Tuesday, 29 December 2009

This is Time in 2010

Happy New Year!!

Wow, it's here...Year 2010. Was it just a yesteryear's NYE ago when I was on-call for conglomerate VISA U.S.A.? As a team member of an 'event management center' in San Francisco, we were ready and armed for an anticipated massive disruption of the big gnarly Y2K (Year 2000)...that never came to be. The disruption, not the year.

I don't know what we expected for 2000, a few extra zeros, some misplaced millions, computer let downs, and potential hard drive crashes of the century. None of that happened. And yet, if you've read a newspaper in the last nine years, you'll know zeros have come and gone, millions have been misspent, celebrities let us down, and, well, what hard drive crash is not tragic?

Partying like it was 1999 (and it was) my biggest challenge was juggling three jobs as I began my last semester at San Francisco State University. I remember bartending--always the best, lucrative choice to avoiding the anticlimax of NYE-- at Blarney Stone in the Richmond, despite my on-call status for Y2K downtown. Shows how worried I was. Not very.

In the weeks and months leading to the tick tock of Y2K, I attended meetings upon meetings, participated in simulations and drills and composed carefully-worded event protocol for merchant and acquiring banks across the country. Do. Not. Worry. was our message.

Funny, I don't remember one ounce of worry on my part. Our company budgeted hundreds of thousands, created a whole taskforce in a dedicated risk management department solely to battling the doom slaying reputation of the toothless Y2K. And while I reflect on it so lightly, I know the SVPs in charge spent alot of time and worried brows contemplating what was to come.

In fact, my worries of 2009 dwarf those of 1999. They're not worries so much as they're stressors. 1999=single student employed in the City versus 2009=wife, mother, and business woman in non-native countryside.

Sure these transitions come with benefits, like the love of a husband and blessings of adorable children, and opportunities of another country, and alas, fruits of our labor. And yet, it wasn't like I awoke with an ephinany to do all these life-changing things. My life just rolled in this direction. Or so I think. I vaguely recall some decisions: I Do. Let's have a Baby. I can do it. Let's do it. Why not?

Thank goodness wisdom comes with age. Otherwise each of these decisions would have required event management each to their own. We manage and survive one worry only to find tomorrow brings more worries. And for this, I find my archnemisis Time is, at last, on my side. Were it not for time, we could not move forward.

I spend a lot of my time either blaming Time or thanking Time. During this winter holiday, Time was with me as I finished many sewing projects. In this post I share our family Christmas quilt--the trick to this project management is, do the piecing one Christmas and finish the quilting the next Christmas. It worked for me! I particularily love the quilting, I used varigated red/green thread and repeated Merry Christmas in the centre and Ho Ho on the borders. Fun.

Laughter, the Best Medicine

Just in case I painted a care-free loving single life in the city, come now laugh with me.

Once upon a time, I was twenty-something irresponsible and unconcerned with parking tickets acquired easily in San Francisco. (Note reality: the problem is more about paying the tickets, than it is about acquiring them.)

On this day while at work, my roommate called to alert me that my car sat with a tire clamp in front of our trendy Cow Hollow apartment. Bus-commuter by day I arrived home only to learn my car was just towed. The amount to free my car was somewhere above $700 (I'm astonished the actual amount is not emblazened in my head to this day as it was so insurmountable back then. Parking tickets averaged $12, but doubled and tripled every 20 days. You do the math.).

Taxi-passenger, now by panic, I returned to work to get a payroll advance, hop in a cab and rush to the court, pay the fine and onto the tow yard before the $60/hr storage charges kicked in. Finally, we arrived in the tow yard in China Basin, well away from the Courthouse and on the outskirts of the Financial District, only to find that I had left my keys, with my car key, on my desk at the office!

Cue the tears. Oh, I cried. My self-inflicted pain would have no end.

This was not quite 20 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember my bluebird-blue suit, my silk creme blouse and my opaque stockings with my favourite heels. I loved working and dressing downtown. I remember thinking a small thank you for waterproof mascara. (Ironically, with all my stressors of 2009, you won't find me wearing any of those items on a regular basis now.) Anyway, it all paled in comparison when the taxi driver felt my pain and sought to comfort me. He said,

"It's going to be ok. Think about it. Today, this is your biggest problem. In six months, trust me, you'll be onto a different problem. This shall pass."

