Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dog Handel-er

The Daily Dachshund sent me to this video and it is simply delightful. Thanks!

And in case you don't quite catch it, the conductor says 'And I thought I had to worry about cell phones.' .

Why Our Dogs go on Walks

I was out walking Alex and the Girls the other evening and asked them why they like to go walking. Here is what they told me... as best as I can remember.

Alex said:

Of course I like to go walking. Here I am, right out in front of this glorious bunch of Babes. Heck, even our pack leader Alice follows behind me knowing I will protect them from every stray leaf, garbage can and scrap of paper that happens to come into our path. There's one right now. See how I carefully approach it. I sniff it thoroughly to ascertain the threat level. Having determined its evil intentions I know I have to protect the others. I immeadiatey take action, raise my rear right leg and drown it in my lethal stream. Another danger averted! Then I take my rightful place in front , ever alert to danger. I am Alex! Take that evil leaves! On to the next threat. I think I see a dead bit of grass up ahead by that mail box. Let's check it out before it can hurt you!

Kimora said:

That Alex is such a kidder. Of course we like going for walks but he is protecting us from nothing. Leaves, garbage cans and scraps of paper have nothing to do with walking. We walk so everyone can admire my beautiful black and grey dapple coat. The reason he goes first is to make sure everyone knows we are coming so suitable crowds can gather on the side of the road or path to quietly play homage to my regal beauty. The giving of treats like Greenies(TM) or softly calling 'Good Girl' are both acceptable ways of showing admiration. Of course, it hasn't happened yet, but it will, some day, I am sure of it. Until then I will walk with the wise Alice who does give treats and call me a 'Good Girl' until the rest of the world aknowledges my superior beauty and regal bearing.

Kelis said:

Those two are full of it. Alex goes first because no-one else can be bothered and my sister is just too stupid to do anything but try to catch up. I, on the other hand, do not like to take walks. The only reason I take walks is because I have to take walks. I always lag behind that task master Alice. She insists that I wear that harness thingy even though I roll over on my back showing my cute tummy, almost every time she tries to take us for a walk, hoping that she will not make me wear it. But every time she rolls me over on my feet and cinches it tight so that it doesn't come off. The ultimate indignity is that she will drag or carry me if I do not walk. Dragging hurts my tender feet and if Alice carries me then all the other dogs (especially that dork Alex) laugh at me. So yes, I do take walks. After all, I don't need walks when I spend most of the day patrolling the back yard looking for places to dig under the fence so I can play in the creek or explore the other backyards in the neighborhood. Oops! Forget that part. I never dig under the fence. Nope, never ever, not even this afternoon into Joe's yard. Not me. Definitely some other ten pound black and tan Dachshund with lots of dirt under her nails.

So that's it. Human's walk dogs in part so that they know their way home while dogs walk for many different reasons.

Enjoy the rest of your week.

Sweet Sadie's Update

Sweet Sadie's opened yesterday very quietly ... or so I thought. By the end of the night they had practically sold out of their wings, brisket, ribs and baked beans. Lots of cooking went on all night and all morning to get prepared for today.

I'm only there for the lunch trade and there was repeat business from the day before.

Maybe I can stop worrying for moments at a time. :-)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Real Quilters

I've always thought of myself as a real quilter... not a great quilter or an occasional quilter just a run of the mill every day quilter. You may know one. I seem to make a quilt every month or so for myself or others. I participate in charity quilting. I have aspirations of someday entering something in a big quilt show but if it never happens that's okay.

My tools are the same as every other quilter...rotary cutter, ruler, cutting mat, scissors, sewing machine, thread, fabric and batting. My results make me happy ... sometimes more, sometimes less.

Recently though I have become convinced that I'm not a Real Quilter. Its not how many quilts you make or how many ribbons you win or how many classes you teach that make you a Real Quilter.


What makes you a Real Quilter is why you replace your tools. Sewing machines wear out, rotary cutter blades get dull, fabric gets used. This can happen by using them for quilting or by other sewing activities. There is one tool that I have had to replace in a manner I have found out that that separates the men from the boys... so to speak.

That tool is the cutting mat.

Qulters use cutting mats with our rotary cutters and rulers to cut multiple pieces of fabric. My mats get ruined, not by rotary cutting fabric to make quilts but by other activitities such using them as table top protection when using a screw punch, staining small pieces of fabric and other non-traditional uses. When I have abused a mat enough that I fear for using it for its intended use I replace it with a new mat.

Real Quilters do not abuse their mats in non-traditonal ways.

