Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sunday Sundry 6-4-17

It's a gorgeous day in this neck of the woods.  I have mixed feelings about sitting here in front of the screen when it's so nice outside, but here I am, letting my oatmeal and blueberries digest.  There will surely be time enough to soak up some sun later on, until either the rising temps outside or self-made in my own internal furnace (being a certain age) kick in, and I run for the AC.

Hot and cold, hot and cold.  My nights often go like this:  2:45 a.m. - kick blanket off.  2:50 a.m. - sheet off.  3:00 a.m. - sheet on but leg out.  3:05 a.m. - blanket on but arm out.  3:10 a.m. - arm in, blanket pulled up to neck.  3:30 - kick blanket off...and the cycle repeats.  All the while, the house is a steady 71 degrees, so it's just me and what's left of my hormones in a quasi-sonambulistic rodeo of the bedclothes.

Somehow, after a couple go-rounds, I do sleep pretty decently, so it works out, I guess.

* * * * *
What I'm listening to on my daily walk:  The Woodlanders by Thomas Hardy.

Over the past summer or two, I've read/listened to Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Jude the Obscure.  I've yet to read The Mayor of Casterbridge (and others), but they'll have their turn.

These Victorian-era stories with characters set in the English countryside so lushly described by Hardy are the perfect companions on a summer walk.  I download the chapters free from HERE.  The narrator, Tadhg Hynes, is excellent.  I have searched for other books he has narrated and given them a listen as well, including David Copperfield last summer.

* * * * *
On Memorial Day, we celebrated my dad's 85th birthday with a cookout and gathering of about 40 people, family and friends.  He's been pretty cooped up for the past five months recovering from his ankle fracture, so he especially enjoyed the day. 

* * * * *
In the sewing room, I made a back for the bonus HST quilt, which you can see on the design wall here, to the left of the quilt top.  I used what was left of the FQ bundle of solids for it.

Also worked on making a sample of a hobo/hippy bag that my niece has commissioned me to make as a gift for a friend of hers.  She wants a bare tree appliqued on the bag, and I wanted to see how that was going to work.  

I just used some random fabric I had on hand for the bag exterior and interior.  It didn't much matter what that looked like, as I was mainly interested in testing the applique.

I used the Crafted Applique technique, and it turned out great!  I didn't back the exterior bag fabric with interfacing or stabilizer, just starched it, like Lara suggests in her book.  I prepared the green fabric, cut out the tree shape, pressed and stitched it down, then went over the trunk and branches with some additional stitching.  I'm very happy with how it came out and have no qualms about making the actual bag with whatever fabric my niece selects (bag tutorial here).

* * * * *
A few weeks ago, a friend asked me to make her a little zipper pouch for her purse.  She picked the general color scheme and I made this for her, using this tutorial.

We worked a trade.  She got a little clutch, and I got a month's worth of farm fresh, free-range eggs from her chickens.  What a sweet deal!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

I've got to wear shades...

I was working/procrastinating on the Hands2Help quilt a couple weeks ago when I got sidetracked by a baggie full of something good.  Not that kind of baggie full, something totally legal in all 50 states.  Quite possibly as capable of inducing a chill state of mind, but without the paranoia.  Not even of the quilt police.

My friend and fellow quilter Marei and I swapped boxes of scrap fabric a while ago, but to call what she sent me a box of scrap fabric is an understatement.  It was a treasure chest!

Among the rolls of strips all neatly cut to usable sizes were a couple of baggies with notes inside, to the effect of "Have fun!" and "Maybe you can create something with these."

Happily, I did!  I made THIS wall hanging from one bag of bitty-bits.

Recently I rediscovered the other bagful—two-inch "bonus" half-square triangles: the corners you cut off some other project and, if you're like Marei and me, and maybe you, you set aside to use some other time. 
I started pulling the pieces out and arranging them in groups of 16.  They were so cute and colorful!  So I sewed those groups of 16 together into 6.5-inch blocks, as many as I could make.

