Sunday, March 31, 2013

Uncommon Conventions

So you're probably wondering what we did this weekend...this holy Easter weekend...was spent in very odd costumes with several thousand other people dressed in very odd costumes.  It's the annual Anime convention, Sakura-Con held in Seattle every year.

I met up with Heide and her girls, and although we didn't get to spend quite as much time together as I would have liked (the girls were running in different directions), it was still great seeing them.

It's so FLUFFY!  I got a chance to hug Totoro!

Guys just wanna have drag...

Two of Heide's beautiful girls...

Heide's third beautiful girl...


And posing.

Found Waldo.

And a bunch of random shots of people...
 These guys are from a show called Hetalia.  No idea what countries they represent.
No idea who these characters are.

More costumes from the foyer.

Cleaning up...

This is a Mario Brothers thing.  Lots of people stopped by to take pictures.  The girl in the flower pot would duck down during the photos.

This gave me ample time to take photos of the people taking photos.

She was sitting nearby and posed for me.  No idea who she is.

There's a person inside that furry outfit who is very hot.  The gal in the furry bikini wiped him/her down with a wet rag from time to time.

Another costumed person posing for this photographer.  I'll crop him out later.

A group of heavily armed characters stopping to pose for pictures.  I ran around to get a better shot, but they moved on.  We could have been there all day just taking pictures of passers-by.  So many impressive costumes, wigs, and accessories.  I was carrying a towel with me all day, but it's nothing compared to the armloads of stuff some of these people walk around with.  

This outfit, for example, is quite the enterprise to be walking around in all day.  He moved very slowly, shuffling is way across large crowded rooms.  What is it?  No idea.  I'll have to ask Emma.

We waited 4 1/2 hours to meet this guy.  His name is Vic Mignogna ("Min-yonna") and he does voices for several characters in Japanese cartoons.  He's also in post-production for the new show, Star Trek Continues as Capt. James T. Kirk.  Also starring in the upcoming series, Grant Imahara (of Mythbuster's fame) who will be playing Lt. Sulu.  Vic was scheduled to do autographs for 90 minutes but ended up staying til everyone got a signature and a hug, more than 3 hours longer than scheduled.  What a sweet guy!  I thanked him for staying so long to ensure that everyone went away happy.

Biggest surprise of the weekend:  running into my cousin and her daughter...whom I haven't seen since she was very little.  We chatted for a bit, the second-cousins got a chance to meet each other (neither seemed particularly impressed or excited).  I suggested that we need to have another reunion since the last one was held in about 1984.  It's high time, people.  Deb said she'd work something out, but we really need to stay better connected.

I got Abigail to pose...I was the first to take her picture, apparently.  :)

Only two people took my picture all day, and only at the very end when someone standing in line with us asked if I was cos-playing Hitchhiker's Guide.  YES!!  I lost my junk mail somewhere along the way (three empty envelopes that I had stuffed into my pocket), but I still had my towel, so I was still a hoopy frood.*

We went out to get some food after the signing at 8:00, but the  lines at the restaurants were really long.  We walked a few blocks to the bus stop, waited a few minutes under the purple trees, and headed home.  We were all too tired to do much more.  I pulled out a baggie of crackers that we munched on during the bus ride and after they came back and packed up their stuff, I drove them over to Miss E's house for the night.

Emma came home just a little while ago...she had a great time!

*“Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There's a frood who really knows where his towel is."
(Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)”

― Douglas AdamsThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Birthday--Before and After

I guess it's been a few days since I posted.  Soo....what did I do?

We got our new stove...happy birthday to me.

Thursday was the Quilting Olympics at the guild.  The purpose of the day -- a noon to 9 pm adventure -- is to make quilt tops for the various charities we support:  foster care, Children's Hospital, and a small women & children shelter.  Piles and piles of fabrics, kits and random blocks are stacked in the kitchen area and quilters pick through the rubble and select projects to work on.

Friday I was supposed to take my car in for a brake check, but we woke up to SNOW!  I called the place and told them that the flakes were falling hard and fast in my neighborhood and I simply do not drive in the stuff anymore.  Not because I can't, but because no one else can.  The last time I did, I ended up getting hit by a car spinning out of control on the freeway.  No thanks.  I'll have to call back to make a new appointment.

Ben and Cammie built forts in the back yard, which lasted for a few hours, but eventually melted and caved in.

