Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Can't forget this one!

This, my first "Crazy Quilt" has been completed for several months. I just loved making it, so as soon as it was finished, I started using it! These scraps all came from my quilts and sewing projects as well as few of my Mom's. I foundation-pieced each block on muslin, so it is a little thicker than other quilts I have made. This is also the first my Mom quilted on her new long-arm, that makes it extra special to me! I am definitely going to make another. It was great to have something to work on between other projects. I love it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tranquility-completed

Here is the "Tranquility" quilt complete. The 5" sqaures are from Moda, the "Tranquility" collection. This is my first "long-arm quilted" project. Took about 4 hours total, from mounting the fabric and batting to completed quilting. It measures 62" square. I used my Mom's Voyager 17 long arm that she got back in the summer. I joked that I am moving back home for the long-arm! Seriously, it was a lot of fun! I am starting my king-sized quilt later in the week and plan on going to quilt it at Mom's as well!
We are having some mild weather and I am taking the hubby and the dogs to the Greenway for some outdoor time!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Pattern/New Project/COMPLETED!

I have spent most of this dreary, rainy day sewing! This cute backpack is the result. I started with several patterns and pulled what I liked from each one. Then I have made several construction changes. I believe I will write this up and run it by my mom. This one is for my niece, Kahia, who turns 9 next month. I know she will like it.
The red floral fabric came from Mary Jo's and the yellow/pink dot came from a small shop in Elkin, The Sample Store.
Any comments?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Family Fun for Christmas


We have had such a wonderful, blessed Christmas! As you can see by the photo, my nieces and nephew were quite full of themselves and made all of us laugh! We were surrounded by love and the joy of being together!
Pepper enjoyed her first Christmas as well!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The calm of December

No, we haven't had any of the wintery wet stuff the rest of the country seems to be getting, but it has been ccccoooolllldddd! And joy, of joys: our furnace went out today! But, we have the wood stove downstairs and the fireplace upstairs and the chimney sweep came yesterday so we can hold on til the furnace man comes tomorrow! Whew!
My gifts are all wrapped, the turkey is in the fridge, the last grocery list is on the counter. Hubby's hip is healing and the Man-cub is on antibiotics for bronchitis. The calm of December is here. I really like this time, the way that there is a stillness in the night, the hum of humanity seems less. I feel more connected to the season. It is refreshing, this peace of winter. We have enjoyed gathering with friends today, taking part in the age-old tradition of wishing each other "Merry Christmas", toasting the passing of this year and stating goals for the next. These threads of our friendships are so precious. It is fitting, then, to take these occasions to just celebrate being, and being together.
We will gather at my Mother-in-law's tomorrow for my hubby's family Christmas, then my parents, brother, sister-in-law, mother-in-law and any others who arrive will gather here on Christmas Day. We will eat, laugh, hug, and enjoy each other. My Christmas wish: that the peace and stillness of this season will inspire more peace and love throughout the world.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ready to Quilt


I finished this top just now.
It started with a "Tranquility" charm pack from Moda. I added 2 1/2" strips of the stripe and 2 batiks. I am going to quilt it on my mom's long arm next week and will probably hang it in my living room. It is approximately 65"x 65".

What a week...

High points from this week:
1. AC/DC Thursday night (thanks to Baby Brother for the early Christmas gift!) These guys maybe AARP members, but they have stayed true to their rocking roots and still can give a great show! The picture is Angus showing us how it is DONE!
2. NC Dance Theater presentation of the Nutcracker Saturday matinee. Magical, exuberant, excellent way to reconnect with the child-like view of the Holiday season. Over 100 dancers in the cast, all did a fantastic job. Thanks to best-ever boss for the tickets!
3. Judy and Tammy loved their handbags. I love giving gifts!
4. Man-cub got home, posted EXCELLENT grades for the semester.
5. Handsome hubby continues to recover with his new hip.

Now the downside:
1. Still need to obtain a few more gifts for relatives. We drew names this year, to minimize expenses and waste, so I want to make sure we get them something they will like!
2. Man-cub is sick. Can't get into the doctor until tomorrow.
3. Even though I am glad to have a 2 week vacation, I am still worried about the future of my job. Will I have it through this time next year? Not looking good for the remaining few domestic textile mills.