Now what? 

Well, I could sash them or border them, I thought.  What might I have in the stash for that?  Here's a pretty bundle of fat quarters I won in last year's Hands2Help giveaway.  Let's just open these up a bit and see if any of them might do, color-wise.  

Yes, all of them!  Okay, maybe not the ivory one, but all the rest.
Hm, what if I stagger or offset them?  Then I would only need to border three sides instead of four, and isn't that interesting?

Let's make the two side borders a bit narrower and the longer border wider.  If I cut the side borders 6.5 x 3 and the longer border 11.5 x 3.5, that will make the block finish at 9 x 11 inches.  Seems like a workable size rectangle to make a baby quilt or wall hanging.

And that is the story of how friendship, farting around, and flimsies come together.
It is bright, and I like that.  In real life, it's not quite as eye-searingly bright.  I tried to correct somewhat for the dim light of the basement with so-so results.

Now I'm in the process of making a scrappy back.

How have you used your small bonus half-square triangles?  Do you have some lying around, waiting for inspiration?  Do you toss them or give them away? 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Quilt for International Institute

This year's Hands2Help charity quilt challenge is coming to a close, and I'm nipping in under the wire with a quilt I've just finished today.
Somewhere in the beginning of the challenge, Sarah posted a photo of a quilt which caught my eye and served as inspiration.  It seemed like a good way to use all those bright, larger scale prints in the stash and scrap boxes.  I took a good rummage around and came up with a variety, stocked up on some Kona Snow background fabric that happened to be on sale, and was off to the races.

The tortoise kind of race, that is.  Slow and steady...
I cut 9-inch squares and made half-square triangles with a bright and a background square.  Then trimmed them to 8.5 inches and arranged them on the design wall.  Pretty easy-peasy.  It finished at 64 x 88.
The backing was made with chunks of scraps and some yardage from the stash.  I thought WAY harder about how to piece the backing than I did the front, though you might not know it to look at it now.  Like a jigsaw puzzle, putting together this and that to bring it up to the right size using the odd parts available.  I miscalculated somewhat when one of those odd parts ran short, which led to making the two hourglass blocks in the middle.
That may be my favorite part of the whole back.
Anyway, it's done and ready to send off to International Institute!

Linking to Confessions of a Fabric Addict.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

What's Not Working

I spent the last three nights glued to PBS from 8 to 10 p.m., watching the American Experience series on World War I.  It was a very good program.  "Good" from a historical perspective, and I learned a lot.  I didn't know much about the Great War, other than the few paragraphs I recalled from History class all those years ago (and maybe Downton Abbey).  This series painted a broader picture of what was going on at home and abroad during those years, and that was very enlightening.

Old oak along the walking trail.
Striking that there's been 100 years between then and now, yet some of the same or similar issues persist.

An ancestor (center) during WWI.
My overall takeaway:  We human beings can most certainly be good to each other, espouse lofty goals, try to behave morally, get along and work toward a greater good—and at the same time we are capable of doing awful, shitty, horrific, and terrible things to one another and our world.

I know.  Nothing new there.  We all know this.  We love and we hate.  We want peace and make war.  We rain down destruction in the name of our ideals, but in moments of truce, we celebrate and shake hands and share food and commonalities.

From an ancestor's personal photo collection - Local WWI Red Cross volunteers.
Things are not ever 100% black and white, right or wrong.  They are complex and nuanced and cast in varying shades of gray.  And we don't particularly like gray.  We prefer clarity, often to the point of inventing a vision of it and disregarding or quashing anything that would threaten to cloud it.

Can you see it?
What can we do?  Must history continue to repeat itself?  I don't have the answer.  But I think we strive do the best we can with what we have, what we know or can know, and then do better.  Be open to other perspectives, new information, old information if we didn't comprehend it the first (or 100th) time around.  Get out of the trenches of our biases, groupthink, self-interests, and us-versus-them mentality, and cultivate compassion and greater understanding.