They actually use it up by cutting so much fabric for quilts on it that it wears out.

Yup. They run their rotary cutters over it so many times that grooves form in the surface, the guide lines disappear and the glossy suface gets dulled.

Here's a shot of a Real Quilter's mat that's just about ready to be retired.

No other activity that I can think of, except cutting fabric for quilts, would get a mat into this condition.

Next time I see a quilter with a mat like this I will not thoughtlessly pity them for their apparent inabilty to afford new equipment but, instead, be in awe of the amount of cutting that has been done on their mat to get it in this condition.

How many yards of fabric were cut on this mat to make these grooves? How many quilts were made from this fabric?


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Locals...Mark Your Calenders

Sweet Sadie's will officially open this Tuesday, September 29th at 11:00 AM and everyday thereafter (except for Christmas Day). It will be a soft opening for a week or two until Paul and the crew are sure they have the kinks out of the delivery system and then they will have a Grand Opening.
Come Tuesday, come Wednesday, come for lunch, come for dinner..come for an evening snack, they will be open until 9:00 PM.

Don't come just because I say so... they really do have great food. Not only great BBQ but everthing else I have tried is great as well. I do admit that I have not tried absolutely everything but I am quickly making it through the whole menu and it must be clothes are getting a little tighter!

Sweet Sadie's is at 2200 Spears Road at T. C. Jester a few blocks North of Beltway 8 - See you there soon!

Fiber Challenge

Up for a Challenge? This looks like it could be a real challenge for the knitters, weavers, felters and other fiber junkies out there. The prizes look wonderful and whatever you come up with would be a wonderful gift for yourself or that certain someone special this holiday season.

I am intrigued...or simply sleep deprived.

Saturday Sharing

Today was a gathering of the Saturday Strip Club, or the Saturday Strippers or whatever we call ourselves .... the day when a loose assortment of sewers get together to work on a quilt pattern that uses pre-cut or simple fabric cuts to make a quilted project. There is no pressure to actually do anything except show up and be congenial. Well, there is some pressure to bring some food to share but even that is pretty loose in that a package of cookies from the gas station is more than acceptable.

The major food draw today was that I brought BBQ from Sweet Sadie's (ribs and brisket).

The quilt draw was spectacular.

This month we tried a pattern from the August 2009 issue of McCall's Quilting called Field of Flowers. Basically it is a quilt with a backgound of multiple red fabrics covered with modish flowers that are quilted on top and off the edges. No borders, just a simple binding to frame the quilt. The link above has a great shot of the quilt.

This may not seem like an interesting thing to work on but there are two things about this project that make it great. First of all, the choice of fabrics for the background can be challenging. Finding fabrics that are all relate to each other and look great as a background can be very time consuming. One of our sewers spent two hours in a store picking four great reds and still wanted another red to flesh out her selection. In addition, adding the flower shapes when you are at the quilting stage, while an incredible time saver, can be daunting when you are used to attaching items like this before the quilting.

Here's what the creative folk came up with:

This one looks like a beach scene to me.

While this one follows the pattern very closely.

This one looks like a baby quilt to me.

I love the way the flowers ovelay the very traditional calico patches and border.

This is my effort from a Moda Scrap Bag that will end up as a tote bag for a special friend.

According to the maker the petals will end up going right off the edge of the quilt past the binding... I can't wait to see how she solves that construction issue.
So, that's it for this Saturday. I'm so gratful to whoever suggested this kind of informal gathering in the first place. We meet sort of monthly, anyone who shows up is welcome, the project is always different and doable by any level of sewer, and there's always a small degree of stretch in the project.
Next month we are trying a quilt as you go project that uses 2 1/2" strips of fabric to make a project bag. It opens up as a large flat suface that you toss all your stuff onto, pull the sides together and sling over your shoulder. I have not seen a sample but it sounded to me like the interior could be a small portable design wall if it was made with flannel on the inside. Then I got to thinking about something I made a long time ago called a Japanese Market bag. I just got it from the bin, opened it out and it might be another take on the same concept. Then again, it may not.
I hope your weekend is going well and that you get a chance for a few moments to be creative.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Perfect Sock Knitting Kit

I am still enjoying knitting socks, just not at the same frentic pace as earlier this year and I think I have the perfect little travel kit put together for hassle free sock knitting. Here's a shot of all the bits and pieces:

and a list of what is pictured:

  • sock yarn (and the first half of the pair you are working on)
  • two sizes of double-pointed needles - one in use and one extra (0's and 1's in my case)
  • long skinny crochet hook (for ugly repairs)
  • waste yarn (just in case)
  • a Knit Kit (includes a tape measure, scissors, stitch markers, row counters etc.)
  • yarn needle (I keep mine in the Knit Kit)
  • a photocopy of the pattern (so I don't destroy my original pattern)
  • a pen (or pencil)
  • sock needle holders (as shown here)
  • a CPAP mask travel case to hold it all

A CPAP mask travel case? People with Sleep Apnea use machines to help them sleep peacefully through the night. These machines come with a mask and a travel case is usually included. The incomparable Ms. J. discovered that her travel case was perfect for holding small knitting projects and gave me one that she no longer needed. I use it for my sock knitting and it is the perfect size.

Here is my latest sock project all tucked up and ready to go.

One last thing every sock knitting kit needs is a little bling to hang off the zipper pull. In my case its a bookmark knitted by one of the knitting kids at the school last year. Knitted book marks are one of the very first projects we give the kids and this one was given to me by one of them.

If you have a knitter on your Christmas list for this year you can put together a little sock knitting kit like this for them with little or no cost from found or excess materials in your own stash. Just find that friend wth Sleep Apnea and ask for an old travel bag and add:

  • sock yarn
  • double pointed needle
  • tape measure
  • scissors
  • stitch markers
  • row counter
  • pen/pencil
  • copy of your favorite free sock pattern
  • crochet hook
  • yarn needle
  • CPAP mask case
  • bling for the zipper pull
  • sock needle holder (sold in pairs so you can give away the extra one from your order)

Put a bow on it and you have a wonderful present for a knitting buddy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

For Mature Ladies Only

When I drive back and forth between home and Sweet Sadie's, I take a back road that runs behind one of the airport runways and the Houston Police Academy.

It is not a well maintained or well travelled road and seems, many times, only travelled by dump trucks and people like me taking a short cut.

Anyway, today as I was taking this weird little road I came upon a sight that almost took my breath away... about twenty, young, tanned, well-muscled, young, male, police recruits in tight shorts and dark glasses were stopped on the airport side of the fence beside their bicycles taking a water break.

I couldn't stop and watch or take a photo but I did slow down... a lot.

I think don't think Homeland Security would understand why a middle-aged woman would want to sit at the end of a runway of one the busiest airports in the country just to enjoy all that masculine beauty ... but I so wanted just to sit and watch.

Now let's get our minds out of the gutter and get back to the serious business of our real lives and welcome Autumn back into our lives.

A Quilt Tale

Thirty one years ago the local quilt guild created a quilt to be auctioned off for the benefit of the local volunteer emergency services unit. The quilt eventually made its way to the King Ranch. Photos exist of it hanging in a hunt camp on the Ranch but the quilt seems to have disappeared. Here is an original picture of the quilt:

Stories about the quilt have been circulating for many years. One that I found particularly endearing was that the quilt was put on a bus for a trip back to Kingwood and never made it back here. I love the idea of it offloaded by mistake in some small Texas town and given to some tired kid waiting for another bus to another small town until worn and much loved it now lives in someone's home as a much loved keepsake of a long ago journey.

Call me sentimental.

A new library is being built here and the Guild was considering what it could do to contribute to the new building. Since the old quilt was MIA, a new Kingwood Quilt is being created to be displayed on a wall on a second floor wall in the atrium for everyone to enjoy.

A small group from one of the Bees got together under the leadership of that go-getter Margo to start working on it and your correspondent decided to participate.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The original had lots of hand appliqued scenes of Kingwood activiies with a limited color palette.

The new quilt is being built around a laser cut and fused applique of the Kingwood logo, that intricate brown woodland scene in the middle of the quiilt photo above.

Then we are adding a lot of blocks of things that you see in the woods around here like all the wildflowers,animals, trees, birds and bugs. Someone has already made a beautiful hummingbird, another some glorious pinks and, in an extreme case of irony, someone who was recently bitten by a raccoon, made a beautiful block of a raccoon.

Oh, and did I mention, we need to make two of everything. One for the Kingwood library quilt, and one for a quilt for the Quilt Guild auction next April.

My assignment is to make blocks of a ciccada and a golden silk orb weaver spider.

Yup, I got the bugs!

This past weekend I decided to bite the bullet and get cracking on at least one set of blocks. I chose to work on the spider. Here's what the spider looks like:

I had a embroidery chart for a spider for inspiration.

Then I went to my patchwork books to see if aything inspired me and found this block called a spider web.

