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February 2020

Brisk!

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Today was sunny and very brisk - winds up to 26 mph (which in my book is way more than a nice breeze:). :P If the wind didn't blow, the temperature standing in the sunshine was pleasant (30 degrees F or so; 19 degrees when the wind blew). Brr!

Still, spring is coming - at least my greenery thinks so. We have snowdrops blooming (first photo above - click for more info) and I noticed this morning that my vinca (minor) ground cover is flowering (second photo - click for info:). 

I did see a blooming swamp maple when I was out and about today - but the one in our front yard is not showing that red haze, yet. Must be cooler in our yard?

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I woke up right at 10 a.m. I decided not to go to guild but to use my day for our group Vintage Housewife sew in. I was thinking 'go to quilt shop' (meaning, consciously, go to Springwater Designs) but my brain 'heard' go to Seminole Sampler. LOL. Fifteen years times 300+ days makes for pretty constant habits, I guess. I 'woke' up as I was about to take the ramp northward on Route 29 toward Catonsville and laughed at myself - also took a U-turn at the next intersection and headed back toward Springwater's location. Silly autopilot driving. :)

Sue and Carol were both set up and working already by the time I dragged my stuff into SWD's classroom around 10: 45. My friends Barbara and Polly were there, too. Polly is appliquing the second border length of her Ladies of the Sea and Barbara was trying to figure out how to piece that antique pinwheel quilt she loves. She had traced the entire top out onto tracing paper, real sized and was attempting to figure a construction path.

My goal today was to make the next two blocks of the Vintage Housewife quilt (I got two blocks done last time so that seemed reasonable). First I worked on the 'ironing' block (here is the designer's iteration):

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I did manage to glue up this entire block (using completely different fabrics - sorry, forgot to take a photo). The only change I made was to the iron's cord - the striped red rickrack I used was not as flexible as I might like and I only managed one loop in the cord. :) Of course, I will have to do the embroidery after I machine applique the bits that are only glued down.

Sue and I drove over to Subway to pick up some lunch (Carol had very intelligently brought a lunch:). I bought a turkey, avocado, bacon concoction on spinach wrap (my now-favorite). Yum!

After I ate that more-than-adequate lunch, I started in on the second unit I wanted to do today, the 'typewriter' block (I guess this stands for correspondence with friends and family?). Again, here is Lori Holt's vision:

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I did not manage to complete this one - I think I spent more time dithering over fabric choices and such than last time. :) Sue chose to create two knitting needles to replace the crochet hook on this design and I think I will, too. I do both crafts but I am more of a knitter - the only things I really crochet are lace (including a lacy shawl I like to make) and amigarumi toys. I got the yarn balls, the body of the typewriter, and the vase glued into units ... I still  have to do the platen and paper as well as the flowers/leaves. After looking at the flower shapes carefully, I decided that I will fuse those and the leaves (both small, fussy parts). I think I have some nice buttons to make the flower centers. Next session. :)

Tomorrow Barbara and I are meeting for lunch and it's back to working on my Town & Country quilt top.

:) Linda

 

 


More Quiet

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Is it a beautiful flower? A file from the William Morris archive? Nope. This is Covid19, the coronavirus upsetting the nerves (and lives) of the human world right now. Even deadly things can be beautiful, eh? (tigers come to mind immediately).

I was overly optimistic in my last post. This has been a pretty quiet week ... but I'm ok. Just resting and recovering. :P

Tomorrow is looking up, though. I have my regular weekly meeting of Faithful Circle's day group ... then I'm off to Springwater Designs for a sewing date with my Vintage Housewife making buddies. Looking forward to setting up blocks three and (dare I hope?) four in the series. :)

Hugh and I tried some archive resurrection of our own today. For our Wednesday cooking project this week, we tried to re-create Spam Casserole (don't wince, please:) - or rather Not Spam Casserole - a dish that I used to make when my kids were really little (and we were living on one income and quite a bit less affluent than we are now:). We made a pretty good stab at it (I tried to find the recipe -  the original came off the back of a box of ingredients in the early 80s - without any luck; we were running on organic and very fallible memory:). Needs some tweaking still but I think we are within the ballpark now - pretty good for an old lady's recall. LOL.

