Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's Just Not True


So you know the cleaning products that advertise that their scent is "Spring Rain"?

They are lying.

Either that or I never want to spend springtime wherever it is they're from.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Yet Another Winner in the Politics of Selfishness Sweepstakes

South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, on why, among other things, we shouldn't offer free or reduced-price meals to children:

“My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed,” he said. “They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that. And so what you’ve got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don’t know any better.”


Because, as Jon Stewart so aptly pointed out, not feeding people always gets them to stop having sex.

More disturbing still:

Similarly, Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said Bauer's words "came out as condescending and insulting," but his overall message about government dependency and personal responsibility will appeal to his evangelical Republican base.


Please tell me that he's using the word "evangelical" in a non-religious sense, perhaps as a way to describe the devotion of his followers. Please tell me Christians -- people who have read the Bible, including that pesky Matthew 25 thingy about "for I was hungry and you fed me -- don't actually believe that we shouldn't feed poor, hungry children.

Wait. You can't tell me that. Can you?

Sigh.

A Little Bit of Happy From my Pick-Me-Up File

It is January, which is depressing in itself. (Even though we're having 50-something-degree weather and bits and pieces of sunshine here... Still.) And this past week hasn't been the best. So what does this mean?

It means it's time for a little bit of happy from my pick-me-up file.

Yes, I actually have a file on my computer labeled "pick me up." I'm in the process of updating, but eventually it will include things like this video. And this one.

Oh, what?!? As I said when I originally posted that second one, there is nothing illegal about old and happily married women enjoying a little art appreciation! (And despite what you see on your screen at first glance, it's not about guys running around in their underwear. Or at least not ALL about.)

But, because I have eclectic tastes, this brings me to my latest pick-me-up find, from a daily stop of mine, the adorable baby animal photo site "Daily Squee."

I know, huh? You're melting right now. I challenge you to visit the site and not smile. Just try.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Peek Into My Secret Life

So this morning I had get up early to do a "Liveblog" for the soccer site I occasionally blog for. Liveblog being where you watch a game on one computer while typing up commentary on your site on another computer. Not because I'm so incredibly talented and knowledgeable, but because nobody else volunteered.

I've done this probably a couple dozen times over the years, but it's still out of my comfort zone. And today was the first time I've used new technology, and none of my fellow bloggers were going to be around given that it's Sunday morning. So I was a bit nervous.

This is the email I sent to my buddy and co-blogger after the fact:

Laurie to C****

10:34 AM

Figured it out. Thanks for you help -- both for the practical answers and the moral support. I actually had a nightmare about the LB last night -- I think in my dream I overslept and then ran into all kind of technical difficulties. The reality was a piece of cake after that.

Of course, I also dreamed that a Jesus image appeared to me in a frying pan, and I was trying to decide whether to be reverent or sell it on eBay. No joke. I blame last night's spaghetti.

Liveblog went fine, apart from the fact that there was a 45 second lag between audio and video, so I'd hear about events ages before I saw them. Made it kind of hard to multitask betwen LBing and watching/listening, especially for somebody as ADD as I am. I'm frustrated with the African Football site, because I actually freaking PAID for the finals package.

Also, have you ever seen an indirect free in the box given for the goalkeeper taking too long with the goal kick? I never had -- I've only seen yellows for time-wasting. D*** and I were wondering if that is actually in the rules and if so why it's never enforced.

Just wondering and too lazy to look it up.

L

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Seattle Streets Gallery

If Google sent you here when you came looking for directions to the Seattle Streets Quilt? You actually want my "pictorial tutorial" page. Click here and have fun.


Okay, I'll admit it. I am probably a one-trick pony. I have only designed one quilt in my life, and that's probably the only one I'll ever design.

Oddly, that's enough. This quilt, with it's stained glass look? It touches my heart. I love making it, and I love seeing what other people have done with it.

Over the past few years I've posted photos as people send them to me, but now that I've finally finished the "How to Make Seattle Streets" tutorial, I thought this would be a good time to gather them all together in a gallery. So here you go. Huge thanks to everybody who's sent me pictures.