Then I dug into the box of fused fabrics, colored pencils, dyes and fabric marking pens I sometimes play with and thought these would be useful.
Oh, then I remember I was supposed to incorporate one of two fabrics, a light blue or a light beige, into the blocks.
After much fussing around these are the blocks I came up witI think I prefer the one on the left (less creepy) though when I made the blocks I preferred the one on the right (I like that back right leg stretching for the web). I fused all the fabrics and sewed them down with silk threads. I left the edges raw in anticipation that over time they may fray which would make them more realistic.
Now that I am over the hump, I just may take another stab at them for a more realistic looking rendition. If the others in the group think these look too goofy, and I hope they can be open enough to say so, I will definitely take another stab at lthem.
On to the ciccada. I think I already have this one figured out... I know it will not have a pieced background and the applique will not be as intricate... at least i do not plan on showing its little, teeny, tiny, legs.
Sweet Sadie's Update: Still waiting on the final Health Department Inspection. There is no way to hurry them up but I wish they would!
For more on the quilt please see this link.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

IBOL - Update

For those who remember (and if you don't, check here), I participated in an effort here in Kingwood to pack and mail 19 packages for the Iraqi Bundles of Love project. The count today was up to 3,436 packages received in Iraq and more are expected.


Autumn is in the air

Just a little, but it is definitely there.

Some leaves are beginning to fall, though most won't, I got to wear jeans without sweating the other morning to walk the dogs and run some errands, and I am turning into Martha Stewart for a few days.

Martha Stewart?


I have had a revelation.

When the seasons turn, I turn into an imitation Martha Stewart for a few days.

Like, I carried a market type basket with me from room to room today as I collected, sorted, put away and disposed of random things that were scattered around. Not for long mind you, but I caught myself doing it this afternoon.

And then I found myself a couple of times through the day going out into the front garden to pull weeds. Just a few minutes at a time and by the end of the day the garden was weeded. How Martha (or even Fly Lady) is that?

To top it off my kitchen table, the home of everything that I can never find is now empty of all random bits of paper, empty packets of stuff and old receipts... so clean I can actually eat off it ... with room for other people to join me in an actual home cooked meal... which I made tonight .....which included grilled lamb chops......

Stop me!


before I start saying things like...

it's a good thing....

or start pronouncing herbs with the 'H'.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Toy

There's a new toy in town that I am having a serious case of envy about.

In the olden days, if you wanted to sew something together, you punched a hole in the two pieces you wanted to join together, pushed some thin strip of string into the holes and tied them together. Then someone invented the needle which made the stringing easier, someone else invented an efficient way to make long, smooth thread and weaving made fabric an every day item so sewing really took off.

Then technology began to really make our lives easier. The invention of the mechanical loom made fabric even more accessible and the sewing machine let us turn out more than two or three garments a year for ourselves. Decorative stitching by hand became a way to make things unique so decorative stitches made their way onto our sewing machines and those specialty big honking embroidery machines began to take over our sewing rooms.
Hand piecing for quilts gave way way to machine piecing but hand quilting was still the norm for large quilts untilt those big long arm machines came out and another hand technique became an almost lost art.

Then Brother had the idea to look at other hand work and invented an attachment for one of their machines to imitate hand felting. Other manufacturers came up with dedicated machines and machine felting added a whole new dimension to the home sewers' repetoire.

Now Babylock has taken one of the most esoteric hand sewing techniques, Sashiko, and produced a machine that does an incredible job of imiating it.

I am completly blown away.

I saw one the other day at Humble Sewing Center (the 'H' in Humble is silent) and this machine does effectively reproduce a perfect imitation of a Sashiko stitch.

Like all hand sewing, Sashiko began without any firm rules and had very humble origins. It began as a way to quilt together fabrics for warmth in Japan. Over time rules developed that were very tough to master. One is that no stitches could touch each other at the corners of patterns. Another is that there should be three times as much thread showing on top as on the back of the quilted item. Sashiko threads tend to be thicker than regular hand sewing thread so that the stitched design can really stand out from the, generally, plain fabrics.

Here is scrap of a sample I saw the other day:
The Front showing how by doubling up on ordinary thread you get the impact of a thicker Sashiko thread:

The Back where a single layer of thread is visible:

The back is not traditional looking Sashiko but the front is incredible.

For more on Sashiko try Susan Briscoe, Nancy Shriber and an old post on some embroidery software available out there. The Purl Bee also has a pretty good tutorial as well.

