Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sticker Shock!!

The last car I purchased was in 2004. Currently my chariot has over 193,000 miles on the odometer... although the engine has a whole lot less... having been replaced a few years ago.

It took me MONTHS to find that car. I test drove everything out there... from 'whoa is me no body loves me' cars... to 'over the top out of my price range' vehicles. I decided to purchase a sturdy, reliable model know for it's longevity and safety. Once I got over the sticker shock, I happily drove off the lot vowing to drive this car for 10 years, or 300,000 miles, which ever comes first. On the fifth anniversary of ownership the odometer read 150,000 miles.

At the time I was driving to Kentucky twice a month, and an hour and a half to Pennsylvania to visit my husband in the hospital 3 nights a week. The miles were racking up rapidly. However I closed the warehouse in Kentucky, my husband passed away, and I closed my stores. Now I stay home a lot and work a little over a mile away... so the mileage rule no longer applies. 2014 will be the year I purchase a new car.

For fun I decided to check the cars that are available in 2012... just to get a feel of what's out there and how much I will have to save so I can pay cash for my new car. YIKES!!! First of all I couldn't find one car I liked... and second of all they are so EXPENSIVE! 

So... does any one have any thoughts of what car I should look at and test drive?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater


Isn't he cute??? Last week I attended The Philly Modern Quilt Guild meeting where one activity was a pin cushion swap. I made this little guy out of scraps from my Bye-Bye Boogie Man Quilt. In keeping with the fall like weather we had a few weeks ago I was inspired to make a pumpkin pin cushion fussy cutting one segment with a pumpkin face. Black embroidery thread was used to hand sew a spider web closing on the bottom. He was so cute that it saddened me to have to give him away. I guess I will have to make another one to keep. I'm not too upset though... I got an adorable lady bug in return. Sue Morrison from The Village Quilter located in Mt. Holly, NJ made the cute little 'bugger'.

The weather however has turned nasty and ugly over the past week. Muggy, hot, depressing are just a few words I can think of... OH... oppressive... that's a good word! I don't do well in this type of weather. I melt. Living on the lake and near the ocean I am sure doesn't help the situation. All my mail is limp when I take it out of the box, envelopes unsealed. Magazine pages fold over your fingers as you turn the pages. I washed a cotton table cloth the other day, removing it from the dryer before completely dry so as to iron it more easily. I draped it over a chair to finish drying overnight and went to bed. The next day around lunch time I grabbed it to throw over the table... and it was still damp!!! I couldn't put it on an antique wooden table while still wet. UGH!!

I moved in to this house on October 19th last year. I remember the beautiful fall leaves littering my lawn a few short weeks after I arrived. This year the leaves have already begun to fall... and they are not pretty at all!! Large, dark brown, almost black crinkled up leaves. One major lesson I learned  from last year is to rake up the leaves every weekend. So many leaves fall that if you decide to be lazy and wait until they have all fallen, you will get lost in the pile!!! 

I guess with the ugly weather and nasty looking leaves it's no wonder I'm in a foul mood that I just can't seem to shake. Gee... not that the trial has anything to do with it :-)

Keep plodding through life!! It can only get better!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011


If you haven't got a clue what this musical is about... shame on you!!! You should know every word to every song, just as my family does.

Disney released the movie NEWSIES back in 1992  starring Christian Bale (yes, of Batman fame)and Bill Pullman, with Robert Devall and Ann-Margaret in supporting roles. It's the true story of the 1899 uprising and strike of New York City NEWSIES... young men and boys selling the newspapers printed by Pulitzer and Hearst. When the newpaper companies raise their prices by ten cents for 100 papers, the already poor NEWSIES band together as one large group and fight the 'big boys'. 

The movie was not a box office hit. It cost 15 million to make, yet only pulled 3 million in returns... giving it the title of Disney's largest flop. However, it has since gained a huge cult following and has now been made in to a play. Which I was fortunate enough to attend due to a birthday gift of a ticket (Thanks Lauren!).

I can honestly say I was totally entertained!!! Some songs were edited, others were written just for the play... however I still felt my toes tapping and suppressing the urge to sing along. Some beloved characters were 'cut', while others were 'down graded' or switched to make room for a new character... which wasn't totally a bad thing, I guess. The dance numbers and talent to perform them were AWESOME! I was thrilled to see the writers and choreographers kept the jazz dancing feel and ecstatic the tap dance was left in. Whoopie!

