Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Desktop Calendar

It's September and after the long, hot, Texas summer, I'm so ready for fall! Who am I kidding? I know the cooler weather won't be coming for another 6 weeks or so. But until then, I can finally cool off the way I've wanted to all summer:


So far, there's a limited number of flavors available, (mostly vanilla, chocolate and a couple of others), but that's ok, Homemade Vanilla's my favorite anyway!

In between bites I've been working on the calendar for September. These one-patches are not easy - mainly cuz I'm running out of ideas on how to color them!
So here's September's calendar - enjoy!



Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August Desktop Calendar

Well, I almost didn't make it. Again.

We brought Andy home from rehab today with hospice, so it's been kind of hectic and a little bit overwhelming. He wasn't making any progress after 3 weeks and they felt it was just making him anxious, so we decided it would be best for him to come home. Next week we'll start having twice weekly visits from the nurse and thrice weekly visits from an aide. That's the one I'm looking forward to seeing. Often.

Then, to slap a little icing on that cake, we discovered there are squirrels in the attic at the cabin! Apparently, they'd made themselves a nice little home up there. After MJ thought he'd gotten them out and sealed up the hole in the eaves, it turns out he sealed one or two in. Ask any A/C repairman what it's like to work in an attic in the Texas summer, and you'll figure out that the little varmints won't last long in that heat. And they didn't. They started to cook. Ugh. Sent the boy back into the attic this evening to search and destroy. Which he did. So. We're done with that. I hope.

This month's calendar is a one patch of tumblers, inspired by the Texas sun and Bonnie Hunter's


If you wanna dig into your mountain of scraps, this would be the perfect time. Crank up the a/c, grab some ice tea, and start cutting your tumblers!

If not, that's ok, you can still enjoy a hot, sticky, Texas summer tumbler one-patch on your desktop for the next 31 days!
But first, a word from our sponsor:

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

July Desktop Calendar

Have you ever started out to do one thing, then got distracted and done another? And another? And then wondered what the heck you were supposed to be doing?
No?
Liar!! If you're over the age of 40, you know that's the truth!

So tonight I started to work on the calendar at 7:40pm Central Time. By that, I mean I opened up my Mac and clicked on Parallels (the Windows emulator software I use to access my Electric Quilt 7 program where I design the quilts for my calendar). While I was waiting for it to load (which takes for-flippin-ever), I went to check my emails.
Got one from my sister. Talking about where we grew up in Park Ridge, IL (along with Hillary, apparently. I don't want to talk about that.)
Anyway. Then I got to thinking about all the places we used to walk to from my Gramma's house. Like to the Pickwick Theatre in downtown Park Ridge. A quick search on Google Maps told me it was 1.9 miles. And then, by clicking on Street View, I was able to actually trace the route we used to walk.
Here's my Gramma's house, a cropped screen grab from the Google Street View. Our bedroom (we shared a double bed till I was about 8 or so) is the second floor left window.

And here's the Pickwick Theatre, in all its art-deco glory. Beautiful architecture inside with lots of tile and ornamental wood. And as I recall, it was only 50 cents a ticket.

Then I decided to walk the same route I took in high school to get from our duplex in Arlington Heights to my piano teacher's studio downtown, about 1.9 miles away. (Again, Google? Was everything 1.9 miles away from me??) We lived in the right half of the duplex, and I remember sketching that tree for one of the weekly art assignments as a sophomore in Miss Akers' class. She gave us one (1) piece of oatmeal drawing paper on Monday, and we had to come back with a finished pencil drawing of whatever she assigned, on Friday. I usually waited till Thursday night to do it. Go figure.
Here's Mr. Matteoni's old studio - a 2nd floor walk-up in that brick building. When he was dying of brain cancer (in '96, I think), he turned over his studio to a former student, who still runs it. Mr. Matteoni was the closest thing I ever had to a father, and I loved him for teaching me and encouraging me to major in music at DePaul. We kept in touch for all those years. And he'd call me every year at Christmas just to talk. I've even saved his letters. He was such a sweet man. Every so often I still cry over him. Wow. That got mushy real fast!
Holy mackerel! I've wasted 90 minutes already. Damn that Google maps thing!

Back to designing the quilt calendar.

Right after this:
I just remembered tonight's the night Venus and Jupiter are supposed to be so close together they'll seem to be one big star - as big as the moon. Have to go look. Wait right here!
...time slowly passes...
Well crap. Drove about a mile down the road (not 1.9 miles LOL), to the clearing in the big pasture.
Nada. Too cloudy. But here's a picture of the moon through the trees at my house. Just pretend it looks like the Star of Bethlehem.

So where was I...oh yeah. I still have an hour and 15 minutes, so I'm good. Hey! Did you see 5 year old Heavenly Joy on America's Got Talent tonight? Shirley Temple reincarnated. What a cutie-pie!


11:02. Need to get a move on. BRB.

How about another one-patch with Kaffe fabric? I like that.

Hang on. It's 11:23pm and my son-in-law in South Carolina is calling. Emergency?
No. Job/career issues. Good. That I can deal with. Still working on quilt while we talk.

Midnight. Still on phone, but I've finished the calendar. And it's only 22 minutes late. Have at it, folks!

Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Monday, June 1, 2015

June Desktop Calendar

It's 11:32pm Sunday, May 31st, and I was seriously considering not doing a calendar at all. I cannot begin to tell you how exhausted I am, and frankly, the blog, the calendar, my quilting, aren't anywhere near the top of my To Do List these days. As some of you may know, Andy, my husband of almost 40 years, is in severely declining health. After 4 strokes and an aneurism, he's been diagnosed with Parkinson's Plus (yes, that's a thing - and not as good as you'd think considering the "plus") resulting in general loss of faculties, abilities, coordination, cognizance and memory, with the addition of dementia and hallucinations. Turns out that's the "plus" part.

Some days he's on an airplane, some days he swears that Donald, a childhood friend, is living with us...I never know where I'm going to find him or who he's been talking to. It's very strange, very sad, and very labor intensive. Sometimes it's funny and I can't help but laugh and just go with it. A couple of weeks ago, I walked into the bedroom after he'd been in bed for about an hour, and I kicked him right in the head. (That probably doesn't help his condition any, but at least I wasn't wearing my orthopedic nun's shoes!) He was on the floor, with no recollection of how he'd gotten there. Got him back into bed, left the room shaking my head and made a quick gin & tonic nightcap. Fifteen minutes later I went in to get ready for bed and he was kneeling by the bed with his arm and head wedged firmly between the mattress and the little guardrail on the side of the bed.

 "What are you doing down there??"
 "I'm stuck."
 "I can see that - what are you trying to do?"
 "The captain said for everyone to get out on the right side of the plane, and I got stuck."

Hmmm...wonder what that's about. Got him up on the side of the bed and turned on the lights.

 "Do you know where you are?"
 "Tomball!"
So far, so good...
 "Where in Tomball?"
 "On the PLANE!"
 There was no convincing him that he wasn't on a plane, so, as I tucked him back into bed, I said, "Well, the captain said to stay in your seat until the plane lands in the morning."

And he did.
The next morning, he remembered the incident but couldn't figure out how the plane landed in the bedroom. It's big, but not that big!

Anyway - Andy's health has been on the decline for the past 5 years, and has gotten steadily and more rapidly worse, this past year. No matter my intentions, I only finished one (1) customer quilt in all of 2014, and halfway through 2015, it doesn't look like I'm going to beat that record. That's also the reason the blog has deteriorated into a once a month 'calendar' post - and that's it. I can barely force myself into that little bit. No time, no energy, no desire. My days are consumed with taking care of my husband and trying to manage the million-and-one things that have to be done.

All that, to say this: If I miss a calendar in the upcoming months, you'll know I just couldn't squeeze one more thing into my day. I'm still here - I'm just keeping my head down trying to make it through the day.

Now that the rains in Texas have slowed down a little bit, I've been watching the Virginia Creeper vine outside my bathroom window grow by inches every day. It's like 1962's The Day of the Triffids. IMDB it, if you don't know what that is. That vine is the inspiration for this month's calendar, still all in hexies:


Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!
And if you've got room on your prayer list, and your knees can take it, please remember us.




