Great Ideas (Or Not)

Pink Toilet PaperIf you ever saw my lecture, “Living With Quilts: A Survival Guide,”then you might remember this image and the story about the pink toilet paper I brought back from France. Twenty-four rolls, if I remember correctly. A fun time coming through customs in the US plus a memorable souvenir of a great trip.

Why is it stored in the window?! The addition to our house added a hallway behind what used to be an outside wall of the house. No sense paying good money to drywall over the window and try to match 12-year-old wall-paper, so I gained another storage area instead! If you’re not with me, don’t worry. Just keep going.

I’ve shared (in the aforementioned presentation) that we only use the pink toilet paper on special days, like the first of each month because that’s newsletter day. As the pink toilet paper became more scarce, I only brought it out in the afternoon on newsletter days.  Then only between 2 and 3 pm on newsletter days.

Alas, I have run out entirely, so I’ve decided that the newsletter no longer needs to come out on the first of the month. It shall come out “periodically.” I know the logic isn’t totally there, but neither am I. Besides, as you may have noticed, I seem to be writing newsletters more frequently instead of less. I hope we’re all happy with that.

PROBLEM SOLVED!
Last time I wrote, (scroll down), I was whining about the cottonwood trees and their seeds getting all over my freshly dyed clothesline. I have created a solution. This video has my voice on it, which can be startling if the volume on your speakers is turned up too high.

I will be sewing bowls with members of the Lighthouse Quilters Guild in Racine, WI on Monday, so getting rid of the cottonwood seeds was pretty critical. Who wants to de-lint their “rope” as they coil and zig-zag? Want to sew with us in your own parallel universe?  Links to my hand-dyed clothesline, a BOWLing tutorial, plus tools and supplies you might need are here.


RABBIT HOLES

My hobby is diving down rabbit holes. I get an idea and I’m off! Most of the time it’s a wild goose chase. But, from time to time some of my harebrained ideas pay off. Ever optimistic, I dove in again. My latest great idea? Making paracord bracelets out of, wait for it….dyed clothesline! Brilliant!

del paracord braceletIf you’re not familiar with paracord bracelets, here’s one  Chris Stewart made for me during a workshop lunch break. Paracord is used in parachutes, and should you ever need 12 feet of really strong cord (possibly to tow your car out of the mud or lower yourself out of a burning building) all you have to do is un-knot your bracelet. (This would take about an hour and a half.)

Naturally, hip deep in dyed clothesline, I hopped on the Internet and learned how to make one!

del bracClunky doesn’t even come close to describing this particular fiasco.  Although there was some satisfaction in learning how to tie the “lanyard” knot for the closure and how to make  the “cobra stitch” for the rest of it, the resulting bracelet was not at all what I had in mind.  It felt kind of like the time I bought 13 yards of orange fabric for a quilt, used it all, and was surprised that the quilt was so….ORANGE!

So what’s the point here? Don’t stop having great ideas. Celebrate when they work out, and move on when they don’t. (I still have one more idea on the bracelet thing.)  Don’t cheat yourself out of the thrill of what “could be.”  Percolating on the clothesline bracelet was great fun. Bracelets, quilts, it’s all the same. Don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something new.


 

 

92 thoughts on “Great Ideas (Or Not)

  1. Wouldn’t those “bracelets” made a bit bigger make a sturdy collar for Scooter? Or would he not like the colour? Or maybe a leash?

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  2. Ami I love the newsletters. They are so crazy , but informative. I too am doing paracord bracelets for the GK. Tell Scooter hi from Sue and the Bulldogs. Sue

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  3. AS if we didn’t already now from your quilts, you are 1 creative lady. I thought your cottonwood defuzzer was brilliant. I also liked that I learned from the previous post that the cottonwood is what I called poplar – albeit still in the poplar family. Love trivial knowledge…

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      1. Yup, same here in Umbria. The “piopi” (poplars) don’t trigger allergies (so I’ve been told) but those little fur balls make me sneeze and my eyes itch anyway. Must be power of suggestion. Anyway, your laundry basket defuzzer is brilliant!!

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      2. Thank you, Helen! I’m glad you like my de-linter. Do they still have colored toilet paper in Italy? (Don’t worry, I won’t ask you to send me any.) When we lived in Rome way back when it was like crate paper. Festive.

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    1. Debbie, I love that you love them. I feel so much better this way I can’t begin to tell you. I had been DREADING the 1st of every month. I have a new enthusiasm! Yay!

