween

Here's a Halloween quilt made in colors you wouldn't expect me to use. This is a small wallhanging that features creatures cut from the same fabric and then surrounded with random strips. And I actually quilted it in something other than fans: these are relaxed cross-hatches.

This quilt now lives with my aunt and uncle. You didn't expect these colors to be up in my house did you?

I've still got this cold hanging on. Thank goodness for tissues with lotion - otherwise my nose would probably have been sandpapered off by now. Despite the woe, I have recently done some quilting on Cranky Witch. I've finished the bottom row of the third spiral and I'm gaining speed - woohoo.

I went for my thyroid needle biopsy yesterday. The anticipation was worse than the procedure and I was lucky to have a fabulous doctor. Results will be in next week.

I ended up not taking my sewing machine in for its cleanup. Primarily because I was miserable and didn't want to leave the house last weekend (when I could have my husband take me in the car) but also because I was worried about how long it was going to take. Three weeks without the machine and it could have been even longer. What would have happened if I hadn't gotten it back in time for it to ship??? I also want to do some sewing, tho I haven't actually done any. One of these days...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Halloween Maraccas

My husband let me pick out all my own birthday presents this year. Woohoo. I love these Halloween maraccas that I got at Wake Up Little Susie, a fun store in the Cleveland Park area of Washington D.C.

The kitties went nuts, because of course these things sound like they're full of cat treats when shaken, so I had to make sure to get them way out of reach. This is the top of the tv cabinet. It's covered in my infamous kitty deterents (this time bottles instead of aluminum cans...)

We got some good news today. The housing board has approved our getting the cool apartment in Paris I was telling you about a while back. It's in the 17th arrondissement, not too far from the Parc Monceau. I'm getting more excited by the day. Now we can still end up living somewhere else, for instance if someone with higher seniority all of a sudden needs the apartment or something. But we're one step closer.

A really fun site to check out if you are interested in knowing about the lives of english-speaking expats in Paris is the Paris Blog. It's a daily compilation of the best bits of other blogs so there's something for everyone. From there I've found a couple of blogs I now follow: The blog by the woman working at a 3-star restaurant is fascinating tho some of the pics of dismembered game birds has been disturbing. I also enjoy Rue Rude by an American expat that has a running tally of who's on strike in France. (boy, do I hope we get that apartment that is only a mile from the embassy so my sweetie can walk to work!)

I''m still sick, but slightly less miserable today. Yesterday my sweetie -- who has really been hit hard by this cold -- went on a Mythbusters binge on the Discovery Channel - at last they were showing a bunch we hadn't seen before. Have to say I prefer the English narrator that we got on the UK version better (we had the UK Discovery Channel in Cairo - go figure.)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Halloween Tree 2005

This is a pic of my Halloween tree from last year. It's not very exciting, definitely needs more items, but it was a start and I miss having it this year.

This is where I actually put it - inside the china cabinet so the cats wouldn't tear it apart. The ornaments are carved from camel bone - ghosts, bats, and black cats. I bought the feather boas and black maribou to make a wreath, but didn't end up actually making it.

My husband and I both have miserable colds. He managed to drag himself into work on Friday and I watched six straight episodes of Gilmore Girls. Woe and misery - I am a very pathetic girl. Didn't even make it to the quilt show I was really looking forward to. Whine, whine, whine.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Folk Art Cats

Pine Ridge Quilter Laura recently posted a picture of folk art cats in a basket. Wow, I have that same picture cut out from a magazine that was printed back in the early 1990s - it's part of my inspiration folder. I made several cats to use for Halloween decorating. This is a really lousy picture of three of them (the other one I gave away).

I used a pair of my husband's worn-out wool pants for fabric, embroidery floss, and some bits of colorful wool that I bought years ago with no particular project in mind. These little guys aren't here for Halloween this year, which makes me sad. I get way too attached to things. But I did bring some black wool to make more if I get so inspired.

On Monday my sweetie and I were able to go in and see all of our belongings that are in storage (on this side of the Atlantic). The warehouse is huge, with these crates stacked up four high and then wrapped sofas and other odd sized objects lining up around the sides of the building. It was great to see our things are okay, at least at a cursory glance. We pulled out items that we are going to need in our unfurnished apartment, as well as the warm clothes. I didn't get to go through every box - we were working fast - but I think most of my quilts will be going to Paris.

