Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year - time to make a quilt!

Technically it's not New Year's yet - still a little less than two hours to go -- would someone please tell the neighbors! They started fire crackers at dusk and haven't let up yet. Poor Pixxie has been in hiding under our bed all evening. It's a terrible thing to do to a cute puppy. (Sigh)

So! Guess what I've been doing today?

First, we spent the entire morning taking down the Christmas stuff. I love Christmas, but when it's over, it's over. I guess because it's a long season -- we put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving - and sometimes I leave it till New Year's, but this year things worked out differently. (Had help so you take it when you can get it! Grin).

That done it was time for some therapy in the studio. I still haven't quite dug out from all the happenin's this past month (customer quilts, Quilts of Hope, Jamie camping out in the studio while here to help with A-1 set ups, mounts of paperwork around the computer, etc.) but I decided that some of the mess just had to be ignored because I couldn't ignore the call to piece!

Besides, I am teaching a class next month at the local quilt shop and Saturday is her sign up day - ya' think I should have a class sample made?

So that's what I've done. I've pulled out scraps and got busy. This is a Square in a Square pattern from the original book (fondly called 'the blue book') called Prairie Claws. The pattern is quite simple to piece and used up a lot of scraps. Each block had the potential of 36 different prints! My kind of scrappy!

Back in the spring a local 'famous person' (lives in north Houston) Lynn Roddy Brown came to speak at our guild. She's the author of "Simple Strategies for Scrap Quilts" published by That Patchwork Place. She not only had a fabulous trunk show, but wonderful suggestions on how to tame your scraps. One thing she does is take fat quarters and cut them into 3 portions of 5.5 x 20+ - she even shared how you could do an exchange with friends. Well, I went through my fat quarters this spring and did just that - I cut them up into strips. It was from this 'pile' that I worked on my quilt today.

I had (75) 5.5 x 20 which were perfect for the Prairie Claws project. I needed 1.5 strips for my 'surround' strips on my Options 1 and 3, and I needed a couple of 3-7/8 squares and a couple of 2 inch squared from each print. And I even have a little left over! Not bad!!

The pattern calls for 28 pieced blocks to make a queen size quilt, but for my class sample I only made 5. This would make a cute quilt if borders were added, but I think I'll hold out and make it bigger -- just not before Saturday! In class the students should be able to do all five blocks, at least one or two -- depends if they are smokin' needles or not (grin). Today I was smokin!!

So here's my New Year's Eve therapy...what do you think?



I don't know, seems kinda sad without my Pixxie to pose with it. Dang those fireworks!

Happy New Year friends! I think I'm going to finish cutting out the background fabric so I can place all the parts and pieces in yet another UFO bag. Ah, but this one has potential!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

Pixxie enjoyed our busy day today. You can see how she has to be close to one of us. I get tickled how she puts her paw on our leg like she doesn't get enough attention (smile)

What a wonderfully busy day. Actually two days - as it is in the wee hours Christmas Eve as I write this. I just finished two bath mats for Christmas presents to our parents. I don't know why I can't seem to get the photo to flip sideways so you'll just have to turn your head (smile).

This is two bath towels quilted together on the longarm, no batting. I got the idea from another longarm quilter as I looked through webshots. Pretty cool idea actually. The original lady shared that she quilted gently worn towels, since this was a gift I purchased new towels.



It wasn't difficult to quilt, a little thick but no worse than quilting double knit (ugh) or minkie.



Have to admit it was rather therapeutic to be quilting again after a week of longarm set ups and limited customer quilts the last one of which delivered 12/23 at 7:30 PM. I didn't start on the bathmats until after 10 PM or so and finished a little after midnight. I made two. The only issue was in the trimming - I've got to vacuum!! What a mess. I cheated and did a machine binding instead of hand sewn on the back -- but heck, it's a bath mat! (smile).

Our immediate family had Christmas together this afternoon - our work schedules are so crazy that this was the only time all four of us could be together. I was working up until the last minute! Realized as I was wrapping presents that #1 Son only had one gift under the tree from us (it was a "big" one) and then I remembered that earlier in the year I had purchased some fabric with "Texas Hold'em" on it to make him pillow cases....nothing like last minute sewing! It was 11 AM and we were scheduled to get together to eat and open gifts a 1 PM!!