I will never forget that comforting advice. It shall pass. And it always does.
Enjoy your time today.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Dash over to Dolly Dresses, Now!

You have to get over to Elizabeth Scott's Late Bloomer !! She has done an adorable quilt with tiny dolly dresses (fab fabrics from the greatest Holly Holderman!), and guess what? She's auctioning it off for the Irish Quilting Flood Quilts Relief Action!

Some people are just too kind. A complete daisy chain, I'd say. First there is Holly Holderman who kickstarted with her adorable dolly dresses panel and there there's Elizabeth who did amazing creating and embellishing (including her signature scallops!) and there's Darla Padilla of Wildflower Quilting who did the purtiest quilting and now there's name after name of kind people who are bidding. Bidding with dollars that will transfer to euros and will go to help an Irish family (ies) still in the cold following the floods.

Elizabeth has begun the bidding and will keep the auction open til Monday Dec 21st, so feel free to share in the Season of Sharing. Don't forget to oogle all over the tiny cute dresses!

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Kissin' Quiltin'

I can be a bad mom. I can. Really, I can.

But like me, I have two daughters who can dish it back.

Ha, I'm kidding. Oh, they can, the little rascals. But that's not what this post is about.

My daughters are of the age, they dish mimic it back. Good, bad, or indifferent.

Like, "How many times do I have to tell you? I want a HAM sandwich!" Cell phone attached to my ear.

or, "You're not answering me. I asked you something, Mom? Be polite and answer me." My head down at computer.

and then, Cutiepie comes in the office, rubs her little body against my back and arms, and says "Everynight you say you have to do work. When are you done?"

If you're not moved to berate me just yet, hang onto your hankies. When I turn from my computer, I see Cutiepie is clutching the pink cherries fat quarter I bought her last week.
"You told me you would sew a quilt with me. When, Mom?"


Before I've made quilts with Babydoll, but Cutiepie has generally had less attention span in the past. Tonight was different. She did the pressing, the layout, and the kissin'.
Kissin' quiltin', you might ask?

Well as does happen when you explain to a 5 yo how to put her 5" squares right sides together--face to face? good side to good side? It becomes crystal clear. "Ooooh, you mean so they are kissing?"

So, we spent the evening kissin' pink squares and tomorrow, maybe we'll hug'em into rows.

That's if I behave.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Driving While Smiling

This weekend there was no sewing for me. Before you feel sorry for me, know that I hadn't expected to sew, so I'm not too upset. It is all about expections, people.

I did, however, expect to make some headway in the office. As usual, as what happens at the twelth hour and no time to spare, the toner cartridge runs out. In both printers. I headed to the N11 hoping to pop in and out of PC World. With so much on my mind, I absent-mindly drove past the exit. The next exit was Dundrum, home of the mothership, Dundrum Shopping Centre. I thought, why not? I headed in to check the magazine racks. Forty minutes queuing for parking and two minutes in and out of two bookstores found no quilting magazines. Good news for our biz, no magazine means another sell out.

I'm not even sure Eason's employs a merchandising manager. If you had stock that sold out every month in record time, wouldn't you up your order? Sometimes I think people don't push themselves, because it is just so much fun to be a complainer than to be a winner? Go figure. Why make money, when we can all complain that times are so hard? Honestly it's probably the trickle down effect; these are store managers--why, sales mean nothing to them. They must just punch in and punch out.

Feeling indifferent to finding nothing (ours nor competitors), I rerouted in the direction of PC World, located in an outlet shopping centre. By this time, Christmas shoppers were in full swing and I was looking at doubling my forty minute parking queue time because the backup began as early as the roundabout ahead of the centre entrance. Once in, I sat a comfortable car's length away, blinkers signalling, waiting for a person loading goods into a car. I made sure to make eye contact; then, politely, I made myself look busy checking my phone (I hate pressuring people by staring, when secretly I wish they would hurry it along). Unfortunately my good manners got me nowhere. Because twice, one person after another turned away from the loaded car and walked back to the shops. Stunned, I nearly expected them to turn back and give me a cheeky smile. Only one other time, did a person waved me off. Wouldn't you wave someone off? Like, did the others think, "watch this sucker. I'm sure she's got no where better to be but sitting in her car waiting for a parking spot that won't be available any time soon!" Grrr!

