Monday, March 31, 2014

Warning! Proud Grandmother here!

This is a picture of my one and only grandchild, Lily, taken about 1 1/2 years ago, when she was 8 years old.  She turns 10 in a couple of weeks and while I've always been very proud of her and her accomplishments, she really outdid herself this weekend.

Lily started taking piano lessons in January, 2013, and on Thursday night she performed in her first recital. She hates performing in front of strangers but she put on her big girl panties and did it. She said her hands were shaking and she looked like she was on the verge of tears!  But she played her 2 pieces quite well.  On Saturday morning, her mother took her to UW-Eau Claire for a judged competition and she had to play her pieces before a judge as well as taking a theory test.  No shaking hands or teary eyes this time!  She played her pieces and took the test and got a perfect score on both!  In fact, the judge told her that next year she should be going to the state judging! 

I'm so proud!  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The green wedding quilt
(not my picture but lifted from the internet)
Today I woke up to 38 degrees (F) with clouds and fog and drizzle which became rain as the day progressed. I'm so happy!  For once, we aren't getting snow!  For those of you who live in places where you don't have such long and extreme winters, you have no idea how happy we can get over a rainy day after 5 months of snow, ice and cold.  Now, if only the sun would shine!  

It's been a good day to do work around the house. Don and I put up the drapery rod in the living room and hung the draperies I bought yesterday. I must say they are the finishing touch to the room and I'm well pleased with them.

After that, I retreated to the sewing room and finished the wedding quilt top. Here it is.  It's supposed to be a queen sized quilt but this measures 85.5"x106" so it's a little longer than a queen is supposed to be. I'm okay with that and I hope the recipient will be too.

I'm so glad to be done with this top!  I think I spent more time on the 5 borders than I did piecing the center of the thing.  

I realized after I began making this quilt that I should have sent pix of the fabrics to Judy before I began working on it, to be sure it met her approval, but I didn't and just went full steam ahead. So, now I've emailed pix to her and I really hope she approves since I don't want to begin another one, but I will if I have to.  Hopefully, she'll respond in the next day or so.

Now it's on to doing the quilting on the "Jared Takes a Wife" top that I began at a Bonnie Hunter class last May in Ottowa, IL and finished last fall. It's been pin basted since November but with the move and all the traveling, I hadn't begun the quilting until last Saturday when the guild had an all day sew in.  I need to get that piece quilted up so I can use the pins on the wedding quilt.  Heaven forbid that I go out and purchase another couple hundred safety pins!  No, not having enough pins is impetus for me to get going on that project and get it finished.  I always have said that hand stitching the binding--the last step of making a quilt--is my favorite part, but I so seldom get to do that so I have to force myself to do the machine quilting.

I usually am pleased with my work in machine quilting. I think I procrastinate doing it because working on bed sized quilts can be difficult and hard work for my arms and shoulders. Once I get started and see some progress being made, I get more enthusiastic and go full speed ahead.  So, it's back to the sewing room for the rest of the day and then dinner with our daughter and attending the piano recital practice of our granddaughter, Lily.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Making progress

I have to say that my system of doing a little cleaning each day has been working amazingly well!  I'm so proud of myself!  (Buffing fingernails on my shirt)  I do a little each day and the house has been staying clean and neat. I think this is a routine I can live with. A few times I've been busy and not done my chores but I've made them up the next day so all is not lost.

And this picture guarantees that I'm looking cuter all the time, right?


I'm also making good progress on the wedding quilt for my friend. I decided to add this diamond border but wasn't sure how it would look with all the diamond shapes in the center. When I laid out one side border against the center, I really had doubts, but the die was cast and I continued to make diamonds. When I laid out all four sides, I liked it a lot.  I have another narrow white border to put on and then the final 6" border of the green coral reef fabric.  That brings the entire top to about queen size.

The third area where I'm making progress is with this little gadget. We moved from a 4 level split house to a 2 level ranch, and I find myself walking the length of the house many, many times a day, as well as going up and down the stairs to the lower level several times a day. I decided to put on a pedometer to see how many steps I was actually taking. Was I ever surprised!  I know that the goal is 10,000 steps a day and when I tracked my steps while I was still working at my desk job, I got between 2500 and 3000 unless I really worked at it. I knew I was getting more steps in now that I'm in the house all day but I didn't have any idea how many. The first day I wore the pedometer, it counted 7500 steps!  Amazing!  I guess you don't have to worry that I'm sitting around watching soaps and eating bon bons, right?  I have it on again today and it looks like I'd better get a move on.

What we're not making any progress in is Spring.  When will you really and truly be here?  I was lucky and spent much of the winter where it was warm, but I'm getting tired of hearing everyone else bellyaching about the winter.  So today, March 24th, this is what we have outside:

Can you see the snowflakes in my back yard?  The lack of anything green except the pine trees?  The dearth of anything in bloom? The sunless atmosphere? I want so much for this snow to be gone so I can see what's in this yard.  

That's it.  Since it's snowing out, I'll go downstairs and work on the green wedding quilt.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Here's what I've been up to

I've been working like a mad woman on a quilt that my friend, Judy, asked me to make for her. Her niece is getting married the end of May and Judy said she usually makes a quilt as a gift for these weddings. This time, she can't do that since she has numb fingers from chemo and is pretty much confined to a wheel chair while her spine heals from bone cancer. So, she asked if I would make a green colored quilt for her. 

