Saturday, October 28, 2023

Hip Hip Hooray!

The blog post title has a double meaning today. I have a quilt finish and some new string blocks to share, as well as some news about a certain left hip.  Let me back up a bit. About a year ago, I had a bout of sciatica that sent me to the ER, where they did a hip X-ray to rule out the hips, although in the process it was revealed that my left hip had extreme osteoarthritis. Anyway, after the diagnosis of sciatica, some physical therapy and losing 60+ pounds over the last year, I had hoped to stave off problems with the hip. I worked like a madwoman in the yard this year, doing a lot of planting, hauling a full cubic yard of soil and just generally pretending to be a gardening superwoman. The yard is now put to bed for the winter (save two flowerpots that need to brought in), and it looks like I’ll be turning from garden beds to a hospital bed. 

View of Salt Lake Valley from surgeon’s 5th floor office window

The pain hit relatively suddenly a couple weeks ago. So I talked with my dear friend Terri, whose nephew is an orthopedic surgeon. Long story short, I went to see him (such a nice man!), got xrayed again (“the osteoarthritis in your hip is extreme PLUS”) and hip replacement surgery is scheduled for mid-November. I’m sorta scared, but I honestly can’t wait to be out of pain. I’m in good hands. So, listing the house is probably on hold for a couple months, and hubby Bruce is totally on board with helping me out. It seems fair enough to both of us since we’ve gone through his 15 arm surgeries together up to and including his arm amputation. We’re a great team in that regard!

But let’s turn to sewing. In keeping with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s October color of Light Neutrals, I continued sewing 6.5” string blocks. I used all my loose light neutral strings, as well as two of the handmade rolls of strings (two remaining for some future project) to make 3 groups of 15 blocks plus another 13. That’s 58 neutral string blocks. 45 of them will go to Quilts for Kids and the other 13 will stay here and join the 25 I made last week.

I also finished 15 multi-colored string blocks. So the total number of string blocks for the week was 73, and the October total string blocks sewn is 75+75+25+73, or 248 string blocks. My goal is to sew 400 by year end. 

But I’m also working on my annual Finishing Frenzy, and I finally have another little quilt to show. You’ve seen the top before, but now this is quilted and bound and ready to turn over to Quilts for Kids.

This aqua string quilt finished at 42x48”, and isn’t that backing fabric just perfect???

I also made some progress on the next RSC quilt in line by completing this top of blue, aqua, green and purple framed four patch blocks. This will be #2 of three planned Framed 4P blocks, which were sewn during 2022. 

I also wanted to share a picture of my Thousand Dollar Clock, LOL.  That was my nickname for the new range before I read the users manual and tried using it. But it’s great, and  it’s really nice not to have to rely on the microwave and other small appliances to cobble meals together!

When the old range was moved out, we naturally cleaned out from under where it sat for 17 years. Archeologists would’ve had a good laugh, concluding that there must have been cats in the house. Among the treasures: six felt catnip mice, a sparkly ball, 9 colored plastic straws (back when we used them before switching to reusable metal straws, the cats LOVED the neon straws and they’d routinely go missing from our drinks). And … a puzzle piece! Those little imps!

Linking up to Scrappy Saturday.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Christmas Stars Top Done

It is with great relief that I can announce that the Christmas Stars quilt top assembly is complete! This quilt fought me all the way, but I prevailed in the end. Its working name became Nightmare on Twinkle Street, LOL. This week I needed to finish up the last four sections, and then add the extra 10 stars to the bottom. Or so I thought. It turns out that I needed the stars for the width, not the length, so I had to sew two extra 8” stars and cut some alternating plain red squares and split them into two 8” columns on each side. None of that likely makes any sense, but here are some photos I snapped. I had to move the dinette set out of the way - the kitchen floor was the only place large enough to lay it out.

