Saturday, March 1, 2014

TTFN

TTFN - Ta Ta For Now.

I've mentioned before that I have arthritis - in my neck and both knees, among other joints.  I had major neck surgery 2 years ago to replace three discs.  Over the last 16 years, I've also had 5 different knee surgeries.

All those knee surgeries have dealt with various ligament and cartilage issues, but haven't dealt with the arthritis.  Both of my knees have multiple areas where it is bone on bone.  Let me tell you that can be very painful.

My orthopedic surgeon and I have been discussing knee replacement surgery for the last 3 years, but we've been trying to put it off as long as possible, since I'm relatively young.  Generally, replacement knees last between 15 and 20 years, depending on how active or overweight the patient. Because of my age, that means I will most likely need to replace my knees again. Even so, we both agree it's time to replace these aching knees.  The plan is to replace both knees at the same time to minimize the amount of time I'm out of work.  I'll be out of commission for 6 - 8 weeks after the surgery, so I'm also hoping to get the house as spotless as possible pre-surgery.

All this means I'm going to to take a bit of a break from the blog.  Enjoy your spring - I hope to be back around the first week of June.   


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cindy goes to Paris

Although I though I was finished with the Schnibbles quilt along, this month Sinta and Sherri gave us the option to make any Schnibbles pattern.  It just so happens that one of the quilts on this year's "to do"  list is a Schnibbles pattern, Cindy Lou Who.  So I found myself Schnibbling again with a couple charm packs of Paris Flea Market, by Three Sisters.

I'm not in love with the finished quilt top, which is so disappointing because I really love the fabrics - all of them. 

I think my problem with the quilt top is that I drew the pattern out on graph paper and colored it in using colored pencils.  The result was a design I loved, but with solid color against solid color, not pattern against pattern as in the actual quilt.  My eye seems to need negative space and a less busy composition.  I think I would have liked this quilt better if I replaced most of the neutrals in the snowball and half-snowball blocks with tone-on-tone or solid fabrics.  Lesson learned.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Schnibbling Again

I know I said I was done with the Schnibbles quilt along for this year since I'm trying to get to things on my "to do" list, but this month we can make any Schnibble we want to as long as we haven't ever shown it in the parade before. That was all the motivation I needed to get started on "Cindy Lou Who", a pattern from Carrie Nelson's book Schnibbles Times Two.



This one has been on my "to do" list for over a year. I've been saving two charm packs of Paris Flea Market to use in this quilt.

Last year, I used graph paper and colored pencils to plan exactly how I wanted the colors and plotted exactly which pieces needed to be cut from each piece of fabric. That made the cutting go very quickly. It didn't take long at all to get the nine patch units completed.



Next weekend I'll tackle the snowball units and borders.

Are you still Schnibbling too?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Back in Boston

I reached my 24th anniversary at work last weekend - 6 more years until I retire!  We get five personal days every year on our anniversary and I had one personal day left to use up by Saturday, so we took off for a three day weekend in Boston.

We stayed in our favorite hotel near Faneuil Hall, Marriott's Customs House. It's the tall building with the clock tower in this picture I took in November.



This building is so unique! It actually was the US Customs House for the port in Boston in the 1800's.

This dome with the US Seal is about three stories up and visible from the lobby. (It gives me vertigo to look up at it!!)

This is the workings of the clock mechanism - it's really neat.  This is the recreation room with game tables - there's even a small movie theater.

Technically, this is a timeshare property, but you can also book a room just like a regular hotel.

This trip, we decided to check out the neighborhood around Copley Square, four T stops away from Government Center.  The John Hancock and Prudential towers dominate the skyline in this area of Boston. This is the Hancock tower.




We decided to stroll around the public library and were really impressed with the architecture of this building.


 Look at these metal doors! Beautiful.


On either side of the staircase midway ip to the first floor are the huge lions. Look at the amazing painting gracing the walls!


Wow! They just don't make buildings like this anymore!

This is the main reading room - shouldn't all libraries be like this? So classic!



What about the ceiling decoration in the reading room? Can you imagine how long it took to make all those plaster flowers?





We spent several great hours touring the library and seeing all it has to offer, then we walked through Prudential Center indoor mall. The stores are mostly super high end boutiques, so we just window shopped.

The weather was great and we enjoyed another relaxing weekend in our favorite city.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Snow Day

About 12 inches of snow fell in my neck of the woods last Wednesday. Since I have a 40 mile commute, I usually don't go to work if the schools are closed.



I stayed home and puttered all day. I got all our tax paperwork in order - ready to work on next weekend. I made linzer tarts - my husband says mine are better than the ones we get at the bakery!!



I also cranked up the electric fireplace on the sun porch and watched the snow fall while I completed another two hexie flowers. I have 10 done so far.






Maggie loves the snow - she jumps up and down in it, roots her nose around, and just seems to play like a puppy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Celtic Solstice - it's a finish!!

I put the pedal to the metal and quilted Celtic Solstice using a variegated blue, yellow, and green thread from Sulky. I quilted it using an all over loop de loop on my regular sewing machine.





Thanks to an article in Quilty magazine by Kelly Biscopink, I tried free motion quilting with the feed dogs UP! Kelly has a Baby Lock that is the sister to my Brother sewing machine. She mentioned that her tension was better with the feed dogs up. So I gave it a try - the verdict is in - my tension was better too! I'm not saying it was perfect, but it was a lot better than my prior free motion attempts with the feed dogs down. I say, if you have a Baby Lock or Brother machine, give it a try.




As soon as the quilting was done, I got busy sewing on the binding. I used a fabric I consider to be an "ugly" fabric as binding. It had large irises, but the colors were perfect - blue, green, yellow, and orange.



I finished the binding late last night and worked on the label today. I used the same variegated thread and the alphabet stitches on my sewing machine to make the label.


The purple dots you see in the picture above are from the air soluble marking pen I used.  I made a practice label with scrap fabric and black thread, then I figured out the spacing and marked even lines and starting points so I could get every line just right.  I've never made a label like this before, but I would definitely do it again.



I had sew much fun doing my first ever Bonnie mystery quilt, I know this won't be my last!  Bonnie gave directions for two sizes, the small one had 49 blocks.  I made 25 blocks.


Celtic Solstice will be a lap quilt for me to use when I sit in my recliner.



Head over to Bonnie's blog and see all the other quilts - in progress and finished.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy Lunar New Year!!



Today is the Lunar New Year (also known as the Chinese New Year).

Two of my staff members are from China.  They always participate in our American holiday festivities, even when they don't really understand. For example, we had a contest for Christmas in which we handed out a sheet of paper with about 20 drawings that represent the titles of Christmas carols.  The person who got the most right won two movie tickets. Ching and Camilla had a really tough time with that contest, but they still played along and had fun.

So to help them celebrate the Lunar New Year, we're planning an office party with traditional  foods and snacks that would be eaten during the 14 day long Lunar New Year celebration and we asked them to teach us a little about their culture.

My contribution to the celebration is these fabric fortune cookies.



I found the directions to make the fortune cookies in the January issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine.