Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Few Firsts

Happy Sunday!!
   Today I will be attending my first Mod Conn Quilter's Guild meeting, being hosted by Jackie of Canton Village Quiltworks.  The group was first formed this spring, and I believe this is their 3rd or maybe 4th meeting.  I am looking forward to interacting with some quilters in real life, as opposed to "virtually" on the blogosphere.
   For the meeting, attendees are bringing a 12 1/2" square block in orange.  Jackie posted her beautiful orange block here.  I've been wanting to try out Aneela Hooey's crazy scrappy block tutorial  from her comfortstitching blog for a while, and this gave me a great excuse to give it a try.
   Here's my rendition:
   Mind you, it took me close to 2- 2 1/2 hours to do just this one block!  (Not sure of the actual cumulative time-- I worked on it in little spurts between yesterday and today.  I hope that if I do another one in the future, it doesn't take me quite so long!)   Most of my scraps are strips and I am sorely lacking in orange.  I started with the fussy cut butterfly in the middle and the orange scrap on it's right (which is the fabric I selected for the Rainbow Fabric Charm Swap.  And then it went from there... a variety of Kaffee Fassett, Aunt Grace Authentics (1930s reproductions), a batik or two and some miscellaneous fat quarters.  
   Anyway, the block was a fun "first".  And now I'm off to my "first" modern guild meeting-- I hope it will be just as fun!  I'll report back to you tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

{Virtual Coffee}

   Good Morning!!  If we were really meeting for coffee, I'd have to treat you all (whether we were at my house or at a cafe) because MY SON IS FINALLY POTTY TRAINED!!  Woo hoo!!  Little dance.... Jiggety jig... (Knock on wood, too).
   It's all because he wanted to swim in the big pool!  He just decided to start using the potty, and then he kept on using it (probably the rewards of a tootsie roll or lollipop each time he went helped, too).  Sammy loves his superhero underwear and takes great care selecting which pair he will wear.  His decision was timed very appropriately as we were hit with a big heat wave last week, and spent lots of time at the pool.
   I know that many of you experienced the same heat wave, too.  I love viewing all of your photos and reading about all the fun summertime experiences you are having.  Can you believe how fast the summer is flying by??  Of course it is a little strange for me to read about those of you who are sending your kids to school-- but its a cool reminder of how we can all be connected from different parts of the world via the internet and blogs.
Warning: the next paragraph contains toddler potty talk.
    By the end of the week, my little guy had not yet successfully done #2 on the potty, so I planted some incentive in his head:  I told him if he went #2 on the potty that we could go to the store and by a superhero.  20 minutes later... SUCCESS!!  I asked him how he knew he needed to go; his response: "My hole just felt like it." (Okay, I can accept that.)  He also likes to call his male organ "peanut".  Too funny.  For those of you who are curious, he selected Captain America.

   If we were really meeting for coffee this week, I would have to first thank you all for your concern and comments about my sprained thumb.  It is on the mend, but slowly.  I have been wearing the brace below from Walgreen's and it has been such a tremendous help.
Please notice the nice tan, and disregard the wrinkles.
Wait, no, accept me as I am-- wrinkles and all!
    It is still sore and swollen, but right now I can type with it.  I still can't grasp or exert pressure on it very well, or turn the keys in the ignition in the car-- I reach across the wheel and do it with my left hand, but I am grateful for the progress and improvement so far.  And since I can wiggle it, I know its not broken, so I opted not to go to the doctor.
    If we were really meeting for coffee, I'd ask how the kids are?  (And if you don't have kids, then how's the dog(s) or cat(s)?)  My kids have been very prolific little artists lately.  My son's drawing abilities are evolving into (somehwat) recognizable forms... 

   And my daughter has filled almost 2 sketchbooks full of drawings (mostly Power Puff Girls and other Manga cartoons)... (I just wish I could get her to use BOTH sides of the page-- we need to plant a few trees in order to compensate for the amount of paper she is using!)

   Oh, and here's a photo my daughter took of me... (I was being a little elusive and wasn't in the mood to be photographed.)
I look really mad/serious, don't I?
   Not sure why I decided to include that last one of me as it is not very complementary...

   If we were really meeting for coffee, I'd want to ask: how's your garden?  What's in bloom?  And I would have to admit that I do NOT have a green thumb.  My two tomato plants are growing big, and flowering, but every day I wait for a baby tomato to appear  :0(  And for the first time, I planted two clematis this year.  When I drive around, I notice everyone else's clematis are lush and full of blooms, while in comparison mine are straggly and wimpy and only one of them has one tiny flower bud on it.  Oh well.
   When I was watering the plants the other evening, in the sweltering heat, a little pickerel frog emerged from one of the plants.  I would love to share a photo of him/her with you, but when I went inside the air-conditioned house and came back out, the little guy was still there-- but my camera completely fogged over due to the change in temp and humidity from inside to outside.  Maybe next time.  
   Well, dear friends, it has been lovely meeting for coffee with you!  Sorry if I rambled on a bit and talked all about me, me, me-- but I do hope to hear back from some of you and read some of your lovely Virtual Coffee posts over at Amy's blog.  Please feel free to join in if you have not already done so.
   And now on to daily the busy-ness of daily life, which I will attempt to embrace mindfully!  
Have a great week!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quilting Progress With A Sprained Thumb

   Last week, I sprained my right thumb (thankfully, I'm left-handed), which I posted about here.  Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful and supportive comments and well-wishes!!  It has been an interesting week trying to manage without the use of one thumb, and I can certainly appreciate a lot of the little things that I have taken for granted about having two fully functional hands.
   Thank goodness for this brace I purchased at Walgreen's
   I wear it during the day, and occasionally remove it if the swelling is too much and then I ice it.  I wore it in the pool with the kids (to cool off from this week's heat wave) but I don't usually wear it to bed.
   At the moment, I can type with my thumb as it is not too swollen.  But if I push it, it gets sore and swells up.  It's not broken because I can wiggle t to a limited degree, but I'm watching it to see if I have a ligament issue.  So far, I have not gone to a doctor since there has been improvement.
   It has definitely slowed me down in a number of areas, but I managed to work on my stepson's laptop cover:
back side, with fused dragon
side with flap/closure
and potential "auditions" for collage
   And for my 3 1/2 year old son, who FINALLY decided he wanted to potty train and wear [superhero] underwear  (Hallelujah!!),  I had to reward this milestone with a Spiderman pillow kit on sale from Joann Fabrics (regularly $19.99, purchased for $4.99)
This is a set of 4 pillows.  I ran out of stuffing for the last, flat rectangular
pillow on the bottom, and my thumb is not yet strong enough to hand stitch
 the last few inches I left open for the stuffing (hence the binder clips).
Perhaps I will have enough grip strength to attempt that this week.
   So there you have the small projects I was able to manage, but I am so grateful that my thumb is not broken!
   Here's to appreciating the little things in life!
   Hope you all had a great weekend!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{Virtual Coffee}

   Good Morning!  I was thinking of you last night while playing outside with the kids: 
 (I borrowed this idea from one or two of you, but I can't remember specifically who)
The kids decided to join in the fun, too... 

What's your interpretation?
An amoeba?  The sun?  An eye? 

 The Power Puff girls

Just before all this chalk time fun, I had a little accident.

    I jammed my thumb pretty bad.  It would have been comical to observe:  I was preparing the bath for my daughter.  Our tub is very big and deep (it has some of those jets in it).  As I reached over to get some soap or something off the ledge on the far side, the bath mat slipped out from under me. I used my hand to save my fall (into the tub) and jammed my thumb.  (Note to self: buy bath mats with grips on the bottom from now on).
   My sweet Hubster put an ice pack on it and wrapped it (hence it looks gigantic).  This morning, it still hurts and is very swollen.  When Hubster wakes up, he'll re-wrap it and hopefully he will tell me I don't have to have it x-rayed (although I suspect that I will-- but please let me linger in the denial a little longer).  At least its my right thumb, and I'm a lefty-- I can type this post with minimal pain, but I can't use it to grasp.  This may spoil plans for quilting and a quite a number of other things.
   Edited at 10:58am:  returning to finish post after dropping kids off at camp and purchasing a brace at Walgreen's.  Had more I wanted to share, but it just about killed me to put the brace on and now its even more swollen and painful, so I'm going to ice it and visit all you linkers over at Virtual Coffee on Amy's Lucky Number 13 blog.  I'm eager to hear about all of your week(s)!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Show & Tell

   A few months ago, with noble intentions, I made a personal vow not to purchase any more fabric unless it applied to a UFO that I was going to finish (backing and/or binding).  Little did I know, then, that I would be stricken with a severe case of (self diagnosed) Quilter's ADD.  [Don't worry, my husband is a nurse practitioner and he specializes in psychiatry, so I'm in good hands.]  My list of quilt projects is all over the place, and my self-restraint is out the window.  My poor, neglected UFOs will have to wait just a little longer...
   What initially started out as a minor digression from my fabric diet has turned into a full-fledged Binge (with a capital "B").   Let's have a look at the damage I've done in the last few weeks...
   -  I plan to make laptop and cell phone cases for my two stepsons and the Hubster, and I needed some fabric with a more masculine appeal.  My stepson and I went online, and selected some beautiful Asian fabrics for the occasion:

And while I was at it, I treated myself to these (just because):

Cherish, from Kona Bay, is one of my all time favorite fabrics.
It's a few years old now, and hard to find, so I purchased a yard.
This detail shows the colors more accurately.
(included my hand for scale)
   - Next digression:  one of the small quilt shops in northwestern CT, about an hour from my home, is sadly going out of business.  Everything is now 50% off.  My 3 1/2 year old son accompanied me, so it was a challenge to focus as he was pulling bolts off the shelves and spilling cupfuls of buttons...  Thankfully, I managed to briefly sit him down for a snack and some juice, and selected these: 
The fabric on left is actually more of an eggplant/deep purple, although it appears bluish.
On the right: an Asian fabric I couldn't resist
My son selected the stegosaurus button, and I picked out a few basic supplies.
   - And since I was up in that area of the state, and on a roll,  I visited another quilt shop that I don't often get to-- again, with my 3 1/2 yr old son in tow.   To keep him happy (and maintain my sanity), I allowed him to select these fat quarters:
while I selected these:

   This batik was purchased as a potential background fabric for a stash-busting Crazy Nine-Patch Lattice quilt that I started last weekend (Kind of ironic that I'm purchasing more fabric while trying to use up stash?). 
    Lastly, I fell in love-at-first-sight with Valori Wells new line of fabrics, Wrenly.  It just so happened that was having a designer sale, with 15-20% off Wrenly last week.  This is a fabric I don't want to miss, so I had to order some.  I was so excited to receive it in the mail that I didn't even bother to iron it before photographing it.

   I plan on using the above for my kitchen curtain project that I blogged about here.  I purchased additional half yards of all the colorways and some of the coordinates because I'm out of control I couldn't resist.

This shot for the selvage lovers out there!
   And so, dear friends, I have lots of beautiful fabric on hand (don't you agree?) and lots of exciting projects to work on, so I'm off to the sewing table...  I hope to share some of my creations with you soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

{Virtual Coffee} 7

Good morning Virtual Coffee (and Tea) friends! 
 It's a hot and muggy one here, but thankfully, I'm comfortably inside
our air-conditioned house,
where I shall try to remain as much as possible.

   I hate to admit it, but I think that I may be more in contact with some of you "virtual" friends than my "real" friends.  Is that a horrible thing?  I don't really think so.  We are all busy with our families and the kids' activities (and laundry, cooking, paying bills, etc.)  And truth be told, I'm not a big fan of talking on the phone, especially when my young ones are around.  I usually talk to my sister at some point every day (after the kids have been dropped off at school or camp), but as far as friends in real life go, I prefer to see them in person and just talk on the phone to try and schedule a get-together.  (Unless, of course, there is a crisis or problem, and then I'm happy to lend an ear).
   My two children don't often permit me to have conversations with others-- whether its the Hubster when he gets home from work, or another parent or adult.  This is a constant battle-- trying to teach the kids to WAIT their turn-- when I am in a conversation or making a business call.  The kids are always vying for attention.  But I guess that's the nature of kids.  I do have to admit that it gets frustrating.  They even try to be polite and say, "Excuse me!", but when they repeat it over and over, it's kind of missing the point.
(Phew!  Sorry for the rant-- had to get it out).

At any rate, how was your week??
Any fun summer activities or vacations or outings?
In all honesty, I'm feeling rather uninspired and not very conversational today.
Do you get like that?
Perhaps its due to the heat? anxiety? post-menstrual blues? (is there even such a thing?)   Can't explain it really...

But I do enjoy these weekly Virtual Coffee link-ups, so I'm going to post, even though I thought about taking a break this week.

I am actually writing this at 4:30pm.  I drank my coffee hours ago.  And it does feel weird not to be sipping on my mug as I write this.

How 'bout some visuals?
Two of my favorite flowers in my garden are in bloom:
Of all the lilies we have, this one is my favorite.   The golden ones are done (for now) and the pale orange ones are pretty, but there's something about the deep-red-rusty-orange of this one that I just love.
And of course, echinacea.  Mine are getting really tall, and I've cut the tallest ones and put them in a vase.  There are many more buds getting ready to open.  This particular flower emerged amongst the foliage of our Dwarf Japanese Maple, that is not doing too well.  It's been sick for years, and at some point we may have to cut it down.
   I've seen some lovely blooming flower photos-- and some very artistic perspectives captured-- on some of the blogs I follow.  What's in bloom where you are?  Do you have a favorite?
The hummingbird has been coming to visit our Bee Balm, but s/he usually gets spooked when I go sit outside.

