Love. Sew. Patch.

Dear friends,

Despite the horrendous Headache Threat Level that has nuked my entry into the new year, I have managed to rack up three — that’s THREE — quilt finishes so far in 2014.

I figured my head hurts whether I’m up or down, so save 14 hours spent in bed on Dec, 31-Jan. 1, I’ve been sewing through the pain.

As for the first finish, I can’t tell you about it until it arrives at its new home, later this week or next. Same for the third.

But the second finish was for Kate, and she’s headed back to college in possession of one of the cutest and warmest quilts I’ve made.

Take a close-up look:


Last spring, I attended some pretty chilly college tennis matches (where chilly equals wearing a coat, hat and gloves and still being cold). I noticed some of the girls carried blankets to wrap around themselves in between matches and that’s when I got the idea that my CupKate needed a tennis-themed quilt to take on the road.

I purchased the fabric nine months ago and even cut it into the proper size squares. And then I got distracted by other projects and the tennis quilt has sat unattended all this time.

I vowed to get it done before she left home in January, but two commissions kept me busy through December. By Jan. 3, I knew I had less than a week to get it done so I sprang into action, spending all of last weekend sewing, squaring and arranging 122 blocks of green, yellow and black fabric. (Kate’s college colors are green and black.)

I failed to take a photo of the entire quilt before she packed up and left home, so here’s one she took with her phone from her apartment. It’s not great quality but you get the gist:


On Black Friday, I just happened to score some extra-soft white flannel with tiny lime polka dots for $1.75 a yard. It made a perfect — and extra warm — backing for the quilt. And while shopping the day after Christmas, Kate tripped across some black fabric with miniature tennis balls and multi-colored racquets that was perfect for the binding.

I’m so glad to get this one off the sewing table and into heavy rotation. Kate’s tennis season starts Feb. 4 and, if January has been any indication, she’ll need every ounce of warmth she can lay her hands on.

With gratitude (for deadline-induced productivity},

Joan, who’s relieved to report she’s been headache-free for a couple of days, though her energy level is still in the basement without liquid stimulants

PS: If you are at all interested in the quilt pattern, it’s called a disappearing 9-patch and you can find a tutorial here

Cleaning up old mistakes.

Dear friends,

Photo by Instagram, Lomo-fi filter

I’ve been a busy bee. Mr. Mom and I spent the day prepping and painting. By 10:00 pm Monday night, we had a coat of primer and a coat of paint on the cabinet boxes in three bathrooms. Our painter didn’t show up until almost 4:00 pm after promising he’d arrive at noon (running late seems to be the stock and trade of painters), so he only had time for a coat of primer on the doors and drawers. It won’t hurt my feelings one bit if we finish before he does.

This same workman painted my kitchen last spring. And, unfortunately, he made a big mistake on that job. I selected a creamy white paint for my outer cabinets and a Jadite green for my island. Somehow, the painter got the doors mixed up and — when the handyman came to install hardware and hang the cabinet doors — I ended up with a green door on a bank of white cabinets and a white door on a bank of green cabinets. The doors are not interchangeable so I’ve been stuck with two sore thumbs for 11 months.  Somehow, the painter has never had time to come back and fix it.

So, of course, when I hired him for this new job, I removed the mixed up doors and had them waiting on him in the garage with all the others. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, you know.

I’m not mad at him. He’s a good guy and we all make mistakes. And on that front, I’ve got him beat by more than a decade.

About 15 years ago — on another spring break when I took off work for a DIY project — I painted a set of bookcases.  It was cold and rainy that year and I was holed up in my garage for hours painting those dang bookcases, shivering to death and watching the paint dry at a glacial pace. My kids were little back then and I kept having to stop working to run in the house and do things like feed and diaper my children. Toward the end of the project, I got tired and decided to take a shortcut by not painting the underneath sides of several of the shelves.

At the time, I wasn’t a very experienced painter so I didn’t know about tricks like tinted primer. I had primed the shelves with white paint and finished them with black paint. That the shelves were painted black on top and white underneath didn’t seem like a big deal as long as I stood up. But once everything dried and I moved the shelves into the house and loaded them down with books — and then sat down in the room — I realized my short-cut was glaring. (You saw the bookcases in this post. From the angle where I stood to the take the photo, you can’t tell the underneath sides of the shelves are white. But trust me, everyone who sits on my new furniture sees my rookie mistake.)

Believe it or not, this is the first time since then I’ve painted anything black. So as much as I hate to unload those dang shelves of dozens of volumes, I’m doing it so that I can clean up a very old mistake. My painter will feel right at home when I drag my shelves into the garage for a corrective coat of paint.

But I think we’ll both feel good to right an old wrong. It’s not often you get to fix an old mistake in the course of doing something new and productive — and we’d be foolish, I think, not to take advantage of the opportunity.

With gratitude {for having learned a thing or two about painting and life in the last few years},

Joan, who’s also learned never to cut corners by buying cheap paint because, yeah, she’s been down that road, too