Saturday, December 31, 2005

Catching Up

I had a wonderful Christmas in Chicago. I visited my sister and her family there. My brother-in-law got us tickets to "Wicked" which I loved. I am going to start reading the book this week, although I am sure the book and musical are different. If you have not heard of "Wicked," it is about the lives of the Witches of Oz before Dorothy so unceremoniously plopped her house down on one of them. I loved it. Did I mention that?

I also got to have dinner at the American Girl Place. What a lovely evening, and a great way to expose young girls to formal dining, but in a friendly setting. Great food. Great time had by all, including Elizabeth and Felicity, the dolls who came with us. They even bring the dolls food and drink. It would be very easy to spend a fortune in that place.

I have decided on a theme for the Journal Quilts Challenge. I am going to do a verb of the month. January's verb will be Live. February's will be Love. That's as far as I've gotten. My plan is to start designing today for January.

I bought my first Quilting Arts magazine yesterday at the grocery. I have never seen it at the grocery before. I feel like a little synchronicity was at work there as I have been avoinding the magazine section recently because magazines are definately a "latte factor" for me. What a cool magazine. I am going to subscribe as a birthday present to myself.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


I cannot believe that Christmas is this weekend. Today is the last day of school for the kids. My oldest is going on a field trip to see "A Christmas Carol" and my middlest (as he calls himself) is having his Christmas party. I made both of them wrap their own teacher gifts and write the cards. Most teachers are getting Godiva Chocolate, Nam's Bits (the best little chocolate chip cookies ever) and scented candles in milk glasses. The gifted services teacher is getting the new dinosaur pop-up book. She has had my oldest in class for 5 years now, so we wanted to give her a personal gift that she would love and would remind her of my son for years to come. If you mention dinosaurs to any of my son's teachers (and many other teachers in the school, the vice principal, the principal, the instructional lead teacher, the janitor, the school nurse, etc.) they immediately think of my son. And this teacher collects pop-up books. It was synchronicity that this book was released this fall. Anyway, I love shopping for teachers' gifts, as I think these people are so important to my kids. However, I do try to give gifts that they can use up because I am sure they get a lot of stuff to dust. The dinosaur book is the exception.

Tuesday, we decided that in order to sell this house, our living room had to be a different color. We really didn't like the way it turned out when we painted it. I have since learned that you don't trust the lighting in the paint department at Home Depot. Anyway, I don't like the new living room, either, but at least it is neutral. We started painting about 8 pm and had all the furniture back in place by 2 am. I slept for 2 1/2 hours and got up and walked my four miles. I think I may have overdone things, though, because I just could not get up this morning. Luckily, my husband was kind enough to go into work a little later than usual so I could oversleep. I am feeling much better now. So here is the living room transformation...
Wow, what bad lighting... It is now white. So the downstairs of the house is now white, or at least has white below the chair rail. I guess people want to buy neutral homes. My new one is anything but neutral. It is purple, everywhere. Very purple. Not burgandy, not lavendar, purple. I am working on a warm tones pallet for the new house. There is a lot of wall paper to come down first, though.

Interesting blogs I have read lately... Both Rayna and Amy have great information about Chanukah on their blogs. A friend of mine has been at school making potato pancakes a lot recently. I am ready to try my hand at Rayna's recipe. Debra had some interesting points about men and gift giving which has sparked quite the conversation. JudyL has a fun story about a gift arriving just in time and how to hide it from a man. Gabrielle has an interesting post about Twyla Tharpe's book, which I think I will read when I am done The Artist's Way. Be prepared to be serenaded by Bon Jovi when you go to that site.

Ok, back to wrapping presents. Maybe a quick trip to the Avenue to get some more Nam's Bits. And I am hoping one of my Chicago relatives sends me some Frango Mints soon...

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, or just enjoys the holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Welcome Home

My brother-in-law arrived home safe from Iraq last night. He has been over there for a year. I know my sister and her kids are glad to have him home for Christmas. I said a huge prayer of thanks when my sister called to tell me his plane touched down at 8 pm. My heart will still break at each loss of a soldier. All of those boys are someone's loved one. But mine is at home for now...

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Finished Some UFOs

Although you cannot see it well in this picture (it is gorgeous when it is bigger...) we woke up to ice on the trees this morning. No ice on the roads, so school was not cancelled.

As promised yesterday, I finished a quilt up. It is for my son's principal. It was a number of years in the making because I got bored with it. When I saw this apple fabric it looked like a kaliedoscope quilt would work great for it. It was my first attempt at equilateral triangles. I learned you really must be extremely precise when cutting them. However, a lot of quilting has allowed this quilt to look better than it should. I think the principal will be happy with it. I am calling it Carmel Apple.
Here is another quilt I finished for my niece. I did it to practice machine quilting. I drew the pattern on using a Crayola washable marker. It washed right out, even though I left it for a month or so. And it was a black marker. Anyway, in the middle of working on this quilt, I got a new foot pedal for my machine. I had no idea the speed control had deteriorated as much as it had. Needless to say, it was much easier to quilt with the new foot pedal.
Ok, I am off to find another UFO to work on. Thanks for the inspiration Tracey!

