Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tattoo Tale

A recent discussion on HGTV message boards about tattoo's and who has them and what we think about them inspired me to share pics of my son's tats. It is a creative expression both from the artist and the adorned, meant to be a statement of some sort, reflecting something of import. My 23 year old, college graduate son, is enlisted in the US Army. He is scheduled to leave for boot camp on February 7th. It didn't come as a surprise to me that he felt the need to serve. His large eagle tattoo is a nod to his patriotism.
"For family we live. Through family we live on..." Andrew Gramza, 21, his cousin (his dad's wife's nephew) died as a result of injuries from a car accident in November, 2010. Michael had this sentiment tattooed on his back to commemorate him.
"Urraim" was his first tat on the back of his right arm. He researched Gaelic words to find the one that would express how he felt about his family. Honor, respect and reverence. Choosing a Gaelic word for my father, Michael Joseph Darcy, who was from Ireland.
The one thing I advised to both Melissa (who has two tattoo's also...will get good pics of them soon) and Michael was to make sure the ink means something to you. A dancing Tigger on the forearm might seem like a cute idea at the time....avoid this!
I don't have any. I don't plan to get any at this point.

Christmas is over. I managed to keep most of the holiday stress and chaos free. Dinner at my sisters was as crazy as it got! Michael brought Jenn for a few hours and Melissa brought Dave for dinner. The tryptophan (turkey was the main food fare) kicked in and the 50 minute drive home was too long! Ian and Darcy were wonderful. I will be sharing shopping time with them this week as we continue the birthday tradition of buying exactly what they want with my gifted money! It is an event...we shop, we eat and we talk. Fun for all of us.

I have a big, huge, quilting job ahead of me. I keep putting it off. I can't put it off any longer! My black and white and red "penny" quilt must go under the needle. I am not a fan of machine quilting. Quilting to me is the least fun part of the entire process of making a quilt. Dread. Frustration. Aggravation. This all awaits me and my Bernina. Ugh.

I have learned:

  1. Michael and Jenn are engaged! She is a sweetheart. She is on board with the military thing and where it will take her. They will make a good team. Hoping we can count on a date for his "leave" after boot camp and training. June is the target month!
  2. Vacation this week. No work. No oppression. I can always bid out! With 4 years left, you would think I would not have to consider this. Since @*@ has been on the scene...his boss was fired, he has "fired" a long time female worker...twice fired another guy, two others have felt the need to bid out of our service center to avoid being fired. Complaints to human resources about discriminatory behaviors. Pending lawsuit. Every day is a challenge. Not a good one. 
  3. Bruce Springsteen on tour in 2012...rumor has it Buffalo on the list! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Live Well & Be Happy. My Wish for You.

That's all we can do, isn't it? These words resonate with me. So much that I have stitched them twice. I may stitch them again.
Will make a nice pillow. Silent auction at our quilt show in October maybe? I need to cut some more wool and have some satisfying handwork at night. Love stitching it.

Busy time of year. I have conscientiously made them less hectic. I don't like that it all gets soaked up with have-to-be-here and have-to-be-there's....making sure I have the obligatory gift in exchange for their obligatory gift.  I am sure the bleak state of the economy and daily reminders that all is not well in the entire world (and this is on my limited news updates, since I don't read the paper, nor watch news with any regularity), has everything to do with my realistic attitude. I truly don't want any gifts, unless it is something made for me, with what you have on hand. Make me a CD of music you know I like...an ornament that says me to you...a little treasure you may come across in your junk drawer, that you know I would see the beauty in. Play a game of Scrabble with me. Leave me alone to create! I will enjoy my holidays with this in mind. Therefore, I will enjoy the special-ness of the holidays. You say Scrooge, I stay sane!

Last week's guild meeting was so inspired. Not only was it our annual Holiday Party, with many yummy dishes and goodies, but was the Bag Challenge reveal and Secret Sister Santa Stocking exchange. I was absolutely thrilled with the solutions to the challenge Elaine and I gave these brave participants! See this post on our guild blog (scroll down a bit to get to the bag challenge!) I was just so excited by this reveal that I didn't get pics of the wonderful stockings 20 women exchanged! Believe me, they were wonderful. I wasn't sure if the stocking thing was a good call when I decided to do it, but my friend Melanie told me to go with it and if it didn't work out, change it next year! It did work out!

