Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Another Snow Day

I had a hair appointment and a dental appointment this morning and lunch scheduled with a friend -- but thanks to the 6 - 8" of snow we got last night -- I had to cancel on all of them. So, here's my rant: Our neighbor and friend came down this morning with the plow blade on the pickup and plowed our drive for us and Bill cleared the upper part of the drive with the snowblower. I prepared to leave an hour early for my first appointment, so at 8:30, I drove out of the drive. Our road has been plowed (keep in mind we live in the country and in a different county that Rockford, but the county just south of Rockford). Two + miles down our road is the intersection with a major two-lane highway (east/west). For the first time ever, our county had actually plowed their portion of this road. But two miles heading east, the next county had not only NOT plowed at all, but the winds had drifted snow on top of the 8 inches already on there. You all of a sudden arrive at this not having a clue it hasn't been done. I very slowly made my way along this road for another two miles -- following in the very deep tire marks of previous adventurers. Until I reached a stopped car in the middle of the road. The woman in front of me could see at the next intersection that 3 or 4 cars were already in the ditches because they slid off the road, or possibly because they hit each other, so she stopped dead in the road! A neighborly man who had come out to get his newspaper was talking to her, then came back and told me what was going on. I decided to give up the ghost, turn around and head back the treacherous way I came, rather than go on and add my car to the ones in the ditches. So I did that, and on my way back I met a snowplow for that county driving through the very high snow WITHOUT HIS BLADE DOWN! AAAARGH!

Anyway -- I made it safely back home and declared it a snow day. Changed my appointments and thanked God I didn't have to drive Steve to Madison today because I would not have been able to get through in time. Which brings me to the pictures I posted (finally!). This is my finished Basketweave quilt -- I finished stitching the binding down today. I freehand quilted it with a leafy vine and tendrils with flowers in the setting triangles and just did a wavy back and forth line in the weave blocks. I'll wash it and it's going into the gift pile when it's dry. That makes another finished ufo for this year! Yay me!

I didn't have to drive Steve so I assume he made it up and back on time today. Steph said their area of WI only got 1-3" of snow or so, so I don't think Madison got as much as we got either.
It's supposed to be sunny tomorrow, when I do drive, and I've heard they've finally cleared that area of the two-lane, so I shouldn't have any trouble getting there!

Monday, February 25, 2008

AJ's Birthday Party

The first picture is AJ with his pirate ship cake! He has inherited that trait from my side of the family that makes our eyes close when we smile! The second picture is of Mommy and Baby Will, right after he got up from his nap -- he was not really awake yet!
We had a great time and it was wonderful seeing the grandkids -- even though we didn't get to see Briana -- she was at her mother's for the weekend. Stephanie has started babysitting for a couple of boys full time now. One is AJ's age and his brother is almost two, so I think she has her hands full! We haven't spent much time together -- I haven't been up for a day trip since Steve started his treatments and we both miss it. So, two more weeks of treatments (and I'll be driving five of those days and going up with Steve & Kim on the last day), and then maybe I can take a day and go visiting. Talking on the phone just isn't the same -- especially when she's busy with 4 kids during the day!

Speaking of the phone -- my phone bills have been quite high lately. Both local and long distance. I did buy a new cell phone with a new service company and a package with lots of minutes, so I'm going to try using it more and our local phone less. My biggest problem with the cell phone is that I tend to talk at the same time that I listen! It's a bit difficult to do that with a cell! So now I have to learn to listen more and talk less -- probably not a bad thing to learn!