P.S. If you want to see the most wonderful quilt of the Christmas Season, even though I know Barbara did not design it to be a Christmas Quilt per se, visit the Madonna Idea Blog. This quilt had me speechless this morning.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's That Time of Year

I usually go all out decorating for Christmas. This year, our house is on the market, so I really don't think I can do that. Next year, in our new home, I will have my Christmas village out, all my Nativities, and all my other stuff. This year we have our tree...
and this Santa that I got at a gift exchange on Monday. He just goes perfect in my dining room, which is really a deeper color than this picture shows.

We did have someone come see the house today, so all of my cleaning is not for naught.

Time to get back to stitching down binding on a quilt. I am halfway done, so it should be finished tonight. I'll post a picture tomorrow. (See how I am trying to make myself accountable? Now if I could only do that with my diet. Check out Debra's post on the Quilter's Lounge. The information is towards the bottom of the post.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Week 6 Check In

Week six was about "Recovering a Sense of Abundance." Essentially, a lot of it was about money. I must admit I have never been broke. I am not rich by a long shot, but I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from or if we could turn on the heat. Well, that is since I have been an adult. I believe that money must have been tight when I was young. However, my parents made the best of it. My parents taught me over the years that how you spend your money will show your priorities. I see a lot of that in this chapter. Or maybe that is just what I wanted to see. I did the money madness exercise, but I am not going to share it all here. Suffice it to say that I think I have a healthy attitude about money and I think I learned it from my well grounded parents.

I did my morning pages every day this week. YAHOO! I am going to continue to do them during our hiatus. I like spilling my guts that way. Although my husband has not seen, nor will he ever see my morning pages, I have shared some of my thoughts with him. He thinks they are working pretty well.

For my artist date, I didn't get to do what I wanted to. I wanted to go to a Christmas program at a church this afternoon. I forgot my boys had tickets to the hockey game. So my littlest and I went to historic Marietta Square shopping. I got the teachers' gifts that I needed. My favorite store, The Keeping Room was open on a Sunday for a change. That is where I always find my teachers' gifts, and once again there they were.

Sychronicity--The Keeping Room was open today. My younger sister called and out of the blue said that her husband's favorite restaurant was the one I just got him a gift card to.

About the new house, everything is in place for us to close at the end of January. Here is a picture of the new house.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Tasks from Chapter 6

Well, Julia said to do it, so I did it. I baked something. Unlike Hilda, I baked something not so good for me. I made gingerbread cookies from the Raleigh Tavern Bakeshop Cookbook. My parents own a timeshare in Williamsburg, Virginia, so every few years we end up there on vacation, hanging out behind the Raleigh Tavern, drinking cider and eating gingerbread. I went to a Christmas party last evening, and I took the gingerbread as my gift. I had a story all made up about how I worked at the bakeshop one summer and had the secret recipe. I am not that good of a liar, so I went with the truth.
I also went and bought a few luxury items. I went to the Schoolbox, which is the teacher supply store. I was hoping to find giant graph paper, but they did not have it. I did however get a giant newprint pad, a pad of tracing paper, and some watercolor colored pencils. I had fun and spent less than $12.
I found about 12 pieces of clothing to let go. I need to find time to go to the Goodwill drop off. There used to be a Goodwill Store close by. I was going to drop a bunch of stuff off there this summer and found they had built a Super Walmart on top of it. So now I have to go up to the truck in the mall parking lot. Since I don't like the road the mall is on, I don't go up there very often. Hopefully I can find time tomorrow.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

If I were 65 and had money...

I would buy a giant beach house for my family to use for vacations near the small beach house my husband I would live in. These beach houses would be on one of the islands near Charleston, South Carolina. (Does that count as two?) And we would eat fresh seafood all the time.

I would go to a big city once a month to see a show and go shopping. I would meet my friends there and we would have a blast. Anyone want to join me?

I would set aside college funds for my grandkids so my kids would have less to worry about.

I would have a long arm quilting machine and any other sewing machines my heart desired.

I would write an entire science curriculum from kindergarten through high school and publish it.

Week 5 Check In

Here is my week 5 check-in. I am kind of sad that we will be taking a break, but I know it is necessary over Christmas. My first read through of the chapter, I had some of the same thoughts as Tracey. So I reread it and tried to look over that part.

This week I wrote my morning pages 6 out of 7 days. Saturdays are just alluding me because I sleep in. I will try to do them later in the day next Saturday. But the other days I really feel the mind dump in the mornings releases me for the rest of the day. One day this week they turned into a list of pet peeves. I did not realize I let so many little things bother me. I am trying to let them go. Another day I did a page of resolutons for my family. We have all been working on them.