I love this winged mannequin with tulle skirt and ribbon accents. Jen made it for me. She is a very talented paper artist. Melissa and I have taken some classes from her, the latest one we made 15 Christmas cards and 3 ornaments. I love her style and am so happy that she is really getting her own thing going teaching more. She knows I like winged things!

I have all 16 of my F8 blocks back now. Everyone did such a great job on them. Thank you! Now to decide how it will all go together.

After Jenn, Michael's GF, and I made a run to Joann Fabrics and Michaels yesterday, we both worked on a project at the kitchen table. This is what she made! A 94 cent composition notebook was transformed with scrapbook paper, lace and old Scrabble tiles into a mother/daughter journal. She even made a bookmark we completed with silk ribbons and tucked it inside a pocket in front cover. Nice gift option.
I posted a pic of this postcard for Cloth Paper Scissors, a few weeks ago. I knew it needed some tweaking. I  added the silver letters and used some Tim Holtz black soot distressing ink on the game card to take up some of the white space. I need to mail it now. This is for a call they have right now.

My daughter Melissa turns 29 Tuesday. 29. years. old. I remember when my sister and i found out my mother was 29 by overhearing our grandmother expressing shock at a 29 year old nun playing football at recess. My mother's twin, Kathy, was the nun. Noni and I commiserated and announced we knew how old our mother was! Sneaky little children!
At 29 I had been working for 11 years and had 2 kids and a first house. 
Happy birthday Melissa!

Clifford, Melissa's cat, has come back home. Home is here. He was running away. I am sure JJ, the little dog, had everything to do with that. I am happy to have him though. There was a short adjustment  period for Chester and Fiona, but all seems to have settled already.What's a little more food and a bit more poop to scoop?!

I have learned:

  1. I don't like working in the setting triangles for a quilt top set on point. Thearica's Ronald McDonald raffle quilt in the works! Ugh. Not having fun.
  2. RoCo showing members only exhibit. Really cool stuff. Worth the time. 
  3. Extreme Materials 2 at MAG in Rochester. I liked quite a few pieces, but some left even me thinking "what were they thinking?" Menstrual blood belongs....well, not on a canvas. 
  4. I love the singer's voice in this commercial for j'ador by Dior. "Heavy Cross" by Gossip.
  5. Watching "An American in Paris" with Gene Kelly. So far, so good!
  6. My SSSS stocking gift package mailed to ------------- in --------. I have received mine and we will all open them together on the 23rd! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Secret Santa Sister Stocking

I made my first lined Christmas stocking. Found a good tutorial on a blog that showed how to pull the inside out through a 3" opening in the lining seam. Easy. This will be for my Secret Santa Sister Stocking on HGTV message board. I used all red fabrics and thread, with silver beads, Scrabble tiles and a cool vintage edge from a chenille spread. I have made a few gifts for the stocking but cannot show them til my SS has opened her gift on December 23rd. Nicki plans it so we all try to open at the same time. I haven't done this swap before but everyone raves about it. Kind of excited actually!

Mary Lee gave me a bag of Kunin felt and I decided to find the pattern I knew I plucked out of a Fons & Porter magazine, December 2006. "itty bitty penny rug" by Bonnie Sullivan. Loved the pattern and presentation. It is 5" x 7" and they mounted on wool in a rustic wooden frame. Stitching wool is so satisfying. I love seeing the way the edges pull down with each tiny stitch.

I have such a great stash of wool from Salvation Army and friends! 
I have started another project from this book, Applique Outside the Lines. I love the words "love well and be happy".  I used this sentiment last year on a tablerunner for a benefit auction my sister ran for a dear friend. This one will be smaller. Not a linear presentation, it is configured on a square wool base. Not sure what it will be yet. A wallhanging? a bag? a center for a quilt? For now I will enjoy stitching it.

