Monday, October 29, 2018

A Baggy Weekend

On my last weekend before going back to work, I decided I deserved a brand new bag.    I got the pattern back in April or may when Ruth Ann Stillwell visited the guild.   Her bags were all so pretty and well made, I couldn't resist trying one.  This one is called the Tidal Wave.  (all of her bags have that wave design)  I found this awesome fabric in Denver Pa, on retreat with my online guild.  The line is called "Cat-I-Tude"- perfect, right? 
It's a great bag- nice and roomy, with several pockets.  The outer bag is reversible.  I didn't take a picture of the other side.  Sorry..  I used a cat panel from the same line instead of the flower on the pattern.  I rarely follow patterns exactly as written, and this is no exception.  First- I don't do zippers on my bags.  I never use them, so why bother?  If I do it again I will skip the swivels on the handles.  Once you adjust the straps to the proper length there's no reason to need adjustment.  I already left that part off, so the swivels were unnecessary- and I don't particularly like them.

title: "it's in here somewhere"
The second bag I made is the small kind I consider to be my purse, since that's all I carry when I am shopping.  This bag is a remake from a half a bag I had made on this quilt. This was the brown bag challenge I mentioned in my last post.  When I took it apart, I saved the purse part because it was so pretty.  I wished it was a real purse. So when I ran across it again, I thought, why not?

I had a pretty piece of fabric that went very well with it, so I went to work.  It's not quite as nice as the pretend purse, but I like it and it allows me to use the pieces as opposed to the quilt sitting in a closet until finally, at some future date, my kids toss it. 

I went to the Morningstar Guild (East Aurora, NY)show last Friday.  It was a nice show, but the highlight for me was one of the vendors, called A Kid'll Eat Ivy Designs. She doesn't have a website, or sell online, sadly ( or happily since I'd be in trouble). Aren't these buttons wonderful?  I had thought one would look good on my bag, but the fabric is too busy.  So I think I'll wear it as a pin. (the one on the green card)  I hope next time I see her, she has more jewelry, which she has just started doing. 

I'm giving up fostering kittens.  It was time.  Between the amount of time they consume and the damage they had done in my guest bathroom, I was ready to stop.  So now I am using the time I would have spent on kittens every evening as my daily sewing time.  (today I'm writing this ).  Some days it might only be a few minutes, others an hour or so.  But I will HAVE sewing/ creative time  every day!  That's something I've really missed the last few years. 

I went back to work today.  It was nice to see smiles on even some pretty dour faces and hear the welcome backs.  My boss gave me flowers and I got lots of happy hugs.  Too bad every day at work can't be that way, right?

I am grateful for:
A day with my BFF
Back to my "real life"
Leftovers in the fridge
The flax seed bag my friend Judi gave me that keeps my feet nice and warm
Apple crisp

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A New Beginning

I'm back!  Did anyone notice I was gone?  :-)

The last few months have whizzed by, as I found myself caught up in a sort of medical tornado.
When last I posted, I joked about being between doctor's appointments.  What I didn't say was that many of them had been a progression of testing that turned out to be a diagnosis of endometrial cancer.  It all happened very quickly- from first visit to my regular doctor, to tests, more tests and surgery was 7 weeks. 
First, I want to tell any who read this and don't already know that it was small and very early and all removed in surgery, so I don't need more treatment.
Second, I want everyone to remember that if something seems abnormal to you about your own body- don't wait!  Go to the doctor!  Better to be seen as a hypochondriac than to ignore something that could be serious!
So, on September 12, I had a hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.  In English that means they took all the lady parts I was pretty much done with anyway. (this description should not be used with other women suffering the same issue- some will not find it amusing!) I have spent the last few weeks in varying stages of recovery, and will be heading back to work soon.  My husband was attentive; a very good caregiver, as one would expect.  He waited on me hand and foot as much as I would let him.  After the first few days, when I started to feel like I could probably manage to get my own lunch, I asked him when he planned to go back to work.  He said when he felt it was time.   I think he realized it was time the day I went to the sewing room for the first time- about 10 days post-op. 

