Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chew, Chew, Chew

A few people have had questions about the Elephant title in my last post.
Realizing that blogs are viewed by people from all over the world, I will explain a little American saying.
When approaching a task that is large or time consuming, we often quote:
How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One bite at a time.
(meaning, break the job down into small pieces and then it won't feel so overwhelming)

Chew, Chew, Chew
I'm still working away on the outer border of Criss Cross, with all those 268 little one inch squares.

Sandy Klop of American Jane Patterns uses a great technique for placing the squares on point.
First she has you chain piece long sections like these.

And then trim down the sides allowing 1/4th inch for the seam line.
Easy, but they do take some time and are a little monotonous.
A nice time to gather up some good DVD's from the library and sew away.

With it being July, a month that reminds me of patriotism, I watched Glory.
Made in 1989, but this is the first I've seen it.
I remember my children watching this movie in high school as part of their education on the Civil War.
Glory is based on the 54th Volunteer Infantry, the first formal unit comprised of all blacks.
Excellent movie, with an outstanding cast, and winner of 3 academy awards.
It certainly kept my attention, and made a few hours go by fast.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kind of Like Eating an Elephant

I really thought I'd have Criss Cross all finished by this weekend.

I've been diligent and have all 16 of the 22- inch blocks put together, and have most of the inside of the quilt assembled.

But then I noticed that the edge has 268 little 1-inch blocks set on point all around the outside border.
Hmm.... I may be at this a few more day.

The quilt implements 601 of these cuts.
Not hard to do, just time consuming.
Kind of like Eating an Elephant.
One piece at a time.

And can I just tell you?
I am loving this quilt more and more as I see it coming together!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Congratulations Aubrey!

The happiest of moments as a parent come when you see your children work hard and reach a goal.
Congratulations to our #1 daughter Aubrey who graduated yesterday with a degree from The University of Phoenix.
We are so proud of you sweetheart!
You have been persistent, overcome obstacles, and have been dedicated to improving your life through education.

Aubrey and Amy were born 13 months apart and I had a strong vision of them being the best of friends.
It's wonderful to see them now as adults, living in the same city, spending time together often and supporting each other.

The graduation ceremony was held in the massive University of Phoenix Stadium
(go Cardinals!)

Aubrey works for the University of Phoenix (Corporate Sponsor of the Stadium) and loves her job.

We were honored to hear the Commencement Address by well known television journalist Tom Brokaw

Out of all the news anchors on television, Tom Brokaw is my favorite.

For years he was my window into the outside world as I listened to him daily on The Today Show and NBC Nightly News.

We've driven by the University of Phoenix stadium many a time, but this was our first time inside.

The Superbowl was held here in 2008, and it was the most watched Superbowl in history.

The stadium seats 63,400 and can expand to 72,000.

In fact if the stadium seats were set in a line they would stretch for 18 miles.

The exterior design represents a barrel cactus, but I think it looks more like an alien space ship that has landed in an Arizona corn field.

The stadium also has a retractable roof, and keep their natural grass field on a roll out 12 million pound tray.

They keep the grass outside most of the year because when it's inside it creates rain clouds.

We wouldn't have wanted that to happen during the graduation ceremony :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Children's Museum of Phoenix

It can be challenging to keep kids occupied during the hot summer months in Arizona when the temps reach triple digits.
My daughter has been wise in purchasing an annual pass to the Children's Museum of Phoenix.

This is an amazingly creative, hands on interactive museum.
Voted in 2011 Parents Magazine among the Best 10 Children's Museums in the U.S.
I couldn't agree more.
As an adult, I could hardly wait to see what exhibit was around each corner.

Probably one of the biggest draws is The Climber, which stands at 37 feet reaching up through 3 floors.
Think of a very large maze, with gerbil like compartments leading to unique destinations.

Like flying bathtubs.

Even though I am afraid of heights, the grandma in me succumbed to the requests of my grandchildren, and up I went.

Holding Noah's hand, I'm proud to announce I climbed through child size claustrophobic tubes and made it clear to the tip top rocket ship.

The next big attraction was the Noodle Forest.

This had somewhat of a Field of Dreams experience as you enter through a large room filled with foamy noodles suspended from the ceiling.

You can't see where you are going or who is standing next to you.

Fortunately Issak has a good sense of direction and kept me safe.

One room was a completely stocked general store, with freezer case and check out registers.

Good place for Kayla to get a head start on her shopping skills.

As a family of foodies, we loved the pizza kitchen.

I thought the fabric pizzas were a great idea that could be implemented at home with left over quilting scraps.

With all the things to do at the museum, it was interesting for me to see where Noah wanted to spend quite a bit of his time.

He loved water "painting" on this large slab of rock.

Another idea that could be made at home.

There is so much to see and do. One entire section of the museum was dedicated to "cars".

Amy helped the kids as they made their way through the car wash.

Real antique gas pumps and fun road racers.

But, I'm not sure it was wise to let Kayla start driving a big green pickle.

I'm already visualizing her 16th birthday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Riley Blake Free Quilt Patterns

I am always on the lookout for inspirations to use up my quilt scraps.

Have you noticed how popular Kaleidoscopes patterns are right now in blogland?

I have too many projects in the line up to join the Quilt Alongs, but they sure are tempting!

I was especially happy to find this free pattern Forest Friends by Riley Blake.

Easy to download and print, and the 57" X 57" looks like it would make a great baby size quilt.

