Sunday, March 16, 2014

Does Anything Feel Better Than a New Blade in Your Rotary Cutter?

There are a millions of small pleasures in this life that we simply need to close our eyes, feel, and savour.  Things like slipping into bed the first time after changing the sheets, baby laughter, correctly picking the fastest moving check-out at the grocery store, a perfectly sharpened pencil, sunlight filtred through autumn leaves, driving on a hilly road and feeling that slight roller-coastery feeling, spying snowdrops after a long winter.

But today I'm thinking that the best feeling experience is slicing through fabric with a brand new blade.

How did you celebrated Worldwide Quilting Day?  Me?  I'm still celebrating!  I have been marathon-ing old episodes of The Quilt Show, which have been available for free all weekend.  It's not too late to catch a couple of episodes -- available until 12 midnight PST tonight.

While I've been watching - I've been taming my stash with Joan Ford's Scrap Therapy method.

I know I've been talking about this for a couple of weeks.  I actually started cutting the other night - - all of my 30s & 40s repros are now sliced up and ready to go - I'm thinking of making the quilt that's on the cover of "Cut the Scraps", which I purchased earlier this week.  It's been tough NOT cutting 2.5" squares - this seems to be a size I do use quite a bit - - so I have to remind myself that I can cut 5" squares into four matching 2.5" squares.

Of course - - this leads to a ton of odd shaped cut offs, which I have been carefully piecing together as per Victoria Findlay Wolfe's 15 Minutes of Play.

This image is "borrowed" from Paula Prass's blog Show & Tell. Scroll down to the bottom of THIS POST LINKED HERE to see how she has her fabric organized.  Quilter porn!!!!

So....I whipped up a batch of homemade spray starch a la Quilting Sheep 

  • 2 cups distilled water
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 6-12 drops of 100% pure essential oil - lavender is nice
  • 1/3 cup of liquid starch

I have been using this recipe for about four years.  I can't think of a thing I'd change.  It takes out the toughest wrinkles, and really crisps up tired fabric without flakes or gunking up my iron.

Anyway....back to the piecing - I iron through a stack of fabric, cut it, setting aside the odd shaped cut offs, and when I've got through that stack, I start sewing together the blocks.  So far I have pieced 30 6.5" blocks.  I'm thinking that I might whip up a batch of 8-pointed stars, like the 2nd block of the first row pictured in the book.

Something else that I've been piecing between trimming is this jar full of 3" nine patches created out of CW repros.  I have 93 so far.

I also sorted through all of my strings, and divided them into colour families.  Inspired by a couple of quilts in Bonnie Hunter's String Fling book - - I'm feeling like I might start piecing some string blocks too.  I don't have a project in mind, but if I start by just doing neutral blocks in a usable size (maybe 8.5"?) then something is sure to come to me.

I've also been working on my "Leader/Ender" Scrappy Split Nine Patch blocks - I'm working on my 10th block right now.

 Let's talk about tea.  

I gave up coffee about three months ago.  This was a HUGE deal, because I am an enormous fanatic about my coffee.  Due to some tummy issues, I was forced to quit coffee to cut back on the caffeine.  So I switched to tea.  I don't drink my tea very strong, and despite all the urban legends, tea does have about 1/3 the caffeine of coffee.  I figured I was good.  Nope.  I saw my nutritionist about a month ago, and she insisted the tea had to go - - or switch to decaf.

Oh my gaaaawwwd!  After some initial stubbornness (spell check insists there are 2 'n's in stubbornness - that just looks weird, but I digress) - -  I resisted the urge to toss myself on the floor kicking and screaming like a 3 year old at the grocery store who is denied a Kinder Egg - -   and grudgingly agreed to give it a try.

Now before you add a comment about try this herbal or that fancy schmancy flavour - - I have to tell you, I hate all tea except good old fashioned Orange Pekoe.  I'm not so much of a snob that I have to insist on a brand - - whatever is on sale and I have a coupon for is perfect.

I tried Red Rose Orange Pekoe Decaf first.  (Remember that commercial?  "Only in Canada, hey?  Pity!")

Terrible - - I had to use two bags to brew one cup, and that's pretty bad for me: a person who doesn't enjoy a strong cup of tea.  A box of 80 bags was only slightly cheaper than Tetley (which was my next trial).  But if you're Canadian and feeling nostalgic, enjoy the commercial, and check out the photos of the Wade figurines that came in boxes of tea in the 60's and 70's.  I remember my Nanna kept a troupe of the Nursery Rhyme figurines on her kitchen window sill.

Next - I tried the more expensive Tetley decaf.  A box of 80 bags at Walmart was just shy of $8.  Within a few days of my purchase, I began to see news items related to young girls being sold into slavery and involving Tetley - - and as if that wasn't enough to turn me off - - it wasn't great flavour.

Now -- and this is going to sound sooooo strange to my fellow Canadians -- there is not a Tim Horton's near my home or work, so I rarely get to go there - - even though it's RRRROLLL up the RRRRIM time! - - however, if I'm out and about, I will head into a drive through and order an "XL decaf Orange Pekoe, one bag in and one bag on the side" - - that's right.  At Timmy's, if you order an XL tea, they put two bags in, but one is plenty strong for me, and I can save the spare bag for another time.

Hubby and I were out on the road yesterday for a drive to nowhere in particular, just to blow the dust off. (For the record, I didn't get to go to ANY fabric or quilt stores - but I DID have to endure  visits to two music stores in Orangeville.  Ugh - nothing more boring to me, and the first one smelled like coffee and marijuana.  Musicians!  grrrr!)  

Coming home on country roads, I got a smidge anxious when we were a little lost, I realized I really should have gotten gas before leaving civilization, crawling through white out conditions, the snow plough we were following turned around as we hit the county line, and we passed an accident (police were already on scene, and it looked under control, so I didn't stop).  When we finally arrived in Fergus, a place I often travel to and/or through for work, I pulled over at the first Timmy's I came to.  I needed to a break from the car and to unwrap my white knuckled grip on the steering wheel.

I ordered my tea, and because I was actually IN the Timmy's and not the Drive-thru, I asked about the price of tea.  A box of 40 bags came to $3.49.  Perfect!  I am the happiest tea drinker in the world now!

Can you stand one more thing?

Maybe you've seen this 'pinned' on Pinterest:

The instructions are here - - but I had never tried it.  I had a grapefruit that was beyond eating --the peel was dry and the flesh was getting squishy-- so I thought what the heck?  Cut it up, put it in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup with water and nuked it for five minutes.  I let it sit for another 2 minutes, and the icky stuff wiped right off with a paper towel, and the overpowering smell of popcorn was erased.  I'm thinking that any citrus fruit will work.  Keep that little tip in mind.


  1. Great post !! Enjoyed your tips and your quilt squares are beautiful !!!

  2. Thanks for the Timmies tea tip! I enjoy their steeped tea, but now I'm going to try the decaf.