Category Archives: fun

Playing Catch-Up with the 30 Days of Thanks

Time to play catch-up. Again. Sometimes I think I play that game much too often. The last few days have been spent working on Christmas projects and writing, which left my little blog neglected.

So, today I will catch up on at least the last couple of days of gratitude. My list for the month is listed here. The last “thankful” post was for my computer, all computers, here.

Next on the list are, the internet, Ozzie (my dog), and trees. Here we go.

The Internet

Our connection source. The world has become much smaller in my lifetime thanks to the telephone, television, and air travel. These are all good tools to help us reach others, but they have their limits.

We only call, or receive calls, to chat and visit from people we’ve previously met. Seldom do we call a random number and strike up a conversation and friendship with someone.

The television is passive, we don’t interact with it and we view only what others want us to view.

Travel is expensive and time consuming. Whether we travel by plane, car, bus, train, or boat, there is a cost and time factor involved. Limiting how much we connect with others far away.

Enter the internet. We can meet others online. We can go to sites, and meet others with similar interests. I “met” several friends at Absolute Write (AW). We have writing as a common factor, but we differ in many ways.

I’ve even found quilters I visit and follow at the Quilting Gallery. Who knew people moved away from their sewing machines long enough to post their sewing progress online?

Then, of course, there are the social networks, Facebook, Twitter, and Pintrest that allow me to meet a variety of people from all walks of life. Online friends are an eclectic group, a more diverse group than can be found in any neighborhood, or social gathering.

The internet also allows me to do research for my books, or just for my information easily. The closest library to me is 15 miles and only open in the afternoon, my next choices are both 30 miles away. Doing research at the library requires planning (something I’m not good at), and travel. The internet allows almost instant (assuming it’s working) access to a larger research pool.

Of course, nothing is perfect and the internet has its flaws. Among other cons, the internet can cause people to abandon their real lives and families, that’s not good. But, for most of us, the internet has been a benefit and I am thankful to have it.

How about you? How has the internet impacted your life?

Next up on the list for Saturday is Ozzie my little dog.

Ozzie was a ‘gift’ from my little granddaughter Paisley. He was her dog.  Mom and dad had their hands full with their jobs, Paisley, livestock, and the new baby on the way, they needed a new home for Ozzie.

Paisley, of course, did not want to get rid of her dog. However, she was willing to let Grandma Nin take him, for awhile. It’s been three years. Now,  she’s okay with him living at my house.

Ozzie may be four years old, but he’s a little like having a two year old in the  house. He gets into everything that is within reach. Drop a pin cushion on the floor, or just forget and leave it on the ottoman and it’s his. I’ll be running the magnet over the entire floor to pick up pins, and gathering up what’s left of the pin cushion after he chewed it.

It’s common for him to hear, “Ozzie, what do you have?” Then he tilts his head and gives me that innocent, ‘what are you talking about?’ look.

Ozzie loves people. One year my dog-sitter was unavailable so Ozzie attended the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc. (OWFI) conference with me. He loved all the attention from the other writers. Amy Shojai shared a video of him playing which Paisley enjoyed watching.

Ozzie makes me smile and I am so glad he’s in my life. Thank you Paisley. Do you have a pet?

Finally, for today, trees are on my list.

I’m lucky to live in Southeast Oklahoma which is full of trees. I can’t imagine living in a place without trees.

Right now the wind is blowing, hard. Not tornado hard, or hurricane hard, but hard enough to rock the chairs on the porch, and blow unsecured items around the yard. The trees buffer a lot of that wind. Sitting in the security of my house the wind howls and sounds horrible. The trees however, stand their ground.

In the summer the trees offer shade and relief from the blistering heat. I’m often the last  of my friends to turn on the air conditioner, because the trees surrounding me help keep me at a comfortable temperature.

Although I no longer climb trees, in my youth I did. Today the trees remind me of that time when my brothers, and neighborhood friends would climb the trees. We climbed and hid among the leaves, creating our own worlds high above the real world and our parents below.

In the winter, the trees offer refuge to wildlife, and the bare limbs remind me that spring and new life is coming.

So, there you have it. I’m almost caught up, and three things I’m thankful to have. What about you? What are you thankful to have in your life?

