Sunday, September 17, 2017

Week in Review - September 10 - 16

The week ended on my birthday. My 60th one!

And a great birthday is was!

I fixed a rum cake for myself and to take some of it to the Gulch Distiller's class on Infusions, which I attended with Savvy.



Her bright yellow drink was a turmeric-infused gin concoction and was really tasty.

Mindful of my 'advanced' years, I went for one with a lot of orange and lemon and RUM!


Savvy's take away on the class? She needs a bar centrifuge. 


She always loved making 'science experiments' growing up and I shudder to think what she would come up with. But this is the latest 'toy' at Gulch Distillers and super quiet. But they can do a rapid infusion and have a clear liquid in 15 minutes. 

I love the 'classes' here! But for now, I'll stick with mason jars and time for my infusions.


But before we went I pulled out all the plants and cleaned up the window seat, adding a layer of cardboard to protect more against spills. I had two containers of some pretty sorry looking, tiny succulents Texter had brought home from a wedding she attended over the summer and repotted them all into one container, pulling out the moss and adding some of the quartz rocks we picked up this summer.

I also pulled out my plant light I had used on my seedlings and put it in the window. Since the days are getting shorter, I figured they could use the extra light.

Texter had gifted me an early birthday present, signing me up for the "Fear No Fabric" two-day workshop in early October. I can't wait! I'll finally learn how to correctly sew on some of those 'weird' fabrics we use in costumes.

Savvy and CJ treated me to a wonderful birthday dinner at Lucca's in downtown Helena. 



I had the Shrimp Fra Diavolo and when they say 'spicy', they mean SPICY! So good it hurt!

Savvy had the lamb special...


And CJ had the Cavatappi...


It was wonderful to (1) have some great food in a (2) leisurely atmosphere waited on by (3) a fantastic staff and (4) not feel like I had to bolt it down to make room for someone else. Expensive, but well worth the money.

The only downside to the day was Lady K was feeling very well. We went from periods of running around like a goose to throwing up and fever. Hopefully, it's only a 24-hour bug and she'll soon be just a goose again.

Otherwise this week...

RAIN!!!!

As in two full days of drizzly, cold rain with snow in the mountains just a bit higher in elevation. Such a welcome relief and hopefully will help the fire fighting efforts all over Montana. 

  • Finished two sets of blocks on the Joy quilt
  • Started a 'secret' knitting project. Not sure I am happy with the results as of yet.
  • Big batch of soup and chili for the cool days
  • Taught a planner/stress reduction class at Carroll College
  • Finished 3 books
  • Wrote 4 posts
  • Did a brain dump on all the things to do before, during and after the move 

And the other BIG thing...the kids signed off on the sale of the lot. So now it's waiting until closer to time to move and look for houses. One big hurdle off our plate.

Due to Lady K's illness, I didn't make it down to the Orchid Show this weekend. The only real bummer of the week.

For the coming week...


  • Finish up at least one more set of blocks for the Joy quilt
  • Work on my secret knitting
  • Prepare for the 24th when the new Star Trek series will start!
  • Watch a football game on Monday night (if Lady K is better)
  • Soccer today for Lady K - tummy permitting

But for now, the air conditioners are out of the windows and the heat has been activated. Winter has arrived. I think somehow fall missed the memo!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Block by Block


Slowly I am making my way through the blocks of the Joy quilt. When I first looked at this block, I didn't really 'get it' and worried about how to create it since I had missed the class.

Then I realized I needed to 'break it down' into it's parts and then it was pretty simple!

The only change I made to the block was the orange with the grey triangle. The orange is suppose to be on long strip on either side of the triangle. But if I do the 'quick and easy' flying geese construction I can't do the long pieces. But chopping that strip up doesn't bother me in the least.

I have one more block similar to this, just fabrics in different places and then comes my really big 'problem' square which I will sit down when everyone is at school next week and puzzle out.

Hopefully, I will be sewing the whole top together in the next few days/weeks. Then another top crossed off my list!

In the meantime, with the cold, rainy weather we have had for the past couple of days, I just HAD to start a new knitting project which will hopefully turn out to be gifts for some friends. Will have to see how it goes. New shows are starting on TV the end of the month, so hopefully a lot of prime knitting time coming up. (I record them and watch during the day when everyone is gone and my attention isn't needed elsewhere.)


