Saturday, August 28, 2021

A Great Week!

Ah, the sun is shining, the birds are singing (literally!) and Darla is curled up in my lap. It’s been a good week. The basement is dried out, the exterior west wall is permanently fixed and the inside renovation has started. Any potential leaky cracks in the foundation have been sealed with foam and the waterproof backer board is in.

Today the framing studs go in, along with the insulation batts and the start of the sheetrock. I can’t wait now until it’s done so I can paint the wall a new color - probably gray instead of the institutional white that’s been there longer than we’ve lived here. I’ll also be ordering white shutters for the window. And on the exterior of the house, we are having the rain gutters and downspouts cleaned, adjusted and spruced up with leaf guards (separate company). Jeff, our contractor for the interior, has also said he’d work on our laundry room this fall, so I can finally get some new lighting, cabinetry, paint and a new washer/dryer. It’s really about the only place in the house that we haven’t remodeled since we moved in 19 years ago.  It feels good to be moving through some of the fixes and remodeling we’ve wanted to get done for a long time. 

In the meantime, Cousin Kim and I were able to start sewing again. On Wednesday we set up two (out of four) of our sewing tables. With a temporary place to work, I got busy on the remainder of my aqua/teal/turquoise blocks for the August Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Twelve 5.5” waffle blocks, sewn into three 10.5” big waffle blocks:

Two 6.5” crumb blocks and five 4.5” four-patches for the Parts Department. 

And finally, eight “chips”, four white with black and four black with white.

These, then, are my aqua RSC blocks for the month. They totaled 46.

I used my two tables to lay out and baste a small quilt for Quilts for Kids (QFK) this week as well. There are two larger quilts waiting to be basted, but I don’t have the space to set up more tables until the remodel is complete. So, I’ll just do the small ones in the meantime. This little quilt (posed in the construction area) finished at 31x41”. It was my only quilt finish for August. 

But I’ve kept busy. I decided my string bag was way too full, so I’ve begun chipping away at it. Here are 39 string blocks that will finish at 6”.  No noticeable change in the string bag yet! These blocks will get added to the 200+ in the Parts Department. When we get the studio finished up, I can do an official count of all my string blocks and make plans for a string quilt assembly extravaganza! 

Later this morning I’ll be attending our Quilts for Kids workshop. We try to vary the workshop location all over the Wasatch Front, which means the gathering can be anywhere from Ogden in the north to Provo in the South. About every other meeting is in the Salt Lake Valley, which is best for me. In fact, today’s meeting is here in Murray where I live. Yay! I have 17 scrap quilts I’ve made over the last 3-4 months to donate. I’ll continue sewing string blocks in the workshop. 

It’s going to be a crazy and fun weekend with contractors, family, friends, Quilts for Kids and the Farmers Market . Woo-hoo! Bring it on. Life is good!

Saturday, August 21, 2021

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

We had a contractor over last Sunday. It was the same contractor (Cousin Carrie’s husband Jeff) who did our living room remodel in 2016-2017. He began slowly digging into/ tearing down the west wall of my basement studio, which is the west exterior of our home. You may recall that our big storm at the end of July, which also split our maple tree in two, poured water into my studio. There was little, if any, good news as Jeff dug in. Long story short, the rain and sprinklers have been coming into the house through a hairline crack where the basement foundation wall meets the home’s exterior brickwork. The water then ran down a foot or so and spread out in the wall around and in front of the solid window and down the wall on each side and to the floor. 

Contractor Jeff starting demolition

Since the window blinds fell down during the initial storm (due to the wet and rot), I’ve been using a piece of batting taped to the window to block out the western sunlight. 

First, the window framing came off. The paneling and sheetrock on the wall were bubbled, so they got torn off next. There was no insulation on this exterior wall. The studs and woodwork were all sopping wet and moldy. So he tore those out and did all the mold abatement. The brand new carpet (3 months old) and padding were pulled back out of harm’s way. We set up a fan to dry things out. We’re fairly confident that when everything else is repaired, the carpet can be restretched and relaid. What’s left now is the cement basement foundation wall and the window.

This is the problem on the exterior - a hairline crack between the foundation wall and the exterior brickwork. No flashing; building codes in 1963 were not what they are today! 

So, this is how the studio looked for Monday and Tuesday, with plastic separating the problem area off. On Tuesday, I sprayed vinegar on any wood (carpet tacking strips) that may have gotten wet. It is the new preferred treatment (over bleach) for mold. But heavy storms were forecast beginning Tuesday night through Thursday, so Jeff routed out and sealed the exterior crack temporarily and taped it off.  

