Monday, December 27, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous

Slack Before Christmas:

It's been an entire week since I last posted.  I'd love to regale you with stories of pre-Christmas busyness that interfered with my posting, but the fact of the matter is I was just not feeling well.  Picked up some mild bug somewhere.  I'm still shaking off the effects.

Photo by Clara S.

Christmas proved to be a restful day, here at the Prairie Quilter household.  A much needed reprieve from painting and feeling that we simply had to be productive.  So we lounged around, except for making the pancake brunch that the four of us (my grandparents, mother and me) enjoyed.

Also we were preserving our strength.  My cousin, Lori and her family are here, arriving yesterday, the 26th.  While a visit from my cousin is always an enjoyable occasion, the thing that will make this visit special is that we will celebrate our birthday together.  Lori is two years younger than I am to the day, both of us born on December 30th.  This will be the first time we've celebrated together as adults.  In fact, it will probably be the first time either of us has done much celebrating in years.  Having a birthday stuck between Christmas and New Year's is really rather inconvenient.  Most people are just happy to have made it through Christmas and are hoping to regain enough steam to push on to the New Year--myself included.  But with the two of us together the formula this year has changed.

Photo taken and modified by Eric H., Lori's husband

This Year in Review:

I don't tend to be an overly prolific quilter, and this year with all of the turmoil, it was particularly true.  Still, I'm proud of what I did finish this year:

Robynn's Quilt
From The Prairie Quilter

The Teddy Bear Quilt
From The Prairie Quilter

Matt's Quilt
From The Prairie Quilter

Sunshine in Winter
From The Prairie Quilter

I need to work on my quilt-naming skills, don't I?  Sunshine in Winter isn't bad, but the others could have been more poetic.

Food for Thought:
(Snagged from One Piece at a Time)

Blog Schedule:

If you don't hear from me again before next Monday, don't worry.  I'm just out with my cousin having fun.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous

Quilters Know How to Spoil Other Quilters:

And spoil me, P. from The Way I Sew It did!   I was the lucky recipient of one of her adorable little clutches.  We've all been admiring the pictures of her clutches, but seeing first hand all the work and care she put into these, well it's just darn impressive.

See, even the inside has such nice detailing.  I love the musical print she used for the inside (I don't know if she remembers, but I happened to send her this one--how cool is that?).  And it's got pockets for carrying your driver's license and credit cards.

Since the purse I use isn't much larger than this it will be easy for me to make the switch.  The clutch is so pretty, I almost hate to use it, but then I've had people say that about quilts, and I really want my quilts to be used, so I'll be using this clutch.

And pillowcases!

I love the way she made the edging on each one from a different fabric.  Such a delightful bit of whimsy. 


In the sewing room, it's so important to have the light right.  We've been struggling with that.  The house came with these light fixtures.  They're pretty, but the frosted glass cuts out more light than one would expect.  The fixture holds two bulbs.  We tried changing the two bulbs to brighter bulbs.  Not good enough.  We tried changing them to CFLs called "Daylight".  It's bright, but weird.  Kind of like the light you would expect standing next to a blue O class star.  Made me feel creepy.

Then we decided to change out the light fixtures.  There are two in the sewing room and we managed to get one done.  This arrangement is much better:  3 bulbs, uncovered, and we can point them any direction we'd like.  It was our first time changing out a light fixture, and I must admit to feeling a bit of accomplishment.

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand:

Every once in awhile I get it into my head to read a novel considered classic instead of my usual mystery or sci-fi genres.  Apparently Ayn Rand has somewhat of a following.  People either really like her work or really hate it.  Their opinions seem to be based on some philosophy she is supposedly promoting through her novels.  Eric, my cousin, and I had neither one read any Ayn Rand, and so he bought The Fountainhead, read it and passed it along to me.

