Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 New Year's Goals

I just figure that it requires a certain amount of thought to come up with a list and formulate those intentions into words. And if I publish that list here, making it public, it will most likely put some pressure on me to follow through, which would be a good thing.  I don't have any intention of looking back and saying that I succeeded or failed.  I want them to be goals to strive for, and that's all.
  • Reduce the number of UFOs in my stash
  • Tame my stash into a form that I can actually use
  • Shop in my stash before shopping elsewhere
  • Try something new at least once a month
  • Challenge myself more
  • Take some risks and be willing to make mistakes
  • Go to the gym at least 2 times a week
  • Eat better and track what I eat

Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 UFO List

  1. Bill's Animals - I started this long ago for Bill (Mom's husband), but I was having trouble with design, and then he died and I totally lost the motivation
  2. Rainbow Jewel Box - still needs borders and quilting
  3. Blooming 9 Patch - still needs borders and quilting
  4. Up a Lazy River - still needs borders and quilting.  It'll be a while, because I have ambitious designs on the quilting and my skill is not quite able to follow through yet
  5. BQ - Ready to be quilted, but the back needs to be enlarged
  6. Butterfly Purse - making it up as I go
  7. Cat's Meow - hit some road blocks on the sizing and things didn't mathc up just so, so I put it aside.  It was too much challenge at the time and I have never gotten back to it.
  8. Indonesian Railroad - Ready to be quilted, but it's huge!  It won't fit my frame and will either have to be done on my domestic machine or else I'll have to pay somebody to do it.  I've never paid anybody yet to quilt for me and I don't really want to start now.
  9. Morning Splash - This was a joint project with my Mom to Judy Laquidara's pattern.  The center was fun it and it is striking.  The borders were a pain in the *&%.  It just needs quilting.
  10. Pineapple Blossom - based on Bonnie Hunter's pattern.  This one is currently loaded on my frame and will be quilted as soon as I figure out why the thread keeps breaking.
  11. Moose County Star - just needs quilting
  12. Rainbow Steps Baby Quilt - currently just blocks.  Need to determine a layout and follow through to the finish
  13. Mary Ann's Purse - bought the fabrics, etc, but haven't really gotten farther than that
  14. Old Thimbleberries Mystery - Some blocks are made.

    And these quilts I've committed to finish for my friend Norma who passed away in October 2011 from lung cancer....
  15. Norma's Hither and Yon - needs borders and to be quilted
  16. Norma's Travel Bag - finish the construction
  17. Norma's Snail's Trail - needs to be quilted
  18. Norma's Big Geese - needs to be quilted
  19. Norma's Louisiana Quilt - needs to be quilted
  20. Norma's Lone Star - needs to be quilted
  21. Norma's Scrap Circles - needs to be quilted
  22. Trisha's Quilt - needs to be quilted
I guess that's more than enough.  I'm beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed!


I need a break so bad.  I can't wait until my quilt retreat on January 13.  I mean it.  I am not a happy person right now.  I can tell by the fact that I am eating everything in sight.  And it's bad stuff!  I can hear my inner voice telling me to stop and that I'll be sorry, but my emotional eating inner child just screams back to "butt out!".  I can't seem to make myself go to the gym.  I think about it a few times a day and that's about as far as it goes.  Things have got to change.  And soon!  Or there's gonna be some exploding goin' on around here! And I'm not just talking about my waistline.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

4 day weekend

Today's the last day of work before a full four day weekend.  I'd love to get some of those UFOs out of the closet and finish them up, but FIRST I have to get the tension set correctly on my machine so the thread will stop breaking.  I keep spending a few minutes here and there trying a few things and then I take a break.  It's hard to keep rethreading and rethreading the machine.  My back gets tired as well.  I'm determined to get that thing going.  I want to start my year off a few UFOs shy of where I am now. 

Speaking of which, I need to work on my UFO list.  I'm kind of embarrassed at how big it is, but I guess I have a good excuse. When there is an influx of 21 quilt tops into your stash at one time, it's bound to have an impact.  Actually, thinking about it more, I guess I'm proud to have my UFO list down to such a number, considering where I was a month ago.

