Wednesday, August 16, 2017

That Was Then, This Is...

Some of you may be of the age to remember films in high school history class with Walter Cronkite reporting a history event as if it was a current event, like the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or the Battle of Concord.  He'd start out with the headlines and then go to the scene.  And at the end, they'd return to Walter and he'd say "And that's the way it was, July 4, 1776."

I'm not sure when they started saying "that was then, this is now".  I'm thinking about the kids going back to school next week locally, and suffering from a little nostalgia.

Preschool graduation
It wasn't horrible of me
to want to take a picture...

The backpack was
nearly as big as
the girl carrying it!

How did he get so big?
 How did we go from then to

drivers' license and hair up in a fancy do?

Miss A is going to Middle School this year.  Miss A is old enough to get her drivers' license learner's permit... Miss K and Master J are no longer cuddly toddlers either, everyone has gotten older and more mature including the G's -- Gramps and Gramma.

Oh well, I guess it's good to know that when it's time for someone to drive me to the nursing home, there will be people to do it!

Sew on...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Summer's Ending, Hello Fall!

I cannot believe I just said that!  Hello fall??  Whaaaattt??

Well, as much as I appreciate spring and summer in Wisconsin, I love fall.  September is the loveliest month... It's when DH and I got married, well EONS ago.  We used to take an almost annual trek up to Door County in September.  After all the flatlanders go back to Illinois but while the shops and restaurants are still open it's quite nice and you can travel around without fear of getting stuck in traffic jams everywhere.

Then in October the leaves on the trees start changing colors and it's sweater weather!!  Yay!  I love sweaters.  Can't have too many sweaters...

To all the sheep I say thank you!!

I think it's why I love knitting,
especially the small stuff!
And why I love packages that arrive
full of this fun stuff!  The bright
green skein is now socks.
Miss E is taking Drivers' Ed classroom training this week.  Next week Thursday she and Miss A go back to school.  DH's birthday is their first day of school, I have a dentist appointment in the morning and a church meeting that evening, so maybe I can convince him to go out to lunch with me to celebrate.  It's a major milestone birthday this year.  Of course he'd like to just ignore it...  My grandma used to say you're not old until you hit 100!  Well, aren't we both on the way to that, I ask?  LOL!

The less I go to the office, the less I want to go to the office.  Working from home has its advantages, and its disadvantages.  No one to commiserate with when the red tape gremlins get to you, no big printer or scanner for those monster jobs, but then again, the commute is very nice and the price of lunch fits my budget.  :-)

Last week at my local quilt guild meeting we had schoolhouse night.  Four tables were set up for four demonstrators, me being one... I showed the ladies how to do our strip pieced blocks.  I was amazed at how many of them had never heard of strip piecing!  There were about 50 in attendance, and I'll bet there were only a handful who admitted to knowing what it was.

I'm certainly no expert, but our church group has been doing these blocks for a very long while, using up the scraps or trying to... it's funny, but no matter how many quilts we make from our scraps, the size of the pile never seems to shrink! 

There are lots of tutorials out there to show you how to do this type of quilting, but I like to call it the no stress method.  Your foundation pieces don't have to be anything special, or cut to a specific size other than larger than what you want your finished blocks to be.  Your seam allowance doesn't have to be a quarter of an inch, or a scant quarter, or even consistent, as long as you sew straight lines.

Sew, press, sew, press, trim.  Repeat as often as you like.  Make them any size you want, put them together in any way you want.  Use all string blocks, use with other blocks.  Sash if you want to, coordinate your colors or don't.   It doesn't matter, the finished product is always pretty.  No worries about the right shade of anything.  Don't be too matchy-matchy, it's supposed to be fun, remember?

You don't have to carefully cut all your strips the same width either.  Some say don't go below 3/4 of an inch, some say the smallest you should use is one inch.  (The strip width less 2 seams = the total exposure on the right side.  How small do you want that to be?  It's your block!!)  

