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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Why is this happening?????

Well, I just spent over an hour on the phone with Bellsouth – AT&T’s technical support trying to figure out why my email is bouncing back to me all of a sudden. I can’t seem to send any email to any of the lists. Not the stashbuster list, not the Gammill owners list, and especially the Shortcuts list.

The lady told me that obviously the servers on the other end are not accepting email from anyone with Bellsouth  or ATT as the sending server. She said I should contact the shortcuts server to have them add Bellsouth to their list of ok recipients. I asked her how I could contact the server if all my email is bouncing back. So she looks up a phone number for someplace in Canada for me to call. Sorry, but my long distance bill is high enough, thank you!

I’m starting to get an inferiority complex with my email going to so many spam folders and now getting bounced back to me as… oh what did the mail say… oh yes, it was called ‘remote address spoofing’.

She had me delete everything in my sent mail folder. Stuff I really wanted to keep. Then she had me delete everything in the trash folder; surprise, nothing there anyway. Then she had me delete all my email messages I wanted to keep to contact the senders at a later time. So then my email is completely empty of everything I want to keep. She has me send an email to myself to see if it bounces. DUH! Bellsouth is not going to reject mail from its own senders.

Then she tells me that I should open the attachment that came with the rejection message. She said I needed it or it would not have been sent to me. Huh? I thought unknown email attachments were a bad thing? Well I click on the attachment to open it but it just beeps at me and says “sorry, wrong URL”….. now what is that supposed to mean? She doesn’t know.

This is happening with both the regular computer and the lap top. Neither one can send out an email that is not bounced back to me. I’m beginning to wonder about my computer man. I have all this security software loaded onto my computer; yet, I still have these problems? Come on, something is wrong somewhere.

Ok, until I can get this all figured out I will have to just communicate through the blog…. Or at least until it starts rejecting me too. With all the rejections lately I’m really starting to feel sooooo unwanted and unloved.

A sesson of reality

Well here is today’s finished quilt. The count is 31 and going down slowly.

The other side.

Very pretty redwork.

Ok, I know I’ve said it before, but; oh my, how quickly circumstances change!! It turns out that the person I thought was a financial planner is actually in real estate. I learned this after talking with my friend Dawn. Dawn is the one person I trust more than anyone else in the world for advice. She had been on my mind the last few days so I called to ask about her and her family. Somehow when I talk to Dawn we always get to talking about me and my problems. I don’t intend for the conversation to go in that direction but it always does. Dawn told me what I needed to hear instead of what I wanted to hear. Dawn probably doesn’t realize how much my thinking always clears after just talking to her.

I won’t be expanding my business. I had a really good idea. I even finally figured out how to do the business plan. It was surprisingly simple after I wrote it. Only one page and it was done. Well, I did make it look pretty and increased it to two pages; but, now I don’t even need it so I tossed it. I was trying to make writing a plan much more complicated than it really is.

The temptation to get a new Statler Stitcher for my machine was very strong. I saw visions of turning out triple the number of quilts as I can do freehand. I saw visions of expanding and making lots of money. I don’t really need it though…. do I? Yes, it would do the machine quilting for me while I pieced quilts. Yes, it probably would pay for itself in 5 years. Oh stop it! Anita, you’re letting all those customer calls swell your head again. You do not want to increase your output; you want to decrease it. Move on to another subject. (Smile, holding a conversation with oneself is not crazy, just practical. I’m the best friend I got.)

Ok, I won’t be moving to another house. Yes, I did want to get out of a really bad neighborhood. Yes, I did want a basement to run to in case of a tornado; also to keep my hobby stuff separated from my regular living space. Yes, I did want a garage for storing other people’s stuff; also to put a car into so I don’t have to ride the city bus anymore. I can’t have a car in this neighborhood. Why heavens, just last night two neighbors lost all their car wheels to thieves and a third neighbor lost the whole car because the thieves needed a way to carry all those tires with aluminum rims.

Even though this post may sound like it, I am not depressed! I’m just being practical and coming to terms with how things really are. I do want to keep doing the custom made quilts (especially memory quilts) so I can have a small income. I just don’t want to think about expanding my machine quilting business anymore. Actually, all I really want is to stop working long, long hours to earn a little money; only to give it away to whatever family member or friend needs financial help. If I don’t earn it; I can’t give it away. I think its way past time for everyone to start supporting themselves and let me have my life back. Maybe I can even buy myself some new underwear or something. (by the way, the laptop computer is going back, I won’t need it anymore)

So now then, where do I go from here? Well the first thing I believe I need to do is find a real financial planner; someone to advise me on how best to budget the income I do get. Hmm… what do I look for in the yellow pages to find one? Can it really be as simple as looking under financial planners? Yep, there is a couple hundred of them listed under “financial planners certified” and “financial planning consultants” and “financial services”; now to figure out which one of them I should call. Which one of them can be trusted to give me good advice? Which one of them would be willing to answer my questions without charging an arm and a leg for a beginning consultation? Maybe I should dust off the crystal ball.

My first financial decision will be to figure out whether to have these repairs done to the outside of my house or get a privacy fence so I can take the furkids out again. Both things are needed; both cost quite a bit of money; I just have to figure out which one first and how best to save the money for it. Here are pictures of the most major repairs I need done. What is not visible is the electrical wiring repairs I should get done.

Here is the reason I need a privacy fence. This dog likes to fight with other dogs. He has killed a couple of small dogs that were kept chained to their dog house in the back yard. It is only one of several allowed to run loose at different times. I know it is hard to see him but I was afraid to get any closer.

As long as big dogs like this are running loose I can’t take the furkids outside. If I can’t take the furkids outside for a potty break; it means I will continually have to keep mopping up piddles.

Ok, enough writing for today. I have another quilt to get finished today. Oh yes, before I go to work I wanted to let everyone know the circus quilts got into the AQS Nashville Show.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Still working

This is today’s finished quilt… the count down is now at 32. Some of them got away from me before I took pictures.

The other side.

The financial advisor has changed the day he will be here from Monday to today. So I wait again…

In the meantime; I’ve been thinking and making changes to the way I will do business after my break… regardless of whether I move or not. I bought this….

I bought it so it fits easily on a shelf in the studio. My other computer is in another room. It won’t fit into the studio. I will be using this little baby for all my quilt related work. Everything from typing a receipt for a dropped off quilt top to recording hours worked to designing custom pieced quilts. I won’t start using it until after I’ve had time to set up all the forms to be used which will be during my break from quilting.

I’ve also done some online research of quilting threads. I really like the Superior Bottom Line and Superior Sew Fine threads. Most of the best known award winning quilters uses them. They are very expensive in my opinion. The cost is around $15 to $20 per cone of 3000 yards. Just getting a starting set would cost between $800 and $1000. It would be double that amount if I get two cones of each; one for sewing, one for winding bobbins as I sew. If I go to a better thread it means I will have to add a thread charge to each quilt to recover the cost.

I got out my ribbons and hung them up on the wall again. Hopefully they won’t get too dusty. I figured I earned them so I should display them.

Next I drew out the design for another quilt to hang on a wall.

Then I marked a quilt to be entered into the fair. It is the hugs and kisses quilt I pieced from strings and dryer sheets.

Then I marked a design on this. I want to try out some cut away appliqué. I saw it once… long ago… now I want to see if I remember how it is done.

Ok, now I gotta get into the studio to work on the quilt that is taking far longer than I thought.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


My SIL was here all day yesterday for a day of sewing.  I decided to write out the steps for the 10-2-what blocks as I promised before my computer problems. This quilt design starts with twenty 10 1/2 inch and fourty 6 1/2 inch squares of scrap fabrics. By using a series of cut, mix, and resew steps; a pieced block is the result.

Start with the 10 1/2 inch squares.

Stack them up and cut one 3 ½ inch strip off one side.

Cut the deck of fabrics on the right. (wink) Mix them up.

Sew them back together like this. In my process of sew, cut, press, pin, etc; the fabrics from a previous picture are seldom on top for the next picture. Here they are pinned and ready for chain sewing.

Once you have sewn them all back together; press the seams toward the outside. Now it's time to turn the blocks around to make a 3 ½ inch cut on the other side like this.

Here I have them all pinned and ready to chain sew again.

Here they have been sewn and pressed. Remember, the seams are pressed toward the outsides. Now it is time for the next cut.

Turn the deck and make a 3 ½ inch cut again; but, this time across the previous seams.

Now cut the deck again.

This time before pinning and sewing them back together; take a little time to repress the seams of the 3 1/2 inch cut strip toward the middle. This will allow the seams to lock together when you sew.

After sewing these back together, press the seam toward the outside again. See how they locked together at the seams?

