Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday update

I'm so glad it's Friday and all my work is done for the week. For the past 2 months, I've worked every weekend, typing up the reports that are due, and as of yesterday afternoon, I thought I was caught up. Until I opened the email from the attorney who reviews my work.  It was not good!  I called her--I still think some things cannot be discussed electronically!--and we tried to figure out what to do, but it ended up with me having to do a bunch more work on this one report.  I'm so stressed out!  I don't have time for this!  I'm on a very tight schedule to get everything done in time and this throws a wrench in the whole thing!  

I'm exaggerating a bit in the previous paragraph, but the reason I bring this up has to do with how I reacted to the email.  Usually, I'm a very can-do kind of person, sure of myself, know that my work is good, and so forth.  But when I get an email that questions what I've done, it just throws me for a loop!  All afternoon, after I'd read the email, I had a knot in my gut, worrying about what the email writer must think of me, thinking "How could I be so stupid careless?" "Am I going to be in trouble with my boss?" "I'm no good at this!" and on and on.  Until we spoke and we worked it out.  

So the question of the day is, why do I get that reaction? ? ? ?  You would think that after nearly 7 decades of life that I would have gotten over it, right?  But oh no, I see my mother's wagging finger and hear her voice saying, "But what will the neighbors think?"  and "Oh, I don't think you can do this." and the guilt and doubts surface all over again as though I was 5 years old.  Uggghhhh!  I hate this feeling!  I've been successful in most of my life, in what I consider success, and I've accomplished a lot in my career, so why won't that little girl inside grow up and leave me alone!  

One would think that after all this time, I would be able to handle a little criticism!  After all, we quilters know that no one is perfect--we even include an "Amish mistake" in our work!  But when it comes to my professional work,  there's no room for an Amish mistake--in my tortured mind!  It makes no sense!  I gratefully welcome criticism of my quilting and cooking and gardening, but not my professional work. I'll be so happy when this job is over.  I never want to go through this again!  

I know I don't usually write about these kinds of things, but I guess I needed to let it out a bit.  Am I the only one who goes through this?  I'd love to hear from others who struggle with this unreasonable reaction to criticism--please respond and let me know how you handle it.  

Anyway, I'm better today. On Monday, I'll get to work on redoing the thing and fixing my mistakes and move on, and it will be okay, I know. Cuz, I'm a can-do kind of person and will correct this ASAP!  Right?  Right! 

On to some quilty things, where I have an abundance of self-confidence. :)  Here's my sewing chair with a new seat cover made of selvages.  I love it!  I had planned on covering the back also, but that's a little more complicated than just stapling it on--the raw edges have to be covered somehow and I've not yet worked out how to do it.  The important thing is that the worn out seat is covered and looking pretty snazzy, if you ask me!

In the photo below, you can see that I was able to include some jack-o-lantern selvage and that I played with my fancy machine stitches in some of the empty areas.  I just love how this makes the chair look!  All I did was zigzag stitch the selvages onto a piece of heavy muslin, back and forth, until the piece was covered and then cut it to fit the chair seat. Easy peasy!  I just overlapped the selvage strips instead of sewing a 1/4 inch seam and flipping.  I had better control over how the pieces would look on the outside this way.

And here's the Chunky churn Dash quilt with it's borders and the flower applique stuck on. I machine appliqued about half of it yesterday and hope to finish it today.  You can't see it but there are vines and flowers in the opposite corner as well. I guess you can see a bit of the vine coming down in the upper left corner.

As usual, the lighting in the sewing room sucks--sorry about that. I'm liking this quilt a lot and will get it pinned and quilted as soon as I can so it's ready for the challenge in May and then it gets shipped to my friend in Bemidji who will put it in the fundraiser she's organizing.  I know she told me what it's for--a homeless shelter or food pantry or some such thing--but I've forgotten.  I hope she likes it.

So, today, I have some chores to do and then it's in the sewing room until dinner time and then what I hope will be a great college hockey game tonight on TV--Mankato State University vs Bemidji State University (my alma mater!) Go, Beavers!    

Monday, January 19, 2015

Can I keep up the pace?

