Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Still Scrapping It

With the daylight savings time change, we sprung back into several inches of snow here in Mid-Michigan's middle of the mitten.  It is beautiful here, but has been good weather to stay indoors.  And if I have to be indoors, I might as well be sewing.

I've made three more quilt tops from my scrap pile, and I am finding more hidden pieces of fabric and orphan blocks that I can already see becoming yet another top or two.   Good grief, will the endless hoard of fabric ever end?!  At this rate, I am not sure I'll live long enough to buy fabric of my own choosing for a quilt, but it doesn't much matter.  Every time I start one, I think how disappointing it is not to have chosen the fabric, and every time I end, I am in love with the way it turned out, especially since it feels like I've made something out of nothing.  As of this writing, so far this year, I've donated two full trash bags of fabric and, along the way, I've made 8 quilt tops, all from stash, plus one little rag quilt.  The smallest of the pieced tops so far is a 47" square, and the largest is the size of a double bed.   None of them were started with any real idea of where I was going, which has also been fun.   I just add things on til they look done to me.  And the resulting color combinations, dictated by what's on hand and many of which no sane person would choose, have been delightful to me.

I've sent six of them in for long arm quilting, and will probably keep doing that.   I know that talented friends quilt on their home machines, but I am not confident enough to try that yet.   Besides, I am not impressed (at all) with my Brother, which has constant stitch and tension issues.   I am fairly certain that it would ruin any quilt I tried on that machine since I already have to toss the occasional simple block.  And I love my Babylock, but I keep it pretty much tied up with embroidery projects.   So instead I am spending my children's inheritance on quilting services and hope they like the quilts which are, at least, a little more interesting than most of the junk I will leave behind!    I am really looking forward to seeing the bursts of color in my house in the meantime.   When my sweetie gave me the AccuQuilt gift he said he hoped that I would eventually make a dozen quilts.  In his mind that was a huge number that would  make him feel like he had chosen a really good gift.  In my mind, it would justify the expense.   It is looking like I'll be able to reach that mark sooner than either of us expected.

In other news, my grandson was one of three kids at his school this month to qualify for a chemistry competition and he said that it was a lot of fun; he finished in the top half of the region but not high enough to go on to the state level, and he was happy with that.  So was I, of course.   Both of my grands love school this year, and I love seeing that.     It is amazing for me to see them excited about math and science, neither of which excited me until long after I was out of school.  I never even took chemistry, which was discouraged and called a 'boy's subject' by my high school career counselor who saw it as mostly an opportunity for the boys to mess around and blow things up.   My grands both continue to play in band (baritone and flute) and orchestra (violin and cello), too, and so of course they get better every year.  The credit goes to their parents, I think, who have always provided the message that it is satisfying to learn things that seem hard at first.   They definitely do make their Grandma proud.  :)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March On

We've had such a lovely week.  The snowdrops are blooming at my son's house, the grass is visible again, the sun has been shining, the sky has been blue, and we have had temperatures up to 70 degrees.   Today it is chilly and dreary, and we are under a winter weather advisory, with 3 to 6 inches of snow predicted.  It's what we love about Michigan, the weather changes.   On the plus side, we can justify every type of clothing imaginable, because we might need to wear all four seasons in a single weekend.    

My quilting adventure continues, and I have completed my next two quilts-from-stash, numbers five and six for 2018.  No kidding, the AccuQuilt cutter (I have the big electric one), which I would never have bought for myself, has made all the difference.  My productivity has been a surprise to me, since I am, at heart, such a slacker -- quilters will notice how I have learned to embrace my mistakes as "design decisions" rather than do the extra work of correcting them.  

Meanwhile, having made 6 quilts out of my stash without making a dent in the apparent quantity, I have started to cull my fabric in earnest.  This week I filled one huge garbage bag with scrap to donate to a local agency, and I expect to fill several more bags before I am left with a manageable and useable amount.   The scrap I am donating now consists of pieces large enough to make a small zipper/cosmetic-size bag, but not enough to create a consistent colorway.   Later I will move onto the larger scrap pile,  yard cuts of flannel, for instance, that I am unlikely to use now that my Littles are big.  In those days I didn't have a reliable sewing machine and lots of projects never made it to take off.   I hope someone else will find the fabric useful but, if not, the agencies tell me they will recycle it, and that's good enough for me.  The truth of it is that, now that I am making quilt tops, I would like to make one out of chosen fabric, and I can't justify doing that while I am sitting on a ton of perfectly good cloth.