We had good driving weather yesterday and we rode with Kevin & Deb -- which is a nice thing -- we don't have to drive and we get some time with just the two of them!
The housecleaning is done for the week and only two more loads of laundry left to do!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quilt Fun

There's a group of quilt bloggers that are doing a block a day from the Civil War Diaries and Civil War Love Letters books. I have the Love Letters book and really considered joining in, but then decided that I didn't need another commitment at this time. I thought if I did join in, I would like to hand piece the blocks -- yes, I am crazy! While I was thinking about doing that, I happened to look at one basket on my sewing table that holds a few blocks or projects I have going. And there was a block that I had prepped but never stitched. So, yesterday I spent a few enjoyable hours hand piecing this block. This block is 5" unfinished, 4-1/2" finished. It is block #A-5 of the Dear Jane quilt! I started it a couple of years ago -- I'm just piecing them in order of the rows -- so I have A-1 through A-5 finished! But, there's no pressure and maybe in 15 or 20 years I'll have a hand pieced Dear Jane quilt finished, who knows? I'm working from the EQ cd, so I printed off the next 4 or 5 and will get them prepped so whenever the urge strikes to do some hand piecing, it'll be ready to go.

I also pinned the basketweave quilt to the longarm yesterday and today spent the entire day quilting it. I have just removed it a few minutes ago and trimmed it ready for the binding (which I already have finished). I made the label when I sat down at the computer, so it'll be ready to go when I get the binding on. It's called progress!

Next up for the longarm will be my Twinklers quilt. I ordered some backing fabric from Connecting Threads (on sale and I wanted to try their fabric) and expect that to arrive next week. I'm going to use a pantograph I just received called Poinsettia by Danetta Burnette that I ordered from Kingsmen Quilting Supply.

Tomorrow we're all heading up to WI for AJ's birthday celebration (a week late because of the weather). Looking forward to seeing the grandkids -- it's been awhile.

I managed to finish the quilting today in spite of a few thread breaks because there were so many intersections (the backing was pieced along with the top!).
Good weather for our short trip tomorrow.
Steve has finished 4 weeks of radiation -- only two more to go.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

It's Official

Carolina Crossroads is done/done - quilted, bound and labeled. I washed it and the QFAH I finished last week and just took them out of the dryer -- CC is still a little damp, but done/done!
And I have discovered I didn't add either of these two ufo's to my ufo list on my blog -- but whatever. I have two finished for 2008 and that's a good thing!

I've also been working on getting the desk and filing cabinet cleaned out and orderly. I can finally say -- that is done, too! I still have a foot tall stack of old files to go through and either shred or file, but the desk has never been this organized! When I finish this stack, I can start moving stuff from other areas in the house down to the filing cabinet where it all belongs -- I've never had the desk organized enough to do that before!
And, I've been working on my computer files and have gotten a few of them cleaned out -- that will be an ongoing project, of course!

To celebrate the finish of Carolina Crossroads today, I finally pulled some fabric and started cutting my strips to make my log cabin quilt that I challenged everyone with. I was thinking I would use my newly cleaned out scrap bins, but the most strips of one color are green and I am so tired of using green that I rebelled! I pulled some blue and white fabrics from stash -- mostly fat quarters, a few quarter yard lengths, and started cutting the blues. I decided that the blue and white would probably be kind of boring, so I pulled some lavenders, purples and red-purples and cut them up too. I still need to cut the whites - a project for tomorrow. I also decided to cut up all the fabrics that I pulled and whatever I don't use will go into the scrap bins. So, I'm working on reducing my stash a little at a time!

I'm planning on going to an annual "Sew-In" on the 8th and will take the log cabin strips and my featherweight and just strip piece all day long! I don't have any idea how big this quilt will be!

My isp is not playing nice -- yet again tonight, so guess I'll try to publish this before I get kicked off again!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Happy 4th Birthday, AJ

Today is AJ's 4th birthday. The first picture is of AJ on his first Easter with his Uncle Kevin. AJ had just gotten out of the hospital the week before, I think -- he spent 5 weeks in the NICU because he was 10 weeks early. The second picture is this past Christmas with Briana and Uncle Steve -- he's grown up a lot!

Mother Nature is once again causing us some trouble in the midwest. Steve called from Madison this morning -- they are getting rain on top of ice and are expecting 9 inches of snow on top of that. We had ice this morning, then rain and now snow -- but are only expecting 2 - 4 inches now. I can put up with the snow -- but can certainly do without the freezing rain. Some areas are on flood watch too. My regular guild meeting was scheduled for tomorrow and it was cancelled today. They had to cancel last month's meeting due to the weather also, so that means we haven't met since November (we always take December off). I was so looking forward to going tomorrow evening just to be with other quilters in person.

