Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thanksgiving with Family

Time has flown by, and so did a Thanksgiving visit from our Kansas City family. Between preparation for their too-short five-day stay, and returning our house to normal post-visit, more than a week has passed quickly!

My sewing room undergoes a big changeover whenever more than two people come to visit. Granddaughter Celina slept here.

I was happy to make up the air mattress with my recently-finished Cascade quilt

And I was more than thrilled when she said "yes" to my question, "Would you like this quilt?"

I even managed to whip up a label, sew it on, and happily send the quilt back to Kansas City with our daughter, for Celina to get the next time she returns home from college.

They drove here, traveling with their ten-pound dog Milson. We all liked having him around.

We played a lot during their short visit: Boccé ball, shuffleboard, swimming, archery, UNO, geography, Clue, Catapult, a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and chess. Nine year-old Aesa is definitely the family game-player, and game-winner!

Not surprisingly, it's golf carting that everyone most enjoys. We used both our two-passenger cart, and a rented four-passenger cart during their visit. 

Since Celina turns 21 years-old on Monday, and Tay and Aesa had October and November birthdays, we shared birthday/welcome-to-Nana-and-Bapa's presents. For some reason, we decided to pull out "touchdown Santa," a family favorite Christmas piece that hasn't seen use since living in Iowa. 

While Santa presided, gift-opening was just like Christmas!

This is when I gifted zippered snack bags to the kids. I love making these!

A couple months ago, I asked which candies were favorites, bought them, saved the bag contents, turned them into fabric-lined zippered bags, and refilled them with the candies. 

In case you missed my earlier blog post about these, you can find video tutorials on Youtube, like this one. To make mine, I use glossy fusible vinyl from JoAnn Fabrics.

We're glad the weather cooperated during their visit, so we could enjoy sunshine days. I know they all thought it would be difficult to return home. For Celina, that was going back to college in cold Colorado!
Tay, daughter Jill, and Aesa
I've completed three audiobooks since my last blog post.

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman is a story about three children whose parents have forbidden them to do many things, including wear black or use an Ouija board. From experience, their mother knows the power of magic - how it can hurt and kill people, even those she loves. She wants to prevent their involvement in magic, however, the kids being to discover their undeniable, innate abilities. During a visit to their aunt's home, they learn what they're capable of. I thought this was a strange story, but perhaps my impression is such because, to me, stories about magic aren't believable. Well, other than the old TV show "Bewitched." :-)

Linda's score: 2.8/5.0

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris is a sad look into the conditions of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942. When Lale, a Slovakian Jew, is delivered by cattle car to the camp, he discovers what he must do to remain alive, while trying to help other prisoners. Becoming the camp tattooist - carving permanent numbers into the skin of new camp arrivals - puts him in a highly visible position, but one where he can collect information and ask for more. He meets Gita, the woman of his dreams when he tattoos a number on her arm, and together they vow to survive and make a life for themselves after the war.

Linda's score: 4.1/5.0

If you're interest in a book about books, then I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life by Anne Bogel is the book for you. Anne is an author herself, and a fanatical reader who delves into the why's of reading - what we learn, how we choose books to read, where we go to get our books, and who should and should not be recommending titles to you, or anyone else! (ME!!) This is a short read, but packed with mentions about books you might want to add to your reading list, so keep a pen and paper handy for jotting down titles!

Linda's score: 3.8/5.0

Are you doing any online shopping over this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend? I didn't miss the chance to buy some needed quilt backing fabrics, and a couple reproduction pieces to finish one of my grandmother's quilt tops. I sure don't need to be making more quilts, so I treated myself to some knit fabrics for leggings and tops - clothes for myself. We'll see how long it takes until I return to quiltmaking! Linda

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Logs for Linda

Our Central Florida MQG meeting was Monday, on Veteran's Day. We were finally able to share our completed challenge quilts. Though only 10 of our 62 members participated in the challenge, the quilts were great! Here's the link in case you'd like to see them. (As media coordinator for the chapter, I write all these blog posts. We also had 28 show and tells at the meeting, so my position kept me busy!)

For this challenge, members were asked to chose one of their initials, select a traditional quilt block beginning with the same letter, and make a modern quilt from the block. I chose the Log Cabin block for my first name initial "L." It was a fun experience for me because I dislike log cabin blocks. I've never, in 40 years of quiltmaking, made a log cabin block. But I'm really happy with how my quilt turned out. It's 43" X 48".

