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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - Walking Parters

Lost ONE pound this week! Hurray! Thanks to my walking partners, Star, on the left and Dottie on the right.  These girls won't take "no" for an answer!  I was doing well walking with Dottie and using the walking poles.  But then Star came along and changed the dynamic.  Star had to first learn to heal, then walk along side so that she wasn't getting tangled in the pole.  Today's walk was good one, we kept a steady rhythm and zipped along nicely. Its pretty hard to say "no" puppy enthusiasm!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Chaos...

...shall come order.  This baby quilt is being made for a great-grandmother to give to her future great granddaughter.  The baby is due in December.  I have trillions of triangles to cut, but hope to have a couple sample squares to show you soon! :) 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Rethink Your Drink

While the beverage business is booming, waistlines loom large. We pay for our liquid vices many times over - with our pocket books, tooth enamel, self esteem and health.

The authors of "Eat This, Not That," weigh in on the worst of the worst beverages:  

But its not all bad news...see how the Public Health Department partnered with YMCA summer programs to educate kids.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

No Quilting Today

And here's why!  Star (the smaller dog) will be staying with us for an undetermined amount of time while her owner relocates.  Relocation may or may not be pet-friendly.  Today was Day One of puppy orientation to a new home.  Star reminds me of Tigger...very bouncy!

I put 16,096 steps on my pedometer - trying to keep up.  (PTL and pass the ibuprofen!) It took ALL day, but we finally tired 'em out, bathed and trimmed the newcomer, had a 60-minute session of Ring-Around-the-Coffee-Table, and ultimately determined who is dominant (Dottie).

In the midst of all this, My Sweetie and I took a break to attend the Sun Prairie Cornfest and had a helicopter ride.  Whew - its been a looong, full, satisfying day!  :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ain't Ain't a Word....

...until recently!  Just completed a two-day training session.  It made me glad I've been blogging, so I had some clue when they referred to a wiki, a gadget or HTML code.  But there were other words tossed about that defied all logic. 

For years I've been railing about the mangled word "orientated."  The word is "oriented" or "orientation."  But have no fear, because all three have been replaced with the verb "onboard."  As in, "How do I onboard a new employee?"  I wanted to ask if their flight was overbooked?

And then there's the word "around" as in "a discussion around..." or "vision and thoughts around...insert topic of your choice."  I have visions and thoughts about stuff. This word is also used in the quilting world.  Judy Martin refers repeatedly to "dancing around a color."  I read an entire book before I figured out she was trying to tell me two shades were not a perfect match.  I pictured empassioned quilters in colorful garb, beating drums and chanting to summon the Mighty Quilting Gods...for a new fabric line, perhaps?

Other words: "navigability", "actionable," and the phrase I heard at least 25 times today: "real estate" meaning page space.  "Page space" is two syllables; we all know what it means.  "Real estate" is four syllables, and only the "insiders" know what it means.  Occasionally it was called "PRIME real estate.  Need I say it?  FIVE syllables - just to say "header."

This flies in the face of everything I ever learned about journalism.  I hope these words fall from favor before they too, find their way into the dictionary.  I don't know about you, but I just can't get orientated!

Fabric Shopping - Part 2

Thanks to my bloggy friends, I'm "in the know" about Internet sites that sell fabric, and I'm looking forward to perusing those sites this weekend.  I know I'll be needing to use them in the future.  Thanks to all of you for your tips and encouragement!

I'm happy to report my quest for baby quilt fabric came to a happy conclusion.  Thursday is the only weeknight that Mill House Quilts (  is open in the evening.   My sweetie pie drove me there, and we were helped by two very friendly and knowledgable staff.  Gone were the crowds of Saturday.  In fact, I was the only customer!  It was a nice relaxing atmosphere.

I was still befuddled about how to convert the amounts of fabric from jelly rolls and charm packs to good old-fashioned fabric off the bolt.  The ladies not only scurried around the store rounding up 20 or more bolts that might work.  (We had a pile of bolts that was about to avalanche!) They then helped me weed out the fabrics that didn't work. They double checked my yardage calculations.   Some of the fabrics are 1930s prints, but not all.  Some are in softer pastel shades that compliment the more colorful prints of dogs and polka dots, etc. 

After our shopping trip, Sweetie and I had a prime rib dinner in Waunakee.  We visited over a nice glass of wine and good food.  We both took a sizable slab of meat home for Friday's lunch.  NUM!

Speaking of NUM!  Aren't these fabrics delectable???

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Do YOU Buy Fabric?

Normally, I LOVE to go fabric shopping.  Its like going to Baskin-Robbins, selecting from all 32 delectable flavors and getting sprinkles on top!   Fabric is a feast for the eyes.

