Thursday 30 May 2013

Battling Weeds

Today I am totally digressing from my usual topics of late - quilting and fabric - to meander out to the yard... 
The yard beside my garage is surrounded by hedge/shrubs and is the only private space on my property. Because my house is situated weirdly on my property, I do not have a back yard, so this space is it. When I bought my house in 2009, this space was tilled as a garden and I actually did try to garden in there. But that didn't last long. I don't have time or need for a large garden. And since this is my only private space, I would like to be able to turn it into lawn, so that if I want to sit out in an evening, I can do it here without being on display to the neighbourhood. But I have been battling weeds ever since I moved in. As a matter of fact, it seems when you own a house with a yard, battling weeds is an ongoing issue. I would really like to kill off the weeds in this area, till it up, and lay sod so that I can have a nice lawn. I really don't want to try grass seed, as I am sure the weeds will get the jump on the grass and I'll have a nice plot of weeds again. In desperation, I have sprayed it with Roundup. Dare I confess that? Roundup isn't cheap, and personally, I really don't find it that effective. Some, but not all, of the weeds would die, only to spring back up again, while the rest continued to flourish. It's a lot of work and money spraying a whole area with Roundup and all that work and money (not to mention toxins) really didn't accomplish what I wanted it to. And I really wanted a less toxic option. (Yes, I know - Roundup is supposedly only toxic to plants, but, as far as I am concerned, the jury is still out on that one). 
Several times I have seen posted on facebook a "recipe" for a "natural" weed killer, using vinegar, salt and dish soap. I never saved the recipe, however, and when I googled it, I found out that the salt and possibly even the vinegar are toxic to the soil. You can see some comments to this effect here:  and here: 
Note that some claim this formula is more toxic than Roundup. Hmm... Toxic to whom? I could drink this vinegar/salt/dishsoap stuff and I may have a gut ache and be foaming at the mouth, but unless I have an anaphylactic allergy to one of the components, it's not going to kill me. Or my cats, in all likelihood. I wouldn't say the same thing about Roundup. Now, I am not disputing that the salt is not good for the soil. After all, the Dead Sea, with its high salt content, is not called dead for nothing. I have a harder time believing the same about vinegar, in small doses. After all, vinegar is just the liquid from rotten apples and there are enough of those around. The interesting thing is that a lot of the information about this mixture is inconsistent. On the one hand, we are told not to use it where we want to grow anything for the next 6 months to 2 years. On the other hand, it supposedly doesn't kill the roots of the weeds and the weeds will grow back. Does that even make sense? If the soil becomes so toxic that you can't grow anything there for at least 6 months, how do the weeds grow back?
I decided to give it a try. On the far side of my hedge, along the alleyway, grows a nice crop of weeds that the town authorities keep threatening me about. Personally, I think that anything on that side of the hedge is not my problem. It's the town's alley, not mine, so the weeds are theirs as well. Unfortunately, they don't see it that way. Since I have no intention of growing anything there, I will be very happy if nothing ever grows there again. Then both the town and I will be happy. So, I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained. And if it poisons my hedge as well, oh well... I eventually wanted to rip it out and put up a fence anyway. So I mixed up my "poisonous concoction," poured it into a spray bottle and "shot" all those weeds. I will have to report back on how it works.
Meanwhile, there's still the space inside the hedge... I found more ideas here: 
I did try pouring boiling water on some weeds. I used a two litre kettle and I was lucky if I "boiled" 10 weeds - probably not even that. So that's not going to be a very effective method. A lot of power will go into boiling all that water. If I had an outdoor firepit and a huge cauldron, this method might be more worthwhile. Or if I didn't have so many weeds. 
Another suggestion that I found on a couple of sites was bleach. That's initially quite toxic, but it does apparently dissipate quite quickly. I'd want to do more research before I tried that. 
One other solution was something akin to a blowtorch. I can't imagine that would be very safe in Alberta's dry climate when we're under fire bans everywhere. It might be feasible if we get more rain. 
I think for my hedged in property, I will probably end up just having it rototilled, rake out as many roots as I can, and then lay sod. Hopefully, the sod will smother most of the weeds still left while it gets itself established. 
Any other suggestions? I've got lots more weeds to work on...

Tuesday 28 May 2013

New Fabric for a New Quilt

Look at this incredible fabric:
"Space" by Avlyn Inc.

 Isn't it gorgeous? It's exactly what I wanted for a background for a quilt for my daughter. I've collected some orange fabric (her favourite colour) and will combine it with purple to make the stars in the Dreamweaver Quilt from the Craftsy Quick Strip Paper Piecing Class that I've enrolled in. And this fabric will be the background for the stars. I can hardly wait to get started. I bought it at my local quilt shop and, as I said, it was just what I was looking for - a great "environment" to put stars in. 
By the way, here are the newest classes launching tomorrow on Craftsy:
I have to admit these classes sound tempting, especially the sewing ones. I think I've enrolled in enough quilting ones for now, but once I get this "quilting bug" under control, I wouldn't mind refreshing and updating my sewing skills as well. I have bought several vintage patterns that I'd like to use. But, I'll be frank: if I'm going to go to the work of sewing my own clothing, I want to wait until I'm down to the size I want to be.
You'll be seeing more of my Dreamweaver quilt in future posts. 

Sunday 26 May 2013

45-Degree Triangles: Strippy Spools

I am now up to date with both the 2012 Block of the Month and the 2013 Block of the Month. This month's block for the 2013 BOM is a variation of the Spinning Spools block, and we were to make a total of 8 blocks, though only 7 will be used in the quilt. The finished size will be 7 inches. I will have a hard time deciding which one to leave out. Here they are:
 These are done by cutting  2-1/2" strips across the width of the fabric. Then two strips are sewn together and this double strip is then cut into 45 degree triangles. I happen to have a 45 degree triangle ruler, so was mostly using that. However there are 45 degree markings on the standard 6.5x24" quilting ruler, so I thought I'd give that a try. The problem is the ruler also has 60 degree markings and I ended up with one triangle with a 45 degree angle on one side and a 60 degree angle on the other side: a scalene triangle instead of an isosceles triangle. So I had to cut an extra one and ended up cutting that one from the wrong direction, so that the fabric at the point of the triangle was reversed with what should have been at the base of the triangle. So I had to try once more and finally got it right, but I stuck with my 45 degree triangle ruler after that. Then my sewing machine started acting up and I figured it was high time I cleaned some lint out of it. However, I couldn't find my instruction book to figure out how to remove the bobbin shuttle. I had to google that and now have a copy saved on my computer. And I did get the bobbin shuttle out, cleaned out a pile of lint and now the machine is working fine. 
Each one of this month's blocks is made up of four 45 degree triangles, two of one kind and two of another. And they're made to look sort of like spools of thread - hence the name. 
Here's the colouring sheet again, with my latest blocks added in:
I just plopped the blocks in at random in the colouring sheet. I will probably rearrange them when I actually make up the quilt. I also found out that the colouring sheet is a little off scale, as the spools came out slightly rectangular when in actuality they are square.
Next month is the LeMoyne Star, using Y-seam construction. That's the large block on the upper right. I'm looking forward to it. That one should be pretty! The tumbling blocks block on the upper left comes in July, while the appliqued basket and flowers on the lower right takes two months, August and September.
Now that I'm finally up to date, maybe I can get to work on my trailer curtains.


Thursday 23 May 2013

What makes a lady?

"It does not require a frail, helpless, overdressed, simpering thing to make a lady."
Ellen G. White

My mother was an awesome woman, who was every inch a lady - her pastor described her as "regal." Yet, she was not afraid to get her hands dirty and knew how to swing a hammer and wield a saw. I remember helping her move furniture. Undeterred by narrow doorways, she sometimes would move whole rooms full of furniture from one room to another. One time, we took a sofa out the back door, around the side of the house and in the front door in order to get it where she wanted it. Not much defeated my mother. And I'm glad she set that example for her daughters. By precept and example, we were definitely not raised to be "frail, helpless, overdressed, simpering things," as mentioned in the above quote. And for that I am truly thankful. 
The only male relative I have nearby is my niece's husband. And he works in the oilfield, so is not home that often. I don't like to take him away from my niece and her sons during the brief intervals when he is home, unless I really need his help. Generally, I get by on my own, and, as a divorced home-owner, that often necessitates me doing things that weren't formerly in my comfort zone. While I have never been the frail, helpless type, there was a time when power tools made me nervous. I now own several and use them with confidence - at least most of the time. :-) Curtain rods, window shades, pictures, towel bars all need to be hung. More than that: I have installed a programmable thermostat, cleaned out the p-trap under my bathroom sink, put a deadbolt in my side door, replaced the door knob on my garage door, hung a hanging pot rack and numerous other jobs that wouldn't get done otherwise if I didn't do them. I even attempted to cover my deck with vinyl deck covering - until I discovered that the salesman had given me incorrect instructions and sold me improper equipment to do the job. I was NOT impressed. To date, that has been my only negative experience in a building supply/hardware store since becoming a homeowner. And I did get my money back. Plus a $50 gift card which I never used because I had no desire to return to that store. Covering the deck is still a project on my "to do" list. I've just postponed it for awhile and have since discovered that other stores sell the same vinyl deck covering stuff.
Sometimes my independence has created "interesting" experiences and adventures. The first time I used my newly purchased snowblower, I didn't realize it was in high gear and, since I was starting on my sloped driveway, it nearly ran off with me. There are so many different controls on it, that it took me quite a while before I figured out how to reduce the speed to a manageable pace. Then there was replacing the toilet seat in the basement bathroom. I assume that was the original toilet seat, and unlike most of the newer toilet seats that have plastic nuts on the bolts attaching the seat to the toilet, this one had both the nuts and bolts in metal. With decades of rust holding them together. Even spraying them with WD-40 and giving it time to "soak in" didn't help. I used every tool I could think of, and got some useless advice and was finally told that I might have to cut them off with a hacksaw. Was that my friends at Home Hardware of my ex-husband that told me that? Either way, that's what I finally had to do. And it was no mean feat. The heads of the bolts were embedded in the plastic top and I had to try to break the plastic loose in order to get the hacksaw in under the head to saw it free from the bolt. That job took a lot of elbow grease and/or blood, sweat and tears, but I did finally manage to get the old seat off. After that, getting the new seat on was a piece of cake. I actually took some pictures.
Finally got the old toilet seat off!
 You can see my various tools on the floor, with the old toilet seat in the background and the new one on the left.
The new toilet seat
Celebrating my accomplishment
I really should have videotaped it and posted it to youtube. There are several videos of how to replace a toilet seat - so what? that was the easy part - but none that show you how to get the old seat off when the nuts are rusted on. 
I have to admit that it's a good feeling to overcome obstacles and accomplish a task. I actually do enjoy doing my minor home repairs and maintenance. Some jobs, however, do require too much brute strength or expertise for me to do myself. That's when I will pay a professional to do it.
Meanwhile, I really don't consider it "unladylike" to do my own "fixit" jobs. 
And one more thing: you can drive a pickup truck and still be pretty and feminine.
Me and my truck


Tuesday 21 May 2013

So Much for My Quilting Hiatus

Quilting is addictive - I can't give it up. Actually I had already prepared some "hexies" for a quilt block and I didn't want them getting lost in the shuffle, while I worked on the window treatments for my trailer. So I figured I'd better finish that block. And another, and another, and...
All of the blocks for this post are from  Craftsy's 2012 Block of the Month.
For the April blocks, it was English paper piecing, something I never thought I'd do. Not only is it tedious, but it involves a fair amount of hand sewing. Years ago, when I bought my first sewing machine, one of the requirements was that it must have a blind hem stitch, so that I would never have to hem by hand again. I do not hand sew any more than I absolutely have to. When I crocheted a cardigan for my grandson for Easter this year, rather than sew it in separate pieces, I crocheted the front and back all in one piece. And the sleeves I crocheted as a long tube, instead of a flat piece that I would later have to sew together. I didn't sew any more seams in that cardigan than necessary. So, the idea of doing English paper piecing was really not appealing to me. However, I was determined to do every block in both of the BOM quilts I'm doing, even if that meant hand sewing and tedious paper piecing. So, here are my April blocks:

I have to admit that I'm still quite happy with my fabric choices. I love the way the black background just makes the bright colours "pop." While I don't particularly care for some of the individual fabrics within the fabric bundles - browns have never ranked high with me, and I would have been happier with more purples and at least one true orange - generally I've been very satisfied. 
In order to make all of these hexagons, I would have had to trace and cut out a template (one for each size) and then trace the template onto paper/cardstock in order to have one paper hexagon for every fabric one. As I said, English paper piecing can be quite tedious. So I skipped that step and purchased precut paper hexagons online here: Paper Pieces. The prices are reasonable, my order was shipped quickly and I got good customer service. And it sure beat cutting out all of those hexagons myself. I still had to cut out the fabric hexies, but I used my rotary cutter for that. 
The block on the left is the Hexie Stripe Block and the one on the right is the Sunny with a Chance of Hex block. I used all but two fabrics from one fat quarter bundle in the first one and every fabric from another fat quarter bundle for the second one. All of the hexies had to be basted by hand and sewn together by hand, and I actually hand-appliqued the hexie stripe on the first block. And I survived. :-) So, hand sewing really isn't deadly after all. But I doubt I'll be in a hurry to use hexagons in a future quilt. However, I am glad I did it and am pleased with the results. 
Here are May's blocks:
This month's topic was Wonky Log Cabin Blocks. On the left is the Modern Log Cabin and on the right is the Wonky 5-sided Log Cabin, though mine looks more like a spiral than a 5-sided figure. I have to be honest: I really didn't like either of these blocks in the course materials. The Modern Log Cabin is kind of boring to me. And the Wonky one is a little too disorganized, chaotic - I'm not sure what word I'm looking for. I just know I didn't really like it. Certainly, I feel that my use of colour improved both blocks immensely. I hope that doesn't sound too arrogant, but let's face it - there is a reason why I picked those fabrics. It's because they appeal to me and everyone has different tastes. You might think my blocks are horrid and you're entitled to think that. My niece was over and I was showing her some different blocks and quilts online, and some that appealed to her did not appeal to me, and vice versa. It's not a cookie cutter world. And that would be extremely boring if it was. 
But back to the blocks, I have to 'fess up that I didn't do the Modern Log Cabin exactly as I was supposed to. I hadn't watched the video yet and only briefly glanced over the instructions. The centre square was supposed to be outlined in a round of background fabric, then a round of print, then another background and a final round of print. I did the opposite. In the video, the instructor used all one print for each print round and I used 4 different ones. But I'm still happy with my block. 
Another confession: I had originally planned on using only fabric from the three fat quarter bundles that I bought for this project. However, I was trying to follow a rainbow sequence in the Wonky block and really didn't have enough oranges and yellows, so I borrowed from my stash. You may recognize the one yellow along the left edge - it's the centre fabric from the offset log cabin blocks from the 2013 BOM. There are also a couple of orange pieces, one above and one to the right of the aforementioned yellow strip, which are from fabric I have purchased for a quilt for my daughter. And both of the fussy-cut centres are from my stash. 
I think I prefer the hexie blocks over the log cabin ones, but I doubt I will use any of these blocks again. However, you never know...
Now, will I be able to leave quilting long enough to get those curtains done?

Monday 13 May 2013

Handy as Well as Craftsy

Today was my "X day," which is what we call a scheduled day off, because it's marked on the schedule with an "X." (Our collective agreement stipulates that a full-time nurse can only work 19 shifts in a 4-week period. That means I get a three day weekend every four weeks). I've been puttering around at home and haven't accomplished nearly as much as I would like, but I did get some things done that I've been putting off for awhile. Here's a picture of my sewing/craft room, to show you what I've gotten done: 
No, that is not a finished quilt. That is my design wall, AKA a cheap flannel-backed vinyl tablecloth with the flannel side facing out. (If you look closely, you can actually see the design on the tablecloth). That way I can stick quilt blocks on there, or even fabric swatches, and see what they look like together, and how I want to arrange them. It's a bit of a problem, however, when I'm working on more than one quilt. As you can see, I've got blocks from both the 2012 and 2013 BOM quilts and I'm not halfway through either one yet. I only have so much wall space, and I hated to hide them away while taking my quilting hiatus. I might put another "design wall" in behind the door. And maybe I'll replace the tablecloth if I can get a flannelette sheet for a reasonable price. It's not a good time of year to find flannelette sheets, but I might just check out some thrift stores.
Next to my "design wall" is something that, in all likelihood, you won't recognize as pegboard because you've probably never seen pegboard that colour before. I bought a can of fluorescent green spray paint at WalMart and painted it myself. As you can see, the spray paint didn't go on very evenly, but that's okay. It makes it look like a Batik fabric. :-) And I installed the pegboard myself as well. I got some directions from my local Alta-Wide/Tim-Br Mart, where I purchased the supplies. Actually I should say some of the supplies. Because I didn't want a full 4'x8' sheet of pegboard, they trimmed a piece the size I wanted from some scrap they had, as well as the lumber I needed for the strapping and gave it to me free of charge. Wow! That's what I call good customer service. I really appreciate it, as well, when someone in this type of store is willing to take the time to explain to me what I need to do to get the job done. My local Home Hardware is good about this also. But I still have to be able to do it. And I did, as you can see, using a level, a measuring tape, a power drill and a screw driver. I was looking for some way to store my quilting rulers and other stuff without them getting damaged. The main 6x24" ruler won't fit just anywhere easily. And I wanted it all to be readily accessible. Now it is, and I can see what I've got at a glance.
This was one of yesterday's projects: 
I had bought these containers at WalMart and yesterday I sorted fabric. One container has the fabric for the 2012 BOM, one has fabric for the 2013 BOM, one is various cat fabric, including a very nice panel that will become the centre of a quilt. Then there is various orange fabric destined to become a quilt for my daughter, John Deere fabric for my grandson, miscellaneous purple fabric for a Christmas tree skirt (I have a tree that I decorate all in purple that I need an appropriate tree skirt for). And finally, there is a container of odds and ends that I have yet to determine their destiny. Now I have to find shelf/closet space for all of these containers...
Today, the mail brought both my parcels. One was the book, The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders, which I found to be exciting and inspiring. You can find it here: The Quilter's Album of Blocks and Borders: More than 750 Geometric Designs Illustrated and Categorized for Easy Identification and Drafting The other was my Quilters Design Mirrors and Lazy Angle ruler. The ruler is already hanging on my pegboard, but I haven't figured out how to safely store the mirrors. Probably on the bookshelf. The mirrors can be found here:
Quilter's Design Mirrors: For Star, Kaleidoscope & Repeating-Design Quilts Get the Big Picture-Preview the Whole Design with this Larger Format Mirror
And the ruler can be found here: Creative Grids: Lazy Angle Ruler
I still need to put my tools away and maybe run to WalMart for some hooks. I want to hang my frying pans on the kitchen wall. I tried some swag hooks, but the ones I got won't fit the handle of my cast iron frying pans, so I'll have to explore another option.
Until next time,

Saturday 11 May 2013

Hiatus from Quilting

Yesterday, Aaron (my niece's husband) and I brought our trailers home. We had them stored in a the yard of a local trucking company that he used to work for, and we had to get them when the gate to the yard was not locked. Ah, it feels good to have my trailer home again. Now, I can get back to working on the interior. 

It's a 1985 trailer and the window treatments were kind of gross: rust-coloured velvet valances, and these two strips of the same fabric on the front window, above the bed, pretending to be drapes. And mini-blinds, dirty, yukky mini-blinds. And some ugly beige curtains to separate the bedroom area from the rest of the trailer. 

I like to sleep with it as dark as possible, and mini-blinds and those ugly beige curtains didn't block much light, so that was my first project. I sewed new dividing curtains in a white fabric with a purple pattern (butterflies), lined with black-out fabric. I replaced the mini-blinds in the bedroom area with sage green room-darkening roller shades on both sides of the trailer. At the front of the trailer, I would have had to special order a roller shade for that window, so I just went with room-darkening fabric, in a darker sage green, that can be tied up with ribbons when I want to open it. Now I want to put some sheer white curtains on those three windows, plus valances in a purple patterned poly-cotton fabric. There was not quite enough of the fabric I used for the dividing curtains to make pillow shams for the bed, so I will do the borders of the shams in the same fabric that I am doing the valances in. I already have a purple comforter on the bed. 
In the kitchen area, I still have the mini-blinds up and I expect they will stay up for now. They are fine for privacy when I want it and I don't need the room darkening qualities that I require in the sleeping area. I have some orange poly-cotton fabric and some orange lace fabric, so I will probably do the valances and curtains in the kitchen area in orange. It's not a loud, bilious orange, more of a softer, medium colour. I'll have to post pictures when I get it done. 
So, I think I will be taking a hiatus from my quilting and crocheting projects in order to get my trailer in shape. All of these pictures were taken before I made any changes. Don't get me wrong - I love my trailer. I just wanted to fix up the decor a bit. The upholstery on the benches could really use some help as well, but I don't think I'm ready for reupholstering yet. I think the covers zip off, but I might just leave them on and maybe make some slip covers to go over them. Haven't figured out how I can change the wallpaper. That might be too much work. This year I think I'll stick with the window coverings and pillow shams. If I just get the windows in the "bedroom" done, I'll be happy.
I've already made some changes in the bathroom, though more of a functional nature, rather than decor. First I trimmed this shower curtain as it was too long for the short space in a trailer shower and too much of it was laying on the bottom of the tub, trapping water and grunge. I hung a towel bar at the end of the tub and another towel ring or two on another wall. I believe there was only one towel ring when I "moved in," which was fine for a hand towel, but where do I hang my bath towel? I also installed a hook for a shower caddy on the wall above the tub. That way I have a convenient place for soap, shampoo, etc. Of course, I've added bath mat, soap dispenser, toothbrush holder, etc.
I was really hoping to take my trailer to a seasonal site this year. I'm not really fond of towing it, so if I just had to do it at the beginning and end of the season, I'd be much happier (except I'd still need it for campmeeting). That way, I could take off every weekend if I wanted to, without having to worry about hooking, towing and unhooking my trailer. Plus backing it into my driveway. So far I have always gotten Aaron to do that. He's a truck driver and does it like the pro he is. Me, on the other hand - I don't much like backing up at the best of times. Doing it with a trailer and not knocking my garage down is a challenge I'm not quite prepared for. But Aaron's not always available and I'm not supposed to leave the trailer in the street, so it would be much easier if it could just stay on a site for the season. However, that's not in my budget for this year. 
Meanwhile I need it in my laneway so that I can work on the curtains. And last year, I wanted to make a list of staples I need to stock in the trailer, plus a cookbook of "easy to manage in a trailer" recipes, but I never got a chance to do this. Hopefully I will this year before I take it out. It's hard to get everything done, but I'll have fun trying. 

Wednesday 8 May 2013

A Pleasant Surprise

At work this afternoon, I received a phone call and was quite surprised to find that it was the Amazon marketplace vendor of the Quilters Design Mirrors that had cancelled my order. (He had my work number because he ships by courier, so I gave my work address and number for the parcel to be shipped to). He asked if I still wanted the mirrors and explained that someone had walked  into their shop and bought the last set the same day that I placed the order. He had not had the opportunity to update the inventory before I made my online purchase. Apparently this company is the Canadian distributor for the company that makes those mirrors. Seemed like a very nice person and I told him I was glad he called me because I now felt better about him. He said that he's been at the same quilt shows as our local quilt shop and that he will be at the one in Edmonton next month. I told him I will make a point of coming to his display to introduce myself. 
I believe that was great customer service and his company deserves a link posted on my blog. It's actually a bookstore, which, interestingly enough, sells nursing books as well as quilting books, and lots of other books as well. Here they are: Copperfields Bookstore.
And if you're interested in the quilt show in Edmonton, here's the link: Edmonton Festival of Quilts.

Some of us get most of our exercise jumping to conclusions. I have to make a concerted effort to get my exercise in healthier forms. :-)

Monday 6 May 2013

Disappointment... Resolved!

I could have been grumpy today. I just got an email saying that my order for the Quilter's Design Mirrors has been cancelled because the items I purchased were out of stock. Hmm, that's funny, because when I placed the order it said that there was one left. Where did that one go to? Seriously, I didn't mind paying $25 for the set, but I don't intend to pay $50, the next lowest price, and definitely not over $100 for a used set, as advertised on eBay... Will think twice before I order from that particular vendor again (and no, it's not Amazon. It's a vendor from the Amazon Marketplace).
So, I've been googling and found this vendor site: Stitch in the Ditch. Yippee, it's even Canadian. And the Quilter's Design Mirrors are only $18.99, plus shipping and GST of course. And I can pay using PayPal, which I like. So, I placed an order and included a Lazy Angle Ruler. Here's a video on this ruler: 
I love the Fanfare Log Cabin quilt made with this ruler. Very pretty:
I'm looking forward to trying it out, but I'm beginning to wonder when I'm supposed to have time for all of this. It's too bad I have to work for a living... LOL. I only work to pay for my quilting supplies. ;-)
BTW, I really love her lime green rotary cutter. I wonder where she got it.

Sunday 5 May 2013

George Strait - She Let Herself Go

And this is Divorce Anthem #1.
One day I was in the local dollar store and this song came on the overhead radio. I believe I was still married at the time, but the relationship had become toxic and the marriage was dying. When the song started, my thought was, "Oh brother, some dumb guy singing about a woman who fell apart when he left her." But I listened to the whole song and found out that instead, "she let herself go" and do all the things she wanted to do, but she couldn't while she was with him. She let herself go and enjoy life. And I decided that I really liked that song.
My motto is, "The best revenge is to thrive, not just survive."
Yes, "I've got better things to do," and I'm just going to "let myself go" and do them.
Yes, there is life after divorce, and that life is good.

Terri Clark - Better Things To Do

And now for a total change of topic.. I'm really surprised that I haven't posted this song before. I call it Divorce Anthem #2. It meant a lot to me earlier in the post-divorce period and I still think it's a great song. To those going through it, remember, you've got better things to do...

Mother's Day Gifts

There are certain advantages to being divorced. One of them is that you can buy your own gifts and get exactly what you wanted. It may not be as exciting as having the surprise of unwrapping a present, but it sure beats the disappointment of getting something you didn't really want. If you're familiar with the "Five Love Languages," you know that one of the languages is "gifts," i.e. giving and receiving gifts. Here's the book if you're interested:
Well, gifting is probably my primary love language. I enjoy giving them, and I generally give them well. Even when my daughter was a fussy teenager, I still managed to pick clothes that she liked and would wear. On the other hand, I also enjoy receiving them. One day I was discussing gifts with my oldest sister, and she said something about some people not knowing how to choose gifts. I replied that I think our mother was so good at choosing gifts that it almost spoiled us for other gift-givers. I believe that Mom's love language must have been gifts as well. She knew well how to choose a gift that was appropriate to the individual and the occasion, a gift that you knew she chose with the recipient in mind, not just a generic, obligatory gift. I miss that. Her gifts made you feel that you were important enough that she would choose a gift specifically for you. It took time and effort, not like just running into the local flower shop and grabbing a dozen roses. Not that I'm faulting roses, but if that's all that you ever get for any and every occasion, you begin to suspect that you're just not worth the effort for that person to put some thought into the gift. Especially when that person has known you well enough for long enough to know what your likes and dislikes are. I feel the same way about gift cards, not very exciting. And while I enjoy and appreciate both roses/flowers and gift cards, especially from people who don't know me well enough to personalize the gift, I appreciate so much more the kind of gift that my mother gave - something that made me feel special, a recognition of who I am as a person. When your love language is gifts, it's not that you're being materialistic. It's just that that's how you most readily express and recognize love. A refusal to speak to someone in his/her own love language is tantamount to telling him/her you really don't love him/her after all, that he/she is not worth the effort.
Fortunately, I do speak my own love language. :-) I do believe that there is a danger in being self-centred and self-indulgent, but I also believe in the importance of taking care of yourself. I spent a lot of years looking after hubby and daughter. My career is all about looking after others. And I do believe in being generous, compassionate and helpful in my daily life. But in order to avoid caregiver burnout, I have to look after myself. Jesus said that the second greatest commandment (after love to God) is to love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Jesus Himself, our Creator, recognized that in order to care for others, we must care for ourselves. Self-care has become important to me since being on my own. And occasionally that involves giving myself gifts. So for Mother's Day this year, I got myself a couple more Craftsy courses. While a trip to Belize might have pleased me more, I had to fit it into my budget. :-)
The first is Scrap Quilting. Basically, it's quilting the old-fashioned way, using up your fabric leftovers from your sewing projects or other quilting projects, where all the fabrics don't have to perfectly match. It's one of the less expensive courses on Craftsy (not that any of them are terribly expensive). The second course is Quick-Strip Paper Piecing. Again, here's the link: Online Quilting Class Really, I didn't think I was going to do any more paper piecing after completing my Block of the Month quilts, but it wasn't as bad as I thought and the projects you can do are terrific. For this course, I need quilter's design mirrors, so I ordered a set on Amazon, here: Well, admittedly, while this is the one I ordered, mine was substantially cheaper, but I got the last set from the vendor from which I ordered. Try looking for this on eBay. There's a US seller selling the set brand new for $264.95 or used for $164.25. Ouch! The set I ordered on Amazon is new, and I paid around $25 for it, including shipping. Obviously not everything on eBay is a good deal. Comparatively, even the $50.03 in the link above is a very good price.
Finally, just to let you know, Craftsy not only offers some free full courses (both of my Block of the month courses are free), but they also offer some free mini-courses. They're just enough to get your feet wet and see if you like this type of learning. Currently, in my Craftsy course list, I have Sewing Machine 911, one of these mini-courses. Since I've been using my machine a lot, I figure it's a good thing to have more information on using and caring for it. I've also enrolled in Perfect Pizza at Home, which sounds delicious. Vegans can still eat pizza, even though I will not be using dairy cheese on mine, and learning how to make great crust and sauce can only make it better.
If you're interested in my previous post on Cake Decorating (
Cat's Crossing: Cake Decorating), Craftsy has a mini-course on Modern Buttercream. Buttercream, to the uninitiated, is the primary type of icing used in cake decorating, so if you're interested in seeing if you'd like decorating cakes, this would be a good place to start.
Check out all of the other free Craftsy mini-courses by clicking here. Scroll down to get to the free courses.

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Cake Decorating

I was just doing some exploring in a scrapbook I started. The title of this scrapbook is "Creative Expressions" and it was meant to showcase my creative side. I have never been "artistic" in the traditional sense - i.e. oil painting, drawing or sculpture. That kind of art is too much like work for me, but I have manifested my artistic bent in other ways. 
In the late 80s/early 90s (don't really remember when), I took a Wilton cake decorating course, by correspondence, which seems like a rather weird way to take cake decorating. I don't think I ever finished the course either, probably something to do with having a brand new baby in the house... But I still had a lot of fun with it and accumulated quite a supply of cake decorating paraphernalia. I quit mainly because all of that sugar and trans fats in icing really isn't good for you. However, I did find it a great creative outlet, and looking back at some of the pictures, I relived how much fun I had. Here are some samples (sorry about the quality of the pictures - they were not taken with a digital camera and I had to scan them in, which made them kind of hazy):
This was made for a baby shower for my brother-in-law's first child.
 I was really quite pleased with this one, for another baby shower, this time for a friend of my youngest sister.
 I wanted to try a wedding cake, even though I wasn't doing it for a wedding. I actually did this for a bridal shower for my sister-in-law.
The man I was married to really loved pie, so I made his birthday cake to look like a piece of pie on a plate. Amazing what you can do with icing, eh?
 This is another cake I made for the man I was married to, along with his brother-in-law. Both worked in construction and both their birthdays are in June.
 This was my first cake for the Wilton course. I made it for a young man that attended our church. 
I really had a lot of fun with this, and kind of miss it. But it could be really messy and too much of the icing ended up in my mouth. If I could figure out a way to make icing really healthy, I might consider doing it again. Meanwhile, I have many other creative outlets, so I'm not lacking for ways to express myself. 

Now, this is just an aside: you'll notice I refer to my ex-husband as "the man I was married to." I still haven't figured out what terms to use when speaking of him in our past relationship. I don't want to call him my husband, because he's not that any more. Calling him my ex is not really correct either, because he wasn't my ex at the time I was decorating these cakes. That's why I opted for "the man I was married to," as it seems the most correct way of expressing it. There have been times in the past when I just referred to him as my daughter's father, but that might imply we were never married, and we were. If you come up with any brilliant suggestions, let me know. :-)