Something Different

Different for me, at least. I’ve never made a purse, though I’ve made some bags. But I just put the finishing touches on a hobo bag for myself, and I’m pretty happy with it. There are, of course, some changes I will make next time, but over all, it works for me. What do you think?

I wasn’t really happy with the button, but I didn’t have a lot of choice. My local JoAnn’s store’s button selection sucks – I was really just looking for a black and gold button, but they had nothing that fit the bill – so I settled for this. It doesn’t match exactly but I guess it works. The fabric came from my stash, and I used a really great blue by Kona for the lining. There is a pocket inside that is made from the same butterfly fabric as the outer shell (I would have posted a photo of the inside, but I couldn’t get a good one). I can’t think of a better way to use my favorite fabrics from my stash!

I used Simplicity 0387, but next time I think I will make some changes to it – like a pocket on the outside for a cell phone. And I will trim back the interfacing, because it makes the seams a little too bulky and they don’t lay flat. The next purse I make will actually be somewhat easier … but I’ll save the info on it for another post. πŸ™‚


Just catching up …

Sorry I’ve been quiet the last couple of days – things have been insane around here. Chris and Travis left on Thursday for a fishing trip – they’ll be back tomorrow, but the house sure seems quiet with just two of us here right now. Work is crazy, as always.

I finished the quilt top I was working on for Chris. It is NOT going to win any awards … it’s a bit rough in my opinion – it’s been a long while since I made a quilt, and I don’t know if I’ve ever made one quite this big. But overall I think he will be happy with it. Next up … I’m not sure yet, but I have a few options in mind. I’ll post some photos of the finished quilt top, the potential future projects and more stuff in the next couple of days. Maybe I’ll include a little poll to see which projects folks think I should take on next, because I don’t seem to be capable of deciding for myself right now. Sigh …

Other than that, there’s really nothing to share. I haven’t had time to do much else, so I haven’t been out shooting or anything. But because I like you, here are couple of photos I shot one night in Galveston … Enjoy!

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

Sunday morning at 6:30 am, I popped up out of bed and woke Chris up so we could head over to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center to do some photography. I’ve never been there before, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was definitely not something I expected to find in the middle of Houston. Words are not sufficient to explain, so instead I will show you …

Football and Sewing Machines

I just watched the pre-season opener between the Houston Texans and the Carolina Jaguars, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with the outcome – the Texans took it, 26 to 13. And they were pretty classy about it too. At the end, when they could have easily scored again, they took a knee twice to run out the clock. Good game, guys! Can’t wait for the regular season to start, but next weekend there’s another pre-season game between the 49ers and the Texans. I’ll definitely be watching!

In other news, I went to look at some sewing machines today. First of all, let me say that I am definitely NOT a fan of the Pfaff machines. While it may seem silly to some, I don’t like the looks of the machines – all angular and it looks as if you could cut yourself on the sharp edges (you can’t, I tried). I also took a look at the Viking machines, but since they are no longer made in Sweden, they don’t have the same feel as they did five years ago. The guy I talked to suggested either the Brother (my personal favorite) or the Janome brand. He showed me the Brother Quattro2 6700, which was phenomenal. I mean, this thing can SCAN to find the location where you want to embroider on the hooped fabric, thanks to some handy little stickers that come with the machine. And if you put the sticker on off center, or tilted, or whatever … the machine will modify the design to fit however you want it to go on the fabric. It also has this really cool pen pad – you can write, draw or trace anything on it, and the machine digitizes it! This is a HUGE step up from the old days of having to use a computer and expensive software and a box to do such a thing. He had two or three of the refurbished 6700’s, and they cost $6700. Or, he was happy to sell me “last year’s model,” the 6000, for “just $6000.” [insert green sick smilie here]. Ugh … $6000 for a machine?!? I don’t think so!

