Friday, April 30, 2010


Besides death and taxes, I can now add one more certainty -- my job is definitely going away.  Today we got the dreaded email from our VP that Delphi has selected another company to manage the health care benefits for their employees.  The target date is 1-1-11.  Kind of an odd looking date don't you think?  Maybe it's a lucky date, we'll see.

Time for all of us to dust off our resumes.  Several of us are scrambling to get them updated, even though the projected date is months away.  How easy is it for you to describe in articulate ways, all the things that you're capable of doing at work?

Anyway, these transitions have a way of getting extended, especially once the new company realizes all of the intricacies of Delphi's benefits.

I managed to make it through the day without crying, mostly because I was so busy learning the new jobs I'll be responsible for from now until we're done for good.  I would be satisfied doing what I'm doing for ages but that's not in the cards for me.  Now I have to really explore ways to cut back on spending and pay off debt.  Bad news for the local yarn shops!

I did make it to Home Depot where I picked up a new weed whacker.  I'm ashamed to say that I currently have 4 others in the shed.  None of which really work (I hope), except for the expensive gas-powered one that is A. too hard to start and B. too damn heavy for me.  Maybe I'll trade it in to the mower guy in exchange for some service on my lawn mower.

I put the new weed whacker to work tonight and it did a great job of cleaning up my yard.  I also tried to whack the hair off of my right calf.  Ok, not really but it sure did smart when it whacked my leg by accident.

I'm going to finish my beer (good thing there's only one), pop a Motrin and get to bed.  Tomorrow I'm heading out to Ortonville for a quilt show with my friend Sue.  I could use a diversion right now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

If ever there was a thankless, endless job (motherhood notwithstanding) it would be pulling weeds.  I no sooner get the bulk of the weeds pulled when more pop their way up through the ground.  When I got home from work tonight I decided the weeds had to go.  I could stand them no longer.  Some people might like Snow on the Mountain but I detest it.

I know what you're thinking -- just till up the bed and start all over again.  I did that years ago, right after I moved in and there was nothing but Snow on the Mountain in my front flower beds.  I tilled them up, added more topsoil, planted various things like Gertrude Jekyll roses.  Kevin and I worked until it was too dark to see, laying the treated timber to edge the beds. 

Some plants have worked well and some have not.  Now that my Japanese Crimson Maple is so big it prevents the sun from hitting the beds on the left side of the porch.  I've got Hens 'n Chicks, Primrose, Speedwell, and roses that do okay there.  But it seems like there's too much shade for much of anything to really flourish.  I think I need to switch to shade plants -- begonias, maybe?

I hate ditching plants that are still living.  Maybe I'll just shift them to the beds in the backyard, once I'm done weeding back there .....

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This and That

This morning I didn't feel like taking the bus to work.  Truth is I needed to take a couple of Motrins and lie back down for an hour.  Kind of crampy if you know what I mean. 

I decided to take Wool Coats #2 and #3 in to work to get some feedback.  It's always good when you're starting off in a new direction to make sure you've got an idea that others will find appealing as well.  And they loved them.  But again, they are my friends so I know they'll be kind.  My friend Martha suggested checking out the garment bags at IKEA.  Trash bags over my 'Signature Coats' (thanks to my sister Denise for that title) aren't exactly up to snuff.  They deserve something much more appropriate.

When I got to the office building today a man entered the elevator car before me and then he did the unthinkable.  The unforgiveable.  He did NOT hold the door for me and it closed right before my eyes.  Just before the doors slammed shut I uttered 'thanks'.  I hope he had a swell day.  Geezer.  Apparently he was raised by wolves because if he had a mother, surely she would have brought him up better than that.