Here's what I am thinking, even though Sashiko is very different from traditional American hand or quilting wouldn't it be wonderful to have a mechanized way to do big quilts with this quilting method? Like a big long arm quilting machine that can do Sashiko quilting using traditonal Japnese quilting templates?

How cool would that be?

I guess my wish list has another item on it ... as if it is not long enough already.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It was a dark and stormy day.... I read and did laundry while Alex and the Girls napped the day away ....
They looked so peaceful I didn't have the heart to move them so I could wash the quilts they were using as their bed. There's always more clean quilts but never enough comfy beds when you need them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

CRAFT: along 2009

One of the Craft:along projects for September was a little carrier for plastic doggie poop bags. It's a cute little project and I made one for Alex and the Girls. In general, I don't need to scoop up their leavings as the Girls usually will only use the back yard and Alex will only use the woods. Once in a while, they will embarass me and all three will use someone's yard or the public paths so a plastic bag carrier is useful.

Here is the link to the pattern.

And here is what I came up with:

I do not attach it to anyone's collar as Alex and the Girls wear their collars all the time so I attached it to Kelis's leash. I also use a VERY large plastic bag as when all three of them decide to do their thing in the wrong place it seems they choose three seperate places so I need a bag I can tie off three times.

The other projects for the month include 'how to cover a canvas tote' and a'fruit buckle' recipe. The recipe sounds good but a little labor intensive for me. As to the other sewing project... I gave away all of my canvas promotional totes after Katrina (so people would have something to carry their meager belongings in) and have not picked up any since so this will be a pass fo me as well.

I wonder what October will bring?

September Tote Bag Project

The September Tote Bag Project from Stitchin Heaven was a pretty basic tote from the Ellen Medlock line called the Cheri bag. It's a cute tote bag designed to be made with purchased handles. The fabrics sent were not to my taste but I decided to go with the package deal as presented with crystal beaded handles.

Then I went to JoAnn's.

I just stopped in to pick up some additional interfacing.

While I was there I saw this well costumed young woman all dressed in pink and black with striped socks, decorated sneakers, a flouncy skirt, a pink and black twin set and cute cat decorated handbag. She also had a bunch of tattoos and body piercings. Sort of a pink and black goth biker chick.

Then I had an evil thought. What if my pretty standard pink and black tote bag could turn into a pink and black bag that she might be proud to own.

I bought new, black Bamboo handles, found a skull design on a coloring book website, found a little trim in the stash and this is what I came up with:
I think she would have liked it.

Of course, if I don't want to show my weird side to the world I can always show the plain side:

The pattern was well written for three different sizes of bags. I did not use one of the standard sizes... rather one between the medium and large size because that was the size of my largest square ruler. I eliminated the inner pocket and added a little hanging cell phone pocket. I remembered to attach the inner and outer bags at the corners before closing the lining. I can't believe how many times I forget to do this and get irritated when the lining separates from the exterior. I did forget to put in a label and the lavender that I like to put between the layers but you can't remember everything.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Easy Way to Hang a Small Quilt

I seem to have a plethora of small quilts laying about here. I solved part of the problem by hanging some on slim curtain rods above the cutting table:
For these I added little sleeves behind the quilts to hang them from the rods. There are lots of instructions on the web for adding sleeves. The best part about this arrangement is that I can change it out whenever I want, five of the six are from swap partners I will never meet and the one that is mine (the little brown one on the bottom left) is a constant reminder to read and FOLLOW instructions... when the instructions are important.

There are some drawbacks to this method of displaying little wall quilts. First of all, you need a quilt that can have a sleeve sewn on without disturbing the front of the piece. Each of these quilts had firm quilted lines to hide any stitching from adding the sleeve. There is also the issue of putting holes in the wall to put up the rods. In general I don't mind hanging things on the wall but I hate having to fill and paint them over if I ever change my mind about the idea or the use of the room.

I think I have come up with a way to display these little gems without any regrets.

The quilts I put up today were completed without any idea how to finally use them. Almost a big mistake but I think I solved it.


Fabric for hangers about 6" x 6" - should somewhat match the backing and/or the binding
Dowel rod - approximaely 1/2" round, as long or longer than your quilt top
Wood cutting tool - saw, exacto knife, tree branch loper etc.
3M Command Small Wire Hooks
First cut fabric into two 3" x 6" strips. Fold the strips into two 3" squares. Fold once more on the diagonal. You will now have a nice clean diagonal fold and two raw edges on each piece.

Sew the triangles on the top corners of your quilt, with the raw edges overlapping the binding about an eighth of an inch. You now have little holders on your quilt for your dowel.

