Monthly Archives: January 2008

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Books and More

I finally got around to ordering books from my annual Amazon Christmas Gift Certificate and they arrived last week. I’m thinking I made out like a bandit this year — apparently I’ve had a gift raise, as I managed to score six books this year, which is two more than last year.

Amazon Order

I saw four of the books in real life before I ordered them. I knew when I saw Warm Fuzzies, Pretty Little Pincushions, and Sew Pretty Homestyle that I had to have them. They’re all chock full of fun projects. My quilty peep Jewels showed me her copy of Simple Knits for Cherished Babies (in fact, I think that’s where the pattern for the cute hat and booties from the last post can be found.) It’s a beautiful book and I love it.

I ordered the other two books sight unseen. Joyce talked about Quilts of Provence one day on her blog. I’ve recently been interested in whole cloth quilts and this book did not disappoint. It’s full of beautiful pictures, text and even a few projects in the back. I’m anxious for time to sit down and really read it. Thanks so much Joyce, for mentioning this book — I think it’s my favorite of the six. That leaves Simple Gifts to Stitch. Hmmm. I just can’t get excited about this book and I’ll say I’m pretty disappointed in it. I think you probably need to have a lot more imagination than I have for it to work (so if you love this book, take that as a compliment.) Oh well…five out of six and I’m a happy camper!

Apparently, with Valentine’s day looming, cupcakes are on my mind ’cause I’ve noticed a few worth mention if you like cupcakes:

  • Joni’s made this cute little Valentine.
  • An adorable cupcake bag from Rosehip via That Silly Lil’ Doe.
  • And when the quilty peeps and I were in NYC last fall, I was fascinated with the frosting technique used at Billy’s and Magnolia. Here’s a video that shows you the Magnolia technique. The cupcake in the video isn’t quite as pretty as the real thing, but perhaps practice makes perfect!

Bring on Valentine’s Day — I need a cupcake! Oh, and if you’re in the midwest or Canada, I hope you’re staying warm. I’m happily in NJ this week, so I’m missing the bitter cold weather!

XOXO,
Anna

A New Baby

Hi Grandma!
How YOU Doin’?

Jewels Baby

Betcha didn’t think you’d see me here, did ya?

Jewels Baby

Pssssst, Come closer.

Jewels Baby

Thimbleanna wanted to show her friends the pretty new quilt you made me.

Jewels Baby

And the fun matching tag you embroidered for the back.

Jewels Baby

They made me lie on my tummy to show off the hat you made me.

Jewels Baby

But, that made me tired, so I’m off to bed now.

Jewels Baby

I Love You, Grandma!

Jewels Baby

Congratulations to my sweet quilty peep Jewels (and her darling daughter) on the birth of her 5th grandson!!!!
XOXO,
Anna

A Blurb Book

Wow, thanks for all the wonderful wishes for TheFirstChild. You are all so sweet! It’s been an exciting time here and TheFirstChild has been touched by all the e-mails, messages, and, as he says, heartfelt “lectures” (LOL!) he has received.

Anyway, on to some news you can use, as they say. Or hopefully something you can use, if you’re ever thinking about ordering a blurb book. You can have books made about most anything these days, so before Christmas I spent some time with MyDadLovesMeBestSister and we took pictures of all the beautiful quilts that MeMum has made for our family. Then I used the free software available at Blurb.com and created a book for MeMum.

Quilt Book

It was really interesting because, at the same time (and unbeknownst to me), MyDadLovesMeBestSister made a similar book of family pictures for MyCrazyBIL using the services at Shutterfly. It was fun to compare the two books. The Shutterfly book is a hardback, 8 inches x 8 inches, and has no dust jacket. The pictures on the cover of the book are part of the hardback cover. MyDadLovesMeBestSister paid roughly $100 for about 80 pages. The Blurb book is also hardback, 7 inches x 7 inches, and has a dust jacket with front and back flaps that can be customized with text and/or pictures. The cover pictures for the book are on the dust jacket and there are no pictures on the hardback portion of the book. I paid about $35 for 30 pages. So, given the difference in book size, the price difference isn’t much.

Quilt Book

I chose to create my book with no words except for those on the dust jacket flaps and a letter to MeMum at the beginning of the book. MyDadLovesMeBestSister scattered words among the pictures in her book. We were both pretty happy with our books. I think the actual binding and the paper/cloth used on the inside covers of the hardback is a better quality on the Shutterfly book. But, I really love having the ability to customize the flaps on the dust jacket of the Blurb book. It makes it seem more like a “real book”. Blurb also has a copyright page, which I could do without, but since it’s there, you can customize it and have a little fun with it.

