Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Invasion of the Tearling

Back in September of last year, I read book 1 of the Tearling trilogy, Queen of the Tearling.  I thought it was a very good read and couldn't wait until the next one was published.  So flash forward almost a year and here I am finishing up book two of the series, Invasion of the Tearling.

Picking up where book one left off, Kelsea, as the new queen of Tearling, is on the verge of having her kingdom invaded by the Red Queen.  However, changes are taking place in Kelsea, both physical and mental. There are flash backs to pre-crossing time and what Lily, a privileged wife of the time, is having to live through in the old world.  Kelsea's closest friends and guards are concerned about what's happening to her, as well as what is happening in the rest of Tearling with the enemy at their border.  Lily's circumstances are shades of Margaret Atwood.

It took me a bit to become use to the switching back and forth between Lily and Kelsea.  It seemed a bit jarring, but then as events happen, they become more and more merged.  And stronger in personality.  

There was a bit of a struggle to get into the book and at first, wasn't sure if I wanted to continue.  But as the story further unfolded, I am glad I stuck with it.  Now to await the conclusion.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week in Review - July 19 - 25

  • 3 rows completed on Sophie's Universe (well, 4 actually, but had to rip one out and start over again)
  • walked - almost none at all
  • vitamins - 3 out of 7 days
  • water - a cactus would die
  • watched Lady K while Texter was working at NaguCon here in Helena
  • watered garden for co-worker while they are on vacation
  • mailed off swap gift to Michigan
  • completed a quilt top (mostly)
  • 5 posts written
  • 1 book read
Today is not a good day for me.  Well, actually yesterday evening it started downhill.  I found out a friend of many, many years had lost her husband and father both this week.  Her father passed at the first of the week and she lost her husband, yesterday.  And I feel a bit sad and heartachy I am not 2400 miles closer to try and help.  

Local Flavor Swap - Michigan

About a month ago I came across Chaotic Goddess Swaps and signed up for their Local Flavor Swap.  I was assigned Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm.  

Wendy lives in Michigan and just reading her posts exhaust me.  The woman is a ball of fire and doesn't slow down!  Supper for 200!  I don't even know 200 people, much less getting them to eat with me.

Anyway, yesterday I got my box in the mail.  First off, boxes in the mail are exciting to everyone here.  So needless to say, even with Texter and Savvy out of the house, I had assistance in the unwrapping.

and her favorite word is "MINE!"

The chocolate sauce (yummy) is also local to Michigan.  The pen and Michigan magnet where extra because she knew I would love them.  The pen is in my journal now (and out of little hands). 

This candle, along with the lip balm (which we use by the ton here) and the soap are made by her daughter and son-in-law.  The ingredients are organic and sustainable, right up my alley.

Lady K says this is her 'heart' and I had to put it up really high.  The necklace and earrings are made by a local artist.

Lady K is checking to be sure nothing was missed.  She has spent the past hour stacking and restacking the jars and soap.

While Lady K is not impressed with the Balsam Fir smell of the candle, I am loving it and can't wait to light it up.  And CJ will love it because it's not a 'girly' smell.

But Wendy and her husband are on a farm like I would love to have.  Organic farming!  And I am 'stealing' a couple of the things she is involved in.  I love the 'Film and Food' idea and the 'Wine and Book' club she participates in.  I might have to weasel my way in.  I am suggesting it to the library too.

And if you need help with weekly menus (me! me!) take a gander at her posts.  You will find menus, along with recipes.  I will definitely be stalking Wendy, but being a retired cop (both her and her husband) I have to be careful.  

This was a great swap and I can't wait for the next one which is a book swap.  Right up my alley, or bookcase, as the case may be.

UPDATE:  Bought some vanilla bean ice cream last night and had ice cream with the chocolate topping for 'dinner'.  It was yummy!

Update:  There is the link to Wendy's post on what I sent her.  Don't visit her blog if you are hungry!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Not What I Was Suppose to Be Doing

My first day of my weekend with Lady K, I thought I would clean house a bit and then settle down and work on an existing project.  No...

Instead I pulled out my layer cake of Comma from the Zen Chic line of Moda and started a Big Star quilt for CJ.