I started with two bins of solid scraps, making a couple test blocks - yellow and red. Then, for whatever reason, I started grabbing red and pink scraps. Most of the strips and pieces were improv cut.

After I'd made the red-pink blocks, I decided to make the quilt larger and added purples. I could have kept going with more colors, but really didn't have the time to spend on it. Since the quilt's minimum size requirement was only 20" X 20", I was already there. This is the quilt top.

I kept quilting minimal to keep the modern style, using a walking foot to quilt an on-point square in the quilt center. 

Then, on each of the four corners I used a walking foot to quilt a half circle, traveling over the straight line quilting to get to the next half circle. 

I used four different colors of 50-weight Aurifil thread, and Moda Grunge as backing fabric. I think the quilting shows up nicely because batting is Quilter's Dream Puff. I like it!

For the third time I followed my favorite "Easy Quilt Facing" tutorial found here on the Bernina WeAll Sew website to finish the quilt edges.

I've discovered that the Bismarck palm in our front yard is a great place to hang and photograph a quilt!

Do you know that those palm stems are cupped? They are trough-shaped, and very tough. It was easy to clip the quilt to the stem edge with a binder clip. I've found my new, favorite, outdoor, quilt-photo-taking spot!
"Logs for Linda," 43" X 48"
This week has been crazy-busy. Besides the CFQMG meeting that generated lots of media postings for me (blog and Instagram), I had a check-up ultrasound of both legs, testing for P.A.D. blockages. Apparently none were found because the doc didn't call back. That's great! Keeping those peripheral (leg) arteries pumping with blood are why I keep exercising regularly.

On Monday we traded-in our 2014 Honda Accord, with 90,000-plus miles on it, for a 2020 Honda Accord Touring sedan. The car was delivered to our house on Tuesday, and we spent several hours learning about the technology, including many great safety features - like a lane-minder that keeps you centered in your lane if you take your hands off the wheel or start to drift, when traveling over 45 mph. It's fun to get a new car, but very time-consuming to learn how to use!

I finished an audiobook last week, and have another recommendation. It's "The Child Finder" by Rene Denfeld.

Naomi Cottle is an almost 30 year-old detective who has an innate ability to locate lost and missing children. In this story she handles two different cases, both of which occur in Oregon, in/near the Skookum National Forest - a cold, snowy place in the winter. The author provides perspective from eight year-old Madison who was taken when she was only five years old, and Naomi's own shadowy experiences of being held captive as a child. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Linda's score: 4.6/5.0

By the way, I'm scheduling teaching and speaking engagements, so if you're interested, please check out the "Schedule: Programs and Workshops" tab at the top of this blog page. Linda

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Counting Stitches

My Bernina 770QE machine is back from local servicing at Sharky's Vac 'n Sew. The store has been a Bernina dealer for a year now (I bought the first Bernina they sold), and I'm pleased about having such good access to Bernina. But golly, a tune-up is $165! What do you pay?

I'd been bothered by the fact that the looper right above the needle wasn't holding the thread - it was continually coming out of the little clip. So, for servicing, I left a spool of Aurifil 50-weight with the machine, so it could be tested with that weight. Happily, since servicing, the looper is keeping the thread in place.

Another Bernina 770QE owner/friend/neighbor told me how to read my machine's stitch count for myself! Thank you, Becky! Here's how to do it, in case you'd like to know too.

From your machine's computer screen select:




There it is!

Yep, that's 1 million, 666 thousand, 163 stitches! Given that this machine will have been in my hands one year on November 19, it I'd say I've used it a little bit!

My latest quiltmaking efforts have focused on finishing blocks and putting together this Moroccan Tiles quilt, requested by daughter Jill. She selected the pattern and bought the fabrics, and I worked out how to make it larger. It 67" X 74".

I hate to admit it, but with this top finished, once again I have three quilt tops awaiting quilting. You can be sure quilting will soon be a priority.

I've continued to cut and glue-baste pieces for my Prudence quilt. These will become Bloom blocks.

"The Girl With No Name" by Diney Costeloe is my latest audiobook listen. It's not to be confused with another book with the same title about a girl raised by monkeys!

