Sunday, February 26, 2012

Commenting and Word Verification

In addition to appreciating the comments I receive, I love leaving comments, too. I do it a lot.  Some of you regular posters may have noticed that.   Really, I'm not virtually stalking you.  I comment on the majority of the blog posts I read.

Lately, however,  it seems that a large portion of bloggers have set up word verification.  Often the "words" are ridiculously difficult to read such as these examples posted on  Markd60's blog:

Who has the time to try to figure out what these things say?  A big thank you to Mark for taking the time to collect these. I haven't had the patience to stick around and copy them.   I'm usually so frustrated by that point that I just click out.  Of course my nice, carefully written comment is then nothing more than wasted time.

I know that I could just NOT comment on your blogs while still keeping them on my list.  However, there's no way to know that word verification is needed until after I've taken the time to compose a comment.   It's the equivalent of starting a conversation with someone and then. just as that person is about to respond, asking them for two forms of identification. I read too many blogs to keep track of which ones are using WV.  If you're on my list, I obviously love your blog, but  I have to say that I'm seriously considering dropping some blogs to avoid the frustration and wasted time.  

There are two possible solutions I want to share with you (with tutorials for Blogspot blogs).  Please, please consider either:
  • giving a warning that verification is needed BEFORE the comment box or
  •  removing the word verification.
Tutorials for each:

Removing Word Verification (preferred method to keep me following your blog AND commenting):
1.Go to your dashboard:
2. Click "Settings"
3. Click "Comments" in the Settings submenu  (There is also a tab named "Comments" along side the above mentioned "Settings",  but that is the not the place.  First click "Settings", then there will be a "Comments" there for you to click on.
4. Scroll down to where it says "Show word verification for comments?" and click on the "No" button.
5. Scroll down and click the "SAVE SETTINGS" button.

Keeping Word Verification with a Note Warning Would-be Writers of Comments (I'll keep following, but probably will not comment):
1.  Go into "Settings" as above
2.  Click on "Comments"
3.  Scroll down to "Comment Form Message"
4.  Type a note in the box there stating that word verification is needed for commenting.  It could be a simple," Word verification is needed in order to comment."   This forwarning will let allow readers to decide whether they have the time and/or energy to deal with the extra work involved.
5.  Scroll down and click on "Save Settings" at the bottom

If you use something other than Blogger, I'm sure your blog support company would be more than happy to show you how to do these.  Thanks for your consideration.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stitch and Quilt Along with Clover and Violet and Hoopla Embroidery Book Review

I've decided to join Clover and Violet's Stitch and Quilt Along!  The quilt will be made up of courthouse step blocks with a little bit of hand embroidery in the center of each block. If you want to check it out, click on the quilt-along button on the sidebar or on the lovely little pic here.

I was hesitant to join because of the hand embroidery.  It's been years since I did any hand embroidery.  However, completely by chance, Melissa brought an incredible book on embroidery home from the library yesterday.  What are the chances of that happening on the very same day?   I'm taking it as a sign that I should join the quilt along.

The book is Hoopla:  The Art of Unexpected Embroidery by Leanne Prain.   Melissa thought I would be interested in it.  Truthfully, had she called and asked if I would like to see a book on mostly hand embroidery, I would have said no. Taking on another form of stitchery would have seemed too daunting.  Thumbing through the book when it arrived, however, I realized that some of the simplest pieces shown were such special expressions of conviction and emotion.
Embroidered poem by Jamie Chalmers
I can think of a lot of places other than an ouch pouch
where I'd like to embroider a band-aid.
 (And, some are just plain fun!)

Embroidering on photos!  See the mustache on the baby?
Who wouldn't want to send a special someone who's far from home a photo
like this embroidered with hearts!

IMHO, anyone who sews beyond simple repairs, has a need to express themselves creatively.  Prain's book shows you how to do just that with beautiful, contemporary, artistic embroidery from the absolute simplest lines to the most complex.  The book has gorgeous photos, instructions on techniques, full directions for some of the projects, and interviews with artists.

As for a few of the more complex--but still doable, how about embroidering your furniture?
Sorry for the distorted photo.  It's the best I can do.
Wish I had embroidered a little something when
I reupholstered my denim set.  Not this much though!

