Saturday, April 27, 2024

Rain, Remodeling Bids, New Friends, and Even Some Sewing!

Life is so full, that I’m overflowing! And I’m not even talking about my weight! But since I did say the “W” word, I’ll admit did gain a few pounds during the early part of April. But I’ve lost all but 2 of those pounds since. I’m well below my goal weight, but still about 3-4 pounds over my personal goal of -75 pounds down. I’m hoping the weight gain had something to do with “shape-shifting” - exchanging fat for muscle, because last Sunday my pajama bottoms actually fell down while I was walking around the house! Never trust pajama bottoms when they become low-riders on your hips!

But let’s get on to the sewing part of our program, shall we? Since I had already finished up all my Yellow April Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks, I only have a yellow block recap to show you. 

What I worked on this week was the Anne of Green Gables Quilt for my friend. There are a total of 20 blocks in the pattern, and I had already made five previously. So, of the remaining 15 to sew, I got 12 made. 

Here’s a picture of most of them,. Two of the blocks are barely visible in the upper left corner, draped over a sewing machine.

It will be quick work today to finish up the remaining three blocks before moving on to assembly with sashing and cornerstones. 

As the blog post title today indicates, we’ve been getting remodeling bids for the kitchen. Mostly we’ve just met with the designers at the cabinet companies and had them out to measure and draw up plans. We’re still waiting for the final bid to arrive next week. These bids will include the cabinets and countertops, with tear down and haul-away of the old stuff and the floorplans and elevations and technical specs for the other trades.

We will have to arrange and pay for the electrical, plumbing, tiling (backsplashes), painting and flooring separately, although they will all work together seamlessly (in theory). And the designers from the cabinet companies provide timelines and work with us to help shepherd the other trades (be the General Contactor, so to speak) on the project. But all I see now is the costs go up and up (think of money growing wings and flying away). We’re actually starting with some plumbing things this week - too long and involved and boring to go into here. But I’m sure getting an education! And right now we’re looking at a finish date of August or September. It’s going to be one eventful summer!

I did snap a couple photos in our courtyard before the April Showers appeared this week.

Above, Ringo - named by my granddaughter Lauren when she and I painted it together a few years ago -  made his appearance in the courtyard as the official mascot. His base needs some touch-ups. 

The bleeding heart we “inherited” is blooming profusely now, although this picture showing the early bloom stages is still lovely. You can see some of my clean-out debris (branches) behind it. I’m working that into our trash bins weekly. 

And the new friends? Besides helping out with some of the garden projects involving the common areas of our condo complex, I’ve been attending the weekly card games at the clubhouse. So much fun to make. new friends. Three ladies even came by yesterday to ask me to join an impromptu gathering at one friends’s house yesterday afternoon. And I learned in the process that one of the ladies knew Bruce’s late sister Fay (Cousin Kim’s mom) and some of our friends up in Bountiful, Utah, where Bruce grew up. Small world! 

I think that wraps it up for this week. I hope to have some fresh pictures, stories and sewing for you next week. We are having a “picture-hanging party” with the family here tonight. Maybe then we’ll finally be ready for some photos. 

Saturday, April 20, 2024

A Week in the Life of a Crazy (by Design) Woman

I admit to being crazy. It’s a benign crazy, harmless and I’m sure it’s even sweet to some sympathetic onlookers (who would be much younger, I imagine). But I truly believe I’m losing my - well, YOUTH for one thing (and there go the marbles!) and my “edge” for another. My mind? I think it’s in the danger zone… 

After the move, which was full of list-making, planning, cleaning, phone calls, worrying, sleepless nights and packing (ad nauseum), I decided to take a vacation from that hectic life and ease into the new life of retirement. Except that in my efforts to just glide along and not overplan or overthink, I keep hitting bumps in the form of chores, errands, must-do’s, appointments and new “adventures”. I can’t resist me a new challenge it seems. But first, let’s dive into the Rainbow Scrap sewing I did this week. I’ll be linking this post to Scrappy Saturday in the morning to join in with our international friends who are also working on yellow blocks for RSC’s Yellow April.

I actually managed to finish the rest of my planned yellow blocks for April, as well as a single 6” block of crumbs I never sewed for Red February (no picture of that). But below are my three yellow crumb blocks and two 12” scrappy Star blocks in yellow. 

And then I tackled the strings and got twelve 6” (finished size) blocks - and even got the papers removed! I have no plans for the string blocks yet, but I do want to keep the strings in check, so I faithfully sew some every month. 

I also used a lot of crumbs and bits and strings to make one 4” x 60” yellow column. Eventually I’ll have enough colorful columns (of varying widths) to sew into a decent-width quilt. 