Back to work yesterday after a great vacation week. Went with my sister, Noni, and Ian and Darcy to Cincinnati to gather with my cousins Tracy and Jeff and their families. My aunt and uncle from Florida and aunt and uncle from Louisville also there. We made the trek last year. My sister and I are all that is left here, so it is nice to be a part of extended family for a couple of days. My cousins did not grow up in Buffalo but they were present  in our younger years and a visit with them was always highly anticipated! Laughing is the one common denominator in every interaction. There is an indisputable bond and I am glad to know it again.  I was on the fence about leaving my kids.I couldn't commit to going until the weekend before. My kids are 23 and 28. Not little children!  Of course they were fine and involved in their significant others' Thanksgivings. 
This is the 3rd time I have tried to finish this post! I have not felt well all week. Sore throat started Sunday and has progressed to a sinus infection. Waiting on call back from doc now. 
It is snowing.
Michael is in the air right now on his first flight ever, to Minnesota for his game tomorrow! He bought a couple CD's on iTunes last night....soothing music. Melissa told him to sit near a cuddle buddy and listen to Faith Hill!

I have learned:

  1. Talia, a 31 year old HGTV quilt message board member, died last Wednesday. She had gastric bypass years ago and has had increasing health issues ever since. Sad news. 
  2. Bruce Springsteen will be touring next year! Hope he comes near Buffalo.
  3. Reading When God was a Rabbit. Good book. Laughed out loud already. 
  4. Nicki and Thearica are featured in Pat Winter's newest issue of Crazy Quilt Gathering
  5. the Ikea store in Cincinnati was a sensory overload experience! I loved it! I bought a yard of this fabric and am only sorry I didn't cut more! I paid $6.99 for the yard. I want an Ikea store in Batavia!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Improv Pieced Mini blocks

Some improvisational pieced mini blocks. No measuring, just sewing and satisfaction! These fabrics were what made up the pom-pom on the fabric prize I won at George Sciciliano's lecture last fall. Just couldn't throw them out.
That is Virginia, George's wife with me and the cool fabric pom pom.

St John Fisher beat an undefeated team Saturday to move on to the second round of playoffs! They will travel to Doylestown, PA next week. Michael is lovin' life!

Melissa is happy. She is dating a guy from back in the day..middle school days. I re-met him today and I like him. Things are good!

Guild was wonderful yesterday! Busy. Val Schultz was our speaker. Her work is as inspiring as she is gracious. Good day with good friends.

I have now received 12 of the 16 blocks in the F8 swap. This will be a pretty cool quilt. Thank you friends!

I am on track with all the upcoming due dates on various projects.
My stocking for SSSS is ready to be sewn together...gift bag using duct tape and t-shirt under way to go with the stocking. Want to make a make-do pincushion if I have time with some of the wool my friends have been supplying me with! Yummy wool.
Bag Challenge is put together, just need to add a couple of things and quilt it.
My Carnival Challenge took a turn today....came across some cool blocks in my UFO pile, pieced it up and yes, looks like carnival to me!
I do need to work on my charity quilt for Thearica's raffle. Have some circle blocks to make and trying to figure out the easiest, quickest way to do them.
Feel good about my progress. I will be taking some handwork with me to Cincinnati. My sister will be driving, so I can stitch!

I have learned:

  1. Paging through a past issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, I found these wonderments! I want to find some wire and have at it. Love these. A lot. 
  2. "Beautiful Boy". Good movie. 
  3. "Hunger Games" is a good read. I am troubled by the subject matter. It is young adult. 
  4. Annual mammogram tomorrow....ouch already.
  5. Martha and her committee have completed the raffle quilt for our show next October. It is bright and beautiful! (I just can't get it to post below...so that is it above!)

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Postcard for CPS Magazine

    Cloth Paper Scissors magazine has issued a call for postcards in their current issue. I haven't made one in a while, but all you need to know is keep your composition within a 4" x 6" rectangle. I started with a game card from an old Adverteasing game. "Your world should know no boundaries". I didn't even look on the back for the answer! Anyone know what company used that in their ad?
    The truth/dare is from a Country Living. Still recycling the 30 winged hearts I made a few years ago for a guild challenge, our 30 year anniversary as a guild. I love banners. Reminds me of when I was a kid, collecting banners from all the places we went. Remember those old felt things? Wish I had those now. The blue is dyed wool squares I cut up last year for a mosaic art quilt. The red felt is backed by old book page paper.
    The only thing I haven't committed to on this piece, is the "soar" letters. I don't love them. The red part is too small to machine stitch a letter. Tried rub ons and they don't stick to the felt. I will have to go to Michaels to see if anything else works for me.
    I had fun making this PC. It will be hand stamped soon.

