My Magic Toilet and Other Weekend Tales

>> Sunday, January 31, 2010

Around midnight on Friday night, I went into the bathroom, expecting to encounter the same problem toilet that had been acting up for a few days (thanks for all the plunger tips, readers!). It started doing it's usual thing, filling up but not flushing. Then all the sudden, it changed course, and actually flushed. The new water replaced the old, there was a swishing sound, swirling water, and, voila, a replenished toilet bowl. Amazing. I don't know what happened there.

My guess, based on some online research, is that the toilet was not truly clogged but rather there was a small obstruction that prevented adequate flushing/draining. And by some unknown means (perhaps my inadequate plunging from Friday morning?), the toilet decided to wake up, revive itself, and start working again. That certainly made the weekend better, though I still approach that piece of porcelain with some trepidation.

With the plumbing situation under control, I allowed myself a little break from reading last night, pieced some blocks, and cleaned up the area around my sewing machine. I've never worked with grey before, but I'm really excited about how this is starting to come together.

Blocks await trimming and the arranging. But I finally have a sense of how this will look overall. A trip to the store is in order, however, as I need to get some grey thread for quilting. But there are plenty of things to do before quilting occurs or, to be honest, is even in the realm of happening soon.


The Little Things

>> Thursday, January 28, 2010


"I came back to get my stuff after class and saw that you're stuff was still in the office," my friend remarked to me the other day. "Still at the office" referring to 9 pm, an hour at which no one should be in an office. It's been one of those weeks, of long hours of working and staying late to try and get everything done. It's been stressful and overwhelming at times. 

But it's Thursday night and, finally, for the first time in a while, I'm starting to see some light. A major deadline comes tomorrow, and I'll meet it. Several large piles of books stare up at me, needing to be read by Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, respectively. And, with a lot of work, I'll get through them. I have an email in my inbox, with a long paper attached, waiting to be edited. And I'll get to that too, next week. 

And then, in a week's time, I might even sit down at my sewing machine again. I can't wait. I have so many ideas swimming around my head, wanting to become real live projects. I have a mess of fabric piled on my cutting mat from the last time I played with fabric. I have a pile of blocks on my ironing board, waiting to be joined together in something more. I have a chain of squares sitting in my sewing machine. Lots to look forward to enjoying.

As hard as it can be to work for hours straight, to be so busy I forget about the little errands I need to run, to be so immersed in work that I forget about fixing the clogged toilet (any tips on plungers? It turns out I'm not so good at wielding them?), it's also kind of nice to be so absorbed by what I'm doing. Also, almost every day this week has been brightened by something -- the wonderful blog coverage earlier this week, a compliment, a juicy email, students truly engaged in the reading assignments. This week, it's been all about the little things, little things that make me smile for a moment and encourage me to keep working when I'm tired, when it's cold, when I want to stop. What little things have motivated you this week?

Oh, and that picture above? More coming soon!


A Warm Welcome

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

When I woke up this morning, I didn't expect to see two hippos featured on 2 different blogs today! A warm welcome to those who have come from the Selvage Blog and from the Craft Hope blog. Take a look around, comment if you wish, and visit again!

It's been slow crafting as I make my way through paper-writing, workshop-application-completing, and course-reading. But I have a few treats to share soon...


Ironic Onesies

>> Sunday, January 24, 2010

Baby showers are not exactly my cup of tea. At least, "traditional" baby showers with stupid silly games and oddly-shaped food are not my cup of tea. In fact, I've deftly avoided all such showers. However, friends threw a baby shower for my friend Torie last weekend and I was lucky enough to a) be in town for it and b) enjoy a crafty, fun shower. In fact, the primary activity was painting onesies, a task I rather enjoyed.

It brought me back to my 10th birthday party, in which my mom made purple drawstring bags for my friends and I to decorate with puffy paint and sparkles and whatever it is that 10-year-olds in 1990 liked to use in crafts. Of course, I was all too eager to get started while my mom was still chatting with the other parents who dropped off their kids, so some of the bags might have been painted inside out...

Onesies provided an opportunity for redemption, or at least adult-level painting (on the correct side, check) and humor (of the ironic/sarcastic sort, check). Since the infants wearing these outfits can't read, I figure they're more for those who can. And hopefully they'll bring a smile to a parent or someone else's face.

Then there was the copiously designed and painted biology onesie, complete with the skeletal bones and internal organs: 

Quite impressive!


Craft Hope for Haiti

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

Jade is at it again! She's set up an awesome Craft Hope etsy store, and all proceeds benefit Doctors Without Borders. Craft Hope has already raised $7000, all of which will be donated. If you've been meaning to buy a handmade gift, this is a great way to do it. Some amazing crafters and artisans have donated their wares. Check it out!



>> Thursday, January 14, 2010

image from here

The news from Haiti is overwhelming, and it's times like these when I wish I had more skills, abilities, and means to contribute to rescue and aid efforts in more substantial ways. However, I know that all donations, in any amount matter. Here are some reputable organizations through which to donate money (of any amount) that will get to Haiti.

