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.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Setting up the Sewing Room

Well...we are moved.  Things are starting to settle into the places they belong.  I haven't walked into any walls in the dark for several days.

After being in an apartment for three years, it sure is nice to have a yard again.  I have my morning tea on the patio every morning.

Today, I've kicked Hubby and Itty Bitty out of the house so I can just relax and play at setting up my sewing room.

Although we do have an extra bedroom upstairs that I could use, I've chose to set up in a room in the basement - - close to the laundry room, a 2nd bathroom, and Hubby's "man cave".

Yesterday we went out yard sale-ing, and I found an interesting thing:

It's a cross-stitched piece of linen 19" x 17"  "1928" indicates the date it was made by the mysterious EJB.  The back is equally interesting.  I'd like to take it apart and see if there is any other clues inside about the maker, and why this humble piece of stitchery was framed.

I started my new position on Monday.  WOW!  So much to learn.  Every night I came home absolutely exhausted!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

BAM! Life changed! Another Pin: NAILED!

Oh man....I just did the unthinkable.  I shortened a dress.  A gorgeous dress that I risked $6 on at a thrift store in the city where Itty Bitty attends university. A dress, very nearly ankle length (and I'm 5' 6") which was going to be THE most adorable piece in my summer wardrobe...if I could figure out how to whack 12" off the bottom of it.

Today I found this tutorial while visiting Pinterest, and screwed up all of my courage.  I practiced on the lining of the skirt - whoa!  Slick as anything!  Took a deep breath, and carried on with the outer skirt.  Hmm...a little harder maneuvering over the side seams - but I did it!

I'll never be afraid again.  Thank you Pinterest and of course, Stef at GirlInspired.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Anxiety Level: Warp Factor 8

It's a bittersweet time

This past week I've been saying good-bye to my long(ish) term clients.  Lots of hugs - a few tears - a couple of laughs - - I have this one guy, incredibly ill with bipolar that I've been working with fairly frequently in the last two years or so - - he came in Friday and we reminisced about all the good times we have had when he was manic.  A mom and son that I've seen from time to time to work on different issues dropped in the same day and brought me a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates.  The mom speaks almost no English at all, but told me "I love you".  I was so touched, because I recognize that this gift represents a big chunk of their income once the rent is paid - getting misty typing this story.  A woman that I've seen a half dozen times in the past six months stopped by the office and told our receptionist to tell me that she wished she could move to Waterloo so she could still work with me.  Ahh social work process - termination phase is an emotional roller coaster for everyone!

We were approved for the house we REALLY wanted to rent - I'm getting excited about settling into our new 'home'.  
We went to a town-wide yard sale in Mannheim yesterday, and I made a couple of purchases to feather our nest.  I've been on the look out for a headboard for Itty Bitty's bed for about five years, and finally found one yesterday for $5!  Nothing quilty - unless you count this jar that I am going to fill with buttons:

It's a Longaberger Blue Ribbon quart sealer.  I thought it might have a little bit of value, but I must say I'm shocked at the prices I saw on eBay for them.  I have a scrap of fabric printed with vintage pearl buttons on it that I will cover the lid with.

Okay - so some stash-talk.  I went to Quilter's Nine Patch in Elmira last weekend, and purchased some $5 bags of scraps.  I had a blast tearing them apart, and chopping them up, and piecing them together!  Here's one example of the contents of a bag that I brought home.

This month's Annie's Creative Quilters Fabric Club.  Yup - I'm cancelling my membership.  I haven't made anything with the fabric I've received - - it's just going in my swelling stash.

Itty Bitty has a "thing" for Batman.  I couldn't resist these two fat quarters that I picked up at Greenwood Quiltery.

On to what I've been sewing! From the bags of scraps I got a lot of Civil War reproduction scraps.  I pieced 59 nine-patches (finishing at 3") - I'm quickly filling my jar!  I now have 170 blocks.

 I am still making split nine-patches (finishing at 6 inches).  I think I have 91 blocks now.

Okay - so I couldn't NOT cut into the orange/pink/grey prints that I showed above.  I had this pillow pinned on one of my pinterest boards:

I can't say I "nailed it" - - there isn't enough contrast in the fabrics I have used, but I think if I quilt around the perimeters of each cross, it might highlight the pattern a bit.

Sunday is all about 'Slow Stitching' - I used up the smallest sock monkey scraps that remained from the bag of scraps I bought (yes, another $5 bag from Quilter's Nine Patch) to make a mug rug for a young lady at work.  I need to stitch down the binding.  I added some ric-rac as a "flange".  It didn't turn out as cute as I thought it would.  Oh well!  

I have two more blocks ready to go for "Love Blooms Here" - the series from Quiltmaker magazine.  I'll probably work on hand appliqueing tonight in front of the TV.  

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Exciting Things Coming for us!

We're moving!

Three years ago, we moved to lovely Guelph in order for me to accept my DREAM JOB!!!  which I love, love, love. However, this week, I was given an offer I simply could not refuse; so good that it wasn't even a difficult choice! So, we are moving to Kitchener.  The new job starts June 2nd, and I will commute for a couple of weeks, but hope to be settled in K-W by Canada Day.

I know there is a big community of quilters there - - so I hope to join the local guild, and meet some new stitchy friends!  If you know any quilters in Kitchener, can you pass the word along?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sunday checking in

My much anticipated, and much needed loooooong weekend has been messed up by a bad cold.  Gah!  I feel like crrrrrrrrrud! I'll be keeping this short and sweet...

My plan to do morning sewing to bust some UFO's is going well:

I picked up some remnants this past week:

Made some tissue holder from scraps left over from the totebag I made last weekend.

I've also been working on the latest blocks for "Love Blooms Here"- a 6 part series in Quiltmaker magazine.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Checking In

My plans to do some morning sewing in order to get on top of some UFO's is working.  I completed some more blocks for A Grateful Heart.

But this weekend, it was time to work on WHATEVER I WANT!!!  

I made this tote (a pin from Pinterest!) is from a Moda Bake Shop tutorial: Hushabye Tote 

In addition to this tote, I also played around making some blocks to add to the growing piles:
  • 18 - 3" nine patches (for a total of 111)
  • 10 - 6" crumb blocks
  • 6 - 6" split nine patches

On Friday, Hubby and I had a bit of time to go for a bit of a drive.  Two of the stops included Cherished Pieces in Tillsonburg, and Quilt Junction in Waterford.  I made a couple of purchases - - but mostly books rather than fabric!  Here's this week's new additions to the stash though.  

I've been drooling over the Tim Holtz fabric for months - and was delighted to come face-to-face with it in Tillsonburg!  I treated myself to a bundle of 10" charms.  They were offering a class of a great pillow using these fabrics - - too far for me to take part, but look as some of these projects on Pinterest.

I also found some solid FQ's in the $2 bin.  I can always find room in my stash for solids.  Moda's Sweet Serenade charm pack and a matching FQ came from Waterford.  I must have been in the mood for "ephemera" type prints that day.

I meant to spend the afternoon working on the next blocks in the Love Blooms Here 6-part series from Quiltmaker magazine.  I had been looking for this issue for nearly two weeks, and finally found it yesterday at the drug store.

Instead, I learned that my great nephew was playing in a basketball tournament in town, so Hubby and I went over and watched a very entertaining and exciting game!

So tonight I'll try to make a start on those Love Blooms Here blocks while I catch this week's episode of Mr. Selfridge on PBS.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yet another UFO strategy...

I've tried a number of different strategies and resolutions and challenges to get my UFO's done and out of the drawers, bags, and boxes.

On Monday, I was listening to the January 6th APQ podcast on my iPod on the way home from a day of outreach.  In this episode, Pat Sloan interviewed Jennifer Keltner and she discussed the "48 Hour Challenge" issued to the staff of American Patchwork & Quilting last year.  In this challenge, they HAD to take an hour out of their work week every week to work on a quilting project, for a total of 48 hours over the year.

Okay, so .... follow me here... one thought led to another, and it occurred to me that I could fit an hour of quilting into my day (pretty much every weekday) before work.  Instead of surfing facebook and watching Dog the Bounty Hunter, I could spend one hour drinking my morning mug o' tea, listening to the local CBC morning show on the radio, and devote that hour to working on a UFO.

I also decided that I would only work on the UFO for ONE WEEK -- although I will carry over to the next day(s)/week(s) as long as I like, until it gets boring again.  And then switch to a different UFO the next week.

So, I started with the top of the pile with "A Grateful Heart". No sense in over-thinking this.  I had about 1/4 of the blocks pieced, and a stack of FQs set aside to do the rest. I'm not sure exactly why I lost interest in this project.  Tuesday morning I made this block:

Today I made three 4" Economy blocks, and some HSTs and flying geese.  Tomorrow I have another 12" block in the plans.

I started this sampler project about four years ago. It's from the Winter 09/10 issue of McCall's Quilting magazine.

Weekends generally get some more dedicated sewing time, and I will allow myself to do whatever I want - - recently I've been enamored with small sewing projects that I've seen on Pinterest, but I'm not sticking to any hard rules for the weekend.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Working through some Stash

Another Pin: NAILED!!!

So, using some of the scrappy stuff from my thrift store find from Friday, I whipped up a couple of boxes and matching mug rugs.  They need some more hand stitches yet.

Another Pin: NAILED!!!

And I saw this on Pinterest as well: http://www.modabakeshop.com/2013/08/quilted-patchwork-pouch.html

The tutorial called for a Moda mini-charm pack, but I found a stack of HSTs at 2.5" that were going to waste, so I used them.  I still have a few left over HSTs, so I'm going to make a smaller matching bag.

I believe I have 71 Split Nine Patches done now.  The pattern calls for 80 blocks, but I think I could just keep going!

Aaaaaand, just when I had my stash all whipped into shape, I couldn't resist purchasing a bag full of fabric samples when I was home on Thursday.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thrift Store Find of the Quilty Variety

I had a breakfast meeting this morning, and slipped into a thrift store that is located in the same strip mall - - and I'm sure glad I did!  There's even a stack of 8 point star blocks of various sizes.

Someone got tired of a project that will fit quite nicely into my stash.  Also, some yardage, and a giant apothecary-type jar, some thread and a pattern booklet.  YAY!!!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fast and Fun

Another Pinterest Pin: NAILED!

I recently pinned this tip to one of my Pinterest Boards

Couldn't find these mesh bags at the Dollar Store, but I did find patterned tulle and a roll of ribbon, and quickly (maybe 30 minutes?) sewed up eight sachets, and I think they are just as nice! (And so does Gibby!)

I cut the tulle ribbon 12" long -- it's about 4" wide I reckon -- folded in half and stitched 1/4" inch from each edge.  This was a good excuse to tidy up a couple of shelves of our linen closet.  The last few were tucked into my dresser drawers.