Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Where have "you" been???

So- you may have been asking yourself what happened to "Merth"?  The truth is, the past few weeks have just flown by here and I have had nothing to show on a blog I have maintained as a way to share my "art". But, so you know I haven't been abducted by aliens, or suffered a catastrophic illness, I will share bits of my life. 
First- at work, we had what is called a "site visit".  This is usually done by an accrediting body to inspect an educational or health program to make sure the standards are being met and maintained.  Needless to say, there is a lot to do to prepare for one of these visits.  That is mostly how I spent my days at work, including working "extra" days due to things like the Labor Day holiday and upcoming time off.  During that same period of time, I was doing what I call a "company cleaning" at my house, in anticipation of Guy bringing home his fiancĂ©e!!  It was her first visit to our home, and I wasn't about to let her see the dust bunnies in the corners!

In the moments I found for creative endeavors, I managed to finish a pair of socks I've been working on for the whole year- or so it seems.

 I also took apart one of my UFOs.  It was a mix of blocks from other projects- and it was really ugly.  The frog blocks I kept (yes, I threw some away!) look kind of nice with the blocks from another UFO, so I may revisit that idea later.

And of course, I spend as much time as I can with these wonderful kids!  Now that school has started, I feel like I need an appointment to see Kiara!

At last, the day arrived, and Guy and Anna were home!!  We were busy the whole time they were here, and got the whole family together as much as possible while they were here.

The guys spent a day out in the boat (I can't say fishing because they didn't even see a fish!), so Anna and I went to the Genesee Country Village and Museum.  I'd never have thought of it if Anna hadn't been fascinated by the old houses we passed as we drove home from the airport. 

She just loves old things, and history so this was a perfect outing for us!

 In one of the houses, the interpreter was working with this tool, making cording to be used as ties, or drawstring.  It's called a Lucet. 

It turned out they sell a much less attractive version of this in the gift shop, so I am now "lucetting" myself.  I'll find uses for the cords, I'm sure. 

Anna is from California, and had never visited our part of New York before, so of course we went to Niagara Falls.

It was summery while they were here, so we had a family picnic, complete with a bonfire.

We were all fascinated by the blue/ green flames.

Another "Of Course" was going to Letchworth State Park- always a great day! 

And, all to soon, they were gone. 

The day before they left, I was asked if I would  be willing to foster a mom and 7 newborn kittens.  I said, Yes Please!
 It was the perfect remedy to the sense of loss I feel every time Guy comes for a visit, and goes back to his home. 

Who could be sad, looking at these little faces?

I am grateful for:
Having my family all together for a few days.
How much I love Anna. (Did I mention she asked me to help her learn to make a quilt?)
Jonathan's talking.
Sweet baby kitties.
Catching up with a friend I have missed.

I will try to stop in more often.

Friday, August 18, 2017

No sewing time to speak of!

I can't believe how long it has been since I posted!  My new schedule is kind of kicking my butt so far.  I'm enjoying the new job, as I am rarely bored at work anymore, and the days don't drag at all. But I get home and read my email, the newspaper, take care of the kittens, and next thing I know it's bed time.

The kittens I have right now are bigger than most I foster, but they are very scared little kitties.  So I am working to socialize them.  That requires quite a bit of time, since the goal is to get them to come over for pets and cuddles even when I don't have the food in my hand.


They're making progress, but  still look at me like this some times- especially since they had never seen a camera before!

And sometimes hiding in the litter pan makes them feel safe.  Poor kitties!

I did finish this quilt last month, so I am still finishing one a month for the year!!  I didn't have a pattern for this, just a picture from somewhere.  I didn't have much big enough for binding, so used a stripe on the bias, which I think looks great almost any time I do it.

I did a simple swirly stars faux pantograph- going back to my early free motion quilting days.  It's not for show anyway, so the child who gets it won't care.  The backing is a soft, kitty flannel !!

 And of course, there's these two who I am delighted to spend any time I can with!  Jon is too busy to sit still for a picture, unfortunately. 

Plus I spend time in the gardens as often as I can, even though this time of year most things are done blooming, and it's all just maintenance.  Plus, somehow all of my check-ups and such come at once.  I had one two weeks ago, the cat has one today, then I have one next week and another the week after.  Does this happen to you???

