Saturday, June 29, 2013

keeping afloat

There are days when I don't feel like much gets accomplished from my never-ending mental list of what I would "like" to get done.  Days when it feels like I am only treading water to keep from going under.  That often gives me a feeling of frustration, unless I stop to remember that much of that to-do list is self-imposed. 
Today was a day when I feel like some good things got done, not necessarily the things I "want" to do, but still needing to be done.  We try to keep on top of things for maintenance and upkeep of the house, and that means keeping it neat and clean.  So today the floors got washed and the bathroom shower got scrubbed.  Library books were returned and checked out, groceries were purchased.  Nothing earth-shaking, to be sure, but examples of those non-glamourous tasks that make the world go round.  We value our home and belongings, and feel lucky that we are in the spot we are in.  And happy to have some spare time for our pleasure and entertainment.

I have spent a lot of time over the past 5 days in hospital halls and rooms.  My husband, Bob, needed to have some back surgery, a first for us.  Now, one would think that since we are both RN's, that we would be in a good spot to go through an experience like that.  Indeed, we probably managed the process better than many.  But it still kind of knocked us off-center, and now we are trying to regain our equilibrium.  Things are overall good, with no complications and good people that helped us all along the way.  Now it's a matter of managing the pain and discomfort and limitations to mobility.  He has to wear this hard molded brace that covers his back and abdomen whenever he is not laying down.  This makes it really challenging to do many little things that we take for granted--putting on socks (he's not going to wear socks for 3 months), sitting down (he's using a straight backed dining room chair), take a shower (he wears the brace even in the shower and we now have a grab bar and stool) and the list goes on.  We keep reminding ourselves that this is temporary!

So I don't have much to show for wonderful projects completed!  So here is what I have been dabbling in:

Clamshells (2" across) using paper templates and sewn by hand.  Slowly.

A new quilt pattern for the Quilt MN fabric.  Most of the sewing is done.

Cutting and sewing blocks from a group of Denyse Schmidt fabric.
The Denyse Schmidt blocks will make this quilt.

Cutting out pieces for 4 sizes of fabric "buckets" using the pattern by Atkinson Designs.

So that pretty much sums it up for now.  I definitely need a few sewing days!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Some assorted happenings to tell you about....

I started a new stocking cap that I hope will be big enough for Dan's head.  It's very much like a cap I made him a few years ago, but a different weight and brand of yarn, so I wasn't 100% sure of how many stitches to cast on.  At first, I thought I had totally miscalculated because it looked so small on the ribbing edge.  But as it has progressed, I'm more hopeful that it will, in fact, fit the intended head.  As long as he keeps his hair short!  It's very nice yarn to work with, a washable wool.  

A new fun find on the shelves at Trader Joe's!

Speculoos Cookie Butter--like they say in Wikipedia, it's a spreadable cookie.  SO GOOD!  Really good on toast.  I'm thinking a Speculoos/Nutella combo might be even better!  If you can find yourself some, give it a try.  It's sort of like a spice cookie flavor from a Belgian cookie specialty.  I researched it a little online, and noticed that sometimes it has to be rationed by the stores, which means I better go back and get some more!

Our favorite little guy has been working on his balance and has been brave enough to release the hand or object that supports his walking.  A small step for Ian, a giant leap for his parents!

We loved having him and his parents with us for a few days during our family fishing trip at Lake Winnibigoshish.  There were several "2nd cousins" (children of cousins) that were so good with little Ian.  These 2 below, Cade and Jorgen, were especially fun for Ian to watch.

Group hug!
Thanks, guys, for delighting little Ian with your smiles and play.  Cade, on the left, is from Memphis.  Jorgen is from Lincoln, NE.  I hope we get to see them again sometime soon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

spring cleaning?

Last Sunday was a rainy, dreary morning, ruling out any chance to pull weeds and lay mulch (Aw, shucks!).  So I seized the opportunity to do some cleanup in my sewing room upstairs.  A lot of lint and dust are generated in that environment, and the dust balls in the corners and under tables were starting to resemble tumbleweeds drifting across the prairie!  So the floor really needed to be cleaned, and in order to do a proper job I had to spend some prep time with getting things off the floor.  While doing that, I thought I would take some pictures to show you some of my "organizing opportunities" that you might like to try for yourself.

I had some ribbons on spools, and discovered that I could make a nice little ribbon rack on my existing shelving.  This shelving is something stock from Menard's or Home Depot, so it's pretty common to have these rows of peg holes running up and down the upright pieces.  

I found a little dowel that just fit into the hole, and was just long enough to span the width of the shelf.  It's not a tight fit, so I can easily slide out one end and add or remove a reel of ribbon.  The dowel is kind of thin, so it wouldn't hold a lot of weight without bowing down, but I can minimize the problem by sliding the reels to the ends which takes the weight off the middle portion.

