A-Musing . . .

If you look very closely at the picture below, you can see clearly that the basket on top of my armoire is full of magical fairy dust that . . . glows . . . as all magical fairy dust is wont to do. (It's basically the nature of fairy dust.) The reason that it collects there is because that splendid piece of furniture is where my Muse lives.

Every day before I go to work on any particular project, I gingerly open the door (partly out of anticipation, and partly out of a need to protect myself from a lot of the stuff that is stored in there that could fall on my head) and invite my Muse to sit on the couch with me.

I might just pick one or I might pick a whole stack. I might go upstairs and pick a Muse from the baskets and shelves in my sewing room. But, sooner or later I will settle in to soak up some inspiration and rev up the juices. "Be Creative. Be Yourself", my Muse whispers in my ear. (If you blow up the picture below, she will whisper it in your ear, too.)

The problem is this: Sometimes I soak so long, I get downright . . . pruney. Sometimes I muse for so long, there is no longer time to . . . create anything. Am I alone here, people? Does anyone else have the problem of looking at books or magazines for a long, long time before the thought enters the mind, "Hmmmm, perhaps I should quit reading about sewing and actually . . . sew." Ya think?

I am not necessarily looking for answers. The answer is relatively simple: Get out of The Stacks and into The Stash. I just want to know that I am not alone in my dilemma. I just want to have someone validate that it's okay if I loaf around on the couch from time to time.

I just want to be covered in fairy dust.


I'm just Great, thanks.

So . . . I know my youthful appearance doesn't immediately give this away, but I recently became a great-grandmother.

No . . . I'm not talking about qualifying my grand mothering skills, I am talking about the fact that my oldest grandchild . . . the ever-lovely Miss Dub (shown above) has become the sole caretaker, feeder . . . and hurler of a new "baby" . . . aptly named . . . "Baby."

It is true that Miss Dub has only recently turned that milestone age of 10 months, but to quote her mother's exact words, "she is ready for the responsibility." We have been fortunate to see video of the young mom in action. She makes every attempt to feed Baby her bottle. It is true that this involves rapid, sharp, jabbing movements, but there is no doubt that she means well. And, you can see here that as soon as she finishes her portion of Baby's meal, she will . . . hopefully. . . give some to Baby.

So . . . of course I did what every self-respecting great-grandmother would do. I made the new baby a quilt. As you can tell, it's not completely done what with the lack of an outer border and backing, quilting and binding, but I spent a most glorious afternoon yesterday, cutting and sewing the squares, dreaming of the day when I can give it to Miss Dub at her Baby Shower which . . . oddly enough . . . I have not received an invitation to.

So . . . a hearty congratulations to all the Dubs . . . may this exercise in responsibility translate as it should when it comes to potty-training and room-cleaning. And may our Baby be all snuggly warm under her quilt during the upcoming, teeth-chattering, Midwestern winter.


That's how it is.

So . . . this picture has has hung in our bedroom for twenty years or so . . . ever since I babysat for a very dear friend, Cheri W., so she could go to Girl's Camp.  She asked me for a favorite quote to paint into a picture, and I immediately knew it would come from A. A. Milne.  You see, it was a book of his that was my first gift from PDaddy when we were dating and we decided from that day forward to live by the above motto.

Thirty-three years ago today we made it official.

Four children, two grandchildren, umpteen moves and millions upon millions of smiles later, we have decided that the sticking together part really, really works for us and we will continue on that same path.

Thank you PDaddy for . . . sticking with me.  Covering myself in super-glue was the wise move I imagined it would be, 33 years ago today.

(Yes, we look like babies . . . no, we don't look quite the same today.  Yes, those are some mighty-fine lapels on PDaddy . . . no, I wasn't wearing any makeup -- it was the 70's.  Yes, the picture is a little fuzzy . . . no, I don't currently own a scanner and am resorting to taking pictures of pictures.)


Make new ones, but definitely keep the old

So . . . along with using this opportunity to show off this -- one of my all-time favorite flea-market type bargains -- I want to talk about friends.

I like them.

