Friday, September 29, 2017

Recapping a Busy September

September was a busy and fun, fun month. But lately I feel as though (as the saying goes), “the hurrier I go, the behinder I get”. Do you ever feel that way? Luckily for me, I am moving more and feeling physically much better since I started Weight Watchers back in June.

In September I lost about 5 pounds, making my total to date a loss of 20.2. But even better than that are my two NSV’s (“non-scale victories” as we call them). First, my annual physical was great and my blood work was all in normal ranges, unlike last year. And then my clothes are looser (one pair of pants keeps falling down - goodbye!) and I’m on the verge of moving into the next size down. The smaller pants are ready and waiting in my closet for the cool autumn weather to set in. I did a lot of walking and hiking on vacation, totally controlled my snacking (easy when peaches are in season!) and lost weight. I’m enjoying this journey!

I thought I’d get more sewing done over the last week, but my time in the studio was limited.  I did sew up all the rest of my orange scraps, making three slabs from fabric crumbs. They’ll be used in kennel quilts later this fall. And I made a couple more strip blocks, stars, as well as two Geese Migration blocks. Linking up to Angela’s So Scrappy blog for Scrappy Saturday.

So here is my Orange Collage for September:
Top Row, L-R:  2 Geese Migration blocks, 20 bowties, 4 Plus blocks, 3 crumb slabs
Middle Row, L-R: 2 Selvage columns, 5 Bookshelf blocks (not all shown)
Bottom Row, L-R: 16 Friendship Star variation, 8 Strings blocks

That totals 62 orange blocks for September, rather down from my usual. But that’s OK! I also made several 12” blocks for my Autumn Farmgirl quilt and cut several hundred 2.5"x4” orange lozenges and began adding 1.5” corners to them. Speaking of the Autumn Farmgirl quilt, I used the leftover HSTs from the Friendship Star blocks to make cornerstones. It’s just pinned, but you get the idea....

And here is the start of a pair of Indian Corn blocks for that same autumn quilt....

This week we visited friends and went out to lunch on one of Bruce’s days off. We got to pick out pumpkins from their pumpkin patch, which is bigger than our whole backyard! It was like being a kid again!  We also had family over (twice), including our boisterous grandkids. I would love to be able to bottle just enough of their energy to use to clean my floors after they leave! LOL.

Also, Darla and Alfalfa had their annual physical at the vets. The hardest part of the whole ordeal was catching them after they saw the cage, which was my fault. It would’ve made a good half-hour sitcom. Something about The Little Rascals and their Stupid Human. All that, combined with a lot of autumn batch cooking (lasagna, pot roast, beef enchiladas, chicken rice soup) made for a busy, exhausting week!

And finally, I have something else I made earlier in the month that I haven’t shown yet, but will do that next week after the recipient receives it.....

Have a great week! Have you decorated for fall yet?

Cathy maroon

Monday, September 25, 2017

Autumn in the Rockies

We were finally able to get away to take our long-awaited vacation this year. You may recall that we had to cancel our annual winter trip to Arizona to visit family because Bruce was undergoing arm surgeries for the sarcoma in his right forearm. His scans and tests from earlier this month reveal that it has not returned, which was great news. And with my brother living with us until spring, we had a built-in house and cat sitter. Or should I say that the cats still had someone to supervise?.....

Our drive to the YMCA of the Rockies Snow Mountain Ranch park near Granby, Colorado was a very pleasant 7-hour drive. An hour of that was in Utah, then about 3.5 hours in Wyoming and the last 3 or so in Colorado. The altitude of SMR at the lodge was 8,700 feet, but our cabin was much higher and near the outskirts of the park. We figure it was about 8900-9000 feet. Even for those of us who live at altitude (Salt Lake is about 4750 ft elevation), it was a noticeable difference.
From our upper balcony, looking northeast
We met up with two couple friends and one other single woman, so there were 7 of us total. Our cabin, called Eagle’s Nest, had 5 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, a gas fireplace, fully stocked kitchen (dishes, silverware, pots, etc), televisions upstairs (not used) and downstairs for the guys. We ladies stayed upstairs and spread out over the living and dining areas there to do our hand stitching and machine sewing.

From our upper balcony, looking northwest
Connie and Willy brought their puppy Finley, who is an amazing, sweet and cute puppy at 8 months old.  He loved all the attention from all his new aunts and uncles. And with two dog parks and plenty of hiking paths, he was never bored!

The weather was cool and gorgeous most of the time, but it did rain a lot one night and morning. One afternoon Bruce and I took a hike along one of the trails.  At the trail head, there were huge signs telling you what to do if you ran into a bear, a cougar or a moose. Yikes!  Luckily, we didn’t run into anything except a lot of horse droppings as this was obviously a horse trail.