Hoping for sunshine tomorrow, as always.

:) Linda


Gray Week

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This has been my opinion for most of this week. Do you 'speak' Cat? This one has a truly pissed-off expression on his/her face. :) Downright gloomy Gus. LOL. I have been spending my week just over (finally!) mostly asleep or in bed. :P I had a flu shot this fall (as always) and I think it helped me escape real illness ... but my body has been fighting something off and it has been a serious series of blah days. Sigh.

Today, however, is brighter - both literally (mid60's temperatures with nice sunshine) and figuratively (I have most of my energy back and actually managed to do a couple of useful things on my To Do list today). I even went for a pleasant walk to my mailbox (we have cluster boxes here in Columbia; it's about 150 yards to our box from my front door) and back.

Speaking of mail, I got some nice things mixed in with the more usual junk and advertisements. I got the newest issue of Block magazine - they are clearly trying out some new ideas as this issue is wordier than past ones. I like Block because it is a shorthand way to collect easy-to-make quilt designs (perfect for sharing with family who might like a quilt:). I also like that I can easily refer to all the issues digitally (with their Ap) if I happen to want to sew something when I'm away from home (at retreat, etc). 

I got my monthly Sew Sampler box from the Fat Quarter shop:

Feb sew sampler box

I LOVE red, white and blue fabric collections (made my Patriotic Quilt  in 1992 and still haven't worked the love out of my system:). This month's box has two charm square packages of Macinac Island, a set by Minnick and Simpson, that I really like. Also some lovely 80 weight Aurifil red thread, a half-hex template and some nice washi tape for marking seam allowances on my sewing machine (most likely I'll use it on Blue). Such fun!

I got a pattern I had ordered online, too:

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I have a weak spot for Jen Kingwell designs and this one calls to me. I'm pondering what kind of fabrics to use with this one - maybe those beautiful Morris prints I've accumulated? :)

The only other 'fun' item in my pile of this week's mail was a new template from Virginia F. Wolfe for a small version of her curve braid cascade quilt. I've admired that design ever since I first saw it and I  look forward to sewing up a small version. :)

I missed several events while under the weather this week - the Fabric Collage class I registered for was Tuesday, the monthly meeting of Village Quilters was Thursday, and my Friday Sewing Together Day with Barbara all went by the wayside. (Tears) Sigh. Well, at least I am feeling better.

The cooking on Wednesday event that Hugh and I have been sharing got postponed until Thursday evening...and even then I participated by sitting in a chair and reading the recipes to him. He did a great job (at least according to him and his Dad:) making spare ribs with sauerkraut and potatoes ... I didn't eat any of it due to a very, very queasy stomach. :P I realized that we need to collect the recipes he and I are making (along with our creative judgements) in a cook book so Hugh will have a reference text he can use when I am not here any more. :) It so happens that I made a very nice cook book notebook last year in a paper crafting class at Photoscraps - I am happy to have found a use for it at last. :)

I got a phone call from my Aunt Janice (my Mom's youngest living sister) this afternoon. Apparently the weather was nice today in southeastern Ohio as she reported that the family and their pastor interred my two brothers' ashes with my parents this afternoon. I feel so grateful to them for doing that ... and for caring so much. I need to send some flower starts for decorating their graves I think.

On the whole, I am glad to be feeling better. I am twitching to get back to sewing again ... so my energy is more normal than it has been over this winter. I noticed today that we have two patches of snowdrops blooming in our front yard - I had completely forgotten planting them. Praise mother nature for spring surprises!

