Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Really Random Thursday 3-28-13

It's the Really Random Thursday, March 28 edition.  Otherwise known as:  

What I have been doing while wishing winter would just go away, already.

Tea Towel "Tess" is a Flimsy
First and foremost, I finished the Tea Towel Challenge flimsy this week.

Now she awaits quilting (ever waiting, that Tess). Also a backing and binding selection, but minor details.

The good thing about March and daylight saving time is that you can take a photo outside at 6:45 p.m., never mind that it is still on top of a pile of snow.

Temps were in the 40s yesterday and today, though.  I went for a walk around the neighborhood, dodging and navigating puddles of mucky runoff, but it sure beats a sheet of ice.  The walk outside was also quieter than my treadmill, which has decided to take up its own kind of moaning and groaning.  The repairman has been summoned.  I have been bucked off a treadmill that was on the fritz in the past.  Not an experience I'd like to repeat, though it does get the heart pumping in a fear-for-your-life, adrenaline rush kind of way.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up
In other news, this headline on the front page of our small town paper seemed amusing, though I'm sure the incident itself was anything but (full article here).

Al Gore may have invented the internet, but this guy may have invented the original Spam attack (i.e., the canned kind). 

A Bona Fide Binge
Other than the aforementioned flimsy, not a whole lot else has happened in the sewing room this past week month.  I blame my 30-day Netflix trial.  And Downton Abbey withdrawals (among other things). 

Nonetheless, I do not regret the diversion.  I watched one costume drama...

(Matthew Macfadyen, Eddie Redmayne)

after another...
(Hugh Dancy and Hugh Bonneville—a Hugh-o duo!)

after another.  
I very much enjoyed this last one, in particular.  Damien Lewis plays Soames Forsyte, a possessive (and obsessed) tyrant, though you do kind of get where he's coming from.  I liked him better in Band of Brothers, but The Forsyte Saga miniseries was very well done.  If you've got a hankering for Downton Abbey era shenanigans, you will like it.

That said, I am so glad I wasn't born in a previous century (well, technically I was, but you know what I mean). Women had it rough, yo.  Sure, the clothes were lovely, if you could afford them, but underneath the veneer was all that repression and constriction.  And I'm not just talking about the corsetry.

I also watched a few documentaries in between.  It's good to balance all that romanticism with a brisk face-slap of reality, you know?  Gotta love Netflix for the variety of documentaries not available at the local Redbox.

My media junkie-ness hasn't been limited to the visual.  I've been listening to some fascinating nonfiction as well, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Wow, the stuff you never knew.

But enough distraction.  There will be more sewing soon, sure as spring will come.  Sarah has once again put together the annual Hands 2 Help Charity Quilt Challenge.  If you haven't already checked it out, please do so and join in, if you can.  I have signed on to make a quilt (maybe two?), and the wheels have started turning.

Sing me out, Stacey, and tell it like it is.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Running With It

I don't have a lot of regrets in life, but sometimes I think if I had to do high school over again, I might have done well to take an art class or two instead of, oh, I don't know, shorthand.

(Surprisingly, I can still read it:  Dear Mr. Jackson:  We have just decided to change the design of the letterhead we have used for more than 10 years.  It is our feeling that the present design is old-fashioned and does not create a favorable impression.  We understand that you are a commercial artist and that you have designed letterheads for other organizations in this city.  We wonder whether you would consider designing one for us...)

So I might not have any art experience, other than muddling through a couple paint-by-numbers and messing with my sister's oils or acrylics on occasion, but as my current desktop photo illustrates, warm and cool occur together in nature all the time, and beautifully.

So I kept coming back to whether the warm and cool drunkard's path blocks could somehow coexist in my Tea Towel Challenge project. And thank you for your comments on the last post, as I considered them all.  But wanting to try one more thing first, I unpicked everything and started from scratch.  

We often learn what works and what doesn't by trial and error.  I wanted to try the warm blocks on the outside and the purple ones around the center.  Then maybe something at the corners to sort of unite the two and also play up the colors of her skirt and wrap.  While I was at it, I removed the darkest purple background squares because they just seemed like distracting globs of grape jelly.

You know what?  I like it. And right or wrong, I'm sewing this baby together before I change my mind again.  

Who knows, a few years from now when I look back, maybe I'll have another woulda-coulda-shoulda moment.  But for now, I'm okay with it, so off we go.

The corner blocks make me especially happy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Running Warm and Cool

Well, here illustrated brain dump.  The Tea Towel Challenge project has me challenged, all right.