I did actually nab one of my quilts out of a box, one in particular that Finn is very fond of. It's all scrunchy right now, so once I can get good pics of it, I'll throw those in. Coming soon to a blog near you. The quilt is scrunchy because I didn't fold it- I just smooshed the quilts into pillowcases. They certainly won't get creases and lose batting from always being folded the same way.

On Tuesday our air freight shipment arrived. So now I have not only my sewing machine and other sewing necessities including some fabric, but also my Halloween Houses quilt. I gotta get some kind of 3M stickies to hang the quilts temporarily on the wall.

Several of you asked what quilt shops Bonnie and I went to this weekend. First we went to Cottonseed Glory in Annapolis. It's not very enticing from the outside, but wow, it's crammed with great fabric. Then it was off in a rush to Seminole Sampler in Catonsville. They had lots of my beloved Bali Fabrications fabric as well as some other enticing hand-dyes. Both shops have friendly staff and give you an extra inch or two when they rip the fabric - something I always appreciate. [There's nothing like getting a stingy bit of yardage home and then losing another inch when you have to cut off the edges of the fabric where the threads pulled and you have all those white bits. You know what I mean.]

Lois asked what kind of yardage I bought. Well, I got all of the wavy stripe that was left on the bolt - about two yards. And that incredible purple that was in the same picture with it? Two yards. I bought four yards of a purple hand-dye that looks a lot like a fabric I absolutely fell in love with this year and couldn't get any more of. Two yards of an excellent orange hand-dye. These are the hand-dyes that the batik fabric makers make, know what I mean? Not an individual artist hand-dyeing. Fabrics I really liked, got a yard. Also did halves and a few thirds. Because most of the fabric I buy doesn't have a strong print, I can use them in all sorts of different quilts. That's one of those lessons I've learned.

Denise, sewing without templates or exact measurements is EASIER than being precise, at least if you can just relax and enjoy yourself. Tell yourself you are playing and don't worry about how anything turns out.

Monday, October 16, 2006

quilt fabric spree

I had such a great visit with my friend Bonnie this weekend. She gamely volunteered to road trip to a couple of quilt shops so that I could finally go wild. I have a problem - I always buy fabric for the quilt I've already finished. I did that years ago with blue and white fabrics after making my houses quilt and here are a bunch of oranges, reds, and yellows that would have worked great in Terms of Endearment. (I always use pinks and purples so they would have gone home with me no matter what.)

I fell in love with this wavy stripe and this gorgeous purple fabric.

I think I'd have bought even more, but we got to the second store only a half hour before closing so I had to power shop. My sewing machine will arrive tomorrow (fingers crossed) and the first job is to get it cleaned and serviced. After that - I can do some sewing!!!

It was great to catch up with Bonnie, tho you have to feel sorry for her trying to sleep on the sofa bed while my cats played in the window blinds. We yacked and yacked, plus she brought some show and tell - her quilts are even more gorgeous in person than in pics, tho that doesn't even seem possible.

On a different topic, my sweetie and I received information on what MAY be our apartment in Paris. The housing board still has to approve our getting it and there are all sorts of factors outside of our control that play into that. The apartment is located downtown (woohoo) and my sweetie would be just a mile from work. We're both attached to the apartment already (even tho we shouldn't be) so I hope we're not disappointed.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Don't Pack Up Lily!

I told you that we'd been buying stuff that we needed to send to Paris. Well this is some (most) of our new purchases. And Lily. She's decided that this her favorite spot right there on top of the pile. No worries that the moving guys will pack her up when they come to take all of this away today - as soon as someone knocks on the door, all the cats will flee.

Howler playing with packing materials.

It was my birthday this week. I got a great, tho completely coincidental, present in the form of a visit from my friend Bonnie. She's up here visiting her father, who's in the middle of a cross-country motorcycle trip. I had a great time going with the two of them to several museums in D.C. - they wore me out. I get to spend quality quilty time with Bonnie on Saturday, which I am really looking forward to.

In the midst of the shopping sprees with my husband, I got to duck into a huge JoAnn's store - I didn't know they made them that big. Didn't have nearly enough time to do lots of damage, but did get a small 100% cotton quilting batt to try out as well as a packet of needles so that I can finely give a definitive answer for "what size of needle do you use for perle cotton and embroidery floss". And the answer is: Embroidery needles sizes 5 and 10. Dritz makes a packet with both those sizes in there and that should do ya.