I have a retreat planned for January 13-16 and another one for February 3-5.  I have lots to do.  I need to get some projects cut and ready to go.  Alternatively, I could organize my UFOs to get some borders put on some old UFOs.  Then there's my stash of scraps.  I have a bin of scraps at the end of my cutting table and whenever I'm cutting, all the scrap pieces go into the bin.  I think I'm probably on my third bin now and unfortunately putting a lid on them and putting them somewhere else, does not get them used.  I'm determined to get going on Bonnie's system and soon!

I guess I also need to get my Christmas tree put away.  And there's grocery shopping. And laundry.  And countless other things that need to be done.  But if I try hard enough, I can turn this into my own quilting weekend.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


My chili was a hit.  Every bit of it was finished off.  It was nice to have a bit of comraderie on a day when things were sooooo slooooow and there were so few of us around.
This week is really like being in limbo.  It's really hard to make it through.

I've sent out emails about an upcoming retreat I'm planning on Jan 13-16.  At least 2 people in the group from last time will not be able to attend this time, sooooo.... now I'm trying to find some others to take their places.  It's not just picking anybody, though it would be nice if it was.  I have to think of all of those in the group and what personalities will combine well with those already in the group.  And then of course, they have to be interested and they have to be available and they have to have the money. I'll need to find a few somebodys by the guild meeting next week. That'll be my best opportunity to finalize the list.

I've been reading up on Leah Day's website.  She's the genius who blogged the "The Free Motion Quilting Project" and has published over 365 free motion quilting designs that you can do on your regular domestic machine.  I have been procrastinating about trying them, but now I'm getting closer.  I've decided that I need to make a charm square quilt and try different designs in each square.  Another idea is that I should make a whole bunch of pot holders and try out qulting on each one.  Another advantage to that would be that I can try out those paper piecing blocks that I keep meaning to.  Last night I even got Claude to modify my free motion quilting foot like Leah did hers.  It's no longer a full circle, it's an open half circle.  I can see so much better.  I'm one step closer to getting started. 

I've also become addicted to reading and re-reading quilting blogs. If only all of you out there were like Judy - sometimes she posts 2 or 3 times a day.  I don't know why I am all of a sudden hanging on to them like they are a lifeline.  What has changed?  What is missing in my life?  What need to they fulfill? 

Chili out!

Today is a brisk day outside.  I was feeling adventurous, so I made chili in my new Christmas crock pot and brought it to work for my co-workers, the few of us who are here today.

My new crock pot is great.  It's made by GE and it is programmable and has a locking lid and a retractable cord.  I love it.

Not your usual desk accessory!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 will be the year of Challenges

I've decided to make 2012 the year of the Challenge.  This is an ambitious list.  I figure some I will actually follow through with and some I won't, but I'd rather plan for more than I can do and get something accomplished than not try.


  • Design Wall Mondays -- I've decided to participate. Lots of time (or maybe even most of the time) my wall is empty, but if I have to post on Mondays, maybe I'll pull something out and it'll get me going.
  • 2012 UFO Challenge -- I've lots of UFOs to catch up on, so that's a "no brainer".  Don't know if I can actually number them like Judy, but I can certainly make a list and I'll start work on that soon.
  • 2012 NewFO Challenge -- Each month, start up at least one new quilt project. I can do that!  Might be just a new block or a new potholder, but I'll do something.
  • 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge -- Similiar to a block of the month, every month one of 12 FMQ Experts will share a tutorial for you. While you can do these exercises anytime, if you complete them in the month that they are released, and share them in the challenge, you'll be entered to win a monthly prize. Complete all 12 tutorials, anytime during the year, enter them, and you'll be eligible to win various Grand Prizes.
River City Quilt Guild
  • Paint Chip Challenge -- Our guild conducts an annual guild challenge and this year it'll be a paint chip challenge.  I'm the head of the committee and we are in the process of laying out our rules now.
  • UFO Challenge -- Our guild conducts an annual UFO Challenge which I always participate in.
  • Mystery Quilt -- The guild mystery quilt is not really a challenge, but it is certainly a challenge to keep up with it each month and finish on time for the Reveal and a chance for a ribbon.
  • Tame that Stash -- I've challenged myself to this one. I'm going to spend some time at every retreat and at least once a month taming my stash. My scraps could sure use some therapy and I'll try to get going with Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User System. I want to be ready the next time she has a mystery quilt-a-long.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas is over