Did you know Riley Blake has entire page of free patterns?

Right there on the same page is a free pattern Cherry A La Mode using Sew Cherry by my friend Lori Holt. Love this one too!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've made a little progress on my Criss Cross quilt.

Two more blocks are now complete.
Only 3 left to go!
All those little brown and muslin squares are only 1" X 1"

It's been fun coming up with fabric combinations.

And it feels good to have this UFO a little closer to completion.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Criss Cross UFO

I've peeked into my big gray bin, and found another UFO that needs attention.
Maybe I should have titled this The Summer of My Repentance.
I am committed (or I should have myself committed?) to organizing and completing as many UnFinished quilt Objects this summer as possible.
Several years ago my girlfriend Judi Sears and I walked into a quilt store and saw Criss Cross by American Jane Patterns.
Right then we said "Let's make this quilt together!"
Such a good idea.

Judi worked away and completed her Criss Cross and it has been hanging beautifully in her office ever since.
I enjoy seeing her quilt every time I enter her home.

Meanwhile, my Criss Cross sat in pieces, all tucked away in that big gray bin.
Some of the blocks were completed.

Other blocks just had the fabrics cut in strips.

Lots of little piles of 1 1/2" pieces.

And this.

Have you ever come back to a quilt several years later and not had the slightest idea where you left off?

Criss Cross is a large and somewhat complicated quilt that will measure 96" X 96" when done.

It took a little brain work to figure out where to re-start.

The fabrics in one block need to match the fabrics in the block next door, so there is a little coordinating that needs to go on.

It was helpful to throw everything that had been finished so far up on my design wall.

This is one of those kind of quilt projects where I've discovered a design wall is absolutely essential.

You need to be able to step back and see the overall effect.

Especially because the blocks are quite large, with a final measurement of 22 1/2".

They take a little time to put together.

I finished the bottom 3 blocks in the last few days, and still have 5 more to go.

I really like the scrappyness of the fabrics and absolutely love everything that Sandy Klop designs for American Jane Patterns.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fit To be Quarter Ruler

Look what I just won!
The Fit To be Quarter Ruler from Monique of Open Gate.

My thanks to my friend Sherri of A Quilting Life for offering this wonderful Give Away.
And many thanks to Monique.
I can think of so many ways to use this ruler. It came with a free pattern and helpful instructions.
Monique wrote "Made to trim quarter square triangles, combination units and square quilt blocks."

This is how Sherri has been using her Fit To be Quarter ruler.
Stay tuned.
I'm already contemplating how useful this ruler will be for my next few projects.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Three Six Nine

One of my goals for this summer is to make quilts to be donated to charitable organizations.

I have stacks of older fabrics that no longer match my taste, and yet would be appreciated by others.
Three Six Nine by The Quilt Company works up fast, and is fat quarter friendly.

Since this is July, I pulled from my red and blue piles.

The pattern says "This quick and easy project is made from simple three and six inch finished pieces that combine to make a nine inch block!"
Three Six Nine can be made in 4 different sizes ranging from a throw to a queen. The instructions list how many fat quarters are required for each size.
I made a twin (72" X 90") with 27 fat quarters.

The block is very simple. It kind of has a split nine patch look.

I purposly selected more masculine prints so the quilt would be suitable for men.

Because the pattern works up quickly and is easy to assemble, I think this would be fun activity for a charitable group/guild project. Each person could bring fat quarters in the selected colors, and all could work on sewing the blocks.

Now I want to know why my red and blue pile doesn't look any smaller.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Power of Premonitions

I've had quite a few people e-mail me asking what kind of audio books Mr. Cactus and I listen to on the 6 hour drives we often make between Utah and Arizona.
I usually let my husband make the selection because I always find his choices very interesting, plus it gives us something to talk about.
Most have to do with business, and often address the psychology of business such as Blink (by Malcolm Gladwell) "The Power of Thinking without Thinking" as it relates to behavioral economics.

Our latest "listen" was The Power of Premonitions" by Larry Dossey, M.D.
Dr. Dossey is a former Internist and Chief of Staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital.
He is heavily involved in the role of the Mind in Health and role of spirituality in Healthcare.
He has also been on Oprah several times, and his book is on the Oprah Book Club list.
Dr. Dossey defines premonitions as "A glimpse of the future, a feeling or sense that something is going to happen."
The book starts with examples of some very thought provoking cases and then moves on to evidence collected through scientific studies.
Premonitions most often come through dreams, and are often unconscious feelings.
One example came from a small town in Nebraska where there was a church explosion. The curious part was that no one was in the building at the time. All 15 members of the church choir for one reason or another did not show up for choir practice that day.
Dr. Dossey writes that the ability to predict is real and that most of us possess it.
"Knowing the future can help you have a future.
Premonitions are often about survival. They warn us of future dangers — health problems, impending accidents, disasters, and so on.
For example, research shows that people often avoid riding on trains the day they crash, compared to normal days. On days of the crash, the vacancy rate on the train is unusually high.
This type of premonition is usually unconscious. People don’t say, “The train is going to crash. I’m cancelling my reservation.” They usually report a vague sense that something is wrong or doesn’t feel right, and they find some reason to change their plans."

I really enjoyed listening to this book. It made me think of the premonitions I have had in my life. Ask any mother and she will be able to tell you stories of "mothers intuition" with her children.
What do you think?