Friday, December 31, 2010

The {Quilting} Year in Review

Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. –Hal Borland

Michelle over at The Prairie Quilter did a post about the quilts she'd done this year and I thought it was a really good idea. I loved to see her beautiful work from this year all in one place, so I'm going to do the same. I had to think about what counts as a quilt and I've finally decided that anything that has batting between two layers of fabric counts, regardless of the size. So here goes.

Machine Quilting by Angie at 5 Little Monkeys Quilting

Machine Quilting by Ramona at Corn Wagon Quilt Company

Machine Quilting by Karen of Karen's Quilting Service

In all, I had 69 fabric finishes this year, among which were sixteen aprons, six Abbey bags, six vests, three dresses and two Halloween costumes. I hope you don't mind if I toot my own horn for a minute, but I think that is pretty amazing. I can't wait to see what next year holds.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

T-Shirt Squares for Mr. Bug's Quilt

Our lives are like quilts — bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched together with love. –Unknown

I wanted to share the quilt blocks I've made out of Mr. Bug's old Navy t-shirts and sweatshirts {as in old t-shirts and sweatshirts he had from when he was in the Navy, not to be confused with Old Navy, the clothing store}. When I showed them to Mr. Bug, he got this worried, confused look on his face and said, you cut them up. After I explained that I was going to make them into a quilt, he warmed up to the idea.

Working with jersey knit that has been washed and shrunk behind the screen printing was an interesting experience. For the most part, any distortions in the design ironed right out. [Sidebar: I was worried about melting the images, so I Googled and found that using a wet pressing cloth would do the trick. I put the pressing cloth on the ironing board and then placed the t-shirts printed side down, ironing everything from the back and didn't have any problems.] But there were a couple of designs that had been put onto the shirts off the grain, so the pressing didn't completely fix the problem. The vertical USS STARK {which was from the leg of a pair of sweat pants :lol:} is pretty wavy, and so is the Navy — Just Do It, but that was as good as it gets. I think it won't be too bad once it is all quilted and washed and wrinkly and bumpy. It'll add to the charm, right :wink:?

To make the blocks, I cut away everything but the fronts of the t-shirts and then rough cut those into about 18" squares. I used woven interfacing at the same size and fused that to the backs of all of my squares. Then I trimmed them down to 16½", making sure the designs were centered left and right and, wherever possible, vertically as well. I really like how the t-shirt fabric feels after fusing it onto the interfacing. I think this is going to be one snuggly quilt. I hope it is big enough for two :biggrin:.

This was supposed to be a gift for Mr. Bug's birthday, which was on December 23rd. Nevermind that I only decided to make him a t-shirt quilt on the 16th and then I goofed when I ordered the fabric for the back and sashing so when it got here it was Air Force fabric instead of Navy. I've got that all straightened out with the on-line quilt shop {who were really great to work with} and they should receive the Air Force fabric back today. Hopefully, I'll have my exchange early next week and can get right to work on Mr. Bug's quilt. I'm anxious to make something fun. I think I'll cut the setting squares and make the binding while I wait for my package of the perfect fabric {for the second time} for the sashing and back.

For those of you who are curious, Mary, the quilter who inspired me to attempt a quit in the middle of all of the Christmas insanity, did finish her husband's t-shirt quilt. She started on Monday {December 13th}, had her top finished on Wednesday and it was quilted, bound, labeled and wrapped by Friday :faint:. That is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bradbury 13: Dark They Were and Golden Eyed

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. –Anatole France

Dark They Were and Golden Eyed is episode six in the Bradbury 13 series {the recent release of the series on Audio CD places it at number two, which isn't too far off the mark in my book, as far as favorites go :wink:.} The short story it is based on was first published in the science fiction magazine, Wonder Stories, in 1949. It was also included in A Medicine for Melancholy in 1959 and S is for Space in 1966.

