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July 2020

Captured

Photographer Captured Squirrels Every Day For Six Years And Here Are The Incredible Results 14There was once a photographer that got captivated by squirrels and spent six years taking pictures. If you click on the image above, you can go read his story and enjoy some whimsical photos of wildlife. :)

Myself, I got captured by a squirrel of a different color. :) We are still having sultry, hot, heavy summer weather here in eastern Maryland. July has seemed nearly as endless as March was this year!

Two days ago I got a very nice haul of mail in my snailbox. Here are the highlights:

MagazineThis is one of the two print magazines I still subscribe to - partly because of the format (not much chatter, plenty of new design ideas) - and partly because I've sold them a number of patterns in the past and am nostalgic. :)

Book1I once took a three day workshop with Jane in the basics of surface design on fabric; I have several times considered taking her two year at-home design series. This book combines her new interest in eco-dyeing (something I've toyed with) and the principals of surface design she has developed over a long career. I am actually reading the text - slowly - and considering how far down this rabbit hole I want to fall. :)

Book2I took a workshop with Karen several years ago on making her Happy Villages. Somehow the rose in this book slipped my mind until I was thinking recently about my coming-soon month as Queen Bee in Hive 4 of the Stash Bee. I have been mentally pondering free-hand curved pieced roses for several months and Karen's roses here remind me of Rennie Macintosh's designs which I adore. I think maybe I have to explore how Karen's roses are made for my September block idea.

DinosA friend had the reverse-colored version of this print which drew my eyes instantly. Off I went and found this print which I am eager to use as the 'background' for my daughter's dinosaur quilt (I am thinking Elizabeth Hartman's newest design issued at Spring Quilt Market). :)

JaphexiesI bought this Japanese fabric out of pure lust - the hexies are about 1.25" on a side and the pattern really flips my acquisition flags. :) I think I might use it as the back side of something beautiful and quilt around those nice randomly placed hexagons. Until then, I will happily pet it.

AboriginalcharmI adore Australian Aboriginal designs and had a hard time choosing this charm pack of 5" squares - there were four assortments and getting only one (being parsimonious) was hard. When I started sewing with these, I gave in and ordered the other three sets. :)

All of these fabrics came from an online shop called Easy Piecing which offers a variety of specialty fabrics, most of which I adore. The goods came quickly and were even nicer than I expected. Susan (owner) has made a customer out of me. :)

As soon as I started thumbing through the charm pack yesterday afternoon, my hands itched to sew with them ... so off I went, chasing another squirrel into the woods. :) I had a length of nice white background batik large enough to make a decent sized quilt with so I cut some 5" white squares and started making half square triangles.

Aboriginalhsts

The charm pack has two squares each of 20 Aboriginal prints so I sewed up forty half square triangles worth of goodness. This is not the first charm pack of M&S Textiles fabric I've worked with (I used to carry some of their fabrics in my shop) so I knew I'd have to trim my HSTs after sewing them - I hate working with those pinked edges (so hard to decide where to situate my seams). Once I squared my 40 hst blocks, they measured 4.25" each.

I enjoy those 'disappearing' block designs, so I laid out nine hsts and sewed them up, then cut them apart and rearranged them into a block:

Aboriginal flower block

I think this block looks rather floral in a graphic sort of way. I am considering using it as my beginning block for the Faithful Circle round robin that starts later in August. Not many people have an assortment of Aboriginal prints in their stashes so I will be including some fabrics if I do. Besides the three other charm packs, I ordered an attractive light colored print to go with them.

Today my friends Barbara and Patty and I sat down to our Friday afternoon Sewing With Friends Zoom get together. While we chatted, I turned my 40 HST squares into forty Hourglass blocks. Now I'm starting to think about a medallion quilt with the Aboriginal prints ... this squirrel is really pulling me along with a tight grip. Might not last until late August. :)

:) Linda

PS Other than sew my Hourglass blocks, the only other 'useful' thing I did today was wash dishes. Otherwise I spent the day (what part of it I was not sleeping through) reading. :)


