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.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Goal Progress

I got a little distracted from finishing Celtic Solstice over the last couple weeks. First I was distracted by another 2014 goal - learning English paper piecing. That's going great and I'm really loving it.  I was also distracted by our big move at work, but that's all done now and it's back to normal. The long holiday weekend earlier this month really helped me relax and rejuvenate.

My brother and his fiancĂ©e came last the weekend and we really enjoyed spending time catching up.  I also spent most of one day helping my niece shop for decorations for her upcoming wedding. It was really nice of her to ask me to go along.

But this weekend, I finally got the Celtic Solstice backing pieced, using this flannel fabric I found at Joann's

I just found out that three people I know are expecting babies this year. My boss and his wife are expecting a baby in June.  My brother Noah, and his wife Jennifer are expecting a baby in August, and my niece Kate and her fiance Ted, are expecting their little one in September.  I'm betting that at least one of those babies will be a girl, so I'm planning to quilt one of last year's Schnibbles quilts to use as a baby gift. I think this pastel Gentle Art quilt will be perfect. I added two more borders to bring it up to a more useful size.

Last year when I pieced this top, I wasn't in love with it.  When I saw all the other finishes during the parade that Sinta and Sherri host each month, there were some very effective versions with solid white backgrounds.  I decided that's what I didn't love about this quilt - I thought the background was too busy.  But looking at it again more than six months later, I decided I really do love this quilt.  The background no longer looks too busy.  It's a very feminine quilt and I hope someone's baby girl is going to love it, too.

 It's tough to get down on the floor with my arthritic knees, but as long as I was already basting Celtic Solstice, I figured I might as well baste Gentle Art too. I'm all set to get busy quilting next weekend.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

And then there were six...

Six hexagon flowers for a Grandmother's Flower Garden lap quilt.

I can finish one of the flowers in an hour and I'm really enjoying the hand sewing. It's so relaxing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Move


What can I say?  I and 18 of my employees relocated our office to another city 10 miles from our previous office.  We left an office complex of 12 buildings and thousands of employees to go to one, half-mile long building that looks like a bunker from the front and a warehouse from the back.  We were given a week’s notice of the move.  The past week has been incredibly stressful, but I knew in the end, everything would work out okay.  Of course there were a few issues with the computer network not working in some work stations, desk drawers with no keys, and a couple boxes ended up in the wrong cubicles, but all in all, the move went very smoothly.

I assigned one employee to act as a point person at our prior location to assist the movers with making sure everything that we wanted to bring with us was packed.  Naturally, a few things weren’t labeled, so there were calls back and forth – does so and so want to bring his chair (yes, of course), do we need the coat tree (no, there are numerous coat racks here), etc.  I had a few designated “traffic directors” at the new location armed with seating maps and placement diagrams for our cabinets and equipment.  Since the staff was asked to wait in the canteen until their boxes were delivered and their computers set up at their workstations, I asked a few more to set up a breakfast/snack and games station to keep everyone fed and happy while they waited.

That little label printer turned out to cause the most problems of anything in the whole move.  I mentioned how our agency has a support bureau that does the physical move, and an IT crew who takes care of the computers and a separate crew for phones, well there was one person whose sole job was to set up that label printer.  Apparently it needs a special network jack.  Not every desk has those jacks.  Then we couldn’t find the label printer.  We knew we hadn’t packed it in a box because we left it hooked to the jacks in its prior location, but it was labeled and we did a walk through to make sure everything went, so we knew someone had packed it.  Eventually we found it and of course it had to be moved to a different location than the one we originally designated.  The new location is better, so that worked out okay too.

By lunch time, everyone was at their desks and working on unpacking boxes.  We’ll eventually get the supply cabinets and bookshelves restocked.  I can feel the stress level going down little by little.  By next week, it will feel like we’ve been here all along.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Distractions

I told you about being distracted by cutting, basting, and piecing hexies. One reason I decided to do some handwork is that I've been so exhausted that I just need something easy and mellow to work on.

Why? My office is relocating to another building ten miles from our current location.  If you think packing and moving a house is a lot of work, try packing and moving an office of 19 employees and all their accumulated work papers, desks, equipment, appliances, etc. Holy moly.

I work for a very large agency with about 3,000 employees total. We have a whole bureau devoted to support - like performing the actual move - lifting the boxes, shrink wrapping the chairs, loading them on trucks, etc. we also have groups responsible for packing and moving and setting up the computers and another group who will set up all the phones. But someone has to coordinate all of these groups, and that someone is me, since I'm the manager of the unit that's moving.

We were given only one week's notice! Since then it has been non-stop phone calls and emails seeing to all the details. From talking to the mailroom to work out a new mail pickup and drop off location, to coordinating with two different bank couriers, to arranging for garbage gondolas, and working with IT staff to move a tiny label printer (one of the biggest headaches!).

I told all my folks to dust and clean their former workstations and to take everything out of the drawers and cubbies. If they don't need or want that stuff, chances are the next occupant wont need or want it either. I guess everyone doesn't feel the same way, because  I stopped in tonight before tomorrow's move only to find they hadn't cleaned up the desks were moving into, so I spent 90 minutes dusting and cleaning all the new desks.   Then I left everyone a welcome note and a few treats.

All the while this craziness is going on, the actual work doesn't stop - I'm trying to juggle so much. I'm coming home and just staring into space every night.

I have fantastic employees and they've all pitched in to do their part - boxing up and labeling 30 file cabinets, signing up to direct the movers tomorrow, unpack and refill the supply cabinet, setting up some breakfast treats I bought for tomorrow morning and just staying positive.  I'm so lucky to have this group of people to work with.  I'll be back later in the week to let you know how the move went.