Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I kept thinking of things to add to my pity party post yesterday, like the fact that my bathroom sink is backed up and two bottles of Drano has done nothing, or that my cat probably has fleas and won't stop jumping on the kitchen counter, no matter how much stuff is up there.

Winking won't get you out of this one Fritz

No more pity party though. Because, guess what? My Project Modern quilt is done! I washed it tonight, and all that remains to be done it to photograph it, write my essay and send in my entry.

Luckily, the red didn't run

Incidentally, the laundry room in my building is pretty awesome. There are 19 units (though the numbers go to 20, there is no unit 13) and we all have cubbies in the laundry room. The cubbies are original refrigerators from when the place was build in 1928.

I'm pretty sure this is what the original builders had in mind.

Off of the laundry room is a pretty sad exercise room, with ancient equipment. I mean honestly, a Nordic  Track? What is this, 1995?

It must be fun to exercise in this windowless room!

The best piece in the room though is this non-motorized treadmill, complete with tape deck.

The brand is Jane Fonda, naturally. Just need my sweet striped leotard!

Monday, November 15, 2010

One of those weeks

Oh my stars! It's been one of those weeks.

On Thursday I got into my car and it wouldn't start. The battery was dead. Fortunately, my friend Jennifer dropped by and while she was around, gave me a jump. Problem solved!

Except it happened again on Friday. My battery had been pretty weak for awhile, it had died once while I was just listening to the radio in my car, and on Friday it was clear to me that it had to be replaced. Jennifer was kind enough to jump my car again, and I got it to the dealership.

(Needing a car battery jump reminds me of my stellar business idea, which is a hotline called 1-800-DAD-HELP. You call the line, and then a father-type guy will give you father-type advice about what to do. Like, how exactly to jump your car and not die, or how to find studs in the wall, or other fatherly things. And there could even be a mobile unit where a father-type person be dispatched to your location to help you jump your car, or use an electric drill, or help you load awkward stuff into your car at Ikea. Call me investors!)

I've got the logo waiting and ready

You know how it is when you take your car to the dealership. I needed a new battery, but it turns out I also needed new tires, new fluids, new flux capacitor, and new belts. Since my car just hit 90,000 miles, I wasn't surprised, but those things all cost money. I've been working on building an emergency fund, so it wasn't as bad as it could be, but it does mean I'll have to start over. No emergencies for the next six months please!

The same day my I took my car to the dealership, one of my tenants gave 30 days notice, which means I have to find new tenants for my rental. It's such a hassle. I'm not looking forward to it, at all.

Also, my cable went out. We get broadcast channels, but none of the cable stuff. Now a Comcast guy is coming between 8 and 10 tomorrow morning. I hope they can fix it.

Now, these aren't really big problems. I feel really lucky that I have a working car, tenants, and cable in the first place. There are many, many problems that are much worse than this. The car is fixed now, the cable should be fixed soon, and I'll find a new tenant. I'm just a little bummed that it's happening all at once. At least I had the PMQG sewing night to provide entertainment on Saturday!

To make myself feel better, I practiced a little retail therapy. I don't have a tight budget to speak of, but I do watch what I spend pretty closely, so I went to Goodwill to pick up some fun stuff, and not feel to bad about spending money.

Two of my new treasures, a soup pot and a ricer. I put the soup pot to good use, and made split pea soup.

These shoes were seven dollars, which I think is overpriced, but they are cute and comfy so what the heck

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Going to the Chapel

My friend Foxx and I talk a lot about weddings. Neither of us are married, so it's fun to imagine what a wedding might be like. Now, neither of us are in a place where we are going to get married anytime soon (Foxx is a lot closer as she has a boyfriend), but we both agree that it might be fun to have a party where you get to wear a pretty dress, be the center of attention, get a lot of gifts, and get to eat cake.

With this is mind, we decided to get Facebook married, as in, having a wedding ceremony so we could change our Facebook status to "married".  And wouldn't you know, I live right by Voodoo donuts, so it seemed like a pretty good place to get it done. Luckily, Foxx's boyfriend is a pretty cool guy and thought the idea was hilarious.

The ceremony itself was pretty fun, as Voodoo donuts provided an officiant. Yes, he is wearing a rabbit mask. As part of the ceremony, our spirit animals were determined and drawn with chalk on the floor.

Mine is a cat.

The ceremony was fun, and we couldn't stop laughing.

Foxx and I worked together at camp, were we make fools of ourselves all the time, so dressing up to do this in front of a packed Saturday night crowd didn't phase us. Did I mention this doubled as my birthday party?

They even gave us a quarter to use in the juke box. We picked Proud Mary as our wedding song.
We decided it was a costume optional event, and our friend Donqua chose the role of Groomsman, and wore an awesome mustache all night.

Donqua showing off her awesome mustache

We ordered donuts too. Delicious, delicious donuts.

Our "Bride and Bride" donuts, filled with red jam, which is slightly disturbing

Donut box 1
Donut box 2
We were lucky that my friend Leslie came along, because she brought some awesome Dollar Tree additions to the mix. Like mini-champagne glasses.

Leslie pouring us some Martinelli's for the toast
Having our wedding toast at Potato Champion

And then we went home and ate more donuts until our teeth fell out. Not a shabby birthday weekend!

Isn't this what your facebook wedding was like?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Using Adobe Illustrator to Design a Quilt: Pen Tool Shapes

When using Adobe Illustrator to design quilts, for traditional patchwork you aren't going to need a lot of shapes. Squares, rectangles and triangles will take you far.

Every block in this image is made of squares and triangles

Using the shapes palette, and the rectangle tool will take care of squares and rectangles, but you'll need the pen tool to make triangles. Again, I'll stress that there are a lot of different ways to do things in Illustrator. I'm just going to describe the easiest way I know how to make triangles, and that's through the pen tool. 

Short Story

1. Select the pen tool from the tools palette.

The Pen Tool is on the left

2. Click your mouse to create the shape you want, ending at the starting point for a closed shape. 

A right triangle made with the Pen Tool
Long Story

The Pen Tool creates a shape point by point. Each successive click creates a new tangent line, which can be straight or curved. Curved lines are created by clicking and dragging, which creates handles that control the curve of the line. Unless you are making applique shapes or a quilt with curves, don't worry about the curved lines for now. They can be more trouble than they are worth. I recommend fooling around with the pen tool for a bit, to get the feel for it. Make a few shapes, and see how it goes.

Once you've made your shape, you may want to edit it. Shapes in Illustrator can be selected in two ways. One is as a whole shape with the selection tool, and the other is by selecting individual points, with the direct selection tool.

The Selection Tool is on the left, the Direct Selection Tool is on the right

Use the Selection Tool if you want to:

  • Enlarge or reduce the size of the shape
  • Move the shape to a different part of the art board
  • Select the shape 

Use the Direct Selection Tool if you want to:

  • Move or adjust individual points on a shape
  • Adjust the handles for curves
Individual points in a shape can be moved by first selecting the object, and selecting the point you would like to move. Click and drag to move it. Illustrator is quite annoying in that you must select a point exactly, or a dialog box will show up telling you to select a point exactly. If you know exactly where the point you would like to directly select is, you can just click it with the direct select tool. If you aren't sure where the point you would like to select is, use the Select Tool to select the object first. This will select all the points, and you can see where everything is. 

A selected point will be a filled in box, and an unselected point will be white. If you hold down the shift key while using the Direct Selection Tool and click more than one point, you can select multiple points.

In this screenshot, only the point in the upper right is selected. The other two white boxes visible on the orange triangle are unselected.

Some troubleshooting for the Pen Tool

You can theoretically make a triangle without closing the shape, but that can lead to trouble later on when adding a stroke or outline. It make sure your shape is closed, you have to end at the point where you started. You'll know you're in the right spot when you hover over a point and a small circle appears at the bottom right of the pen tool, rather than the normal x.