But lately I'm striking out.  How do other people buy fabric, and how the heck do handicapped quilters manage??  I've tried LQS's, Big Box fabric stores, looked online, but no luck!  I'm going into quilting withdrawal!

Drove 30 minutes to visit an LQS that I knew carried 1930s fabric.  Joint trouble made driving difficult.  By the time I got there, I was limping and couldn't lift more than one bolt of fabric - let alone the dozen or more I needed.  This shop has a beautiful handicap ramp, so I was hoping they had a few other necessities for handicapped customers.

I asked if they had a cart?  No, they said, but they could help me.  They were very kind and sincere, but not too realistic.  The register was busy.  The cutting table was busy.  Lines were 5-6 people deep.  The shop was packed with still more customers.  There was nowhere to sit down if you wanted to wait, and I couldn't stand that long.  Besides, I really wanted to shop independently.  I mean, doesn't everyone want to manage their business independently?  I'd been looking forward to this excursion all week, but  seeing no alternative, I headed home empty-handed.  DRAT!

My next two attempts were at Joann's and Hancock's.  Both have shopping carts, so one needn't carry bolts around, and you can easily lay one bolt next to the other to see if they're compatible.  Joann's had nothing that resembled a 1930s repro.  Hancock had a handful in pink - but no corresponding colors.  Double DRAT!

Next stop: the Internet.  I'm looking for a 1930s jelly roll and charm pack.  That shouldn't be too hard to find, right?  Aren't jelly rolls all the rage?  As far as I can tell, no one makes jelly rolls in 1930s style.  Arrrg.  So if I take the plunge and buy individual fabrics online, will the shade be true to the colors I see on my screen?  What's the minimum amount of fabric you have to buy?  Which online fabric stores are reliable?  Etc. Etc.  Also, I'm impatient.  I want to quilt NOW.  I don't want to wait for days to get my goods.  Triple DRAT!

Which all leads me back to my original question:  How do YOU buy fabric?  I hope to hear from you!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In - Power Breakfast

I've found if I eat a hearty breakfast, I eat less at night.  Research supports this theory.  Breakfast eaters eat less throughout the day, and have better weight control.  A more immediate benefit is that a good breakfast can keep hunger at bay.

Case in point:  I ate Breakfast at 6:30 AM.  Went to a morning meeting that lasted until 1:00 PM.

I was hungry, but not overly.  I wasn't looking at the clock, thinking how long it would be until I could eat again.  This is quite a feat, since I work with food, and the meeting was all about food. 

What, you may ask, provided such sustenance?  Here's my recipe.

Chris' Power Breakfast

1 Banana 
1/2 cup Oatmeal 
1 cup Water or Skim Milk
2 TBSP Chopped Walnuts
1 TBSP Fat Free Margarine (I use I Can't Believe Its Not Butter)
Optional:  2 tsp. Brown Sugar or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
Optional: Ground Flax Seed, Wheat Germ or Baker's Bran

Slice banana into large serving bowl.  Add oats, nuts and water.  Stir to moisten oats.
Microwave 1 minute.  Stir.  Microwave another minute.  Stir. 
Microwave one more minute, if needed. 
Top with Fat Free Margarine (if desired) and sprinkle with brown sugar or brown sugar blend (if desired).

The beauty of adding the banana is it sweetens the oatmeal naturally.  The beauty of using bulk oatmeal is  you get more oats (than in an instant oatmeal packet), with zero salt and sugar.   

Tomorrow I'm going to try it with a Granny Smith apple, almonds and a drizzle of honey on top.

When made with a banana, water, and brown sugar it comes out to 395 calories.  Add a half cup of OJ, and 1 cup skim milk, and you get a hearty, well-balanced 535 calorie breakfast - that will stay with you a goooood, looooong time! 

For additional breakfast tips, see: and  :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rose Bud Finish

This quilt is a tribute to the love between a grandmother and granddaughter.  Marlys, the grandmother, had a life long love for antiques and she loved to be with people.  When granddaughter Lauren was born, Marlys called her "my little rose bud."  Lauren's favorite colors were red and purple.  She grew up to have a generous nature.  All of this, I hope, is reflected in this quilt.  Marlys and Lauren both left this world too soon, but its a comfort to me to know they're together.  I like to think they're looking down and smiling! 