The strip has to be long enough to cover the foundation square with some 'overhang'.   Is your strip too short?  Sew on another piece, and it doesn't have to be the same fabric!  Even and 8 year old can do this, if her feet hit the foot pedal of the sewing machine.

Our church quilters meet this Saturday.  We took July off but now are anxious to get started again.  I miss our fellowship when we're not meeting.  And we have some work to do -- since our new pastor started doing services in June, we've had a spate of baptisms that doesn't show any sign of stopping.  Blessings abound! 

On the opposite end of our mission there doesn't seem to be any slowing down of people with illness or surgery or other kinds of needs either.  We're viewing the option of partnering with a hospice in the area to provide quilts for their patients on a regular basis.  We view the end of life as just as important as the beginning, and blessing to be shared there too.

On a happier note, the State Fair ended yesterday with wonderful weather and a good time had by all.  I didn't get there this year (Mr. Crabby declined to take me and I hate going by myself...) so I didn't see the wonderful stuff in the family living center.  But I understand that several of our LQG members took home some ribbons for quilts and other crafts.  Congratulations, everyone!

Time to get going on some projects in real life!  My giant blue quilt is ready to have its rows sewn together, and I finished the back for Miss A's project, started so long ago she lost interest.  Ha!  She's 10, more interested in Minecraft and Spotify to pay attention to her UFOs I guess.

The pattern is Yellow Brick Road. 
Mine is blue because my blue bin is overflowing.
Because, well, blue...
 Sew on...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Brrrr... It's State Fair Opening Weekend

This morning when I got out of bed a rather frigid wind was blowing in from the open windows.  Yesterday we turned off the air and opened up windows after dinner because it seemed so nice out!  Some sort of front moved in, causing several hard but brief showers through the afternoon, and cutting the temperature down by nearly 15 degrees within a few hours.

So 72 down from 86 isn't bad.  I like 72 degrees.  72 is a good room temp -- you rarely need a sweater indoors. 

Then this morning... when DH turned on the TV it said 57.  It's August!!  This is late September weather!  Oh the joys of living in Wisconsin.  If you don't like the weather, hang around a little, it will change.

I think it was a 'take that' moment from Mother Nature for the opening day of State Fair.  A lot of folks got wet yesterday!

There's a lot to do and see at the Fair.  When I was a member of the American Sewing Guild I used to sometimes work a table there to encourage people to take an interest and maybe join.  We would sit in the Family Living Center, hand out leaflets, sometimes sew something.  The last time I was there I could have sold about a half dozen sergers because I was using mine.  Now I just go and look.
There's also Fair Food... like anything on a stick, or deep fried on a stick.
 My favorite fair treat is the lemonade from the small stands that make it with fresh lemons and fizzy water. Oh and a cream puff.

In doing an internet search on the Fair I came across this poster from 1900.  Parking was not a problem because you could get there by rail.  I wonder how close it was to a train station or stop?

I hope your weekend is wonderful.  Miss A and I are going to Walgreens and maybe for a little trip to the Amazing Goodwill.
Rock on!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

August 1, Can You Believe It?

Since I've been working from home for the summer and reducing my hours by 25%, I haven't spent as much time in front of the computer as usual.  Summer in Wisconsin is very short, compared to some other places in the world.  I know, not as short as some others, but that's not what we're discussing!

It seems such a waste of time to sit indoors if the weather is nice and you have somewhere to go... yesterday I took a short jaunt to the public library.  Just being outside and now having to wear a sweater or a coat was wonderful.

Not that I don't love sweaters!!  And I love making them... especially the small ones, like these American Girl sized things.

I've spent some time in the sewing room too.  I'm determined to get some of those small pieces out of my stash, or at least organized.  I found a big stack of blue that were somewhere between quarter yards and half yards and cut out a Yellow Brick Road kit.  I sewed the blocks and then some rows.

It's going to be pretty big when it's all sewn together.  I'm glad this one has no borders.  I am still thinking about rearranging the columns a bit, there seems to be a dark area at the bottom and the parts that don't show off to the right and left are also a little dark.  I can't back up far enough in my workroom to get it all in one photo!