Now turn the blocks and cut another 3 ½ inch strip from the other side, like this. Cut the deck. Repress the seams toward the center. Resew them back together.

At this point you have a scrappy nine patch block. You could stop here. I’m not doing a nine patch so my design goes even farther.

Now I pull out the 6 ½ inch squares of scrap fabrics. These should have been all different; but, guess what? I only have three different fabrics in my 6 ½ inch drawer. I don’t want to cut more fabrics right now. I decided to see what will happen with only three. Half are dark and half are light.

I start by marking a diagonal line across the 6 ½ inch blocks.

Using only the dark squares; pin one fabric square to the corner of each nine patch block.

I sew on the drawn line; then, sew another line ½ inch away so I can use the cut away part as another block. Be sure you sew the second line on the right like this! With the previous sewn line to the left side of the presser foot.


Now cut apart right down the center of the two sewn lines and press toward the triangle.

If you have sewn the second line on the wrong side you will get this.  It won’t work.

This is the secondary block you get from sewing the second line before cutting apart.

Turn the block to the opposide corner and attach the light colored squares in the same way as you did the dark. Cut them apart and press toward the new formed triangles.

This is what I got from this cut and sew project. I keep thinking this is a Jacob’s ladder block. I don't think that it is the right name. I don't have time for researching the correct name right now.

This is NOT the block I intended for it to form. I was going for a spinning star block. Hopefully the next one will come out right. I believe I put too many cuts in it or else did the steps wrong. We shall see….

Friday, June 22, 2007

Computer is back!

Hmmm…. Where was I? I’ve been without a computer for a few days. It started acting really weird. It started cutting itself on and off. I would be right in the middle of something and it would shut down. Then I would get up in the morning to find it turned itself on and was just kind of sitting there waiting on me. Really spooky!

The repair guy said it had picked up a really nasty virus called a Trojan horse. Now it is back with all kinds of safety software but it’s still not exactly right. I’m having trouble getting it to turn on which may just be a switch problem.

I gotta tell you about the first couple of days I was without a computer. It’s kind of funny if you think about it. I got up early as usual but couldn’t spend my usual couple of hours on the computer. I decided to go ahead and load the next top onto the machine so I could get an early start.

I get the backing all sewn onto the leaders and I’m rolling it on the bars. Oops! The backing has holes in it, right in the center. I take it back off and make a note to call the owner. 3 am is a little too early for phone calls.

Next quilt… I get the backing sewn to the leaders and look for the batting. Oh no, there isn’t any batting for it! The batting is due in on Friday. I take it back off and put it away.

Ok, next top… this time I check first but there is no batting. The batting delivery is due Friday.

The next top… I check, yes I have the batting. It gets sewn to the leaders and I’m rolling it onto the bars. Gee whiz, again, holes in the backing, right in the center. It gets taken back off and put away.

I go to the next quilt top…. there isn’t any backing for it here yet. I’m still waiting for her to bring it. She actually has 3 tops here, all without backing. Why would anyone take quilts to a machine quilter and not take the backing; especially when the waiting lists are so very long?

I go to the next top…. I get it sewn to the leaders and I’m rolling it on the bars. Oops!, holes in the backing. I’m beginning to think something is really wrong. I check the backing of all 3 tops. Yep! They all are the same backing and evidently from the same bolt. The holes are along the inside fold line of wide backing. It appears to be a manufacturing flaw caused by their machinery.

This process goes on for 15 tops. Not one can be quilted for one reason or another. I know I can’t call other customers because then I would have way too many here waiting to be finished.

I give up on working on the customer tops. It’s still too early to call anyone so I decide to work on one of the custom made tops. I go through 5 of them looking for machine work. Not one of them has approval from the customer so I can’t quilt them either.

I gave up on working on the machine. I just sew some of my charity quilt pieces that are pinned and ready. Got that finished in about 30 minutes. It’s still too early to make phone calls so I decide to do more updating of my custom quilt catalog. Here it is…

I have to print out more pictures and fill out the price cards. I like this catalog much better than the previous one. This is more compact and easier to read. Later in the day I did manage to get one customer to bring me a replacement backing. I finished that quilt the same day.

The other half.

Ok, the next day I’m going through my quilt work looking for something to start on. For what reason I don’t know, I thought the date was the 28th instead of the 21st. I get myself all in a panic wondering what in the world will I do?! I have 6 quilts with a promised finished date of July 1st. No way can I finish them all in that short a time. I don’t even have the batting for them yet!