American Jewish World Service's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund. AJWS is a Jewish-led organization but works with communities around the world and is non-sectarian in their servicework and donation distribution.

Partners in Health Haiti Relief Fund. Founded by doctor and medical anthropologist Paul Farmer, PIH has been working in Haiti for over 20 years. They have an infrastructure set up to disperse medical and other aid.

charity: water is coordinating with Partners in Health and Concern Worldwide to get clean water, food, medicine, and other desperately needed supplies to Haitians.  

World Vision, another organization that has been operating in Haiti for decades, is distributing relief supplies.

Mercy Corps has started deploying their staff to Haiti. While they haven't been in Haiti before, they are experienced in providing relief in the aftermath of earthquakes. Several friends of mine have worked for them, and they are a solid organization -- 89% of donated funds go directly to those in need.

Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres lost some of their staff in the earthquake, but they have been treated injured people and are sending more staff and supplies.

Text "HAITI" to "90999" to donate $10 to the Red Cross (this is an effort designed and coordinated through the State Department and seems to only work from within the US).

Text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 to Yele Haiti (an effort started by Wyclef Jean). Read more here.

[I hate texting, but like when it's used for a good cause.]

There are plenty more ways to give, and giving within your means, whatever they are, will help. While the earthquake was unpreventable, the degree of devastation was preventable. Political decisions as well as geological events combined to wreak this havoc (for an analysis of how human decision-making amplifies or reduces the impact of nature, see Eric Klinenberg's Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago), and the least we can do is support relief efforts in Haiti.


Birds in Winter

>> Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I haven't heard too many birds chirping of late, what with the somewhat constant snow and all. But as my friend and former roommate Joel has pointed out, I have a fair number of t-shirts with birds on them (at least 4, all from threadless). It turns out I have a fair amount of fabric with birds on it as well.

Like this one, a relatively recent acquisition.

That I put to good use in a scarf for a friend and current roommate.

Lots of purple, with a couple dozen complementary birds.

Backed with fuzzy white fleece, for warmth in the snowy birdless winter.

p.s. a shout-out to the random person who has been putting his golf-cart snow-plow to good use plowing my sidewalk....don't know who, don't know why, but it's nice and much appreciated.


Selvage Strings

>> Sunday, January 10, 2010

At some point in the past year, I stumbled upon the Selvage Blog. Until then, the selvages (the bottom and top edges of fabric) had simply been discarded fabric. After encountering the blog, I started to save and collect the selvages from the fabrics I used in projects. By the end of 2009, I had a quart bag stuffed full of selvages.

Over the past half-year, I started seeing lots of string quilts on other blogs. Most of them were paper pieced, which intimidated me, since I've never used foundation-piecing in my quilting. But lots of tutorials appeared (e.g., here and here), and the quilts looked so good (whether intensely colorful or more muted).

Obviously, it was time to to figure out the technique and jump into the string-quilting fun.


And then Stephanie over at Loft Creations posted a new challenge, a string-quilt challenge. With that bag o'selvages in mind, I decided to make a "2009-In-Fabrics" Selvage String Quilt. It's in-progress, and given the work I need to finish in the next few weeks, it will probably stay that way for a while. I went for foundation piecing on muslin, which was very stable and easy to do. However, it does make the blocks pretty thick. Next time, I'll try paper-piecing.


An Unexpected Treat

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A friend of mine returned to town with this delightful (and totally unexpected) stack of fabric for me. They're all batiks,  and while I have a few batiks in my stash I've never had many.

They're very soft and fun to paw. And think about using. However, it's back to hard-core work for me, with revising papers, starting new classes, and teaching. The quilting productivity will wane for a bit. But I've got a few things in the works to share soon.


Some Quilts I Like

>> Saturday, January 2, 2010

I just signed up to participate in DQS8 -- or at least I emailed and tried to sign up, though I don't know if I made the cut off. Over the past year, I've watched as multiple posts pop into my reader with news of the this swap. I've seen pictures of beautiful quilts made covertly for others and pictures of the recipient displaying the new quilt. Reading these posts introduced me to more amazing modern quilters, inspired me to wade into new design and fabric territory, and encouraged me to think about joining in.

In case I'm accepted, here are some quilt designs I really enjoy.

1. Mermaid Garden, 2. String Quilt, 3. animal sherbet squares quilt, 4. far far away hexagon quilt, 5. Beach House Quilt, 6. Quilt at Train Depot , 7. Half Square Triangle Quilt, 8. Doug's Christmas quilt, 9. IMG_dotnspot20001, 10. 'burning embers', 11. Mini Quilt from MarilynKB, 12. BuzzCuts | November block for jgmehlin

Signing up for DSQ8 also led to more firsts:
*Adding photos to my Flickr account (previously used just to join groups).
*Making a cool photo mosaic that I've seen many people use for year-end photo reflections.
*Realizing that I'm a sucker for either lots of color against a plain white/gray background and sharp solids combined in interesting ways (hexagons, circles, triangles, zig-zags).

I've got another first, a new little quilt, to post soon. It was going to be my first post of 2010, but it's been pushed aside for the moment. Coming soon...


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