With my April RSC blocks done and the backlogged blocks caught up, I plan to turn my attention to the Anne of Green Gables gift quilt (story and picture of first blocks here) I want to work on. Also, I’m going to try to baste at least one of the quilts in the closet that’s waiting its turn. I have a backlog of three tops with backs, five community quilt tops with backings donated by others for me to quilt, plus three new tops received this month, plus a set of Zipper blocks to sew into a top, PLUS at least a half dozen RSC block sets to make into tops. 

And you may remember that last fall I numbered all my quilt “kits” (self-made bagged sets of matching chunks, scraps and yardage in coordinating themes/colors). Thirty-six of those, and my goal was to make up three of those kits each month into quilts. That happened in January, but then all hell broke loose with the packing and selling of the house, the moving and unpacking, etc. I’m still traumatized and trying to get my groove back. So, that quilt kit plan is totally off the rails. And I’m feeling overwhelmed….

* * * * * * *

Last Saturday we shopped for bathroom light fixtures and a patio umbrella and stand. And I picked up paint chips to begin selecting bathroom colors. On Sunday, my friend Ruby came over to sew (Cousin Kimmie was sick). It was a beautiful day, so we first sat inside and talked, then sat outside on the patio and had lunch and gabbed, then went for a walk, and only then - in the early afternoon - did we sew! 

On Monday, Bruce had a doctor appointment with his head doctor and was finally able to get his ADD/ADHD meds refilled. It’s been a loooong 8 months, but the manufacturing shortage is apparently over. He feels so much better and can focus on things again. His 12-year-old attention span has reverted to an adult attention span. I attended the monthly meeting of our HOA’s Board. I was asked to make some remarks about our New Owner experience, and made some observations that apparently led them to like me (or see a sucker?) I was visited by three different Board members during the week and have been asked to join the Board. I believe I agreed to it - hence the doubts about my sanity. But more on that as the situation develops.

Here are some pictures I took of the wild area around the HOA Clubhouse on Monday. The green area and creek are a short block from our condo along the west side of our 72-unit condo complex. The creek is Little Cottonwood Creek - the same creek that runs through Wheeler Farm that was a block away from our old house. 

Here’s the view looking left, with the clubhouse and pool deck visible on the middle left. 

Tuesday was Weight Watchers for me, a good meeting but I didn’t weigh in. Now that I’m a Lifetime member at goal, I only choose to weigh in once per month, although I attend the workshops weekly. In  the afternoon, Bruce and I both treated ourselves to pedicures because - we deserved it. It was a first for Bruce, and he enjoyed talking with the salon owners and workers about Viet Nam, their home country and where Bruce served in the US Army for 8 months before returning to the States to serve out his remaining tour at the NSA (National Security Agency). 

On Wednesday we both worked around the house hanging pictures (me) and organizing his shop (Bruce). We were also on the phone and the computer - making address changes to various places (all the un-fun, big hassle stuff like insurances, voter registration, drivers licenses, health plans, etc). 

On Thursday we had an electrician in to install new lighting fixtures in the bathrooms (yay!) and consult with us about ideas and needs for the kitchen/dining area remodel. We’ll be working with him as we move forward. I spent that afternoon up at the Clubhouse playing cards (Hand and Foot) with the ladies. There are about a dozen regulars. 

Friday - today as I write this - was grocery shopping, laundry and sewing. It was a good, “homey” day. The Billy Joel musical special was re-broadcast on CBS, so we watched it again tonight as we had done on Sunday night. That first time they aired it, the network cut off the last two minutes, and apparently they were flooded with complaints from all over the country. You don’t mess with the legions of fans of  a musical icon! (A lesson that a certain orange person could stand to learn). 

One more picture - the sitting area just beyond the kitchen/dining area of our condo. I had a picture of the living room as well, but it was too blurry.

I took this picture - with nothing on the wall above the couch - to show my son Shane where I want to hang a painted cityscape that we’re commissioning him to do. He used to paint portraits and cityscapes before he got into computers, but his heart is still in art. 

Starting next week, we will meet here with three cabinet company designers to begin getting ideas and design plans roughed out and get bids for the kitchen remodel. 

But other than that, there’s nothing going on…. Haha. See you next week!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Sew and Sow - Well, Almost!

It was a busy and beautifully clear spring week here in the Salt Lake Valley! Everything is greening up and the trees are bursting with pink and white blossoms everywhere. I got a few pictures and things hung on the walls of our new condo (“few” being the operative word), we got the internet and cable all set up, the title company and the HOA got everything cleared up and all funds applied, and we got busy setting up the garage (Bruce) and courtyard/garden (me). Pictures later in the post. 