I am grateful for:
The many people resisting!
My new boss and new job.
The days I do get to sew a bit.
A nice day with friends last week!
Good sleep- when it comes.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Girls' Day at the Museum of Play

 For Kiara's birthday, I gave her a certificate good for one day of doing whatever she chose.  (I should probably have specified an upper limit, but she's nine, so maybe a trip to Paris wouldn't occur to her)  She chose to go to the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester.

We had been there about a year ago with her whole family and she's been whining to go back ever since.   I enjoyed my first trip, so was happy it wasn't something outrageous like the trampoline park (where she would be on her own as I doubt that is recommended for people my age)!

Her favorite part is the Butterfly Garden, which I think is also my favorite part.

 In addition to the butterflies, there are glorious flowers to enjoy!

Back out in the museum, we ventured into the land of the Berenstain Bears, where we found-

 No fabric there, though.  Ma Berenstain apparently sells her quilts. 

Kiara is a very good salesperson!

Upstairs in the toy hall of fame, I found this display amusing.  There are at least three dolls in there I played with when I was her age!

We played a toy trivia game, where once again I felt very  old, since I can remember when nerf was new.  I didn't think there were still dinosaurs around, though.

 (the answer is 1970)

This display would come in handy when I get dressed in the morning!  (some of you may recognize this ensemble!)

 This was cool- a video wall where you could be part of the scenery. When you clap your hands, your picture shows up in one of the bubbles!

After I took this picture I saw the sign saying no climbing. oops.

This room kind of made me nauseous, but it was fun! Easy to lose your balance, but the walls have that gymnasium padding!

We had a very good (and exhausting for me!) day.  I hope her next wish is just as good! (The certificate is good for one wish a year, so I'll be interested to see if she hangs on to the certificate)

We did it!  The majority (and some of the minority who have been paying attention, no doubt) banded together and showed those greedy, ego-maniacal  bastards we won't be fooled!  It's what I've been saying for years- if enough people want a thing, it happens.  Make your voice heard!

I am grateful for:
Lots of Gramma/ Oma time this week.
Cooler weather, especially the nights.
Macaroni and cheese
Not being bored at work anymore.
My shy foster baby was adopted quickly!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Speed Bumps Ahead

My schedule is about to undergo a major reconstruction due to a job change.  Still part-time and still at the college, but in a different- busier- department with hopefully a kinder boss.

So- not that I have set any records for maintaining my blog, but it will probably take a while to get used to the new "normal".  Today's post is an example.  I haven't done a lot of work in the sewing room lately, so it's a short one.  I shared last time the upcoming artcgirlz project, and my little series.  We ended up canceling the meeting because- well, summer.  But I did get them minimally quilted, and gathered a box of supplies to take along and share with the girls (girlz?) when we discussed embellishments.
Here is the current status of the project, with some of the embellishments I may use. 

The ones in the top of the picture are layered with a backing; the other one is just batting.  I'm also testing which way works better when you embellish.  I contacted Kathryn Schmidt to ask her about this, and her answer was "It depends".  She suggested figuring out where you're going first.  I have no idea where I'm going.  But I'll get there.

I got several emails last week asking me to call my senator about the healthcare bill.  I know my senators' positions are against, but called anyway and thanked them for their hard work and encouraging them to continue to work for us.  A pat on the back never hurts.

I am grateful for:
It didn't rain in last night.
How happy Jonathan always is to see me (I'm his favorite playmate, I guess)
It's almost over.
Time with a few friends at guild.
Sleeping better last night- for a change.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Mini vacation again

Thanks to the fourth of July holiday coming on a Tuesday - which is usually my Monday- I had a five day weekend last week. Due to very temperate weather, I was able to spend a great deal of time in the gardens. But I did get some sewing time in!

This is another crib sized donation quilt I've been working on off and on for a while.  I pieced the star points as "leaders and enders". This was made using a picture I saw somewhere on the internet.  I don't know where so I can't give credit.  The quilt in the picture didn't have a border.  I'm not sure about that, though. 

A member of my online group challenged us all to create a donation quilt using the disappearing four patch.  You don't have to look closely to see I cut some a bit differently from the others.  This will have three borders- two narrow and one wider, to follow the rest of the quilt.  I might even do the same piecing on the corners if I'm feeling fancy.

The ArtCGirlz are doing a sort of group project where we create a small series of pieces using a shape or color or theme, then play with embellishing them.  My theme is circles, using some drawings I made inspired by the wild dill weed I see by the side of the road.  (I didn't take this picture)

These are where I am starting.  It will be fun to see where it goes from here.