After work I met my Mother for dinner in Rochester.  Unlike me, I don't think she's the sort of person to go to dinner by herself.  Her dinner, had I not rescued her, would have been a frozen Boston Market something or other that was no doubt salt-laden, something she does NOT need.  We met at the Knapp's Dairy Bar and had a delicious hamburger and seasoned fries.  Mom also treated herself to a vanilla milkshake.  Oddly enough, my co-worker Kirstie walked by us.  I called to her and we talked for just a second.  She was there to help celebrate her nephew's birthday.  It was Kirstie's daughter who actually inadvertantly got me back into knitting, 7 years ago.

Mom told me all about her doctor visits and how they think she might have PAD.  More tests tomorrow should help the doctor decide.  Kirstie was able to provide Mom with a restaurant to go to near the doctor's office.  She has to get there early after fasting (not a good thing for her - she loves her breakfast) and have some tests done, go away for an hour and then come back for more tests.  She can have breakfast at the restaurant Kirstie recommended to fill the time between tests.  As long as they have eggs, bacon, and tea Mom will love it.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pretty Flowers

I snapped a few pictures of my Bleeding Hearts the other day.  I love my Bleeding Hearts.  I wish they would stay in bloom alllllllll summer long.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Wool Coat #3

Sometimes it's the simplest things that work the best.  I struggled with the lapel decoration for my latest coat to be needle felted.  Originally, you might recall, I wanted to do some snazzy Japanese words, except I don't know any Japanese words and could easily botch anything I attempted.

I ran my dilemma past several knitting friends, coworkers, even Kevin.  In the end, I came up with the result via what else, the internet.  After ruling out a pagoda, Kyoto, fans, Koi, and sushi, I decided on ~~

Yes, In-Yo.  I know what you're thinking.  Idiot, that's Yin Yang.  But alas my friend, in Japanese it is referred to as In-Yo.  Again, that's what the internet is good for. 
Here's a larger shot of the front of the coat ~~

I think the lapel decoration is just enough given the velveteen collar.  The Japanese part is important because of the design on the back of the coat.
If you said 'those are ginkgo leaves' you are correct!  Here's a close up of the work~~

Now here's where the tricky part comes into play......both the design on the front and the back could be either Japanese or Chinese.  So I guess it's the buyer's preference when they tell others about their coat.  I had it in my mind that it was Japanese themed but that's just me.  Either way, I think it's a snappy coat and I'm glad it's done.  It sure is a heavy one.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Do you ever have days when just the right combination of things makes you feel lousy?  I started out the day feeling crappy from imbibing in too much wine last night.  Nauseous, headache-y, just plain bleh.  It is such a stupid thing to do but at least I did it at home.  Didn't feel like eating much of anything today, except for some pretzels.  

I wanted to embellish another wool coat today, choosing the red one with the black velveteen collar.  My friends at Right off the Sheep suggested that I make it a Japanese themed coat.  Nice, I thought, but I really don't know a lot about Japanese culture.  I took one of their suggestions, a Ginkgo leaf, and looked up examples on the web.  I found one that I thought would work and got busy needle felting the leaves.  They look great on the coat but it needs more.

I thought I might do Japanese symbols for things like Love, Happiness, etc.  Big problem -- pretty darn complicated and I would need to be sure they're executed exactly or risk offending someone unintentionally.  So I'm putting that concept aside.  Maybe something black -- what about a little scroll work?  Squiggly lines?  A temple?

If you've got an idea throw it my way.  But for now, I'm finishing a load of wash, looking for a Motrin, and heading to bed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wool Coat #2

Sometimes I find that I spend most of my Saturdays just doing chores.  You know -- washing, cleaning, vacuuming, etc.  Today, I got all of that done plus I was creative -- I finished Wool Coat #2 !!  I can spend the entire day planning, sketching, erasing, and never getting to the felting.  I sketched out some whimsical birds and a sunflower (thanks Joyce!).  Everything evolved over the course of the day but I'm totally happy with the end result.

I started by needle felting some yarn for the legs ~~

In the end this is what I created ~~
Two wild and crazy birds!