He also showed me the 2800D, which is the upgraded version of the 2500D I sold a few weeks ago. It’s a really nice machine, and it is very much like the 2500D. It’s also $4300 … and I’m not really sure I am that into embroidery to pay that much for a machine. I mean, it’s nice and all, but I mostly do quilting, and the embroidery I do usually do isn’t all that big. So I came home to brood about it, and to talk it over with my husband. I mean, I’m not ready to buy a machine right now anyway, and I want to buy a machine that isn’t more than I actually need (you know, like I did the last time). Before I buy anything these days, I do a lot of research online. I mean, isn’t that what’s so great about the internet? You can find all sorts of information without ever leaving home. That doesn’t mean I make a decision before I leave home … well, not always … but it does give me the chance to know what I want to see when I go to look at something like a sewing machine. And this is what led me to the Brother Laura Ashley Innov-Is NX-2000. It is actually tailored to quilting, which is great, since that’s what I do the most. It has a look I like (if it had a color screen instead of monochrome I would be even happier), and it has something approaching 500 stitches included. Not only does it have a bazillion stitches, Brother claims it can stitch in multiple directions and it comes with all sorts of cool accessories – like a circular sewing attachment. I didn’t even know such a thing EXISTED, and now I feel like I have to have it. Yeah, I don’t know why either, but it sounds super cool.

I called a couple of shops, and found one that not only carries the machine and has one I can actually test drive, but the machine retails for around $2000. I couldn’t get an exact price, because you know, they aren’t supposed to tell you that stuff over the phone because it violates their dealer agreement (which I think it totally bogus, but whatever). But knowing that it’s around $2000 is helpful enough, because I think we can all agree that “around $2000″ is a heck of a lot less than $4300. And since it’s primarily meant to be used by quilters, I think it’s a good choice. I’ll go check it out next weekend and let you all know what I think.

And I’ve decided that if I do decide to go with the quilting machine, at some point I might decide to purchase an embroidery machine. If I do, I definitely won’t go for the $6000+ machines, but Brother makes several machines that are lower level with embroidery sizes up to 5″ x 7” that are less than $1000. I can live with that for sure.

I had planned to get out and shoot some photos this morning, but I didn’t get to bed until 4 am, and I wasn’t getting up at 6 am to go out. I’m going to try again tomorrow … we’ll see how that works. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep tonight and I’ll have some photos to post tomorrow or Monday.

Until the next time … keep on doing whatever it is that makes you happy, so long as it isn’t illegal, immoral or unethical! πŸ˜‰

Hellooooooo Friday!

I have been waiting for Friday since Sunday night. Sorta sad, huh? Yeah, well, it’s been a hell of a week, so I’m happy to see Friday roll around again.

Quite often, I work at home on Friday, as I have today. I love the fact that I have a boss and a company that is cool enough to understand why this is important to me – we work in cubes, and sometimes you just NEED the time away from the office to get stuff done. But since I am at home today, and in light of the fact that it’s Friday, I decided to start my weekend off a little early. Yep, that’s right, I started my weekend a little early – by throwing a load of clothes into the washer before I ran to grab lunch. I am a party animal, I know. Try not to be jealous, ok? πŸ™‚

Now that my kids are pretty much grown, and my life isn’t nearly so hectic as it once was (I no longer have to coach YMCA sports teams, and my son isn’t involved in athletics) I don’t usually start the weekend with lots of plans. Most of the time, I just use the time to run errands, maybe do a little photography and/or quilting and cook. But this weekend is the beginning of the NFL pre-season, which means that I have plans on Saturday night. They involve dinner on the couch while watching the Texans and the Carolina Panthers go head-to-head. Anyone in my family is welcome to join, but you can bet Chris and I will be there, watching.

It wasn’t until last year that I really got into the football thing, and I credit that to Arian Foster. I mean, the man just always looks like he’s having fun, which is not something you often see in professional sports these days. Even if it isn’t true, when he’s running a ball down the field, it looks like there’s nowhere he would rather be – he seems to be smiling the whole way! It really is so much fun to watch him play, I just cannot stay away from the Texans games, so I’m really looking forward to this season. Go, Arian! Make us proud (which I know you will do anyway)!