I've made it only slightly past halfway and have put it down.  It's looking very unlikely that I will resume reading it.  I can't tell you how rare that is.  First off, if she's promoting any particular philosophy I don't see it.  I'm still at a loss about all the hullabaloo surrounding that issue.  I'd say it was because I haven't finished the book, but Eric has, and he doesn't see it either.  My reason for discontinuing the book is that I simply despise all the main characters.  I've found that I really don't care what happens to them.

Now, what I'm wondering is have any of you read it?  What are your thoughts on this book?

Redecorating the Blog:

Following in the footsteps of others, I've redecorated my blog.  Honestly, I'm not sure I'm pleased with it.  It seems a bit loud and busy to me.  However, I'm also a person who takes awhile to get used to change, so this often clouds my opinion.  We'll see if this remains or not.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Favorite Things Friday--White Paint

Mrs. P. over at Quilting in My Pyjamas is hosting the last Favorite Things Friday for 2010.  So this is your last chance to participate this year.  If you can work it into your busy holiday schedule I urge you to link up.  No worries though.  Favorite Things Friday will be back on January 7th.

My favorite thing this Friday is white paint.  The reason is very simple.  It will turn this:

into this:

Still need to paint the gold door

Until we meet again for FTF in 2011, I hope everyone has a joyous holiday season!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Myra's 2011 PhD (Projects Half Done) Challenge

After reading about Myra's 2011 PhD Challenge over at Quilting in My Pyjamas I decided I'd jump on the Projects Half Done bandwagon.  You see, Projects Half Done could be my middle name.  I've got one flimsy that is probably getting upwards of fifteen years old.  I'm a much better starter than a finisher.  And in the past, I've been a much better piecer than quilter.  I'm trying to remedy the latter by learning how to FMQ.  That said, I'm only committing two projects to Myra's PhD Challenge, as life has a habit of getting in the way of my quilting goals.  Plus, I reserve the right to start a new project and live with the guilt of that fifteen year old flimsy.

PhD #1:  The Scrappy Star.  This project is at least ten years old.  It's now gone through two major moves.  In my defense, this quilt is hand-pieced and the blocks and the inner checked border will be hand-quilted.  In the interest of having this one finally done, I'm going against my obsessive-compulsive nature and will FMQ the last two borders.  At this point, I have 1 1/2 blocks and part of the checked border left to hand-quilt.  All  of the two outer borders still need to be quilted.

PhD #2 is sampler from a block swap.  The swap was called "You Pick" and was hosted by a gal I became acquainted with on RCTQ (rec.crafts.textiles.quilting), a quilting newsgroup.  Each participant chose a focus fabric and sent a 12" square of it to the other participants to make a block.  My focus fabric was a pansy fabric.  I received some gorgeous blocks back.

I have begun free motion quilting the sandwich, and have five of the sixteen blocks done.  I'm doing the sashing as I go.

As you can see since these projects are really more than "half done", I should easily be able to finish them by June.  Now, I only hope that it's true!

Sunshine in Winter

With all of the turbulence of the last four months, I haven't had much opportunity to work on, much less complete, projects.  However, I did get one small (approximately 16" square) wall-hanging done, Sunshine in Winter.  It was a Christmas gift for P. at The Way I Sew It, who lives in Wisconsin.

I conceived of the project last summer when I was still living in sunny Nevada, and knew that P. would face a long Wisconsin winter.  For as long as I've been making the New York Beauty blocks, I've thought to myself that they look like sunbursts.  However, it wasn't until I tried to think of something cheery for P., that it occurred to me to try the New York Beauties in sunshiny colors.  (You all may have noticed that I tend to be a jewel tone, cool colors kind of gal.)

Finishing up the wall-hanging was a bright spot in amongst the trials of getting settled in a new home--a process that as yet continues.  I felt such satisfaction when I shipped off Sunshine in Winter.  Although the wall-hanging was wrapped in Christmas paper, I was secretly hoping that P. wouldn't wait until Christmas to open it.   Being a woman after my own heart, she didn't let the Christmas paper slow her down one bit, and opened it upon arrival. 

