Wednesday, November 28, 2018

There's a Hole in the Bucket

Do you know the song, "There's a Hole in the Bucket"? It's one I learned as a child, and now that I've thought of it, I can't get the tune out of my head.

Basically, the lyrics tell the story of Henry and Liza conversing about a hole in the bucket, and how to go about fixing it.

Henry sings:
There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,There's a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Liza sings:
So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,So fix it dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.
Henry responds with a question:
With what should I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza,With what should I fix it, dear Liza, with what?
Liza responds with a suggestion:
With straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,With straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, with straw.
And the song goes on - how to cut the straw (with an axe), the axe is dull (it needs sharpening), how to sharpen the axe (with stone), the stone is dry (so wet it), what should it be wet with (water)... and concludes with how to get the water to the stone when there's that problematic hole in the bucket.

The song came to mind when I was in my sewing room on Monday. You see, along with my new Bernina 770QE sewing machine, I received several items that were included by the dealer, Sharky's Vac 'n Sew. Those were a Queen Supreme Slider (for free motion quilting), a rolling trolley, and a Sew Steady table. The Sew Steady table just arrived Monday, so I picked it up and returned home to set it around the machine arm.

Of course, the tray that comes with the Bernina is fine, but the Sew Steady table has a nice-sized, 18" X 24" bed upon which to work. The Sew Steady simply extends the flat surface I already have, with hollow core doors behind and beside the machine.

If only it was that simple.

When I first positioned the Sew Steady table around the sewing machine arm, the table was slightly taller than the hollow core door/tables behind and beside it. Unfortunately, the Sew Steady legs can't be lowered.

The hollow core door-tables needed to be lowered. However lowering them meant that when using door-table, rotary cutting would literally be a pain in my back.

The only solution was to raise everything.

The height of the adjustable tops of four Ikea Finnvard trestles that support the two hollow core door-tables needed to be raised.

The table that the Bernina rests upon also has adjustable height legs, so that table needed to be raised.

The door-tables, Sew Steady, and machine bed still weren't level with one another.

Let's removed the rug from under the legs of the sewing machine table.

Better. Until I sat down to the newly raised table-sewing machine set-up. The sewing chair was too low.

The sewing chair height cannot be adjusted, so I swapped that chair with the office chair, and adjusted the office chair's pneumatic height to it's highest position.

Good. High enough for the sewing machine. But my foot didn't reach the sewing machine's foot control pedal.


I have now returned my sewing chair to its place in front of the machine, and found a pillow on which to sit!

I should be low enough to reach the foot control, yet not put strain on my arms and shoulders when free motion quilting. It's time to try it to determine if it's comfortable.

If not I'll undo everything.

Doesn't that "hole in the bucket" song seem somewhat apropos? Linda

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you know me, you know I don't cook. Dan happily accepts responsibility for all the grocery-shopping, meal-planning, and cooking. (Don't hate me!)

However, when it comes to a few recipes, I'm flattered that my family likes them enough to ask me to make them. I can expect each year to be asked to make "Sensational Double Layer Pumpkin Pie." Our family calls it the "cheesecake pumpkin pie."

It's certainly not my recipe, but in fact was clipped from a Jello pudding magazine advertisement many years ago.

Still, the recipe is a family favorite, and I have no doubt that my daughter and daughter-in-law are making it for their families this Thanksgiving.

For one thing, it's easy. For another, it's "no bake."

I know it's late to make pie for Thanksgiving, but I offer it here anyway. Who says pumpkin pie has to be limited to eating at holidays?

Below is the recipe, or click here to download and print it from my Google Drive.

Sensational Double Layer Pumpkin Pie (AKA "Cheesecake Pumpkin Pie")

4 ozs. cream cheese, softened
1 T milk or Half-and-Half
1 T sugar
1½ cups Cool Whip
1 - 6 oz. graham cracker pie crust 
1 cup milk or Half-and-Half
2 boxes of Jello Vanilla flavor Instant Pudding & Pie filling (4-serving size)
1 - 16 oz. can pumpkin
1 t. ground cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger
¼ t. ground cloves

In a large bowl, use a wire whisk to mix cream cheese, milk and sugar mix until smooth. 
Gently stir in Cool Whip. Spread on bottom of pie crust.

Pour 1 cup milk into bowl. Add pudding mixes.
Beat with wire whisk until well-blended, 1 to 2 minutes. Mixture will be thick.
Stir in pumpkin and spices. Mix with whisk. 
Spread over cream cheese layer.