Finally I parked and got my cartridges in record time, and still nursing my wounds from impolite drivers, my tune changed quickly as I saw a poor motorist looking very forlorn as she stood staring at a car parked horizontally behind her vehicle rendering her immobile.
Apparently, someone thinks she has even more time to spare.

Do the right thing next time you're driving. And remember to smile!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Three Down, Noel to Go

Mission accomplished. I finished three baby quilts and am nearly finished quilting our Christmas quilt.

For those of you playing along: if you guessed Option 1, you win!
What was I thinking? I knew my seam ripper (only, my BFF!) was missing in action and I still did experimental quilting knowing I would need to unpick one of the patterns.
Option 1 was my attempt at lassos. For this baby boy quilt, the brothers of baby had received cowboy motif quilts from me in the past and I thought I could pull it off. No way. Sometimes, when a design is very linear, up and down, boxy patchwork, to quilt the opposite--circular--compliments the design. Not this time. I did one wiley block with crazy quilting before I knew I had to get back to straight lines.

The other two quilts (pink pinwheels and Wonky Cowboy) will be heading over the Atlantic for their new home this week. Feels great to have them finished.

I have to say that is one system that works like a charm: Piece a lovely Christmas top while you're in the festive mood (as I did December '08) and then quilt it the next December. It is a real sense of accomplishment. The fact that is was spread over a full year, seems to melt away amid all the decorating fuss and Christmas carols.

'Course Saturday sewing turned into Sunday sewing.

DH and the girls frowned slightly when I begged for my Christmas decorating task to be quilt the Christmas quilt top. Not a lot of ho ho hos.

Just a bunch of no! no! no!s

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Same quilt, different blocks. Two choices of quilting. Pick one.
I did.

Now, I'm off to bed to unpick the one I didn't choose.
How well do you know me?

Option 1.
Option 2.

Friday, 4 December 2009

The Plan

It never stops.

There's piles of laundry to be done.
There's smudges all down the refrigerator.
There's the spare room to tidy for au pair. She canceled. Sniff.
There's magazine content to write.
There's magazine admin to manage.
There's a whole lot magazine stuff to do.
There's the flood relief that needs managing.
There's dinner to make.

Or does it?
The girls have gone off on a playdate and apparently, my mind has too. Because, despite my list above, I'm going to knock off early this Friday night and go sew. Sew to my heart's delight. As carefree as it sounds, oh, there's a list involved there too.

Finish. Finish. Finish my sister's son's baby Mattias' new quilt. Yeehaw! All it needs is a label.
Finish my friend's baby Ryan's quilt. All it needs is quilting.
Finish my friend's baby, toddler Katherine's quilt. All it needs is quilting.
Get working on finishing my friends' twins' quilts.
Quilt last-year's Christmas quilt.
And of course, I have plenty of nine-patches to be done.

So I vow to be back on this blog this weekend with pictures. My goal is a picture of the top two on list and maybe the Christmas quilt.

What do I do when my darlings return from playdate? I've that covered:
If you're hungry, check the freezer.
Nuke some soup.
Go to bed when you want, just remember to brush your teeth.
We'll decorate for Christmas tomorrow.

And remember, don't interrupt me, unless you have a quilt-saving-time tip!
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I've Something in My Eye

It was one of those weeks that involved crying at the hair salon, being filmed for television and ignoring your mother-in-law.

Not that I enjoy doing any one of those things. And no, I'm not a Diva. Pu-lease. I wouldn't even know which pristine bottled water to demand.