So, I've decided to issue a challenge to my guild members and to anyone else that wants to play along! I'm beginning to get Cabin Fever, so the challenge will be to make a small quilt using at least one log cabin block in it and it must be from stash/scraps only -- no buying fabric for this one. I recommend a doll's size quilt, but you can make any size you like -- but the top must be finished by March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day -- and also the day of our next guild meeting. For those in my guild -- please bring your top for show 'n' tell that day. This is a just for fun challenge -- so if you don't feel like doing it, no problem. Also, you can make the log cabin block any size you'd like, but it has to be recognizable as a log cabin block. You can make a table runner or table topper or a baby quilt or a lap size -- whatever, but it must be a finished top. And no, I don't have time for this either, but why not have some fun anyway!

Today I did manage to spend an hour working on the desk and actually made some progress and then I spent an hour and a half piecing the backing for my basketweave quilt. I may still get an hour in cleaning out computer files, but probably won't get an hour in on the binding -- but now that guild has been canceled for tomorrow, I'll probably be able to get an hour in on it then. Plus, I'll be pulling fabrics and cutting them for my log cabin quilt!

I talked to AJ on the phone today -- he sounds so grown up.
We didn't have to go out in this weather today.
I put a corned beef brisket on the stove this afternoon -- soon we'll be having corned beef and cabbage a month before St. Patrick's day - but we're not Irish anyway! vbg

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An unsettling week

This post may ramble -- it's been that kind of week. I'm sure you've all heard about the shootings at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Il this week. Dekalb is about 40 minutes from here. I went to NIU, my niece graduated from NIU, our son, Kevin graduated from NIU, Steve graduated from and got his Masters' at NIU, and his wife, Kim got both her Masters' from NIU. It's really not a large school, but a good place to get a good education. We are all stunned and in disbelief -- it is really close to home this time.
My heart goes out to all the parents of college age students -- you send your child to college in good faith and in hopes he'll come home with a degree that will give him a leg up in the world. And in one heartbeat, some suicidal maniac makes a name for himself by killing innocent children. I can only imagine the terror.

I drove Steve to Madison yesterday -- it was Lyle's turn, but he got sick and Steve's trying to avoid picking up another cold! Roads were fine, but now the weatherman is calling for another 6 inches of snow for our area, preceded by a 1/4" of freezing rain. It is supposed to begin tonight. We were supposed to go to Steph's tomorrow for AJ's fourth birthday. We rescheduled for next Sunday. Steve & Kim left this afternoon for Madison -- this time they are going to avoid the ice and snow completely and spend Saturday and Sunday nights there and hopefully by Monday morning the roads will have been cleared enough to come home. Kim has Monday off for Presidents Day, so she was planning on driving Monday anyway. Steph said they are expecting another 12 - 13" of snow tomorrow.

I fixed "Roast Sticky Chicken" from Judy's cooking blog yesterday. Well, actually, I fixed it the night before and left Bill strict instructions on putting it in the oven before I got home from Madison! He did a fine job and the chicken was wonderful -- Great recipe, Judy, thanks!

Steph and Aaron are having a birthday party for AJ today for all his classmates at his preschool and his cousin and neighbors. It is a pirate themed party and he was totally excited this week about it. He loves pirate stuff! One of his favorite dvd's is Scooby Doo and the "Ghost Pirates" (I have no idea what the real name of the dvd is -- that's what we call it! They will be taking lots of pictures, so I can't wait to see them. Steph has done a lot of planning and preparing for it and I know AJ is going to love it! I should have driven up there today, but not sure I could deal with a dozen 3 and 4 year olds! vbg

