Friday, January 30, 2009

Reusing Old Calendars

Did you know that you can reuse calendars from previous years? Sometimes the stars align just right and a calendar year will work out perfectly for using again although the holidays won’t always match exactly.

Source: 1953 calendar for sale at American & Hakes Collectibles

In keeping with the theme, I used the front of a Lone Ranger book to make a list of calendar years that work for 2009 (dates from Time and

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fly Fishing Classes

Have you wanted to learn fly-fishing or how to tie fishing flies? Maybe not, but that’s my new adventure this week.

Source: Moldychum

Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department is offering free fly fishing classes and I jumped on the opportunity. Instructors are Joe Fagan from Arizona Game and Fish teaming with Jim Martin, a professor of geography here in Tucson.

Who’d ever think you’d find fly fishing aficionados in Tucson? I looked online and discovered a lot of folks here enjoy fly fishing. There are clubs and even a local fly fishing store such as Dry River Outfitters.

Yesterday we were introduced to fly fishing and the art of tying flies. The class is well organized, and they've kept the student count down to eight which is very helpful. I am the only woman in the class, a bit disappointing as it would be great sharing this experience with fishing "sisters".

Look at the cute Zebra Midge I made, very tiny, about the size of my thumb. It's amazing how sewing skills translate into making flies—I was very comfortable with that aspect. I did manage to snag my finger twice on the extremely sharp barb.

Saturday morning we'll learn to cast at Silverbell Lake. Rods, equipment, and other materials will be provided to us; a good thing since all I can offer is my enthusiasm.

I’m quite enjoying this venture, which is weird on my part since I cannot eat any type of fish (major death-inducing allergy). Now if I can just avoid hooking a saguaro or two on Saturday.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sew Your Own Lanyard

The annual Tucson Gem, Fossil and Mineral Shows begin this weekend,. As buyers for my sister’s stained glass art company, WenchWorks, we have to wear a badge to gain entrance to the wholesale shows.

I made lanyards for our badges using Cute2Carry’s easy
tutorial. The hardware pieces are off old lanyards from a Las Vegas casino, the badge laminating pieces were purchased at Office Max, and the fabric is a leftover piece from the Amy Butler Birdie Sling I made last May.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lemon Drop Cookies

Of the two choices for January’s Finny & Donk's 2009 Adventures Craft:along, I chose to make the Lemon Drop Cookies. The recipe was created by Oh, Fransson and featured on Craft:.

It was rather fun to get out my KitchenAid mixer and food processor, putting them both into action to make these delightful cookies with their delicate lemony fragrance and taste.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Desktop Wallpapers

The generosity shown by a lot of folks online inspires and amazes me. I’m grateful to each and every person and/or company. Most of the time I use my own photographs as my desktop wallpaper, but today I’m celebrating those offered free in the generous virtual world we all enjoy so much.

Safely ensconced on my laptop right now is a beautiful and useful January calendar desktop wallpaper created by Kelly at Purple Lemon Designs blog.

I learned about the calendar at One Pretty Thing blog. Rachel compiles tons of crafty resources from all over the Internet. You’ll never run out of creative things to try and do.

For Jane Austen fans, The Jane Austen Centre is offering two different offerings each month throughout 2009 featuring a specific year of Jane Austen’s lifetime or a fashion plate from 1809. I’ll probably switch over to one of these for the romantic month of February.

This is one of three desktop wallpapers Kate Spade offers. Explore her web site for other fun projects and free downloads. Her “Things We Love” section is brilliant.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

This Week’s Reading List: A Mini-Review

Without giving the stories away, here are my brief reactions to the books I read this week (posted here) and my advice on whether to purchase a copy or seek it at your local library. If you prefer a more-detailed description of each book, you can click on the links.

I’ll preface my mini-review by stating my opinion matters to me but may not to anyone else. It’s always best to make your own judgment as each reader discovers something different in a book pertinent to their own frame of reference.
  • The Last Lecture: Inspiring; do a good deed and buy a copy, then pass it along to someone else as I’ve done.

