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October 2019

Half-Week Review


Monday I had my every-two-years eye exam, preparatory to getting new glasses. I've been wearing eyeglasses for nearsightedness since I was in fourth grade (maybe 8 or 9 years old?). I wore bifocals for years as a child ... then my eyes got 'better' from my twenties until late thirties, then back to bifocals ... then on to variable focus lenses. Technology moves forward, eh? :) Now, as I've aged, my eyesight is still close focused but is much stronger than when I was young - people with nearsighted eyes like mine have an eyeball that is too long (so the image focus, without corrective lenses, falls inside the eyeball and not on the retina in back). As we age, we get more farsighted (hence the need in most normally-sighted adults for reading glasses:). For me, this means my prescription is getting 'weaker' rather than stronger. :)

I told my optometrist that I was thinking to get a pair of driving glasses and a separate pair of computer/reading/handwork glasses as my eyes are so different (and I'm so tired of trying to see through a very small 'window' on the variable focus lenses). He convinced me to get driving glasses (with a focus between the car's dashboard and the far distance) and do without glasses for near work. As he showed me with the test lenses, my eyesight is exactly the same with and without possible correction at the distance I use for handwork and reading. I can read 4 point type at 8" which is about as good as it gets. :)

I surprised myself when choosing new frames. Usually I choose warm colors - golds - for metal frames. For whatever reason (probably the proliferation of my gray hair), the white gold frames looked best to me this time. :) It will definitely be a change in 'looks' - hope I like it as much in six months. :) I can only afford to buy new glasses about every two years (at $300, they are pricey) so they have to make me happy for a while.

I got to my appointment way ahead of time (according to the secretary - I thought my time was at 11:30, she thought 12:30) ... so, I went out and got lunch instead of sitting around the waiting room reading to wait. There turns out to be a nice deli nearby (I go to Ellicott City Eyecare at Bethany 40 shopping center, near Bethany Lane on Route 40). The deli was called Bon Appetite Bakery & Cafe and the food was great! They had an extensive bakery but I carefully blinkered myself from that. :)

My trip to the optometrist was pretty much the only chore I got done on Monday. Fell asleep (for the first time in two weeks) in the late afternoon and missed my evening guild meeting again. Sigh.

Tuesday I had to drive to the MedStar Health Center in Rosedale to be weighed for my bariatric program - I had to reschedule my class for October as it was set to happen while we were in TN (not happening:). Clumsy of me not to have noticed that ahead of time. More sighs! You have to at least weigh in every month during preparation to prove you are giving weight loss your sustained attention. :P The trip to northeastern Baltimore was uneventful and traffic moved along well. I got that done briskly (still takes about 2 hours or maybe 2.5).

Once I got home, I did some housework and then spent the rest of the evening knitting and binge watching NCIS episodes on Netflix. :)

Today ... today was a fun adventure. My friend Barbara has been thinking about replacing her 'travel' sewing machine for a while. She has a Janome Gem she bought some years ago - lightweight but very basic - to use when she goes to retreat, sew-ins, etc. She decided that she really needs something a bit less _basic_ for away-from-home use and wanted to go look at EverSewn Sparrow models. Domesticity in northern Baltimore is a carrier (at least were, according to their website) ... so we drove up Harford Road to visit the shop. We had a nice visit but, sadly, they no longer carry the machines. DRAT! 

I, with great difficulty, restrained myself from buying a bunch of fabric while we chatted with the sales woman on duty at the shop. I saw some things I'd have been happy to bring home if my house weren't already so over-stuffed with lovely fabrics. ;) I was quite entertained when we came out of the shop (which is located in a rowhouse) to find these embedded in the concrete of the front sidewalk:





At some point in the recent past the sidewalk had been repaired (see the meter above?) and someone - likely the owners of the barbershop on the ground floor - had embedded tools of their trade in the wet cement. Charming! :)

