Thank You to Friends (the New Year’s Post that wasn’t)

I’ve been meaning to write this post since yesterday, you know, one of those “here’s what was good and not so good about last year, and here’s what’s on the to-do list for next” kind of posts, but to be honest, I’m just not feeling all that introspective at the moment. Introspection requires hard thinking, and I’m still enjoying the (relative) leisure of the holiday for what it’s worth.

I could go back and read last year’s New Year post (and I actually did read it yesterday), and think about the things that I wanted to do that went undone (and eventually got dropped altogether for various reasons), and try to figure out what all I want to accomplish this year, but I’m already down for that runaway train that is the quilt book publication and all the other projects that go along with that, and taking the time to list it all out task by task probably isn’t going to get me anywhere at the moment. That and all the rest of the more personal and family things will either get done or they won’t, as time allows.

I will say this: there’s sometimes a lot to be said for being too busy doing to think too much on what’s happening or not happening in life. Events often happen in a certain order and at a certain time because they’re meant to happen that way, despite the fervent massaging we often do trying to make things happen. And that’s about as far into deep introspection as I’m going to go right now.

More importantly, the point of this “New Year’s post that wasn’t” is that I want to tell you how much I appreciate you being here, reading, lurking, commenting, sharing. I enjoy knowing each of you through our conversations here and on your blogs. Thank you for inviting me to share your life at your blog; I’m glad I get to see the world through your eyes every now and again. Have a peaceful, prosperous and happy 2009, friends!

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A Cup of Gratitude to Go Along with Thankful

Kreativ Blogger Award BadgeIrene has nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award! How lovely of you Irene, and thank you!

The rules of the award are:

1. The winner may put the logo on her blog.

2. Put a link to the person you got the award from in your blog.

3. Nominate 3 blogs – it was originally 5, but Irene changed it to 3, and I’ll do 4.

4. Put links to the blogs.

5. Leave a message for your nominees.

Here are my nominations for the award:

1. Kristin overflows with creativity, on blog and off. Her theme interpretations for the Twelve by Twelve projects are amazing, and I’m green with envy over her blog photos which always look as if they belong in a magazine.

2. I’ve recently discovered Jodie at Vintage Ric-Rac, and if this gal isn’t Kreativ, then no one is. She sooo needs to be writing a book featuring her selvedge art. And again, her photography skills leave me green!

3. Kimberly is always creative, and she’s always so busy I don’t know how she gets it all done. Check out her free Mystery Quilt on her site; it’s one of many that she designs for various shows, magazines and workshops, and it takes some talent to keep coming up with awesome quilts, again and again!

4. It wouldn’t matter whether Jane Ann was a quilter or not, I’d read her blog for her Kreativ way with words. Her writing is simply beautiful, and regularly brings a tear to my eye, even when she’s writing about happy things—she’s that good. Her textile creativity is right up there with the best of ’em as well.

Sunday Patchwork: Scraps, just scraps

Here’s a short update on the scraps and bits that are the work in progress of life right now:

I’m still working with the lighting in the new studio, trying to get enough of it where I need it. I’ve come to the conclusion that halogen spot lighting is essentially useless, at least it has been for me for everything I’ve tried to use it for. It’s dim and yellowed, and casts shadows in all the wrong places. In other words, while the light that I bought for the studio looks good hanging up there on the ceiling, it’s not much good to actually light up this large room. I actually Googled to try to figure out how many watts I should have in here based on the space, and came up with 900 watts. Heh, 900 watts is a really long way from what I have now, I must say. No wonder I feel like I’m in a cave at night or if it’s cloudy! Back to the hardware store we go…

The owners of the house we’re renting asked us if we would let them leave their household goods in the garage until the second week of May when they would pack it into the overseas shipping crates for the trip to Canada. It was going to cost them 100 Euro per day if they had to pack the crates and then have the stuff stored somewhere until they were ready to ship it all. We agreed thinking it was a great way to build goodwill with the new landlords.