  • The End of the Alphabet: While the premise was good, I felt a bit let down at the end as though the story was incomplete—which is pretty much the point of the book. I’ve not come to terms yet with how I feel about it. Check it out at your library.

  • And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks: Both authors are famous and purportedly amazing wordsmiths. I don’t presume to be as clever as they profess to be but will say this book is just plain weird. Don’t bother buying it or even checking it out at your library.

  • 7th Heaven (The Women's Murder Club): When I found this book at the library, I had no idea whatsoever that one of the characters would be named “Junie Moon”. The book is a quick and enjoyable read; look on the shelves of your local library.

  • I always end up at appointments or classes too early, so I’m taking The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo along to Tai Chi this morning as I’m almost done reading it. Therefore, I haven’t an opinion right now.

Next week’s stack is ready to go and, if I run out, more books are on standby.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Blessings Friday: The Best Gift Ever

Today I want to thank Garmin for their unknowing help during an emergency.

My daughter Lindsay and I both received a Garmin nĂ¼vi 760 4.3-Inch Widescreen Bluetooth Portable GPS Automobile Navigator for Christmas from our husbands (they got them at Lindsay takes after me in that we are both directionally-challenged.

One night a couple of days after Christmas, Lindsay and her husband were road-testing her new GPS unit on a dangerous mountain road near Denver.

Source: USDOT

Their car hit a patch of black ice and slammed into a concrete embankment which, thankfully, kept them from going over the side of the mountain. Trapped in the car, they were able to use the Garmin device to access emergency services. Emergency services were able to get a fix on their location because of the GPS unit.

Getting a call that your child has been in an automobile accident is one that no parent ever wants to receive. The fact that Lindsay and Philip are alive and well today is a blessing too huge to describe. My heart is full of gratitude for this gift of their lives as well as the Christmas gift that brought them the help they needed.

Thank you, Garmin!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Grasp Sparrow's Tail

You have to love a system like Tai Chi that incorporates whimsical names for its movements: White Crane Spreads Wings, Swallow Skims the Water, Grasp Sparrow's Tail, or White Snake Sticks Out its Tongue, to name a few. Just thinking about them makes me smile.

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art using slow body movements and controlled breathing to improve balance, flexibility, muscle tone, core strength and overall health. For me, it’s a moving meditation.

At home, I listen to Tai Chi music when practicing. There’s always a great sense of well-being and calmness afterwards. I feel my balance is restored.

No uniform is required (just loose comfortable clothes), but here are some things I wear when attending class.

Source: Dub Scroggin

This is my cotton Tai Chi uniform. Practitioners really don’t wear the silk outfits you see in videos or on TV, not practical. In fact, a lot of times folks in Beijing just wear whatever they’ve worn to work to do Tai Chi in a nearby park during their lunch breaks—even a shirt and tie. I like my uniform because it’s comfortable and allows me to move without feeling constricted.

Sometimes I wear my dragon pants with a t-shirt. They are simply embroidered cotton pajama bottoms found on clearance at T.J. Maxx about six years ago. People often stop me and ask where they can get some for their martial arts classes, especially guys. It cracks me up to tell them they’re pajamas.

Although I prefer going barefoot at home or doing Tai Chi on the beach during vacations, I wear cotton Tai Chi
slippers in class. I’m not comfortable going barefoot in a public facility where who-knows-what might be on the floor. You need shoes with smooth soles that won’t stick to the floor.

This video shows the Yang Tai Chi (also known as Taiji) I’m currently learning. You probably saw it being performed in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

Dr. Paul Lam designed the form shown in this video especially for people like me who have severe arthritis and fibromyalgia. I took this class through The Arthritis Foundation.

Source: Photo by Dub Scroggin

Off I go to Grasp Sparrow's Tail.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

That Pesky Calculator Percent Key: Flawed Logic

A hand-held calculator is quite handy at stores. I’m really nosey about issues such as how much money I need to hand over.

