Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Quilt to Dress to Pants

 Although I've been doing plenty of quilting during the last 2 years I haven't been posting.  Need to start again.  

This is my latest -- and when I find the pattern I'll tell you the name of it.  But right now I'm working on a new quilting studio and everything is in disarray.  

The front: 


Part of front with back and cat that we are cat-sitting making herself at home

I got the idea to add lace.  Needed 11 yards, the place I ordered from had 12!  Just came in the mail and will put that on this weekend.

This is actually what is left-over from the backing!  I think I can make myself a dress and pants!  At least shorts! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Homemade Apple Cider

It's that time in Michigan when the leaves are turning color and my thoughts turn to apple cider and donuts.  But until last year it never entered my mind to make my own.  

When we bought our place out in the country there were four apple trees.  Over the years I've made apple pie filling and applesauce to store in the freezer to have through the winter.  Two of the trees eventually died but we discovered two more had grown where their seed was dropped so we have those two out in the field.

But I had gotten to that point where I didn't want to store up on apple pie filling and applesauce.  And yet, I hated to see the apples go to waste. This year my two older trees were nice and green however no apples.  The two out back had just a few.  I breathed a quiet sigh of relief that this year, at least, I didn't have to do anything.  Enter my friend.

"Our trees are loaded.  You've got to come over and get some apples."
"We've taken what we want.  Do you know how much applesauce I have made?  The neighbors have been here, the kids . . . get over here!  The branches are still weighed down."

Mumble, mumble.

I brought a bag home and looked at my husband.  "Should we try our hand at cider?  We talked about doing it last year, remember?"
"Too expensive."
"Actually no.  I found a press for around $60."  We discussed it.  I researched it further.  From the reviews the press worked well however, there was a lot of cleaning involved.  Not a fan.

And then I opened a magazine.  How to Make Cider Without a Press.  I read through.  It sounded easy.  Actually my biggest problem was finding cheese cloth.  Every place I went was sold out.  Eventually I found it and we were in business.

 The two of us worked for an hour and fifteen minutes and then we were done.

 I wrapped up the cloth tightly and laid a dutch oven on top.  My husband filled a water jug full of water and set that inside.  Now it's got some weight on it.  Leave for 4 hours or over night.

I got the jars ready!

And then the next morning:

Hmm.  Okay.  So you get a lot more with pie filling and applesauce, but . . . this was delicious.  

My husband thought that for getting 26 apples ready there should be more.  He tried his hand at squeezing.

                                                             Okay, doubled our profit!

We don't know why it's a different color but it's also delicious, even though it's a slightly different taste.  He thinks it's sweeter, I think it's less apple tasting.  

Went back to my friend's house and got two more bags.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Handkerchief Quilt

I have been given several handkerchiefs and wanted to do something with them.  Here is my first start.  On the outside edge I have appliqued fabric plus machine embroidery.

Although I sewed around the outside of the handkerchiefs there are two that have a fancy corner and I wanted to showcase this somehow.  So I hand embroidered a little surprise underneath each one.

                             I have over 100 handkerchiefs to go!  Need some new ideas!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Kind of Trees

Recently I was reading someone's comment on a quilting blog that they had had to help someone clean out their relative's fabric stash as the person had passed on.  She talked about what a daunting task this was (?) (Personally I'd love to go through someone else's stash and check it out          however . . .) Her recommendation was that if a person had that much fabric they should be using it.  At least make the top.  It was a lot easier to go through tops than fabric.

I thought about that.  I do have plenty of fabric and recent events have given me time on my hands.  Nobody ever said I had to make these tops into actual quilts.  What if I did go through all my books/magazines/printed off instructions and made the tops?  What a concept!

I have several boxes full of scraps and I love making these into diamond shapes.  The thing is I have 3 quilts made exactly the same.  They look different as far as scraps and background however, the same pattern.  I need to find a new pattern and I found this one in American Patchwork & Quilting, February 2018. Here it is.  In case you can't tell they are trees.

The butterfly background I have had since I worked in a quilt shop in the '90's.  And it's now small enough that it can go in the scrap box (Yay!)

I am also making my quilts, for the most part, smaller.  I don't need more quilts on my bed.  I have three spots in my house where I can hang and change out quilts/tops at will.  If I do decide to make it into a quilt it won't cost me as much as a king size and it won't take me as long to get the binding on.

Also, since I have an embroidery machine -- put that thing to work!  I have a couple of designs that form a frame.  I'm going to do up those and attach them to my tops. I've seen so often someone finding an old, beautiful quilt while they're out shopping and they have no idea who made it or any of it's history.  The time that someone put into that, lost forever.  So your family isn't interested.  Someone out there will be. When I'm gone and my kids take these to the Salvation Army or Goodwill or wherever, my name with information will be there for the person who finds it and actually wants it.