I am hoping they like me, which I am kind of assuming they do because the mere definition of "friends" would seem to encompass both sides of this coin.

Yesterday I had the chance to have a quick lunch with seven of my nearest and dearest. That quick lunch turned into 2 hours and as I drove home I marvelled at the blessings that are . . . friends.

That's it for today, folks. I got nothin' more.

But what I do . . . got . . . is friends.

How 'bout you?


True Confession #3

So, I'm torn as to what of two confessions would qualify for the coveted #3 spot: 

My computer hates me . . . OR

I have an unnatural obsession with pillows.

Because there is such an obvious link between the two, we'll just deal with them both and move on to other, more random confessions at another time.  So . . . my computer hates me.  Just me.  Even though he uses the same computer, it doesn't hate PDaddy (although, truth be told, it could treat him better too.)  Several days ago I went to make a comment on this blog and I filled in my user name and password before I noticed that there was NO icon to click in order to publish said comment.  So, I gave up on that temporarily and went to publish a new post on my blog.  Once again, I filled in the appropriate gobble-de-gook to sign in, but alas there was NO "sign in" icon.

So I did what every computer-literate woman in my position would do . . . I made Sonny-boy come and fix it. Sonny-boy has the patience of a Saint, but the best he could do was to sign me up with a new server.  That night when PDaddy got home, we made the discovery that his side of the same computer worked fine and dandy. And that's when I learned that our computer has a personal vendetta against me.  Just me.

Pillows don't hate me.  They love me and I love them. They are soft and fluffy.  My computer however, hates my pillows.  On Monday I published a post with 3 pictures.  By yesterday the bottom one (which was of a pillow) was somehow erased . . . erradicated . . . gone.  I am going to try and fool my computer today with a picture of three (3) pillows, hoping their combined strength can ward off the computer's evil influences.  Only time will tell.

I will save more of my pillow-obsession-confession for another day.  I will only say that at this point I mostly just slipcover existing pillows to avoid being taken over by them.  At Christmas my children held a "pillow-intervention" and threw out (actually, gave to D.I.) a large number of my back stock of pillows.  I suppose this is akin to flushing contraband down the toilet.  It didn't help much.  As long as they stay away from The Stash, I will be able to make more pillows.  I already have.

Did I mention that Sonny-boy and the Mrs. are moving to Spain for fun, adventure and a sweet architecture job?  What the heck am I going to do then?


The Secret Garden

For a Blog about home and family and all things pretty, you may have noticed a distinct lack of musings about Gardens.  You know, those serene and lovely patches in your yard where everything blooms in a myriad of colors and you snip them and put them in vases around your home and then a magazine comes and takes pictures of it and everyone thinks that when they get to Heaven, it will look just like your house?
Yea, those Gardens.  Unfortunately, none of those gardens are to be found at my home, nor are they within a fairly large radius, I suspect.  In my defense I offer one word:  Ridiculous-blazing-hair-on-your-arms-singeing-heat. Around here we call that . . . Arizona.
Being the chipper sort that I am however, I offer some substitutes that have worked for me for years . . . and will for years to come.  If I ever move someplace where gardening isn't life-threatening, I could possibly add it to my ever-growing list of hobbies.  In the meantime, I present the simplehappy 3 "F's" of Gardening:

Florist.  These absolutely gorgeous flowers came from someone else who grew them and then I won them at a meeting at work.  So . . . I didn't even have to pay for them.  Now, that is smart gardening.

Fake.  Let's face it, I have a lot of fake flowers at my home and I am not too proud to admit it.  I do feel, however, that I have a knack to pick good fake flowers over lousy ones.  Someday, I will teach a class on that.

Fabric:  No doubt about it, the fabric garden reigns where I live.  These flowers never need watering or dusting. They can be transformed into pillows, (see above) curtains, tablecloths and (of course) quilts.  

All without singeing a single hair on my arm.


still looking for clues

So . . . after an amazing 5 comments from yesterday, I do have to say that Mrs. Dub gets the prize . . . basically because she is the only one who attempted to answer the questions.  However . . . PDaddy was not kidding when he said that he did some research.  I now know more than I could possibly need to know on the subject of "Who was the author."  (Ans: Carolyn Keene was actually a number of people over a number of years, some of whom were men.)  The other answers include Hannah Gruen, Carson Drew, Bess (who was plump) and George (who was a tomboy), "sleuthing"Ned Nickerson, Roadster (the color changed according to the author) and pumps.  Nancy Drew always wore pumps as I remember it, but in the movie it was penny loafers.  The answer to the final question is "a cookbook".  Apparently there is a Nancy Drew cookbook.  Please finish reading my blog before you frantically go searching for it on ebay, because I know you want to put on your apron a whip up a Hannah Gruen treat, just as much as I do.

Using an ever-so-smooth segue, I bring us back to quilts.  The above pictured "I Spy" quilt is one I made and taught in Grandma's Club at this store this week.  It was from a year-old issue of Better Homes & Gardens Quilts & More magazine, designed by Karen Montgomery. (This store still has some copies, if you want the pattern.) The purpose of "I Spy" quilts is for the youngins' to spend hours of quiet, well-behaved time, searching for pictures of specific objects found in the quilt.  These have traditionally been made with hexagons, which is such a royal pain to sew.  When I saw this pattern, I knew it was for me, plus I loved the concept of actually spying the objects in the fabric.

As much as I would be thrilled to hand off one of my precious N.D. books to Mrs. Dub, I have not officially closed the contest.  I have, however, tried to stay away from controversy this time around. I am finding that is sometimes easier said than done.


It's a mystery to me . . .

Editor's Note:  I cannot apologize enough for the very unfortunate placement of my charming pitcher of flowers in the above picture.  The title of the book would be "Password to Larkspur Lane".  It is not the belief of this author or any of her family members or even passing acquaintences that this misplacement was done on purpose.  Please read on as if nothing had been amiss.  I will go and flog myself.

So, the other evening Sonny Boy and the Mrs. took me to a movie.  It was actually a belated birthday gift from the Mrs. that involves a long and somewhat ugly story where the newspaper printed lies (lies, I tell you) about what movies were where on the day -- much closer to my birthday -- that we tried to see the movie.

But once again . . . I digress.

You probably don't need a clue to let you know which movie we saw (at the Dollar Theatre) but suffice it to say that it was a walk down memory lane (aka "Larkspur Lane") and was an absolute treat despite the fact that my feet stuck to the floor of said theatre.

When my girls were little I bought the whole set of N.D. books at a yardsale and sometime years later got rid of all of them but a few.  The minute I got home from the movie, I opened up the aforementioned book and settled in for the night, missing only some of  . . . the Drew family housekeeper's . . . delicious hot baked cookies.  Which brings me to the point of my post.  (Woohoo, there is one!)

In the spirit of mysteries, secrets and clues, I am offering a quiz to test your knowledge of the titian-haired girl and her cohorts.  If there is a clear winner, I will offer a prize of one of my precious remaining books.  So, strap on your magnifying glass, it's going to be a haunting ride:

*1 What is the full name of the Drew family housekeeper? 
*2 What is the full name of Nancy's father?
*3 What word does Nancy use to describe her hobby/profession?
*4 What are the names of her two close friends?
4a:  Bonus points for last names.
4b:  Bonus point if you can tell me which one was "plump".
*5 What was the full name of Nancy's beau?
*6 What term did she use to refer to her car?
*7 Who was the author of the books?
7a: Bonus points if you can explain why this is a trick question.
*8 What kinds of shoes did Nancy wear?
*9 One of the books in the series was not a mystery.  What was it?

Hope you have as much fun with this as I did.  Oh, and by the way, Sonny Boy wants it to remain a secret that he ever went near that movie theatre with us.


makes scents to me . . .

I really, really hope this doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who knows me . . . but I like to smell nice. I don't like an overwhelming smell, I just like a fresh smell. The problem is that I somehow have a body chemistry that keeps any scent that I apply to myself from lasting more than 7.65 minutes. And that just drives me crazy.