On my way home from somewhere a couple of weeks ago I stopped at Michael's and bought three skeins of pink yarn from Loops & Threads.  It's very soft, but because it has nylon in it, it is VERY slippery to knit.  I just need to finish the sleeves on this size six month sweater.  It's ready for the next baby girl I encounter.

I'm working on a two to three week crock of dill pickles too!  It's only a one gallon crock, so I only have $8 worth of pickles fermenting.  My whole house smells like vinegar and dill!  I'm working from a canning book I bought in 1970.  Well, to say working is kind of a long stretch -- every morning I check to make sure there's enough brine in the crock.  This is one week into it.  Next Monday I can test one for taste.

Last project completed is this embroidery.  It's all backstitch, with a few lazy daisy stitches for the leaves.  When I saw this sampler at the quilt show in Mukwonago I knew I needed to get it.  I had to special order it because they were sold out.  When it came I was so happy I got right on it, jumping over a couple dozen other projects.  It was fast to finish too.  On my Michael's trip I picked up the frame and mat kit for $8 on sale.  Now I just need to decide where to hang it.

Hope your summer is going great.  I've gone on a few fabric junkets, eaten some great Chinese food and done some craft projects with the grands.  The less I go to work, the less I want to go. 

Maybe we can win the lottery this week!

Stitch on...

Monday, July 17, 2017

Reflections on Time, Life and Other Things

Two weeks ago I came to the realization that my summer is half gone and I'm not sure where it went!  Not everything has been summery.  We've had unexpected serious illnesses at work, and the weather has been very fickle giving us lots of rain, even flooding here in southeast Wisconsin.

Last week there were two funerals.  One was for our former Lay Minister from church, a lovely man who had retired a while back and had some medical issues.  The other was my cousin's husband, 54 years old, who passed away unexpectedly while at work.  Neither was what I'd call an enjoyable experience, but they certainly were a study in contrast.

The Lay Minister had been ill for a while.  He had suffered several medical setbacks recently and from what I understand had decided to forgo more medical treatment, choosing to "go home" to the next life.  He went to hospice and was an active witness even while he was there.  It's a fine example of how to live out the end of a person's days on this earth.

 On the other hand, my cousin's husband had a sudden and unexpected passing.  She probably left for work that morning while he was sleeping after working second shift.  He went to work while she was at her job.  She arrived home after her evening activities to find a message on her answering machine from his job, and shortly thereafter a visit from the local police department to say that he had collapsed at work and could not be revived.

My poor cousin, trying to cope with the unexpected passing and make arrangement and deal with fractious relatives, I can't even pretend to understand what she went through.  All I could do was try to be supportive and attend the funeral.  And pray, for her, for her family... you can always pray.

I remember being in a lunchtime discussion at work a long time ago after a coworker's dad had passed away suddenly from a heart attack.  It was a silly discussion of the sort people have at a time like that: what's the best way to go, suddenly or lingering?

Well, there is no best way to go, but absent that, we all DO go... eventually.  If a person has time to prepare, that person is probably suffering and in pain, whether undergoing treatment or not.  And the person's family/support system is suffering at the same time.

If the person goes suddenly, they may suffer for a short time, or they may not, no one can be sure unless they were there.  But it's certain that the family left behind suffers both in the shock and sorrow, and in the regrets of things not done.  There's the why and the how to answer.  It hurts and there isn't any relief of suffering now over to help get over it.  And the "didn't get to say goodbye" to deal with at the same time.

In church we're told that we need to be ready to go at any time.  1 Thessalonians 5:2 says "for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night".  We don't know the day or the hour when our time will be over, but we need to be ready.

No one knows what is in the heart of anyone else.  I trust that these two good men are now in the New Life.  Maybe they'll meet and enjoy conversation while in perfect health and safety in heaven. 

My mom always said to us "I'm going to heaven when I die, and you'd better be good while I'm gone so you can come too.  I'll be waiting for you to join me."

From your lips to God's ear, Mom!

Carry on...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lost, and Found

Since returning from Philadelphia on June 13 life has been just a bowl of


First thing was the jet lag... I must be getting a bit too old for the rush-rush of trips like this, because I was absolutely DEAD when I got back.  I didn't sleep well at the hotel.  Not that it wasn't nice, but I was worried about sleeping too soundly through the six alarms I set and not making the early meeting setup or getting back to the airport on time.

Silly me...

They didn't really need much from me at the meeting, that's how well the setup had been arranged before we got there.  All I had to do was connect my computer and make sure the coffee was delivered on time.

Then Tuesday I arrived at the airport with a full two hours to spare.  That wasn't bad, I did have a book so I had a croissant roll with wonderful Philly Cream Cheese filling and sat for a while before going through security, which turned out to be quick and painless.

Elena, the lady who was there actually running the meeting got home and ended up in the hospital on Friday and had emergency surgery.  She'll be out for a couple of weeks but thank GOD she was home and not in Philly when the emergency came up!

She is recovering at home and doing OK so far, expecting to come back in a couple of weeks.

This week I started reduced hours for the summer.  I have my eyes on a retirement date, and I'm trying to ease myself into things.  Working from home 30 hours a week might create enough separation from DH to help us both adjust.  Every day this week he has asked me "so you're not going downtown today??" when I shuffle into the kitchen in my fuzzy slippers and no makeup!

Not that I wear a lot of makeup, but applying it generally comes with combing the hair, and you can truly tell if I haven't done that!

I presented our church budget at a recent congregational meeting.  That was a little nerve-wracking but turned out fine.  I only had three slides, the questions were gently presented, and the budget was approved.  Whew!

Now I am trying to catch up on home stuff, fun things like cleaning closets and washing windows, scrubbing the bathroom floors and the shower stall, stuff that you hate to do but you love it when it's done.

The grands are having a summer.  Miss A went to spend a day with a friend on Monday and ended up with a two night sleep over at the friend's house.  Bless that mom!!  Miss E has been going to summer school in the morning and entertaining me with teenage drama in the afternoons. 
Hair in a bun so it fits in a bike helmet,
since Miss A loves to ride.

I did do some sewing of sorts -- hemmed some shorts, made a tee-shirt fit the teen to her satisfaction, mended a few items and finally bound a table braid that I started about a billion years ago.

Ahhhh, summer!

Sew on...

Monday, June 12, 2017

City of Brotherly Love

I just finished up two days in Philadelphia for a conference for work.  I was here once about 15 years ago for a convention with the American Sewing Guild.  I remembered the airport when I go there, the baggage area looked familiar so not ALL of the grey cells have lost it!

I remembered being in a hotel which I believe was called the Adams Mark.  I remember that the elevators weren't working very well, only about half of the 8 were operating.  There were 800+ women at the conference, and the lines in the bathrooms were unbelievable, so lots of us tried to use the room bathrooms, only to find the lines for the elevators even more unbelievable!

Needless to say, times have changed.  I found out through internet searches that the Mark was sold to Target Corporation in 2005 and demolished in 2006.  I stayed at the downtown Marriott, which is adjacent to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

On Sunday night we walked a couple of blocks over to a place called McGillin's Olde Ale House for a  client appreciation event.  The bar bills itself as the 5th oldest in the US.  Their web site says they started serving beer in 1860 and have been pouring it out ever since.  They even survived prohibition.  I didn't ask how they did that!

As the person in charge of registration I didn't see a lot of the place, but the music as loud and the conversation was too.  People seemed to enjoy it.

On our walk over we saw the statue of William Penn on City Hall as we crossed blocks.  I think there were tours back in 2000-whatever that took in the historic sites.  I went on an evening walking tour called Liberty Lights or some such thing.  We put on headphones and walked around listening to history read by actors while we saw lights displayed on the buildings.