Dark They Were and Golden Eyed
As long as the rockets had spun a silver web across space, Harry Bittering had been able to accept Mars. But now, the web gone, the rockets lying in jigsaw heaps of molten girder and unsnaked wire on Earth, people from Earth left to the strangeness of Mars, the cinnamon dusts and wine airs; this was the moment that Mars had waited for. Now, it would eat them.

My Rating: :alien: :alien: :alien: :alien: :alien:
Ray Bradbury certainly has a penchant for stranding people on Mars. I wonder what it is about that planet that is so fascinating to him? Whatever it is, this episode is among my favorites. The descriptions of the Martian landscape and habitats is very rich and descriptive. And this is another one of those tales that makes you think a little. The theme for this story is change. Change happens, whether we want it to or not. We can be swept along by it or we can embrace it, whether we are the instigators of the change that is going on around us or mere bystanders, caught in its path. Whatever the case may be, in all that I've observed, it seems like making the best of whatever situation you're found in seems to make the constant of change a little easier to handle.

Air Date:
May 7, 1984

{Coleman Creel, Bryce Chamberlain, Oscar Rowland
Photo Courtesy of Phil at
Ray Bradbury & Media
©Mike McDonough}
Paul Frees

Bryce Chamberlain
Beverly Rowland
Steve Densley
Jennifer Coleman
Coleman Creel
Max Robinson
Jay Bernard
Nathan Hale

Roger Hoffman
Greg Hansen

Production Assistant:
Patrick Mead

Associate Producer:
Jeff Raider

Created, Produced, Directed:
Mike McDonough

Executive Producer:
Dean Van Uitert

Audio Clip of Dark They Were and Golden Eyed
Buy Dark They Were and Golden Eyed mp3
Buy Bradbury 13 Audio CDs

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Aprons № 102, 103 & 104: Pink Princesses

I believe in pink. –Audrey Hepburn

The Little Bugs 'drew' sisters for the cousin gift exchange on Mr. Bug's side of the family. And when I say 'drew,' I mean that I'm in charge of the exchange, so I list out all the cousins {all 30 :surprised: of them} in the order they were born in one column and then I put the same list in the next column, only I move it down one person {and then another the next year, etc.}. Then I look it over to make sure that nobody has their brother or sister and if they do, I pull those names out and do a little rearranging so that everybody gives to a cousin. This year, I tweaked the list a little bit when rearranging so nobody had a sibling to give to, because I already had fabric {bought clear back last March} and plans for pretty pink aprons for these {three} sisters. Since we only had two of the sisters in the draw, I worked out a deal with the sister-in-law whose child had the third sister, and voila. Three pink princess aprons. You can't tell in the picture, but there is a little bit of sparkle on the pink floral print in the pockets and ruffles.

Hooray for three more December finishes!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Art Notebooks

Coloring outside the lines is a fine art. –Kim Nance

During Blogger's Quilt Festival, I came across Geta's blog and was so inspired by her beautiful work. While I was there, I found a tutorial for an Art Journal and knew that this would make a perfect Christmas gift for the Little Bugs to give to their cousins. This year the Little Bugs drew Miss Butterfly and Roly Poly on my side of the family, so that is who these went to.

All of the fabric {and batting} came from my stash; frugality was a requisite for my Christmas crafting this year. Most of the fabric I used was given to me by a cute friend who was cleaning out her stash. I really love how Roly Poly's turned out, but am not so happy with the thread choice for the quilting on Miss Butterfly's. The dark purple thread on the light fabric and the combination of loopy flowers and stippling just looks too busy. It doesn't look as messy on the dark fabric on the inside, but I'd already added the monogram so making the outside the inside wouldn't work. And since I was pressed for time and didn't have enough fabric to do a remake, I left it as it was. I do really like how the monogram initials came out, though. I did a messy free motion appliqué ala Little Miss Shabby. My technique is improving :wink:.

I made my Art Journals a little bit smaller than the directions call for to fit the little art notebooks I could find, and also changed the pockets on the inside to fit the supplies I wanted to include. I love the little ruffle across the notebook pocket and considered doing picots {prairie points} on Roly Poly's, but time was a consideration, so I skipped that. All in all, I think they turned out really fun.

