Sunday, February 22, 2009

This quilting thing is getting easier!

Quilted Embroidered Hot Pad

Thanks to Project Improv, I'm on my way to understanding much more about the process and techniques. Thanks to Nanette, Stephanie, and Jacquie, I've gathered wonderful ideas for table mats and potholders and little artful designs to try out.

Quilted Embroidered Hot Pad

Wouldn't you know this set is leaving me for a swap?

Tea Wallet

I can't get enough of the little tea wallets. This pattern might work as a business card wallet so that I can actually use one myself. I may have to pretend to be a tea lover, so when I go to the coffee shop or Starbucks, I can pull out my little wallet and show it off.

Quilted Embroidered Hot Pad

How about this embroidery? The design came out so bold and vibrant, just perfect for these fabrics.

Be sure to go by LollyChops today for her Sunday Guest Recipe and see my submission for Auntie Lynda's Comfort Chicken Casserole! By the way, Lynda isn't my aunt. She is one of my dearest, longtime friends, and my kids called her auntie when they were little. We met in Boston in 1988 when both of us were newlyweds living in a foreign land -- you know, the North. She is from Memphis, and I was fresh out of Atlanta. I was soooooo lonely there for months! Newly married, first big job, new city with a new attitude -- people rode buses and the T! One didn't use public transportation alone in Atlanta when I was young. Anyway, one morning at church, this girl who looked much like me, came over, touched my arm and rubbed it and said (read in a Memphis accent, please), "I am SOOOO glad to meet yooooouuuu!" I thought right then and there, "I don't know who you are, but you are my new best friend." And we were. All four of us -- husbands included, and we had quite the time in Boston together until real life came along, sent us scattering for careers, and brought us children. However, we get together as often as we can. Love you Lynda! -- mish

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tea Time Accessories

Tea Time Accessories

.... This from the Diet Coke loving non-tea, non-coffee drinker! Starbucks and Barnes & Noble have nothing to offer me in liquid refreshments. However, these tea accessories are so much cuter than anything Diet Coke than I can think of.

The tea wallet and teapot towel are part of a Valentine gift I sent to my friend in Florida last week. I forgot to photograph the items, so she did on her pool table. The items look great with a dark background. The dishtowel with the teapot and cups I made especially for me to add to my tablescape for this Sunday's guest blogger spot at Lollychops. We've been eating the cake and casserole I made each day since. I think I'm quite full of them and need to stop.

Ooooh, it's been raining and cold all day, and the sun is beginning to poke out. Hurray!, because I need to get out of the rainy day blues and get to work!

Monday, February 16, 2009



..... meant in more ways than one.

1. Kind of sad and surprising -- Goodness! This is the LAST issue of Country Home! Unbelievable. I'm a magazine lover, and this has been one of my constants for so many years. Run out and get the last issue. It's a good one.


2. Kind of frightening -- Goodness! This is serious, but I thought it important to bring it up here. One of my BFFs called yesterday. Her 14-year-old daughter had been "sexted" - that's texting inappropriate requests for inappropriate photos and deeds -- by two boys who are supposed to be her friends. Thankfully, she had the sense to immediately show her mother who is just like me and immediately called the parents of the boys and then forwarded those texts to the parents. One parent has been hard to find. The other set of parents were shocked and immediately dealt with their son, talked with him, decided on a very strong and appropriate punishment, and had him call both my friend and her daughter and apologize, which I understand was quite sincere. The other boy, nothing.

You know, my teenage daughter has had a couple of incidents since November. She is the nurturing type and wants to "help" others, and twice she has taken on issues that are way beyond her. We've told her to bring those to us so we can help her sort them out, but with texting and Facebook and My Space and e-mailing ----- things can get WAY out of control, and they nearly did. Again, because I'm quick to fix things and am wide open and don't keep secrets or hold back when it comes to my kids, I jumped on this, and all parents have been in touch regarding the separate situations. After the second scene, my husband and I told our daughter that for the rest of the holidays and into the new school year, we wanted her to take a break from electronic relationships. Not as a punishment, as she (nearly) didn't do anything wrong except try to handle things beyond her abilities, but just for a break!

We told her, as I passed on to my friend above, not to carry on a friendship electronically. Use texting and the other stuff to share quick, unimportant info - like, "I'll be there in five minutes, okay?" and fun photos and stories, but not to carry on and build a friendship through black and white words. Talk on the phone!!! Meet out for ice cream or coffee!!! Talk a walk together!!! Please, get to know each other personally, face to face!!!

When I spoke to the young lady above, as her mom asked me to, I told her that God created each of us In His Image for a good and specific purpose. If we are created In His Image for good, then sending a naked image across the text lines would definitely be tearing down that plan. I told her not to cry feeling sorry for herself. She might be frustrated and hurt but not to feel like this was her fault. Those boys have succumbed to what our society has degraded sex to be. There seems to be no limits to what children are attempting to do. I encouraged her to know that she is valued above all things and to listen to her parents and tell them whatever comes her way so that she has their protection and love to guard her and guide her and allow her to grow into the lovely young woman she is becoming.

Parents, guard your children. Set boundaries! Explain why it's important to take a rest from all the media and just spend time with family and read and be quiet and talk together. Look over their electronic conversations. Talk about IMPORTANT issues. Teach them to live wisely and with good reputation. One mom said she makes her teenagers turn in their phones at 10:00 PM, and the phones go on the chargers in mom and dad's room. That's an excellent idea.


3. Kind of yummy -- Goodness! This is such a great recipe! This is The Farm Chicks Dark Chocolate Butter Cake! Yum, yum, yum. After creaming the butter and sugar in this recipe for five minutes, it looked like frosting. I have never mixed up a batter that was so silky. It baked up beautiful. Their suggestion is to put a nice berry sauce on top of the cake. However, I, of course, wanted to frost it with fudge frosting. Pas necessaire! It is so yummy without - and, you know, that's saying a lot for me! Anyway, I did have a bowl of frosting nearby and had the cake with and without frosting. It's quite sweet with the frosting and just quite perfect with the berry sauce. Try it out.


Hey, do you like the new dishtowel I embroidered? This one is MINE (for once)!
4. Kind of - no, VERY - sweet -- Goodness! Very nice blog friends. Two of them recently passed on blog awards to me. And, I have to say, the sentiments of both mean a lot to me.

First, Ravenhill had this goodness:

Proximidade is described as:
'This blog invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships. These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in prizes for self-aggrandizement!

Then, Nannybird Crafts had this goodness:

This award is given to those bloggers who show great Attitude and/or Gratitude.

Why I appreciate this coming from these ladies is each of those sentiments has turned out to be exactly the way I feel about befriending them and many of you. Thank you so much!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Putting The Irish On

The St. Patrick's Day ties are in. Demure enough to wear to the office, but bold enough loosened up and with party wear to dress up for a St. Paddy's Day celebration. For partying purposes, it's nice that the tie is 100% cotton, so one can just throw it in the laundry for easy clean up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Anytime Chocolate Fix!

......................(photo from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook site)

Um, I have a new FAVORITE blog to read. It's Mennonite Girls Can Cook! Yes, I already knew that, but now there are readily available, pictures included, mouth-watering recipes for us to try with really great instructions.

This one has been pricking at my mind for days, but today, as I'm working at home and can't leave until my work is done, was the day to make 5-Minute Chocolate Cake In A Mug baked in the microwave. Yes, ladies, this is a good, good thing. Get the milk out for this one! The recipe cooked up just as the girls said, however, instructions mentioned "dessert for two." I don't agree with that. Dessert for one works out just fine for me. And, since I'm the only one here, there is no one to argue with me.

(Edited about a half hour after posting: The Girls are right. This dessert is for two. I can't finish it, and I'm having a sugar rush - even with the milk!)

Speaking of recipes, I was chosen to be the Sunday Guest Recipe poster at LollyChops on Sunday, February 22, 2009. I'm going to show off our favorite comfort casserole recipe for, as I named it, "Auntie Lynda's Comfort Chicken Casserole." We love this recipe, but it is not for the faint of eating comfort casseroles, if you know what I mean. Lots of cheese and sour cream and creamy soup and rice, etc. It mixes up for a crowd, too, so you can freeze some or share. It's always a hit when we make it.

I found LollyChops over the holidays when everyone was blogging gift tutorials. She has great graphics for us to use, and this week is embroidery week with fun ideas and designs. So, stop by there to check her out and put it on your reader so you remember to see my recipe layout on Sunday the 22nd.

Well, I'm off to continue transcribing my work today and eating my double-portion-for-one chocolate cake in a mug! I need more milk ....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Words Of The Day

pillow covers

Inspiration struck recently when I saw similar pillows in a magazine. I thought, "I can do that!" So, I did. I saw the "love" style pillow in the magazine. As I was creating the embroidery file, I wondered what other words would work alone on a pillow, and "nest" came to mind.

By a happy accident, as I laid out the finished pillow covers to iron, I read, "LOVE nest." That works. Someone can order a set of words to create a special message for the living room or bedroom.

You can find the "LOVE" and the "nest" in my calicodaisy etsy shop. Check out the pretty little dragonfly accents floating around the words.


At the same time I was working on the words above, I designed a number series - you've seen them around, I'm sure: No. 1, No. 2, etc. I just haven't decided yet what fabric or color to use. Generally, I see them in an off-white with black embroidery, but maybe a series of colored fabrics and black or white embroidery would look nice, too. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Project Improv - Stepping Out

Michele - stipple 6

So, I've been thinking about what I want to do for my Project Improv project. This group was formed to encourage us to think outside-the-box and creatively quilt. First, I just needed to finish a quilt or quilt project. Then, of course, trying to figure out how to get my project out of my mind and into a real quilt project has sort of paralyzed me. The possibilities are so endless, I didn't know which direction to go.

Now I knew I couldn't put together an entire quilt for this project. With working and running around like I do, that was just too big a thought. However, my new supervisor at my part-time job is also a quilter. She has learned the traditional quilting and piecing but knows nothing of our improvisational, modern take on things now. So, I've taken it upon myself to overload her with information! While discussing projects she has done, she told me she has our local quilt shop longarm her quilts. Now, I have about three quilt tops I've made planning to one day take them in for quilting, but I've been terrified to find out how much that might cost - because you know I would do it even if it is expensive, so I was just biding my time. Well, no more, ladies! What I thought would be hundreds of dollars is only tens of dollars. So, I took in a 54 x 50 inch quilt top and backing which will cost me about $60.00! So affordable! You may already know I like to make binding, so that won't be a problem, and my first Project Improv will be done. I guess the Improv part here will be the "getting it finished" part. I have no photos of the quilt top I sent in, but it is Denyse Schmidt inspired and was pieced, I think, in 2006. So, in a month or less, I can show it to you.

Well, another dilemma has been solved --

The stippling button!

I found the Stipple button on my sewing machine! Actually, I have always known it was there, but I never correlated the fact that I had it with what to use it on. My machine is the Husqvarna-Viking D1 - a computerized embroidery/sewing machine.

Project Improv - charity quilt square

This is the block I sent in for our Project Improv charity quilt. As I mentioned above, since I am not likely to manage an entire quilt during this Improv season, I decided to make two more wonky squares and sew up 16-inch, piped pillow covers. Previous to finding my stippling choices on my machine, I was bemoaning the fact that I might need to hand quilt to get that tight, wrinkley look I'm so fond of. Nope! Just press the button, Michele, and my sweet machine said, "What do you want me to do?' I have a few choices of stippling looks, as you can see in the photo above, and I can vary the stitch length and sweep of the pattern. This is not freehand motion. The machine just sews forward and sweeps back and forth. I just guide it down the block. I started at the center top and sewed down. Then, I turned the square around and reversed my path on either side of the center "pattern." Then, I just had to remember to turn the square around and go the other direction on both ends so as not to pull the fabric in one direction. It took about 90 minutes. It might go faster if I change the stitch length. I am going to make a sampler by marking out lanes on a large square of muslin and then changing the stitch lengths to see what I get.

Here is my new baby:

Michele - stipple 6

She has been sitting with me all day on my computer desk so I can stare at her and touch and feel the bumpy pattern.

Here is a shot of the stippling from the backside:

Michele - stipple 4

I'm so in love. It's like the sun has come out and is shining all over the possibilities in my mind. It's freeing to know that, one, I can run over to the quilt shop and afford to longarm quilt my larger items, and, two, I already have what I need to incorporate incredible quilting patterns into my work.

Thank you, Jacquie, for stepping out and organizing Project Improv! If I'm any indication of what can happen for we wannabe art quilters, your idea is already a success!