This pair has been checking out the yard - male wood duck and female mallard.
   * * * * * 

Well, how to segue to sewing from there?

I put the Solstice Challenge Quilt-Along blocks on the design wall last week and was promptly underwhelmed.

Meh.  It's just not working for me.  But that's okay.  

I've decided not to worry about catching up on the rest of the blocks that I'm behind on, and will just put it away for now.  Later on I'll look at it again and maybe have a different perspective.  Perhaps parts of it will wind up in a donation quilt or two.

In the meantime, I've started to pull and cut fabric for this year's Hands2Help charity quilt.  Sarah posted some eye candy recently that tripped a light bulb for me, and I ran off to round up some bright graphic scraps.

I'm excited to get started on it!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Sundry 3-12-17

As Zep would say:  "It's been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time..."

Maybe not so lonely, in my case, but a long time between posts for sure.  Unfortunately for you, dear reader, I have no harrowing tale of being abducted by aliens to account for being MIA.  Just, you know, life.
On the subject of aliens, though, two things (Already with the tangents? Yes, indeed!):  (1)  This Saturday Night Live skit never fails to crack me up.  (2)  Arrival.  Good movie.

* * * * *
Here on the home front, I have finished a couple of kennel quilts from repurposed scrubs. 

First, a pretty basic one, alternating a solid and a print.  The back is also entirely from scrubs.

Next, a Gee's Bend-style housetop quilt.  The wine and cheese themed fabric on the back was a thrift store find.
The Way I Sew It: Housetop style quilt from repurposed scrubs

I made a scrappy bias binding from scrubs, because I'd opted to maintain the wonky, slightly bowed nature of this free-pieced strippy quilt.  I deliberately did not square it up whatsoever.  Amazingly, it lies completely flat with no ripples, which is better than some of my squared up quilts.  Since the poly-cotton blend scrubs were washed and worn many times over, the quilt has a wonderful soft drape to it, and is cozy warm. 

It was hard to capture the true vibrancy of the solid colors in this quilt, but it is better looking in real life.  I like it so much, I may have to hang onto it a little while before it (literally) goes to the dogs.

* * * * *
It's March, and that means it's time to get in on some fun quilt making for the benefit of other people.  Sarah has just kicked off the 2017 Hands2Help Charity Quilt Challenge!

Confessions Of A Fabric Addict

Click on over to Confessions of a Fabric Addict for all the details and to sign up.  I always enjoy participating in this annual event to make quilts for a number of good causes (or a local one of your choosing).  And, as always, there are great prizes!

* * * * *
How it went down yesterday on our trip to W@lmart:

That moment when you come up behind your spouse who's pushing the cart at the store and go to toss something in, but he doesn't know you're there and veers to the right, so the item lands on the floor, and the guy coming the opposite way looks up from his phone at just the right moment, like you might be a crazy person who randomly throws things on the floor in other people's paths. Meanwhile the spouse just keeps moving down the aisle. I hate when that happens.

* * * * *
My dad is happy to be back home and out of the rehab center after his ankle fracture and surgery.  He's still non-weightbearing on the left leg for several more weeks.  Here he is relaxing in his new lift chair.
The day he came home, we had a freak hailstorm.  It was as if Mother Nature decided to throw him a ticker-tape parade, complete with her own version of confetti.

Personally, I could have done without having to shovel pea and marble-sized hail off the wheelchair ramp so he could get in the house, but you do what you have to do.  I got it cleared off in the nick of time, just as my sister was driving in with him.

* * * * *
What with everything going on after the first of the year, it took a while for us to get around to downloading all of our Christmas pictures.  I thought this was a pretty nice one of my siblings and me (on right).
* * * * *
I changed up my Pyrex display in December.  Since snow is still in the forecast here, I don't feel bad that it's still up, although probably not much longer.

The tree out front has a great sap-sicle going on.  We had it trimmed recently when it was warmer (upper 40's), and then it got cold again. Seeing one of these on a river birch tree was a first for me.

Winter in the Upper Midwest:  It ain't over 'til it's over!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday Sundry 2-12-17

I started another quilt on a whim this past week.  One minute I'm cutting up a laundry basket full of solid colored scrubs and the next I decide to just start sewing some of the strips together.

Since I had the scissors in hand, I thought I'd shoot for a free-pieced, Gee's Bend style "Housetop" quilt, using just my scissors and eyeballing it, no ruler, no rotary cutter, no pins.

A while later, I had this.  A little wonky and bowed in places, to be expected, but all in all, not bad!

Decided to make it more rectangular, and I had two good sized pieces from a pair of scrub pants that worked well for that.

I think it might be hard to part with this one as a kennel quilt.  I really like it!

* * * * *
My dad had surgery this past week to fix the multiple fractures in his ankle, foot and lower leg from falling on the ice.  Four hours, five plates, and forty-two screws later, it was done.  His surgeon said it was the worst break he had seen in his entire career.  Dad had some tremendous pain after surgery, as you can imagine, but it seems better controlled now.  Now we wait for the bones to mend and healing to take place while he stays off it for a few months.

* * * * *
I was pretty frustrated this past week with trying to maintain a low-FODMAP diet yet things still not sitting well.  I'd had a streak of good days and then it seemed that no matter what, things turned to crap. It's been a month of watching and journaling and limiting and testing, and yesterday I was having a "forget it" moment.  And by "forget it," I totally mean the other f-word.  

So I thought:  If eating right isn't working, try...drinking?

And boy, did it taste fantastic! 
Just one, though.  I'm a lightweight like that.

* * * * *
Of course, laughter is the best medicine.  I am binge-watching Schitt's Creek on Netflix and laughing out loud!  I am loving the entire cast, but Eugene Levy playing it straight is a complete hoot, and his real son, Dan Levy, plays his son on the series and is equally hilarious.

* * * * *
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I gave in to my sweet tooth today and tried out a new (gluten-free, dairy-free, low-FODMAP) recipe.

Brownie bites with peppermint frosting.  Thumbs up!  This one's a keeper.  Oh, and Norm too.  ;)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Sunday Sundry 2-5-17

Superbowl Sunday Sundry might be an alternate title for this post, but I really don't follow football all that much, the fourth quarter of any Green Bay Packers game excepted.  I'm pretty consistent about catching at least the final quarter if the Pack is playing.  But I actually had to ask someone who was playing in the Superbowl, that's how much I (don't) know.  So "GO _______!" [insert your team of choice], and enjoy the game today.  I might catch a few commercials and most definitely the halftime show!

I've been a little scattered this past month.  My dad slipped on some ice outside his house in the middle of January and shattered his ankle.  He's had one surgery to put an external fixation contraption on the left lower leg.  This coming week he'll have a second surgery for internal fixation, involving the installation of other hardware.  This has meant quite the change in lifestyle, as you can imagine, but he manages to maintain a positive attitude.  I really admire that.

Still keeping up with the Solstice Challenge quilt-along, making one block per week.  Here are weeks 4, 5, and 6.  Later today, I'll tackle Block 7.  Football pun, anyone?

Right now I've got some low-FODMAP chicken stock simmering away in the slow cooker.  The other thing I've been dealing with is my persnickety gut.  If you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I already eat gluten-free and mostly dairy-free, and have done that for 10 years now.  Things got out of whack somehow this past year, and especially after the holidays, which had me searching for other dietary culprits.  

Enter FODMAPs.  If you don't know what a FODMAP is, well, neither did my primary care physician.  But she did hook me up with a gastroenterologist that I'll be seeing in a couple weeks.  Meanwhile, I've delved into the subject online, and just looking at the list of high FODMAP foods had me muttering, "Yep, yep, uh-huh, oh yes..." to the list of gastric offenders.