The way into the forest was down, and I was a bit concerned about going down too far and then having to climb UP to get out. But I needn’t have worried; we just took our time and snapped pictures, marveling at the beautiful landscape and turning colors.  

The first night (Thursday) we all ate at the lodge. After that, Connie cooked all the dinners because she volunteered. Breakfasts were things we had all brought, and lunches were leftovers from dinner or things that the rest of us had bought at the supermarket in Granby. The meals were great (thanks, Connie!), and the rest of us split the cleaning chores. Other than that, we just stitched, gabbed, laughed. The guys watched a couple football games and NASCAR when they weren’t playing with Finley, walking or eating. Bruce did a lot of reading, too. There were several nice chairs and benches on the balconies, and they wrapped around the cabin, so you had your choice of view, sun, etc.

L-R:  Lisa B, Connie K, Colleen A, Cathy K
L-R: Mark A, Willie K with Finley, Bruce K
All of us had so much fun, that we are all doing this again in June 2018, same place, same cabin. We’ll see if we like spring or autumn better, then make it an annual gathering! We all checked out on Monday, and Bruce and I drove 2 hours to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora to stay with his daughter Emily and her family.

The kids (except the youngest, Gunner) were in school during the 2 days we were there, but we had plenty of time after school and in the evenings to play with them. We came bearing gifts, of course (isn’t that Rule 2 of The Grandparents’ Code?). We went out to dinner one evening and Emily cooked yummy fajitas for us the second evening.

One of our favorite memories was spending time in Barnes & Noble with them as they deliberated on new books and a new toy from Grandpa and Grandma. Or maybe it was the bedtime reading; Emily read to Gunner, Bruce read with Deacon (Deacon did the reading) and I got to read with Abbie (who also did the reading). Or maybe it was the walk around the base with Emily and their boxer Bailey, talking of all sorts of things, or Gunner playing in the backyard while Grandpa read, or me playing American Girl dolls with Abbie, or Bruce teasing the kids that the large white domes on base were really houses for aliens (the kids  knew they were really satellite domes)......  We can’t wait to see them again in June!!!

Now we are back home, the unpacking is done. A day or two of laundry, clean-up, grocery shopping and errands...... and it’s back to the old routine. It was a great trip!

Cathy maroon

Friday, September 22, 2017

Sewing More Orange

Hi! We are back from our fantastic week-long vacation to Colorado. We had a great time visiting friends and family, but I will save the recap for a separate post in a couple days.  For now, I want to link to Scrappy Saturday as our September color is orange. And boy, did we see a lot of orange leaves in the mountains of Colorado!

Before we left, I sewed up 20 bowtie blocks. They will finish at 4” each. I’ve now completed 177 of the 304 blocks needed, so I am 58% of the way to the block finish line. This is definitely a 2-year project.

Next up are the 13 Friendship Star variation blocks that I sewed while on vacation. They are an unfinished size of 6.5” each.  I now have 135 of 136 blocks needed, and we still have PINK to work on. The extra blocks will probably end up on the back of the quilt.

And I have been sewing 12” autumn-themed blocks, using some of my old Farm Girl Vintage blocks and adding new ones from here and there. These five were sewn last week.

I have a total of 4 (first one from a couple years ago not shown) and they will go in the four corners. I still have several blocks to work on: an owl, a crow, a turkey, a schoolhouse, a squirrel and some Indian corn. I am hoping to get this one done by early October.

Finally, I sewed some pillowcases for the Hurricane Harvey/Irma relief efforts. I had hoped to finish 10 of them, but did managed to get just half of them done. That will have to do, as I want to get these, along with 3 donation quilts, off this week. There is a local quilt shop who is collecting, and I may just save myself some postage and take them there instead of mailing them back east.....

We returned home from vacation on Wednesday night, and I have spent Thursday and Friday doing laundry, grocery shopping, errands, housework, etc etc.  I haven’t even unpacked my machine yet!  After one final errand on Saturday morning, I plan to commune with Bernadette (my Bernina 550QE) all afternoon and not come up for air until dinnertime.  I hope you have a pleasant weekend too!

Cathy maroon

Friday, September 8, 2017

Quilting by the (Orange) Book

Welcome back, friends! First, let me say that those of you in Florida are sure in my thoughts as you brace for Hurricane Irma’s impact. Hopefully you have all prepared as best you can and that you and your loved ones (and loved homes, etc) escape harm. If our friend Angela is able to post the Rainbow Scrap Challenge Scrappy Saturday link-up, I will join in.

And we have not forgotten our Texas friends who are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. There are many online sites for donating money, services, quilts, pillowcases, kennel quilts for animals, etc. for the multitude of victims in the Southeast. I hope we will ALL take the time to contribute what we can. If you need help finding a charity, please feel free to write me and I will be glad to direct you to some.

