Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Updates! Updates! Updates!

Here's the current state of Midsummer Night Designs Monkey Sampler:

It was starting to sprinkle when I took this picture so apologies for it being kind of dark. I'm enjoying this sampler a lot. I don't want to put it down. It's my take along project for the car and when I'm stuck waiting because there are areas of big blocks of color but there are also areas where I need to count like the flowers in the border, the border itself, so I'm also working on it around the house too. It seems to be the project screaming the loudest these days. I'd love to have it finished and hanging in my kitchen by the end of the summer. Ok, that was a joke, how about by the end of the year?

What you see below is a picture of my wave blocks surrounding one of the sunbursts in the
Just Beachy quilt. I'm getting close to sewing time. I have to work on my machine, a neighbor gave it to me when she moved but the tension is off. I've been eyeing a Brother machine at the store who shall not be named but I would prefer not to spend money on a sewing machine right now. Keep your fingers crossed I can adjust the tension on the free machine. Worse case scenario I sew the blocks together by hand which is not a bad thing in my humble opinion. I prefer handwork but I need the machine to go around the sunbursts and waves through the Heat and Bond. That would be a pain by hand.

Two Recipes

Since the kids have been out of school meal time is a nightmare. Now I'm stuck coming up with three meals a day as opposed to just dinner. Thanks to Ree I tried this recipe for dinner the other night, it was a hit. Chicken Spaghetti The recipe reminded me of one I made years and years ago from Country Kitchen the show hosted by Florence Henderson on the now defunct Nashville Network. I would have looked up that recipe in my recipe box but the cats knocked the recipe box off the hutch and the dog ate my recipe cards. I am so not making this up. Anyway, Ree's recipe was two thumbs all the way around the table except for the eleven year old who seems to only eat Ragu Chunky Italian Garden Combination spaghetti, chicken nuggets and a pepperoni pizza from Hungry Howies since he doesn't eat anything his opinion really doesn't count these days.

Another great recipe is for cookies. I found this at Farmgirl Fare: Wow. Who Knew? (And Cookies) These cookies are wonderful. They sounded like they might be close to Publix's Calypso Crunch Cookies, not exactly but just as tasty. My family does not appreciate the texture of the old fashioned oats in the cookies so next time I will use quick oats because the oats make the cookies almost health food, right, so I don't want to leave them out altogether. Personally I like the texture. I will also try using semisweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips or white chocolate. These are very good cookies.

Thanks to everyone for the comments, they are always appreciated. The honkin' big quilter's square rocks! It's right up there with the laptop and iPod on my "greatest inventions ever" list.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's All About the Tools

My Just Beachy quilt had been progressing nicely until I reached the point a week or so ago where I had to cut out 6 16 1/2" squares. No matter what combination of quilting rulers I used I could not get an exact 16 1/2" square. It seemed to me to be a pretty simple process. Make sure fabric is ironed, check, measure several times with rulers, check, secure ruler to fabric with tape, check, hold ruler extra secure with hand while cutting with rotary cutter, check. Sounds like I should have no problem getting a 16 1/2" square. Yeah, right, this is me we're talking about. Below you see my pile of 16 1/2" squares. How did I finally manage it after a week of throwing fabric all over the place and calling my friend Pam crying about how I'm too stupid to quilt because I can't use a ruler?
Well these guys here were no help. I tried every combination of the three and got every size square but 16 1/2". I tried calling several quilt shops in the area and they didn't have a large quilter's square. I called Keepsake Quilting and they had one in their catalog but I wanted one NOW. For the first time I was truly enjoying the quilting process except for the whole not being able to cut an exact 16 1/2" square. So yesterday while running errands I stopped in at the quilt shop in Ft Walton Beach, I had forgotten they were there. The real reason I turned in the parking lot was to check out the Goodwill for sheers for my kitchen windows, I wanted to play around with some dye and see what I could come up with and didn't want to use new sheers, but I saw the Quilting Shop Around the Block(I think that's the name) so I forget about Goodwill and walk in the store and they ask if they can help me and I said, "What are the odds of you having the largest quilter's square known to man in your shop?" They said, "Well if 20 1/2" is good enough for you very good." I hugged the lady at the quilt shop, seriously. While buying this most amazing of quilter's squares I explained to them that I was not really a quilter, I'm a cross stitcher, I can count but apparently measuring is not one of my skilz. Then the lady asked me if I had thought of folding the fabric and cutting it using my smaller quilter's square? I said, "That would require math wouldn't it?" She said, "Yes." I said, "No, I wanted a big square, no math, just painless cutting." She said, "I think we're going to be friends!"

Above you see my new bestfriend the 20 1/2" Quilter's Square.
While discussing what a good investment this square will be I pointed out that my 12" Quilter's square is close to 20 yrs old and so is my rotary cutter. I bought those when I took my very first quilt class when I was pregnant with the 19 yr old. But I'm not really a quilter so they are like new. Good investment indeed.
Three Songs
Right now three songs bring me a lot of joy when they come on the radio:
Pink-You and Your Hand
Justin Timberlake-Summer Love
Avril Lavigne-Girlfriend
These songs just scream summer to me. They make me want to roll the windows down in the car and sing at the top of my lungs.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


You totally rockin' hot momma shoes:

Last year I found these shoes at TJ Maxx on clearance for $5. At the time they represented everything I wanted to be when Summer 2007 arrived. Thinner, uh no, didn't happen. Shaking my badonkadonk butt on the hood of Nikki Sixx's car, (because baby I got back), uh no. What they do represent is a house where the animals rule and humans are just pawns in their wicked games. You see, these shoes were safely tucked away in my closet, but my cat Sabrina(who looks a lot like Laurie's Soba) can open doors. I used to never lock my front door until one day I came home and every animal in the house was in the front yard except Heidi the black lab who will not walk through the front or back door without being told to, she was sitting just inside the front door. She's such a good girl, anyway, Sabrina loves to open doors, she runs through the house opening all the closets, has a blast let me tell ya. Well since acquiring Polly PrissyPants the yellow lab puppy, none of our shoes are safe. The oldest son, the middle son, and youngest have managed to protect their shoes except for two pair of flip flops. Unfortunately the Spousal Unit has lost two pair of sandals and one pair of sneakers to Polly. Fortunately the sneakers were his yardmowing shoes so no great loss. Now I am Sabrina's favorite victim. She loves my closet and most of the time I keep it blocked with a pillow so she can try to open it but can't ever get it open. Well for whatever reason, maybe to put on some clothes, I opened the closet and shut the door and forgot to put the pillow back in place between the door and tv cabinet. Sabrina opened the door and Polly ate the shoes seen above. I'd have put the other shoe in the picture but the damage is heartbreaking. She also ate 5 pair of Old Navy flip flops. I live in Florida and currently have no flip flops. I see a trip to the mall in my future.
What's really sad is I never got a chance to wear these shoes out. I did wear them around the house listening to I'll Remember You by Skid Row, Wild Side by Motley Crue, Photograph by Def Leppard, you know the whole Monster Rock deal, wait should I have said that outloud?
Thanks for all the compliments on my version of Faith's Doris Daymat. It was a fun, fast project. I do think I will attempt another one following her pattern. I'm use to the feel of the twine now and believe if I play around with hook sizes I might get a positive result using the thinner twine.
I want to make a few things from Erika Knight's Simple Crochet. I started a box made of kitchen twine a few years ago and never got it finished. I'm thinking of mixing the kitchen twine with the garden twine and making some stripey baskets or big bowls. I love using different kind of fibers and seeing how they work up. The mason twine is cool too, kind of slippery but I love how it shines.
In cross stitch news I put in about 10 stitches on the Monkey Sampler this morning and that's been about it for the last week or so. It's going to be my mall project this summer. My kids like to go wander around the mall and I tend to park myself in the food court with a Cafe Carmel or an iced tea and sit and stitch. It gets me out of cleaning and the food court has pretty good lighting and food that I don't have to cook!
In book news, I read Motor Mouth by Janet Evanovich and am currently listening to Metro Girl. I ♥ my library. So far I like the characters and the silliness. Good summer reading or listening rather.
I also finished Kissing Sin by Keri Arthur thanks to Deep Inside Missy.
I'm loving the new Fountians of Wayne CD and my favorite track so far is 92 Subaru. The youngest son is enjoying it a lot too and he didn't want to admit it but I caught him singing along with the songs.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Doris Day Mat

In the early part of 2006 I fell in love with the Doris Daymat designed by Faith Landsman for Deb Stoller's Happy Hooker Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet book. For the better part of 2006 I searched high and low for the Bevis Rope Medium Duty Jute Twine the design called for. I had absolutely no luck tracking it down and the twine I did find I thought was really too thin for the job. The other day I decided what the heck, I have some Ace Gardening Twine, Twisted Jute Light Load--how about giving that a try? So I did. I couldn't make it look like Faith's, her's is all curly and scrunchy looking but this twine just didn't do it for me. Faith's design is pictured below, the picture is from the Happy Hooker book:

After thinking it through and working with what I could find, I opted to do the mat itself in a half double crochet. It makes it ridgey and kind of open. Since our soil and I use the word soil loosely is mostly sand when you wipe your feet I'm guessing the sand will go right through, I can shake out the mat and sweep the concrete and keeping the porch looking nice won't be too hard. I used Faith's pattern for the edging and for the flowers. Mine is pictured below, I need to add two more flowers and really secure the ones I already have on there. This picture was taken when I was doing a test run to see how it was going to lay, feel on bare feet and I give it two thumbs up. Let's pretend I've already blocked it ok?

