Monday, March 31, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggity jig

It’s amazing to see the changes since I’ve been away from home. Suddenly, over the course of two weeks spring waved her magic wand and splashed away winter’s drab with yellow.

Daffodils punctuated the landscape as far north as St. Louis on the return drive along Interstates 55 and 44. And Forsythia shrubs drew my tired eyes away from the boring task of interstate driving. As I pulled in the driveway at home, I noticed the neighbor’s apple tree awash in beautiful blossoms too. Stepping out of the car was a bit of a treat too for you see spring is a little slower coming to more northern climes like Chicagoland.

So, you might wonder, am I happy to be home? I suppose so, but I must acclimate myself again to different rhythms and routines as well as prepare for a new challenge next week. And I miss one certain new member of the family much more than I thought possible. Such is life these days.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Can You Spare Stuff

I've been away from home but not the news of the terrible flooding in Missouri. This morning's mail brought a call for help for a family who lost everything. The Springfield chapter of the international organization, Freecycle, is adopting a family that basically needs well, everything.

I've written about Freecycle before because I love the idea behind exchanging or giving away stuff you no longer want to need in order to keep it out of overfilled landfills. E-mail me if you want the link to those who are helping.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Work In Progress

Part 4
I’ve decided on the dimensions, theme and color palate. I took scissors to cloth, cutting out several appliqué pieces and selecting the background material.

The beauty of my self-inspired design is that I can change my direction at any time. This first section, however, is fairly inflexible.

And I set about embroidering by hand the first appliqué letter. I will spare the details and show the first completed piece. If you know me well enough, you will figure out what the following letters of this first word will be.

Care to guess?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quilting Away, Part 3

Part 3
I don’t want to reinvent the wheel but I’m going about this quilt project from the ground up. Yes, I know there are software programs but I suspect they are too basic. I have a grand vision and will thus strike out in my own direction. I have read that other designers use the computer and maybe I’ll stumble upon their hints along the way.

Today’s field trip was to two Springfield quilt shops and Hancock’s Fabric store. By the way and entirely off topic, I must ask a perplexing question: why were so many men shopping with their women folk? My husband wouldn’t be caught dead in a shop dedicated to sewing.

The first stop was overwhelming. Not only do I have to figure out how to make the quilt after I design it, but I have to choose the fabric. The fabric choice is astounding. Just like having too many telephone companies to choose from is confusing for me, so is this.

I bought some fabric and brought it home to ponder. Pondering begat another trip, this time to Hobby Lobby for more red or more precisely, crimson.

Monday, March 17, 2008

May the Luck of the Irish Be With You

College Boy just returned to Hendrix College yesterday after a week at home for spring break. Mostly we caught up on how he's been doing, what he does with friends, what college students watch on TV (House & Project Runway)--that kind of stuff. He applied for some summer jobs, made his dad a birthday cake and definitely caught up on his sleep. Remember how I worried he wouldn't be able to wake himself up for classes? I didn't even ask if the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock was still in use, but rest assured, his hearing-impaired roommate isn't bothered by it. Funny how things work out sometimes.

And today I post this as I head back to Chicagoland to visit. It's about an eight hour drive and I'm throwing my Chiefton's CD in the front seat for the trip. It is St. Patrick's Day after all and I feel lucky.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Quilt Design Project, Part 2

Part 2
First off, I researched quilts and techniques. I lean toward a quilt that is appliquéd. This French term means one layer of fabric is placed over another layer of fabric and sewn in place. This appeals to my design instincts and I did a computer version of the design first. I know I should just do a simple patchwork quilt as a rookie, but I am not content with simple.

Right now I’m not sure how much I’ll show of the process. This might be the last you read of it until the quilt is complete. However, if progress is fulfilling, I’ll share. I have made field trips to scope out fabric, and I loved traipsing through rows of rolls and bolts. Not one item was purchased at first for after all, this was research.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Quilt Design Project

Part 1
I’m the type of person who is happiest with a project percolating in my head. If you saw the movie Waitress, I’d say I’m like the title character always creating new kinds of pies in her mind. I do love pies, but in this case, my head is turned by designs, colors and shapes—not yummy pies.

At any rate, learning to quilt is my current project. Granny Martin was a quilter and my mother picked it up when she retired from over 30 years working for the U.S. Air Force. Let’s just say Mother was happier quilting. However, I want to make a quilt like no other. No standard designs. I will blaze my own quilting path. Dear gentle readers, you will be a part of the mystery. Will my quilt be in the same league as Granny’s and Mom’s or will it be one big poorly-stitched disaster?

Friday, March 14, 2008

I Wish the News Had Been Different

I am a writer and used to working with words, but sometimes there are situations where I find myself at a loss as to what to say. I think that I am not alone. I pray I don’t rattle on filling the quiet with annoying attempts to ease the pain of someone who is hurting.

“I’m so sorry this has happened,” seems appropriate, as does “I wish the news had been different.”

Today I wonder what I will say as I write a note to my cousin. It happens all too often and I will always struggle. But I will write.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Miles to Go Before I Sleep

The list. We all may have one either written or only in our heads. Here's my list of things I want to do before I die. And as far as I know, I am not doing that right now and hopefully not any time soon for you see I have lots of things left to do.

The List

See Scott graduate from high school. (I wrote this last year and Scott graduated in May of 2007)
See Scott graduate from college.
Be a grandmother. (Nicolas Bryant--born February 23, 2008)
Open my own business.
Succeed in my business.
Return to Italy.
Visit Greece again.
Travel by car to Montana and ride horses there.
Lose 22 pounds and have a BMI of 24.
Own an English Springer Spaniel again.
Run for public office.
See my Oklahoma relatives.
Find a hairstyle I really like.
Learn not to worry.
Perform many random acts of kindness.
Fly in a single engine plane.
Go to Mexico and eat an authentic meal.
Have a birthday party with a Mariachi band.
Visit the Smithsonian again.
See a play in New York City.
Go camping again.
Become a muckraker and right an injustice.
Go to an Alabama football game in Tuscaloosa.
See a really difficult situation to the end.
Help someone through a difficult time.
Drive a Miata.
License a design.
Laugh a lot.
Have more fun.
Spend time with my family.
Paint a picture of a cow.
Become a better photographer, writer, editor and designer.
Earn enough money to support myself, my family and have some left over for the greater good.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I'm no Oprah snubbed by Hermes in Paris when she was not allowed in the store while others continued to shop, but I was slightly miffed by my experience at the Brooks Brothers shop at Chicago's Premium Outlet Mall on Sunday.

I was the invisible shopper. I entered, looked around for at least 10 or 15 minutes and selected a wool jacket and a blouse. It would have been nice if the sales staff had offered to place the items in a dressing room. They weren't crowded as it was before noon and the church crowd was otherwise occupied. The fact that I was not greeted as I entered the shop could have been forgiven but not the complete and utter failure to acknowledge my presence.

I suppose, dear gentle readers, you might say, "Oh, Sheila this is just the way it is." But I remember the way it used to be.

I first became a customer of Brooks Brothers while we lived in Houston, Texas in the mid-80s. I found that navy blue blazer that lasted me until last year when the moths discovered it that I have written about in an earlier post. Quality and classic styles was always what attracted me to Brooks Brothers. I don't mind paying more for quality because I know an item will last. And back then, service was a concept Brooks Brothers staffers still remembered.

As a former secret shopper for Coldwater Creek, I know the things the corporate office looks for in stores that carry the brand name, and to Brooks Brothers I say, y'all need to work on some issues.