I also made a baby taggie blanket this week, although I have no babies at the moment to sew for.   My sweetie's family has been blessed with three new babies in the past few months and he wanted ideas of something simple he could make for his new grand nieces and nephew, so I created this prototype from an online tutorial, and wish I had thought of it when my own Littles were little!  What a simple idea, and I am pretty sure any baby would love it, although it makes no sense at all to my sweetie.
Meanwhile, life goes lazily on.  My fella is doing well, although life definitely offers him new frustrations and everything moves slower than it used to.  Just finding his socks can be a challenge because his missing visual field, while still blind, is always changing with phantom images.  But he is a trooper and handles it all better than I would.  Sundays are Dominoes days until the end of March, and other days we mostly do as we please.  My sweetie's son challenged us to a game of Trivial Pursuit this weekend, which I failed at miserably, a reminder to me of how rusty my brain has gotten.

The predicted snow will be a reprieve from most of my planned chores, I expect, but I can feel Spring Fever beginning to simmer.  It is (almost) time for me to get a little more energetic after a long, slow winter of slacking.   But not today.  Definitely not today.  Today will be one more day to enjoy hot tea and warm slippers.  Life is good.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February Musings

February has been a mix of weather here, freezing cold one day and mild and sunny the next.   I am loving the sunshine, it makes temps in the 30s and low 40s feel like paradise.  But oh, how my  heart sinks when the next morning greets me again with snow and ice!

We celebrated Mardi Gras, as we always do, with a King Cake delivered directly from New Orleans.   I've ordered one every year since my son and his wife moved back to Michigan because my grandson was born in New Orleans.    If you buy a King Cake where they are made, they are already decorated.   But when they mail them north, the bakery sends along the white frosting and colored sugars because the decorated cakes do not travel well.   The kids love decorating the cake with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold and seeing who will find the "baby" -- this year my granddaughter got it in the first slice!  Thank goodness they use a lot less sugar now that they are old enough to be aware of healthy choices -- when they were small, it was a challenge to keep them from sending us all into sugar shock!
Valentine's  Day is not my holiday, and it's a good thing because it never seems to work out the way I want it to!   My sweetie sent flowers, which was so sweet, but circumstances messed up our plan to have dinner together and that was disappointing.  Oh well, shake it off.  

Honestly, the best valentine's gift came from the husband of a friend who knows that I like to invite as much nature into my messy yard as possible.   He made me a bird feeder and included a supply of dried grubs.   I can't wait to see who turns up to eat them!   But . . . gag.

My 13-year-old grandson won local awards for his science project and we are looking forward to his move up to regionals.   His project, titled "Music sets the mood, " considered " the effect of key signature on the perception of music."  He won best in category for behavioral science and first place overall for life sciences.  He doesn't place a lot of expectations on himself but he enjoys the competition, the talks with the judges and the chance to talk to other kids with similar interests.   He also really likes dressing up in a suit and tie, which he does as often as the occasion even marginally permits.  But he had to admit, it was fun to win!   And you can barely imagine how proud I am of him.
I've done only a little sewing.   I made a little rag baby quilt for no particular reason other than that I had the flannel in my scrap pile.
I found a few yards of other fabric that I had planned to use for totes and have decided to use that for a quilt top as well, but I haven't started cutting yet.  I finally got my Victorian sampler framed,
and I bought a sign from Etsy that had a motto that I especially like.   I can be impulsive that way.
I hope things are warming up wherever you are and I'm hoping to see some real signs of spring soon here in Mid-Michigan!!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Super Bowl Sunday and the Superb Owl