If you make this quilt, I'd love to add you to the gallery. Please send the finished photo to me at eastsidequilter[at]aol[dot]com.

And when times get tough remember this saying, which I read in the cancer library at UW Medical Center when my son was getting chemo:

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
-- Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


(Directions for how to make this quilt are here.)




First, the original, in sunset colors, mostly batiks. Which is STILL not quilted but will be someday. I swear.






After that, I wanted to see if this pattern worked in novelty prints. It did. (Or at least I think it did. But I have a very high tolerance for "bright.") This is one of three identical quilts I did in Christmas fabrics. The actual quilt is much brighter -- the flash kind of washed it out.

(The link will take you to a tale of true love, "Love and Polyester.")






This one is Christina's quilt -- a king-sized that she was going to quilt with quilt-as-you-go. Sadly, the system didn't save the larger photo. (Christina, if you're out there, I'd love to see the finished product.






Ooh! A Quilt Pink quilt for breast cancer from Sue in Minnesota! This one's especially fun because it lets me see what the quilt is like with light-colored leading.






And here's where Seattle Streets goes international! This one's from Dot in England.







I decided to give it a try in muslin, to go for a mosaic tile look rather than a stained glass look. (The fabrics are much brighter and spring-ier in real life, but you can get a better idea by clicking on the photo.) Looking forward to getting this one quilted -- for some reason my piecing and pressing here are a bit sketchy!





If you were wondering how this would look with focus pieces, like, say, T-shirts? Robin has your answer.






These fun quilts come from Diana. I really like the color choices and the borders.







Okay, I know I shouldn't play favorites, but this one from Holly in Ohio is just too creative and fun! It's not quilted -- it's made to fit the areas behind the cross, then stapled to insulation board. More details are here.






And I really like both the color choices and the borders in this one by Jo Ann -- the feel is very reverent (although she says the colors are much brighter in person.)





Here's my quilt top done in cool colors. 45"x60" with 15" block. This thing ate up fabric like PacMan! (It was actually much prettier in real life than in the photo, but next time I'll use a black border instead of just the binding.)






Two really nice ones from Ann in African fabrics. First, the quilt:


And nex, the wall-hangin, which I absolutely adore! I love how she reverses the borders around each applique block. (Be sure to click on the photo for a larger version.)




This one is from Judy. She didn't pick the fabrics herself -- it was a "paper bag" quilt from her guild. The fabric is donated in a paper bag, and it was her job to make a nice-looking quilt with it for charity. I think she succeeded!




These pictures came from Sheila, who says:

I will take them to church and we give our quilts to either a benefit for a local person with health issues or to a girls ranch for teens in some sort of trouble. The ladies at church thought it looked like stained glass and really liked it. I started with 6", 5" and 4", but when I cut the first strips apart they were a little blah so cut up some 2" and 3", really made a difference.

She included a close-up to show that the fabrics aren't actually solids.








And last but not least is the extremely bright quilt I used for the tutorial: My Seattle Streets floral.





(I think that's all I've gotten. If you've made one, or even already sent one, and it's not here, please email me! Address is towards the top of the post.)

Friday, January 22, 2010

My Country Makes Me Want To Cry

When my son was diagnosed with cancer, I cried for three days straight. Then I realized, "This is pointless, counterproductive non-supportive, and really, really boring." So I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and life became relatively normal again.

After Tuesday's election, I am back at the "cry for three days" part.

At least I hope it's only three days.

After the diagnosis, there were two big pains in my heart after I discovered that my son's odds of surviving this were extremely high. First, that he might never be able to have kids. Second, that he would never be able to get health insurance.

The doctors put my mind at ease on the first bit. After only two rounds of chemo, the chances of conceiving normally are very high. If not, there's a backup plan in a freezer somewhere.

After Tuesday's election and the consequent death of health reform -- plus Thursday's Supreme Court ruling that corporations can contribute unlimited money to elections -- the second issue will not resolve so easily. Actually, it will not resolve at all. Ever. Health reform -- meaning, true, meaningful health reform that adds the USA to the list of civilized countries where healthcare doesn't belong just to the rich and/or large-company-employed -- is dead. It will not happen. Not now and probably not ever.

