Monday, 31 August 2009

Stripping for Quilts

Have you ever opened your address book and found the pages stripped of details?

Not good. I logged into my bloglines account to find no details!(What this is: a list of blogs ('feeds') and when a blogger posts, the name is bold--so I'm alerted to the new post) My list of feeds was gone! Whoosh! Vanished! Thirty something blogs, for which I have now have no addresses.
I am left to my mind wanderings and googling favourite bloggers. No worry, I'll find them. I'm left deciding whether or not to go back to Bloglines--I'e emailed them, maybe they'll uncover my lost list of feeds.

I miss the blogging community. Hoping the rekindle the love.

The next two weeks are packed full of work and stress, so I treated myself to a weekend of sewing these last two days.

First, I'm working on Quilt A for a baby boy--I must admit it has hints of my day job. There is a good mixture of hand sewing on this quilt. Soon, we are doing a big article on hand sewing and, well I had to give it a go. There are plenty of aspects about my scrappy cowboy quilt that I particularily like, beyond the hand sewing. I have some stylish maverick Sams, with and without the overalls, and wonky blocks that were a cinch to do!

On Quilt A, both cabins and borders are constructed from all 1 1/2" strips, all plaid fabric, using light and dark placement in the design. For two years now, I've collected boys', mens' and some ladies', plaid shirts in true Bonnie Hunter style. A week ago I began stripping my stash from its canvas bag spilling over with plaid.

One and half inch strips don't make a very big dent in this stash, but it has created a neat and orderly box of folded fabrics. So secondly, it resulted in tidy stashes.

Around about the same time, I spied a square in a square in a square in a square in a square pattern(I like to call it four-squared). And guess what? The squares are made of 1 1/2" strips. The centre is 56 blocks consisting of one square piece and three sets of 56 strip sets. So with every plaid stash I cut to strips, I set aside a set for Quilt B. I cut two quilts at one time.

Finally, when in Festival of Quilts, I picked up some double pink to finish off my Mystery Quilt. I love the pinks. So did I finish the mystery quilt? No. I coordinated pink and white shirtings with the double pink for a simple courthouse block baby quilt. Quilt C. In, you guessed it--1 1/2" strips! I hope to finish the mystery quilt too. Quilt D?

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It's About Time

We were away at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham England for four nights and five days. By Day Five, there was tears, tears and more tears during our last phone call from the road. Finally Babydoll had to get me and Cutiepie to stop crying, just so she could say hello to her daddy.
I love my daughters so much, my heart pained to be gone from them so long!

This picture is our second day home. Our first day home I took the girls to an art camp where our friend Rebecca and the girls used Simply Spray to create new T-Shirts. Pretty fantastic!

FOQ was good. I think most of the community was pretty happy with the consumer results. We sold enough to cover our costs and that was important. Our magazine was not offically in a stand, so we were glad to sell anything at all. I wish I had more time to see the quilts and the great inspirations all around us.
There was one sight across from us that really annoyed me. Check this out:

div> Dyeing in Plastic Bags? Really? Could no PR person come up with a better name? Ugh!

My marketing spirits were boosted at the end of our journey. DH and I stayed in a little B&B and dined at an adorable restaurant in Cheshire on the eve of our return. Below, you'll see how fitting it was. The sign on The Swan restaurant says, "Creative Country Cooking".

It was delicious! More later, have a good day!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

My Tip For You

Beware of discretionary tips added to the bill.

From previous dining experiences, I had known my friend did not believe in tipping. She is Australian and informs me that there is no tipping in Australia. I’m American and I tell her I grew up tipping. Here in Ireland, it is a mixed bag: some tip, some don’t tip and some hardly tip. I think it is safe to say Ireland is not a country of regular tipping, but more and more, tipping is a part of dining and other Irish service industries.

This week we’re in England—I’m not entirely sure of the tipping practice here. For me, tipping is personal, so unless it is prohibited, offensive, or goes again a custom, I apply my personal routine tipping everywhere I go.

We found ourselves dining in our hotel’s (Crowne Plaza in Birmingham) restaurant. We had already discussed the high prices of a meal (Carvery buffet = £20.95!). When the bill arrived my no-tipping friend pointed out the addition of a 10% charge on our bill for four people. It was labelled: Discretionary service charge. There are so many things wrong with this picture.
1. If it is discretionary, then shouldn’t the diner use his/her own discretion?
2. Why is it added to the bill, if it is left to the diner’s discretion?
3. Just how many times have I paid that 10% without noticing?

