Friday, December 30, 2011

Chicken Butt Finished!

Chicken Butt Finished!
Originally uploaded by sandyquiltz
Just a short blog post to announce a UFO finish... woot woot! You may remember this guy from my stash mystery challenge (this post, and this one, and finally, this one). Chicken Butt is finally completely done!

I didn't do a whole lot of quilting on him--just one fairly close outline, then one a little further out, then a funky wide meander for the rest. That's partly because the quilting wasn't the point on this one, but also because he had a little puckering from the threadpainting and I needed to give the fabric room to breathe--the puckering did pretty much quilt out, yay.

The white stars (or snowflakes, however you want to interpret them) were a very belated decision, after I already had the backing and binding done. So you can see the back of the embroidery on the back of the wallhanging--normally you'd do that first and cover it up with the backing. But, oh well, it's not like I'd ever hang this guy backside out on the wall. After all, he's already backside out. What would be the point?

He still makes me smile.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BDSI Completed Projects...and A Rant

As anyone who participated with us on Twitter for our Boxing Day Sew-In (#BDSI) may recall, I was sick as a freaking dog that day. I came down with a tremendous cold the Sunday before Christmas (the 18th), and still have it today. Yikes. So I wasn't doing a whole lot of sewing on Sew-In day, but I sure as heck had fun with the conversations and reading everyone's comments on the BDSI blog. It was a hoot! I'll definitely be hosting either another Anti-Black Friday Sew-In or Boxing Day Sew-In again--had too much fun not to!

So, who cares that it actually took me three days to finish my BDSI projects? They're done!

I had several donation projects to work on. These were all pieced tops and/or orphan blocks that had been donated to our guild over the years for our guild to use for it's own donation projects. How long had they been in storage? Let me just say that one of the tops still had pins in it, and the pins were rusted to the fabric. I had to do some extrication. And some praying that my tetanus shot was still current.

Lockjaw aside, I got them done. First up: two pieced tops that were roughly baby quilt size. Like, newborn-baby-just-home-from-the-hospital size. Most babies won't be small enough to use this quilt for long. But that's OK, because by then, they'd be able to see, and who would want to see these?

But let me rant later.

In short, I'll simply say for now that rather than creating two ugly quilts, I decided to contain the damage and only make one with two ugly sides. Used some strips for binding and batting from my stash, so that all worked out nicely.

The other project was the poor little orphan block. Really, she was almost there. Almost cute. But she had some issues, which is how she ended up being a donated orphan block.

I suspect many of the issues really came from the fabric that was used. The white is an extremely loose weave and fairly coarse--it didn't want to play nice with the blue print (which was a much higher quality fabric).

I puzzled, and puzzled, 'till my puzzler was sore. Turn her into a baby quilt? Nope--I had absolutely nothing in my stash that would work with that particular blue. Turn her into a pillowcase? I put the white fabric to my cheek. Ick. Nope. Finally it dawned on me.

A drawstring bag! Lots of places look for drawstring bags--for example, hospice homes like to send personal belongings home for family members in something nicer than a plastic grocery bag.

She works nicely for that, although I have some concern about how durable the white fabric is. Probably not a bag for carrying sharp, pointy things. Or rocks.

I solved the non-coordinating fabric thing by going patriotic and using a red fat quarter with stars from my stash. Wouldn't be my first choice if I was in a quilt shop, but hey, it works.

So, now can I rant?

First disclaimer: I've seen a lot of very lovely donation quilts on blogs and in person. I'm not talking to anyone here, nor am I pointing any specific fingers at anyone other than myself. But I'm also aware of--and inadavertantly became involved with--another side to the donation quilt story. I hope I don't offend anyone with this, but the last several donation projects I've been involved with have really worked my very last nerve, and in the process, I came to some realizations about how they had even begun to affect my own attitudes. To whit:

When did we ever get the idea that we can use our ugliest fabric in the most haphazard way or our blocks that clearly didn't work at all and donate them? It's like donating shirts with tears and stains or electronics that don't work or furniture with broken legs and assuming, "Hey, I don't want this piece of junk in my house anymore but someone else will be grateful for it." Yeah, maybe (although I have my serious doubts), but we're talking quilts here. We talk about quilts symbolizing love and what the heck?