I also finished this crocheted "amiguri" cat, from a pattern called Kattis, available for free at 

No, I don't know what it's for.  I saw it and wanted to make it, plus I had yarn left from the "Miffy" bunny rabbit.

I read an article the other day about how recycling is costing money, which is very wrong, when you stop to think about it.  But the problem is the WAY we recycle in the US.  It has all been done more or less on a voluntary basis for 40 years.  But the Europeans have a better way- to no one's surprise!
They have  "Take Back Laws"- where manufacturers have to reclaim packaging and materials.  Why don't we do it in the US?  Because the businesses that would have to spend the money to change the way they DO business would rather spend the money ensuring they never have to!  Even the e-waste laws don't really force them to do it themselves, which is why some poorer nations are drowning in our mercury laden waste.  It's shameful!  We can, and we must do better!

I am grateful for:
A cooler summer where I can tolerate being outside.
A nice quiet transition time.
Fresh fruit.
My husband is not a picky eater.
When a plan comes together. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

The May UFO is finally finished

So I'm pretty sure I mentioned that the May UFO had misbehaved and had to go into a time out in my last post (or the one before?)  Well, it cried for a while, then came out and apologized and then we were able to work together.  
What really happened was I was trying very hard to find a faux pantograph design I liked for this quilt, since I didn't want to spend days and days doing something fancy that wouldn't show because of all the different prints in the fabrics.  I had thought of circles to soften the squares, but nothing seemed right until I stumbled across a design doing a google search, that led me to doodle this design.  It's not actually circles.  You start with a sort of four pointed star and echo the arcs in each square of the block unit.  But then it looks like circles when you do the blocks adjoining it!  Aside from still having trouble getting the tension to behave when I sew backwards, I am very pleased with the way this came out!  As usual, I don't know who it's for. I may save it for the next quilt show, then decide what to do with it.
I know I've mentioned before I have a collection of mostly small/ wall quilts looking for homes.  I posted a bunch of them on a facebook page named Bits of Merth.  If you can find it, and something calls to you, let me know!

This time of year I am mostly spending my "creative" time in the gardens.  My gardens aren't planned, as much as I love the neatly arranged ones with space around each specimen and no weeds.  That is just not going to happen in my garden.  I'm a plunker.  My philosophy is to plant aggressive perennials and let them battle it out- and battle the weeds.  You can guess how well this works for me, right?
Here's an example of what has happened. The yarrow and feverfew are battling it out with the lizard tails and salvia, but mostly the little morning glories are taking over any space they can get.  (which is very hard on the self seeding plants like forget-me-not!)  So a couple of years ago, I started putting down rock paths in an effort to reduce the area I am trying to care for, and maybe keep some of the plants in their places.  Yeah- that doesn't work at all.  
So I am upgrading the rock pathways a bit this year.  First I dig out anything I want to save, and at least break off the weeds.  Then, I lay down my new "Garden Fabric"- the empty bags from kitten fostering.  I go through a lot of kitty litter and buy the kitten chow in large bags.  These bags are like plastic burlap.  Very sturdy.  It's always seemed sad to have to throw them out.  I've seen tote bags made from them- for grocery shopping I guess.   I have found they make a pretty good weed preventer! 
See the blue and yellow peeking out between the rocks?  I'll fill that in with smaller rocks as I find them.  We'll see how well this works.  Thankfully, with the corn field out back, I have an almost endless supply of rocks!

In the front bed, the hollyhocks have taken over this year.   My gardens rarely look the same way twice- it just depends on  what has decided to grow in any given spot.  So I can't say this is what I would have chosen in this garden, but the Hollyhocks are happy.  I just wish I had more colors.   
Sorry about all the space.  Blogger decided not to play nice today and I have no tolerance for fiddling with it today.

My reuse of the litter bags keeps them out of the waste stream (and the ocean), but the world is still drowning in plastic.  Just a friendly nag- er, reminder- to choose a reusable alternative whenever possible (Can you hear me morning coffee people?).  Opt for simple packaging when possible.  Every small change we can make could have larger and long term effects!

I am grateful for:
A husband who is happy with almost anything I set on front of him at dinnertime.
A new family is enjoying my old car.  I hope they love it as well as I did.
ice cream, especially those Magnum double peanut butter bars!
I got to send two kitties home with people who were just thrilled to get them this week!
A new opportunity- a chance to be less bored at work.