I call the customer most likely to forgive me for not finishing on time and explain I somehow got farther behind than I thought. I tell her with only 2 days left in the month I can’t possibly finish her quilt. She says to me “Oh honey today is only the 21st.” I hesitate for a moment…. DUH!! Now I really feel stupid! We have a good laugh about it and I say hers will be the first one done when the batting arrives.

On one of my days without a computer, I did get in touch with a financial advisor who can tell me if I should move and expand my business or just stay where I am. As I was trying to explain quilts and the quilting business to him I realized he doesn’t have a clue about quilts. He is one of the many people who believe anything that goes on a bed is a quilt. Blankets are not quilts. Spreads are not quilts.

I finally asked him if he could possibly just visit my studio for a few minutes. I believe once he is actually here and can see what I do all day he can give me better advice. He is going to visit on Monday. He said he may bring his wife so she can see too.

So for the rest of this week I will be working overtime to finish some deadline quilts, pulling out financial papers, preparing presentation materials, cleaning up some of the clutter in the studio, and generally stressing myself out to keep up.

Quilts left to go? I’ve lost count on the quilts to finish. I have to do a recount but I don’t know if I will have time to post again before early next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

At home retreat

I just had to put a quote in here this morning. This was posted by the stashbuster list mom and it started my day off with a chuckle. I thought I would share it with my readers who are not a member of the stashbuster list.

While at work today, I showed a jail guard (I am a jail nurse) a picture of my appliquéd Jacobean floral quilt, on webshots.com, and said--"See? That's the quilt I have been working on when you have seen me in the break room." Guess what he said"WWWWWoooowwww!"Just as I was primping for a compliment, he said "man! You really knitted that whole thing?????" List mom Sandra


So here are today’s finished quilts.

The other half.

And another one

The other half

Yesterday was a good day and a bad day too. It was really nice to have a friend come over for a few hours of sewing. I will talk about that in a minute.

I also got several calls from customers yesterday saying: “I’m really not rushing you BUT, will you have my quilt finished soon?” There were 5 of these calls which always, always make me feel guilty for being behind on my work. Yes, I am several days behind. Yes, I am working as fast as I can.

Trust me; no one is more anxious for me to finish up the quilts on my waiting list than me! I’m soooo looking forward to time off. I have all these WIMMs (works in my mind) just waiting to come out. It’s very hard to concentrate on work when fun is just a few customer quilts away. (wink) Of course these WIMM quilts will have to wait until the business plans are finished too.

So, for the next few days I will be sticking with the quilting machine and saying NO to any time away from the studio or visits from family and friends. I may not have much time on the computer either. If I don’t post for a couple of days, don’t worry, I’m just working.

Now for the at home retreat which was an afternoon of piecing….

My friend did come over and we did do the piecing of the blocks. It didn't come out the way it was supposed to. Yes, it did create a block which started with a 10 ½ inch square. I can call it a 10-2-3 block. It is a block but not what I was trying to accomplish. I've thought about what went wrong. I believe I put too many cuts into it so I will do one by myself as soon as I get caught up.

This is how the block finished. It is a good block but not what I had hoped.

I don’t have much computer time this morning for typing up the instructions. I’ll have to do it during lunch or supper breaks the next few days.

It was interesting that my friend asked me; "If you are so far behind on your machine quilting, why are you sitting here and piecing with me?" The answer is simple, 12 hours per day, 6 days a week on the machine is quite enough. I do need some time for me. It doesn't matter if I split the hours in the middle of the day to have a little time for creating. Just as long as I don't make a habit of splitting every day. I really prefer to keep going on each top that is on the machine until it is finished. Stopping to do other things breaks my concentration and rythym.

Ok, gotta get to work now, 36 and counting down.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Another finish

Here’s today’s finish, 38 and counting down.

The other half.

I went to the Happy Heart Guild meeting yesterday evening. I’m inspired and ready to start the challenge! We are supposed to have our finished drawings and some of our chosen fabrics at the next meeting.

Of course I couldn’t resist buying something while there. It is very hard for me to get to fabric stores to “just look” at what is new and available for quilting. I don’t own a car so when I’m there for a meeting I try to quickly see if there is any gidget or gadget new to try.

I bought a magazine and a couple of transfer pencils. The pencils are for a friend in Indianapolis who is looking for them. I’ll try to mail them out today.