And I got some sewing time!! This week I concentrated on sewing blocks for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I finished my 11 crumb blocks for RSC’s Purple March

…as well as the purple scrap column. I don’t think I’ve shown these before, but each column is roughly 4” wide and 58-60” long. I’ll just keep making these in various colors, and neutrals too, until I have enough to sew up into a decent-sized donation quilt. 

So then I moved back to yellow, April’s color for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. I got four 8” (finished size) blocks done. I have the stars blocks all cut out and ready to sew, as well as my yellow strings for the coming week. I’ll be in a good position to get more sewing time in next week as each week progresses and our household moving and settling chores lessen.

Our family contractor decided he doesn’t have the time or “bandwidth” to tackle our kitchen remodeling project. His late wife (our Cousin Carrie) passed away three months ago from cancer. We didn’t know if keeping busy would be a blessing or a hardship for him, so we totally support and respect his choice not to take it on. We do have a connection to an electrician, and we will start there, adding the necessary fixtures and lighting to the kitchen and two bathrooms first. It will give us time to research design professionals for cabinets and countertops. And then will come the painter, and lastly the flooring. All things in time. I hope we can be done by autumn. Time will tell.

I do have some pictures of our courtyard to share with you. It’s a much more manageable size for us than the old house was with a big patio, 8+ grow boxes, lawns, flower beds, etc etc. 

After collecting the necessary supplies early in the week, Bruce set out emptying his bins of projects and electronics and Stuff into the cabinets and built-in storage in the garage. He’s getting excited as his workshop in the oversized double garage gets set up!

Meanwhile, I worked on the courtyard. I trimmed down and dug out 3 barberry bushes (sticker-y things), with one more to go. I’m keeping two smaller ones for their color (dark red/maroon), but trimmed them nicely. I got my blackberry canes planted and the rhubarb and irises as well. Then I weeded and mulched the entire area, hung most of our metal art, and put out some decorations. But the biggest project (this all took 2 days) was filling the pots and Greenstalk vertical garden with potting soil, setting it up and testing it. It works like a charm! 

This first picture was taken through one of the living room windows, through the courtyard to the street. You’re looking east, to the mountains, which are more clearly visible when seated in the courtyard. The Japanese maple isn’t leafed out yet, but the pink blossoms are beginning to appear. 

This next picture shows the fresh mulch, trimmed barberry and garden decorations. There is drip irrigation along this side of the courtyard. Back in the corner there near the short wall is where I removed an overgrown barberry and planted the blackberry bush (bare root at this point). There’s a trellis standing along the wall there - hard to see - that will be home to a climbing rose eventually. And I’ll likely plant a few annual flowers along the front edges. 

This next photo was taken from the front door steps and shows the other half of the courtyard entry area. Yes, there’s an old bird’s nest (unoccupied this season) in the tree. Should I leave it or take it down? You can also see where I sawed off one limb of the tree that was sticking out (low and potentially hazardous) over the seating area. This side of the courtyard has sprinklers. In that front corner, I planted some iris rhizomes that I brought along from the old house. 

Next up is a photo of the seating area. We will definitely need to get an umbrella to shade this area. You can see our neighbor’s umbrella in red over the wall. The orientation of our place is such that we have direct sun in the courtyard until about 2:00 in the afternoon, at which time the house begins to create shade as the sun moves in the west. 

There was a big, bawdy barberry bush (awesome alliteration) behind the love seat that met its demise this week. It’s remnants, along with the limb trimmed from the tree, are slowly being chopped and broken up by me to add in to our weekly trash pickup. One more bush to remove - the red thing you see back in the corner. Good riddance! I don’t know what will go along that wall yet. I’ll take this year to study the light patterns and decide next year. But there is one sweet bleeding heart bush there, which makes me so happy because I had one at the old house. 

You can see the Greenstalk vertical garden there on its spinning base. There are five tiers of six pockets (10” deep) for a total of 30 planting pockets. I filled all the tiers with soil. What you can’t see is the white watering tray between each layer. The very top is the watering bowl that you fill with water. Then the water flows down to the five white trays on each tier. There are holes in those trays for the water to drip out into each planting pocket. So ingenious! I need to wait another couple weeks before it’s safe to begin planting, but I have lots of seeds - basil, cilantro, lettuce, CARROTS!!, spinach, rosemary, and more. And I’ll add some strawberry plants, and flowers as well. Our bigger Talavera pots will house tomatoes and flowers. 

