July 2007

The Ami Simms Newsletter
JULY 2007
Copyright by Ami Simms

I hope everyone has a terrific Fourth of July. Madison asks if it would be possible for everyone to refrain from lighting firecrackers from now until, well…. forever. He says they sound very much like thunder which he still finds frightening. In fact, if you could keep it from raining, he would appreciate it, as rain is a sure sign that thunder might be coming. Now that he mentions it, he would be happier if dark clouds could be kept to a minimum, as those often remind him of rain, which goes back to the thunder thing. (There is a reason his column in this newsletter is called FROM UNDER THE DESK. "Brave Dog" he is not.)

Steve and I have been married for 30 years. We celebrated our wedding anniversary on the 19th of June. The dream celebration would have been to go to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner IN ITALY. Time, finances, and reality made that a tad impossible, so we opted for getting as close as we could. We drove to Windsor, Ontario (as in Canada) to our favorite Italian restaurant in a foreign country that is only 90 minutes away from home. And, we brought Madison. (He'd never been to Canada before.)

Toni and Biaggio's La Calabrisella restaurant on Erie Street (calabrisella_erie@msn.com) has been a favorite of ours for more than 15 years. Steve called and asked if they could put a table outside for us so Madison could join us. (Stop laughing.) They did, and we celebrated in style although we did not reprise the spaghetti eating scene from Disney's Lady & The Tramp.

QUILT CHAT I'll be in the chat room at www.thequiltshow.com on Monday, July 9th at 9 pm eastern time. You're all invited. There is no charge, everyone is welcome! I've not chatted there before, but come on by and we'll figure it out together. The official topic is the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative, but I'll answer any questions you might have.

Don't forget it's the first of the month: there's a new auction online. Bid high and bid often. Your entire bidding price goes to fund Alzheimer's research.

We've raised (and donated) almost $75,000 to Alzheimer's research since January 2006!

I'm still hoping for 1,000 quilts to sell in Houston this November. Any theme, any technique, any style, any skill level, just keep it to 9" x 12" or less. It has to fit inside one of those cardboard USPS priority mailers without folding. Please consider donating a Priority: Alzheimer's Quilt.

Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece will be at the Southern New Hampshire Quilt Festival in Nashua, NH July 20-22. Check out the complete travel schedule. Bring these amazing quilts to YOUR next quilt show

Read what the Burlington Free Press wrote about the show, and then see the WCAX-TV3 story.

If you can't make the show, buy the book . It's gorgeous. The quilts are awesome and the artists' words about their quilts are riveting. Plus, 10% of the purchase price goes to fund Alzheimer's research. As soon as I pay off the printing bill, 90% will go to fund Alzheimer's research. We're about 100 books away from making that happen. Just think — $18 of the $20 price of Alzheimer's: Forgetting Piece by Piece will go towards finding a cure.

ECOCRAFT TM fiberfill quilt batting by Mountain Mist® has recently been introduced. It is a man-made, environmentally friendly quilt batting made from Ingeo™ fiber, which is made from corn. It comes in 100% PLA (which must stand for something) and 50% PLA and 50% cotton.

There is also a quilt competition sponsored by Mountain Mist and the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska, called Crafting A Better Planet™. Sponsors are looking for environmental and ecological themed quilts.

I just tried Clear Fragrant Miracle Starch, otherwise known as Mary Ellen's Best Press. I don't know who Mary Ellen is, but is says on the bottle "Mary Ellen makes ironing (almost) fun." Yeah, right.

Luckily I have about three years worth of things that need to be ironed. (I know just how much fun ironing can be.) I dug to the bottom of the bucket and pulled out a blue cotton shirt that had been wadded up in a ball under about 47 pounds of other "things to iron." I spritzed the collar and that ironed up pretty good. I couldn't even flatten out the left front, but I sprayed Miss Mary Ellen's "clear starch alternative" anyway and it was pretty amazing. No creases. None. (And the lavender fragrance smelled really good too!)

Thinking it was a fluke, I did the right front of the shirt which was equally creased. I probably had just unintentionally moved the iron really slowly so I could watch the starch disappear (I am so easily entertained). So, I moved the iron extra slow on the un-spritzed side. Then I compared the two fronts. No contest. I could actually tell the Mary Ellen-ed side looked much better. That shirt was actually looking pretty good. I wondered whose it was. I mean, when laundry is out of circulation for the length of time it takes to pay off a car loan, I forget. I switched to the bottle of Caribbean Beach fragrance and I ironed the back. The tax said "Size XXL" Not Steve's shirt. But, DANG, it was lookin GOOD! And I think I liked the Caribbean Beach smell even better than the lavender. I was thinking maybe I should put on my bathing suit to get the full effect as I ironed the second sleeve, but I couldn't find it. Not the bathing suit, the sleeve. I looked right where it should be, on the other side of the shirt, but discovered I had chopped it to hang a quilt!

