Archive for June, 2009

Picture Play Quilts

Picture Play Quilts by Ami SimmsI was storing some quilts downstairs and came across several of the quilts I made for Picture Play Quilts. I really like that book. In it I got to share what I learned as a second grade school teacher (my first career) while exercising my creativity with fabric (my second career). It was very satisfying to write.

I hadn’t really been a fan of “conversational” fabric before because it didn’t seem to GO with anything except more conversational fabric. When it finally dawned on me that quilts could be learning tools for kids, I was all over it.

PPQ fabricI amassed quite a collection of novelty fabric as I designed more than a dozen easy-to-make quilts for the book. Now it’s time to thin the herd. (But hold that thought for a minute.) 

The two dozen games I share in the book were games Mom taught me (and I played with Jennie) and language arts activities I did with my students in the classroom. The satisfaction of that book for me as an author was imagining quilters on their hands and knees, on the floor with their quilts and their kids or grandkids. It was the interaction and the play, facilitated by a quilt which is the very symbol of comfort, love, and home that felt so good.

Many readers have written requesting permission to photo-transfer the games onto the back of the quilts they make. Sure, go ahead. Others have made pockets on the front or back for photocopies of “game” pages 35-37. Great idea; be my guest. And yes, these make fantastic quilts for those children who are the beneficiaries of your guild’s service projects. Go for it. I think every quilter knows a child somewhere who would appreciate a Picture Play Quilt.

Let me make it really easy for you. From now until noon EDT on Thursday, July 2 you can buy as many copies of Picture Play Quilts as you want for 50% off. And, the first 50 people who order will get a chunk of conversational fabric from my stash. After you order yours, tell your friends. All of them. Blog, tweet, Facebook it. (Is Facebook a verb?)

Why the short window of opportunity? Debbie processes all the orders. Her vacation starts on Friday. If you order FAST she can get your book out before the holidays. If not, you get me. I stink at orders. I take forever and I make mistakes. Then I quit. If you don’t order before noon on Thursday the 50% discount will disappear and you’ll have to wait for Debbie to come back to work on July 13th.

Order here:

 (July 2 Update)
The “Big” Sale Is Over!
(But The “Pretty Large” Sale Continues)

The good news is that I used to have way more conversational fabric than I do now. I was able to give away a Chunk O’ Fabric to more people than I first expected. Fifty? More. One hundred? Even more! Probably closer to 135. So, the first 135 people who ordered got a little gift from me.

The bad news is that we’ve never ever gotten so many orders in a single day! EVER!! (Actually, that’s more good news!) The bad part is that there is no way Debbie can possibly fill all the orders before she leaves today for vacation.

If you placed your order before noon on July 1st your order has already shipped or is about to. After that, not so much. I’ll start in again on Monday. Wish me luck! We’ll see if I can get them done before Debbie comes back on the 13th. Madison will help.

I don’t want to disappoint anyone, so I am extending the sale. Not quite as good as the people who jumped on before the deadline (50% off + fabric for the first 135 orders), but pretty darn good (40% off). And don’t forget, I can put up to FOUR copies of Picture Play Quilts (or 4 other books/patterns or thin products) in the same priority mailer for a flat shipping rate of just $4.95. As long as you’re ordering, fill up the envelope and SAVE MONEY ON SHIPPING! 

Sorry, no autographs during the sale or my head will explode.

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June 30, 2009 at 9:01 am 9 comments

Hotel Feebies Too Confusing

Huh!?I haven’t purchased shampoo or soap in 20 years! I use the little bottles and bars in the hotels where I stay on teaching trips and bring home the leftovers. I decant the shampoo into my personal shampoo bottle at home and mold the slightly used bars onto whatever is currently in the shower soap dish. (This is how I am able to afford my extravagant lifestyle.)

Recently one particular hotel chain has gotten cute, no doubt some idiotic marketing ploy. Instead of calling the shampoo, ah… SHAMPOO, they call it something else. That was my problem. I couldn’t figure out what they called it.

I thought I’d be OK when I identified the soap. The label said “cleanse.” It was obviously soap. The bar shape gave it away and I could see through the wrapper. I threw the soap in the shower and turned on the water. OK, we’re on a roll.

The three things in the back of the plastic “SimplySmart” display I figured out by process of elimination:  COVER, MEND, and SHINE. SHINE must be for shoes. MEND is a foreign concept, but I could feel a needle and some thread inside so that must be for piecing or applique if the TSA agents confiscate your sewing kit at the airport.  COVER is a shower cap.  (Hint: wash your hair and save the clear plastic shower cap to cover leftovers from dinner after you get home. You can see through it and the elastic around the edge keeps the food from falling off the plate in the refrigerator.)

