Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sabbath Songs: Press Forward Saints

Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.2 Nephi 31:20

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hexie Art Journals

All art requires courage. –Anne Tucker

I've been puttering around with some little chipboard art journals and my Go! Hexie dies. What do you think?

This one is for one of my Twi-Hard friends whose birthday was earlier this month. Isn't that apple fabric perfect!?! I tried a little McTavishing on the background. It still needs a little work and I think the next one I do {good things come to those who wait, TwiQuilter friends :wink:} I'll use black thread so it shows up a bit more. I loosely followed this tutorial for fabric postcards. I made a few alterations; for the front cover I used Pellon Peltex 72F II double-sided fusible stabilizer {I got mine at JoAnn's, but couldn't find it on their web-site} and only used Heat n' Bond Lite to for the appliqué t and to fuse the fabric to the back cover {inside and out}. If you're interested using these cute little On Board 5" x 5" Art Journals {Stampin' Up!® item #108495}, I just happen to know the cutest Stampin' Up!® demonstrator you can order your supplies from. Her name is Jenna and she would be more than happy to help you out. If you live in the US, you can place an order through her web-site or you can contact her directly via e-mail {if you live outside the US, visit Stampin' Up!®'s website to find a demonstrator in your own country}.

As a matter of fact, this next Hexie Notebook was a little gift for Jenna's birthday.

I did the hexie a little bit different on this one. I cut a piece of batting into a hexagon and then trimmed ⅜" off each side. I used a piece of Mistyfuse to iron the hexie to the batting. I quilted it and then pressed the edges under, and because the Mistyfuse was the same size as the hexie, when I tucked the edges under they fused to the back of the batting, making certain that everything stayed in place while I sewed it to the cover. It was fun to quilt around these flowers.

And here's a third little journal, using another color variation of the same Sanibel coordinates. I used the floral print inside the front and back covers and added a little monogram on the back for fun.

Love these? Want one? I'm having a little Hexie Art Journal Giveaway. Entries will be accepted until 10:00 pm {MST} on August 9th

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Favourite Things Friday: Going to the Movies

The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder. –Alfred Hitchcock

I love going to the movies. There's just something about seeing it on the big screen, don't you think? Watching a movie on TV is fun. But going to the movie theater where the smell of popcorn is always tempting even if you've just eaten a really fantastic dinner you didn't have to cook is one of my favorite things in life. I love sitting in a comfy chair and holding hands with Mr. Bug in the dark with no distractions. I love being transported somewhere else and becoming someone else and forgetting about everything else for a little while. I love chic-flicks and action films and sci-fi; romantic comedies, musicals, animated and family films, fantasy, adventure, drama, western, religious, thriller and I even like books-that-are-made-into-movies movies. About the only kind of movie I don't like is horror. I think my absolute favorite thing about going to the movies is when the trailers are so awesome that I forget what I came to see and it is a surprise as the opening credits unfold. Yes, I love going to the movies.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Do You Have A Pet?

The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.Robert Brault

Last week's question about height was the most responded to poll so far, with 37 answers. OK, so I voted twice {which was an accident} and one of those 5'4"—5'4⅞" people is me trying to be 10' tall. There was one person who is 4'11⅞" or under and the tallest person to check in is in the 6'2"—6'2⅞" range. Short of that {ha, ha, :lol: I kill myself with the puns} nobody between 5'11" and 6'1⅞" checked in. Fun poll! Thanks for playing along.

Now that I've sized you all up {again with the puns, :rofl: I love it!} let's talk pets today. Do you have pets? We have pets. You'll probably never guess what our pets are, so I'll just tell you. We have fire bellied toads. Yep. Toads.

It happened like this. LadyBug's 1st grade teacher bought toads for her classroom. She decided to take some time off from teaching and go back to school herself, so at the end of the year the toads had to have a new home. LadyBug ended up with one and a boy in the class with the other. The one that came home with LadyBug was named Violet by the class. Well, Violet just had to have a friend, so we went to the Petsmart and bought another toad :crazy:. We decided to call him Henry because two of The Boxcar Children are Henry and Violet.

After we'd had them for about a year-and-a-half, Henry {or maybe it was Violet} went missing. How you can go missing from an aquarium I don't know. But he went missing and Violet {or maybe it was Henry} was left all alone.

By that time, I'd grown quite attached to the little fellows. Cleaning out their smelly aquarium, changing the filter and buying live crickets to feed them kind of endears them to you. Incidentally, I'm the only one who will touch the toads or clean their aquarium. And when the live crickets we have to buy to feed the toads escape from their little case, guess who everyone {including Mr. Bug} calls to come and catch them? Me. But I digress. We were down one toad, so I bought another one when I went to get some more crickets. Henry {or maybe it was Violet} was lonely. I could tell. We decided to call the new toad Pants. And since we weren't 100% sure who the other toad was, we changed that toad's name to Pants as well. Now we have a pair of Pants.

