Saturday, September 27, 2014

So, There's a Story . . .

You may recall that a few years ago, we had an uninvited house guest . . . a FURRY little uninvited house guest.  But maybe "uninvited" isn't quite accurate since the little guy definitely WAS encouraged to visit by our tuxedo cat, Stitch.  Remember the mouse guest?

Not long after I finally escorted the little guy out the door, bag and baggage, a few months later, I decided to decorate a small Christmas tree using mice "ornaments" in memory of his stay with us.  Here's an old photo--

The other evening, I started thinking about Christmas--yes, TOTALLY TOO EARLY, I know, and don't judge me--but I wondered if there were any new mouse ornaments out there that I could add to my mouse tree when it was time to decorate this year, and I found a couple on eBay.  So into my eBay shopping cart they went.  But then I started thinking, "Do I really need more mice?  Do I really want to pay that much or should I wait and see what I can find locally?"  I figured I'd sleep on it--by then it was pretty late and time to get to bed anyway.  So I shut down the computer and headed toward my bath.

Stitch was waiting in the bathroom for me; he's funny that way.  He totally knows my routine and anticipates my every next move.  But what caught my attention was the fact that our other cat, Spike, was also hanging around the bathroom--normally she's in bed by that time, or off in the living room doing cat things (whatever those are).  My suspicions raised, I inquired, "Okay, kids, what's going on here?"  Stitch simply looked up at me, blinked, and turned his gaze toward the bathtub.  Dare I look behind the shower curtain?  Ah, but the real question was dare I NOT?  So I did.  And yes, you may have already guessed what I found:  a mouse!  A LIVE mouse!

I must say, it seems I'm getting pretty good at capturing mice and escorting them to freedom.  A little maneuvering with a flat piece of cardboard and a smallish box, and before Stitch knew it, I had his little friend out the back door and onto the patio.

The next morning, I fired up the computer and placed my order for one of those eBay mice.  I think it was some kind of cosmic fate and obviously meant to be.  The little guy arrived today.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Time Flies . . .

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since I last posted!  You all know I love fall, and fall has arrived . . . and you know I love Halloween, and that will arrive before long too.  So, having woken up to the first rainy morning of the year today, and having spent at least part of the day thinking about the season, I thought I'd share something with you that will get you thinking about fall too, if you aren't already.

Hubby and I made a little trip about an hour and fifteen minutes south to visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law on their "ranch"--they've lived there for two years and this was our first visit.  What took us so long?!  My sister-in-law, "Mumzie," is a very creative person who decorates for the seasons beautifully, and one of her specialties is pumpkins.  Before we left for home, she gifted me with the raw material (i.e., a PUMPKIN!) to make a creation of my own--she has grown her own pumpkins in a big pumpkin patch for the last couple of years and they're beauties!  How lucky am I to get one?!!

Mumzie told me how she creates her masterpieces and showed me some of her decorating supplies, and because she has described her process on her blog, I can share her methods with you.

Here are a couple before and after photos.

In a series of posts, Mumzie shows us how to clean and prepare the pumpkins and then how to decorate them.  Take a look a the first one HERE and then continue on by clicking on the related links at the bottom of each post.   Once I've had a chance to transform my pumpkin, I'll share it with you.  Happy Autumn!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stopping in for a Visit . . .

It was a busy weekend of chores, as so many of my weekends seem to be.  I feel like I used to have more play time.  I know working out has cut into my time, as has meal planning, so maybe that explains it a bit.  Nevertheless, I've done a little bit of stitching last week and this weekend, so I thought I'd share with you what I'm up to.

A friend and I have started a new applique project, Grandma's Kitchen.  The pattern is by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet.  Here's a photo of the pattern--

I finished my first block, the apron block.  We've decided to use mostly 30s fabric/colors for our version.

Next we'll start on the block with the pitcher of lemonade.  The other project I completed is a version of a pattern by Kimberbell called Too Fa-boo-lous.