Measure your dowel rod by putting one end into one one triangle and mark the other end about 1/2" from the end of the other holder.

Use your cutting tool ( I use tree branch lopers) to trim the dowel to the correct length.

Following the instructions on the package for the the small wall hooks, proceed to hang your quilt. I love these little hooks as you can use your pliers to snug up the hook to hug you dowel rod more firmly.

In all cases, a little pre-planning would have made this an easier process. If I had thought of doing this before adding the binding there would not have been any raw edges. On the other had, the raw edges didn't seem to be a problem when I washed the quilts.

There is one issue that makes me hesitant to recommend this method and that is that wood can absorb moisture and damage a quilt with seepage. I don't think that should be an issue here in that the dowel rods are kiln dried and seem very stable, however, if that could be an issue for you, you could shellac the rods before using them to seal the wood even further.

I hope your weekend is going well and that you are not drowning in all the rain I have been having around here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Do not buy this product...

especially for me.

At my local JoAnn's store today, in the display for Halloween decorations, there were cute Halloweeny dogs that burst into the 'Who Let the Dogs Out?" song (not the full verion) every time someone walked passed them. No on-line pictures of the dogs but imagine something like this in a house of three little wiggle bottomed doxies trying to turn themselves inside out trying to get to it and tear it apart.

Do not buy this product for me, do not buy this product for yourself, do not encourage this behavior... but they are awfully cute! Check them out at your local JoAnn's (in the US only).

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Iraqi Bundles of Love In the Mail

Once again I am in awe of what a few determined women can do when presented with the opportunity to contribute to the lives of people they will never know for projects they will never see.

On August 3 of this year, just a little over a month ago, a Major in the Army started posting on the Web about a project to send packages of sewing and knitting supplies to him for distribution to Iraqi women, for themselves or for their small businesses.

As of today he has received 500 of these packages and, in a short while, he will receive another nineteen (yes, 19!) from members of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild.

Here's how this project blossomed here.

On last Thursday evening, after the monthly Guild meeting where one of the members mentioned this project , three of us started discussing the possibility of participating in the IBOL project. One of us voluteered to send out an e-mail to several others announcing a packing party set for this morning, the last day possible for mailing thiese packages before the Major returned to the U.S.. I know I passed it on to a few others and I gathered boxes and the right customs forms.

I get a lot of sewing and craft supplies given to me to redistirbute to others so I looked through them to find any appropriate items. I also had a trunk load of supplies from the Guild garage sale on Thursday night. With what was in my trunk, what others had left over from the garage sale in their trunks, what others brought to our packing party and other bits and pieces, here are the statistics of what we did with little prep but with great determination and a lot of sweat:

  • Total number of packages packed and sent = 19

  • Total weight of packages sent = 116 lb.

  • Total cost of postage = $227.05

  • Number of active packers = 5

Special thanks to the men at Starbucks who gave us money for postage, the woman in line at the post office who us $6.00 for postage in honor of her husband who had fought in Iraq, the incomparable Janetta and Lish who always come through on these projects; Marjory, Sue, Rebecca, Dee and Mary Jean for their cheerful spirits and willling hands; and the many others who unknowingly contributed to this project with their donations. An especially big thank you to the staff of the United States Postal Service offices on FM1960 and in Kingwood for being extremely helpful to us by giving us great advice on choosing the right boxes, customs forms and giving us great instructions on how to fill out those six part forms.

Congratulations IBOL Guy for a great project! I will be looking forward to seeing the final count.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Super Simple Chef's Apron

One of the things any restaurant needs is aprons for the cooks. When the whole restaurant thing started I imagined myself making all sorts of cute aprons for the cooks. Paul immeadiately nixed that idea as impractical as cute aprons in a barbeque place, especially white ones, would get very dirty, very fast and would be impossible to clean.

I will admit that he is probably right but that didn't stop me from experimenting with some cute fabric that I had sitting around here.

Here's what I came up with:

Simple, straight forward and to the point.

If you are interested in how I put it together, here are the basic instructions.
Sizing - This Apron should fit anyone from 20" around and 4' tall to 80" around and 7' tall. I haven't tested both of these extremes but it makes sense to me.


1 1/2 yards of mid-weight cotton fabric, about 45" wide

2 3/4" D-rings

usual sewing supplies


  1. Rip a 5 1/2" strip of fabric off each of the selvedge (finished) edges.

  2. Rip off the 1/2" selvedges

  3. Rip three 2 1/2" strips and sew them into long strips by folding the long raw edges into the middle of the wrong side, fold again en-casing the raw edges and edge stitch both long edges . Sew decorative stitch down the middle of the strips for additional strength.