One of CJ's fears with the new house and being the only male in the bunch, we are going to get all 'girly' on him.  I think we are all too geeky and nerdy to do that, but I wanted a quilt for him to wrap up in that maybe didn't have flowers or pink in it.  The two stars are together.  Now I have to decide if I want to find 'something' to make two more stars or if I just want to stop with lap quilt size at this time.  I also need to get something for the backing.  But he will soon have a 'manly' quilt all of his own.

And speaking of 'girly' (and my lack of housekeeping skills), I am reluctant to throw these out. 

Being that Montana is so dry, I have these lovely dried peonies in my vase.  And they really are pretty.  So I think they will stay for awhile longer. 

So for today, depending on what Lady K lets me work on, I have an idea for a second quilt top and have the pieces ready to start stitching on.  Or I could go back to crocheting on Sophie's Universe or hand piecing on La Passacaglia.  I will have to see what the day (and coffee) brings.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Mid-Week/Mid-Summer Doldrums

[dohl-druh mz, dol-, dawl-] 
noun, ( used with a plural verb
a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art:
August is a time of doldrums for many enterprises.
the doldrums
  1. a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equatorbetween the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic andPacific oceans.
  2. the weather prevailing in this area.
a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

This is according to dictionary.com.  Personally, right now, being on a sailboat, stuck with going nowhere, actually sounds pretty good.  But hopefully, in three weeks, all that will be picking up and the 'wind blowing' as we get ready to 'set sail' to our new abode.

I don't want to starting packing yet, because I feel like it would jinx the process.  Plus, so much of what we have is in bins and boxes anyway, we can make trips to move stuff before having to put anything in a packing box.

Texter starts school shortly after the move (the end of August).  She's going into nursing and I hope things go smoothly.  But this is the first time, in years, I'm not the one starting school in the fall.  It seems so strange and I feel a little discombobulated over the prospect.  It's not like I don't have enough projects or 'to-do's' to keep me more than occupied.  I am the baby sitter on Tuesdays this fall while she is in school all day.  And I will have a lot more Lady K time while Texter studies in the evenings.

So new starts are just around the corner for all of us, and while that is exciting, today I am just in the doldrums.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

To Kill My Curiosity

So what does this pile have in common?  Conspiracy theory of the literary sort.  

You see, Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman was released last week and in standing around at the library, I admitted I had never read To Kill A Mockingbird.  But I was curious about some of the things being released about the upcoming book and how Harper Lee had not wanted it published way back when.

That's when a co-worker (not calling her a friend because of the reading pile I now have) told me about the 'theory' Harper Lee didn't write the book, but her friend, Truman Capote did.  After reading a couple of reviews of Watchman, I have to delve into the subject matter myself.  Thus the pile of reading I have set for myself.  

This should be some interesting reading in the coming week or two.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Mandala Monday - Barely

I like the look of a portion of one of the rosettes from La Passacaglia I am working on.  Frankly, today, it makes it look appealing.  I think I am coming down with a summer cold and I am not liking it.  Too much to do.  But a terrible headache yesterday and today, a runny nose.  Sigh...

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Week in Review - July 12 - 18

Last night was the annual Symphony Under the Stars here in Helena.  It was Sinatra tunes and was a ton of fun.  This year, knowing better, I put out the blanket almost in the exact same spot as last year, but did it on my way home from work Friday night.  And we packed a ton of munchies and wine and tea for the evening.  Savvy and CJ were glad we made the effort to attend.  Joined by a co-worker and her son.  Texter joined a group of friends across the way and everyone, including Lady K, had a wonderful time.  The fireworks had her full attention and she stayed awake until we got home.
  • writing group - committed to helping co-write a story.
  • NF book group - co-chaired the group and it was great
  • 47,952 steps or 21.93 miles walked
  • vitamins taken 4 days
  • water - not enough 
  • 4 posts written
  • added a new category in goodreads.com - scanned
  • Peony top finished
  • CJ arrived

Made some progress on La Passacaglia, but not loving the rounds coming up.  Will have to regroup and use them on other pieces and find something else in my stash to finish out this rosette.

Completed another row on Sophie's Universe which has been languishing in the corner.

However, the week ended on a bitter-sweet note.  A co-worker and friend in North Carolina lost her fight with lung disease while awaiting a transplant.  She departed, surrounded by family, after putting up a good fight.  A truly wonderful person and someone who will be missed daily.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Peony Top Finished and 1000 Posts!