I've recovered and I'd like to say the same for the hair stylist. Basically I had an appointment with my regular stylist. However, a new receptionist mistakenly booked me with an unfriendly-but-professional stylist in his absense. When I asked if she thought she could do the same as MY stylist, her professionalism went out the window. Next thing, she's slapping the colour treatment on with a bitchy twitch. When I asked if she was comfortable, she scratched back, not at all comfortable, but very confident. She told me I was p'd off and she would be glad once I left. That's all it took for me to begin crying. "€90 please. Oh, and the tears are free."

Too much stress, people, and not enough customer service--that's all I'm gonna say. I'm American living in Ireland. Over-the-top customer service meet low-customer service.

I can't even tell you her name--not that I would--she was that polite when she began my hair appointment. NOT. Thirty minutes delayed and with no name to offer.
I admit, I can be a bit anal about my hair. With appointments, the less frequent and the more costly and time left waiting, my stressors react. You can ask my stylist in years back, I've cried in her chair a few times and sometimes it wasn't even about a boy.

The TV filming was good and may even make it to air in March. It's nothing as exciting as a gag order, but I do have to refrain from any details. Just know my hair rocked.

My MIL came to mind the girls as I set off for my Irish film debut, bringing in a big box of cookies with her. (This is where I fazed out, so I can't even say what she said, or rather what information I ignored.) Luckily for me DH was present for the whole exchange.

Because later, I said to DH, "Why did you mother bring an entire box of these biscuits? No one here likes them. I'm gonna take them back to your Mom's."
That's when DH said, "You can't. She bought and brought them for you. You barely acknowledged her when she said they were especially for you."

Uh oh.
I was worried that I might have upset her. DH reminded me that her hearing is so bad, she usually misses 80% of most conversations herself.

I'm just glad I didn't make her cry.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Flood Quilts and Blocks Relief

Did you know sending the same email to 500 people in your contacts will get you kicked off your email account for 24 hours! Some days I'm such a novice, I make myself laugh! I'm trying to spread the word about our Flood Quilts and Blocks relief efforts. Read on:

Most all of you might have heard about the flooding in Ireland. They say it is a flood occurrence that happens once in 800 years. The South and the West were first affected. Closely behind came the midland areas, such as, severely affected Athlone in Co. Roscommon. With more torrential storms this past weekend, the Dublin and Kildare counties are experiencing the same.

The number of homes affected in the beginning was tremendous: 500-600. News from County Cork put the displaced families at a staggering 18,000.
There will be a number of weeks before many residents will be able to adequately estimate the real damage to their home and belongs.

Irish Quilting is asking you if you can help the Irish families displaced. We are donating quilts to bring warmth to these victims.
Can you sew a 13 1/2" unfinished block? (pattern below!)
Can you donate a quilt?
Can you and your friends create a charity quilt?

If you said yes to any of these questions above, please contact us. Or, just sew and send! Be sure to include your name. We will be working with Saint Vincent De Paul and the Irish Red Cross to give back warmth to our flood victims.

We have a special ninepatch block pattern if you'd like. Heck, we even have a complete pattern for a relief quilt--all you have to do is ask or visit our website. Free!

Many of our quilting groups are breaking for Christmas. Maybe your group can meet with this need in mind?--several people creating 13 1/2" blocks will have a quilt top in no time. Attached is a flyer asking for blocks (with block pattern) and charity quilts.

Forward all your blocks to Irish Quilting, Berowra, Djouce, County Wicklow, Ireland. If you know of charitable amounts of wadding and/or backing available, all is appreciated. So often we work for charities overseas, now there's a clear need for warmth at home, so let's help out!

If you have quilts ready to be donated, please email me and I will arrange the dropoff/collection point for charity.

Ready, Set, Sew!

13 1/2" Block:

Block for Flood Quilt
1. Sew together a nine-patch block, using 5” squares. Use repeat fabric for squares 2, 4, 6, 8 as these become the sashing squares. Press towards sashing. Block should measure 14” at this stage. Trim if necessary.
2. Cut through the sashing and centre squares evenly in both directions, 7” from outside edge.
3. Re-arrange these four in your desired design.
4. Sew the four units into a complete block measuring 13 ½ ”.
Send to Irish Quilting!