Errands and Chores

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This would be a lovely place to be today ... but, instead, I spent the day running errands and doing chores of various sorts. :) I heard a statistic on the radio as I ran my errands that startled me - it is definitely not my imagination that the summer has been hot! According to NPR, we here in Maryland have set new weather records this month: 26 of the 29 days so far this July have had high temperatures over 96 degrees Fahrenheit. Never before ... global warming at work. :P

I had several errands to run today - went to the post office to mail off our annual house insurance payment ... and to Staples to buy foam-core board to make a couple of portable design surfaces (while there, I realized there were back-to-school supplies available so I had to buy a couple:) ... and to the pharmacy to pick  up a new prescription (there was a very long line so I read some while waiting in my car for my turn at the drive-up window). I managed to do a fair bit of walking around Staples to find what I wanted and that was reflected in my meeting my exercise goal for today (as recorded on my Apple watch:).

Once I got back home and cooled off from the heat, my son and I made supper (chili) and I worked with him to gather and put out the recycling (Wednesday early is our pick up date). Thankfully, once those chores were done, I could spend a little time in my sewing room - I tidied up a bit and put away things taken out while I was working over the past week. Still searching for things to move into the room - likely to be a semi-permanent chore, that. :)

I got a phone call from my daughter late in the evening. I love FaceTime! Getting to see her and my grandsons is precious. Here is little T, focusing on his ipad app:

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O stopped by to say hello but moved too fast for me to photograph. :) My poor daughter is stressing over their going back to daycare next week - well, O is returning; for T it is an entirely new experience. I trust that it will go well for both of them. (wishing success and happiness for them)

Tomorrow I hope to sew most of the day. Fingers crossed!

:) Linda


Idling

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Isn't this sky beautiful? My niece Amy sent this photo to me tonight - the sunset in Olathe, Kansas today. :) My mother always loved a beautiful sunset or sunrise - and she saw many of each in her life. She never failed to take a photo when there was an especially lovely one.

Today was unceasingly hot and humid - the weather report at 4 p.m. said the current real temperature was 95 degrees but felt like 106 due to the humidity. Whew! I stayed indoors all  day  enjoying the air conditioning. NO, I forgot, I did go outside for about five minutes.

I managed to sew on the last border to my current small charity quilt (destined to be given to the Jack's Bags/Comfort Cases organization, I think). Took me quite a while to press it decently (with the generous use of spray sizing - Mary Ellen's Best Press is my favorite). Then I took it outside onto our back deck to take a photo:

Charity

It measures about 34" square ... and now needs a backing and binding fabric ... preparatory to quilting it. :) Another day. I'm pleasantly surprised how well it turned out, color-wise. I chose a very busy, colorful print for the setting triangles of my somewhat plain four patches.

I _thought_ the blue flowered print (a piece of vintage sheeting) would be a good counterfoil and am very happy to be right about that (well, _I_ like the effect anyway:). I expect the pink in my prints means it will be perceived to be 'too girly' to be gender-neutral ... can't help that. I enjoy pink and blue together. :)

Other than finishing my top, I did almost entirely nothing else useful today. Hmm. Read, ate, tidied the kitchen a bit. On to do better (hopefully) tomorrow!

:) Linda


Melancholy

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Today was lovely for the most part. I woke a bit after 1 p.m. (that counts on the 'down' side of the day:) and went straight into my sewing room to visit (via Zoom) with my modern guild friends while I sewed for maybe two hours. I managed to sew the four rows of my four patch blocks together (with sashing between) and put three of the four borders around the outside.

There was about a half hour of aggravation while I ripped out mistakes and fixed things ... on the whole it was a satisfying project to make. I think it is funny that I only got three borders around - when I hit a wall (while sewing or doing anything else) I've learned to stop on the spot and move to another activity. If I persist, I just make oodles of mistakes. :)

The temperatures were a bit milder today (high 80s, I think) ... Hugh and I went out grocery shopping around 6:30 or 7 p.m. (he had a game online all afternoon) and the weather was fairly pleasant and summery. The store was almost empty as it was so late in the day (the shop is open until ten p.m. but I doubt they get much business then:). Doesn't matter how many people are there (or not), the chore always takes the same hour or so. shrug.