Still, today is the Winter Solstice, the sun is out and I am going to keep a positive outlook. I have about 30 minutes to a completed quilt top, and that is something I greatly look forward to!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shameless self-promotion

YAY! My fabric mecca (MaryJo's of Gastonia) is featuring my work on their Community pages here. This is for Tuesday, December 16. I am so excited!

Also a little promotion for a friend: Jeff Welch of Luna Cycles won the Men's B 40+ race at Cyclocross National Championships in Kansas City!Great job and congratulations!

I now have 3 days left to go into work this year. I am off from Dec 19-Jan 5. I sure hope the mill is still open so I can go back! With the current economic woes, I can't take it for granted. We have dramatically scaled back the Christmas gifts this year. We are drawing names with my husband's family this year and plan to so with my family next year. We are all so very blessed and none of us "need" any trinkets or tchotckes to add to our clutter. It is enough to have each other and the opportunity to be together. All I want for Christmas for myself is time to rest, a complete night's sleep and time to sew. For the earth as a whole, I want Peace, Compassion and Love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

2 new bags complete!



2 more Christmas presents complete! The beautiful brown floral (great fabric from Moda, lined in orange dimples) is for Judy, the Elephant applique bag is for Tammy. I love both of these bags! I want to make one for me next, but need to start my king-size quilt first. I think I am going to do it in a rail-fence pattern. The fabrics are all soothing taupes and grays.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New runner finished

I finished this runner last night. Most of the fabrics came from MaryJo's. This is the second I have made from this pattern (from a Fons and Porters magazine). Amazing how much quicker the second one goes together! I am improving on my free-motion quilting, it just takes time and practice.
I brought my handsome hubby home from the hospital yesterday. He had a new left hip implanted on Tuesday. He is doing well, this also takes time and practice to improve!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Just 4 Fun...

Well, duh!
What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The South

That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it.

The Midland
Philadelphia
The Northeast
The Inland North
The West
Boston
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mom's jacket

I finished this jacket for my mom. It starts with a sweatshirt. I want to make one for myself, but it will need to wait until after all my Christmas sewing is done.
I went with Mom to Sewingly Yours this morning for their great holiday sale. Bought many beautiful 1 yard cuts and 2 new quilt books to have for inspiration. Now, I just need more time to sew......................

Friday, November 28, 2008

New project and family portrait

This is the family portrait for our Christmas cards this year:





















The hounds were not very cooperative, but I still like it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Troubadour style for my holiday table!


I finished this beauty. I call it "Troubadour". The musical patterns along with the diamond made me think of a musician from the Middle Ages. I free-motion quilted it, very free, see the detail! This is a large table runner but went together very quickly. We are having guests Saturday night, so I will get some reactions on this.
And since Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, here is some of what I am very thankful for:
1. My family
2. My dogs
3. My friends
4. My trips to the Grand Canyon and China
5. My sewing machines
6. Having a job
7. The groceries in my cabinet
8. Mary Jo's is just an hour's drive away!

What are you thankful for?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

My first student!

This is my friend Tammy showing of the table runner I taught her! She was a terrific student. We worked on this during our lunch hours for a few days. I really enjoyed this as well. I have given her the assignment of getting to know her machine, not to be afraid of it! I think she did an excellent job and gave her an "A".

On other fronts, my hubby is 10 days away from a hip-replacement. Our man-cub is about 2 weeks away from coming home at Christmas break. And I am preparing to be outnumbered by males again!
Well, I will retreat to my sewing studio (the Sweat Shop) for fun and relaxation.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baby Quilt completed


This little beauty is for a friend who is having her 4th child, 1st girl! I love the way the yellow and pink makes it bright and sunny. It turned out exactly like I wanted.

I am trying to finish up a couple of other projects. I have a new (for me) table runner to quilt and some samples for work. Then I am rearranging my sweatshop studio. I have to clean and organize ever few weeks to keep myself inspired. Also I want to Mary Jo's yesterday and have many beauties to add to my stash!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Catch-up


Another "happening" in the time since my active postings: the 2008 Lenoir CycloCross! This year the weather was spectacular, the course was dynamic and the riders were many! I always enjoy helping out at this event since the races are exciting and the cyclists are so darn entertaining! I wish I had more time to train, so I could race too. If you have never seen one of these races, GO! You will be amazed at the sheer athleticism exhibited.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lots have happened!

In the days since my last post, many things have occurred:
1. 4 members of my team worked their last day
2. Daylight savings time ended
3. We elected a new president (yay!!!)
4. Michael Crichton and Miriam Makeba have passed away
5. Pepper the new pup has been spayed
6. I had a birthday!

Still sewing up a storm, not as much as I like. I actually sewed all day yesterday and have almost completed a new baby quilt. Taking tomorrow off. Still have another 2.5 vaca days to use before the end of the year.

Thanks to all the Veterans, those who came home and the heroes that didn't. It is due to them and their efforts and sacrifices that I have the right to blog about whatever I want.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

making the best of a bad situation!

I got major sick at the office yesterday. So sick I called my parents to come get me! I was so violently ill I could not drive. So, I have stayed home today to try and recuperate. I slpet until around 11, then ate some rice and chicken broth. I haven't spewed since about 10 last night so whatever it was seems to be over. I started to feel some better and went into the sewing studio. I started and finished a bag for a Christmas gift. This is another of the Mary Ray tote bags from the July issue of Threads and the class I took from her in August. Easier and faster and even more fun the second time around! I am looking through my stash for the fabric to make another!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

more quilted beauties!




1 table runner (top) + 2 quilts (middle and bottom) out of the same 20 fat quarters. I love using my scraps!

Love and Happiness

What a special treat to be able to bask in the love and happiness of my nephew (and new niece-in-law!) on their wedding day. The sheer joy was all around us. The rain clouds cleared away to show the bright Carolina blue sky, the bright autumn sun lit the turning leaves into a fiery glow and the smiles, hugs and kisses enveloped all of us. For a short time, the past animosity, anger, petty quarrels of extended family was smothered by all-powerful, life-changing love. I wish the new couple a long and happy happy life!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Goin to the chapel...




My dear, sweet nephew, Jeremiah and his beautiful, equally sweet fiance, Jessica are getting hitched today! I am so grateful and blessed to have 2 such loving loving people in my life! I remember when Jeremiah came into this world. He was such a beautiful baby and always so loving. I hope they have a lifelong adventure of loving each other!I made this quilt for them.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

keeping the head down

and trying to fly below the radar.
Things are bleak around lately. I just want to curl up and be left alone for a while.
I need to get back in my sweatshop studio and finish quilting a Christmas present.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wednesday

Four more people from my area were "eliminated" today.
Hard to be motivated to do anything with all this happening. I feel guilty for still having my job. While I rationally know why they kept me, I still wonder if there is a future for the business. Seems senior management wants to get rid of Designers but not reduce the number of custom projects we accept. Our weavers and developers are laid-off, but they are expecting us to be timely and innovative. I am coping by sewing. And taking my on-line business class (3 straight 100s on quizzes!).
And bad times, like good times, come and go. I really hope all my friends find new jobs that are as great as they are.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Black Monday 2008

My team went from 7 people down to 3 today. I had to lay off my 3 Senior Designers and our clerical assistant. I was demoted from manager down to Senior Designer. I am okay with my position change, I was never happy in management. But I have been in a state of disbelief, shock and pain since 8:15 this morning. Having to go from person to person, friend to friend and tell them their job has been eliminated due to the market conditions has really sucked. I do not expect to have my job 4 months from now. Our senior management team has no strategy and they believe that by cutting designers they will save enough to perpetuate the brand. Where are the future patterns going to come from? I am good, but not that good. I can do my part, but I can not make up for the design talents of 3 others.
This day has sucked. At least I have my hubby, son and hounds.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Busy sewing!

Proof: I have just been
Lolly gagging around, sprawled on the sofa watching political TV.
I have been in the studio/sweatshop, sewing. Making things for myself and gifts for family for Christmas! If the fall of the economy is upon us, at least I have a skill that is both productive and therapeutic!



Plus, the hubby and "Early voted" yesterday and the man-cub has mailed in his absentee ballot so now, we wait and hope and pray!
But, again, I will not be a quivering mass of gelatinous ooze, just waiting for fate to befall me. No, I will be playing with my hounds, loving on my man, and sewing up a slew of stuff!

