December 2006

Warning: this is an OLD newsletter. Time marches on; things change. Information may be outdated, irrelevant, misleading, or incorrect. (That means links may not work either. Unless it sends you to a porno site I won't fix it so don't tell me.) To get on the list to receive the next current newsletter, click on FREE NEWSLETTER (click the BACK ARROW) and sign up. It's free! What are you waiting for?

The Ami Simms Newsletter
December 2006
Copyright by Ami Simms

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As usual, my family celebrated in a rather unusual way. First of all, I cooked. Yes, I came out of retirement and entered the kitchen to do more than microwave leftovers or get batting out of overflow storage in the oven. Jennie wanted a traditional Thanksgiving spread with all the trimmings. Actually, she really liked the cranberry concoction from the Kroger deli I found last year and it just snowballed from there. By time she came home Wednesday night the table was groaning with roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, sweet potatoes, and a festive salad.

Yes, you read that correctly. Never a slave to convention, we celebrated the Pilgrim's first bounty a day early. There was a plan to our madness. Friday was the Simms Family Amalgamated Thanksgiving. One can never be sure of what will make it on the menu until it walks in the door. It might be turkey and all the fixings, or turkey and some of the fixings, or really swell food but no turkey. Life can be so uncertain. Jennie had talked my taste buds into a repeat of last year, down to my trademark garlic shoved under the turkey skin as it roasts, and my mushroom gravy that even by conservative estimates is 95% mushrooms and hardly any gravy. If I whipped up our personal family feast on Thursday and then we had virtually the same meal on Friday, we would be in caloric overload and possibly a tryptophan-induced coma.

So, we reasoned, with turkey on Wednesday and most likely on Friday, nothing cleans the palate like PASTA, which is how we wound up in another country on Thanksgiving Day at our favorite Italian restaurant. Yes, we drove to Windsor, Onatrio (Canada) for great Italian cuisine. Besides, Canadians and Americans are chronologically out of step, with the fine country to our north celebrating Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. So, on the 4th Thursday in November all the stores are open!

Not to limit our Thanksgiving festivities to a mere three days, we celebrated the fourth day of our Thanksgiving extravaganza with lunch on Saturday at our favorite Korean restaurant. Kimchee anyone?

JADE TREE UPDATE (from last month's newsletter)
Uncle Bud chimes in…

"My sister Bee was always very philanthropic, even as a little girl. She would give her toys away to anyone who she thought needed them more than she did. Almost anyone qualified because she never put much stock in things. She loved people more than toys. As I have told you many times, her generosity didn't always stop at giving her own toys to other kids. Sometimes she would give away my toys too.

Mostly, I put up with my sister's gift giving. After all she was my big sister and I respected her three year age advantage. I would let it slide after I tattled to our mother.

One day however, I was surprised to see a kid on our block riding a shiny new green tricycle that looked exactly like the one I got for my 6th birthday a week earlier. When I told Beebe that my friend and I had identical tricycles, she laughed and told me that it was indeed MY bike that she had given to the neighbor kid. She explained that I still had my older and smaller tricycle and didn't need the new one anyway and that Pudgie had no bike at all. I wasn't as sympathetic as Bee, and I took my tricycle back from a very unhappy and crying Pudgie.

The battleground rules were established that day and I kept a very close inventory on my things from then on. I was also very interested in examining toys and new possessions of all the neighborhood kids.

My sister never changed her philanthropic endeavors throughout her life. Her home and possessions were always available for those who she perceived needed a hand, a friend, a lift, or a trinket. She has always been a unique human being and an asset to the human race. Thanks for reminding me about some of the virtues of my sister."

I think I had the busiest November in history! It began on Halloween when I flew to Houston for Quilt Festival. As most of you know, the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative was given a booth to sell Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts. In the four and a half days of Festival we sold $17,000 worth of quilts! I am rounding up a little. I think the total came out to be $16,990 but I know we collected some generous donations and sold some CDs as well so I'm a pretty happy camper. Every penny from the sale of the Priority Quilts and all of the profit of the CDs we sold went to the Alzheimer's Association earmarked for research.

If you forgot to get your CD, they're still available. You will see all the quilts in the traveling exhibit, plus detail photographs, as the artists voices share the story behind their quilts. You will not be the same after watching this CD. If you have family members, friends, or caregivers struggling with Alzheimer's let them know that they are not alone while you help raise money for Alzheimer's research. $11.45 out of the $14.94 purchase price goes directly to the Alzheimer's Association for research.

