Sunday, December 30, 2018

Progress on the To-Do List, and Random Stuff

As you can see, I am making some headway on my list of "things intended to keep me amused" for two weeks.
That pantry job took waaay longer than expected.  Several  years ago, well ok - more like a decade ago, I bought hanging files to try and get myself better organized with paperwork.  I set up folders for every month.  And folders for "vacation", and folders for research for Mom - first for Retirement Homes and then later for Long Term Care Homes.  There were folders for banking and folders for paperwork that I needed to read.  And more folders for ... more stuff.  That THING was taking up about a foot and a half of shelf space.  Not only was it not serving the purpose it was intended for, I also piled more junk on top of it.  Junk which was always falling down, and then I'd swear, and have to pick it all up off the floor.  Well.  You can probably see what the problem was.  That one job took several hours because I had to go through all that STUFF.  I burned a ton of paperwork in the fireplace - things with names and/or account numbers.  Another ton of paperwork junk went in the recycle bin.  I was left with a tiny, tiny pile of "stuff" that I think I need to keep.

Here's the table topper, with quilting AND binding complete.  Those inside miters were a challenge.
Next week (hopefully) I will show you the Chic Picnic with quilting and binding complete.  The quilting is done and the binding is on.  It is just a matter of finishing the hand stitching.

Now we can move on to the Random Stuff.

  • My dog, darling Sadie, has been on Prednisone for many months.  She licks and licks, for no apparent reason, until her skin is raw.  The vet thinks it's allergies, and prednisone keeps that issue down to a dull roar, but I know it's not good for her.  Now that dope (?) is legal here in Canada I wanted to get her some CBD oil to see if that would calm her down and I could reduce the steroid intake.  Technically in Ontario we are only allowed to "order" cannabis products from "the Government Store" (isn't there a song about that???).  But there are medical marijuana shops all over the place.  The cops will occasionally go in and bust everybody, confiscate all the product, and next thing you know the store is back open.  Anyhow...DH and I were driving down Upper James St. in Hamilton, when he whips his head around and says "isn't that a pot shop?".  Well yes, yes it is.  It is very well hidden from the cops by the BIG NEON SIGN out front.  So I turned the car around and zipped into the parking lot.  OMG.  What a sketchy place.  I'm glad I wasn't alone.  But they DID have CBD oil, so Sadie's been getting 2 drops per day - one at noon and one at bedtime for two weeks.  I've reduced the prednisone from 3 pills to 2 pills and so far, so good.  Now I smile at her and call her "my dopey dog".  ha ha ha.
  • A super-nice woman in town loaned us a dog magazine because it had an article about dogs and CBD oil.  Well, there was a fun article in there about making dog beds from old tires.  Seriously???  Yup.  Here's a link - now you too can go down the rabbit-hole of weird internet things.  hah... see you next week. 😀
  • I've recently been muttering to myself about how I never get comments on my blog and only a few remarks on facebook when I put up a new blog post.  Well, hell.  There were a dozen comments sitting on Blogger waiting to be approved by me, going back several months.  I apologize to you commenters!  Blogger used to send a notification when comments came in but apparently that's been discontinued.  I will pay more attention.  I promise.
  • As I mentioned, I'm cutting my workload down a little bit so I'll have more (ahem) leisure time.  I have started to make up quilt kits with patterns that I want to make.  HERE is the latest one that I've saved to make with the three charm packs I bought at Missouri Star Quilt Company in 2017.  I also still have, from that same trip, 2 MORE charm packs and two layer cakes that I haven't done anything with yet.  geez Louise - stop buying fabric!!!
I hope the New Year's Baby brings us all peace, love, joy, and money in 2019.  See you next year!!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Vacation: Port-au-Stay-At-Home

The winter holiday is here.  Time to stay at home and get some sh*t done.  And relax, too, of course.
I started off my vacation by heading out on a field trip with a friend.