    Melissa's altered book is ready to go to Jody! So is Nicki's book! ( Jody, they will be there waiting for you when you return from Spain! )
    Melissa's theme is Lost and Found.
    She began her book by using a cool bit of metal she found on a walk. Melissa is masterful at the aging/distressing thing! I love her style. Her color sense is good too. Love these pages.
    Pockets were created with torn pages, then old ephemera stamped and tucked inside.
    I settled on a Found and Lost idea. Some of you know we had a large greyhound for almost 7 years. Dean was a docile dog. A sweetheart that would cause me and my vacuum grief at times! Dean had a fast growing tumor at the top of his front leg. We "lost" him this past March.
    I found old 35mm negatives of Dean. How quaint, 35mm film. I stitched them to white paper so you can see them better. In the envelope is Dean's official paperwork from the track in Iowa, his home for the first 4 years of his life. There is even a letter from the caretaker telling us what he liked and how he had a pin in his leg. Obviously, he was loved.
    On the "lost" page I made a booklet from a trimmed manila folder. Thanks to Sportos Jen, I know how to do that!
    The rub on sofa's are from Michaels also. It refers to the four couch's I went through in those years. He was a   loafer!
    It was nice to work on these pages and remember what a great pet Dean was. I feel like we have a place for his memory now.
    Next up is Jody's book. A purple, word., quote or women writers theme, since her old book is titled Editing Women. I have an idea. Need to find some papers and begin!

    Working steadily on my SSSS stocking and gift for HGTV swap. I was going to start something new, but decided to work with the original project. Not enough time. I bought a t-shirt on ebay to make a special something gift that I hope she will love. I have til mid December to get this done. No problem!

    Finally made some black binding to finish the edges of the jacket I worked on in the spring in Martha's class. Will be stitching that down later. I just could not make the same jacket again to sew as a lining. This will work!

    Well Fisher Cardinals are in the playoffs! I am glad for Michael. Nice way to end the 16 year football career! Of course this prolongs the regular season.

    Fiona spent the day snoozing on this quilt. She held her own there, even as Chester, the old coot cat, thought he would try a sneak attack on her. Fiona won!

    These three day weekends are nice. I had enough vacation to take them off, with one exception in December, for the rest of the year. I have two weeks off too....Thanksgiving and Christmas. I need it. These last few weeks have taken a toll. Depression is not usually associated with me. I can shake most things with my little bag of coping skills, but I think I have been struggling for a long time to keep up with the overload. It hit the fan two weeks ago and a new attitude has taken its place. Retirement can't come soon enough.

    I have learned:

    1. Catholic schools in the area are regrouping. Again. Both Melissa and Michael's girlfriend work as teachers at Catholic schools.
    2. Jimmy Kimmel had parents play a Halloween prank on their kids. Funny!
    3. I am reading The Hunger Games at the strong recommendation of Melissa and the entire Bachwitz clan. I like it so far. Written well. Movie comes out next year.
    4. I must be getting old....I have mammogram, colonoscopy, podiatrist and dermatologist appointments in the next few weeks. That doesn't even cover the cholesterol issues I need to deal with!
    5. You have to see what my friend Charlyn did in Colleen's altered book. Wow. I can't wait to see this when I get her book. 

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Altered Book Pages

    I have been slowly working on Nicki's Lace book pages. She left off on the left with her page and my first page is on the right. We had to use lace. Harder than I thought it would be! I painted the background of each set of pages with oil paints. Blue is her favorite color. I used a stamp and silver ink over painted background, added overlapping rows of lace trim, lace and sequined butterflies, a magazine ad butterfly and a rhinestone butterfly off a pair of sandals from Salvation Army.
    My other two pages are more me, with some lace additions. Since Nicki mentions the beach on one of her pages I asked Melissa, on one of her grocery shopping forays for me, to find me a vintage beach themed greeting card. I love this one! Fun, colorful and cool! The top half of the page has a sheer fabric under the sunny lace motif, with a sun pendant glued on top. Another vintage lace strip runs over the pic, and Nicki's own hand dyed lace circles down the side. I cut the words "such good friends" from an old book.
    The right side has lace across the bottom, a card from an old game and a few bits I made into tags.
    I am still thinking of stamping some words.
    Was fun to work with materials I may not choose to use. That is the best part of doing these RR's. You are challenged to do more with your imagination!