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Blooming Update!

As the temperatures here in Helena start to cool down some (can Fall be far behind?), taking a look at some of my orchids in the bay window. And my Fall may be even more colorful than usual.


My Cattleya has a spike growing and should produce a flower spike sometime in the near future. Excited! I haven't had a cattleya before, much less one in bloom.


My Brassavola has two flower spikes on it. This is another orchid I haven't had in the past and can't wait to see the flowers.


And finally, my Epidendrums Max Valley , another orchid I have never owned before, has what I believe is a flower spike starting. It doesn't look like the roots which also sprout out between the leaves.


It is also the first 'red' orchid I will have.

I am so excited my system of 'benign neglect' is working out so well (so far!). 

In other plant news...


This is a piece of an orchid being discarded from our February repotting meeting. No viable roots, but the canes were still plump. I have 'babied' it and was rewarded with this. So one day it may actually be blooming for me.

And the avocado...


(A bit blurry, sorry)

I had cut off the growing tip to try and force it to branch out some. And finally, a tiny nub starting. 

All in all, I am pretty excited about fall/winter in my bay window!

But in the meantime, the Great Divide Orchid Society has their annual show and sale this weekend. There may be a couple of new additions to my 'garden'!


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Monday, September 11, 2017

Mandala Monday


"The fox has many tricks.
 The hedgehog has but one. 
But that is the best of all."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Week in Review - September 3 - 9


It's that time of the year! Pumpkin Spice has hit Starbucks, so in the next few months everything will be "Pumpkin Spice this - Pumpkin Spice that"!

While Texter is not a fan of Pumpkin Spice (I like it because the Salted Carmel has also arrived!), she is a fan of these cuties. I went in to get Lady K a cookie for after school and had to get two, one for her and one for her mother.


And speaking of Lady K, with Labor Day out of the way, we can now get back to a schedule where she is occupied all day long, learning and playing with friends. After all, watching your iPod in this position is exhausting (for all of us)!

On my part, aside from trying to figure out the whole new school routine for the semester, I have dragged out a project from 2013 to restart and hopefully at least get it to the finished top stage.



The flying geese (top picture) will form an "X" in the middle of the quilt with the long strip going up the side. I have the second one ready to be joined into a strip.

Problem with this project is since I missed the classes (family upheaval at the time), some of the blocks don't make sense to me. So the lovely ladies at The Sewing Palace are going into their archives to pull out their notebook and help me out. 

But in the meantime I have discovered something...I'M LEARNING!

For example, the blocks in the strips have triangles holding them together (so to speak). There was really nothing about the triangles in the directions other than the amount to cut. But I figured it out all by myself!

And realized, in looking at the other blocks in the quilt, I am starting to see how quilts are actually constructed rather than just following the directions. Once I finish patting myself on the back, I'll try another one of the blocks I don't have full directions on to see if I can figure out how it's put together.

Another problem with this quilt....

Savvy has seen the blocks coming together and is eyeing it for her bed. Silly child!

Otherwise this week...

  • Slipped back into playing World of Warcraft with Texter
  • Finished up 1.5 blocks for the Joy quilt (see above pictures)
  • Went to the gym twice (need to double that next week)
  • Make a ton of banana bread for Texter to take to school (and get rid of ripe bananas)
  • Finished four books
  • Did a tiny bit of knitting (more on tap since soccer is starting)

For next week...

  • Attend a "Back to School" session at the quilt store
  • Update information for a stress reduction planner class for college students
  • Orchid Show all next weekend - helping to set up 
  • MY BIRTHDAY!!!! (60 this year!)
  • Dinner out with Savvy and CJ at Lucca's
  • Texter has already presented me with my birthday present - a sewing workshop in October!
  • Another 'class' at Gulch Distillers with Savvy
  • Soccer with Lady K starts 

So for now, looking forward to the massive drop in temperatures for the coming week and a slight chance of rain. 

Can snow be far behind?

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

'Noteworthy' Updates

I feel like a giant smoked turkey these days. Montana is having record breaking wild fires and my morning routine now has checking the air quality for the day. It's sad. Especially when so many other areas are under water and/or expecting a lot of rainfall (thank you, Irma).