I found a pattern in a magazine that seemed as though I would be able to get it finished in time and here it is, laid out on my floor.  

It's simple white-framed blocks set on-point and I originally planned on doing a simple border of the focus fabric which you can see here. It's a hard to see in this photo but the border fabric is a green and blue coral reef which I think is very pretty.  

I originally bought this fabric some time ago to make a quilt for Don and me, but never got around to beginning it. When Judy said she wanted something green, I knew this was the perfect to collection to use.

Yesterday, I finished putting the rows together and trimmed the triangles off the sides and discovered that I'd made the center way too small!  Yikes!  What to do now!  Well, it'll have to be a more elaborate border--and wider than originally planned.  I'll begin working on a pieced border today and hopefully that will bring this baby more into the size range of a queen sized instead of twin sized as it is now.  I'll keep you updated on how this goes.

While I spent February in Alabama, I worked on a quilt my daughter had asked me to make.  She wants a quilt made with the colors of the ocean and she and I chose the batik fabrics together.  Again, it's a simple framed block around 6 colored fabrics that really do remind me of the ocean.

I got most of the blocks finished before I ran out of the neutral colored framing fabric. As soon as I got home, I went to the shop where we'd bought the fabrics a year ago and indeed, they had more of the neutral! I've not returned to this quilt yet because of working on the green quilt, but I hope to finish it as soon as the green one is done.

I also worked on this Bonnie Hunter Talkin' Turkey quilt while I was on vacation. I got all the blocks done and cut most of the sashing and began piecing the border.  I've always wanted a red and white quilt and I think I'm going to really like this one.  I used as big a variety of red fabrics as I could, and I realized that nearly every block has some part of a dog in it, as well as a few cows thrown in for good measure. I think I'll call this quilt "Krimson Kanine Kwilt"  just for fun!  It too will wait to be finished.

While I was in Gulf Shores, I made a few trips to the LQS and I'd bought a fat quarter of this fabric to use as a neutral in the Talkin' Turkey quilt. As I worked with it, I liked it more and more, so I returned to the shop and bought a few yards to bring home with me. Don't know how I'll use it just yet, but I just love the apple blossoms on the pin dot background.  As I worked on the TT quilt, I made a huge mistake and now have a couple hundred HST in red and white that I may use with this fabric. We'll see.

And, lastly, I began working on my first leaders and enders project.  Several years ago, I'd made up a bunch of small 9 patches--they measure 3" finished--and recently came across a pattern where I could use them with this green fabric that I've had on hand for a while (that means several years at least. lol ) So I started making up the blocks as I worked on the green wedding quilt.  Unfortunately, I've sewn up all the little 9 patches I had and only made about 15 of the 40+ blocks needed for the quilt, so I'll have to get busy on making more 9 patches out of scraps.  

This will be a quilt for the house here,  an extra one to have on hand when we have a house full of kids and grand kids.  I like the way it's turning out and, for sashing, plan to use a bubble gum pink that I've also had "on hand," and I think that will brighten things up a bit.

So that's what's happening in my quilting world.  Now I have to finish my daily chores and get to the local cheese shop. I'm going to a Downton Abbey dinner on Saturday and I'm to bring the cheese and fruit course.  Should be interesting shopping for just the right selection of cheeses.  Maybe I'll be tasting a few. (See a delighted grin on her face!)  I also have a "sew in" all day Saturday with my guild so I have to get this ready the day before.  Should be a very fun day.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Setting up a new routine

I've been back home from Alabama these past 2 weeks and am just getting into a routine in the new house. Nearly all the boxes have been unpacked and the rest of them will wait until it's opportune to unpack them, when I'm good and ready, in other words. :)

It's strange living in a new house even though it's a very nice house.  Just a matter of getting adjusted to everything here and remembering where I put the butter dish and the bath soap.  It's also strange not having to get up and go to work every day or even every other day as I've done for the past 3+ years.  I have time--lots of time!  Since we moved to town, I can run to the store in 10 minutes and not have to allow for an hour of drive time every time I had to come to town.  I've been at ends wondering how I will manage all this time and use it productively. I've been known to waste consume hours of the day at the computer, playing frivolous games, and that's OK once in awhile but now I have the time to do it daily. Yikes!

I've come up with a housekeeping plan that seems to be working pretty well. For my entire life, I've spent Saturdays cleaning house. As a girl, my sisters and I had the job of cleaning the house on Saturdays while Mom did the weekly baking.  As a working wife and mother, I continued to clean on Saturdays and also do the laundry and shopping on the weekend as well. I'm afraid that without any structure to my days, I would put off doing these housekeeping chores until the clutter and dirt are overwhelming and then be faced with the daunting task of doing it all at once, as I've done for so many years.

The plan I came up with and have followed the past 2 weeks is to do one or two rooms every day, not spending more than 1 1/2 hours on housework.  So far, I like it.  You have to understand that I absolutely HATE cleaning house!  Such a thankless job!  It never stays neat and clean and you just have to repeat the same tasks over and over and over!  I hate it!  BUT, I can manage an hour or so every day and the house is staying clean!  Every week, every room in the house is cleaned but not all at the same time.  I'm thinking this is something I can live with.

Today, I plan on taking some pix of the quilting I worked on in Alabama and the commissioned quilt I began a few days ago and will post them soon.