Doesn't everyone deserve beauty in their lives? Especially some of these places we're making donations too--women's shelter's where mothers and children are struggling to put themselves back together; hospitals with families watching loved ones in pain; families who have been burned out of their homes. Why wouldn't I want to give someone in need just as pretty a quilt as I'd give my own child? Sure, maybe I won't do heirloom quality hand-quilting on it, but I sure as heck would want to choose fabrics that will bring pleasure or a bright spot to what may be an otherwise gloomy day. I sure as heck would want to show some care in my design and in my piecing. I would want the person to think I actually thought about them--even if in the abstract, a nameless person that I've never met but I can have some genuine human empathy for. Not just a way to offload ugly fabric. (And although I know one woman's ugly can sometimes be another woman's beauty, I've read enough tips on enough message boards that have quite literally said, "use that ugly fabric in a charity quilt!" to make me steam.)

I also came to the very discomfiting realization that my own attitude changed whenever I worked with those unattractive, often musty-smelling tops. I stopped caring about my own skills. I adopted a very "I don't care, just get 'er done" attitude. Fast and Finished was queen, not Done Right. Which, of course, led to me simply compounding the problem of ugly quilts with shoddy workmanship. And that's to my shame. I'm doing some penance over that one.

People don't necessarily need blankets...they can buy blankets pretty dang cheaply at big-box stores these days. Frankly, if my purpose is to provide a blanket, I'd rather write a check. The reason to make a donation quilt is to go that step beyond, provide someone in need with just a little bit more: the thought that someone else cared enough about them in their situation to sit down and make something by hand. But for pity's sake, please make it pretty.

I vow never to make an ugly quilt for donation again. I vow to never be attached to making ugly quilts for donations again. I will choose to make my own donation projects from my own beautiful fabrics with an attractive design, not some slapdash thing that "someone ought to be grateful for." I will choose to make something that shows someone I cared enough to take the time to think about it, even if it is a simpler pattern, even if it is a slightly faster's still attractive, and thoughtful. And hopefully, will give them a touch of love and care at a time when they need it most.

If I wouldn't want it in my own house, I won't donate it to someone else.

Ok, rant done. Sorry--had to get that off my chest. Hope I didn't bug anyone. To purge myself of these negative feelings and bring some Beauty Mojo back to my sewing room, I plan on making a donation quilt from my own fabric before my vacation is done. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing Day Sew-In--Get Your Give-Aways Here!

***The BDSI Giveaway is now closed!***

Welcome to our Boxing Day Sew-In! So glad you can join us, even if it's for only part of the day. This is our day to avoid the crowded shopping malls and just hang out and relax. If you have to work, my sympathies! Join in when you can. If you're still enjoying family festivities, so am I! I won't be spending the entire day in my sewing room, but I'll be there a lot. (After all, I have college-aged kiddies now--they still appreciate a good Pajama Day but they don't necessarily want me involved in the entirety of it anymore!)

Many of us don't officially celebrate Boxing Day and may not know much about it. In a nutshell, although there are several stories about its origins, they pretty much all agree that it began as a day of charitable giving. So that's a theme I'm personally running with! (See more about that below.)

To celebrate Boxing Day, and to give you some encouragement to spend the day doing what you love (sewing! yay!), several of us quilty podcasters and bloggers got together and decided to keep the gift-giving going! Here's how BDSI works.

  • Most of the giveaways will run off this blog--multiple giveaways means multiple winners! Anyone who leaves comments (instructions about that below) will get included in one big hopper of names. I'll do a random drawing  on behalf of all the podcasters/bloggers. (To spread the joy, each person will only win once.)
  • You can increase your chances of winning by leaving multiple comments as instructed below. 
Notice that I said, "most" giveaways will be here? We also have a Twitter-Specific (would that be "twitter-ific?) set of give-aways, too!
  • Use Tweetchat ( can sign in with your Twitter account) to follow #BDSI in one easy place. Mostly, we'll just be checking in with one another through the day that way.
  • We'll post periodic little mini-challenges during the day. Anyone who responds to the mini-challenges will be put into another big hopper of names, another random drawing of multiple winners, and more gifts being sent off.
  • If you're new to Twitter, enter any of our Twitter names into the search bar and you'll find us. I'm sandyquiltz, Pam is pantsfreesia, Tanesha is CraftyGardenMom, Jaye is artquiltmaker, and Katie is QuiltedMagnolia. There's a bunch of other quilt podcasters and bloggers that you'll find by looking at who we're following and who is following us. Then, when you see one of us post with #BDSI, just click on the #BDSI to see a list of all related posts--or, do the Tweetchat option listed above. Welcome aboard!
Whee! Can you stand it?