Barbara pointed out that she had discovered that the EverSewn machines are marketed by Bernina dealers nowadays (made by Bernina)?. She had done a fair bit of research online about the company (as is usual with B). We put our heads together and decided to drive to Hanover, PA to visit Danner's Sewing Center (which we have scoped out before while out on Row by Row adventures) to see what they had. It was a pleasant drive, despite the overcast skies. The temperatures were in the high 60's which felt very pleasant to me. :)

Danner's did indeed sell the machines but they only had the model 30 to see, put hands on. Barbara had been thinking that would be too expensive as she wanted to stay under a $500 budget ... but, surprise!, the shop was having a sale. She sewed a seam, we looked at the features and she managed to walk out with the machine, the quilter's feet package (walking foot, darning foot and 1/4inch seam foot), and some extra bobbins for less than her budgeted money. Good sale! :) It's a nice little machine and does, indeed, have more features than the Gem did. I think Barbara will be happy with her new baby. :)

We ate lunch at what felt like a very authentic local Mexican restaurant ... and stopped for some delicious, rich ice cream at a local creamery on the way back south. Yum! :) On the whole, a great day out ... and I was extremely virtuous with my purchases (I did buy some more bobbins for my Bernina as I have lost several in my disorder:).

Tomorrow I have to go to Faithful Circle guild meeting in the morning (and draw for this month's block lottery) and do housework in the afternoon. I will try (again) to find out how my brother Jeff is doing. Probably I am going to drive to Cincy to see him on Friday.

:) Linda

Weekend Recovery


I found this pretty painted rock a couple of weeks ago, outside the entrance to the office building where my dentist practices. I've heard about people leaving tiny bits of 'art' in public places ... and thought I'd play along. I admired the bit and then moved it to another location, hopefully to be found by someone else. ;)

This entire weekend has been like that bit of rock - movement from here to there with no particular progress to report. Friday was our last day at the resort - we packed up our things and left around 9 a.m. to come home. Driving through some very pretty although heavily overcast countryside. I was sure we'd be rained on before we got home but we avoided that, somehow. We got home about 6:30 p.m. - a pretty good rate of travel.

One of the (probably common on new cars) features of my new Jeep is a dashboard reporter that keeps track of one's accumulated miles per gallon rate - which can be reset at desire. When we bought the car, I noticed that the EPA rating for our Renegade was 35 mpg, highway. I had never gotten more than about 28.5 mpg driving around town as I do. I asked Skip to reset the calculator and was pleased (but not surprised) that we got about 33.5 mpg on our trip - clearly the numbers are presupposing flat-out highway driving with little stop or start expenditure. Sigh. I guess I can't complain - even my around town mileage is better than the 25 or so I got with my Dart. :)

Before we left, on Thursday, I managed to finish the last three of my patchwork leaves, for now:




I won't be sewing much for the next couple of weeks. I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and Tuesday, and a personal commitment on Wednesday. All during the week we were gone I received phone calls from my brother's nursing home - he has got another (or the same recurring) infection in his lungs and they have sent him to the ICU in the neighboring hospital. He went in and out of hospital three times during the week. I have been unable to find out how he is over the weekend ... but I expect to travel to Cincinnati later this week to see him and find out how he is doing. I am concerned about him! 

Otherwise, not much is happening chez Schiffer.


Glorious Sunshine


Yesterday the mountains here were showing their “Smokey” nature most of the day. If you look carefully, you can see the cloud/fog gathered below the mountain (just beyond the trees in the middle). Along with the cloud cover, it made for a gray day. Today the sun came out and the skies were bright blue. My favorite color of all! 😊

Here are a couple of leaves I’ve made (I am up to 8/15):


I decided to go out for a while to enjoy the sunshine today. My first thought was to visit Arrowmont and see the art in their galleries but that ambition was thwarted. Sigh. The school must still be in session this week as there were NO parking spaces close by - only ones about a quarter mile straight uphill from the main building. There were four spaces by the front door but none of them were labeled ‘handicap’ parking and all were full anyway.

Sooo, I went to my next favored destination, The Pattern Hutch in Pigeon Forge. I have written about them before. They have an Etsy shop with lots of goodies. 😊 I was a little extravagant with my purchases: 


This white fabric is weaver’s cloth which makes an excellent ground foundation cloth for punch needle embroidery and is a bit hard to find. The thread is a Valdani perle cotton assortment of colors I like (and hope I don’t already have:). 