A Special Pet Quilt

Some time ago, my younger son had to spend some time in the hospital.  It was a scary experience for him.  But the nurses let him choose from several donated quilts, and he fell in love with the dogs on this one.  For all of you who make comfort quilts for children, I thank you.  This quilt made one boy very happy, which brought comfort to his worried mom. :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Dog Quilt

I've been enjoying all the Pets On Quilts.  Though I have a pet, and she loves quilts...she HATES the camera.  Actually she hates the flash, so you won't be seeing her on a quilt any time soon.  Some of you have seen this before, but in honor of all the Pets on Quilts, I thought I'd share DS2's Dog Quilt.  I made it for his HS graduation.  He designed it, and the rail fence colors were selected to match our dog's markings.  She's a black lab/beagle mix.  If so much as one corner of this quilt drapes on the floor, Dottie will lay down on it.  I can't decide who likes this quilt the best, the kid or the dog!  :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Purple Haze

Both pillow covers survived multiple washings to remove all purple dye.  The final rinse water was perfectly clear.  The quilt is a bigger challenge.  Washed it four times, and the color catchers are still soaking up dye.  Some fabrics seem unwilling to release it, while others look just fine.  Suggestions, anyone?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Cholesterol Lowering Foods

The Mayo Clinic lists the top five foods to lower cholesterol: Oatmeal, Fish, Nuts, Olive Oil and Plant Sterols.  So I scoured my cupboards to see how my inventory stacks up:

1.  Oatmeal, Oat Bran & High Fiber Foods:  Check.  Eat oatmeal daily and get plenty of high fiber foods like black beans, whole grains, raisins and craisins.  If I get tired of oatmeal, there are Cheerios and Oatmeal Squares in the cupboard. 

2.  Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  Check.  Three varieties of fish in the freezer.  Canola oil and tuna in the cupboard.  Salmon on the grocery list. 

3.  Walnuts, Almonds and Other Nuts:  Ooops, I'm all out.  Was enjoying walnuts in oatmeal and salads. Better put nuts on the grocery list too.  Should also get some unsweetened peanut butter.

4.  Olive Oil - Check.   Been making my own V&O dressing with it.  Also have Hellman's Mayonnaise made with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

5.  Foods with Added Plant Sterols or Stanols:  I haven't tried the plant sterol-fortified margarine, orange juice or yogurt drinks.  Better put them on that grocery list too! 

Have a happy, healthy week!  :)

Pillow #1

I always wash my quilts before giving them to someone else.  If I wash it once myself, I can confidently say  its been washed, dried, and will not run.  So, I loaded my rose bud quilt and pillow covers into the washer.  Tossed in two color catchers, and set it to a 4 minute gentle cycle.  My intention was wash, dry and to post a picture of all three pieces so you could see the quilted texture.  I hope you can see it.  (I haven't yet found a sure-fire way to photograph the texture.)

When I retrieved the goods from the washer - some of the cream colored background pieces had a lilac cast to them.  (That's when I realized that I hadn't prewashed the backing.)  I hung it all up to dry while I mulled over my next step.

Took another stab at it today.  Washed the pillow covers only.  Got all the purple dye out of Pillow #1 - pictured here.  Pillow #2 will be washed again.  There's one area that still looks purplish.  The bigger challenge will be the the quilt.  But Pillow #1  has boosted my confidence that all will end well.  :)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Found It!

After spying the "perfect" baby quilt on the Internet, I sought to find the book it came from.  Online book reviews were positive, and I figured the blaze orange cover would be easy to spot.  My LQS didn't have it in stock, so I headed to Joann's.  Looked in the quilting area and promptly struck out. 

Wandered past the cookbooks and decided to see what treasures I might find. THAT'S where I found my quilting book. Einmo includes not only quilt patterns and sewing tips, but decadent recipes such as The Best Brownies Ever, Cheeseburger Soup, Carrot Cake, etc. I'm guessing that's how the book ended up in the food section. Very clever - appealing to both quilters and cooks!  :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Pinless Machine Binding

Cut binding strips using a 1 1/2" metal ruler with a sandpaper finish.  I wish I could tell you where to find this gem, but I bought it over 20 years ago.  Perfect results every time.

Press binding in half, but do not sew the edges together.

Attach binding, right sides together, using a 1/4" foot. THIS is where I made a critical error.  I assumed my seam was true.  Proceeded several steps ahead, only before finding I'd assumed wrong.  As I was ripping, I realized that this process entirely depends on a perfectly executed 1/4" seam.  So I flipped the quilt over and restitched the entire thing.  (I think I'll do this extra step as a precaution in the future.  The time I save by machine binding far outweighs the few minutes it takes to do some QA.)  As you might guess, I was a little  frustrated at this point!

Next step is very important:  STOP.  Back away from the quilt slowly.  Take a deep breath, forget about the quilt, and go directly to a Baby Shower!  (BTW, these folks will be significant in future posts.) 

FOUR generations at one table - you don't see that every day!

When you return, refreshed and renewed, fold and finger press the raw edge of the binding toward the center crease. 

Make sure the center crease is "leaning" a hair toward the back of the quilt, so that the back of the binding is 1/8" wider than front.  This really is the key to sucessful machine binding. Secure with hair clips.  Turn quilt to the front and stitch in the ditch.