Quilt Book

MyDadLovesMeBestSister and I were hoping to be able to compare the two services (service was great with both companies, btw) and choose just one company for the next book we decide to make. But it wasn’t that easy as they came out pretty even. I think you just have to make your decision based on book size and dust jacket or not.

Quilt Book

One conclusion we did draw, however, is that making these books was really fun! They make great gifts and fun conversation pieces.

I hope you’re all having a great weekend!

XOXO,
Anna

WooHoo!

I had a completely different post planned for tonight and then this came in the mail today:

Acceptance Letter

TheFirstChild has been accepted to Medical School. It’s been such a long wait. He’s worked so hard. And worried so much. We’re all delirious with joy and we’ve spoiled our pre-wedding diets with a celebratory dinner. It was worth every single calorie-laden bite!

Congratulations Big Boy! We’re all so very proud of you!!!

XOXO,
Anna

The Bleeding Tree Skirt

As you may remember, I mentioned at Christmas, that water from MeMum’s Christmas tree had spilled onto her redwork Christmas tree skirt, causing the red fabric to bleed onto the white fabric. You all gave me some great advice for how to solve the problem, so I’ve been chomping at the bit to get to try it out. I finally convinced MeMum to let me bring the tree skirt home — I had to promise her that if we ended up with a pink tree skirt, I’d make her a new one.

So! Yesterday was the day to test the theories. First, here’s a close-up shot of the damage. You can see traces of pink around the red fabric (click on picture for a close-up view) — the pictures don’t really do it justice — it looks much worse in real life.

Tree Skirt

What course of action to take? There were many suggestions, so it was hard to narrow them down. Shout color catcher and Synthrapol seemed to be the leading contenders, so I went with them. But which one to try first? I used the time tested method:

Tree Skirt Tree Skirt
Tree Skirt Tree Skirt
Tree Skirt Tree Skirt
Tree Skirt Tree Skirt

Synthrapol it is. I filled the washer tub with cold water because I was too timid to try hot water. I really didn’t want that red fabric to run any more. I added 1/4 cup of synthrapol.

Tree Skirt

Then, I held my breath and put the tree skirt into the tub.

Tree Skirt

Cue the Jaws music. Those bubbles look like they’re tinged a bit pink, but not really.

Tree Skirt

There wasn’t much red in the water. I hovered over that washer like — well, I can’t think of a suitable simile, but trust me, I kept opening the lid every 2 minutes. Not much going on in there. I let the water drain, checked the tree skirt and found it pretty much unchanged. I pondered the next step. Several people commented that they thought repeated washings was the key, so I filled the tub again and added more synthrapol. This time with warm water — the lack of red in the cold water made me very brave. Still hovering, I let it run its cycle, but there still wasn’t much going on. The bad news was that the stains were still there — maybe a teeny bit fainter, but it was hard to tell since they intensify when they’re wet. The good news was that the unstained white fabric was still white, so at least I hadn’t done any more damage. TheManoftheHouse suggested maybe I should quit hovering and maybe something would happen. Nope, not going to happen! I decided to get really brave and crank the temperature all the way up to hot. (And we have pretty hot water.) I put in more Synthrapol and this time I decided to throw in a color catcher just for the heck of it. The water looked perfectly clear to me, but I guess you never know.

Tree Skirt

After this load, the color catcher came out pretty pink. I have no clue where the pink came from, as the water was still clear, but it was really encouraging! I checked the stained areas, and gee, they looked a bit fainter. So, I decided to try it again — this time only with the color catcher. It still had a tinge of pink, so I did another washing with a third color catcher. Here’s a look at the color catchers after each cycle.

Tree Skirt

Altogether I did 6 wash cycles and I think one or two rinse cycles, stopping short of the spin cycle each time. After the 4th cycle, I started to get really excited as I could see some progress. And after the 6th cycle, it was looking pretty darn good. Actually, I was beside myself, because it looked like this:

Tree Skirt

WooHoo! I couldn’t believe it! You can still see just the faintest tinges of pink around the red, but it’s amazingly better than it was and I decided to cut and run because I was worried about the effect of all that scalding hot water on the red fabric and on the embroidery. (I’m a firm believer that as few washings as possible is the way to preserve quilts.)

So, I’m not sure exactly what the key was (synthrapol? color catcher? repeated washings? water temperature?) but I suspect it was a combination of several of them. All I know is that you guys are geniuses and MeMum and I are thrilled with the results. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all your great advice. You guys are the BEST!

I hope you all had a great weekend — as you can see, mine was fantastic!
XOXO,
Anna