So far, so good.  Standing on the top shelf of the newly christened “SimplyStupid” display were four bottles containing liquid, one of which was surely SHAMPOO. Here the labels were of no use whatever  SCRUB, WASH, TAME, and SOFTEN.

SOFTEN had to be hand cream. Excuse me, lotion. La-dee-dah. One down; three to go. Mind you, I’m standing in the bathroom bare naked (except for my glasses) wanting desperately to just get in the shower and move forward with my day, but I don’t know which one is the shampoo.  I don’t know what the heck TAME is supposed to be.  Cream rinse? Also known as “conditioner?” Could be… I don’t use that, so its out of the equation.

I’m down to two:  SCRUB and WASH. Interchangeable.  Who is the moron who thought this up?! What was left? Shampoo and what, body wash? Or something else? Mouthwash? Do I WASH my hair and SCRUB my body? Or am I supposed to  SCRUB my hair and WASH my body?! Guess it depends which is dirtier? I don’t know; is this a trick question?!

In desperation I rooted through my cosmetic case and found an old, nearly dead bottle of SHAMPOO and I used it. Thank goodness I did.

The aroma infused CLEANSE (soap) smelled so strongly of cinnamon that had I used the matching scented SHAMPOO and/or BODY WASH / MOUTHWASH / EYEGLASS CLEANER I would have smelled like a Cinnabon all day long.

Note to hoteliers: Can we get back to basics? PLEASE? SOAP, SHAMPOO, CONDITIONER, LOTION work just fine. And make the letters big and black. So I can read them without my glasses on. And a reference point for the visually challenged behind the curtain would be a great idea too. I get in there sans glasses and the white tub melts into the white walls which melts into the white shower curtain. I can’t see a thing. A person could kill themselves in your hotel. Can you paint the walls a different color maybe?

And while I’m at it, stop folding the ends of the toilet paper. It stopped being “classy” as soon as I realized somebody had to get their fingers all over the toilet paper to get it that way. Major ick.

Thank you!

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June 27, 2009 at 6:26 am 23 comments

Vintage Quilt Auction Ends Tonight!

These quilts could be YOURS!Today is your last chance to bid on the 37 vintage quilts (translation: “old and used”)  in an online auction that ends tonight. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative is holding a special mid-month auction to turn these quilts into research dollars. Can you help?

Bidding is easy, albeit slow. It’s a silent auction, and each bid is read by a real person. Her name is Diane. And I’d like her to get a boatload of bids on the last day of the auction which is today (Thursday, June 25th)! You’ve got until 10 p.m. tonight EDT time. (We have clocks on the web page so you’ll know exactly what time that is.) All profits from the auction will be used to fund Alzheimer’s research.

Here’s where you bid:

If you already have enough quilts send this post to someone who could use one or two more. If you send it on, leave a comment on the blog with the number of people who you told about this auction.  Let’s see how far afield this little announcement can get. Thanks for spreading the word!

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June 25, 2009 at 5:12 am 2 comments

The Flint Journal

Ami SimmsThe Flint Journal ran a very nice article about me last week AND the week before.

I spoke with the reporter at the beginning of June before I left for Delaware and Pennsylvania. The photographer came out to the house to shoot the photographs before I left too.  The article was supposed to run in the June 12th edition but our paper has now gone from 7 days a week to just three. My article got lost in the shuffle and wound up on-line before it came out in print. They used different photographs and a different title. Either way, if your Flint Journal from June 19th is already at the bottom of the bird cage, click here to read the online version (with the better picture of me, thank you very much).  Please add a comment to the online article. If you let them know you’re out there they will be more inclined to write about Alzheimer’s. And we need them to do that now more than ever.

You can also click here for a link to the article on the AAQI web page.

Debbie’s assignment during the photo shoot was to take a picture of the photographer taking a picture of me!

Say 'cheese'The photographs were taken upstairs in my mom’s apartment, now my @Home Classroom.  A basted quilt is on the design wall behind me made from images Mom hand stamped and dye-painted for me. Most were made before she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s been basted for years, but I just haven’t gotten around to quilting it yet.

Next to the quilt are some Journal Quilts and duplicate Priority: Alzheimer’s Quilts I’ve made.

My trusty Bernina is in front of me and Oscar, the photographer, is leaning on the vintage quilts now up for auction. (Hurry, you only have until 10 pm on the 25th to bid. Did you see how cleverly I snuck that in there?)

C'mon, SMILE!I think the body language on this photo tells you exactly how nervous I really am staring into that long lens of his. Could I possibly lean back any further without falling off the chair?! I don’t think so.

Despite what the poor guy had to work with (me) I think he did a great job!

You can see one light by Oscar’s right shoulder and the other is in the bathroom. Yes, you can tell it’s the bathroom because that’s where I keep the treadle sewing machine. It has a quilt on top of it because I have no other place for the quilt either!