This was taken from the balcony of the apartment as I laid "Peony" out on the grass.  Once finished, it will cover a queen size bed.  Now the chore is to find a backing I envision for it.  And if I can gather my pennies together, will probably send it out to be quilted as it will be way to big for me to quilt on my Singer.  But I am loving it.

The colors are softer than it appears in this shot.  I think I achieved what I was setting out to do, something soft and pink.  The green reminds me of leaves and stems of the peonies.

Peony is now stored away with the Alphabet quilt and my Fractured Suess quilt, awaiting backings.  I feel like a real quilter now, with tops all ready to be quilted.  So back to hand work, crocheting and knitting until after the move.

This is also my 1000th post!  Will have to think of something to celebrate that achievement.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Baby Quilt Accomplished

I 'wake up' last Thursday, realizing I need to get a baby gift together for a baby shower on Sunday.  Basically, three days away.  Of course, I have only had months to do this gift, as the baby shower was planned for after the baby arrived.  I figured I would do my usual baby quilt.  They are tough and take the abuse over the years.  We have one I made just before Savvy was born and it's still in use (with a couple of mending spots).

As it happened, Joann's had a sale on flannel.  Relief number one.  Then I came across this design by Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter.  It was simple, looked easy and quick and different from my usual whole cloth baby quilt (sigh of relief).  Before work I ran into Joann's and picked out 8 different fabrics, 6 for the front, 1 for the back and 1 for the binding.

I went with bright for the front, as you can see.  Looking back, I should have selected at least 8 for the front or even 12 in order to get different block combinations.  The back, I selected a calm or softer look.  The binding is this hot pink 'pok-ka' dots, as Lady K says.

Texter liked the design, but felt the fabric selections were just not her.  Good thing it wasn't for her.  I do need to work on my points a bit.  The quilting on the quilt is just a simple echo quilting on the inside of the blocks.  I used a basic pink Coats & Clark cotton thread on the quilt, both for piecing and quilting.  My stash of threads isn't all that great - yet!

For the binding, I used Amy's binding tutorial.  This was the first time I had used this method of binding and I have to say I really love the look and feel of it.  It's easy and I can see this becoming my go-to method for binding a quilt.  It gives the quilt a nice 'heft' on the edge and very easy to do.

Now my big issue with this pattern is (1) it's easy and (2) I have 3 layer cakes in my stash now screaming to be used for an adult quilt using this pattern.  I want to do four stars and put them together for a quilt.  It would make the quilt huge (84 x 84), but would be very simple to make.

It seems my list of projects keeps growing and not decreasing. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Mandala Monday

I have to admit, if I had my dream garden, it would be this luscious, overblown English garden.  Of course, having grown up in the South, an English garden is a bit difficult due to the heat.  The flowers I really, really wanted didn't cope well with the heat of Texas and North Carolina.  That's not to say you can't have an English garden look, but it didn't really work well for me.

One of my favorites are hollyhocks.  I love their tall, stately look with these huge flowers on them.  This year I found a 'black' hollyhock and am growing it in a pot.  It only got to about 3 feet in height. My plan is to save the seed and grow them in our garden at the new house next year.  My neighbor has some hollyhocks beside her house which look like they have self-seeded and are growing.  I plan on covering up the chain link fence behind the hollyhocks on one side of the house.

Of course, I plan several peonies along the front of the house.  With roses.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week in Review - July 5 - July 11

  • 38,653 steps walked or 17.68....very slack this week (again!)
  • 2 books read
  • Peony quilt - top coming together
  • 5 posts written
  • home inspection done and more paperwork back to the mortgage company
  • baby quilt started and finished for a baby shower on Sunday
This past week has been crazy - still.  I am looking forward to the move and my life becoming 'routine' again.  The home inspection was Wednesday and went very well.  No surprises did he find.  Which with a home inspection, that's what you want.  I started, on Thursday, a baby quilt for a shower (today) and finished it last night.  Nothing like knowing you need something for months and get on it 4 days before it's due.  But I had company in my pursuit of baby gifts - Christine did the same.
  • CJ will arrive this week! Huzzah! 
  • Symphony Under the Stars is next Saturday night and we are all looking forward to that.  Planning snacks and drinks to take with us.  
  • Hopefully, will get Peony finished this week and continue looking for a backing for it.
  • Writing group this week.  I need to make a decision whether to continue it or not.  It's only the same couple of people showing up each week.
  • Non-fiction book group this week too.  We are picking up people for that, so it should be fun.
My walking/health has taken a major back burner the past few weeks.  I was doing so good and then bam!  So refocusing on walking and vitamins and hydration....starting right after my cup(s) of coffee.