These make two more finishes for December!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sabbath Songs: Joy to the World

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.

Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together

Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.
–Psalm 98:4—9

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I Believe

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.
–Charles Dickens

He wears red.
Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel. –Isaiah 63:2

His hair is white.
His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow.
–Revelation 1:14

He comes in the night.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. –1 Thessalonians 5:2

He loves little children.
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 19:14

He knows we are good.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. –1 Timothy 2:3, 4

He brings gifts.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. –James 1:17

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Symbols of Christmas

The message of Christmas is that the visible material world is bound to the invisible spiritual world. –Unknown

The Star
A heavenly sign of prophecy fulfilled long, long ago — the shining hope of mankind.

The Color Red
The first color of Christmas, symbolizing the Savior's sacrifice for all.

The Evergreen
Evergreen — the second color of Christmas shows everlasting light and life. The needles point up to heaven.

The Bell
Rings out to guide lost sheep back to the fold, signifying that all are precious in His eyes.

The Candle
Reminiscent of the star of Bethlehem, representing the Light of Christ.

The Gift Bow
Tied as we should all be tied together in bonds of goodwill and brotherly kindness.

The Candy Cane
Represents the shepherd's crook, used to bring lost lambs back to the fold.

The Wreath
A symbol of the never ending eternal love of our Heavenly Father.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Birthday Wishes for Mr. Bug

Believing hear, what you deserve to hear:
Your birthday as my own to me is dear...
But yours gives most; for mine did only lend
Me to the world; yours gave to me a friend.

Dear Mr Bug,

I know it is your birthday, but the gift really goes to me and I couldn't have asked for a better gift than you. Thank you for your boundless patience. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your acceptance. Thank you for overlooking my many, many shortcomings and weaknesses. Thank you for giving me my independence. Thank you for being my anchor. Thank you for being such a wonderful father to our children. Thank you for your optimism. In short, thank you for being you. Happy Birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day.

Love you,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bradbury 13: Kaleidoscope

If you don't like what you're doing, then don't do it. –Ray Bradbury

This week's installment of Bradbury 13 is Kaleidoscope, which was published in The Illustrated Man in 1951. Like anything converted from the written word to a live performance, there is a bit of artistic license in the Bradbury 13 series, but for the most part, they stay pretty true to the original stories. Paul Frees voiced the introduction in deep and foreboding tones and the rest of the stories are played out by voice actors and sound effects. It was really quite something. If I haven't been able to convince you yet, hop on over to Bradbury Media. Phil has got clips of the introductions, which {I believe} are excerpts of the narrative from each story. They foreshadow events that are to unfold and I've included the transcript for each introduction in each of my reviews.

They fell. They fell as pebbles fall down wells. They were scattered as jackstones are scattered from a gigantic throw. And now instead of men, there were only voices — all kinds of voices, disembodied and impassioned, in varying degrees of resignation and terror.

My Rating: :help: :help: :help: :help:
It is interesting to me the deep questions that these stories bring up and the thinking that I do about them. The characters in the Kaleidoscope are faced with their immediate death. There isn't time or means to do anything except remember and square up with their lives, whatever they have been. It is interesting the different methods each of the men employ to cope with the situation. For me, the life lesson here is to live each moment to make it count; make right what you can and do your best independent of what those around you are doing.

Air Date:
April 30, 1984

{Kaleidoscope cast at work
Photo Courtesy of Phil at
Ray Bradbury & Media
©Mike McDonough}
Paul Frees

Scott Wilkinson
Ivan Crosland
Mike Flynn
James Errington
Mike McDonough
Rick Macy
Logan Field
Tim Eisenhart

Roger Hoffman
Greg Hansen

Production Assistant:
Patrick Mead

Associate Producer:
Jeff Raider

Created, Produced, Directed:
Mike McDonough

Executive Producer:
Dean Van Uitert

Audio Clip of Kaleidoscope
Buy Kaleidoscope mp3
Buy Bradbury 13 Audio CDs

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthday Quilt S.N.A.F.U.