So how about you? I must ask: do you have pets? Tell me about them and I'll post the best story left in the comments about your pet next week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A to Z and All About Me

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer. –Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

I love to get to know other bloggers and what makes them tick. I like to spend my time reading blogs that are inhabited by people. I saw this meme around the blogosphere and thought it was fun. You can play along too. Just copy and paste, changing the answers to fit you.

Age: Do you want to know the age I am or the age I feel like I am?
Bed size: King size.
Chore that you hate: Bathrooms. Definitely bathrooms.
Dogs: I love to pull their ears. OK, so I don't really pull their ears, but I always have to pet them because that's the softest part.
Essential start to your day: A shower.
Favorite color: Do I have to pick just one?
Gold or Silver: Both. I love to mix my metals.
Height: 5'4⅜", but if somebody had asked me how tall I wanted to be, I would have said “5'8", minimum.”
Instruments you play: I used to play the piano, but never really well, mind you. I haven't played since LadyBug was a baby, so I'm pretty sure Chopsticks is about all I could manage.
Job title: Trophy Wife. Just kidding. Financial Resource Assistant Manager {a.k.a. Accounts Receivable}. But most importantly, Mom.
Kids: Grasshopper—11 and LadyBug—9.
Live: In a house with pink brick and a yard almost entirely landscaped by me.
Mother’s name: Mom. Oh, you meant her real name. Peggy.
Nicknames: So not telling.
Overnight hospital stays: Three; two c-sections and a cholecystectomy with bonus hernia repair.
Pet peeve: People who ride my bumper in an effort to make me drive faster. If they thought I was driving too slowly before, they'll really be grumpy as I slow down in increments of 5 mph until they back off. Also, people who paint brick houses. What's up with that?
Quote from a movie: Again, do I have to pick just one?
Inigo: “Fezzik, are there rocks ahead?”
Fezzik: “If there are, we all be dead.”
Vezzini: “No more rhymes now, I mean it!”
Fezzik: “Anybody want a peanut?”
The Princess Bride
{OK, so that's the abbreviated version, but do you really want me to quote the whole movie?}
Also, “It's not us, Dad. It's Roy.” Overboard
Right or left handed: Right.
Siblings: The oldest of six; three sisters and two brothers.
Time you wake up: When I have to.
Underwear: Yes.  Under there.
Vegetable you hate: If I have to narrow it down to just one, I'll pick iceberg lettuce. I mean, you might as well eat grass. It is just as hard to digest and contains about as much nutrients.
What makes you run late: Everything, but mostly stopping to look at the computer instead of getting ready and having to remind the Little Bugs of every. single. thing. they need to do to get out the door.
X-Rays you’ve had: teeth and jaw bones, and feet.
Yummy food that you make: Visit my recipes here.
Zoo animal: Giraffes. I love that their tongues are 7" long and blue to keep from getting sunburned. Also, they're tall.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol 15

Sometimes it's harder to attain inner silence than outer silence. The dog stopped barking and the kids have gone to bed, but your mind has a log to talk about and it knows you can't pretend you're not at home. –Linda Solegato

The “What If?” Game
When we were kids, my sister and I used to play the “What If?” Game. It would start with a question that stemmed from a variation on the everyday like, “what if the cat could talk?” or “what if we lived in the elementary school?” We'd imagine all kinds of things as we answered our own questions. My dad didn't like that game too much. But I still love to play it. As a matter of fact, I was playing it the other day.

Several times on my way to and from work in the last week or two, I've seen a Harley Davidson Fat Boy parked at the side of the road with a for sale sign on it. One the way home from work last week, I passed it again and thought, “what if I bought that bike?” That thought led to other thoughts. “I wonder if I could find a cool helmet to match,” and, “oh, and a smokin' kevlar riding jacket.” It would be so much fun to ride! Then I wondered if I'm too old to learn to ride a motorcycle. But, hey. If Willam H. Macy can do it, so can I. Right?

Dear Dad,

Please come down from the ceiling. The “What If?” Game is still just a game. I'm not going to buy a Harley. There are too many hazards out there on the road.

xo -Elizabeth

P.S. LadyBug loves the “What If?” Game too.

Virtual Reality
Earlier this month, I got to meet some of my favorite virtual friends in real life. Amy {of amylouwho} was in Utah and arranged a Sew & Tell live. It was SO much fun. Pink {of pinksuedeshoe} hosted the party at her house and provided the most yummy treats {you have to try her Lime Pie Cakes. They are to die for!} Besides getting to meet my favorite bloggers in person, there were some girls there I haven't met yet in the blogging world, so I made some new friends and found some great new blogs to peruse. We laughed, ate, shared quilting stories and life stories and had a really fun time! Thanks girls for an awesome evening!
Left to right: Amy {of Diary of a Quilter}, Amy {of Vintage Fern}, Erin {of Two More Seconds}, Leigh {of Leedle Deedle Quilts}, Me, Vicki {of Sew Inspired}, Pink {of pinksuedeshoe} and Amy {of amylouwho}. What a fun bunch!