Houston Quilt Show and other Thanks

November, turkey, quilts, thanks, they all go well together. My original idea had been to post daily about something I’m thankful to have in my life, or to have experienced. Since it’s already the fifth, and this is the first post of November, that obviously isn’t happening.

I will endeavor to finish out the month posting about people, things, and happenings I’m thankful to have, or to have had, in my life.  First up is the Houston Quilt Festival, since it’s the most recent event I enjoyed.

The three days in Houston were great, as was the trip to and from. One of the most exciting moments of the festival was meeting Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. Alex even purchased my book, see?

Now, isn’t that a good thing to be thankful for?

The Houston trip provided me much to be thankful for, I traveled with some talented, generous, gifted ladies, had a superb, fun bus driver (Thanks Dana), and saw so many quilts and quilting ideas.

Including the opportunity to see one of Heather Jones‘ quilts. I’d seen it on her blog, but it was so much fun seeing it in person hanging with the other quilts at the show.

Isn’t it cool? She told me it wasn’t an art quilt, although it looks very artsy to me. I guess it’s a modern functional quilt.

Since I didn’t post my thanks for days 1-4, I’ll be adding them as the month progresses. At least, that’s the plan. Tomorrow, I’ll share my list of thirty things I’m thankful to have in my life.

I liked Melissa, the Willamette Valley Wonder Woman’s idea. She listed 30 things to be thankful for, and will post them daily where she can see them to remind her of her blessings. That way, every day she will be reminded of something she’s thankful for, and will start the day in a thankful way.

I will do that as well as expound on the gift here on my blog. In the meantime, what are you thankful to have in your life?

From the Trash Can to the Bed

Convert that box of scraps can be converted into a quilt (or thirty). Rather than throwing out the scraps of fabric, many quilters follow their grandmothers’ lead and make string quilts. Here are some string quilts to inspire you to put those scraps to good use.

These first two are from String Quilting Primer. She and a friend joined up to give directions. They use a solid color for the base and allows it to show through.  There are other quilts for your viewing pleasure on the website.  In addition to the quilts on this website, she lists other string quilters.

 

These quilts posted on the Scrappy String Quilt Gallery, I’m not sure who made them, but I like her plan.  In January 2007 she resolved to make one string block every day for a year. By the end of the year she had 30 completed quilts. Here are some of her numbers:

365 blocks
30 quilts + 5 blocks to grow on
1,460 squares
Average of 5 pieces of fabric per square
7,300 pieces of fabric for quilt center panel
A total of 7,480 pieces of fabric including the borders.

Not all string quilts are strips. Check out this one using a fussy cut print for the center of the block by Deb and shown on Quilts by Kathie.

Even traditional patterns can be made using strings. Like Chinese Coins  from, Mary Quilts.com

And this tumbling blocks quilt, also made by Mary

String quilts can be made using foundation fabric, ffoundation paper, or no foundation (depends on your strips). More string quilt links can be found at Heartstrings Quilts . I hope you enjoy the quilts, and maybe they inspire you to make your own. Have you ever made a string quilt? Go ahead and link to your quilt in the comments.

 

Scrap Jars Day 3- 31 Days

I found a new water bottle last week. A recyclable, reusable, convenient and scrap water bottle. It was not being used for anything else.

At first I worried about carrying and using a glass water jug. Then I remembered, way back when I was a baby, all the baby bottles were glass. Didn’t seem to hurt us much.      My new portable water container is easily washed for reuse and has a lid to keep the liquid from spilling. All it needs is for me to make a cozy for it to keep the drink cool. The cozy will also act as a container to hold the broken pieces should I drop my new water bottle.

It has a wide opening for adding ice and is easily managed while driving. I have a fancy plastic water bottle, made of “safe” plastic. The problem with it is, it’s too tall. It feels awkward to use. It’s harder to feel clean, since I don’t use a fancy electric dish washer.     Since I live in a rural area, I call my new reusable water bottle, “the redneck water bottle.”

It comes in several sizes,  I prefer the pint. It’s easier to hold and isn’t too heavy when filled with ice and water.  Yes, my red-neck water bottle is a canning jar. Most people use canning jars to preserve food for the coming winter. That is a good purpose for them. But, the extra jars that don’t get used, or one bought with food in it that isn’t safe to reuse as a canning jar is a scrap jar and makes a good water bottle.