It is found that anything that can go wrong at sea generally does go wrong sooner or later. –Murphy's Law

I should have know better than to mess with the Navy. Or at least Navy-issue t-shirts :lol:. Besides, the military never does anything in a hurry. Situation normal then, if nothing is coming together for Mr. Bug's birthday quilt, right?

The special fabric I ordered came today. Only it wasn't the Navy print I thought I was ordering.

It was this instead:

The fabrics are nearly identical, so you can see where someone {OK, it was me :rolleyes:} might have mixed the two up if they were in a hurry. Bear Paw does allow exchanges, but only for even yardage and I ordered 4½ yards. I got the fabric after their phone hours, so I sent them an e-mail and I'm crossing my fingers that they'll allow at least a 4 yard exchange and then I'll just purchase the extra half-yard on top. Otherwise, do you know anyone who needs 4½ yards of Air Force fabric?

On a positive note, the red fabric I have and was hoping to use as setting blocks in the corners between the sashings and also as the binding is the perfect shade to go with the flags in the print, so I'm happy I don't have to hunt down something else. So, I won't even have quilt top for Mr. Bug's birthday. But maybe I'll get it done by the new year.

Snow Day

There’s one good thing about snow, it makes your lawn look as nice as your neighbor’s. –Clyde Moore

Today is the last day of school before the winter break. We woke up to about 12" of new snow this morning, but around here it takes a major blizzard to call a Snow Day, so we assumed it was business as usual. I helped the Little Bugs get ready for school while Mr. Bug shoveled us out. When they were on their way, I started getting ready for work, dreading the thought of going out in the snow and cold. When I got out of the shower the TV was on, which was unusual. I heard some of the dialogue from the program and wondered why Mr. Bug was watching Bakugan :confused:. And then I realized that today is a Snow Day :lol:.

BossMan's wife just had a baby at the end of November. Which is, in a round-about way, how I got my job. Mrs. BossMan does the accounting at the company I work for and about a week after I started as the Executive Assistant, she decided that she wanted to stay home with her kids. So for a little over a week now I've been learning the accounting software and the filing system and everything that goes with that. Mrs. BossMan is set up at their home to do the accounting, so half of my day is spent with her doing receivables and then I go into the office and do the filing and whatever else needs doing.

Thirty minutes before I was due to arrive at Mrs. BossMan's, she texted me to let me know that she was sick and not to come over today. Still not relishing the thought of going out in the snow, I called BossMan to let him know I was going to be late to the office because I'd planned to go train with Mrs. BossMan first {which is a shorter commute} and what with all the snow {and me not being quite ready to leave early} I'd be a little late getting to the office. Much to my relief, he graciously gave me a Snow Day too. I'm a little giddy at the thought of it. Because frankly, Christmas is really stressing me out this year. I'm not even going to mention that I haven't done one single bit of the shopping for ready-made goods yet. And the Christmas sewing {which I very shamefully procrastinated :blushing: to way past the last minute} is kicking my butt. Everything is in parts and pieces all over the place. My living room sewing studio looks like a fabric bomb went off.

And sadly, Mr. Bug's t-shirt quilt will not be finished in time for his birthday on Thursday. At this point, the best I can hope for is to give him a finished quilt top. I have all of the t-shirt squares ready to go. But the fabric for the back and sashing did not come in the mail yesterday. I have to say this, though. Bear Paw Fabrics is a fabulous on-line establishment. When I called early Friday morning to confirm their shipping procedures, the person I spoke with was very friendly and courteous. And they, indeed, did ship that day. The hold-up was with the Postal Service, which, I'm sure is overloaded with Christmas packages. I'm sure if they knew it was Mr. Bug's birthday two days before Christmas, they would have put my package of fabric at the head of the queue.

So today, I'll be enjoying my Snow Day. I hope to finish up everything that is in progress and while I work, I'll be peeking out the window, watching for the mail truck.