So the initial plan was do to another round of drunkard's path blocks but in the cooler colors of the flowers Miss Tea Towel Tess is standing amongst, waiting for, oh, I don't know, the six o'clock train.  Whatever.  She's been there a long time, anyway, and I'm thinking her ship ain't ever coming in, but what do I know?  Perhaps the prince on his steed is indeed galloping right over the horizon.  And how many more metaphors can I mix?  Oh, if you only knew...but I digress.

Let's get a reference point for starters.  This is the first iteration.  I felt good about things to that point.

Then I started making purple and green and light DP blocks, but when I put them down where I imagined they'd be...well, I'll go ahead and say it.  Ick.

Not working for me, against the warm toned first round.  

So I tried partial cool/partial warm around the center.  Which I thought I might like, until I saw the photo.

Meanwhile Tess waited patiently.

But I did like the cool colors of the second batch of blocks, so I tried putting them all closer to the center in place of the warm.

And I liked that a lot too.  Hey, a woman waits long enough, she's bound to change her mind, as Tess knows.  

(Can you just imagine the whole argument going on in her head?  "Oh, I love him...but where the hell is he?  He said 6:00 and now it's 7:45 and 30 years later.  He always does this to me.  Why do I keep letting him do this?  Oh, but I love him, and I'll keep waiting...forever even.  Or until it gets dark.  Then I'm going home to take a hot bath, screw this.")

Ahem. Where was I?  Oh yeah, so then I thought I'd cut something apart.  Oh, keep your hair on.  Just a wee bit, a couple of blocks.  

My thought was, how about if we introduce some warm color back in, maybe in the corner blocks?  Just a glimpse, a smidge, a tease.


All right, back to square one.  Bring the warm colors back and maybe just do the cooler ones at the corners in a different config.

Not bad?  Or am I delusional at this point?  And I'm not sure what I'd do in between along the sides to fill in.  Maybe make "made" fabric from the entire scrap pile left from the DPs?  Mix warm and cool?  Then again, it could be a big hot-and-cold mess.

Or, I could reverse the scheme and put the cooler DP blocks back around the center, and move the warm blocks to the corners in a similar manner to the last photo.  I haven't tried that yet, mainly because it involves seam ripping.

Oh, for the love of Tess, I don't even know anymore.  Thoughts anyone?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Green, White, Orange

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I celebrated with some corned beef and cabbage last night, and going to a flea market today.  Whereupon, I spent just a wee bit of green.

On a sweet little green and white bowl.  Pyrex! 

I negotiated on this, marked $7, asking if the seller could do better, to which he said $5, and I replied, "I'd feel better about $4," to which he mumbled something about driving a hard bargain and not wanting to make his wife mad.  But he ultimately made the deal with a smile on his face.  Me too!

The bunny was a dollar at another booth.  I like his green "tattoos."

For any genealogists tracing Irish ancestors, here's a great site,  It contains an extensive searchable database of records on over half a million passengers who arrived at the United States between 1846 through 1851 (during the famine period) and identified their country of origin as Ireland or ethnicity as Irish.

I'm sure Conlon is a good Irish name, and it's the name of the family in an excellent movie we saw the other night, Warrior.  Brilliant acting and a heart wrenching drama of an estranged family coming together over a mixed martial arts match which pits the two brothers against each other in competition.  I highly recommend, even if MMA is not your thing.  The movie is about so much more than that.

I have hit a wall, of sorts, with the Tea Towel Challenge.  I'm giving it a wide berth today and staying away from the sharp implements while I ride out the urge to hack it apart.  More on that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in the words of Macklemore & Lewis, "We put our glass to the sky and lift up!"  (PS-Why can't Guinness make a gluten-free beer?)

Friday, March 15, 2013

99 Shades of Crazy

Norm comes into the house last night after work, talking about a tune he'd just heard on the radio.  He wonders if it's an old Grand Funk song.

"What's it sound like?" I ask.  I'm a Grand Funk fan from way back.

"Something about 99 Shades of Crazy."

Hm, I don't remember that one.  But considering my reading list this past week and the parallels thereto, I had to check it out.

And (funny enough), it's a new release by JJ Grey & Mofro from an upcoming album to be released in April. 

YouTube had just this live amateur video, but it was enough for me to know I like it.  A lot. 

You can stream some of the band's other music here.  I'll be checking out more of this Mr. Grey.