Unfortunately, the stuff is still here in the garage at the beginning of June, and there is no definitive date when it might be leaving at this point. There is evidently some issue with their move and they are awaiting some paper from the Canadian government before they can proceed to pack things up and get on their way. And to top it off, when we ask about it, we’re told we need to be more patient! Patient was two weeks ago, and now we’re on to irritated, and rapidly approaching something even more vehement and ugly. I think I’ve filled up the goodwill account now thanks, and I want my garage so I can park my car in it. Yesterday, if you please. Grrrr.

The heat and humidity makes it difficult to concentrate, or maybe it’s just difficult to want to concentrate. I’m still tossing around the idea of an air conditioner, but I’m worried about the power consumption. I’ve figured out why we’re spending so much more on power and gas: the power company here, despite being the same company that we had in Stuttgart, charges more per kilowatt hour here, and natural gas is just plain expensive when compared with oil. So, I think melting is on the schedule this summer until I figure out if I really want to spend the kind of money it would take to have an air conditioner. Another Grrrr.

And since my new front yard is full of perennials, I’m now suffering from the worst allergies I’ve had in years. When we moved in there were a few daffodils and some hibiscus and that was okay, but now there are huge numbers of flowering “things” out there, and while most of them are pretty (except for the ugly mounds of Iris. Don’t get me started on the ugliest color of Iris blooms I’ve ever laid eyes on), frankly I’d just as soon they all died. Quickly and without throwing their pollen around on their way out! I can’t keep the windows shut of course, or the melting might turn to expiring without even the little bit of relief that the open windows provide. *sigh*

So, with melting and sneezing on the schedule every day right now as we experience the heatwave that is late May and early June in Germany some years and my front yard continuing to bloom in all it’s pollen-laden extravagance, I’ve found it difficult to motivate myself to do much more than the bare minimum, which is why it’s been a quiet week in the blogging department. Maybe I need to become nocturnal for the duration.

And lest you think it’s nothing but bad stuff and complaints for today, the good part is I have 216 Inchies done (of 510 needed) for my current project. I originally hoped I could manage to finish 20 Inchies per week, but I’m feeling pretty good that most weeks I’ve done 36, and some 72 even! Thus I’m way ahead of schedule on this project, which is undoubtedly a good thing since I’m still tossing ideas for a pretty critical part of it around in my head and can’t seem to see the right way forward just yet. Thankfully, there is time. Photo shooting of the 72 Inchies I completed since I put up the Gallery is on the schedule for tomorrow.

Here’s hoping for cloudy with a huge chance of rain! All week!!!

WFMW–Sizing images for your blog

Adding pictures to the posts on your blog is a good thing, providing interest and illustration and giving readers a glimpse into your quilty world. Sizing images correctly is a must though, since images that are too big for the layout of your page will cause other elements like sidebars to move around and end up out of position, and pictures that are too small are just difficult for readers to see. Here’s a quick tutorial (I use Photoshop Elements, but the theory is the same for any graphics program):

Open the image in Photoshop (or whichever graphics editor you use) and edit the color, fix red eyes or crop the image to delete any unnecessary background from the shot. Once you’re satisfied with the image, you need to know the size of the space where the image must fit, in pixels. That’s the important part here. Inches mean nothing, it’s all about the pixels.

I generally worry more about the width of an image, because that’s the dimension that will cause the layout of my pages to break if it’s too big. I use a tool called MeasureIt, which is an add-on for the Firefox Browser. When you have MeasureIt installed, you can click on the icon and then click and drag on your screen to measure an area in pixels, like this:

Finding the pixel size of an area with MeasureIt

I’ve measured the width of my post area, and I know that my image can’t be wider than 491 pixels. I usually stick with about 450px, because I like to leave a little room around the image, and it’s an easy number to remember when I’m sizing the images in Photoshop.