The first thing on my to do list is a quilt for the new grandson, who we  should get to meet right around the first of the year.  I had something else started, but when I saw this pattern at a shop a while back, I changed my plans.   The original has an owl, which I dodn't care for, so I substituted the bunny.  This is just the top.  The babies will all get outline stitched when I quilt, so bunny's tummy will show better. 
  After I got the top made, I started looking around at all the piles of projects in my studio and decided to sort, clean up and organize a bit.  I found a few small projects that could be finished quickly, so did those. 

First, I had cut apart the "Brown bag" challenge quilt I made years
ago because I knew I would never hang it in my house, and I couldn't think of anyone who would want it.  I kept select pieces (like the hand!), which I thought would be usable for other things. 

The background bits have become:

"Catzilla"- from the book "Plush-o-rama"

I used metal bits for his features, so he's kind of Steampunk, I think.  He'll probably come to work with me.

I had been in need of a new thread catcher for when I'm at retreat or taking classes, so I used the rest of the bits for that.  No pattern, just made a sort of bag, then attached it to a pocket.  There's a ceramic tile in the pocket.  Not fancy, but functional!

I found some orphan blocks from the raffle quilt I designed quite a few years ago now sitting with a small pile of fabrics.  So they became this runner or door quilt.  (I haven't decided which yet)

The patchwork center of these placemats are made of scrap therapy squares.  I use the 2 inch ones as my leaders and enders when I'm sewing other things.  Eventually I have enough pieces for whole quilts!  Anyway, I had made all the 4 patches, so the rest went quickly.  This is the third set of these I have made and, I am happy to say, the last as the teacup fabric is now all gone.  We use these at home every day.

So I feel like I'm starting over after a sort of hiatus.  I have plenty of projects to keep me busy and I have made myself a promise to make sewing time a priority from now on.  I am happier when I have time for creativity! 
I'm also starting over with a new attitude.  On those days when my back, knees, hips, wrist.. are aching, I will not whine and say I have to put up with this for 20 more years.  I will now remind myself I am lucky to have those years and remember that 20 years is not long at all!

I will also try to post more often, for whoever (other then the spammers0 is stopping by!

I am grateful for:
 My great good fortune to be (at this point) cancer free!
All the doctors and nurses (and secretaries and techs...) who have been caring for me!
All the friends who sent me cards, emails and kept me in their prayers.
My wonderful family.
Realizing what is truly important!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

In between doctor's appointments

 I've been trying to get this post written for a week and a half!  Today I had an appointment early for a wellness check for my cat, then later I have an appointment with one of the "ologists" I get to visit routinely.  (It has been a busy month for that- a sure sign of the fact I'm getting old!)  Plus it's my day to run my errands, grocery shop, etc.  So there's not enough time to start any big projects.  It's raining, so I can't work in the yard.  Hurray for "found" time!

So, since I last wrote, here's what I've been up to.....

July ended with this little family coming to stay at my house.  Mom cat is every bit as scared as she looks- even after almost three weeks.  Poor thing. 

I finished another pair of socks to sell at the quilt show boutique in October. I think this colorway was called rainforest. I love the random designs this kind of yarn makes !

Have I mentioned my little chalkboard at work?  I started doing a doodle as a way to entertain the people who pass by y desk.   Only a few stop to ask me about it, but they all take a look as they pass.
This one was an easy one for Wes Craven's birthday.  Some are not as successful.  It's a 2 x 3 inch board, so I'm limited on the details I can draw with chalk!

 Last week I repotted my very spiny cactus.  If you've never done this, a word of advice, fold some paper, like this brown paper bag, to securely and safely lift the cactus from the old pot and hold it in position in the new pot.  A chopstick helped me get the dirt in around the edges of the plant. I hope he's more comfortable in his new pot!  I have others with more, but shorter, spines to do next.  

I finished piecing the top for my new quilt and layered it last weekend.  My dining room was just big enough for it! 

As always, my expert assistant was right there to lend a hand, er, paw.   If nothing else, she keeps the layers in place so I can pin.  The fact that she wants to play with the pin anchors just makes the process more of an adventure.  

