Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Coming Up for Air

Where does the time go?

I'll tell ya.

I have officially been un-contracted, or unemployed, for three days now! Technically, it is five days, but I'm not counting Thursday or Friday. Those were turkey days. Each daughter invited a friend over and it was a great Thanksgiving!

Hmm, next year, we might stretch a little and invite adults! I'm all for new traditions!

So my three days of bliss...really I do feel pampered and luxurous, even though I've not wasted a minute of my time. No boob tube nor naps, yet. The fact that all my attention is devoted to this household and my family is a wonderful feeling. (I know, I know, it WILL get old!)

The other incident that has led to me feeling so completely at home is the fact that my car broke down on Friday morning. So, literally, I have been so completely at home, with no means of escape! And you know, it's not entirely a bad thing.

I'm proud to say my last three days have been structured and very productive. Keeping my morning routine from my working days, I still prepare breakfasts, lunches and dinner in one go. Everything, that can be, is done in advance. I even went walking at dark o'clock on two of the days.

Since my car was out of commission, Babydoll thumbed a ride to school with Neighborboy. Brillant. Even more morning time. Mornings I do half deep cleaning and half paperwork and computer maintanience. Yesterday Cutiepie and I browsed all our photos, deleting thumbs and blurs, and burning back up CDs. Yep, thank you Megan for your great reminder--back up you internets! This sort of paper/computer work should ease up as I'm catching up on all 2007 details and will become mere weekly maintanience. Ditto for the deep cleaning.

Boy, do I love a clean house. Now I can go pee without closing my eyes...cause, you know, if you don't see the mess and grime, it aint there!

The latter half of my day is spent sewing and with a sprinkling of mommy/daughter(s) time. I have enough quilt orders to last til 2008, averaging one a week.
Below Babydoll helps decide where the blocks lay best.
Tommorrow, I package up this week's completed one. The girls help me, but we still take time for some painting, baking and nature walks.
Cutiepie, below, has an addiction to painting once a day, at least.

Can I tell you, I love my life?

There is a very calm and happy vibe in the house. Which is interesting, since it sorta points to me as the tide that turns. Without verbalizing it, DH appears happier now that I'm happier. We will have to wait out the first month's effects and see what the numbers say. Half the income could be something with which to reckon.

I'll leave you with that quandry and hope for the best.

What's For Dinner?


Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Update My Basket

Just in case any of you are quilters and you're following my numbers:
There's been an update on the purchase of cotton batting.

The shipping charge is not the standard $50, but $200.

However, I've converted all to Euros for comparison and since that is the denomination we work and live by over here. ;) I also broke it down to actual inches, the lowest common denominator.

100% Cotton batting *UPDATED* 45inch width
This is the purchase.
1440 inches = 40 yards = 36.5 meters

(IE costs € .23/inch; UK costs € .17/inch; US costs € .07/inch)

So once again, let's review:

From the US €233(product & shipping) ($342)
From the UK €378 (product & shipping) ($554)
In Ireland €392 (product only) ($574)

Folks, the numbers do not lie!!!

Consider this: tax in UK is 13.5% of sale; Ireland is a whopping 21% of sale; and also, the Euro is much stronger than the Dollar.

Once this order proves true, the better sale yet, would be to order the 90inch next move!

Monday, 19 November 2007

An Earful of Pain

The night went by with howls and screams. I spent a restless six hours moving from bed to bed, cradling and calming, while Babydoll suffering a painful earache, did her best version of the The Scream .

We awoke groggy and tired. Half dressed in her school uniform, Babydoll pleaded to stay home from school. With her hand over her ear, she explained pathetically,

“I don’t think any of the other kids will be able to hear me.”

Her ear was kaput and so was she, I reckoned.

She has only me to blame. Me and genetics.

Most women covet sweet blowing in the ear. Me? The result is a throbbing ringing in my ear for days. As a child, I had to wear makeshift bandanna hats so to keep the cold breeze from puffing pain into my inner ear. As a result, I’m never far from my beloved hats and scarfs, regardless of season.

A few months back, a neighbor said she and her husband were driving one morning when they thought they saw me on my walk.

“I said to him, ‘Look at that woman! She so bundled up, she’s ready for a storm!” Looking back at me she says, “And that was in August!”

Friday, 16 November 2007

Made to Order

On Wednesday a lady from our village asked me if I had a baby boy quilt completed and available for sale? And could it be personalized with the baby’s name? After more chatting, I arranged to have one done by the weekend. Today I finish it!