The smoke in the air is affecting Lady K in a couple of ways. First, 'school' doesn't take them outside when the air quality hits a certain point. Which is most days recently. Secondly, she has been having 'fire' dreams and has come back to sleeping with me most nights. I feel for her.

But a bright spot is our new friend, Alvin...


Alvin appeared in our yard last week and we have been supplying him with goodies...apparently chipmunks also eat fruit, so the berries we have been putting out are disappearing too. The ice cube tray...water. We couldn't find anything else!

Another bright spot was I received my giveaway winnings from Notebook Stories!

Sorry, Savvy, but if I could have a prize from a jewelry store or an office supply store...

Well, I do love my pens and paper!


I received two small field size notebooks. I love to throw them in my purse to carry around for notes and lists.


I love the story behind the "Hitlist" notebook. 

Then I received three A5 size notebooks...


The black ones I'll use for notes and lists, but the "A New Leaf" notebook will probably become a journal in some way.

Each page as a different color and leaf on it.


Texter and I also love Dollar Tree for stickers and such. I picked up a pack of 3 small notebooks last week.


One is already in use recording data I need for a job I'm doing. But aren't they cute at 3/$1!

But I haven't forgotten the fabric scene.

I spent one afternoon cutting out 20 hexagons for my Noodle Box Quilt. Only to read the directions and realize I cut them without adding the 1/4 inch to the pattern (all the other pattern pieces had the 1/4 inch added!)


I'm going to have to do some adjusting on the pieces around the center. It can be done, but I need to get rid of this 'smoke' headache before I give it a whirl. (Actually, I have already experimented a couple of different ways and have a third option to try.)

So...

I pulled out my Joy quilt from 2013! The one interrupted by a bit of upheaval in our lives. One good thing about being at least semi-organized was it was all together in one bin and I could pick back up on it. The bad part about it is several of the blocks had 'tricks' associated with them and I had to go back to The Sewing Palace for some help on the size of blocks. They will be getting back with me when they pull out their notebook from 4 years ago!


In the meantime, I am working on blocks where the instructions don't have any surprises, like the 72 flying geese I had to make for these strips. It will form a big 'X' across the quilt top. I can't wait to see it all together.

But now, off to get Lady K dressed and off to school!


Monday, September 04, 2017

Non-Mandala Monday

First off,

Happy Labor Day  to all those workers out there! Hopefully, the ones who actually have to work will be making holiday pay.

Secondly,


Yes, it's that time of year!

Gearing up for another year of NaNoWriMo and this year my writing will be entitled Montana Memories

Already planning it out and my first step is to go through four years of photos to decide what stories I want to write about. 

I think this will be considered 'creative nonfiction'!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Week In Review - August 27 - September 2

This week could be described as 'hot and smokin' and I'm not talking about myself!


These are about the only hills you can see around Helena these days and most days just vaguely. My daily routine now includes checking the air quality and we have been in the red for much of the week. It's sad when we celebrate 'slipping' from red (hazardous) to yellow (moderate). 

Lady K has been bummed because the day care will not (thank goodness) take the kids outside to play once it hits orange (hazardous for sensitive groups). 

Speak of which, Lady K is THRILLED to be back in school! (But not as much as me!) Texter is thrilled to be back in school as this signals the final push to the end of school come May.

Otherwise this week...


it's been a frenzy at the sewing machine and getting my 'hedgehog haircut'.

  • ventured out to Quilt Guru's studio and picked up some more fabric and met her assistant
  • early birthday present of 'Fear No Fabric' workshop in October from Texter
  • started back at the gym and got in a workout on Saturday
  • started drinking the Be Well Teas 'cleanse' trio (not too yucky)
  • asked to do a stress reduction/time management presentation to some college freshmen later in the month (ego boost!)
  • selected what I will order from Hobonichi for 2018 and have it on hold until October 1 and all the initial frenzy is over
  • cut out the centers for my Noodle Box quilt and realized after I had cut out the 20 centers I was 'off' by a quarter of an inch all the way around!
  • finalized a design for my Tree of Life panel quilt

So this coming week...