The storms started on Tuesday night, and the temporary fix worked. We stayed dry all evening and night. The next morning, everything was still great, and we began to breathe easier. 

Cousin Kim came over and we carved out a little area to sew. It was cramped, but we were sewing, listening to good vibes and reminiscing about all the fun of our recent trip. Bruce was upstairs and it poured all day. Occasionally he’d look outside to check the drain at the basement landing outside the back basement door to make sure it was still draining. And it was. About 2:00 I stood up from my chair to move to put in some new music and squish! My feet were wet. It took a few seconds for it to compute. The water had been seeping in the back door; the drain had clogged and risen over the threshold. You never saw three people mobilize so fast in your life!

Bruce threw towels down the stairs for us, then ran out to the sheds to unearth the shop vac. Kim and I moved supplies and fabric up and away as quickly as we could. We were using towels until Bruce brought in the shop vac, then Kim did that while Bruce went out to clear the drain. I moved the furniture (it’s all light) and machines and wrung towels. What a team! Bruce came back in and manned the shop vac while we drove to Home Depot to get more large floor fans and sandbags. Actually they’re silicone bags that expand when wet and contract when dry. Reusable. Brilliant. 

Jeff came over later (and again on Thursday), and we pulled back half the room’s carpet, and moved everything out of the entire west and south side of the room. It rained all day Thursday too, but the sandbags were in place and we had no further issues. On Friday, it was gloriously sunny and dry. We had the doors open to the warm sunshine and things are airing out and the carpet is dry. We think the pads are just about dry too. But this is the state of my studio now.

And through all this, Bruce was feeling miserable with a painful cracked tooth. On Thursday he finally was able to get a root canal and crown done. We’ve been eating soft food all week and he’s been living on Ibuprofen.

Sooo…… guess how much sewing I got done this week? Well, I did get some done between floods. The answer is 19 aqua string blocks. I haven’t removed the foundation papers yet, and there’s nowhere decent to photograph them, but here they are for what it’s worth. I’ll be sharing with Scrappy Saturday.

I was sewing together all my aqua waffle blocks when the flood part two happened, so they’re not done yet. On Sunday, Kim and I will probably just sew upstairs at the kitchen table and I can finish them then, and maybe something else. Who knows. We’ll see what contractor Jeff says and does with the room in the meantime. And then I’ll have to find where I squirreled all my stuff amid the chaos. Maybe we’ll just be working on puzzles another week! 

Oh, and this second round of storms also took out the remainder of our maple tree. R.I.P.  Neighbors are coming over today with a chain saw to cut it off and haul it over to the southeast corner of our property. We are very fortunate to have such a wonderful support group of family, friends and neighbors.

On a final note, I want to thank you all for the kind comments over the last couple weeks. It’s been another challenging time for us. I chronicle many of our life events here in my blog in addition to my hobbies because we convert them into annual printed books. Of course, there is much that I don’t share here (aren’t you glad?) In fact, there are some exciting things happening with some of our kids’ families that we aren’t sharing yet, but maybe in time. So with all the “downs”, there are also plenty of “ups”. Life is good. 

Saturday, August 14, 2021

So Many Things to Share!

It’s been a busy couple weeks. Last night I finally wrote up a blog post about our week-long trip to a Missouri Star Quilt Company retreat in Hamilton Missouri. That post is HERE because I wanted to do it justice in a separate post. It’s fun and there’s some nice eye candy, so check it out! But I STILL have so much to share, so I won’t waste any time.

Let’s start off with the blocks I managed to get sewn up this week for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. The color for August is aqua/teal/turquoise. I’m linking up to Scrappy Saturday to share my blocks with the others who are working hard to put their fabric scraps to good use!

First up was the aqua momcat and her litter of five kittens. I always sew one kitten to match mom, and this month was no exception. 

Next came the two Spring Star blocks.

It took me a good two days after returning home last Saturday evening to recover from the trip. By “recover” I mean sleep, do laundry, rest, unpack and nap,  LOL. There was a lot of fabric fondling, too. Here are some pictures, but they’re not exhaustive (because I was exhausted). 

These are some of the large cuts (all are 4-5 yards except the teacups, which is 2 yards). The red Kaffe fabric with circles will be the backing to my International Sisters quilt - the one I’m making for myself. That will be a priority in the new year. The other Kaffe fabric, those luscious chrysanthemums, will be a backing for an orange quilt I’m itching to make. 