Another Christmas has come and gone.  It's been a tough one for me and I can't exactly put my finger on why.  I never did get ornaments on the poor tree and all of my snowman collection remains in their boxes in the attic (no place to put them anyway).  The present that I thought would be a big hit, he'd already bought for himself.  I got a couple of things I'd put on my list but nothing that he bothered to come up with on his own.  It's not about the presents anyway.  It's about the feelings, and I'm just not feeling it.  It's a bit of a let down.  I can only hope that things will get better one day soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Up early to finish up

I was up at 8:30. For most of you that's probably not early, but for me on the very few days I can actually sleep in, that's early.  Anyway, I had to make this congealed salad for lunch today.  It's made with cherry jello, cream cheese, crushed pineapple and chopped pecans and put in a jello mold with a Christmas tree on top. 

After that was done, I worked on some Forgotten Cookies.  They are similar to what some people call meringue cookies, but they are way better.  They are in the oven to be taken out at least 4 hours from now.

Then, I had to wrap gifts.  Today was the first ones I have done, so I had to do them all.  Talk about waiting until the last minute.

We are headed to Claude's parents' house for Christmas Eve Seafood Gumbo, potato salad and lots of dessert.  We will also be exchanging our presents from the names we drew at Thanksgiving.  It'll be a nice day with family.

Tomorrow we'll spend the day with my mom and my brother.  Another wonderful day!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Never so productive as when I'm avoiding

Got up this morning ready to tackle that quilt that I loaded.....oh....3 days ago.  Well, the thread keeps breaking.  I tried several adjustments to the needle since I just changed it.  I think it's probably not in exactly straight or something.  Anyway, I got frustrated so I went off to try some other things to get a break from it for a while.....

  • cleaned the bathroom
  • changed the sheets on the bed
  • vacuumed the bedroom and hall
  • washed 4 loads of laundry and folded and hung
  • made a pound cake which is currently in the oven
  • got the makings out for biscotti which is only waiting for the pound cake to come out
Sitting here smelling that pound cake baking. mmmmmm......

Oops!  Timer is going off!

Had to go get the pound cake out of the oven. Don't you just want to cut a piece and eat it while it's hot?

While I was in there, I mixed the eggs into the all ready dry ingredients for the gingerbread biscotti and put that in the oven. 

It's smelling good in here today!

Later.....Gingerbread Biscotti all cooled and put in container (bad lighting)

Made a second batch.  It was double chocolate biscotti with chocolate chips and pecans.  Tastes pretty good, if I say so myself.

I can feel the pounds coming to find me already......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Such a hectic time!

The last few months have become a very hectic time of the year.  I'm busy running round baking to prepare for cookie swaps, gathering items for the work Christmas Celebration, trying to finish up quilts for presents, not to mention shopping for Christmas presents. 

I wish I had done a better job of staying on top of things, but this has been a test of my patience over the last few months.  First I had surgery on my Achilles Tendon at the beginning of August, which put me off my feet and not quilting for 6 weeks and then limited mobility.  During that time, my dear friend was declining in her battle with lung cancer, so as soon as I was able to I jumped up and started quilting 15 (yep 15!) of her UFOs to finish them up for her family.  There are still an additional 6 waiting to be done.  All the while sandwiching this in between work and physical therapy and trying to keep house and pick up after DBF and 3 dogs and 2 cats. 

I have 1 quilt that I really want to finish before Christmas, but it won't break my heart if I don't.  I got it loaded this evening and hope to get it quilted tomorrow night and bound the next night.  It is all in batiks to Bonnie Hunter's Pineapple Blossom made from 2-1/2 inch strips. 

After that, I have plans to sit back and relax a bit and try to enjoy the spirit of the season before it's gone for another year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Two down and countless to go

Once I finally got the tension set and going to finish Sarah's quilt, I became inspired.  I loaded up one of Mom's tops that I have had for 2 months waiting.  It's quilted and ready to go back to her.  Now on to one of mine.  What a concept!  Quilting one of my own tops.  Who'd have thought!

We love our daddy!

When daddy comes in from working outside, we all get in his lap at the same time and do our best to let him know how much we missed him.

I can be such a man!

Well, after procrastinating for a week and ripping lots of stitches, I finally looked at the manual and read through all the troubleshooting suggestions.  Sounds like something a man would do, doesn't it? Well, everything except the part about actually reading the manual. 

The instructions actually warned me against King Tut thread.  It said that I should avoid King Tut thread until I was very comfortable and practiced at setting the tension on the machine. It stated that King Tut was hard to set the tension for.  It also told me that if I was going to use King Tut thread, that I should use the size 18 needle instead of the size 16 that I usually use.

I know I read all this when I first got the machine, but since I was not using King Tut, I guess I just didn't think about it again.

So anyway......I oiled the machine well, changed out the needle and did some tension setting runs on my practice quilt again.  Then I was able to finish the quilt.  Finally!

Well, I guess I learned my lesson this time, or not.  Will I resort to the manual first next time?  Probably not.  I told you "I can be such a man" sometimes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A clean slate ..... again

Well, it’s all ripped out and ready to start again with a clean slate.  I’ll be waiting until tomorrow when I am fresh and the light is better, not to mention the fact that I have to test and adjust and test and adjust to see if I can get it right.  Wish me luck!

I'm getting really tired of looking at this fabric!

I see ripping in my future

Well, I guess I’ll be doing some ripping this evening so I can get my friend Sarah’s quilt quilted.  She made is as a gift, so I need to get it finished this weekend.  It’s been suggested that I need to tighten the upper tension and/or adjust the spring.  It had better work, because I don’t know if I can handle another disappointment right now.  I have plenty more quilts that need quilting and I can’t seem to want to be in troubleshooting mode.  I just want to do them and have everything work for a change.  It’s been a tough year for me.  I’ve quilted 15 quilts in the last 2 months and never had this much trouble!  I do not want to start the new year with all these UFOs hanging over my head.

The Spirit Escapes Me

I don't understand why, but I just don't seem to be able to get into the Christmas Spirit this year.  I got my tree down and setup the day after Thanksgiving and there it stands, naked as a jaybird.  I've been watching Christmas shows and baking Christmas cookies for the cookie swap, but it's just not there.  I can't believe that Christmas is only 9 days away!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Procrastination -- it's the word of the week!

The quilt is still on the frame and has not been touched since Sunday.  I can't bring myself to touch it again.  I've been considering several possible causes of the problem -- bobbin, needle, thread, threading, batting, etc..... it goes on and on.  I won't know for sure until I get off my duff and try something.  Oh well... another day.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

At least something went right today

Some days you think you're in control and the day just jumps up and shows you otherwise.

I was all fired up to work on a friend's quilt this morning.  I spent last evening winding bobbins and setting the tension on the quilting machine.  This morning, I ironed the top, pieced the back and got it all loaded on the frame.  First bobbin.... so far so good.  Got a little too confident.  Put in the second bobbin half way across my first pass.  When I got to the end, I realized that something happened to the tension or the threading or something and there were random loops every now and then.  Aaaaaahhhhhhh!  What a dissappointment.  So, needless to say, I spent the next 30 minutes or so ripping out the mess.

After that I could not get inspired to start again.  How frustrating would it be if it happened again.  I was just not prepared to go there just yet.

So anyway, I decided to go out to the store to pick up some ginger.  After my almond biscotti turned out so well, I decided to try the gingerbread biscotti recipe that I found.  The only ingredient I did not have was ginger, so off to the store I went.  It would give me a break to get out of the house.  Even stopped at Burger King for lunch.

