Friday, January 20, 2017

Ignoring Politics As Best I'm Able

Little bits of odds and ends got done this week.   I made a Paw Patrol pillowcase for my hair stylist's just-turned-3-year-old grandson -- she told me during my last haircut that she was looking for little rewards because he s in the potty training stage, and that he loves Paw Patrol.   My great nephew loved the pillowcase I made him for Christmas, so I thought her little guy might enjoy one, too.  I dropped it off last weekend; he was taking his nap, and his mom planned to swap the pillowcase while he was sleeping.   I got a text from them the next day, saying that he takes it everywhere with him.
I made a couple more quilt blocks, still trying to decide what block I will use for my Rainbow Quilt challenge, the first one I've joined.  I am leaning toward either the little heart or second,  cobblestone block, or more likely both, since they are both very easy and I think both will look nice in a mix of colors.  I also made the 5th block in my Solstice Challenge, and another fleece blanket for my brother, who loved the one I made for Christmas.   I also started, but did not yet finish, another tote -- hopefully I will be able to claim that finish next week.  :)

And I made a very cute little non-pink, non-political cat hat, that my granddaughter thought was the cat's meow.   I don't post photos of the Grands so you will just have to take my word for it that she looked a lot cuter in it than I do.  :)  I will be making more of these, maybe some teddy bears, too, once I clean my craft room just enough to find the fleece remnants that I KNOW are buried underneath!
There is nothing else new to report from my station here in the Middle of the Mitten.   Our Sunday dominoes games are well underway, and I am losing every game but loving every minute.   I hope the same is true for you.   The loving part, that is.   Losing is optional.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mid January - Already?!

Today is sunny, clear and bright, but I was snowed in one day this week, and the snow plow guy didn't come until evening, so (although I am sure I could have driven out over the snow) I told myself I was homebound.     We've had several snow and ice winter storms recently, back to back.   Anyway, on my homebound day, since I hadn't really planned for being snowed in, I didn't get much done.   Later that night, in the wisdom of retrospect, I decided I had squandered a perfectly good day. I hate when that happens.  I did do a (very) little sewing: another quilt block or two (I goofed on one of them, and the colors look better in person, really they do), and made a fleece nightie because it has been cold has heck.
The grandkids had two snow days this week, and one of them had a third day off when he got sick.  Is there anyone in Michigan who has't had the crud?  Every surface was covered with ice and it snowed or rained on and off all week.   Lovely, lovely weather to stay inside and I am lucky enough that I can do that.   But scary for those who have to be out.   Maybe the bad weather is the explanation for the weird and troubling dreams I've had most of the week, but I need to shake it off because Spring is nowhere in sight!

While I was watching over my sick Grand, I noticed that the kids are using, or at least displaying, the tuffet I gave them for Christmas in their music room.   Nice.
This weekend is supposed to remain clear, which doesn't all that much matter since most of my doings these days are indoor.   I am planning to cut and hopefully sew a couple more bags and pillow cases, but so far today I have nothing to show.   Fingers crossed, next week will be more productive!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Still Sewing

I have entered the New Year with more sewing.   I have this great momentum going and don't want to lose it, so I am going to try to participate in the Rainbow Scrap Linky Challenge this  year -- January's color is purple.   I haven't chosen a particular block I want to make, and am still experimenting, so I made a couple of purple blocks for this month's challenge.   I am thinking today that maybe I will do simple log cabin blocks and, if so, I will need to make another purple block before the month is out.

I have also made the first three of the Solstice Challenge blocks, and will continue to try to keep up with those.  As you can see, I am new at this and haven't figured out how to make my blocks work together, so it is unlikely that I'll end up with a quilt top unless I organize my thinking soon!   But I'm not putting any pressure on the exercise at this point, just playing along.