He was proud of the pillow cases, and asked if I'd make some throw pillows for his couch. Of course!



I had hinted that I wanted Mamma Mia! for Christmas and was very pleased that I received just what I asked for. Probably one of my favorite movies this year...hum...only saw three or four at the theater this year and actually liked them all, but this one made me feel like dancing -- so seems like a good one for the library, you know, something you pull out on those down days when you need a pick me up!



#2 Son is an artist. He knew his dad liked the old "rat fink" from his hot rod days so this was a most welcomed gift.



#2 Son painted this for #1 Son. It was too big to wrap so #1 Son was told to "go look in the hall closet" (smile) He was very pleased.



We are wanting to encourage #2 Son in his art so he recieved an air compressor and air brush materials. Can't wait to see what he creates next!

The next few days will be spent with extend families. Can't believe it's Christmas already! Nothing like waiting until the last minute to finish those gifts! Hum..maybe that's just part of the season (smile)

Merry Christmas everyone.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Missing Plane update

Many will remember our prayer chain concerning the missing plane and the three crew members...here's the latest updates, please notice the dates of the emails to keep things chronically.


Sent: Saturday, December 20, 2008 11:27 AM
Subject: Nevrdun News - Prayer Request Update 29


A week from today.


That's when the wedding was scheduled.


Chris and Dara's day to unite together as one.


But where is Chris? Dara doesn't know. No one knows. Only God knows.


And only He can calm Dara's heart and give her peace. He loves her with an everlasting love and He will give her hope for the future.


Dara needs our prayers. The families of Wes, Chris and Patrick all need our prayers.


Lord, please give them Your peace that passes understanding. May they set their hearts fully on Your grace, firmly believe that You exist, and know that some way, some how, You will work all these things together for good. When their hearts are anxious or troubled or afraid, may they turn their eyes toward You. And trust You. May their hearts always be tender toward You. May they stand fast in You with the full assurance that You are their refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Please guide them. Encourage them. Fill them with Your word. May they not dwell on their feelings, but build on Your love and goodness in their lives. May the power of Your love lift them up and give them fortitude and hope. Please give them the strength to rest in You in quietness and confidence. May they always have hope in You. May they be strong and courageous, knowing You are with them wherever they go. And may they continue to trust You and Your purposes, even when things don't turn out as they expect. Please help them take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. May they trust You and pour out their hearts to You. Please guard their course and protect their way. And lead them one step at a time, for they are traveling hard, rocky, unfamiliar ground. They need You. They need to know You are there. And they need to know You care. We know You do and we thank You and praise You for it.

In Jesus name . . .


Sent: Monday, December 22, 2008 10:39 AM
Subject: Nevrdun News - Prayer Request Update 30

Here is the latest news on the missing plane from today's stabroeknews.com. Thank you for your continued prayers!

Ground team checking missing plane anomaly

BY Staff
Published: December 22, 2008 in News

A new anomaly has been identified from aerial photographs in the area where a US-registered aircraft went missing almost two months ago and a ground crew is making its way to the identified area, according to Vice President, Investor Relations of U3O8 Corp, Nancy Chan-Palmateer.

However, Chan-Palmateer cautioned that the crew may take several days to reach the latest area of interest given the challenging terrain and the thick jungle cover. She said that they have to cut through the bush every step of the way from the nearest accessible part of the area, and search around that area to ensure that they get to the exact location shown on the photograph.

“It is premature to know what this anomaly may be until the field team reaches the area, although we hope and pray that we will find something soon,” she told Stabroek News via email on Saturday. She pointed out that over the course of the search effort a number of anomalies were detected through the aerial images and ground crews have investigated each one but to date there has been no positive result.

Meanwhile, Captain Gerry Gouveia yesterday told Stabroek News that in association with US-based pilot, Miles Williams, he had identified an anomaly. It is not clear if it is the same one Chan-Palmateer referred to, and he suggested that a helicopter should be used by one of the companies with whom the aircraft was attached to check it out.