How cool is this map!
You know I own this book now, don't you?  Well, it's on the way from Amazon, anyway,  for $19.77, down from the $29.95 list price.  Check it out at your library or click on "Amazon" above to see more about it online.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Microfiber Dust Mitt Tutorial

I love my microfiber cleaning cloths.  I have a LOT of them, but I could not pass up these in  Joann's clearance area.
for the awesome prince of:
for two cleaning cloths!  Since my dust mitts were worn to a frazzle, these were used for new ones.  A  look online showed that simple microfiber dust mitts are sold individually for $4.50 and up. Making your own is way cheaper even if you didn't get this great deal at Joann's ;-)  And, by the way, who wants just one?  Doesn't everyone dust with two hands?  Two hand, people!  Slap one on each hand and get that dusting done in half the time.

Dust mitts are easy to make.  I created my pattern freehand drawing about an inch to an inch and a half out around my hand. You could use an oven mitt to create the pattern or find a pattern for an oven mitt online--there are several such as this one at Skip To My Lou.  (Remember that an oven mitt will be thicker.  You don't want to make the dust mitt that big.  It might help to throw one together using scrap fabric to get an idea of how big you want to make it.)

I folded each square of fabric in half, pinned on the pattern and cut out the two pieces.  Here's a picture while I was in the midst of cutting.

If you place the cuff end of the pattern at the bottom finished edge of the cloth, you won't need to do any hemming there.  I decided against serging because getting around the thumb would be a pain.  Instead, I sewed a scant quarter inch seam around, turned it right side out, and top stitched a quarter inch in to enclose the seam.

This fabric doesn't have a right/wrong side.  If yours does, you would  start this with the right sides together.  In the photo below, you can see  the scant quarter inch seam before turning right side out.  Be sure to reinforce the ends with back stitching at each cuff end.  

  (Remember to reinforce the start and stop points at the cuff when top stitching, too.)
You can see the top stitching in the photo above.  You can also see that I changed the pattern slightly as I went along to make the thumb area more defined.

Dusting with two of these on really is much faster.  When the front gets dirty, just switch hands and use the back.  You can even turn them inside out to use the other sides.  It's so much easier to do lamps, vases, frames, and dining/kitchen chairs.  Microfiber material holds an amazing amount of dust.

These make great little gifts for those setting up housekeeping.  Also, consider making smaller versions for the kids.  Mine loved the novelty of two-handed dusting with the mitts and finishing the chore quicker when they were young.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Open Book Quilt Block for Virtual Quilting Bee

I joined a virtual quilting bee of sorts started by Tracey of Itching2Bstitching.  We are working from the book, Modern Blocks:  99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers by Susanne Woods.  (You may be able to get it from your library.  Click on the photo of the book at the bottom of the post to take a look at it on Amazon.)  

I've never done one of these before, so I'll share how this kind of bee works for others who don't know about them.  Each month one person is the queen bee.  She chooses a block from the book for all of us to do.  The "queen" can send the fabric she wants us to use or suggest colors and such she likes.  The pic above is the block chosen by Kelleigh for February.  It's called "open book." 

In Modern Blocks, the center binding area of the book is actually the same color as the background fabric.  It almost appears that the book is floating.  Kelleigh chose to have that area in a light fabric different from the background so that each person could sign the block in that space.  I chose to embroider the name 'cuz my handwriting is not the best.

Scary thing for me to do sewing for someone else!  Fortunately, these are an understanding and accepting lot who are not expecting perfection.  One block down, eleven more months to go!  I can't wait for my turn to be on the receiving end in October.

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Owl Calendar--Free and Fun

(Jo James)
See that little button right across on the sidebar with the cute owls?  It will take you to Shivani's site where she has once again put together something that allows you to create your own personal 2012 owl calendar.  She gathered the work of forty-five international artists this year--all creating pieces depicting owls.  The set-up allows you to choose which piece of art you want for each month and print out the pages.

I did it last year, too.  The hardest part was, once again, choosing.  I wanted MOST of them, but could only have twelve.  Take a look!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ongoing Apron and Art Smock Link Party!