Can you imagine 100 years from now someone saying they have an old quilt by J. R. Armstrong.  'Oh, I have one, too.'  'So do I!'  'How many do you think are out there?  Maybe we should compile them in a book?'

Hey!  What if one of my quilts ends up living on Mars?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

To Swear or not to Swear

I am often asked when I'm out doing book signings if my books have swear words in them.  Well, yes, they do, although I don't use the F word (I seem to not like 'ph' sounds no matter what the word: fill, fix, phone, elephant, it doesn't matter).

I have asked other authors how often they are asked this question and I always get a puzzled look along with "never." I seem to be an anomaly.

Do I come across as some hard-core biker?  Is it my red hair that gives visions of an Irish temper?  And who doesn't yell without swearing?  "I'm gonna let you have it, you no-good-guy-whose-mother-never-married!"  Really doesn't give you the same punch, does it?

I did an author talk one time along with three other authors.  Afterward, I got to chatting with one of them and we talked about our current projects.  I asked her if she ever got the question about swearing.  She frowned and said 'no' so I proceeded to say I was now working on a book in which I would have no swear words so that I could hand it over when the question came up with, "Here's your book."

"No,don't do that," she warned.

"Why?" I asked.

"People get upset, people swear.  Your book won't come off as real and you want your characters to act like normal people."

I dismissed this at the time considering that the book I'm now working on I state as: a-feel-good-book-for-the-end-of-the-world and has some spiritual connotations. I really thought I could pull this off.

However, when strange fiery balls are falling out of the sky toward Earth I have to agree.  How many people are going to stand there and exclaim, "Jiminy Cricket! What's that?" "Holy excrement! Run!"

Recently I've discovered, and will laminate before the next book signing to have at the ready, two magazine articles expounding the virtues of cussing.  Those who do, tend to have a wider vocabulary (sign of intelligence), helps reduce and endure pain, and they may be more honest.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Sequel to "Owe It To The Wind"

As I do book signings the question has come up again, "Where is the sequel to Owe It To The Wind?"

Yes, on the back cover there is a title to look for but down the road the title was changed.  It is now, Truly, Everything.  We apologize for the confusion.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

When to Proofread -- Always!

When I was graduating from high school, years ago, I was writing hurriedly through several of my friends yearbooks.  One of my friends got hers back and burst out laughing.  I looked at her puzzled as I didn't think I'd written anything terribly funny.  She pointed, "Never remember?  Okay, I'll make sure to never remember the good times.  After all, we've only known each other since elementary school."  I had been switching between "Never forget" and "Always remember" when I came up with that gem.  I was not happy with myself and horrified that she refused to give me her yearbook back to correct it.

Several years later, keeping touch only off and on, we made a date for lunch.  Surely enough time, marriage, and kids, had passed that all was really forgotten.  She greeted me with a hug and a smile and said, "You know, I always never remember the time . . ."

The lesson being, since high school I have always proofread everything I write (or at least try).  Which is a good thing, since I'm a writer.

Which brings me to yesterday and why I'm writing this story.

I have a very lengthy novel that I've written that I was working on, mainly copying and pasting but also tightening it up.  It deals with a serial killer.  Needing a break I checked my emails, Facebook and googled a few things of interest when I came across a company looking for stories of inspiration.  I read through what was required and thought of a few things that had happened in my life that fell under those guidelines.  I decided I'd let those ideas percolate for a few days, pick one and then . . . wait, what?  The deadline is today?  This had been out there for nearly a year and I was just now discovering it?

Abandoning my book I immediately started writing my heartfelt, inspirational story.   I edited, and edited, left it alone, came back and edited.  This went on from late afternoon when I had found this write up to close to midnight when I needed it sent out.

Realizing that I can edit until Doomsday (my other sci-fi book that I'm also working on) I decide to either send it or forget it.  I fill out all the necessary information.  I copy and paste in the little box provided, my cursor is hovering over the "Submit" button when my eye happens to light on one word: killer.

Okay, I have written a true story about my children and although they have been trying at times I know I didn't write anything like that!  Plus, I have proofread this article three times!  What on earth?  I lean in closer.  What has pasted onto the page is a small section of my serial killer story!  The part where the serial killer is giving his thoughts and ideas and why he does what he does.  Nothing of my inspirational-feel-good story!

I have visions of the police banging on my door in the middle of the night and hauling me away.  I see this national big name publishing house never wanting to hear from me again no matter how much I try to explain myself.  Such inspiration lady. Sure, it was the computer's fault.

Then today, out of the blue, I receive a card.  A snail mail card no less from a friend that I haven't seen in years although we keep in touch on Facebook.  She wants to let me know she now knows how to forge a painting and she'll be happy to send me this information whenever I need it.  You'll note she did not send this electronically.

"Honest officer!  She meant for my book!  Information for a book I'm writing!"

"In the guise of a Christmas card at the end of January?  Really?"

Yes.  I want to never remember this day again.