Last night while walking to McGillin's we went through an alley with bunches of guys standing around smoking and talking, and broken glass on the ground and two dumpsters.  We kept saying "are you sure this is it?"  Gone are the days...

The skyline is great though.  The two shiny buildings in this photo are One Liberty Place and Liberty Two.  They sort of looked Chrysler Building-ish from the air.

I was right smack dab downtown, like right where this pin is... but it was 95 degrees, and too dang hot for sight-seeing.  The other lady with me wanted to go see the liberty bell.  I said OK you go and tell me how it was because 95 is too hot for this old bag!

Philadelphia was the birthplace of W.C. Fields.  Other famous people moved here or died here, like Theodor Kosciusko of revolutionary war fame and the guy the high school and park on Milwaukee's south side are named for. 

Some that came up in a Google search were Grace Kelly, Marian Anderson, Lionel, Ethel and John Barrymore, Alexander "I'm in charge" Haig, and Legs Diamond.  Also George McClellan and Jack Klugman, and the famous Eds, Bradley and Fisher (OK he was an Eddie).

WC Fields was very irreverent about his home town, and was known to quip things like "I spent a week in Philadelphia once, I think it was on a Sunday".  His tombstone epitaph is purported to be "I'd rather be living in Philadelphia".

This week I just found it to be hot.  But then, the inside of one hotel could be just like the inside of another, as long as the elevators are working!

Next, we go back to our regularly schedules programs...

Sew on!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

To Err is Human...

To really screw up, you need a computer!  

I've been trying to work on transferring my old programs and data to my new computer.  For about a year.

The data transfer program that came with my new computer didn't recognize my old computer.  I had used the same program to transfer my data to my old computer from my even older previous computer and that went just fine.  This time, not so much.  The program on my old computer says it's out of date, which shouldn't matter if I'm using the new computer with the updated program.  Or so say I.

The computers do not agree with me.

I'm not sure what to do next to solve my problems, but in the meantime I have a new computer that isn't plugged into my printer, doesn't have any of my embroidery designs on it or any of my favorites or shortcuts, and I have an old computer that decides not do things, or decides that it will do things but very slowly.  Very, very slowly.

All I can say is, where is the ten year old when you need something!  Probably playing games on her Nook. LOL!

Carry on...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Happy Birthday, Miss A!

Well, that's actually happy BELATED birthday, Miss A.  Her birthday was Monday.

She's into double digits now.  Yes, she is 10!  I think they call them Tweens now, not exactly children, not yet teenagers.  Although she wants to grow up fast, too fast in my humble opinion, like all children these days.

Her mom says it's double digit trouble. 

Miss A and DD
Today is her last day at her elementary school.  Next year she'll be in a middle school somewhere.  Fifth grade is in a separate group in the middle school because all of the elementary schools were running out of room.

Last full day in elementary school
So next year it will be getting on the bus almost an hour earlier than this year, changing classrooms and teachers more frequently, and more homework.  But guess what?  This girl is looking forward to more homework!

That is the total opposite of her high school sister, who is allergic to homework.  Although she does very well when she finally sits down to do it -- at the 11th hour!

two of five...
Gramma's birthday gift to the Tween was a couple of knit night shirts, courtesy of the stash.  I had to brush up on my garment sewing techniques but after the first one, it got easier.  Each one took just one yard of fabric, minutes to cut out and minutes to sew... two pieces, both on the fold.  Sew the shoulder seams, neck finish, hem the cap sleeves, sew the side seams, clip, hem the bottoms.  They were knit so I didn't even press.  (Don't tell the sewing police!)


But you have to remember to remove the quarter inch quilting foot with the single hole before you zig zag...  ask me how I know this.  And you have been warned.

I'm off to Philadelphia this weekend to spend some time with engineers, scientists and planners at the American Water Works Association annual conference.  DH will be holding the fort, and no sewing will be happening from Sunday to Wednesday.  Poor me! 


Sew on...