I’m not the only one who thought of using a scrap jar as a new, cool on-the-go drink container.  Kara over at Kara’s Party Ideas used the metal jar ring to old an inverted cupcake liner place on her jar. She then poked a hole in the cupcake liner and insert straw. Viola! She used these recyclable, non-spillable, drink containers for a three-year olds birthday party.      

Jasie from Fine and Feathered, added a hole and washers to the metal lid of her water jar to hold a straw.

Me? I just add the plastic lid to mine jar, and remove it for drinking. Although, the straw ideas sound good, I may borrow them too.

There are other ways to use scrap jars too. Garden Therapy used scrap jars to make solar lights.

What do you do with your scrap jars?

A Taste of Stillwater OK Quilt Show

Saturdays are for showing and sharing as this blog gradually get revamped. Today is quilt show day, I’ll be attending two shows and am sharing pictures from a quilt show I attended earlier this summer.

These Oklahoma State Quilts were done by different quilters all have interesting stories, unfortunately right now I can’t make heads or tails of my notes. That’s what happens when the photos and notes aren’t immediately transferred to the computer.  In the meantime enjoy these quilts made in the colors and with the emblems of Oklahoma State University, The college of Oklahoma.

 

Also, on display at Stillwater were these art quilts which caught my attention. Normally, I spend a few minutes looking at art quilts, because while they are pretty, and I admire the work and vision of the quilters, they aren’t something I have a desire to make. This small quilt series, by Jan Holzbauer fascinated me though. Luckily, I was able to meet and talk to her. More about these quilts in a later post, but for now I’ll share two of them with you.

Aren’t they all fabulous? I’m off to visit two quilt shows today. With any luck, there’ll be enough energy left at the end of the day to come back and post recent pictures with descriptions.  Next week, will be more photos from the Stillwater Quilt show, with descriptions.

Have a great weekend. Do you have quilting or writing plans?

Helpful Hints from Binding In

A tutorial by me was on the agenda for today. However, the project I’d planned to use didn’t come out as expected, so no tutorial. I don’t figure anyone needs directions on how to make a mess. If you do, let me know, I’m an expert at goofs, I can give you some tips.

In the meantime, for Tutorial Thursday, I suffered around the internet and found some I thought you might enjoy trying.

If you have any tutorials you want to share, please let me know. The plan is to post a tutorial every Thursday, and it’s a cinch I won’t have one every week, so I’ll be sharing your brilliant suggestions.

First up on the list is a quilt with a ruffle rather than binding. I first saw a ruffle on a quilt 5 years ago when my little granddaughter was a baby.  I attended a show and my daughter-in-law pointed the quilt out to me. I took pictures; sorry I don’t know where they’re located now, and planned to make a similar quilt. Plans are one thing, actual making is something else. However, I’ve now found directions thanks to Anne Sutton at Bunny Hill Designs  for purposely putting a ruffle on a quilt, here.

Next up are borders.  Many quilters like to put a border on their quilts to frame the piecing. Me? I usually piece to the edge of the quilt. Although, borders are also handy if your quilt is too small. If you’re having trouble with your borders not coming out right, Pigtails and Quilts has you covered, with her easy-to-follow method.

If you need a quilt design, this zig-zag quilt might be what you’re looking for. I love this  quilt, although it looks more like large rick-rack appliqued to me. Whatever you call it, it will be perfect for one of my grandchildren for next Christmas. Maybe you’d like to make one.

Now that you have a quilt, and a border, what about quilting? If you take it to a long-arm quilter, or you have a long-arm machine, no problem. Free motion quilting is good, but some of us aren’t quite as proficient as we want to be, yet. I love the look of straight stitch quilting.  However, since I don’t get too upset over blocks not being exactly square, or seams matching, following the seams lines when quilting leaves a bit to be desired.  This boxed in quilting tutorial from Blue Bird Sews looks like just the thing. If you try it, let me know how you liked it.

