Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Still Crazy for Christmas

Like a lot of people I am a 'self-gifter.' And that's exactly what it sounds like-at

Christmastime, I usually find things I want and love and ultimately buy...for myself! This year it was two books by Cindy Brick. She's a professional quilter like myself. Here's the long version of our shared job description: quilter-scholar-writer-teacher-designer. Cindy's website is easy to find: .

Although I admired crazy quilts, Cindy's special passion, I never thought I'd make one. But once when snow-bound for two days in northern Indiana, I did make crazy quilt blocks with scraps of what I had. Upon returning home, I obviously reverted to patchwork block mode since the blocks got sashed and bordered. Am remembering that I thought, "There--that ought to keep that fabric madness in check!" as I sewed the little corners in place. Wish I'd read Cindy's book then because this little beauty would be much better!

Last night I fell asleep with Cindy's colorful, picture-filled Crazy Quilts book propped on my chest. Sweet dreams until Earl Grey decided he's had enough of that stupid book and bumped it onto the floor! I started awake and then realized the commotion was just the work of a pushy cat who wanted Complete Attention Please as he demanded affection before going to bed.

If you're settling down for a long winter's nap, you can't do better than Cindy's dream-filled book. I highly recommend Crazy Quilts.

Merry Christmas from me, Earl Grey (aka the book pusher),  and Miss Gipsy too.                       

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Keeping Lives

At this time of year it's particularly difficult for folks who mark sad anniversaries. I didn't know it but my friend Carol Helmlinger is one such person. Last Thursday at the Crystal Coast Quilt Guild Christmas party, Carol served as the hostess and made sure the tables were set with festive placemats and that each table had a tree centerpiece. She led us in the singing of quilt-themed songs and made sure everyone got a little momento to take home. Mine was a funny grumpy snowman ornament that came packaged in a Santa sack along with a small bag of candies.                                                          

There was tons of good food at the dinner and we exchanged gifts and Christmas quilt blocks. Everbody went home happy and clutching some quilt-goodie gift.

This morning I stopped at the library to peruse the Raleigh News and Observer paper and was surprised to see Carol, the hostess with the mostest, featured in a sobering story. Carol is a Lifekeeper, a person who has promised to try and prevent suicides. She knows from experience. Today marks the 19th anniversary of her son John's suicide and she gave me permission to talk about it here.

To date Carol has made three Lifekeeper quilts. This one features John's picture on the second row left at the end. Carol says the surviving families find her and she'll keep on making quilts as long as they're needed.

Recently I also had an acquaintance commit suicide. Although not a family member, her passing troubled me deeply. Thank you Carol and all other supporters of the Suicide Prevention Action Network. The SPAN website is full of good information if you or someone you know should need it.

This is the last stanza of the Lifekeeper's Promise and serves as a reminder that we are truly our brother's keeper.

We are the Lifekeepers
Truth Bearers, Peace Seekers
We are the Wounded
We are the Healed
We are the Lifekeepers
Our commitment now sealed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The cats in the sink and no green ham (pardon me, Dr. Seuss)

Yesterday I spent the day at home, baking two humongous hams for a potluck supper last night. I'd bought the ham the night before but the refrigerator was too full....what to do? It was still cool outside so decided to stash the hams on the side porch. The only problem: kittens who thought Ham was wonderful! So, I pulled a switch on them.

I went and got the kittens' 'night cage' and put the hams inside to protect them from the marauding animals. (Until Earl and Gipsy were three months old, they always went into the night cage to sleep. Using the cage gave us a good night's sleep and we weren't afraid of stepping on one of them in the dark.) The ham cage worked! And the hams came out beautifully.

We went to the supper without thinking about leaving two slightly-PO'd kittens who never did get a bite of ham. And came home to...a white Christmas! Gipsy and Earl had "decorated" while we were gone. The toilet paper put up quite a fight but was no match for two sets of eager claws.

This morning they had a shoving match on who got to sit in the sink after Rod shaved. As Rod lets out the hot water, the kittens jump into the still-warm sink and loll about. It's obvious they're growing fast because the two of them no longer fit into the sink together. Gipsy is impatiently waiting her turn.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cape Lookout Quilt

Every year my local quilt group, the Crystal Coast Quilt Guild, makes a raffle quilt. The tickets are sold all year and then the name of the lucky winner is drawn at the Guild's annual quilt show in May. This year I am buying all the tickets they gave me to sell in hopes of winning this quilt!

The theme was our local lighthouse in the winter. Cape Lookout was built in 1812 and still stands today. The light flashes every 23 seconds and warns mariners of our sandy and unpredictable shoals. Situated at the southern end of the off-shore area called 'the graveyard of the Atlantic', people treasure the Cape Lookout light and it is our special symbol. Not bad for a structure almost 200 years old.

The quilt was designed and executed by a variety of talented people and I'm bound to leave a few names out inadvertently. The idea came mainly from Patti Brown, local quilt shop owner and quilt artist Robin Koehler. Eileen Williams took the photo that the center applique panel is based on while Robin supplied the flower design block which, when made up in reds and greens, looks like poinsettias. She talks about the design here in her blog Nestlings by Robin . Patti did most of the center panel applique work. Many other guild members contributed their time to make blocks and Jan Spickett did a whole lot of turning down of edges and ironing! The machine quilting was executed by Lauri Mayo and it was her idea to add the silver snowflakes to the white sky. The feather designs quilted in bright green thread around the black border add just the right festive touch.

You can buy tickets by contacting me or Patti at The Quilted Butterfly (see above link). Just think, this queen-size one-of-a-kind beautiful quilt might be yours...the next best thing to living at the beach!

I am so proud to be part of this group!