Friday, June 27, 2008

A New Endeavor

I decided that this blog was getting a bit unwieldy with my reading obsession, so I've created yet another blog for keeping track of that good stuff. You can check it out here:

The Sweet Serenity of Books

I named it for a quote I once saw on a Mary Engelbreit calendar page (Greyhair--stop your gagging) with the following quote:

"The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, and all the sweet serenity of books."

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I can't remember a time in my life without books and reading.

When I was too young to read for myself, my parents did it for me. Dad was a journalism major and first Managing Editor and then Publisher of the daily paper in the town where we lived. Mom was an English major in college and a devoted reader--both of them were. The library was one of my favorite places and as I talk about books, I'll also talk about library trips and book memories.

I hope you'll join me.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Giveaway at Fresh Squeezed Fabrics

Randi has opened an online shop and is featuring a giveaway to celebrate. Hurry, hurry, hurry, there's only an hour left!

Go to her blog: i have to say and register for something wonderful!

Sewing Again

I have been sewing quite a bit this week and actually getting things accomplished, which makes me very happy.

Since finishing the Spring Fling Round Robin and the Miniature Booty Swap as well as some Friendship Blocks for guild and these Lotto Blocks for Marilyn. My pal Kathy B. got the block after deciding to try applique and then decided that it might be a bit much for a first-timer, so she asked me if I would help her out. I told her I'd do it for her if she would do the two Dutchman's Puzzle blocks I owed Sharon. No problemo either way for us and that's one of the many things I love about my friend Kathy. She didn't mind doing the 16 flying geese units for the blocks and I'd have bitched and moaned my way through each and every one of them.

So here are my Cowgirl Sue's for Marilyn. I tried something different for me and used monofilament thread to do the applique by machine. It was no problem, but I'm not sure I like the look. These blocks reinforced for me how much I hate the stiffness that fusible web (I used Steam a Seam II) gives the finished project. Not to mention that it is darned near impossible to do hand embroidery on top of the appliques. I think I may have to investigate further the method I tried on the Valentine's Day Sew-a-Row.

I've also assembled some Jelly Roll blocks that I made when visiting my pal Becky in January. One top is nearly finished and I'll start the in a little while. Pictures to follow.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Finished, In the Nick of Time!

I finished the Book Awards Reading Challenge last night, and just a week ahead of the deadline. The challenge involved reading 12 books in the 12 months from July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008.

My completed reads:

  1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer 2003)
  2. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (Nobel Laureate, also Banned Books Challenge)
  3. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier (National Book Award 1997)
  4. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls (Alex Award 2006)
  5. The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington (Pulitzer 1919)
  6. The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman (Carnegie 1995)
  7. His Family by Ernest Poole (Pulitzer 1918)
  8. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (Pulitzer 2007)
  9. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (Costa/Whitbread 2003)
  10. The Able McLaughlins by Margaret Wilson (Pulitzer 1924)
  11. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Pulitzer 1961)
  12. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon (Pulitzer 2001)
I have to say that I really enjoyed all of these books and for very different reasons. His Family, the first winner of the prize in 1918 is a rambling tale of an upper class white family in New York City and the changes they all go through as life changes during the early 20th century. Their world is almost a different planet away from The Road, a post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son traveling through a wasted USA. These books could not be more different, yet each captured my attention and held it throughout. I've never enjoyed writing book reports, so I'll leave it at that.

On to the next challenge!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lucky Me!

My beloved husband Greyhair was right---I am living right. While we were gone, I got my Spring Fling Round Robin and I so love this quilt!! When I received the center from Kate in Surrey, UK back in March, I was at a loss as to what to do with it, so I played around with EQ6 and came up with a border. I was a little disappointed with it because I envisioned the brown stripes being smaller and why I failed to notice on the papers I printed for piecing, I can't tell you. I sent it to Nicole who added the fabulous shiny border and then Jeanette in Finland quilted it and sent it back to me. I absolutely love that this swap was international and that I got a quilt that had crossed the Atlantic twice. It makes the world feel small, connected, and good which is a rare thing in this day and age.

Good/bad news on the Miniature Booty Swap hosted by Toni. Bad news: I sent my quilt out by the deadline and because I always use Priority mail in the US (automatically includes tracking) I knew the recipient received her quilt. A week goes by and no response--was this person born in a barn? Finally, I get a perfunctory "thank you." Good news: several days ago, I got a post from Margaret, the organizer of our fabulous Spring Fling Round Robin, who was supposed to get a quilt from my recipient, but it never arrived (and wasn't going to). Toni, the hostess asked my recipient to send the quilt I made for her to Margaret and she did. I'm going to send Margaret a new label for her quilt, and I'm pretty happy because I know my quilt is in a good home and I'm glad my recipient did the right thing in passing the quilt on so Margaret wouldn't get "skunked."

Lesson for today: If you sign up to participate in a swap, do your darnedest to honor that commitment, but if you can't be gracious enough to contact your hostess quickly so she can work things out for everyone else. Capisce?

Vintage Girl Gets Vintage Quilt

We had a lovely weekend celebrating both my birthday and Father's Day. On Friday, we drove to Sutter Creek in California's Gold Country and drove to Ironstone Vineyards for a Sheryl Crow concert. The concert was beyond wonderful and Greyhair will probably be blogging about it today with pictures here. On Saturday, we trolled around the area and did some wine-tasting and antique shopping. I wandered into a shop called The Victorian Closet and was bowled over by the huge number of antique quilts.

I spotted at least a half dozen that I'd like to have brought home, but alas, I didn't want to take out a second mortgage on the house.... I did find this lovely baby quilt made in double pink and browns and it came home with me. Sweet. I'll give you a little eye candy of some of her other quilts, so have a great day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Love Compaq

My husband Greyhair says I must be living right.

