Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday: Just out of curiosity...

...I have a question. After seeing this on Amy's blog, I have been giving it a lot of thought. 
It seems like I read blog after blog by uber achievers. Don't get me wrong. I'm not completely beating myself up over this. I get done what I get done...

I'm just really curious. My question was originally going to be:

How do you all do it?

Instead, I'm rephrasing:

How do you do it all?

If you have a full-time job, how do you have the energy to sew after a long day, after a long week? If you pick up little ones from day care?

If you are a SAHM, how do you sandwich in sewing time when they no longer nap?

Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm just not as organized as I think I am. But honestly. It takes a boatload of time (at least for me it does) to write, photograph, upload pictures to blogger, upload pictures to Flickr, read blogs, comment on other people's blogs, try to respond to comments on my own blog, and then find time to sew so that I will even have something to write about! Sometimes it zaps all my energy.

And I only work part-time. And have no children at home (although I do try to babysit as often as I can). And I have a husband who is totally supportive of what I'm trying to get done. In fact, he is encouraging me to do more!

But I want to spend time with him, my family, my friends. I like to read. Do I need to quit sleeping?

Really. I would love some comments/suggestions. Maybe I just need to reorganize my time. Help me out here.

This is all the sewing I got done in the past week. Six more blocks of Amanda Jean's 36-patch quilt-along, which is now officially named Crazy Lips ("crazy" in honor of Amanda Jean's awesome blog, and "lips" in reference to that odd fabric that I wrote about last week--thanks for all your honest comments on that, by the way!)
And just out of curiosity: This one of the fabrics in a Moda layer cake of Kate Spain's new fabric, which is awesome. Would it bother you enough to write Moda and point out that the cutting on each colorway of this particular print is WAY off? I mean, if for example you were going to use the whole square...would the crookedness bother you or would you just go with it?
Just out of curiosity...I'm heading over to Lee's blog and see what everyone else has been up to.


Back to reality.

We spent the weekend on the central coast of California. Beautiful and peacful.

The complete opposite of the images we saw on TV left by the path of Irene.

For three nights, we slept with the sliding door of our balcony cracked open, hearing the waves of the Pacific Ocean crash on the shore.

Last night, the only noise I heard was the air conditioner kicking on and off throughout the night.

It would look like this when we woke up in the morning.
Then the fog would burn off and the rest of the day would be like this.
Then there were the sunsets.
We rested, read, relaxed, ate good food, and I even got a chance to sew. When I could tear my gaze away from the view...

And now it's Tuesday. And we're back in Fresno.

I'm actually pretty much of a homebody so being at home is usually a good thing for me. And I'm thankful to have a dry house with electricity. My thoughts and prayers today are with those who are without those things we take for granted.

If I could, I'd bring some of you to this coastline and we'd spend the rest of the day here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Name Game: Pings and Needles

I'm so happy to have Sarah here today from Pings and Needles. You will enjoy reading about how Sarah chose the name for her bog. Trust me. She is creative and funny. Welcome, Sarah!
Hello *waving* ... thank you for having me over.  I totally love this series.  So, here goes ... 
Hi, I'm Sarah and I live in Brighton, on the south coast of the British Isles.  I'm only telling you this because I want to include one of my all time favourite photos.  It was a hazy late spring, late afternoon. Delicious.

And ....  back in the room ... 

How did you choose the name for your blog?

Well,originally I had planned on calling my blog 'pins and needles' but obviously it was already taken. How naive I was back then (back then being a year ago this Tuesday! LOL)  

I really liked the word play of 'pins and needles' as a sensory experience.  It also captured the emotional discomfort I was in at the time as I started my blog two weeks after my brother's funeral.  I needed to be lost in words and fabric and pictures.  It didn't (doesn't) block the pain, but creativity in any form really does help to numb it.


I've since discovered that 'pins and needles' has different connotations in different countries!  

In British English it's a noun for the tingling numbness that you get in the tips of your fingers and toes when it's cold, or when your foot's gone to sleep.  Acute yet quite pleasurable too, like sneezing. In Australia & the US, 'pins and needles' is used much more frequently as an idiom for nervous anticipation.   who knew? not me.


Also, I really wanted to find something that wasn't too 'cute'.I don't really do 'cute' in my space.  I can appreciate it in others' but not mine. Maybe I'll admit to 'modern cute' !?  

In my other (more offline) life I am an IT teacher and teacher trainer.  I've always been nerdy and geeky, so that's when 'Pings' came to mind.  

A 'ping' is the nerd word for a test message sent to check the speed of an internet connection.  I thought it was a great way of bringing my nerdiness in straight from the start.  I also like that it's a sound word too ... the 'Ping!' of a creative lightbulb moment  ... hence the tagline: "the exquisite pain of nerdy creativity" So now you know!  


