Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guess where I am?

Yep - I'm at school.  Remember all the angst I went through from 2008 - 2011 doing my undergrad degree?  Well....I suspect the brain remembers university sort of the same way it remembers labour & delivery.... it wasn't THAT bad, and it was worth all the pain in the end.  So, I've enrolled in the Master of Social Work program - Leadership in the Human Service specialization - at the University of Calgary. So, while most of the program is online, I do have to actually travel to Calgary (a 4 hour/$500 plane trip across country) for a week twice over the next two years.  

I flew in on Sunday night....well, actually Monday morning - my flight was delayed by four hours due to electrical storms that effectively shut down the airport in Calgary on Sunday morning, and backed up the skies for the rest of the day.  I didn't get to bed until 3:30 in the morning - and had to be in class for 9am. But...if that's the worst thing that happens to me this week....I'm good with that!

I've been in classes all day for two days - with articles to read and assignments to complete each night.  It's been tough - especially having crossed a couple of time zones.  Being a early morning riser, and barely making it to sunset before I'm tucked in at night...it's particularly challenging.  I keep looking at the clock and wishing it was telling me that it was much later than 8:15 mountain time.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A little thrifting

Not much quilting going on here - - I've been binge watching Downton Abbey this week.

Hubby and I went out to run a few errands, pick up a few groceries....and as long as we were on the road...a little thrifting.

I found this colouring book, and was anxious to learn more about the artist, and the purpose of the book.  As a social worker, I don't--as a rule--do any clinical work, but for a $1 I may find some use for it in my practice.  

Anyway, I learned that this colouring book was created to raise funds for the Stephen Lewis Foundation Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign, to support African women who have lost their own children to the AIDS epidemic and are raising their grandchildren under very difficult circumstances.

I also found this turquoise beaded necklace for $4 -- I have a serious case of like for it.  Hubby doesn't like this photo.  He thinks I look oooooold.  I think he has some sort of filter in his eyes that still sees me as 27.  I'm going to be 46 in less than two weeks.  Heck!  That's almost FIFTY!!!!  He's nuts.  I don't look old.  I look just the right age.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Another Pinterest pin - - NAILED! (but not in a good way)

Ah...the best laid plans...etc., etc.

Being a new-comer to the K-W area, I depend on the GPS on my phone to get me EVERYWHERE.  (I suspect the most seasoned native armed with a map and a compass would be unable to navigate themselves across this town - - but I'm naturally suspicious).  I saw this pin on Pinterest from "Positively Splendid" and thought, "AHA!  THIS is exactly what I need to attach to my dashboard to hold my phone when I'm wheeling around."

(photo from positivelysplendid.com)

AAAAAND here's the nighmare I made:

I had a number of problems with the construction of this THING.  First of all, the pattern calls for a layer of Peltex AND a layer of fusible fleece.  Not a problem, I happen to have both of these substances.  I should have stopped at this tell-tale instruction: "Note: The photos below do not show the fusible fleece backing on the back main body piece, since that was a later addition to the pattern." I can confidently say that the pattern was NOT tested after making additions to the pattern instructions.  Here is my evidence:

1.Trying to turn this thing inside-out was akin to pulling teeth.  Most of the seam on the top curve is hand sewn, because I had to keep ripping out more and more stitches to turn the piece.  Have you ever tried handsewing a curved edge that has fused fleece on one side and Peltex on the other?  Don't.

2.The material was too thick to close the grommet.  I had to cut the stitching out around the hole, and dig out some of the peltex and fleece.

3. The vaguely box shaped pleat at the bottom - too thick to be functional (i.e. no extra space was created within the pocket.

Okay...so the thing is done.  I can make use of it, right?

Nope - I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (a great phone!) - it's dimensions are: 151.2 x 79.2 x 8.3 mm (5.95 x 3.12 x 0.33 in).  In short?  It doesn't fit.

Back to the drawing board...

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Can I Ask You a Favour?" (the most dreaded words for a crafter to hear....)

I traveled to my hometown today to celebrate my grandmother's 98th birthday.  While I was there, I received a text message from a friend.  I was shaking in my boots when I read: "Can I ask you a favour?"