For my artist date this week I took a drive with my music cranked up. I did end up at the quilt shop for a few minutes, but I didn't find anything to buy. Having cleaned up the sewing room and knowing that anything I buy will just have to be moved in February helps. Anyway, I just listened to my guilty pleasures CDs and had a blast. I really relaxed. I think just getting away from the kids is almost enough most weeks. This week I am going to go shopping in the historic square and attend a Christmas program at a church where I don't know anyone. (That way no one can ask me to volunteer for something while I am there!)

Synchronicity... Let's see... I think I need to pay more attention to this aspect. I was having an obsession with Picasso the past couple of weeks for some reason. And, when I went into Borders on Tuesday Christmas shopping, I found a book on Picasso on sale for $4. Does that count? A number of years ago I read the book The Celestine Prophecy and really looked for synchronicity incidences. I think they called them something else in that book. Anyway, I have been having a desire to reread that book during all of this, and I am going to do that this week.

Other issues... Last night my husband asked me if I noticed the parking break light on the dash of my truck was not working all the time. I said, "No, really it isn't?" He said, "You know, you were much more observant of those things when you were an engineer than you are no that you are an artist." I think he is seeing a change in me. The kids are too. I have also been being more productive in my sewing room this week. When we discuss the new house, we discuss my sewing room with the same necessity as the bedrooms. Oh, and we are calling it a studio.

The idea that this chapter is on possiblities was synchronous (is that the word?) in itself this week. As I posted earlier, this was the first time I have ever made money quilting. I didn't realize it was a possiblity until now. We are buying a house that I never thought was a realizable dream with me not working. This week I want to sit down and set more goals and plans. I am finding it amazing what planning can do.

We are having the inspection on the new house tomorrow. Please keep us in your thoughts. We love this house and its location. I just hope it is not falling off its foundation or anything horrible like that.

Friday, December 02, 2005

My First Commission Quilt

About a month before we started The Artist's Way journey, I was asked to make a t-shirt quilt for my friend. I picked up the t-shirts, and they sat there for a long time. I had seen a number of t-shirt quilts at a quilt show I had recently attended, but I was not excited about them. Either all the t-shirts were cut the same size, with no regard for the design on the shirt; or they had been cut different sizes and then fabric strips were added so they were all a uniform block size, based on the largest t-shirt design. Frankly, I thought both ideas took away from the unique designs of each of the t-shirts.

Then I read that you should just experiment and see what happens. So I did. Now, after I got started I thought, "Maybe experimenting with someone else's irreplacable Peachtree Road Race t-shirts is not the wisest idea," but I had already started. So I kept going. I cut all the t-shirts to the size that the design dictated. Then, I laid them out on the floor to make a design that I liked. Most t-shirts are white or gray, so I needed to be careful about the color placement. I then decided that I didn't want the borders to be straight. So I allowed the t-shirts to hang over the borders. Then one t-shirt said, "I really should be a circle" to me, so I made it a circle. And here is the result...

Here is my favorite "block" of the quilt...

When I went to quilt it, I did not want to take anything away from the t-shirts. Afterall, my friend had run a lot of miles to earn all of these. I quilted in the ditch, which was not close enough together. So I picked a motif on each shirt and quilted it. Here are two shirts...

I quilted the outline of Georgia on this one.I quilted around the shoe on this one.

I delivered the quilt today. I got paid more than I asked, which made me very happy. I also had a lot of fun doing this quilt.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Week 4 Check In

Here is this week's check in...

I did a really bad job on my morning pages this week. However, I figured out why, so I guess it was a good thing in disguise. I was scared to death about getting ready for Christmas. I didn't know when I would have time to do it. So I think I was throwing a little tantrum there. My husband told me I didn't have to do anything for Christmas that would make me be stressed-out. What a wonderful gift. So I got up and did my morning pages this morning, and it felt great!

My Artist's Date was to The Nutcracker yesterday. It was so much fun. Really, it was my best date yet. I am going to work harder on these. I laughed, I cried, I made people clap for the good lifts. (And for some of the not so hard ones, but still a great job.) It made me remember the 8 years I was in a student production of The Nutcracker. I didn't take anyone else with me. I just had a great time by myself. I understand the importance of the Artist's Date, now, and will more carefully plan one for this week.

Synchronicity? Well, yes. I ran into an old professor in the grocery this morning. It was the first time I have talked to anyone from graduate school since I quit work. He was so supportive of my choice to stay at home. It felt good to have someone who really invested in my education to affirm my choice like that.

I spent time at my parents' new home in Florida this week. I mentioned this book and what I was doing to my mom. She was very supportive. She loves to sew, and makes gorgeous clothes for my kids. She is also the one who helps me cheat with my son's school uniforms. She has a machine with embroidery capability, and she embroiders dinosaurs on his uniform shirts for him. Anyway, it was good to be around her. We had a lot of fun together, jumping in the waves with the kids with all our clothes on, driving around in the golf cart looking at wildlife, and sharing a seafood quesadilla.