Covered, and ready to refrigerate.
Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with additional Cool Whip, and nuts if desired. Makes 8 servings.

I am grateful for many things this Thanksgiving - 🙏 my Lord who never fails me; my family; my home; and my new Bernina sewing machine 😄.

I'm also grateful for dozens of friends I have all over the US and the world, here and on Instagram. Social media sometimes gets a bad rap, but I am one who gives thanks for counting many of you as friends. Thank you for reading my blog, and for commenting. Have a blessed day! Linda

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

New! Bernina 770QE

Al, the owner of a local store called Sharky's Vac and Sew has been been a friend since we moved to The Villages in 2012. He sold me a Gidget II table and insert for my Bernina Aurora 440QE sewing machine. And a sewing chair. Next, we bought a Hoover floor scrubbing machine to wet wash, then vacuum dirty water from the tile floors. Then we bought a Simplicity vacuum cleaner with free annual servicing.

When Al decided recently to start selling Bernina sewing machines (he already sells Brother and Babylock), I was all over it. The first day Berninas were available - which happened to be a day when I needed to take our vacuum cleaner in for it's annual free tune-up - I got a demo of the Bernina 770QE. The 770 is the same model machine I used in a workshop at 2017 QuiltCon. 

I so liked what I saw on the Bernina 770 that I began talking with my hubs about buying that machine. Al sweetened the deal by adding in a wheeled luggage/trolly, a Sew Steady table (surrounds the machine bed to make it larger), and a Queen Supreme Slider (for helping slide the quilt during FMQ).

A Janome 1600QCP has been the machine I've used for FMQ since I bought it new in June 2016. I've added accessories to it: three different FMQ feet, including a ruler work foot; and my add-on strip of LED lights. It's a great machine, with a 9-inch harp (distance between needle and machine body). Al was willing to take it on trade for the Bernina, so that sealed the deal.

Having grandsons with us last week, I wasn't in a hurry to get the machine, but by Monday I was good and ready to pick it up!

I spent about an hour with Polly as she unboxed it. Together we reviewed all the parts - accessories, feet, manual, cord, etc. - and I checked items off a list. I think I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time!

Besides the 10-inch harp, the machine features dual feed that can be used with several different dual feed feet, and the BSR - Bernina Stitch Regulator. The BSR is a feature of my Bernina Aurora 440QE too, and though I tried it once to quilt an entire quilt, I never cared for it. However, after learning that the regulated stitch length can be adjusted - I find I prefer the stitch a little longer than the default - I've vowed to try the BSR again.

When the boys left Sunday afternoon, I returned the "guest room" to it's "sewing room" condition, and prepared space for the Bernina... ready and waiting. This is such a nice surface and arrangement for FMQ.

However, not having a quilt prepared for quilting, I wasn't able to start with FMQ!

So, I spent Monday evening piecing a quilt back, and pin-basting a quilt sandwich for my Comfort Quilt.

As this machine will become my all-in-one machine now (The 440QE will be used when I need to take along a machine), I am happy to play with everything it can do. To put together the quilt back, I used the quarter-inch foot, 97D ("D" means this foot should be used with the dual feed feature). The dual feed is engaged behind the foot (see the white piece). Piecing was a dream!

I screwed in the guide bar too,  so between it and the quarter-inch foot, my accuracy greatly improved!

When I discovered that my batting wasn't large enough for the 74" X 97" Comfort Quilt top, I sewed to join two pieces of batting. I've heard this called "Frankenbatting." (Get it? Put together in pieces like Frankenstein?) I used foot 1D (yep, the dual feed again) and stitch 4, a wide, long, wavy stitch, to join the two battings butted up to one another. I couldn't believe how good it looked! No pulling or tugged spots at all! Very impressive.

I edited this photo to add contrast, so you can see the stitch pattern... and that the butted-together edges of the two battings can't even be seen!

I spent a couple hours pin-basting, finishing at 10:45 pm.

I can't wait to have a good play with the next step! Quilting!


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Family Visit Recap

From November 10 to 18, our grandsons visited us. Each year, mom takes them out of school to stay with us for a week while she attends a conference in Orlando. We always look forward to their time here.

We last saw this family in early August, when we went to Kansas City. On that trip, Hogan wasn't doing well. When we left, they all said what they thought were their last good-byes. So, it was good to see Tay loving on Hogan again.
Hogan, age 15; Tay, age 9
While they were here, we found lots to do, and one day went to an Orlando resort hotel with a water park. Tay and Aesa alternated between riding the lazy river, and rolling the waves in the wave pool. Both boys are good swimmers, and have boundless energy. Also, on three occasions, we visited the family swimming pool near us. Both boys played in the water, non-stop for two to three hours at a time!

