July 2006

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The Ami Simms Newsletter
July 2006
Copyright by Ami Simms


I think this thread started way back in May. Last month a reader suggested someone invent a "reverse microwave." Hot to cold—really F A S T. Lexy at your service. She told me about the Anti-Griddle.

Hello. Dog writing now; pay attention. Mom told me that there are almost 18,000 people reading her newsletter each month. If all of you would please just throw ONE ball to me….

Sorry, a little bit of Golden Retriever humor. Mom said I could write something this month, so I want to tell you about me. I am still very smart, and quite good looking, especially after a roll on the dirt pile out back. Wait, Mom says to write about something else. OK.

I'm going on vacation with Mom and Dad. We're going on a trip. Mom's going to be teaching some geese to do something in one place. Wait, Mom says they're Flying Geese. Quilters. Should have guessed. Then there are some more quilters somewhere else. I'm coming along for the ride. It's going to be way cool. I love to travel. I just wagged really hard and accidentally re-started the computer.

So, I get a vacation. I'll lay around, play outside, lick myself, bark at squirrels. Wait, I do that at home. Well this may prove to be more activity than I'm used to. The bikes are coming. Mom bought an old van seat from the salvage yard and used the guts to make a bike carrier so the bikes fit INSIDE the car. She's much smarter than she looks. We're going to bike places when she's not working. I don't have a bike because my paws wouldn't reach the pedals. I have a cart. In the continued spirit of using things inappropriately, Mom bought one of those bicycle trailers for toddlers. She took out the seats and made a hammock for me. I get to ride inside when I get tired of running next to the bikes or if it isn't safe because of cars or something.

This all sounded good in theory, but I do not like skateboards, dollies, wheelbarrows, baby carriages, office chairs with wheels on them, or other device that moves when I climb aboard. Mom, however, would not be dissuaded. First she gave me treats if I put my front paws in the cart. Then I got more treats if I put a third leg inside (didn't matter, left or right). Then she gave me even more treats, and as I was eating them she hoisted my rear end inside! Then we worked on staying inside. I sat in the cart all over the house. Then she jiggled it. Then she tilted it. Then she actually rolled it with me inside. Then we went out in the garage and hooked it up to a bike. I got to sit in it eating treats for a long time. And then we went for a ride. I stay in it pretty good now, but just in case my brain goes to mush (it happens) I wear a doggie seatbelt. I can't wait until we go biking and someone comes over to look at the "baby" because I'm going to lick their face! Wait. Mom says no I'm not. Got it.

In case you didn't see this on the news, people with way too much time on their hands have discovered that if you dump a bunch of Mentos candy into a bottle of diet Coke, you get a very fizzy geyser. Before you try it yourself, watch the experts.

More than $8,200 has been raised for Alzheimer's research since January, most of it through the sale of "Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts." There are 19 new quilts in the July silent auction including quilts made by Kathy Edwards, Cathy Sandhoefner, Joan Sterr, Peggy Mages, Cindy Bartoseucy, Sue Uncapher, Bunny Filer, Carol Doak, Laura Prettyman, Beth Hartford, Ami Simms, Lisa Fiorini-Ahmad, Trish Casey-Green, Betty Donahue, and Valerie Hearder. They are up RIGHT NOW so please take a look.

Barb Vlack invites you to participate in an EQ Challenge using up to two of your priority quilts.

The quilts for the traveling exhibit, "Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece" have been selected. The quilts are AWESOME! Wait until you see them.

Book the exhibit for your guild's quilt show. See the artists list. See the show.

I've heard from several quilters that they are "Hoarding for Houston." They're making bunches of 9" x 12" Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts for me to take to Houston and sell at the International Quilt Festival. Just don't forget that you will need to register the quilts before you send them to me and I'll need some time to make signs and get them all organized. The cut off date for Houston will be October 15th. After that, I can't guarantee that I'll be able to get your quilt to Houston. The Priority: Alzheimer's Quilts Project will continue long after Houston, so don't let that be your excuse for not finishing and arm-load of mini quilts.

As you relax over the Fourth of July weekend, why not contemplate a Summer Fun donation quilt: a day at the beach, grilling out on the deck, car trips with the family, biking and walking outside, flowers and gardens. Share your talents for a good cause.

So how are the Picture Play Quilts coming? Did the kids enjoy seeing their names inscribed in their book? Hope so; I nearly ran out of ink! Have you started collecting fabric yet? It's not too late; you've still got most of the summer left. Get your copy of my Picture Pay Quilts book for $5 off the retail price. Get an autographed copy.

I'm a firm believer in washing fabric before I use it. I was just going to write PRE-WASHING, but that's one of those phrases which, after careful consideration, don't mean anything. Pre- washing would be the same as ……WASHING. Just like "pre-boarding" is really the same as boarding. Both mean "get on the plane." You just get to do it before some of the other passengers. I wonder if pre-washing means you get use the washer before any other family members. Come to think of it, I haven't seen a long line in front of the Maytag in quite some time, so I guess I answered my own question.

Sorry. Back to washing fabric. Why do I bother? All cotton fabric will shrink. Trouble is it won't all shrink at the same rate. Therefore, you want it to shrink BEFORE you sew it up into your Picture Play Quilt, or any other quilt, for that matter. That way when the finished quilt is washed it won't look like a contestant for the Worst Quilt in the World Contest. Seriously, it can get ugly.

