Monday, December 4, 2017

I might finally be adapting!

After just over 4 months in the new job, with the new schedule, I might just be getting into a groove of sorts.  I still forget that my first day of work for the week is Monday, and my weekends are still evaporating (However, that might have nothing to do with the schedule change.) So I might be able to squeeze blogging back into my day here and there again.  (my vast audience will no doubt be thrilled)

This past weekend, I spent a great deal of time on the holiday decorations.  I don't know why I still do it; no one comes over for dinner or parties.  But I have boxes of stuff I like looking at for a  while every year, so I do it.

I put a tree up mostly so it would decorate the door.  It made adding ornaments easy, since I only had to fill one side of the tree!  This year it is decorated with a collection of ornaments that look like children's toys.  My brother gave them to me when I was first married.  They make the inner 6 year old smile.

 The mantle always has the "opulent ornaments" on it, but this time of year, I add the ones that looks more Christmasy.  (Spell check doesn't like that word!)

The newest ones are two I had every intention of finishing last year, then ran out of time. 

   The medallions are a subtle silver metallic and soft gold design on cream fabric.  I used mostly silver beads and sequins on the, with gold accents. 
It's very  hard to get a picture that does them justice since you need to see them sparkle

I have had some issues with my sewing machine over the past few months, so I finally took it in for service last week (and that is another story, sadly.  I'll share it when I know how it ends).  The problems I've had had kind of taken the joy out of sewing.  So, even when I have a bit of time, I procrastinate.  

Yesterday I needed to quiet my mind for a bit, so I got out the random scraps bin and did some "therapy sewing" (Rayna Gillman's term)                                                                                              After a session, I end up with bits of patchwork like this. The fact that these almost coordinate is because I had a pile of strips and small pieces that apparently went together on top of the bin!                                
I have a few piles of these bits from other  therapy sewing sessions.  Someday there might be a quilt or two.
My other grand accomplishment for the weekend is making a no sew gift bag from the book below. (the blog isn't letting me move things today and I don't feel like fiddling with it)  It's not a hard process, although it can be time consuming if you're only doing one at a time.  Now that I've done one, maybe I'll get a few started.  It uses rather a lot of fabric, since the inside of the bag folds down to be the cuff.  I decided last year I'd try to make some fabric bags to avoid having to buy new ones or wrapping paper every year.

So we're back to needing to call write and protest over things like drilling in the ANWR and giving all of my money to the wealthiest Americans.  I feel a little sick and pretty hopeless again.  Keep shouting, making noise, contributing to the causes you support, sending letters and postcards.  Our voices MUST be heard!!

I am grateful for:
Little bits of creative time
As always, play time with the grands.
A really good night's sleep.
A boss who understands that some days I'll be reading the news (or shopping) at work.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eventually, something will get finished, right?

 In an effort to post more often, I decided to show some of the many projects I'm working on.  But first, here's some of the precious little ones I get to spend my time with. 

Cait and the kids came over to play with the kittens the other day. John runs out of patience with the kittens faster than the girls do, so we went downstairs and played with play-doh for a while.  Papa was there, and helped Jon make an elephant.  Jon's favorite part was smushing it!

The kittens are growing up fast.  In another few weeks, they'll be ready for their furever homes- just in time to go into lucky little ones' stockings?

So, some of the things I'm working on...

The floors are cold in my house and visitors don't always have slippers.  So I decided to make a few pairs using an easy pattern and some odd balls of yarn I have sitting around.  These are the smallest ones, but they still look big for Jon.

I started these socks months ago.  They are a mix of leftovers from several  pairs of socks I have made in the past.  (Actually the yellow is from a skein I bought to make tiny bumble bees) I thought using the chevron pattern would highlight the stripes.  Someday they'll be done. 

I'm still stitching on my embellishment projects now and then.  This one is going to get lots of stuff added to it, I think.  For now I'm using this sort of knitted thread I got in one of those "Oliver twists"  and adding some more circles to the background. 

This is the one I have worked on the most, obviously.  It's almost ready for beads!  I was really pleased with the way the maidenhair stitch turned out!

I'm also trying to work on my "naughty or nice" challenge pieces.  My machine is still being hinky.  I have an appointment to have it looked at in a couple of weeks.  It hasn't been my month for machinery.  I'm pretty sure lightning hit very near my house.  My computer area was affected, and the computer probably has to be replaced.  The printer wouldn't even turn on.  I don't know if it was too much for the surge protector, or if the surge protector had been damaged in a previous power outage.  There is no way to test them that I know of.

