Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas at the Eleventh Hour

Not that I wait til the last minute or anything, but it looks like I've only bought one (1) Christmas present so far. No sense waiting til the last minute, I always say.
But luckily while I was taking a break from quilting another one of Charmaine's gynormous quilts, I found a mess of these mug rug patterns over at Beaquilter.
Bea's designed them all in EQ7 and, if you have the software, she's willing to share the project file with you! And even if you don't, you can use any favorite block and adapt it to make your own mug rug design. They are so quick and easy, I might just be giving these to everyone on my list. Don't know how it'll go over with the 2-7yr old crowd.
And while we're talking about being unprepared for Christmas (cuz 364 days advance notice is never enough), raise your hand if you've ever run out of gift tags at 11:59pm Christmas Eve! Be honest... I've used scrapbook alphabet stickers stuck directly onto the package, a rectangle of wrapping paper folded in half and written on (but the 'pages' don't lay flat - they curl into each other unless you iron them. And yes, I did), brown paper grocery bags cut with my pinking blade rotary cutter, magic marker directly onto the wrapping paper...very classy. Then one year I designed some gift tags in EQ and printed those out, even though they weren't Christmas-themed. They're available Here. Maybe if I can find a few minutes I'll put together some Christmas ones before...well...Christmas. 2012, more likely.
BUT! Look what else I found!
Gift tags designed by Jim Shore! They're free (yay!) downloadable, and already formatted for stick on labels. Or you could print them on cardstock, cut 'em out, punch a hole in the corner and tie them to your packages. Check 'em out on his website, Here
Break-time's over - back to quilting!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baby Planking

17 month old Sofie came to see me at my studio the other day. But since Nana's always busy, I couldn't hold her the whole time, so I set her down on the floor. She turned into jelly and collapsed in a heap.

She stayed there like this for a good 10 minutes, til Meg picked her up. Then she just stared at me, giving me the evil eye. That kid cracks me up.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 2011 Desktop Calendar

The last calendar of 2011: a partridge in a pear tree! Click on the calendar to expand image to full size, right-click and choose Set as Wallpaper or Background. To really jazz up your desktop, right-click on your background and choose a color that coordinates with the calendar - you'll be the envy of your cubicle!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanking God today for all our many blessings and His tender mercies: all five of my children in the same room at the same time, for the first time in years. Thank you, Jesus.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Check This Out!

My good friend Reeze Hanson, quilt and pattern designer, (and Expert EQ'er) of Morning Glory Designs is going to be the guest blogger tomorrow, November 21st at Stash Manicure. You need to check it out. In addition to being a college professor (so you know she's smart...not to be confused with being a smart a$$...but she's that, too), she's a published pattern designer with her work being featured numerous times in Quilter's World Magazine, Jump Start Your Quilting, and Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks, Vol.2. Her patterns are also carried by Quilt Woman, Pattern Peddlers, and more.
And Reeze always has free downloads (yay Reeze!) and giveaways, too.
So check out her guesting tomorrow over at Sew We Quilt/Stash Manicure, then swing by Reeze's own blog - often!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bootsie's Good Eats!

Guess what restaurant has re-opened in Tomball without the previous chef, but with an excellent grill man and terrific new menu?
Bootsie's! It's 2 doors down from Quilters Crossing quilt shop and because of a slight menu change is now my favorite local restaurant.
I 'discovered' Bootsie's not too long after my non-Mother's Day junket to Snook, Texas in search of the infamous home of chicken fried bacon. Since Bootsie's originally opened, the've had a gigantic hamburger on the menu: the Mother Rucker Burger. (Don't play cute with the name like my 10 yr old son did many years ago when he thought he'd play with the Fuddruckers restaurant name. In the car. I almost went off the road.) So the Mother Rucker - wish I had a picture of it - 2 huge hamburger patties, lettuce, tomato, cheese, chicken fried bacon, topped with a fried egg. It is one fabulous hamburger, and good for at least two meals for a normal person. Even though most normal people are afraid to order it.

But I digress. As soon as I saw what was on the Mother Rucker - namely chicken fried bacon - I've been after Bootsie to put it on the menu as an appetizer. When her son was the chef, he refused. She'd apologize to me each time I suggested it, and say the chef wouldn't do it. He was more into butterflied free range quail legs, with teensy hand-carved baby vegetables, for a very pretentious price. That was before I knew he was her son. If I'd known that, I would have made another suggestion to her.

Anyway - two weeks ago at Friday night FreeSew at Quilters Crossing, I saw Bootsie's new menu at the shop. And guess what was on it?!