Friday, October 17, 2008

TGIFF!!

Whew, made it to Friday! And took my second on-line class in my "Starting Your Own Arts & Crafts Business" course. It is better than I had hoped and making me think about business stuff, which is what it is supposed to do! I really want to sell my quilted beauties and designs, so I am taking this class to figure out what to do and how to go about it. I can sew, and I want to find the right outlet for my work. Then maybe I can quit the corporate rat race!
Since it is Friday night, I am doing this quick entry before heading back to the studio. I am piecing a quilt top tonight!
Then tomorrow, off to see my man-cub play football.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New works


these are 2 of the 4 color swatch sample layouts I made today. It has been fun to work on the color selection, layout and manufacture of our collection tools!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Duh, I am a Liberal




Your Political Profile:



Overall: 35% Conservative, 65% Liberal



Social Issues: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal



Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal



Fiscal Issues: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal



Ethics: 0% Conservative, 100% Liberal



Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Saturday, October 11, 2008

new things to focus on

I have (obviously) changed my blog template. I want to get back to focusing on the things that make me smile. The media is doing plenty to make us all panicked, angry and unsettled so I want to counteract that. To this end, today's post is simply about the beauty in my little part of the world.
What is beautiful in my world:
My family
my dogs
the blue sky outside of my window
my studio
the morning glories growing in the garden
SugarFree Jello Pudding snacks

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Gaining perspective

I thought today I would blog about the "WalMart" effect, where people want every thing as cheaply as possible and everyone feels a sense of entitlement and no one seems to save up for things. I was organizing my thoughts on my drive home. As it was raining, I knew I needed to get in and change out of my work clothes before letting the 2 wet dogs in. So far, so good. I get into sweats, grab some old towels to dry the dogs. I let them in, Murray loves the toweling experience, then I start on Pepper. Her feet are black, and my soil is not that dark. I wipe them and the towel is covering in black. I smell the towel and my 6 month old pup has somehow gotten covered in motor oil. I picked her up and dashed to the shower where I spent 45 minutes trying to scrub this off. Her sweet pink belly, covered in oil. Well, I got most of it, I will pick up more Dawn dish detergent tomorrow (bonus tip: Dawn cuts all manner of oils and grease) and bathe her again. I also found an old bottle of oil that Hubby had used in his chain saw had fallen off the window sill where it was residing. Not much oil sure goes a long way on a golden puppy. So, while I had spent a great of the day pondereing our lack of business and what products to design and sample along with keeping up on the collapse of the world financial markets, my focus was shifted in the blink of an eye, by a 25 pound ball of puppy love! She did not enjoy the bath, but she has since enjoyed the snuggling.

When the horrible news gets you down, love on your family and your pets. They are what really matter.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Beauty of October

October brings clear, bright, brilliant blue skies, the kiss of a chill in the morning and a soothing heat midday. The sky is so very blue, the edges show violet. The rays of the sun are bent at such an angle to bring every little thing in perfect focus. The beauty of the light in October is edged in cruelty. With the slanting rays of the sun, one is aware of the precious shortening of daylight. The growing darkness that is winter. I do get a touch of dread for the coming months of darkness. This change of season seems especially poignant this year, coupled with the dark, uncertainty our current economy has fostered. It is difficult to find any encouragement for hanging on, persevering, lasting through the winter. I am a fervent believer in a free press, but lately the majority of press I see is overtly sensationalistic. 72 point type headlines, dread, fear, bankruptcy. Instead of reporting, I see agitation. I do not feel news reporters should insert their personal feelings into their stories. They should tell it as they see it. Well, I am no reporter, but this is what I see:
The Super WalMart parking lot is full. The wait time at our new Fatz Cafe is an hour or more. It is hard to find a parking space at the mall in Hickory. While the whole price of oil has fallen by a third, our gas prices have stayed the same. My employer has reduced manufacturing operations to 4 days to save overhead, our yarn suppliers are closing. Our customers still want new products. With the pessimistic outlook, we can not travel nor purchase anything. Once again, we designers bear the brunt. We are expected to save the day by designing and developing the next great thing by pulling the ideas out of thin air. Am I going to have a job this week? How about next month? How can I be expected to come up with new and exciting ideas when I am not nurtured, but restricted? I am so angry at the rampant greed of the finance industry, those greedy bastards are truly responsible for this mess. And, yes, they lose their jobs, but millions of dollars in severance soften their unemployment. I really believe in what goes around, comes around. I just hope when their Karma bites them in the ass, they realize it was their own actions that caused it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fun Friday Quiz

I'm a Talent!