I once posed this quandry to the girl behind the perfume counter at the mall and she suggested that I "layer" my scents. Lotion + Perfume + Powder + something-more-I'm-sure. It didn't take me long to figure out that she was working on commission and that this daily routine was going to cost me my first born.

And then I discovered Bath and Body Works. Several years later and cupboards-worth of every scent they have sold during that duration and I have finally fallen in serious-scented-love. (Keep in mind that I have had the chance to sample every single scent they sell because they have this really tricky system of getting you to buy more than you intended to with 3/$10 and "buy 4 get 1 free" and a myriad of other potions that I fall for every . . . single . . . dang . . . time.)

So, in case you are interested, that scent is Dancing Waters. It's fresh and oceany -- with none of the seaweed. It's new so it only comes in Body Lotion and Body Splash and Eau De Toilette (ooh la la), but I will patiently await the hand soaps and body butters and room-plug-in-thingies. Problem is that sometimes they discontinue scents that aren't selling as well, so I am counting on you, my loyal readers (and mostly relatives) to buy some Dancing Waters so they don't discontinue it.

But, before you leave, what are your favorite B&BW scents? If you are not yet under their spell, what are some of your other favorite scents? I am very fond of garlic . . . and chocolate . . . but not together and not on my person.

Hmmmm . . . chocolate. Gotta go.

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sitting in circles

What a weekend it has been! All L'il Gee, all the time. We have been very happy to see his parents, but let's be perfectly honest . . . it's all about the l'il ones.

We have been out for hummus, cheered on the D'backs to a spectacular win, wrapped the PV Ward around our little finger and gone swimming and shopping.

But most of all, we have sat around in a circle while L'il Mr. Gee lays on a blanket in the middle and entertains us. Seriously, for hours and hours we have done this. Hours. Sonny Boy and the Mrs. have been particularly adept at trying to teach (by example, I might add) the little guy to master the art of crawling. He did sport his first tooth while he was with us so who knows what else he might suprise us with before the end of the day. Teeth or no teeth, that kids grins like there's no tomorrow and that's all that counts.

In the middle of it all we found out that our l'il Miss Dub was under the weather with four (count 'em 4!) new teeth coming through, and, because we were all "baby soft" our hearts broke all the more.

In a month we'll have the babies together at the beach. Don't expect any coherency out of any of us then.
Yea, yea, I know it's really never expected of us.
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Poetic Justice

Once upon a time,
in a land called Cyberspace.
There lived a Blogger Boogie-Man
commanding every place.

Some days he can be docile,
'til he has a scratch to itch.
Then he says, "What unsuspecting Blog
can I curse with a Glitch?"

"Oh, there's a blogger Rookie,
all naive and by-the-book.
I'll make her blog all slow and weird,
so no one wants to look.

He rubbed his hands, said "heh-heh",
and let go a little drool.
In the meantime, Miss "I'm-new-at-this"
was feeling like a fool.

She turned off her computer,
'twas too sad to even "blink".
She left it off for hours,
cleared her head so she could think.

In the meantime, unbeknownst to her,
The Blogger Boogie-Man,
moved on to other victims.
He has NO attention span!

So Bloggin's back and Blinkin' too,
it's simplehappy Bliss.
The Rookie faced the Boogie-Man,
and lived to tell all this.


... and I'll cry if I want to!

So . . . this is the result of the latest forage through The Stash.

And this is as far as I have gotten with my project.

So, the $64,000 question is this: What the heck is the big picture, the overall plan? Do I have a clue as to what is to come next? The answers are "I'm not sure, Is there supposed to be a plan? and . . . uh . . . no."

As you well know by now -- normally I don't care -- I just roll with the creative punches and see what comes out. But this time I did care. This time it meant I couldn't go to the party.

On Monday, in the process of "blinking" (going from blog link to blog link to ...) I came across this lovely blog by "Artsymama". She announced that on Wednesday she was having a party! Everyone was supposed to put some simple instructions for a craft on their blog and leave a comment on her blog to link to. Keep in mind that these are not really quilters, in fact they are not at all. They're paper-crafters for the most part, (which I am not, even in the least part) but I could stare at this stuff for hours (and do) and get all sorts of fabric-type inspiration.