Last night, I headed downstairs like I do every evening and I placed my Compaq laptop in my sewing basket, like I always do. Unfortunately, the laptop didn't sit well in the basket and......end-over-end, it tumbled down the stairs.

I'm sure you can imagine the "Oh darn!" moment...LOL.

The battery flew out as did a cover for an external network card and the hard drive hatch loosened up and I was ready to bury her. Greyhair and I held our respective breaths as I attempted to power her on.....and up she went!!!!

Today I'll backing up the few things that aren't already on my backup hard drive. Just in case.

Your tip for the day: If you have something really important on your computer, invest a little cash in a detachable hard drive and back-up, back-up, back-up. As the technician who just replaced my laptop keyboard said, "I hate the look on the faces of people whose hard drive just died when they haven't backed up, its very sad."


Feeling very lucky at La Dolce Vita today,

Monday, June 09, 2008

Spring Fling

Spring has flung, and summer is definitely here at La Dolce Vita. I finally finished my Spring Fling Round Robin and got it in the mail to the recipient.

In my 35 years of quilting, I've only had two or three quilts where the corners of the binding gave me fits and this was one of them. Not my best work, but I just could not make them behave and I had to know when to say "finished is better than perfect." I love how this turned out with the bright colors and all of the ladies at guild who saw me hand quilting it on Thursday loved it too.

Something new for me was free quilting without a frame ala Tonya. I did mark the designs or use masking tape--I'm not as brave as she is yet. I enjoyed the freedom, but will need to learn to endure having a thimble on my pushing finger because baby, it is one sore puppy today!

As always, I love this type of project for the learning experience it provides, forcing me out of my comfort zone and making me grow as a quilter.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Moonlight Quilters Show

The weekend show Wine Country Quilts was a success, at least as far as I could see. I took over 300 pictures and I'm now in the process of cleaning, cropping and correcting so I can put them in my Picasa album. Stay tuned in a few days for that.

In the meantime, I'll share a lovely Baltimore Album quilt made by Mitzi, a gal in my Snooze-U-Lose minigroup. Bear in mind, this quilt is only about 36" square.

Did I mention that Mitzi does amazing work?

Tomorrow, I'll post the final picture of the Spring Fling Round Robin before I mail it to the recipient.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Under the Gun

Thursday was Sew-A-Row transition day and as the "Organizer" (I use the term loosely), I didn't feel that I could be a slacker and not transition mine. Well, I could, but it certainly would look bad, wouldn't it?

At left is a darling embroidery done by a guild member. I'd printed out some sewing notions from EQ6 to applique, but just didn't get to it, so I corralled my bright sewing-themed fabrics and made some nine patches on point. This project got derailed when someone signed up for round 2 and then turned it in undone, so hopefully we will get it caught up before December.

The project at the right started with Sandy's "Boo," a block she did for this year after its smashing success last year. Linda added the somewhat sinister cats and I added the spider webs and spiders to the barn. You can't really tell from this picture, but the spider's legs are three dimensional. Using the same floss, I split the strands and braided them with knots at the end.

Also in the pipeline is my Spring Fling Round Robin. Due date for mailing was yesterday, and I missed that too because I'm hand quilting and that is taking some time. That project will be in the mail on Monday, and then I'm swearing off swaps for a while. I've accomplished exactly zero on my own projects this year.

Tomorrow and Sunday is Wine Country Quilts, the annual show put on by the Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County. If you are near Sonoma County think about coming over for the show, it is ALWAYS a great show with great vendors!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Way Back Machine

I'm quilting away on my Spring Fling Round Robin and will post when it is done, and in the meantime I offer a picture of this, my first quilt.

In 1975, I met Leah Curling at a Newcomers Club meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado. I'd always wanted to learn to quilt, and there she was hand piecing. Well I was on her like the proverbial duck on a Junebug and the rest is history. She mentored me and pointed me in the direction of Beth Gutcheon's Perfect Patchwork Primer, still a great book for anyone who wants to learn to quilt the old fashioned way.

This pattern is called Time and Tide and came from an issue of Quilters' Newsletter Magazine. I ordered the fabric from Sears Roebuck in order to get 100% cotton. The two prints are just different colorways of the same fabric and I think the fabric was about $1.50 a yard or less. I had pieced this quilt and hand quilted it in a frame built by my husband's co-worker.

I wish I could say that I loved this quilt, but I'm really not wild about the colors and fabrics. I do love the labor I put into this quilt. Being hand pieced just the way Grandma did, I traced templates of each and every piece and cut them out individually. My quilting template for the border was also good-old-style cardboard.

Perhaps tomorrow, a picture of my last Sew-a-Row or the Spring Fling....

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Sunday, June 01, 2008


My friend and chosen sister Kathy B. came down last night and took me to see Crosby, Stills and Nash's kickoff concert at the Wells Fargo Center. Kathy is my concert pal. I took her to see The Moody Blues in March for her birthday and she treated me to CSN for my b-day. Yeah, we like geriatric rock and roll, but we also like the newer stuff and will be getting together Dutch-treat to see Chris Isaak at the end of July.

We ate Chinese food before the concert and had a giggle over some crazy email pictures sent by my Aunt Blanche, and just had a great time together as always. We even stopped by Quilted Vine and contributed to the Sonoma County economy. Kathy and I brokered a trade on some friendship blocks for our Fat Quarters (no comments please) online group. I'll do her Sunbonnet Sue applique for Marilyn and she'll do my Dutchman's Puzzle blocks for Sharon. Win-win!!

We get to see each other again next weekend for the Moonlight Quilters of Sonoma County's annual show, and our pal Becky may even get to join us.....BONUS!