Threading My Way has just started an ongoing apron/art smock link party.  It would be great if you would add any of your posts on these items to it.  I so like the idea of having one place to go that will have lots of information and inspiration on a given subject.
Pam of Threading My Way already has a number of these ongoing parties on right now including these:   
            • Bags and Totes 
            • Girls' Dresses 
            • Women's Dresses
            • Hair Accessories 
            • Pillows and Cushions 
            • Boys Clothes
            • Skirts for Girls 
If there is another party you'd like to see, you can email her or leave a suggestion in Pam's comments area. I'm looking forward to seeing all your creations over there!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February's Blocks from Craftsy's BOM class

As you may recall, I am doing the "block of the  month" lessons from Craftsy in both browns/blues and orange/blues.  Here are the browns/blues  for February:

The first one is a Balkan Puzzle also know by numbers of other names as is true of many quilt blocks.  I LOVE this one.  The second is a Chunky Chevron.  By itself,  I'm not so fond of it.  I'll bet it's cool when these are put together as a whole quilt, though.

Here are the orange/blues:

One of the reasons I'm not too fond of the Chunky Chevron blocks may be that I don't like my choice for the predominant pieces--that blue/yellow fabric--in this one.  It's a beautiful fabric when not cut into pieces and repieced (Repieced comes out with a red line under it.  I, however, am using it because I think it should be a word in quilting!)  This fabric would require some incredible fussy cutting to make it work well.  I'm hoping that it will blend in well once the whole quilt is together.

Here are all the January and February browns/blues together,

and the orange/blues

All in all, I am quite happy.  Of course, I've been cutting these down to make them uniform rather than redoing them.  If I absolutely HAVE to, I'll redo one to make it fit. For the most part, I'm not that fussy with quilting.  As I have said before, I go with the , "if it can't be seen by a man riding by on horseback, it's okay" rule.  I quilt for fun and to have something on the bed rather than for show.  That may be because were I quilting for show, I'd still be on my first quilt;-O

Monday, February 13, 2012

Confession: I Am a Potter Head

For our last day in Florida, we went to:
The lovely Mr. Easton posing before the Universal Studio globe.
Universal Studio's theme park.  Mostly because I wanted to see:

I am somewhat addicted.  I reread the books and/or watch the movies almost yearly.  I really, really wanted to taste:

Butterbeer!   I had two.  The resulting sugar high is probably why I'm still up at one in the morning blogging.  I know it's just cream soda with some creamy flavored foam on top, but it is so good.

The castle ride has to be the most awesome one in the park, and you get to see all kinds of cool stuff while moving through the ride line including the sorting hat,

 and walls of talking pictures.

The best part of the ride was flying over the quidditch field.  Never thought I'd get to do that. Flying down toward the lake was a close second.  It was so like the scene in one of the movies.   You honestly feel as though you are flying.  I actually moved my leg at one point 'cuz I thought it was going to hit something!  I dragged my husband on this ride twice.

Olivander's wand shop proved too tempting.  I am now the proud owner of what they tell me is an exact replica of Professor McGonagall's wand.
Too bad it's not real.  It would be so nice if it would do all my laundry when I get home.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I Finally Got the Signature Line to Work in My Blog!

I saw a post at Serendipity and Spice with some suggestions for spicing up your blog.  I've tried to do the signature line before without success.  I get to the part about making sure you save your original html code or you will mess everything up and panic. Melissa at Serendipity suggested going to to create the signature which I did.  I copied the code I made there.  Then I could not figure out WHERE to put the code.  I finally emailed Melissa at Serendipity.  Here was her response:
"In your blogger dashboard (main page) go to Settings, then Posts and Comments.  On the right there will  be a box labeled Post Template.  Just insert the html code in this box.  Then your signature will automatically load every time you make a post."

I went to the dashboard, then to Settings.  There wasn't an exact "Posts and Comment."  Maybe I have an old version or something.  In any case, this is what I did.  I finally tried going to "Settings."  Then under that there is a tab for "Formatting."  At Formatting, I scrolled down to "Post Template."  I pasted it in there, saved the settings, and voila!  There it was.