:) Linda


Half Week Review

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This past Sunday (the 9th) was the regularly scheduled meeting of the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild ... and we had a sort-of old-fashioned bee. We did a sew-in for making charity baby/kids quilts. I have to say, the programming people outdid themselves. :)

Our meeting was held at the Catonsville Public Library, right on Frederick Road in downtown Catonsville. I'm not overly fond of this meeting room (any library is a wonderful place in my humble:) as it is downstairs. You have to drag stuff right through the middle of the checkout area and down stairs or the elevator (in my usual case) to get there. Strangely enough, the elevator empties right into the quiet reading room which seems like poor planning to me - the patrons looking for quiet can't help but be disturbed by the foot traffic. :P

The group was broken into four? five? sewing sets (identified by mascots - I was assigned to the Flamingo group:) - each set included someone who brought a machine to piece, someone else who would machine quilt, two people to be cutters/assemblers and a third person to do hand work and ironing. It worked like greased machinery! We worked from about 1:30 until 3:30 or so - and we worked steadily. I took Blue to work as the machine quilter in my group (also schlepped my ironing board and iron along for the group to use). It was a chance to use the walking foot I bought for my Featherweight a couple of weeks ago at the how-to-do-maintenance class.

Maria O'Haver was the sewist in my group. If you've never met Maria, suffice it for me to say that she is a genuine energizer bunny! :) She assembled three (I think) tops (6" squares) that afternoon - I was fascinated to watch her do it with chain stitching and webbing assembly (something I've seen but never done myself). Once we had a top assembled, the helpers basted it all together and I machine quilted it.

The walking foot worked well enough but it is not nearly as good as the one on my Bernina - the clearance between the bottom of the foot and the feed dogs was fairly small - I had to take the foot off at times to maneuver the sandwich to the correct starting place. I did simple diagonal lines across each square for the quilting design. Since I did not know (other than 'cotton') what kind of batting we were using, I decided to sew in both directions so each square ended up with an X of quilting stitches. Most likely that was over-quilting the baby - but I'd rather be sure it would hold up to repeated washing than have it fall apart with use. All three quilt tops featured scrappy and cute juvenile prints with alternate colored squares.

I tell you, that room bristled with enthusiasm and busy-doing! I did not hear how many quilts got finished (anything unfinished got taken home to bind, etc) that afternoon - they cut enough squares for two quilts per group. So much fun! :) Since I was crazy busy, though, I did not take photos (sigh). :)

Monday was a busy day. It was raining and cold (40s) all day which made a mess of getting around. :P First I had luncheon with some of my former staff members from Seminole Sampler. We met at Bare Bones and had a nice lunch (as usual, I enjoyed their Memphis pulled pork sandwich:). It is so good to see my friends and to catch up with their lives. :)

I had a doctor's appointment just after lunch - a follow up with my pulmonologist to check on the new BiPap machine I'm using for sleep apnea. I'm still struggling with some aspects of using it and the doctor had good suggestions (Dr. Holden is a great doctor!) for dealing with some of it. He did tell me that the next time we meet (in May) I will have to take the breathing tests again. I can say that things are slowly getting better - my shortness of breath issues have eased up quite a bit, though I still don't have much in the way of stamina. :P

Monday evening the meeting of Faithful Circle quilters was held at Springwater Designs quilt shop - the church where we usually meet serves as a cold weather shelter this time of year. I managed to find some good fusible interfacing to reinforce the fabric squares I need to cut for the Sew&Tell group quilt. I also found a kit for a good tote bag made with some gorgeous fabric I think my niece will like. Now to sew it up!

Tuesday was grocery shopping day so Hugh and I had lunch together and then visited Giant in our neighborhood to get the supplies for our Wednesday cooking experiment. This week we decided to have curried chicken with rice and apple pie for desert. Yum! I actually enjoyed grocery shopping - it's nice when you aren't in a rush and stressed out. :)

Today I went to my quarterly appointment at the allergy clinic. I am about halfway through the second year of shots (self-administered) and thought maybe I had lost track of things with all the traveling and grieving time I've had over the past four months. The nurse and I went over my records and she decided that I was ok to continue (whew!) so I'm back on schedule. In a couple of months they will give me the tests again to see how much progress the treatment has made. :)

Other than that, I just managed to cook dinner, eat (turned out well:), and watch some tv (working my way through NCIS: New Orleans now). The second half of my week is filled with fabric time so I am looking forward to that.