Just a few days later, my sweet friend and fellow TwiQuilter, Wanda, was in town and she and her husband took me and my little family out to lunch. We ate at one my favorite local restaurants, The Art City Trolley. Wanda is one of the sweetest people I know. It was so fun to catch up and get to meet her daughter, Liz and granddaughter, Emilia.

Sudoku Quilt Group
If you haven't seen enough pictures of me today then you're in luck because I've got one more. I'm teaching a quilting class. And by teaching, I mean volunteering as a teacher. It is for the ladies who are in my ward {LDS-speak for parish or congregation}, but also for anyone in the neighborhood who wants to come. I've divided the quilt up into six steps and we work on one step each month. Our first month we cut our fabrics and this month we sewed them into blocks. This is the Saturday morning class {we also have a Thursday night class so people can attend whichever is more convenient} with our blocks.
Back {l to r}: Barbara, Elizabeth, Jennifer, Julie
Front {l to r}: Bev, Christina, Sherri, Courtney

Monday Music Spot: Howlin' For You
I don't know if I'm particularly original in my music tastes, but I'm definitely all over the place. It was a toss-up today between Marc Anthony & Pitbull or The Black Keys. I went with the more funky beat.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Sermons: I'm Committed

Two young brothers stood atop a small cliff that overlooked the pristine waters of a blue lake. This was a popular diving spot, and the brothers had often talked about making the jump—something they had seen others do.

Although they both wanted to make the jump, neither one wanted to be first. The height of the cliff wasn’t that great, but to the two young boys, it seemed the distance increased whenever they started to lean forward—and their courage was fading fast.

Finally, one brother put one foot at the edge of the cliff and moved decisively forward. At that moment his brother whispered, “Maybe we should wait until next summer.”

The first brother’s momentum, however, was already pulling him forward. “Brother,” he responded, “I’m committed!”

He splashed into the water and surfaced quickly with a victorious shout. The second brother followed instantly. Afterward, they both laughed about the first boy’s final words before plunging into the water: “Brother, I’m committed.”

Commitment is a little like diving into the water. Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway. We all face moments of decision that change the rest of our lives.

Those who truly commit face their challenges squarely and say to themselves, “Yes, that would be a very good reason to delay, but I made covenants, and so I will do what I have committed to do.” They search the scriptures and earnestly seek the guidance of their Father in Heaven. They accept and magnify their Church callings. They attend their meetings. They do their home or visiting teaching.

In some way, each of us stands at a decision point overlooking the water. It is my prayer that we will have faith, move forward, face our fears and doubts with courage, and say to ourselves, “I’m committed!”
–Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Brother, I'm Committed

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Must Ask . . . How Tall Are You?

All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height.
–Casey Stengel

I always thought that I was taller than I am. I never stopped to measure when my grandma told me that I was 5'6". And I always wanted to be 2" taller than that. But I stand at 5'4⅜". Yes ⅜". Not ¼". Not ½". 5'4⅜". Today, I wore my tall shoes to work. In them, I am 5'8⅞". The world, from 4½" taller, is kind of a different place and I like it up there. Although there is nothing I can permanently do to be that tall all the time, it is fun to visit in my tall shoes.

Height has been on my mind lately, as I've been planning out the summer fun for the Little Bugs. Several places that we've visited or are planning to visit have height requirements for their attractions. So, I measured the Little Bugs so I'd know what to expect. LadyBug is 4'2½" and Grasshopper is 4'10¼". Mr. Bug is 5'9½".

People come in all sizes. There is a 16 year-old girl that attends church in the same congregation as we do who is a full 6'2" and wears 4" heels. How awesome is that? There's a boy I work with who is 6'10". Robert Wadlow, grew to be 8'11", with no signs of his growth stopping at the time of his death at age 22. As a side-note, he was my height, 5'4" at the age of four years old. Can you imagine trying to control the tantrums? On the other end of the scale, Jennifer Arnold and Bill Klein of The Little Couple are 3'2" and 4" tall, respectively. Can you imagine the difficulties you'd encounter as a child-sized adult? Another side note, I think they are amazing!

So where do you fit in? Today, I must ask . . . how tall are you? This is kind of a tough one to poll because to some people, every fraction of an inch counts, but I think that I'm going to do ranges and everyone who fits into the 5'4"—5'4⅞" range will kind of be lumped together, and so on. I know that ⅞" is almost to the next inch, but this way, the poll won't be 5' tall.