Saw an orthopedist about my problem knee. He says I can hold off on having the big surgery (woohoo) but discovered that I am losing cartilage in my "good" knee (boo). So one knee better than expected and one worse. I need to lose weight and exercise. No surprise there, but I expect I need to get serious about it. First thing: stop buying snacks for my sweetie no matter how much he begs. If they're in the house, I eat them too.

I read Julia Child's "My Life in Paris" and thoroughly enjoyed hearing about Paris in the 50s and a woman discovering her passion in life.

Sweetie and I have been trying out the series "Numb3rs" which is another crime-solving show, but this time using math instead of forensics. It's okay. Enjoying it but not loving it. Also watched the first episode of "Foyle's War" which is a police inspector solving crime in WWII England. Good, but not great. Enjoyed it enough we'll be getting the next episode.

I've got some sites for ya'all to check out.

PrairieQuilts Nina has pulled together a bunch of orphan blocks and tied them together with some free-pieced letters for her Bones quilt top. Unsurprisingly I'm very fond of the skeleton, but I just love how's she's used all the blocks.

SewCatherine is working on a great quilt top in which she spells out her favorite southern foods. I love everything about this quilt. It actually works great for one of the inspirations I've been mulling over but haven't yet blogged about. Maybe she's been sending me brain waves.

Force Majeure Farm Kim is churning out the quilt tops - check out her light-hearted cow quilt Moo Moue.

New blogger Carol at Quilt as Desired has used the letters to make a Remembrance Quilt with poppies. She's also using the freehand fans to work on a great quilt featuring her cat Spike.

I have not worked on the book or my quilt in progress for ages. Today tho I'm sitting myself down in front of the tv to watch my birthday present Gilmore Girls Season Six and quilt on Cranky. I'm on the third ring of freehand fans!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Man, it is bucketing down rain today. The first day it rained when we were back was wonderful and refreshing, but now I'm ready for it to stop. Not that I liked yesterday's gray sunless skies much better. And this is what winter in Paris is like too.

Big thanks to Calico Cat Amy who lives in the D.C. area and let me know about the upcoming Needlechasers of Chevy Chase quilt show which is going to be just a short metro ride away. Hurrah. Not only that but I perused the guild's marvelous website and I think I might just be able to go to a couple of their events. Wheee.

I've joined Netflix while we're here so my sweetie and I are finally getting to watch the final season of "Friends" which was being broadcast in the states when we left and which Egypt was just barely starting when we left there... Have to say I find all the characters overly annoying and twitchy, but I still want to know how it all ends. As compared to "ER" which I was happy to make a clean break from.

We finally got to try Horatio Hornblower which I thought my hubby might like since he loves "Master and Commander." Obviously the tv series doesn't have the money for all the ship battles, but was still enjoyable enough that we want to watch the second show in the series.

I watched the first two episodes of "Medium" which I hadn't caught previously. One thing that really stood out for me. Allison in the first episode: no make-up, very average looking. Allison in the series: wow, now she's professionally done-up. I liked the first Allison.... No surprise since I don't wear any makeup myself.

So yesterday was a tv binge day. Watched the Mediums and three episodes of Clean House. Told you I'm loving that show. Got some Cranky Witch quilting in as well as some loving on my attention-seeking kitties. Today I'm getting out, despite the rain. I want to go to the library, get some books and work on my book without the distraction of little sweeties.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Inspiration: Family Quilt

Here's a way to make a fun quilt about your family.

First write down all the family members you want to include. Don't forget yourself. How about pets? Does one of your kids (or pets) have a doll or stuffed animal that is incredibly important - maybe they're a part of the family too.

Next I want you to come up with a quote for everyone on your list (at least the humans). For a small one it might be something like "no,no,no,no" or the classic "But Moooooom..." whine. For this particular project you might not want a lengthy quote.

Is there a thing/object/activity that you associate with each person? Write it down. When you are collecting fabric for the quilt, you may want to include some fabric that reflects items on your list. You know the kind I mean: baseballs, scissors and pincushions, doggie bones... It's an option.

Now you've got a bunch of ideas, it's time to start sewing.

Here are some suggestions: using the free-pieced letters (of course) make blocks with everyone's name.