(Wait a minute . . . this is where PDaddy has rolled over in the grave he will want to be in if I pick up any new kitchy, glittery crafts. Shield your eyes PDaddy! Don't say I didn't warn you.)

At any rate, I wanted to participate but I just plain chickened out. And then yesterday I went to her blog and blinked my brains out some more and was so delighted by everyone's offerings. (And by 'everyone', I mean, like, 180 people at last count.) I could have come up with something, but alas I did not. The moral of this story may be too obvious to state.

But . . . not too late to learn from.


birds in our belfry

An actual conversation held in our home yesterday:

PDaddy: Don't be upset if the answer is "two years ago", but how long have we had pictures of canaries over the bathtub?

Me: You're in luck, only about 3 weeks.

PDaddy: Phew . . .

As you may have gathered by PDaddy's hesitation, this is a conversation that is held in our home on a weekly basis. I buy something new, I display something new, something new is something old before PDaddy has a clue it ever existed.

Don't get me wrong, this usually works to my advantage. The "buy something new" part . . . probably . . . happens more than it should, especially as it applies to non-functional home decor items. I worry that the knick-knacks . . . knock him for a loop. I get concerned that he feels swallowed up in too much . . . pretty.

So, if he doesn't even know it was there in the first place, how bad can it be? It clearly isn't overwhelming, it is obviously at the height of good taste. Right PDaddy?

And the canaries were to die for. Eight bucks for two pictures at an antique store! There's only one word that can be used to describe that. "Cheap."

So, does this ever happen at your house?

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true confessions one and two

So . . . Mary . . . what projects have you actually been working on, you know, . . . as we speak?

Why thanks for asking. I spent most of last week (when I wasn't figuring out how to post, checking my blog, reading other people's blogs and just "blinking" my brains out in general) working on these two little numbers.

They are actually samples to be displayed at this store and will be taught by me in October at that same store in Grandma's R Us Club. They are a pattern from a book called Winsome Baby by Nancy Halvorsen at Art To Heart. Other than using my own fabrics from my own Store (see disertation on The Stash) I followed the instructions to the letter (the letters "e" and "T" specifically). Which brings us to True Confession #1:

I have a really, really, hard time just following someone else's design and not veering off into La La Land when the slightest whim catches my eye. I have never understood how people can enjoy making something straight from a pattern. Except that . . . I really, really enjoyed making these. And frankly, that scared me just a little. (That would be True Confession #1A.)

So TC #2 would be this: I sew really, really slow. Seriously, it took me way longer than it should have to make these, especially considering the fact that I wasn't having to make creative decisions along the way. What is the deal? Could it be because I have never been one to put the "pedal to the metal" in my car or on my Bernina? Could it be because I stop all too frequently to admire my work? ("Now that is one mighty fine seam.") Or could it be because I only sew for 2 to 3 hours at a time?

Let's face it I have got to speed things up, if I don't want The Stash entirely willed to my children. In the meantime I need your help with two questions:

Q#1: Any tips on the speed issue? (My children would be grateful if you could also apply those tips to my driving.)
Q#2: Do you think Miss Dub and L'il Gee will like their new toys?


you had me at "apple pie"

So . . . where does Baseball fit into the concept of home -- and sewing? Because it fits into my home . . . every single summer . . . and I wouldn't have it any other way. And besides, it's all about color.

You see, when I first met PDaddy, he informed me of one very important fact. He bled Dodger Blue. He was from Southern Cal and he rooted for the Dodgers and that meant they were an integral part of his very makeup. When we moved to the DC area, he was able to assuage his homesickness by rooting for the Orioles, (but . . . not to the point that he bled Oriole Orange.)

Only when the Diamondbacks came to Arizona was he able to switch his alligience . . . but not without some angst. We have had season tickets since the Opening Game, and when I witnessed him screaming and dancing around the family room the night they won the World Series, I knew some purple, teal and black were floating in there among the capillaries.