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  4. If you want to get your color back on, you can now buy the brilliantly colored European Renova toilet paper in the states. We came back through customs with black TP in our suitcases! You can get some of their colors through Amazon (http://tinyurl.com/muslfrh). I can just imagine what you’d come up with for a design in your storage window with a variety of these colors. :)

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      1. Number Three Son goes through a roll a day and my Granddaughter likes to rip off a square at a time and toss it into the John. Do you think there’s a gene for this?

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  5. Ami, you are one very clever quilter. The clothes line defuzzer is brilliant. You may want to edit this part out for safety’s sake, but when the cottonwood seeds are dry and lining the sidewalk or driveway, just light them with a match. They burn and then cannot blow around anymore. Love your newsletters whenever they arrive.

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    1. Judy, handy hint, but they were all stuck to the clothesline. Like flypaper for cottonwood seeds. Do you sweep them up in a pile before you light them on fire? Or just burn the entire driveway as is? I’m thinking I could meet the nice people at the fire department…

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    2. Somehow the cottonwood seeds just collect at the edges of driveways and sidewalks–no sweeping involved. The fire stops at the end of the sidewalk or wherever the cottonwood seeds end. You probably won’t get to meet the cute firemen.

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  6. I know a woman who removed the dry wall in her sewing room, and used the horizonal 2X4 s between the verticle boards in the wall for shelves to store her fat quarters. Made a lovely wall! Similar to your tolit paper window.

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      1. Gosh Terrell I have a friend who did the same thing. She opened the walls in her hallway and her sewing room, adding cross pieces for shelving like Ami did, painted it out and lo and behold, extra storage!

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  7. I have never met you but I love your newsletters and Scooter’s stories. I learn from your inventions and laugh too. I wish you would come to Iowa once in a while!

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  8. My friend, who’s lives in a beautifully restored vintage house, made a crazy quilt to cover the storage unit in her bathroom. fits the décor and shows her creativity. Maybe a nice picture play or twisted sister quilt?

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  9. I remember colored toilet paper in the 70’s. Mint green and blue and pink I’m sure also. I found your newsletter after reading your books, can’t remember if I did the survey.

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    1. Sue,
      I forgot about the books! Ha, ha! DUH! Glad you found me through one of those! And colored toilet paper? Now that you mention is, I kind of remember that too…foggily. They had bed sheets and towels in colors back then too, but my mother always bought white!

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  10. Ami, I just have to say Thank You! Thank you for telling me about the stars on the blueberries. Now I find myself looking through all the blueberries that I wash for my breakfast cereal!

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  11. Your newsletter always makes me smile, gives me inspiration and this month permission to fail…….every quilt is not a winner :0) and it’s okay……thanks Ami. ( I’m sorry I did not buy one of those zipper necklaces when you had them!!)
    Haooy Sewing and save travels

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  12. I noticed you sign your name Quilter, Teacher, Author. You forgot Mother.
    My 95 year old mother still mother’s all her 5, over 50 year old children! and always tells me the job is never done! :) I just take a deep breath and sigh.

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    1. Deb, good point, but I’m not a professional mother. On the personal side I would need to add wife too. And dog parent. Scooter would feel terribly left out.

      He came to the airport with us at 5:30 this morning. He gave a good bark to all the people unloading their cars at the curb. Probably barked all the way home too.

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  13. Ami,
    Greetings to Scooter from Max, Sara and Johann. Keep the newsletters coming. I never can get enough of your sense of humor! I am trying to figure out what to use your cotton (wood) gin for in my home. That was brilliant!
    Since I retired I have been so lazy that I need a big push to get out of the chair in onto the work I have been putting off for so long.
    Hope your trip is great and Scooter has a great big kiss for you when you return.

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    1. Thanks, Karen. Glad you’re a frequent reader. If you’re having trouble getting started on something you really want to do, make an appointment with yourself for whatever it is you want to do. Write it on the calendar, set a reminder on the phone, have a friend call you. If it’s important, you’ll do it. If it isn’t you won’t. You do get to decide, after all.

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  14. Ami, I just hope you continue your newsletter in 2014. I do so much enjoy your humor!!!!! Thanks for all you’ve done for so many! God bless you & yours real good!

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  15. I have signed up for your appliqué workshop at the Dutchess Quilt Show. I am pretty new st this so I am hoping I will be able to master this technique! Love to read your newsletters when they arrive, See you in October

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  16. Hi Ami, I was one of the “other” responders. I found out about you from an old magazine article. A REALLy old magazine, all black and white. I did google search and found your site and newsletter, but I wouldn’t have known to search without the magazine.

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  17. Speaking of books, Ami, I found you in “Quilt with the best” in our library. Later I started quilting and I find your humor so uplifting. I won’t miss a newsletter for anything! Please don’t ever stop writing them at a time that suits you!

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    1. Thanks, Mari! I’m so glad you like them.

