Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Retirement Quilt Story

My boss announced in June he was going to retire at the end of March 2010. It left me plenty of time to plan and piece a signature quilt for him. Then, upper management in its stupidity starting downsizing and it affected our area. My boss protested and did his best to keep all of us on staff, but his argument fell on deaf and stupid ears. Given that and the change in business environment, he struggled.

I thought it best to get the quilt done early -just in case - and finished it when I was home after surgery.

Then he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. His chemo starts after the new year, but he stated he was going to work until today.

For some reason, I brought the quilt into the office yesterday. The weather forecast for his hometown was nasty, so he decided at 11:45 am to leave at noon yesterday and probably not return today. I dashed out to the car, grabbed the quilt, corralled all my co-workers and cornered the boss in his office.

He protested. He didn't want any send-off, luncheon, gifts, etc. - nothing. But the minute he opened the quilt his eyes filled with tears when he saw all the signatures and well wishes.

Later, he phoned a co-worker to discuss a case. She told me he was still shocked by the gift and very pleased to have it.

So ends the story of the retirement quilt that was finished five months ahead of schedule and delivered a day early just because I had a hunch.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2010 Goals and Resolution Attempts

In the interest of becoming more efficient in 2010, here is a list of the quilting and non-quilting goals for the coming new year:


1. Finish Jackson's baby quilt by February 1.
2. Finish P.J.'s wedding quilt by October 1.
3. Buy as little fabric as possible with the exception of backing and borders.
4. Use it, then put it away in its proper place. Let me explain: I'm really, really bad about pulling a fabric out of the storage container and then just tossing it on the shelf unit so many times that the shelves look like a mountain of fabric.
5. After purchasing Judy Martin's log cabin book - no more book or quilt magazine purchases. I have literally hundreds of patterns already. No need for any more!
6. Only one project out at a time. Picture this - a table runner on the cutting mat, two flimsies draped on the frame and a lap quilt on the sewing table. Messy!
7. Get both the Pfaff and Juki serviced in the summer.
8. Learn new techniques/systems as opportunities present themselves.
9. Finish a flimsy every month.


1. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity in each day. Wii fit, walking, etc - just do it!
2. Cut down on sweets - The holidays have wreaked havoc on my eating habits.
3. Keep in contact more often with family and friends.
4. Pray more, love more and enjoy more!
5. Don't take it all so seriously.

NOTE: The above-mentioned items are meant as guidelines. Author is not legally responsible for completion or non-completion of any item. Any attempt at copying these goals is in direct violation of Smudge's rules and regulations and will be dealt with severely/swiftly.



Monday, December 28, 2009

Temptations Galore!

I am a fabric junkie. After taking Bonnie Hunter's class in August, there's admittedly a degree of guilt about it too. Try as best I can to avoid huge stash acquisitions, it's not easy with shops in the area promoting big discounts.

One of my favorite quilt shops started their annual sale yesterday with loads of fabric discounted, kill the bolt specials and hourly drawings. Of course, I went a bit overboard - bought fabric that I have NO idea what I'll end up using it for. But, how can any quilter ignore 50 percent off fabric?

Now, today I found out the quilt shop closest to my office is having an inventory reduction sale - all their fabric is reduced 20 to 60 percent! What's keeping me from sneaking out for a few minutes at lunch time?

I am trying to justify all this - I did a big clean up/pick up in the sewing room yesterday so I have a better handle on what is available in my stash. A trip to Target may be in order for a flat plastic storage container. My novelty fabrics and pink fabrics are feeling neglected since all the other fabrics have nice homes. Always said the fabric had to "speak" to me!

Out of all the quilts I gave as Christmas gifts, I was the most anxious about the one I made for my daughter to give to her grandmother. Yesterday, I received an e-mail from the grandmother thanking me for the gift and was very complimentary about my quilting. You could have knocked me over with a feather! This is from the woman who will toss hand-made gifts into the trash.

My mom's quilt was a hit as well. She wants me to put a hanging sleeve on the back so they can display it on the wall.

Haven't heard from Tattoo Boy's girlfriend regarding her pink and black quilt, but I haven't seen her for a few days.

On to new projects in 2010- a baby quilt due in February and a wedding quilt for November. Beyond that - no concrete plans in the sewing room, but I'm sure given my recent fabric acquisitions there won't be a shortage of cloth or ideas.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Past, Present and Future

Now that I think about it 2009 was a good year for me with my quilting. Here's a short list of my activities:

-Attended the St. Jude's Retreat in Palestine, Ohio for the second straight year. Plenty of PEEPS at the 2009 version. What will 2010 bring?
-Traveled to Columbus for the NQA show - The quilts were an inspiration and the vendors were a drain on my checking account (LOL)
-Visited quilt shows in Lebanon, South Lebanon and Sharonville
-Improved my binding skills dramatically.
-Became more proficient in putting quilts on the frame
-Accompanied Jill to the quilt show in Indianapolis to share in her joy of winning a ribbon!
-Participated in my first quilting workshop in Indianapolis hosted by Bonnie Hunter. Shared the trip and room with Linda of Piwacket fame and had a lovely time
-As a result of the above-mentioned workshop, I'm more in-tune with using what I have and saving scraps. (Those scraps cost $8 a yard too, per Bonnie.)

