Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Going, Going, Gone.....

Since we put our darling daughter on a bus Monday morning on her way to camp (and happy-danced our way back to the car), Russ and I are heading to Shreveport for a couple of days.

Will you miss me?

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Story of Okra

Being a true Southern gal, I love fried okra. Not that breaded stuff you get in restaurants - the real homemade deal. But it's so expensive at the grocery store. I grew up with a mom who loved to vegetable garden and know for a fact that okra grows like a weed and is as prolific as rabbits. How hard could it be to grow okra?

Last spring, I decided to plant a few okra plants to see what would happen. I put them in a flower bed (I had no other place for them) and Russ "weeded" the plants out the next week. He hasn't lived that one down yet.

So, this year, he's all into it and decides to try some more okra plants. Made his own "vegetable" bed on the west side of the house and has been babying his plants.

Here's our first crop.....

I refuse to cook just one.

But, there are more buds, and we're hoping the plants explode so that we can gather a "mess" of okra in a week or so. I'll keep you posted.

On the sewing front, I made more Lady of the Lake blocks for a total of 24.

To avoid trying to match all those seams, I think I'll put 1" sashing in between, add a border, and call it done. I have enough pieces/parts to make a whole 'nother quilt, but I'm thinking not. I'll just stash those parts for another day and another plan.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Tail of the Half-Nekkid Kitty

You've all met Miss Sophie before. She's my very sweet girl-kitty with a large amount of long hair. Well, summer in Texas has not been kind to Sophie. She goes outside to play and rolls around in the dirt. The consequences of massive shedding + dirt rolling = pretty bad matting.

Today I took Miss Sophie to the groomer. I have NEVER had a cat groomed. One of the reasons I'm so fond of cats is they usually tend to be self-cleaning. But the matting had gotten to the point that it was no longer healthy. So now I have a half-nekkid cat....with a lion's tail.

The neckerchief was a bonus.

It's amazing how much smaller she looks without all that hair. I just hope all the neighborhood cats don't laugh at her.

On the sewing front, I uncovered a bunch of blocks and pre-cut strips from a Thangles demo we did at a quilt show a few years ago. We demonstrated regular and big Thangles and made Lady of the Lake blocks.

I discovered about 15 complete blocks, some random half-squares and a large pile of strips already matched up and ready to sew. So I have been doing mindless sewing making Thangles and here's the pile ready to cut. I'm not sure if I will go ahead and piece more blocks or just pack them away for later. Depends on the mood of the day, I suppose.

I guess tomorrow will be spent cleaning a little and getting Audrey ready to leave for church camp on Monday morning.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tip of the Day

As I was setting my blocks together tonight, I realized that I was using a technique that I learned a few years ago and you may not know about. I only watched Fons and Porter on TV a couple of times, but this was a tip I learned that really makes a difference for me when setting a quilt with sashing and cornerstones.

As I finish my blocks, I go ahead and add the sashing and a cornerstone to the bottom and righ hand side of the block.

Then, when I put the blocks on the design wall, I only have 12 units to shuffle. If I move blocks around, I can move a whole sashed unit. As you can see, the sashing and cornerstones have yet to be added to the left hand side and top of the quilt. I will add those as I put the blocks together. Another benefit to pre-sashing is that I can put the quilt together in segments, instead of long rows. I hate sewing long seams, and I tend to put quilts together in quadrants to minimize sewing long seams.

Here's the body of the quilt all sewn together.

Tomorrow I'll pick out borders.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I've Got a Patriotic Feeling....

I had one of those major "Uh-Oh" moments yesterday. I realized our Strip Club meeting is like 3 weeks away and I hadn't even started on the sample yet. Time to get cracking! I had already decided on the colors and the pattern, but I needed to get busy sewing. Since this is the July offering, I figured Spangled Stars in red and blue would be just right.

I have all the blocks done - I just need to sash, border, and quilt it. Here are two blocks with an idea of what the sashing would look like with the blue corner stones.

Perhaps I'll get it finished this weekend. Pray for rain - then I won't feel guilty for not working in the garden.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Where Did I Leave Off?

Wow. What a crazy couple of weeks. I finally remembered to bring my camera home and made time to sit and blog.

We held a party at the shop on June 2 to celebrate being selected for Quilt Sampler magazine and to review new stuff found at Quilt Market. Subsequently, I spent most of that week furiously making samples - don't get me wrong, I had help - but I'm just going to show what I personally worked on.

This is a new pattern by Laundry Basket Quilts called "Peonies". It is all fused batiks. I started to quilt it but ran out of time before the party. I'll get it finished eventually.

Here's a sample block of another Laundry Basket Quilts pattern called "Dresden Star". The little white spokes are actually a triangle folded and pieced into the dresden blades and then pressed flat. It is hand appliqued onto the background and the circle is appliqued on top of it all. It was a fun block to make, and I intend to make more - I just don't know when!

This is one of a series of small quilts that we kitted up for the party. This little guy is only 15" square.

The Sunday following the party we began the technology upgrade. We upgraded our Point-of-Sale software, our hardware, our network and our credit card processor. What should have taken 6 hours took 6 days! I spent most of last week working furiously to get it all working together again. Outside of getting Publisher installed on a new machine (and needing to deal with Microsoft support), everything seems to be working well.

Remember when I talked about cleaning and organizing our back storeroom? I didn't get very far and last Saturday 3 of us spent the whole day totally tearing it apart and organizing it. It looks wonderful, but I would have never gotten it done on my own.

This weekend I actually got some quilting done. I finally quilted the sample from "Bundles of Fun" that I showed the top for a couple of weeks ago. I also quilted this UFO and promptly donated it to Project Linus. I know it's not the lovliest piece I've ever done, but a finish is a finish. And a UFO finish is even better! I finished quilting another sample tonight that was pieced by my friend Sarah. I'll get a photo when it's trimmed and bound.

Here's my token garden photo for the day. I have purple coneflowers in several flower beds. They have reached 'weed' proportion - they are growing in the lawn and I have yanked out more seedlings than I let stay. But riddle me this - where did the white ones come from? I have never planted white ones.....are they mutations or the result of evolution? Were they lonely in whatever yard they came from (none of the neighbors have them) and decided to come live at my house? Do they know they are different and feel special, or are they bewildered and feel like they don't belong? There are days when I feel like this white coneflower. I own my own business doing what I love and am surrounded by people who share the same passion as I do. We are all very much alike, yet I am distinctly different. Being the boss and bearing the responsibility for every decision and action regarding the business is sometimes daunting and often sets me apart from the group. There are days when I am so overwhelmed that I become paralyzed. And there are days when I reflect upon what I've built and am very proud. Some days I just want to be a purple conflower like everybody else and go home at the end of the day and leave work behind. It's a fine line, and I am doing my best to walk it well.

See? This is what happens when I have time to think. I just wish I knew if the past few weeks have been unusual or are becoming the new "normal". Anybody have a crystal ball?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Where Am I?

I'm still here. Last week I was knee-deep in making samples and this week I am in Technology Upgrade HELL. We upgraded computers and point of sale software at the shop on Sunday and I am still not completely up and running. Somebody - PLEASE - tell me again why this was a good theory, it will be great. Right now, it just sucks. I spent 7 hours today calling every customer support 800 phone number I could find. When did "Customer Service" become "It's Not Our Problem"? I have a feeling I'll still be playing dial-an-idiot all day tomorrow.

When I can come up for air again, maybe I'll have something coherent to say.