Among other things, the article talks about a new traveling exhibit that will eventually replace “Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece.” The new one will be called “Alzheimer’s Illustrated: From Heartbreak to Hope.” Not all the details are available yet, but click here to read at least a little bit about it. Please let your friends know about it too. I’ll be updating here on the blog and also in the AAQI Update.

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June 23, 2009 at 9:22 pm 12 comments

List Making, NTD, and TTDs

Thanks to Madison for his “uplifting” post the other day. I love being “guilted” by a dog.  This was a great trip, and nothing he says could change that.

I had a good chuckle when I read over my itinerary on the plane as we circled to land in Detroit for my connecting outbound flight. I am a list maker and my itinerary this trip, with four guilds, was a long one: two pages worth. I list where I’m going what presentations I’ve giving, how many participants, hotel address contact information, names and cell phone numbers for the folks who will be carting me around from place to place.

And yes. I write down what clothes I’m going to wear on which day.

I’m already maxed out on my luggage, so I don’t want to pack anything I don’t need. I also don’t want a debate in the morning over what to wear. If I make those decisions before I leave, more time for other things.

Before I leave home I assume I’ll have lots of spare time in between presentations for other things. I’m either a chronic optimist or an idiot.

You would think after 25 years of doing this I would realize that there isn’t much free time in between anything. Not if I want to get from one place to another, take all the stuff that I brought with me to the next place, eat, and sleep.

I schedule myself pretty tight. At first it was because I only traveled once a month and only for a long weekend. Jen was little and I wanted her to know who I was when I got home. Later, I crammed as much as I could into the shortest time possible because I wanted to be available to take care of Mom.

But there was always the fear that I would have a minute or two where I’d be just sitting there with NTD (Nothing To Do). I am not good at NTD. So, to be productive and to reward myself at the end of the day I packed TTDs: Things To Do.

TTDs (Things To Do)
I always have my laptop. But it’s hard to find a plug in the airport, and harder to type in coach if the person in front wants to tilt their chair back. The mouse is impossible to work unless I drive it up my thigh, and it won’t stay there, so my cursor slides all over the place. So I bring paperwork, letters to answer, patterns to proof, I skim the first 3 inches of stuff off the top of my desk. I can always read, underline, and highlight on the plane. Eventually I’ll get to a hotel with a desk and wireless Internet.

I have to have sewing. I’ve pieced more than one quilt by hand over the years while buckled into my seat. But on night flights the light isn’t great, so I bring a book too. I love mysteries. Helps keep my mind off the age of the plane and the youth of the pilot. Heaven forbid I should tilt MY seat back and just sit there staring at the inside of my eyelids.

Now I bring my new iPhone, which has a million hours of music and episodes of my favorite television shows loaded on. And my iPod because I can listen to podcasts to drown out the sounds of traffic and other hotel guests. It plays ONE and then goes silent unlike the iPhone which goes on forever apparently. And a book.

Got to have the camera in case I need to take a high resolution shot of something. The iPone is there for blog photos and for the web site. And a 150 GB external hard drive in case I need to access every single document while I’m away from home.

I might work on a quilt pattern.

In short, just to be SURE, I pack way more than I need….just in case I have “down time.” That happens so infrequently I have almost forgotten what down time is. Still it’s one of the goofy things I do that makes travel less stressful for me.

 So what did I do on the trip besides teach? I finished four miniature Invisibly Appliqued quilt blocks, proofed a pattern, made 5 phone calls, read two articles on social marketing, watched an episode of West Wing, listened to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, and answered about 50 emails. In short about 2% of the things I brought along with me that I could have done. When, I don’t know. Nevertheless, I was prepared.

I’m home now. Madison is happy.  I’m off to the mall this afternoon. Yeah, I have a list. And I have sewing in my purse and a thimble in my pocket… just in case.

June 16, 2009 at 9:55 pm 30 comments

Mopey Madison

MadisonIt’s rainy and miserable today. Mom’s gone. She took off on Sunday. Something about a trip to Pennsylvania or something. As soon as the suitcases came out I went into denial. I hate the suitcases. Especially when there are no signs of my toys in the suitcases. Or kibble in serving sized baggies. Or my leash. Or a tennis ball.

Sometimes I get to go too. Not this time.

I am waiting by the door until she comes home. Me and Dad. Although he doesn’t know you’re supposed to wait by the door. The rules are very specific about that. I keep telling him, but her prefers the recliner.

Mom is having a great time teaching without me. She said she was going to blog about it as soon as she finds time to sneeze. 

 Mom told me to remind you that the auction for the  Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative ends on Wednesday the 10th. She thinks you should all go over there and bid on something because it brings in more money for research.

Bid here:

I think you should just wait by the door.

June 9, 2009 at 9:12 am 26 comments

Ami Simms

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