The percent key on a calculator has always been a mystery to me, but I’ve finally figured it out. It would be embarrassing if I cared to feel that way, but I don’t.

This is my calculator—it saves brain strain. I bought it at Office Max as it’s cute and doesn’t bore me.

Basically, the percentage sign is symbolized by a top number (indicated here by “0”) which is divided/multiplied and otherwise mysteriously manipulated (herein represented as “/”) by a bottom number as symbolized with the second “0”.

I want to buy 5/16 of a yard of Amy Butler’s fabric which is on sale for $9/yard. I’m curious what percentage of yardage I’m purchasing because I want to play with the percent sign.

  • Push the number 5 on the calculator
  • Select the “/” button (my calculator uses a divide symbol instead which means the same thing)

  • Now select 1 and 6
  • Hit the % key

I’m buying 31.25% of 1 yard of fabric. I’ll leave this number on my calculator.

What will the piece of fabric actually cost?

  • Push “X” (for multiplying)
  • Then hit 9 (the fabric price per yard)
  • Hit the % key
It will cost $2.81 (rounded off) before sales tax is added. Again, I’ll leave this number on my calculator.

Now I’ll figure the sales tax choosing an arbitrary number, say 8.5% (because I never remember Arizona’s state tax figure)

  • Push “X” (for multiplying)
  • Push 8.5 (again, the decimal is important)
  • Hit the % key
The sales tax is $0.24 (rounded off). Once again, I’ll leave this number on my calculator.

  • Now push “+” (for adding)
  • Then hit 2.81
Although I’m disappointed I don’t get to use the percent key again, calculator magic tells me the total bill is $3.05.

My husband doesn’t think much of my computations, asserting my logic is flawed. “The percent sign is unnecessary,” he proclaims and illustrates a different way. I immediately protest because his solution doesn’t use my precious percent sign.

Then he whips out another formula he declares is even easier. Just looking at it makes me feel sea-sick and there’s still no percent sign in sight.

“That’s not the point,” I inform him. “The point is learning how to use the blasted PERCENT sign. As such, you flunk.”

Now he’s laughing and making jokes about June Logic. That’s okay; I don’t even need the calculator to figure out that 50% of dinner will not be served tonight. Now that’s logic.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Quilting Like It’s 1863

I’ve succumbed to the Dear Jane love and am working on Jane A. Stickle’s 1863 Civil War quilt.

The original quilt is housed at the Bennington Library in Vermont.

Project Organization

I’m using large, cloth-covered, 3-ring binders (on clearance at Target a couple of years ago) as inspired by the Dear Baby Jane: A Quilt Journal blog—an amazing resource of exactly how to make each and every piece of this quilt.

Each block section in the Dear Jane book is copied as I go along. I insert it in an archival-quality page protector along with my finished piece. Since each block is lettered and numbered, alphabetical dividers keep it all tidy.


Reproduction fabrics help me match Jane Stickle’s originals as much as possible. The backing and certain block pieces are natural-colored Kona cotton. My fabrics are purchased at Bella Quiltworks in Tucson.


The following are some of the tools I’m using for this monster project.

Brenda Manges Papadakis’ book started all the Dear Jane love.

Dear Jane Software from here

Triangle and square tools, purchased here

Freezer paper

Translucent vellum—I learned about using freezer paper and vellum at my foundation piecing class at Bella Quiltworks.

The thread I’ve chosen to use.

You can see how I’m organizing each finished block in my binder.

Naturally I started with simple blocks.

Not all the colors in this quilt are going to be what you see. The blocks I’ve been working on just happen to be pretty close in tonal value.

I’m working on A-5: Cathie’s Campfire today. It’s not right, so I must try again.

Badge of Courage

I can wear this pin when shopping at quilt stores or visiting a quilt show. Everyone will treat me kindly because they know the humongous amount of work involved in making this quilt.