Our success in Houston could not have been possible without Annette, Debbie, Kathy, Nanette, and Susan; the Houston Alzheimer's Association; the Celebrity Sales Team; the quilters who made and donated the 360 quilts we sold; and of course the savvy shoppers who knew great quilts when they saw them. This brings the total money raised for Alzheimer's research since the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative began in January to $39,209.36. I'm still pinching myself. I can hardly believe it!

Not only were we selling quilts hand over fist, but I got a chance to meet many readers of this newsletter who came up to say hello, and many who donated quilts. That was a special treat. You have no idea how humbling it is to get a crazy idea like this and meet the people who stepped forward to make it happen. Thank you all!

I flew home from Houston and about 30 hours later drove to Kalamazoo, picked up Jennie, and we continued the rest of the way to Chicago to white glove the Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece exhibit at the Greater Chicago Quilt Exposition in Schaumburg. It was so cool to meet more of the artists whose amazing work has touched so many. Thank you for coming. Read the comments from the people who saw the exhibit. You done good.

Thanks also to everyone who white gloved, and special hugs to those who stayed after the show closed to help me roll and wrap the quilts for the journey home. The quilts are resting during the month of December before they head off to the Road To California Quilters' Showcase in January. Dates for 2007 are pretty well booked, but the show will travel through July 2009. If you are interested in booking the show, dates are still available.

I drove home from Chicago on Monday and was back at the airport on Tuesday to fly to Oklahoma City for the Bernina retreat. This is a special program offered by Bernina to train national teachers on the newer sewing machines. It was fabulous. We sewed on the 730 "sewing computers." What a kick! I got to experiment with the BSR (Bernina Stitch Regulator) for free motion quilting and with quilting motifs that stitch themselves. (I actually set the machine up, pushed a button, WALKED INTO THE OTHER ROOM and "my" machine was happily quilting along without me. I could get used to that!) We also learned how to build embroidery designs by combining embroidery stitches that come with the machine and then worked with Bernina software to create and manipulate new designs. It was non-stop fun.

I finally got home on November 19th. And then I think we had Thanksgiving. Poof! There went November!

There are 23 quilts on the auction block right now. The auction ends on December 10th, plenty of time to get quilts to the highest bidders in time for Christmas or Chanukah. (Was that a good enough hint to send you over for a few bids? Hope so. Please tell your friends too.)

As of this instant I am all caught up with Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt registrations, except for pictures which should happen soon. Just a head's up: it's always a good idea to check about a week or 10 days after you register to make sure your quilt description is up there and correct, and that I have put the picture of your quilt in the right place. And not upside-down.

Also, if you have registered your quilt but haven't sent it to me, (see that same web page and the LOWER numbers that don't have quilts pictured with the descriptions) please contact me and let me know that they are indeed coming or that you have given up on them and I should re-assign those numbers to someone else.

Another fun way to find your quilts on my web site is to type in your name in the "How To FIND ANYTHING (On This Site)" button way down at the bottom of the gray navigation bar, lower left. For example, if Betty Donahue typed in her name she would find over 70 entries! Yes, she's made that many Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts! (Way to go, Betty!) Go ahead, try typing YOUR NAME.

Speaking of looking for yourself online, here's an interesting web site. You can type in your first and last name and see, statistically at least, how many other individuals are running around with your name. Just in case you were wondering. Last time I looked, I was unique. There is only ONE Ami Simms. If I type in my given name (top secret) and my last name, there are nine of me. Try your name.

You can also google yourself.

If you're going through Simply Quilts withdrawal, you can LISTEN to Alex Anderson's podcasts. They're free and fun to listen to. My favorite, for reasons can surely guess, is PodCast #42. Go give a listen.

Bonnie McCaffery has free VidCasts. You get audio AND video. Her latest VidCast is all about the International Quilt Festival in Houston. You'll get to see some of the Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt, plus a little bit of me. You can view Bonnie's VidCast on either Quicktime or Windows Media Player, depending on which program you're running.

There's a new quilt show for quilters called, interestingly enough, The Quilt Show. It will launch on April 2, 2007 starring two very popular quilt personalities. You already know one of them: award-winning quilter, teacher, and entertainer, Ricky Tims. His co-host is currently a mystery, to be revealed on January 1, 2007. Even though I taped a session with Ricky about the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative during the International Quilt Festival in Houston to be broadcast at some future time, he wouldn't tell me who the mystery co-host will be. I do have a good guess, however, and if you do too, you can make that guess official and get your name in the hat for a free subscription to the first season.

Yes, that's right; it's television on the Internet with 13 episodes. The first episode will be free, with the remaining episodes "pay-per-view" or by subscription. It will be about the same price as a magazine subscription — in other words, very reasonable.