Chicken Fried Bacon! Holy :insert porcine expletive:! Bootsie listened to me! If I hadn't already eaten dinner I would have run right over, tucked my napkin into my collar and ordered a great big plate of the crispy, melt-in-your-mouth, deep-fried pork ribbons. But I couldn't. So I did the next best thing: I got everyone up early the next day and as soon as Bootsie's opened, we were at the door. They weren't quite as excited as me, but they went anyway.

Bootsie gave us our menus - not that I needed one. We ordered Chicken Fried Bacon (obviously), fried pickles, a wedge salad, homemade potato soup, a patty melt, and meatloaf.
Everything was outstanding, as expected. Except the bacon was served with ranch dressing. Bootsie said next time I could ask for cream gravy.

The only kinda weird thing was the meatloaf. See the picture? Look at the mashed potatoes. Now look at your hand - all the way from wrist to finger tips. Look back at the plate. The potatoes were as big as your entire hand. Great if you love potatoes (which all Andersons do), but not so great if you love meatloaf. The picture was taken before Gillian even took a bite. So how big was that meatloaf? The size of a meatball. Delicious, but miniscule. I think they made it in a muffin tin. Time to make another suggestion to Bootsie. More meat, less potatoes.
Anyway - run to Bootsie's and get you some Chicken Fried Bacon. You will SO not be sorry! But if you are, call me and I'll come over and finish it up for you.

Monday, November 7, 2011

To Market, to Market, to Buy a...never mind

International Quilt Market/Festival. Already. A whole year went by and once again I'm unprepared (money and stamina-wise) for the biggest quilting event in the country. I have no idea how that happened. Yesterday it was the middle of July and I was perusing the Market catalogue, preparing to totally screw up Sew-Ho Shirley's Market registration. Which I did. And not just once. I did it twice. Effortlessly. She was in Germany touring breweries and castles and I was doing her a big favor by handling all her paperwork for her. She won't be asking me to do that again. Sorry, Shirley!

Anyway - Shirley blew into town last Thursday and we drove down to the Four Seasons to check in. She was tired of driving and I was just tired. We ordered room service, and since I brought the 3 bottles of Moscato, Shirley picked up the dinner tab. We had very pricey Lobster BLT's which were out of this world, and the french fries (which I never eat) were outstanding! They had a little bernaise dipping sauce that I could've drunk with a straw.
The tab came to about $60 including tip which we figured was about right considering we were at the freakin' Four Seasons, for Peter's sake. Shirley handed the waiter 3 twenties and he just stared at her. Didn't say a word. Then she looked at the check: 80+ dollars! She added another twenty to the pile and another 15% for the tip. The guy leaves us with our mouths hanging open and as we double check the amount, we see the fine print: $4 for delivery charge AND 20% for the waiter. He made 35% tip - the bastard! How hard is it to roll a table into a room, not speak English, and hold your hand out? Holy crap what a racket!
But we got even with them - I came with a supply of single serving Pringles, granola bars and my extra delicious, homemade, custom trail mix: candied pecans, roasted almonds, dried cranberries and chocolate covered pomegranates. And wine. Especially the Naked Guy Wine, bought just because of the bottle. Of course.
Hang on - take another look at the garnish on those Lobster BLT's - they were like peppers that had the texture of olives. They were so yummy I need to 1) find out what the heck they are and 2) find them period! If you know, leave me a comment. Pretty please?
Oh wait - I almost forgot: look at Shirley's hairspray!
may have to give up my Big Sexy in favor of her Got to be Glued - mine is Hurricane Hold, but Shirley's is Screaming Hold. That might be stronger. I scream more often than a hurricane hits. So, yeah.

Pre-Market: Shoolhouse & Sample Spree!

Got up early Friday morning to meet Peggy and Mandy at the convention center to get breakfast (way cheaper than 4F and no tip required) and then get a jump start on Schoolhouse. Fast forward through the whole day of being back in highschool, fighting the crowds in between classes and having to choose between being late for the next class or running to the bathroom. For me, the bathroom always won. It's important to me that the bathroom win. And really, it's best for everyone around me. So I consider it a public service. Just like make-up. A little spackle and paint is a must before being fit for public viewing.
See more of Amy's photos of Schoolhouse & Sample Spree at Diary of a Quilter
Next up: Sample Spree, or as fellow Sew-Ho Cara Gulati calls it: Stupid Spree. Don't ask. But I like it anyway: I bought all the retreat gifts for the Ho's for next year, and a mess of ribbon for my daughters' Etsy shop, Tightly Wound. Not open yet, but keep your eyes peeled. Especially if you've got 1) little girl babies to buy for, and 2) more money than time. I also bought some serious quilter bling in the form of jewel-toned rhinestone lanyards.
The photo doesn't do them justice. They're the unidentifiable black stripes on the left. The girls will be selling them in their booth at the guild's quilt show next March.
Wait - here's a better photo - cool, huh?