Saturday it cleared up, for the most part (just a bit here and there along the roadsides), and I went to have my Girlie Day with Lauri and Jean.  We went to the Magic Underwear Ladies at Nordstrom and made a few selections, then went back to the house.  On the way, we ventured downstairs where the weekend was hosting a big makeup spectacular...Jean described it as a "sea of humanity puttin' on their warpaint!"  I wish I had gotten a was an awesome sight.  With a DJ.  Seriously.  After swimming through the people, I asked to veer off to see if we could find a little geocache in a tiny park a block away from Jean's.  I headed back to the corner where it was located and found a homeless guy sleeping instead.  Never mind. I'll try another time.

We hopped in the car and went to have lunch at a mall/community center.  The place was filled with a bunch of mom-n-pop ethnic food selections (Japanese, Thai, Korean, BBQ, etc.) and a stage where students at School of Rock performed.  They also had meeting rooms and tables in the halls for gaming; anything from teenagers with role-playing dice to geezers with checkers.  It is a great addition to the community instead of more multi-million-dollar food chains and the same old stores, and really reaches out to include the people to get together.  Awesome!

Afterwards, we made a quick trip to Lane Bryant, but it was a very weird, small store.  There were a few new things in the front and a bunch of clearance stuff in the back.  I found a pair of shorts, ONE pair of jeans--apparently, they don't carry many petite sizes...what?  Are there no short people in Redmond?  I also found a pair of pajamas...well, two shirts and one pair of pants...I couldn't find another pair of PJ pants I liked.  Well, I did, but they were shorts, not pants.  I think I might make a trip up to the outlet store up North.  While I was waiting for the other girls to check out, I was thirsty, so I decided to get an iced chai.  One of the employees mentioned that she was thirsty, too, so I picked up four glasses of water for them.  The Starbucks gal gave it to me for free, which was great!  I brought it back and the employee was so happy, she hugged me!  It was great to feel appreciated. :)

We headed back to Jean's house so she could go out to sing at church--being the week before Easter and all, she had some obligations lined up that she needed to take care of.  I drove Lauri down to the nail salon to get all painted up and I went down to the fabric store to get something to finish Emma's quilt.  I didn't find anything in the standard cotton, but I did find a batik that should work fairly well.  Bonus:  it was in the discount rack!

I veered off to find a rather large geocache in a wooded area, but it was no where to be found.  I gave up and headed back to the nail salon to get Lauri.  She was nearly finished, so I sat out on the bench and got a little sunshine.  Afterwards, we drove back to Jean's and let ourselves in.  We didn't have to wait long before she came home and we headed out to dinner.  First we stopped at another clothing store that had even less appealing selection.  I got two pairs of jeans--I tried on a dozen pairs and while one pair fit, another in the same size by the same manufacturer was too small.  Eventually, I ignored the numbers and found two pairs that fit, which was labeled at least a size larger than I normally wear.  Jean found a shirt that she liked, but the size she chose was a bit snug, so choosing the next size up, discovered that it was even *smaller*.  Clearly the QA team was out to lunch that day.  I found one 3/4 sleeve sweater that was nice, but everything else was too young...again, I need to venture North to find more suitable clothing.

We ate dinner at a Mexican place, which was pretty good.  We toasted another year around the sun, but little fanfare about it.  Not a big deal; I really didn't want to wear the big sombrero and have people singing to me in Spanish.  Unless I could take the sombrero home...then maybe.

We went back to Jean's house and after about 30 minutes, I started my trek back home.  A couple hundred dollars poorer (bras and jeans are expensive!), I arrived home about 11 pm.  And when I did, I discovered THIS!

Sharon and Michele had stopped by on their way through on the Tri-County shop hop.  The quilt blocks are actually from a guild swap, but the Pirate gear is from Michele.  Thanks Miche!

On Sunday, my actual birthday, Ben was invited to a birthday party, so I took Cammie out Geocaching (I asked Emma if she wanted to go; she declined).  We had glorious weather with bright blue skies and mountain views to die for.  We stopped by 10 different caches, 2 of which I had found before but wanted to give Cammie a chance to look for them herself.  We looked in rock walls and under lamp post covers; climbed hillsides and up trees (well, she went up the tree...I supervised).  We even had to do a repair job on the fly--one of the containers had a loop on the top that broke.  I pulled out my zip-ties from the dollar store and put together a makeshift cache holder so we could put it back in place.  I then wrote a note to the owner to let him know.

I'm working on the first of the five Quilts of Valor for Kathleen.  I wound 10 yards of the backing fabric on the frame and will feed the quilts on one at a time.  It means I'll have to tear off the first quilt before re-pinning and adding the next.  We'll see how this works...  I'm cleaning in the Creative Space now, but may need to take a quick break from it to quilt on this for a bit.

Annaleena dropped off some flowers.  She's my co-leader for Girl Scouts and her daughter is in the troop.  I guess it was Miss J's idea.  She's so sweet!  I also got some live lavender from my Mom & Dad.  It's a variety of lavender I've never seen before.  I didn't get a photo of it...I'll have to do that tomorrow.

And Cammie baked me a lopsided cake and placed the backwards numbers on it for me.  Ben offered to do everything I say for a week.  Apparently after Easter, all bets are off.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wrapping things up...quilts, fingers, etc.

Here are the first few inches of the newest weaving.  I did this pattern before with blue and green, but circumstances arose that prompted me to do it again...I have wanted a chance to make another piece in some different colors.  The fact that this is a documented pattern is very cool--especially since it's in three colors and most of the European pieces are one color...boring.  Emma Compton was having difficulty with the pattern and since it's been so long since I did it, I didn't remember if I had made any adjustments--I had to warp it up to figure out what was going wrong.  The directions are pretty straight forward on this site, but they're wrong.  Sigh.  Maybe the creator has the cards warped up differently, but I set my loom up and I needed to turn the ODD cards first, then the EVEN, and start weaving from the home setting from right to left (opposite of everything she had done). In any case, it works great...note on that second diamond that there's a yellow thread sticking out funny.  Card 14 was threaded wrong.  I turned it 90 degrees backwards and now it looks perfect.  I've done a couple feet on it now, so it'll be just a few more days before it's done.

In the meantime, I've been working on a couple of quilts.  One for Lauri, which is a medallion round robin style.  I quilted the center part of the quilt in 3's and E's.  The outside border I quilted in rays of the sun and swirly wind.  I had a little trouble with one section of the border where the fabric was wrinkling.  I may pick that section out, steam it a little and then try again.  This is the lovely center medallion.
Here's the whole quilt top laid out on my bed.  It's a rainbow of happy fabrics!

Next on the docket is a pair of baby quilts for a customer I did some work for last year.  Linda D. has two baby showers to attend in April, so these two baby quilts are almost ready for gifting!  There's one girlie quilt and one generic gender-to-be-announced-later quilt (although it has butterflies on it).  I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but I think I'll do an all-over swirly thing.  Or maybe I'll do the Oil Slick pattern again...the one with the snake tails.

Yesterday I got my birthday present in the mail--a cable to update my Geomate Jr.  It was a little more complicated than the directions said (a lot more downloading and registering), but eventually it said it was ready to go with all the latest caches from the Western US (including AK and HI), and I took it for a test-seek.  There's a cache that I have looked for nearly a dozen times near the kids' karate studio.  It got me closer and the hints made more sense, but it was still a DNF.  I wrote to the owner telling him that I've given up.  I'll try out a few more sites this weekend while I'm down having a Girlie Day with Jeanie and Lauri.  We're planning on getting fingernails, toenails, eyebrows, a little shopping and cocktails!  I can't wait!

Slowing me down a bit is a smashed finger.  The bone is fine and I didn't actually sew through my finger, but yesterday it got caught in the space between the needle assembly and the machine.  I immediately put pressure on it and after a couple minutes, when I was sure it wasn't going to bleed anymore, I smeared some Neosporin on it and wrapped it in gauze and a bandaid.  I'm good.  Yeah, it's still a little tender, but I'll live.

My Emma has a half-day of school, so I think I'll take her out for lunch.  And later...guild night!  I have to pack up my sewing machine, rotary cutter, rulers & mat, and bring a few things to work on.  It's the night that they do all their charity quilts, so it'll be fun!  I also have a stack of batting leftovers that one gal, Rosie, pieces together for the charity quilts.  Waste not!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

And the pocketbook takes another hit

Well, it wouldn't be a birthday week if at least two major things didn't break.  First the stove...which we have ordered a replacement electric stove due to would have cost us an additional $1,000 for a gas stove, gas line install, and 110 electrical outlet, so we decided to go with the electric.  In addition, the electric stoves had better ratings on Consumer Reports.  