That's the question that only time will answer!  I feel like I'm going at 150% all the time these days, trying to pace all the work that has to be completed in time for me to take a week off in the middle of February.  When I look at the list of what's left to do, I think it's manageable, but until I see the light at the end of this very dark tunnel, I'm holding my breath!

The job that I'm doing is a bit intense, meaning that I can only work for about 4 or 5 hours at the computer before I have to leave it and do something else. And, that means relaxing down in my sewing room!  The flooring is completed in the basement (and it looks really great!)  and I've been bringing out my sewing things as I need them and getting them settled in their various spots in the room.

Right now, I'm assembling the top for a quilt challenge in the guild.  All year we did a block exchange of the two blocks used in Bonnie Hunter's Chunky Churn Dash. I chose yellow as the color for the hourglass blocks and these go with the churn dash blocks made in a variety of colors.  I've got the strips sewn together so far and here they are laid out on the floor.

When I've finished this post, I'm going to get the rows sewn together.  I said this is a challenge so I'll explain. At our guild meeting in May, we have guest night and we have a great speaker lined up. Part of the "festivities" is that members who participated in the block exchange are to bring their finished quilts which will be judged by the guests attending the meeting.  The challenge will be--for me--to get the thing finished in time!

The more I think about it, the more elaborate I want it to be!  I'll be putting on a tone-on-tone yellow border with churn dash blocks for the corners, I think.  Then I want to applique some vines, flowers, leaves and butterflies on the borders as well. I think this will look great and I want to do all this extra work because I'm competitive and I'd love to win the challenge!  But I'll probably end up donating this piece to a fundraiser and I know it won't draw in as much money as it should.   Or . . . I could keep it for myself, something I seem to rarely do!  Maybe that's the way to go, and make another quilt to be donated. I've got enough orphan blocks lying around here that it won't take long to make up another quilt.

I also thought I'd post a pix of the machine I'm using to put this quilt together.  It's Julia, my 1970's Kenmore!  In all her sea foam green glory!

I don't use this machine too much. It's heavy, I don't like the way I've marked the 1/4 inch seam guide, I don't have a table insert that fits her, and she smells from all the oil the machine guy slathered on her.  (But her skin is nice and soft!) I know the machines should be used every month or so to keep them lubricated and flexible, so I took her out and have been working on her. What I do love about her is that she's so solid!  She just purrs when you press the foot pedal, no whiny, tinny sounds like the new ones make.  And she's so simple! (Sorry, Julia, I don't mean dumb, but easy.  Now maybe that's going to get me in trouble with her too!  Yikes!)  What I mean is that she's not complicated, not a high maintenance machine.  Just press the on/off switch, press down the foot pedal, and sew.  On my new Viking, I have to do a number of things with the computer so the machine knows what kind of stitch I want, how heavy is the fabric I'm sewing on, and so on.  Not Julia--she's easy!  (And I mean that as a compliment, Julia!)

I'm going to go and get working on that quilt center and hope to have it completed by the time I have to make dinner. I'm thinking that dinner might be a little later than usual tonight! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

It's been a crazy week in Lake Woebegone!

I've been under the gun, working at my job. I have to say this for working out of my home--I get a whole lot more done than when I worked in the office.  Not so many distractions from co-workers, and I can work whenever I like, and I do!  That's the problem--Where's the off switch?  At any rate, I'm moving along very well on my schedule to complete the January and February work before Feb 14 when I fly out to spend a week in Maine with Tessa and Lily.  If I don't get it all done, I'll have to drag a laptop and files with me, and I really don't want to do that, if you know what I mean.

Since Friday, I've been serenaded with the sounds of hammers and saws coming out of the basement. Don and his cousin are hard at work putting in a new laminate floor in the finished part down there, and I couldn't be happier.  We had the nastiest, stinkiest, oldest green carpet down there!  It was ugly and horrible and it made the entire house smell musty. In my sewing room, I thought I'd be able to simply vacuum up the threads as I worked in there, but the damn carpet was like velcro--everything stuck to it!  No, vacuuming didn't work so one day I went on my hands and knees and used a sticky roller to get the threads up, and that didn't work either! I think it was at that point I gave up and decided we couldn't wait any longer to put in the new floor.