After I got back, I spent some time here on the computer reading up on lots of blogs and generally wasting time.

Well, the biscotti is in the oven on the second bake now.  It's pretty good, if I say so myself.

At least something went right today.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I Made Biscotti !

My mother loves biscotti.  Every now and then when she's feeling a bit decadent, she gets some at Sam's Club.  And every so often, I'll buy some for her, but never in my life did I ever dream that I could make it. 

It's all Judy's fault!  I was reading Patchwork Times by Judy Laquidara the other day and she was discussing making biscotti.  She said "Maybe I’ll also make Christmas cookies .  . or biscotti or chocolate fudge or cinnamon rolls!"  I could not believe that she had mentioned biscotti as it if compared to fudge or cookies.  Could it really be that easy?

So of course, that sent me on a worldwind tour of the Internet searching for recipes for biscotti.  I ended up on the Joy of Cooking website where they not only had several recipes for various different flavors, but there was an actual video.  In a really short video, they showed the whole thing.  How easy is that!  Next thing you know I was adding a few ingredients to my shopping list. 

I went to the grocery store the other day and stocked up on ingredients, so this evening I dove right in and in no time at all, I had biscotti! 

I made biscotti and so can you!  And it's all thanks to Judy!

Check out this recipe --it's the one I made and it's really good!

This is the one with the video, but I haven't been able to find any hazelnuts yet, so it's yet to be tried.

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm Inspired

I was reading the Patchwork Times the other day and Judy was discussing making biscotti.  She said it so offhand in her blog that it led me to believe that maybe it might not be so hard. I never would have even thought of it otherwise.  Anyway, I became inspired to do some Internet searches for biscotti recipes.  I even went to the store and bought the ingredients. This weekend I guess I'll be finding out.

I'm addicted

I started this blog mostly to keep track of all the blogs I want to follow.  I thought that list was a short one but it grows each day.  I thought it would be neat to read a few blogs, but I've come to depend on visiting them daily.  Luckily some of the ones I've found are rather prolific and therefore I always have something to entertain.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Promise Brings New Perspective

My friend Norma was diagnosed with lung cancer last November and she immediately felt a panic to rush to start and complete several projects for her loved ones. I promised her then that she didn't have to worry about it, that whatever she did not have time to do, I would make sure that it got done. Little did I know what that actuallly entailed.

When her health really began to decline in September and October of this year, I began to work dilligently to help her finish some priority items. I consulted with her on what thread to use and what pattern to quilt and which backing fabrics looked best so she was still able to feel a part of the process and also to make the decisions that would make the quilts "hers". 

Before Norma passed away in November, I was able to completed the two new bedspreads for two of her grandchildren, an old Dresden Plate top and four baby quilts for her grandchildren to put away for their first born children.  I was even privileged to be there when she presented the finished quilts to each of her loved ones.

After she passed, I assisted her daughter in going through her stash. In the course of doing that we found 14 more UFOs. So far, I have completed a total of 15 quilts and there are 6 remaining.  I'm still trudging through and I WILL get them done, eventually.

The whole process has opened my eyes to the number of UFOs in my own stash.  I think that I need to make a New Year's resolution for 2012
  • to finish what I start
  • to reduce the number of UFOs
  • and to "use" my stash.
I've never been much for New Year's resolutions, but maybe this is the year to start.....


UnFinished Objects!  The bain of all quilters, or some I've come to know.

Our guild has had a UFO challenge each year for the past 3 years.  At the beginning of the year, we make a list of our UFOs and to what stage we'd like to get them.  Each quilt can only have one listing.  If it's a top now, you could put that you want to have it quilted and bound or you could even say that you just want to put the borders on or whatever, but each quilt can only be listed once.  Each month or as you go, you report your progress to the UFO Chairperson and at the Christmas Party, they announce the person who completed the most, the oldest and whatever other categories they deem appropriate.  Our party was last night and .....