Friday, May 1, 2015

May Desktop Calendar

I almost didn't make it this month. Thought I had one more day before I had to really knuckle down and get on the May calendar, but today I noticed that April only has 30 days (by actually looking at the calendar on my desktop)! Go figure.
This year's decision to only make quilt calendars with one-patch designs is turning out to be a lot harder than I thought. I don't think I thought this through on New Year's Eve...
My friend Debbie is all agog with Kaffe Fasset fabrics as well as hexies, so this one's for her!


Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Desktop Calendar

I've been Pinteresting a lot lately, mostly to kill time while I avoid doing all the things on my To-Do List. Don't you judge me - you do the same thing! It's like sitting on the sofa eating bonbons and reading movie magazines, as my grandmother used to say. But come on...why not? I've earned some down time with the year I've had. Oh stop. I know it's only April. Doesn't bode well for the rest of the year. So anyyywayyyy...

While I was scrolling through pages and pages of perfect Pinterest Easter goody ideas, I found a whole page of Easter Treats - Easter Egg Oreo Truffles, fluffy Bunny Tails, Easter Bunny Pancakes, Spring Confetti Bars, Easter Rabbit Racecars, Easter Bunny Trail Mix....mmmmm....what shall I try first? Wait. What's that? Down at the bottom of the page. The left side. Is that....Brussels Sprouts??!!
Good way to ruin the sugar vibe I had going. Hang on while I go suck on a sugar cube.
There. That's better.
So then I found this:
Yum! And easy, too! Maybe I'll make up a couple of batches and send an Easter Bunny surprise to the grandkiddos in South Carolina. If it turns out. And if I don't eat it all while I sit on the sofa Pinteresting.
Addendum April 3: And here's my Easter popcorn - delish!


And before I forget - here's your April calendar!
Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!



Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Desktop Calendar

This has been the strangest winter I can remember in our nearly 40 years in Houston. We had lows in the low 30's this week, and that should have been all over with 2 weeks ago. Winter has never come and gone and come and gone and come again like this. But, as I suspected last month, a freeze did indeed turn a good many of my camellias brown. But new ones are opening so there's that. And one lonely pink azalea blossom showed up. And a few daffodils. But that's it.
I'd like to have a word with Algore about that global warming thing. I'd probably have to get in line behind the entire eastern seaboard, though.
OAN...
I may have painted myself into a corner with this 12-months of one-patch calendars idea...don't know if I'll actually see this through. After 3 months of individually clicking on and coloring all those hundreds of little patches, and changing every little patch again cuz the colors are hideous, and again cuz MJ says they're uglier than sin, (and we all know that a 23 year old young man is all about critiquing my calendars - or he may just have gotten tired of all that stupid clicking), I'm ready for a nice 9-patch and snowball quilt. But for now, you can have this one. It may still be ugly, but I can't tell anymore, since my eyeballs are numb. You have been warned.


Click to expand image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black.
And if anyone asks where you got this calendar, point them in my direction!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February Desktop Calendar

I don't know if y'all are familiar with how the seasons work here in Houston, but last week it was so cold in my kitchen, I was warming my hands over the stovetop to keep my fingers from turning blue. That was winter. Just the 3 days. Right now, it's drizzly and dreary but look! Spring has sprung! 

These gorgeous camellias are weighing down the branches of the giant 8' tall bush/tree in my front yard. It is absolutely filled with hundreds of pink, ruffly blooms. That can only mean one thing: we'll have one more hard freeze so they all turn brown and fall off. Then we'll have the 3 weeks or so of spring, followed by 7 months of summer. Yeah. That's how it works in Houston.
Anyway - here's your special Valentine's Edition of your desktop calendar - a one patch of "kites." Jarringly, blindingly bright. Hope you don't mind!