In the foreground of the above photo is a large cut of Tula Pink’s Fairy Dust background fabric. I fell in love with that when Julie stared using it for some of her RSC blocks. I plan to do the same in ‘22. The top navy floral was a sale fabric with metallic, and I just fell in love.

Next up are some fabrics I bought for the next quilt I’ll make for Bruce. Thankfully, he likes them! I took a sample of an orange fabric (see it there on the white) depicting radio circuits to match up. I got a couple science-themed fabrics, some red grunge and lots of solid gray. The gray matches perfectly, but I actually bought it for another project that I’ll show later in the post.

Next up is some navy Kona (because I’m on a navy kick), a pattern and batik strips with which to make this handled tote, and a yard of colorful sale fabric that I could just see for making lots of zipper blocks.

A puzzle and a rainbow jelly roll…

I couldn’t resist this Tula Pink fabric. I think it’ll become another pillowcase for moi! And the Kaffe Collective and Tula fat quarters (only $2 each) were too good to pass up. 

Now, let’s jump back in time for a moment to the week prior to the fabric acquisition trip retreat. This is a line of fabric I bought from Connecting Threads called “Alfie”. Regular readers know that one of my crazy felines is named Alfie. That, coupled with these beautiful florals, practically *forced* me to acquire them. I’m sure you totally understand. 

There are cats among the main floral! Anyway, that solid gray I showed above will be used with these fabrics to showcase them in one of those shadow-framed block quilts. Another project for myself for 2022. After eight months of sewing donation quilts almost exclusively. I’m planning selfish sewing in a big way for the new year!

Another thing I did before leaving for the retreat was to sew this orange 12” block. It was the final one needed to complete a long-running Rainbow Scrap Challenge sampler quilt.

When I returned home, I sewed up the flimsy. The top is now waiting to be sandwiched up. Unfortunately, this picture just shows the blocks pinned to the design board. The actual quilt top is sashed and bordered. I should have it finished next week.

At the retreat, I got all of these blocks sewn up, so it was easy to assemble the flimsy once I got home. I love the colors in this line, even though it’s way too matchy-matchy for my tastes. It was a layer cake I wanted to use up. 

There will be a small white stop border then a wider yellow border added. The backing will be the same yellow print. I’m thinking this will make a perfect quilt for my granddaughter Lauren’s high school graduation next May. 

And here is the status of the other project I worked on, the Ribbon Quilt from Jordan Fabrics. All the blocks are cut and sewn; they just need to be assembled and a border added. I’d like to finish this in August, too. 

Additionally, I’ll have two aqua scrap quilts to sew for Quilts for Kids. The pieces are gathered, but they can wait until I clear off the other things in the next ten days or so. 

Our garden has finally begun sharing its bounty. Even the compost bin had a volunteer snapdragon to present to us!

This was my harvest last Sunday, and Thursday’s harvest was nearly identical. Well, about two less spaghetti squash and double the cherry tomatoes.

The onions are almost ready too - their tops are beginning to fall. I pick one or two as we need them, but the bulk of them will stay in the ground until all the tops have fallen and I can pull and dry them out as a batch for storage. The birds are spending a lot of time in the higher more bird-accessible areas of the grape arbor. That means the rest of the grapes (reserved for humans) are not far behind. It’s a busy time of year. 

This coming week we have a dentist appointment (Bruce - toothache from a cracked tooth that will probably need either a root canal, crown, or both). I’ll be getting more cortisone so I can function again like a sixty-something instead of a ninety-something. And hopefully there will be a contractor visiting to give us an estimate on fixing the basement leak. We’ve already determined from a window contractor that it’s NOT the window. Some exploratory demolition of the interior wall will be happening. Of course - it’s in my studio. That means I’ll be doing The Fabric Shuffle again. Because the thought of sheetrock dust and my fabric in the same room makes me (pick any:) cry, itch, feel faint. 

Friday, August 13, 2021

A Trip to Missouri Star Quilt Company

Last week I went on a week-long road trip with Cousin Kim, Cousin Carrie, Carrie’s daughter Jenny - four of us - to a quilting retreat at Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, Missouri.  Although we’d all been there before (except Kim) for short visits, none of us had ever had much time there to really shop, get to know the town or attend a retreat. We had a blast!