Don spend a few days last week taking out the carpet and pad  and as soon as it was out of the house, I could notice the difference in the smell of the house. And the guys began laying the new floor on Friday and hope to finish it today.  I told them they had to get it finished because tonight I commandeer the TV to watch Downton Abbey, so if they want to watch their football games, they had to get the TV hooked up in the basement!  And that's the way it's going to be!

I decided to take a couple of pix to share with you. This is the basement of a large ranch style house, so it's long and narrow.  These first two pix show the floor from each end of the basement--I told Don we should put the Wii at one end and the kids could use the basement as a bowling alley!

This is the view from the other end of the basement with all the furniture shoved to the side where the floor was put down yesterday.  The basement is very dark and poorly lit so we're hoping this light colored floor followed by some fresh paint next spring will help lighten things up.  We both agree that we want a warm color on the walls and I'm leaning toward an orangey-rose color, maybe a pale orangey-coral, but I have to pick the right time to approach Don with this idea since he spends more time down there than I do.  We'll see what he thinks.

And this is the pic of my sewing room which is one end of the long rectangular basement. Don and Wayne put some of the furniture back yesterday and I'll get down there later today to bring out all my stuff so I can get a little stitching done today.  It's been a full week since I've had my machine available to me and let me tell you, I'm Jonesin' to put my foot on the pedal again!  I know for sure I'll be painting this part of the basement that coral color I like!  Maybe a darker color below the chair rail.  We'll see.

Before I do anything on my sewing room, I have to take the time today to take down the Christmas tree and the few decorations I'd put up.  We kept it simple this year since we had no one coming here for the holiday.  I like it just being simple and not going overboard as we've been known to do in the past!  :) Normally, I take everything down after the 6th of Jan but with the pressure to keep working on my reports, I've let it slide. Today, I have no work on my plate so down comes the tree!  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Barb's Grand Illusion

I've been waiting to begin Bonnie Hunter's newest mystery quilt, Grand Illusion, which you can see here if you've not heard of it yet.  Grand Illusion  Here's a photo of her completed quilt:


She clarified that the colors in this quilt are more vibrant than in the photo which was taken in bright sunlight, but I think it's just lovely.

I've done several of Bonnie's mystery quilts as well as other patterns of hers and I've never been disappointed in the results, so when I learn that she's doing a new mystery quilt, of course, I have to participate!

Bonnie chose bright greens, pinks, turquoise and yellow along with black and neutrals. These are the colors she saw everywhere at the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island, MI when she did a quilting workshop there last spring.  I love the colors and ordinarily would have used them, but I have a collection of Civil War repros and decided to use these fabrics instead.  I need to make a less bright quilt for myself as I have several bright ones already.  So I picked out the fabrics from my stash, bought one or two additional ones from the shop, set them all out and was ready to go when the first step was announced, back at Thanksgiving time.

And that's as far as I got!  The fabrics are still set out, ready for me to cut, and waiting--no, they're crying out for me to come and play with them! I love doing mystery quilts and I really want to do this one, but when will it happen?  I guess that's the mystery right there!  Ha! And the Grand Illusion is that I'll actually work on the quilt as the mystery is revealed--I'd love for that to happen one day!  

Well, since Bonnie gives us a mystery quilt every year, I should simply plan that I will clear my calendar during this time and do nothing but work on the mystery quilt.  Should we call that a 2015 resolution?  I'll put that on the list I'm posting in my sewing room, and we'll see! 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

End of the year report

I don't normally make lists of things I want to accomplish or set quilting goals or make New Year resolutions--other than the usual "Get Fit, Eat Healthy, Lose Weight"--because within a week or two, I tend to forget what my goals and resolutions are. So what's the point?

But last night, I realized that I did indeed set a couple of quilting goals for myself for 2014 (see what I mean about forgetting my goals!)  and totally did not accomplish them.  One was to begin to make a Baltimore Album quilt.  I'd seen a post from Wendy in Canada who'd been to a quilt show that featured Baltimore Album quilts and I realized that I simply love those quilts. She and I had an on-line chat about doing one of those, I ordered the book I needed to begin, found some fabrics that would be nice in the applique--both in my stash and in the quilt shop--and then promptly forgot all about it!  So, an entire year has passed and no progress at all made toward learning the applique needed for this kind of quilt!  Sheesh! I feel like a total loser!  I think I have to continue the goal of making a BA quilt--maybe I'd do better if I challenge myself to making even one block this year.  That might be more doable, don't you think?

The other goal I'd set for myself--now I've forgotten it again! I believe it was to quilt up some of the pieced tops I've had in my closet for way too many years!  Nothing done on that either, but I did make 2 additional tops, so that brings the total to 6!  And that's bed-sized quilts!  So I think I have to keep that on my list of things to do, agreed?

And since I don't have a secretary to write things down and remind me of what needs to get finished, I think I'll make a big poster and keep it right at my sewing table to help me stay on track.  Well, at least it's worth a try, right?

Yesterday I was packing up the sewing room so Don can come in there today to take up the carpet. After I was finished, I sat down--just for a few minutes, mind you--to begin piecing my selvages onto a muslin foundation.  I've been collecting selvages for about 6 or 8 months and have a large bag full. The collection really grew at retreat when the others began feeding it selvages from their projects!  I didn't know what to do with them, I just knew that I liked the look of items made with selvages, and then I got an idea!  My sewing chair is upholstered in a pukey lime green and has definitely seen better days.  Why not make a cover for the seat and the back using the selvages? Yeah, that's the ticket!  So I spent 2 hours, not just a few minutes, making a large enough piece to cover the seat of the chair.  I've got way enough more selvages to make a piece for the top later.  And I hope to staple the new cover to the seat someday this week since I won't be able to do any sewing  while Don's laying the new floor in there.

So, these are my lamentations about what I didn't get done. I did do a whole lot of sewing on other things that were actually completed!  And given away or sold in the Etsy store.  I tried really hard to shop my stash instead of the store but sometimes I just had to buy!  I think everyone who reads this will understand. :)

That's it. Sorry about no pix--no time today. Got grocery shopping to do when Don clears the snow out of the driveway and then I'll be at the laptop writing reports and getting ready for Monday's day of work.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome, 2015!

And a Happy New Year to everyone!

Don and I celebrated "big time" last night--we shared a pizza and he watched a movie on the downstairs TV and I watched a movie on the upstairs TV. Both in bed and sound asleep long before midnight.  Not much to talk about but that's our style these days.  Son Dan was at his home playing board games with the little boys--welcome to family life, Dan!

Today promises to be much the same. New Year's brunch at my niece's house and then Don will be glued to the TV for the rest of the day, watching bowl games.  He does love his college football--but rarely will he watch a pro game!  When I married him (a few decades ago!) I knew nothing about the game and decided that I wouldn't be able to beat him so I may as well join him, and I became the biggest football fan in the state, I think.  Games began on Friday night at the high school stadium, Saturday am at the junior football games and Saturday afternoon watching the college games on TV. Sunday of course, was all pro games on television with the final game on Monday night with Howard Cosell and the boys in the booth.  Wow, that was quite awhile ago, wasn't it? I don't know what I would have done if I could have televised football any time of the day like it is now! Probably not much quilting!

After the first baby was born, all that went to pot!  I never saw an entire game after I began having children and through the years, I gradually became less and less interested until this year when I decided I couldn't support football any more.  That sounds rather blasphemous, doesn't it, coming from the land of the Packer cheeseheads!  No, I decided that this was a truly dangerous game at all levels of play and I couldn't continue enjoying a game where young boys and men were risking their lives in many ways for my entertainment.  Not just the concussions they endure but the orthopedic injuries they sustain that haunt them for the rest of their lives.  And I was tired of reading about all the scandals--dog fighting, child abuse, sex with underage girls, beating the girlfriend/wife, and on and on.  Nope, I was just tired of all of it and decided I had much better things to do than to support and encourage this sport.  So, no football for me beginning in 2014 and continuing.

Instead of being glued to the television today with my husband.  I'll be packing up my sewing room so tomorrow he can begin removing the dirty, stinky old carpet that's in there and get the room ready to lay the new wood floor.  For some reason, that old carpet is like velcro--all the threads and such just stick to it and I can't get anything vacuumed up in there!  So gross to look down and see all the tread and snippets littering the floor. And the smell!  I won't even go there, it's so gross!

Well, that's what my day is looking like. How about yours?  I hope you had a fun, satisfying and safe New Year's Eve and will enjoy a happy New Year today.