Meanwhile, I completed my first purse/tote of the year, which will go into the box of potential gifts for next Christmas.   As I've said (everywhere, to everyone) I made something for every single person on my list this year, and it was a good feeling.  I'm making no promises about next year, but I know I will do what I can.   I've already cut out two more purses, so I am pretty sure there will be purses, again, on the giving list.   
It is cold as heck this week, a windy 5 degrees when I left the house this morning for our monthly search and rescue drill (thankfully, an inside training this month!)   The cold weather does make it easier to stay home and sew.   Since I am such a sissy it is all the more amazing that I did push myself out to the local Center Court walking track once this week.  It was good to stretch my legs and goodness knows my heart and body need it, so I hope I will make more of an effort on that than I managed last year.

Meanwhile, we are making plans already for family gatherings this summer.  Ahhhhh, summer.    It feels so far away.

I hope you are staying warm, wherever you are!  :)

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year Musings

It is that time of year when I, like many of us, become annoyingly introspective.   I did not start the new year off on the best of feet, since I was (finally) coming down with the cold that had already claimed everyone I knew. So, although I was still filled with gratitude at my relationships and generally good health and relative security,  I felt crummy, a little self pitying, and not even a little bit optimistic.  Maybe I was especially introspective this year since I am 67 now, which (in my head) is a reflection of my high school graduation in '67, making me wonder if this is a second chance, perhaps a final chance, for new beginnings.

And so I have been asking myself, what do I want?   What goals, if any, would I like to accomplish?   What changes, if any, should I take another shot at making?   It is hard to think when you feel yucky, but this is what I think I know as I enter 2017:
For sure, if I am allowed to choose,  things are finally getting good and I want more of the same.  I am so lucky, so blessed, to have family and a guy that I love.   I want to spend time with those people, I want to keep enjoying and treasuring them.
I know, as I have  known every freaking other year, that I would feel more hopeful and healthier overall if I were in better physical shape.   But I also know that I am unlikely to become a goddess or a marathoner or even a fitness club member.  With those constraints, I would still like to remember to choose each day to eat better and move more.   I'm a good cook and there is no reason not to use that skill, which I enjoy, for my own good.

My bloggy friend, Janne, is an artist who travels a lot, to interesting and exotic places I can only dream of.   One of her goals this year is to travel someplace she has never been, and I think that is a lovely goal for me.      My someplace is not likely to be Japan or Norway or Finland or Scotland, it will almost certainly be someplace much closer to home, and that will be just fine.

I would certainly like to de-clutter my life.   I am a believer that a cluttered house, a cluttered basement, a cluttered craft room (just for example) lead to a cluttered mind and messy thoughts and emotions.  I am surrounded by material things I do not use, do not want and do not need.   It would be good if I could reduce that load, even by a little.

And I would like to learn some new skills.   I am hoping that I will keep sewing into this new year, and that I will become more competent.   I am hoping, too, to find some surprising new things to learn and study by just being open to whatever comes my way. 

And to you, my few bloggy friends who have kept in touch with me along the way, I wish you the very best year.   I have a feeling it will have its ups and downs,  but if we can keep our heads on a level plane and our hearts open, I hope it will be a good one for all.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve

My short trip to Chicago was so much fun.   We did a whole lot of nothing and froze our butts off, but it was fun.  We ate at some great little restaurants, laughed a lot, enjoyed the city lights, drank hot cocoa and wine, and saw the amazing Terracotta Warrior exhibit at the Field Museum.    I hadn't realized that, in addition to thousands of amazing Warriors, each one a unique individual, the excavation in China is revealing a complete terracotta kingdom, including an entire government, and landscaped underground rivers with wildlife.  Truly amazing!
Despite the (bitter) cold,, we walked a lot, and I was grateful for my warm and waterproof Vasque boots -- the ones I got when my bloggy friend Kim reviewed them on her blog!
I didn't take many photos because they fogged up and froze my fingers when I tried, so you'll just have to imagine the good times we had.  It was so nice to get away from the normal routine and just enjoy 'us' time.  We came home fat and sassy and then bam, my honey came down with the dreaded Traveler's Yuck, so our Holiday plans are on hold until we see how quickly he bounces back (and whether or not I follow him down the Path of Sickness.  My plan is to stay healthy, though, because I come from hardy folk!)  