But the rest of the weekend will probably be pretty quiet. I am going to try to get out and do some photography this weekend, and I will probably have some time to work on something craftyΒ – I really need a new purse, so I might do something like that. And of course, there is the grocery run we will make (again, don’t be jealous). I might try to get over to one or two stores to look at sewing machines, and I have two weeks till my accounting classes begin, so I need to start thinking about that. Who says I don’t know how to live large? πŸ™‚

Before I go, and to make this post somewhat worthwhile, I want to share a photo I took earlier this year of St. Ceril’s Methodist Church in Dubina, Texas. This is one of the painted churches in Texas, but obviously this is just the outside. Churches always make me think of Sunday, and Sunday is on a weekend … so there ya go. πŸ˜‰

It’s a girl’s perogative to change her mind … or is it?

A while back, I decided I was tired of sewing & quilting and that I was going to get rid of everything I owned that has anything to do with the hobby. I listed my Janome serger (which never got used after I bought it) and my Brother Innov-is 2500D (which didn’t get nearly enough use) on Craigslist in a moment of complete clarity … or was it total insanity? The world may never know … sadly, I may never know either because both sold pretty quickly and are gone from my life forever.

This weekend, I began to feel the twinge. Anyone who sews will know exactly what I mean … that moment when you feel a sewing machine calling your name, ever so softly at first, almost like a whisper. Then, it progresses to a low voice, and then before you know it, the sewing machine is DEMANDING your time, making you it’s slave. I’ve seen it happen to others – my mom, for instance – and I’ve experienced it first hand. In the end, it’s a feeling that cannot be denied. But, what’s a girl to do when she’s sold her machines and feels that calling? Well, she pulls out the stand by machine she hung onto … or the machine that doesn’t seem to work quite right, in an attempt to figure out what might be wrong with it. I am a trailblazer – I did both.

I am a big fan of Brother machines, and I have been ever since I bought my PC-8500, used, from a dealer. Before I bought it, I had a Viking Rose, which was nice, but with which I had no chemistry. Yes, I said chemistry. I believe that, like people, we can have a chemistry with sewing machines. No, I’m not kidding. I had the Rose for a year, and rarely ever used it. It was a very nice machine, to be sure, but I didn’t care much for it once I got it home. I can’t tell you what specifically about it I didn’t like, I can only tell you that I didn’t like to use it. When I bought the PC-8500, though, I fell in love. It was like a musical instrument in my hands – I could make that baby sing! We created beautiful music … errr, quilts … together. I have photos to prove it. Don’t believe me? Let me show you one example …


Now, you may not agree, but I think it was a beautiful quilt (I gave it to my grandmother, by the way).

Anyway, I had taken it (the machine, not the quilt) to be cleaned a few years ago, and the guy who cleaned it a) was someone I had once dated once or twice; b) didn’t act like he recognized me; and c) totally screwed up my beloved machine! It took him AGES to get it ready for me to pick up, claiming this issue and that. When I finally got it home, it sewed beautifully for a while, then it was a mess. Really, that’s about all I remember of it, primarily because it’s been like four years, and also because I was so mad, and so disappointed, I wanted to go back and beat the guy up. Anyway, I put it in the closet, pulled out my $200 Walmart Brother machine and went on. A few weeks later, I found the Innov-is 2500D and had to have it – I got a really good deal on a refurbished one, and I brought it home and loved it. But I digress …

Anyway, I pulled out the 8500 yesterday and did some testing on it, and what I discovered was that if I don’t use the thread cutter, the machine is fine. It sews beautifully until I try to use the thread cutter, then something horrible happens and it goes all to hell. For now, I will use it without the thread cutter – I have about a bazillion pairs of small scissors anyway and I’m sure they would enjoy the workout.

