Monday, October 16, 2017

Mandala Monday

"Now Autumn's fire burns slowly along the woods and day by day the dead leaves fall and melt."

-William Allingham

Week In Review - October 8-14

Ok....My butt is seriously dragging this morning. 

And when I was thinking about this past week....

Well, I'm exhausted!

I had this vision in my head when I stopped working part time I would have ALLLLLL this time to just sit around and read and write and sew and knit.

Sort of, it's working that way.

But this past week started off with a WONDERFUL workshop.

I have never taken a workshop like this before and it was gifted to me by Texter as my birthday present. It was "Fear No Fabric" and was a chance to learn how to sew on 20 different fabrics and use a Bernina sewing machine.

Ok, when the sewing machine costs more than my used car did....color me excited!

I really wanted to take this class because of the costumes I make for the girls primarily. I am self-taught for the most part and wanted to learn some little 'tricks' on working with different materials.

I got it! Leather, tulle, burlap, cotton...just about anything you can think of. And learned how to make some great top stitching and insert lace, which was quick and easy and painless.  

So two days of blissful sewing and surrounded by several dozen sewing ladies (and one man). What a great time.

Once home, the sewing bug continued (plus mourning I couldn't just pick up one of these machines and carry it off) and I worked a bit on figuring out the blocks on the Joy quilt and getting all the parts together.

The center blocks are together and I am piecing it all together. There is a big "X" which will fit in there and then a couple of pieced outside borders to go. But it's getting there...slowly, but surely. And it will be HUGE. I may have to rethink a bedroom in sage green.

One thing I have seen with this is the difference between 2013 piecing and 2017 piecing. My skills have improved a bit and it is fun to see it in one quilt.  Unfortunately, due to 'things' going on the next couple of weeks, I will have to put it up for a bit and then come back to it - yet again.

I have been doing a bit of reading and prepping for NaNoWriMo this past week.

And then on Wednesday I broke off the corner of a molar (on Dollar Tree Sugar Babies-can we say 'stale'?) So far, no pain, but now a trip to the dentist this coming week to figure out some repair other than the putty you can use when fillings fall out. 

But to make me feel better, when I got home, my Hobonichi order was there! About 4 days earlier than I was expecting it.

I splurged this year and got one of each size. But they will all have a purpose! More to come on these lovelies later.

Then Saturday was 'go-go-go' day!

First was the Fall Fest headed up by Miss OK who is actually Miss Downtown Helena!

After handling 2400 pounds of pumpkins, she is still going strong and was buzzing all over the area, making sure everything was running smoothly.  She makes me tired.

Lady K painted another ceramic from The Painted Pot. Luckily, the ones she has done in the past survived the fire. It will be a fun souvenir of our Fall Fests in Montana.

Between polishing off a couple of bags of blue cotton candy, she posed with Ghostbusters (who are super sweet with the kids and love doing what they do).

And ballerinas...

The library was hosting Susan Adrian, the author of Nutcracked. We now have an autographed copy of the book which I will be reading to Lady K before bed. Her friend, Jordyn, dances with Queen City Ballet also. So hopefully, this year, we can make it to a performance of Nutcracker and see Jordyn dance. The issue? Can Lady K sit semi-still for an entire performance of Nutcracker?

Then after dumping Texter and Lady K back home, I hit Gulch Distillers for another class. This one was "Gin It to Win It" and discussed making gin at home.

A discussion of the different botanicals you can put in your gin and how to make it at home. They make me want to go home and put everything in mason jars! This will be utilized when we move to North Carolina - both the jars and the gin! Savvy has promised me I can 'brew' away when we move.

I met up with my friend Clare, who is a jewelry artist extraordinaire! And she likes gin!

And we met "Ginny"...

And distiller, Matt Bacon. Ginny is the vat where they make gin.

So, since this was a 'gin' class, I had a fantastic Bee's Knees. Along with a piece of cake one of the attendees made using Gulch Distiller's Apple Brandy.

So my second drink had to be a 'Brandy Apple'.

Then it was home for a quick nap and then to Jensen Jewelers to be the door greeter for their diamond event....


And this coming week isn't going to be any slower.

  • Clean house for upcoming visitors from South Carolina (Texter's in-laws/Kayden's other grandparents)
  • Finishing up a gift for a friend's birthday
  • Writing workshop at the library
  • More NaNoWriMo prep (going through a ton of pictures for story ideas)
  • Start and finish a Charlaine Harris book because it will be due in a couple of days and someone else has it on reserve
  • Book group meeting
  • And lots of Montana sightseeing!

So off for some breakfast and more coffee!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Week In Review - September 24 - 30

This isn't going to be my normal week in review. 

You know every now and then you have one of those days which are just special.

Well, Saturday was it for us.

Photo courtesy of Cornel Lab of Ornithology

See him?

We did (or rather one like him) sitting at the edge of the highway on the way to Tizer Gardens and their Fall Festival.