Once we got the groceries taken into the house and put away, I went back to reading in my comfy living room chair while Skip played a video game (I _think_ it was one of the Badlands series). I enjoy looking up to watch him explore and kill monsters when I break from reading. :)

While Hugh was moving our groceries from the (full) cart to the car, I looked up to see two very large Vs of geese fly across the sky, going in the direction toward one of our local lakes (I'd guess). Here in the midAtlantic coastal area, some of the Canadian geese stay year-round and some migrate. I couldn't help wondering as I watched these fly past whether they were just moving somewhere for the night or were exercising their wings and the new just-grown teenager geese for the long trip farther south. :) I have a bit of the nomad in me - it's easy to think about moving along when I see the geese flying overhead.

I don't know why I can't settle down to working on my daughter's quilt(s) ... I haven't gotten the activation energy amassed to overcome inertia, yet. I think I"m making it all too important a project - not like I"ll never make her/them another quilt. :)

Do you ever think about why you like the designs you do? Or watch _what_ you like from time to time ... and track repeating patterns? I do ... sometime soon I think I might write a post about my favorite ideas. Gives me something positive to ponder anyway.

:) Linda


Random Drift

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Besides being a beautiful big old tree, this is the so-called Chandelier Tree. If you go to la.curbed.com/2013/7/8/10222950/chandelier-tree-silver-lake-history-video you can go read the story - I found it amazingly up-lifting. :) (Sorry, you'll have to type in the url yourself - for some reason Typepad won't let me link directly to this article.)

Things have been very up and down the last few days. I heard someone posting on InstaGram call the way I've been feeling 'riding the Coronacoaster.' :) Some times I feel energetic and get many things done ... others I just sit and read and laze about with no ambition to accomplish anything at all. Sigh.

Monday I ran errands (pharmacy, post office, ups) for a couple of hours - masked and distancing ... and alone as Hugh did not feel like going out in the heat. Can't blame him on that as it has been beastly - very hot (mid to high 90s) and humid (85 to 95%). Typical July weather. :) Monday evening beginning at 7 p.m. my Faithful Circle evening group had a Zoom meeting, which for a change I remembered to attend. :)

Tuesday I went out grocery shopping (had meant to do it on Monday when I was out but completely forgot - that's what happens when I leave it to last:). Again, I went alone ... to Wegman's in Columbia. I quite like the store but have trouble finding things ... never did find the egg noodles. Sigh. Did get everything else on my list. Yeah! :) 

Today I managed to cook supper (quiche with some tofu-bacon) and sewed a while during the Baltimore modern guild's Sip&Sew Zoom meeting. That was fun, as usual. :)

I did some embroidery on two of my fabric postcards - nothing fancy:

Picnic

Celebrate

After I get the words embroidered on each one I will decide whether to add anything else. I like whipped backstitch for my lettering as it creates a sturdy raised line. 

I've also been making blocks for charity quilts using my scraps. I worked out a nice arrangement on graph paper with the 14 four patch blocks I pieced ... but when I started to sew it up this evening (during my Zoom), I decided that it was going to be way, way too busy for even my eyes. :) So, now I am putting setting triangles around each four patch; I think I will probably put sashing between the blocks to calm it down even further. :) It's unusual for me to have the blocks be the resting place for eyes. :)

Fourpatches

It will be a bright lively quilt this way instead of an eyesore. (fingers crossed)

Tomorrow I have a teledoc appointment in the early afternoon and I hope to sew for at least part of the day.

:) Linda


Some Sewing, Some Stash Enhancement

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“I wanted to write children’s books and be successful at it, but this is something else altogether,” Joanna Cole said when sales of her bizarre but educational “Magic School Bus” series hit 10 million copies. The books, as one publishing executive said, “made science both easy to understand and fun.”

Joanna Cole died last week, aged 75. My kids and I enjoyed her creation for years during their childhoods. One of my favorite 'children's' programs. She will certainly be missed. You can click on the photo above to go read about her works.