Also in the last week or two, I've prepped the applique for the Country Houses quilt, but there's still a lot of actual sewing to be done.

So that's what I've been up to.  How about you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

There Goes the Neighborhood

I'm happy to report that home construction has come to an end for some of us.  Yes, I'm talking about the Country Homecoming quilt blocks.  I'll give you a peek at all 12 of my blocks up on the design wall:

And here's a look at blocks 11 and 12 made by three of us--first up are Tina's houses:

Sheryn's houses 11 and 12:

And finally mine:

You'll also want to check out Tanya's blocks over on HER BLOG. Tanya also shared a photo of Paulette's quilt and I'll show you Anna's.  Paulette and Anna were part of the original blog group who inspired the rest of us to make this quilt.

Just a reminder:  This quilt is one of the patterns in a book called Primitive Gatherings:  Quilts and Accessories.   It will be a couple months before you see our tops finished--we're allowing ourselves extra time to get the sashing and all of the border applique done.

Here's another little project I recently finished--it's a monthly Buttermilk Basin pattern for August.  If owls are showing up on our quilt projects, can fall be too far away?

It's hard to believe that summer is almost half over!  Happy quilting!

Addendum:  Check out Nancie Anne's houses HERE.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hard to Believe, I Know . . . .

But I FINALLY have a finished quilt project!

Remember Scrap Basket Sunday?  This was my ongoing project over the past year or so.  The pattern is called Pie in the Sky and it's from Kim Diehl's book, Simple Graces.

There were all sorts of stops and starts on this one.  I went along making four blocks a week okay for quite awhile, but then piecing it all together took some time, partly due to the size of the quilt top and partly due to other personal distractions.

And then there was the quilting.  It was hard to decide what color thread to use, but the backing of the quilt is a purple fabric, so I decided on purple thread.  This is a king size quilt that I quilted on a domestic machine, and the weight alone made it very tiring to quilt.  And once I finished quilting the main blocks, I ran out of gas for a couple months until I made up my mind to just jump back in and get it done.  I had to fill in a some open areas in the sashing and block intersections with a quilt pattern, and after looking at what I'd done so far, I ended up quilting a couple of different sized circles in those spaces.

Deciding what to pick for my binding was a no-brainer:  I pulled out my bag of random leftover sashing pieces and pieced quite a few together for a scrappy binding that matches the scrappiness of the rest of the quilt.  I love the finished quilt--it seems like the perfect scrappy, happy combination of colors to dress my bed through the summer months.

Now onto the next project . . . .

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Been Awhile, Hasn't It?!

A couple of you have emailed me to ask if I'm okay and to say you miss me, and I thank you for checking in on me.  I'll catch you up on some of the happenings in my world in a minute.  First, though, I want to share with you the next phase of the Country Homecoming house construction.

Last month, Imelda finished her seventh and eighth houses a few days after I posted photos, so the above houses were from May.

Here are Imelda's June houses, the ninth and tenth houses in the neighborhood.  She said she's not quite done yet, and I think she still has to applique some of the windows and things, but they're looking good!

Janet sent in a photo of her first nine houses, some of which are still under construction.  Her neighborhood, though, is looking bright and beautiful, isn't it?!

Above and below are Sheryn's ninth and tenth houses.  I love the awnings above her windows.

And Tina's ninth and tenth houses--looking kind of beachy to me in the sand and sea tones.

And here are mine.

It's hard to believe that we're nearing completion of our neighborhoods--for those of us making 12 house blocks, we only have two more to go.  You can also check out Tanya's blog to see how she's doing with her construction.  Just click on her name to jump over to her blog. 

Have you been watching World Cup soccer?  Since the USA was playing today, it seemed only right to start the day with a workout using the kettle bell Soccer Son made for me from a soccer ball.  Did I ever show this to you?  It was a gift--I think it must have been a Christmas gift if I remember correctly--from him.  He's so inventive!