Dynamic Aviation had used an aircraft equipped with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology to take specialized photographs of the area and according to Gouveia the photographs which were of high probability areas were also placed on a specialized website, internetsar.com, developed for that purpose.

He described the developing of the website as a “very innovative way of conducting search and rescue” as persons around the world can view the photographs. The company then sent a website link to various pilots to view and according to Gouveia he requested photographs of a particular area of probability he had previously identified. He said the photographs, which were super-imposed on Google Earth, were analysed by Williams and an anomaly was identified.

The plane went missing in late October and after fifteen days of searching the Guyana government called off the quest stating that the three occupants must be presumed to have perished. However, the three companies with whom the men on the plane were employed will continue the search.

Americans James Wesley Barker, 28, and Chris Paris, 23, the Captain and First Officer, respectively, along with Canadian Patrick Murphy, a geophysics technician were on board the plane. The aircraft was chartered from Dynamic Aviation Inc by Terraquest Ltd to conduct geophysical surveys on behalf of Prometheus Resources (Guyana) Inc, a subsidiary of the Toronto-based U3O8 Corporation.

The aircraft was scheduled to operate in the Chi Chi-Imbaimadai area in the Cuyuni following which it was expected to have returned to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

We Work Hard and We Play Hard

After a week of working hard we decided to take the afternoon off and swing by San Antonio on our way back to Houston after an A-1 set up.

Naturally we had to share the Alamo with Jamie and I wasn't shy about asking someone to take our photo to 'document' our adventure.

We were worried that the weather would be bad - it's suppose to drop tonight and tomorrow, but we have had muggy 70's the past two days -- which is much better than the snows up north where Jamie calls home.

We arrived in San Antonio late afternoon but were in time to take a quick run through the historic Alamo to take a few photos that proved we were there. I was eager to get to the River Walk so we didn't linger to read all the interesting stories around the landmark - plan on coming back again sometime and really taking our time to absorb the reality of this part of our Texas History. Makes me want to watch The Alamo (the movie) again. Perhaps we'll rent it over the holidays.


If I were an art quilter I think this would make a beautiful project.

As I mentioned, I really wanted to spend some time on the River Walk, even though we've been here before I had heard it was beautiful this time of year. I wasn't disappointed.




We decided to take the river taxi to get the most out of our visit - and had such a wonderful narrator who shared with us the interesting tid-bits about San Antonio.



We were most fortunate to not have a long wait for the boat, it was pre-dusk and we figured most folks would want to wait until the lights in the trees were lit. We got the best of both worlds - light enough to be able to savor the highlights of the area, and the coming of evening which brought the beauty of the lights. I only wish my photos were true to color, but the memories are etched in my brain (smile). By the way, once we got off the boat we noticed just how long the line was -- my tired feet were glad we weren't the ones waiting!



Riding the River Taxi also gave us a synopis of what eating establishment choices were on the river -- oh there were sooooo many to choose from and oh were there a lot of people!

We were fortunate to find a steak house with no waiting! And even had a table with a view, not to mention a great dinner! Again, as we left we observed an extremely long line. I counted my blessings that we seemed to be at the right place at the right time!


It's been a busy week, I'm past tired, but very very thankful to have made some new quilting friends during our travels and to have shared this week with two great fellows. If we don't sleep in too long we might make it home around lunch time -- I'm eager to see Pixxie!

There are a few funny stories to share, but I think I'll wait until my brain is more functional to be able to share them to their fullest potential.



this Texas gal is calling it a night - more later!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sew much fun with A-1

I think you'll agree that my husband enjoyed the day by the look on his face. We all did.

Today was our training with Jamie Wallen on how to set up and service an A-1 Professional Quilting Machine at the home of one of my new clients.

I took almost 200 photos today, but will only share a few (smile). There's a step by step process involved in uncrating and putting together both the table and the longarm machine. And you know me - I documented it well!

Since we won't always have Jamie with us (I really want to keep him) we will have photos of today to remind us of our step by step procedures until they become second nature to us as we set up and service more and more future A-1 longarm quilters.




Everything about this company is top notch as was evident today by observing how meticulous and well thought out things are even down to the details of the crating to assure quality control that the machine and table parts arrive undamaged in the shipping (no offense to those in the shipping industry, but we all know this is a potential nightmare of worrying if something gets damaged or lost).