I've read through the early ideas about "compromise" that are being floated, and there is nothing in there that will benefit people like my son (aside from the possibility that we will be able to keep him on our health insurance for a few extra years.) And this despite the fact that the chance of a recurrence of his type of cancer are tiny.

Companies will not be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions except in children under nineteen years of age. After that, people are on their own. His only chance for healthcare coverage in this country in his lifetime will be to get a fulltime job with a large company after college and to never, ever get laid off, or try to start his own company, or leave for any reason -- unless it's to work for another large company.

I have an MBA, (Master's in Business) which is probably why I find the US healthcare-for-profit business model so shocking. I don't think most people realize that the only thing corporations (like health insurance companies) are required to do is maximize shareholder value. They have no responsibility to their customers at all except as it relates to doing well enough by the customers to keep stock price high. This means that they are essentially required to cover only healthy people, because covering people who might get sick drags down profits and consequently stock price.

This is not how you create a healthy country, either physically or financially.

And now, with the most recent US Supreme Court ruling that corporations can contribute unlimited money to influence elections, all health insurance companies have to do to maintain their profits and stock price is flood the market with millions of dollars in ads to target any politician with the guts to challenge the status quo.

(And by the way, this is now true for anything that might benefit the individual over the corporation. This is probably the scariest ruling by the Supremes in the 21st century when it comes down to its overall effect on our country.)

It's not coincidence that health insurance stocks have soared this week.

Of course, their profits will be at the expense of people like my son and anyone else who's had the audacity to ever get sick, but hey. This is America. Profit trumps all.

I actually read up on the internet about emigrating to Canada last night. No plans to make a move right now, for him or for us, but it's good to know that there are options.

Sigh.

I think I'm going to go cry a little more now.

(If I had more time, I'd go off on a economic-nerd tangent about why the current system is actually anti-business and killing the US entrepreneurial spirit that has made the country something special. Alas, I don't. Maybe some other time.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Aging: It's a Cultural Thing

Last night in my ESL class, we had two new students. As we were going around making introductions ("My name is... I am from...") one of the older (meaning in the class from the start of the school year) students, who's originally from China, turned to one of the newer students -- a guy who's probably in his twenties -- and said, "How old are you?"

My jaw dropped, as did my co-teacher's. And since our job is to educate in American culture as well as English language, we gently explained that in the US it's not considered polite to ask about age.

Now it was the Chinese student's turn to be shocked. "You don't ask? Why not?"

Hmmm... How do you explain that one?

Uh...well, you see, we live in an ageist, youth-worshiping society, and sometimes people like to pretend that they're younger than they are... So...um...

Instead we just explained that in the US people sometimes don't like to talk about how old they are and left it at that. She was still shocked.

I found myself thinking (as I frequently do after these classes) about cultural differences. About why it's okay to ask about age in China. Yes, it's partly because older people are respected more. But it also occurred to me that in China people are defined by their birth year ("Oh, you're year of the dog? I'm year of the bull.") This would make it a standard conversational topic, on par with weather here. Or at least with birthdays and astrological signs.

On this topic, at this point in my life? I think I'd rather be Chinese.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thanks for Nothing, Massachusetts



Dear Massachusetts,

Because of you, my cancer-survivor son will probably never be able to get health insurance.

Because of you, health insurance stocks soared today because their profits will remain intact.

Because of you, my husband won't be able to retire early.

Because of you, my parents won't be able to move closer to me because of their health insurance isn't transferable.

Because of you, insurance companies will be able to continue to cancel insurance after people get sick.

Thanks for nothing.

Love,

Laurie


Smiles



(From I Can Has Cheezburger, of course.)

P.S. Am I the only one who consciously has to suspend the rational part of my mind to appreciate this? You know. The part that wants to say, "I'm sorry, but if he only took one, biochemically it couldn't possibly have that effect."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mother of the Year Award, Here I Come

So the other day my fourteen-year-old son was scooping out ice cream. It was frozen very solidly, and when he went to scoop some from the carton he used too much force and it went flying off the spoon and onto the floor.

Hate when that happens.

I pointed out to him that when you pick up the ice cream off the floor, you can run it under warm water in the sink and any yucky parts will flow down the drain, leaving clean ice cream.

He was extremely impressed with this information.

Passing on this kind of knowledge from one generation to the next is going to win me some kind of parenting award. I'm sure of it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Antidote to Grey, OR: My Seattle Streets Floral Quilt Top

If Google sent you here when you came looking for directions to the Seattle Streets Quilt? You actually want my "pictorial tutorial" page. Click here and have fun.



I am quite certain there will come a time when I look and this quilt and think:

Too colorful! Too busy! Too gaudy! Too gosh-darn many flowers!!

January in Seattle is not that time.






I love bright-colored quilts, and I've always wondered how far I could push it and still have the black neutralize the color conflicts. With this quilt I have learned: not quite this far. I think the sum of the parts in this one is a little greater than the whole. I actually like it better in smaller doses than in the full, completed quilt. Like this up-close photo.



Even so, though, I still like the quilt. But it's less in a "wow, the finished product is beautiful" way and more in a "pink flamingos" way. I know it's a bit much, but I love it anyway.

I think I'm going to back it in flannel. And once it's done, I can see myself dragging it out of the cedar chest every January 1 and snuggling under it for three or four grey, wet months.

You know. Until we get some actual flowers and sunshine.

(Directions for the Seattle Streets Quilt are here.)




Friday, January 15, 2010

On Haiti, Grace, Rush Limbaugh and the Definition of Un-American

'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.

'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'

'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.' [...]

"I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned - they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.'

'Many can't go there; and many would rather die.'

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'


I've been thinking about grace, Scrooge and Rush Limbaugh over the past day or so. (I normally don't spend a lot of time thinking about Rush, but the tragedy in Haiti has created an exception.) Rush, as you may have seen, had some less-than-charitable things to say about the Haitian earthquake, including that "we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax."

Of course, the dittoheads are claiming he was misquoted or that what he said was taken out of context ("He didn't say not to donate! He said not to donate through the government!") So I went and listened to the tapes myself. And while he certainly says not to donate through the government, nowhere does he say that people should donate through charities, either.

Instead he says that government shouldn't get involved because there are charities who do that kind of work. As if that whole charity thing takes place out there somewhere, magically, a matter of a good fairy waving her wand and making money and workers appear in a way that doesn't require anything at all from you, or me, or him. And he essentially states that people should NOT donate to relief efforts because "you just can't keep throwing money at [Haiti.]"

("'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.'")

What disturbed me most, though, was this: I challenge you to click on that link, listen to the commentary, and hear one tiny iota of compassion for the people -- many of them children -- who are suffering and dying. I promise you: you won't find it. There is no recognition at all of the fact that these people are even human. And this man speaks for an entire political movement.

I've found myself wondering, over the last day or so, if this lack of compassion isn't the new definition of the word "unAmerican." If the refusal of the people to sacrifice anything at all for the good of their fellow human beings will finally be the reason our country collapses.

When did so much of our country become so viciously, callously selfish? Weren't we once a country who cared?

Or is that the a rose-colored historical perspective speaking?

Of course, there is a chance that Rush will now encourage people to donate, today, after the fact. That would give me hope. Because it would mean that people are reacting to Limbaugh's words with revulsions, and his sponsors are discovering that his political gain before humanity brand doesn't sell on Main Street. At least past a certain point.

We can hope.

I'd like to close with some words of wisdom on another person lacking in compassion, Pat Robertson, who stated on TV as fact that Haiti's problem are a result of their making a pact with the devil two-hundreed years ago. I found this on an excellent blog post by someone who's actually done mission work in Haiti: "Do Not Listen to Pat Robertson."

"My prayer is that Pat Robertson gets to experience genuine grace before he dies. Whatever foulness infected him early and has grown unabated must be a terrible and difficult burden. Do not envy him, do not try to follow his teachings. I actually feel some compassion for him, while hoping his "ministry" will fail so that others would not be stained by his anger."



For Rush Limbaugh, I say: Ditto.

(Finally, on Rush's assertion that "all the money goes to the dictators?" If that's your fear, please watch this video on UNICEF. And then donate, to them or any other major charity.)

P.S. As always, Jon Stewart has the best take on these events.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Seattle Streets Pattern, The Picture Tutorial: How to Make a Seattle Streets Block



If you'd like these instructions emailed to you as a .pdf file, email me at eastsidequilter[at]aol[dot]com. I'd love it if you'd include a quick note to tell me how you found this post, and if it was through a google search, what search string you used.




For the gallery of quilts done with this pattern, click here.




SEATTLE STREETS BLOCK PICTORIAL DIRECTIONS




Click on any photo for a larger version. Photo of my first full quilt top using this pattern is here.

Step 1: Understanding why this works with any block size and any strip width

This quilt was designed as a "Stashbuster" quilt to help people quickly use up fabric on hand, so I wanted it to be as flexible as possible. The block works in any size and with any width of strips because when you add 1" of "leading" fabric (in this case the black fabric), you're also subtracting one inch of seam allowance. Like this. (Again, click on the photos to enlarge):



This strip set measures 7" -- the same as the original width of the two strips: 3"+4"=7" . If my "Magic Number" were 7", I would be done with this strip set.

What's a "Magic Number"?
you ask. Simple: It's your block size. It's also the number that the widths of all of your colored fabrics in a strip set or block need to add up to, not adding or subtracting anything for seam allowance. (Very important!)

Step 2: Pick out your fabrics

You'll get slightly less than two 12" blocks from each fat quarter (assuming usable area of 16"x20"). For my 60"x72" quilt (30 12" blocks) I used 15 1/2 fqs. For the black leading, 2 1/2 yards was just enough for this quilt. I had a little left over, but it wouldn't have been enough for borders or binding. I recommend buying "leading" length at least slightly more than the finished with of the quilt so you can cut joining strips with no seams.

Since the colored fabrics never touch, you have more flexibility in your combinations than in a regular quilt, so get creative! Pick fabrics you like together. Here are mine. Pretty, huh?:



Step 3: Cut the strips
After you've decided on your final quilt size, cut the joining strips -- the width-of-quilt strips of "leading" that will join the rows. ALL black or "leading" strips need to be 1" wide. (VERY important -- the quilt works with any width of colored fabric strips, but it won't work with any other size leading strip.)

For width-of-quilt strips, you'll need (#rows - 1). My quilt will have six rows, so I'll need five. (Of course I couldn't count when I took the photo, so imagine here that I have five strips set aside instead of four.) If you're cutting border fabric from the black, now's a good time. Ditto for binding.

To make piecing faster, I just cut up all the rest of the 2 yards of black in 1" strips, cutting along the length of fabric so I can chain piece. Be sure to re-square periodically as you're cutting to avoid dog-legs at the folds.



Now the fun part. Cut your colored fabric into strips that add easily to your "Magic Number" (block size.) For this quilt I went with 3",4", and 5". Most blocks will be 3+4+5 = 12, but some will be 4+4+4, or 3+3+3+3, etc., so I cut more 4" and 3" than 5". (I'm working on specific numbers for various-sized quilts and appreciate your patience. For now, be flexible and prepared to occasionally, say, chop a 5" strip into 3" and 2" as needed.)

Because these fat quarters were from the same purchase and were ordered as a collection online, they're almost exactly the same size; this made it easy to cut them all the same length: along the long side or approximately 21-ish" or so. If you're using scraps or random fq's, you'll need to be more creative.

These are my piles o'strips: 3" on the top, 5" on the right, 4" on the left.


Step 4: Sewing leading onto colored strips

Set your seam width to a scant 1/4". Take one long piece of "leading" fabric and one colored strip and sew together. Chain piece along the length of the black fabric. My 72" strips would hold three 21-ish" strips apiece.