Missouri River (thru car window)

We left Utah on Sunday, August 1 and drove an hour or so before we crossed the line from Northern Utah into Wyoming. That day was spent crossing the smoky plains of Wyoming. Everywhere from the Midwest to the West Coast has been smoky this summer because of the California fires. We made it into Nebraska, as planned, and spent Sunday night in Sidney, Nebraska.  Jenny and I split the driving that day. The next day, Kim and Jenny drove (taking us on a scenic wrong turn that added a half hour in Missouri, but we all loved it!).  This was the first times for Kim in the Midwest, and we hit three new states for her; Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri. We got to Hamilton, Missouri that evening about 6-ish, got checked into our rooms and went out for “Mexican" (*cough*) food. Obviously, we weren’t in the West anymore, and that’s all I’ll say about that.

Our room was delightful, painted a restful blue with white painted trim and a transom window above the door. I didn’t get pictures, but Kim did and said she’d share. Here is the area of the retreat center where the four of us were stationed.

We met some lovely ladies there - Elaine and Carol who were there together. They’d been friends since nursing school back in the seventies (exactly my age - when dinosaurs still roamed the earth). Anyway, we opted to use the Missouri Star machines (free) instead of bringing our own. The food was catered and delicious. There were ample restrooms, which is important when you get a couple dozen women together. Everything was clean, modern and very homey. We so enjoyed it!

Here is a selfie we took the next day in front of one of the Hamilton building murals.

L-R: Kim, Jenny, Cathy, Carrie

The shops were clean and bright, and spaced out over about three small blocks. We got into a bit of a routine where we’d sew for an hour or two, then go shop and walk around. I got in over 6,000 steps every days, but my feet still swelled up terribly.

One day we went to the Missouri Quilt Museum. I wanted to go because my friend Libby had a quilt on display in the Suffragette exhibit. Luckily, the retreat included free admission to the Museum (normally $12), and a shuttle to and from the retreat center to the Museum. The driver (in his large golf-cart-type mobile) wore a black t-shirt that said “I pick up Quilt Ladies”. We thought that was hilarious. 

The museum was housed in an old high school. Above you can see the colorfully-signed entrance. The exhibits were presented in different rooms, and some of them spanned several rooms. The former auditorium (smallish, and with seats removed) housed the contemporary quilts. In the principal’s office was a 1974 celebrity signature quilt.  There were sewing machine displays and all sorts of quilts, from vintage to modern. I really enjoyed the doll quilt displays.

And then we came into a large open area where the Suffragette Challenge quilts were displayed. 

I had been looking forward to this display, since my friend Libby has a quilt on display here and I wanted to get pictures of it for her and me too!

Ah yes, there it is, in situ. See the quilt with the Tennessee-shape there on the bottom left? 

Let’s move in closer. You can click on the picture to enlarge it and see the yellow rosebuds. Libby’s work is always exquisite! 

And here is the placard that explains the design. 

There was also a small display showing several sewing machines (like Cadillac and Packard) that were given away as promotional items when you bought a car back in the day. 

I thought of my friend Cathy when I saw this display. Although I have a nice collection of chicken scratch embroidered gingham aprons, Cathy loves it too and still does chicken scratch embroidery!

There were several thirties-era lovely quilts to admire. 

And a crazy quilt! I love crazy quilts and own a lovely one that I shared on this blog back in 2008. 

Outside the museum was the largest spool of thread in the world.

Our shuttle driver gave us a quick little tour of Hamilton, which included a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home,

The boyhood home of James Cash Penney, 

and the home of a certain “famous quilter”, LOL.

During our stay, I snapped a few town shots. My little blue RAV4 was great to travel in, and I love this pic of the modern cars and the old but beautifully refurbished buildings.

This is the main Missouri Star store. If you check in there first, you get a badge that the various stores can scan. The purchases are added to your Quilters Cash account. Yeah, we earned a lot of Quilters Cash. And spent that, too! Hehehe

Our retreat was called “Sewing with Friends”, and other than a couple short tutorials for some MSCQ quilts, it was mostly just free sewing. As we were gathering our supplies up the night before leaving, the other ladies laughed at how much stuff we four women had. Someone said it was going to be like a clown car to get all of us and our Stuff in. Another wondered who would be riding on the roof. Ha! They obviously underestimated the cargo room in a RAV4 and my packing capabilities!

Here’s a “before” shot with most (not all) of our stuff in the hotel parking lot in Sidney, Nebraska on the way home.

And here it is, all packed neatly in, with the appropriate clear space to see out the rear view mirror.  It was like a Jenga puzzle, but it worked! 

In my next post, I’ll show you the fabric I bought plus the project(s) I worked on. But I can tell you that if you ever get a chance to attend a MSQC retreat or even just a visit to the town, don’t pass it up!