There's nothing like giving something quilted to another quilter.  Quilters know how to show appreciation for a quilty gift.  P. blogged about it here.  Her enjoyment has me walking on air.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday


Although I do not care for the paint job in our new house, the wood work is absolutely lovely.  Unfortunately, it is not really noticeable at this point, because the wood kind of fades into the colored walls.  Although I didn't get much of the slider (sliding glass door) in the picture below, if you look carefully, you'll see that the door is framed by wood.

Dining area BEFORE
Notice how the wood work pops with white walls?  (Please ignore our fancy window covering.  We're waiting for Home Depot to install our vertical blinds.)

Dining area AFTER
Speaking of blinds, normally we would install them ourselves, but we have a window over a stairway that we are unable to reach, and since Home Depot would do a whole house for $118, we decided to let them install the three blinds that we need. 


My mom is starting a new quilt.  She is making it for her cousin who was so helpful in regard to our move.  Naturally, the quilt inspector could not let her sally forth alone.

Let me make sure you're doing it right.

This fabric is delightfully relaxing.

It's Curtains For Me:

The previous tenants liked dark colors--dark paint and dark curtains.  I'll admit that I don't see the appeal, but perhaps the colors felt cozy to them?

These curtains were in my bedroom.  My bedroom is in the basement.  While the window lets in a lot of a light for a basement window, it's not exactly glaring.  Yet these curtains could block out the searing desert sun at high noon.  When I wake up in the morning, I have to look at the clock to ascertain if it's daylight yet, that's how dark these curtains make the room.  The only good thing about them is that they make the tan paint look light.

A quick little sewing project and I had new curtains.  You can't imagine how wonderful it was when I woke up this morning to find daylight coming in through these light-colored lovelies.  You can also see that the tan paint isn't as light as it looks, however, it is one of the lightest colors in the house.

I intend to make some beaded tie backs for the curtains like Mrs. P at Quilting in My Pyjamas made for hers.  I got permission from Mrs. P. to use one of her pictures of the lovely beaded tie-backs she made, but Blogger will not let me load it.  Not sure what's up with that.  Maybe Mrs. P.'s blog is snubbing mine?  Trying to keep this bit of loveliness all to itself?  So I encourage you to click on the link for a bit of eye-candy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Favorite Things Friday: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

With a musician for a father, music has played an intense role in my life. Growing up, we seldom had music playing in the background while we did other things. Listening to music was an active event; not a passive past-time.  Naturally, we often listened to my dad play--either the guitar or the piano--but we gave the same attention to music we listened to on an album/tape/CD as we did listening to him.

I first really started paying attention to music when I was about five (1969).  I can remember Jimi Hendrix blasting out of the stereo speakers at 3AM.  (Eventually, my parents grew up and learned not to play the stereo in the wee of hours of the morning.  Ahem.  They were 23 and 24 when I was 5.)  Rock was my first introduction to music.

Although my dad could play just about anything he set his mind to, his favorites were blues and jazz.  I learned to love the blues from my dad.  To this day, it remains my favorite music genre.

Recently though, I've become acquainted with yet another genre of music.  Swing.  (It seems I am going backwards chronologically through the music genres: rock, blues, jazz, and now swing.)  There is a modern group doing swing--both writing their own songs and remaking some of the old greats.  Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  With no further ado, I give you a sample of my new favorite musical talent:  The song Save My Soul from the album by the same name.

I'm linking up over at Quilting in My Pyjamas for another fabulous Favorite Things Friday. Come on over and join the fun!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Free Motion Hand-Quilting

What's a quilter to do?

I love the black and white checked fabric in the first border. It adds a bit of feisty-ness to the quilt. However, I quickly discovered that I was not going to enjoy quilting it. The lines don't run true enough to use them as a guide for any major straight-line pattern, and I couldn't see any way to mark the fabric. Whether I used white or black, part of the markings would always to fade into the fabric.

My apologies for the poor photo quality

Aha! Free-motion hand-quilting. If I can do free motion quilting on a sewing machine, why couldn't I do it by hand? And so, the checked border is filled with free motion flowers and vines.

Click on the photos to make them larger

Alas, I've discovered that as much as I like hand-quilting blocks, I'm not at all fond of hand-quilting borders.  They go on FOREVER.  With a block, I get that sense of satisfaction of having another one done.  Borders take so long that by the time I've finished a side, the thrill is definitely gone.

I've got two more borders to do on this quilt after I finish the checked border, and I'm seriously considering doing them on the machine.  How bad is that?  Would that be considered mixed media?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous

The Button Bandwagon:

I've jumped on the button bandwagon.  Everybody climb aboard.  Seriously, anybody who would like to have my button feel free to take the code, but don't feel obligated.  Mostly, I was interested to see if I could actually make a button.  Since the directions and the code are easily had with a little bit of Googling and some tweaking, it wasn't overly difficult.  Although HTML is essentially a foreign language to me, I enjoyed doing it.  Kind of like exercising the few Spanish words and phrases I can put together.


The utility room is done.
Before (sort of)

We've moved on to the kitchen.  I failed to take a before picture, but will certainly have an after picture.  Yep, you're going to get the blow by blow painted run down.  But I'm not complaining.  The effort is worth the result.

Speaking with Authority:

Have you ever been fooled by the Voice of Authority?  It happened to us the other day in regard to having paint mixed at Wal-mart.  No, we're not using straight Arctic Blast white (my name; not theirs).  The color is called Swiss Almond, and is essentially white with a bit of warmth, for lack of a better description.  The first gallon mixed was lovely.  It required a gallon of "Base One" and few drips of other colors.  When we went to have paint mixed the next time, Wal-mart was out of Base One.  We were told to check back in a couple of days.  No biggie since there are plenty of walls that need priming.  When we returned there was still no Base One, but the gal who helped us said, "You don't have to use Base One, you can use white.  Some people don't know that."  She used no uncertain phrases that would have caused me to question, like, "I think it's all right to use white instead of Base One."  Nope it was just a flat out statement of fact.  Not knowing much about paint, I listened to her Voice of Authority.  That was a mistake.  In retrospect, I remember wondering in the back of my mind that if the two are interchangeable, why would Base One even be necessary.  However, the Voice of Authority trumped my doubt.

Skip to today's painting session in the kitchen.  I'm doing the edges nearing the ceiling using the bit left from the first properly mixed can of paint, and my mom is rolling using the newly mixed paint.  At about the halfway point, my mom steps back, and says, "Does my paint look different from yours just because it's not as dry yet?"  It didn't take much studying to figure out that the two paints were different.

Wal-mart graciously refunded our money, and as luck would have it the Base One had come in.  We will finish the kitchen that we thought we'd finish yesterday today.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Favorite Things Friday--Kiss Noir

Honestly, I'm not a big fan of vampire fiction.  You won't find me reading the Twilight Series.  I even missed Anne Rice's highly acclaimed Interview with a Vampire (although after Kiss Noir I am considering remedying that situation).   That said, I am a fan of good fiction no matter what guise it takes.  So for Favorite Things Friday, I give you Kiss Noir

Robynn Clairday is an excellent and eclectic writer.  In the past, she has written more for the young adult audience, having two non-fiction books published with Scholastic, Tell Me This Isn't Happening and Expect the Unexpected.  Then later, the young adult fiction novel, Confessions of a Boyfriend Stealer with Delacorte. 

I became acquainted with Robynn's work when she contacted my mother, who was then teaching 4th grade, about working with her on the Tell Me This Isn't Happening project--actual embarrassing moments submitted by children.  The collaboration was very successful.  Robynn got great material for the book, and my mom was handed a wonderful teaching opportunity.  The first book was so successful, that Expect the Unexpected was born, and my mom and her class (the following year) again collaborated with Robynn.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when I found that Robynn's first foray into adult fiction, Kiss Noir, had been published.  Kiss Noir is steamily romantic, scary, and nerve-wrackingly thrilling.  Right now, the book is available as an e-book from BookStrand Publishing, but I've been hearing that it will be available in hard copy on down the line.