Then yesterday, after picking up the kids, I drove about three blocks from the school and the power steering went out.  I didn't know what went wrong, but figured that driving any distance--even just to the dealership--was too far and probably asking for trouble.  I called Kelly several times although I'm not sure why he didn't hear the phone ringing.  I tried calling home, calling his work desk, and apparently he was driving home and didn't hear the phone.  So, I called Renee, who was still at the school, and she took Emma home.  Her husband, Tom, came and picked up the other two kids and took them home.  Just before he arrived, I was finally able to get ahold of Kelly.  He agreed to meet me and while he was in transit, I called the insurance company who ordered a tow truck.  The tow truck arrived just after 4:30.  

The verdict came in--it was a serpentine belt and tensioner that went out, and driving it any distance would, indeed, have been bad for the car.  I'm glad I made the decision not to drive it.  It was finished just under 24 hours later, so I have it back now, but the car is still making groaning noises.  Not sure if it's the brakes or what.  Just what I need.

Working on Lauri's quilt--a rather large round robin style with suns in the corners--and I got two new baby quilts to work on after this, and finished the Anglo-Saxon #8 weaving project.  It was a bit of a pain to get that last few feet done with the twisting and running out of ways to let out the tension, so I resorted to anchoring the weave onto various parts of the loom.  I had to get creative.  I have more ideas on how to make this work better....but I'll have to save that for another time.

<-- Front end of loom <--and the back end

Monday, March 18, 2013

My Cabbages!

We had a the kitchen.

I was cooking our Irish dinner--got the corned beef on and had it simmering for a couple hours and got all the potatoes cut up and ready to go.  Then it was time for the cabbage.  Thinking I could knock out the butt end by whacking it on the counter, I gave it a go...but knocked it on the glass surface instead of the counter.  Ooops.  

Thinking this was a quick and easy fix, I looked around to get a replacement glass, but like so many things, it costs almost as much to fix the thing as it is to replace it with a brand new one.  That's right--the glass costs $900.  A new stove costs $900-1200.  WHY?  I don't get it.  Granted, the stove is almost 15 years old, but you wouldn't think that the piece of glass would cost as much as a new unit.

Sadly, this means that the floors are going to be put off for a while again.  Sigh.

When we were living in a rental house up North, we had a gas stove.  We loved it!  We bought our first home...electric.  Second home...electric.  Third home...electric.  It's been something we've wanted to get back to since then, but we haven't had a chance (or the money).  Not that we have the money but we're going to have to get a new stove.  Now I gotta figure out how to get a gas line installed...maybe I need to go to Lowe's and see if they have a contractor that can come in and take care of things fairly quickly.  I don't know how long I can work without a fully functioning stove.  I have a guy coming tomorrow to give us a quote for the gas line...estimated $500-700.

Then the stove itself...I'm thinking of something like this:

Maytag 30-in 2.1 cu ft/3.9 cu ft Double Oven Gas Range (Stainless Steel)
It's got a double oven without taking up more space, so you can cook fish sticks AND french fries!  Turkey AND pie!  Double-speed on cookies!  And really, the price is only a couple hundred bucks more than the standard oven, and a lot less than many of the stoves out there.

I was wondering about this--do I want it?  Do I need a second oven?  Then I got to talking with my friend, author KateMarie Collins (heck yeah, I name-dropped!), and she said she LOVES hers and wouldn't trade it for least as long as she has kids.  SOLD!

And now I have to figure out what I'm going to make for dinner.  I think I may have to do some crock-pot cooking for a bit.  Boo.  Not that I hate crock-potting, but I'm not very good at it.  Overcooked, undercooked, dry, bland...sad.

Friday, March 15, 2013 name is Karen...

...and I....I'm a...a quiltaholic!  <sob>

I took Emma with me today to go to the quilt show in Monroe (this ended up costing me a lunch and about $70 in manga books).  The show used to be held in the dingy, dark 400 building, but it was moved this year into a new, light, clean, high-ceiling building.  What an amazing place!  They had hundreds of quilts hanging up--I'm guessing 400 or more--in 10 or 11 different categories.

While I can't post *all* the pictures, I will post a few of my favorites.  I didn't catch all the names of the creators, there were so many stunning pieces!  Some of the pictures are a little blurry...I changed the settings on my camera about half-way through. Some of the photos looked clear enough while I was there, but appear much less so now that I'm home and can see it on 'the big screen'.

This one I just liked for the black and white simplicity.