Have to admit, it was rather lengthy before the fellows got to this point of removing the table top. First came the prying off of the crate, undoing the little chunks of wood that stabilized the polls, etc. Again, I took A LOT of photos so we'd remember how to do everything in the proper order once we begin setting up the machines ourselves.



The fellows really seemed to enjoy working together as they put mastered the rubics cube of the table assembly.




Finally the table was assembled, the poles attached, the carriage on the tracks and it was time to put the machine head on the table! In looking at this photo it sorta reminds me of the pride in holding your baby for the first time - the care that is taken in the handling to make sure everything is just so.

Before we knew it the day came to a close as the table was now fully assembled with the machine head fully functional. Tomorrow we return to our client's to began her maintenance training and her basic training on how to use the machine. It's truly very exciting to help "birth" a new longarm quilter. I just know that there will be so many joyous moments spent in this new studio turning out beautiful creations that will be loved and appreciated for generations to come.

We've only just begun! Oh the privelage of being able to walk this journey with new quilters as we have stepped out to this path of becoming A-1 dealers. I can already tell, it's going to be a great adventure!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Guess what's in the boxes?


Hope.

Quilts of Hope to be exact. Blankets of Love donated towards Hurricane Ike recovery.

Packages from North Carolina, Michigan, and Washington.

Gifts of love waiting to be opened, photographed, labeled with a simple letter and then distributed in time for Christmas to those who need it the most.

Thank you to those who have given so generously of their time, talents, and resources. Thank you for entrusting me with your quilts of hope to share with my neighbors.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Time to Pray

I received a link to this blog this morning through the 'prayer warrior' email list circulated by a friend at church. As I am a firm believer in prayer, and the power of networking that prayer, I wanted to share this with my fellow blog readers.

This young man was in a very serious car accident and is fighting to regain normality in his life. His aunt Bridget lives in NY and has started this blog to keep people informed of Kevin's condition. Won't you please take time to read his story and offer a prayer and perhaps a note of encouragement to his family.

http://kevincrank.blogspot.com/2008/12/because-its-kevin.html

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It REALLY is snowing!

Amazing. Simply amazing. Doesn't the snow look beautiful on the green shrubs?

Okay, I realize this isn't a lot to get excited about. NOT! If you live in Texas it is - specifically between Houston and Galveston!!

These photos were taken about 9 PM 12.10.08 It had just started accumulating here. Further up I45 I knew it was already covering the ground. Just took a little longer to get down here, but that's okay, it's worth the wait!



This is a cedar at the front porch. I'm pleased that the colors showed up in the dark as well as they did. I needed to capture the moment (grin).



This is one of the trees off the deck, you know, the one that lost so many limbs during Hurricane Ike? Wonder how long it's been since this tree has held snow?



You can tell that it's been warm around here, the grass is still green under the smoker (which was busy over Thanksgiving smoking our brisket!)




Poor Pixxie didn't like the cold white stuff and was scratching on the backdoor to get back in.

I went back out at 11 PM and it's actually sticking! Goodness, I haven't seen snow since we moved from the foothills of the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee!



It's sooo beautiful -- mainly because its so rare (grin)



For the record, the last time Galveston County had snow was Christmas Eve 2004, but we missed it. We were on a cruise and enjoying Cozumel, gosh darn it. Now honestly, what had you rather have, a rare snow in Galveston or enjoying the sunny beaches in the Caribbean? I have no regrets that's for sure!


Okay, indulge me. I know I'm acting like a giddie school girl, but I had to take photos tonight because it might not be there in the morning!

!

Luckily no one drove by as this crazy woman and her white Chihuahua went outside to capture this moment in history!! Snow in Galveston County Texas! Who wouldn't thought!!

I'm cold but happy! and Pixxie is tucked away in her quilt laden basket trying to get warm!

Let it Snow Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

Here on the gulf coast we don't see much snow...in fact there's a really cute country music song that says "they don't have white Christmases in Houston"

BUT!!! I just got a text message photo from my son and ta da it's snowing!