So, what have I been doing?  You may remember Hubby fell about a month and a half ago and broke his leg.  He had to have surgery to place a plate in the leg, and when he was ready to be released from the hospital, he was transferred to a nursing home.  Well, after a couple of weeks in the nursing home, Medicare felt he was ready to move on . . . the question was, where would he go and how would we pay for his care?  On the one hand, he didn't need nursing care exactly, but he couldn't be left alone because he still couldn't put any weight on the broken leg, and he was a fall risk for transfers from his wheelchair to anywhere else--recliner, bed, toilet, chair, etc.  We learned that whatever we did, the cost would have to be paid by us.  And the cost of attendant care in our home for 12 hours a day while I worked was steep.  But then so was adult day care in a nursing facility, or placement in a residential care home.  In the end, though, we decided the best option was to have Hubby stay in a residential care home for the next month, and he moved to a home not far from our own house at the end of May.  It's not ideal--the food isn't wonderful and the other resident patients don't make for great company for one reason or another.  The caregivers are kind and attentive to Hubby's needs, but it's not the same as being home.  And the cost is crazy expensive.  But we're now beginning Hubby's last week there--I'll bring him home next Saturday--so the end is in sight.

When I say I'll bring Hubby home, I mean I'll bring him home to stay; he actually HAS come home since he's been in the care home, but only for one day each weekend, as I spend the other weekend day doing chores and running errands.  On the days he comes home, besides the comfort of sitting in his own recliner, he probably most appreciates home cooking.  And by the time I drive him back in the evening, he's tired out and ready to go back, as his energy level isn't quite what it was before the accident.  But he's most certainly looking forward to next weekend's homecoming--and Sunday is his birthday, so it will probably be one of the best birthdays he's ever had!

While Hubby's been recuperating, I've been trying to keep up with my exercise routine as well as taking on the chores Hubby used to do.  And I visit him after work each week day and on the weekends.  So, as you may imagine, where I was having difficulty finding time before to quilt (not to mention BLOG!), my time has been even more limited in the last month or two.

I'm going to take a week's vacation the first week Hubby's home so we can make sure we have plans in place and the household arranged so he can take care of himself when I return to work.  I'm hoping to have a little time to sew during that week's vacation, but it seems that every time I think I might have some time to sew, something else comes up that requires my attention instead; and I already know there will be things to do during that week that don't involve sewing at all.

I'll try to remember to post to my blog every now and then, but in life's prioritized list of things that must be done, I'm afraid blogging isn't terribly high.  But I miss it and I miss all of you and the energy that comes from the exchange of quilting ideas so I definitely want to get back to it when life calms down a little bit. Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Country Homecoming Quilt--The Fourth Set of Block Revealed

I think this is a hard time of the year for us to stay on schedule with our sewing projects, what with the end of the school year for many and the onset of summer and warmer weather.  It's not surprising, then, that this month we have a smaller number of block finishes.  And seriously, if I wasn't the one who was supposed to set a good example for the rest, I wouldn't have finished my blocks, that's for sure!

Sheryn, though, was very diligent and finished her two blocks.  Here's a look:

I love the star she added, don't you?

Beauties, both!  And Tina made two more houses to add to her "neighborhood."

Excellent job!  Tina's always the first to get hers done too.

And finally, mine.

I found some pretty blue and purple woven fabrics this past month, so they had to be incorporated into my newest houses.

Finally, two of our bloggers have posted their houses, Tanya and Nancie Anne.  Please click over to take a look.  I hope you've enjoyed this tour of the newest real estate to hit the market!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You May Be Wondering . . .

where I've disappeared to, and I can't blame you--it's been awhile again, hasn't it?  After getting a couple emails from readers and bloggy friends last week, I decided to make time over the weekend to post something . . . but, as usual, life got in the way.

Friday night Hubby came home from watching Soccer Son's competitive boys' team play an evening game.  I greeted him as he came in the door around 9:30 p.m., and we chatted for a minute or so before I headed back toward the Sweat Shop.  There was a loud crash, and I hurried back to find Hubby on the living room floor, near the front door, in the walkway that runs between a wooden bookshelf on one side and the couch on the other.  By the moans and groans, it was immediately apparent something was terribly wrong, and so I called 9-1-1.