There is so much in the news that is upsetting that I don't even want to know anymore.  But we can't let them get away with any of it.  Choose one thing if it's as upsetting and overwhelming to as it is to me. One group or organization to be your information portal, your issue to support, your opportunity to raise your voice.  Don't give in, don't give up!

I am grateful for:
A room full of kittens for the days I'm feeling magenta
Cold weather = more sewing time
Jonathan giving me big hugs and saying he loves me.
Soup in a bread bowl
Extra sewing machines!

Friday, November 3, 2017

I'm busy, but nothing gets done!

Wow!  Has it really been this long since I've posted???
I know I've been busy, but when it comes time to think about a post, I neer seem to have much to show. 

 A couple of weeks after my last post, I had minor surgery to remove and repair a basal cell carcinoma from right next to my nose.  I had this once before but had a simpler procedure to remove it.  This time I opted for the one that ensures the cancer is all gone.  It's comforting to know that, but it leaves a larger wound, and requires a lot more time to heal.  I still look like an accident victim a month later.    I joked the day I went to work after removing the bandages that I could be the poster child for wearing sunscreen.

One thing I did get done this month was this dress for Kiara to wear for Halloween.  She said she dreamed about it when she first asked me to make it for her.  We went together to the fabric store and picked out the pattern and the fabrics.  (Thank goodness I had a coupon for that brocade!)  When we got back from the store, she declared she would be the queen of Halloween!
 I was invited to join the fun at the Hallowen "dance" at school, which is really a bit of a free for all for the kids.  I revived my Corpse Bride costume for the occasion.  I had to wonder how many people thought my scar was make-up.

I have also spent quite a lot of wonderful time with my Jonathan!

 Whenever he comes over, the first stop is the "nursery" to see the little kitties.  They weren't quite sure what to make of him this time.

He likes to look at all the junk in the sewing room.  Today he spent some time " stabbing the bunny" with pins.  He had at first been trying to put them in a hole in the acrylic table, which would have put them on the floor.  The bunny seemed a safer choice.

 We played with play-doh for a bit.  I make animals for him to smash flat.

The week of October 21, the Museum Quilt Guild enjoyed a visit with award winning teacher, Laura Cunningham.  I took both classes, which you can read about at the guild's blog.

The first day was a beginner class for free motion quilting.  In spite of my machine not playing nicely, I was very pleased with what I did as practice.

Laura calls these practice pieces "dirty laundry".  I think I'll use it as my warm up piece for a while, filling in and doodling around what I did in class.  Then I can refer to it for examples of designs, or even make it into something useful!

On the second day the class was called Paisley feather zentangle fusion.  Laura liked the look of the zentangle art form and wanted to use it in her free motion quilting.  Her sample piece is still not quite finished, but was still an inspiration to us all! 

While she explained the process to us, I saw the large paisley with the spiral in my head as the basis for my own design. 

The fabric is one I painted with either setacolor or dye-na-flow paints.  I am using mostly purple rayon thread for my designs. 
Once again my machine balked a bit so the back has a few snarls on it.  

This is how it looks right now.    In the critique session, it was a greed I should enhance with turquoise and chartreuse threads as I continue.  I didn't agree, but do like the added layer of interest the different colors add now that I've done it. 

I mention my machine because I am pondering switching machines for my FMQ.  I loved the elna 740 when I got it- thought it was the answer to my prayers.  But over time it has gotten fussier and fussier regarding what threads and what designs it will accept.  I do the quilting myself in part to have the satisfaction of doing it myself, in part to save money and mostly to be able to choose to do exactly what I want on my quilts- using the quilting to enhance or add to the pieced designs.  It should not be a battle. 
Stay tuned...

Please continue to resist.  Call, email and write to your representatives, and the president.  Sign petitions.  Donate to causes you support.  And stay informed, as painful as that can be at times.  This administration's actions could have long lasting impact on our environment, our rights, our world.   We have to try and limit it!

I am grateful for:
Being so close to my grandchildren!
Being able to laugh at myself while I looked like the bride of frankenstein
Working in an office where people enjoy my silliness
The times when my machine and I get along.
Tomorrow I get my hour back!

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!