The star of the show for me was the set design. Three metal structures were used creatively as they rotated around the the stage becoming the gates of NEWSIE Square, the basement steps of Mr. Pulitzer's house, the rooftop of buildings in New York, and so many other settings. 

The ending was anti-climatic... and I think could have had more 'punch'. The writers added a 'love interest' and although it came across well I was disappointed they chose to end with that. Maybe I am just jaded by the movie ending.

What are you waiting for??? If you can't get to the play... then run out and buy the DVD. I promise you won't be disappointed!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Quilter ALERT!

Tuesday evening was spent in Huntington Valley, PA attending the PHILLY chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild. Between voting for upcoming officers, participating in a pin cushion swap (I got an adorable 'bug' from Sue at The Village Quilter in Mt. Holly, NJ), meeting really nice fellow quilters, and having a Trunk Show of and by designer Jessica Levitt... I was in total quilter's heaven.

Jan Crane, from Pennington Quilt Works joined me for the car ride and attended as well. By the end of the evening we were 100% in agreement that we need to start a New Jersey Chapter... NOW!!! Jan has generously offered the use of her shop to hold monthly meetings, while a few others and myself volunteered to 'get the ball rolling'.

If you are interested in helping to form this chapter, please let me know NOW! We are looking for lots of help and input to make this chapter AWESOME!

In addition, if you just want to be notified about our progress and perhaps attend our meetings, please shoot me a message.

We are also looking for ideas and suggestions... so again... shoot me a message. I will send it along to the appropriate person.

If you have a blog... please post our information as it develops... many hands make light work as the old saying goes.

Currently there are no dates or time frame. I believe discussions of holding an informal fact gathering meeting in late October or early November have been held... with the first 'real' meeting to be held in January. But again... nothing has been set in stone yet. One thing we know for sure is that our meetings will NOT be held the 3rd Tuesday of the month... for that is when the Philly Chapter meets and I for one want to attend those :-)

Pass the word along!!

This is EXCITING news!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Old & New Friends

As the familiar Girl Scout song goes:

Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver and the other is gold.

A ring is round, it has no end. That's how long I want to be your friend.

That song kept spinning in my head all weekend as I met new people, and re-connected with old friends.

I started at The Pennsylvania Quilt Extravaganza in Oaks, PA. For the first time I can remember I was not 'wowed' by any one singular quilt. Not one took my breath away. Don't get me wrong, there were many extraordinary quilts by many incredibly talented people... but I wasn't bowled over. Maybe it was the sour mood I was in. Or maybe it was the rainy weather. Maybe it was the fact that I went late in the afternoon and didn't have the excitement of a large crowd to sway me. I don't know what it was... but that didn't stop me from chatting with fellow quilters.

As I wandered the exhibits, the colors in this quilt caught my attention.

As I looked closer... I realized the color was actually made possible by hand dyed cotton string that was then machine zig-zagged on to heavy black fabric and THEN stitched together to make the quilt. The color of the thread used to zig-zag added another color dimension. Fascinating! Here's a closer look:

As I stood there soaking in the detail and saturated colors... another quilter stood by my side... we started talking... we exchanged contact information... I think we can be friends (Hi Shelia!)

Saturday a friend of mine since I was 5 years old (Hi Beth) called and invited me to join her and a group of people (Hi Jim, Dawn, & Bill) at Monmouth Park... our local horse racing park. This is not something I normally would have thought to do... but I threw caution to the wind and went. It was such a lovely day. Before the horse park I went to PADDLE DAY on the Navesink river in Red Bank, NJ... and had a delightful conversation with a member of Monmouth Boat Club (Hi Carol) and devoured a hamburger off the grill (Thanks Les!). Sprinkle in a few internet chats and phone calls from people I haven't heard from in AGES (Hi Andrea & Brian)... and it was a pretty good day.