  4. Hem the bottom of your apron by folding the bottom edge to the wrong side about 2" twice and secure with a decorative or straight stitch a couple of times.

  5. Hem the long edges of your apron by folding the edges to the wrong side about 1/2" twice and secure with a straight or decorative stitch once.

  6. Fold your apron in half the long way and measure out from the fold approximately 5 1/2" on the unsewn end. Mark with a pin. From the unsewn edge measure down the sewn edge approximately 11" and mark with a pin. Fold you apron along a diagonal line marked by these pins and cut along these lines. Unfold your apron, fold over these edges individually approximately 1/2" twice to the wrong side and sew down with a straight or decorative stitch.

  7. Take two of the three strips made in step 3 and attach one at each junction of the diagonal edge and the side edge on the sides of your apron. Really sew it down securely and cover the raw end. Trim the unsewn end neatly and tie it in a knot.

  8. Using the remaining strip from step three, cut it into two pieces, one about 7" long and one the rest of the length. String your D-rings onto the shorter piece secure the cut ends together.

  9. Fold the remaining unsewn edge of your apron (the top) over twice to the wrong side approximately 2" securing one raw edge of the long strip on one side and the edges of the shorter strip with the D-rings on the other side.

  10. String the long strip through the D-rings, adjust to fit around your neck. Trim the long strip, if you would like, and knot the raw end.


I like tying this style of apron in front so I can hang a towel off the ties in front. I also have a tendency to just use the ends fo the apron as a towel. I did not add a pocket but that is a personal preference. You can change the length to suit your taste. If you are making this for someone else, leave it long and they can always tie it shorter like you see waiters do in wanna be fancy restaurants.

I used many sources on the web as well as my own stash of purchased aprons to fiure out this design. If you can't figure out my instructions this is always the incomparable Martha Stewart as a source of all good things.

One other thing... this pattern will work well for canvas though I find canvas a little inflexible for hand wiping.

Time to do some cooking!

Pre-Opening Shots

Here are some shots of getting the place in shape before the food started to arrive for the Friends and Fanily day last week.


Why I Hate Online Magazines

There is a new, free on-line magazine out there on the internet and I was lucky enough to get an invitation the other day to see the first issue.

The introductory video looked great but then I tried to load it...

and waited...

and waited...

and waited...

and waited...

for all 166 pages to load.

Then when I went to read something it appears that I have to wait again for each two page spread to load even if I load just the page numbers I want to read.

Then I need to enlarge each page individually so I can even read the page displayed.

Definitely not worth my time when most of the pages I reviewed seem to be advertising.

So, that's why I hate on-line magazines... long load time, hard to read th fine print and hard to find what you want to read.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, you may want to add an on-line quilting magazine to your internet favorites list, in that case head on over to Quiltposium and make your own evaluation.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The September Issue

Every Year Vogue magazine puts put a huge issue in September showing all the best for the fall/winter season. I mean this baby is huge. Two years ago they put out one that was well over 800 pages. This year's was just over 500.

How things have changed.

The 2007 issue was so fabulous that I wrote a whole posting on it here. This year's is notable not for the clothes but for the articles. There was a book excerpt on being a prisoner in Iran, another on a wife's reaction to her husband's very public infidelity and a wacky one on exercises needed before you start wearing eight inch stillettos from Nine Ricci.

On the fashion front, the clothes were forgettable, the shoes are mostly ugly and unwearable, the purses can hold enough for a four day weekend and the boots look like hip waders. Not that all the shoes are ugly, the purses too big or the boots meant for fishing but that was just my overall impression.

There was one particularly weird pair of shoes that I can't seem to find a picture of on-line that I will now attempt to describe for you. Think of a typical Timberland style workboot, add a five inch wooden stilletto, replace the leather laces with cotton ones, the heavy leather uppers with crocidile patent leather and then remove the steel toe so your manicure will show. Can you even imagine anyone wearing something like this anywhere, anytime for any reason?

Two note worthy things did come out of this issue that I think you might want to take note of this season.

First of all there is a documentary movie in limited release right now of how the 2007 September Vogue issue was produced. I haven't seen it, just snippets, but it seems to be extremely well done and I am looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

Secondly, in a slightly disturbing sign of the times, September 10 has been declared as Fashion's Night Out. All over New York City stores are having shopping specials and many stores will be open until 11:00 PM. There will also be collection points to gather clothing for many needy causes. There will be special T-shirts on sale where about 40% of the proceeds will go to the national September 11 Memorial & museum at the World Trade Center.