First stop Dundas, to the Carnegie Gallery.  They have a Christmas Market going on right now, with many artisans selling their wares.  There are no pics from inside the gallery - I was trying to avoid getting arrested.  Or being yelled at.  Not even a gentle scolding.  While we were in Dundas we made a stop at McGuire's Cheese Shop.  For the past several years I've apparently been making sure my pant size goes up a wee bit every Christmas so I treated myself to three lovely hunks of deliciousness.  A lemon stilton, a stout cheddar, and whatever it was they had on's from a local cheeserie and was absolutely delicious so I added that to my basket.  (It's also what I had for supper with a side of crackers and a glass of wine.  Not necessarily a healthy supper.)  However, in my defence:  we had lunch at the Bangkok Spoon where I had a S.A.L.A.D. with my meal.  So not a totally disreputable food day.

Next on the agenda was the Waterford Museum to see the exhibit of Red Cross Quilts.  This is on until Feb. 15, 2019 so try and get there if you're into quilts.
Excellent exhibit!!
We wandered around the museum to see what else they had out for display.
Hah. 😀 Thank goodness we have better equipment to stitch with today.
The museum is kind of next door to the quilt shop, so we also popped over to Quilt Junction and dropped a few dollars.  And bumped into a quilting buddy in the shop.

My vacation list of things that need attention, in no particular order:
I'm only on day three of "vacation" - this is quilted and off the TFUQ list.  And thank you, but NO, don't remind me that now, day three, is already past twelve noon and I should get my arse in gear.
Binding inside angles is something I haven't tackled before so there's a bit of a learning curve.  The YouTube video I watched (OMG, I swear you can learn anything on YouTube) demonstrates hand stitching the miter on the front side first, then folding the binding over to the back and hand stitching the back miter closed, and THEN stitching the binding down.  I need to figure that out, but working on BLACK is not my favorite thing anymore.

I'll keep you posted with my to-do list progress...

Sunday, December 16, 2018

More Critters On Quilts, and Quilt Scheduling

I showed some "animal" quilts a couple of weeks ago, in the post that degenerated, somehow, into a story about bullying.  Today I am being UPBEAT!

First, we have a moose.

Next, a bunch of sheep.

A butterfly.

A Yeti.

And feet.  This one cracked me up... it's the BACK of the Yeti quilt.

I have to show you the whole butterfly quilt, though.  It's really pretty.

Here's a clip of the's Minkee.  The quilting shows beautifully on this stuff, and it is sooo soft.  Use caution, though.  Sometimes teensy bits of the fluff will pull up to the top of the quilt during quilting.  The Minkee fibers get caught in the twist of the thread.

I'm sure you are all wondering how the, um, procedure went last week.  Fine.  I'm clean as a whistle and don't have to go back for ten years.  Yee haw. 
Scheduling of that was great too. 

  • Monday - prep.  No food & lots of toilet.
  • Tuesday - colonoscopy then light food for remainder of the day
  • Wednesday - guild pot luck supper
As you may have noticed, I'm currently scheduling work for April.  Why am I so busy???  Well, I'm not exactly busier.
  1. In the past, people would drop off the quilt that was on the schedule, and they would often bring another, unscheduled quilt with them.  I would quilt both of them, even though only one was penciled in on my calendar.  I was forever behind schedule and would spend extra time at the machine in the evening.  NOW, these quilts get added to the queue and I'm working hours that are closer to what I want.  This hasn't improved my housekeeping efforts, but maybe next year I can work on that. 
  2. In the past, I would schedule three quilts per week.  This was the BEST. TIP. EVER. and I thank Jane Berry for the suggestion - it's been working very well for years.  However, I am 62 and would like to spend more time piecing and playing in the garden (aka weeding).  So the schedule for 2019 only allows for TWO quilts per week now.  Obviously, that means a longer wait time.  In 2018 I started by blocking off an empty week every couple of months.  One in February to clean the house and enjoy the Beach Girls here for Winterruption.  One in the spring to get the garden cleaned up and planted.  One in the late summer for harvesting & canning of produce.  One for the France trip.  One in October for Tobermory with the Beach Girls.  
After I finish up the December quilts (3 for binding today, then this week will be 2 more pantos and 1 custom) then I'm 'closed' for Christmas holidays.  I have plently of mending that's piled up the last few months. DH had to resort to buying a few new shirts. 😀  I have bedroom drapes to make, and I want to paint the dining room...although that may get hired out because of my bad elbow.  I have several tops of my own that need quilting, and a pile of guild placemats to be quilted for Meals on Wheels.  I think that will keep me plenty busy for two weeks.