Long story short(ish), Hubby had a momentary black out, fell, and broke his left leg rather badly.  As yet, we don't know what caused the black out, but his heart beat has been irregular off and on, so the doctors are looking in that direction.  Friday night, the doctors admitted Hubby to the hospital, and finally, after a one-day delay, they did surgery on Sunday, Mother's Day, to place a metal plate in his leg.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you may recall that Hubby has Muscular Dystrophy.  Because the doctors don't want him putting any weight on the broken leg for nine weeks, combined with his baseline muscle difficulties, the plan now is to transfer Hubby to a skilled nursing facility sometime today or tomorrow.  It's my understanding the physicians anticipate he'll stay at the facility, engaging in rehab exercises and such, until he's able to put some weight on that leg again and come home.

Of course, all of this doesn't explain why I hadn't blogged up until this weekend.  It just might help explain why you still won't hear from me much in the future.

So what's my excuse for my past absence from Blogland?  Well, I'm still hard at work getting healthy and fit.  I probably devote as much time to that goal these days as I did to quilting in the past.  But at least I can say I definitely devote more time to quilting NOW than I did to being healthy and fit in the past!  So it's all good, relatively speaking.

How much weight have I lost?  I can't tell you because I don't weigh myself.  I've seen too many people discouraged by the weight loss plans requiring weekly weigh ins.  I can tell you, though, that in August, when I began this particular journey, I wore size 24 pants and a 2X top; now I wear size 14 pants and a large top; so you can see I've done well so far.  And while I don't have a specific end goal in mind just yet, I have a vague idea that perhaps a size 8 pants and a medium top might put me at a good weight and size.

How have I made the change?  First and foremost by watching what I eat.   I try to keep my calorie intake between 1300 and 1600 calories a day.  I eat fruits, veggies and lean proteins with the majority of my grain-type carbs being complex carbs (although I haven't managed to cut out white sugar completely).  Portion size is key.  Hubby and I have found a lot of great recipes from Cooking Light too.

Adding exercise helps burn the calories I DO eat--and have stored over the years.  I still do CrossFit three days a week--sometimes four days, but normally three.  I ride the exercise bike for 40 minutes most evenings--probably five out of seven days a week.  Since January, I've been bowling once a week, although I'm sure the calories from the beer I allow myself more than make up for any calories burned by bowling!  And when I felt like I had stalled out a bit on the weight loss a few weeks ago and was being a little more liberal in my calorie intake, I added a daily two-mile walk to the exercise routine--I now walk during my lunch hour on weekdays.  (When the weather turned warm and I asked to be assigned a locker in the office shower room, I can tell you that felt like a huge milestone.  I would never have imagined before that I'd intentionally want to sweat and take a shower half way though the work day!)

So I feel really good these days, and I like the changes I've made.  Feeling fit and strong is empowering, mentally and physically.  My only regret is that there aren't 26 or 27 hours each day so I'd have more time available for quilting!  In my next post--and I hope to do that in the next few days--I'll show you the couple little things I've actually done lately on the quilting front.  In the meantime, happy stitching and thanks for stopping by to visit!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Where Does Time Go?

I've had a couple emails from blog friends lately, wondering if I'm okay since it's been awhile since I last posted.  Yes, it certainly has!  And I really don't have much of an excuse--or reason--for not writing other than not having enough time to do everything I want to do and the need to prioritize.

I'm continuing on with the diet and exercise program, and I've been meaning to write to tell you how that's going--maybe I'll do that this week.  Work's been going along nicely . . . or at least as nicely as work CAN, but I'd rather stay home and play of course!   And on the quilting front, as I mentioned to a shop owner recently, I seem to be spending a lot more time BUYING quilting supplies than I'm spending on the actual sewing.  (She was fairly happy to hear that, although I'd sure like to be able to spend more quality time in the Sweat Shop!)