So now I'm journaling my food intake and reactions, and what fun that is, lemme tell ya.  But I am seeing a definite improvement by cutting back on the FODs and other changes I've made.  Bummer that the onions and garlic have had to go (and apples and asparagus and avocados...oh my), but there are work-arounds for flavor (chives, the green leafy of green onions, garlic-infused oil).  And the chicken stock does smell wonderful! 

Speaking of reactions, I put my usual tinted moisturizer on yesterday and yowza!  Instead of giving me an overall even skin tone, my face went bright red, hot, and tingly.  Not exactly the effect I was looking for.  So off came the makeup, on went a fragrance-free moisturizer with aloe, and in went an antihistamine tablet.  I think it's one of the sunscreen ingredients that I reacted to.  Why now, all of a sudden, I don't know.  I've used that Olay product for years.  Now it's been tossed and I'll be going commando, facially speaking, for a while.  Please don't tell me I look tired.

In the sewing room, I've got a quilt basted and ready to go, a kennel quilt made from old scrubs.  

Not fancy but functional.  Kind of like I feel lately.  

P.S. - Is it spring yet?  I'm dreaming of an herb garden...

Monday, January 9, 2017

In the Works

New year, new quilt-along!  There are many new quilt-alongs getting started this time of year, and right before the calendar flipped to 2017, I joined Pat Sloan's 182-Day Solstice Challenge.  The idea is to make one block per week between the winter and summer solstice, 25 blocks in all.

Pat posts the instructions for each block on Wednesday each week (there have been three blocks so far).  Each 12.5-inch block is different, like a sampler, and the choice of fabric is up to you.  Great for beginners and experienced quilters alike, I think.

Week one was a Churn Dash block.  I pulled a funky Alexander Henry mushroom print from the stash for that one.

Week two was a Day Into Night block.
Week three was Tide Pools.
I guess I'm going for a controlled scrappy look with these blocks, with the intent that all will come from the current stash.  Not worrying about how it's all going to go together in the end, just having fun week by week in a relaxed and casual way.  If you'd like to join in, follow the above link for the details.
I also finished a quilt top from bonus half-square triangles left over from the Precious Gems quilt.  The holiday-themed Aspen Frost fabric was too cute to let those pieces go to waste.  They only made a 30-something-inch square, but with a wide border of a gray and white dot fabric (think snow or snowballs?), it came up to a respectable 58x63-inch size.  
I'll probably straight-line quilt it with close vertical lines, eventually.
Also started cutting up some of the scrubs for a new round of kennel quilts.  They'll be nothing fancy, mostly functional, with a bit of fun from the bright prints.  My daughter, who works at the animal surgery where these are bound for, said the ones I made about 18 months ago are holding up well to use and laundering.  Good to know!  

She said some larger ones would be appreciated, and with that in mind I began.  This one may end up to be about 45x60 or so.  Two ladies' size medium long-sleeved scrub jackets and two size large men's short-sleeved scrub tops have gone into it.  That makes a good starting dent in the scrub stash.

We've been watching some good stuff on Netflix and Amazon, here in the middle of winter in the frozen tundra.  Loved The Crown.  Very well done.  On the opposite end of the spectrum (as far as propriety and decorum), I've also belly-laughed my way through two seasons of The Moaning of Life on Netflix as well.  If you haven't heard of Karl Pilkington, you might want to watch An Idiot Abroad first to get an idea of his brand of comedy.  Finally, on Amazon, we just began the third season of Mozart in the Jungle.  Love Gael Garcia Bernal as conductor Rodrigo, and I still smile when he calls the main female character Jai Alai (pronounced "hi-lie") instead of Hailey. Might have to find the soundtrack sometime as well, as the music is superb.

What's in your TV or streaming queue?


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