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What really counts?

tornadoI just received an email from a friend with bad news.  A big storm blew through our county this week and a tree was literally blown onto her husbands car, totaling it while he was driving home.

Everyone was okay, but this event stopped me short.

It made me ask myself: What really counts?

Lately I’ve been obsessed with making more money.  Not in the greedy sense.  I don’t want to be filthy rich, I would just like to stop feeling so stretched and tight all the time.

I’ve realized that by spending wiser, we could have more money for the things we really want.  My spending habits are definitely changing, but the focus on making more money remains.

But does money really matter?

Does any of this stuff really matter?  My husband and I drive one vehicle that’s less than 2 years old.  We live in a house that could easily house a much bigger family, and we do generally have the money to invest in our hobbies: quilting and aquariums.

But does it matter?  In 10 years will I look back at the floor I installed in my den, or the afternoon I spent with my son? Will it matter that our yard looks out on our neighbor’s junkyard?  Will we look back on the years spent in this town with disgust or fondness?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a waxing sentimental.  I’m not deluded enough to think that only happy memorys of lazy summer days stick around.  I know without a shadow of doubt that my son will probably remember the bad days before he remembers the good ones.

I guess my problem is I remember growing up poor.  And I don’t want that for my son.

But was being poor really that bad?  Yeah, my clothes didn’t fit and girls at school liked to point it out.  Big deal.  Several of the girls who were shallow enough to comment ended up pregnant by the end of high school.  I guess that was nature’s way of evening the odds.

Was it the small clothes or the lack of extra money or the fact that my parents were too young and badly suited for one another?  It’s hard to tell…

No, I don’t think more money would have made our lives better, but I do think it would have eased the strain.  But again, this is me as an adult looking back on what I would change for my parents when I was a child.  Rather silly and completely implausible.

It makes me wonder though.  What will my son think of me when he’s 25?  What will really count to him?  What will have left the biggest impressions?

If he grows up poor, will he focus determinately on becoming rich?  If he grows up rich will he take it for granted?  Will he hate the money and privilege we’ve worked so hard for?

I can’t answer these questions, but I do know what really counts.

Love for myself.  Love for my husband. Love for my son.  Love for my family and friends.

You can’t eat love.  It won’t feed the hungry or clothe the poor.  But it is what really truly counts.

To love,

Leah

Feeling happy to feel sad

weirdguySo I’ve been feeling really sad for the last few days and everyone has been trying very hard to cheer me up.

But that’s not the point.

Sadness is an emotion that few people are comfortable with. Cry in public and you will find yourself a social outcast.

But there’s nothing wrong with being sad!

Sadness is a very strong, necessary emotion. Only by feeling sad do we know what happiness feels like.

So when I feel this way, I avoid people. I avoid conversations. I avoid closeness.

Why?

Because I am perfect happy feeling sad thank you very much and don’t need to be cheered up!

I will cheer up on my own, on my own time, when I am ready.

Until then, piss off.

Leah

Where’s My Nano Going? In the Trash!

Recently I purchased an Ipod Nano 3rd Generation.  Yes, I maybe broke the rules a bit by purchasing it on Ebay, but hey, that’s where I buy just about anything that I want to find for the best deal.

So let’s start with why I wanted an Ipod nano.

It’s not like I need a nano to sew fabric together or stitch my quilts, right?

Well, technically I do.  When I’m working in my quilting studio, I’m always listening to something. Usually I listen to one of my favorite audio books, like right now Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts is in my CD player.

When I’m not listening to a book, I’m listening to music, usually movie soundtracks.  Some of my favorites include Narnia, Batman Begins, and Twilight.

Listening to music focuses the attention of the part of my brain that likes to wander and distract me.  I find that I’m able to work for much longer hours and with greater attention when audiobooks are playing.

But audiobooks aren’t the cheapest things in the world!

In fact, they’re usually very expensive.  My last audiobook that I purchased from a book store was the first book of the Twilight series and it cost over $20.