You're a risk-taker, and you follow your passions. You're determined to take on the world and succeed on your own terms. Whether in the arts, science, engineering, business, or politics, you fearlessly express your own vision of the world. You're not afraid of a fight, and you're not afraid to bet your future on your own abilities. If you find a job boring or stifling, you're already preparing your resume. You believe in doing what you love, and you're not willing to settle for an ordinary life.

Talent: 64%
Lifer: 33%
Mandarin: 33%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Thank you

I would like to say "Thank You" to our Representatives for being courageous and not voting for the "Gazillion" dollar bail out. It feels good to have been heard. Now, keep the courage up and take the time to thoughtfully put together legislation that will help, not just a band-aid.
Now a big "tsk, tsk" to the media for the 72 point headlines proclaiming the end of the world. All the panic just causes more bedlam. Let us all be thoughtful in our actions, not just reacting to the stimuli at hand.
What am I doing to keep the financial panic at bay? Loving my husband and son, petting and walking my dogs, sewing Christmas presents, laundry, going to work (as long as I have a job!). On the job front, one of our suppliers has declared Chapter 11. Our customers are not ordering. I am going in each day, as I have for the past 8.5 years, doing my best. That is all I can do. Well, I also hope and pray for the best to come.
Lets keep doing our best.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Serious times

My employer announced today that our operations are going from 5 days a week down to 4. Departmental layoffs will come next week. I have been through this situation before. Not fun. I wasn't in management then so I did not have to make tough decisions. I may have to now.

Our elected officials are at least thinking more instead of reacting to our naked emperor and Chicken Little. It is possible they might find a solution that can stabilize the market with less pain. I am glad there seem to be some cooler heads involved in the thinking. Maybe our phone calls and emails have been heard.

In light of the seriousness of the times we are in, here is a quote to ponder:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
me to tremble for safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned,
an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the
country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices
of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the
Republic destroyed.”


- ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The previous message....

Heehee! Somehow my sweet honey got into my blog and posted his politico message of the day!
Okay, I confess, I am quite liberal and democratic in my views. I am not ashamed of it either. The actions of recent days by our elected officials has ticked me off. I am as mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more! I called Washington and told my Senators and Congressman that I do not support the bailout. Do they care what I think?
Um, no.
So, I am going to fire them. Guess what: Elizabeth Dole, Richard Burr, and Patrick Mc Henry? You work for me, I pay your salary. And you are doing a lousy job.

Remember to vote. Pay attention. They are supposed to work for us.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

41 Days til?

After 7 years of the Bush Presidency, the named should be changed to the US in crisis. He has allowed us to move from one scene to another and never tried to get in front of what is happening. Now it is a $700 billion bailout and if we don't act immediately we will have a meltdown. I for one am fed up with the theatrics.

Then Sen McCain runs about shouting the sky is falling, I must get to Washington. Nevermind that he hasn't been there since April, he must stop what he is doing and cancel the debate and make a trip to Wahsington. How long can this go on? Please not four more years. Enough is enough!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Authentic Chinese Food

This photo shows a delightful treat offered at the old Shanghai market: Squid on a Stick. As I understand it, these are fresh squid, impaled on a skewer, then grilled to your satisfaction; to be eaten as you stroll about the market. One of the more exotic offerings I saw while in China. No, I did not partake of the Squid-on-a-stick, but I could see the attractiveness of such. I tried to eat the most authentic and local fare I could find. And for the time I was in China, I did not suffer any digestive issues at all. I have dealt with indigestion, an over-active gall-bladder (?), gastro-esophageal reflux and diverticulitis. I have always tried to eat as healthy as possible; salads, grilled-not-fried meats, fruits. But over there, I threw caution to the wind. I ate a boiled egg, bacon and croissant every morning; the local lunch and dinner. And not stomach distress at all. The only thing I can surmise is that the meals I ate were prepared from fresh, not preserved items. The meats were local, not factory-farmed. The preservatives, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers used here to feed us have some less than desirable side-effects. I am trying to figure out how to eat here, in the richest country on earth, so that I do not suffer all the ills as before. No more high-fructose corn syrup. As for what I can eat, well, no squid on a stick, but the rest is a journey to be discovered.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bittersweet homecoming