I have spent most of this week indoors. The weather has been typical for July in eastern Maryland - hot and humid. The first settlers here (who came from England) must have suffered mightily from the ecological shock! I don't mind the heat much but the humidity smothers me and makes breathing difficult. :P I prefer to stay in the a/c and sew or read. :) Today I managed to cook dinner, even (macaroni and cheese with ham) ... though even the indoor humidity had me sweating heavily after my time in the kitchen cooking. Had to sit quietly while dinner cooked to cool down. :P

I've been fighting off a mild conflict with some kind of respiratory/flu virus this week - runny nose, sneezes, stomach upsets, diarrhea. Not bad, just never-ending. Finally, today I feel better. I probably will go get tested for Covid but I'm pretty sure this was something that my regular flu vaccines covered as it was mild and brief. More :P

I did manage to do a little bit of sewing ... earlier in the week I made fabric postcards a la Judy at Artistic Artifact's recent tutorial. Yesterday I finished doing 'fancy stitch' machine embroidery on the seams of all nine ... and now I've decided on hand embroidery embellishments, too. Tomorrow I can do that while I visit with my Sew&Tell friends for this month via Zoom. :)

Postcards 1
Postcards 1

All postcards
Today was my usual Saturday Zoom with the Columbia Friends bee of the Baltimore Modern guild ... while we chatted, I dug out my previously cut scraps in the 2" width and made some blocks:

Scrap blocks

I think I made six all together ... I use my scrap blocks to make charity quilts; next time I'll sew together the 2.5" strips into blocks. Then I can play with them all to make something nice to donate. :)

The Stash enhancement comes from online purchases, mostly ... the slow movement through the mails makes me completely forget things by the time they arrive. :) Yesterday I got some cotton canvas fabric I ordered from the newest Marsha Derse collection:

Derse rainbow fabric

I really like this fabric ... and I think I'm going to make an apron with it. I have a very nice bib apron for cooking in that my Aunt Ruby made me several years ago with 1930's reproduction fabric (purple:). I need something tougher to wear when I'm doing messy things with ink, paint and glue and thought this canvas print might work well. We'll see. :)

I also got two patterns I ordered ages ago and am eager to experiment with:

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This is my birthstone, for November, Citrine or Topaz (color choices:)

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This is Sapphire, the birthstone for September (for my husband and son)

 

I got a _second_ pink Olfa rotary cutter (from a different source) - clearly had that weighing on my mind. LOL. And I got a book I intend to give as a gift. That's a lot of haul, for me, for now.

In general, things are going pretty well here Chez Schiffer ... lazy days flow away with not much to show for them, really, but plenty of relaxation. Can't fault that!

:) Linda


Busy Weekend

Busy

That's exactly how I feel when someone asks what I've been doing ... me and Snoopy. LOL! Actually, this _has_ been a more-than-usual busy weekend, considering we're still on shutdown here in eastern MD.

Saturday I got up early enough to attend the Columbia Friends bee group of the modern quilt guild Zoom meeting from about 1 to 3 p.m. We always have good attendance - great to see what folks are making and chatting about. I spent my time cutting up the scraps in my basket. I bought a new 45mm Olfa rotary cutter last week (this kind) and had to take it for a spin. :) I cut scraps into 2.5", 1.5" strips and squares ... except for a few bits of vintage fabric I'm keeping whole (for borders or backings) and some long selvedges. I had enough scraps to last most of the way through the meeting. :) 

After I left the meeting, I drove over to Springwater Designs to pick up an order (Simply Moderne magazine's summer issue) and some Pigma pens (mine are dried up; which I did not discover, of course, until I wanted to write a label). One of Dawn's workers is making masks to sale, too ($8 each, nice assortment, money goes to MS research) so I bought three new ones. 

I didn't think to take photos of the magazine cover - I love it! The cover quilt has toucans on it. I have wanted to make some kind of small story quilt featuring toucans for my daughter for years (funny family story). This might just be the time! :)

I also got my son to help me hang my finally-finished Butterfly Wreath mini. This is a pretty wretched photo - I decided to hang it in the hallway near our front door and I can't get far enough away from it to take a straight-on shot.