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Chocolate vs. Vanilla debate. It really was hard to pick between them, but it looks like chocolate won by a very small margin.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lagoon . . . It's What Fun Is!

When you finally go back to your old hometown, you find it wasn't the old home you missed but your childhood. –Sam Ewing

Last Monday I took the Little Bugs to Lagoon, Utah's very own amusement park {Wikipedia has a great page on Lagoon for more history and park information}. I worked at Lagoon for five seasons {read about it here, here and here}. It was my first job and I loved it. It was fun to take a stroll down memory land and I loved showing the Little Bugs around my old stomping grounds.

When we arrived, Grasshopper was feeling a little queasy {carsick, I guess. Kind of ironic, don't you think?}. He laid down on a bench in the midway, while I got him some pizza and a soda. After he ate and rested a bit, he perked right up. My super cute, super cool, super fun mom met us there and we had a really great time together. It was a perfect day to go, as the lines weren't long at all. It was a bit warm out though, so we rode a few rides that get you wet {read completely drenched} so we could cool off a bit. We rode some old favorites, like the Bumper Cars. We had so much fun that we got right back in line and rode them again. Grasshopper kept calling them the Bumpah Cahs, heavy on the 'um'. It was awesome. And we did a few coasters. We rode their new coaster, Bombora, three times. It turns out that LadyBug is a bit of a coaster enthusiast. Grasshopper? Not so much.

Lagoon has a Big Wheel, which came to the park in 1991 or 1992 {can't remember which} and replaced the standard-size Ferris Wheel. It is 150 feet tall, hence the name Big Wheel. There was a contest for employees to come up with a more original name and the winner was Sky Scraper. You can see over Grasshoppers shoulder clear out to the Great Salt Lake. And over LadyBug's shoulder you can see the beautiful Wasatch mountains.

This little photo-montage is a tribute to my last summer at Lagoon. I was supervisor over Kiddieland and it was awesome. At 58¼" Grasshopper is too tall to ride most of the kiddie rides {I know! I can't believe how big my little boy is!}. But LadyBug had a go on a few, while Grasshopper and my mom watched from a bench and I wandered around taking photos.

One of my favorite rides in Kiddieland is the old carousel. The year that I worked in that area, it turned 100 years old. The animals were taken down and repainted, beautifully, I might add, the wooden floor was stripped and refinished and the outside structure got a makeover as well. Back in the day, it was called The Merry-Go-Round, but a merry-go-round only has horses on it. They've renamed it The Carousel, which is fitting. These are the lead horses; the horse with gold on its sash and a silver mane is #1 and the horse with silver on its sash and a gold mane is #2 {although I think they might be reversed in their placement. I understood that #1 has a gold mane and #2 has a silver mane. I'll have to do a bit of research . . .}. This is the beginning of the carousel. All of the animals on the carousel were hand carved from solid wood; something that doesn't happen anymore. Aren't they beautiful?

And this is my favorite old-fashioned wooden roller coaster, called simply The Roller Coaster. I worked this as a ride operator my second summer at the park and it was part of my area my last year as a supervisor on the park. It was built in 1921, and a fire in 1953 a fire destroyed the lift. It was re-built and remains one of the favorite attractions at Lagoon. When you ride the coaster, it may feel old and rickety, but that is part of the coaster's charm. Bumps are added to the track to give that appearance, but no part of the coaster is more than 5 years old. A section of the track is re-built each winter. The coaster used to be painted white, but several years ago park owners decided not to paint new sections or re-paint older sections and let the coaster be natural.

We ended our day with treats from one of the many food vendors. LadyBug and Grasshopper shared an Icee.

And my mom and I had a funnel cake with strawberries on top. YUM!

Yep. Lagoon. It's what fun is!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

In the Pink: A Study in Pinwheels

Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings. –C.D. Jackson

I've got my label finished and the back all sewn up.

The top is in four pieces, instead of the eight it has been sitting in for the last nine months.

And I've been doodling out designs. Lots and lots of designs.

When I started this quilt 18 months ago, it was with the intent to quilt it myself. I'd never machine quilted before, and planned to use a walking foot to stitch straight lines ¼" away from all of the seams. Since then, I took a beginning machine quilting class and I've machine quilted 12 quilts. Only three of them were straight-line quilting. My free-motion skills have improved with each quilt, and now that I'm ready to quilt my Pinwheel Sampler, otherwise known as In the Pink: A Study in Pinwheels, I've taken quilting ideas from the greats and incorporated them into my design.

• The designs for these two blocks are a combination of different quilting that I like, pebbling, swirls, curlicues and flowers.