I know there is a way to get it to be on the old posts, too. With my lack of knowledge in this area and fear of messing up everything,  I'm gonna stick with this. Here it is
Now if I can just figure out how to get the signature out of the little white box, I'll be all set.  It's a start!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Hair Clips for Ipod and Other Techie Wires

Traveling with my computer, two Kindles, an Ipod, and two cell phones means a lot of cords. I've been using this method to keep things from tangling for a while now.  It has worked particularly well while traveling.

Nice and neat.  Headphones, charging cords, and simple hair clips.  The clips work great.  They won't damage the cords, but firmly hold everything in place.  When you are using the cords, just leave the clip around the cord.   Give it a try.

I'm still enjoying the beautiful Florida weather.  Thought you might enjoy a few pics.
The sun setting on our first night
This White Ibis and I were hunting together.  I was so busy looking for
shells that I was next to this guy before I even realized it
Great Blue Heron.   He sat on the dock
oblivious to the passersby.
Gopher tortoise!  
Is this guy not the coolest?  He was just hangin'
out on the side of a building.  I think it is an  Black Anole.
Amazing how close you can get to the birds!  I think this is a
Snowy Egret.

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Front Load Washer Died, But I'm Not Too Unhappy About It

First, look where I am.  Yeah, in the air, on the way to Florida.  Left the twenty-somethings in charge of the house.  How cool is it that you can blog on top of clouds?  Way cool.

Back to the washer.  I had the front load washer for about seven years.  It died for the second time last week.  The first repair was so expensive, we knew the next time it broke we would just replace it.   I liked that our water bill dropped dramatically when we got the front loader, but otherwise I wasn't really happy with it.  I never had to wash my washing machine before getting the front loader.  I also didn't needed to leave the door open on a washer before.  I found out I needed to clean and air the machine the hard way--once the smell became awful!  I would have gotten another front load one, though, if the water-saving top loaders were not around. BUT they are!  Take a look at my new favorite appliance.

It's an LG with the largest tub possible.  My kids do their own laundry, and  even their "saved up forever" piles fit in.  Love that it saves water, fits more stuff than I ever dreamed possible aside from a laundry mat machine, and has a seemingly infinite number of settings to accommodate all situations.   Look at all those choices:

The part that I really love though, is that it plays music--literally.  Instead of that annoying, jarring buzzer to let you know the wash is finished, it plays a little ditty.  Okay, it does sound like a piece Mr. Rogers would have chosen for the kids, but it is so much better than a buzzer.

I've finally stopped staring at the laundry through the window.   But look at that glass top.  Who wouldn't want to stare in.  Is this what they mean when they say,  "Don't be showing your dirty laundry"?  If so, I apologize. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

The January Blocks are Finished!

I started them in February--not a good idea.  Fortunately Craftsy keeps the old lessons up.  These are FREE block of the month lessons.  I've been meaning to get back to quilting.  These lessons are just the kick in the butt encouragement I needed.  I wanted to work with these fabrics:

but these fabrics actually match something in my house:

Do not judge me on color choices.  I'm not color blind, I'm color confused.  If you have read my post on the ugliest quilt ever, you would understand that this is a step in the right direction.  Even with several books on choosing colors, I struggle with this.  I decided to do both colors. Who says I'm indecisive?

There are two blocks for each month.  January's block are "the asterisk" and "the wonky block."  This slashing of previous pieced fabric is new for me. I like it! Here are my yellow/orange:
The one on the right is cut to size.  The other looks a bit off because the
edges have only been tucked under.  Okay, so they are a bit off, too.
I go by the "if it can't be seen by a man riding by on horseback" rule.

These fabrics are much prettier close up:

(Maybe I should start buying fabric view from a distance.  I'm a sucker for juvenile, colorful fabric.)  

Here are the brown/blue blocks:
Excuse the edges.  These are obviously not cut down to size yet.

My goal for this month is to get the February block done IN February.  I'm pretty sure you can still join in the fun.  Check on Craftsy.  It's streaming across the bottom where they show all the videos.  It's the free one--that should be easy for all you professional shoppers to find.  Catching up with four block shouldn't be difficult.