    Friday, July 10, 2015

    Procrastination and the Weekend

    I love it when I know something is going to need to be made, but I pretend it is still months away.  Like a baby shower present. Duh....like I didn't know it was going to happened at some  point.  So I am scrambling since yesterday to get a baby quilt done.

    I didn't want to do my usual, whole cloth and tied baby quilt.  And as I was contemplating the fact I am a stacker and have until Sunday evening to get this done, I came across this post by Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter.

    And Joann's has flannel on sale!

    Yesterday, on my way to work, I stopped and picked up some flannel.  The top piece is going to be the backing for the quilt.  The front of the quilt will be bright colors and the back a bit more restful.  And the binding - white with big, hot pink polka dots. After resenting the fact I had to work (don't they know I need to be at home sewing!), I cut out my blocks and got as far as starting to sew the rows together.  After sewing two rows together the wrong way and having to rip, I decided I had done enough.

    Today (hopefully, before work), I am going to sew the rows together and the border.  I discovered even though there are 12 blocks with 'color', I should have picked out at 6 rather than just 3 each of the light and dark.  Of well.  Actually, the baby quilt is just my 'test' run.   I love the look of the quilt and am thinking about 4 stars to make an adult quilt.  I have two layer cakes which are languishing in my bin with nothing to do. There are actually 3 layer cakes, one of which is Christmas, so I might have to do a Christmas quilt....ohhhhhhh.

    Between sewing before and after work, I should have the top completed today.  And then it's doing the quilting (probably an echo quilting design, quick and easy) and then the binding.  Saturday is suppose to be in the 70's and a bit rainy (fingers crossed).  Then Sunday, before the shower, I might get back to work on La Passacaglia - unless I decide I need to make more big stars!

    And did I mention I need to finish a book I started last night for my book group this week?

    Thursday, July 09, 2015

    One Step at a Time

    Yesterday was the home inspection.  Being Savvy and CJ are looking at a home that was built in 1900, we were expecting 'issues' and were holding our breath the home inspection would go well.  And it did!  The house isn't ready to fall down.  In fact, it's in pretty good shape as far as it's 'bones' are concerned.  Lots of tweaking on our part is planned, but all-in-all, good shape.

    During the inspection, Savvy and I found ourselves sitting on the front porch, chatting.  I can tell it's going to become a big part of our lives when we get to move in (hoping the appraisal goes as smoothly).  I remember many, many hours spent on my grandparents front porch in Jackson, Tennessee.  

    Once we dropped off some paperwork at the mortgage company, we strolled up the street to Benny's Bistro.   It's just a block off the 'main drag' and near our new house-to-be.  Also, we had some downtown merchant gift cards burning holes in our pockets and wanted to use them.  Savvy had already checked out their menu and found they had a tomato-rosemary soup and they deliver.  She's looking at them for winter food delivery!

    We had the soup-and-cobbler lunch combo.  How smart is that!  A soup and dessert rather than soup and sandwich or soup and salad.  Although their salads we saw going by did look really good.  We both ordered the same thing and impressed, both with the taste and the presentation.  I didn't think about taking a picture of the soup as I was so busy scarfing it down.  The tomato-rosemary soup was thick and yummy, served with a slice of french bread and a madeleine which had a really orange-citrusy taste.

    The cobbler was a mixed berry cobbler and one I probably would not have normally ordered.  I'm not a big fan of mixed berry things.  But this was good.  Not too sweet and paired with a scoop of ice cream was really good.  We will definitely be back to Benny's, especially since they feature local foods and meats.

    Came home and ripped out some squares I had made on my peony quilt, because I CAN'T FOLLOW DIRECTIONS!  I ripped out 12 of the triangles and paired it with the correct fabric, especially since they go around the outside of the quilt.  However, the other 24 squares which and two tips in the wrong fabric I didn't change out.  It is what it is.  Being they are so close in tone to each other, I left my mistake in place.  I did get 5 rows put together before bedtime last night and think it's coming together well, despite my error.