And now let’s talk Orange.

This week I started by using orange strings to make (8) 8.5” string blocks. If I have strings left over after all the rest of my blocks are done, I'll make 4 more to sew into another 16” finished block. If not, there is always next year!

And then I sewed up four quick Plus blocks. Originally I wasn’t even planning to use orange in the Plus quilt, but that changed. With these, I have 89 blocks. The remaining blocks for the quilt will be pink and gray, and I will need between 7-18 total of those. The extras will be used if I decide to switch out some of the already-made blocks that I don’t care for.

Next, I got started on my orange shelf of books (5 blocks) for my Bookcase Quilt. Bookcase Quilt - it needs a better name, doesn’t it? Any ideas? Anyway, here are some close-up pictures so you can see the individual titles in case you want to “check them out”!  hahahaha..... get it?  check them out 

So, let’s read across from left to right. Note that you can click on the pictures to make them bigger. Have you read Timeless Treasures or Peak Hour?

Moving along (there is some overlap in the pictures), we find Cool Cats and Helen’s Garden. Naturally, Helen has pumpkins in her garden at this time of year....

And it’s true, I got lazy and stacked all my smallish books sideways. But the titles are easier to read. These little book titles include Diamond Eye, Handmaids and Hello Darling. 

All this reading is making me hot (as in hot flashes, LOL). So, thank goodness I parked my fan on the shelf, eh??

And note that we have the the runaway bestseller Butterfly Bliss. It even has a butterfly on the cover! And even Home for Harvest has an appropriate cover.

And here is a view with the orange shelf just pinned on top of the yellow, green and blue shelves. I haven’t sewn the orange books onto the shelf yet.....

There are three pink book blocks still to sew and add to my two red book blocks; they will they will comprise the top shelf. The bottom shelf will be the 4 already-sewn purple blocks plus one dark-colored book block of black/gray/other dark neutrals. This may come to Colorado for me to work on....

I am starting to cut and pack other projects to take along with me to Colorado next week. One of the things I plan to bring is fabric to make the pillowcases for Sarah’s charity drive over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. I’ve cut and packed up 7-8 of those to sew.  And I will probably cut and kit fabric for a half dozen or more Farm Girl 12” blocks. I want to do an autumn-themed quilt. And since I have way too many 12” Farm Girl blocks for just one quilt, I thought I would pull out the autumn-ish blocks, add a few more and see what I can come up with. I have plenty of sashing and backing ready to go, so this is another one that could materialize quickly. Like a quilting hurricane.....

Last December, we purchased four Ingo tables from IKEA as my Christmas present. I have wanted to re-do the tables and arrangement in my studio forever. Anyway, after Christmas came the end of our living room remodel, and then weeks, even months, of the arm cancer scare and operations for Bruce. So we “tabled” the assembly (sorry, couldn’t resist). And then it was summer/garden/family/brother moving in, etc. Finally I announced an assembly date last Monday, and both Bruce and my brother agreed gladly. They had those 4 tables whipped out - from gathering tools to wiping them of dust - in 2 hours flat.

So, here are some pictures of the place. Keep in mind it’s still a work in progress. And also, these are honest, messy pictures. There is ironing to be done, messes to clean up, stuff packed up for our trip, etc..........

When you come down the stairs (above picture, where the light switch is), there are two rooms to your right. The first one (brown) is my office and computer. It's also where I used to store my lace and fabric inventory when I had an active Etsy shop. The second apricot-colored room (above and below) has two easy chairs and is my hand stitching room. In there I keep my batting rolls, and cabinets of embroidery threads, silk ribbons, beads, buttons, books, ribbons, vintage laces, and collectibles such as vintage aprons, vintage clothing, vintage pillowcases and linens, etc. That room is worthy of a post in its own right sometime.

So, as you come down the stairs and look ahead in my studio, there is the design wall on the right. Facing forward (to the left in the above picture) are two bookshelves housing fabrics. On the top of the wood-toned bookcase are two containers of selvages sorted by color and one basket of multi-colored scraps.

In the picture above you can see two of the new tables. My power strip/surge protector comes down from the overhead lights and sewing machines and irons for up to 4 persons can be plugged into it. I just flip off the power strip when I leave the room. The studio is in the basement, but it gets afternoon sun and is delightful.  My big ironing board there is covered with the pillowcases I’m kitting up. Beyond that, in the corner are (1) plastic shelves containing scraps by color and the WIP bookshelf. The door leads out to the backyard. Hanging on the door handle and on the carpet shampooer is the laundry I need to iron!!