If YOU are a longarm quilter and you want more business, make sure you have some kind of presence on the web.  Several new customers contacted me this past year because they found me by doing a Google search.  I regularly refer people to other quilters when I cannot accommodate their time frame, but I don't know everyone who quilts for hire.  People should be able to find you as easily as they find me.  

Sunday, December 9, 2018

This Week's Excitement, and Some Good Books

So, yeah.  This week's excitement.  Do you recognize this stuff?

Uh huh.  Colonoscopy is booked for Tuesday.  Which means I'll be spending Monday on the toilet.
So. Much. Fun. 
If you missed my FIRST colonoscopy stories in 2010...
HERE is the prep.
HERE is the day.

I've had a string of really good books from the library.  I read most books on my tablet, so I get an email from the library when a book I've had "on hold" arrives for me.  It gets to be very awkward when two or three books arrive within days of each other.  Books that were wait-listed cannot be renewed - they just poof disappear on their expiry date.  At times like that, housework goes out the window (although, to be honest - housework's proper place IS out the window).

The Alice Network, by Kate Quinn.  This is about a network of women spies.  The story flips back and forth, to cover connected stories...between WWI and 1947.  It includes lots of suspense, and enough romance to keep things interesting.

This Is How It Always Is, by Laurie Frankel.   I was engrossed by the end of the third paragraph.  Seriously!  This book grabbed me and did not let go for one single minute - beginning to end.  It's about a family: mom, dad, five kids.  The youngest child turns out to be transgender.  It's funny, emotional, heartbreaking, romantic, and incorporates a running fairy tale.  An excellent story from cover to cover.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, by Louise Miller. This book also grabbed me right away.  After all, I was just in France on a chef's tour, and I entertain you with enough cooking and zucchini stories that you KNOW I enjoy time in my kitchen.  The chef in question is a woman who creates an, um, incident at her place of employment.  She beats a hasty retreat to Vermont looking for a little solace from her long-time friend.  I haven't finished this yet, but the first half of the book has been great.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Scrappy Love & Social Outings With Guild Members

I love scrappy quilts.  Love, love, love.

Quilts that are visually busy just need a pantograph.  Something simple and blendy.

As you (should) know, I work at home.  Alone.  In my basement.  DH would dispute the "basement" part of that with a black/grey/white argument that "it's not a basement".  When we first moved to the country he corrected me for years when I said "our street".  According to him, it's not a street, it's a road.  Picky, picky, picky.
So ok,  I will clarify:  I work at home.  Alone.  In a room that is  below grade.  When I have an opportunity to go OUT I usually snap it up.  Even if I'm in the minority... a longarm quilter in a room full of hand quilters.  Here I am with a few members of the Binbrook guild, working on a quilt that was given to us and will be donated to a good cause.  One of our members was generous enough to donate her living room for a few weeks.  I'm in!  One day a week, three weeks in a row.
If you have never hand quilted, here is a primer.
You push the needle down into the quilt.  When you feel the needle POKE YOUR FINGER you know it is time to push the needle back UP through the quilt.  Yeah.  Do that for four hours.  Ouch.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Animal Quilts (and reflections on humiliation) & One of My Own

I've seen some of the cutest animals this fall...