So I spent Christmas Eve Eve alone, with my presents wrapped and under the tree and my menu planned but unprepared, and it is quite possible that I will spend Christmas Eve the same way.   Oh well, we are flexible to a fault here and accustomed to going with the flow, so will have a celebration whenever it happens.  Meanwhile, I am counting my blessings.   And looking forward to the mornign when the Grands will arrive for brunch and presents!  Today, left to my own devices, I am  making lists of projects for when I unpack the sewing machine again on Monday.   Meanwhile, I will spend the morning baking un-needed coffee cakes and preparing for tomorrow's beignets.   This extra, unplanned time alone might even inspire me to start cleaning up that landfill I call a craft room -- that would be a Christmas Miracle indeed!

However your own plans turn out, I wish you all a happy and loving Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Countdown to Christmas

We've got snow, plenty of it!   The sun is shining and the morning is beautiful, with bright red spots of cardinals digging in my yard for the bird seed that they mostly ignored before the storm hit.   And it has been bitterly cold -- minus 3 degrees right now -- so I will put out extra rations again today.  I can see that the bunnies and squirrels have been visiting, too,  as there probably won't be much wild food available for the next day or so.   If the very, very fat and very, very furry squirrel is any indication, the critters have been preparing for this time.

My primary goal this weekend was to finish my sewing projects so that I could put away the sewing machine and get the house clean for Christmas!    I have taken to sewing on my dining table because the room is brighter and the view is less restricted than it is in the corner of my 'craft' room, but that means that my sewing takes over my house unless I am careful to restrain it.   And with family planning to come over for Christmas brunch, restraint was the order of the day.     It was no hardship since I was pretty much snowed in yesterday by our last winter storm, so there were fewer distractions than usual.  My last sewing tasks included holiday napkins, several men's scarves, and a couple more pillow cases.  

All simple projects, so the sewing and finishing was easy, and the housework was no big deal  -- the HARD part was not starting the many new projects that are on my mind!

But I had an incentive not to immerse myself in something new, since my fella and I are planning to go to Chicago for a quick 2-day trip.    It's just an impulsive couple-of-days away, with no visits to the people we usually want to see, just some relaxation and maybe a little shopping.   I'm thinking of it as my reward for a clean house and completed projects, and I'm looking forward to it, although it looks like we DID pick the coldest couple days of the year!   But we are hardy folk, and it will be fun to ride the train, fun to have a little space to pay attention to each other, and fun to enjoy the city lights.    Whatever you are doing this last week of advent, I hope you are also having fun and spending time with people you love!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Snow and More Snow

Christmas plans are moving right along.  Where possible, I am wrapping my gifts in pillow cases that I've made for the recipient, with a French theme, or a Math theme, or a Chemistry theme, depending on who they are for.   This  has been fun, and I'm sorry that I already gave the Grands their pillow cases instead of saving them for Christmas!

We had a winter storm this weekend, it seems like my house got maybe 10 inches or so.   I shoveled twice and, although I do not mind shoveling (much), I somehow wrenched my left arm on the second go-round.  As a result Shovel #3 did not go as smoothly and Shovel #4 was out of the question.  I've decided to let the last couple of inches lie, at least for the moment.  Meanwhile, I am plying myself with ibuprophen and heat.   Not much to be done for it since the warranty on that arm is long expired. 
I used yesterday, home alone, for laundry and wrapping and baking.  It was a good enough day but I am so spoiled, not used to being alone all day, and can't pretend for a minute that I want to make a habit of it.   Still, I kept busy.   I made my first "Spritz" cookies, using a cookie press.   They were fun to make although they are not all that tasty, at least to my taste. I also made a batch of cheese straws, which were a major pain to make but kind of interesting.   Sometimes I wonder if that's the formula: the more aggravation a thing requires, the better it tastes.  No wonder I'm not that great a cook any more.   I take a lot of shortcuts these days.

I also got another table runner top done, but now I need to find fabric -- hopefully in my stash -- for the backing.  
I'm glad I got a lot done yesterday since today my bum arm is slowing me down.    Since I am spending a lot of time with tea and a heating pad, this might be a good day to turn off the news (depressing!) and turn on the Christmas music instead as I send out hopeful wishes for a peaceful Advent and a Holiday that truly represents good will to all.