Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WIP Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Well, I am finally getting back to the sewing machine.  Don't know why I have been 'away', but it seems that life keeps intruding on what I really want to do.

I am still working my way through the Tula Pink QAL and finished up blocks 21-30 this week.  Only 70 more blocks to go!

This set I did do in fabrics I got in a fat quarter bundle on sale at The Sewing Palace.  I had gotten the bundle to do a yo-yo puppy for Lady K (WIP, yo-yo's are done) and when I was picking fabrics off the shelf I just grabbed these.  I do like the colors together.

But my Tula Pink stack is starting to look impressive.  Here are all 30 of them together.  I can't wait until I have all 100 done.

I haven't been brave enough yet to lay out all 30 of them to see what they look like so far.  I will have to get Texter to help me one day just to see what they look like so far.

Now I have to get back to my Mariner's Compass I am working on.

This is such a difference from the free style of the Tula Pink.  It is paper piecing and pages of directions.  Both have a certain appeal to me.  The Tula Pink is really fun because I am working with color selection and seeing how blocks go together in a less rigid format.  But then the Virgo part of me is loving the precision and baggies of pieces from the Judy Niemeyer.  Both parts of me are loving these quilts.

But my other WIP, Lady K, is waking up so off to give her breakfast and then back to her yo-yo puppy.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Where Does Time Go?

I thought once I retired I would have all this 'time' in order to 'do' things.  I have a HUGE list of projects and things I want to do, but it seems by the time I get started in the mornings, it is time to go to bed.

Ok, there is one factor which is a big time drain....

Lady K and a hat that does fit

Yep, this is one reason I can't seem to get things done.  And also a reason my pile of projects seems to grow and grow.  It is easy, once removed from those years, what a time drain an infant can be.  Luckily, she is getting a bit older and awake is starting to play and entertain herself with her toys.

But on the whole, time flies by.

And school is starting again soon for me.  Luckily, my schooling is online, but it does take a lot of time.  One thing I have started doing is a quick note on my calendar (paper one - still a little old school) of what I have done during the day.  I even note loads of laundry washed (Texter and Gibbs have way too many clothes).  It does help to be able to go back and say "I really have done something" at the end of the day.

But part of me really needs that 'routine' in order to feel productive.  I guess all those years of getting up and going to work as ingrained a need for a schedule of some sort.  But on the other hand, I don't want to be so rigid that I can't just jump into something new or different every now and then.  

Time is like a river.  It flows on by regardless of what you try to do.  So I am trying to pilot a nice, sturdy little boat down it so that I feel like I am actually getting somewhere.  I think with school starting, it is time for me to take a minute and go over my goals and projects and make a 'plan'.  

(Is it a coincidence there is a 'no trespassing and danger' sign in the picture?  I didn't notice it at first!)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ben Franklin Booty

Being new to Helena, I am still learning where to shop.  I had driven past the Ben Franklin Craft store on my way out of town one weekend and didn't really pay it much mind.  One of the quilters I met had told me about their fabric selection, but still I hadn't stopped in.

Texter and I were out and since there doesn't seem to be a Michael's Craft store in town (or if there really is, we can't find it), I said something about the Ben Franklin's.  She is planning her Christmas gifts she wants to make for people and wanted to stop in to see if they had what she needed.

First impression, lots of gems and lots of junk.  You just have to be willing to wade through everything.  But if you want it - craft wise - they are bound to have it.  And their prices are pretty competitive, just eyeballing things.  We didn't even begin to walk into their 'scrapbook' store.  With Texter and I both loving inks and stamps and papers and pens, it was too dangerous.

HOWEVER.....they do have some clearance 'bins'.  

I dug through some magnets and cards since I send letters and like to put them in cards for something a little extra.  And magnets are an easy something to add in as a bonus.

Then we walked back to the fabric section.  Not only do they have several lines of fabrics I have had my eyes on (at a bit of a discount), they had a $1.00 bin back there too.  Luckily, Lady K said she had had enough and forced me to leave.

So for $13.00 I got the following....

I got the following:

6 x 24 inch Omnigrid Rule
Omnigrid Half Square Triangle Rule (6 inch)
7.5 inch X-Blocks Template packet
Perfect Patchwork Templates Set A
Cutting Corners Ruler
Dritz Mini Travel Iron
4.5 inch template
A Strip-It maker (for making strips for rugs, knitting, etc)
3 cards
1 magnet
1 emory board matchbook

I totaled up what it would have been if I had purchased it based on prices or their website prices, and it totaled up to $141.60.  So I paid less than 10% for my haul.  Can you say happy dance?  Can you say I am keeping my eye on this place for gifts and give-aways?

Oh, and the clerks, because they had forgotten to ring it up with the rest of my purchases, gave me my little 50 cent bottle I am going to use to put ibuprofen in my pack for hiking.  What a deal!