By the way, I was a complete failure last week at not reading. What can I say? My favorite author came out with the last book in her series. I had to read it so I could pass it on to my mom. Anyway, I am going to try again this week. I think it should be the start of less wasting of the time.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

3 Answers

1.Three screen names that I've had: Gajen, GaJules, and Redhead25
2. Three things I like about myself: willingness to try new things, being able to put math to work, my red hair
3.Three things I don't like about myself: I am too shy, I am too competitive, I am too quiet
4.Three parts of my heritage: three won't even begin to cover it
5. Three things that scare me: left hand turns without a turn light, sudden infant death syndrome, falling down stairs
6. Three of my everyday essentials: Diet Coke, fresh air, hugs from my family
7. Three things I am wearing right now: jeans, t-shirt, Victoria Secret underwear
8. Three of my favorite songs: Losing My Religion by REM, Chopin's Prelude in C Minor, Julie Do You Love Me by Bobby Sherman (I think I was named after that song)
9. Three things I want in a relationship: compromise, dependability, adoration
10. Two truths and a lie: I was on the math team in high school, I am a sorority girl, I am a Republican
11. Three things I can't live without: money, paper, my kids
12. Three clothing fads I bought into: preppy look (it was high school, what can I say?), shoulder pads, high top tennis shoes
13. Three things I just can't do: speak Spanish, grow long hair, play on a sports team
14. Three hairstyles I've had: ultra short spiky, bob, awful long stringy hair
15. Three things I want to do before I die: visit Alaska, write a novel, visit Italy for a long time, maybe 6 months to a year
16. Three new year's resolutions I never keep: No fast food, no overscheduling, learn to throw pots
17. Three of my favorite musicians/singers: Elton John, REM, Yo Yo Ma
18. Three physical things about the opposite sex that appeal to me: education, nice butt, great smile
19. Three of my favorite hobbies: collecting angels and Nativity Scenes, walking
20. Three things I really want to do badly right now: buy the white house, get new glasses, go swimming
21. Three careers I've considered (for about an hour): life guard, work at the Gap (would love to have a discount there), personal chef
22. Three ways that I am stereotypically a boy: can do a lot of math, am an engineer, have tar papered a roof
23. Three ways that you are stereotypically a girl: I can cook, I don't like snakes, I can spend a lot of money on clothes
24. Three people that I would like to see post this meme: Gemia, Suze, Jane Ann.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Week 3 Check In

This week I did morning pages 6 out of 7 days. They are getting to be a good habit and are fun to do most mornings. I missed Sunday morning.

For my Artist's Date I went to a local craft show. It was a bust. UGH! I have never seen so many weird crocheted things in my life. But I guess it is ok to have a bust on an Artist's Date. This week I hope to go to the beach... I am also going to attend The Nutcracker. That will be a ton of fun, since I used to (many many years ago) do The Nutcracker every year.

I did make a list of people who nurture me. That was pretty interesting. I even had lunch with one of them and talked on the phone to another a few times. In fact, she helped me solve a huge problem that was keeping me from working.

Here are the people I admire (from task 8): Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Jinney Beyer, Mitch Albom, and Lynne Cheney. I know you are thinking, Hillary Clinton and Lynne Cheney? But both are strong very educated women who stand up for their convictions. It doesn't matter that I agree with one and not the other. And they are both huge advocates for education, which is one of my passions. I admire Jinny Beyer because she is a quilter who is not afraid of math. I think women need to see women who are not afraid of math. And, I like Mitch Album because he steps outside his box. He is a sports reporter, and I love him on ESPN's The Sports Reporters on Sunday mornings. He always sounds so educated. (Oops, there's that word again...) But he also writes mainstream books that are loved by many. So I like that he stepped outside of sports and reached a lot of people.

From Task 9: People I want to hang out with... John Lennon, Princess Diana, my grandmother when she was in high school or newly married, Mary Cassatt, and Einstein.

Ok, that is my check in for this week. Sorry it is a day late.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Detective Work, An Exercise

These sentance starters came from The Artitst's Way by Julia Cameron. They were created to help find the artist inside you.

  1. My favorite childhood toy was a chalkboard.
  2. My favorite childhood game was pretending I was a teacher in a school. I had gradebooks, chalkboards, assignments, everything.
  3. The best movie I ever saw as a kid was Star Wars. I was in second grade and hated it at the time. But about a week later I loved it. I went to see it opening weekend, which made me some sort of second grade hero. I have seen all but the final Star Wars on the weekend they opened.
  4. I don't do it much, but I enjoy riding roller coasters.
  5. If I could lighten up a little, I'd let myself hang glide.
  6. If it weren't too late, I'd join the astronaut corps.
  7. My favorite musical instrument is the viola.
  8. The amount of money I spend on treating myself to entertainment each month is $15.
  9. If I weren't so stingy with my artist, I'd buy her a top of the line Bernina with embroidery capablility. I actually stored my mom's for her for about 6 weeks, but I was afraid to take it out of the box for fear I would ruin it, and I cannot afford to replace it.
  10. Taking time out for myself is hard to do. What mom wouldn't say that?
  11. I am afraid that if I start dreaming, I might just do something about it.
  12. I secretly enjoy reading Nora Roberts romance books, over and over again.
  13. If I had had a perfect childhood I'd have grown up to be a materials scienctist. I love being a scientist.
  14. If it didn't sound so crazy, I'd make my own line of clothing.
  15. My parents think artists are a little flighty, but fun people in general.
  16. My God thinks artists are his children, just like everyone else.
  17. What makes me feel weird about this recovery is that I never really realized I wanted to be an artist until recently.
  18. Learning to trust myself is probably near impossible.
  19. My most cheer-me-up music is "The End of the World, and I Feel Fine" by REM.
  20. My favorite way to dress is in jeans, a sweater, and boots.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Week 2 Check In

