Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's a Mystery to Me

Last week, I entered a Modern Mini Mystery Quilt Round Robin.  I'm not supposed to blog about the work I add onto others' quilts, because the end result is supposed to be a surprise. But I can blog about my starter block!  As soon as I finish this 6 1/2" square, I will send it off to another quilter who will add onto to a little something and so forth. Meanwhile, each month I receive someone else's work and will add onto it a 1 to 2 inch border of my choice. We all should be getting our finished quilts back in December, with our square in the middle, or someplace else on the top.

I never tried the Stack and Whack method before, so I bought Bethany Reynolds book, "Stack-n-Whackipedia" when Borders went out of business. This week, I tried my first block.

 Step 1, I cut the fabric into a 21" strip and then sliced off a little of the end to use as my guide.
 Step 2, I used the guide to find where the pattern repeat begins again, and cut there, and continued until I ran out of fabric.
 Step 3, I spent a really long time pinning the layers of fabric in the exact same spot. This is the slow going part, since my vision isn't what it used to be. And it never was that great to begin with.
 Step 4. So now I have a carefully pinned pile of 8 layers of fabric.
 Step 5. Next, I first cut the fabric into a 2 parallelograms, then into 45 degree triangles. Thank you, oh high school football coach/geometry teacher somewhere in Ohio! 35 years later, and I still remember that stuff! For some reason, Aerosmith plays in my head when I calculate angles. Why is that?
 Now, the mystery reveals itself. I formed the triangles together to see what patterns emerge. This 1/2 yard of fabric yielded 4 octagons.

Next time I blog about this, I will be showing you the final block.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

While It Is Quiet

In the IT world, the workload at the office usually follows the feast or famine cycle.  Lately our department has been waiting patiently for a HUGE project that has been delayed for revisions. So to keep myself busy, I brought in some applique work I've been working on for quite a while. Over the years I have given away just about every quilt I've ever made. A couple of years ago, I decided it was my turn to have a quilt. It took me the longest while to choose a pattern. I found this quilt pattern, Doreen's Dutch Tiles by Nancy Rink in the November 2000 issue of QNM. Since it was marked as Challenging, I wanted to try it since it had so many triangles and what looked like miles and miles of applique work in the borders.

I usually learn best through regretting my actions, it's just how I roll. So I jumped right into this big project.   I wanted that pattern to really stretch my skill set and force me to learn new techniques. I never appliqued before, so first I took a class taught by Terry Weeks at once again, my favorite source of knowledge, the Cloth and Bobbin.

So far, I have the body done.  Each of these blocks are 16 inches, with 2 1/2 inch sashes, 64 triangles and appliqued tulips in the corners.

And 2 of the 4 appliqued borders are completed, which I am working on at work.

I found the fabric for the center of the squares at the The City Quilter before I moved to the Philadelphia area last summer. Entitled Matisse Women, I just had to own some. I really like how the combination of the graphic center blended with the traditional delft pattern. The block arrangement reminded me of myself, where on the outside, I appear so predictable and unassuming, but on the inside, I have some real attitude! These ladies look so amazing, I decided to name my quilt, "All the Single Ladies."

I'm far enough along on this project where I am now shopping some long arm quilters to finish it for me.  I'm not crazy enough quite yet to try to quilt a queen size project on my sewing machine.

My mother loved Matisse. Being a tall and curvy woman, she really appreciated how Matisse captured a woman's beauty, her inner spirit in his paintings.  His models were full bodied, richly clothed and stared straight at you with an "I dare you to say something" look in their eyes. They exuded confidence and courage.

Today, March 28th, marks the 2nd anniversary of the day my brothers and I sat with our mother and guided her to her final home. We held her hands and her feet and told her we loved her as she lay quietly until she passed on. If only you could have known her! My Mom exuded grace and beauty every day. She was a master cook and regarded Martha Stewart her rival in housekeeping and decorating skills. She loved opera and would always turn her radio on to the classical music station to keep her company as she cooked her meals from scratch. Not that she needed it, for she had so much wisdom. But she had a degree in Psychology which she earned during the 70's while a single parent with a full time job, and raising 4 children, 3 of whom were teenagers. What a crazy time that was! She was a solid, guiding source and everyday, I think of her and ask, "WWJD?" What Would Julia Do?

Mom,  I miss you so.  Thanks for all that you have done.