Now that you have a tutorial for a quilt, the border, even the quilting, what about binding?  What do we do with our binding fabric while waiting to add it to the quilt? Some of you even have  four or five, or more, quilts ready and waiting to be quilted, what do you do with the binding while you’re waiting?  I can’t imagine not having, at least the fabric, stashed somewhere for when the quilt was ready for it’s binding. For those of us who haven’t been organized in the past, here’s a method for storing several batches of binding until the quilt is ready. It’s from Jaqs Studio. Having the binding ready to go, or at least having a way to save it, may make getting those quilts finished an easier process, or not, who knows?

For a change of pace, here’s a little project for you to try. An ID/Luggage Tag, from Guila at Guila Greer Arts. After all, quilters travel, to visit friends and family, to retreats, quilt outings, and much more. Wouldn’t you like to have your own unique tag on your luggage?

Three Tips for Improved Blogs

In a never-ending search for ways to be more active online I’m devoting March to my blog. Each Monday I’ll look at suggestions and ways improving our blogs to help strengthen my writing platform. After all, that’s supposed to be the idea, have a good solid platform and people will find the books. Uh-huh. We’ll see. Last month I worked on my Twitter account. This month it’s blogging.

The goals are to blog consistently, and increase my readership. I’ll let you know at the end of the month how well it worked.

Today, I have 3 suggestions for a good blog.

  1. Find an area and stick with it. Yeeeah, this is a case of do as I suggest and not as I do. I can’t seem to stay in one area with my blog.
  •  I’m a writer, so I blog about writing, but I don’t feel experienced enough to only  blog about writing.
  • I’m a quilter, remember. my book is a collection of quilt stories. Again, not an expert quilter, and don’t want to just blog about quilting.
  • Then there’s my faith, inspirational, uplifting comments and ideas I want to share.

However, experts on blogging suggest we bloggers find and stick with one market.  While I haven’t been able to follow that advice, I do follow bloggers in each of those categories that do stick to one subject.

Writing bloggers like Duolit , who have a blog  for independent published authors, but I find it helpful. When I want to learn about book marketing, I check out their blog.

Quilting bloggers like, Kim at Kim’s Crafty Apple,  I know when I go to her blog there will be information on quilting in some form. Sure I learn a little about her life, but mostly I learn about quilting.

Inspirational bloggers like, Karen Jordan at Telling the Stories that Matter the Most. I know if I’m hurting, or want to be uplifted Karen is sure to have a story that will help.

This is why ‘experts’ encourage us to find an area and stick with it when we blog. Although, that is good advice, I’ve never been known to do what was best. Maybe it’s the latent rebel in me.

I’m not alone, there are other bloggers who cover a variety of subject. Bloggers like Amy Shojai’s Blog, Bling, Bitches, & Blood. Or Hilary at The Smitten Image, then there’s Carol at Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy.

2.  Have a schedule. Even if your blog, like mine, zigzags all over the place, have a posting schedule. This will allow your readers to have an idea of when you will post what.I try to do that:

  • Monday is for writers, currently it’s marketing, but that could change.
  • Wednesday is God’s word, that’s still a work in progress. I started one way which didn’t work, so am looking for what will work for me.
  • Friday is Five Minute Friday, where I write for five minutes, no editing, no second guessing, and link up with others at The Gypsy Mama.
  • Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are supposed to be for quilting, again, a work in progress.
  • Sundays are silent, I post pictures.

3.  Be consistent. Right. Another case of do as I suggest and not as I do. Once we have a schedule, we need to stick with it. Again, it makes it easier for our readers. Also, having a consistent time to post helps them. Some like to post in the late evening, others prefer posting in the early morning, or maybe the afternoon, depending on their real life schedule. So far, my posting time has been horribly erratic.

Now you know what I’m not doing, that I should be doing. How about you? Do you follow any of these rules, or do you break them? Why? Do you have other “rules” you follow that helps keep your blog active? Please share with us.

 

 

Twitter Tips

“Experts” tell us to use Twitter as another selling tool for our books. Except, we aren’t supposed to just promote our books. What? Sounds a little  backward, use it to sell, but don’t sell.

Twitter is like a party where we can network, but really, we are there to socialize. Some people are more social and have 1,000 or more followers, friends, social contacts. Others of us are less outgoing, and have far fewer. When this month started I had 325 after a month of ‘working’ Twitter I’m up to 445, the goal was 500 and, do the math, you’ll see, I’m still 55 people short. However, an increase of 110 people in less than 30 days sounds like success to me, plus I still have three days.