It's almost enough to make me want to be a kid again.  But... um, no.  Maybe not. 
Highlights of my childhood involve lots of teasing over my name (surname of Marshall was always being translated into either "martian" or "marshmallow").  Also being called "four-eyes" because of the glasses.  And being the shortest kid in class meant I always had to be at the head of the line.  Being the worst at sports meant I was always the last one chosen for any sports team.  I remember school being let out early the day Kennedy was shot, and some asshole bully punched me in the stomach while I was walking home.  Then there was the bully-brat down the street who would not let me pass.  For God's sake.  I was in KINDERGARTEN.  I went home crying and mom had to walk me to school.  So...many memories of humiliation.  I'm happy to leave them behind me. 
In adulthood I'm often referred to as a snob (because at heart I am actually quite shy).  And I've had people get sooo pissed off at me and throw taunts of being "a hotshot" which was, in truth, the funniest one.  That came from a woman who got mad at me because SHE didn't know how to use word processing software (she should have - that was part of the skill-set required for the job).  After weeks of her interrupting my work by asking me how to do this, and how to do that, I finally called her on her poor knowledge and suggested she should spend some time learning this stuff HERSELF.  People can be lazy and stupid and mean sometimes.  I try to ignore it now, but sometimes I... just... can't. 😬  Several years ago I told an asshole in the grocery store to shut up because he was mad about the little old lady who was taking too long with the cashier.  She needed assistance, and needed her groceries to be double bagged because she had to take the bus home. All I could think about was my mom, and how she was probably in exactly the same boat on many occasions.  So, I told dickhead to shut up.
Wow.  Now I've put myself in a crabby mood with all these bad memories!

Anyhow. I managed to finish the Apple Core top.  All of this was cut using JAWS. Over the holidays this baby should get quilted.  I seem to have a growing pile of tops that need to be finished.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Vintage Double Wedding Ring & Gettin' There...

Sigh.  The Universe was teasing me by putting this on my work calendar as soon as I came home from Tobermory, where I'd been working on my own D.W.R.
There was a fascinating story that came with this quilt.  The gal who brought it related that when she was a child the quilt was made by a woman who was invited to live with her family in the mid '40s because she had nowhere else to go.  She stayed with them until she passed away in 1955. When my customer got the quilt top out of the closet it needed to be washed.  Since it was all hand pieced, some of the seams frayed to the point where I needed to make a few repairs.
Love vintage fabrics.
Some of the fabrics were worn so badly I did a bit more repair work, using my stash of '30s reproduction prints.
You can see the quilting beautifully on the back.

Almost finished.  The brick is painted a lighter shade of the wall colour.  The concrete hearth & mantle are painted the same as the wall colour.  All I need now is some 1/4 round trim down the sides where the brick meets the wall.
And why is it, whenever I put on my painting duds, someone unexpected comes to the door? That day (in the link) it was a customer, but this year - one day it was the internet guy, and another day it was the neighbour. I have been wearing that same oh-my-God-what-was-she-thinking outfit for painting for...20 years?  I have to do the pants up with a safety pin now because the elastic is no longer elastic.  If it's warm weather I might switch out the old shirt for an old t-shirt.  Still, not attractive. 😝

When it comes to jobs like this I don't always listen to "the experts".  Several people (and The Internet) told me I had to wash all this brick with a scrub brush & TSP, then I had to prime it, and THEN I could paint it.  Yeah, um, no.  I vacuumed it.  Then I painted it.  One watered-down coat on the brick, two watery coats on the cement.  In six months maybe I'll have to do it again - time will tell.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dog Love & Horseradish

I was approached earlier this year by a woman who wanted a quilt made.  It was to feature photos of her beloved companions, and large enough for a queen size bed.

I have no facility here to print fabric of a size that would bring her vision to life, so I directed her to Spoonflower.  That center panel of the dog in the fall leaves measures about 38 x 54.

After she received her package of fabric in the mail she went shopping for the additional fabrics that would create the top, and she got a lovely backing fabric to co-ordinate.

It took me a whole day to applique the names.  First I had to select a font and print the names in true size, and make a pattern with layout for the size of available area on the quilt.  Once that was done I made fusible fabric letters with Mistyfuse, which is my favorite fusible web.  Then machine blanket stitch around the letters.
This was quilted with a very quiet design so the dogs maintain center stage.  I was really happy with the end result, as was the customer and her husband.


Oh, my good-God-Almighty.  Making horseradish is not for the faint of heart.