   We had a fun-filled week, but unfortunately, I did not document it with my camera.  We had two (crazy) nights of sleepovers with the kids and their cousins.  On Saturday, we went to a Pickin' & Fiddlin' festival in one of the small, quaint towns in the Litchfield Hills-- it was a lot of fun.  They have a great outdoor playground there.  On Sunday, we had an outdoor birthday dinner for my stepson who turned 25, with a few friends and family.  Sometimes, I just prefer to enjoy the moment(s) rather than trying to capture it with my camera.

   I did receive an exciting package in the mail:  the fabrics from the Rainbow Charm Swap that I am participating in, hosted by Jennifer over at Ellison Lane Quilts.  28 participants are in the swap, and each of us is assigned a color.  We all purchased one yard of fabric, and cut it into 56  five-inch squares. We then sent them all to our host, Jennifer, who sorted and mailed 2 squares of each color to everyone.  Here's what it looks like laid out on the table:

My assigned color was orange (extra square in the middle) with Jennifer's (swap host) card;
[hard to read in the photo, but it says Ellison Lane Quilts]
There are some beautiful charms in there, and unfortunately,
the quality of my photography does not do the colors justice.
   I haven't figured out what kind of pattern/quilt I am going to make with them yet, but I'm sure there will be some pretty beautiful creations from the group.  I look forward to seeing what others in the group produce, and I pray that I find something that is appropriate to my level and don't feel inferior to some of the more seasoned quilters in the bunch.  
   Let me take one last look and see if I have any more visuals to add...

Okay, so today's post may be somewhat lame, but that's where I'm at right now....

I look forward to reading your contributions tomorrow am (when I'm sipping on coffee!)

If you want to link up or read other {Virtual Coffee} posts, here's the link: Lucky Number 13

Time, now, to go make dinner...

Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

{Virtual Coffee} 6

   I just remembered this song from Greg Brown, and found it on You Tube to share with you...  Please have a listen.  The version I had, years ago on cassette tape, was a live mix (from from the Newport Folk Festival, I believe).  It was acoustic and it was AWESOME, but this version will do, too.  I just bookmarked it.  Now I'll have to locate that live version (next stop after this post:!)
   My coffee is brewing right now...  We have one of those machines where you have to place the carafe in just so, or else it ends up spilling out all over the counter (... and down into the cupboards ... and onto the floor, and nothing makes me madder if I don't catch it right away!)  Thankfully, it hasn't happened it in awhile (knock on wood), but it usually occurs about once a year.  Have you had any cofffee misfortunes?

   Please hold, while I go pour my first mug...

   Mmmmmmmmmm!!  I savor those first few glorious sips.  

   For those of you in the US, I hope you had a great holiday weekend!  Yesterday evening.  We had our annual family fireworks show in the driveway, courtesy of Hubster.  (All legal, and fairly tame, due to the kids.)  
   We started out, very carefully, with the kids doing sparklers...

Hold it out and away from you, Sammy!
And point it downwind!
And we had some colorful smoke bombs (pretty colors, but they do smell!)  First blue...

Then orange...

Where'd she go?
Flashback to reading The Fog by Stephen King--
Did you ever read that?
a little nervous about holding a short sparkler

Oops--that last one had a few loud popping noises at the end--
but the kids were okay with it and wanted MORE

   The grande finale was the best-- it had a little surprise at the end!  It was a leftover from last year or the year before, called "Chinese Lantern".  Here's Daddy hanging it up on the basketball hoop.  (Note the lovely tattoo on the Hubster's right arm.  You can't see it all, but it says "ELISA FOREVER" with a celtic knot-band kind of thing.  He got it when we were engaged.  Isn't he romantic?)

Ooooooh!  Aaaaaaah!

Surprise!!  Look what popped out at the end!
Isn't that cool??!! I am going to have to hang it in my sewing space!!

   Did you watch any fireworks?  As it got dark, we could hear some louder fireworks being set off in the distance.  I love being in bed and hearing distant fireworks as I'm drifting off to sleep.   Do you like hearing noises of the night, like me, or do they annoy you and keep you awake? 

   We did have a very busy week and weekend, but the highlight was truly our own little backyard show.

   I am now halfway through my third mug, and I guess its time to start doing something a little more productive around here.  Thank you for visiting for coffee and I look forward to reading all of your posts, too!  The Virtual Coffee linkers are an interesting bunch-- check it out or link up at Amy's Lucky Number 13 blog.

Have a great week!!