Now the quotes. I would recommend that you don't join the quotes up yet, just leave them as individual words until you know how you want to use them.

Do you want to piece a block for each person/animal? You could do actual people (one of these days I WILL do a tutorial on it, I promise, once I have a sewing machine and fabric) or maybe a representational item. I know you could figure out how to improv piece a sewing machine.

You could also transfer photos onto fabric. I have to admit I'm not a big fan of that technique, but I know loads of people do love it, so definitely an option.

How about your last name? Maybe your address? A house block? Maybe a bunch of hearts?

Here's an example for you, using "I Love Lucy":

"The Ricardos." Piece a red-headed female figure with the words "Lucy" and "I want to be in show business." And a male figure with "Ricky" and "You got a lot of 'splaining to do." There would have to be a little boy with "Little Ricky" and I have absolutely no idea what he'd say. Little Ricky never had much of a personality. And of course "Fred" and "Ethel" would have to be included as well... That would be a starting point.

My next post with the quilt Happy Howloween was made using this same starting point. Not that all the monsters etc are my family, but you know what I mean.

Happy Howloween

I've previously blogged about this quilt Happy Howloween, but I thought I'd post it again since it's that time of year. I have been having a blast looking at all the spooky merchandise at the stores, but so far have managed not to spend any money (you should be impressed by my restraint.)

This is a lousy photo and unfortunately the quilt is in storage so I can't take any more. [We're getting into the storage on the 16th so I may just have a chance to get a peek and see how it's doing!] This is a large wall quilt. It takes the place of my Masterpiece Quilt during October and all the way up to Thanksgiving.

The idea for this quilt was to put all the monsters etc associated with Halloween into a quilt and to have either a quote or description attached to each. Everything was improvisationally pieced out of my very own brain - no patterns. I had no idea how it was all going to go together, I just started making blocks.

At the top of the quilt is a row of spiders that I made by making modified asterisks and then adding the body into the middle.

In the next row is a jack-o-lantern with the words "great pumpkin" -an homage to Linus of Peanuts fame. In the middle are the words "Happy Howloween" and a cat, surrounded by spikey border bits. And on the right, a witch and cat with the words "I'll get you my pretty" ala Wizard of Oz.

The third row starts with a quartet of ghosts and the word "boo." Next is "Trick or treat, smell my feet, I want something good to eat." Which, for my non-american friends, is a little song that kids sing at Halloween. Or at least they did where I grew up. The background is one purple fabric, but all the letters are made with different colors of orange.

Next is an improv Frankenstein's Monster. I originally intended to have something like "ugh" with him, but I had a small piece of purple and green batik that I LOVED and it worked perfectly in that spot. On the right is a hand coming up out of a grave. There is a tombstone with the acronym R.I.P. (Rest in Peace) and the word "zombie" up above.

Fourth row starts with a dancing skeleton. Originally the block "Bad to the Bone" was meant to go there, but I loved it so much that it became a quilt on its own. The next block is "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" with a girl holding a stake and the phrase "here to save the day." This is where the row structure goes wonky. Below the skeleton and Buffy are a house block and a pair of mummies with the phrase "I want my mummy" - you'll notice the mummy on the right is carrying a handbag and wearing a hat - she's a mummy mummy.

Moving back up to the top of the row, there's a pair of eyes looking out at you. Below that is Dracula and the phrase "I vant to drink your blood." To the right, a large tombstone that I put my first name and the year in. That freaks some people out, but I liked it.

Bottom row is another house block followed by the words "Don't go in the house" which doesn't refer to anything in particular but certainly applies in several of my favorite horror movies ("Halloween" and "Scream" off the top of my head).

It's a goofy quilt, but because it wasn't serious I had total freedom to play and experiment and it didn't matter if everything worked.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Still a Pincushion

Sorry I did such a lousy job of talking about the quilt in the last post, the Kansas City Troubles. I was a bit wigged out about the thyroid thing (and continue to be so today, since it turns out I have to have it needle biopsied later this month).

I made that Kansas City Troubles quilt ages ago.To really narrow it down, sometime between 1997 and 2002. I think. I can't remember how large it actually is, but I think the smaller units were 6" so the blocks were 12" so the finished quilt is probably about 50" square. More or less. I almost always end up making the blocks a bit smaller than they're theoretically supposed to be due to my imprecise sewing.