• The leaves in the border of the top block are inspired by Christina at A Few Scraps.
• And the pretty scrolls in the border of the bottom block are inspired by Natalia at Piece N Quilt. Natalia does such beautiful free-motion quilting and she uses those pretty scrolls often. I used them in my Snowball Quilt too.

• I want to keep the quilting about the same density throughout the quilt, but don't want to stipple in the background of every block. Wendy at Ivory Spring uses lots of beautiful, non-stippling fillers. McTavishing is one of them and it always looks so beautiful.
• I'm using the curlicues I did in my Snowball Quilt again in the points of the top star block.
• The feathers in the center of the second block are inspired by Danielle at Nacho Mama's Quilt. I used these same feathers in the centers of my snowballs.

• The half-feathers using the long side of the triangle are inspired by Wendy at Ivory Spring.
• The cris-crossing feathers in the sashing between blocks is inspired by Lane at That Man Quilts? I hope I can pull it off; the sashing is only 3" wide.
• The half-flowers and feather swags were something I saw on flickr. I didn't save links to those pictures specifically, but they are somewhere in that group.

• I want to use a variety of background fillers. I haven't figured out what to do in the first block here, but a loopy meander fits nicely in the second.
• I may wait until I've finished all the other quilting before I decide which background fillers to use in those that are missing it. I will probably visit Leah Day at The Free Motion Quilting Project for ideas.

• I want to quilt the pinwheels in each block differently {even though there are two of each block}. I'm using five or six different designs, but hope that by changing up the placement and details, I'll have not only a pinwheel sampler, but an FMQ sampler too.

• I think these two blocks are my favorite in the whole quilt. And I love the swirls and curlicues, so putting those in one of these blocks was a no-brainer.
• As I doodled, I sometimes would try a variation of what I wanted to quilt in the sashing around the block to see if something else looked better, or to get it right, as is the case with that floating row of swirls.

• In the thumbnail sketches of the complete quilt {see above}, I added a filler by Leah Day called Wandering Clover to the second block, and I really like the texture it adds.
• I really hope that I can execute this as well as I can imagine it. This much complex quilting is a little beyond my reach. Perhaps that's why I am obsessing so much about the thread. But if you don't push yourself, you can't grow.

I hope to have the thread situation squared up by the weekend and be able to start quilting soon. I think that machine quilting is my new favorite part of quilting. I never thought I would say that as I was machine quilting for the first time, just one year ago.

Today's post brought to you by:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol 14

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And just plain folks like you and me
Are builders for eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,
A shapeless mass and a book of rules,
And each must build, 'ere life has flown,
A stumbling-block or a stepping stone.

–R.L. Sharpe, Stumbling-Block or Stepping Stone

What I Meant to Post Yesterday
Sometimes we stand on the precipice afraid to move forward because you can't see the way ahead. Sometimes, things we think are impossible are only optical illusions. All it takes is a little faith to find the ground beneath your feet.

He Is How Tall?
I have this brother. He's 19⅞ years old. He's out serving a mission for our church. I'm kinda proud of him {and I'm not just saying that because he's been out for nearly a year and I haven't written him}. He is out teaching people and doing service projects all day, every day. It's hard work. Trust me. I know.

On Mondays, he and his companion have some free time to do laundry and grocery shopping and play basketball with the other missionaries nearby. He and his companion also go to the library and he e-mails home and sends a couple of pictures each time. Sometimes he sends pictures of the people he's teaching, or the people who are helping him find people to teach. Sometimes he sends pictures of a cool place he's visited or of something that he's never seen before, like an ice storm. The photos in this week's e-letter kind of tickled my fancy. My brother writes, So once upon a time there was a man named Robert Wadlow. He lived in Alton, Illinois. He was the tallest man ever! He grew to be 8'11" before he died of an infection in his 20's. TRUE STORY!! I have seen a real picture of him. So my pictures are me standing next to a life size statue of him and me sitting in a replica of his chair. Pretty crazy eh?

Pretty crazy indeed! And almost impossible to imagine. There is a boy I work with who is 6'10" {P., I would totally introduce you if you weren't married, and he wasn't 24}. Even in my highest of high heels {clocking in at 4½"}, I don't even come up to his shoulder. I'm totally marvelling over this 8'11" man, Robert Wadlow.

On a completely different subject, I have quilting on the brain. As I was editing these photos, I noticed that the design in my brother's tie would be really cool to quilt as a filler pattern.

Not All 50-Weights Are Created Equally
10 days ago, I ordered some thread on-line. Lots of thread. Lots and lots of thread. 34,800 yards of 50-weight satin-finished 100% cotton thread on 29 spools. I went a little overboard {as you can see} and 10 of those spools are Natural because at $1.74 a spool, the price was definitely right for collecting a good neutral for piecing. I kept my cart open in my browser for a week beforehand and would take colors out of my basket and add new ones in, trying to calculate which colors would be best in my next quilting projects. After I was certain I had the right mix of colors and neutrals, I submitted my order. And then I waited, all the while stalking the mail carrier. Today my thread finally came. And it is so beautiful.