So I’m sure you’ve heard of Audible.  We’ve all heard of audible!  They must have an advertising budget of millions of dollars because I hear about them all the time.

Finally my curiousity got the better of me and I check it out, and of course, I fell drop dead, head over my heels in love!

With a cheap monthly subscription ($5- $15) you get points to buy the audiobooks you want.  You can horde your points and get the really big books like Stephanie Meyer’s excellent second series “The Host” or you can use single points to buy smaller books like Phillipa Gregory’s “The Other Boelyn Girl” series.

The wonderful thing about audible is its compatibility (supposedly).  You download the books, sync them to your Ipod and listen anywhere you want!

That sounds great on paper, but reality is always in for something new.

I was getting a bit sick of the millions of CDs I have laying around.  When I burn an audiobook to CD it’s often 6 or more disks!  That’s just a whole bunch of clutter in my already packed sewing studio.

So I started dragging my laptop into the sewing room with me so I could listen to everything easier.  But it wasn’t easier, it just made it more difficult for me to check email and get work done.

SOOOO…this is a very long explanation for why I purchased the stupid little nano in the first place.  Believe me, I was never someone who even understood the desire for a MP3 player!

But this is why I ended up with a 3rd generation Ipod nano that will not, I repeat will NOT, sync with my computer.  In fact my computer will not even recognize the full 8 G of space that I have!

After a full day of fighting with it and another full day when my husband and brother in law fought with it, I’ve given up. My nano will live out it’s life as a drink coaster for all I care!

What I’m shocked over is how anyone, after my impression at least, would ever buy this apple junk?  I really can’t understand why this whole line is so popular when it’s obviously not well made or even well maintained.

So today I’ve just purchased (yes, on Ebay again) a sandisk sansa clip 8 G MP3 player.  I’ll let you know how it does!

Off to quilt!

Leah

Tearing my hair out

So I’ve been playing with template making and I’ve just thrown in the towel.

I mean, how hard can it be: draw a design, transfer to a template, cut it out, mark the darn quilt and start stitching right!?

The problem has been the cutting out part. I need the lines of my template to be a little bigger than 1/16 of an inch so that my pen will fit and make a mark.  I’ve been using a scrapbooking mini hole puncher to make the lines on the template, which require a million punches with this tiny hole puncher.

So now I have an aching hand and I’m still not satisfied with the lines on my quilt.

Maybe I should just wait for my pounce to come in the mail.

Maybe I should just go start another project and let this Christmas quilt beat me.

Or maybe I should just get on ebay and buy some more feather templates that I don’t have to make myself.

I opted for the latter.

One day when I’m creating famous quilting designs, a tall handsome man approach me and ask if he can produce a line of templates for my quilting patterns. That will be the day that I will take up this mantle of template making again.

Uggh!

Leah Day

Traditional twist

So I’m off on another quilting tangent it seems.

Last week I stocked up on Shiva paint sticks and king size batting for all of these Christmas quilt I have yet to finish.

This week I’m investing in Pounce iron off marking tools and water soluble thread!

When will this end? When will I have one of everything and not feel the need to buy and buy and buy all this quilting shit?

I don’t think that day will ever come unfortunately.

The good news is I’m really excited about this traditional quilting design I’m working on.  Of course I can’t just go out and buy feather templates, I have to draw my own, individual for the quilt I’m working on.  I also can’t just go with any old traditional pattern, I have to design the entire quilt top on graph paper to the exact dimensions of the quilt.

Sometimes I really hate myself.

But mostly I love the outcomes of these tedious, labor intensive designs.  I’m breaking my pattern of chugging quilts out as fast as possible.  I really want to take my time and make these quilts beautiful.  I also want to practice feathers and trapunto, and what better quilts than some boring Christmas quilts that have no real soul yet?

I could just stipple the hell out of them and call it a day, but am I learning anything by doing that?

Nope – I can stipple in my sleep.

Feathers are tough.  They stretch me.  They also make me a little crazy.