Some links for ya'll to check out:

Passionate Quilter Karen worked with a group of women to make a wonderful Take the Leap Challenge quilt as a part of Quilt Pink Day. The quilt will be auctioned off to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation. The quilters did a great job for a great cause.

Giraffe Dreams' Carol has started an Alphabet Sampler. I love the way she chose to make her Q.

My Creative Mind's Pam has made a name banner with wonky letters. Pam's made bunches of wonky letter projects, so do go check out her blog.

Lois at Thoughts of Home Quilting is working on a small patriotic project with wonky log cabin blocks and letters. She's trying a new way to make a t - looks fun even if it is making her tear out her hair.

And for an incredibly fun Halloween quilt, make sure you check out Ragdoll Judy's Halloweenie Eye Exam - it is loads of fun. It's the September 30th entry.

And just a couple of replies to comments: Lily, I need a coat here, not just in Paris. It's getting cold. Tracey - love your idea for making a quilt of your daughter's to-do list. Fabulous. May I suggest that you change from being no-replies to having an email address to respond to. If you don't want to use your real email, get a hotmail, gmail or yahoo account. You'd get more interaction with folks that way. (Denise, if I remember correctly that applies to you too!)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


This is my Kansas City Troubles, longarm machine quilted by Bonnie Hunter.

Yesterday was fun. Went to an endocrinologist and discovered I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Great, fine. So had to do another ultrasound of my thyroid and get more blood drawn so that we can see if there has been any progression of the disease since I last had those tests done a year and a half ago.

It's not an incredibly big deal, there's a possibility that I will have to take thyroid meds for the rest of my life. Sigh. My body hates me. My husband is a bit stressed because I have to get some of my medical things sorted before we can be cleared to go overseas.

We have had some dinners and lunches with friends and my husband's colleagues. Have done some shopping as well and now I have a raincoat that should stand me in good stead both here and in Paris.

A book recommendation for Siobhan and anyone else who loves mysteries AND what goes into making movies. Earthquake Weather by Terrill Lee Lankford. Thoroughly enjoyable and it has a different rhythm from most mysteries I read - the dead body didn't turn up way at the beginning of the book.

We watched Team America World Police and loved the political incorrectness of it all and the goofy joy in blowing up models. Unfortunately it was the unrated version and of course just went too far in the ickiness. I want the "censored" version goshdarnit.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Inspiration: Guest Bedroom

I'm trying to buckle down and work on my book. You know the book, the one about the letters and houses etc... There won't be any patterns, just techniques, ideas and inspirations (such as this one, this one, and this one). Well here is another inspiration. I haven't actually made a quilt along these lines, but I'd like to when we get settled down next year.

I can envision a couple of different ways to do a quilt for the bed in the guestroom. First would be to make a bunch of blocks for the center and do words in the border or inner border such as:
  • You are welcome in our home
  • Sleep well, sweet dreams
  • May all your journeys be safe
  • This quilt is made with all my love - may it keep you warm and safe.
Or, a humorous approach:
  • Guests of guests may not invite guests
  • Guests are like fish - they stink after three days
There are, of course, many other options to include. Think of specific visitors who might use that room. What would you wish for them? Why are you happy to have them visit?
And then of course the name of the maker, the city (possibly the street address), the date... all those usual things that look so marvelous on quilts and really make them personal.
Another way to make this quilt would be with the words as the focal point, just like the bed quilt I made. (Well, the top I pieced.) I think the letters in that one came out to 3.75" finished - if I were doing it again I'd probably make them smaller. I do like small letters and I would have been able to fit in more words that way and still fit them into the area I wanted them in.
Anyway, the words could be a heartfelt welcome or it could be fun. I was thinking something like a pretend B & B (using your own name etc):
Welcome to the Case de Ricardo in lovely downtown Burbank. Your hosts are Ricky and Lucy. Breakfast is served between 8 and 10 am. First one up makes the coffee. No noise after 10pm. Enjoy your stay.
If I'd thought about it I could have made this quilt:
Welcome to Cairo, my friends. Make sure you visit all the sights of our fair city including the Pyramids of Giza, the colossal Sphinx, the river Nile, and the mummy of Ramses II. No vacation is complete unless you spend much money at the Khan al Khallili. Thank you for choosing The Lazy Gal Hotel.
I tried to write that using the patter that you hear in Cairo, like "my friends." If I were actually making it I would start doing letters for the most important words and that way if I ran out of room I could leave out the adjectives like "colossal" and not change the meaning.
I might just make something like this for Paris, where I expect we might actually get some visitors. Now just because you don't live some place exotic doesn't mean you couldn't have lots of fun with this. "See the dining room chair that Tonya fell out of and broke her collarbone." Make it personal and meaningful and that's what counts. Or just pretend that you live somewhere else and have fun with it.
Somebody please make one of these. I need quilt pictures for that imaginary book. (If you want to go that route, please don't use anyone else's copyrighted patterns or blocks.) If you want help brainstorming or fitting it together, or anything, just let me know. Or if you have some fun ideas but don't want to actually make the quilt, I'd still love to hear them.