Why did I want more followers if I can’t ‘sell’ my book to them? Because, I can ‘sell’ myself to them, they’ll eventually buy the book because of my tweets, or they’ll tell someone else about my book. Also, more followers mean, more interesting people for me to meet.

I’ve met some quilters who are generous with their tips and talents, often sharing tutorials, many of which I’ve included on my blog. More followers, mean more information for me to use when blogging. The blog, of course, is another way of selling books. There are too many quilters to mention, but recently I learned about I Spy bags from Lorelei.

I’ve met writers who encourage, and entertain me. Writers I’d never meet except online. Writers like Mariam Kobras, German author of THE DISTANT SHORE.  Mariam is  author who wrote her first book while overseeing detention at the local school. Now, how could I NOT like her? I love sharing tweets with her, and she in turns introduces me to some of her friends.

Since my book, DEVOTED TO QUILTING, is essentially a devotional, following fellow christen writers seemed a no-brainer. I’ve met some great uplifting people that way. People like Lyn Smith, a minister, speaker, writer, and just plain fun person. Then there’s LisaJo at  who combines family, ministry, and writing. LisaJo’s Five Minute Friday is not only a good way for me to have a Friday post, but introduces me to some fabulous people each week.

So, how do I find these people? How have I increased my friends at the twitter social? I adopted the following strategy:

1. Reply to other tweets-If someone tweets something you find amusing, helpful, or just fun, comment. When I don’t know something, I tweet a question. Twitters are friendly people, they will usually respond, either as a reply or as a direct message.

2. Retweet other tweets. When someone posts a tweet I agree with, or enjoy I retweet it. It only takes a second, and you never know where it will lead.

A few days ago I retweeted a tweet about the future of obtaining a college degree for Agriculture jobs. I live in a rural area, and all of my children have, college education that led to jobs in agriculture. My husband and his brother both taught agriculture. It was a subject dear to me, so I shared it.

A few days later, that retweet, with my twitter feed was mentioned in the Agriculture Blog Daily. http://paper.li/AR_ranchhand/1327775386 His tweet which mentioned me, went out to 2888 followers. Will all of those 2888 people check out my tweets? No. Will any? Maybe. And it’s likely I’ll get new followers, which will eventually translate into more sales.

I didn’t know my little tweet would be spread so far. I didn’t do it for the exposure; I did it because I believed in the original tweet and wanted to share.

The tweets I retweet don’t always result in such exposure, but that doesn’t matter, that’s not the reason I do it. Sometimes I retweet for friends to help get them more exposure; others do the same for me. We help each other.

4. Post links to other blogs or websites you find interesting. I often have trouble thinking of something to tweet, I don’t want to be advertising my book all the time, and I don’t want to be too personal. That’s when sharing links to other blogs or websites comes in handy. Some of my writer friends aren’t on Twitter, or if they are I haven’t found them.  But I can tweet the link to their blog or website for them. This often gets them new readers and shows other twitter people some of my interests.

5.  Answer if someone replies or retweets you. It’s just polite to thank someone for retweeting one of your tweets. If possible, respond to their replies. It gets the conversation going, which helps them to know you and hopefully will sell more books.

Twitter is just one little road that leads others to you, and your books. Enjoy your twittering.

These are some of my Twitter tips. I’m still learning, I’m sure there will be another Twitter post in the future. Do you have others; is there something you do on Twitter that has helped you?

Easy Quilted Project How-tos

It’s tutorial Thursday, and since I still haven’t put together my own tutorial for you, here are some links for tutorials that I found helpful, and a couple of links to free patterns. Enjoy.

I love scrap quilts, they are my favorite, and free patterns that use scraps, well that’s just about perfect. From Daily Craft comes this pattern, from Quilter’s Newsletter.perfect for using scraps:

Free Quilting Pattern

Isn’t it pretty? It was inspired by Cinco de Mayo (the popular Mexican celebration that takes place on the 5th of May). Although, for non scrap collectors, it would be nice in a planned color palette, imagine it with one color. I may have to try this one when I get some of these already-started projects out-of-the-way. If you make it, share with us, with a link.