I liked this pattern a lot. I am thinking it might be pretty on our coffee table at home. 


I bought this kit and the one for stockings below to make as gifts. 


I really liked the sample for this kit. I am thinking to make the ‘peace’ version. 


By the time I got back to our condo - after a highly entertaining drive along twisty mountain roads - my stomach insisted on having lunch. I ate sitting in the sunshine on our balcony, admiring the mountains and woods opposite (see the photo at top). 

I have been alternately sewing leaves and reading all afternoon with fresh (though a bit chilly) air flowing in through the open balcony door. No telling what tomorrow will bring. 

😊 Linda

Where Am I?


My sweetheart and I are taking our annual trek into the Smokey Mountains of eastern Tennessee this week. We are without companions this year which gives us the rare opportunity to be together as a couple.

We traveled down yesterday and a very fine day it was, too. The flowers above and below were spotted at a resting place along Interstate Highway 81 which runs the length of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and beyond. The sun was shining, the sky was a heart-piercing blue and the temperatures were mild (low 70’s). 8D1D2E4C-C6A1-4A1F-8E7A-94A16D6C4275

It’s not unusual to see roses bloom in our region as late as November ... but I don’t recall ever seeing irises bloom so late ever before. They were sturdy and stunning!

The drive took us from 8a.m. until around 6:30 p.m. with maybe four stops along the way. Very pleasant driving. :)

Today has been cooler, in the low 60’s, and gray. We’ve had rain off and on all day. Luckily, we are both content to spend the day quietly indoors. :) I brought out Blue (my Featherweight), set up cutting and ironing areas, and spent my day sewing the remainder of the Thistle flowers. I now have 15 of the beauties to adorn my next quilt. 


When Barbara, Patty and I visited Artistic Artifacts last week on our Quilter’s Quest trip, one of the things I bought was a small hand dyed doily. Today I carefully cut it into four pieces and seamed it into the leaves of a happy yellow Thistle block. I am really pleased with the texture that lace adds to my block!

Skip and I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow (we had the leftovers from our Friday night arrival dinner for food today). Otherwise, I am planning another day of contented sewing.


:) Linda


Retreat Joy


I spent the last four days in quilting bliss - at retreat with the Baltimore modern guild. :) Ever been on a quilting retreat? Someone else cooks and cleans, you eat/sleep/quilt/repeat. Heavenly! :) We met/slept at Pearlstone Retreat Center in Reisterstown, MD (click to go see it) ... but there are retreats in many places (click on the quote block above to see another one). 

I took Blue (my Featherweight) along to sew with as my Nina is still on her spa outing. :) Also a number of fun things to work on. The most important thing in the sort term I had to do was to bind the quilt I am donating to Village Quilters for a bingo prize:

Vq bingo quilt

Here it is, being held up by quilty friends. A prairie braid quilt made using a layer cake of Susanna's Scrapbag fabrics from Moda. It's about 65" square - a nice sofa/lap size ... quilted by Daria Phair. Now to get it to the quilt bingo committee!

The major project I took to work on was a new quilt I've been collecting green fat quarters for ... and have been envisioning for several years, at least in bits. I will combine at least two Elizabeth Hartman designs (thistle and leafy) ... and maybe a third shape (pears). The thistle flowers are made with blocks I've asked for through three different block bees with the modern guild (Scrappy Mountain Majesty by Bonnie Hunter). The leaves for the thistles are just my 'eyeball' creations (i.e., I looked at a photo and made mine to measure) ... and the jungle-y leaves are from EH's new pattern Leafy. It will be a queen sized quilt when finished for OUR bed. :)

Here are a selection of thistle flowers (I made 12 out of the 15 needed at retreat) and two leaves for visualization:

Leaf 2

Leaf 2

Fl 5

Fl 10

I had a BLAST making these - the flowers measure about 12" x 24", the leaves about 8" x 19". 

