QC Blog: 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas...

My quilt circle friends and I went to a Christmas tea last week. We decided to do something different this year. I just love having scones and clotted cream, something I never have in my regular life.

My friend Jenny made me this Beatles wall hanging, to show off the Abbey Road patch she bought me on a trip to England this past summer with her family. Isn't this cool? She even printed out the apple and glued it on the top of the hangar.

My Christmas cards were in the mail yesterday, an anomaly for me. Some years are so busy I never get to sending the cards at all. I used one of my own photos this year, and had the card printed with our names. That made things easy. When I got out my list, I realized quickly I hadn't ordered enough of them. The photo was taken from my front door last February, the night we had 18 inches of snow. I happened to be up in the middle of the night (as a night owl, I often am awake at odd hours) and was watching the snow, marveling at how bright it was outside. Finally I had to get out the tripod and camera and take the picture. I then added the bit from The Night before Christmas to the card because it was so perfect. I have never experienced a quieter, more beautiful snowfall. If even a tiny bit of the beauty of that night comes across in the card, then I accomplished my goal. Happy Christmas to all and to all a Good Night!

Monday, November 22, 2010


Here comes December with the first snowfall of the year. It came on quickly, changing overnight from pouring rain to snow. I'm always in awe of the weather when that happens. I'm using a photo of last year's huge snowfall for my Christmas cards this year.

About a month ago, I discovered I had pneumonia, which seemed to come out of the blue. It made no sense to me that I didn't even have a cough and had walking pneumonia. I had chills and fever and a horrible headache for 5 days. I was so relieved that I didn't have to have a lumbar puncture to test for viral meningitis, that I was thrilled to be diagnosed with pneumonia.

I finished a quilt this weekend for my cousin's baby, Skye, who was born at the end of September. I wanted to make a tote bag to carry it and got thrown off my timetable by being sick. I particularly like the orange in the quilt. It was very simple strip piecing.

My quilt group and I have been trying to decide what to do for a Christmas celebration this year. Usually one of us has a party, but with our numbers dwindling, I thought maybe we could do something different this year. We've decided to go to a tea room this year, and have an afternoon celebration. December is such a busy time, we wanted to slow down the pace.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time keeps rolling on....

I can't believe it's September already. I had an incredibly busy summer.

I planted a beautiful garden.
Part of the squash garden came up early from seeds of last years' plants.
Mark and I put a cover on it this year, to hopefully protect it from the deer. It worked pretty good right over the tomatoes, because of the sticks. But right in the middle, where they could press the netting down,they still reached the plants on the end and ate them. I'll outsmart them next year. I didn't harvest a ton of stuff. When I came back from vacation, the squash looked like it had developed some disease and started to go downhill from there.

After recovering from the shower, I spent most of June baking cookies for my niece's wedding. The wedding was July 16, and I was determined to finish baking by the end of June. The plan was to have time to work on the quilt I was making for their wedding. Of course, other things interfered, like doing my job, and still doing PT for the foot. I spent one entire morning buying tickets to go and see Paul McCartney in August. But I digress.

I made about 230 dozen cookies. I baked 58 dozen ladylock shells. I took photos so I could make a tutorial on how to make ladylocks. Eric and Zack and Gretchen (Zack's girlfriend) filled them and made them cookies. Gretchen and Zack made oreo balls in exchange for thumbprints for her sister's wedding. (Her sister got married the day after Madeline). Eric iced 14 dozen Maid of Honor cookies for me because my hands were cramping. My mother-in-law made 46 dozen cookies (she's the Pizelle maker). My other volunteers made another 100 dozen cookies. I also made mincemeat cookies in remembrance of my mother (our traditional Christmas cookie). Needless to say, it was a successful cookie table at the wedding.
(This is one of three tables) I would do it differently next time, like traying the cookies myself so they'd all have a container to go home in.

In the meantime, I was working on a queen sized quilt for Madeline and her new husband Zach. Her husband is an artist and has made quilts for Madeline and his family. At the rehearsal dinner, he made prints of two of his paintings, one of the church and one of Stone Harbor and they gave them to family and friends they as a special gift.

At one point I had hoped to finish the quilt before our vacation at the end of July. Clearly, as time went on, it became quite clear I was going to be hard pressed to finish the top, while I was baking cookies. My friend Jenny offered to help me out by cutting and sewing while I was baking. So for two afternoons, she came over and spent about 10 hours of her time, sewing strip sets and cutting 2" segments. When I finished making the cookies at the end of June, Jenny came and helped me lay the blocks out.

I started sewing blocks, because everything was ready to sew. Because of her help, I was able to take the top on vacation with us and present it to Madeline and Zach. They loved it. It was a beautiful moment, and when I started to tell them about the quilt, and why I chose the colors, I got all choked up.

So we spent a fun vacation at Sea Isle City this year. It's a busier place than Stone Harbor but it's still the beach and we had fun. I had my first mani and pedi with my sister Patty. Of course I chose fuchsia for my feet.

In August, after arriving home, I went to see my Cardiologist who is monitoring my cholesterol and he told me that because my Apolipoprotein B number is low, I don't have to worry about being as aggressive about my high LDL since I can't tolerate any of the drugs they give me. I promised to exercise, lose weight and keep improving my lifestyle and made an appointment for next year.

On August 18, 2010, Paul McCartney opened the Consol Energy Center (the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins). I'll miss the Civic Arena for its' unique looks, but not for concerts. Beautiful new venue for the Penguins. Paul was awesome and I cried several times during the concert. One was when he started to sing "Close your eyes, and I'll kiss you..." It just brings back my entire childhood. Then I cried when he sang the song he wrote for John Lennon, and again when he was singing the Long and Winding Road. It was fantastic, and Paul McCartney is quite a showman. The movie screens on each side of the screen make you forget he's the size of a peanut on the stage. I loved it.

Finally the weather has broken. We can open our windows at night and there's a small breeze coming through. I'm busy cleaning up my desk today so I can finish the other border on the quilt and then start quilting it. Now that I've given them a glimse of the quilt, I'm anxious to finish it.

Have a great day.

Monday, May 31, 2010

It's been a long time!

You must've thought I fell off the face of the earth, it's been so long since my last post. I've been working on a project for my niece, Madeline's, wedding shower, that I was hosting at my house. I couldn't blog about it or post photos of it. The shower was on the 22nd of May and was a great success. I used this great umbrella fabric I bought at a quilt show and made "Snap Happy" bags by Stitchin' Sisters. I made 40 bags and filled the bags with the 40 scrubbies I crocheted since my last post. I added mints and a Revolution teabag (comes in a cute little box) to the umbrella bag. It was an awesome favor. I asked the cake store to use the fabric to decorate the cake.

Carol's Pastry Shop in Zelienople did a wonderful job. She added some purple umbrellas because Madeline's colors are purple and green. Here's a photo of the what was stuffed in the bags.

I'm now making cookies for the wedding and coordinating the other cookie bakers for the wedding, so that we don't all make the same thing. I've recruited a couple people to help me bake. I'm making a cookie every other day and have mapped out a schedule of how much time I have before the wedding. I researched all my cookbooks and made a list of a good variety of cookies. I have all the recipes ready in case anyone offers to make something.

Right now, I am sewing a little every day, making a cookie, and still going to PT for my plantar faschitis. Online, I'm fascinated by the Baby Osprey that you can look at live at The Chestertown Spy. If the camera isn't working, go to the Home page and click on the Osprey Cam, sometimes they change the link. During the day, it seems like there's always a bird in front of the camera. At night though, the little birds are moving around and you can see them much better. They really blend in with the nest during the day.

I'm also checking in everyday to the Inspired by Iceland website where you can click on different live camera views of cool places in Iceland. This link will take you to the geysir and you can navigate on the map to other places to visit.

Check out the links and have a great day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Instructions for the Best Scrubbie

My friend Cassie has graciously given me permission to post her instructions for scrubbies on my blog. She said she would be pleased if others were able to benefit from the pattern. If you use it, and are pleased with it, I would encourage you to leave a comment on the blog to let me know how you like it, and to let others know if it's a useful pattern, and then I can pass it on to her. Trust me, after all this experimentation, this is the best pattern around. You may need a crochet instruction book to help you with the correct stitches. Enjoy!

Nylon Scrubbers

Cut nine 2-inch wide strips of nylon net.

Tie these nine strips together to form one long strip leaving approximately four to six inches as "tails." (Shorter "tails" if the net is stiff, as much as six to eight inches if the net is really soft. This will be your "stuffing" later on.)

Make a slip knot and put on crochet hook (I use Size K).

Chain Four.

Join to form a circle.

Insert hook in center of hole and single crochet eight stitches around the circle. (Insert the hook in the middle of the circle eight times and make a single crochet.)

Make two stitches in each of the eight stitches and continue until you have 28 stitches around. (Increase)

Single crochet around the scrubber (28 stitches) three times. (You can use a piece of string to mark the beginning of your "rows" until you get used to how far to go.)

Begin to decrease (single crochet in every other stitch.)

When you have a hole about the size of a silver dollar, turn the scrubber inside out. You will be stuffing all the "tails" inside and they will act as stuffing.

Continue decreasing until the scrubber is completely closed. Pull the end of the nylon net through several holes in the scrubber to secure it, pulling the last bit to the inside with the crochet hook.

All the measurements are approximate. All nylon net was not created equal. Some is stiff and scratchy, some softer. Your tension will also influence the size. You may have to experiment to find the right number of stitches for your liking.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Found my scrubbie!!

I forgot to update on my scrubbie saga (see previous post). I went back to the crochet book and realized that I was indeed doing some of the stitches incorrectly. I bought an inexpensive pattern from the Internet that looked like a really good one, and I achieved my goal of the scrubbie being round but still not completely flat. I emailed my aunt and asked for her pattern, but it was written in that kind of crochet shorthand as if she was talking to me, and I didn't entirely understand it, but it was the closest to being a normal size scrubbie. Unfortunately, she uses a much smaller hook than I'm able to use. The scrubbie was hard and I didn't like the way the back looked. And I couldn't repeat the same shape twice.

Finally, in a round about way, I found my friend through someone else on the Internet and asked her if she would send me her instructions for the scrubbie. First try, it was perfect. Now the real test, could I repeat my success? YES! I finally have instructions for a scrubbie that is perfect. It all comes down to the right size strip, tying it the right way, so there's something to stuff inside, having the correct size hook, and clear, clear instructions. Thank you, Cassie.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Christmas in March

Are you busy filling out your census? It's not hard, right?

Here's an update of what I've been working on this week. I was following a pattern in a Quilt in a Day book called Stockings and Small Quilts. Eleanor Burns' sister Patricia Knoechel wrote it. Aren't they cute? They're pretty simple and I'm using them for a wedding shower this weekend.
Mark and I went to see John Oates (of Hall and Oates, my favs, of course) in a solo concert last week in Kent, Ohio. It just so happened that the Kent Stage Theater was right across the street from a charming little quilt store, the Katie Brook Quilt Store, where I was lucky enough to while away an hour or so before the show since they were open late on Thursdays. I found some fabric that might go with a new project I'm working on, but limited myself to only 1/2 yards (a lot of restraint for me).

The following day, my friend and I attended a quilt show in North Hills. The same store I visited in Kent had a setup there as well. They carry a lot of embroidery panels that were really pretty. The show was really a good one. Every few years there are a lot of hand quilted quilts in the shows (probably due to the time it takes to quilt them). I enjoy seeing that. Quilt shows are great inspiration to keep working on your quilting.

I'm in the process of quilting a baby quilt on my Voyager machine, but can't seem to get the tension right. I changed from a regular bobbin to a pigtail bobbin and the thread keeps breaking and driving me crazy.

That's all for now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

2010 Census - what does this have to do with fabric?

This week you'll be getting your 2010 census in the mail. We all know that the census is used to allocate government funds and to form legislative districts.
As a genealogist, I want to stress the importance of filling out your forms for your great great grandchildren. No one will be able to see the answers to these questions for 70 years. Be accurate. Make sure you print very clearly and legibly. Spell everyone's name correctly. Give the correct age.
The census is an invaluable tool to find family members and learn who they were and where they lived at a certain point in time. There are only ten questions in this 2010 census. They are extremely simple. To paraphrase the questions are these:

How many people in your household?
Are there any additional people living there?
Is the home owned or rented?
What is your telephone number?
What are the names of all the people living there?
What is their sex?
What is their age and date of birth?
Are any members Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
What is each member's race? (multiple choice answers)
Does any member sometimes live or stay somewhere else?

That's it. It should take no more than 10 minutes to fill it out. And this is the really important part ---MAKE A COPY of the form you fill out. Keep it with your important papers. Let it be something that is handed down in your family. If you have kids that don't live at home, ask them to make a copy for you and keep the whole family's records together. Remember, your own family can't access these records for 70 years, so if you had a copy it would make genealogy record keeping so much easier for your family's historian.

How does this relate to fabric, you're asking? Let me tell you a story.

It took Census workers about 8 years to tabulate the data from the 1880 census. The Bureau appealed to their workers to find a more efficient way to tabulate the data. A man named Herman Hollerith, a statistician who worked for the Census Bureau, riding the train on his way to work one morning, found his inspiration while watching the conductor punch holes in tickets. The conductors could punch codes onto the ticket indicating a passenger's height, hair color, build, eye color, etc, so only that unique passenger could use the ticket. Hollerith designed a similar paper card and punch hole system to record the information the Census Bureau needed. One column was used for a person's sex, another two for their age, two for the year, etc.

He made the card the size of a U.S. banknote and then created a tabulation machine based on an 18th century machine invented by Joseph Jacquard, that had automated the weaving of fabrics. Jacquard was a French silk weaver, who invented a way of controlling the warp and weft of threads on a silk loom by recording patterns of holes on a series of wooden boards, looped together with a series of cords. (That was the fabric part)

Hollerith succeeded in producing the machine that Charles Babbage (considered the first computer pioneer, designing analytical computing engines) and Ada Lovelace (possibly the world's first programmer) had dreamed up in the 1930's. The machine allowed the user to input census data using punch cards, store the data, process the data, and output the data. The 1890 census count was completed in 3 months. He not only solved the Census problem, his punch card system was the basis for computing for the next 70 years.

In 1896, Hollerith quit his job at the Census, and started the Hollerith Tabulating Machine Company. The company rented it's equipment and maintained the right to produce the cards. The card was able to represent an account, a transaction, a part, an invoice, or a check and as a result businesses could automate their processes. His company merged with two other companies and was renamed CTR (the Computing, Tabulating and Recording Company). By 1914, the company was suffering some hard times and sales were lagging. Hollerith hired Thomas J. Watson, the top salesman at National Cash Register Company. Watson was an effective leader. To boost employee moral he increased sales commissions, provided employees with insurance and paid vacations and demanded absolute loyalty. Under his leadership, sales soared. By 1924, the company had expanded and changed it's name once again to International Business Machines (IBM).

By 1918 over 100 million card were being produced. All data was transcribed to punch cards. The card became the perfect medium for entering, manipulating and storing data. Cards had become the universal medium for handling data and IBM machines processed the data. This set the stage for the computer revolution.

Herman Hollerith and his punch cards truly changed the course of history.

Filling out that 10 question census doesn't seem so hard now, does it?

(Don't forget to make a copy for yourself!!)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chandra Wilson | Touch of Comfort

I interviewed Chandra Wilson today from Grey's Anatomy. I was a little nervous, but tried my best not to be too annoying over the phone. She was very gracious and sweet. I mentioned this program in my last post. Watch the video and Chandra will tell you a bit about the Downy Touch of Comfort program. Click HERE for the video link.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Downy Touch of Comfort Program

Have you heard about the Downy Touch of Comfort Program? They are pledging to deliver 10,000 more quilts for kids this year to children who are hospitalized across the country. You can buy specially marked bottles of Downy to donate, or order a quilt kit to make a quilt for a child. I bought this month's issue of The Quilter Magazine with Chandra Wilson (Bailey on Grey's Anatomy) on the cover. I've just been offered an opportunity to interview her about her involvement in the program next week. Stay tuned for that. Watch the video below and see two touching stories of how quilts can touch people's lives. If you can't see anything below, try this link