In Photoshop, there are two ways to size the image properly. You can use Image>Resize>Image Size, and then enter the width in the Width field, making sure that the box next to “Constrain Proportions” is checked at the bottom, and that the drop down menu next to the Width field says “pixels.” Once you enter your desired pixels for the Width, the Height will change automatically if “Constrain Proportions” is checked. Click “OK” to resize the image and save it. Continue reading WFMW–Sizing images for your blog

The 9rules Network Connection

9rules NetworkWhat do Diary of a Website, Bright Meadow , Start Cooking and 456 Berea Street have in common? They’re all members of the 9rules Network.

I just found out that Quilt Epiphany has been accepted for membership in the 9rules Network too. So what is it, you ask? 9rules is a community of great blogging content. From the About page:

9rules is a place where members and readers can connect, build relationships, gain exposure, learn new things, and have fun. 9rules started in 2003 with a set of 9 rules:

1. Love what you do.
2. Never stop learning.
3. Form works with function.
4. Simple is beautiful.
5. Work hard, play hard.
6. You get what you pay for.
7. When you talk, we listen.
8. Must constantly improve.
9. Respect your inspiration.

These rules are the backbone of 9rules, implemented in everything 9rules does.

Since I discovered 9rules, I’ve become a part of the community through 9rules Notes, and I’ve met some folks from around the globe that I enjoy interacting with. I try to live by those nine rules myself, (okay except maybe that “simple is beautiful” one; I know I’m rather complicated and high maintenance, but we all must work toward something!). I watched with hopefulness (and a bit of envy) during the last round of submissions in 2006, hoping to see that my blog was considered good enough to be accepted to the hallowed halls of the 9rules Network. It’s worth the wait, I say.

Finding out that your blog can wear the 9rules badge is like walking into the quilt show and seeing a blue ribbon on your quilt: the Best of Show ribbon is about excellence in quilting design and execution, and 9rules is about excellent content. Winning an award at a quilt show is one of those Quilting WFF’s, exciting, exhilarating, satisfying, but humbling and scary at the same time. The first time I won an award for one of my quilts at a show, a little part of me wondered if my quilt really deserved the honor, and if I’d be able to do it again. That same little part of me is wondering if my thoughts turned to blog posts can really hold their own when placed next to some of the great content found at 9rules. Kind of raises the bar a bit, no?

This blogging thing

I’m finally here at the computer to write a post (not that I haven’t been at my computer all week for various reasons, just not this reason), and I have so many different things that I intended to write about that I don’t know where to start or which one to choose. I thought about doing a “Sunday Stitch’n’Gab” type of post every week, with all the little things in it that wouldn’t make up a whole post on their own, but then I remembered that that’s why I created the “Scraps” over there on the right: so that little things can go in there as they happen. You can see I’ve done so well with that.

Another thing I did a couple of times was the Thursday Thirteen. I thought it would prompt at least that one post per week, and some of the lists might be interesting or encourage some fun thought processes and conversations through comments. Problem is, I don’t always worry about what day it is around here. If I don’t have to leave the house and it’s not a weekend (when ITMan is around all day, so it’s obviously either Saturday or Sunday), I don’t necessarily pay attention to the fact that it’s a certain day and I should be doing a certain something. Thursday Thirteen ends up being done on Friday, or worse, Monday the next week!

If there was a way to transfer my thoughts directly to the “Write Post” box on the screen…you’d be seeing new posts daily or more often even.

As I’ve said before, maybe I’m just not a very good blogger. I think about writing sometimes, and if it’s a subject that’s long and I don’t have time to really get it all down right then, I just don’t even start. Yeah, I know, that’s what the “draft” feature is for, right? Start something, save it, come back to it later. I don’t do that much, and when I do, those drafts seem to sit there forever and I never post them up, which says to me that it wasn’t important anyway. If it’s something I really want to say, I want to say it now and get it done, not save it as a draft and finish it later. Of course, sometimes I wish I’d made drafts, Continue reading This blogging thing