Once you have a quilt made, you may want to hang it. Jacquie at  Tall Grass Prairie Studio has an easy-to-follow hanging sleeve tutorial.

Bonnie Browning of AQS (American Quilt Society) made a hanging sleeve tutorial video, here.

Since I love mug rugs, and Valentine’s day is coming up, this themed mug rug is a great use of  scraps. I found it on Whip it Up Today  it was a guest post by Judy from Pleasant Home? I’ll try to get my mug rug and hug tutorial up next week. 🙂

Finally, over at Mauby’s is a square table topper. Angie from  Stitching by Starlight made a cute square table topper tutorial because her table is square and most table toppers or runners are rectangle. Angie used Soul Blossoms fabrics for the center of the topper with Kona white for the background. However, it would be cute with scraps you have on hand, and just think how cute it would be as a set of place-mats. I love place-mats! They wouldn’t even have to match each other, as long as they have some of the same fabrics, and use the same background fabric.

I hope you enjoy cruising around and checking out these tutorials. If you’d like to see a tutorial on a specific item, let me know and I’ll try to find one or ten, or will make my own. What do you think of these? Have you made any of them?

Saturday Show and Tell UFO Goals

A little late with my Saturday Show and Share. I’m joining up with some fabulous quilter/bloggers to finish up some of the UFO’s taking up space.

First up is the project for challenge at Patchwork Times. For that challenge we listed 12 projects, mine are here. Yesterday, the number of the project for this month was announced. For me it will be the Allen Quilt Guild Swap Block Quilt, for lack of a better name. These are half square triangle blocks that my quilt guild members swapped soon after I joined them. It’s the first one I ever participated in. The blocks need to be sewn together, then the whole thing quilted. No problem. Right?

A few of them unfolded

Stack of hst squares from Allen quilt guild

I’m also  linking up with Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap, and the 2012 Finish-A-Long. For this challenge, at the beginning of a quarter, we post the UFOs from years past that we will work on and with any luck finish in the same quarter. My UFOs for the quarter are:The Allen Quilt mentioned above. The wall hanging Grandmother’s Flower Garden. As you can see a couple of the ‘petals’ need to be attached then the whole thing quilted. More information about it is here.

Flower Garden

This one will probably take the entire quarter to finish. However, I’m also working on:This prayer quilt. Don’t ask how long I’ve been working on it. :)It needs to be retied (I had to take them out), and bound.

Then there’s this prayer quilt that needs the binding fixed and the quilt delivered:

Prayer quilt #2

Yes, I started this quilt after the first one and it’s closer to being finished, but that’s because I had to take all the ties out of the first one, I’d made a few mistakes and it wasn’t right. I’d hoped that finishing this second quilt would give me the confidence to go back and complete the first one. Didn’t happen. Both will be completed this quarter, hopefully this month.

Then there are these growth charts:

growth charts in the making

One is almost finished, and the second one is barely started. They were supposed to be Christmas gifts. Ha! Guess they’ll be Valentine gifts. The children won’t have a birthday until Sep. and I don’t want to wait that long.

There’s also the monthly applique. Our group started these at the beginning of the year as a block of the month applique challenge. I started it, but had an issue with the February heart block. Finally decided to do the entire quilt in black and white. This will be finished this quarter also.

Yes, it does say “pot holders” however the patterns were in both 6 and 10 inch and we thought they’d make cute blocks for a quilt. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do for the July block though, there wasn’t a July pattern, and we were all to choose our our design. Problem is, most designs I think of depend on the patriotic colors, not sure what I’ll do in black and white for that month. But, I still have a little time, this just needs to be finished this quarter, not this week.

 

Finally there’s the denim quilt for my grandson Spencer. I have the denim squares cut, but that’s it. Since it was also supposed to be a Christmas gift, I hope to finish it this month so it can be a birthday gift for him.

There you have it, my unfinished projects that WILL be finished in the next three months. I’m sure I’ll add some new projects along also. I already know I want to make another prayer quilt. I’ve even bought the fabric for it. Maybe I’ll get it finished sooner than the other two.

I also need to make the leaf blocks for our 2011 exchange, which we’ll do at the next meeting. Not including them though, since they aren’t even started.