One part about the shopping thing that I find particularly fun is that you can go to Barney's in New York and not only window shop but you also learn to knit. How cool is that?

On the other hand, I find it disturbing that fashionistas in NYC need a reason to go shopping. I'm in Houston and I don't need an excuse.

For a different look at the world go out and get a copy of Vogue magazine, or better yet, subscribe. At about $12.00 a year it is definitely a best buy and a very fun thing to find in your mail box every month.

I hope your weekend has been going well and that all you laborers out there will enjoy your day off tomorrow.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Iraqi Bundles of Love

There is a quick project going on that everyone out there can participate in but you need to do something by end of day Spetember 8, 2009. That's this Tuesday so read on for some details.

Its called Iraqi Bundles of Love and being organized by a Major in the Army to gather sewing related supplies for Iraqi women. The IBOL website gives lots of details but the basics are these.

Go to the post office and get a fixed rate post office box. The mailing cost is $11.95 for the military and $13.95 for standard domestic service for the same box. You will also need to get one of the white six part custom forms. Bring the box home, line it with fabric, fill it with stuff, fold the fabirc around the stuff it to make a bundle, tie it all up with ribbon or string, seal it up in the box and send it to: ALL DONE - ADDRESS DELETED

You must have this all done by the time the mail is picked up in your area on Tuesday. After that you risk having your package returned as the Major will be rotating out of Iraq soon.

Some friends and I are gathering Tuesday morning to stuff some boxes for this project at a local Starbucks if you would like to join us.

Or just go to the post office and get yourself a box and fill it up with some of your stuff. Most post offices have the boxes available on the counters even if the windows are closed. Then Tuesday you can take it to a window and finish up your transaction with the right postage and customs forms.

What a great way to pass on some excess supplies and help some women on the other side of the world put their world back together.

Won't you help?

Sweet Sadie's Update

Friends and Family Day was a complete success. They almost ran out of food and people from the neighborhood mobbed the place. A lot was learned about the flow of completing the orders and some reorganizing will need to be done.

After it was all over there were at least 30 business cards left by locals looking for catering services.

One sad thing was that one little old lady wanted to take food home with her and what she wanted was already sold out... she even offered to pay.

Best thing I think they have... Ribs! Of course freshly made cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans and chili were rigt up there as well. I also heard that the sausage was superior.

Now all they need to do is get the city/county /state happy about the set-up so they can open officially.

Then I can sleep again.

Are you in a Private Place?

One year ago today I got a call from my Dad's nursing home and that is the only sentence I remember exactly...Are you in a private place?

The nursing supervisor wanted to be sure that I wasn't in a public place like the supermarket while she told me that my Dad had died a short while before she called me.

It was a very thoughtful question but little did I know then how it would define part of me.

Much of what has shaped me is now in a very private place and is unknown even to me as the last person who knew a lot of it is now gone.

I'm pretty sure that my poor singing voice is genetic, that the shape of jaw is definiely from my Dad's side of the family and that my legs come from my Mom's side of the family but what quirk of fate has made me break most of my toes and contributed to my complete lack of physical grace?

Why am I terrifed of snakes but can whack away at bugs with gleeful abandon?

And how the heck did I get that big lump on my head?

I'm sure there are family stories behind some of these questions, maybe even family secrets to keep private but now I'll never know.

There were private, now unknown.

Rest in Peace , Dad.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sweet Sadie's

Since the big annoucement that the long awaited restaurant was opening on September 2 I have been learning a of things that I didn't know before... and these are things I didn't realy want to know either.... like:
  • how to install toilet paper in those big two roll industrial toliet paper holders
  • how to add nasty pink lotion soap to soap dispensers
  • how many cleaners you can come up with in your own home to contribute to the cause of construction clean-up
  • how much your adopted son inherited from your ex-husband in terms of the ability to keep good, clear financial records
  • dogs do not like being confined in an office with a mad woman trying to balance the books and manage the inventory
  • electricians can fall off their ladders in shock when the aforementioned mad woman turns the air blue with many, many curse words when they turn off the power for the the third time without warning while the mad woman is trying to back up her data.

Although the official opening will probably be put off for another week due to more inspections needed, there will be a lot fo free food and cooking experiments tomorrow for friends and family. If you wander by 2200 Spears Road and would like to eat, please stop by. I promise not to be a mad woman or to turn the air blue with curses.

I may even have pictures.

I am really missing my sewing time!