(The fact that they now sport Sedona Red really . . . stymies . . . me, but I'm hardly the girl to talk if you look at my history of hair and pillows-on-the-couch color.)

Moral of the story: We all bleed baseball. Even the grandkids have some red stitching in their veins. For instance, here is our darling granddaughter Miss Dub at a Cubs game this summer.

Ditto for L'il Gee with his dad (Mr. Gee) at an Angels game. All the Gees will be with us at a D'backs game next weekend. Hooray!

Who are we kidding? I do love baseball, but the entire purpose of this post was to show off these pictures. Who can blame me.


The Stash

So, this is The Stash. Or -- more accurately -- a very small portion of it. Or -- to be honest -- this picture doesn't even cut the surface. But for the purposes of this post, it will do.

Every quilter has a Stash and she (I will always say "she" when referencing quilters, but that is only out of convenience and no offense should be taken if one does not fall into this category) displays it proudly to others quilters and sewers and friends. Oftentimes, portions of The Stash may be hidden from other "family members" who do not appreciate it's . . . grandeur. I am lucky enough that a) I keep my Stash in a closet where a simple closing of the door does the trick and b) my "family" (e.g. PDaddy) has no issues with The Stash and it's ever growing and blossoming nature.

And he shouldn't. Because I have rules where The Stash is concerned and I stick to them religiously. (And, let's face it, I am a religious person and don't throw that term around lightly either.) There are basically two rules:

Rule #1: Add to The Stash often* &
Rule #2: Always, always sew from The Stash.**

Perhaps a bit of explanation will help. *I prefer variety to quantity. I make smallish, scrappy quilts. As a result I see no need to buy 4 yards of any one fabric at a time. I buy half yards, third yards and fat quarters up the ying yang. Sometimes I'll buy 1 yard. Do I ever run out of a fabric I desperately need more of? All the time. That's why they call 'em "scrappy."

As to Rule #2
** That closet is my own personal Store. When I am starting something new . . . I go to The Store. The choices are (somewhat) more limited than the actual fabric store, and that just makes life easier. I can stand there for hours at a time pulling out options and cutting off pieces of them as I make decisions. (Try doing that at the fabric store -- they really, really, frown on it.) Without exception, I always find what I need.

So, there you have it. The Stash. The Rules.

The End.

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apparently it IS everything

There is a mantra that my children have heard more times than they would like to admit listening to and that mantra is this: Attitude is Everything.

Most of the time I practice what I preach, but it's not always easy. Last night was one of those less than easy times. Our backyard has what one might call some . . . issues. Drainage issues to be exact. If it rains more than a drizzle for more than a few minutes, the water collects in a lake in the backyard and if it gets really bad it spills onto the patio and infringes on the back door. Last night it poured steadily for over half an hour. My attitude was bordering on the cranky side, and just like the rain, it was infringing on the house.

On only a few occasions have we had to take the most drastic measure which is to take brooms and push the excess water into the swimming pool. For any of you who own a swimming pool or have had to clean one -- pushing dirty water into it is not the brightest idea in the world. In fact the folks at your local pool supply store would downright frown upon it.

But as luck would have it, the minute we sat down to dinner a decision had to be made. "We" included myself, my son and his sweet new bride. (I had already called PDaddy to warn him not to drive home in the deluge.) I got up from the table and went outside to start the process, grumbling ever so slightly under my breath. (Missing a meal is not my idea of a good-time-had-by-all.) The next thing I knew, Sonny-Boy was pushing along side of me and his wife was begging to take my broom. Turns out, she thought this was the most fun thing EVER! We stayed out there together in the much lowered temperatures, under the patio (where getting struck by lightening chances were . . . minimal) and sloshing around the water in our bare feet like kids.

So I guess I was right about attitude all along. I'm just hoping PDaddy felt the same way at 6 o'clock this morning when he had to clean the pool.

(I am well aware that the picture . . . has issues, but she was just moving so dang fast, it was the best I could do.)