Naturally, Alfalfa and Darla had to walk all over it to add their artistic touches. Cats will be cats. I finished off with a 2.5” border all around, making it slightly oversized at 98x88”. I figure it will lose an inch or two in the quilting process.  

In this picture (above) the “top” and “bottom” are really the sides. Anyway, I dropped it off at the quilter - a cute little shop called Quilts on the Corner in old historic Sandy, UT, about a 10 minute drive from my house. They’ve quilted for both me and Cousin Kim before and always do a great job. The quilting pattern I selected was cardinals among mistletoe sprays and berries. So cute, and my daughter-in-law Kim loves cardinals. She picked out the colors and fabrics which include some prints with cardinals in them. The quilt is for her and my son Ryan. The quilt shop said the quilt will be ready before Thanksgiving, which is perfect as it’ll give me time to trim and bind it and give it to them before the end of November. 

The only other sewing I did this week - because I spent two and a half days on finishing the last sections of stars and sewing the Christmas Stars top together - was making string blocks. This time, for a change of pace and in keeping with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge October color of the month, I worked on my light neutral strings, because:

Yep, those are neat rolls (and a messy pile) of white, cream, light neutral strings. Think I have my work cut out for me?  hahaha

I did get thirty blocks sewn. For this coming week, I’ll focus on whittling down the pile of neutral strings while it’s still October. I’ve got other plans for November (like finishing some UFO’s and kid quilts). And the multi-colored strings - I will continue with those in November.

In other news, last Saturday, Cousin Kim and I (and her DD and DGD) went to a Zac Brown Band concert at the local Usana Amphitheater. Note to self: Cathy, you are too old to sit outdoors on a quilt on the grass without a chair (the rental were all taken and we weren’t allowed to bring our own). We ended up standing most of the time anyway, but on a grassy incline. With my bad hip (and back and knees by the time we were done, LOL), I was sore the next day or two. So was Kim. But it was loads of rockin’ fun! Never too old for that!

The pictures above and below are of the Jumbotron - the actual performers are shown as little tiny images below the Jumbotron. 

Our kitchen range (oven/stove) died this week. Poor thing worked very hard for us over the last 17 years.  So, we went appliance shopping and bought a new electric range in stainless and black. We figured we’d have to replace a couple things before we got the house sold. I’ve got my eye on our poor old microwave that keeps going like the Energizer bunny, even though the finish is wearing off in several places from being cleaned so much! We’ll replace that before we leave, too. We’re listing the house in November, ready or not.

Today we’ll be out in the yard, pulling up the remaining tomato plants, bringing in the last of the flower pots and finishing the garden cleanup. We found family members who will claim more of the outdoor stuff - our lawn mower and chiminea.  Next week is full of appointments for us, but when we’re not running around we’ll be cleaning out the basement and I’ll be sewing strings (I can work twice as fast as Bruce because I have twice as many arms). 

I think that’s about it for now. Time for another cup of coffee and checking out the links for Scrappy Saturday. 

Saturday, October 14, 2023


I don’t know about you, but without goals in my life, I’d be rudderless. As the saying goes, if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? That’s not only true for our lives in general, but for all the mileposts and events along the way. Now, I’m not going to get into life goals or religion or anything like that, but I am going to mention some of the “interim” goals I’ve set for myself over the last year or two. Are you a goal person? A list person? A fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person?  

But before that (and in case you’re only here for the sewing and quilting pictures, LOL), I’m going to share what I worked on in the studio this week.

First up, I basted two quilts and actually got one quilted, bound and labeled. It’s a small donation quilt for Quilts for Kids. The top was made from a kit in our last workshop (September), and I haven’t shown this before now.

The pattern, which I’ve seen in an old magazine, on the Missouri Star site and the Fat Quarter site - all named something different - starts with a charm square. To that you sew two random 2.5” scraps along one side and two longer ones across the top. The strips are kept in the same orientation for all blocks, and yields a block that is 9” (8.5” finished). The blocks are then turned around to different positions for the quilt top assembly.