The theme/colors are soft creme, brown, blue, red, crème, green in a cowboy motiff. I call it my Pioneer Boy in likeness of a fav'd blog. Love the six four-pointed friendship blocks. They make me think of the sheriff’s badge in this genre. Not really sure of the Irish impression of cowboys, but since seeing this motif in the trendy boutiques in town, I think it will be ok. These pictures are before binding. Note the cute clips—they are wonderful, in lieu of pins that stab!!

Miraculously, with my quilting Wednesday group time and a surprisingly uneventful last night, my work on this quilt is nearly finished. I am so pleased to think I met this tight deadline with room to spare. When I called my friend to ask the name with which to stitch, she informed me they haven’t even named the baby yet!!

Most my baby quilts include a pocket and pocket friend, like the bunny in the upper right block above. This allows me to go back afterward and stitch a personal touch, like the baby’s name, on the pocket even after the quilt is entirely finished.

Hey! Those who know me and my quilting, did you notice I did an overall simple grid stitch in the ditch? My usual choice of quilting is meandering, but I wanted a real soft and simple look to this particular one. I’m quite pleased. Meandering quilting can be forgiving and easy to hide flaws, whereas simple stitch can be all revealing. Oh! I’m so daring!!

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Christmas is Calling

Earlier this week, Cathi was so kind to help me locate this toy—so we could correctly identify it for Santa, ya know? Afterward, I rattled around to see if Babydoll really truly did want this particular item.

We were driving with the usual girl chatter spilling from the backseats.


“Yeah, Mommy” they replied in unison.

“Um, today I got a call at work. Santa was calling me at work.”

Audible gasps could be heard and I pictured their eyes as large as half dollars.

Cutiepie was the first to cut in.

“Mom? Did he say…” taking a big breath, she beefs up her voice, “Ho Ho Ho?”

“Well, yes. Yes, he did say ho, ho, ho.”

Giggles burst from both girls. I peek in the rearview mirror just in time to see them giving each other reassuring glances.

“Babydoll, Santa said he saw you writing—“

“Oh, that’s right! He watches us. Is he looking at us right now?”

“Well. Yes, he probably is.”

Another rupture of giggles is heard.

“Anyway, Santa said he saw you writing a letter, but it hasn’t arrived in the North Pole mail yet. Is there a chance you lost the letter?”

“ No momma, it’s in your bedroom waiting to be mailed.”


“But that’s ok, mommy. ‘Cause I have to write all new one. I have to ask for my scooter with the place for my lipslick.”

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Do The Numbers

Six months before we moved to Ireland I was bitten by the quilting bug.

The days flew in and soon we were filling a 40 foot container with all our belongings and some favorite items sure to be missed in Ireland. Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips topping the list and the ‘real’ Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, a close second.

Having been warned of the high cost of living, we also included 27 boxes of Huggies, 62 rolls of aluminium foil and wrap, and 101 Reese’s cups and much more, all bought at CostCo bargain prices.

My thoughts never crossed to stock up on quilting notions, or any quilting items for that matter. Something about the country-esque hobby led me to assume I would find fabric and notions aplenty on the Emerald Island. Um, not likely!

Fabric stores here are tiny nooks selling houseware fabric and shiny satin for making boring curtains and gaudy debutante ball gowns. Don’t get me wrong, you might find cotton fabrics but first you’d have to sell a kidney. The token ten bolts of 100% cotton fabric found in most shops sell for an alarming 9€, 12€, 18 € and up per meter. (This is $13, $17, $26) respectively.)

Needless to say, I’ve become a scrap quilter. My favorite haunts are second hand shops, and even there, the worst dressed hanger of men shirts still sells for a hideous 6€ ($8). I turn green with envy when Bonnie buys goodwill shirts by the pound.

As with small towns, word spreads fast and due to my perseverance and my uncommon hobby, friends and family quickly began saving bags of outgrown clothing and bedding, much to my delight. I find scrapping a cheap and fun alternative, and it keeps DH on his toes—he worries pieces may go missing from his shirts one day!

However, I am still held hostage when it comes to threads and cotton batting. Until now… Ladies sewing and quilting in the UK and IE, behold, I have very good news.

After days of googling, days of phone calls, days and days of doing the math, this is the good news:

I’ve located a lovely shop in Washington who will ship to Ireland. Trust me folks, that is the first key ingredient here. Ability to ship goods! And double whammy—they have prices lower than ever seen for my favorite cotton batting! Let’s break it down, shall we?

For approximately $305 or 209€, your money buys you:

From US: 40 yards (or 36 meters) & shipping costs
From UK: 17½ yards (16 meters) shipping not included
From IRE: 12½ yards (11 meters) shipping not included

My order is placed and I await the results. A duty/tax stamp might await the actually delivery to my home, but at most, that will add 21% to the tab.