I'll spare you the negotiations - - but what it boiled down to, was I agreed to stitch together 20 knitted blocks that were donated to a group she works with that cares for abandoned cats and dogs.  She was feeling pretty sure that  the blocks could but put together to make a nice blanket that they could auction off to raise funds for the group.

The reality of it?  I have ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY FIVE of the weirdest creations ever knitted.

The casting on and casting off techniques are completely unique to me - - I can't say I've ever seen anything quite like them.  

And there are at least two full cats of fur knit into these...uh....trapezoids. The cast-on edge is about 20" - - the cast-off edge is 14".  The are slightly "C" shaped, and about 9" wide.  The donor intended them to be used as bedding in the cages for the homeless kitties.

WHAT am I supposed to do with these?  They aren't suitable for anything except bedding for cats.  

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Down time

Working away on sewing HSTs into pairs, and then into Broken Dishes blocks for Jamestown Landing.  I worked on these while watching Quilt-Cam on Sunday afternoon.

It's been a little chilly in my basement sewing room.  I'm used to bare-footing my foot pedal.  I dragged a space heater into the hallway and aimed it into the doorway, but it was hard to moderate the heat - - simply no happy medium between arctic tundra and tropical heat.  I found a piece of carpet to put under my chair, and that helped a bit.  Then Hubby remembered that he had shut the furnace vent in my sewing room - - well golly gee! - - problem solved!

I've read two books in the last three days.  

"When She Woke" is not something I would typically reach for, but it's this month's selection for Book Club, so I had to give it a try.  I picked it up a week earlier, and read the first three or four pages, and thought, "no...I can't read this...".  It's a dystopian novel set in the not-too-distant future, loosely reminiscent of "The Scarlet Letter".  But I picked it up again Sunday and finished it within a day.  

"Kabul Beauty School" had been on my shelf for a number of months.  I had heard of it several years ago - I think I might have seen a news story or a documentary about it?  I'm glad I picked it up - it was very readable!  I will recommend it to my social work practicum students in the future as a lesson (or rather -  many lessons!) in cultural competency. I couldn't put it down.

It was back to work today after a week at home, and I had lofty ambitions to solidify some plans and presentation material for a training event in three weeks.  Ugh...could NOT get into it!  Another half day tomorrow, and then I'm off again until the 5th of January.  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

....and moving along....

I can make any number of excuses about why I've been such a bad blogger these last few months....but talk about BORING!!!

Let's move on to more exciting topics:

1. I haven't sewn much over the past six months.  I recently have started flogging this old horse - Jamestown Landing from Bonnie Hunter's "String Fling" book.  Let 's do a little math.  The overall quilt centre (minus the borders) are made up of 21 x 18 little 4x4 blocks, each with approximately 8 pieces in them - roughly 3000 pieces.  Wow.

2.  I've applied to two universities to pursue a master's degree in Social Work.  I won't know for awhile yet if I've been selected.  Fingers are crossed.

3.  I bought a new memory foam bath mat - - the cat will not step on it.  It freaks him out.  I can now confirm--without any reservations--that THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG with my cat.

4.  Itty Bitty has just completed the first semester of his fourth year of undergrad.  Thirteen more weeks until he completes his degree.  This has been the shortest four years of my entire life.  He is also applying to grad school to complete a Master's degree in social work - different universities though.

This past semester he spent Fridays with me at my office doing an elective practicum.  It's been so much fun. Okay, not fun exactly. He has heard some truly horrific stories, and seen some hair-curling, run-screaming-into-the-street sorts of sights - - but certainly has the professional, non-judgmental, this-is-so-completely-normal, social-worky approach down SOLID. Besides, he's also really good at lifting heavy objects, mind-numbing clerical/administrative tasks, and run-down-to-the-courthouse-to-get-me-documents-and-while-you're-out-bring-back-coffee sorts of jobs.

5.  I've been reading quite a lot.  I also went to my first ever book club meeting to discuss "The Rosie Project" by Graeme Simsion.  I want to recommend this book to everyone I meet.  I understand it is going to be a movie - - and the movie just will NOT be as good.

