Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Living Room Olympics (and a Bears mug rug!)

I am generally not a sports person.  Unless you count the Olympics.  I really enjoy watching both track and field and gymnastics in the summer games.  And I don't mind watching figure skating in the winter games.  I have fond memories of recreating both gymnastics and figure skating in our living room as kids.  We used to skate around the rust-colored shag carpeting in our socks, commentating along the way.  " it?...yes, a triple sow cow!!"  Gymnastics were even more entertaining.  We would do "flips" and other amazing feats without actually leaving our feet.   Points were deducted for balance checks, but the crowd would go wild as we stuck our landings, arms held proudly in a high V position.   Olympic gold.

When my hubby recently asked me to sew him something, I was beyond thrilled.  I know he just did it to be sweet and supportive of my newfound addiction; what a sport!  He asked me to make him a Chicago Bears mug rug, quilted with orange thread.  So specific--I love it.  A mug rug is basically a smaller-sized placemat; just the right size for a mug of coffee and a little snack.  I don't know when or why these things became popular in the sewing/quilting world, but you can find tutorials for them all over the internet.

I found a sweet deal on some Bears fabric at Hancock's (down here in St. Louis...sorry, Rams??), and got right to work.  I sort of let my imagination run wild with this one.  You'll see what I mean...

Hold the bus...what are those things in the corners???

Oh, that's right...FLAMES.  Quilted flames.  Now, what inspired me to quilt with flames?  No idea.  Although, I think I made some connection with the my mind, he looks like he should be breathing fire, but I don't know how they ended up in all four corners instead of coming from the Bear's mouth.  One little side note: It is a well known fact that my hubby does NOT like flame decals.  He gets a grimace on his face anytime we see a car with flames on it, or flames up the side of a pant leg or sleeve.  Which begs the question even further: What on earth was I thinking?  It did make for quite the reaction, though.  "Flames?!"  But then he decided it didn't look so bad if you held it farther away.  Da Bears...a la mug rug.  I'm holding out for the Bears to have a great season (not a football fan in the slightest), just so I can say, "Man, those Bears are on fire!!" as I hold up the mug rug.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pouch, Pizazz, and PARIS!

At this month's St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild meeting...Pouch swap!  Here's how my second attempt at a zippered pouch turned out:

My secret pouch partner Juli Ann graciously received this pouch, mistakes and all.  What a great gal!  And Carol drew my name; here's what she whipped up for me:

Nice, huh?  A neat little coin purse.  Thanks again!

So, one of my favorite features of the Guild meetings is the freebie table.  People bring in fabrics/patterns/etc that they think they have no use for, and hungry scavengers like me get to paw through all the goods.  Confessions of a bargain hunter: Truth be told, that's where I want to run the very second I walk in to the meeting, but I try to play it off very casually.  I nonchalantly walk by the table, making a mental list of the items that I crave, so that when the meeting is over I can book it and snag the items on my wish list.  Do we have to wait till the end of the meeting to grab freebies?  No.  But I am trying my hardest to look cool here, folks.

Speaking of looking cool...

A couple of months ago, I snagged a couple of early 1980s quilting magazines from the freebie table.  You know how I love old stuff; I couldn't resist.  As I flipped through the mostly black and white pages of old quilts and patterns, I stopped short.  Glowing from the magazine in full color was some of the most dumbfounding quilt work I've ever seen....quilted clothing (above).  If you want to look especially cool, maybe try out one of these looks.  I am particularly fond of the yellow quilted sun robe.  Just so many things to love on these two pages!  I can't contain myself!

Exciting news on our home front: We recently found out that we get to go to Paris for 2 weeks!!  We have never been overseas, individually or together, so it will be a grand adventure for us both.  I have been attempting to learn a wee bit of French by watching youtube videos.  So far, I have mastered one sentence: "L'homme mange le poisson."  It means, "The man eats the fish."  I am really hoping for an opportunity to use that sentence.  Maybe if I'm lucky, Hubby will order some salmon at a restaurant.  I'll stand up, point to him, and exclaim, "L'homme mange le poisson!".  An eruption of applause will follow.  And I will be paraded down the avenue, held high in my chair by all my new Parisian friends.  And I will be wearing a ravishing quilted robe with a sun on it.  And perhaps a matching yellow beret.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ree, the Piano Teacher (and Zipper Artist)

When people ask what I "do for a living", I love watching their reaction.  At first, it's the look of surprise. From there, it can go one of two ways: 1) it morphs into a pleasant smile, or 2) the look of surprise slowly fades to a foul grimace as the words "piano teacher" sink in.

Very rarely do I get a person who simply says, "That's nice."  Usually, people give me a little summary of their own childhood experiences with piano lessons.  Group 1, the Smilers, typically have fond memories of their piano teachers, or never took lessons but always wish that they had.  Group 2, the Ones Who Look Like They May Vomit, have different memories of their piano teachers.  In their minds, piano lessons were complete agony and the teacher was "a mean old lady whose house smelled really weird".  Not to mention those horrible recitals and all the (insert gagging noise here) practice their parents made them do.  I come from Group 1; my husband comes from Group 2.  I think it's quite ironic that he married a gal who became a piano teacher.  Oh, Life, you are too funny.

Sometimes I wonder what my young students think of their piano lessons with me.  I do hope that they enjoy it and will look back on their lessons with a smile.  But it's so hard to tell.  For example...One week, I got a love note from Little Georgie* complete with a beautiful sketch of a piano encircled by a heart.  A couple of weeks later, he asked me a joke that started like this: "Why did the kid push his piano teacher overboard?" Another week, he quit piano lessons.  Then a couple weeks later, he comes back with another love note.  Who knows?  (* = name changed)

My piano teacher, Kim, was awesome.  She bore with me through the awkward teenage years, even letting me play a Hanson song for my recital one year.  I felt so hip, walking down the aisle of the church in my psychedelic long blue dress and white platform sandals, a thick roll of bangs neatly curled on my forehead.  As I approached the piano at the front of the church, I somehow felt I was getting ready to declare my love for Taylor Hanson to all the other kids and parents in the audience.  After I banged out "Where's The Love?" with sweaty hands, my adolescent act of devotion complete, I turned to see Kim smile and give me a wink as if to say, "You go, girl."  I hope I can be that for my students.

In sewing news...

I have conquered my fear of zippers!  For the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild this month, we're doing a swap of pouches.  I signed up, and then realized, "Oh, shoot...pouches usually have zippers."  So, I had a little "dress rehearsal" in making a zippered pouch before I make the real deal.  Here's how it turned out:

I used Noodlehead's gathered clutch tutorial found here.  Zippers, it turns out, aren't as scary as I thought they were.  Here's the inside:

The end.