BUT, I have been doing a couple little things, like the two Country Homecoming house blocks for this month . . . although I'm late doing those too.  I told our group that I planned to post yesterday, but once again, time got away from me.  Still, better late than never, right?  And there were a couple other participants who were lagging a bit too, so I'm not alone.

First up are Imelda's houses.  I like the way she switched up the fabrics for the top sections (eves?) on the fronts of the houses.  Cute idea to dress them up a little more!

Next are Sharyn's two houses.  Both are lovely.  Last month her houses looked like Halloween and Christmas; if I had to put a month or season to these, I'd say maybe August for the beachy tans of the first one and July for the reds and blues in the second.

Next are Tina's two houses.  I see a little bit of a similar color theme here between hers and Sheryn's houses, since Tina has the red in the first and the more neutral, beachy colors in the second  Lovely!

And here are mine.  My colors are a little brighter than Sheryn's and Tina's.  For the second house, I originally had lighter colored doors and shutters, but they didn't seem to go well, so I had to replace them.  And I think I might need to add a window box or something to the first house--that one window on the bottom looks a little blank and boring.

Now, let me give you links to two other house-builders, Nancie Anne and Tanya.  Both of them have displayed their houses beautiful on their blogs.  Tanya has also posted some great quilted pouches for Secretaries' Day gifts--love those!  Too bad my boss doesn't sew.  One of Nancie Anne's houses has a nice double window that I might need to copy soon.  AND she's posted a display of the whole neighborhood so far--it's fun to see how we're doing now that we've hit the half-way point in our house construction.

I hope you're all enjoying a happy Easter.  I'll try to get back soon and post again.  Thanks for visiting!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nothing From Scraps . . . Or Anything Else!

It's late Sunday night and I thought I should post SOMETHING so you all know I'm still here.

First, thanks for the well wishes on our upcoming grandparent hood.  I wanted to respond to your comments, but I got hit by a stomach bug Monday night--"hit" is a really good way to describe it, too, because the stomach pains were fearce.  I had to go to work Tuesday to get some things done, but in the afternoon, I came home, and I stayed home on Wednesday as well.  For a few days, I didn't feel like doing anything that I didn't have to do, and getting on the computer was one of those things I just didn't do much.  After that, I felt a lot better, but it seemed like I spent what was left of the work week trying to catch up, at work and at home.  (Poor Hubby came down with the bug a couple days later too.)

It's hard to believe, even for me, but I didn't do one bit of sewing all weekend.  Yikes!  Someone check to see if I have a fever!  Seriously, though, with spring weather arriving in Northern California, I had spring chores to do that kept me out of the Sweat Shop.  Me and all my weedy enemies spent some quality time together out in the yard both Saturday and Sunday.  Then there was the remaining spring/Easter decorating around the house to finish up.  And do you know what probably took the MOST time?  Toward the end of the work week, my friend Missy got me interested in a recipe or two from Cooking Light magazine, and that led to me re-reading a few recent issues from cover to cover, planning out meals for the week ahead, grocery shopping for the things I need, and then doing a whole lot of cooking, trying out some new-to-me things.

Cauliflower soup, for instance--it really doesn't SOUND that good but it was; AND it made good use of a head of cauliflower that had languished in the refrigerator for the last week or so.

Cherry, almond, and ricotta scones for breakfast.  Yum!

Cranberry and pistachio energy bars--cut up, wrapped up, and ready to eat on the days I have CrossFit.

Edamame dip--it's kind of like a pesto with edamame all blended up, and it's great for dipping veggies.

And there were several other things as well, but I don't want to bore you to death.  But for those of you who DID do some scrappy sewing for Scrap Basket Sunday, please link up and show us what you did--because there's certainly a lack of quilt content HERE right now!

I hope I'll get back into the Sweat Shop this week, because I certainly have a LOT of projects that need to be worked on. Thanks for stopping by!