Note:  My 2nd job in high school was at a Ben Franklin Variety store.  They had everything, clothes, toys, fish, school supplies.  I love Ben Franklin!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Giving You the Bird (and the Squirrel and the Bunny)

One of the things I absolutely love about this house we are renting is the upstairs living room.  There is a huge, double sliding french door leading onto the patio and backyard.  So much glass there is about 12 feet of nothing but almost solid glass (although very dirty with doggy noses and my failed cleaning attempt with the wrong product).

There are also two bird feeders which were left here and they hold both seed and suet blocks.  I have been stocking them for the past month or so for the birds.  We have our share of chickadees and wrens, a couple of doves and now the magpies.  But last night we had a rain storm and as I am becoming use to now in Montana, there is no rain without wind....and I mean WIND.  So this morning there was seed that was scattered across the patio.

I'm up, watching the Tour de France, feeding Lady K at 6 a.m. and look out to see a bit of fog (very unusual to see here I think) and birds.  Not just one or two, but enough are gathering so that you start to look for Alfred Hitchcock lurking in the backyard.

So the cyclists on TV, which normally hold my attention, are now competing for attention with the birds.  This morning, in addition to the normal crew, we had starlings and ravens and a second squirrel.

(Please note:  these pictures were taken through a patio door so look a little cloudy at times.  Sorry.)

At the feeder nearest the door

Some babies never get too big to be fed by parents. 

An attempted murder

Waiting Magpie
Everyone waiting their turns

Waiting at the feeder at the end of the patio.  Love the colors in the magpies.  They aren't just black and white.

A little squirrel action.  Turns out there are actually 2 in the yard now.

 So after all the bird and squirrel action, Texter was up and the three of us made our way downstairs (where I am suppose to be sewing) and we hear a noise in one of the guards around the basement windows.  Yep, baby bunny has fallen into the guard and since it is about 18 inches deep (or more) can't get out.

Lady K was less than thrilled about the whole "adventure"

Texter wanted to keep the bunny she rescued.  

We named him Spot because of the dot on his forehead.

All in all, it was a very busy morning with our feathered and furry friends. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Romance Is Over!

One of the things I have enjoyed about moving to Montana is the different flora and fauna.  Things I have only read about, or seen in pictures, or on a quick trip somewhere, are now growing in my yard.  A completely different set of birds to learn to recognize has been a lot of fun.  One of these 'new' birds are magpies.

I have read about magpies and seen pictures of magpies and when we first moved to Helena and they were in the neighbors yard I was thrilled.  Their jaunty black and white feathers with a blue/green coloration in the sun.  They were so CUTE.

There were two bird feeders left at the house in the backyard.  One was out at the end of the patio in a tree, the other hanging by the back patio door.  So I did what any responsible bird lover would do, I put seed and suet in them (they were bigger, dual feeders).  Soon wrens and chickadees where coming on a regular basis.  After them came a pair of morning doves.  Then came the magpies!

Just like that cute boy in school you longed for from afar, but when you got to know him you realized what a mistake even knowing him was, that was my relationship with the magpies.  They discovered the feeders too.  And moved in, literally.  

They have taken up residence in our backyard.  The dogs tick them off.  People tick them off.  Other birds tick them off.  Life in general seems to tick them off.  Did I mention they make ALOT of noise?  And not sweet, musical calls either.  Loud, obnoxious calls.  Constantly.  They also dive bomb the dogs.  At first, I was rooting for the birds not to get caught by the dogs.  I've switched sides now.  A mouthful of feathers wouldn't be amiss now.  Nothing life threatening, but maybe enough to scare them off for a bit.

So we have a pair in the backyard.  And their young brood.  This is now THEIR territory.  Yep, the love is gone. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Photoshop versus Sumopaint

What a quandary!  I love making mandalas and have been using this old tutorial from Earth Mandalas.  Learning how to use Photoshop has been one of my goals and with my school lessons, I am slowly, but surely, learning how to use Photoshop more and more.  However, one of my favorite, inspirational blogs, iHanna's made this posting using Sumopaint.  The quandary is, in playing with Sumopaint for just a few minutes, you can easily make mandalas and change them with a mere flick of a slide on the toolbar.  So which do I use?

I experimented briefly (have too much sewing to do to do more) and this is what happened.....

Original picture....

My yellow knapweed from an earlier post.  I really love the bright yellow contrasting with the brown and green.

This is the quick mandala made with Sumopaint....

I haven't figured out (yet) how to add a background color and some borders, etc.  But very easy and quick.  One plus is that you easily pick a different section of the picture to use for the effect.

Now, my 'traditional' method using the Earth Mandala's tutorial.

Of course, my Photoshop effort is more finished than the Sumopaint mandala.  But my initial thought about the difference in processes.  I think I will stay with Photoshop for awhile.  Creating my mandalas is a time for me to sit and 'create' and reflect.  I choose pictures which speak to me and play with the image until I have the part I want to use.  There is more of a meditational aspect to creating with Photoshop due to it's more technical aspects.  And that mediation and contemplation is really what I am looking for.