A trip to Swedesboro, NJ on Sunday to visit my husband's gravesite (and a few others) and to attend the Wagonhouse Winery Harvest Party to listen to another friend's (and kind of relative) band (Hi Dean) ended up being another opportunity to talk with more people I haven't connected with in YEARS! (Hi Kay & Susan). On a whim I drove by another friend's that I lost contact with over the years. As luck would have it... she and her kids were on their way out to dinner... so I joined them!!! (Hi Rennie, Erin Stevie, Brian... and Gabe). Another phone call brightened my day from a friend I thought I had lost forever (You know who you are... HI). The weekend was topped off by e-conversations with an 'internet friend' I made by joining a yahoo group making BITTYs (3 1/2" quilt squares). BTW... That group is TOTALLY AWESOME!!! (Hi Sooz!)

The friends and family I have mentioned today are just a grain of sand compared to all the others I still have to re-connect with. So 'keep the light on'... I'll be headed your way. I love and appreciate every single one of you. You have all shaped my life in one way or another... and I hope I have done the same for you.

I leave you with another close up of this technicolor quilt. Notice how the purple thread over the blue looks totally different than the red thread? It's mind boggling in person.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Natural Gas Poisoning

By now you all have been reading about my hot water heater problems... but did you have any idea how serious it was? I didn't.

I had been 'sick' for about a week. So many different symptoms made it hard to diagnose... besides, I was too sick to care. I just curled up in bed and hoped the world would pass me by. A few major "events" were happening in my day to day life, so I chalked up the queasy stomach, intestinal flare ups, migraine, head cold, sneezing, and over all 'I don't give a shit' attitude to depression. Little did I know the gas leak from the hot water heater was poisoning me.

My daughter suffered some of the same symptoms... and the dogs weren't behaving right either... but I was too sick to notice or care.

As a general rule I like to keep the windows in my house open. I can't live with out fresh air blowing in my face, especially around my nose. That's the only thing that saved me from a more serious fate.

Last week a neighbor called the fire department because they smelled gas. The firemen turned the gas to the hot water heater off... and with in 6 hours or so I started to feel better.

So... beware of the silent killer!!! You can't see it, hear it, or even smell it in some cases. Read the symptoms below and commit them to memory. I didn't suffer from all of them... but quite a few to see the pattern.

Symptoms of Natural Gas Poisoning

There are a wide variety of symptoms that may occur from natural gas poisoning. The most noticeable are:

  • Increased allergies
  • Gastrointestinal Problems
  • Fatigue
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mental Fogginess
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Pain and Discomfort
  • High Red Blood Cell Count
  • High White Blood Cell Count
  • Eczema
  • High Cholesterol levels
  • Pets are unexplainably ill
  • Migraines

Keep it safe!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


The week is only 2 days long and already it has been filled with excitement.

The saga of the hot water heater continues. The pilot light won't stay lit and the new thermal-coupler  doesn't seem to do it's job... which is turn the gas off if not being heated. So......
A friendly neighbor who was walking their dog smelled the gas spewing from my basement and called the local fire department. Here I was sitting innocently at home on the computer when 2 fire trucks, a police vehicle, a rescue vehicle, and assorted private trucks with flashing lights all come flying down my street... and screech to a halt... in front of MY house!!!

Suddenly my yard and basement were a flurry of firemen hunks checking out the situation. Sadly they were all too young for me... and my daughter (who is the PERFECT age) wasn't home to enjoy the view. Too bad. The older guys just stood around and talked for a while. Another call came in about a fire alarm tripping... and POOF... they were off and running to another call. It all happened in a span of about 20 minutes. They all came... then they all left.

In quilting news today... I spent a lot of my day learning about the Philadelphia Chapter of The Modern Quilt Guild. Their first meeting of the year is next week... which I will be attending.  Jan, the owner of Pennington Quilt Works in Pennington, NJ has offered to host a New Jersey Chapter at her store if I get it up and running. Well... you don't have to ask me twice to do something like that. In the past I have started a NJ Chapter of the Smocking Arts Guild of America (for hand smocking), The Raritan Valley Youth Chorale (a chorus designed specifically for the changing voices of adolescents. We actually sang in Carnegie Hall, NYC!), was President of Hillsborough Elementary Home & School Association, and so much more. Starting a NJ Chapter for quilters is a piece of cake! So exciting!!!

                                   I even had time to take my mom to the movies. We saw The Help.
I thought the book was FABULOUS... and the movie brought it all to life. If you get a chance to see the movie... GO!