It definitely needs another flower in the bottom right corner there.

Here's the view coming up from the sidewalk. Not too shabby. I love this mat. I loved it from the first time I saw it. It had me at hello, ok? (yes I know there's one grey pot mixed in with the terracottaesque ones, whoops!)
The people at Ace Hardware kept asking me what or who I was tying down, hahaha, they thought they were so funny. Then when I told them I was crocheting a mat for my front door they all stepped back from me a few feet. People just don't "get" it do they? After my third trip for more twine(I used 7 balls of the green) the cashier lady asked me if I would bring it in and show it to her when I got it finished. I told I'd bring it in one day next week.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Learning Curve

After having the quilt pattern for Karen Stone's Just Beachy for about 10 yrs I finally decided to get over my fear of sewing and give it a try. Here are a few of my blocks:
After looking over the assortment of colors I have been working with, I think I need to add some pink:

I wasn't paying attention when I started wonderundering the first few blocks and forgot about the whole 1/4 inch seam allowance. Fortunately it was only two blocks and not too much of each of the sunrays will be chopped off, like 1/16th of an inch if that much of one ray on each of the two sunbursts. Just enough to annoy me.

The block below is probably my favorite of all so far:

And this is what happens when one is trying to be too matchy-matchy. It doesn't work well for this quilt pattern. Part of the sunrays blend right into the background. I didn't notice it until I cut it out and saw how the blotches were disappearing right into the foundation block.

So far I've used fabric from the stash which is a good thing but now I have to look around for some fabrics in the pink family to add some balance. The only pinks have in the stash are calicoes. I thought I might have a pink polkadot that might blend in but no such luck.
I can't believe I put off trying to make this quilt for so long. I get so focused on what I don't know how to do and sewing scares me because I'm not that good at it all.
I'm always shocked when people tell me they don't cross stitch because it's so tedious. I find sewing very tedious. With cross stitch as long as I can count and pay attention to the chart it's not that tedious, of course a TW project can get overwhelming and I have to be in a TW mood to work on one of her designs but overall I find cross stitch relaxing. Sewing on the other hand, it's so precise. Everything has to be exactly the right dimensions or you and your project are screwed! Makes me so nervous.
Today is the youngest DS graduation from 5th grade. My baby will be in middle school next year. I can't believe it.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

How I Spent Wednesday Night

The oldest son has his moment:

The men in my life:

Monday, May 14, 2007

National Geographic or Suburbia, USA?

Our weekend was relatively quiet until last night. The spousal unit and I turn down our road with the official Mother's Day pizza, the family let me have onions and peppers to go along with the pepperoni, and the whole street is standing out in the middle of the road. We look at each other like, "What is going on? Crazy Lady is out of town, what could possibly get everyone out of their houses?"

As I get out of the car, I holler over to a neighbor, "What's going on?" She says, "Bear! In the tree, right there!" and she points to the tree right across the road from my house. Sure enough there's a Florida Black Bear sitting in our neighbor's tree. Of course I run in the house to get the camera because that's just the way I roll. Of course, none of my pictures turned out because again, that's just how I roll.

Mr. Bear enjoyed the garbage from many trash cans along our road for the better part of the evening. People stayed outside watching him roam from yard to yard, jump a few fences and then my friend across the road emailed me that Mr. Bear was enjoying the swinging ball on their playset quite a bit and had some tasty grease off their grill's propane tank as dessert to the lobster he had out of our other neighbor's trash can. Yes, he ate well. He was detemined to be about six foot tall as he was climbing fences, 200lbs give or take and maybe two years old. I was relieved at that. I thought since he was kind of small that he might be a cub and momma might not be too far behind.

8 Random Things

Missy Ann tagged me for the 8 Random Things Meme going around.

1. Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves

2. People who are tagged write a blog post about their own 8 random things and post these rules

3. At the end of your blog you need to tag 8 people and post their names

4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I graduated from the same high school as Dooce, twelve years before she did.