So I will play with Sumopaint some more to see what all it can do.  It seems to have some really cool effects you can create very easily without the high learning curve of Photoshop.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Just What Kind of Flower Is This?

If you checked out my posting here about my visit to Tizer Gardens, then this is what prompted me to make the visit when I did.  I am learning that I have to relearn some of my gardening 'habits'.  And some of the flowers and trees, while familiar from pictures, are actually in my garden here.  There is lilac everywhere.  Peonies bloom.  The sweet peas are taking over our front walkway.  But then there is this.....

At first, about 2 months ago, I thought with the fuzzy green leaves, it might be comfrey.  But it quickly outgrew that stage.  Leaf upon leaf unfurled and the stem grew taller.  Then one day it is about 3 feet tall and opened up to show this.

The brown "stuff" is very straw like in texture and over a pod of some sort.  So I cut one and took it with me to Tizer Gardens to see if they knew what it was.  I have stumped them - momentarily, I am sure.

So today I walk out and see it 'blooming'.

This has to be some sort of thistle or in the thistle family.  But there are so prickles on the stem or leaves like a thistle normally has.  But it is different and actually quite stunning.  So this is my mystery flower and my reason for my visit to the gardens.  I'm keeping my eye on it to see what happens next.

Update:  I found out what it is.  On one hand it is lovely and unusual.  On the other, it is toxic to horses and banned to even be imported to Washington State.

Botanical Name: Centaurea macrocephalaCommon Name: Giant knapweed, Yellow hardheadGenus: Centaurea
This clumping, robust perennial has unusual ramrod-stiff flower stems that bloom from early summer through late summer. Its fat, rusty buds open into large, deep yellow thistle flowers the size of a small fist. Easy to cut and dry for arrangements. This plant has big, coarse leaves that call for strong companions.Noteworthy characteristics: A tricky plant to work into a perennial garden because it draws a lot of attention.Care: Grow in moist soil in sun or partial shade.Propagation: Start seeds in a cold frame in spring, or divide plants in spring or fall.Problems: White mold, rust, mildews, thread blight, and Southern blight.

Since this is not my house really (just renting) and it was already here and obviously well established (and no horses nearby), I will probably leave it where it is.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Simply Solids are "Solid"

Like many quilters I know, I seem to get caught up in buying interesting prints and forget that to form a well rounded quilt, I do need some solids.  I was lucky enough to win 4 fat quarters from Simply Solids out of the UK.

The light in my sewing room isn't the best to show what lovely pastels these are.  Not really pastelly-pastels, but good solid solids!

After fondling them for a moment, I was trying to decide where I might use them or if they would have to wait for the 'right' project.  Then I had an 'ah-ha' moment!

They actually blend in quite well with fabrics for an owl quilt for Lady K.  I didn't have any solids in my fabric selections and these will give the quilt that necessary 'punch' to take it to the next level.

So thank you Simply Solids!

Friday, July 05, 2013

Sweet Peas - Everything's Pink!

I have always wanted to grow sweet peas.  However, being a good Southern girl, sweet peas are not always easy to grow in the South as it gets too hot for them too early.  So I was thrilled to see, when we were viewing the house we were going to rent, sweet peas coming up (and that I could identify them before they even bloomed).  Enough they are overflowing the bed in front of the house and I have to try and restrain them. 

Enough that when Texter wanted 4th of July pictures of Lady K in her red, white and blue, we went out to the front to take pictures.  With the aid of a pillow and sheet, we managed to prop her up for a bit and get a few nice pictures.

Of course, she was less than thrilled about the whole ordeal than we were.  But this gives you an idea of how profuse the sweet peas are.  Shades of pink and white abound.

This lead me to make a sweet pea mandala.

Very pink and almost orchid-like.  Love them.  Guess I will have to pick a bunch and bring them inside again.  I paired sweet peas and lavender last week for a small bouquet.

I don't know what the little blue and white flowers are.  They are new to me, but growing in the garden also.  You can see from the planter behind my arrangement, I have a pink theme with flowers this year. This little arrangement even makes the McDonalds glass look good.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

July Goals In the Art Room

A Lovely Year of Finishes

On one hand I feel like I got a lot accomplished last month.  On the other hand, I feel like I got nothing accomplished in the art room last month.  But a class at The Sewing Palace yesterday has me revved back up and looking to get back into the 'groove'.

This is one of my finishes last month.  Problem is, Lady K has a BIG head.  So a lot of knitting, only to have to put it away for a possible future sibling.

Anyway, my goals for July...

Catch up on Mariner's Compass 

Redo the Marcelle Medallion center block (now that I know how to do Y-seams)
Do 5 Tula Pink blocks a week
Make some quickie quilts for LQS to take to Canada for flood victims
Finish up fabric blocks for Lady K

So now I will go refresh my coffee and make the sugar syrup for the limoncello which has been 'brewing' all week.