So what is your favorite thing this Friday?  Head on over to Quilting in My Pyjamas and join in the fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Is Camouflage A Color?

A month or two back, I made an addition to my Quilting Bucket List: making each of my cousins a quilt. I've taken great pains to try to keep my Bucket List at 12 projects or under. The purpose of the Bucket List is to prioritize the quilts I want to make before I die, so that means I can't put every quilt that catches my eye on it. However, by adding the Cousins Quilts to the list, I've broken my own rule as that puts the Quilting Bucket List at well over 12 projects. Perhaps some of the other quilts on the list will go to some of my cousins....? Who am I kidding? In all honestly that's not likely to happen. So it just means I'd better get my butt in gear.

To that end, I've been quizzing my cousins about their favorite colors. Some have proven to be more forthcoming than others. I'm not sure what's up with that.

My cousin, Aaron, wasn't at all shy when I asked him though. Right off the bat, favorite color: Camouflage. What? (Actually, in my mind it was more like WTF?) Is camouflage even a color? Okay, so I guess it was a one word answer for a list of colors.

I quizzed Aaron about other colors that I thought might go along with the basic camouflage color scheme.  Navy?  I got an unhappy face for an answer.

Then, Aaron, sweetie that he is (but don't tell him I said that) says, "Even if you make me a pink quilt, I'll use it; but just not in front of the guys."  I had to laugh.  I also assured him that I wouldn't make him a pink quilt.

Thinking of combat pants and tents, I started perusing the online shops for camouflage colored quilting fabric.  I didn't have much luck.  Most of the fabric I found was indeed the heavy denim one would use for making pants.  It wasn't until my first trip to our local Wal-mart here in Newton that I found quilting camouflage fabric.  I bought four yards.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous


I'm afraid dear readers that you're doomed to listen to me whine about painting in the same vein that we listened to Mrs. P. of Quilting in My Pyjamas whine about kitchen renovations.  And so it begins.

We had four days in the house before our furniture arrived, and we didn't pass the time idly.  No, we began painting immediately.  Decided we had just enough time to prime and paint behind where the fridge and washer & dryer would go.  Here is a picture of that work:

Then our walls sat like that for three and a half weeks.  Today we finally got back to it.  Got the remainder of the laundry room primed today.  The previous owners did something a bit odd; they painted the door with flat paint instead of semi-gloss.  You can see how grubby it is near the knob.  We'll be using semi-gloss.

In priming, I realized that part of the issue with the paint job in the house is not just the color, but that these shades seem to suck the light out of the room.  It may also be because they used a flat paint, as opposed to the satin paint we are using.  Not sure.  Just know I'm tired of walking around and feeling like it's dark in every room.  (Really, I'm not crazy.)

Joined A Gym:

On Saturday, my mom and I joined a gym for the first time in our lives.  We know the Kansas winter will preclude any outdoor activities like walking much of the time.  In Nevada, we could almost always go out and walk at some part of the day.  But I'm excited about having access to the weight machines.  I've got creaky knees--which I'd like to blame on old age, but I've had them since my late 20's.  My uncle, the physical therapist, told me what he would recommend to strengthen the knees, and the exercises really require weight machines.  We've got our orientation appointment tomorrow afternoon at 3PM.

Latest Book Read:

Undue Influence by Steve Martini
Genre:  Mystery/Courtroom Drama

This is the 2nd book I've read by this author.  Steve Martini has written a series of books featuring defense attorney Paul Madriani.  The basic formula is that the attorney must solve the mystery in order to defend his client.  Good mysteries with a twist.  The courtroom action is intriguing because it demonstrates how the same set of circumstantial evidence can be viewed logically in two or more ways.  Also a little unsettling for the same reason since it must play out in real life in a similar way.