Julia Young 1938 - 2010

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What “The Joy of Cooking” Has Taught Me.

I was reading through the 1951 published cookbook this morning, and marveled at how labor intensive these recipes were. There was advice on how to pluck a chicken, 12 pages on cooking Sweet Breads, Brains, Kidneys, Liver, Heart, Tongue, Oxtails  to accommodate the “housekeeper’s slenderized pocketbook”, who was “faced with the responsibility of producing meals that are nutritionally sound, acceptable to the family and not noticeably economical.”  And these recipes were loaded with lard, butter and fat. Then toward the back of the book, I came across the recommended daily allowance as published in 1951.

Food Energy: Recommended Daily Allowances (1951)

Woman (123 lbs.)
Moderately active
2500 Calories
Very active
3000 Calories
2100 Calories

Wait. WHAT!? Want to know my Gym Trainer’s RDA? 1400 Calories.

Today’s RDA Standards for a woman from are,
Moderately active
2000 Calories
Very active
2200 Calories
1800 Calories

So how did these women stay so thin? How did obesity in the American population rise from 4% in the 1950s to almost 34% today when they were recommended to eat more?

We’ve all heard that our sedentary lifestyle and reduced home cooking was the culprit, but I wanted more details. Which inventions reduced our chores so significantly that we rarely need to move at all? I narrowed it down to 3 in this order: the washing machine, the freezer, and the automobile.  All 3 of these machines were not yet found in every household during the 50’s, although they were quickly growing in popularity.

Freezers were fairly new in 1951, when Mrs. Rombauer’s cookbook was published, and by her account were both a blessing and a risk.  She warned that “unless you are a determined planner and dispenser it may lead to extravagance. It is a great temptation and children love to draw on the seemingly unlimited freezer resources of ice cream and desserts.  It is only by unsparing effort and good husbandry of supplies that the satisfactions as well as the cash savings from the use of the freezer are apparent and worth while.”

I was curious. I could probably count my calories more, but overall, I don’t tend to over eat, and I usually cook the family meals. I don’t drink soda, so why is it I struggle with weight? I compared my current lifestyle to that of a housewife in the 50’s just to see.

Calories Consumed
Calories Expended
Wakes before the family does, lays out their clothes and fixes breakfast.

Eats breakfast, which the family eats together, toast, butter, and  eggs

Washes breakfast dishes

8.30 am
Walks the children to school

9.30 am
Walks to the butcher, then the baker, then the grocer

10.30 am
Puts away the shopping, then weeds and harvest  the day’s produce from backyard garden

11 am
Stops for tea and a snack

11 am
Prepares lunch for herself and husband who comes home to eat

1 pm
Hand washes clothes worn the day before and hangs them out to dry

Walks to and from school to collect the children

4 pm
Fixes dinner.  If they are middle class, pork chops, potatoes, vegetable, canned fruit, and dessert

4 pm
Fixes dinner.  If they are poorer, beans and rice, vegetable, corn bread, and dessert

6.30 pm
Dishes are washed, and children are given a bath


Total calories consumed/expended
1600 - 1850

And then there is me,

Calories Consumed
Calories Expended
6 am
Wakes up, gets ready for work and if lucky, remembers to pack a breakfast and lunch.

7 am
Hurries to the train station (4 blocks), if running late, runs to the bus stop (6 blocks)

7.30 am
If I catch the train, walk to work (10 blocks)

7.45 am
Sits in a 5 foot square cube and eats breakfast and drinks coffee

10 am
Get up to walk around

12 pm
Walks to microwave to heat up lunch, then returns to cube to eat it.

12 pm
Eats lunch - last night's leftovers

12.30 - 3
Sits in cube. Fights off falling to sleep

3 pm
Gets bored and craves a sweet. Caves in.

5 pm
Takes bus back home

5.30 pm
Fixes Dinner and washes dishes left behind by children (GRRR!)

6.15 pm
Eats dinner - salmon, rice, spinach. No dessert.

7 pm
Washes dinner dishes - Children are old enough to wash themselves

8 pm
Sits and does nothing, or sews

Total calories consumed/expended

And so now I know. Women from the 50’s, you rocked. I pay my respects to you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Listening to Shame

Ted Talk Tuesday: Listening to Shame

This talk touched on so many tender points from within me, I just had to share it. What I found just as interesting, were all of the many intelligent and heated discussions that ensued in the comments section. I could paste all of the amazing quotes from Brene Brown here, but you would get so much more out of her talk if you just listened for yourself. But I will give you a couple of teasers from her speech.