And here is the completed back of the coat~~

The front of the coat was embellished on the right lapel ~~

I took the coat with me to Right off the Sheep to get some feedback from the ladies.  They agreed that the flowers needed the extra orange trim and the birds needed 'wings', so I made those adjustments when I got home.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Juices are Flowin'

I'm busy, busy, busy tonight.  Working on Wool Coat #2 -- felting what I hope will be a great design on the back.  I love that the lining isn't attached so it will be one less finishing thing for me.  Here's a hint about the design -- tweet, tweet!

Check back tomorrow for pictures!  I'm such a tease.......

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thursday Thoughts

Don't you hate it when you can't find something that you use all the time?  Especially something that you KNOW you used recently.  I have wasted spent the last 2 1/2 hours looking for my needle felting tools and foam.  Not items that I would have put away somewhere as if I didn't expect to need them anytime soon.  Oh, no.

Sometimes when I'm in a 'tidying up' frenzy I put things where there's space or with similar items.  The only good thing about tonight's tirade is that I was able to organize my bedroom and craft room somewhat.  Nothing that would pass inspection but at least I've captured in my mind's eye where things currently are.  It's a lot like the old Concentration game.

So now that I've found my tools and selected some roving I might just get to work on embellishing another wool coat.  Or I might decide that it's too late, my eyes are tired, and the light at 9:30 PM isn't exactly the best for doing something creative.  Not to mention that I'm still in an internal tizzy over the trouble in locating my tools.  

Charlie Chaplin once said "Nothing is permanent in this wicked world - not even our troubles."  He was so right.  Everything is right with the world, now that I've found my tools.  Time for bed....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Creative Juices

Today was another beautiful Spring day and with the sunshine came all sorts of ideas for my wool coat embellishments.  Flowers, birds, leaves, grass, even dragonflies.  I know it's a bit early for dragonflies but so many people like them that I think I need to put them on my coats.

I hit a couple of Value World stores after work in search of more coats.  Have you ever taken a road you don't usually take and then when you're stuck in traffic, remember WHY it is that you don't take that road????  Yep, that was me tonight.

I did find one new coat but it doesn't have a size tag so I'm guessing it's about a size 16.  I'll need to find someone who normally wears that size and have them try it on.  I took it straight to the cleaners for the usual $1.99 cleaning and will pick it back up tomorrow.

I think larger sized coats need larger scale embellishments than smaller sized coats.  Right?

Anyhow, I'm sketching designs tonight.  I think it's better to have a basic plan from which to needlefelt from and this will help with deciding on scale and color.  Love those colored pencils!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy to be Home - Part 2

When 9 women get together there's bound to be a lot of interesting things going on.  One thing for sure is there will be plenty of great food.  We had wonderful breakfast casseroles on Saturday, prepared by Kathy.  The usual tasty Sunday waffle breakfast, prepared by Jackie, and a couple of meals where we just ate leftovers.  Don't you love those weekends where there's so much food prepared you think your refrigerator is going to burst?   I have to say, though, that I must not have paid any attention whatsoever to our planned meals, otherwise I would have known that Deb had planned Chicken Salad Sandwiches for Saturday's lunch.  Why would that matter??  Because that's what I planned for Sunday's "Linner" that we had so that Deb and Pat could be on the road by 3 PM.  Both versions were fabulous and plentiful.   Diane made a delicious and healthy soup to go with my sandwiches -- I love parsley Diane, really.  Mary made a wonderful Apple Bread Pudding for our "Linner' dessert.

No one can ever say they've gone to bed hungry during our Chicken gatherings.  We also don't run out of creativity or the 'panic' buying that comes along with this hobby.  We gathered for one last group shot on Sunday before Deb and Pat headed off ~~
Monday morning the six of us packed Mary's car, said our good-byes to Jackie and her husband Jerry (the 'Rooster' had returned to the coop) and headed back in search of the fabric that nearly got away.  We drove straight to Renee's House of Quilting, again.  This time I took pictures.
I perused the racks of wonderful Czechoslovakian glass buttons ~~
Others scoured the shelves of quilt fabric ~~
Diane found some fabric to use for curtains and such, ordering a bolt from the shop master Glen, who is also known for his fresh baked cookies ~~
Shop mistress Renee showed Kathy and me the samples she had made from an acrylic template set that I had been admiring ~~
Notice her lightning fast hands?  Maybe I could get more sewing done if my hands moved that fast!  Alas, I walked away from the templates, which I now deeply regret.  Might get them next time.  