Not bad, eh?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Keeping It Real

As you do in life, we sometimes rob Peter to pay Paul. Lessons learned. All I gotta say is, be prepared. On all accounts.

In our home, we have segregated bathrooms: one for the girls and one for the boy. It works. Occasionally I find myself in DH’s bathroom, but it’s still called Daddy’s bathroom—or rather Daddy’s toilet as they say in Ireland.

Oh, but, lest we forget, though I use only one, I still get to clean both bathrooms, equal opportunity or some cock*a*manie like that.

Anyhoo, three weeks ago we ran low on toilet paper. That sort of thing happens when you have a three- and a four-year-old learning the finer things in life, like taking care of business, thoroughly and hygienically.

The girls outnumber the boy, and add to that, the fact that the girls are in the house a greater percentage of the day, well, we took Daddy’s last roll of toilet paper. Just a small pilfering to tide us over until shopping day.

When DH came home, he quickly set off to the store for more TP—cause you know there’s very little that comes between his ‘business’ and the end of a long day.

Fast forward to this Friday. Groundhog day: ran out of TP, steal Daddy’s TP; restock later. Only ‘later’ came after DH came home, again. My plan had been to grocery shop after work, but I was needed to collect Babydoll from a friend’s house. DH had been asked to collect her, but something came up. I don’t ask questions…until now.

The girls had gone to bed and I began my rounds, tidying room to room, when I entered the living room. Looking up from his comfy recliner, DH paused quickly enough for his commercial break, but long enough to gruffly speak to me,

“What is with the shortage on toilet paper? Have I now inherited another responsibility?”

I said, “Excuse me?”

“Am I in charge of toilet paper now? Mine’s always being swiped.”

I was still reeling in his earlier question, “Another responsibility?”

“Um, like making your bed? No, I did that this morning before I went to work.”

“Like washing your clothes? No I’m pretty sure I did that too, this weekend.”

“I make your lunch. I make your dinner, both before I go to work. Ummmm…your responsibilities…?”

Taken aback, he sputters, “Honey, what I—”

No way. I was going to take neither prisoners nor excuses 'til I was finished.

“What responsibilities, exactly, are you we adding to?”

"Clean house? Um, no, I do that."

“Oh, right, you’re responsible to see if the television works. Responsible for checking the springs on your recliner?"


Another futile attempt to stop me.

“Granted you put the girls to bed, but when else would you see them?”

“You don’t even call ahead when you’re going to miss dinner, so WHAT exactly are you responsible for?"

"Just so we know, then we can add ‘Buy TP’ to that list!”

“I, um, uh, I was only joking?”

My Table Runneth Over

So what do you think?

Three hours this weekend and viola! Count 'em! 1-2-3 hours. Love a project like this. This table runner is Anna Banana from the wonderful Pink Chalk Studio. I ordered the pattern and it arrived on Wednesday.

The best part was the quilting guideline. You know when you're driving, and you're unsure of your whereabouts, unsure of the direction needed? You can lose time and patience. Well, this is what is was NOT like. It was great: directions and guidelines made it an enjoyable and quick process.

And might I say, lovely?

This runner was done in colors to suit my dining room, but I intend to do several Christmas motiffs. The size here is 17x53. There is also a smaller size, I know cause several times I goofed. I would look at one set of ingredients, cut to that, only to realize I skipped over to the list of small size, when I was doing the larger size! This of course was all down to user malfunction!

Does anyone notice the patriotic coloring scheme? Not planned. Though afterward I immediately noticed the blue corners and red strips made me think of good ol' USA. Very appropriate in my Irish dining room.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Can You Name That Toy?

Dear Santa,

Hope you're jolly and prepared for the coming season.

I am writing about Babydoll. You remember her? She left the half-eaten iced blue cookie for you last Christmas Eve. I'll do my best to keep her from your goodies plate this year!

Well, Babydoll, she's been nice and just the tiny weeny bit naughty this year. Her big item that she wants this year is a scooter that has a place to keep her make-up, so then she could stop and put on her 'lipslick'. Next time your flying over Ireland, peek in and you'll like see her describe in true-commercial fashion, this scooter and all the marvelous merits it brings.

Commercialism has caught her too: she bought the kiddie-advertisment concept hook, line, and sinker.

Just call her a focus group, all to her own.

However, her actual consumerism needs work, or maybe she is counting on you? She is unaware of the details of where and who supplies this fashion forward vehicle. Can you tell me if this scooter is in your workshop, or where I might find it?