Were there other names you considered, and can you share any of them with us?

I did that random thing when you just type a whole load of rubbish in to see what it would look like on screen (we all did that, right?)  like 'bongs and poodles', 'strings and noodles' 'bowls and ladles' 'cats and cupcakes', seams and warbles, you know the kind of thing ...  

I also have a nerdy blog on wordpress for work and non pings stuff, called wikibloggia. I should use it more really, but Pings took over!

Now that you are recognized by Pings and Needles, are you happy with it, or do you wish you could change it to something else?

Nooooo ... I wouldn't want to change it ever ever ever ... My alter ego is most definitely Pings now (or Pingaling as Lynne @Lily'sQuilts calls me!) 

(NOTE: How cool to have a nickname chosen by the fabulous Lynne. Could you possibly come up with something for me, Lynne??)


My blog is very important to me.  PingsAndNeedles  is now an integral part of my being more fully me. I write much more than I post and I sew much less than I want to, but I love the friends, connections, and inspiration that I find on a daily basis.  

Thank you for letting me witter on.  Do come and visit if you haven't before, or indeed if you are secretly stalking me.  All are welcome!   I've got a fantastic blogiversary paying it forward giveaway going on - you could win 16 FQs of Jovial from Moda ... and it's fun ...  runs till Weds 31st! 


(please don't leave a comment about how awful it is to be really stalked and that I wouldn't joke about it if it happened to me, because it has, so I can, but that's for another post ... another day ...) 

Thanks, Sarah! Please stop by PingsAndNeedles and say hi to Sarah.

There are a lot of interesting blogs in the fall line-up of the Name Game. And remember--if there is someone you would like to read about, either request it in the comment section or send me an email.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Farmer's Wife Friday: Farmer's Daughter/Farmer's Wife

The writer of this week's letter is from Clay County, Mississippi, a southern farmer's wife. She was not only a farmer's wife, but grew up as a farmer's daughter. "I have no hesitancy in saying that I wish my daughter to marry a farmer." She has money to spend every week, from selling butter and eggs. And "from a physical standpoint, nothing can be more invigorating than the daily exercise in the open air..."

A recurring theme I have found interesting is that these women find joy in the daily tasks around the farm, giving them a sense of accomplishment. And like others before her, this farmer's wife is happy  to be "...surrounded by God's sweet and wholesome air and the beauty of His world."

This week's blocks were a breeze to construct compared to last week's Night&Day.

The first was #17, Cats & Mice.

I have always liked the color of orange marmalade cats--is that a real color? I don't know--I don't have cats. I should have maybe switched the colors around because it looks like there are more mice than cats in this block.
I really like the star design in this block.

Next is #107, Windblown Square. Mark and I spent the first five years of our married life in western Kansas. Believe me. I know "windblown"!! The wind was oppressively present every.single.day! Sometimes when a storm was brewing the sky would get really dark, but it would have this kind of odd green-tinged color. That's what I was thinking about when I chose the colors for this block.
I really like "Windblown Square." Either on point or in a straight setting, the center part of this block has a lot of movement that is really great. And the best part is that it's all half-square triangles, so even though the block has a more complicated look to it, the construction is actually pretty simple.

Cats & Mice,  Windblown Square:
And my progress so far:

Head on over to Carla's blog to read her thoughts on this week's letter and see her version of these two blocks.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Really Random Thursday

After overwhelming support, "pastel fish lips" is IN. In fact, "Fish Lips" might even be the name of the quilt.Or maybe you should talk me out of that idea...
A friend sent a link to an article from the magazine, Mental Floss, called "10 Mind-Blowing Art Quilts." This quilt is made by Karyn who owns a shop called "the workroom."
Check out the article. The ten quilts are fascinating!
I have a stack of Fiestaware plates in every color of the rainbow. They are beautiful. We have used them for years, especially when we host Monday Night Football, as we have every season since 1996, with a room full of college kids and then young marrieds. We won't be doing it this year. College kids have grown up, married, moved out of town, all kinds of reasons. It makes me sad to think this era is over. Mark will certainly still watch Monday Night football. I will enjoy hearing it in the background as I work on other projects. Even so, I added to my Fiestaware collection. We never had a creamer and sugar bowl. Or salt and pepper shakers. And then this anniversary color (75th I think...), Marigold, came out. A beautiful deep rich yellow, just like the flower. I couldn't resist. If you are in the area, stop by, have a meal and watch some football with us.
I won a giveaway. Little Apples by Aneela Hooey. So excited. Thank you, Pink Castle!
My pincushions made their TV debut. On PBS. On a show that our local PBS channel doesn't carry. Quilting Arts TV kindly sent me the season DVD. And my pincushions were on the DVD cover!!

