Sunday, May 31, 2015

Week In Review

This is how I am feeling this morning.  That's because yesterday I was out in this...

A long hike, the return half of which was spent walking in the rain.  At least it wasn't terribly cold or windy.

But I did discover something about myself during the hike.  I was out there doing it.  Yep, something that simple.  I was out there, not sitting at home.  Since most of my other activities involve sitting, being out walking and scrambling up muddy paths and over swollen streams was the other end of the spectrum for me.  And I was doing an acceptable job of keeping up with people much younger than myself. And yes, today, I am paying for it.  The 9.5 mile hike has left me sore and stiff this morning.  So there will be a lot of stretching exercises between naps today.  

This is my fitbit chart from yesterday.  I don't have many 'moderate' bars on a given day, but the four green 'intense' bars really thrill me.  I was out there huffing and puffing, but doing it.  Even if my big girl panties were slowly heading south in the rain.

Funny thing was part of the hike was spent thinking about the sewing projects I am currently involved in and those upcoming.  Of course, I didn't find out about a geocache on the trail until this morning.  In order to find it, I have to make the hike again.  Thinking about that one.

So for my week past, some of the things accomplished:
  • Finished up Miscon 29 and now awaiting Miscon 30
  • Finished two aprons as a quickie sewing refresher for a possible upcoming project
  • 3 books off my bedside table now
  • Saturday my mileage for the day was 11.11, my weekly total was 26.38 miles or 57,685 steps
  • Wrote 7 posts 
Today is a toss-up.  I could go up to the local quilt show, but have no money to spend, so still thinking on that one.  Was originally thinking about walking up there, thinking about that too.  Have a friend coming over the fabric to help her make a quickie costume.  And hopefully she will bring the t-shirts she wants made into a quilt top with her too.

So off to get another cup of coffee....slowly.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sewing and Walking

I got out my sewing machine to brush up on my skills and to clean the dust off of it.  Not touching my sewing machine in over a year has been tougher than I thought.  I made a couple of aprons for a possible upcoming project out of unbleached muslin.  Lady K was fascinated by the pins with their colored 'flowers' on the top.  Once the aprons were done and Texter was trying them on, she loved the apron ties.

I have enough muslin left over I think a little apron is necessary.  But my skills haven't really gone down hill too much in the past year.  I am helping a friend/co-worker make up a quick costume and then a t-shirt quilt.  That one I am looking forward to.  Both Texter and Savvy have a ton of t-shirts which could be recycled into quilts.  So the sewing machine will start to become a regular piece of equipment out of the closet now, although I am still doing my hand piecing on the La Passacaglia quilt and crocheting an afghan (among other things).

One thing I have started trying to do, is while at work, instead of eating a snack on my break to head out down the walking mall for a quick stroll.  Not only is the weather beautiful lately, I also get a chance to see things like this...

Unfortunately, the 'head' is in the sun and I couldn't get a good picture of it.  To me, it looks like a phoenix and I love phoenix.  If that doesn't bring a smile to your face, I don't know what will.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Sewing Machine Is Out of the Closet!

Yep, after a long year (plus a few months), the sewing machine made it out of the closet yesterday.  I had a couple of quick projects I wanted to do and to give my room a shakedown for sewing.  My sewing machine muscles needed some easy flexing.  It felt good.

The card table can fit in here.  But I need an extension cord for the sewing machine so I don't have to 'jump' the electrical cord every time I get up to press.  The bed makes a great 'table' for holding material and 'parts'.

The only real issue is 2 years old and finds all things pointy and sharp, enticing. Hopefully, now the machine is going to be coming out more and more, she will soon find it boring.  

Steampunk costumes are the reason it is out of the closet.  I have at least 3, if not more, costumes to make over the next year.  What is fun is I can work with some fun fabrics and designs.  My Joann's Fabric app will be getting a workout.  I collect the patterns every time they have their $1 or 5/$7 patterns sales.  And the 30-40% off coupons I keep an eye on too.  This way, a big chunk of dollars is saved and makes the costumes affordable.  Especially since I have a year to work on them.

Of course, a by-product of this is I will have scraps of satin, taffeta, brocade which I will be turning into a crazy quilt (hopefully).

Now to finish up the above project so I can put up the ironing board.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Miscon Rundown - Friday

NOTE:  I found out on Wednesday the featured author at Miscon 30 - Robin Hobb!  And Jim Butcher will be there too!  Please watch for TV reports on drooling stalker in Missoula over Memorial Day weekend in 2016.

A couple of days ago I did a 'big girl thing'.  I took the three bags of books (yes, three!) and returned them to the library.  You see, part of me does realize these books are from a LIBRARY and I can check them out again.  I marked them 'want to read' in Goodreads, put them in bags and returned them to the library.  Beyond the fact my bedside table was listing to one side, I have way too much on my platter at the moment to devote myself to nonstop reading.  Besides that, I have 'discovered' a slew of new writers (well, new writers to me).


My first panel was "The Attraction of Geekery", discussing why we are geeks and nerds and how we became that way.  What we were exposed to as kids seemed to have an important part of it.  I know have some movies I need to go back and watch like 12 Monkeys or Fallen.  The panel was led Bob Lively, who is the president of the Miscon organization.

The next panel was "Connecting Emotionally with Characters" with the panel members being Laurey Patten, Shawn Speakman and Ann Gimpel.  

Laurey Patten writes under L.F. Patten and is the author of The Talent Sinistral.  Ann Gimpel is a paranormal romance writer and has several books out, such as Earth's Blood and Earth's Hope.

And the one who I really fell for, Shawn Speakman, author of The Dark Thorn.  Shawn is Terry Brook's webmaster, among a myriad of other hats.  I am currently listening to The Dark Thorn on audio since it is a huge book and I can listen and knit, crochet and sew.  A side note - on Sunday, Shawn and his wife were leaving their room and Savvy and I walked by.  I told Shawn, "I enjoyed you in my bathtub last night."  He blushed while I explained I downloaded the audio book.  His wife was laughing and telling us, "I think I'm ok with that."  Needless to say, I don't think I will be easily forgotten.

The panel discussed what makes for a good character and how character arcs are as necessary as plot arcs.  Lot's of interesting information packed into 50 minutes.

Terry Brooks signing my books

The highlight of the day was having books signed by Terry Brooks.  I had The Sword of Shannara Trilogy to sign.  His latest book, The Defenders of Shannara, the Darkling Child, is being released in June.  We got to buy copies early so we could get the signed!  Since this is book 2 in the series, I purchased the previous book, The High Druid's Blade.  So now I have 3 books signed by Terry Brooks.

The best part, Terry Brooks is the nicest, most gracious, person.  He spoke to each person on an individual level.  If I liked him as a writer, I like him as a person now.

Then came the "Gussets and Gores" workshop on adjusting costumes for the less than perfect body.  The panel was a bit unorganized, but I picked up some great I can move darts, gores and gussets around, based on the body type I am working with.

"Minor Characters" was the next panel with Anne Groell, Rhiannon Held, Laurey Patten, Dave Bara and Manny Frishberg. 

Anne Groell is Terry Brook's editor, as well as, George R. R. Martin's.  She has an outstanding stable of authors she works with.  And is a very funny person to listen to.  Rhiannon Held, an author, is one whose first book in her trilogy, Silver,  is now on request for me at the library.  Dave Bara has written Impulse: Lightship Chronicles, among other things, .  Manny Frishberg, writer and editor.

One of the first things discussed was what a minor character actually was.  Anne Groell, defined it as a 'back-up' character.  Dave Bara was a bit more pragmatic and defined them as "someone you can kill".  They did agree they may not have names and Rhiannon Held feels they are "someone in the  prop closet".

The final panel on Friday was "Kickass Women" and where I picked up more books to add to my reading list.  The panelist consisted of Anne Gimpel, Terry Brooks, Carol Berg and John Pitts, who writes as J. A. Pitts.

They first were asked to name characters in books who they would consider 'kick-ass'.  Katniss from The Hunger Games, Heromine Granger from the Harry Potter series, Eowin from Tolken were all names thrown out.  What they all had in common were they were all intelligent, could hold their own and not afraid to take action despite what others may think.  They also go against type and what is expected of them.  A really good panel.  

Carol Berg is an author who has many books out, most of which are carried in the library.  I do have to admit three have already followed me home.  J. A. Pitts, whose Black Blade Blues is currently beside by bed, is one Savvy purchased at my urging and then I took it from her.  There is a story behind the creation of his protagonist I will cover later.

Friday was a full, full day and a great opening to the convention.  Savvy, Lady K and I drove back home, while Texter stayed with friends.  This is a bit of a vacation and time to herself before school starts in August.  She did have to watch Lady K during the panels, but they both seemed to survive.

Next, comes Saturday and Sunday...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Miscon Monday

Since I will be at MisCon for the final day, today, I decided to tease you a bit with some photos from the first couple of days.

We started the day by stopping on our way to Missoula to fill up at the spring.  I have been saving milk jugs just for this purpose.  Savvy got into her role by filling up her canteen at the spring.

Ok, after several years at Animazement, which is now held at the large convention center in downtown Raleigh, we are now back at a small con.  A few hundred versus several thousand. By the way, 'Bugeye' was renamed 'Snuggles' by Lady K on our way to MisCon. Savvy was a bit bummed he didn't keep his more scary name.

The Ruby Inn, where MisCon has been held all these years, is basically a small hotel, "U" shaped with a wing out to one side.  The center of the "U", is bordered by a creek.  Sitting out here, under the trees, is lovely, especially as the creek is rushing and making lovely sounds.  Gaming rooms, vendor rooms and program rooms are on the inside of the "U" on both floors.

Lady K quickly found the horseshoe pit and claimed it as her own sand pile to play in. 

Guess who has to imitate someone?

After all, if Aunt Savvy can pose for a character shot, then so can Lady K.

Savvy was filling the role of a raider in the Wasteland theme for the year.  Texter alternated between Batman, Dr. Who, and Harley Quinn, depending on her mood.

They do require children be labeled.  You don't have to pay to get them in until they are older, but they have to have a badge too.  On the back of the tag is contact information for the adult, in case they get separated.  Once again, given the small venue, there seemed, at times, to be more security than guests.  But you felt safe at all times.  Lady K was proud of her tag and didn't give us a bit of trouble wearing it, which I was initially worried about.

Savvy got into the photography too.

Of course, costumes are one reason to come to a con.  From very elaborate, to flash backs to earlier cons for Savvy, to a bit gory, you have all kinds people have invested time and energy into creating.  I attended a few costuming panels as I am often enlisted in creating costumes.  In fact, I will have some big projects coming up soon (which I can talk about in a week or so).

One of the panel discussions on writing I attended.  More on those in a later post, but more than well worth attending for.  By the way, the gentleman in the center above, Eldon Thompson, could pose for his own covers.  Not only is he buff, but very articulate and fun to listen to.  All the panel members were information, but very enjoyable.  No dry panel discussions did I attend.

But the primary reason I attended was this...

Terry Brooks!

A best selling author, who will have his books made into a series coming to TV soon, he is a gracious, funny gentleman.  In the signing I attended, he spoke to each person individually, learning something about them.  He never made you feel rushed or that it was a chore to sign the books. 

The other gentleman to the right is Shawn Speakman, who is his webmaster and an author in his own right. And very funny.  

Best of all, Terry Brooks latest book, The Darling Child, part of the Defenders of Shannara series, was available for us, several weeks before official release.  I had the Sword of Shannara trilogy for him to sign and purchased the first two books (which includes the new release) while there and had him sign.  I will feature what he wrote in one of them soon.

Overall, well, well worth the money and we will be going back next year.  Luckily, Texter is not as interested in the panels as she is in socializing with her 'peeps', so we could trade out Lady K minding fairly easy.  She seemed to enjoy it also (up to a certain point and then she went into overload on the ride back home).  

I'm gearing up for MisCon 30 now!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Week In Review - Garden Status

Since I will be up and on my way to Missoula for day 3 of MisCon 29, I created this post in advance. I won't have time until Monday or Tuesday to sit down and create a post again.  Then it will be about MisCon in some form or fashion, I am sure.

We had a week to 10 days recently of gray, overcast skies.  This really odd, I have found, for Montana.  Last Tuesday the sun decided to pay us a visit again and boy, was it welcome.  Walking pass my plants I could almost hear them singing, like a Disney commercial.  So here is a pictorial update...

My 'portable' herb garden is doing great.  The parsley actually needs some trimming.  I will probably clip and just put in the freezer.  The sage is really leggy, so I will trim that back and dry it.  Or create a small smug wand.

My lemon balm, apple mint and chocolate mint are doing great.  Hopefully, I can move them inside for the winter and keep them going.  That depends on cooperation from 2 and 4 legged creatures.

Texter's pot of snapdragons (and a lone pansy) are finally starting to do a little growing.  I can't wait to see them all up and flowering.

The black snapdragons are perking up also.  And the sweet potato vine really pops against the dark foliage.  If you can see it, right above the bottom right plant, is a little pair of leaves.  The watermelon radishes I sprinkled in the pots are starting to come up.

Baby broccoli and dill.  And a few radishes also.

I really need to get out and harvest some lettuce.  A nice salad in the works.  Fresh lettuce, a bit of apple and walnuts.  A bit of crumbly cheese and a nice fruity vinaigrette.

The delphiniums are definitely the star of the porch right now.  The center flower is starting to fade, but several flower stalks are ready to open all around it. 

The orange and yellow dahlia is going nicely.  The yellow pansies at her feet are starting to bloom also.

And one of my favorites, baby tomatoes!  This is on the Sunsugar yellow cherry tomato.  As you can see, tons of blooms already and 2 babies.

They get the sun from about 5:30 am (or basically when the sun comes up) until about 3-4 in the afternoon.

The spinach is going well and hopefully the baby eggplant in the middle of the spinach will start growing with the sun out now.  The bell peppers are all flowering and looks like one is setting fruit.  They are really begging for warmer days.

So my garden is growing well.  I am happy with the progress for the end of May in Montana.  Of course, I will soon have to be tying the tomatoes to the porch railing and at times you can barely squeeze by, especially if you have bags of groceries.  But we will cope for the next few months.

Friday, May 22, 2015

More Fabric and La Passacaglia

As you are reading this, I am either on the road to Missoula for MisCon 29 or have arrived and am enjoying people watching and writing panels.  But before I left, I did make a bit of a dent in my wallet gathering some fabrics for La Passacaglia.  The above I needed for the ring around my center rosette.  I wanted something to pull out the green and salmon of the center.  

I added the batik to complement and to transition onto the outer rings.  Besides, who can pass up a lovely batik?

I purchased some red/black combinations to go with my other black and white whole centers.  This was before a friend offered to let me go through her stash.  I really, really don't think she understands the implications of that move!  But I can see a rosette forming in my mind from the upper most piece and transitioning into some of my black and whites.

And because I am taking some handwork with me to MisCon (just in case I have some down time), this little packet of precuts hopped in my bag.  So now I have some hexies to work on too.

I will report in with happenings at MisCon and progress on my hexies and La Passacaglia as I can over the next four days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fussy Cutting

Most of the time when I quilt, I am more of a 'scrappy' quilter or 9-patches, something which doesn't really require precise cutting and planning (Judy Niemeyer quilts aside).  La Passacaglia is a bit of both.  I do have elements which I don't have to be precise in my cutting and planning since I am doing EPP (English Paper Piecing) with them.  However, there are some elements which I am 'fussy cutting' and it's sometimes hard to wrap my head around.  So I am starting slow...with straight lines.

Here's one of my centers where I wanted to highlight a whole design, the birdcage.  I had this black and creme stripe and cut it so the lines would match up all the way around the circle.  It worked!  I have to sew them together, but it worked!  I also glued the edges of the fabric rather than stitching and that seems to be working too.

I am so jazzed about this quilt.  I don't know whether it is because I haven't played with fabrics in ages or that I am stretching my creative muscles with color and fabric selection or what, but all I want to do is to stay at home and work on this quilt.  Unfortunately, life doesn't always cooperate, which is probably a good thing.  After all, I need to go to the quilt store and find some red or red/black fabric.  I don't have any in my stash - not a true red.  Oh, and a bit of salmon color also.  Well, there goes no fabric purchases in over a year!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Changing Tack

It's been almost 2 years since I started this project.  I/We had this great idea to make flannel blocks for Lady K with the alphabet on it.  I got to the point where all the letters and numbers were sewn on and the blocks ready to be stitched up and stuffed.

So I have a shoe box full of 'T' shaped flannel pieces.  And reality of a two year old and toys and time and small apartment has hit.  There is NO WAY I am wanting to clean up all these flannel blocks off the floor of the living room.  Or put them in a closet and pull them out only every now and then for her to play with for just another year or so.

Thus, I have changed tactics with it.  Texter is going to unpick the 'arms' of the T so that I have strips to work with.  They will then be resown into a quilt top.  I still have tons of flannel I bought on sale at Joann's to fill in, make the border and backing for the quilt (and still have some left over).  I figure, once unpicked, I will only take a couple of hours to then stitch everything back together on the machine.  I will then figure out the binding and backing and will probably hand tie at the corner of the blocks.

Like many things in life, often you have to change your course of action because what you originally planned just isn't working.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mandala Monday

Not quite a mandala in the true sense, but close enough, especially early on a Monday morning.  This is the first center piece I am doing for the La Passacaglia quilt.  Hand piecing this quilt top is going to be interesting. (The pink background is my ironing board.)  The batik is hard to see in this light, but it carries the blues and pinks of the center section. 

I am not the best with color combinations and am enlisting Texter's help.  She has an eye for color, so this will be interesting.  She has already picked out the next fabric for the center with the raccoon in it.  Some of the centers she doesn't really care about, so I guess those will be up to me.

This week is going to be an interesting one.  MisCon 29 starts Friday and we will be loading up and driving back and forth to Missoula Friday-Sunday.  Between the dogs and the lack of convenient hotel rooms (and the lack of $$) we will be driving back and forth.  Texter has friends she is staying with, so I'm giving her a bit of a 'mommy-break' and keeping Lady K with me at night.  But some writing panels for me over those 4 days and a book signing with Terry Brooks.  Savvy is just looking forward to 4 days off work!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Week in Review

It's been a bit of a weird week, but oddly productive on several fronts.

  • Received my replacement phone from Apple.  Was phoneless for a week, which was odd.
  • Saw my exercise coach.  Got a great suggestion for how to hydrate and two sets of flexibility exercises to work on for the next 4 weeks.  Flexibility, cardio, then strength is the line-up for the next 3 months.
  • Decided to do some hand piecing for quilts.  That resulted in my first fabric purchases in a year. 
  • Because of the quilt idea, I cleaned out and reorganized my closet and the front closet.
  • Walked 49,827 (so close to 50,000) steps or 22.78 miles
  • Finished 1 book
  • Completed 2 rounds on Sophie afghan
  • Celebrated Texter's birthday
  • Wrote 5 posts
  • Saw a bit of the Spring Art Walk in downtown Helena.  Found an artist I really like, Brenda Wolf.  Check out her bird paintings.
  • Ordered my Millefiori Quilts book and eagerly awaiting it's arrival.
  • Printed off and cut out some of the papers I need for piecing La Passacaglia
  • One of my tomato plants has a baby tomato on it, despite the cool temperatures we have been having the past week.
The picture above are 8 centers to the quilt.  The pattern calls for the center to be pieced, but several people have gone with one fussy cut (that's when you deliberately cut out a piece of fabric to highlight an element on it) for a center.  My 'new' fabric is the heron (top row, 2nd from the left), the black and white flower, and the two women on the ends.  The other four are from fabric I had in my stash already.

One thing I learned from my 'organizing' is that I have way more fabric than I thought I had.   I have enough for several quilts without buying much of anything else.  As I went along, I made a list of project where I have the materials for it, but haven't started it yet.  Then a second list of project where I have started them and stopped.  Hopefully, I will start knocking some of those WIP's out shortly.  Some of them are such I can gather things up and then set up the sewing machine for just a few hours to complete it.

But the coming week is going to be interesting.  We are going to MisCon 29 in Missoula for the Memorial Day weekend.  Due to dogs (and no hotel rooms) we are driving back and forth every day, which is a bit of a bummer with Lady K a little prone to car sickness.  On the other hand, I have several writing panels I will be sitting in on, while Texter and Savvy attend other panels and just socialize.  We are playing 'tag-you-are-it' with Lady K during the convention.  

One good thing about driving back and forth is that I found out about a spring which they have capped where you can stop for some really good water.  Have several containers standing by for fill-up.  

The convention will also give Savvy 4 days off, in a row, from work.  Poor thing has been going in on her days off to fight fires, so to speak.  So she will get to dress up in garb and just relax a bit at the end of the week.  But knowing her, she will be in contact with work the whole time.

So off for another cup of coffee (after drinking some water) and some stitching and crocheting.  I have writing group this week and my nonfiction book group before I get four days off work to play too.  And get a book signed by Terry Brooks.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

New Fabrics and Plans

You see, I have this problem.  When I start a project, I have to 'go big, or go home'.  When I learned to knit, I couldn't be satisfied with a nice little scarf or potholder.  No, I was doing cables and 10 different colors at one time.  The Dr. Who scarf, simple, but will ultimately be 16 feet long.  My crochet project, it's not just a few granny squares. When I decided to do cross stitch, could I be satisfied with a nice little cross stitch sampler on the wall.  Nope!  It had to be huge, with about 100 different colors of threads, half of which were blended. (To non-needleworkers, that means you combine 2 different threads to make a 'new' thread color.)  If I couldn't throw in specialty stitches, pulled thread work - well, what's the point?

Quilting.  Could I be happy with just a nice little 9 patch lap throw.  NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

You see, I wanted to do some hand piecing since that is easy enough to do with Lady K running around.  Setting up my sewing machine, I could do for a day, but isn't feasible in the long run.  So I asked a friend what I could do besides 'hexies' (which I have a box of them started, by the way).  And she pointed me in this direction.

OMG!  Mandalas, kaleidoscopes and fabric all combined into one HUGE quilt.  

So I am now impatiently awaiting my book to arrive.  I have purchased the first bit of fabric I have bought in about a year.  I have 'ideas' for the quilt (which can be dangerous for me).  I cleaned out and reorganized my closet so I can see what other projects I have to work on.  And in the cleaning, found more 'uncommitted' fabric which does seem like it will work with what I purchased.

So today (Saturday) I plan to clean out and reorganize the front closet and attempt to enter Savvy's closet where the majority of my sewing stuff is stored, looking for needles and thread.  This really will be a needle in the haystack sort of search!  And then maybe a little hexie and Millefiori play.  And taking some pictures of the fabrics I've selected so far to tease the friend who talked me into this project.  After all, what else do you do on a rainy Saturday?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Texter is 22!

Everyone say "Happy Birthday" to Texter.  Today she turns 22.

Cherry picking in Virgina

Fishing with her father

Twenty two years ago I was arguing with the doctor about being in labor.  He was saying 'no, you are not dilated' and I was saying 'yes, she's coming'.  Not much has changed over the years.  Texter is still impatient at times and wants to operate on her own schedule.

But I am proud of her.  She is a mother herself now and is doing a great job at it.  In the fall, she will start college to get a nursing degree so she can take care of herself and Lady K all on her own, if need be.

Unfortunately, we have found out the love of crayons and paper and pens is genetic.  There are no markers safe from little, or large, hands.

Because of Texter we are now living in Montana and not regretting a moment of the move.  So here's to the next 22 years!