Our sweet Sophie passed away last Friday. She was born approximately 5/1997. She came into our home in July of 1998. She had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and an enlarged heart in April this year. We will miss her and her sweetness for ever.
On the previous Monday, a different little brown dog showed up on our doorstep. I happen to believe this was no coincidence. We have named her "Pepper".

The vet said by her teeth she is around 5 months old, so I set her birthday as April 7, same as my hubby's. She is as small and the same blond as Sophie. She is very sweet and meek. We are getting to know her and I think she is going to be a great addition to our family.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another amazing day

Another amazing day spent in Shanghai. Leo met me at 9:30 this morning, in the rain from Typhoon Sinlaku. We went to the West Nanjing Road shopping area and then on to the Buddhist Temple. These are 3 of the 18 Buddhas I saw there. The 18 Buddhas are apparently like Buddhist apostles as they were actually human and achieved enlightenment and became Buddhas. This was a very special experience. Leo and I bought incense. He bought his and prayed for his family. I prayed for my family too! I was surrounded by Buddhists practising their faith, monks chanting and the smell of the incense burning. It has a special experience.
I begin my trek home tomorrow, flying from Shanghai to Seoul at 9pm; sleeping in the transit hotel in the Inchon Airport, then boarding the plane for the long flight to Atlanta at 10am Tuesday (Asia time). While I have really enjoyed my visit, had my eyes opened and my heart filled with love for new friends and respect for the Chinese people; I am ready to be home, with my husband! This is the longest we have been apart since we were married almost 25 years ago. And I really miss him!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Shanghai Saturday

I just love the English Translations!


And no, I did not try the dumpling stuffed with the ovary and digestive glands of a CRAD!

Throw out any preconcieved notions, the Chinese people are very friendly and have a hilarious sense of humor!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

News from NingBo, night 3

From last night:

There are times in life that reality seems to have changed its essence. This trip is one of those times. Last night, my Chinese friends Grace and Raymond, took me to a new Vietnamese restaurant here in NingBo. We enjoyed a fabulous Vietnamese meal and I taught them how to drink Corona with lime. The Corona bottle was even printed in Chinese! I am in China, eating Veitnamese, drinking Mexican, learning Mandarin!

Then today, I rode back to town from our office with all of our employees. Say what you may, all the Chinese companies here provide bus and van rides from drop-off points in the residential areas. Yup, they all carpool. Anyway, here I am in a van, the only non-Chinese for miles around. It was so real, so truly real. We all really are more alike than different. From the extreme business like atmosphere of the office, to joking, laughing and chatting in the van. Although I could not understand any of the words, I believe the conversations were common to us all: what we were having for dinner, what we were looking forward to this weekend, etc. While I really am as far away from home as I have ever been, I feel as close the the essence of humanity as I ever have.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