Morning Pages... I did them 6 out of 7. I missed Saturday morning because my husband was being sweet and let me sleep in. By the time I got up, it was almost time to leave for the last soccer game of the season. So, no morning pages on Saturday. About mid week, the morning pages just started flowing. One morning I designed a wall hanging based on American Gothic like the ARTImage Challenge women are working on now. I will put it together this week, hopefully. I also figured out that the morning pages will accept my most anxious moments and make my life a little less anxious.

Artist Date... I went to Target. Now I know you are thinking that I go to Target just about every week for something or another, and I do. However, this one was different. I got a few things for the house to make it more presentable to prospective buyers. I got a couple of rugs and some new throw pillows. The rugs really warm up the foyer and the powder room. And the throw pillows actually go with the sofas we just inherited from my parents. So I had a lot of fun and got to be a little creative... It reminded me of Debra's trip to Marshalls for dishes.

Other insights... I think this week was all about getting up and doing it for me. Not only quilting-wise, but with other things in my life, too. I mentioned that we are thinking of moving, and we really got going on that this week. I also completely finished the t-shirt quilt top, and I love it. I will post a picture when it is given to its recipient because it is a surprise. That will not be for another month, so don't hold your breath. I cleaned up my sewing room for a number of reasons, and it seems like Jane Ann did that too in the Artist's Way journey. Boy is it easier to create in that environment.

Sophie's trip to the beach reminded me how much I love to go to the beach. So I called my parents and sent them scoping out beaches I can visit when I am there for Thanksgiving. They also found an oceanographic insitute for us to visit.

Like Suze, I picked some new dream occupations... They include travel writer, historian, novelist, interior designer, and astronaut. I have a friend from graduate school who is now a Shuttle Astronaut and it seems like such a cool thing to do. There is also a Shuttle Astronaut who is a quilter. Well, that is one goal I am not going to work towards because I know I am too old to do it, and well, the way the space program is going, we might not have many more manned space flights. But I have been making notes on a story I can write.

Well, that is this week's check in.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Rian's Pages: Crazymakers

Rian's Pages: Crazymakers

Rian's post gave me something to think about. I wonder if I am someone else's crazymaker. I am an incessant planner. I cannot "play things by ear." I make reservations way in advance. I cannot stand to not have a plan in place. I am also on time or early everywhere. So my guess is that I am a crazymaker to people who like to play things fast and loose. It is an interesting thing to think about...

Thursday, November 10, 2005


Ok, so I really couldn't find monsters last week. However, Crazymakers I can see clearly.

The Crazymakers in my life have to have a relationship with everyone they meet. Everyone. Now, I know the name of my hairdresser, but I could not tell you the names of his kids. Heck, I didn't even know his last name for a while. I could not tell you the name of my mail man. I recognize people at the grocery store, but I don't know their life history. I do know people who work at the quilt store, but really not all that well. But my crazymaker friends know everyone and everything about everyone.

Maybe it is rude, but I am just not that interested. I have enough on my own plate without knowing about everything about everyone I ever meet. I have good friends who I like and support and know very well. But just a few.

I have been working lately, even before reading this chapter, on limiting my "toxic" relationships. There are times when I feel like other people are trying to take over my life. I don't like that and am resisting it more and more.

Anyway, I have a bunch of kit quilts to finish up as the result of a crazymaker. I suppose taking the time to finish them is still giving in somewhat, but I invested time and money into them, so I feel like I should finish. Better start sewing...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Imaginary Lives

Task 8 of week 1 of The Artist's Way is to pick 5 imaginary lives. Here they are...
  1. Snorkel tour leader on St. John, USVI. Last summer, my brother-in-law got married on the beach at Trunk Bay. What a beautiful place! I would love to live there and snorkel all the time. Even with red hair and fair skin, I am a beach person. To be on the beach full time, eating fish and seafood, and swimming would be a dream come true.