But I have a small problem. Actually, my problem is that this 50-weight thread is not as small as several other spools of 100% cotton 50-weight thread I have hanging around, namely Gütermann and DMC. And it is definitely not as thin as 50-weight Aurifil Makò thread. Even the polyester Dual Duty I use for piecing is thinner. It is more like the Dual Duty 30-weight cotton quilting thread.

I was a little let-down. The cotton Dual Duty is a nice, thick utilitarian thread. It is good for meandering or other over-all patterns that don't cross much. The thread I ordered is nearly identical to the Dual Duty in look and in feel. It's not bad thread, not by any stretch of the imagination. It is actually really good quality. It just doesn't dazzle in a quilt. It kind of just lays there on the fabric like a dead fish. It's not Aurifil. The Aurifil {in the one quilt I've used it in} becomes a part of the quilt.

I've been admiring Wendy's work at Ivory Spring for many months now and she uses Aurifil. I love how the thread shimmers in her quilts. I'm going to try my hand at a bit of fancy quilting on the Pinwheel Sampler. The quilting I've mapped out is inspired by Wendy, as well as Leah Day at The Free Motion Quilting Project, Christina at A Few Scraps and Lane of That Man Quilts?. Some of the designs will have quite a bit of thread-play and a thicker thread means that there will be some pretty obvious dead fish in the areas where the thread builds up.

I've been debating this back and forth in my head all afternoon. When the thread arrived and wasn't as fine as the one spool of Aurifil that I have {which I picked up on a whim from a basket of spools sitting on the counter by the cash register at the shop two blocks from my work and nearly died of sticker-shock when they rung me up}, I was ready to put it back in the box and send it back. Because even the DMC thread was kind of dead fish-like on the Snowball Quilt in the areas where I did a lot of backtracking. I wanted to skive off work and drive to one of the four locations in the whole of Utah that sells Aurifil to get the colors of thread that I need right now, so I can start quilting the Pinwheel Sampler. Granted, the closest shop is only 20 minutes from home. But I really hate driving across town for anything. Even fabric or really fantastic thread. And skiving off work is never a good idea.

I took a deep breath, pulled over and called Mr. Bug, so he could look up the number of the shop for me. The woman I talked to was really helpful in shopping over the phone with me. She told me that they carry the 1400 yard spools in neutral colors {and at a really reasonable price, relatively speaking}, but only stock the colors in smaller {and might I add, super expensive} 220-yard spools. I will need more than 220 yards of each of the colors I want to use in this quilt.

Sitting here, twirling the thread I ordered between my fingers, it's not very much like a dead-fish. I could send back 8 or 9 of those spools of Natural and get some more colors instead, because I think it is definitely too thick for piecing. The colors are so pretty, and the thread itself it smooth and strong and has a beautiful sheen to it. But it's still not Aurifil. I've found a site that sells all of the Aurifil colors on big spools for $8 each. If you order 4 or more you get a 10% discount and if you order 10 or more you get a 20% discount. I could take my fabric up to the shop that has Aurifil, match colors and write down numbers, buy one spool of cream thread to get started quilting and then order the rest on-line. But that doesn't seem very fair to the quilt shop. Does anyone who lives near me have and Aurifil color card?

I'm not coming up with any clear solution that satisfies my need to have Aurifil thread for quilting {and in every color, I might add} and my desire not to waste time driving all over town for some of it and having to order some of it on-line and not spend a zillion dollars doing it. I'd also like to not have to mess with the hassles of returning the threads I just ordered. Maybe while I'm sleeping, those magical creatures who sneak in at night and do the laundry and dusting and vacuuming and dishes will transform the thread into a true 50-weight thread, like Aurifil. Then again, they're behind on the laundry and dusting and vacuuming and dishes, so I won't hold my breath.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: Alan Rickman

I am the character you are not supposed to like. –Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman is my favorite movie baddie. Somehow, he plays the despicable character in such a way that you are secretly falling in love with him a little while you detest him at the same time. Let me count the ways.

Hans Grüber — Die Hard

Elliott Marston — Quigley Down Under

Sheriff of Nottingham — Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Best cheesy villain line ever: I'll cut your heart out with a spoon!

Judge Turpin — Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Those are all marvelous portrayals of evil personified, something Alan does well. And so it was surprising to see him as the tender and kind Colonel Christopher Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, yet it was another wonderful performance.

But I think that my favorite Alan Rickman role is that of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise. Severus Snape is, in and of himself, a character you love to hate and that is what Alan Rickman does best.