So, this whipped up very quickly, and measures 38.5x46.5”. It’s the first quilt finish of my Fourth Quarter Finishing Frenzy, a personal sewing challenge.

Next I tackled the Christmas Stars quilt. My goal for the week was to sew 4 (of the 8 total) sections together. And I met my goal! Come to think of it, once I get the 8 sections together, there is still a row of single 8” stars (already made) to add to the very bottom edge to lengthen it, so I guess there are 9 sections. But anyway, here is a picture of the four finished sections hanging out and getting to know each other on the design board.

Yes, that right-most section is supposed to be 4” shorter; the section that will go beneath it will make up the difference. One thing you can’t tell unless you look closely (so, of course, you’re going to click on the picture and look closely, aren’t you? I knew it.....) is that although the Kona red background is the same throughout, it did come from two different bolts (read: same color, different dye lot). I’m thinking that even the Quilt Police won’t notice it once it’s quilted. 

And here is the same picture marked up to show the sections. “A” is on the left, “B" is top center, “C" is bottom center and “D" is on the right. My numbering lettering system is to help me retain my sanity. 

Please excuse all the weird lines and text as I learn to work with Markup on my iMac - not as intuitive as on my iPad. 

So, next week my goal is to finish the top; Sections E-H. I’ll get a picture at that time if I can. The above sections, roughly half of the quilt, take up the entire design board, so unless my friend Ruby is back from India and Nepal in time to be a quilt holder (she’s the only one except my neighbor Jason who is tall enough!), we may have to wait until it’s back from the quilter. More on that next week.

Before moving on to show you my string blocks sewn for the week, I want to share this tool with you and see if any of you use it or are familiar with it. It’s called a height compensator, and comes with Bernina machines. Do you have or use something similar? It’s three little plastic wedges held together by a screw that swivels, and you place it behind the needle (see picture) to help your machine get over “humps” in the seamline. You can use one, two or all three plastic pieces for varying thicknesses. With all the star points made of HST’s in this quilt, you can imagine that no matter which way you press the seams in a given block or row, sooner or later you will have to sew over 4 or more layers of fabric. Enter the height compensator.

Without it, the thread breaks or the machine stalls out or the fabric gets pushed into the feed dogs... In other words, this little tool is worth its weight in gold. You just sew up to the edge of the bump, stop, raise the foot and insert the height compensator behind the needle (it lifts the entire foot), and then resume sewing. Works slick as a whistle! You’re welcome!

Ok, here are 75 more string blocks from this week. The 75 from last week are the large pile at the top (back), and the other 5 piles are 15-block batches, as usual. I’ve sewn a few more than these, but since I group them in batches of 15, I just carry the leftovers into the next week. :-) You may remember that my goal for this fourth quarter is to sew 400 string blocks. 

Other goals accomplished this week: I ordered fabric for a quilt I’m planning for a friend who gave me an unbelievably generous gift a few weeks ago. It’s a story for another time. I’m hoping my fabric picks align with some of her favorite colors, because the name of the collection matches her first name. We shall see. Even if I have to select other colors, I already had a layer cake of this line and needed yardage for borders and backings, so I can always use that for another quilt. 

Bruce and I took a huge load of Stuff to the thrift store (in the rain, but hey - there were no lines to unload!). We got the arborist scheduled for our annual yard/tree pruning. And several pieces of furniture we need to unload have been claimed and taken. The Downsizing continues!!

Now, that’s all of the usual stuff; the rest relates to my weight loss and Weight Watchers, so if you’re uninterested in that, you are excused with thanks for visiting!! xo


It was 1975 (when I was 21 years old) that I joined Weight Watchers with my mom. I had all of 12 whole pounds to lose - and I did, gaining Lifetime Membership pretty easily. I kept it off, mostly. There were the natural ups and downs weight-wise of having three children, LOL. But I lost my lifetime status sometime in the ’90’s from eating too much and not exercising enough; working too hard in an office, feeding teenagers and making sure I got my share of the goodies. The idea of Not Being Invincible or Not Living Forever finally dawned on me around the turn of the century, in my mid-forties. A new prescription or health glitch here and a few pounds there and there..... you know how it goes. All that to say, my mid-life crisis was realizing I had to take care of my health. But diet and exercise/activity were on again, off again priorities.