What a week!   Cold as a brass patootie, with lots of snow and temps hovering in the low teens almost all week.  School has been cancelled for tomorrow, not for the first time.   But, despite the cold and snow, there were a few interesting events.  
Last week, when it was a little warmer, we went to Chicago by train for a couple of days.    We didn't plan anything, it was a lazy, laid back trip, mostly to see  how traveling would work now that my sweetie has lost so much of his vision.   There were a few troubles, more than one wall was walked into, but we had a good time despite it and he came home willing to try some occupational therapy, which I hope will give him more confidence.   And of course it was good to get away and to eat a bunch of food that I need to stop eating again soon before I'm as big as a house.   I have truly enjoyed this slippery slope down sugar loaf mountain!

Bt now it is cold again.  Cold temps make me want to cook, so that part is always fun.   I started the week out by making granola after my sweetie's son wanted us to pick some up from the store -- the fairly plain 12 ounce bag of cereal cost $6 so I decided to try my hand at it and I was happy with the results.   My first try was a bit too sweet for us so I will cut back on the sugars next time, but I think I'm just a couple attempts away from a winner that will satisfy all of us.
And I finished another quilt top, more or less.   It still needs a border or two.  It's another finish using my AccuQuilt and some larger scraps from my stash.   That makes three stash-scrap quilt tops so far this year, in just over a month!   Not having to cut the pieces by hand is making SUCH a difference for me.
Superbowl Sunday was, as always, on one of our Dominoes days, so we had a double fun Sunday.   I don't know (or care, really) anything about football but I'm always happy for our grand finale of super bowl sundaes.  And my group of guys ate it up like crazy -- so crazy, in fact, that the one kid we have the games for had to go home early with a tummy ache.  We did watch the game -- my grandson and I, neither of us sports folk, texted each other back and forth with silliness, and I am always happy to see the commercials.  Unfortunately, we had some internet troubles, no doubt weather related, that cut into our screen time, with lots of frozen moments.   I guess it's lucky that we aren't super fans, it would have been very frustrating!

But even bigger and more amazing than the Superbowl (menu) was my Superb Owl -- earlier this week, when I finally, belatedly went to take down the Christmas wreath next to my front door, I discovered that a small eastern screech owl was using it as a perch.   The owl stayed all day and into the night after I saw it, long enough for one of my grandchildren to get out of school and see it, too,  and of course I have no idea how long it had been there up til then.   I would have loved to have it nest there and am sorry it left, but I'm so very happy that my grandson and I saw it, and it's going to be awhile before I am ready to take down that wreath!  There are owls in our parts, of course, and we hear them often enough,  but I have never caught a glimpse of one and it was a 'bucket list' item for me.  What's on your bucket list?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018 - Already Moving Too Fast!

I can't believe that the first month of 2018 is already half over.   Honestly, time just seems to move faster all the time.   It has been lovely here in mid Michigan, but cold.
Thanks to those of you who reached out to ask about my Sweetie.   He is doing so well, recovering still from his strokes, but a casual observer who didn't know him would never know there had ever been anything wrong.   We are told that one of his strokes was of a type that used to be considered an automatic game changer, and the stroke neurologist said they have only recently realized that some people, for some unknown reason, recover from them without great impairment.   My lucky Honey is one of those whose brains are able to heal, and we are both grateful for that.   His vision is still badly limited, he still tires more than he'd like, and there is still some very minimal change of balance, but he looks dashing with his new cane, and life -- although very different than we planned or expected -- is better than we had any reason to dare expect a couple of months ago.

I have gotten some sewing done since things have settled down with him.  For Christmas, my Sweetie got me an accuquilt cutter, something I would never have thought to want.  He had limited shopping and thinking options, so I was impressed, and his intention was to help me in two ways -- first, I have troubles with my hands and wrists, so rotary cutting (especially accurate rotary cutting) is a challenge to me, and second, I have a stash of fabric that is taking over my  house, so he thought this might be a good way to help me get through some of that.   It has been a pretty effective gift on both counts, and I've already completed two 'flimsy' quilt tops that I will send out to be quilted, and I've started a third.   The only trouble is that I am sorely tempted to buy fabric for my next top rather than continue to use my stash -- free fabric, anyone?   I'll be happy to send it on to anyone who wants to quilt or make small projects with it!

I also finished a lovely Victorian Motto Sampler that I ordered while he was actually still on the surgical table, and just need to find a frame before it will be truly done.
Also for Christmas, my kids got us an Instant Pot, another thing I never would have thought to want, despite its cult following.   But I've been having fun with it, and have already made some pretty amazing short ribs and a butter chicken that is every bit as good as that from my local Indian restaurant!   Our annual season of  Dominoes Sundays have begun so I'll have lots of chances to try new recipes, and I'm looking forward to making Instant Pot wings for Super-bowl Sunday, whenever that is.   Our Dominoes buddy is a football fan, but I am clueless.   All I care about is the menu!

We've had snow pretty steadily this winter.  Despite that, I was happy to finally get out this week for my first haircut and first pedicure since before the November surgery.   My guy is so sweet, he cleaned off my car and warmed it up before I left, but he couldn't save my toes from the snow!   The older I get, the harder the winters seem, but I am grateful for hot soup and someone to cuddle with.  Wherever you find yourself, I hope you are warm!

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Coughing In The New Year

It was 18 below zero the other night.   Our high temperatures are breaking the records for our low temperature.   This has been a brutal couple of weeks all over the country.   The past six weeks of burning the candle at both ends has caught up with me and I've come down with some kind of flu-like crud.   Or maybe eating sugar over the holidays is what made me vulnerable to this nasty virus.   Whatever the cause, all I have done for the past four days is cough and sleep.     Being too sick even to sew has been frustrating.

I have been spending most of my time at my fella's house but when I realized I was getting sick I came back to my own house to try to avoid passing this onto my sweetie.    This morning, though, he started to show signs of a cold.   Fingers crossed that he doesn't get the cough part of whatever this is, because those headaches return to him too easily and too often.   We will see the stroke neurologist later this week and have another MRI done and I am hoping that it will show a lot of healing.   I wonder how long it will be before we both relax a little -- I know it has not happened yet.

Although 2017 was a largely "meh" year for me, it was not a bad one for me personally until my guy's strokes.   And now I am both frustrated at that negative event of the year, which the surgeon said was caused by an error in blood thinners, but also truly grateful that things were not far worse.    I am glad to see this year go and am hoping that 2018 will bring us back into the ordinary.   At our ages, I know that is a lot to ask, but it is my new year's hope.  

I wish you the best of all things as this year ends, and hope 2018 will be gentle to all of us.  

Friday, December 15, 2017

Moving Forward

I went into November with a long list of projects to have completed by Christmas, and I started off pretty well.  I made a few pair of leggings and a scarf or two.   Life intervened and not much has gotten done since that first flurry of activity, and I'm okay with just letting a lot of it go.   Truth is, it has always been a lot more important to me to make gifts than it has been to the people receiving them, most of them have never used or even commented about the stuff afterward.  

Meanwhile -- and yes, this will sound random, but bear with me -- I recently heard an author talk about her book on infidelity.   I was only half listening because that is not an issue in my life right now, thank goodness.   But she made the comment that, when something like that happens, a couple needs to renegotiate their relationship entirely if they are going to be successful.   Even little things that they might have considered long settled -- who pays the bills, who buys the groceries -- are up for reconsideration when there has been a betrayal.   The author then said that the same reasoning applies to any betrayal, and later pointed out that her parents, Holocaust survivors, had been betrayed "by humanity" and that they, too, had needed to renegotiate their lives and their place in the world going forward.   It struck a chord with me.   I realized that my honey and I are in the process of renegotiating our places in the now less familiar world and our roles as part of a couple as a result of the "betrayal" of his stroke.    It has opened up a whole conversation for us that I think will make us feel more in control of things going forward.

And in that vein, as I renegotiate who I am and what I would like in life, I am trying to learn to be more selfish this Christmas.   I had my first quilt quilted and bound and instead of giving it away as I had planned, I am going to keep it, trying to create the cozy comfort that my soul craves these days.