The Long and Winding Thread

Sooner or later this was going to bring us to the topic of Quilting. It is a path that has been long and circuitous for me.

Warning: This story is long and circuitous too.

It all started some time back in the early 80's when I had 4 children under the age of 6 or 7, and felt it was the duty of all young mothers . . . who were good mothers . . . to be creative, crafty little homemakers. (This involved stencilling fabric and putting it in embroidery hoops with lace hot-glued around the edge and hanging it on the wall in groupings with bunches of dried flowers.) But, I digress.

I did have sewing experience under my belt. Those experiences involved a home-ec teacher named Mrs. Smiley, (who did not) and an all too patient mother who would finish what I didn't after a certain period of time. As the mother of 3 little girls and 1 baby boy, however, I was proud to say that the children had sported a certain number of matching outfits at my hand, until a certain someone (hereafter known as "Mr. Ess" or "PDaddy.") put the ix-nay on the boy matching the girls thing.

But, I digress some more.

My first quilt was pieced on my machine and quilted by hand, all done by reading a magazine article. I still have it. (Actually, this daughter does.) I went back to sewing clothes for the girls and didn't quilt again for a few more years. At that point, I had the unusually bright idea to actually take a class in quilting. My first project for that was a pillow . . . which I do not still have . . . and that is really for the best. I made quilts (from patterns) off and on over the next several years.

In 2001 a good friend of mine -- who taught lots of classes -- asked me to be a part of a "Block Exchange" where everyone makes 12 of the same block (all with a "theme") and then exchanges them so each individual has 12 different blocks to make into a quilt. Then I did a really odd thing. I actually made them into a quilt, which apparently is not the norm. My friend complemented me on that and . . . a monster was born.

Not wanting to appear inexperienced, I designed all of my own blocks for the exchange quilts. At that point, drooling became commonplace for me, the room where I did sewing became a "Sewing Room" and I reaggrivated a herniated disc from sitting in one place so long. In 2003 I went to work at a fabric store and ended up teaching classes there.

If this turned out to be the most boring story in the history of mankind then I suggest that you go watch some paint dry to put things in perspective. As for me, I'm going upstairs to sew.

And I'm wearing a bib . . . 'cause it still makes me drool.


the most expensive book EVER!

For a girl who has professed "frugality" on this blog from the get-go, I am not setting a very good example. Take today's topic, for instance. The terms "frugal" and "most expensive" don't generally hang out in the same neighborhoods. Perhaps, I need to explain. By "most expensive" what I actually mean is . . . "really, really, expensive". Once again -- I don't care.

This book was first "published" in the summer of '98. It was actually a craft project of sorts to fill the time while spending 3 weeks away from family to care for family in another state. I brought along a huge stack of magazines and a three-ring binder. I tore out pages of rooms that I liked and placed them in page-protectors in the binder. The purpose of the book was to place it on the book rack on my treadmill where it would lay flat, as opposed to trying to lay a single magazine there which . . . wouldn't. Oddly enough, that's exactly what it has been used for all of these 9 years.

What I hadn't anticipated was that the book would take on a life (not to mention a credit line) of it's own.

I am sure you can see that I would be rather bored looking at those same original pictures after nine years. So, from time to time I change the pictures, depending on my mood and my "phase du jour". I save the old ones in a file and from time to time I weed out the file. I have very specific rules as to what magazines can be ripped through and when. The act of changing out the book has become a hobby unto itself. And unfortunately, like any hobby -- there is a price to pay.

The problem comes when I buy magazines for the very purpose of ripping them apart. Seriously, neither chocolate bars nor the National Enquirer have any hold on me in the checkout line at Safeway. It's the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications that give me a tic as I hand over my debit card and grab the latest issue before my total has been wrung. I drive home on an adrenalin rush, barely manage to put away the frozen foods, and sit down to edit the "book". The bigger problem is that I sometimes find only one or two pictures to my liking (I'm quite picky) and they average out to $2-$3 a page.

Hence . . . the most expensive book EVER.

After nine years I have learned to flip through my magazines before purchasing them and I have become a little more discerning in my choices. But let's face it, any hobby that gets you on the treadmill for nine years can't be that bad.
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Frugal Schmugal

So, here's my story about how "frugality" . . . has . . . issues, but ultimately a happy ending:

A few weeks ago, while browsing at Anthropologie (and heading straight to the sale table like any self-respecting "frugaler") I happened upon some absolutely delightful . . . shower-curtain -hanger-thingies. There were 12 to the box, they had crystal-door-knob-like attachments and although regularly 35 bucks, they were marked down to a mere $7.95. Seven dollars and ninety-five cents, people. I had no idea what I would do with them, I just knew I had to have them.

After attempting to figure a way to use them as hooks in my sewing room (and failing), I posed the question as to what to do with them to this daughter. (Stop. Finish reading this post before clicking over to hers, because once you do, you will want to read every single one of her posts and you will want to start at the very beginning. In fact, I insist that you do.)

She suggested I use them to hang curtains. Taking one look at the curtains in my bedroom (which were as old as dirt and a little bit covered in it), I knew her suggestion was perfect. I also came up with my own brilliant idea to actually use lovely . . . shear . . . ethereal . . . shower curtains as the curtains. My windows are rather narrow and I figured that one shower curtain would do it.

I headed straight to my local Target and purchased not one but two new curtain rods (with crystal knobs on the ends to mirror the effect of the . . . thingies), which cost $15.00 each. I purchased one lovely shower curtain to the tune of $20.00 and promptly came home and realized that I would need another one.

Lucky for me, my very handsome, handy-man son (he is an architect and he comes with his own set of tools) was willing to hang the new rods for me for the low, low price of lunch at In-N-Out. (11 bucks for the two of us.)

I could not be happier about the results. I admit I was a tad worried that our bed would now look as if it was placed between two . . . showers, but it doesn't. And the curtains are so lightweight that the ceiling fan causes them to flutter as if by some breeze. A breeze, people. I live in Arizona and I live for a breeze.

So, the moral of this story is this: A $7.95 bargain ended up costing me upwards of 100 smackeroos (if you count the lunch at In-N-Out, and believe me, that cost me more than money).

And . . . I don't care. End of story.


Simply Something to Do

My name is Mary and I am a blogaholic.

And a magazineaholic.

And a quiltaholic.

You get the picture . . . and it's not pretty.

Because I apparently don't have enough to do with my time, I have decided to add something new. Everything I know, I learned from my children. Having been dragged kicking and screaming into the digital age, I am now at their mercy to teach me how to live there . . . simply & happily.

So this daughter and I designed my blog and she holds lengthy phone conversations with me to guide me through the baby steps. It's kind of like she is the mom now and I am the kid. Come to think of it, that is increasingly becoming my relationship with all 4 of my children. Thank goodness they are patient, brilliant and hilarious.

Don't even get me started on the grandchildren.

The purpose of my blog (aside from the obvious need to blatantly and unashamedly brag about my offspring) is to share my experience with my hobbies . . . and my home . . . and to hear the same from you.

I like to design and sew quilts. (And teach others how to do it.)

I like to decorate, and I get a bigger thrill out of it if I can do it, shall we say -- "frugally".

I am simply, happy at home.

And you??