Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More pictures and plans for the rest of the week

Some of these are water spotted from the rain or a bit past their time - I wanted to include them anyway.

I had a cortisone injection in each knee this morning, so I'm extremely limited in the standing and walking I can do for the next three days. Sounds like a great time to settle into a comfortable chair and appliqué while I watch the Mariners win (I hope!) or listed to my IPOD.

I've been busy

Let's see - what have I been doing since Saturday's post? Still pressing fabrics. I had more than I thought because when I went to do laundry on Monday I found a big load of fabrics in the dryer - I thought I'd taken out the last load! So I ironed the rest of the afternoon and evening on Saturday.

Sunday I started my friend Kathi's quilt. I thought I could finish it in one day - wrong! I spent about 6-8 hours on it Sunday, then finished in three more hours on Monday afternoon. I'm so glad to have this done - Kathi is so glad to have it back - and I'm happy to say she liked what I did to it very much. I was very relieved - Asian just isn't my thing when it comes to quilting, so I really didn't know what to do. I was right - the quilt started talking to me as soon as I started doing the anchoring stitch-in-the-ditch.

Monday morning I watched Joseph while his dad took his mom to physical therapy and a doctor appointment. I needed to head north to Momma Made It in Longview to pick up 80 more "opportunity quilt" tickets for a guild fundraiser. I'd unexpectedly sold 140 tickets in about 10 minutes - a huge surprise! - and all I had was 60 tickets. Of course, I can never go to Momma Made It without spending money, and this was no exception. I'm making sure Joseph feels very comfortable in a quilt store LOL! I didn't take a picture of the new fabrics - rats!

We've had spectacular spring weather the last few days - it reached 80 yesterday and Monday! - and the flowers are so beautiful. I just had to take pictures to post - I'm practicing with the macro setting on my camera. Spring flowers are my favorites - I love the blues of grape hyacinths and windflowers, the yellows of daffodils, tulips, and forsythia, the reds of tulips and rhododendrons, and the purples and pinks of azaleas. And the trees are so beautiful - the crab apple in the front yard and the apple and cherry in the back yard. I ran all over taking pictures. The beauty of the macro setting is that most of the time the weeds don't creep into the pictures! I can't get down on my knees right now to weed, so we are having a neighbor boy clean out all the beds and move some plants for us. Then I'll have him put down new bark dust and plant other flowers for me. I can hardly wait for it to be finished!

1. Rebecca's recovery is progressing well
2. Breakfast with a friend
3. Continuing discovery of new joys while cooking
4. Weight loss going in the right direction

Weight loss update

Weigh in was this morning at Weight Watchers. I'd tracked very carefully this week - making sure I wrote down everything that went into my mouth even when I didn't want to, including the half dozen french fries I stole from Joseph when I took him out to lunch on Monday.

I chose to have a wild dinner last Thursday - including Baby Back Ribs, some fries and coleslaw, a Long Island Ice Tea for startes, and the bartender's signature "chocolate milk" in a martini glass for dessert. Completely yummy - but adding up to 47 points! I'm only allowed 20 per day! I had ten or twelve left of my daily allowance, so used all but about 3 of my extra 35 points I receive each week. It was worth every point, but it sure made it hard to stick to the plan the rest of the week when I had so few points. I did exercise to add some activity points, but by last night I didn't have a single point to spare.

The main thing is I tracked and paid attention - and I lost .6 of a pound. Not much, but still down some instead of gaining. I'm very pleased with that result!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weight loss journey report

After three weeks of doing badly - and seeing the scale rise pound after pound higher - I'm back on track. I did really well eating healthy and tracking everything last week, and it showed at Weight Watcher meeting Wednesday morning. 3.2 pounds down! That's half of what I gained the three weeks before. The other 3 pound loss I attribute to not eating much while I was sick, causing a false weight loss, that went away as soon as I started eating again. I did have a considerable splurge at Applebee's Thursday night - a Long Island ice tea, a half rack of baby back ribs, and the bartender's signature "chocolate milk" for dessert. That totaled a LOT of points, but I wrote every one of them down on my tracking sheet. It took almost every one of the extra 35 points I get each week, but it was worth it. And I've ridden 30 minutes a day on the stationary bike during ball games - every day this week! If I can do that every day from now until next meeting I should see another drop in weight next week. So overall I'm happy with the progress.

My current favorite cookbook is "Now and Later", the newest Weight Watchers book available only at WW meetings. If you attend WW I encourage to at least take a look at it. Every recipe makes one dish for today's meal, plus leftovers and a recipe to make something different from them the next night. I've tried a bunch of the recipes and found only one that wasn't a hit.

Total loss as of 4/15 is 32.4 pounds! It's so much fun to walk back into the credit union - I've been retired for 15 months already! - and being told I'm just fading away to nothing!

No quilting going on here

I've done next to no quilting since my last post - just a bit of appliqué on Tuesday night during our weekly Tangled Threads get together. So what have I been up to?

First of all - I've been wandering regularly into the quilting room, where my friend Kathi's quilt has been pinned to Gandalf for several weeks. This is a beautiful quilt - but not my style at all. I'm having a really terrible time figuring out what to do, and for once the quilt isn't really talking to me. It must be done by Tuesday, so it better start talking soon! Tomorrow I'll stabilize it by stitching in the ditch around all the blocks and outlining the appliqué. I've got my fingers crossed that it'll start talking a blue streak once I start working on it.

Secondly - I reached the point where I had to stop long enough to prewash my fabric purchases. I tend to toss fabrics in baskets when they arrive in the mail or from the store. When there are just too many - the baskets are overflowing, the lid doesn't fit on the big one, and there are fabrics stacked on top of the lid too - I decide I need to take care of them. This happens about twice a year. Foolish, because I can't use any of them until they are prewashed, but that's just the way I operate. So Thursday morning I started washing and pressing. Seems to take forever when I wait this long. I have only two stacks left to press - fat eights and fat quarters on the ironing board and bigger pieces on the recliner. On the table is what I've finished. Doesn't look like much for two days of work, does it? I've been catching up on recorded TV shows while working, so I guess that's a plus.

Finally - now that I'm feeling back to normal I'm back to planning meals and really tracking my weight (I'll save that for the next post.) My Thread friend Kim - who is an excellent, knowledgeable cook in addition to a great quilter - is always amazing me with the things she knows about food preparation. I asked her where she learned so much - I should have known. She watches a lot of the Food Network, and told me the two best shows for learning things are The Barefoot Contessa (who's on a total of 12 times a week!) and America's Test Kitchens on OPB. So I set myself up with a "season pass" to both shows on our DVR, and started watching the recordings on Thursday. I've already learned a great deal - I hope it sticks! I tried a few new things for dinner yesterday, and was happy with the results. When I saw that our tax refund had been deposited I took a trip to Barnes and Noble to choose myself some new cookbooks. And I've started doing research in p[reparation to buying a new grill - what we have now is an old, cheap grill that doesn't do anything well except for hot dogs and hamburgers. My goal is to do at least 90% of the cooking outside this summer!

1. A beautiful sunny weekend
2. A great start to the Mariners season!
3. New Mariners management who can actually put together a decent team
4. The return of Ken Griffey Jr.
5. Renewed energy and determination - finally!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April projects

I have a bunch of monthly projects that need to stay current, and the only one I've worked on so far in April is Jan Patek's 2009 mystery quilt. So the last two days I spent making blocks for my North Star Quilters $1 BOM. (You can see the posts I've done about this quilt by clicking here.)
When I first started I pulled all the fabrics from a collection I bought several years ago - Poetry by April Cornell for Moda. I still love these pastel fabrics - and fabrics like this have almost disappeared from my stash. Wonderful pastels like this just shout "Spring!" to me, and we needed a spring quilt for our bed. So these were a natural choice to use for this BOM.

I added only a very few additional fabrics when I made the first two blocks - and immediately realized I needed more mediums as well as some darks for "punch". So I added at least another 20-25 fabrics before I made the March blocks. I wasn't that happy with the March blocks either, so before I made April's I added a bunch more fabrics (see all the real oldies I added? Hopefully I can use up some of these!) I think I have a great selection now - except I need more blues. I have lots of blues in my stash, but not that many light blues, and most of the ones I have have a greyed look to them because they are from that "mauve and greyed blue period" that occurred in the very late 70's and early 80's. Hmmm . . . maybe I still need to shop a little?