Repeat for slightly less than 1/3 of your strips. I ended up with 59 strips, so I started by adding leading to 17 of them. 17 x 3 is 51, so I'll have eight left over for any strip sets needing more than three. UPDATE: 15 1/2 fat quarters were enough for 18 12" strip sets.

(Believe it or not, that raggedy piece of moleskin seam guide was new two days ago!)

Step 5: Add your next piece of colored fabric

Finger press your seams to one side and clip the "leading" to the same length as the colored fabric. (You can iron here if you like but you don't need to, and the narrow fabric means my fingers get burned if I try.) Pick a second fabric for each strip that looks good next to the first and piece together. When you're done it will look like this:



Step 6: Has your strip set reached its magic number? If so, move onto step 7. If not, add another leading strip to either colored fabric.



Then another colored fabric, until you reach your Magic Number (measured with colored -- not leading -- strips on both sides. Your finished strip set will look something like this for a 12" Magic Number.



Step 7: Cut the strip sets for your first block

Iron strip sets, pressing seams toward the black. (They should almost but not quite meet in the center.) Then pick the strip sets you want in your first block. Square the ends of your strip sets, then cut strips in widths that add up to your Magic Number. I chose three strip sets and cut widths of 3", 4" and 5".

(You can do this for multiple blocks at a time so you can chain piece. Resquare frequently, using the black leading strip seams -- not the edge of the fabrics -- as a guideline for your straight cuts.)

UPDATE: I ended up cutting most of my strip sets in 3", 4" and 5" strips, but I did throw in maybe 10 2" strips for visual interest.




Step 8: Join the strip sets with leading strips like you did with the fabric strips.


I like to piece with the strip sets on top, black on the bottom so I can keep the seams going the right direction.



Step 9: Alternate strip sets and leading until you reach your magic number, et voilĂ ! You are done with your first block!




Step 10: Repeat until you have enough blocks for your quilt.

Then decide on a block arrangement that looks good to you. (Having some of the longer leading going vertically and some horizontally adds visual interest. I alternate vertical and horizontal. To see the difference, the block photo directly above has a vertical orientation, but the one at the top of the post, same block, is horizontal.) Join blocks into rows with leading strips like you joined the strip sets to each other, then join rows the same way with the long strips you set aside.



Have fun!

This is a copyrighted pattern made available to you free of charge. Like it? I'd be honored if you'd use the money you'd spend on the pattern otherwise to make a donation to an organization to help the poor. My three favorites: Lumana (microcredit and community development in Ghana, non-religious); World Vision (Christian aid for extreme poverty, disease, disasters, etc.) and UMCOR (Christian -- United Methodist, ditto.)

Feel free to share, enjoy, teach classes, or sell finished products using this pattern, but please don't sell it as your own or try to profit from it otherwise. I'd also appreciate credit where possible and a link to this website.

(And PLEASE don't market classes you teach under any name other than Seattle Streets. Since I gave away the pattern for free, the name is all I have and the only way I can keep track of where it ends up! Thanks!)

I'd love to receive photos of your finished quilts using the pattern. Email them to me at eastsidequilter[at]aol[dot]com. That's also where you can send any questions.

Enjoy!

Laurie

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First Seattle Streets Floral Block!




I've spent the last two days busily working and photographing with the goal of getting one block of my Seattle Streets floral completely done before my son takes the camera to school for photography class tomorrow.

I did it!

It will look more square in the finished quilt, I swear.

(The other blocks will be somewhat less colorful. I used all my favorite fabrics for this block, since it was going to be out in the world.)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Fun With Scraps

I was decluttering and organizing my sewing room today and stumbled on some flannel scraps from the last time my daughter, the Disneymaniac, made pajamas. Pink ones for her, black Mickey ones for her boyfriend. Because she'd cut jammies from the fabric, it was cut at all kinds of strange angles.

I found myself thinking, "Too bad it's not more of each fabric -- I could make rice bags." (You know. Microwavable rice bags, to keep you warm at night. I've been wanting to make more recently because I've used mine so much they're falling apart.)