Okay, I admit, you have to really look close to see the snow - and most folks north of here would just call this a flurry and NOT snow - but ya' gotta understand we haven't seen snow here since Christmas Eve 2004 and probably a good ten years before that! So if we get excited over a couple of snowflakes ya' gotta give us some good ole understandin'

So far there's none of the coveted white stuff in our yard - this photo was taken further "inland" -- here on the bay we are about 6 to 8 degrees warmer than where my son was (and yes, that's his truck, he's a true redneck and proud of it - you do know that this is a "cowboy Cadillac don't ya?)

Above Houston and northern surrounding areas they have had flurries all day. I keep poking my head outside to see if any has floated down south. Poor Pixxie won't even stick her nose outside it's sooooo cold. You have to remember, yesterday it was almost 70 degrees, so a drop down in the 30's is quite a shock - almost as much as the snow!

I'll keep checking....in the meantime, if you haven't heard this song perhaps you should request it on your local radio station, it's really a good one and pret'near the truth!


White Christmases In Houston song lyrics from the album Merry Christmas by Branded

If you dream of horse-drawn carriages
Dashing through the snow;
Before you move to Texas
There's something you should know...

That they don't have White Christmases in Houston.
I've lived here most my life and I should know.
I've prayed and I've pleaded for way too many years
But they just don't have White Christmases down here.

I've heard of winter carnivals in Aspen.
It looks just like a winter wonderland.
But remember while you're freezin' throughout this Christmas season
We'll be down here with Christmas cheer and flip-flops in the sand.

I've seen all those Christmas shows on TV.
Blankets of white powder; my, how grand!
But while you've got snow and holly, I'm feastin' on tamales;
Sittin' on my back porch with an iced tea in my hand.

That they don't have White Christmases in Houston.
I've lived here most my life and I should know.
I've prayed and I've pleaded for way too many years
But they just don't have White Christmases down here

Christmas Quilts

Even though I've taken time out for a Christmas Open House, tool shopping, and a church pot-luck on Sunday that I haven't even told you about yet - I really have been busy with Christmas customer quilts too! Not all of them have been "Christmas" quilts -- but wanted to share these recent ones to sorta put you in the holiday mode!

I really enjoyed working on the broken star log cabin quilt, it was done with a simple panto and the customer was pleased when she came to pick it up. I know someone will enjoy snuggling under it this holiday season! You have to look close, but do you see my professional quilt model amongt the batting at the bottom (grin)?

I was able to sneak in a quilt of my own this past week as I quilted two student/customer quilts the same time as mine. You may remember these from earlier posts - they are a Square in a Square pattern called Exploding Star or Christmas Star in the book Advancing On II.



I wasn't sure if all three of them would fit on the frame, it was a tight squeeze, even with wide backing, but ta-da!



This one was my class sample. The quilting doesn't show up much due to the rich colors in the fabric, but when the light hits it just right you can see the texture. Even though it's quilted, it probably won't get hung this Christmas -- needs binding and a hanging sleeve and that's just not on my agenda or to do list for this season (sigh).



This one is Peggy's. She pieced the center in our SnS class and then went home to add the borders and the snowman in the center. I really like the way it looks and you can see from the close up that her choice of a lighter background fabric allowed the quilting to show up more than mine. Good job Peggy! She said she was gifting this to a friend for Christmas, I hope she likes it!



This next one is Cheryl's. She too was in the SnS class and pieced the center in class and went home to add the borders. Her green fabric has a little gold in it and it worked well with the gold thread - somehow it reflects and sparkles. She too chose a lighter background fabric that allowed the quilting to show better. Hum...seems I have something to learn from my students!



I played around with some different feathers on this one. Even though the quilts are all the same pattern I couldn't quilt them alike (sigh and grin)



I hope the girls are pleased. They took me longer than anticipated and now I'm a little behind...such is life. Need to get off the computer and go load another customer quilt that has been promised for Christmas...



In the meantime, I hope these Christmas beauties have inspired you to take time sometime this next year and make a Christmas quilt for yourself and your family. Certainly brightens up the room and adds joy to the season if ya' ask me!

Monday, December 8, 2008

An Early Christmas Gift???


It's not what you think.

It's not a gift for my husband.

It's not a gift for my oldest son, or even my youngest son.