  2. Professional Chef. I love to cook for people who appreciate what I cook. If I could always choose the menu, I would love to be a professional cook. I think it would be cool to have a family style restaurant in an inn and be the chef, like Sookie on Gilmore Girls.
  3. Architect. I think architects do such cool things. A few years ago, my husband was on a tennis team full of architects. They had the neatest houses. It seems that architecture is the perfect mix of engineering and creativity.
  4. Lego Toy Designer. Someone has to come up with all those cool interpretations of Lego toys. I want to be her. I wouldn't mind doing the polymer chemistry, either. I love to play with Legos with my kids. And to get paid for that? How fun. I am thinking of building a small waterfall when we get our new house (which we have not even found, yet, so I am not holding my breath) and I want to put a Lego sea monster in it like the one in the Downtown Disney Lagoon at Disney World.

And speaking of Disney World, my last deam job is...

Imagineer at Disney World. These are the people who design all of the attractions. Disney World is one of my favorite places. I would love to set up a science exhibit hall in Epcot. Something about materials, because I think materials engineering is so cool. There could be a cool ride with different parts of the tracks made out of different things...metal, wood, ceramic, plastic... A huge shape memory alloy could go from Goofy to Mickey with the application of heat... Oh there are so many things that would be possible. And I could live in Celebration, which I think is really fun.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gifting Quilts

A while ago, Debra broke down the cost of giving a quilt in a discussion on the quilting forum. And it is expensive. Even if you do not count your time in the equation, just the supplies alone are expensive compared to other gifts you might give. Debra got a lot of flack with people saying things like, "You cannot put a price on a gift from the heart," etc. Of course, these are the same people who complain left and right about the cost of patterns, fabric, shipping and handling, etc. Quilting is an expensive hobby and not everyone can afford it. Just like a lot of things.

When looking at my Christmas list, I thought about who would get a quilt this year. I have a number of unfinished ones from a stint I did in 2004 attending a bunch of kit classes with a friend. By the time I finish them, they will cost me close to $100 each to finish, I would guess, not counting my time. (I cannot bill the same hourly rate for quilting as I do for laboratory design consulting. For one, I don't have a Ph.D. in quilting, and for another, it just isn't worth the same to the recipient.) So to whom would I give a gift that expensive?

Actually, there are quite a few people. But do these people really want one of my quilts? I am always surprised by who likes them the most. Here are a few quilts I have given as gifts.

A couple of years ago, my son joined the neighborhood swim team. The coach, a college age NCAA swimmer, really took to my son and spent a lot of time showing him how to swim correctly. To this day my son has gorgeous strokes. And, as a very little guy, can win blue ribbons in butterfly. But I digress... When Coach Joey graduated from college and moved on with his life, I made a queen sized rail fence quilt that all the swimmers signed the back of. Coach loves this quilt. He made an appearance at a swim meet this summer, and one of the first things he did was hug me and tell me he slept under that quilt every night. (He also told me I was looking good, which means a lot coming from a 25 year old athlete...) So I guess he liked it. Anyway, it is one of my favorite gifts I have ever given. (Please excuse the messy room. This was before we actually had bedroom furniture.)

Another quilt I made but was not sure about giving was to my uncle and aunt when they got married. It was also loved, and my aunt decorated her guest room around it. I don't have a picture of it anymore. It was nice.

I also made quilts for two of my son's teachers. Both had cancer. One did not make it. Here is the quilt I made her. It was a mystery quilt and I will never do one of them again. While I do like this quilt, I am more of a scrappy quilter than a 3 tone quilter...

Here is the other teacher's quilt. She is doing great, by the way, and is fully recovered at this point...

Both of those quilts were gifts from the heart and both of those women love(d) their quilts. And here's hoping that none of my son's other teachers are in need of a quilt like this again!

Anyway, the point is that quilts make excellent gifts for some people. But they do cost money and not everyone wants one. So I am careful who I give quilts to.

Actually, the point of this post was to see if I could put pictures in a post, and I think I have succeeded. I also put in links. Just trying to get the hang of it all.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Artist's Way Week 1

When I read the Basic Principles, a couple of things came to mind. The church in which I grew up was not very creedal. I do not have the Apostles' Creed memorized like most people I know who grew up going to church every Sunday. I guess you could say I went to a "Hippie" church. Anyway, we had our own creed that said, "Affirming our belief that God created the world, and is creating the world, and is calling us to be co-creators with him..." Imagine having grown up saying that and then reading in this book, "We are, ourselves, creations. And we, in turn, are meant to continue creativity by being creative ourselves." That principle is very powerful to me. And it affirmed, as Teri was saying, that it is very easy to view this book with my God as the spiritual force. So that made me want to keep reading.

Then I read reasons people give for being creatively blocked. Two really were like looking in a mirror:
  1. "Stop telling yourself, 'It;s just my ego' whenever you yearn for a more creative life."
  2. "Stop telling yourself that creativity is a luxury and that you should be grateful for what you've got."

Since I left my job two years ago, my husband has been very supportive of my fabric habit. However, a little while ago he asked me if I really was making anything or if I was just collecting. I mean, I make things; but the things I am excited about are few and far between. I finally said, "I don't want to make other people's stuff anymore. I want to make my own." Then I thought, "Wow, that is kind of egotistical of me."

And one more thing, I am so thankful that the author said "what you've got" instead of what U got, which is how people write and talk these days and it really drives me nuts.