2. I always wake up at 4:00a.m. No matter what time I go to bed I wake up at four. It's my favorite time of the day. I love the peace, the dark, the feeling that for a little while the neighborhood is all mine.

3. I discovered Jackson Browne at the age of nine, The Pretender record to be exact, to this day he is my all time favorite singer/songwriter. I never get tired of his music.

4. When I was a kid and I didn't like the way one of my shows would end I would rewrite it. I wrote plays for my Barbies. I used to try to write down the dialogue of my favorite shows, Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, I Dream of Jeanne, I Love Lucy, and then reenact that show with my dolls. (When I heard Rosie O'Donnell tell Mary Tyler Moore she used to do this-copy the dialogue from the shows-, I freaked. I thought I was the only one that ever did anything like that.)

5. When I was in high school my goal was to live on Pensacola Beach and write Harlequin Romances or to live in LA and write songs with Jackson Browne. How close have I gotten to any of those goals? I live about 20 miles from Pensacola Beach, I've entered a couple of Harlequin Contests, obviously I didn't win. I've never been to LA but have seen Jackson Browne in concert about 20 times.

6. Even though I've been stitching for 30 yrs I made my first French knot a month or so ago and it was while doing embroidery not cross stitch. I still can't seem to make one on evenweave or linen.

7. I hate cooking. I try very hard to make good food but I get no inner joy out of food preparation. If not for my family I could happily live on cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches. If I could I would eat out every meal. I do think a little more excitement from the family about the food I prepare would be helpful.

8. I love coffee, really good coffee. I love tea, iced, hot, or herbal.

Added later....8a. I voted for Al Gore for Congress when I lived in Tennessee, my very first election. We lived in Little Rock when Bill Clinton was governor, we were still living there when he was elected president. We lived in Florida during the 2000 election Chad-A-Palooza.

I tag anyone reading this who wants to participate.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Who Do I Blame It On?*

Here's my Monkey Sampler update: From the coloring of this picture I obviously had the camera on the "camera" setting instead of a scene setting and it's got a distinctive blue hue to it. Wonder why that is?

Because of this post, Knitting Iris: Cotton-rich, cotton-poor, I remembered having this sheet in the linen closet:

Again the camera was on the "camera" setting, this sheet is a bright green with yellow and orange butterflies. So after seeing the picture of a similiar sheet as a tablecloth, I was forced to pull my sheet out and do this:

Now I absolutely have to search every thrift shop in a 100 mile radius for more of these sheets. The one on the table here: Knitting Iris: Cotton-rich, cotton-poor--I know I had that very same sheet on my bed at one time. My mother said she didn't have any more of these sheets, she got rid of a lot of stuff when she sold her house and moved and believe me I'm kicking myself for telling her at the time I was pretty sure I didn't need any of those linens. What was I thinking?
Have you seen the pile of sheets here: Posie Gets Cozy: Afternoon Delight? Alicia makes some great book bags from her vintage sheets. I'd love to find a wild flowery one and make a beach bag out of it.

And here's a recent picture of Polly PrissyPants:

*Not sure exactly why I titled this post "Who Do I Blame It On?". It was early and I was thinking about something in particular and then the house starts waking up and I lose my thought or it could relate to my new obsession with vintage sheets.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No Particular Order

Thanks to great service from Compaq, my laptop was back home in record time. Seriously, they received it on a Wednesday, repaired it and shipped it back out to me on Thursday. I had it back Friday morning. Never saw that coming. I fully expected it to be gone the full ten days they told me it would take and then some. So what does a chick do with no unlimited computer access? Why she knits Ballband Warsh Rags. Oh yeah, here's your art shot!

Here are the Ballbands from another angle:

I'm sending these to my mom because I'm truly the worst daughter in the world. She really doesn't like anything except One Life to Live, General Hospital, All My Children and cleaning. I thought these would fit in with the cleaning hobby. The orange is probably a little wacky for her but it sure made me happy while I was knitting it.

The above picture is proof that the middle DS and youngest DS actually interact on occaision. Who knew?

Smiles all around. They might even "gasp" like each other every once in a while.

The rose bush this bloom is from has survived two hurricanes and my slacker gardening skills. Every year it comes back more beautiful than the year before. It thrives in the face of adversity. That would be me and a second straight year of drought.