In the past 24 hours, I completely consumed "This Won't Hurt a Bit" by Michelle Au - very readable.

Lastly, I've been working through the "Outlander" series by Diana Gabaldon again.  I started to read them when they were initially published back in the 90's - but since watching the TV series in the summ...wait...WHAT?!?!? You haven't watched the TV SERIES?!?!?!?  Wow.  Go do that.
Anyway - the books have been re-released to coincide with the  television series premier in August and I have been yummying them up:

I'm ready for book #4 - and my sister-in-law has given me #5 & 6.  Why is the bookstore so far away????

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not a quilting story...

...but worth telling anyway.

Okay, so you already know about my addiction to thrift stores.  I had some time to kill tonight, and already in the neighbourhood because I had missed my turn-off on the highway...so naturally I KNEW I was MEANT to go thrift shopping.

I've been looking for a trench coat for weeks, and not had any luck.  But tonight, I found a brand new Simon Chang coat, just like this except in a celery green colour (one of my favourite colours!!!). 

Here's what increases the awesomeness:
1. It was $19.99
2. It was brand new, with the package of replacement buttons still attached, in mint condition.
3.  I found a used one on eBay for $115 US, used.
4. I had a $5 off coupon in my purse.
5. It fit perfectly.
6. I'm cute as a button in it!

So, I'm trying it on, looking in the mirror, turning back and forth, pretty sure I was going to buy it, and a young man (maybe 20?) who was holding a couple of coats came up to the mirror and said, "Yeah, that looks good on you.  Which one of these do you think I should get?" And he tried on each coat, and I advised him as to which one I liked better: "get the red one" I said.  Hubby said "yeah, I like the red one."

I laughed and told him to ask someone younger, because we were old, and he seemed to like the brown coat better, and didn't want him to make a choice he'd regret later.

I asked him if he was a student.  He said he had just arrived in town, because he wanted to go to the nearby bible college, and become a pastor.  But for now, he was homeless, and needed a coat because he was going to be on the streets for a little while.  My impression was that the kid might be struggling with a mental health issue, or an addiction, and not fully embodying my image of a bible college student, if you know what I'm getting at...

(***you should note that I don't identify as a Christian person, and not particularly religious, although I am fascinated by, and respectful of all faiths, and spirituality is healthy - - it's just not something I ascribe to)

I asked him if he knew about the local youth shelter.  He said he did, but he wasn't interested in going to a shelter.  He assured me he would figure something out.

I continued my shopping, and paid for my purchases.  As I was leaving, I saw the kid walk over to a mirror with two employees of the thrift store, and model the two coats for them to get an opinion.  I heard them both tell him "red".  That struck me as cute, so I went over, and without even thinking about it, the words "I want to buy that coat for you" came out of my mouth.  I swear it wasn't a conscious thought.  

He thanked me, and I said, "my pleasure, it's my opportunity to pay it forward"

Then one of the employees said, "I will sell you this coat for half off.  This is an opportunity for me to pay it forward too" and walked me over to the closest cashier and explained to the clerk to apply this discount.

While she was ringing me through, I gave the young man my business card, and told him to call me if I could do anything for him.  He smiled and asked if he could write down his website for me.  I pulled out my notebook, and the cashier gave him a pen.

Then he said "I want you to hear something.  I got to pay it forward today too" and pulled out his cell phone and played a voice mail message for us to hear, saying "this guy gave me a ride today".

I'll paraphrase:

"Nathaniel, it was great meeting you today.  I wanted you to know how much it meant to me to hear about God's love for me. I really needed to hear that today, because I was going to go home tonight and end my life.  I feel like God sent you my way, and I'm really grateful.  Thank you.  All the best to you on your journey."

The clerk and other shoppers and staff around us heard the message, and many were visibly moved by the interaction.  I asked Nathaniel if I could drop him somewhere, but he said he was heading in a different direction.  So I said goodbye, and headed out the door.  I will never forget the expression of the people around us.  

So glad I missed my turn off on the highway, and went shopping.  I got a great coat, that I'm sooooooo pleased with, and a half a dozen other people--I'm certain--are inspired to spread some kindness to others, and continue to pay it forward.  What a super cool experience.