Thank you, Alan Rickman, for making the world a little bit better badder.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Chocolate or Vanilla?

I don't understand why so many "so called" chocolate lovers complain about the calories in chocolate, when all true chocoholics know that it is a vegetable. It comes from the cocoa bean. Beans are veggies. 'Nuff said. –Unknown

The world makes a little more sense again. Butter won by a landslide. And you Miracle Whip lovers out there? I'm just going to try to forget you exist.

Continuing in the same vein as Miracle Whip vs. Mayo and Butter vs. Margarine, today's question is about food too. This topic is what sparked the idea for the I Must Ask series, but I didn't know exactly how to do it until I started writing this post. Because what comes in both chocolate and vanilla? It sounds like a good question, but the overlap is pretty small and mainly in the dairy category with pudding and ice cream in all its variations coming to mind first. There are also chocolate and vanilla Oreos and chocolate or vanilla cake with chocolate or vanilla frosting. But the flavors kind of live in their own separate worlds which makes it difficult to choose between them. Still, let's see if I can make this work.

Let's start with the similarities. Both chocolate and vanilla come from Mexico and Central America and both are derived from plants. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is credited for introducing them both to Europe in the 1520's. Both are labor-intensive to produce. Vanilla is second in price only to saffron in the world of spices because the growing conditions must be just right to produce good vanilla. Chocolate in its raw form, the cocoa bean, requires several steps before it becomes the delicious treat it is. The beans must be fermented, dried and then separated before they can be processed into various forms of chocolate. Vanilla and chocolate are both considered aphrodisiacs. And they both produce other physical effects on their consumers. Vanilla has been shown to increase levels of catecholamines {including adrenaline}, which makes it mildly addictive. Its sweet, soothing, homey scent is used in aromatherapy to reduce stress, heighten mental clarity, improve circulation, clear respiratory airways and it even has a reputation for reducing fevers. Chocolate contains alkaloids, most notably theobromine, which increases the heart beat and dilates blood vessels resulting in lower blood pressure, and PEA, which is an anti-depressant.

And now the differences. Chocolate is the star of the show, the main attraction, the dominating flavor. It can stand alone. It is loved the world over and can be used in food in so many ways that it is impossible to ever get tired of it. Beyond the realm of the edible, did you know that there is a Chocolate Spa in Hershey, PA? You can actually soak in a chocolate milk bath or have a mud-and-chocolate wrap or a chocolate sugar scrub or a chocolate bean polish. I'm saving my pennies.

Vanilla plays the supporting role, enhancing the other flavors. Vanilla is considered the plain option. I couldn't find a fun quote about vanilla anywhere, nor could I find a spa devoted solely to vanilla. But I don't know if there is anything more versatile than a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream. It is fabulous by itself and it also lends itself to any flavor you want to add.

Now that I've presented my case, I must ask: which do you prefer? Chocolate or Vanilla? As for me, I like my vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate on top.

Quotes about Chocolate
More quotes about chocolate

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. –Ecclesiastes 9:11

I took the Little Bugs to Lagoon on Monday. I have kind of a soft spot for Lagoon and I've decided that I know what my dream job is. Landscaping. At an amusement park.

We had a really awesome time. I've been trying to get my photos together for two days so I can show you all about it, but it just isn't coming together. I woke up with a migraine on Tuesday morning. It was pretty much all I could do to scrape myself together, take the Little Bugs to swimming lessons and then fall back to bed when we got home. Eventually the pain relievers kicked in and I drug my sorry hide to work, got a few things done and then brought home the most nutritious meal I could find on the McDonald's menu. After dinner I tried to get my photos edited, but I ended up spending the evening browsing the interwebs. The post-migraine jitters made sleep impossible and I was up way past my bedtime {closer to time to get up, really}, and today I'm migraine hung-over. It has put a serious crimp in my style and my fondest desire is to lounge on the couch and watch new episodes of the summer crime scene investigator shows. Without working on a project while I do it. So not me.

I'm hoping that I'll be back to my old self soon because I'm nine seams away from being ready to baste my Pinwheel Sampler quilt and start quilting on it. I'm really looking forward to that; machine quilting is much more fun than I originally thought. Perhaps I'll see if some chocolate ice cream with chocolate syrup and crushed Oreos on top will help me feel at least like working on some embroidery while I watch my shows. Ice cream always makes you feel better. If you're in the neighborhood, feel free to drop by! There's plenty to go around and I'll even let you hold the remote.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sabbath Songs: Hold On, The Light Will Come

The adversary uses despair to bind hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. Despair drains from us all that is vibrant and joyful and leaves behind the empty remnants of white life was meant to be. Despair kills ambition, advances sickness, pollutes the soul, and deadens the heart. Despair can seem like a staircase that leads only and forever downward.