I saw this 'bundle' beside the road and as we drove past I saw him sitting there. He looked 'alive' and I quickly pulled over. 

As fate would have it we were right by the rest stop exit, so I stopped and Texter hopped out to run back up the road.

She said she was a little nervous approaching it and was hoping it didn't flap out into the road if it was alive.

She slowly approached and removed her gray pea jacket (which I need to wash for her) and laid it over the owl. Carefully 'scooping' the jacket edges up under the owl, she walked back to the car. I settled her in the back of the minivan and took the next exit back to Helena and Montana Wild

I thought they were closed on the weekends to visitors, but hoped we would be in time for the feeding session....and we were.

Shhhh....I'm not suppose to share a picture on 'social media', but figure I only have a couple of dozen readers on my blog!

While his wing is broken, we are hoping he isn't too injured he can survive, even if in captivity. We can call Monday and see how he (or she) is doing. Currently he is on a 72 hour watch for concussion and brain clots.

The downside to this rescue effort was he did squeeze a couple of Texter's fingers. Luckily, through the coat. But they are a bit bruised and swollen and hurt a bit. Of course, it is her right hand, which makes homework a bit difficult.

However, she is forgiving and walking around going 'I can't believe I had an owl in my lap!'

After handing him off to Montana Wild (and they probably just gained a couple of new volunteers), we headed back out to Tizer Gardens.

It was cool and grey, looking like it would rain at any moment, which only intensified the colors of the garden.

Lady K was more interested in running around and finding the signs for the scavenger hunt, but I loved the colors.

How could you not love these colors!

Frankly, fall is a huge toss up as whether it is better than spring for beauty in the garden for me.

Lady K loves running around all the paths and 'mazes' here. This is a place I will sorely miss when we move back to North Carolina.

The creek was gurgling away and I know it will soon be covered in ice. 

Unfortunately, they didn't have any apple cider (yet - hopefully this week), but I bought a couple of pounds of Zestar apples which are really good. And just the right size for Lady K to devour.

Even Texter and Lady K matched the scenery...

And I found this guy...

I think even CJ would let me have this guy in the garden and not complain.

I don't know how the coming week will top Saturday, but I'll try. After all we can check and see if "our" owl is going to make it or not.

But for now, settling in for a few days of grey, possible snowy, days. I need more coffee!

Friday, September 29, 2017

Falling Off September Goals and Falling Into October Ones!

Can I say that I am 'failing' at fall?

I've had the focus of a 4 year old on my list of goals for September!

  • Get two knitting projects completed - nope, but started another one!
  • Get one of the smaller completed quilt tops completely finished and in use - hahaha
  • Practice drop spindling - haven't touched them
  • Outdoor movie sponsored by the library - too smokey 
  • Soccer starts for Lady K doing!
  • Orchid show (and a possible new orchid or two)- was under the weather for this one
  • Fiber Festival in Billings - nope, not going
  • Sluice Fall Hike hopefully - another nada
  • Family Fun Day at West Mont - ditto
  • A couple of quilt shop events - negative
  • Pull out one of my past quilt projects and get restarted on it - probably my Joy Quilt - almost done!
  • READ!
  • Learn to use a friend's long arm quilter - another no
  • Plan menus, particularly lunches for Savvy and Texter - eat well...are you kidding!
  • Slowly delve into the huge bin of scraps and sort and iron and start a couple of scrapie quilts - well, sort of
  • Some drop spindling - since it was listed twice you might think I did some, but no!

So for October, my plan is to 'refocus' and ...

  • Finish up the Joy Quilt top
  • Finish the afghan for a friend
  • Gather items for a NaNoWriMo swap and get it in the mail
  • Prep for NaNoWriMo
  • Order my Hobonichi for 2018!!!!!
  • Figure out the new measurements on the Noodle Box Quilt
  • "Fear No Fabric" two day workshop
  • Texter's in-laws coming to visit (sightseeing and day trips!)
  • Writing workshop at the library (participating, not leading)
  • Trick or Treat with Lady K 
  • Orchid Society meeting with guest speaker (and maybe a new orchid?)
  • Work on fabric Christmas gift ideas
  • Craft fair (and apples) at Tizer Gardens

So we shall see. Fingers crossed. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Slow Down and Breathe!

I started, in the last month, a stay-at-home type job. One to add a few pennies to the pocket so I don't feel guilty about spending a few dollars on 'fun' stuff.  

The job is to record my movements throughout the day when I carry my iPhone with me. Basically, I am tracking all my trips around town during the day. I have to make note of when I left home, how long I am in transit, where I stop and then the next round of starts and stops. Not too time consuming or hard.

Supposedly the 'average' person has 15 transactions during the day (home-in transit-work-in transit-home would be 5 transactions). I am averaging about about 30 transactions during the day. Yesterday, for example, was a 41 transaction day!

But I have learned something...

It doesn't take as long to do things as you actually think!