In this book, Lisa Becker is a young teenager who is sent from Germany to England to escape Nazi oppression at the onset of WWII. She becomes the foster daughter of a childless couple. During the relentless London Blitz Lisa is injured, loses her memory, and is soon evacuated to rural England. The story seemed to lag in places, as I wondered why the author focused on particular incidences that happened to other characters (like a German pilot who parachuted into a tree, suffered injuries, and after being moved away from a local hospital, was never heard of again) but overall I appreciate this perspective on life in London during the war - shelters, bombings, incendiary devices, doodlebugs, and home guard responsibilities.

Linda's score: 4.6/5.0 


Friday, November 1, 2019

Visiting, Quilting, Planting, and Reading

Since returning home last Sunday from a week-long visit with friends in Texas, I obviously haven't sat at the computer to compose a blog post. Instead, I've had my head down, focusing on quilting and activities.

I'm not able to share my quilting project, as it's for the November 11 reveal of a challenge with Central Florida MQG. We've been asked to only offer hints on social media, so this is the back of my piece, made with Grunge.Walking foot quilting was done on my Bernina 440QE.

Occasionally I forget how good spiral quilting looks. If you've never tried it yourself, I highly recommend giving it a go. I wrote a tutorial about it here

If you picked up on the fact that I'm quilting on my Bernina 440, you know me well. I'm quilting on it because my "best machine," my Bernina 770QE is at the local Bernina dealer (Sharky's Vac 'n Sew) for it's first tune-up. I bought it 11 months ago and have used it almost daily. When I knew we'd be gone for a week, it seemed like a good time to take it in. I have specifically asked the tech to let me know how many hours the machine has run. I'll be sure to share that info. I should get my machine back next Monday as I've also registered to finally take my free Bernina lessons. Though I've sewn on Bernina sewing machines since 1976, the 770 has more bells and whistles than any previous models. Learning more can't hurt.  

While in Texas we saw our two grandsons, meeting at a bowling alley for the boy's first time bowling. Five-and-a half year-old Luke managed to roll a strike on his second roll, and that was without gutter bumpers! I wish I'd caught that on video.

We sure love these boys.
Austin, age 8; Luke, age 5; and Nana, age 60-something

Twenty-two hundred miles of car-riding time for me meant English paper piecing. I prepped and stitched these Bloom blocks and Cross Blocks for my Prudence quilt. I'm using my scraps and stash, and as much as possible, fussy-cutting. I am really pleased with that black and white stripe. It's by Cosmo.

Central Florida weather continues to be in the mid to upper 80s every day, but I noticed we're in for a slight cool-down (70s) by this weekend. That made yesterday good for fall-planting some perennials. I have aches today as proof of my hard work, along with several new bushes and trimmed-up leggy plants.

This is our new Firebush outside my sewing room bay window. At the base, the blooms starts as orange-red and fades to yellow at the tips. 

This is a second Princess plant that will have beautiful dark purple blooms.

This is a replacement Plumbago. Supposedly this is a hearty weed, but we managed to kill the previous one in this spot! Hopefully with the addition of some Black Cow manure, and extra attention, I'll be able to keep this one going.  

For those of you who have asked, health wise I'm doing fine. I've had all the testing I'm going to have (refusing another one that the gastroenterologist suggested), and I'm taking all the drugs (four) and supplements (five) ordered by my doctors. Admittedly, I'm now one of those old people with a big pill container tray! By next week I should know if my blood tests indicate that all is normal again. I'm feeling more like myself, though I believe that has more to do with time than anything else. We're nine weeks past Hogan's death (August 31), and I'm no longer crying every day. He is definitely missed - we especially noticed it when we traveled last week, having taken him on every road trip for the past ten years. At least I can talk about him without dissolving into tears.

I've finished another audiobook and have another recommendation for you! I can't believe how many great books I've read in the past several month, but here's another: "Educated" by Tara Westover.

This story begins when Tara is only eight years old, being raised in the Idaho mountains by a survivalist couple. She keeps a journal about her hard life as the youngest of seven children, growing up uneducated, helping her mother mix herbs and tinctures, doing dangerous work in her father's junk yard, and dealing with a threatening brother. I was amazed at her father's radical opinions about education, government, and the medical community. Through a long, challenging process, she turned her life around. Duh me... I didn't realize until I'd finished the book that this is the author's own story! It's based on the journals she kept. After I finished the book, I found a YouTube video interview with her. The reality of her life hit me hard, and I discovered a new-found appreciation for my education.

Linda's score: 4.9/5.0.



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