So, what initially seemed to be a ho-hum year was pretty fantastic filled with quilting, excellent friends both on-line and in person. I'm finishing the last of the sewing-related gifts and feeling oh so good about my small piece of the world three days before Christmas.

I'm happy.

Michael's lung disease is definitely progressing, but he's here now and I'm enjoying the time I have left with him. Still no definitive word from Social Security about his claim - it's in the hands of the English system now. I've provided for my small family as best as I can. Sure, it would be nice to have more money saved. But we have presents for under the tree, plenty of food and the bills are current. Loads of folks can't say that.

My children continue to bring happiness into the house with their talents, friends and schoolwork. Tattoo Boy may look weird, but he has the artistic talent which will take him as far as his imagination will allow. Andrea may discover her future lies in teaching or counseling. She has such a wonderful caring attitude about everything.

As I unpack the Christmas decorations every year, I wonder what will my life be like when they're unpacked again next year. Like Scrooge, I find the Ghost of Christmas future the most frightening one of all. But old Ebeneezer and I have both discovered that as long as you have faith, family and friends things will turn out just fine and even better than before!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the best of all things possible in 2010!


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Completed Projects

Finally getting around to posting a few photos of my finished projects This one is the signature/retirement quilt for my boss. We decided to give this to him the week after Christmas, before he starts his chemo. We figured he'd like to have it then since we're not sure when or if he will be able to return to work for his official retirement.

Pink and black are the favorite colors of my son's girlfriend, so it was easy to get the above quilt
The quilt on the left is one that I had in my flimsy stash. Andrea selected it for her grandparents for Christmas and I finished it a few days ago.

The above quilt is the one which used a panel/cheater cloth and a Moda jelly roll. It's on its way to my mother for Christmas.

The striped quilt below is one I made for myself. I'm still working on the binding.

Used a jelly roll from Connecting Threads for the quilt above. It took my a while to quilt this one since the machine acted up mid quilting and I had a LOT to rip out.
Well, there you have it. I'll post more later. Gotta run to work.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ahead Of The Game

Despite the weekend just zooming by, I think I got a tremendous amount of work done in the sewing room. Here's what happened:

-loaded a lap quilt onto the frame, quilted it, attached the binding and am about 1/3 done with the hand sewing
-attached the binding to a Christmas quilt I'm keeping for myself
-got a large tote almost done from start to finish - just need to hand sew the edge and attach the handles
-quilted four place mats and attached the binding

Doesn't seem like much now, does it? There are only a few more things on the to-do list and most of them can be knocked out in one evening. Thus, leaving me more time to work on other things - shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping gifts, etc.

Speaking of shopping, I was doing just that on Saturday night after I dropped Andrea off at a party. Since Michael chose not to accompany me, I got a LOT done and am proud to say I am DONE with Christmas shopping........

....well, not quite.....Tattoo Boy's art box was stolen during one of his final exams last week. He's absolutely down about it, but I told him not to worry. I asked him to give me a list of the items in the box. Then, I e-mailed the list to family members who usually buy him gifts for Christmas and his birthday, which is two weeks after Christmas. We'll get him a few things from the list and perhaps a new metal box to store them all in.

Andrea and I watched the Susan Boyle special on television last night. I cannot listen to that woman sing without tearing up - not sure if it's the story behind her fame or the fact that she can sing like an angel that gets me all emotional. They gave her the encased award for her album selling over 3 million copies and Susan broke down in tears. Despite all the triumphs she's had I don't think she'll ever be jaded by her success. She just strikes me as being too down to earth for that. Plus, she's a cat woman and that's A-OK in my book!


Friday, December 11, 2009

Two Weeks To Christmas

Seems hard to believe there are only two more weeks until Christmas and the year is rapidly coming to an end. Where did the time go?

Well, last night it was spent in the sewing room. I finished the quilting on the Christmas quilt I want to keep for myself. Pleased with the end result and I hope to get the binding sewn on tonight.

Immediately after dinner, Andrea and I are going to Joann's to pick up a few things. I need some backing material for the quilt she and Tattoo Boy want to give to their grandparents. Andrea wants to find some yarn, felt, pipe cleaners to make crocheted chickens for her friends. Odd looking thing, but that's what she wants to do and she's not letting her lack of crochet skills get in the way; she's enlisted dear old mom to help her with the task.

For you quilters out there who use labels on your quilt backs: Do you sew them on or use some type of two-sided adhesive? I have these small personalized labels that say "Quilted With Love by Cathy Howe". I've sewn them on in the past, but the needle kind of shreds the material these labels are made of. Any suggestions would be valued......