Butterfly on wall

I am so pleased to have finally finished this! I realized after I got it put up that I had turned it 90 degrees clockwise from the way I had oriented it all through the making ... but I like it this way, so I won't move the thing now. :)

Today, Sunday, was the regularly scheduled meeting date for the Baltimore Modern quilt guild ... which, as has become usual, we held on Zoom. So. Much. Fun! As always, great show and tell (and members shared table runner they had made and summer food recipes - several of which I want to try on my crew:). While I watched/listened, I worked on using the small scraps from yesterday's cutting exercise to lay out some assemblies for fabric postcards (a la this tutorial). I'll get back to finishing those tomorrow, likely.

Around 6 p.m. Hugh and I went out to buy groceries (waited until it should be less busy and not quite so hot outside, though that backfired). That is a chore I dread and enjoy at the same time. The backfire was that it rained heavily while we were in the shop (we went to BJs Wholesale Food Warehouse today) ... big box store, we heard nothing inside ... the rain had stopped and it felt like an utter SWAMP when we came out to truck the purchases to our car. Gasp! I can barely breathe the air when it is that water-filled. :P

Taking groceries home and putting them away takes at least as much time as the shopping does (if not more), so I had to sit in the coolth of the a/c for a while afterwards to recover. Luckily, I'm reading a good book (well, I"m enjoying it:) so the time passed happily/quietly.

Busy time for my weekend but it ended happily. Oh, just remembered I forgot to call my daughter back today - she called last night after my husband went to bed (my computer - with FaceTime - is in our bedroom) so we couldn't talk then. Tomorrow?!

:) Linda


Doddering

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Isn't this a lovely painting? It was made by Yvonne Coomber - I like her work (click on the pic to go take a look at her gallery). Makes me think of happy summer days. :)

I wrote a long-ish post beginning this way three days ago ... and it got lost somehow in the posting process. Made me so mad it has taken me time to cool off and start over. :) Slow temper, slow recovery ... that's me.

What have I been doing? Mostly staying out of the heat/humidity of a Maryland summer - mid to high 90s in temperature, humidity from 75 to 90 percent, mostly sunny skies. Typical July weather. I have done some sewing ... not as much as I would like to do, but some.

I made the two blocks I owe for the Stash Bee (hive 4) July block Queen:

July block 1


July block 1

As per her request, these are made (mostly) with scraps. I did dig into some pretty print fat quarters I have in my top drawer for a few rectangles. It will be an interesting quilt - hope I get to see it. :) Hugh mailed my blocks off to her in California when he went for his morning walk today.

I also put a binding on my butterfly wreath quilt on Wednesday (yesterday?) evening during the Baltimore modern guild's Sip & Sew zoom meeting. As always, that was fun.

Also attended two other Zoom meetings this week - Mimi's Grad Class met on Monday morning and Faithful Circle's Monday evening group met that day, too. It really isn't quite the same as meeting face-to-face ... but Zooms do allow members who are far away, geographically, to attend so that's a bennie. :) Always good to see what people are working on. There's going to be a lot of show and tell meetings when all this is finally past!!

I've been cooking a bit ... have decided to move my main meal cooking from evening to lunch-ish - I'm less tired earlier in the day and more likely to actually DO the cooking. :) We have the makings for one or two meals left and then Hugh and I will have to go out grocery shopping again. 

I tried to get myself to start in on cleaning in my new sewing area today ... but wimped out and read instead. So much inertia! I want to get it done and move on. Clearly not enough to actually DO it. LOL!

:) Linda


Piecing

Happy

If I were standing on a nice patch of sandy seaside like that one, I'd smile, too! :)

Today was quite pleasant - warm, sunny, mid80s temperatures, gently breezy. We've been having a nice June this year.

I spent most of today doing pleasant things, too. I read a book ... cooked dinner for my two guys ... and sewed the last bits of my Stash Bee block:

Myhouse

We live in a split level two story house ... it's dusty blue with a dark charcoal roof and an  awful lot of windows (that don't let in as much light as I would like:). This is a bit of an abstraction (gotta simplify some for construction reality) ... but reasonably accurate. The brown stuff at one end is the gate/wall that leads to our backside-of-the-house aboveground deck. The space in front of it is a carport (no garage). I left all but one of the trees off (we have six trees in our tiny triangular front yard), too.

So, reasonably successful. Hope tomorrow goes as well!

:) Linda