dull dull dull

Sorry this blog has been so incredibly dull lately. I've been taking care of various stuff that has to be done before we go (which won't be until the end of November) which includes some clothes and shoe shopping. I still need to find a coat. One of these days I will actually do some sightseeing or something photo worthy.

I did make it to G Street Fabrics the other day and only bought thread. I would have bought batting but they only had poly or poly/cotton blends and the whole point of my buying batting was to switch to all cotton. So I didn't buy any fabric, can you believe it? Now I did buy something like 10 yards online, so it's not like I'm not buying any at all, but nothing at the store appealed to me. I'm completely off of novelty fabrics (although a great holiday print would suck me in) and strong multi-colors prints.

I soooo want my sewing machine etc. Not that I would necessarily be sewing, but I'd like to have the option.

Anyway, that's me. Dull girl. Ya'all take care.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Free Pieced Quilting Flickr Group

Force Majeure Farm's Kim has done a bunch of work to get a Flickr group established where we can post images of the Take the Leap Challenge quilts as well as any other quilt done using my tuturials such as letters, houses, etc. Go take a look at her post where she explains how it works. She's even willing to post pics for the technologically challenged. If you actually play with Flickr a bit, I think you will find it fairly easy to use.

I now have a Flickr badge over on my sidebar, so you can zip right into the group that way and check it out. There are probably still a couple of bugs to work out, but it's lots of fun. Come play.

Boy, have I now bought into doing all the cool flashing things on my blog. I used to swear about them because they were so slow to load up while I was on dial-up, but now I'm on high-speed so hahahahahahah. Flash, flash, pictures wheeeeee.

We're now hooked up with the high-speed internet on the laptop in our apartment. The other day I was using one of the computers in the apartment building's business center. Any resident can use those and someone who was smarter than I had fixed it so that several pages were in japanese. Glad I don't have to go through that again.

So thrilled to be back in the U.S. watching Simply Quilts, Clean House, and loads of decorating programs. I've been eating salads like a crazy woman and brushing my teeth with tap water. There are simple things that you take for granted, but once you can't do it.... aiyee.

Something else I'm enjoying? Leaving the apartment in my t-shirt and shorts to walk to the trash room, without having to worry that an Egyptian male will be out in the hallway staring at me. Woohoo.

My sweetie and I are both over the jetlag. Cats are finally themselves again, which is a relief. Pokey and Lily had been swatting at each other and hissing, so it's wonderful to see them sleeping cuddled up together. When they're sleeping. All the cats still seem to have their body clocks set to Cairo time and go wild at 2 in the morning racing around the apartment playing. Maybe they've always done that but the apartment was so much larger we didn't hear it.

Today I have to wait around for the two new recliners we ordered to be delivered. Woohoo. We'll get to use them for awhile before they get shipped off to Paris, where I really hope we have enough room to use them. We will MAKE them fit, gosh darn it. Then, if I have time, it's off on the metro to G Street Fabrics.

Life is good.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Back in the USA

Just a quick note to let you all know that we made it safely back to the U.S. We got Pokey's paperwork before we left and the whole trip went smoothly. I'm not using my own computer and while the high-speed service is great, all the websites are set up in Japanese. It's a good thing that I use blogger so much I just automatically know what all the buttons are for.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Luckier Than I Realize

I'm luckier than I realized to have such a cuddly sweet kitty. I didn't know how many cat owners have cats that won't even sit in their laps, let alone let get belly rubs.

I'm luckier than I realize sometimes to have such incredible friends and to have had the opportunity to live in Cairo, which has it's drawbacks but is certainly exotic and out-of-the-ordinary. Today the mushiness finally hit me. This is the last time I will walk on this street, the last time I will have the opportunity to buy one of these items... Gack, I need to just sit and quilt and not think about it.