So hopefully the pounce stuff will work out and I’ll be able to transfer the entire design I’ve drawn onto this quilt top and get started quilting it sometime later this week.

Here’s the plan: I found a marking tool, not intended for quilting of course, but it’s a 7/8 diameter wheel with sharp little serrated teeth.  The teeth will punch holes in my paper pattern where I want them and then I’ll wipe the pounce chalk over the pattern and it should transfer to the quilt top below.

I’ve also picked up two of Karen McTavish’s books: Quilting for Show and Secrets to Elemental Quilting.  I’ve realized that I’ve moved beyond the “Fun, Fat Quarters” style books and into a range of advanced design books.  I’m selling a lot of my old books on ebay this week to make money for my new books (god they were expensive).

I love McTavish’s work though, and her tattoos (she has two large feather tattoos on both shoulders). I’m hoping that these books will teach me more about trapunto, and have lots of pretty pictures for me to drool over.

I’ll let you know when they get here!

Where did this summer go?

It’s the middle of August…where the heck did this summer go?  Did I just fall asleep in June and wake up now like Rip Van Winkle?

I sure feel like it. I certainly haven’t gotten anything done worth note in the last two months, other than my Christmas quilts and they aren’t even worth noting.

I’m still battling it out with the batting question and trying to figure out whether I should just go on and buy in bulk.  I’m really considering it…

More posts later, when it’s not dark outside hopefully.

Batting Recommendations?

This is an embarrassing admission, but I’ll share it anyway.  I’ve been quilting with the cheapest Wal-Mart off brand batting I could find since I started quilting in 2005.

I know! I know!  I’m not supposed to put cheap batting into quilts made with $8 a yard fabric, but come on!  My little boy has to EAT!

Between fabric skyrocketing in price and my latest paint / paintstick addiction, there’s very little room in my budget for high dollar quilt batting. I’ve dabbled with Quilter’s Dream Poly in a couple different thicknesses, not because I felt drawn to it particularly, but because my husband uses it in his fish tank filters and it happened to be on hand.

Eye of the Forest

Eye of the Forest

I’m managing to save because I’ve started painting cheap muslin in place of searching high and low for a specific fabric colors.  This is actually working out pretty well, and I may try it for the grass portion of my next landscape quilt.  I have yet to replenish my stock of brown batiks after the Eye of the Forest ate them all.  Maybe I’ll just paint what I want and stop pining for a trip to Mary Jo’s.

So anyway, what batting do you use?  Are you steadfastly loyal to your specific batting of choice, or do you cheat unmercifully with wool or polyester blends?

I broke down and got several yards of Hobbs Heirloom from Alley Quilts last month when I was on my Christmas quilt run.  I’ve since run out and still have 7 quilts ready to baste, but not a scrap of batting in sight.

Okay, that’s a lie.  I have many random pieces of 12″ to 30″ batting laying around, but I am not, I repeat AM NOT going to sew them all together to make one big piece.  I piece the top, I sometimes piece the back, but I will not piece the batting too!

You gotta draw the line somewhere.

You might be wondering why I’ve suddenly developed such a distaste for my Wal-Mart batting of choice.

Oh I wish this were by choice.

Walmart has stopped carrying my cotton batting.  I’ve canvased the Walmarts in Shelby, Gastonia, and Southport and can honestly say that cotton batting can no longer be found within the walls.  In fact, finding any fabric with Wal-Mart at all will soon be a distant memory.

Some may rejoice, for this will definitely help out the small, independent quilt stores that thrive on my local business, and I don’t begrudge them this business.  BUT – I also don’t like spending an extra $30 a quilt either.

I should also add that I’m so upset about Wal-mart closing their crafting section because it was an area I desperately depended on when I was but a fledgling quilter.  Think of how many young minds will never step out of the shoe section to the embrace of fabric and yarn! Think of how many people we will lose to TV and video games because Wal-mart offers them no creative alternative!

Okay…enough ranting…Let me know what batting you use and why you use it!

Cheers,

Leah