Then inspiration struck: I could piece the two fabrics together, like a quilt. Or a jigsaw puzzle.

Et voilĂ !

(It's cuter in real life than in the photo -- and the lines running up through their faces are channels to keep all the rice from migrating to one side.)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Penguin Party Crashers

Congratulations, penguins. You've just been photobombed.




(Spotted on the always-amusing "Acting Like Animals.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Quilting Again!

After a break of more than a year, today I finally entered...

The Sewing Room!

It's not that I haven't been in the room. Just that it wasn't a sewing room while I was there. It was a guest room. Or a drum room. All the fabrics, notions, thread, etc. were packed away, who knows where.

Today I spent a couple of hours going through boxes, looking for the basics. I'm still looking for my 24" cutting rulers, but so far I've found the scissors, cutting mat, rotary cutters and...

TA DAH!

The fabrics I'm going to use to create the Seattle Streets pictorial directions. I knew they were in there somewhere, and they're just as I remember. Except more...brown and orange. (I actually removed two of the more browny-orangey ones because I have fourteen and only need twelve. Hopefully this will give me a good balance.)

Spent a soothing amount of time ironing the florals.

Is it warped to say I missed ironing?

Some Highlights of Late 2009

A few highlights from the end of 2009:

1) I got my iPod player back!

Since early-to-mid-2009, my 14-year-old son has been "borrowing" my iPod player -- the thing you can attach your iPod to so you can listen to it without earbuds, like a stero/CD player/whatever you call it these days. He especially used the music to sleep to, and he took it to camp with him when he was an LIT this summer to get the little kids to go to sleep. (Apparently he does have some soothing music on there -- he just never plays it when I'm around!)

While it was at camp, the old one got knocked off a chair, and it was never the same again. So eventually I got a new one. Which disappeared into his room again.

He was quite gracious about it, always saying, "Mom, when you want it, just let me know..." Thing was, he wanted/needed it more; it helped him fall asleep at night, and I rarely used it. So in his room it stayed. Until a couple of weeks ago, when his actual iPod disappeared, and he started using the music playing ability of his computer to play the same songs.

Turns out that without the really BASS basses and really TREBLE trebles of the iPod player, he sleeps better. Which means he's now using his computer to sleep to.

Which means I have my iPod player back.

2) My daughter has a job! And not just a job, a job with BENEFITS!!!! (You know you've arrived as a parent when your kid has her own health insurance. WHEW!)

A couple of months ago she started working temporarily two days a week as a camping registrar/admin person for our church's camping ministries. Fitting, since she's been to church camp every summer as either a camper or a leader since she was 6. (That would be 17 years, in case you're curious.) She did a bang-up job there, so they didn't even interview for the permanent position -- they just asked her to stay on.

The money's not great, but it's better than she was getting at the part time job at Blockbuster that the economy had relegated her to since college graduation.

So now when somebody says "Where are you working" she can reply with pride. Go, Sarah!

P.S. Her boyfriend of almost six years -- whom we adore -- pointed out recently that he could now call her his "friend with benefits." Her father was not amused.

(Except he really was.)

3. I have to admit that when my son plotted his course for cancer treatment, I had two big worries: 1) Well, y'know, it's cancer, and 2) chemo brain -- the fuzzy-headed inability to concentrate that a lot of chemo survivors complain of. I was especially worried since he has worked his behind off in college and recently got accepted to the business school. Which is really hard to do.

He just finished his first post-chemo quarter, which also was the start of his much-more-difficult business classes. Final result: 3.8. I think the kid's going to be okay.

All in all, not a bad end to 2009.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Because We All Know the Dangers of Counterfeit Vodka

New Years news that makes you go Hmmm:

Russia introduced on Friday a minimum price of vodka in an effort to fight counterfeit alcohol production in the country. From January 1, any 0.5l vodka bottle selling at below 89 rubles (almost $3) will be outlawed.


Okay, so I know that alcoholism is a huge problem in the former Soviet states and alcohol production needs to be regulated. But is it just me, or does the phrase "counterfeit alcohol" make anyone else giggle?