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It's Officially Summer in Wisconsin. Wait, Are You Sure?

Summer starts on Memorial Day.  Ha!  Today's temperature is predicted to be 67 degrees.  It was 62 degrees when I left home this morning for the office and it didn't improve much after that.  What I wouldn't give for it to be warm.  Or maybe just
  • room tem·per·a·ture
  • Room temperature is defined as a comfortable indoor temperature (68 to 77 degrees Farenheit).
  • An example of room temperature is the temperature of a cup of water that has been sitting in a room for an hour.
Well, if you ask me, 67 is NOT a good room temperature! Nor is it a great summer temperature. I'd much prefer it to be around 72-73 degrees, but that's not happening today.
According to the weather bureau (remember when they called it that?) we might reach 75 on Thursday, but it's going to rain most of the week. Like it rained most of the weekend.
Monday night we were kept hopping to close the windows, open the windows, close the windows to alternately keep the rain out and let the fresh air in.
But seriously, all this rain!! 

But then to quote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...

While it was raining, I spent some time straightening up my sewing space, and cleaning out a few closets and cubbies. I started another pile for donation, and got Miss A to pull out some baby toys from a few hiding spots. She took some lovely wooden baby puzzles to the one year old next door, and we put the dress up stuff in a box for donation. Next week she'll be ten, and she informs me that 10 is much too dignified to play dress up anymore!

I also made a trip to the farmers market with my DD and got some asparagus and rhubarb.  Other than seedling plants, that was about all that was of interest to us there.  When I got home I made the rhubarb into my favorite rhubarb thing -- pie!  It was delicious. 

And then I needed to sew.  Needed it, you know what I mean?  So I pulled out a few fabrics and made up a kit called My Favorite Quick Donation Quilt, and sewed it up!

Apologies for the photo, the fabric between the parrots and the green is actually purple, which matches the dots between the rows of parrots.  Here it looks too pink.

And having cut a half dozen kits in the past week, I had another bag of strips.  I found some muslin pieces and binge-watched a British crime dram-edy called New Tricks and sewed up some six inch string blocks.
New Tricks is a show about a group of retired police detectives who work for the Unsolved Crimes or Cold Cases unit in London, England.  They're all old guys, working for a woman commander who's a bit younger than they are, and the title is taken from the expression 'you can't teach an old dog new tricks'.  They're clearly capable of solving mysteries that others have given up on, and about the only thing they can't do is maybe run as fast as the younger guys.  They're funny and irreverent and I'm enjoying the heck out if the show.  It runs on my local PBS station in the afternoon so I record it and watch it later.  If you tune in be sure to listen to the theme song.

Sew on...

Thursday, May 25, 2017

It's Friday! uhh...

Yes, it's my Friday, meaning I have tomorrow off from my job making it a nice long weekend.

Projects that need to be finished:

Layered for quilting -- it's on the
five year plan...
  1. Organizing the last section of the sewing room -- got a new cabinet, need to finish cleaning up!
  2. Cut some kits for the church guild.  I only have three left in the bag, and those ladies are sewing up a storm!
  3. Finish that boys' camp quilt that I started last fall.  Pieces are cut, I just need some sewing time.
  4. Quilt something -- I have two small projects pinned.  I need to put on my big girl panties and get to work on them.
  5. Put borders on my biggest project yet (and the oldest) - a red/green/black&white queen sized quilt I started when Hearthside Quilters Nook was an actual brick & mortar store!
  6. Bind my Wisconsin Row By Row 2016 table runner.
  7. Sew some more blocks for my batik stars quilt that was supposed to be a gift a couple of Christmases ago... but who's counting? 
  8. Continue the clear out of the laundry room    ound

Projects that I should not start until I get a few of those UFOs finished:

  1. Little Lambs nursery wall quilt
  2. Layering anything more out of the UFO bucket 
  3. Any other new thing at all!
One of these is actually done!  But the pile is still pretty large...

Thought for the day:

Sew on...