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How Times Have Changed

I was at the office supply store today (one of my favorite places in the universe to shop) and I was enjoying looking at the numerous personal journals that were for sale. I was remembering that when I was a freshman in high school, I went out to buy a diary that didn’t say “My Diary” on the front and come with a key. The only plain lined paper book I could find other than a black and white Composition notebook was a red book labeled Journal on the front, that was for recording finances. Seriously, it had the columns and everything, but it was plain lined paper so it filled the bill for what I needed. Today, the choices are all different shapes and sizes with beautiful lined paper and embossed covers in leather or with prints that have amazing color. The sad part is I want them all. I just cleaned off my desk (yes I can see the top again) and I filled a box with empty notebooks I’ve bought. There were at least 8 of them. I’m one of those people who loves the smell of a new textbook and the smell of mimeograph paper. Remember those purple pages coming off the drum. How far we’ve come!

One of my favorite shows is NCIS, and I was reading another person’s blog, and she said she was dismayed to find out that Ducky was also Illya Kuryakin from the series The Man from Uncle in the 1960’s. (She meant she was bummed he was old). I realize her point, and maybe the first week or two felt the same. But I gotta tell you, after a couple of years of watching the show, I love him now just as much. He has a quirky sense of humor and is one of my favorite characters on the show. They even had a show where he had a picture of himself when he was younger at his house and when someone said, “who’s this?” Mark Harmon replies “Illya Kuryakin.” It was so cool. Hey we’re all older, right? I wish I had the Illya scrapbook I made when I was a kid. The one thing I didn’t keep!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

What’s Going On?

I watched the Grammys last night, naturally to see if Hall and Oates won in the duo performance category (they didn’t – Black Eyed Peas won), and am puzzled by this 3D thing. Why would they chose to air a 3D presentation to a world who doesn’t own 3D glasses. It just looked like a blurry song to me. The singers performed well, but why would you do that for television? I thought the worst pairing of the night was Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks. On their own, both are very good, but together they sounded off key and didn’t mesh at all.

I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to crochet a scrubbie like the one a friend of mine used to make. I can’t get in touch with her and have downloaded several different directions from the internet. None of them are working.

Here’s my first attempt. It doesn’t resemble anything nice and round and flat.


Then my second attempt. Closer to being a circle, but I can’t seem to make it flat.


Then I got about six new sets of instructions and tried combining them all. The result was something that was rounder but still not flat. Pretty funny if you look at it from the side. And I bet it will scrub the hell out of a pot, it’s so thick.

I just don’t get it. I’m going to go back and review my old crochet book to see if I’m doing the stitches correctly. If anyone knows what I’m doing wrong, please tell me!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Goals and Resolutions - 2010

Happy New Year everyone! I've asked several people about their New Year's Resolutions and no one has given me even one new resolution for 2010. Why are people so resistant to making a NY resolution? I use it as a time to set goals. My first goal for the new year is to spend less money and concentrate on debt reduction. My second goal is to learn more about photography. I've set myself a goal for the end of the year - there's a job I want to be considered for and that's my end goal. Of course my third goal of the year is to exercise and lose weight. My niece is getting married this year and I'm hoping to wear a pretty fuchsia dress that I bought for the occasion.

I've been immersing myself in self improvement shows. Between shows like The Doctors, Dr. Oz, and The Biggest Loser my head is spinning with ways to have a better diet and exercise program. I think the reason people fall off the diet wagon is because television programs stop talking about losing weight by February. Having all these shows talk at me every single day about diet and exercise is really helpful. I need someone to talk to me like that all year long. Oh, don't get me wrong, I know all the ways I should be eating and how to walk on that treadmill. I just like having someone telling me at least twice a day - "get up and do it, change your life, be healthier, lose weight, exercise, it's good for your heart, blah, blah, blah......."

My other goal for the year is to declutter a little every day. I heard a new quote tonight by Mildred Lisette Norman...."Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its' usefulness possesses you...."

On the quilting front, we had to cancel out quilting circle the first Thursday of the month due to a large snowstorm here in Pittsburgh. I did finish hand quilting the inside (without the borders) of my son's quilt (the 1999 graduation quilt) and was going to do the borders on my quilting machine. Then I decided I have to finish it by hand. Throwing it on the machine at this point would totally change the way it looks. So, a few more months on that. One more goal I have is not to buy any new fabric until I make a new quilt with some of the fabric I have.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

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