Set in the 1960's in Mississippi... it's a story of a special bond between black maids and the families they work for... and how it all changes in the 60's. I couldn't control my laughter as Minnie arrived at Hilly's door with a special chocolate pie as a piece offering. You have to read the book, or see the movie to understand the joke behind this. Apparently there were not many of us in the audience that had read the book ahead of seeing the movie... only 4 of us knew what was going to happen.

"I is Kind." "I is Smart." "I is Important." A great lesson for us all.

Soundtrack is available on iTunes. Lead song "The Living Truth" was written and sung by Mary J. Blige.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hot Water and Bathrooms

Hot Water… Can you live without it??? I haven’t had hot water since Irene hit 2 weeks ago. Other than taking a shower… well really washing my hair… I found I can live without it.

I do my laundry in cold water. My dishwasher has a cycle where it heats it’s own water. I heat up the teakettle when it’s time to wash the dinner dishes. So what’s the big deal???

My mom lives a town away, I could always go there to take a shower, but that would then require the obligatory visit of about 3 hours and a ride in the car… when all I want is a quick shower. 

I am fortunate enough to have a friend live just a few doors down the street… with hot water.  I pack up a few things and just like camp, I hike to the indoor plumbing.  That has its drawbacks too. I feel I need to be invited over, or schedule a shower time in advance… so I don’t interrupt their evening. The other night they called at 8:30pm and asked if I needed to use the shower. Well… no, not at 8:30 I didn’t. I was immersed in a project at the moment and it wasn’t a good time to stop. However, at 11:00 I was totally ready.

So here it is, 11:00pm… I’m sticky from the muggy day and all I want to do is take a shower and go to bed. What to do? What to do? HARK! I know!!! In the spirit of making lemonade out of lemons, I decide to make this a special ‘event’.  In the kitchen I put pots of water on all four burners to boil. I gather a few candles and matches… and pour my self a glass of wine.  I head upstairs and begin to fill the tub with chilly water. It has been AGES since I’ve taken an actual bath.

All in all it wasn’t so bad. The four pots of water weren’t quite enough to heat the bath water to a comfortable level… not to mention the effort it took to haul them up there without spilling. There was no way to wash my hair and rinse it without freezing (so I skipped it), and I realized too late that the only soap dish in the tub is way up high. At least I was able to wash away the grit and grime of the day and go to sleep feeling clean.

Hot showers are still a dream to me. I'm so jealous you can take a hot shower any time you want! Short of calling in the professionals… I have tried everything to fix my hot water heater after the flooded basement. Yesterday a friend came over and actually got the pilot lit… but it didn’t hold. He’s trying again today. If it doesn’t stay lit today, it’s time to call in the big guys… and hope it doesn’t take my last nickel to pay for it.

Speaking of my bathroom… I think my daughter and I should win an award for 2 adult females (and 2 dogs) sharing (and surviving) the world's smallest main bathroom.

This is our bathroom. That's all there is. The door is on the right, the tub on the left. I am sitting on 'the throne' to take the photo and my left knee is hitting the wall at the end of the tub. The one and only electrical outlet is behind the towel and we have to open the bathroom door (which doesn't stay shut unless you lock it) for elbow room just to blow dry our hair. It's cute, it's cramped, but at least it's easy to clean. All I want is for hot water to come out of that ONE faucet. Is that too much to ask???

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bye Bye Boogie Man Quilt...

Boogie Man Quilt  is FINALLY up on! I think it's adorable... take a look for yourself.

Boogie Man Quilt  

The next top on the machine and ready to quilt is a beautiful baby quilt. Pieced in soft pink, blue, green, yellow and white pinwheels... it is sure to become a family heirloom.

On the design board is a really different (Unique and Novel?) quilt. It's called 'The Boyfriend Shirt' Quilt and is made of upcycled (and dry cleaned) men's shirts. So comfortable... it will be perfect to snuggle in when your 'main squeeze' can't be with you.

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day!! I spent mine spray painting a very useful, but down right ugly chest of many drawers picked up off the curb on bulk trash night a few weeks ago. Originally used in someone's garage... it will now be in my home studio. Dear son-in-law hammered some new wood on the back and sides (permanently hammering closed one of the drawers... oops!) to make it a bit more sturdy. My dear daughter... the organized one in the family... is drooling in the wet paint anxiously awaiting the precise moment it is dry so she can fill up all the drawers with my junk (uh... treasures and tools). Before and after photos will proudly be posted this upcoming week.