Thanks to our no-tipping friend, we inquired further: Where does the 10% go? I was impressed with the hotel host’s honesty. But hugely bothered by the answer.

The amount of 5% is returned to wait staff at the end of the month, whereas the other 5% goes to the hotel. *gasp* Shame on the hotel! My already expensive meal is now 5% more! (and that carvery? It’s really £22.35).

It didn’t take much for the hotel host to realise he had unrest on his hands. He immediately said if we did not want to pay it, we were not obliged and he proceeded to refund the 10%. We, in turn, handed the cash to our server and told her to share as she liked with the kitchen staff, or not.
After several theories, we chose to believe the hotel management is charging 5% to the wait staff to help enforce tipping by adding the discretionary tip on the tab. Just plain wrong!?
Now this didn’t change our no-tipper’s position (or did it strengthen it?), but thanks to her awareness, it sure woke us tippers up.

She and I continued to debate the merits of tipping—but really it became an inquisition as to how I choose to tip. As her position is not to tip, the opposing position to tip is prone for more clarification and criticism from a no tipper. Sensing his wife was feeling boxed in, DH pointed out that to not tip goes against the norm, so why the pressure on the tipper? Nevertheless, it was selection process of tipping that was under study.

I tip if a service is personal, ie., deals with my food or body.

Contrary to some tippers, I do not tip based on the server’s wage. My hair stylist—who I tip-- I’m pretty sure he makes more in one year than I did in my last two years combined. After putting myself through university, I have appreciation for low and high wages. I strongly feel people make choices. You choose to work at that level; only you can control what you achieve; if you want more, find a way (it’s there) and achieve more!

I tip if I think the service went above and beyond what was needed; often tipping might be based on my requests, but no necessarily always. (ie., cab driver rushing)

I tip more at the holidays, the season of giving. (ie, postman, garbage man)

I tip by way of gifts. (teacher’s gifts, thank you gifts, bottle of wine)

If I can't afford the tip, I don’t take of the service. For me, tipping is all part of the package. This also explains why I’ve only had my hair cut twice this year! I won’t take a taxi if I don’t have a tip.

I do not tip if the service was poor for one reason or another. My tip is a reflection of my happiness. And I will always tell my servicer why I was not happy with hopes that service improves. (Some ritual tippers tip irregardless of performance and this is bad, bad, bad, I say!)

This still leaves the question: how do I decide which service gets tips?

As we’re at the Festival of Quilts this week, our debate naturally fell to our crafty nature...who tips their long arm quilter?

For the record, I have never had a quilt of mine longarm quilted. (However, I am a manager of a magazine that does contract for longarm quilting. The prices paid are based on a rate chart supplied by the quilter. Tipping did not enter my budget or thinking—should it?

Tell us, do you tip your longarm quilter?

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Marco My Summer

If I'm not mistaken, I once blogged of this silly notion: kids--add water and watch grow. This summer, we added water and my girls have grown. And grown. And grown.

Babydoll has begun doing handstands on the pool's bottom. Handstands? Pool? Bottom? Two months ago my daughter was a 6 year old child obsessed with licking cookies, now she wants hi-tech googles and swims like salmon on a mission. Really, how can I stay ahead of her?

Cutiepie will not be held back. She's abandoned the swim armband wings as quickly as Babydoll could say Marco Polo. It's riddled my leisure swimming with anxiety. I spend my time saying, "Come up!" "Don't dive" "Don't splash" and worst of all, "Don't kick off of me--it hurts!" Really, those armbands were sedatives for mexican jumping beans. Wet mexican jumping beans. If could fit them over my arms, I'd have a go.

The pool. It is our relief in every way this summer. Especially comedy relief. DH always wanted a gym membership, but until this year I was too stingy and thrifty. Finally and with true telepathy, I gazed into our crystal ball last Christmas and caved into buying a full family membership. I thought, maybe come summer, when we can afford nothing else, a pool membership might be nice. That is the understatement of the year.

I constantly ask DH, how great was my idea? A gym w/pool membership! Sheer brillance. haha Poor guy, he never gets the credit.

I've nearly forgotten the best tidbits--we had a sewin here at the house. It was great! I'm trying my hardest to figure out my picture process on blogger. I could then show you the goods. We had a great time. In true style Cathi and I were up to 2amish sewing! Next post, photos I promise!
Work, swimming and a few sewing projects--no complaints here.

Well maybe one...

Is anyone else out there counting the days until school's back in?