Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanks is good for you

The New York Times ran an article on the health and well-being benefits of gratitude -- A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day. See this link.
“Cultivating an ‘attitude of gratitude’ has been linked to better health, sounder sleep less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.”
I had a lovely day yesterday. My neighbor, Mary, and I shared Thanksgiving. She brought white turkey meat and I roasted a turkey thigh (she doesn't like dark meat and I love it). I cooked dressing, mashed potatoes, and peas; and she brought gravy and cranberry sauce. The meal together was just what we both wanted so we didn’t have to get on the road and travel any distance.

I am grateful and I feel very healthy after a good night’s sleep.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Templates & Piecing 101 -- tutorial

 I received an e-mail from a disappointed customer yesterday. She said, “I decided to try the pattern. It doesn’t work. I went to a friend’s for help – she does paper piecing all the time. She couldn’t figure it out either. I made the separate pieces ... When I sewed A & B & C together it doesn’t come out like a boot.”

Oh dear. The pattern in question is called Dancing Boots. It is template pieced, not paper foundation pieced. There isn’t much information on the internet about making quilt templates and basic piecing. (I do have my Quick Stick & Rotary Cut up on the web.) But there isn't much that’s easy to find. I thought I’d better make a boot and take step-by-step photos. It’s pretty basic stuff and you can skip it if you are an experienced quilter.

Templates are found in quilting magazines, books, or packaged patterns. They are usually black and white drawings with two lines around the edges – one the sewing line, the other the cutting line. Make copies of the templates you need (keep the originals in a safe place). Rough cut around your copied templates. You will use them to cut out your fabric patches for quilting. Here are my paper templates arranged on some fabric ready to cut the patches. (You can click on any of the photos to see more detail.)

 The paper templates are stuck onto the fabric with sticky tape on the non-printed side. I use rolled pieces of transparent tape, but you could use double sided sticky tape. Put the tape pieces in the corners and here and there along the sides.
 Line up your see-through ruler along the outside cutting line (on a self-healing cutting surface). Use your rotary cutter to cut on this line.

When all your templates are cut, keep the paper stuck to them until you arrange them for sewing (following the piecing diagram). It is sometimes hard to tell one fabric patch from another similar one unless you have a guideline.
 Pull off the paper templates and arrange the fabric patches in the order you are going to sew them together.
 Sew the first two logical fabric patches together on your machine using a ¼ inch seam. For the Dancing Boot "standing boot" sew patch C to patch B. Press the seam to one side after sewing. Press all your seams as you go.
 Sew your combined C and B to patch D. This begins the leg portion of the boot. Press seam.
 Sew patch A to E.
 Sew the two boot leg strips together. Press the seam.
Sew patches G and F to the two top corners of the boot leg strip. Press seams.
 Sew patch H across the top of the boot leg assembly. Press seam.
 Sew patch J to I to assemble the toe section of the boot. Press seam.
 Sew the leg section to the toe section to finish the block. Press all seams to flatten the block. The complete block should be 9 ½ inches by 9 ½ inches because there are ¼ inch seam allowances all around the sides. The finished block will be 9 inches when it is sewn into a quilt.
I had such a good time making the standing boot (it was years ago I made the first ones for a quilt) that I sewed up a kicking boot. The kicking boot is a little harder to put together than the standing one. Now I have two boots in red and green for Christmas.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Hobbit birthday

roses f rom Robbie
 I like the tradition of Hobbits giving presents to others on their birthdays. My day worked out like that yesterday. I listed my Vintage Singer 101 sewing machine on my local FreeCycle on Tuesday. Twenty people e-mailed responses. It was hard figuring out which one to pick. Yesterday, a nice woman came to get the heavy machine. She brought her 20-year-old son to help carry the cabinet downstairs and out to her SUV. She has a modern machine at home so we had a short lesson on how to operate an old Singer. She told me that her grandmother has made quilts. I showed her how the free-motion foot worked as well as the regular foot. I gave her the cola tin too. She really liked the knee-lever.
FreeCycle is such a good organization. Check it out here. There is probably one in your area. This past month I’ve given away chicken wire and old rabbit ears antenna and converter box. I found an announcement on FreeCycle about a nearby e-waste event so I was able to take my old TV to that instead of the dump. Today, a teacher is coming to my house to pick up a box of yarn for class projects. She asked for yarn on FreeCycle and I responded.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall, at last

 Two leaves from the mulberry tree fell on my new walkway this week. So it must be fall.

To celebrate the occasion I reached back to a 4-inch paper pieced maple leaf block from 2009.

 If you get busy today you could make a lot of these blocks for a Thanksgiving table runner.

Click on the small graphic below for full sized foundations for the leaf. Print them out for your personal use.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

This looks beautiful (to me)

 It may not look beautiful to you, but it means I’ll be snug as a bug in a rug this winter. This is the new insulation under my house. It went in yesterday and tonight my feet are warm. I’m fortunate to have two thoughtful sons. My youngest son and his boys brought the rigid insulation boards and did some preliminary work at the end of October (click here). It was pretty complicated work going around all the ducting and pipes under the house so we decided a carpenter was necessary for the job.

My older son, Rob (click here) had a job assignment near my home this week. He has a good friend, Richard, in the area who is a skilled carpenter. Rob had him come out to my house and look at the work to be done. Richard arrived early yesterday morning and worked until after dark to put up the insulation. I am so pleased. Rob cleaned up the debris under the house last night. I took a photo, but you’ll have to look very hard to see him under there.

I am a lucky mom.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Plum simple

My neighbor Mary brought me six plums from the farmers’ market where she works. I decided to try making jam. It turned out to be good and simple.
Here’s my recipe:

6 plums
1 cup of sugar
1/3 lemon (juice)
1/8 cup water
Cut up the plums (take out the pits) and put them in a stainless steel pot. Dump in a cup of sugar. Turn up the heat and start stirring. I added 1/8 cup of water to get the juices juicing.

 I cut off 1/3 of a lemon and squeezed the juice into the pot. (I don’t know why, but a recipe I saw said to add lemon juice.) I used a whisk to break up the mixture as it heated.

 As it was boiling I used a wooden spoon. I turned the heat down to a simmer.
 I let the pot simmer for at least 25 minutes. I tested the mixture by taking out a spoonful every so often. When it started to look like jam (slipping off the spoon in one glob, not little drips) I cooked and stirred some more until I thought it was done. I let it cool in the pot for a little while and then I put it in a glass bowl.
 I covered the bowl with cling wrap and stored it in the refrigerator. I’ll eat it up in a week or so. I will not keep it much longer than that.

I don’t watch much TV
I’ve always said that I don’t watch much TV, but when my big old, bulky Phillips set went dead Monday night I was very unhappy. I have favorite programs: Antiques Roadshow, This Old House, Charlie Rose, The Good Wife, and my local nightly news. Ha. I am an addict. I guess I’ll have to admit it.

I rushed out Tuesday morning to buy a small flat-screen. There was a 19-inch advertised for $159 so I went to Radio Shack. The 19-inch looked very small. A 22-inch next to it seemed better. “How much?” I asked, and found out it was on sale for $149.
It was really simple to set up. I don’t have cable because I can get many stations just out of the air with rabbit ears. Why would I want to pay for TV that comes free?
I used FreeCycle to advertise the old TV and the rabbit ears and the converter box and the two remotes. Within a couple of hours the little stuff was picked up. However, no one wants an old TV so I’ll have to take it to the hazardous waste dump about 20 miles away.

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