The goals for this weekend:

-get the grandparents' quilt quilted and binding attached
-sew two pillowcases
-come close to finishing the quilted tote for my sister-in-law

If I accomplish those items by 8 pm on Sunday, I will be very, very pleased. I have no problem hiding in my sewing room, but my family must definitely has other things in mind.

During a meeting with our boss yesterday, he announced that he will be out of the office beginning the first of January and will not return until the last of February due to the radiation treatment he needs. He's supposed to get a scan next Wednesday and depending on the results of that test, more aggressive treatment(s) could be necessary. He is dealing with the diagnosis much better now - although he still struggles with discussing it. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time Management

When I returned to work last week, I talked myself into not hitting the "Snooze" button on my alarm any more. What I'm finding is that it's giving me an extra 15 minutes each morning before I have to leave the house. What better way is there to use the time than to sew? I did one pass on the quilting frame this morning and it felt great knowing I got that much done and the machine's set up for the next pass immediately after supper tonight. The trick is to not get too involved in something that I lose track of time and end up being late for work.

Two of the three Christmas wall hangings are now happily installed in our family room and look great. Michael's supposed to hang the third one this afternoon.

My boss returned to work today after being out most of last week. He's still reeling from the cancer diagnosis. He seems stunned, more so than anybody I've ever known who has been given dreaded news like that. He's supposed to retire in March, but somehow I don't think he'll be physically able to make it to then.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Still Shaking

We had our first snowfall of the season this morning in southwestern Ohio - naturally it happened during morning rush hour. I managed fine until I reached the industrial park area near my office when the car hit ice and spun me around in the opposite direction. Thank the Lord there wasn't another car close on the left side! I managed to gather my wits, drive into a parking lot near by and just sit for a few minutes. By that time, I wasn't the only one spinning and sliding, so traffic came to a crawl. Bravely, I pulled into the road again at a pace less than a crawl - my momma didn't raise no dummy. Made it to the office OK. Phew!

My company cannot get remote work sites up and running fast enough.

Before all that happened, my sole topic was going to be productivity since I did have a great weekend in the sewing room. Here's what I accomplished:

-finished the binding on mom's quilt
-quilted, bound and attached a hanging sleeve to "I Believe" wall quilt
-attached hanging sleeves to two other wall hangings
-created 15 lined wine bottle holders

Andrea was fretting about not having much money and needing to buy gifts for half of the known world - yes I'm stretching the truth here. I offered to quilt one of the flimsies I have for her grandparents, so she picked out one. Thank goodness she chose a lap quilt! So one more thing gets slapped on the list. I'd start on it tonight, but there's already another quilt loaded on the frame. Wish me luck that I have BOTH pieces quilted by the end of the week. Good goal to shoot for!

Sewing wasn't everything this weekend. I put a HUGE dent in my Christmas shopping list with a trip to Penney's, Radio Shack, Barnes and Noble, and Harbor Freight. I went by myself, so I zoomed through the stores. We ordered Amazon gift certificates for family members in England. Thanks to all that, I'm almost done with the store-bought stuff.

Listened to the Cincinnati Bearcats' football game whilst sewing on Saturday. It's a good thing that I didn't watch it on telly or I wouldn't have achieved a single stitch. It was the BEST college football game I've ever listened to. UC was down by 21 at halftime and came back to win it at the last minute. My heart will always be with the Ohio State Buckeyes, but I'm quickly learning to love UC - it is my son's school after all!

The staff at my church truly outdid themselves with the Christmas decorating this year. The entire church is so beautiful, it brought me to tears. Yesterday was also the Sunday for the congregation to bring presents for our adopted families. The stage was filled with hundreds of presents. It was a sight to remember.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

She's Making A List.......

OK, in my on-going efforts to keep organized and get everything done prior to Christmas, here is what I need to accomplish prior to December 24:

-Finish the binding on my mom's quilt (half-way done now) Mail by 12/15
-Finish the binding on a wall hanging for my office (1/3 done)
-Quilt and bind a large wall hanging for above our fireplace
-Quilt and bind two Christmas quilts (one's on the frame now - the other hanging on the door in my sewing room)
-Sew two pillowcases for Andrea's friends
-Piece and quilt a tote bag for my sister-in-law's gift
-Sew three hanging sleeves and attach on wall hangings already quilted
-Sew five wine bags for my administrative assistants at the office
-Sew a pet bed for Smudge and Daisy

Anybody taking bets on whether I get these things done or not? I have the materials for all the above - just a matter of doing it!

I've been printing off the instructions for Carolina Christmas from Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville site and would love to work on that, but there is no way I can get all the above done AND work on a scrappy quilt. Perhaps for next year......

Ah, next year.... need to get a baby quilt done by early February for a friend's new grandson and a wedding quilt for Michael's granddaughter. Never a lack of projects.

What on earth did I do with my time before I took up quilting?