Tonight I used the 8500 to fix a blanket that has special significance to my husband, and it did great. I have several quilts that need to be put together, and a few that need to be finished … and I still hear that machine calling my name, and it’s getting louder and louder. The real question is … shouldn’t I start researching which sewing machine to buy in March, when I get my bonus? πŸ˜€

My World

I’ve stopped and started blogs before – blogs about my life, blogs about weight loss, sewing, quilting, photography, etc etc etc. And the thing is, none of them ever really feel like me. Do you know what I mean? I am not a focused individual. My life isn’t just photography, or weight loss, or sewing … all of this is evidenced by my lack of blogging. And by keeping multiple blogs about a variety of things (or by trying to combine them into one blog that already exists) I feel split. There’s not cohesive flow between all those different blogs … and let’s be honest. Those blogs are all about my life, or different aspects of my life, which is not compartmentalized, or segregated, or otherwise split into pieces. I am all of those things, and more. I have a pretty wide span of things that interest me, so why do I keep trying to segment my life into multiple blogs?

The reason why I chose the name for this blog is because one of my favorite movies is Under the Tuscan Sun. I really related to the main character, Frances, after my divorce. One line in the movie, in particular, struck me as good advice – live your life in many directions. And that’s what I’ve always done – I’ve always lived in many directions, but I never thought of it that way. When I embraced that sentiment, my life changed for the better. I returned to school and got my Business Administration degree with a concentration in Project Management. I met the love of life when I wasn’t even looking for him (who knew he would end up living just next door to me?!). And my career took off. I found fulfillment and love and happiness when I was sure all of that was more or less gone from my life. I embraced the chaos that is my life, and found bliss. πŸ™‚

But the one thing I’ve not quite managed yet is to stop worrying about pleasing others and to just please myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t care what my husband or children think, because I almost always worry about that. No, I am specifically talking about my blogging life. I know that photographers don’t necessarily want to read about home decorating, and that people without children don’t give a darn about my almost grown teens. But you know, keywords and categories are a wonderful thing, and if you want to follow my blog, I suppose you’ll learn how to use them. Interested in photography? There will be a category for that. Want to know what recipe I recently tried that I loved? There’s a category for that too. Can’t wait to hear the next hilarious thing that comes out of my teens’ mouths? Yeah, there will likely be a category that one as well. Read what you like, don’t read what you don’t like. It’s a little like grocery shopping – you don’t want cereal? Don’t go down the cereal aisle! πŸ˜‰

That said, this first post is a little about me, obviously, if you don’t already know who I am. My name is Jill, and I am 40-ish. I have a husband named Chris who is 12 years younger than me. He’s starting his own business in small engine repair, but he really wants to move into building custom motorcycles eventually. We found out recently that he’s diabetic, so that’s been a new aspect in our lives, but we’re learning how to deal with it. I have a 19 year old daughter, Kerstin, who is going into her second year of college – she just changed her major to be a paralegal. And my son Travis will be 18 this month. Oh, and I have a dog named Dean. He’s a super awesome schnauzer we just adopted. He’s about four years old. We all live in Texas, in the Houston area, and our lives are hectic and chaotic, but interesting, I think. I am going back to school at the end of this month to work on getting some accounting classes in to either go on to graduate school or to sit for the CPA exam.

Hobby-wise, my first love is photography. Soon, I’ll give you a quick run-down on how I got into photography and where I am these days with it. I spent a lot of time right after my divorce learning to quilt, but I haven’t done much of that in a while. I’m starting to get a little itch to sew some, but not nearly like I used to do. Both Chris and I love to cook, and we’re having to modify lots of stuff for him due to the diabetes, but it’s fun to try out new things. Sometimes, it results in us having a sandwich for dinner, but more often we’re successful. And then occasionally I decide to do something different, like interior design or jewelry making. I’m pretty sure you’ll see all these things and more if you stick around to read my blog, and I really hope you do just that.

Come back soon!