“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment.”

Shame is not guilt.  Shame is a focus on self; guilt is a focus on behavior. Shame is “I am bad”; guilt is, “I did something bad.”

“Shame is highly correlated with addiction, depression, violence, aggression, bullying, suicide, eating disorders. And what is more interesting, guilt is inversely correlated to all of these things.”

Please watch this talk, and if you feel comfortable enough, I would love for you to leave a comment here of how it impacted you. Because I can pretty much predict, it will impact you.  

I suspect we all need to deconstruct who we really aren’t to get to what we’ve always been. And to do so requires us to expose ourselves. Not easy, is it? We are commanded in the New Testament to confess our faults one to another. But I rarely do. You know why? If you really knew what my faults were, you would have power over me.  Being vulnerable takes immense courage. Anyway, it’s a wonderful talk, and the comments are even more so.

Sewing for Tall People

Last weekend was a great weekend. It was National Quilting Day or something like that on Saturday. In honor of the day, my favorite shop, Cloth and Bobbin, in Narberth, offered a beginner’s free motion machine quilting class.  It was a 3 hour, very intense class packed full of helpful information. Not only did the instructor cover machine quilting, but she also covered such details as needle and thread choices and basting techniques. I will begin this week employing what I learned to finish up the Chaos Theory quilt top, hopefully in time for the show and tell in April. 

I've enjoyed sewing since I took Home Ec in 7th grade, back in 197?. But most of my sewing projects through the years have focused on home décor needs and very little fashion sewing except for occasional repairs, or Easter dresses when my daughter was a young one. I don't have much knowledge to share in that category at all. It has been a long time wish of hers to learn how to sew so that she can design her own clothing. At the tender age of 13, this young lady is already almost 5’8 and has the hardest time finding pants that are long enough for her. She probably has a couple more inches to go before she is done, so learning how to sew her own clothes is pretty important to her.

You can imagine how grateful I was when Johanna at Cloth and Bobbin offered her a class to learn how to make pajama pants.  It was a perfect first project and now she has a pair of pajamas that actually reach down below her ankles. She’s already on websites looking for a pattern for slacks so Johanna can teach her how to set a zipper and construct a proper waistband.  She left the store very happy and with more knowledge than I ever had on clothing construction.  See that smile on her face? See all those bolts of colors in the background? Can you see those children in the back corner sorting through a basket of scraps for their own project? I'm not the only one who loves visiting her store.  It is so inspiring!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From Across The Pond. . .

It's so beautiful!  I just received today a block from Robyn who lives in Australia.  What makes this so cool is that she used Australian print fabrics with boomerangs and aborigine motifs. If I had a better camera, you would be able to see how rich the fabrics really are. But even in this washed out photo, you can see a lot of the detail. I love it so much!

I'm still getting used to the time change, and the adjustment is slow for me this year. For a couple of weeks, I was going to work with the sun bright in the sky.  Now I'm back to peering through dawn's shadows on my morning train ride.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ted Talk Tuesday: Share Your Goals - Or Not.

I wanted to fill this blog each day with progress reports on my quilt projects and show pictures of my work, hoping to inspire other quilt makers as I have been inspired when I browse through their blogs. But I don’t always have that kind of time during the week. This past weekend was spent working on the final performances of The Wizard of Oz and beginning the spring house cleaning. No quilting was done at all. 

Since I would rather not spend my time writing about washing windows and scrubbing baseboards, I’m going to ask you a question. 

First, a preface: A week or so ago, my 13 year old daughter, an aspiring writer, made a rare emergence from within her room to announce her new book idea. 
     “I have a new plot for my next novel,” she said, her teeth gleaming with happiness. “But the only way I’ll figure out the ending before I give up on the idea is if I don’t tell you what it is about.” Then she withdrew her head back inside her door and shut it. 

So, here’s a question for the audience. 

Do you share your goals, or do you keep them to yourself? Does your decision depend on the goal you have set? Leave a comment and tell me what you think! 

The “Keep ‘Em to Yerself” People 

Share Your Goals? Think Again.

The “Tell the Whole World” Folks