A scrappy hexagon quilt.  There was another one just like it...

Loved the black and white and bright splashes of color.

I made a quilt similar to this called Majestic Mountain.  This one has an extra strip that has a triangle on the end to make the pinwheels in the middle.

I think this one said it was an antique...all hand sewn and hand quilted.  WOW!

This is a pretty bargello type quilt that reminds me of warm wool plaid blankets.  I have to wrap my brain around how this is made.  I'd like to make one, but I'm hoping it will turn out as pretty as this one.

This is a great way to use coordinated fabrics that are too busy to lay next to each other in a traditional pattern.  Just a little strip of black breaks up the busy fabrics and sets it off beautifully!  I have some aboriginal fabrics--I think they're Australian--that I've been struggling to find a way to showcase.

Another great scrap quilt.  So many of the quilts I liked best were scrappy.  Maybe it's because I have so many scraps, I am looking for ways to use them up.

This one had a sweet story to it.  You know on Valentine's Day, there are so many couples who go up to the top of the Empire State building to propose...this quilt was the Proposal Quilt...
Complete with a ring!

This one is hard to see, but it's called Flower Boxes--all the fabrics are florals.

This is the same kind of pattern that I used to hand out for a Friendship Block, except instead of brown, I used black and asked for bright colors.  Now I'm inspired to find all the blocks and sew them together...and maybe use up some more of my scraps!

This one I found striking because of the bright splash of color in the middle...but it's also...

3D!  I don't know how they did this fabric folding, but it's AWESOME!

This one was just so darn sweet!  Delicate ginger jar prints and tea service for four!  I just imagine four little girls playing teatime on the living room floor...

I love applique.  I even love doing it, but I always think it's more work to do and get absolutely I don't do it very often.

More bright scrappiness.

This one is just awesome!  The photo, to the right, is of a bunch of trees in the Bayeux.  She recreated this using fabric and a special fiber called angel hair. Or angelica.  Or angelina.  Or something like that.

or possibly some yarn, but I think it's the angel stuff.

LOVE LOVE LOVE this!  Just a bunch of boats in the harbor.  Makes me think of Heide's Grampa Porgy.

This was an astounding 3-D quilt.  It's only about 24" tall, but dang!
More scrappy lovelies...

This one really tickled me--she used old silk neckties!  That's right...a SILK quilt!  Can you imagine how great that must be to snuggle with?!

Zig-zag quilt...kinda makes me think of Charlie Brown's shirt...again, these are made from scraps using a simple "flying geese" block...over and over and over.

This is some detail of a quilt that was machine quilted...those hearts are only a couple inches high.  Seriously small!!  This is something to aspire to...

I love the diamonds...they are, as they say, a girl's best friend...especially a girl with a lot of quilt scraps.

More scrappy bits!  

This, likewise, was a scrap busting challenge.  They took the scraps and made small squares--probably 4" square--and put those into a quilt top!  It's amazing how far you can stretch your stash!

More scrappy strips!  I really want to make some scrap quilts.  Both of these are stunning, and can show how you can set the blocks differently and use different border techniques.

This is a crazy quilt style.  Karen M. makes quilts like these, foundation piecing her scraps.  This one doesn't really have a place for your eye to rest, but it sure would spice up a boring bedroom!

This one is a show-stopper.  This one, I think, is going to take home quite a lot of ribbons, like Best of Show.  All the creatures are based on local art from the Pacific Northwest museum (with permission, of course), all appliqued, and then machine quilted with the most detailed patterns...
This is around the heron's legs!  Look at that fish!

 And this is the back of it!  I!!!

This one is really stunning, too...lots of little tiny hexagons.  Also visually interesting because it doesn't have flat edges on two sides.

They also had a featured quilter, Klota Underwood, a very sweet lady who is undergoing cancer treatment again.  She had a number of quilts there--all of them were exquisite, as evidenced by the ribbons adorning the edges.  I took photos of a number of them, but these were my favorites:

Jacobean floral thingy on a purple-ish fabric (it looks a little brown here)

New York Beauty--I love these patterns, although I have never attempted them...or rather, I made a few blocks, but never finished a quilt top with them.

 Applique and New York Beauty spikiness.  Gorgeous!

This one was one of my favorites...block of the month flowers!

The show will be going on for two more days, so if you're in the Monroe area, you should stop in.  $7 and you can return all three days.  There's also a food area and lots of vendors.  Great stuff!  Enjoy!