We watched the episode with the pincushions. Mark kept replaying over and over the part where Pokey Bolton said something like, "Here's a cute project by Cindy Wiens..." Silly guy (but I love that he is so supportive!)
I forgot to mention another cool detail of Mark's Minnesota State Fair birthday: Aaron made a playlist of the music of artists all from the state of Minnesota. Of course, Prince. We now own "Purple Rain." But I had no clue Bob Dylan was from Minnesota. Here's a small sample. There's some interesting music...

And the gifts just keep on coming. Mark collects vintage metal signs. This arrived in the mail today.

Need some more fabric to inspire you? Then please vote for Lee. Her fabric design, Flourish, needs a few more votes and I think she could clinch the top prize. So head over and vote for her. I'd sure love to own a yard or two of this cool fabric.
And to end on a good note, a musical note that is...our granddaughter started taking piano lessons from my mother. It warms my heart to know that she will be getting such a good foundation from her great grandmother and that they get to spend quality time together each week. 

I hope you'll come back tomorrow for the next edition of Farmer's Wife Friday. Until then, is there some randomness happening in your life today?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday

Honest opinions only, please.

About a year and a half ago, I bought this fabric. It is by Brandon Mably and is called "pastel fish lips" (that's the link in case you want to head over right now and purchase some). Alternatively I can mail you about an eighth of a yard. All you have to do is ask.

When it arrived, it was one of those purchases that looked totally different in person than on my computer screen. The circles seemed huge. No, I did not pay attention to the ruler they had on the fabric to give you an idea of the scale.
It was brighter than I anticipated, especially for something described as "pastel." I did a post basically saying, "What was I thinking??" I thought about giving it away but instead I put it with the rest of my Kaffe Fasset stash and held on to it.

I decided this week to use this "pastel" fabric as the dark in one of my 36-patch blocks. I paired it with a more "sedate" fabric that veers toward the traditional side. Not only light versus dark, but traditional versus what was I thinking contemporary.

Here is my block.
 I don't hate it, but I'm not totally in love with it. But maybe that doesn't even matter. This is going to be a "smooshy" quilt. No borders, no sashing, no cornerstones, just one block blending into another.

My question: Does it blend? Or does it totally scream "Hey, look at ME!"

Here is it next to another block that is also larger scale. But this design also has a lot of space to "rest." There is no resting with "fish lips."

I put it right in the midst of other blocks.

Now you see it with its different neighbors, even though this won't be the final setting because I still have 14 more blocks to make.
So what do you think? Does it blend well enough, or will everyone looking at this quilt be saying to themselves, "What was she thinking?"

Thanks once again, Lee, for hosting this weekly show-and-tell!

You can't take Minnesota out of the boy...

No, you can't. Not even when he has spent four years in central Kansas going to college, five years in western Kansas teaching school, and the last thirty-three years in central California. His roots to Minnesota are deep and strong.

Mark celebrates the big 6-0 today. On Friday night, we surprised him with a Minnesota State Fair-themed party, the perfect theme for this Minnesota guy. Christa and Jill dreamed up this idea and all the details. They need to go into the party-planning business.
We had state fair food, and true to the Minnesota State Fair (which is awesome, by the way), nearly everything was on a stick (corn dogs, apples and chicken kebabs).
Kettlekorn centerpieces, the "home arts" section with Minnesota hot dish (aka casserole),and blue-ribbon-winning desserts.

We even had a Midway: ring toss, ball throw, etc.

Aaron had come up with a 20-question quiz, 10 questions about Minnesota in general, 10 questions about Mark specifically. You know, things like "what is the population of Butterfield?" (Mark's hometown), "who is a current presidential candidate from Minnesota?", "what is Mark's favorite food?"

And the winner, also a Minnesota native (so he should know these things), won the grand prize of...a can of Spam, of course!
He received lots of funny cards, and some gifts that really touched his heart.

Aaron and Christa know he loves to cook and got him this amazing cutting board.
See that little heart down at the bottom? That's the approximate location of Butterfield.

My dad has done woodworking as long as I can remember. Lately he has started making ink pens on his lathe that begin as a block of wood.
And a surprise came in the mail from our special friend who takes some of Mark's favorite photos. She lives in a town not too far from his hometown and keeps him supplied with pictures of that snow that he misses so much during the winter. This special book of Candy's photographs was a surprise to us both.
It was an evening of fun, food, family and friends, all celebrating the milestone birthday of my very best friend. Happy birthday, Mark!