    Melissa gave me Jody's book to work on. Jody, her mom, me and Melissa are doing a RR! I love seeing what Melissa comes up with!
    Jody's theme is women in literature and her colorway is mostly eggplant and other shades of purple.

    These are the two page spreads Melissa did. Love the pockets made from torn pages and the addition of the brads. She used a silver wash over her pages to give them a really shimmery effect. It's great. I picked up a few sheets of scrapbook paper that will work here. I don't have a plan for my work yet.

    Michael has turned 23 this month. My baby is getting old. Last home football game tonight. Senior night, so we all have to do the walk to mid-field with him. Hope it doesn't snow!

    Each recent day has been passing in an overworked whirl. We are so short people at work that I am being sent out doing jobs that are time sensitive,which leaves all the other tasks I am responsible for not done. I am frustrated every day at work. I have never experienced, in over 32 years, such sloppy, on the fly supervision/management. Makes everyday a misadventure. So needless to say, I am tired and ragged and my plantar fasciitis is not getting better.
    BUT, my podiatrist has confirmed my insurance company pays for an innovative procedure called Radial Shock Wave Therapy. I need to get the requisite physical therapy sessions out of the way and we will be able to get approval for the treatments. I am hopeful this will work. I walk most of my day at work and walking in pain sucks.

    Elaine is working on an art show to be held at her church. I believe it is next weekend. Jen, Michael's girlfriend, is an artist. She paints. I have four of her paintings for the show. Gorgeous!
    They are truly wonderful works of art. My pics are a bit distracting with the shine of the light, but you can still see the depth of color.
    Love all of them!

    I have learned:

    1. Silver Lake has a perfect retreat center for a guild quilt away. Asbury Camp and Retreat Center, right on the lake! Tracy and I toured it this week. 
    2. Anne Rivers Siddons new book Burnt Mountain. Weird. 
    3. My library has a coffee shop/cafe in it now! So new it isn't even mentioned on their website. 

    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    F8 Block Swap and CQ Challenge Block

    I am participating in this block swap on HGTV message board, with 17 other women. We each send a fat 8th of a fabric to each woman, and they in turn make you a block using that fabric in some way in a 12" block. I sent the blue-green flower fabric you see in each block above. I asked that no one use white. Black is my neutral. Also encouraged them to use a  black & white, or any other graphic print. I knew it was an unusual request and many may be uncomfortable adding them to the soft floral....but, wow, they did and these blocks are wonderful! I love each of them. This is a pic of the six blocks I received so far.
    I have made all but one of my blocks. They are paper pieced. I plan to make one of these from my fabric also. Having fun shopping my stash, making each woman's block special.
    Here are the ones that have been received so far.
    I love every one of them! Paper Piecing is a well served skill to learn~!

    I can also share my CQ Challenge block I have been working on all summer. The voting is over now. I have to say this was a true challenge. The blue swirly fabric was tough. I am not a bluesy girl, so I added grays and greens to make it a more diverse pallet. Many stitches and beads and embellishments went in to this, every second, satisfaction!
    My oldest, best friend, Pam, has claimed this! I will make it into a pillow for her soon.

    Michael's football season at Fisher is winning. 4-1. Ithaca was beautiful yesterday. Great game. Hot, sweaty day. And a win in OT.