I've taken Carolina Crossroads off the longarm and stitched the binding on and have the label pinned on, but haven't started hand stitching the binding down yet. It's on my list! Instead, I finally cut and stitched the borders on my basketweave quilt. I've made the binding and have that all pressed and ready to go and then started looking for backing fabrics. I found one piece of yardage that is big enough, but doesn't really coordinate at all with the front and I think I'd rather save it for something else down the road. So, I spent another hour or two cutting fabrics to piece a backing for this quilt. I think I have them all cut and just need to piece it together tomorrow. While cutting these pieces, I cut the remainder of the fabric pieces into 5", 3-1/2", 2-1/2" or 2" strips and cut a few tumbler pieces. I decided I needed to use up the fabric I pulled instead of putting them back in the cabinet. Plus, now that I've been cutting and cleaning my scrap bins, it's nice to be able to add to them neatly (as opposed to throwing them into a jumbled mess as I did previously!).

While I was working on the basketweave quilt today I was listing in my head all the other projects I have going at once, yet again! So, tomorrow I will go back to working an hour a day on a couple of things like cleaning out the desk -- which is half done; cleaning out the files on my computer -- this one sounds like the hard drive is dying, so I've moved everything over to the laptop, but didn't take the time to clean out the files, so I want to devote an hour a day to that until it is finished; I'll spend an hour working on the binding on Carolina Crossroads; and an hour or so piecing the backing for the basketweave. I don't like to leave things like piecing the backing half done, so I'll put it last in the que and probably work as long as it takes to get it finished. It will be the next quilt to be loaded on the longarm too.

Things I love: 10. Talking to AJ on the phone while he thanked us for the Valentine card we sent. Isn't it amazing how much babies have learned by the time they turn 4 years old? Wow!

Talking to our former neighbors on the phone yesterday. They just heard about Steve and called from the Carolinas. They just returned from Atlanta where he underwent 7 weeks of radiation for prostate cancer.
Steve & Kim driving up a day ahead in order to avoid the weather -- we won't have to worry about them on the roads.
Leftover chili for dinner tonight!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

UFO Finished!

I've had this QFAH quilt loaded on the longarm for a couple of weeks and finally finished quilting it this past weekend. It's not great, but I had fun doing different freehand things in the blocks. This was my first attempt at line dancing -- need to learn to be a bit more consistent in my curves there. Did some freehand spirals in the black blocks and some peacock feathers or teardrops, or whatever they are called in the white blocks. Today I put the label on and stitched the binding down. This one will be put away in the give away pile -- either a gift or a charity donation -- not sure yet.

This afternoon I loaded Carolina Crossroads and spent an hour getting everything set up and then spent a couple of pleasurable hours doing the Baptist Fans template. I only have about two more passes and it'll be finished -- tomorrow. I've already made the label and the binding, so hopefully, it will be finished by this weekend. Then I'll take a look at what is next on the list and see if I can get something else loaded on the machine. I'd like to get as many ufo's and flimsies finished this year as I can.

Things I love: 9. My Gammill longarm!

Steve seems to be over the "flu" or whatever he had at the end of last week and over the weekend. He said he's been feeling great the past two days.
Sunshine -- it shone for the first time in weeks today.
Getting caught up on a few household chores.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Snow Day

Yesterday we had a blizzard -- at least a foot of snow fell, so I played in the house. This is the gift bag I made for AJ's birthday present. I used the instructions from AllPeopleQuilt.com that Mel
posted last week. Basically, its a lined bag with interfacing to make it a big stiffer and closed with a button tab. I measured the gift box and added a couple of inches width and length. I did have to go buy the fabric -- but I got it on sale at Hobby Lobby. I bought a pink fabric for Briana's gift in April, too -- hopefully I'll remember to make that bag before then!
I also played on the longarm yesterday. And hope to work on it today, too. I've already cancelled my doctor's appointment for this morning -- we have some huge drifts next to the garage door to get through. Our friend did plow twice yesterday, just to keep the heavy wet snow manageable. He'll probably be down again this morning sometime.

Saying prayers for those affected by the tornadoes -- I'll take a blizzard anyday.