Riding the golf cart is considered entertainment, so we rented a four-seat cart for their visit. We went to Sumter Landing for a little window-shopping... 

... and a walk along the boardwalk at Lake Sumter.

Aesa is the "game boy." There isn't game he doesn't like to play. He and I went to a rec center card room and joined a room full of people during "open play time." We played Scrabble. He's picking it up quickly, when I could get past him trying to make up new words!
Aesa, age 8
A chess/checkers/tic-tac-toe set was used when Bapa taught Aesa chess strategies, and Bapa noticed how Aesa improved with every game. Aesa and I also played Clue and Crazy Eights. He made sure we weren't idle!

We played bocce ball too, three times. Aesa's delivery was somewhat unorthodox, but he rolled straight as an arrow... which earned him the nickname "Arrow." Bapa was "Bapa Banks" because he usually rolled a bank shot. I'm "Nana Kiss" because I could roll the bocce ball to the pallino and "kiss" it.

We got mom and Tay to play too.

Aesa asked to FaceTime with his cousin, Austin, so they could talk about Minecraft. Listening-in on their conversation was like hearing a foreign language, but they knew what they were talking about!

Both these boys are good eaters, though they don't always like the same things. They agree about eggnog though. Tay liked sipping his from a mini beer glass. 

Before leaving on Sunday afternoon, everyone wanted a last golf cart ride, and chance to enjoy a Peachwave while sitting outdoors.

Everyone said good-bye to Hogan again, hoping that as before, it's not for the last time.

I'm pretty sure it was tough for them to return to the cold weather at home. They like visiting here and living our lifestyle, and we always appreciate it when they do! Linda

Monday, November 5, 2018

It Was a Ring Me Quilt

Last week was mostly spent piecing Ring Me, the quilt I started in a workshop with Amanda Jean Nyberg. As I mentioned in my last blog post, after making 50 blocks, I decided the quilt seemed sort of plain, and that with a lot of solid scraps still left in the bin I should play around with other layouts.

I made a whole lot more 1-1/2" X 7" pieced strips, added them to white strips, and sewed them onto two sides of a block.

Because I set the blocks on point, I had to make setting triangles for the outside edges.

This is my first layout of that idea. After posting it on Instagram, and asking for input, the majority of commenters thought the side triangles were too heavy. They basically concurred with my own impression.

Then I made more 1-1/2" strips that I pieced onto white triangles. Better. But I wasn't happy with the corner. Last night I went to bed with this on the design wall. 

This morning I positioned a couple more blocks over the corner, and I like it better, though it will take a bit of a remake there. The black line is where I will trim the quilt when I've finished quilting it. Now the quilt design isn't "Ring Me," so I need a new name!

This is what I faced in my sewing room this morning! Yikes! What a jumble! Working with scraps is messy business. Little bits of thread are everywhere. I even found some on Hogan's back! But I'm certain that once the top is done, and scrappy binding is cut and pieced, the remaining scraps will be set to rights. I'm also sure that the aqua canvas bin (far left), where I store solid scraps, will be downright spacious! 

Then, by Friday my entire sewing room needs to be broken down to make way for Tay and Aesa, 8 and 9 year-old grandsons who are coming from Kansas City for eight days. This space needs to be a bedroom!

In other exciting news - at least to me - I've bought a sewing machine like this one. Just today I plunked down money for a Bernina 770 QE (Quilter's Edition). I'm wriggling with anticipation to get it!

Al, the owner of Sharky's Vac 'n Sew in Wildwood, Florida, has become a Bernina dealer in the past month. I have been a Bernina owner since 1976 and think it's the best brand of sewing machine made. So when Al was willing to accept my two year-old Janome 1600QCT as trade-in, my dream of owning a Bernina with a 10-inch harp came true. I first used the 770QE machine in a workshop at QuiltCon in Savannah, and immediately loved it! I've asked to take possession of it the week of November 19. No sense having a new sewing machine in the house calling my name while grandies are here. So that's something fun to anticipate!

Also this week is my interview with Pat Sloan, for American Patchwork and Quilting Radio/Podcast.

I'll chat with Pat by phone this Thursday afternoon, and our conversation will be broadcast live on Monday December 3, from 4-5 pm Eastern time. After that it will be available on the podcast.

So many good things to look forward to, including seeing our daughter and grandsons. I'm walking on clouds these days! Linda


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