The fly in our ointment: still no official paperwork to get Pokey into France. I know we don't need it yet, we won't be there for a couple of months, but I'd still like to have that certificate in my hot little hands before we leave.

Thanks to Force Majeure Farms Kim, I'm getting Flickrized. It turns out to be much easier than expected. I'll let you know when there is more news on that front.

Monday, September 18, 2006

How Am I Supposed to Quilt?

Lately whenever I sit down to quilt, I seem to end up with a little cat sleeping on my lap. Now how am I supposed to get any quilting done like this?

Under any circumstances, Pokey is my sweet baby, but just look how irresistably cute she looks all curled up like that ready for a belly rubbing. Can't boot this sweetie pie off my lap, especially right now when the cats need all the reassurance they can get. Their world has definitely turned upside down with this move.

Yes I generally quilt with my legs resting on the coffee table. Or knees bent and feet on the edge of it. I just prefer to do it that way, but don't have to. I can quilt like a civilized person when I'm at someone else's home.

It's certainly no surprise that I have cat hair all over my quilt. I really love the texture the stitches are adding to Cranky Witch:

There was a while there when I was just going around the border (where you can't see the stitches) and I thought - why did I choose to keep this central fabric so large? What was the point - it's so boring. But I'm back in love with it again.

I had pieced this really quickly so that I could do a tutorial on the freehand quilting (see the link to the tutorial over there on my sidebar). Maybe if I'd thought about it longer I might have put words in it like "Happy Halloween" or "cackle cackle cackle" rather like I did on my Merry Penguins. Or not.

Got more items on my to-do list checked off today. Found someone who would love to have bags and bags of bubble wrap and styrofoam peanuts. I can't bring myself to throw those away until it's absolutely necessary, so glad to find someone who will use them. Can't believe what a stockpile I have of cardboard boxes either. sigh. Some things I have a hard time throwing away, even here where garbage isn't necessarily garbage. That is, the zabaleen trash collectors will sort it out of the rubbish and reuse it, rather than all of it ending up in a landfill.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

If You Love It, Use It

I love how this looks. My shiny silver scissors and the beautiful blue and white scissor fob that Siobhan made for me.
For the longest time I didn't use them. The Gingher scissors cost a bundle. They're well worth it, but still not something you want to lose. I poked away using my pink handled childrens' scissors with the blunt tip, because after all, I was just cutting thread. The fob didn't fit onto it and besides, these beads are glass, they'll get broken.

Well how silly is all that. These scissors even cut thread divinely and they are beautiful to look at as well as use. And if a bead gets broken, I know how to replace it. Why save things for best - use what you love.

That's true for fabric too. All that fabric I have that I would have sworn 10 years ago that I would ALWAYS love? Well, turns out that just isn't so.

We did a practise run on packing suitcases last night. Rather, my husband did since he's the good packer. I still think it's going to be a tight squeeze trying to get everything in, but don't think we'll be overweight. Plus I'm getting a couple of boxes ready that friends will mail to us in Paris once we're there.

Speaking of which, we got our orders!!! Woohoo. Now our containers of belongings can start moving and maybe we can even get those plane tickets.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Comments and Challenges

I've got my comments working properly again. I finally realized the box had stopped popping up after I put the Babel-fish translating program into my sidebar. Took it out and the comments are back.

Forgot to answer Giraffe Dreams Carol's question in my last post. She asked if there was a slideshow somewhere of all the pics for the Take the Leap Challenge. There isn't. I'm not Flickr-ized. If someone would like to create one, they are more than welcome, but I think I will cry if I have to learn another computer tool... But do go check out Carol's challenge quilt.

Speaking of the challenge, I can't believe Sassenach Kim at Force Majeure Farm has made another one. She's given me permission to post a pic of her "I Love Corn and Beans":

You can go learn about the inspiration for the colors here. Especially those of you living in farm country will understand.

Aiyee, all of a sudden I can't pull up any blogs. I better try and post this one now. Ya'll take care. A Bientot.

Quilters in DeNile Houses

My quilting buddies in The Quilters in DeNile suprised me on Wednesday with not only a luncheon but a quilt. The latter in particular was completely unexpected. They had scurried around and made it in about two weeks, and that included folks who weren't even back in country yet.

They printed out the house tutorials and went to work. Didn't they do a great job getting wonky?

The upper left block which is from a paper-piecing Halloween project; I know how hard it is for D.H. to do anything besides precision and straight lines so I do very much appreciate how much effort it took for her to make this block.

There are suprises in the Halloween house:

As I'm writing this I realized what an idiot I am for not taking a picture of everybody with this quilt. I was a bit overwhelmed and I hate being the center of attention, so the thought didn't even cross my mind. At least they all signed it. I thank them all for their wondrous generosity and thoughtfulness. I'm going to miss them. I refuse to get mushy. I refuse.

It took some running around on short notice, but Pokey's incorrect rabies blood titer certificate is on it's way to Germany and fingers crossed we may even get a correct copy back today. Just glad the lab realized it was their mistake and are fixing it. We sooo did not want to have to put Pokey through the vampire ordeal again.

We've gotten a necessary bit of paperwork which officially states that our next post is Paris (woohoo). Still waiting for the official orders which are necessary for all sorts of things, such as getting our household good out of storage here in Ma'adi and on their way. It's a beaurocracy - there must be lots of papers.

We're down to less than a week now...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Birds and a Palm Tree, of sorts

This is a friend's place in the States with an older Tentmaker Applique and a new light up Palm Tree that we gave her as a gift a while back. She's loads of fun and loves palm trees, so we thought it was appropriate. I think it's supposed to go out in the yard, but it's way more fun inside.

I got a couple of emails from folks saying they couldn't get blogger to let them post comments in my last two posts. It wouldn't let me either, for what that's worth. Let's hope I have better luck with this entry. [You can make the comments box open by doing a right-mouse click and then choosing open. Glad some of my friends are smarter than I am...]

We've leapt over more of the beaurocratic hurdles in our way with only one glitch. I discovered that the German lab doing the rabies testing on our cats got Pokey's microchip number off by one digit. I'm sure it was just a typo (or an inability to read my sweetie's handwriting) and they'll send us a new certificate. Fingers crossed. This doesn't affect our rentry into the states, just France...

The days are blurring together for me and I'm not quite sure what has happened when. I used to know what day of the week it was at least when we had the tv (if it's Friday, then Medium is on etc). My friends are doing a great job of keeping me entertained so I'm not just rattling around at home.

Turns out our lazy, overweight, sluggish boys aren't as pathetic as we thought. Both Howler and Habibi have managed to leap up to the top of the china cabinet from the buffet, now that the easy access cat tree is gone. Who'da thunk it. My sweetie would never have believed me if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes.

I didn't go back to the bazaar, so I didn't make any more purchases of tiles or evil eye charms. I suspect I'll have more opportunities for badness before we depart....

I'm sorry, but during the last couple of weeks I've done a terrible job of providing links to folks doing the Take the Leap Challenge. I apologise. Here is one tho that really caught my eye. I LOVE Force Majeure Farm Kim's De-funked Xs and Os. It is large, glorious and free, much like the Gee's Bend Quilts. It's a style that I admire so much, but never seem to loosen up enough to do myself.

And a new blog for you to check out. Dianne of California Girl in Oz is going through a huge move, only even more miles are involved and even more cats than my own move entails. Dog lovers in particular will love the blocks she recently showcased.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Palestinian Tiles

I'm madly in love with these Palestinian tiles. That is, I *think* they're made by Palestinians, but I can't be 100% positive. I've only found one seller here in Cairo that carries this particular type and he only shows up at the monthly bazaars held at a local ex-pat center. I took photos today for my poor friends who actually have jobs and are locked in their office while the bazaar is being held. Rather than email them the pics, you guys get to see them now too, even tho I've already posted once today. (thanks for the French lessons)

I can hear my husband whimpering in my head: please don't buy any more, we've already packed out. But if I go back to the bazaar tomorrow, one of those evil eye charms might just come home with me. Forest Jane made me realize that I didn't keep any aside - they all went with the household goods.

This tile has a groovy frame that really makes it eye-catching.

Love the palm trees running along the top and the red good luck hands that have the eye in the middle (hard to see, but there).

I wanted you to see the detail of the girl riding the camel. I love how it looks like there is a chunk missing from the camel and she's standing up inside.

You can see the red hands with eyes much better here: