Friday, February 29, 2008

My Sewing Cocoon

I talked about making my cheap sewing desk here but I took a better picture. Notice how much room I gave myself in front of the needle. Much more than in most sewing cabinets and I really, really like having that much space for sewing and machine quilting.

I also took a pic of the organized mess that I like to have next to me. Here's what you'll see: clockwise from the top, my bin of small scraps and a pile of 12wt. cotton threads (Sulky!), my notes on how to connect the ends of binding (I can never remember and have to look at this example every single time), some bobbin holders that I just love, 2 magnetic pin cushions, nice scissors and a seam ripper, a small bucket for tiny bits of fluff, 2 coffee cups - one for tools (seam ripper, rulers, marking pencils, pens, tweezers, etc. and the other one for Q-Tips for cleaning the dust out of the bobbin area. Misc. feet for the machine, lint rollers, Machingers quilting gloves and a tool (from a toilet tank repair kit) that I use to guide big spool thread into the sewing machine.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Crazy Shortcut Quilts Book

I have learned that our book has gone into a second printing!! I am so excited! Hurray for us all and a big thanks to Krause and all the shops that stock the book and all the quilters who want to use the decorative stitches on their sewing machines to quilt their own quilts!! Congrats to Sarah Raffuse too, from me, happy dancing in the living room!

Update 3/5/08 - a very considerate lady (Karol) let us know that everywhere she tried to buy the book it was sold out. That was the push I needed to get busy creating a shopping cart for our website. {Have I mentioned how much I don't like my web program?} So, Sarah is digging into her hoard of books and selling them, via secure shopping cart and secure server, on our web site here, for $22.99 + $4.60 shipping. She'll autograph the book to you personally or as you direct.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What Sarah's working on

Here's a peek at a square that Sarah's working on. She doesn't know I'm posting it :) She said she's going to start her own blog.... If I keep stealing her photos she just might do it!

What do you think of the cutting design? The colors of the fabrics are off just a little, I need to get her some daylight bulbs for photography.

Do you think she should call her blog 'Sarah Raffuse' or come up with something else?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Kitchen Floor, Revisited

I am developing a strong determination to see the end
of this project. Here's what a pile of floor looks like after
about 2 hours of scraping. While I am working on it, I
dream of the quilts I want to make. A lot of times bunny
comes out and sits with me. He likes that green towel in
the background. The pile of scrapings has my small glass
of motivation sitting next to it.

Under the stairs, part 2

Except for the trim work and organizing the shelves, this project is done! Instead of a deep, dark closet, we have an open, accessible storage area with most of the heavy things on rollers! (That was Tom's idea.)

The large white shelf that is where the doorway used to be is on rollers, the big 4-drawer file cabinet behind it is on rollers, the small plastic organizing bins are on rollers and hidden in the back, under the treads of the stairs is 6 cases of jars (for fish and jelly) and huge containers of sugar - all on a rolling pallet.

This space is for stuff we use once or twice a year, but which is very useful to us. Also tucked in there is the carpet shampoo machine. I left the small bins in front because that's the stuff we use the most (paper, pens, envelopes).

Where you see the angle cut on the wall used
to be a solid wall, but it was superficial and it kept the space narrow and difficult to use. Stuff got pushed into the closet and never returned. I painted the floor (concrete cement basement floor) and when the house is empty for a few days (except for myself) I'll paint the stairs to match. The white shelf is not very organized, but it's still so much of an improvement that we are happy! Now I have to get back to scraping off the kitchen floor...I've been avoiding that project!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Just across the alley outside the garage door....

Is a vacant lot (sort of, it has an abandoned cabin on it) that attracts bunnies and moose! Almost every winter we get moose there, they love the alders that grow on the property. I was feeding the bunnies that visit me and saw the moose settled down for the night.

Just outside the garage door...

Is an ugly garbage can rack that is built up off the ground to perfect bunny height. These are semi wild rabbits that come from a long line of abandoned Easter Bunnies. The scrounge for food throughout the downtown section of Seward (although almost every subdivision now has rabbits) and most of the gardeners are fit to be tied! I, you will note, am not a gardener. I grow dandelions because bunnies love dandelions.

These 2 are my pals, they know the sound of my voice and they come around just at dusk, when it's safer for rabbits to be hopping about. They have a route that they travel, of the houses that put food out for bunnies. I believe my house is stop #1, I put out pellets and fresh carrots or apple. Every year the bunnies change...some are killed by cars, some by eagles. I still put out the food and they come keep me company.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Seward Winter Sunset

At the end of our short downtown street is Resurrection Bay. It's quite lovely all year around and it's larger than it looks here. We have small pleasure boats, yachts, fishing vessels, cruise ships, tugs and barges all the time.

As I turn toward the south, here's the view. You can't see the bay opening from here, the islands make it look like one continuous land mass.

Saying Thank You

I really appreciate people who freely lend a helping hand and I aspire to be a person like that. Kathy Mack with Pink Chalk Studio and Pink Chalk Studio Blog really goes above and beyond to help other quilters learn, and she a cool designer too. I owe thanks to her for the information she has shared in the past on the Quilt Designers' List on Yahoo! and *today* for helping me learn about those pretty little pictures that you see in the web address navigation bar at the top of your browser window.