The picture above shows the dowel in the front row of holes for the sake of photography, but it is usually inserted in the back row of holes and then I still have good use of the lower part of the cubicle.

I have a bunch of ironing clutter and supplies that needed to be corralled, and I found a cheap but workable solution.  I bought some pretty contact paper and cut down an oversized cereal box to a shape like a magazine file.  It's one of those Costco-type cereal boxes, Honey Nut Cheerios, to be exact.  I think the world might stop spinning if we didn't have them in the cupboard here!

Now I can stash all of my ironing clutter much more neatly, and so stylish, too!

Using magazine files is one of my preferred methods of sorting and storage for many things other than magazines.  I put many of my interfacings and sewing products in them and line them up on the shelf.  but I had a few oddball things that were too long to store upright, and were taking up way too much shelf space because they are round and rolly.  Well, a moment of clarity struck and I realized that all I had to do was tip over that magazine file, and stack those roly-poly things vertically.  Voila, another bit of space opened up!

Here's just a random thought for you that might make your life a bit more organized.  I am a big fan of labels, so I don't have to try to remember what's in a box.  But adhesive labels can sometimes be a pain to move or remove.  The label on the box below is just printed on an index card that is on the inside of the the box.  Still very visible and legible, but so easy to move if my solids outgrow this box.  Nothing fancy, just hand written with a marker, but could even be made better if printed on the computer in a big font.

I would love to hear if you have any good organizing/storage tips to share!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

a good day here

 There has been a lot of griping and complaining going on around the area lately due to the lousy weather we have been having--cool, cloudy, rainy, etc.  But in spite of the elements, I did take a little trip with some quilting friends this week.  We went to the home of Sue on Woman Lake near Longville.  This is about a 3 hour drive north & a little west.  Not quite the middle of nowhere, but getting close!  Beautiful countryside with forests, lakes, rivers and winding roads.  We took part of a day for a tour of some quilt shops, about an hour's drive to Monika's Quilt Shop in Park Rapids.  This shop is a great source for "up north woodsy cabin" types of fabric, flannels and fleece.  Also yarn!

Right next door is one of those good old Ben Franklin stores, crammed with every kind of gizmo and gadget that you would ever care to have!  I could have spent much longer in there poking around in the corners, but there comes a time when it's just good to go!

Then we headed towards Park Rapids, and stopped at Front Porch Quilts.  A smaller space, but very nice displays and a good variety.  

Then it was back to the house and watching the rain and knitting!  It was a good trip, thanks to good friends!

I have been doing some cutting and piecing for a few things lately, but no finished products to show you yet.  I did, however, get the binding on 2 little quilts that I will donate to Quilts For Kids.  These both were made with fabric from salesman's samples that were generously given to the store to be used for just this sort of thing.  I made it up as I went, cutting down the pieces of varying sizes to one width but leaving them in longer chunks.  The pieces were sewn together into rows, I did a little math so I knew about how many rows it would take depending on the strip size.  Then I used a little strip of solid to separate the rows.  I think they turned out cute.  One is more girly, and the other is just right for a junior cowboy.  It is saddles and wood and barbed wire.

Bob and I have one of those rare days today when neither one of us has to go to work or anywhere else.  So this morning we went to a garden center and picked out the things we needed to get for our yard.  Now if they will just decide to grow!  This is late for us to be planting, but we will still get some enjoyment from them.

begonias and vinca vine for hanging baskets

petunias and asparagus fern for window boxes
marigolds for patio planter boxes

Saturday, June 1, 2013

here comes the bride!

Last weekend we enjoyed a wonderful family celebration at the wedding of my niece, Nora, and Shane.  They planned a very special event for all of their friends and family members.  

Nora is the daughter of my brother and sister-in-law, and those 2 have developed some skills with wood and paint.  This is the wedding cake topper that was custom carved and painted for the happy couple---

A perfect personal touch!

Before the actual dancing got started, Ian had a good time scooting around that nice big dance floor and making friends with some little girls that were struttin' their stuff!  Ian doesn't walk on his own yet, and doesn't like to crawl very much.  He has adapted what I call "the boot scoot" to get around by the seat of his pants!  He scooted circles around everyone else!

Below is the quilt that my mom made for Nora and Shane.  She used a design that I made for her and we picked out fabric at Bear Patch Quilting Co. sometime last year.  The center and borders are a beautiful large paisley print.  I know Nora likes earth tones in her decor, so this should fit in just right.  She hand quilted it during the winter, she said that she listened to 40 books on tape during her quilting time!  Truly a labor of love.

I hope the happy couple enjoys many years of warmth and comfort beneath their special quilt!