Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Road Trip

Kris, Jan and I went on a road trip today to Wisconsin (we live in Northern Illinois).  First shop was in Belleville, WI and is in the new Quilt Sampler magazine just out, called Patches and Petals.  Great little shop in a restored 1905 building with wooden floors and center staircase.  Lots of samples of quilts I'd like to make "someday"!  And the only thing I ended up buying was four cotton towels that I may applique something on, or I may not -- they're nice and long though and I like that for hanging in my kitchen.
Next stop was the Mill House Quilts in Waunakee, WI.  Great shop -- it's been around a long time and was in the Quilt Sampler magazine many years ago.  We spent a lot of time wandering around and looking at everything, but I didn't buy anything there!  I sometimes think I have so much fabric that I'll never use -- too much fabric, not enough time -- that I don't buy anything.
We did walk over the tracks to the pub  next door and had lunch on the patio though.

Third and final stop for today was JJ Stitches in Sun Prairie, WI.  JJ's was also in the Quilt Sampler magazine many years ago.  We've all been to this shop before, but I really love it -- lots of civil war repros and my kind of antique colors -- the darks!  I absolutely fell in love with a quilt on the wall (should have taken a picture but didn't even think of it).  I bought the background fabric and a bundle of fabrics for the squares along with the pattern:  The picture on the front of the pattern does not do the quilt on the wall justice -- the background was a deep cream/almost yellow color and all the 1" finished squares are the darks in the stack.  I love the quilts made with tiny squares, but don't usually make them because I really don't like working with the tiny pieces.  This one is mostly strip pieced and I think I might be able to handle it.  Who knows when I'll actually get around to starting it!

All in all it was a very good day -- it was a great day for a road trip!  And I can fondle fabrics and dream about starting this quilt!

Gratitudes:  Kris drove today and it was nice to spend time talking quilts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More building

Having finally made the decision to stay, I've been making other decisions much easier!  I asked my son-in-law, Aaron to make me a water barrel.  I've always been interested in conserving and reducing my carbon footprint and saw water barrels for sale last summer at the Farmers' Market for at least $100.  Aaron made one for them last summer at a fraction of the price, so I asked him to make one for me.  They brought it down for Mother's Day (it's actually my birthday present because my Mother's Day gift is a handmade planter that the grandkids made filled with a variety of annuals.)
So, Aaron told me what I had to buy and what I had to do to set the barrel up.  I have it at the corner of the garage and the overflow spot should drain right into the part of the downspout that Bill buried way back before the sidewalks were poured that drains way away from the house.  I had to take the solid downspout off and replace it with the flexible one -- once again really happy that I invested in that trusty power screwdriver!  Now I'm just waiting for rain!  I have it set up on blocks so I can fill the watering can from it for watering my tomatoes and peppers!

Back when we lived in a subdivision, we had about a 3/4 acre lot and a big garden (including an asparagus bed that Bill planted).  He also built a compost area with landscape timbers right out by the garden.  It was great.  Then we moved here, have 23+ acres, but a smaller garden and a lot of trees.  Still have an asparagus bed that he planted that first year and the asparagus is still wonderful, but he didn't bother with a compost area.  He was more into cleaning up the woods and the garden really isn't much -- the kids were gone by that time.  But, as I clean out my weedy flower beds and the garden boxes, I collect a lot of stuff that could be composted, so...I bought a tumbling composter from Home Depot.  I put it together on Saturday -- only took about two hours and once again -- that power screwdriver was a lifesaver!  Being a quilter, I've always understood a guy's fascination with power tools, but now I understand it even more! vbg

I put it out in the garden area next to the 5 blueberry bushes Bill planted -- I took the picture in the late afternoon, otherwise it's pretty sunny out there.  The asparagus bed is just adjacent to this area -- you can probably see the tall ones that have gone to seed back there.  I have two tomato plants and 3 green pepper plants in the boxes and a whole bunch of weeds too.  I'm just going to try to manage a small garden this year and maybe next year I can add a little more.