I struggle with web design and have been working on updating our web and was wondering "how long will it take me this time to figure out how to code in those cute little pictures?" As I logged onto her blog today she had a full post on how to do it ~ like she was reading my mind! Oh, and I learned that they are called Favicons (fav-eye-cons). Thanks Kathy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Fabric Bracelet

This is soooo cute! I want to go make 25 of them right now! Take a look at this quick, well written tutorial for making a fabric bracelet (or 5) and while you're taking it all in, think about making them with a touch of batting, just like the Crazy Shortcut Quilts, or better yet, using up some of the 'cut off scraps' to make them.

This project was the suggestion of a friend (is she really, or should I be mad at her for getting me interested in these?!?!?) Diane Knott, artist and friend, is getting the blame for this new interest.

Update: here's another one, and it's really unique and pretty!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nice Things

Here's the surprise I received for Valentine's Day! They are very lovely and the balloon actually sang a song when you tapped it ~~ I had many visitors to my little office at work who came in to "tap" and listen :)

Granddaughter Audrey liked the balloon (she spent the weekend with ME!) but she wanted the singing balloon to keep it's distance. She loved the soft little bear and took it to bed with her. Bunny ignored the whole thing completely.

When I was single (for about 16 yrs) I used to buy myself flowers and I enjoyed doing it. And balloons too. Sometimes I would fill the house with helium balloons. They used to follow Sarah around and all the kids thought I was a kooky mom :)

Bean Stew

Disclaimer - I blame this on The Jolly Jabber Blog, they post recipes regularly, and I don't really like to cook, but I love this recipe and since they post recipes to their quilt blog, so can I :)

Here's a version of dinner that I've been making some Friday nights (it feeds a lot of hungry pool players). It starts, 24 hours ahead of time, by soaking 2 1/2 cups of mixed beans (Costco/Sam's Club for about $7). Three hours before you want to eat, rinse the beans and then boil them in 2 qts water with 4 huge carrots*, 2 bay leaves, 1 lb of meat**(optional) and 2 cubes of bullion (optional). As soon as it all boils turn it down to a simmer & stir occasionally for 2 hours. Then add a 14oz can of stewed tomatoes, 1 tsp of garlic or a crushed clove, half an onion (diced) and some lemon juice and simmer for about half an hour. Eat up!!

After a day it thickens and then I serve it on a bed of rice - super source of protein and fiber.

*your digestive system (and your friends) will appreciate the addition of the carrots, they "help" with bean issues :)
**so far I've used smoked turkey (cut into chunks), spicy Alaskan sausage (sliced rounds), ham, but you could easily go veggie and leave the meat out.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Purple Quilt

I am not very good at naming quilts, and this is going to belong to someone else anyway**, so I've been calling these my purple squares and now they are the 'purple quilt'. I finished it up last night and am shipping it out today, to be in the quilt auction for Catholic Social Services Fiber and Art Auction, March 1, 2008 in Anchorage, Alaska.

**I stun people by telling them that I don't own any quilts - everything I've made, from my first quilt to my last, has been given away. I don't sleep under one, don't have one on the sofa or in the car and don't have any hoarded in any closets either. I know, I'm unusual. I make quilts and I give them away. It makes me happy :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

On Writing by Stephen King

Everything you need to know and hear about writing and getting published. I am regularly asked about writing books and being published, and I always recommend this book as a start. The man has a talent for the written word and he shares everything in this book. Regularly re-reading it is what kept me going through the years of rejections until I had a manuscript accepted.

I've read it about 10 times, underlined, highlighted and memorized parts of it, and I won't lend my copy out so go buy your own. If you don't, you're not really serious about being published.

A Good Life Wasted by Dave Ames

This book is laugh-out-loud funny! It purports to be about fly fishing, something you'll never catch me doing, but really encompasses life and it's so well written that I just couldn't put it down. It's a great gift for the fishing fanatic in your life.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Quilts are all about texture and color, but so are a lot of other things. I read webs and blogs daily and today Seth Godin posted a link to a web designer who has put up a page of suggested color groupings. These are color themes that the company suggests for web sites but as I looked at them I thought "what great color combinations for quilts!" Take a look. shows off "fall women's colors" according to Pantone. Here's a link to the Pantone site and you can view Pantone's 33 pg pdf of the colors there.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Oahu, Hawaii Feb. 2008

We are back from 5 luscious days on Oahu! Seward was at about zero degrees and we were thrilled to be able to take a break from the cold and enjoy the beaches of Oahu. We stayed in Honolulu, a block from Waikiki Beach, but our wonderful friend Denise, who lives in Kailua, showed us the island and some of her favorite beaches. We enjoyed some Hawaiian music and a hula show on the beach of Waikiki, and some great food at Buzz's in Kailua. It was my second time to Oahu but Tom's first, and he's never played in the salt water surf - we had a blast! He even went snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. The little cupcake on the beach is Denise and the overlook of the big bay is Hanauma, with the reefs showing up as the darker patches in the water. We thawed and had a super time, and because we tossed our lei's in the waters of Hawaii, I am sure we will be back!

Friday, February 1, 2008


My daughter uploaded some new photos onto Flickr and I stole this one - I like it. It is of Sarah Raffuse, her husband Ryan (such a nice guy!) and my granddaughter Audrey with a nice clean nose :) hehehehehe I think they were having some fun with the timer option on the camera.

Fabric Postcard from a Friend

I did a small favor for the list-owner of Stashbusters on Yahoo! and look what she sent me!!! A fabric postcard! It is sooooooo cool :) I have a stash of Peltex and Timtex and I just might have to try making a few of these. My bin of tiny scraps would be perfect for making small snippet style postcards. I just can't wait to try it myself! TYVM to Sandra Wucher for the card and the inspiration!