Here’s a close-up of the Greenstalk. The base not only spins, but I can move the whole unit on wheels to chase (or avoid) the sun or foot traffic patterns. 

This will be an easy garden for us to maintain and scale down if necessary as we age. And the lady in charge of HOA gardening for our condo complex has already asked me to provide some of my (presumably planted) Talavera pots for the Cinco de Mayo dinner next month! 

Next week I hope to have some interior pictures to share. Many of them will be “before” shots - like my 1979 kitchen. But the process of making things our own is part of the fun, isn’t it? I hope you’ll be along for the whole process!

See you next week, friends! (And I’ll try to do a better job of answering comments next week! xo

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Settling In

 We have moved from our house of 21+ years to the condo. Whew! It was a monumental undertaking. Bruce had been clearing out his workshop all winter, while I worked on the rest of the house. We made weekly trips to the thrift store, gave lots of stuff to family and friends, had two loads of junk hauled away - and that was all before the move. Since we have moved, there has been another trip to the thrift store with donations and another load hauled off by the junk dealers.  I’ll go into more detail later in the post so those who are here only for the quilting stuff can be spared! 😁

I’m woefully behind on my sewing goals, but I plan to take the rest of April and May to catch up. To that end, my first thing to share is the twelve string blocks I made in purple, which was the March color of the month for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC). 

I still have a couple other things in purple that I need to tackle - crumb blocks and possibly a column of purple coins. Oh, and a red crumb block too. Sheesh! Nevertheless, I began sorting and sewing yellow, the RSC color for April. 

First up - Color Stix blocks. The pineapple one was my prototype block made last fall. I’ve added another yellow and a gold to bring my count up to three of these blocks for April.

My plan is to hit the scraps hard this week to get caught up on all my RSC blocks. I’ve also got two quilts ready to baste and quilt, and eight (8!!!) donation quilt tops to turn into quilts. Yeah, that will keep me busy through May!!

* * * * *

The Move

Well, we got through it. It was rather The Move From Hell, mostly because of the buyers’ real estate agent who, once the deed (or title or whatever it was) was recorded, was on our cases to hurry and get OUT. Our movers arrived before 8 am (there were 4 of them) and we were not done at noon, the goal time. She was trying to talk the buyers into charging us rent by the hour for the additional 2 hours it took to get everything out. To their credit, the buyers were having none of it. After all, we left them the refrigerator, the living room TV and remote (it was mounted on the wall), most of Bruce’s machine shop machines and work benches, a roto-tiller for the garden grow boxes, garden tools and a daybed and mattresses (their request). I was helping the movers and both Bruce and I were driving carloads-ful over to the new condo to help. The agent was really a downer for us and the movers. Plus, our friends and neighbors were stopping by saying goodbye or offering to help, etc. 

To add insult to injury, when the buyers and their parents went out to lunch, their real estate agent started going through Bruce’s workshop and saying “they don’t want this” and “they don’t want that” - stuff that we thought we’d agreed on previously. So a desk, a filing cabinet and two bookshelves had to be added to the stuff we were trying to cram into the already-full moving van.

And on the condo end, it was an unloading frenzy. We bought the movers lunch (pizza) and they threw in an extra hour of work for free because we “were the nicest people they’d ever worked with”. Ha! By 6:30 pm, they were able to leave. The cats were rather freaked out and skittish for the first day and night, but they’ve mostly adjusted and have seemed to enjoy exploring their new digs. And every night, as usual, Alfalfa is in Bruce’s lap and Darla is in mine.

We’re about 95% unpacked now and we found we didn’t get rid of enough stuff! Having to bring along those 4 workshop pieces, plus getting rid of a couple junky cabinets that were left here, means we had to call the junkers again this week. 

We had a flooring contractor over on Wednesday to check out the floors here in the dining/ family area, which feel uneven. It turns out the subfloor is fine but the unevenness is caused by a formerly nice, thick carpet pad having been worn down in high traffic areas. That was a relief! 

Today we’ll meet with our family contractor to rough out a kitchen/dining room process and timeline. There is NO lighting in the vicinity of the dining table area or over the kitchen sink. In addition to the kitchen remodel, we’ll put down hardwood floors in the dining/family room and down the L-shaped hall.  I’ve got to draft a design plan and start shopping for materials - cabinets, lights, a new dishwasher, etc. So much to do!

Here is just a sneak peek of my sewing cubby room. Small, but it works!

And the other priority for the day is getting our internet hooked up. We’ve been using our telephone hotspots, which are not dependable at high traffic times - hence this post not being published until late this morning. 

Talk to you next week, friends!