We headed back toward Grayling for one last stop at the Icehouse Quilt Shop.  More must have fabrics were selected and we made our way to the outlet mall in West Branch were we all found some great values at the Eddie Bauer store. 

After a bite of lunch at the nearby Taco Bell/KFC and a gas fill up we were finally on our way home.  Or so we thought.  A few miles down the road the tire pressure sensor came on in Mary's van.  Uh Oh!  The last time that happened, Mary said there was a blowout!  We stopped at a gas station and all piled out of the van.  Standing around like a bunch of women, a man finally approached us, looked the tires over and told us to ignore it.  Wrong -- there was too much pressure in each of the tires -- should have been 35 PSI and there was 42 PSI.  Mary corrected the tires and again we were on our way.  Safely.

I always look forward to getting away with my friends.  We have enough in common to get along, enough differences to be interesting, and enough love for each other to make it all work.  Can't ask for more than that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy to be Home - Part 1

I love going away.  I love going away with my quilting friends.  I even love coming home.  Mostly because I love sleeping in my own bed.  I got home tonight after a long weekend up at Torch Lake at my quilting friend Jackie's lovely home.  9 of the Chickens were there and 2 were missing -- missed you Sue and Judy!  We had a fabulous time, filled with lots of sewing, knitting, eating, drinking, and merriment.

We began our adventure by meeting at Joyce's house with the plan to take two cars.  Small problem.  Both of said vehicles were filled to capacity so there was no room for Diane!  It was like a Chinese fire drill.  All sorts of things came out of one car, into another car, so that everything could be re-configured and the eight of us were on our way!

Our first stop, after the rest stop, was the Icehouse Quilt Shop in Grayling.  I think we were all stunned.  This mecca of a shop has been a destination for quilters for years and their inventory was disappointing.  Normally packed to the hilt with fabric, books, and notions is was decidedly sparse.  I hope they can hang on.  We made our purchases and headed to the local diner for lunch. Here's a shot of the eight of us ~~

Then we were off to Renee's House of Quilting in Williamsburg, where many yards of fabric were purchased. I was cautious and only bought a few buttons and fabulous applique quilt pattern (thinking of a wool version sometime in the future...).

Following our delicious Chili dinner, prepared by Carol, we presented Jackie with our hostess gifts which shocked the pants off of her ~~

A few months ago Jackie had suggested that we make a friendship quilt using a gift box block.  We would all need to make 12 blocks of the same design and swap them so we'd each have a variety of blocks for a quilt.  It was vetoed because most of us didn't want to have to make twelve blocks.  Jackie was disappointed that we didn't share her enthusiasm for the project.  So Kathy decided that we should each make Jackie a block and present her with the blocks when she hosted us this month.
Jackie was tickled and we were thrilled to surprise her.

Each of us brought projects to work on and we were very productive, even though we managed to take care of 8 bottles of wine in three evenings ~~
Isn't that blue bottle a beauty?!  The wines were all fabulous.  I brought the Pacific Rim Riesling (under $10 at Costco) and it was good enough to put on a weekly list.......

Here are a few pictures of the projects we worked on:
Kathy brought her project from the Kat Campau workshop and made another one, creating a 'series' ~~

She's really enjoying exploring this new technique.

Diane and Joyce worked on hand projects ~~

Carol worked on dishcloths, among other things ~~

Deb worked on her floral blocks, auditioning setting block fabrics, and decided on a couple of great Kaffe Fassett fabrics ~~

Pat and Mary worked on various machine piecing projects (sorry no action photos) and Jackie worked on knitting her granddaughter's First Communion Cape, which was lovely but she's running short on the yarn.  I checked Ravelry for more yarn and sent out a note to see if someone might be willing to sell a skein.  Gotta love Ravelry!