Blog Giveaways (instructions follow)

Pam, host of Hip to Be a Square podcast, is offering the following giveaway:

Four fat quarters from the "Tea Garden" line (Dena Designs, Free Spirit fabrics)

Aren't they pretty? A nice spot of spring as those of us in my neck of the woods are descending into gray, snowy days. Another thing that keeps the brightness in my sewing room on cloudy days: Pam's podcast is highly entertaining and includes a couple of Helper Cats. Make sure you give it a listen! Here's the direct link to Hip to Be a Square podcast in iTunes.

(Pam has a second giveaway that will go on Twitter so be sure to watch for it!)

Sandi, host of Quilt Cabana Corner podcast and designer, is offering the following giveaway:

An autographed copy of her new book, Little Quilts for Big Occasions: 7 Wall Hangings.

Great projects to help us be in a party mood all year long! And Sandi's podcast is as wonderful as her designs. She includes very helpful product and book reviews--she's great at spending my money for me! Here's the direct link to Quilt Cabana Corner podcast in iTunes.

Be sure to check out her Etsy shop for more designs!

Tanesha of Crafty Garden Mom podcast is offering the following two giveaways (one book per winner):

Fresh Fabric Treats: 16 Yummy Projects to Sew from Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes & More with Your Favorite Moda Bake Shop Designers

Simplify with Camille Roskelley: Quilts for the Modern Home
(Stash Books)

Do you love books as much as you love quilts? In addition to great quilting magazine (and very funny kid stories!), Tanesha includes book reviews--fiction, non-fiction, quilting, you name it!--in her podcast. Some of the best books I've read this year were ones I'd heard Tanesha review. Keep the reviews coming, Tanesha! Here's the direct link to Crafty Garden Mom podcast in iTunes.

Jaye of Artquiltmaker blog, is offering the following two giveaways (one per winner):

One set of Lark Studio Series Inspiration books (8 books in the set).
Sterling Publishing. (The set includes: Pendants, Ceramic Sculptures, Chairs, Art Tiles, Handmade Books, Handmade Dolls, Tables.)

"Imagine that Quilt" pattern, designed by Sandy Klop, American Jane Patterns series.

Jaye's blog is filled with fantastic design inspiration for quiltmakers. She and I are doing a recurring series on my podcast about design for quilters--she knows her stuff! Be sure to visit Jaye's blog to get a new vision for your own quilting!

Katie of "Katie's Quilting Corner" podcast is offering the following giveaways (two winners):

One person will win the "Delighted" charm pack by Quilted Fish for Riley Blake Designs.

One person will win the "Flower Garden" bag pattern by Melly and Me designs.

"Katie's Quilting Corner" is a fun journey along with Katie, a 20-something quilter, and her Corgi dogs. Her podcasts include lots of great quilting information as well as fun stories about her adventures in the dog agility world! As a dog lover myself, I'm a fan. Click here for a direct link to "Katie's Quilting Corner" in iTunes.

And my giveaways are as follows (two winners): 

One person will win three patterns and a charm pack ("Katie" by Jennifer Young for Benartex).

One person will win a fabric panel and the book Piecing Tips and Tricks (C&T Publishing).
Here's a better shot of the three patterns (patterns courtesy
  • "A Chick in the House" (Jelly Roll and Charm Friendly) from Quilting Discoveries by Susan Mayer
  • "Holiday Treasures" (Multiple Patterns, Fat Quarter Friendly) from Snuggles Quilts by Deanne Eisenman
  • "Snowman Placemat and Table Runner" (Fat Quarter Friendly), Donna Ptak Collection

And here is the fabric panel. (Cherry Hill Sampler panel by Kathy Schmitz LLC for Moda.)

My podcast, "Quilting...for the Rest of Us," includes interviews, design tips, product and book reviews, and my own quilting adventures and misadventures. I love getting comments from listeners and consider my podcast a conversation with you. You can check it out at Here's the direct link for Quilting...for the Rest of Us in iTunes.

Those are the giveaways from this blog. (More about Twitter below.)