Here's another one that makes me want to dance on this Favourite Things Friday.  Turn it up and shake what your mama gave you!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Really Random Thursday 3-14-13

I seem to have spent a week in neutral as far as sewing goes, except for a bit of work on the Tea Towel Challenge.  I made some more drunkard's path string blocks (actually only the string parts thereof).  

The idea was to make the next border with mostly cooler colors, greens, purples, etc., but I am not sure how that is going to look.  Will there actually be a second border like that, or will I end up taking apart what I have sewn so far and mixing things around? 

Time will tell, I guess.  For now, I'm forging ahead with the DPs.  We'll see where it goes from here.

* * * * *
I recently watched the 2009 Masterpiece Classics version of Wuthering Heights.  How did I miss this before?  I do love me a romantic costume drama.  Anyway, thank you Netflix for the recommendation.

Tom Hardy stars as the tormented Heathcliff about all I have to say about that.  Oh, and lips.  Holy cow.

I had seen Tom Hardy in Lawless and Inception ("You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling" Best line ever!).  

I have Warrior in the Netflix queue next.  I'm appreciating his fine acting ability; he's quite mesmerizing to watch!  ;)

* * * * *
Now for some tech talk. 

I recently added a gadget for emailing blog posts to those who wish to subscribe, and this service is managed by Feedburner.  (See the right-hand column of the blog page.)

It works pretty slick, from what I gather from friends who are using it.  However, when my dad asked if I'd gotten his reply email to a recent post he received by email through Feedburner, I had not. And thus it occurred to me there was a problem.  I set about troubleshooting it this morning and eventually found the fix.

So I offer this information for other bloggers who use Feedburner and may want to check the status of their reply email address.

Problem:  Reply email setting for posts emailed to subscribers (originating  from Feedburner service) is set to "No Reply."

- Log into
- Click the "Publicize Tab" at the top of the page.

- Under "Email Subscriptions" in the left-hand column,
- Click "Communications Preferences"
- Check the "Email From" Address - if it is "no reply," highlight and change to the email address where you would like to receive replies.

- Click "Save" at the bottom of the page to save changes.

Even though  my regular Blogger account has my correct reply email address, somehow it defaulted to "no reply" in Feedburner.  You would think otherwise, but apparently not.

So now, Dad, and anyone else who cares to reply directly instead of commenting on the page (which I appreciate too, of course), you can simply hit "Reply" to the email.  The reply should come directly to me.  It won't post in the comments.  If I start getting spammed, I may have to change the setting back, but I'll let you know.

Linking to Really Random Thursday at Live a Colorful Life!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Really Random Thursday 3-7-13

Some really random things from in and around the house:

A generous friend gifted me with some fabulous fabrics last weekend.  "So you can get your orange on," she said.  That made me smile!

* * * * *
Funny she should mention orange.  I am probably going to sell these items in a garage sale or on ebay in the spring, but in the meantime, I have to store them somewhere (in the basement).  These are some vintage Georges Briard plates/cups/saucers.

Sitting on top of a vintage valance of 'shrooms!

* * * * * 

St. Patty's Day is coming soon.  Would you like to make a mug rug?  Fetch my tutorial HERE!

* * * * *
I'm stalled on Tea Towel Tess at the moment.  I did fix my boo-boo in the top row of DP blocks (had them backwards - thanks, Sue!).  When I get some time this weekend, I'll proceed.  Still formulating ideas for the second borders.  There will be purple.  Just where and how, I'm not sure.

* * * * *
 This morning, I watched a hawk noshing on a less fortunate member of the winged kingdom.  He took his time, more than a half hour.  Meanwhile, I went in and out of the kitchen and took photos from time to time, which I made into a video set to music below.  Sorry about the delay between frames.  I'm still learning this video thing, and the program automatically decided how long between frames based on the song length ("Bait and Switch" by The Shins). 


Linking to Really Random Thursday at It's a Colorful Life!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tea Towel Challenge Progress

I worked yesterday and today on the Tea Towel Challenge quilt.

Tea Towel "Tess" had been patiently waiting.  Looks like she's got that part down (the waiting thing).

I had sketched out a rough idea for a design, including drunkard's path blocks, mirroring the curved elements of the central piece, the tendrils of hair, etc.  

I string pieced fabric strips onto phone book pages, using warm colors to bring out the red-orange of the tartan.

The wall hanging kit I found at Goodwill a while back had the perfect mix of fabrics to use in this project, rounded out by some men's plaid shirt fabrics and other scraps as well.

And this is how it stands so far:

I have to let it sit a bit, while I consider the next "round."  I was intending to go two deep with the DP blocks.  I have some beautiful purples I'd like to use.