Found the elephant!

Elephant

Many thanks to Jane, a faithful blog reader, who found the elephant iPhone stand online at Modcloth. Oh happy day! In addition to red and blue, it comes in gray. I know there is a fuschia one out there somewhere because that's what I bought Donna. I'd love lime green… but you know what? I am very very happy to have a blue one heading my way!

If you are interested in an elephant for yourself, click here. While I was there I browsed the sale pages and found a solar powered Queen Elizabeth…

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Her hand waves when she is exposed to sunlight! Seriously, I could not resist. When the box comes this will go to Steve to put with the rest of the 'presents' I've bought for him to stuff my stocking with. I promise to be surprised Christmas morning. 

It's possible that I got the last waving Queen E but I found her dressed in pink here if you need one as well. 

 


My mug rack…

You asked to see it and here it is – my mug rack! Missing mugs are in the dishwasher.

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The walls in most houses have 2×4 studs with sheetrock on both sides. Steve cut a hole in the sheetrock on one side of the wall. The back of my mug rack is the back side of the sheetrock on the other side of the wall. He often has to cut out some 2×4. FYI – It's important not to cut a load-bearing stud.

There is a wood 'box' that makes up the four sides of the mug rack. Steve drilled matching holes with his drill press in the wood on either side of the box to put shelf brackets in. He trimmed it out with 1/4-round. I painted the back wall to match the walls but you could get decorative here. I could paint the wood white (and probably should) but then I'd have to do something with the mugs while the paint dried.

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The mug with the skiers is from my childhood. I have two of them – we used to drink hot chocolate from them. Steve's is the mad scientist… the light blue early bird mug is newish and is really fun on the inside…

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Honestly, this is very much like an in-wall medicine cabinet. If you didn't want to start from scratch I'll bet you can find an in-wall cabinet with some shelves at Lowe's or Home Depot.

Now I really must get to work! It's 4:00 and I'm still trying to get to the pile of fabric that I intended to be cutting up this morning. Isn't that the way it goes… 

 


Giving thanks…

I give thanks that I have a family I love, that I am healthy and happy, and that I'm only 55. As I see it I'm early 3rd quarter – if I live to be 100 I'm not much past half way. Good thing because there is still so very much to do!

I don't know about you, but we worked our asses off for four solid days. Actually, I'm up 4 pounds so I only wish I had worked some of it off. There you go. It's possible that the very fine Thanksgiving dinner was more calorie-rich than I thought it would be.

So, what did we do? Wednesday when Steve got out of class he, mom, and I went to Twin Oaks to buy trees and shrubs. The pickup was seriously loaded and I didn't take a photo. Oh well. The Shumard red oak was the biggest of the bunch. Steve dug a 24" x 24" x 24" hole in black clay which is not easy work.

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It looks really good!

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The wheel barrow in the foreground is full of liriope that I dug up so that I could plant the two Knock-Out rose bushes. I dug up more the next day so that I could move some chrysanthemums to make room for another bush.

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Steve planted crepe myrtles and an abelia at the side of the house. They will look really good in a year or so.


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In the back I planted some bushes. And the grass that got dug up in the front I planted in the bare spot in the back. The previous owner had a storage shed that is oh-so-gone now. Mom had topsoil put in. There is a big 'bare spot' that you can't see off to the right to fill.

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In Mom's bitty back yard there's now a weeping yaupon. The one I planted 17 years ago is amazing now.

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And we planted a Chinese pistache and an Oklahoma redbud that I didn't take pictures of. And a Texas redbud near the driveway. I've gotta say that when Mom was telling me what all she wanted to plant I was skeptical that it would all fit AND look good. She was right. Looks good and it all should fit as it grows. Mom is going to live in a forest if everything lives.

The rest of our weekend was spent getting out and putting up Mom's Christmas stuff, my Christmas stuff, and our outside lights (not a huge deal, we throw red lights at a big bush, a small tree, and a tree trunk), cleaning house and a whole lot of other small stuff.

Steve put in a mug rack for Mom yesterday and today. This is a built-in shelf for coffee mugs. Mom and I and Christy are/were all very much into fun mugs. With a mug rack they are on display and easy to grab. I should take a photo… Let me know if you want one.

Elanor spent the night last night. She is such a girl!!! I did her nails. We watched a movie, had popcorn. She went to bed and slept all night. Got up in a good mood. Was generally easy and pleasant all day long. She spent much of today with Mom, baking and visiting. I gotta tell you, Jack is way more work at this stage than Elanor.

I worked on real business today (which is why Elanor was with Mom). Didn't get to what I thought I would but I did put a new pattern up on the site. I'm not exactly telling everyone yet but if you've read this far you might as well know what's new, right? Click here to see. I'll probably do a separate blog post and newsletter on this later. 

Other things I'm recently thankful for… Mom got a speeding ticket on Wednesday. You'd think I'd be upset, but I'm not. She was going the speed I would go in the very same spot, she just got the ticket. I'm thankful to know she's keeping up with traffic and not driving 10 miles below the speed limit. Tomorrow I get to call and see how much her ticket is, and possibly signing her up for a defensive driving class. Should be interesting.

Steve bent the passenger door and front quarter panel on his truck. There is this 3' tall post that sticks up in the grocery store parking lot. He was parked by it but forgot about it when he went to leave. Oops. Again – this is something I can see myself doing so I'm thankful he did it for me. It's so much easier to get over it when he does it.

You know, I've realized even more this holiday than most, that Steve and I are not 'rest-ers'. When we have time off, we have projects. We did it again for the last four days. Honestly, it makes back-to-work-Monday look sort of peaceful. I don't dread the work-week! I'm happy and thankful looking back at a long weekend well-spent.

 


 

Seriously?!

I have 2 cats and I have to say that they and I live in our own orbits. These orbits intersect at the food bowl and the doors to the outside.

I am always busy. To be specific, my hands are always busy. When I'm at the computer, the sewing machine, or my chair (where I am appliqueing) my hands are busy. My poor cats have gotten used to this fact. I would need at least one more arm and hand to pet them more than I do. My lap is very rarely open for a hot furry cat body. And Steve is not any better cat-wise. We treat the cats sort of like adult roommates – we expect them to carry on on their own with some help.

That said, our cats seem to love us. As I said, we let them in and out, we feed them, and we worry about them at the appropriate times. We take them to the vet (they are not happy about that) and we treat them with the flea stuff (they really don't like that).

We saved them from a life on the streets and I think they appreciate that. Dave found us and stayed, Emma was a cat left at our vet's office that needed a home. I don't kiss my cats or talk baby-talk to them. I try to rub their heads when they really need it. They could leave and don't. I'm not the greatest cat owner, but I am not the worst. 

So – now that you know all that, I have to share this video. The person doing the talking and cat-toy-throwing is my DIL, Celia. She and Jeff have 2 black cats and they interact way more with their cats than we do. Who knew a cat would fetch!!! (Makes me feel like a slacker.) 


 

Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday!

 



Background balance…

In classes and lectures, and in our books, Linda and I both stress the importance of designing your quilt on a design wall. I'm working on a quilt for a new book and I thought I would share the background with you.

I started with an unusual yard of fabric designed by Yoshiko Jinzenji for Yuwa. It was expensive and I've held onto it for a long time. I should have taken a photo before I cut it up but if you click here you can see a dress made out of a similar fabric by this designer.

I had to cut the yard up and add to it to have big enough backgrounds. The quiet fabric in each of the blocks is the Yuwa fabric.

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This is quilt with three vertical panels. Each panel has 3 14" x 14" finished blocks. The three panels are currently separated with a narrow strip of that way cool light-to-dark dot fabric designed by Katie Pasquini for Marcus Brothers. I don't know how old (or new) it is. You can see a wider strip of this fabric on the right. Before I cut strips for the two sides I want to get the applique fabric up on the wall.

Just for grins, here's what it looks like without the vertical sashing:

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I know what the applique design is and I have an good idea of how the applique is going to look on these backgrounds. But I'm not going to know for sure how it all looks together until it's all up on the wall. What I'm looking for at this point is an interesting background that feels balanced. What that light-to-dark sashing does for the composition is to weight it – lighter and a bit airier at the top, darker and heavier at the bottom. I like that. And it's interesting that it takes so little of that fabric to do the trick.

The other thing I'd like to point out is that it's important to buy those expensive weird fabrics that you love when you see them. I sincerely wish I'd bought more of that original fabric. I'm going on a (probably futile) fabric hunt for more of it. Or something similar…


 


Butterflies…

It's been a long time since I reared butterflies so I was surprised to learn that now is the time they emerge from the chrysalis. Elanor's art teacher set her up with the proper plastic habitat and the un-hatched butterflies. She took care of them and then got to watch them emerge a few days ago. She brought them to our yard to set them free. Here they are in the box…

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Elanor works to get the box open…

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We thought once the lid was off they would fly away…

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Nope, they just hung on to the box lid, upside-down. We weren't quite sure what to do so the lid went back on the box. Then we noticed the little door in the top of the box and we opened it and left it open.

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We got tired of waiting and went inside. When we checked again about 30 minutes later, both butterflies were gone. 

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I zoomed in on the butterfly in the photo and noticed this one's little fingers. I know they aren't really fingers but, still, I am once again amazed at the clarity of a good digital photo. (Click the photo and you'll see an enlarged version of this image.) Really, a good camera can make any of us look like a decent photographer.

I hate AT&T!

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I've spent the last 1.5 hours in circular conversations with various customer service people at AT&T and now I have a headache. And I'm very, very cranky. This is mom's phone. It's a pretty shade of red and that is the only good thing I can say about it.

This phone has never worked well for her and lately it has hardly worked at all. The AT&T folks told her it was a simple phone (perfect for her!) when she bought it. It's not. I'm pretty tech-savvy and I can't figure out how to turn off the music (which comes on by itself at odd times). I suppose I'm way spoiled by my iPhone but seriously, if I can't figure this stupid phone out how can I expect mom too?

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It should be easy to use but, especially for mom, there are just too many things that happen when you push the various buttons. She needs a plain phone. Her physician (and my friend), Helen Schulze, told her she needed a Jitterbug. Now, not later. I heartily agree. It looks perfect. AT&T has nothing remotely like it. 

So this afternoon I went to the AT&T store in Sherman and the poor kid (JT) who helped me (and he was nice) got stuck with an increasingly irritated me. The thing is, mom's phone really doesn't turn on half the time. I've seen it not work. She has tried to call and couldn't. It's defective.

She has 4 months left on her contract and the best they could do was sell her a slightly simpler phone than this one and extend her contract for 2 more years. Even if she decided the new phone wouldn't work for her and she returned in the allotted 30 day return window of opportunity, she'd still have a 2 year contract. I hate AT&T!

I talked to the onsite supervisor. JT (who was still pleasant and trying to be helpful), called it in and talked to another supervisor, who then passed it off to another supervisor. The end result is – tough luck. The phone doesn't work, if she wants out she can pay a $75 cancellation fee. Have a nice day. 

AT&T has phones for the disabled and they let me talk to that representative. Guess what? The 'special' phone for someone that needs a simple phone is the same one I had already told them wouldn't work. I about lost it.

I left the store with mom's defective phone. She said, OK, let's cancel it and just pay the fee. So I called them and darned if that person didn't try to talk me into the 'simple' phone. I didn't swear and I did try to be nice but I'll bet I sounded as incredibly irritated as I was. And still am. But it's cancelled now.

Cell companies, cable companies… they get away with this stuff because there's not a lot of options for us as consumers. I would move to Verizon in a heartbeat after today. Does anyone know how Verizon coverage is in Sherman, TX? And can anyone tell me if their customer service is any better or would I be trading the devil I know for pretty much the same devil? If I do switch, I will have to wait until my contract is up and Steve and I would both have to have new iPhones that worked on the Verizon network but I'm mad enough that that looks like an OK option. I'm tired of rewarding AT&T with my money.

So, deep breath, and back to work.