Nothing for the brother-in-laws in my life, nor my father-in-law.

It's not really even a gift.

So why am I posting a photo of a new set of tools from Sears? What do tools have to do with quilting anyway - isn't this suppose to primarily be a quilting blog??

Glad you asked!

You see, I received a "tool list" from my friend Jamie Wallen, fellow longarm quilter AND fellow A-1 dealer. Yep. These are the tools he said I needed to be able to set up an A-1 plus a few more that he said we'd shop for together later. Gosh darn it, that meant a trip to the mall today was a necessity.

For those of you that don't know, I 'm not really a shopper. Unless it's quilt related of course! Couldn't tell you the last time I went to the mall. Just not interested. I'm a pretty simple gal and don't have a lot of wants and needs - shopping just isn't something I make a habit of doing. If and when I go it's with a list - boom, bang, in and out, I'm done.

Not so today. Today my hubby went with me (after all, I needed a man to help decipher my tool list which I had neatly printed out and tucked in my purse for safe keeping until we hit Sears). I would have been content to park right outside of the Sears entrance, you know, the one by the tool department...nope...he said "while we're here, let's just walk the mall". Okay, sounds like a fun date - but I didn't have my walking shoes on - nope, good ole high heel boots. Fashionable with jeans of course. That's okay, I'm a Texas gal, hit me with anything and I can handle it! Keyword in my life - flexable!

All kidding aside, it was nice to 'walk the mall' -- so many things have changed since I'd been there last -- and not just Christmas decorations! New stores and such. I was glad he was with me because I get so turned around in that mall, I never know where I am. That's why when I do go I always park outside of Sears so all I have to do is look for the Sears sign and I know I can find my way to my car!

Oh, and I did do a little shopping while there -- found a store that carried beauty supplies. Last week when I got my hair done my stylist gifted me with a manacure -- don't fall over gals, but this was my FIRST professional manacure. I'm serious when I tell you I'm not a high maintenance sort of gal. It was a real blessing though because it was prior to open house and I was proud to have nice nails for my 'hands on' demos. Well, this store in the mall had the same brand of nail polish my nail technician used so I thought "why not? I can touch up the paint myself!" and found the exact color!

So as my hubby just stated "we went to the mall today to get a pry bar and nail polish!" -- they were out of the recommended size pry bar so I guess I'll just have to go and do more tool shopping between now and the first A-1 set up on Sunday! But I've got the nail touch up covered! It's all about priorities!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Christmas Open House

Yesterday was my Open House for my business, Quilts 'N Kaboodle. We were celebrating several things - one, God's mercy on our home during Hurricane Ike, two God's blessing in the increase of our quilting business to include being a certified instructor with Square in a Square (this happened in June) and our new association with A-1 Quilting Machines as their Texas dealer (this happened in November). Truly a blessing to share these praises with my friends.

So from 10 to 3 many of my quilting friends "dropped in" for a hug, a howdy, a cookie and a few demos.

The cookies were baked by my good friend Annette, I've learned to rely on her for my "food needs" when I have quilting events. Not only is she fabulous as a person and friend, but she's a great cook! and by turning the kitchen over to her I'm relived of a lot of stress (smile)


As you can see, the kitchen is a big hit with my guests, everyone loved Annette's cookies, many asking for the recipes...



I spent a little time doodling on the longarm and then asked my guests to take the A-1 Quilting Machine for their own test drive. Many took me up on the offer!



Part of the open house included some of my 'students' bringing their show and tell from the Square in a Square classes we've had this past year. This is Delores, she took the Ohio Star class but didn't want to make the six inch blocks and a small quilt so I showed her how to translate the pattern to 12 inch blocks and away she went! Turned out to be a big, beautiful quilt and it's finished!



Judy was in the Exploding Star Class, she brought her top to share and to inquire about adding more rows to make it bigger. Can't wait to see the finished project!



At the top of the hour we had drawings for door prizes. Judy won one.



And Kaye did too!



I think the real fun was playing on the longarm...I think you'll agree as you view the photos!





All in all it was a fun day and I truly appreciate all that came. Especially Sara who took the photos and along with Amy and Annette greeted my guests. To see all the photos visit my webshots album