To be entered into the drawing for these giveaways, here's what you do.
  1. Be sure you are NOT a no-reply or anonymous responder! We must have an email address to contact you. Please be sure your email address appears on your profile or include it in your comment. (If your name comes up as a winner in the drawing and there is no email address included in your comment/available on your profile, we'll have to skip you and go to the next person down on the list. You don't want that to happen!)
  2. In honor of Boxing Day: leave a comment on this blog post telling about one donation (charity) quilt you have made in 2011, or plan to make in 2012. (Remember the roots of Boxing Day! And see the very end of this post for some suggestions.)
  3. You may enter this blog drawing multiple times by doing the following: Visit any or all of the podcasters or bloggers websites listed above, and subscribe to their podcast or to their blog (or both, since some of us have one of each). Come back here and leave a comment saying you have done so--one comment per podcaster/blog you've subscribed to! So you could easily enter your name whole bunches of times! (And that doesn't even count Twitter.)
That's it! Have fun!
Here's a sneak peek at what you could win through giveaways on Twitter! (Information about these giveaways will be at #BDSI.)

Pam ("Hip to Be a Square") is offering a second set of four fat quarters--Bryant Park by Khristian A. Howell for Anthology Fabrics.

And I'll be giving away a few more patterns from

Have fun playing along with us during our Boxing Day Sew-In. Be sure to check out everyone's podcasts and blogs while you're at it--podcasts are great company while you're sewing!

Let the comments roll!

Interested in doing some more donation (charity) projects? Pam also helped us out by putting together this list of ideas and links to consider.

Friday, December 23, 2011

#BDSI Projects--at least to start

I woke up this morning (at 2:00 a.m., with visions of Boxing Day Sew-In dancing in my head) with the realization of the projects I really should tackle on BDSI. Since I'd like to honor the origins of Boxing Day, a day of charitable giving, by encouraging folks to consider doing a donation project at some point during the day, I realized I had the perfect projects sitting in a plastic back in my sewing room.

You may recall my previous adventure doing five donation quilts last year--unfortunately, they weren't the kind of projects that inspired me with the joy of giving. Rather, they were teeth-gnashing, hair-tearing-out kinds of projects. But I did celebrate when they were done (completed projects here) and I was thrilled to know they would be going for a good cause in our area. However, I became haunted by the project (check out this blog entry for the continuing story) and got another pieced top from the same fabrics several months later. So now, merely a year later (!), this has become BDSI Project #1. Fortunately, this one doesn't look as tricky as the other ones were, and having done a few of these now, I think I'll know how to tackle it most effectively.

All I have to do is find backing and batting (both from my stash). I'll probably just grid quilt it. It's an odd shape--it'll work for a very, very, very tall baby.

BDSI Project #2, if #1 doesn't do me in and doesn't take too long, will be a donation quilt challenge of sorts from my guild. We had a boatload of donated fabric, blocks, and scraps from somewhere or other--I'm not sure what the origin story is. But one of our guild's leadership team divided it all up into packs and encouraged us all to bring one home and turn it into a donation quilt or two.

This is what was in my bag. There are two pieced tops, but neither is really big enough even for a crib quilt, in my opinion. So I'll either put them together for one big one, or throw borders of some sort on each for two normal-sized quilts. The one on the left has the last row of blocks pinned on, but not sewn on. I almost killed myself on the pins when I pulled them out of the bag.

The little star block on the top is a lonely little solo block. Haven't decided what I'll do with that yet. Maybe a pillowcase?

It would be nice to get these all done before the new year, wouldn't it? Clean slate sort of thing?

If I manage to get all those done--or at least seriously moved along, I'll probably be working on UFOs or WIPs. I'll have a lot of sewing time next week, I think, since I have the week off, so I'm looking forward to serious forward progress!

So--remember to check back here anytime after midnight Eastern time (US) on Monday, December 26, for your chance to enter into a bunch of great give-aways and fun mini-challenges for our Boxing Day Sew-In!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Boxing Day Sew-In--Join the Fun!

Keep your cyber-eyes glued here. For 24 hours on December 26, 2011, Boxing Day Sew-In comes to town! I'll be posting all the information you need to play along at midnight (North American Eastern Standard Time, or UTC-5 hours) on December 26*!

The blog post will have information about give-aways, mini-challenges, other goodies. Pam of Hip to Be a Square, Tanesha of Crafty Garden Mom, Sandi of Quilt Cabana Corner, and Jaye of Artquiltmaker, will all be hosting or sponsoring giveaways as well--you'll find all the information and links here as soon as Dec 26 hits at my house.

Also--to make the fun even better--we'll be having fun on Twitter too! Not only will we be keeping one another updated on our progress via Twitter, but we'll be having special Twitter-only challenges and giveaways. Want an easy way to keep track of #BDSI on Twitter? Go to, link it to your Twitter account, and then follow #BDSI. You'll be able to track all the #BDSI convos in one easy place! Be sure to check it frequently--some mini-challenges will have time constraints on them!