Sign Me,

Your Puzzled Helper

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The Before and After

This weekend while Girle designed and sewed a quilt, Babydoll was not gonna miss out on all the fun. Amid the fabric picking frenzy and the pressing/cutting assembly line, she chose to do a doll quilt and let me tell you, did she impress me!

Below you can see where she used practical measures when determining how many squares she needed for her doll quilt. Seriously, people! I was floored. Ain’t she the smartest?

When was the last time you covered yourself in pieces to determine the number of squares your quilt needed?

Guess what? It worked.

Monday, 5 November 2007

A Family Affair

This weekend we had a surprise visit from Girle, my stepdaughter. Babydoll and Cutiepie absolutely love seeing their older sister and we always welcome her.

Many of you in real life know that nearly two years ago my family was involved in a very serious car accident. Happy to report, most all wounds are healed. Girle was impacted the most as her injury was spine related. She suffered temporary paralysis for nearly 9 months and has spent the last 12 months learning to re-walk and support herself. Unfortunately as anyone who has been injured knows, the time spent off your feet, creates extra weight. These challenges are ever present in her daily road to recovery, but do you think that gets her down? No siree. Girle has more wit and charm than most people I know. (Starting to see why I married her father?)

Anyway, we try to spend most of our time on activities where the focus is on motor skills. It helps that she is a great artist and she loved her present I made for her hobby. This weekend we might have fell upon a new hobby for the young ones. Accidently. I swear! It was by accident.

Does the picture give it away? Quilting and sewing!! Girle had such a ball; she actually said “Why didn’t we start this on Saturday, then we’d have two days to sew this quilt!”

Both Babydoll and Girle had been asking about their respective quilts; Babydoll’s is not quite finished and Girle’s had no definitive color or design though it was on my ToDo list. My day had now become un-planned; the market and other obligations cancelled so we could spend the day with Girle. So I thought, hey, why not?

With both older girls tripping at my heels, we schlepped out three different boxes of fabrics into the dining room. In a completely unmotivated decision, I let the girls pick fabric from just three boxes—red, pink, and blue. In the end, a few add’l colored fabrics slipped in here and there, but overall, I remember thinking how smart it was to keep it simple. Soon enough we were onto pressing the fabric and cutting it.

I was the cutter, Girle was the presser and Babydoll was the placer/mover.
Note, at this point in the morning, the girls are still bed headed and in pyjamas—I’m a kinda cool mother like that. You should have seen the state of me! If you look closely you can see chocolate dribble on Girle’s shirt. We devoured a stack of homemade pancakes doused in maple and chocolate syrup for breakfast. Hmmmm! Yummy. Course none of this explains why Babydoll is picking her nose...

The girls worked together to layout the design. Again, we kept it simple. A 10x8 top of 5.5” squares. At this point you can see we moved on to our day clothes, although Babydoll insists Snow White learn to sew too. Again, I’m a kinda cool mother like that.

We made very good progress. Girle’s quilt top is nearly finished.
When the actual piecing took place, I quickly got Girle ready to take the driver’s seat at the sewing machine.

I said, “would you like to sew it yourself?”
In true Girle fashion, she responds, “ Aw, sure. How often do you get a go at a sewing machine?”

Quilt Enroute

This baby quilt featuring cars is now enroute to newborn Aidan's grandmother in the West of Ireland. Very colorful, don't you think?

The back has a colorful meaning: requested with color choice were several county and football team colors . The three combos I worked in were black/white, blue/yellow, and green/white. Hope that cheers the team on!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Trick, Treat, Stop, Drop and Roll!

Babydoll and Cutiepie, aka Snow White and Ariel the Mermaid, were in full bloom trick and treating.

In this picture, no, they are not in Southern California, yet they are in Ireland in their cousin’s neighborhood.

Perhaps DH can give the full tale behind this tradition, but, frankly, I’m not a fan so I won’t be painting a rosey picture. This particular neighbourhood burning was set alight by three, allegedly drunk—or perhaps just incredibly stupid—male adults, haphazardly dousing a pile of trash with gasoline. I was bothered by the situation, but as so many onlookers included mothers and children of the neighbourhood with backgrounds fully entranced in this culture, I took it all in silently and am only now dispelling my criticism upon you all. Forgive me!

I will go no farther except to say, thankfully I've heard no subsequent reporting of injury or worse outcome beyond what toxins we might have breathed in or the dangerous manoeuvres shown by the festive revellers. Bonfires and fireworks are set alight throughout the various neighborhoods in tradition for Halloween night.