 

:) Linda


Excitement?

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Today was bright and sunny in the morning but got cloudy by evening. The wind died down from yesterday (thank you!) so the sunshine felt lovely. I had as close a brush with catastrophe as I can tolerate this afternoon. NO, I'm fine but Barbara and I got to witness (from a distance) a very large fire. Here's how it happened.

Today is the second Saturday of the month and thus the regularly scheduled meeting of devotees of handwork at Jinny Beyer Studio in Great Falls, VA. Barbara and I met early today - around 10 a.m. - to drive down. Well, as usual, Barbara drove. :) We left early so we could stop at a new-to-us fabric shop in Alexandria that Barbara found about from an ad in the Country Register newspaper. Called The Fabric Place Basement, it's on Route 1 in the Beacon Center shopping area (behind Panera Bread). We went to look for fabrics with texture and touch appeal.

We have a mutual friend who is suffering from the first stages of Alzheimer's Disease. She (the friend) is a lover of bright colors ... and a long time quilter with a big heart. Our group decided that we would make a lap sized 'fidget' quilt for her using assorted textured fabrics and colors ... and since neither Barbara nor I use anything other than quilting cottons (for the most part on my side:), we needed to shop.  It's a really good thing we left early!

We took 95 south to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and then to the Washington Beltway toward Alexandria (around the east side of D.C.). From as far away as the parkway we could see a huge column of dark smoke rising straight up into the sky. There are no factories or other legitimate sources of smoke in that region so I kept my eye on the smudges while Barbara negotiated the traffic. I could see flames rising up at the bottom of the column of smoke from quite far away. As we got closer to Alexandria, it became obvious that the fire was directly near where we were going (following 'she who must be obeyed,' Barbara's car GPS.

By the time we got off the highway and onto Route 1, we found the road closed and traffic was being detoured around the center of the business district. I could clearly see the fire - biggest one I ever saw - raging in front of us. The photo at the top of this post is just one I pulled off a news network story. You can go here, here, here and here to read more about the event.

We ended up crushed into traffic along with everyone else who had thought they'd drive down route 1 past the business district. Things were a bit uncertain since many of us had no idea where we were to go ... and others knew the local roads and were darting around on alternate tracks. Barbara kept her cool and we managed to convince the GPS to avoid route 1 to find our destination ... and finally arrived. The cross road we ended up taking was, luckily, the southernmost boundary of the road closing. 

Our arrival at the store was almost anti-climactic after all that! I was pleasantly surprised by the shop - it was clean and bright, the staff was uniformly friendly and helpful, and the prices were much lower than I expected (like batik fat quarters were $2.50 and 'regular' fat quarters cost $1.99 - whereas the typical quilt shop prices in the region are $3.50 for a fat quarter). They had a nice quilting fabric area - not latest release prints but plenty of decent quality. Lots of luscious garment making fabrics. And a surprising number of remnant bins. Barbara and I found more than enough 'texture' fabrics to get in trouble. :) 

The fire was still being tended (five alarms!) as we left so we carefully GPSd our way westward to Great Falls. We took so much time with traffic, we had to eat lunch quickly so we opted to visit Bollywood Bistro again as it is a buffet and faster than waiting for service. As before, the food was spicy and good. We actually got to Jinny's shop with a little time to spare (which gave Barbara enough space to get into 'trouble' with Jinny's flat fold special). 

As always, the show and tell was wonderful - but, sadly, I left my phone at home this morning so did not get any pictures. One new attendee brought the first quilt she ever made (25 years ago) and some beautiful hand embroidery she had done - some Hardanger work and a lovely quilt-themed cross stitch piece that I would love to know the source for. :) Barbara took the 'wilderness animals' quilt she finished recently to share. I see that she hasn't written about this one yet on her blog - keep an eye out 'cause the story is worth reading. :)

Poor Barbara - by the time we drove back around the DC Beltway and home, I think she had seen more than enough of the inside of her car. :) Since I got back, I've been lazing around the house, too tired to concentrate on anything meaningful.