I had a few false starts, but eventually got the hang of it.  I stitched at a very slow pace, so I could watch both the needle and the ditch guide for best results.


Here's the final product.  Front, and...

...back.  I'm SOOO happy I could complete this in one day...rather than hours and hours of hand sewing!  :) 

Friday, August 6, 2010

1930s Star Chain

I finally tracked down the quilt I'd seen at:  It comes from Jelly Roll Quilts and More, by Kimberly Einmo.  GOTTA get that book! 

Couldn't resist the temptation to work it up (partially) in EQ6 with the 1930s look.  Einmo makes it with a strippy border - which I love.  It never occured to me to use a jelly roll - probably because I never have!  Usually when I try something new it takes extra time - but a jelly roll could be a big time saver.  Anybody know where I could find Einmo's book, or where I might find some 1930s jelly rolls?

My inner child is having fun thinking about the next project.  My inner adult keeps muttering, "Must finish rose bud quilt...Must finish rose bud quilt...Geez, just FINISH the dang quilt already!" 

Inner adults are no fun!  :)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Baby Girl Quilt

A friend asked that I make a baby quilt for his future grandchild. The doc says its a girl, so pink it is.  They want a traditional country look.  I gave them some quilt pics to look over.  I think the one they selected looked something like this.  I've always wanted to do a quilt in 1930s reproduction fabrics - so that's what I'm going to suggest.  This means, of course, that I have an incentive to finish quilting the border on my current project! 

New Toys

In my never-ending pursuit of a fitness program that's compatible with my lifestyle, budget, climate and sciatic nerve....I replaced my beat up pedometer, and picked up some walking poles.  A DVD came with the poles.  The fitness trainer made it look so easy - she even jogged with the poles!  You're supposed to use the poles with the natural swing of the arms.  Its more about pushing off than reaching ahead.  It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but it felt pretty natural by the end of my walk.  It definitely provides better balance, and takes some strain off the lower body, especially going uphill.  FYI - Walking poles at Gander Mountain are $150.00 a pair.  I got these at Target for $14.99.  If I like them, I can always upgrade later. :) 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wednesday Weigh In - Lose it by Labor Day

Ready or not, swimsuit season is upon us.  I don't know about you, but I am not (yet) in Esther Williams shape.  I selected this image because Esther here is not an anorexic, air-brushed model - but a healthy, vibrant, physically fit athlete - an inspiration then and now.

To spur us on in our weight loss/wellness efforts, the good folks at have provided 12 diet and exercise "tricks" (all of which are safe) with commentary from the American Council on Exercise, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the American Dietetic Association.  So have a healthy helping of sound advice at:

See you at the beach!!

What Are Schnibbles?

Been blogging since September, and I've been wondering all this time: What ARE Schnibbles?  And why do people get such a kick out of doing them, not only often, but on a regularly scheduled basis?  So I did a little research: ...says its a 1994 French adventure game and story. THAT's not very quilty! ...says it comes from a German word, and means a small scrap of fabric.  THIS is sounding better. ...offers four definitions.  The first two refer to small bits of paper, and indicates the term sounds German, but alas, it is not.  The fourth refers to stray hairs that stick out of a ponytail.  The third definition is X-RATED!  Who knew??

Miss Rosie wins in my book!  But I still don't know why people find them so addicting.  If you are a shnibbler, perhaps you can enlighten me?  :)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kaffe Conundrum

Been wondering how to quilt this outer border.  I wanted to showcase the big red roses, so I outlined them thinking that I'd do some tight background stippling.  I quickly learned that fabric this big and bold can't be given the "usual" treatment. 

It finally dawned on me that the stippling provided no contrast - it was curves on curves.  The title to Kaffe Fassett's latest book (Simple Shapes, Stunning Quilts) provided a clue.  I needed a simple geometric background design, so I echoed the 1" inner borders, with 1" lines "behind" the roses.  I hope you can see the pattern in this picture.  My white chalk line shows up great!  The quilt pattern will show up better when the quilt is (finally) quilted, bound, washed and dried.  I'm eager to finish this project and start something new! 

Before and After

Circumstances beyond my control have resulted in serious garden neglect.  I planted on Memorial Day weekend, and have been unable to tend to my plants ever since.  This weekend a friend came to visit, and offered to help me reclaim control of my yard.   Here's the BEFORE picture.  All my flowers looked like this:
A couple hours (and lots of sunscreen, insect repellant and sweat) later, all my flowers look like this:

Normally by this time, my flowers would be twice this size.  But I'm amazed and grateful they survived with no weeding, no water and no Miracle Grow. Many thanks to my good friend Christine for helping me tackle this daunting task.  :)