NingBo Nights

NieHao!
I really do not know what to say, except that I feel so very lucky and blessed to be on this great adventure! I have met so many wonderful, friendly people.
I got into Shanghai Monday night on time. One of our VPs met me at customs along with our driver Yng (pronounced EEng). Today, I gave him his English name: Henry. He likes that. Everyone here has such a wonderful sense of humor. They are very interested in how I live, just as I am interested in how they live.
In Shanghai, on Tuesday, we went to a market in the morning. We then met with a China division of one of our customers in the US. After that, Yng drove me the 2.5 hours from Shanghai to NingBo. We were on a toll road most of the way. We actually experienced a flat tire that Yng changed in under 10 minutes! Now let me put this in perspective, Yng speaks very little English; he can say "Okay" and "See you tomorrow" and that's it. So here I was, halfway around the world, on the side of a very busy Chinese highway, the ONLY "white" person around for miles. Yes, we got some stares! I have been stared at quite a bit! Well, we continued on toward NingBo. Before crossing the longest bridge in the world, 36 km over water, we stopped so I could use the toilet. Yep, major cultural difference, but I was game and made it work!
Then into NingBo and the Howard Johnson's. Now this is not a HoJo like in the US. This is a major 5-star luxury hotel and they booked me into a freaking suite! this is the absolute, nicest hotel room I have ever been in. I have a butler! They had a sign to greet me upon check-in "Welcome Ms Kelly Wood". The entire staff greets me by name! Amazing. NingBo is a large city by our standards, between 7 and 8 million, like NYC (Shanghai is 25 million). And the staff here knows my name! I had dinner last night with Grace Wang and Raymond Lai from our office here. They are absolute jewels! We went to visit on of the mills we deal with today. We (Grace, Raymond, Henry (Yng) and Jane from the mill) ate at a traditional NingBo restaurant. Grace and Jane made all the selections. Everything is served family style and we all eat out of the same bowls. We had rice cakes, which are like a dumpling, bamboo, a local green which reminded me of collards, fried pumpkin (DEE-licious), fish that looked like flounder, but tasted a little stronger, a type of local mussel, and these huge beans. We also drank Corn juice with our meal! We went to the 2 public showrooms of the mill and saw some of the local flavor. It is very clean and safe here. NingBo is at the confluence of 3 rivers and has lots of outdoor markets and restaurants.

NingBo is very clean, there are trees planted everywhere, around every factory building. The workers in every business where some sort of uniform for their company. The populace is very hard-working. But contrary to what I had thought, they work 5-6 days a week, for normal 8 hour shifts. The retail areas operate from 10am to 7 or 8pm. Most NingBo people eat lunch around 11 am and dinner as early as 4:30pm. The people I have seen on the streets are dressed in every conceivable way: from fashionable to uniforms to t-shirts and wife-beaters.
This is a great experience!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

This sure aint Caldwell County

Took the above photo today on the way from Shanghai to Ningbo.
Here's what I have learned today:
Everything is bigger in China!
They feed me well
I am treated like a freaking rock star here!
Most can speak a lot more English than I can speak Chinese!
The Chinese people are excellent hosts and really show appreciation
The Chinese people are quick to laugh

Okay confession time:
Those of you that know me know that I do not camp for 1 major reason: porcelain toilets, or the lack thereof. Well, today, I did something I did knot think I could do, yes, I used a Chinese public toilet. Men do not understand this squeamishness on my part. They can pee on a tree and its okay. Well, for the uninitiated, most public toilets here are essentially porcelain holes in the ground. The position to assume is a squat. I was desperate. We were about to cross the World's Longest Bridge (seriously) so I did not want to get halfway over and have to go. Well, when in Rome...
I did my business. It is a porcelain hole, but it looks rather like a urinal laid on its back. And yes, you do flush it.

Ningbo, the adventure continues. And I may be failing for the Chinese people and their delightful laughs!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Greetings from Shanghai!

Nie Hao! I survived the 19 hour flight, 2 connections, across the international date line and my luggage made it here at the same time!
It is 7:20am here, Tuesday morning. So will begin my Asian adventure.
Basics: Flew over from Greensboro to Atlanta on Delta. Then Korea Air from Atlanta to Seoul. Then Seoul to Shanghai. Let me tell you, Korea Air is a freakin 5 star in my book. They understand what customer service is! I was awakened at one point by the smell of freshly baking chocolate chip cookies! Great food, the fed me 3 meals and countless snacks. So far all the Chinese I have met have been freindly and helpful. I really do not anticipate otherwise. I hope to be able to upload some photos once I get my power converter!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Update

It has been a very strange week. Work slow, sewing fast, man-cub sad, then happy. Nice long weekend, but now, preparing for CHINA!
I take a sewing class last Monday night (the Origami Jacket). Ended up unsewing quite a bit! But with remedial help from the instructors, I was able to figure out what I did wrong. Once I had the pieces laid out correctly, I sewed it together in about 15 minutes.
Man-cub has been jerked around by the coaching staff. He has been persona-non-grata since showing up (in TERRIFIC shape) for camp. Didn't get many reps in practices. Totally ignored by the new coaching staff. They got their clocks cleaned Saturday night and have (since 6:30 this AM) named him scout team player of the week and moved him to starting at center! Not too smart in the planning and personnel managment.
And now, I have to start planning what to pack for my trek to Shanghai in 6 days.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

New Runner

I finished this on Tuesday night. I really have fun making these. This is for my mother-in-law, for her birthday.

Monday, August 18, 2008

sewing frenzy

Sew, I've been busy! I got so inspired from my class on Saturday, that I complete these 2 table runners yesterday. I also got a 3rd well on its way. Inspiration is funny that way, when it takes hold, I must create!
These 2 use the same fruit and bird print with different accent batiks. I love putting the patterns together to see where they go!
Once I complete the 3rd table runner, I am going to start an Amy Butler Sophia bag for my mother-in-law's Christmas gift. She loved the one I made myself, so, it is only natural I make one for her.
Anyway, after dinner, it is back to my sweat shop for some more stitchery!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Constructive Saturday.


Did you happen to catch this issue of Threads?
I did, and fell in love with the cool tote bag on the cover. Not only did I want to make the bag, I wanted this exact bag!
I searched for the fabric, but did not find anything close.
So what to do?
Well, I actually got to see the exact bag and take the class to make it with the bag's designer, Mary Ray!
The class was held in the Boone, NC location of Sew Original.
Mary is an informative, supportive, knowledgeable and delightful teacher. I learned a lot from her and feel really fortunate to have gotten into this class. See her Craftstylish blog here.






Here are the photos of my finished bag:What I love about the bag: the cute pleated pockets on either side (love the way Mary showed this!); the bias trim; the completely finished edges inside and out; the way the bag can be custom designed differently each time it is made. I added a magnetic snap inside once I got home. I made my version 3 inches taller in order to hold files and papers. I will make the next one smaller, going exactly by the pattern.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Beach Boys

In a mountain field, by a gently flowing stream, under the light of an almost-full moon, Hubby and I were astounded by the Beach Boys! Yes, I know they are in their Golden Years, but their voices, showmanship and musical abilities were in top form last night. They performed for 2 hours without an intermission and they hit the harmonies and high notes all night long! True artists, performers and professionals, we thoroughly enjoyed the show.

I am taking a vacation day today. I am cleaning up my studio and trying to bring some order to that chaos. I am taking a class in Boone tomorrow and will post a photo of the finished result.

Happy Friday and Go Michael Phelps & Team USA!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Advice to the world

Sometimes we need to be reminded of our place in the world. The fact is, outside of our families (in many cases, outside of ourselves!) no one really cares about each of us. We are on our own.

That is a hard lesson and a sobering thought. I was fortunate to have come from a loving and supportive family. I have (hopefully) been as loving and supportive to my son. But, once you are out there in the big, bad world, no one really cares about you as an individual. You have to learn to care for yourself. This is VERY IMPORTANT!!!! You must care for yourself!

So, here are don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements:

1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don't Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering. (This is very tough for me)

3. Don't Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. (Also a tough one, until you remember agreement #2)

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret. (Do your best, then let it go; don't over analyze and remember agreement #2)

Read more here.

I keep a copy of these posted by my desk.

These are great lessons to live by. Each of us needs to find our own validation as individuals. This must come from with in. We are each, beautiful, magnificent beings. Please do not glean your own self-worth from the actions of others. Don't over think, or over analyze the actions of others. It is not all about you. (Sometimes this is a blessing in disguise!)

If you can keep these 4 thoughts in your mind, and live each moment to your best, then you will be successful.
And if you are my son, remember, your mom will ALWAYS love you!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On to something brighter

Yes, my baby has left the nest to return to school. And yes, tomorrow is his 19Th birthday. What did I give him? A freaking HUGE quilt:
Top is the front, it is called "Pickety Stix". It is foundation pieced panels sashed with an Acid Green Marble. The bottom is the back. I pieced it with leftovers. It is approximately 90"x 90" and I quilted it on my Viking Sapphire.

Next subject: I received my Chinese visa today for my trip in one month. Starting to get excited! I need to practice on my Chinese language CDs this weekend.