Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Art Quilts and 2 Cups of Dirt

I am taking art quilting lessons :)  from Connie Bloom of Akron, OH.  Go to  www.conniebloom.com to see her work, its really interesting!  She's especially known for her commissioned animal portraits.  Unfortunately I can't publish photos of her work for this posting so you'll just have to trust me its worth the time.  

My first project was all about improvisational quilting with reverse applique.  I had to pick 6 fabrics from the stash that I brought.  Stitch all the layers together and sew random lines everywhere.  Then cut into various layers one at a time to create your composition.  This is what I made:
And a detail of the above:
Here's the secret to the process... 6 inch double curved scissors from Famore Cutlery  famorecutlery.com   They made all the difference for me, especially with what arthur has done to my hands (that wretch :p ).  I would recommend them to anyone who sews, quilts, crafts.  Plus Famore has a wonderful collection of other cutlery for all kinds of projects.

Now about that 2 cups of dirt... The other night the hubs cooked a bison steak for me.  (Side note: he's a vegetarian and yet he will buy and cook meat for me and the kids, another reason he's my dream boy.)  Well hubs makes the best marinade in the world, so after my feast was grilled he dumped the rest of the mix in the dirt/mulch in the far corner of the yard.  He's always done that and AJ would sniff it but was quite content with the tidbits of steak dropped "oops" for him to gobble up.  Well Livia was given similar tidbits but found the marinated mud and started chowing down.  I caught her but had no idea how much she ate.  We even took her out to Strickland's ice cream for bits of cone.  After we got home the little monkey started heaving and up comes over 2 cups of mucky dirt, BLAHHHHHHH!  She was feeling pretty low and we called puppy poison control who said to give her half a Prevacid.  
She's doing much better today :)  The moral of this story is: Don't dump anything you don't want your furry baby to eat anywhere they can get it. And oh yeah- consider those cool scissors.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Gift Closet

Doesn't everyone have a gift shelf or closet?  If not, you should.  I love to give surprises to the people who are special in my life or just someone who needs a boost.  Yet being on a budget had curbed my giving until I proudly declared myself to be a thrift store, estate, & garage sale junky.  Lined up in little rows are all kinds of goodies from cut glass antique salt shakers (to be filled with cinnamon sugar or a homemade seasoning salt mix for a housewarming treat) to hand printed packets of note cards or napkins tied with ribbon for cheering up girlfriends in tough times.

When the kids were young we had lots of craft kits, both prepackaged and homemade ones we put together.  They were generally gender neutral for birthday gifts but we had our share of Supersoaker guns as a welcome gift for new kids in the neighborhood. (We lived in Georgia at the time and most moves were in the summer)  Instead of wrapping paper the kids would decorate a a larger t-shirt for bedtime with their rendition of a character from the "flavor of the month" Disney flick.  I let them wrap the gift in the shirt and we tied them up with ribbon or sometimes hair scrunchies. Yes... its been a few years ;)

Nowadays I'm more liable to pick up edgy inexpensive bowls or bookmarks from local college art students.  Then I grab fun, odd biographies from sales for a quarter.  The gift is the bookmark and the paperback is the wrapping.  Hand thrown bowls can be filled with organic sugar packs or specialty salts for baths.  If I buy in bulk, its cheap and I can pack them up in just the right size.  Then wrap them in tulle with raffia.  

Have a friend with a new puppy?  There are lots of dog biscuit recipes on the web and I wrap them in a paper lunch bag with specialty machine stitching to close.  Including biodegradeable poop bags (less than 6 cents each) for walks are usually greatly appreciated too.

Some of the goodies I've gotten the biggest response from have been completely consumable.  When I run into decorative paper plates, napkins, etc. on uber clearance (thank you Target!) I snag them.  Teachers love holiday sets with a favorite cheese ball, a box of crackers, and the recipe.  Newlyweds and new parents can always use a big bag of different beautiful paper products for unexpected drop-ins and those nights you need a boost with your take out food.  

And of course... as I've posted before I love making recycled shopping bags from tees.  They make great reusable gift wrap. 

Goodbye... Hello

 AJ Oct. 1997 to May 2010

Well...  after a month and a half absence, I'm back.  A lot has happened since I last wrote.  Arthur hasn't actually been much of a factor and for that I'm very grateful :)

We lost our beloved aussie, AJ, about a month ago.  He was 13.5 yrs old and his arthritis finally took away all quality of life and we had to do the right thing by him.  Our son actually sat us down and said he felt we were too close to the situation.  By taking care of AJ on a daily basis we had lost perspective. I'm glad we made the decision before he suffered too greatly.  My heart was broken and I cried for 3 days.  The house seemed so empty. 

I know some people may not agree with this but I started haunting the pet rescue sites nearly immediately.  Poor hubs had really counted on us taking a break from the responsibility of pets.  However since I'm the one home all day every day he realized how lonely it can be.  That's how I found Livia. She's a toy australian shepherd about a year old.  The local dog warden rescued her from a back yard puppy mill along with some other pups.  She spent the first 8 months of her life in a cage neglected and starving. She's highly allergic to fleas, had almost no hair, and was a mess of bites and scabs.  Thankfully she was saved before they began breeding her nonstop.  She had been too sick and underweight to have puppies.  The pound called a rescue group called "Paws with Pride" to take her out of the kill shelter.  They didn't even know for sure what she was because she looked so bad.  Janice at Paws with Pride is a miracle worker and now Livia has hair and is no longer starving. 

Lindsay and Livia

We adopted her about 3 weeks ago and she has brought such happiness and laughter back into our house.  I love taking Livia for walks and playing with her. Our daughter, Lindsay, and son, Aaron, bonded with her instantly.  We will be adopting another full size aussie sometime in the next few months so they will have each other as playmates.  For our family, rescuing was the only option.  The hubs and I are so grateful to have her, she really is the sunshine in our lives!

Aaron and Livia