Tomorrow is scheduled to contain yet more sewing excitement.

:) Linda


Sun!

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Seeing blue sky and sunshine makes my heart lift - even when it comes with a wind so strong it blows the door shut in your face. :) Yesterday and the early part of today were gray and rainy ... along with most of the early part of the week. Not my favorite weather. Oh, and about 40 degrees. :P Sometime after noon today the clouds all blew east and the sun came out - hurray! :)

Yesterday was the regularly scheduled Thursday morning session of Faithful Circle Quilters. There was a great turnout - first meeting of the month. As always, there were Love Quilts to be tied, labeled, etc. Also wonderful show and tell ... and a very interesting Quilter's Evolution by Linda Bernard. Lots of visual stimulation and inspiration. :) Being the first meeting, I got to draw a winner for the December-January block of the month lottery (pieced evergreen trees was the block). Someone made a block for the new pattern - Log Cabin Rose (I was grateful to them as I completely forgot that I needed to do that - more scattered brains).

Afterwards, five of us went to lunch at Asean Bistro. Yummy! I had General Tso's chicken (my default Chinese food order) with broccoli and brown rice.  By the time I got home, I was so cold ... it took me all afternoon to warm up. I managed to knit another half inch on the shrug before I gave out and went to bed.

I woke up early this morning - at 8:30 a.m. Blink! Blink! It was so dark and gray (our bedroom faces north) that I was not sure the sun was even up. My alarm (my iPhone) was dead so I got up - did not want to oversleep. Hah! It was actually pleasant to move around gently, shower, dress and gather my goods for a day out, sewing.

Today was open sewing at Springwater Designs and I met Sue Hilton and Carol (oh, sigh, can't remember her last name; she was a good customer for years, too) to work on our Vintage Housewife quilts. My friends Barbara and Polly were there, working on their applique and both Georgia and Barbara Laskowski came, too. All together there were twelve quilt makers in the classroom through the day, working on various projects and chatting up a storm. :)

I got a LOT of work done ... but only managed to photograph half of it. I made the 'canning' block and the 'baking' block but here is the former:

Canning

These designs are by Lori Holt. I did not want to use Lori's color palette (just being contrary - nothing wrong with her colors:). I walked around the shop for a while and amassed a pile of fat quarters that looked nice together in my opinion (precuts were on sale, too:). We'll see how it all turns out eventually. I could not find a single background print I liked enough for a whole quilt so all my background fabrics will be varied - very scrappy, just the way I like it. :)

Besides the colors, I did make some minor changes in the patterns. See that cup looking green object on the middle right? That is supposed to be a canning funnel (if you've never canned before, you use the funnel to fill the canning jars with your hot stuff - peaches, pickles, strawberries, whatever:). The handle Lori used looked like a teacup to me so I chose to change the handle to a shape more like the one my Mom used. Mom's canning pot was spatterware and dark blue - but never had a rickrack border on it. Grin.

The 'baking' block is a very retro style stove/oven. Mine is definitely what I'd call a custom paint job - I'll share it when I take a photo (tomorrow, I hope). :) Think gold and green. 

Busy weekend - meeting tomorrow and Sunday. I think I will be ready to stay home by Monday (although I know I will have to go grocery shopping that afternoon to get the makings for Indian chicken curry:)

:) Linda


Half Week Review

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Sunday I was _supposed_ to go to an exhibit of quilts at the Maryland Historical Society ... with my Baltimore modern quilting buddies. In my own unique out-to-lunch manner I neglected to read my calendar for the weekend (other than to note that I did not have anywhere I needed to go on Saturday) and so completely missed my tour date. Major Sighs! No big problems, just completely scatterbrained. I was really annoyed with myself in the late afternoon when I finally realized it! 

