Saturday, December 28, 2013

And they said it couldn't be done...

Sue came over on Thursday to sew with me in the Studio. I was working on some new dog jackets for Romeo, Elvis, and LarryPug.

Each coat will have the brown printed dog fleece on the outside with a different color collar and lining accent. LarryPug is getting orange; Elvis is getting lime green and Romeo is getting turquoise.
Sue was working on a Chubby Charmer tote bag from her stash of projects in progress. She was happy to report that she had given away a few of her finished lap quilts and tote bags for her sister to give as Christmas gifts.

Earlier in the week, one of my coworkers brought me an old sewing machine that his daughter was no longer using. He had mentioned it in passing and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. Best case: vintage Singer featherweight. Worse case: piece of junk corroded from living in his garage for ten years. In this instance, it was a happy medium, a fairly modern Singer, that was just a little grimy from lack of use. Thursday, I got it up and running. Sue is going to take it in to Rosie's Place where she teaches sewing. So she was quite happy to gain another machine for her ladies.

After a quick lunch, Sue offered to help me "organize" one of the corners of the Studio. Secretly I was worried that this was an Intervention sponsored by the noticeably absent Joannie (felled by stomach flu) and Marion (visiting friends in Chicago). I asked Sue if she was certain this was how she wanted to spend her afternoon...
Before the cleaning intervention.
This space is a deep corner at the top of the stairwell. It is too skinny to do much of anything except store stuff. In fairness, Joannie and I had organized most of the stuff in the corner months ago, it was just really hard to get at...

Sue is amazed with some of the loot we've extricated from the corner.
After we unloaded the corner, we decided that I should buy a shelf to put in the corner. That would make it easier than stacking all the boxes on top of each other. The space is narrow, only 30 inches wide, and since the ceiling is slanted, we had to account for the shortest height which is 59 inches. So, off we went back out to Lowe's.

Shelf in cart, we head for the register.

Check out all the plastic boxes. Looks like a lot of
people want to get organized after Christmas.
Thus began several hours of work. Sue was a trouper. When I would begin to tire, she would urge me on. We went through all of the boxes. We organized batting scraps by size: large, medium, and small. I will never have to purchase batting again, and neither will any of my friends. Joannie will be able to make place mats until the next millennium. Sue and I folded fabric and sorted fabric and unearthed some projects that I hadn't seen in a long time. Among our finds were the purple printed batik that I needed to finish the border of my pineapple wall hanging, my Deb Tucker Rangeley Star, my Deb Tucker Hunter's Star and my very first quilt block.
This poor little block was wonky before wonky was popular.
Luckily, my quilting has come a long, long way!
I made this block in a quilting class in 1980 at The Fabric Place in old downtown Framingham in a class taught by Sue Turbak. I was in the 10th grade. This was in the days before rotary cutters. This is it...I made exactly one block as far as I can remember. I think the colors are still kind of pretty. As you know, I still like pink. I'm going to have to frame this and hang it somewhere.

Sue left around 5pm, but the cleaning bug had bitten hard and spread to all corners of the Studio. Mike finally came over around 7:30 pm to see if I wanted to come back to the house for dinner.

Corner storage post intervention.
Although this may look messy to you, all of the boxes are sorted and labeled. The shelf I bought at Lowe's fit in the corner, but the large totes were too tall for the shelves. I was still able to use it for some project boxes. Happily, I visited my friend Linda at The Container Store today and she has the perfect solution. She recommended the Metro Commercial shelving, which is very strong shelving that can hold a lot of weight and is the right width. They will cut the poles to the height I need for my slanted ceiling. I am going back in two weeks to have dinner with her and will purchase it then. That will make my corner storage even better.
I can now see the top of the counter!

I hung up some decorations. My friend Dianne at work painted
these letters for me. My Studio theme is hot pink and zebra.

On the right side of the Studio, I have space for two friends. Joannie and Sue keep an extra machine here and I have an extra machine here for Marion also. I have a third table on the other side of the Studio, so four of us can sew at once. I ordered the cute signs you see here online from Joann fabrics. "Create" came in green, so my friend Dianne painted it pink for me.
I am really excited that the Studio is so clean and organized. Unfortunately, now my Mom wants me to help clean out Dad's garage when I visit her next week in Florida...
Dad's garage on a good day...if you look closely,
you can find my Dad in this picture.
Hope you are having a good weekend!

Sue--Thanks a Million!!!!!

Linking up on Sunday to Sew Many Ways Sew Darn Crafty Party. Adding a link on Tuesday to Freemotion by the River: Linky Tuesday. Adding a link on Wednesday to Sew Fresh Quilts: Let's Bee Social. Lorna invited me to participate! I am so thrilled!

Pugs and kisses,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Brought to you by the letter "L"

My tale of yesterday is brought to you by the letter "L." What could it be? Love, lust, and intrigue? Loneliness and loss? To find out, read on dear blogging friends...

There was laundry...
Mike has clean clothes to wear today.
Yes, not exciting, but just one of those facts of life. At least I don't have to do it in a river and bang it against a rock.

I made a lasagna...

I thought about adding some spinach to make it red and green for Christmas! I opted for the classic meat and cheese. We had it for dinner last night and we froze some for another day.

I made a layer cake quilt! This pretty little lavender and purple lap quilt is a free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop called Lemonade. In my case, it's more of a Grape-Ade. (There is also a You Tube Video.) All fabrics are from my stash. I put it together in 2 nights. It is a gift for a co-worker who lost her home in a fire. The heater in their aquarium burned out and that caused a spark big enough to set the curtains on fire. When the fish tank exploded, the water in it extinguished the fire, but the smoke damage was so great that they lost everything. She's not a close friend, but I figure it's the least I can do. She's a really nice person.
Yes, I noticed that there are two rows of identical sashing
lining up next to each other. I'm going to live with it. This
quilt is meant for use, not for the quilt show in Paducah.

Unexpectedly, there were lilies. Mike went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up a few items, and he brought me home this lovely bouquet.
Admittedly, it's a mixed bouquet, but there are
definitely lilies in it. Place mats underneath were
a gift from the Place Mat Queen, Joannie.

Wouldn't this photo of Mike be perfect if he were
playing a lyre instead of a classical guitar?

And of course, there is always LarryPug!
LarryPug will do anything for a laugh.

LarryPug got a new chewy bone yesterday.
He is making sure that it is empty.

Hope you have a lovely holiday with your loved ones.

Pugs and kisses,

P.S. Linking up after Christmas on Friday to Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Link a Finish Friday at Richard and Tanya Quilts, Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday at Sew Fresh Quilts and CrazyMom Quilts.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Go Ahead, Make My Day...

I found this message in my email this morning:

Let me repeat myself:  I LOVE your blog.

It is fresh, honest, delightfully funny and always raises a chuckle and an occasional eye roll.

Happy Chrismukkah!

Kim G.

Thanks Kim G., you certainly made my day!

Pugs and kisses,

Sunday, December 22, 2013

'Twas the Sunday before Christmas

And all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even the three pugs...

LarryPug has spent his weekend trying to rip off
his leopard doll's Santa hat. He will probably get
coal for Christmas.
For the most part, Mike and I have been laying low for the past few weekends, trying to avoid the retail craziness. We decided to brave the crowds today and head out for lunch to the Fifties Diner, one of our favorite places. After lunch we had planned to go to JoAnn Fabrics (Mike came prepared with a book and an issue of Time magazine), the pet store (to pick up some dog food and a birthday gift for Romeo) and to the supermarket. When we left the restaurant, the roads were so congested with holiday shoppers that we just went to the supermarket and bagged our other errands for another day.

Tonight, Mike is making Barley Risotto with Wild Mushrooms. I am spoiled rotten to have such a lovely husband who enjoys cooking for me. While it does take several hours for the food to reach the table, it is almost always a wonderful end result.

Here is Mike starting the process by soaking the leeks.
I made the handsome guitar apron that he is wearing.

I thought that the cut-up leeks were very pretty. This photo
also reminds me of the old commercial where Madge was
soaking her client's fingernails in Palmolive dish washing liquid.
I have been resting up and trying to get rid of my cold. After having a yummy lunch and going to the grocery store, I was exhausted and headed upstairs for a two hour nap.

Here I am in my fetching leopard nightgown and
sweatpants. Romeo is keeping a close eye on me.
No sewing was done today, although I looked at fabric online. Does that count?

Elvis says "Hi!"

LarryPug says "Come on over and rub my belly."
Sending you lots of pugs and kisses,

Saturday Sewing: A Bag for Diane

Yesterday, I finished a Chubby Charmer tote bag for my wonderful sister-in-law Diane. I will see Diane the first week of January so I will be able to give her the bag in person. Diane is a redhead and she loves autumnal colors.

Chubby Charmer is one of my favorite patterns. You can read about other Chubby Charmer tote bags that I've made here and here. The batiks I used for Diane's bag were in my stash. They were left over from a quilted jacket and a queen size bed quilt that I've made for her in pre-blogging years.

Here is the finished bag.
A close-up of the quilting. I stitched 1/4 inch in from the edge.
It frames each of the fabrics and I love the way it came out.

A slightly blurry photo of my brother Jeff and my sister-in-law, Diane.

Lining fabric at left and bag handles.

A close-up of the fabrics in Diane's bag.

I really enjoy making this pattern. This time when I made the bag, I made a list of "extras" that have become standard for me when I make the Chubby Charmer. Below I've tried to capture some of the special details in this bag. Not pictured is the interior of the bag which has two large inside pockets. One other thing I do is make the handles longer (30 inches) than the pattern calls for. This way you can put it over your shoulder.
The bag has snaps on the side so you can make it larger or smaller.
This is part of the pattern. You can also use Velcro or make fabric ties.

A view from the side with the snaps open.

This is one of my "add-ons." This is a small strap with a clip.
I will also make a matching zipper bag that will have a
D-ring on it. Diane will be able to clip it into her bag.

I put another loop on the opposite side of the bag with a
removal carabiner. Diane can use this for her keys.
They won't fall to the bottom of the bag and get lost.
Marion and Joannie came over on Saturday to sew with me in the Studio despite that fact that I have a lousy head cold (all I've gotten for Christmas so far). Hopefully they sprayed themselves with Lysol when they got home. Joannie was hard at work making six pillowcases for a party that she was going to yesterday afternoon. Marion finished a quilt top.
This was kit that I brought home for Marion from the
Houston Quilt Festival quite a few years ago.
I have the same one. I gave it to Mike a couple of years
ago for Valentine's Day. I love the colors in this.

I also finished a flannel Scotty dog pillowcase for my friend
Eleanor and a cowboy dog pillowcase for my friend Cindy.
We left Joannie in the Studio to finish her pillowcases. Marion and I went to the Asian Deli for lunch. Marion believes that Hot and Sour soup will cure everything. She is probably right. We went to All About Quilts and ran into our friend Margaret who is one of the co-owners of the shop. She had her puppy, Ike, in the car so I got to meet him. Ike is a five month old golden retriever. He likes to jump on you and give you kisses. He is very sweet. Marion bought her fabric medley for our Christmas party in January. I admired all the lovely batiks, but was good and didn't buy anything.
Margaret and Ike. It was a freakishly warm day for the
first day of winter in Massachusetts, around 60 degrees.

Hope you are having a lovely weekend!

Adding a link on Tuesday to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River and to Brag Bag Tuesday at ChrisW Designs. Merry Christmas!

Pugs and kisses,

Somber Thursday and Whiny Friday

My work clients have spent the past week thinking up outlandishly un-doable requests since they were all planning to take off the next two weeks for the holidays and I'm sure they didn't want to leave me without anything to do in their absence. Coincidentally, all of my vendors that I use to fulfill aforementioned client requests have also planned to take off the next two weeks as well... which should make the next two weeks interesting. In self defense, I am taking off next Thursday and Friday since I'm pretty sure that no-one will be in the office and I plan to stay home and sew, sew, sew!

Thursday was a miserable day at my office. We've lost four people in my group this month due to layoffs. Our workload is growing and morale is at an all time low. I spent most of the day on the phone attending conference calls. After work I went to my Thursday night quilt group. As soon as I arrived, I started to sneeze and cough, which did not endear me to my fellow quilters. I wasn't surprised that I was getting sick since I had traveled so much last week. I half-heartedly worked on some pillowcases. Karen was making beautiful machine embroidered wine bags. Unfortunately I did not take any photos. We celebrated Ginny's birthday. I left with my head throbbing and feeling like everyone in the group hated me for going to quilting with a cold. Honestly, I had been in perfect health earlier during the day. I called my Mom in Florida and told her that I hated everything and everybody.

On Friday, I worked from home. I also managed to spend an inordinate sum of money and not have any fun at all. First up, I was waiting for the plumber, who was scheduled to arrive at 10 am to install our new disposal. He arrived at 1:30 pm (only 3.5 hours late) and installed the disposal in an amazing 20 minutes. He admired the model that Mike had chosen, so that was a good sign. He also asked for a check for $25 for "permit fees." I was a little annoyed since we had already prepaid Home Depot a princely sum for the installation and no mention of permit fees was made at that time.

My poor Romeo has been suffering from an ear infection so I had to take him to the vet at lunch time. I had been giving him prescription ear drops for several days, but his ear still smelled really nasty so I was concerned. The vet took a culture and sent it off for lab work. This little visit cost $210, but Romeo is priceless and worth every penny.
Alas, poor Romeo has an ear infection.
My ears were full of fluid and my sinuses ached and I felt so lousy that I decided to see if my doctor could squeeze me in for a visit. The last time I had a cold was back in March and I was sick for over a week. Luckily for me, they could see me at 2:30 pm and since the very late plumber had finished his installation in record time, I was able to make my appointment. I was convinced that I had the black plague, but the doctor said it was only a head cold. So between co-payment and a visit to the drug store for Sudafed, cough syrup and cough drops, I had spent another $30. On the way home, I stopped for gas ($48) and a calendar and two note books for work ($25).

When I got home, I was enormously cheered up by a funny message from my Dad on my answering machine. It is good to know that my 84-year old Dad still has my back. The message said, "Nan, this is Daddy. Mom told me that someone at work was mean to you. Give me their name and address and I'll send in the SWAT team and the black helicopter to take care of them. If you want the bodies found, we'll leave them in the trunk of the car at the Miami airport. If you don't want the bodies found, we'll dump them in the Everglades."

Be nice to me or my Dad will send the SWAT team after YOU!
Thanks Dad! Sometimes laughter is the best medicine!

Pugs and kisses,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Not quite Santa's workshop

Sorry I haven't blogged much this month. Work has been keeping me very busy. Last week I went to Pittsburgh and Los Angeles to visit two of my clients. I flew about 5,211 miles over the course of three days and spent more time in an airplane than I did in a conference room. I did get to eat one fabulous meal at Fishing With Dynamite in Manhattan Beach. Most of my other meals were purchased on the run in the airport and eaten on a tray table high up in the sky.

A scene from my glamorous business travel
The flight from Pittsburgh to Dallas was complete with screaming baby and a fellow passenger with extremely poor hygiene, but fortunately most of my travel was uneventful. I flew on Jet Blue, American, and US Airways. American Airlines serves Dr. Pepper, but features the world's smallest seats. Jet Blue was probably the most comfortable and they didn't charge a fee to check your bag. US Airways wasn't bad either.

Since work has been so crazy, I've taken the pressure off myself at home by buying most of my holiday gifts. I'm still finishing up a quilted bag for my sister-in-law, Diane, but I won't see her until early January, so I have a little time dividend. I had great intentions of making a hand-made gift for each of my girlfriends, but there's always next year. Maybe if I get started in January, I'll be ready for the holidays in 2014.

Marion, Joannie, and Sue have been hanging out with me in The Studio as they put the finishing touches on some holiday gifts.

Sue, at right, knit these adorable Mickey Mouse sweaters for Joannie's
grand-daughter, Hayden, and new grand-baby on the way. Aren't they adorable?
I asked her if she could make a dog version for Romeo, Elvis and LarryPug.

I made bacon and BMX bike-racing pillowcases for my nephews.
Last weekend, I finished seven pillowcases. I have 15 more in progress.

Santa's elves, Joannie and Marion hard at work.

Joannie making pillowcases last night.

Joannie finished these pretty pink softball print pillowcases for her niece.
Yesterday, I gave my friend Eleanor her gi-normous king-size quilt for an early Christmas present. I was afraid that if I waited a few more weeks, I wouldn't want to give it away. She loved it!

My friend Cindy emailed me the photo below with "Awesome" as her subject line. I'm thrilled that she liked her birthday pillowcases so much.

Cindy is getting a few more dog pillowcases for Christmas.
She has six pillows on her bed, and only three of them have
"made by Nancy" pillowcases on them.
I hope that your holiday quilting and sewing is going well!

Pugs and kisses,

Friday, December 6, 2013

Holiday Gifts by the Thursday Girls

In a rare occurrence, all eight of the Thursday Girls were together last night. It was great to see everyone. As expected in December, everyone was busy making gifts.

Nancy Q. showed us this pretty little quilt that she just finished.

The Girlfriends' Quilt

She is also making these cute snowman tote bags for her coworkers.
She is filling them with a coffee mug and a Dunkin' Donuts gift card.
Ginny was making pillow shams. She had already made a matching quilt, so these will be a follow-up gift.

Pillow shams in soft pastels.

Toni was busy crocheting. Guess she left her sewing machine at home.
Toni hard at work.

Toni's boot cuff assembly line
Pat brought in her Low Volume Quilt to show us. It is made in various shades of grey. Unfortunately it doesn't photograph well, but it is truly lovely in person.

Not quite fifty shades of grey...

Quilt close-up
Pat's daughter Allison is getting married on New Year's Eve, so Pat was busy making faux fur wraps for the bridesmaids to wear over their dresses so they won't freeze (winter in New England, after all). After she finishes making the eight wraps, she has to make a dress for the Flower Girl. Note to Pat: I'm looking for some animal print fur so you can make me a wrap too!

Better keep sewing! Pat has to make seven more!
Karen and her husband are avid skiers. They are taking their four adult children and their significant others on a ski trip for a Christmas gift. Karen was busy making toiletry bags for her two daughters and for her sons' two girlfriends. She is going to fill them with shampoo, soap and lip gloss.

Karen is embellishing each bag with the recipient's name.
The bags are lined inside with vinyl and she finished her
inside seams with binding.
I was thrilled to put the very last stitches in Eleanor's Quilt.

Beth was working on a holiday lap quilt and Judi was making a snowflake table runner. Sorry, I didn't get a picture.

Hope your holiday gift making is going well!

Pugs and kisses,