I did some assorted little bits while away, too. I made a block for the monthly drawing at Village Quilters:

Vq bom

I made a block for bingo quilt number three for the modern guild (Crazy Daisy?):

Bingo 3

Bingo 3 blk

I taught a class on hand piecing ... here's the partially constructed Grandmother's Star block I sewed as my class sample:


And I collected some more book blocks for the bingo quilt I am chairing:


One of our retreat committee members is really a busy do-er - she solicited a LOT of great STUFF for door prizes and our retreat swag bag. Here is some of what I got/won:

Win pattern 2

Win pattern

I'm pretty sure there is more that I neglected to photograph. :)

I've spent today pretty quietly, recovering from all the excitement (and the pulled muscle in my right lower back from lugging stuff - not a big deal, it will heal with a little medication help:). I get so pumped from being with quilt-y people for so long!

:) Linda

Hello October!


Now _there_ is a sight I'd like to see! So lovely in fall colors. :)

The weather was warm today - mid80s - and humid. Good working outside conditions - the workmen are almost finished with our deck rebuilding. Today they put in the new sliding glass patio door (which also required rebuilding the walls around the old door with their water damage). Of course, now all the scummy green moss growing on our vinyl siding looks dreadful (the deck is on the north side of our house:).  It will be nice to get it all done - and to be able to use the driveway/carport again!

Yesterday and today have been busy for me. The fourth Monday of each month is Wool Club at Springwater Designs. I did actually manage to go yesterday (I've missed the last two meetings). It is so wonderful to see what other people are working on. :) I took my embroidery along but did not get much done - was too busy looking at other people's goodies. And, to be honest, shopping. :)

What did I buy. Hmm, well. I bought fabric to make up the Grandmother's Star block for my hand piecing class. I looked all around and finally settled on some very cute safari-themed prints. The block is only 12" square and the pieces are small-ish ... so my first thought (Kaffe prints) just would not work well. The ones I bought are smaller scale and so cute I couldn't pass them by. :)

I also bought template plastic sheets (in case my students can't find them anywhere) ... and the newest issue of Simply Moderne. There are always quilts I want to make NOW in the issues. I saw several in this one that were enticing:





There were even more that I liked but I thought three was a good teaser. :)

At Club, Heather (the facilitator) was using a small wool mat to embroider on top of - she could stick her needle into the mat for making French knots, drizzle stitch and other two handed such things. For $5, I thought it was a good purchase. I had never considered using those nice heavy wool mats for anything other than ironing on. :)


Another thing I picked up was the new journal by Sue Spargo. I liked the beautiful photography of her embroideries ... and the pages alternate blank, lined and graphed paper. Useful! :) I saw the same journal on sale online but decided to pay full price anyway. Why? First, to support my local shop (as most of you know, I have experienced the pain of shop closing personally). Second, because I can afford it (and feel an obligation to add my support in place of someone else who maybe can't). And third, because I think I will actually use it, having seen it in person. I _much_ prefer touching the things I buy with my own hands.


I also managed to get myself into twelve months of trouble by signing up for a new block of the month project they just started (I think there might be a space still available), called Night Watchmen.


My photo isn't the best so go look at the link if you want to see it better. I'm excited about this one and plan to keep up. (fingers crossed; after my temperature quilt, I know I CAN do it). :)

Unfortunately, I slept through my evening guild meeting yesterday. Sigh. Fell asleep in my chair after eating dinner. I won't be going to the Thursday meeting, either, as I will be at the modern guild retreat from Thursday through Sunday this week. (so looking forward to that!)

Today I ran errands for some time .. listened to the workmen pound for a while at home ... and did some sewing and housework. I cut out the pieces for my star project and laid them out to see how I like my choices:


The theme of this block seems to be The Old Watering Hole, eh? :) I like the way it looks so I will sew it up tomorrow. I've already written my handouts and such, so I'll be prepared for my class once the block is made. :)

Tomorrow I have to go have a gastro procedure done (it's more prep for the bariatric surgery) and I have to go to Catonsville to take a quilt to someone. Busy, busy!

:) Linda