I’m kind of worried about my time off for a few weeks. I don’t plan to quit all together. I will still be making custom quilts from scratch so I can keep a roof over my head. I believe the only way to improve my quilting business is to take the time necessary. I have 5 new software programs that require studying and playing around with in order to use them.

One software package is for my bookkeeping. That’s the one I will start with so I can use it for creating my new business plans. Naturally; with any bookkeeping it requires an inventory list and taking inventory. Yuck! I have done them plenty of times but I still hate inventory time. For those who don’t know….doing a machine quilting business inventory is tedious and confusing. For example; how do I inventory a partial spool of thread? Or; how do I value the stitching designs I create myself solely for my customer quilts? If I were to buy a single pantograph stitching design it can cost anywhere from $10 up to about $35 each. So how do I value one I create myself and put it into stock? It is part of my inventory which has a value and at the same time I did not spend money for it.

Why would I need an inventory you say; other than for tax reasons? Hmmm…. It is shown on a business plan as equity. The more business equity I own the better my business looks on paper.

Along with all the new software to learn and a business plan to write there is also my own need for a good house clean up myself! I plan to go ahead and give my kids the family treasures so I can see them enjoy the things while I still live. I don’t want something to happen to me and never know if the kids fight over the treasures or not. I’m also going to finish up my quilters will so the kids know what to do with all my quilt stuff. Not one of them is interested in quilting and I know them well enough to know all my stuff would end up either in a thrift store or in the trash. Heaven forbid!! These things are not a pleasant task either but oh so necessary while we are still here. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone and after we are gone it is too late.

Ok I guess I better get off the computer and start my days work. My SIL will be here later so I need to finish what machine quilting I can before then. I also need to start getting ready for Thursday too. I’m writing out the plans for the new 8 to what quilt top. I hope it works as well as I believe it will. Later…..

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This is Tuesday?

This is Monday's finish.

The other half.

I also finished piecing this top together on Saturday. I’m still working on the borders which will have letters in it to spell out the customer’s name.

The stars create a display of the photos.

This is how many leader and ender pieces I sewed together while trying to make that quilt top. I was constantly taking something apart and doing it over because I wasn’t happy with the way it looked. Maybe I’m just being too much of a perfectionist.

The pieces I used for the leader and ender blocks came in this plastic bag as a gift from an internet friend. Hi Riea! (wave, wave) I just want her to know that what she sent me is actually being used, not just sitting in a drawer.

I have an idea for another 8 to 2 quilt design. I have someone coming over on Thursday for a day of piecing lessons. I think this would be a great project to try out. If the technique works to create the design (the way I vision it) I will post pictures of the steps on Friday or Saturday.

I finally thought of a name for my technique until a better name comes along. I will call them the 8 to what quilts. If anyone has any suggestions for another name please let me know.

On another subject --- A few days ago someone in another state sent me an email asking if I could help her get organized which is why I wrote a post about how I got myself organized. Then I get another email from the same person saying their stuff was piled up in every room and ready to topple over and create a disaster. She needed to get it all organized in one week. I replied that it sounded like they needed a house clean up more than quick organizing.

I hope I didn’t offend her by what I wrote. I meant it in the kindest way. My daughter pointed out that the person may have thought I was referring to their house keeping. Not at all! So just in case that person is still reading my blog I will explain a little more.

In every organizing show, book, website, or whatever; the first thing that is to be done is a clean out all the stuff to be organized. Boxes are brought in to sort through the home owners stuff. There are boxes for charity, boxes for moving stuff to other rooms, boxes for sorting in all kinds of ways, and plenty of trash bags for tossing stuff. One tv show even has the people take “everything” outside to an area in the yard for sorting.

The point is that cleaning out unwanted items and boxing up everything else just sort of gets the ball rolling toward organizing it. Once all the stuff is sorted and boxed and stored out of the way; it is then just a matter of finding the right organizing tool, hook, bin, box, basket, drawer, cabinet, etc. etc. etc. to put it all back into a workable order.

When everything is boxed up and out of the way it is much easier to take measurements of floor space where a new storage unit could go. Or measure the height from floor to ceiling where some shelves might be put on a wall. You see the picture? With stuff out of the way you can freely move about to reorganize – one box at a time. Each box is brought back and the stuff is put into its new space.

Some people swear by someone called fly lady? She seems to be the internet guru of home organizing. I don’t know anything about her so I can’t say one way or the other if her suggestions work.

39 and counting down