Want to put a slightly more TRADITIONAL sleeve on your quilt? Learn how.

I've met quilters who starch all their quilting fabrics. I just roll my eyes. (Who has time?) However, there may be something to this. I did another test with Miss Mary Ellen's Best Press. (No, I don't own stock.) I folded a length of fabric, starched, and pressed the crease. Yowsa! Then I sprayed so that I could iron it OUT. Kinda fun. Long story short, starch makes the fabric stiffer. Not what I'd want to hand quilt through, but for precision machine piecing, that fabric isn't moving anywhere. Not stretch. I might just try it. Regular spray starch is not my idea of fun. The can is too heavy, even when I'm about to run out, the nozzle clogs up, I can't aim it where I want it, it either saturates the fabric or flies up my nose, and it ALWAYS makes my index finger wet. This stuff might just be a good alternative.

Marsha McCloskey shared this strange little movie with me. In three minutes you'll see 300 years of women in western art. Fascinating how they did it, but towards the end especially I was hoping they'd slow down a bit. Very cool.

Their last email is now up for you to read. Beth A. shared this about Jack & Amy's adventures: "Ami, thank you so much for including Jack and Amy's news from Kazakhstan on your website! Their emails have been absolutely fascinating to read. Americans live such insulated lives that it was a real eye-opener for us all.

I know that Jack and Amy will enjoy returning to the US to shower more regularly and plunge toilets, but all of us kind of regret the end of their humorous and wildly illuminating postings. We homebodies now feel as if we partook of their adventure -- or at least the best and funniest parts. Be sure to thank them for sending those emails, as well!"

Mary Kerwin's Twisted Sisters is available for your viewing pleasure, and so is Jean's stash.

John Flynn and I will be in Sheridan, Wyoming at Quilt Wyoming July 13 and 14. (Don't we clean up nice?) I'm hoping my luggage joins us. Flying into Sheridan from Flint, Michigan isn't the easiest. I'll be taking FOUR flights each way with two difference airlines shuffling my luggage on the way there and two different airlines bouncing them around on the way back! Still faster than driving….

Daddy and "Nature Girl" took me canoeing on Friday. It's all part of Mom's Family Friday Plan for this summer. She's taking a day off work to spend time with me and Dad. We piled into the car Thursday night and headed north. I'm used to sleeping at that time of day, so I did. They watched what must have been the world's best sunset, judging from all the noise they made about it.

The next morning we rented a canoe and they paddled me down the Au Sable river. Actually, Dad mostly paddled. Mom just hung over the side of the canoe looking at all the rocks go by. She made ME lay down in a STAY, but she hung over the side like a dog. I swear if her tongue was long enough, it would have been hanging out.

Mom kept going on and on about how clear and clean the water was. It wasn't very deep so you could see all the way to the bottom, only about 6 or 8 feet at the deepest part. There were shallow waters too. Mom was afraid we'd get stuck and it would make a loud noise on the bottom of the canoe. We didn't. I stretched out all the way flat after a while and just listened to the birds chirping. We only heard one airplane during the two hours. It was so quiet when Daddy stopped paddling. We mostly let the river carry us along. Laying against the cold canoe bottom was delightful. I had no idea I liked canoeing so much.

We saw lots of ducks and a couple of herons. Mom said she saw a fish the size of a cat go by, but I think she was exaggerating. We also saw a deer who flipped up its tail at us and ran away. Dumb deer. Wouldn't have noticed it if it had kept its tail down. How does THAT preserve the species?! We also saw lots of water bugs that didn't pay any attention to us, but in some spots there were those nasty deer flies that bite. Mom smacked a couple of them. Thankfully, she didn't use an oar.

Nobody fell out of the boat, but I got to fetch a stick in the water after my people hauled the canoe up on dry land. I love the water. It's wet. First thing I do is trot into it, stop when it gets up to my ankles, and then I lay down. Ahhhh…

This little nugget comes from Judy L. It was on the bottom of her email: Give a person a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a person to use the Internet and they won't bother you for weeks

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.

Thanks for visiting the web page.
See you again next month,
Ami (and Madison)

On the way to Windsor for dinner.