I also wash fabric before I use it to make sure that the fabric won't bleed. While this used to be more of a consideration in the past, and manufacturers are making fabrics that holds color better, you still need to be careful. That wonderful "I Just Finished A Quilt" feeling disappears pretty quick when you wash it the first time and the colors run. The red, for example, will never run all over the dark blue. It will seek out the white and bleed all over it. (Trust me. Experience talking here.) So wash those darks with a white wash rag and see if it STAYS white. If you want to see my orange bleeding disaster, open my "How Not To Make A Prize-Winning Quilt" book to page 27. (Retayne, by the way is a great product to keep the colors on commercial fabric from running.)

To keep tangled threads to a minimum during the washing drying process, clip off a teeny tiny triangle from all four corners of the fabric before you pop it into the washing machine. When the spin cycle stops, yank the threads off so the fabric lays flat and throw it in the dryer. (The fabric, not the threads.) The missing corners will help you pull off those tangled threads much more easily. I save the threads in a plastic jar on my washing machine because…well, I like to look at them. (I don't have to defend my actions here. I'm not on trial!)

Next month, I'll share some machine quilting tips for your Picture Play Quilts. That should hopefully motivate you to stay on track and you'll have something to sandwich by the end of the summer.

All the parts are finally put together. New hair "gunk" for maximum lift (like I need to be TALLER) and new glasses so that even I can see that some of my gray strands have been chemically altered. I'm still using the same blush from 1998, but hey, you can't change everything all at once. See the drastically "new" Ami. (I am wearing the same shirt as the previous month's picture so you can recognize me.)

It's all relative. And my relative (my brother-in-law, Larry) sent me this web page. Type in your birthday in the pop up box and it will calculate your age in relation to famous people. There is even a birthday card generator for your friends.

This is your age according to how well you take care of yourself. There is a test you can take to determine your "biological" age. Start with your chronological age (type in your birthday) and then answer about 80 questions about your health. You see if you're doing all you can to stay healthy. You'll be asked for your blood pressure, good and bad cholesterol numbers, and recent inoculations. If you have that information it's more accurate, but you CAN "wing it" too.

Yes, they have a special web page for your dog too, but you'll have to type in the information for your pooch.

Marilyn wrote: We've never met but I get your newsletter and enjoy reading it. I made a Michigan Mink out of turquoise/olive green fabric and it sure has been a hit! Everywhere I wear it people comment and want to pet me! I often wear it for business trips because it's so comfortable, and people will pet me as I walk down the aisle of the airplane. I had it on during the NQA show in Columbus OH last weekend, and counted about 56 pets! At least a half dozen were from my husband....

I gave everyone who asked the name of your pattern - hope you get a lot of business! I had a chance to visit with Beth Ferrier a few times recently. She told me that these "pets" were a quilter's handshake!

If you want to get a few quilter's handshakes of your own get a Rag Fur Jacket.

Lois Windemuth made a Rag Fur Jacket.
Jack and Amy have written a new Letter From Kazakhstan.

There are new entries in these departments:
   Watch Your Step
   Show Me Your Stash
   What Were They Thinking?!
   Worst Quilt Wannabe

I've heard that the way to tell if spaghetti is cooked properly is to take a strand out of the pot and fling it against the wall. If it stick's it's done. Maybe, but how many people really DO that?

Here's something that might be even more fun: magnetic primer. Paint it on your walls and who knows, maybe you can throw the whole spaghetti pot up there! On a more practical note, what about sewing notions? Seam rippers? Rotary cutters? Scissors? OK, never mind. But I think this idea may have potential. Let's work on it.

Buy it at Lowes. Or, mix the magnetic particles into the paint yourself. (Thanks to Donna G. for this attractive idea.)

Take a break from the summer heat with Judy Hopkin's new book, Quilt ALASKA. This 24-page book has instructions for 36 pieced blocks for the traditional quilter all with an Alaska theme: Arctic Circle, Bear and Cubs, Moose Tracks…don't you just love it?

Marsha McCloskey also has another new book out called Fat 8th & Friends made for Marsha's new fabric line with In The Beginning. Inside you'll find complete instructions for six fun and whimsical quilts. My favorite is "Flower Pot." Order both books from www.marshamccloskey.com

It seems British shopkeepers have found a way to keep teenagers from loitering. They've purchased contraptions for their stores that emit a high pitched annoying sound —that only teenagers can hear. Most people over 30 can't hear it. The Mosquito teen repeller is fairly annoying and the kids take off. Pretty clever you say? Wait, there's more. The kids found out about it, and created ring tones for their cell phones using the same pitch. Now the high frequency buzz goes off during class to alert them to text messages and teachers, most of whom are over 30, don't hear a thing.

Can you hear it? I can hear it on my daughter's lap top, but not on my desk top. Go figure.

This sounds almost like fun. Throw in a few eggs (out of the shell) some veggies, ham, cheese, whatever and BOIL for 13 minutes in a zip-loc plastic bag. Anybody tried it?

Steve's got it all figured out: Mow your lawn the day AFTER your neighbors mow theirs.

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.

If you enjoyed this newsletter, make me a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt. Or, bid on one.

Ami Simms