  • test changes to Noodle Box and see where I need to make other adjustments to fix my screw up
  • work on piecing the backs of quilts which need it so they are ready to go
  • try my hand at free motion quilting on a couple of the smaller quilts
  • work on sorting scraps
  • see which blocks for the Pride Quilt I can make with the fabrics I already have
  • daily workouts at the gym
  • design the Flying Witch Window Quilt and see what I need
  • attend West Mont Fun Day on Saturday with Lady K
  • slot in some knitting and reading

But for now, air conditioner is running and I need more coffee to get the taste of the cleanse tea out of my mouth!


Saturday, September 02, 2017

Fabric Finishes (Sort of)

This past week saw Texter and Lady K back in school...

Much to their delight.

For me, it meant I got a lot of uninterrupted sewing time!


The Fox Mountain Kit was a quickie! And I had a piece of batik in my stash which will pretty much do the deed as a backing for the lap quilt. So one quilt out of the 'in pieces' stage to halfway done.

Then two more tops completed...


The Batman Quilt (is it bright enough?)

And a kit that I purchased back in 2013, partially started, stopped, robbed some of the fabrics from, and dug out and finally completed.


While there is a bit off the bottom due to my 'robbing Peter, to pay Paul', it is still a generous size lap top. And perfect for CJ since it is all black, gray and red. 

Actually this kit was the inspiration behind the original idea of a Batman quilt. The blockers were going to be the darker Batman fabric and the yellow, black and lighter Batman fabric the rest. It didn't become that, but I think I am happier with the American Beauty quilt for the Batman fabric.

So another two tops out of the fabric stage and onto completion.


I took a charm pack of Christmas fabrics I had won and made 14 mug mats for Christmas gifts. The other charm pack of the same fabrics, I made six small table toppers. I found some fabric in my stash which will probably work for the back of the table toppers. A couple of mug mats and a table topper will make a cute gift for someone for Christmas.


So all I need to do it back the table toppers and they will be good to go.

Since my space is limited and I really don't want to carry scraps to North Carolina, I spent an afternoon going though my scrap bin. My HUGE scrap bin!


I pulled out some of the larger pieces for my stash and started ironing and separating the fabric into strips and chunks and selvages.  I have the 'need' for a couple of string quilts and I am sure I can do that easily.

I decided I will set aside one day of the week to be 'scrap' day and work on my bin. I did realize I need some smaller boxes to sort the scraps into as I iron them. So the dollar store is on my radar in the near future.

I did succumb to my fabric fairy and brought home an armload of fabric for my Noodle Box quilt which is still in the 'almost ready to start working on it' stage.

Then I hit my LQS where Texter gave me an early birthday present which will actually take place a couple of weeks after my birthday of a 'Fear No Fabric' class. I will have a chance to use a Bernina sewing machine and to learn how to correctly sew on a variety of fabrics. I can't wait!

But while there, I had to pick up some fabric (seems only right, doesn't it?)


Four fat quarters of Australian fabric. I have a couple of one yard cuts of some other Aussy prints and plan on, one day, to make a quilt top out of these fabrics.

Then...

Because we are a weird household, I bought some yardage to make some more mug mats for Savvy and her friends.


Don't ask, but believe me, these will be a hit! Male on one side, female on the other. They will be larger mug mats, but the idea is there.

However, the problem with finishing up quilt tops is you need quilt backs.

I have my "Peony Quilt" top ready to go from a couple of years ago and I wanted a flannel for the backing. I hadn't found a flannel I liked until now.


The fabric on the right will be the backing for my peony quilt. I bought the last of the yardage they had at Joann's, so I might have to piece a bit on the back with a solid green and/or pink. But I can't wait to get it done.

The fabric on the left is for the backing for a spiral table topper I made a couple of years ago from a kit I purchased back in 2013. At least it will soon be done and once we get to North Carolina and have a table again, it will go on top.

But the biggie purchase were these two fabrics.


Can you tell what top they are for?

Actually, with the sale at Joann's this weekend, I went ahead and bought to the end of the bolt they were so close. So Texter will probably get a pillow case or two and CJ's extra fabric will turn into something down the road.


And if all the sewing I have planned already isn't enough, I bought this...

You can never have enough projects to do!