Boxing Day Sew-In will officially end again at midnight EST--as soon as December 26 ends at my house--24 hours of fun! Giveaway winners will be announced on December 27th.

To help you with the time zone math--starting at midnight at my house means that BDSI starts at:
5:00 a.m. Dec 26 in London
6:00 a.m. Dec 26 in Berlin
2:00 p.m. Dec 26 in Tokyo
4:00 p.m. Dec 26 in Sydney
And 24 hours is 24 hours no matter where on the globe you're standing. So, for some of you, BDSI will be ending on December 27th. And that's OK with me.

(Thanks to The World Clock time zone converter at, 'cause I sure can't do that math myself!)

Spread the word--the more the merrier!

Thanks so much to Pam for the BDSI badge--we love it! Grab it here and post it to your own blog!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winner of Blog Hop, Next Big Event, and Some Pics

First, thanks all for coming to the party, the Quilting Gallery 4th Birthday Party blog hop! I had fun reading everyone's comments and can pretty much guarantee you that it'll end up as a podcast episode coming up soon. I'm also so thrilled to announce that, with thanks to the random number generator at, SassyCoconut won the drawing! Woohoo! I've picked up from reading SassyCoconut's blog that she's a young, new quilter. I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to help her along in her quiltmaking journey just a little bit more. Congrats, SC, and thanks again to everyone else!

Now, the next big event... #ABFSI (Anti-Black Friday Sew-In) was so popular--and so many people wanted to be sure we did it again next year, that I decided, why wait? Several other podcasters and bloggers have decided to join in the fun with me this time and we're hosting the Boxing Day Sew-In (#BDSI) on December 26th. Pam ("Hip to Be a Square" podcast), Sandi ("Quilt Cabana Corner" podcast and pattern designer), Jaye (, and Tanesha ("Crafty Garden Mom" podcast) are all joining me in offering up great give-aways and fun ideas for the day, so plans are in the works. Eschew the crowds at the shopping centers (isn't "eschew" just a great word?) and stay at home in your jammies and sew! We'll have lots of giveaways and a variety of ways to win, so mark the date on your calendar and watch here for more details as we figure them out. We'll find a way for you to participate whether you're on Twitter, Facebook, or none of the for now, just make your plans to stay home, pick out your fave pair of jammies, and get ready for a relaxing day of fun and quiltmaking!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch.... During the blog hop week, I managed to get some stuff done. Here's a picture of my son's Christmas gift...he's a student at University of Buffalo. I downloaded their logo, created it in applique, then echo-quilted around it (not worrying, obviously, about being too exact on those echoes!).

It finished around 13" x 15" or thereabouts--not very big. But I think he'll enjoy it.
Second finish of the week, my niece's quilt I'm naming "[her name]'s California Dreams." She loves visiting her cousins in California, and the fabric line is named Sausalito, hence the name.

Not that she'll ever know, since I didn't make a label. I'm not expecting any of these quilts to last until I'm no longer on this earth and will be making them much nicer quilts sometime in their future, so I wasn't sweating the labeling thing this time. I'm documenting it on my end, though.

In any case, this was the Five Yard Designs pattern--one yard each of five fabrics does the entire front, border, and binding. It requires a couple of additional yards for the backing.

I had it done by my wonderful long-armer with an allover pantograph--couldn't get too good a picture of it because of stinky lighting. Apologies.

I still have one more quilt to get bound before Christmas, so watch for more pictures by the end of the week.

And don't forget to mark the 26th on your calendar!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Quilting Gallery 4th Birthday BlogHop Party! Woot Woot!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED as of December 17, 2011.

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways
Special note: This drawing will officially close at midnight December 17th, Eastern Time. All comments received after that time will not be counted. Thanks!

A very happy birthday to the Quilting Gallery! And a warm welcome to all you party-goers who are celebrating with them by hopping along to some blogs. Thanks for hopping by mine!

"Quilting...for the Rest of Us" is my blog, my quilty podcast, and a community of like-minded--or somewhat obsessed, you be the judge--people of the Quilt Clan who like to think, talk, and dream about quilting. I'm glad you decided to stop by to join the QFTRU community, even if just for a couple of minutes.

One conversation we've been having lately in the QFTRU Facebook Page is: What quilt project would you absolutely love to be able to do right now, if you had everything else on your "need-to-get-done" list done? We got a lot of great responses! In fact, that's going to be my topic for this week's episode ( or in iTunes). I've loved reading everyone's responses and I think they may inspire listeners to work on their own dream projects.

So I'm going to ask you the same thing.

Leave a comment here with your dream quilt project, and I'll draw a name randomly from the responses and send you ...

some fat quarters...

and a great book....

to help you get it done!

This giveaway, part of the Blog Hop Party, goes until December 17th. Make sure you head on back to the Blog Hop Party to get in on all the great give-aways. But I hope you'll come back to visit again soon!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Episode 71 posted--and a note about iTunes

Hey everyone--I posted episode 71 "In Which We Shop Online" earlier today. It's available at, like usual. It's also available in iTunes. However, if you use iTunes software to subscribe to podcasts, the new episode may not automatically download. You can either go into the iTunes store and "get" episode 71 directly from the store, or you can select the podcast in your podcast list in the iTunes software on your computer, right-click, and select "Update podcast." (In my right-click-pop-up menu list, that's the third one down.)

I've had a couple of emails back and forth with iTunes tech support to try to figure out the problem--the usual fixes haven't worked yet. I've got about a week to try to fix this problem before my next podcast. Not that I wanted to spend any time sewing or anything...nah. Much rather spend it monkeying around on my computer and making conversation with tech support!

Book Review: Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years, by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early TimesWomen's Work: The First 20,000 Years : Women, Cloth, and Society in Early Times by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For what seems like it would be a dusty, dry, academic tome, Women's Work was really quite an enjoyable read. Reconstructing women's life and position in society from Paleolithic times to the Iron Age using advanced archeological methods as well as methods borrowed from other areas of research (linguistics, for example), Barber delves into the world of textiles--in particular, spinning and weaving--for what it reveals about the culture and society of the day. As a quiltmaker, I was interested in the development of cloth-making techniques but even more fascinated by the social and cultural connections being made. As I was reading, I was reflecting on possible connections with the textile world today--how cloth is used in fashion and in craft as a form of expression.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Barber's writing style is engaging; her own experience as a weaver, having been taught to weave by her own mother, gives a more direct insight into exploring methods of weaving through centuries. Whether or not you choose to accept all of her conclusions, you can't walk away from this book without a far deeper understanding of the connections between textiles and society in general, and a deeper understanding of a woman's daily life in a variety of contexts over the centuries.

My one critique, although it's an understandable one, is that she focuses solely on the Western world. Clearly there is an ancient tradition of textiles in the Eastern world as well. To cover both in one book would most likely lead to either more cursory and therefore dissatisfying examinations of each, or a book so long that anyone would hesitate to crack open the front cover! I would love to see a sequel by Barber following the Eastern tradition; or by another author (as long as that author was as easy and enjoyable to read as Barber!).

If you're interested in textiles, in weaving, in women's issues, or in the exploration of culture, I do highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

In Defense of Good China

When my husband and I were engaged, our mothers told us we had to go register for our china pattern.

We stood in the department store, in front of the display of china patterns, and giggled. Really? China? We weren't old enough for good china!

Eventually, a few weeks later, our heads more firmly wrapped around growing up, we returned and chose our china pattern.

We received a total of 8 place settings as wedding gifts.

Moving from apartment to apartment (6 times in our first 7 years of marriage), and then eventually into our first house--overwhelming jobs, two little bitty kids, no room to entertain, the china stayed in a box for most of its early years.

Once every two or three years, I'd pull it out for a holiday dinner, just us four. My little kids would help set the table, their eyes wide, their hands unusually careful.

The china is out. This must be a special meal.

Five years ago, we moved into our new house. New construction--we could choose the floor plan. I was adamant: I wanted a separate dining room.

"Really? The trend is towards open floor plans and no formal dining rooms. No one ever uses them anymore!" I was advised. As I read in magazines that mix-matched china from garage sales and using your casual everyday plates was now the modern trend, I kept picturing my china in a falling-apart box under a kitchen cabinet. "No. I want a formal dining room. I want to use my china."

Now we have a formal dining room, a dining room set that I love. We have now become one of the regular host homes for extended families at holidays. And, approaching our 25th anniversary in 2012, I just bought the remaining four place settings to fill out a complete set of 12.

My daughter still asks if she can be the one to set the table. At 18, her eyes are still just a little bit wide. She's still a little extra-careful.

The china is out. This must be a special meal.