    I'm liking how it's looking and my mistake is working out well.  I love how it all blends together and the green gives it some 'pop'.  It's the shabby-chic look I was going for.  Now my next question, when I get it all together, is do I send it out to have it quilted.  I think I am going to at this point, if it doesn't cost me a million dollars to have it quilted by someone.  But tonight, after work, I'll put together the rest of the rows and then the two borders and I'm done.  Except for the backing, but I'm waiting for a good Joanne's coupon to pick up some flannel for the back.  I can see a white flannel with tiny pink/green flowers on it in my mind.

    Then it's off to start working on a quilt for CJ out of the shirts I collected.

    Tuesday, July 07, 2015

    "Peony" in Progress

    I am getting down to the end of cutting and sewing blocks on Peony/Mystery Quilt.  Hopefully today after work, I can finish all the pieces up and start assembling.

    I have noticed it is actually coming together with a soft feel to it I was hoping for.  The Mystery quilt actually calls for more contrast between the fabrics.  But three of the four fabrics I have are pretty close in value, so no strong contrast.  The green gives it a punch.  So I feel, once put together, it will have that shabby-chic, mound of peonies look I am going for.  If I can get the blocks together tonight, then Wednesday, after the house inspection, I might actually get the top put together.

    I already have my next 'project' in mind and it means pulling out something new rather than finishing up something I already have started.  CJ will be here soon and I haven't made a 'manly' quilt or, specifically, a quilt for CJ.  So I need to pull out the fabric from dress shirts I have and see what ideas I can come up with for the quilt I want to make for CJ.  Thinking a chevron pattern, but have to actually see how much fabric I acquired from the bag of dress shirts I got almost two years ago.  I have washed them and cut off collars and such, but not sure exactly what I have.  I can already see my pile becoming a play toy when I pull them out of the bin and Lady K 'helps'.

    Monday, July 06, 2015

    Non-Mandala Monday

    I am still recuperating from the whirlwind trip to/from Arizona.  I spent all day yesterday, in my room, quilting on my Quilt Shop Hop Mystery Quilt/Peony Quilt.  In other words, being a giant slug. Our Fourth of July celebrating was thanks to Savvy, who bought some items from the Dollar Store.  Lady K was certainly celebrating with her skirt, flowers, glow wand and glow necklaces.  We were all so tired, I don't think any of us heard fireworks if they were even near us.

    So no mandala today....much too tired still.

    Sunday, July 05, 2015

    Week In Review - June 28 - July 4

    My view most of last week

    • Sewed the top to the alphabet quilt together.  Now to construct the backing and put it all together.  But only when it cools off a bit.
    • Finished Rosette #1 on La Passacaglia.
    • Signed up for the "Local Flavor Swap" on Chaotic Goddess
    • 4 blog posts written
    • 2 books read
    • 35,666 steps or 16.31 miles - not bad considering most of the time was spent in the car this week
    • Drive to/from Arizona made and survived with Texter, Lady K and two cats on the return
    • More papers signed on the house and the home inspection next week.  Fingers crossed!
    • Finished a block for a swap.  Now I just need to get a fabric pen to sign and date it and drop it in the mail. Mailed!
    • Lost the car carrier on the return trip at about 2am outside Butte, Montana
    • Got car carrier back from stranger who stopped and picked it up and bothered to call and deliver it - taking about a 2 hour detour round trip out of his way
    The best part of this past week was the kindness of a complete stranger.  I had the brilliant idea, since I decided to power on back through for the return trip, to put most of the items I was bring back, in the car carrier and "secure" to the top of the car.  This included paperwork for the house and my purse (minus my billfold).  When I stopped to top up the gas about 3am in Butte, I looked up and the carrier was gone!  I just wanted to die right there.  Needless to say, there was a lot of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth for most of Saturday morning.

    Then about 2 pm, Texter runs into my room, phone in hand, yelling at me to 'get up, get up'.  We had to drive to Qdoba and pick up the car carrier.  A "Mr. Stone" had found it beside the highway outside Butte, found our phone numbers inside, and called, returning it to Savvy at work!  Almost everything was intact, very little lost or damaged.  The important things were all there and in good condition.  This just reinforces my belief in you try to put out 'good intentions/karma', you will get it back.  

    Needless to say, after the physically draining drive back and the 'excitement' of the day, we were all in bed about 8 pm last night.  If they did any fireworks near the house last night, I didn't hear it.  

    So here's hoping for a smooth home inspection on Wednesday and NO EXCITEMENT for the coming week.