Fast Forward to last year. After a bout of sciatica, I decided to finally get serious with my weight. I hated the idea of tracking what I ate, but it’s so easy now that there’s a phone app to handle it and lots of “free” - zero-point foods with low abuse potential like turkey, chicken, vegetables, fruits, all seafood, and beans.  I only have to track things like breads, dairy and fats that aren’t on the free list. What really changed my outlook about tracking was when our workshop leader Kris asked if we had a family budget to track our finances - money in and expenses out. Well, duh, of course! And then she asked us if our health was at least that important?? Bam! I was sold on tracking.

I’ve now recaptured my Lifetime Membership (free unlimited attendance). And the attendance at weekly workshops is necessary for me personally. It’s like a friend reunion, weight and health coaching workshop and a psychotherapy session with humor - all in one! I love all my WW friends. I still have about a pound to go to reach my original weight loss goal, but the app converted me to Lifetime status at 2 pounds over (because I recaptured it). Anyway, I want to lose another 11.5 pounds to get to a total of -75. That is my goal for this coming winter.  I hope you’ll be here to share in my periodic updates! Thanks for all your sweet support!

Linking to Scrappy Saturday for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

Kicking off the Finishing Frenzy

As the vegetable garden winds down and we tear most of it up (still getting lots of tomatoes), it seems I have more time to sew instead of processing veggies. Theoretically. Bruce and I spend some time every day cleaning out the basement and our respective playrooms (my studio and his workshop). We fill up our two large city garbage cans every week, although one has already been filled with garden debris this week. That means we will instead focus on gathering donations for the thrift store(s) and making a trip or two there. 

There is a lot of furniture and Stuff that neither of us want (or will have room for) that we are trying to pawn off give to family members. So far, one bicycle and some IKEA chairs have a home, but I think we’ll have to resort to the classified ads to sell a few furniture pieces, my treadle sewing machine, some outdoor furniture and Bruce’s workshop machinery. Oy. We need to move that stuff out sooner rather than later so we can straighten things up enough to have the house look uncluttered for staging/selling. And the weather is getting colder ... not the best timing. 

But let’s focus on why we’re here - the sewing part. Actually, there’s not much to see. But what I do have represents a lot of sewing this week. 

String blocks - 75. I sew these at 6.5” square, remove the papers and pin them in groups of 15 for use in Quilts for Kids kits. 

Has it made the slightest dent in that pile of strings I showed last week? Surely, you jest! I’m hoping that at the end of the YEAR we will see a dent! My dear Nina (my Bernina sewing machine) and I will be working diligently again this week on more strings. 

I also hope to pin baste (and possibly to quilt?) two quilt tops that are hanging on their hangers, patiently waiting for their turn to be finished. 

But my other primary goal this next week (in addition to continuing the string blocks) is to begin sewing the Christmas Stars Quilt together. I finished the last of the 4” (finished size) stars this week:

Here are the 73 stars and the 16  4.5” squares to total the 89 blocks I’ll need of that size. There are eight sections to assemble of the quilt top, and I want to get at least half of them done this week. The target date for me to finish the quilt is sometime in the middle week of October (15th-21st). I want to get it to the longarm quilter as early as possible so I can have it back before Thanksgiving weekend. Then I can bind and gift it to my son and daughter-in-law for them to use this year on their bed during the Christmas season. It will be so good to not have this hanging over my head!!

So, that’s all I have this week.  I hope your week was good and wish you the same for the coming week! Thanks for stopping by! Linking up to Rainbow Scrap Challenge’s Scrappy Saturday