Filling the Well

I am filling the well by reading a great book and listening to great music. Now I don't think all great music was written in Europe hundreds of years ago. I think listening to REM can be valuable, too. However, I have been turning off the radio and listening to a better selection of music, which I think is also great for my kids. The great book I am reading is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. I am cheating a little here because I am reading it parallel to my son who is reading it for school. However, I am enjoying it immensely and talking about it with him is incredible.

Artist's Date

Ok, I haven't been on one yet, and I have not figured out where to go or how to do it with no children in pursuit. But I have made a commitment and my husband has made one, too, so it will get done. I am thinking of going to the High museum of Art in the city. Or maybe down to the zoo. I have only been to the High once, when an exhibit of art from the Pushkin in Moscow was there. So it would be nice to go see the rest of the museum. So I am going to do my best to work that in this month.

On a completely different note... Is the author married to Martin Scorsese? Is that something I should know and don't because I just don't pay attention?

Friday, October 28, 2005

20 Things About Me

  1. I was born in Washington, DC and lived on the University of Maryland campus when I was a tiny baby because my parents were graduate students. I moved to Columbia, Maryland when I was 1 and lived there until I graduated from college. Columbia is a planned community, which makes it really special.
  2. In high school, I was into theater. I was in at least one musical a year. I have very little talent in that regard, but I had a lot of fun. I am a very shy person, so being in the spotlight on stage was a way for a shy person to shine.
  3. I graduated from Virginia Tech with a BS in Materials Science and Engineering in 1992. Materials Science has nothing to do with fabric, but rather that everything is made out of something and we figure out the best something to make things out of, even if we have to invent a new something.
  4. I met my husband when I studied abroad one summer at Oxford University. He was a VA Tech student, too. We got married the summer after we graduated from college. We have been married 13 years, now.
  5. Right after we got married, we moved to Atlanta, Georgia to go to graduate school at Georgia Tech. I finished my Ph.D. in 1998 in Materials Science with a concentration in electronic materials.
  6. I worked for a small engineering software firm for a few years until I got laid off. I decided at that point that I really wanted to be a stay at home mom. I hear a lot that I am wasting my education, but I love what I am doing. No one can ever take the education away from me, so it really isn't wasted.
  7. I have three kids who span ten years. They are the focus of my life and a lot of things revolve around them.
  8. I spend a lot of my time volunteering at my children's various schools and clubs. I write a weekly and a quarterly newsletter for one school. I run scoring for swim meets. I am a room mom. I am heavily involved in the PTA.
  9. I have two sisters who are my best friends. One lives in Chicago and the other in Savannah. The second one is the wife of a soldier who is now stationed in Iraq.
  10. I learned to sew when I was in grade school. My mom is an excellent seamstress and makes lots of exquisite clothes for her grandchildren. My sewing machine is a handmedown from her. I started quilting because it was the one thing she didn't do. Now she quilts, too, and calls me for advice. I am the only one of her kids who sews.
  11. I have been quilting for about 6 years. Up until recently I have been a boring quilter. I really have not found it all that fulfilling, except the few projects that I trusted myself to go out on my own for. Funny thing is, the quilts most people love are the ones I designed myself. Go figure... I find myself leaning away from complicated shapes and dealing more with texture, value, and color. I think this not liking what I ahve been doing is why I have so many UFOs.
  12. I keep my life in spiral bound notebooks. I usually have three or four going at once. Like now I have my PTA one, my moving house search one, my morning pages one, and my to do list one. I got the idea from my mom's late best friend who carried steno pads with her at all times.
  13. I love to cook. I don't follow a lot of recipes to the letter, but I do use them as guidelines. I would love to learn more about wine to go with my cooking.
  14. I plan in a few years to go back to school and get a teaching certificate. I want to teach high school physics or chemistry. I sometimes wish I could stay home forever, but Yale's tuition goes up every year, and someone is going to have to pay for college. Since our parents paid for our undergraduate educations, we feel we owe it to our parents to pay for our kids' educations. It is a pay it forward kind of thing in my family.
  15. I love Christmas. I collect Nativity Scenes and leave many of them up year round. Last year I purchased the Jim Shore one where all the figures are wearing quilts. I have one that a friend hand slip cast and painted for me. It is gorgeous. It even has a drummer boy.
  16. I am a true strawberry blonde. I am not a fussy hair kind of gal, but I have told my hairdresser that at the first sign of grey he had better be ready to make me still be a strawberry blonde.
  17. I love to learn. I have taken classes at Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, University of Maryland, and Oxford University. My dad taught night school at UMD when I was growing up to offset the cost of out of state tuition. I used to go with him when I was in high school and I learned a lot about transportation and marketing.
  18. I have the highest respect for my parents. They are two people who worked very hard to raise us and give us all sorts of opportunities. When I find myself in a quandry, I often ask myself, "What would Mom do?" They are now living out their retirement in Florida, 20 minutes from the beach. They survived their first hurricane last week, only losing one gutter.
  19. I love the beach. Every year I have to go to the beach at least once. The last couple of years my entire family has gotten together on Isle of Palms. We already have plans for next summer. The summer of '04 I got to go snorkling off St. John, USVI when my husband's brother got married there. I am ready to go back and snorkle some more with the kids this time. (Well, the ones who can swim...)
  20. This year has been a year of upheavel for us. My parents moved from my childhood home to Florida. My grandmother left the central Ohio farm she lived on for 71 years to go to a retirement home at the age of 92. My mother-in-law in the process of selling my husband's childhood home and moving back to her hometown in southern Minnesota. My older sister moved, but just to the other side of the house next door into a house she designed and had built. My younger brother-in-law was deployed to Iraq for the second time. And now we are looking to move into a better school district. (That and a better house than we could afford when I was still in school and we were in our mid-twenties...)