I really like this month's block - pinwheels - so I made three. I love how they turned out. The last picture shows all the blocks together. I need to work on some of these a bit more - the dark triangles in the top left block just take over - I need to switch them to a medium fabric. And a couple of the blocks are a bit too light with no contrast - I need to fix those also. Not sure if I'll remake these or just make new ones and put the others into the orphan bin.

I'm having so much fun with this quilt!

1. Spring has arrived, along with marvelous spring flowers everywhere. I especially love the blue grape hyacinths and yellow daffodils together.
2. Our daughter continues to improve
3. More time these days for quilting
4. Fiber 1 bars!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend happenings

It's worth saying it again - I absolutely love this new way I learned to do appliqué. (If you didn't read my post about this method check out the third tutorial listed on my left side bar.) I'm sure I'm taking less time with each block than before, and I can see for this method much better with these aging eyes.

Today I prepped the February and March "blocks" for Jan Patek's 2009 mystery quilt. They aren't actually blocks - instead they are four triangles that will set the center block on point. Here's another appliqué hint for you. Notice I've not yet cut the square into triangles. I will do that after I finish the appliqué. That will avoid the chance of stretching that long bias edge during the appliqué. As long as you fold the square diagonally, and can visualize a 1/4" seam allowance on each side of that line, you should have no trouble placing your appliqué pieces correctly. Jan's already posted the April block on her website, so I imagine that one will come in the mail soon. I'm determined to be caught up by the end of the month.

Saturday morning was Jo's Little Women's club meeting. I enjoyed it very much, and adore the final addition to the quilt. I'm eager to get this finished also - I'd love to take a finished quilt - quilted and bound even - to club next month. The picture I'm sewing is our group leader's quilt. Isn't it simply spectacular?

Jeremy, Chelsea and the girls came yesterday afternoon for an early Easter celebration, and also so Jeremy could do some work on the computer. Lily has certainly changed a lot since the last time we saw her on March 21st. Her personality is really developing now - she's a sunny, happy little girl. It was so easy to get some good pictures of her. Sophie is another story - she doesn't respond well to a camera these days. I couldn't get her to look at the camera or smile. About the time she would cooperate, it was so fleeting that it was gone by the time the shutter was fully pushed. She is SO active - getting her to sit still for more than a minute is a near impossibility.

This afternoon we saw Rick, Rebecca and Joseph for a short time so we could wish them Happy Easter also. They have several family members to visit on a holiday, and they were all getting pretty tired. Things are quite hard for them right now.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow - an entire day for myself. Hopefully I can finish the customer quilt currently on Gandalf!

Friday, April 10, 2009

I love finishing tops!

Yesterday the missing kit fabric for the "Love Is" top arrived in the mail. Tonight I found time to finish the top. It didn't take long at all, since all the appliqué was finished. When I allowed myself to sign up for Jan Patek's mini quilt club at the end of last year I promised myself that these projects would be finished tops shortly after they arrived, as I didn't want to add anything else to my HSY list. This is the third little quilt kit I've received, and so far I'm on track.

Of course, now my list of finished tops is growing longer and longer, and I'm not getting any of them quilted these days. Whoops!

Jan Patek's 2009 Mystery Quilt

Last night I finished the center block on Jan Patek's 2009 mystery quilt. There's just something about houses in quilts that I really love - especially this block. I love the fabrics she chose, I love that TALL chimney and the very slightly wonky windows. Which still need the panes stitched - I guess it isn't done after all!

I have February and March's installments to complete, and I imagine April's will be in my mailbox before too long. I really want to catch up with this one by the end of this month. You can see what the quilt looks like so far, as well as an outline of the rest of it, by clicking here. Once she put up this much I knew I had to make this quilt. I just love the folky, primitive appliqué on her quilts.

April Goals

The less said about my March goals the better. I reached only on goal, and that was the easiest. The rest hardly got started. But then I was sick over half the month, and then tied up with family obligations for the rest of the month, so it's OK that I didn't get much done. It's not a race after all, and I do want to enjoy my quilting rather than being driven by it.

I tried to go easy on myself when I wrote my April goals. The most important thing I must do is complete customer quilts. I figured I'd get a good start on those this week - instead I've been occupied with watching Joseph and helping his mom and day. Thank goodness my customers understand, and agree that family comes first.

I have no recent pictures to post at the moment - hopefully later today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A new project

Most likely I shouldn't start a new project. I have lots of projects going now - just check my left sidebar. But since I've made such great progress on my UFO's I figure it's OK. Even if it isn't OK I'm going to do it anyway LOL!

I've been eyeing this quilt ever since I got this book. I've managed to hold off for 2-3 months now, but no longer. When I went shopping with a quilty friend on Saturday I purchased my backgrounds. I'm doing my quilt in different colors then Alma Allen did in this picture. It's a big quilt with big blocks - 28" square. The applique should be easy and fast. I might even try doing it by machine!

I've just figured out that I'm missing lots of comments left on my blog. I'm set up to receive comments by email, but for some reason only some of them are arriving that way. I don't know how long this has been going on. I'm going to have to check all the comments on recent posts. If you expected to hear back from me and haven't - now you know why.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A finished little quilt top - how cute is this?

This one was so very fast to applique. At least it would have been if I'd placed the pieces correctly. When I went to trim the center to size I realized the flower pot was too far to the right, hanging almost an inch into the fabric that needed to be trimmed off. So I took it off, moved it, and restitched it. I fussy cut a daisy from a brown fabric for bunny's eye - click on the picture to see it. If I tried I could probably get it finished before Easter, but I've decided not to. I want to hand quilt this little mini - maybe with a big stitch - and I don't want to rush.

At least a couple of you asked about these last two quilts I posted. Lots and lots of patterns, books, and kits are available on Jan Patek's website. Click on the link and then click "Catalog". She also has several "Quilt Clubs" to join. Right now I belong to the Mystery Quilt and Mini Quilt clubs. (Click on "Quilt Clubs" for details.) When you sign up for a club you receive all kits for that club at 15% off, and the kits are mailed to you regularly before they become available to anyone else. You can always return a kit you don't like. I've not done that yet - I love Jan's stuff! If I didn't have so many Brazen HSY's (pronounced husses - haven't started yet's") I'd want to join every one of her clubs!

Now that I finally feel like myself again I walked to Starbucks for coffee this morning. I was really dragging the last quarter mile or so coming home. Not walking for 6 weeks wasn't good - I have to start all over again as far as speed, energy, and endurance. I'm hoping the walking will help me get back on track - the last two WW weigh-ins have not been at all pretty.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

New projects

Now that my last UFO's are nearing finished top stage I allowed myself to start a couple new projects. These are the latest mini quilts from Jan Patek. I signed up for her new mini quilt club late last year, promising myself that I'd keep up with the kits as they came. I got a bit behind after doing the first two kits, so am now doing a bit of catch up.

The Valentine quilt arrived at the end of January. I stuck it in a drawer at the time, bringing it out a couple days ago when I was almost finished with the Feathered Star appliqué blocks. It went together very quickly, and I'd have a finished top by now except for the fact that the kit was short one fabric. Glad I started it now while they still have the fabric!

I decided to start the Easter quilt that arrived a couple days ago while waiting for the little fabric package to arrive. This one will be VERY fast - simple appliqué with big pieces. It will be so much fun to have all these little quilts to decorate with next year!

Thursday, April 2, 2009


The center of the Girl Gang feathered star is finished, and I'm very pleased with it. The next step is to trim up the edges as I used oversized triangles, and then add the top and bottom border. That step should go very quickly. Then all that remains is four large, heavily appliquéd borders. Those will take awhile!

I received the next Jan Patek mini quilt in the mail yesterday. It's a bunny and a flower - perfect for this season. I didn't start the Valentines quilt when it arrived, so I need to catch up. I've cut out the Valentines quilt and prepped the hearts for appliqué. That's my next project - that and getting back to the last two Heirloom Stitches borders.

I'm sending hugs and huge thank you's to all of you who prayed and/or kept positive thoughts these last few weeks for our family. The surgery went fine - I was in the waiting room for 11 hours that day - the patient is home and doing well. All cancer was removed with next to no expectations of any recurrence. We won't know if chemo is required until next Wednesday. Everything is as good as it could be - and I know all your thoughts and prayers made a huge difference. I love all of you and send my thanks.