I hope you all have wonderful days in the week ahead.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Photo Tour of Newton, Kansas with my Awesome Family

Since moving to Newton, my mom and I have been delighted with how quaint and well-preserved downtown Newton is.  It's wonderful to walk Main Street and peer into the shops housed in these turn of the century buildings.  Imagine our delight when we found that my cousin, Lori, and her husband, Eric, were equally intrigued.  When they came to visit from Texas over the Thanksgiving holiday, we put a photo tour of downtown Newton at the top of the agenda.  It follows below, starting with an introduction to my dear cousin, Lori.

First stop, the train depot.  My grandfather remembers being shipped out from this depot during World War II.  Amtrack still uses the building today.
(Train depot, Newton, KS)

(My grandparents, ages 88 and 87)

Notice the fine detailing on this Railroad Building and Loan building featured below.  It was not only important to put up a good building, but also to make it pretty.  In my opinion, we could use a little of this on our modern buildings today.  Obviously, it is no longer used for Railroad Building and Loan.  Instead, it is home to a  variety of offices, including the Chamber of Commerce.

(the side of the Railroad Building and Loan building)

Along the way, our photographer told us to "Go to that that corner and loiter".  So this is our rendition of loitering.  Mostly, we were laughing.

(Michelle, Suzanne--my mom--Lori)

This bay window is another example of the pretty architecture to be found along Main Street.

You can see the window on the building in the background of the picture below.  We were lucky, because since it was Sunday and the shops were closed, we pretty much had the street to ourselves.  We took advantage of the table and chairs left outside by the restaurant.  Oh and by the way, I am smiling at the cameraman, but I realize it looks more like I'm having a seizure.

What would a photo tour be without a picture of the local quilt shop, Charlotte's Sew Natural?  The photographer got a bit arty with this shot.

The next two photographs are pictures of the First Methodist Church, also located on Main Street.  Once again, the architecture is a work of art.

This Baptist Church below can be found just a block off Main Street.

There are a lot of quaint towns in Kansas, but I've never seen one so well-preserved (although I don't pretend to have done a thorough search on the subject).  In our wanderings we did find an explanation that contributes to the fact that these wonderful, old buildings still exist.  In 1880, there was a terrible fire in downtown Newton, and many of the buildings on Main Street were burned to the ground.  After that, the city passed an ordinance requiring all buildings on Main Street between Second Street and Seventh to be made of stone or brick.  I have no doubt that has contributed to the longevity of these buildings.

Our photographer has a sense of humor.  Do we really look like we're up to no good?

So let me introduce our photographer, my sensationally fun cousin-in-law, Eric:

Eric Howton & The Prairie Quilter 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Favorite Things Friday--The Juki Sewing Machine

This week's Favorite Things Friday is dedicated to our Juki sewing machine.  She and I have had a long dry spell these past few months, but this week we were able to become reacquainted again.

We bought the Juki for one simple reason, we needed a machine that would enable us to learn to do free motion quilting.  We didn't need it to do fancy stitches, embroider, or sing The Star Spangled Banner.  The Juki does only straight stitching.  It doesn't even do a zig-zag.  The machine is built like a tank.  All metal parts.  It just feels solid.  It has a 9" harp and is considered to be a mid-arm.  I can tell you, the extra harp space makes a big difference when trying to work on a quilt of any size.

When we began looking at sewing machines--and there are a lot of wonderful machines on the market--we kept coming across machines that would do way more than we wanted them to, and their prices reflected that as well.  My mom and I debated a long time.  After all, when buying a machine of this caliber (as opposed to the $200 machines at Wal-mart), you want to be sure you've got it right.  That first test drive after we unpacked the Juki told us that we'd made the right decision.  I've been on the free motion quilting band wagon ever since.

So head on over to Quilting in My Pyjamas, and join in the Favorite Things Friday fun.  Everyone is welcome to play.


Hmmm.  I just noticed that this is my 100th post.  Who would have thought when I started this blog back in February I'd have this much to say?