Click to expand image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black.
And if anyone asks where you got this awesom-o calendar, point them in my direction!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

January Desktop Calendar

 So 2014 is over, and I, for one, am looking forward to 2015...not necessarily anxiously, but more like guardedly optimistic about the year ahead. (Attention Grammarians - please don't start my new year off with correcting that sentence. Have pity on me and 1) my cold, 2) my 3rd glass of champagne, 3) my lack of sleep, or 4) my total disinterest in language arts at the moment. Or all of the above. Except for the 3rd glass of champagne. It's my 4th. And it's Moscato Asti. Happy New Year to me! And to you!

Lately, I'm kinda into hexagon and other one-patch quilts, so I'm thinking that this year's calendars should all be some sort of charm-type quilt. We'll see. I might get bored in a few months and change my mind. But my New Year's resolution is to stick with my commitments - for at least January. Wish me luck. My other New Year's resolution is not to be too hard on myself when I blow it. I think we could all use a little more 'grace' in our lives. We're all going to fall and fail. Leave the judging to outside observers and be gentle on ourselves. We need it and deserve it.
Here's to new starts, halting steps, perseverance, and getting up to try again.



Click to expand image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black.
I'll be back in a few - in the meantime, enjoy your desktop calendar, and accept my best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Don't Get Your Bindings in a Twist!

Have y'all heard the latest on Facebook about the Easy Binding Winder?
It's a quilter and sewist's must-have gizmo being developed by a two-person team of a quilt designer/online shop owner and entrepreneur/inventor.

The Easy Binding Winder is a tool designed to help the quilter or sewer keep their miles of quilt binding, bias tape, piping, etc., under control. In a nutshell, as you iron your strips of  fabric in half, you thread it onto the EBW and use the handcrank to wind it up. (Just like we used to do with car windows before they became electric!) Then, after your lo-o-o-ng strip (as much as 40 feet for a king size quilt!) is totally wound up on the reel, you can take it over to your sewing machine and sew it onto your quilt (for instance) while it stays perfectly in control, slowly unwinding without twisting, tangling, knotting, or getting caught under your feet or sewing chair. Bonus: your miles o' binding are now kitty and puppy proof!

I was asked to put the prototype through its paces recently so I gave it a whirl.

This is the 3D-printed prototype of the future Easy Binding Winder. I had no idea what a 3D-printer was or that it could produce something that was, well...you know...3D!
There's one part missing from the photo - the little clamp to attach it to your ironing board. Since I was just testing this on my cutting table, I didn't need it. But the clamp keeps the Easy Binding Winder steady while you're ironing with one hand and winding with the other.


So here's the deal. This is how my binding looks as I get ready to press it. This was actually for a wallhanging, so it's only about 12' long. 

I conscripted Gillian and Laura to help me - they were the hand models, and I was the photographer. This is how they looked when I explained what they were going to have to do: press/manage binding the old fashioned way. The outlook was bleak and drab. 
They so didn't want to make binding.

And can you blame them? As they pressed the binding strip in half it piled up in a wad, then started to cascade over the edge of the cutting table and ended up a tangled mass on the floor. 
 

I mercifully let them stop before they'd gone too far, but already you can see that the binding is starting to tangle. Imagine the pile that 40' of binding would make!

Easy Binding Winder to the rescue!
If you're right-handed, you'll place the EBW to your left on the ironing board and attach it with the clamp, not shown here, cuz I didn't need it! Press just the first couple of inches of your fabric in half, and feed it under the rod at the bottom, and slide it under the clip on the actual spool.

Once threaded, you can lay your iron down on the fabric close to the EBW, and begin to turn the handle which pulls the binding under the iron and winds it up neatly onto the spool. With the right hand, you can direct the fabric as it goes under the iron. Or you can do it the regular way, pressing a bit, then winding a bit. Think of that song from The Music Man: Press a little, wind a little, press a little, wind a little; press, press, press, wind it up, wind it up a little. 
LOL. I crack myself up. For real.


Sorry - back to business - pressing, winding...

All 12' feet of the binding is wound neatly on the spool at this point and can now be removed from the Easy Binding Winder. 