      The picture of that very much younger me standing and putting a quilt in frame in that beautiful house? That isn’t my house. I went to Birmingham, AL for the photo shoot and interview. They borrow someone’s house and it was FABULOUS! But they didn’t want to turn on the air conditioning. A little hot. I tasted my first authentic southern bar-b-que that trip and brought a quart home in my carry on WITH MY QUILTS! (I know. What was I thinking?! But it was delicious!)

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  18. Had the same bathroom window thing when the former owners enclosed the back porch. After years of having conversations between the shower and the family room, we finally redid the bath. What resulted was a built-in bookshelf in the family room that housed cassette tapes(How long ago?) and knick-knacks. It was very handy!

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  19. Ami, I believe that I originally found you through ‘Simply Quilts’ some years back. And to add to Sue B.’s memory of colored toilet paper, there was also colored tissues ‘back in the day’. And your creativity to clean the dyed clothesline – genius !

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    1. Regina, thanks for remembering Simply Quilts. What a great show that was. You’re a member of The Quilt Show, I hope?

      Yes, colored tissue too! I remember that!

      Thanks for your kind words!

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  20. I love your ingenious ideas and your newsletters, sometimes they are the highlight of my email. I especially like when you write about scooter or scooter writes about either is own adventures or things you have done. Keep them coming.

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  21. Ami,
    I luv your open-minded fun-loving approach to life. Admire your lint-removal system and tp storage. I have alot of bombs like your bracelet, but they’re no great loss – have learned so much in the making.
    Keep on writing, lecturing, teaching, creating, dyeing, and living life to it’s fullest. I feel as tho I want to just give you a big hug, so here’s my reply instead. Consider yourself hugged today.

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  22. oh no! where was I when you divulged your rope de-fuzzer? Thought I haven’t missed any of your newsletters. Can you please show it again or at least describe it?
    Diane who loves all of yours and Scooters letters

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    1. Diane, look at the video on the newsletter that you’re replying too. If you get it by email, click the title (blue) of the newsletter and you’ll be able to see it.

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  23. I am happy to say I love getting your newsletters for nearly 15 or so years. Always leaves me in smiles. I had won an address book from you back in the 90s. Still use it! Keep up the great work and give Scooter a good scrtch behind the ears from me!

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  24. I found you on the internet and have read your newletter on my email account, it takes at least 5 secs to open up your website and that is just tooooo long for impatient me :-)

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  25. I love your “necessity is the mother of invention” ideas. I do the same thing. For instance, I’m currently going through rotator cuff surgeryb rehab and would rather not purchase equipment to use at home. I look around and find it amazing how ordinary things can be repurposed: a couple of cans of Scrubbing Bubbles fill in nicely for hand weights; a piece of 1/2″ PVC with a T on the end fills in nicely over the back of a tall chair (covered with a towel) to mimic the arm-rowing machine; a flat strap bungy cord fills in for those rubber tubes used to build strength in your arm muscles. All these items can go back to their original uses when rehab is over. I say long live creative ideas!

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  26. We always called those trees “popple trees”, though we knew they were poplars. Regarding colored toilet paper, I remember one woman saying, back when we had all those pastel colors, that plain white was good enough for what she used it for!

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    1. I’ve also heard them called “popular” trees. :) Yes, for what we use it for, white is just fine. Unless pink makes you smile. Ever smile at whie toilet paper? (Didn’t think so.)

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  27. That’s REALLY pink toilet paper! The reason we only have white TP here in the USA is because the dyes were found to damage septic tanks…at least that’s what I’ve heard over the years. (Don’t want to think about what it did to our tushies!) What I wanna hear is your story about the fun you had coming through Customs with it all! Just the look on the Customs official’s face must have been worth it.

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  28. Ami
    I remember back in the 1950’s when my brother married my sister-in-law to be wanted “purple tissue paper. Would you believe we found some at that time. I was only about 13. We got it for her shower party.
    Harlene

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  29. Hello Ami, I have a toilet paper solution for you – come to visit us in France and get more!!! we now have, ahem, colours, and white with colours. But yes, pink is the standard! probably something to do with leftover dye after the war or something…practical. I am reading your newsletter because we met on a cruise and I loved my time with you and your mom (and I still have the jacket). And how, I read it on the ordinateur..computer. fly into Bordeaux, we can pick you up and don’t worry, with four dogs, there is bound to be some dog lovin’ going on. Hi to Scooter for us all. xo

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    1. Linda, wonderful to hear from you. I follow you on FaceBook! I’d love to come visit. You were a highlight of our cruise. Glad you still have the jacket. My mother…always the enabler. Such nice smiles in my heart from your words.

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