I managed to finish 5 hats this weekend.  So glad to make good progress for my shows.

I snapped a few photos of different rooms in Jackie's lovely home:
The Great Room, where we did most of our eating, drinking and crafting ~~

The Sun Room, where we drank our morning coffee and tea and watched as the sun rose over the lake~~

I loved this 'bouquet' of Kaffe fabrics that Jackie made as a centerpiece when Kaffe visited the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island for a weekend workshop last year ~~

Here's Jackie's Gammill long arm quilting machine ~~
It has its very own room!

That will have to do for tonight.  It's late and I need to get to bed.  Back to work tomorrow.  I'll post the rest of the weekend's story and pictures Tuesday.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Still More Quilts

 I don't want to short-change the pieced quilts that we saw at the OCQG show so here they are:

The first one, Grace's Girls, was made by Della Carian's quilting group~~

Next up is a colorful beauty by Ruth McCormick of Rochester Hills ~~

This wonderful basket quilt was made by Erena Rieflin of Rochester Hills ~~

But back to some more fabulous applique quilts:

You just can't go wrong, IMHO, with a wool applique quilt and this one from Marlee Smearing of Rochester Hills hit a bulls eye~~

I love this one by Karen Fisher of Oxford ~~

Isn't that a yummy pineapple block??

Here's another fantastic applique quilt, made by Jan Jump, of Maryville, TN ~~

And here is the Lotus, by Darlene Garstecki of Hot Springs Village, AR (see yesterday's post for her other fabulous quilt) ~~

As you can see by the blue ribbon, this is a prize winner -- 'Superior Machine/Domestic Quilting' in this case. Outstanding!!

Here are the last quilts for tonight ~~

I love the quilt, made by Letty Martin of Lake Orion.  It's called Lucky Stars and was made for her son's wedding.  Positively gorgeous!

And the jacket next to the quilt ~~

was made by Nancy Partridge of Rochester Hills.  It's call Popped my Top and I think it's outstanding.  Love the colors!!

So that's it for my quilt photos.  Hope you weren't A. Overwhelmed, B. Bored.  I sure loved the show and I enjoy sharing the photos with you.

I'm off to Torch Lake tomorrow with my Chicken friends so I won't be posting for a while.  I should be home on Monday so look for an update then, as long as I'm not too pooped from all the fun we'll be having.

Hope you have a super weekend!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Super Talented Quilters

Last Saturday 4 of my Chicken friends joined me at the Oakland County Quilt Guild's bi-annual show in Lake Orion.  Amazing quilts awaited us as well as some great vendors.  Can't go wrong with that combination.

Here are a few of the quilts I admired most.  Make sure you click on the photos so you can see the detail.

First up is a quilt made by Judy Kleeves of Holly, MI ~~
And a close up of the corner block ~~

Next up is one that Diane liked, made by Lucy Kohler of Commerce Twp, using Gwen Marston's techniques ~~
And a close up of the wonky stars ~~

Here's one that Sue liked that was a painted whole cloth quilt made by Carol Tamasiunas of White Lake ~~

I found myself mesmerized by this beauty made by Darlene Garstecki of Hot Springs Village, AR ~~
Her techniques were amazing -- the threadwork was stellar.  The tree was made from chenille fabric.  I could have stared at this piece all day.

Here's another applique quilt (I seemed to be drawn to them), made by Jan Jump of Maryville, TN ~~
It was her first attempt at machine applique -- nice job, eh?

And finally for tonight, one last applique quilt, this one made by Emmy Helland of Rochester Hills ~~
I loved her work!

Now, I have so many more quilt show photos to share but that will have to wait until tomorrow.  I need to get to bed -- too darned tired lately.  Hope you had a great day -- it was a beautiful one around here.