Left: An unclosed shape. Right: A closed shape.

Sometimes you get the urge to adjust a shape before you've finished it by switching to the direct selection tool. This can lead to trouble, as when you go to finish the shape by reselecting the pen tool, it doesn't remember the shape you were working on, and it starts a new one.

If you were one step away from finishing, select the shape, then go to the Object Menu, select Path, and then select Join. It will close the shape.

If you have several more points to make, reselect the Pen Tool, first click on the point you want to start from, and then you'll be able to continue making points for that shape.

If you are trying to make a specific geometric shape, and the measurements are off, check and see what your Snap options are. If you are trying to snap to a grid, and that option is off, your shape will not be precise. Turn on Snap to Grid and your shape will be much more accurate. For more info about creating and adjusting grids, go here.

Throughout the course of writing this, the word select has lost all meaning to me. It seems like such a weird word!

Monday, November 1, 2010

So it goes...

I'd always stayed away from the tiny spools of thread at Joann's and Fabric depot, assuming they didn't have enough thread to make it worth the price it to use them for quilting. Jokes on me though, as the skinny spool on the left has 547 yards of thread, while the fatty on the right only has 500 yards. That will teach me to read the labels! I'm excited to use the metallic thread for my Project Modern Quilt. I've never tried it before, so it should be interesting. 

Too bad I don't pay attention!

I had a pretty nice Halloween (except for one thing, to be described later in the post). My friend Leslie's birthday is on Halloween, so she always has a fun party that weekend. Lots of people go and dress up, so it's fun to see what everybody comes up with. This year I went as a milkmaid, and like the hairstyle so much that I'm going to wear it that way more often.

Photo taken moments before disaster struck
My roommate came with me to the party. I'm not a drinker, but he is. He hadn't had much to eat that day, and drank a lot at the party, so by the time we came home he was totally hammered.

After we got home, I took a photo of my costume, and then went into my room and was surfing the net and winding down for the night. I heard (but didn't see) my roommate come up the stairs, use the bathroom, and (so I thought) turn on the shower. It turns out he forgot to turn off the sink, and it didn't take long for it to overflow.

The next thing I heard was my roommate swearing downstairs. I opened my door to the room, and water was all over the floor. My roommate barreled up the stairs and turned off the sink. He told me that water was coming through the ceiling downstairs.

He was right! It was like it was raining inside. I rushed around trying to find pots and pans to catch the drips, and ended up using leftover bits of batting to help mop up all the water on the floor.

Luckily, the ceiling didn't collapse.
This is all at about 2 a.m. My poor roommate was still hammered, and was really upset that I was "accusing" him of causing it (which he totally did). He had no memory of leaving the sink on, and was very actively arguing his innocence. At the time he was pretty angry with me for implying he had left the sink on.

It was one of those situations where all you can do is laugh. It was too late at night to cry! Here I was trying to stop the water from getting everywhere, and my roommate was trying to prove his case that he hadn't done it. He was no help at all, and eventually left to drunkenly sulk in his room. Poor guy. Emergency situations when you are really drunk are not very fun. It's not that much fun sober either.

Most of the water pooled in the light fixture, and dripped down the bat decoration. Happy Halloween! 

The water hadn't been on too long, so after awhile the dripping stopped, so I headed back to my room.

I checked on things one more time before I went to bed, and found my roommate curled up on the floor of the living room, under an area where the water was dripping. He told me it was because even if I was accusing him of something he hadn't done, he was still going to protect the house.

What a night! My roommate apologized the next day. I'm hoping the damage is mostly cosmetic, and we don't get mold. All in all, it could have been much, much worse. Nothing in the rooms that had the leaking ceiling got damaged.

Even my Project Modern quilt was okay even though it was under a leaky area, because I've been putting it in a trash bag when I'm not working on it for some reason.

The trash bag does not deter him