I won for the most completed!  Yes, I completed 13 of my UFOs this year.  Good job!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Prior Projects

Lure Bermuda Bag

Baby Quilts for the Smith Twins - Adam and Grant

Bass and Sac-a-lait for Mark (bad picture)

Kokopelli "Bermuda Bag" for Mom

"Indonesian Railroad"

"Morning Splash" from Judy Laquidara's pattern.

Scrappy "Pineapple Blossom" from Bonnie Hunter's pattern.

This Tea Pot "Bermuda Bag" was for Darlene

Sock Monkey Backpack for Deb

Moose County Star
Blue and Green Bermuda Bag for me
Show Off

Birdhouse Lotto Block
Denim quilt for Cathie and Chip

Baby Quilt for Elizabeth (Keith's little princess)

Baby Quilt for Lizzie (Frank's little princess)

Fish for Claude
"Mary's Triangles" for Mary

Snowball Madness Mystery Quilt for Mike

"The Big EZ" for Bradley

Snugglepuss' quilt

Baby Quilt for Sophie Alexander

Tote bag donated to guild auction

Frogs like Confetti donated to charity

Two Hour Tulip Purse for Mom

Pin Cushion and Thread Catcher Bag from leftovers.

Two Hour Tulip Bag donated to the guild auction.

Tote bags donated to the guild auction.


Modern Retro Zinnias

Blooming 9 Patch

Up a Lazy River
"Churning Leaves" for Brock

Rainbow Jewelbox

Bow Tucks Purse for Mom

Bow Tucks Purse donated to the guild auction for charity

Bow Tucks Purse donated to the guild auction for charity

"Cake Walk"

This Red Hat Bow Tucks Purse was used as a door prize at the conference in Hattiesburg.

This is called "Five Easy Pieces".  It is mounted on the wall in my Uncle Harvey's office.

These were lotto blocks made for the guild Christmas Lotto Quilts in 2010.

This "Kwik Krazy Tote" is perfect for hauling projects to retreats.

Our quilt had a Scrap Swap and Challenge where we exchanged 5 1/2 inch squares and were challenged to make a quilt using at least a small piece of each of the fabrics we were given.  I made 2. 

"Lucky Stars" was a gift for Bobbie on her 80th birthday.

"Fractured Rails" stays on my couch for watching TV.

This purple and red Bow Tucks Purse was for Marty to take to her Red Hat group.

This purple and gold Bow Tucks Purse was a gift for Annie Leah.  She loves purple and gold, the colors of DSHS and also LSU.

"Fishing Under the Stars" was a gift for Otis.

This is called a "Fat Quarter Bag" even though I made it from a single piece of fabric rather than 6 fat quarters.  It looks like a blob here, but it holds a lot of stuff.

I used the remnants of Michael's quilt to make this pin cushion and thread catcher bag.

The color scheme for "Buccaneer Beauty" was based on the colors of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, nephew Michael's favorite ball team.  The back is a black fabric with white drawings of football players. 

Our quilt guild encourages fabric nametags.  This was my first attempt at paper piecing.  It only took 2 hours to make this.

These are "Just Plain Squares" that I gave to my sister-in-law Jennifer.

"Woven Friendship Stars" was based on a picture I found on the Internet.  I love the bright colors.

I was working on "Hurricane Blues" when Hurricane Gustav was on its way.  I gave it to my brother Terry.

This was a preprinted piece of fabric that I used for practice on free motion quilting.  It was a real learning experience and I donated it to charity when I was done.

Anna's quilt was based on a t-shirt of Bill's (her dad).  It's the centerpiece of this quilt.  The rest is totally made up.

"Funky Flower Power" was for 2-year-old niece Alyssa.

I call this one "The Aliens Have Finally Landed". It was made for my 2-year-old nephew Anthony.

This is a smaller version of the Turning Twenty Again pattern that I use on the couch, when I can get it away from the babies.

This is my first full sized quilt.  It was made from a pattern called Turnjing Twenty Again.  I take it with me when I go on retreats.

My Very First Quilt Project - It is in Teenie's basket bed and he absolutely loves it.