And see that hand in the lower right picture? That's the blur of how fast the stuff you want to buy turns into the stuff you wish you'd been able to buy!
My one piece of advice for Sample Spree: when the doors open, don't go to the right. The Moda tables are over there and for some inexplicable reason, the annual running of the quilters takes place and you run the risk of being seriously injured in the stampede.
But before the doors opened, we met the most charming Aussie quilter who was ::sniff:: all alone without any connections at Market. So we adopted her!
Her name's Stacey (she's the one on the left) and she runs the Circle Retreat in Brisbane, Australia. She is so cute and we're all invited to check out her place if we just happen to be in the area. Might take some doing, but I'd sure like to drop in! When I'm in the neighborhood.
Afterwards, we had dinner at the Flying Saucer, a beer joint filled with Hipsters and Hallowe'en goers. It wasn't til I saw Batman walk by that I knew some were in costume and not just dressed up for a Friday night out in Houston. The waitress was a Beer Goddess and didn't mind me taking a picture of her chest, even though Shirley and Peggy wished I didn't.
That'll teach them to take me out in public and ply me with alcohol. Don't remember what we ate, but I did have a really nice Porter something or other. Then, on the way back to the car, we saw these guys parked next to us.
They were getting ready for the costume contest that was taking place downtown and the one guy was way impressed that this ol' lady knew he was Bumble Bee! He'd worked for a year fabricating his costume and was getting ready to put on his transformer legs that would make him 8' tall. He was confident that his breakdancing routine would put him over the top as crowd favorite. Wonder how that turned out for him. He'd have beat Batman for sure, though. And the half-hearted zombie walking with him.

Next on the agenda: Saturday and Sunday Market

I can't tell you how many times I embarrassed my quilting buddies (and Megan and Gillian on Sunday) asking people for photos of their outfits or shoes. But I found out last year after clandestinely trying to take photos of footwear that it's better to just go ahead and ask. I put Deb in a very precarious and olfactorily (yes, I just made that up) uncomfortable position by asking her to pretend to tie her shoe next to a particularly unattractive pair and she was blown away by the aroma. Sorry Deb. I should come with a warning label.
My first photo is, predictably, of elinor peace bailey. no caps. like e.e. cummings. in drag. she's always so sweet. and it's not like she doesn't want to be noticed. This one's from behind as she was seated in front of me at Schoolhouse, and I was afraid I wouldn't see her again to ask officially. But then she turned around for a front shot.
And check out this cutie! She was so adorable! Cute as a bug's ear, as my grandmother used to say. Her booth (right next door to the "MaryLee We Roll Along" bobbin necklace girls above), had giant wooden knitting needles and crochet hooks and they used them to knit/crochet the garland across the top.
Jessica loves Amy Butler's fabrics so much, she's tattooing on her arm! It's not done yet. I'll have to look her up next year to see the final ink.
I should tell you that the George R Brown Convention Center is built to look like a ship. You'll see why I'm telling you this in just a second.
Much to my daughters' chagrin (and my friend Rhonda's, too) I chased this guy down.
I think he was trying to find the cruise director.
And look who we ran into on Sunday! Cutsie redhead, in another self-sewn ensemble.


I promised I wouldn't reveal the owner's name of the shoe on the left. The big-toe-less one. But her initials are Cindy M. Oops.


Could've put Superman up in the fashion section, but his were the only pair of red boots I saw. BTW - no amount of money would make Gillian pose with him.

Stuff I Liked/Wanted/Bought

Loved all the pillows speared by the corner posts. The Tightly Wound girls in the back are shopping for the latest in trims . This booth had puh-lenty!
Silk "ribbons" from repurposed Indian Saris.
And even finer 'spun' silk yarn from saris.

Sunday night after Market, we met up with some friends in the lobby bar over at the Hilton. Don't know what to make of their chandeliers. Well, I do, but I don't want to say in public.
That's Cara Gulati and Charmaine (Sew-Ho's) on the right, and Margaret Miller on the left. Looks like Cara must have been talking her ear off. We had a couple of drinks, dinner, and general tomfoolery - but no photos allowed! But I did catch these two stumbling around outside afterwards.
No! The ones in the back! If you can't tell what they're walking around with - in public - well, don't ask. And with that, I'm saying goodbye to market for another year. Finally.