This will be the biggest quilt I have ever quilted myself.   I plan to use the straight lines in this vintage quilt as my inspiration for the quilting.  I'm hoping by doing it this way, I can do each block (quadrant) separately, making the bulk of the quilt less of an issue.  I hope!

According to Al Gore, the current administration hasn't done as much damage as he had feared.  I suppose the good news is that we are resisting, making our voices heard and not allowing the worst to happen.  It hasn't stopped them from trying, so we have to keep putting the pressure on! 

I am grateful for:
Some good sewing time. 
Adorable kittens.
Sharknado week on SyFy!
Guy and Anna got married!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Rain at long last!

Somehow, I never learned to appreciate how beautiful day lilies are until a few years ago.  These are both next to the walkway between the house and garage, so I can enjoy every blossom!

Summer is almost half over.  I am not a summer lover, as you may know.  This year is a perfect reason why- it has been unrelentingly HOT. It has also not rained much in weeks, so every day I haul water to the gardens.  I live on a well, so don't use the hose if I can avoid it.  So watering the plants means hauling buckets inside, collecting water from doing dishes (I don't have a dishwasher, by choice), and even sharing my shower with a bucket to collect water.  Then I lug the buckets outside and try to pick the driest spot each day.  So most spots were getting water about once a week.  The exception was my pumpkins and zucchini. 
I have about half a dozen little pumpkins coming.  This picture is from last week, so the fruit is about twice that size now!
Thankfully, we have had two days of good soaking rain this week, with the promise of more later today! We take water for granted in the US. (More on that later)

Other than the gardens, I'm spending a couple of evenings a week at Kiara's soccer games.  She's gotten very good this year, and seems to be having more fun!

 And, of course, I spend as much time as I can with this guy.  He decided he needed to try on a couple of Oma's hats.  I think big sis has been teaching him to pose.  And he has learned how much fun it is to make funny faces. 

 I have managed a bit of sewing time here and there.  I am very pleased to announce I have finished the last of the "kits of the month" from the snap quilt series I bought.  I'm keeping the seasonal ones for now.  This one might be my favorite.

I just read an article from Ecowatch, about the deficit we as a civilization have been growing since the 70s.  We are using up the resources on the planet faster than they can be regenerated, and the US is the worst offender!  We build cities in the desert and then try to grow grass there.  Even in my part of the country, we try to grow non-native grass and plants, then use massive amounts of water to keep them alive during the hot months.  I am sickened every time I see sprinklers on a lawn, especially in the hottest part of the day.  We run the water while we're washing our hands, brushing our teeth, or just to let it get cold enough to drink. The water I waste waiting for the hot water to get to my shower could sustain several people in places without clean drinking water!  Just something to think about next time you turn on the tap. 

I am grateful for:
Time with the kids.
Kittens in my nursery!
Laughter at work.
Audio books

Thursday, July 5, 2018

This is why I gave up letter writing

I can't believe it has been 2 months since my last post!  I keep thinking of it, then there's something I need to do, and I put it off for another day.

But, on the off chance anyone is still stopping by to see what I've been up to...

I have been sewing when time and the weather allows.

I finished another one of those darned kits of the month.  (this might be the one that prompted me to sign up for the series)

I've been working on a new quilt for my bed.  There will be four of these blocks, which are 40" each!

Last year when Anna was here, we decided to both make this quilt so I could help her build skills long distance.   She is hand piecing, since she has little room to set up a sewing machine for any length of time.  She likes vintage fabrics, so her version is more interesting than mine.

I discovered a couple of balls of "Boutique Unforgettable" yarn in my stash.  A friend has been making socks with this yarn, so I decided to give it a try as a way to learn the "Fish Lips Kiss" heel method. See how the heel looks like a kid making a fish face?  (You can find the instructions for $1 at Ravelry).  I finished them on the plane ride out to Portland to visit Guy and Anna. 

The high point of that trip was the zipline tour we did!

And, of course, I have to get my "Oma time" as often as possible.