Looking at links to the word 'scatterbrain' just now, I find opinions ranging from LOSER to get-it-together-idiot to a woman who specializes in what she calls scatterbrain quilt making to an interesting essay on why people who are scatterbrained are actually more intelligent than others. Society sure can't think what to make of us disorganized dreamers. :)  Well, I was annoyed with myself, anyway ... nothing to do with it but grumble to myself, of course.

Monday was the monthly meeting of Mimi Dietrich's Grad Class at Bear's Paw quilt shop in Towson. Mimi did say to me that she missed me (and was worried that I might have been sick) ... and that the modern quilters were an awesome group - friendly, studious, interested, and eager. I was surprised that several of the ladies present (the average age of members of our group is certainly over 60), in idle chatter during lunch, expressed the opinion that modern quilt makers were the saviors of the quilting industry in today's world. I guess we are all conscious of being the group most subject to the attrition of time's passage.

There were a lot of pretty show and tell items at the meeting ... and I worked on my first block for the Granny's Garden project that we are doing together (a year long sew-along) in the group. The quilt was designed by Lori Holt whose quilts I enjoy ... and I like the design well enough but I have  no desire to re-make Lori's quilt. :) I decided to use Kaffe Fassett fabrics for my flowers and a dark, dark purple flannel for the background. At a break in the meeting, my friend Sue and I found some wildly colored rickrack I bought to use as an appliqued circle around my blossoms ... but I'm still debating whether to make alternating blocks with purple/light background/circles or what .

I am meeting with Sue and some other friends (including Barbara and Polly) on Friday at Springwater to work on the project ... and on my Vintage Housewife quilt (also designed by Lori Holt). I have made even fewer decisions about the housewife design ... but I want to make it because it reminds me so very much of my grandmother Hampton and of my own mother (who was a working woman all her life, a nurse, but really aspired to be a good housewife in addition). I've always told people I am a good homemaker but a terrible housewife ... so some of my attraction could be due to that love-hate relationship, too. :) I have thought about doing the VH quilt in 30s repro prints (which I do have a fondness for) - mostly because my grandmother was a young motber during those years. She was born in 1904 ... and my father (her fourth child) was born in 1931. 

Tuesday I took my Jeep for its first ever servicing - tire rotation, oil change, and I had them check on software updates for the CarPlay stuff. I neglected to keep up with that on my Dart and it sometimes mattered so I'm trying to be a more thoughtful owner with the Jeep. :)

After the service (which took a little over an hour), I drove to Catonsville and had my favorite lunch at Peace a Pizza. - a whacking good salad. :) That afternoon I ate a Santa Fe salad (vaguely southwestern with grilled chicken). Luscious! I had an appointment in the early afternoon at the Beauty Bar for a haircut and spa - pedicure, manicure, waxing, the works. :) I have not been in since late October (and I usually go every six weeks or so) and really enjoyed it. I don't do a lot of overt self-indulgence but it certainly has its place in life. :)

Today, Wednesday, has been quiet and pleasant. It is our 'cooking' day and Hugh and I chose beer-boiled bratwurst with sides of sauerkraut and baked beans for our menu. Worked out well and we all enjoyed eating dinner. :) Next time I'll make the brats on a grill, though - I like them that way best. Hugh did not like the beer flavoring so we'll likely skip it next time, too, as neither Skip nor I care one way or the other. 

In the evenings I am watching movies (re-watching James Bond oldies and nature documentaries right now) while knitting. My daughter requested a shrug and so I am knitting this one with some luscious deep red (Cereza) Malabrigo Rios yarn. Very tactile. :) I get bored with just doing stockinet knitting after a while, but I manage an inch or so each evening so the project moves along. :)

Sooo looking forward to sewing some more, even by hand. My long sojourn into grief is starting to lift at last. Life is like that - and what little I have learned in my sixty-plus years here on Earth leads me to just roll with the punches, so to speak. This, too, shall pass (sadly).

:) Linda