I tried to get the dew to show up but it was foggy and my flash kept going off. I tried every setting and still the flash did it's own thing.
In the section titled, "I can't believe she said that!" I have to share what was heard at a county meeting for a neighbor to get his requested variances approved, they weren't approved. He had already cleared a 1/4 acre of protected wetlands without permission and wants to put in a boat/rv storage facility, that would be a fenced in parking lot, needed down here because the HOAs believe it to be tacky if you park your boat or RV in the driveway. Anyway, his wife stood up when the neighborhood representatives were there saying it was going to be ugly and bring down property values, and these words came out of her mouth, I'm completely and totally serious here:
"I am a hairdresser. I make people beautiful everyday of my life. We would never have anything ugly on the highway. We've already made it nicer than it was. We cleared the land and killed the snakes and turtles and bugs. It is so much better now!"
A member of the board of adjusters(BOA) asked her, "Do you mean to say you killed wildlife in the process of clearing your land, protected wetlands?" She responded, "Yes we did." From what I heard she sat down very proud of herself.
My friend who attended the meeting said when they got in their van to head home, her son who is, I believe 9, asked her, "Mom? Did she say they killed the turtles?" When she responded in the affirmative, the poor kid started sobbing.
I'm upset about the wetlands. Broke my heart. The property owner did have to pay $30,000 in Department of Enviromental Protection fines and plant 10 Sweet Magnolia trees. Ten trees to make up for the hundreds he mowed down. Amazing. He was pretty impressed with himself when he told the BOA that he actually planted 14 Sweet Magnolias when he only had to plant ten. Talk about going above and beyond.
Monkey Sampler update tomorrow. I have been working on it a bit here and there inbetween warshrags.
Tonight's dinner? Ree's Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich. I've been craving one of these since the last time I made them a few weeks ago. Hard to believe that I've been pondering going the vegetarian route isn't it? Many years ago, 15 to be exact, I was pretty hardcore, the oldest son's first hotdog was a tofu dog. I gave up because the craving for bacon was just too much to deal with. I had to have it! I do remember feeling a lot better back in those days, but I was also younger, thinner, and had read Diet for a New America by John Robbins and Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe. I thought I could make a difference in the world by choosing a vegetarian diet. Of the three kids the oldest DS to this day makes better food choices. He always chooses fruit over candy or junk food, prefers wheat bread to white, doesn't mind vegetables. The middle son is getting better, he'll eat just about anything now and is always willing to give something new a try, the youngest DS, if it's not pizza or chicken nugget or spaghetti made with Ragu Chunky Italian Garden Combination(it's how I get him to eat vegetables-sneaky, no?) he won't eat it. But for now, I'm sticking to my carnivore ways.
I'm trying to wean myself off caffiene and yes I'm as miserable to be around as you would expect. Of course yesterday morning I tried to ease my caffiene headache with a BK Mocha Joe from Burger King, it was so good I had to have another one yesterday afternoon. No caffiene headache last night! I was in a pretty good mood let me tell ya! It was a really sorry sight, I was digging around in my purse for enough change for the $2.20 for the second Mocha Joe, but I had to have it. I would have died if I hadn't got my hands on one. That is the price we pay for addiction. Good thing I'm only a caffiene addict!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Blogging From

The Land of Misfit Computers.

The laptop died last week. As I write this it's on it's way back to the factory because we had the foresight to buy the extended warranty but my biggest fear is they are going to send it back to me with a note, "You spilled something on it, it's not covered under the warranty". Everyone in this house was questioned relentlessly regarding any kind of spillage and all denials were solid. Doesn't mean it didn't happen, could be I live in a house full of very good liars. Since the motherboard frying was a long process and not a situation where the laptop just didn't turn on one day I'm hoping it's some kind of defect and not human error.

So not much computing is going on here. Saturday I checked email from the library and as long as the oldest is in school I can use his computer but his room is a very scary place. I'm sitting here staring at an extra large diamond studded black wine glass with the word "PIMP" written out in faux diamonds. He uses it as a candy dish. It holds about 2 lbs of Skittles. I told you it was big.

I've been working on the Monkey Sampler, pictures when I get the computer back, hopefully repaired, in 10 days or so or whenever I get the money to get it repaired when it comes back still broken. I am not very optimistic these days am I?

I'm also going to start the Just Beachy Quilt. All fabrics are washed, I found some more Batiks in a Rubbermaid Bucket. Who knows when I bought these fat quarters but they all seem to work with the fabrics I already had so I have a nice variety now.

Have you all been reading No Impact Man? Check it out. It's made me think about a lot of the choices I make everyday and how they could be better. They are shutting off Impact Man's power next week. I wonder how they are going to charge the computer to keep blogging or if maybe his wife will blog for him from her office? Washing clothes without a washing machine, I don't know. I get enough of that during hurricane season. After Ivan I did laundry in a big tub in the back yard. I used an oar as an agitator, didn't think about stomping it grape style. Will save that for the next big hurricane.