I've been getting bored making the same stuff in the kitchen, so I went through some of Margaret's recipes that she shared from her Hello Fresh boxes.  One of them does mashed potatoes with Dijon mustard and horseradish.  But I ran out of horseradish several months ago.  So I stopped in at the grocery store and the only bottle I could find - first of all it was a plastic bottle, which is on my no-fly list these days.  Second of all it had a list of ingredients a mile long, which is ridiculous for such a simple condiment.  A while back my neighbour Sophie mentioned that she had HR in the garden, and if I wanted any I was welcome to it.  An organized person would have taken advantage of this during the nice weather, but we're talking about me here.  Of course, I waited until the weather was below freezing, with gale force winds.  I dragged DH out for a walk (oh, nasty and cold on the way home - lemme tell you!!) and we got Sophie to show us where the plants were.  DH obligingly dug up some roots for me and we went on our way.  Cleaning and peeling and dicing were easy.  Grinding was easy.  DO NOT STICK YOUR NOSE IN THE CONTAINER OF GROUND HORSERADISH.  According to all the recipes I found, adding the vinegar sooner will keep the HR mild.  Waiting three minutes (!) will make it hot.  Mine turned out half & half hot/mild because there was quite a bit of ground root stuck in the grinder.  So even though the vinegar was added to the majority as it was expelled, the remnants were added several minutes later.  As I found out, sticking your nose in the container of ground horseradish is stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  Anyhow... I have survived to tell the tale, and the potatoes were delicious.  Consider yourself forewarned.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Vintage Dresden Plate & Quilty French Floors & Zucchini Update

Boy, I have a lot of catching-up to do, quilt-blog-wise.

This vintage Dresden Plate was quilted back in mid September.  I love vintage quilts - never met one I didn't fall head over heels for.

There were a couple of blocks made with new fabric, just to get a useable size of quilt.
Yes, those plates are a little wonky.  The centers aren't round.  The plates aren't centered.  But it is so pretty!  As requested by the owner, there is not too much quilting here.  Stitch-in-the-ditch around sashings, and inside & outside the plates.  Loopies inside the wedges, and motifs both in the corners and in the centers.

Pretty, pretty on the back.
French floors as related to quilts: 
1) Chevron.

2) Square in a Square.

3) Checkerboard Border - reminds me of Courthouse Steps.

What the hell?  How can I be doing a zucchini report in November?  Well I got sidetracked and never finished back in September. 
When I was in France, there was zero chance that DH was going to pick zucchinis.  So when I got home... guess what?  Eleven more.  And a couple of them were, not surprisingly, pretty large.

Picked end of season:  11
Picked YTD:              127

Today's plan for supper is to make a big pot of vegetable soup and a Butternut Squash Tart With Fried Sage.  Some of that zucchini is coming out of the freezer and jumping into the soup pot.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Little More Of Tobermory & The Prince Exhibit

A little yoga is good for the body, especially if you will be hunched over a sewing machine for much of the day.  Anni didn't seem to understand that Savasana (the Corpse pose) is just a nice rest.  I'm not dead.

See?  Proof that I'm not dead.  This was Friday before we departed.

I managed to complete my wee project.  Next I need to learn how to do binding on those weird angles.  (Well, actually the next step is getting it quilted.  Then the binding.)

One of the reasons I love the Beach Girls (there are many reasons 💓) is the field trips we end up on.  I see things I would not otherwise see.  This time it was in Seaforth, On.  We went to the exhibit of Prince quilts.  This is a competition dreamt up by Cherrywood Fabrics, to feature their fabrics. I've seen both the Van Gogh and Prince exhibits now.  They are incredible.  Here's a sampling...

This will give you an idea of the size of the pieces.  I think they're 20" x 20".  There were 150 quilts on display.

If you can zoom in on these pics you'll get a much better idea of the work - both hand and machine, the beading, and the abundance of crystals.

Here's one...

And a closeup...

Here's another...

And a closeup...

Another closeup...

I liked this one.  You can see that it was a ribbon winner.  It made me think of my brother, who also has a 'vette.

And a closeup.

If you're ever within driving distance of one of these exhibits, GO!  Seriously.  Just GO! 

In other, more boring news, I've finally started painting that gawd-awful brick around my fireplace.  That's been bugging me for more than 20 years.  DH is not happy with me, but since he's managed to walk past this vignette for two days without even noticing the ladder & plastic, should I really care?