You can either set the smoothly wound spool of binding aside to keep with your project until you're ready to attach it, or you can take the whole thing over to your sewing machine and set it to the side and begin attaching the binding to your quilt. It will unwind smoothly as you sew it on. No tangles, no twists, no wadded balls of binding in your lap, on the floor, under your chair, or being dragged through a maze of table and chair legs by your 4-legged friends!
And when you're through, you'll have a whole new outlook just like these two:


Check out the video demo on their 

And be sure to Like them on Facebook so you don't miss out on any of the action!
Super Secret News Flash!
My sources have told me that they're also developing an adapter for the yarn-o-philes out there - perfect for winding your skeins of yarn into beautiful, perfect orbs! 
Ssshhhhh - keep it on the down-low!

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Desktop Calendar

With all five of our children grown and, for the most part, out of the nest, I'm not really feeling the need to go all out with the decorating this year. I used to go a little crazy with the greenery, candles, Father Christmases, vignettes and creche's. (I have my grandmother's old figures that set in a wooden manger made by Kevin Manning, a highschool friend, a Precious Moments one, complete with kings, camels, and stable walls, an Amish one with quilts but without faces, a miniature one, a handpainted wooden one that fits like a puzzle into the stable, 2 different Hallmark ones...you get the idea.) I should pull them out so you can see. But that would take effort, so you know that's not going to happen any time soon.

Anyway, just like I used to go overboard with the decorating, Andy and I used to pile presents under the tree for the kids til they wouldn't fit under the tree, or even inside an 8' circle around the tree! Then, one year, embarrassed and dismayed by the Gift Gluttony that our kids began to exhibit, we came up with a solution to limit the gifts without making the kids pout and feel neglected.

We decided that since Jesus only received three gifts (remember the 3 wise men?), the kids shouldn't receive more than Him. We explained it to the kids, and they seemed ok with that.
The real trick was how to make the present-opening last longer than 30 seconds per!

So, we made the kids work for their gifts. Don't freak.
After they all went to bed on Christmas Eve, Andy and I (ok, not so much Andy) stayed up late writing rhyming clues. One for each set of gifts. We'd put them in envelopes numbered 1, 2, and 3 and placed them on the tree. Christmas morning, the kids were allowed to get up however early they wanted, but they could only open whatever little gifts were in their stockings. At 7, they were allowed to wake us up. (Of course, wanting to make their Christmas morning all beautiful and magical for them, I'd get up at 5, light a fire in the fireplace, and put on soft Christmas music. Then I'd go back to bed.)

Andy and I would come out at the appointed hour and I'd make a pot of coffee while the kids would begin to hand out the decent amount of presents under the tree - from and to each other, from relatives and friends, and to Andy & me. When all had been dispatched, the kids would begin on the clues. There were three rules: they all had to sit on the couch while someone read the clue; they all had to agree on the solution before they could run to see if they were right, and if they were wrong, they couldn't look anywhere else. They had to come back to the couch and re-read it and try to solve it again.

At this point, I'll say that at 2am on Christmas Eve, the clues seemed extremely clever and poetic, and I was so proud of my ability to cloak an obvious hiding place inside an obtuse reference. Come the harsh light of day, however, more often than not, it became an incomprehensible and unsolvable riddle. Probably due in part to the mugs of homemade egg nog heavily laced with rum consumed whilst composing.

The really cool part of this exercise was that I could sit back and have another cup of coffee or egg nog (shhhhh....with rum!) without all the hectic wrapping paper and ribbon explosions as in the past. And the kids really enjoyed the hunt. It extended present-opening from 5 minutes to about 2 hours! Bonus: since each of the kids were only allowed three presents, Andy and I became much more selective in our present shopping, which, lo and behold, saved us a ton of money! Win/win!

Feel free to use this idea (if you didn't already shop your brains out on Black Friday)!

Finally, here's your calendar - Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!



Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Desktop Calendar

How about a little reminder to count your blessings - no matter what your circumstances...


Click to expand the image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background.
To really make the calendar "pop" right-click on your background and choose black. Your family and co-workers will be jealous of your awesome wallpaper! Be sure to tell them where you found it!