Hope, on the other hand, is like the beam of sunlight rising up and above the horizon of our present circumstances. It pierces the darkness with brilliant dawn. It encourages and inspires us to place our trust in the loving care of an eternal Heavenly Father, who has prepared a way for those who seek for eternal truth in a world of relativism, confusion, and of fear. –Dieter F. Uchtdorf, The Infinite Power of Hope

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Butter or Margarine?

98% of all statistics are made up. –Unknown

I am absolutely floored. Completely flabbergasted. My whole world is turned upside down. More people like Miracle Whip than mayo. I think I need to go lie down.

Today I must ask: which do you prefer? Butter or margarine? Me? Thanks for asking. Butter. Definitely butter. But as is the case with Miracle Whip vs. mayo, margarine is what we had growing up. When offered a slice of bread and butter {read margarine}, I'd always decline the butter {read margarine}, because eww, yuck! and just eat the bread. Sometimes, though, when we were at my grandparent's house, they'd have saltines at dinner and grandma and grandpa would spread theirs with butter before they ate them. I liked to do that too. Maybe it was because grandma and grandpa were awesome and I wanted to do what they were doing. Or maybe it was because they had butter.

I don't remember if I started buying butter instead of margarine right off the bat after Mr. Bug and I were married, like I did with Miracle Whip. But butter is all we have in the fridge now. If a recipe calls for butter or margarine, I use butter. If a recipe calls for margarine, I use butter. It just tastes better. And bread and butter? Bring it on!

I can't wait to see your comments on this. I know that Pink Suede Shoe, or Pink, as I like to call her, likes butter flavor Crisco for baking. She said, I actually prefer butter flavored Crisco for baking most things; it gives them that crispy on the outside, but still soft and fluffy on the inside that butter just can't do. For baking, which I don't do a lot of {too much effort and mess and the result is gone before you can get it all cleaned up}, if a recipe calls for shortening, then that's what I use, but I'm wondering if butter flavor Crisco would be better?

To finish up, lest you think that I am the only one who did gross things as a kid, I get to tell tales on my brother. He would get into the butter dish, which was really the margarine dish, and eat the margarine by itself. He said he still likes margarine by itself. He's also a Miracle Whip person.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Puff Quilt, circa 1991

Always trust a quilter. She knows her way around the block. –Quilter's Proverb

When I was a junior in High School, the mom of one of the girls I was in FHA with brought in the puff quilt she had made for her daughter, my FHA friend. It was awesome, so I asked for the instructions and started work on my own quilt. I was working at House of Fabrics part-time, so I got my fabrics there with my employee discount. I worked on it off and on for about a year-and-a-half, doing a marathon week of sewing at the end to get it done.

It is bedspread size. It hangs down an equal amount on both sides of the bed and at the bottom. And it is heavy; it weighs about 13½ pounds. In order to wash it, you have to take it to the laundromat and use the 50 lb. washer. Nobody except for me likes to sleep under it. I loved how heavy and warm it is. I let my sister borrow it and she didn't use it very long. I also put it on LadyBug's bed {where I photographed it} for a while, but she didn't like it either.

You use two squares of fabric of different sizes for each block. The top square is your print fabric and is bigger than the bottom square, which is muslin. I can't remember for sure, but I think the squares are 5½" and 5". The instructions said to take a tuck in the middle of each side as you sew the top block to the bottom one. But I didn't like how odd that made the puff, so I took three tiny tucks on each side of each block.

To put the blocks together, you sew a bigger block to a smaller one on three sides, taking tucks as you go to make the bigger square fit. When you have enough blocks to make a row, you sew them together, making sure to have the open sides of each block all on the same side of your row. Then you stuff them with, you know, stuffing and sew the open side of the row shut. Then you sew an unstuffed row to the first stuffed row, stuff it, sew the side shut and add another unstuffed row.

Because the quilt is so heavy, there isn't any batting between the muslin backs of the blocks and the batting. And because of all the stuffing {I admit, mine might be a little overstuffed}, the top doesn't lay flat or true to size, so the backing hangs loose. I tied my quilt with little satin ribbons {I am categorically against tying any quilt with yarn; it just looks so nappy} to secure the back in place. I was constantly retying them because they'd slide loose. A few of them have been lost.

Back in the day I made a matching bed skirt {or dust ruffle, whichever you prefer}, pillowcase, puff curtains and throw pillow. My room was the epitome of coordination. Nowadays, this quilt hangs out in a black garbage sack in the top of LadyBug's closet. I'm not exactly sure what to do with it. It has a few stains on it, that even a trip through the 50 lb. washer couldn't get out. Factor in the weight and the colors, which scream late 80's and I'm not sure that it is good for much more. Still, I'm kind of attached to it and don't think I'll be sending it to Goodwill any time soon.