Gratitudes:  I can feel the stress of the past few years slowly falling away now.  I have lots of plans, but know that nothing has to be done immediately.  I'm taking my time and smelling the roses (well, the iris and the peonies anyway!).

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Change of Heart

I have taken my house off the market.  It was a rather expensive lesson in jumping in with both feet before I really thought everything through, but now I have finally made up my mind.  This house is way too big for one person, but it was way too big for two of us!  But it was our dream house and I still love it.  It means I have a lot to take care of, but it also means there is no rush.  The major things I will have to hire some one to do like replacing the furnaces, or staining the outside of the house when it needs it.  I already have a friend's son mow the yard most of the time, but even I can do that whenever Connor is busy.  My neighbors and friends keep the mowers and other equipment working for me, or tell me who to call.  My next door neighbor plows my drive in the winter -- although I also can work the snow blower. 

I've let my flower beds go to weed for years now, but this year I actually feel like working in them again, so slowly but surely I'll whip them back into shape; a little redesigning of them has already begun.

I'm still an hour and a half away from my daughter and grandkids, but all my friends and my church is down here and I'd miss them if I moved.  I'll just be making trips up to Wisconsin to see the boys play baseball and just to spend quality time with my daughter and her family.  Otherwise, I'd be driving down here to see my friends and church - so it's basically a trade off.  Steph made me do a pros and cons list while I was waffling about selling or staying and it came out about even :-)!  I hated having the house ready to show at any moment and having to put the family pictures away, etc.  And the housing market is not back yet, so it would probably be a long time before it actually sold.  So that is my thinking on the subject!

And I decided that there are a lot of things that I can actually do myself and a few things I want to try, so I'm jumping in with both feet.  First up -- Bill always had a Weber kettle charcoal grill -- he never wanted a gas grill.  I sold the kettle at the auction because I did not want to mess with it.  So, I went out and bought myself a small gas grill.  And, drum roll please, I put it all together myself, and even went to FS to have the tank filled (I always feel like a dumb female when I have to do things like that!).  Best gift to myself was a power screwdriver that I bought when I bought the grill!  Love it!

I took the left shelf back off when I hooked up the gas -- it was just always in the way.  Fired that puppy up and grilled a pork chop the first day and had my son-in-law grill burgers on it for Mother's Day!  It works great and all the screws are tight thanks to the power screwdriver!

Gratitudes:  I finally feel like I made the right decision after two years of waffling.

Today was the first anniversary of Steve's death.  We all seem to have made it through today by keeping busy. 
 I can still hear his voice on the phone, so I'm thankful for that; and I still think about him every day -- I doubt that will change anytime soon either.  He was an amazing man whose life was cut way too short.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Change of Plans

The plan for the day was to work outside.  We'd already gotten an inch of rain by the time I got up this morning, and it's still raining -- a nice gentle rain, which is great, but rain just the same.  I'm a little bummed because for the first time since Steve was diagnosed (Dec. 2007), I actually have been looking forward to working in the garden/flower beds and yard.  I have plans to reduce the size of my flower beds and move a lot of plants around. But, I'll wait til the rain is done and do a little at a time.
Moving on, the other plan for the day is doing laundry and that's well on its way.  I'll spend some time straightening up the house, but I think I'll also spend some time on this quilt: 

The part over the longarm table is only 2/3 of the top.  The other blocks need to be sewn together and added.  This quilt is called Four Patch Plaid and is in Pat Speth's first book, Nickel Squares.  I made another of these quilts years ago when the book first came out and use it all the time in the recliner in the evening -- JR sits on my lap on it.  It's showing signs of wear, so I decided to make another.  It's a twin size which actually is a great size for wrapping in the recliner -- especially in the winter!

Gratitudes:  The rain.  We actually did need it, even though it puts me farther behind!
Connor got the front mowed yesterday before the loud thunderclap and rain.  Hopefully, if it stops raining, he'll get the back mowed this evening.