Steve and Kim drove to Madison Tuesday night -- very slowly -- and spent the night and stayed last night too so he could get to his radiation appointments. They'll be back this afternoon and tomorrow I'll be driving again. Roads should be cleared by today I would think.

We didn't have to go out in the blizzard for any reason -- we have a warm house, plenty of food, the electricity didn't go off and I have my quilting to keep me busy.
Steve & Kim had the foresight to go up on Tuesday night to Madison.
Aaron has this week off on vacation, so he doesn't have to drive his UPS truck in this mess.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Aaron is officially old today

Happy Birthday, Aaron!
Aaron is our son-in-law and he turns 30 today! That makes him officially old! Remember when you were a teen and 30 was ancient?
We're glad you're a part of our family, Aaron!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

I made an executive decision!

I was planning on joining in the fun of Bonnie's Super Bargello Bowl party tomorrow, but decided that I really don't need to start any more new projects. I already don't have time to finish the ones I have going. vbg

That said, I checked out the free BOM at www.harbourquiltcompany.com/whatsnew.html a few minutes ago and it's really a cute tablerunner. This is the place I found the mittens tablerunner in December that went together so fast and was so fun to do (and is still on my island in the kitchen). This new one looks just as fast and easy and I may just have to whip one together next week!

So, for the past couple of days, I've been working on Block 5 of the Primitive Garden series quilt. I've been working on this block for about 4 months -- mostly off and on. I got really bogged down with the little purple flowers that have really small double circular centers (circular in theory!). I finally just picked it up and started in on them and finished them today. I prepped block #6 and then went back and finished the embroidery stitches on this one so I could call it done!
I do like the block, but I am more than ready to move on. And today in the mail I received the last of the finishing kit and final picture of the quilt. It really is a gorgeous quilt, so now I really want to get back to working on it.

I also received the last of the information I needed to get the guild newsletter finished, so I'll work on that this evening and have it ready to go tomorrow. I'll have to snail mail about 17 copies and email 43 or so on Monday, so I'm anxious to finish that too.

And Steve was talking about cleaning off his desk in his office today, and that reminded me that I still have a mess from more than a month ago to finish cleaning out our main desk here. I also have a ton of paper shredding to do, so should probably spend some time getting that done. Boy -- one job just leads to another, doesn't it?!

I gave JR his bath today -- he looks so much better. I was very careful with his leg, so he'll need a better bath in a month or so, but at least I got the first layer of dirt off! lol

I was also reading in the newspaper today that now is the time to get the "inside the house" projects finished before we actually get some nice weather and want to spend all our time outside. I always have a list of things I want to accomplish in the house, but haven't really done much yet this year. It would be a lot easier if once you've cleaned something out and really shined something up that it would stay that way -- but it never does. Why is that?!

Things I love: 8. Learning -- every day I learn something about something or about myself. I think if you don't learn something new everyday, you haven't been paying attention!

Bill took the dogs for a ride this afternoon -- they love going for a ride in "their" truck! And, it got them all out of the house for awhile so I could sew in peace!
I got all the information I need to finish the newsletter in a timely manner.
My digital camera.

Friday, February 01, 2008

February 1

A new month. We have two birthdays to celebrate this month (well actually, we celebrated Aaron's last Sunday with the other kids). But, he gets recognition this month because he's officially old on Feb 3 -- 30! And AJ turns 4 on the 17th. And what an amazing little boy he has become.

I didn't accomplish much in January (and boy am I glad that month is over!). I finished the Depression Block quilt -- without a label and gave it to Steve. I finished the Carolina Crossroads top only yesterday. I have been playing with scraps but I think I'll finish what I've got going with them today and get back to some serious quilting! Hopefully, I'll do some long arm work today. I've had a quilt pinned on for a month. All in all, January was not a productive month, but maybe February will be better.

Things I love: 7. Watching AJ at play. He has quite an imagination and I love seeing it in action.

5 days into the radiation and chemo and Steve's doing well.
Kim has done all the driving this week.