The Quilt Show, presented by Bernina, will include a wide variety of topics, lessons, projects, special guests, and field pieces. There will be segments for traditional and contemporary quilters, beginners, and experts. Best of all, the show (about 45 minutes long) will be shot in front of a LIVE audience. How cool is THAT? (I do want to do that!) At the end of the season, shows will be available on DVD.

The site will contain a Worldwide Quilting Community area with lots of other fun things, including a virtual quilt show where members can post their quilt photos (and sell quilts if desired). There will also be links to find a quilt shop, post or locate upcoming quilt shows, read a daily blog, add comments on a quilt forum, and visit chat rooms that are set up geographically and topically.

For more information, check out the frequently asked questions.

With the New Year right around the corner, now is the perfect time to give yourself a little present. Why not a year of sewing fun with the Dog-Yeared Calendar Quilt pattern? Do one block each month, and by the end of 2007 you'll have 12 adorable Puppus Doggus blocks ready to quilt. A bonus fire hydrant pattern is included in the pattern CD. Pop the disk into the "cup holder" of your computer (MAC and PC compatible) and print out full-sized patterns for your favorite method of applique. View or print step-by-step instructions with lots of color photographs to make building your quilt a snap.

The Dog-Yeared Calendar Quilt Pattern is on sale right now. Save just about 35% when you buy one. Save 50% when you buy TWO. (You have friends, don't you?)

Madison will throw in a free gift with each order.

Mom was vacuuming our bedroom the other day. Mom and Dad get the big bed. I have my own special bed on the floor with matching sheets. Mom said with all my fur the Hoover machine sucked up she could make another dog. (Everybody's a comedian.)

Anyway, while Mom was vacuuming she accidentally pushed the nightlight that is plugged into a power strip from the wall area to the under-the-bed area. I observed this from a distance. I am moderately afraid of the Hoover machine because it is very noisy and Mom isn't a really good driver. She doesn't practice enough. She bumps into things, some of which could be me.

When the nightlight slid under the bed she just stared at it. I guess it did look kind of funny, glowing there under the bed skirt. She had a really off look on her face. I could practically see the gears turning in her head. I had no idea what was going to happen next.

She ran downstairs to the box of Christmas tree lights. Then we ran upstairs and Mom dove under the bed. I am a 70 pound dog. I do not go under beds. I go on top of beds, but only when I am invited, except for that one time in the middle of the night a long time ago when I thought I was invited but must have been dreaming because when I propelled myself onto the bed I landed right on top of Dad and I'm only supposed to jump up on Mom's side when she moves over and it scared all three of us half to death. So I plopped down on the floor and watched.

After many long times, Mom scuttled back out again, plugged the lights into the power strip, and turned off the overhead fixture. All I could do was roll my eyes. There was the dumb bed skirt glowing and flashing like the spaceship in Close Encounter of the Third Kind. The only thing missing were the five musical tones. It looked like the mattress was going to take off!

Thankfully I am only afraid of things that make loud noises and I find Christmas tree lights to be very agreeable, which is a good thing because my bed is at eye level with the launch pad. In fact, I rather like the festive décor. As long as Mom doesn't find battery operated lights for my collar or leash, I'm OK with it. Happy Holidays!

Piecework enthusiasts rejoice! Now amazing Celtic designs can be created in patchwork with only two simple pieced blocks. Quilters traditionally use appliqué to create Celtic designs. Instead, Karen has translated knot work into pieced patterns. She found she can create numerous Celtic designs with these simple blocks, so the possibilities are unlimited!

Famous for her use of color and color illusion, Karen shows how to use color, texture, and value to add excitement to Celtic quilts. She shares her simple design concepts for those who want to design their own Celtic quilts, while providing piecing tips, pressing options, and quilting ideas. Even beginning quilters can tackle these colorful quilt patterns. Teaching tips and lesson plans are included for quilt teachers and shop owners.

Look for it at your local quilt shop or for an autographed copy; visit Karen’s web page.

There are new additions to the What Were They THINKING page.

Amy and Jack have written TWO new letters from Kazakhstan.

I'm looking forward to teaching in Austin, TX this week and then I'll be closer to home in January teaching for the Capitol City Quilt Guild in Lansing, Michigan. February will take me back to Missouri. See the rest of my teaching schedule.

Now you can say you've seen it all.

Please do. Forward the ENTIRE thing to all your friends and even some of your enemies. Everybody enjoys a laugh or two. Please do NOT forward just part of it. Somehow my name gets dropped off when these things float through cyberspace and since I’m writing them for free, I should at least get credit for writing them. If you write a guild newsletter (real paper or online) and would like to “reprint” a particular part of the newsletter you must ask first. Here’s how.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS To change your email address, send an email with your OLD and your NEW email address to Debbie at

Thanks for reading,
Give everyone at home a big hug,
Ami Simms :)