Monday, October 24, 2005

It's the Year of...

When I turned 35 about 8 months ago, I decided I wasn't going to feel old. I was going to look at 35 as an opportunity. I admire older women. They seem to have it all together, so much more so than a 25 year old. I think it is so nice to be 35 and have had some life experience. It makes all the petty things seem not so bad. Everyday life got easier with this outlook.

So I decided that 35 was going to be the start of something new. I have a friend who turned 35 the same week I did, and we decided to do something together. We started walking every weekday morning. I get up at 4:30 am, throw on some sweats, meet her at her house, and we walk for an hour. No one thought it would last. Everyone said we were crazy. And we probably are. However, this morning made eight months of walking. The only time we have taken off is when we were on our family vacations.

A couple of months ago, I decided that wasn't enough. So I added another workout to my day. I either walk an additional four miles, or I do aerobics, pilates, yoga, or something for an hour.

My energy level is through the roof. I am enjoying all sorts of things that had become routine. My family is eating much more exciting foods because, let's face it, I am awake a long time before dinner and I find cooking is a great creative outlet. And I can get the kids involved.

So many people tell me how impressed they are that I have kept up the walking. They tell me they wish they could do it, too. To quote Nike, "Just Do It!"

So now that I have my active lifestyle really underway, I am ready to take on a new challenge. I am ready to focus on my sewing. I discovered this in my morning papers this morning. I am ready for a new challenge. I am feeling complacent, and I don't like that feeling. So today I will design something. Yes, I will! And I will execute it this week.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Taking a Page From Debra...

I have been reading Debra’s blog for a while now. I generally read it after I have taken the kids to school and am sitting down to do my volunteer work for the day. I enjoy her frank style of writing and find that I am in agreement with a lot of what she says. I have even been bold enough to make a few comments. There are days when I wish I could invite her over for lunch to pick her brain or get her opinion on a project on which I am working. I hope to be like her when I grow up, although I don’t think I would ever want to live in Texas.

One of my favorite aspects of her blog is the to do list. So I have decided to do one of my own. I hope Debra doesn’t mind that I am using her idea…

Before the Holidays…

Quilt Halloween Quilt from Becky’s pattern

Finish commissioned t-shirt quilt

Attempt the American Gothic ARTImage Challenge

Follow first six Artist’s Way lessons

Make turkey wall hangings for Mom and Grandma

Finish reindeer placemats for Cheryl

Clean up and refurbish Grandma’s trunk for Megan

Make snowman placemats for Kathi

Quilt Molly’s quilt

Quilt Dr. Thomas’s quilt

Quick fish quilt for Mrs. Coss

Make a few Chelsea bags for presents

Finish at least half of the wool club blocks

Make fabric postcards

Santa quilt

By Summer Vacation…

Make winter and summer quilted back packs using my own design for the blocks

Make pool bags for sisters

Smock two dresses

Try my hand at more of the ARTImage challenges

Work on fabric postcards

Finish Bag Lady classes from last year

Finish wool club quilt.

Participate in wool club again

Now that I am looking at this list, it seems a little ambitious. However, having it written down is helpful. I definitely want to start moving away from traditional quilting and into more art-quilting mode. I need to finish up a few projects first. I looked at my UFO pile and about lost my lunch. I want to get beyond the UFO pile. I may have to look into paying a professional quilter, which I have never done. However, I know two from the wool club, one of whose styles I like better than the other. I have never sent something out to be quilted, although I know many people who do. I might try that with one of the tops I have done just to see what happens. Hopefully the world won’t collapse and I will still feel like it is my quilt.

So with my mom’s newly tuned Bernina 830 with its new foot pedal, away I go. And maybe on a couple I will use my great grandmother’s Singer 99, my other great grandmother’s New Home treadle, or my grandmother’s Singer Touch and Sew.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What Flower am I?

You Are A Lily

You are a nurturer and all around natural therapist.
People see you as their rock. And they are able to depend on you.
You are a soothing influence. You can make people feel better with a few words.
Your caring has more of an impact than even you realize.

Monday, October 17, 2005

First Try

I am setting up this blog in order to participate in The Artist's Way group on the quilting forum.