    My time is so spoken for in the next few months. Between project obligations online and in guild. I am trying to prioritize them. In no particular order....
    1. Thearica's Ronald McDonald House charity quilt. Wool Pennies. Trying to figure out how to proceed now.
    2. 1 more F8 block.
    3. Altered books...Nicki's lace theme and Melissa's Lost and Found theme.
    4. Two Christmas stockings. One for Secret Sister on HGTV and one I am running with my guild.
    5. Bag Challenge. Elaine and I are running a challenge in guild where each participant must use in some way, each item in the bag, including a copper scrubby and a vintage tie.
    6. Sarah's little landscape of Spain for her host family. I need to do some thread painting.
    7. Carnival challenge. Annual guild challenge.
    8. Art Quilt Group starting a project in January. Have my base ready for embellishment by each player.
    9. Lining for my Martha Class jacket.
    10. Colleen's Special project. Started, need to finish.
    11. Cameron has asked for a quilt. Black and red. I will do a a contemporary thing for him.

    I am sure I am leaving something out!

    We welcome Anita Grossman Solomon this week to our guild. I pick her up at the Buffalo Airport Wednesday after work. We have two different workshops scheduled for Thursday and Friday and a lecture at the guild meeting Saturday! I took off work for the workshop Thursday. Using stripes we will make blocks. I am using my own version of stripes. Looking forward to each day!

    I have learned:

    1. 2 Broke Girls is amusing. New Girl, not so much. I like her, not her roommates, none of them. 
    2. My first quilt Shop Hop was a blast with Melanie and her mom, Maryann! Many miles were covered. Good time!
    3. Nice listen. Let It Be Me by Ray Lamontagne. AND he covers Gnarls Barkley's Crazy. Love that song.
    4. A silk screen using HeatnBond vinyl and organza. Quilting Arts magazine current issue. Must do!

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    Fran Skiles Class Work....thanks Karen, for Sharing!

    My friend Karen, took a class this past summer at QBL, from Fran Skiles. I was actually wait listed for this class and obviously no one backed out, because I missed this awesome-ness. Karen brought these to our last guild meeting to show me. They are her class projects, and they are really great. I absolutely love every one she made. Fran Skiles has her students work on many pieces at one time, giving them directives daily. Doing things this way ensures you make design decisions as you go, as opposed to knowing the outcome from the beginning. I work that way already. I am not good at seeing the whole picture. 

    These are all completed on gesso covered canvas. Collaged, transferred imagery, added fabrics etc.
    More color added to this one.
    Karen was not happy with this one. I think it's cool. Melissa liked this one.
    This one is really cool. She said she had never done collage before and was not comfortable with the concept.  Well, she certainly did a good job on all of these. I am even more disappointed to have missed this opportunity to work in Fran Skiles' class. And , she is not teaching next year at QBL. Darn.
    I was so inspired by these artworks that I came home, dug out a large canvas from the closet, covered it in a layer of gesso and found at least 3 black and white photos I would like to incorporate into a collage like this! So when I have a few minutes, I will begin.

    I got my first block in the HGTV F8 block swap from Mary. This is the swap where we all sent a fat eighth of fabric to each participant and they add fabrics to yours and make a 12" block.

    My fabric choice is the robins egg blue floral. It is my favorite shade of blue. I encouraged them each to add a graphic print like a stripe or check and love that Mary used the plaid. I can't wait to see the blocks that are made from this beautiful fabric!
    I have made 8 blocks so far. I have finally gotten the paper piecing down on my chosen pattern. What makes me want to continue making them is seeing how all my fabric combinations turn out in a block. Once they are received by new owners, I will be able to post pics of them.

    My CQ Challenge block is finished, pics emailed to Nicki. Next week she can post the pics and people vote. There is actually monetary prizes. How cool would that be!?

    My friend Elaine, is putting together an art show at her church this November. She has enlisted some of us to contribute a piece or two! We can sell or not. Jen, Micheal's girlfriend is an artist...a painter. She will be showing. I am not sure what I will do for this. Have to take a look at some things, decide if anything fits the show. I do have ideas however! Always have ideas...

    I have learned:

    1. Camera lessons on this blog. Great info. 
    2. CSI:NY season premiere, excellent. Check it our OnDemand. Very touching remembrance of 9-11. 
    3. Ben & Jerry's has named a new flavor of ice cream....Swheddy Balls. Eww.
    4. Ray Lamontagne....Let it be Me. So nice. 
    5. Melissa has taken in a little 5 year old pup. JJ is 5 and a mix of Chihuahua and some sort of terrier. One of those specialty mixes. He is precious. We continue rescuing pets!