As we continue moving around the room, you can see more of the tables and the cutting station that’s set up (green mat).  Behind my sewing chair (that is really for my office, but until I get a new one without arms, I’m using it here) is my thread, treadle machine below the thread, and miscellaneous sewing supplies in the desk and shelves behind my chair. That is the bathroom there behind the door....

Between the bathroom and laundry room (the door next to the hangers) is a plastic bin of fancy fabric scraps (silks, damask, velvet) for my crazy quilting, plus a bookcase of mementos, pincushions and music. The painting was done by my son Shane in high school.

And so we’ve come full circle. Again, sorry for the mess. But honestly, I wasn’t going to clean up just to take pictures and then have to get it all back out again.

If you don’t hear from me next Saturday, it just means that I don’t have internet access at our cabin in Colorado. We are meeting up with Diann and her hubby (of Little Penguin Quilts) and several other couple friends for a long weekend in the mountains. Then we are visiting family for a couple days before returning home. I will update y’all when I get back!

Have a great week!

Cathy maroon

Friday, September 1, 2017

Onward and Orange-ward

Welcome to September!  It’s a new month and a new color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. This month, Angela at So Scrappy has chosen ORANGE for us to work on. It’s the perfect color to get us in the mood for autumn.

Last year at this time we were just beginning the demolition of the living room for its remodel, so I never got to decorate for fall. This year I am so excited to get out my fall decorations. I’m not sure how they will work with the new furniture and decor; without my old antique sideboard, I have fewer places for bigger things. But it will be fun trying this and that. Some things may have to find new homes and maybe I will have to add a few choice new pieces.

First, let me do a bit of August recap before I get into Orange September.

I did finish 9 kennel quilts and one doggie bed as I had planned. Darla tested out the kennel quilts for me and  declared they were just right.  In fact, she wanted to fall asleep on them right away. But mom had to wash them all, so she was deprived of that privilege.
With all the flooding from Hurricane Harvey in southeast Texas, I believe I am going to package these up and send them off to Houston-area shelters. They are needing them badly there right now. If you have time, why not stitch up a few placemat-sized kennel quilts and join the effort? I always get a lot of questions about how you, the reader, can help the animals with shelter quilts. Here are some websites (just a few; there are so many more) that are helping out in Houston:

Best Friends Animal Society
The Quilt Pattern Magazine - they work with Petfinder. Great site!
Petco Foundation
There is an article on (link HERE) that lists many ways and sites to help animals

Also in August, I did 168 little (4.5” unfinished) neutral string blocks, finished my Pineapple Quilt and started the Groovy Guitars quilt for Bruce (more on that below).  On my personal weight loss journey with Weight Watchers, I lost 7-something pounds in August, for a total to date of 15.5 pounds or so. My clothes are looser and I already feel much better. My annual physical is in September, so I am hoping that my bloodwork and other numbers have improved correspondingly.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I started my orange sewing as soon as I read Angela's color announcement. I was able to finish up the two orange columns for my RSC selvage quilt.

After sewing up the light orange and the dark orange columns, I added to add them and the previously-sewn red column to the quilt top. Now all that’s left is a dark column (gray? brown?) for the very right, and two pink columns - one dark and one light - for the left-hand side. The flimsy will finish at about 56x72”.

And then there is the Groovy Guitars quilt, which I am name changing to Damn Guitars. Enough said about that! I did let the quilt out of Time Out for a couple afternoons during the week, and in doing so was able to make some progress.

After re-doing the initial orange guitar, things have gone slightly smoother. I hung the black cotton background up on the design board and use my portable iron to fuse directly onto it while its hanging. Genius, if I do say so myself. The design board is flannel-covered board insulation panels, so it takes pins and heat like a champ. Doing it this way also allows me to fiddle a bit more than a horizontal table or (heaven forbid) an ironing board would allow.

The picture below shows where I am so far. There are several areas that need tweaking, but for now I am just lightly fusing them to the background. Once all the pieces are there, I will finesse and trim the seam overlaps, then machine appliqué all the edges.

And I can already see that the yellow rectangle on the orange guitar needs to be re-centered. That was the piece that made me think there had to be a better/vertical way to do this quilt instead of horizontal. There are still red and blue pieces to come as the quilt grows to the left. If I can tear myself away from my orange scraps this week, I may work on it some more.

In two weeks we leave for Colorado for a week, where we will be staying in Winter Park at Snow Mountain Ranch. We are meeting a few couple friends and sharing a cabin. I will also be meeting up with Diann of Little Penguin Quilts (and her hubby) who will join us for a couple days of sewing (Diann) and golf (hubby). I’ll take along plenty of sewing and hand stitching projects, but I haven’t figured out exactly what yet, much less prepare them. But other than a little walking/hiking and chatting with friends, sewing is all I plan to do....  That’s my idea of a vacation!

Cathy maroon