On my work days, creative time is hard to come by.  I started doing a daily doodle- à la google doodle- on a 2 x 3 chalkboard at my desk.  A few people play along to guess what the subject is.  This is the one I did for Jacques Cousteau's birthday a few weeks ago. 
(Did you know he was the co-inventor of the aqualung underwater breathing apparatus?)

Since it's gardening season, I am also outside most days I don't work for at least a couple of hours.  As usual, I got a great start on digging and replanting the weediest or most unruly spots.  But then the "housekeeping" starts- weeds and more weeds, deadheading and trimming- and then it gets too hot and dry to dig.  I have to keep trying to get the gardens I envisioned when I started. 

So, if you're here, thanks for stopping by.  I'll try to check in again before the Holidays.  :-)

I am grateful for:
My family
Being appreciated
Smooth traveling
The rare good night's sleep

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Finished is better...

 I'm finding sewing time is hard to come by these days.  I'm not sure why.  So I'm happy whenever I finish something!

A while back I shared Kiara's first quilt.  And then I showed the top I had pieced from the second set of blocks she picked out.  I finished it a couple of weeks ago.   It will be donated at a gathering of my online quilting friends later this year.  The backing is flannel, so I hope some child battling illness will like it.  

I used the walking foot and that wavy line stitch to quilt it.  It's not perfect, but it's finished.  When I made the label, I wrote that it was designed by Kiara and I did the piecing and quilting. 

After what seems like years, I finished these socks, which I plan to sell.  They are made from a yarn I discovered at Michael's a couple of months ago.  It's sock weight, but on the finer side, so it took more rows to get the length right.  It is very soft, so will be comfortable to wear- almost like cashmere.  I have two more balls of it to work with.  

I'm allergic to an ingredient in most sunscreens, so have to wear the mineral based ones- or a big hat and long sleeves.  It turns out the very same ingredient might be killing the coral reefs!  Hawaii is working to ban these products.  Naturally, the companies that make them are in an uproar, declaring their products to be safe- for HUMANS!  They don't want to have to spend any of their massive profits to change their formulas.  So look closely when you buy sunscreen, and avoid the ones with Oxybenzone!  Show them that we will support the more environmentally friendly alternative!

I am grateful for:
SPRING has finally arrived. 
Sleeping with the windows open.
Leftovers (and a husband who will eat the same meal twice)
Anna's help figuring out new options.
Little bits of sewing time.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Not quite a vision board, but...

 Recently on her blog, Lori Kennedy spoke about clutter in our sewing space, and the piles of ideas we all seem to have.  It made me think of the layers of crap pinned on my own bulletin board.

I never removed anything, just added to it, hanging new clippings on top of the old ones, patterns I want to do sooner rather than later, etc.  The sunflower is a beaded piece I stopped working on, but would really like to finish- so I put it where it would haunt me. :-)

But one grow accustomed to looking at the detritus and clutter and soon it's all just background noise. 

So I pulled everything down and assessed it all.  Some went into the recycle bin.  A few bits and pieces went into the "parts department" for later use.  The stuff I kept doesn't tell any kind of story.  There's no vision of where I want to go next.  But it might help me focus on something.

How about you? Do you have a pile of crap clogging up your creative thoughts? 

Today is Earth Day.  It was started in 1970 with great enthusiasm for the changes we would make to stop the damage we were doing.  Everyone agreed it was a good idea at the time:

Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean AirClean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. “It was a gamble,” Gaylord recalled, “but it worked.”
- from

Sadly, since then there has been a complacency among many individuals.  They think since they recycle their garbage, they're doing all they have to do.  They are wrong.
There has also been a major push back from the businesses responsible for the greatest share of the damage, via lobbying.

We have to keep making our voices heard.  Keep making better choices.  Keep this planet habitable for our children and their children.

I am grateful for:
My husband who makes me laugh.
A real spring day, open windows, and working in the garden at last.
Small bits of sewing time
My quilt guild, where I get to giggle with friends, enjoy show and tell and be exposed to new stuff all the time.
Fresh baked bread