That drive through McDonalds where you feel like you have been for 10-15 minutes. It's only actually about 3 minutes. And dropping kids off at daycare of school, you think I'm in there forever! Only about 4 minutes, tops.

So the  point of all of this?

Slow the F*** down!

I am the world's worse. I have a long list of things I want to do and feel like I HAVE to do, so much so I feel 'bad' when my list isn't checked off at the end of the day sometimes.

And then I realized it's moments like these which make you slow down and enjoy life...


I made frozen Eggo waffles for breakfast and added some sliced strawberries, a bit of cream cheese and some powdered sugar one morning. Didn't take long. Wasn't like I was really cooking anything. And it made all the difference in the world to the start of my day.

Then the bird feeder.

I have found the bird feeder is the best way to slow down and take a moment to relax and unwind. Watching the antics of the squirrel and all his feathered friends as they peek and nibble at the seeds. Not wanting to scare them away forces me to be still and quiet.

Standing by the window, coffee cup in hand, it's a delightful way to relax and de-stress from all the 'I ought to be doing..." things.

I started this project (like I need another project) when I decided to clean out the excess yarns and donate them to the day care. It was a project I wanted to give a try to because, well, mainly because all the other knitters were doing on online. However, this is going to a friend.

What I have found is since I know this is going to a certain person, I think about them while I am crocheting away, watching my TV programs from the recliner. And it lends a sense of peace and calm. 

But I think the biggest wake-up call was last night, when I walked outside to go to the car (yet again) to go pick up Texter from school. This guy was lazing in the yard, calmly chewing grass.

Deer in town are not uncommon in the least. In fact, the Helena Police Department has an annual 'culling' we have so many. So they aren't really concerned about people all that much. He had hopped our gate and strolled in for a bit of a munch and rest. 

I think I need to lay in the grass and just pass the time of day more often.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mandala Monday

"I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: 
no good in bed, but fine up against a wall."

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Week in Review - September 17 - 23

Well, we did it. We achieved snow on Friday!

Not that it stayed on the ground, but there were flurries of snow all day on Friday. 

Which meant I curled up and started this...

It's a C2C, or Corner to Corner for non-crocheters. I have been wanting to do one for some time now and started this one as a gift for a friend out of scraps of yarn. And in the spirit of decluttering, took two grocery bags of bits and bobs and yarn I know I won't use to 'school' for crafts. 

Anyway, I am loving this afghan and don't know if I will be able to give it up. Talked a crocheting friend into trying this pattern out and she is making one for her son (I think that's who she's making it for) and also loves this pattern.  It's simple, with just enough complexity to not be boring.

I was chugging along nicely on the Joy quilt and got two sets of blocks figured out and finished. Then I got to Block 4, which is actually about 6 different blocks in one step. I got Block A figured out and then crashed and burned on Block B. So I decided I needed to step away from the quilt for a bit. But I didn't realize I had cut the light blue fabric so well to have the raccoons show up like they do, so that's a plus on a difficult step.

Made some fruit infused simple syrups after my class at Gulch Distillers on the 16th. Texter has fallen in love with Starbuck's Strawberry Infused Green Tea, so we created our own. The lemon and peach simple syrups are for me!

Found a new friend outside while letting the dogs do their thing. We have an apple tree in the back and I found him looking at me.

And speaking of apples, I made 5 dozen apple roses for the Jensen Jewelers Diamond Event on Saturday. Not difficult, but a bit fiddly. They were pretty though.

So when I wasn't throwing up my hands over quilting or sitting and crocheting, I made up this...

Yep, I created a move binder. I brainstormed on things which I knew needed to get done, purchased, purged, packed and tossed over the next few months. And luckily, since we thought I was going to have to drive a U-haul back to North Carolina while Texter drove the car, there is a company which services Helena that does a 'u-pack-it' service. And for about the same cost as renting a truck and driving myself (and a lot less headaches).

Please, no hate on the fish sticker. I LOVE Montana. I could stay here in a heartbeat. But I also happen to think this series of stickers is funny and have a few different ones. I want a couple of their t-shirts too!

Otherwise this past week...
  • Enjoyed several cold, rainy days
  • Rearranged my plant window
  • Finished 1 book
  • Nursed an aching wrist (too long at the computer with my wrist resting on the edge of the desk)

For the coming week...
  • Possible trip to Billings for a fiber festival (Saturday) which means a trip to the mall there too
  • Star Trek Discovery starts!
  • Couple of batches of brownies for a friend's birthday Monday (Texter's study buddy)
  • Babysitting while Texter does the NAMI walk. We would all be babysitting, but it's picture day at soccer, so I'm taking Lady K to soccer while mom is walking. 
  • Monthly 'what's new' at The Sewing Palace
  • Figure out Block B on Block #4 on the Joy quilt and move along
  • Watch the opening shows of several programs starting this week on TV while crocheting

But in the meantime, going for my next cup of coffee.

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...


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!