Thursday, March 3, 2016

February Finish All People Quilt UFO Challenge

The project number chosen for March is #3 and I'm so relieved that it is not my other BOM project! I'm burnt out from complicated piecing and need a "breather" by way of a simple project to work on. 

My No. 3 this month is a Thanksgiving table runner that I started in 2011.   It was a project in the October/November 2011 issue of The Quilter magazine.   I was really drawn to the design because it used batik fabrics and I like the dimension that they added to the pumpkins and leaves.   They remind me of the Cinderella pumpkins and turban squash.

I was wondering if any of you subscribe to one or more quilt magazines each month?   I have to confess that while I don't subscribe to ANY magazines,  I will occasionally look through them when I'm in the magazine aisle,  but I rarely purchase one unless there's several unique projects that I really, really like. 

I have taken many classes and practiced but I am not skilled at FMQ, so MY machine quilting is done with a regular presser foot.  I then follow lines or designs that I've marked on the quilt top.

The piecing and applique are done, so I hope to get the machine embroidery and quilting completed as well as the self-binding.

For my February project I had chosen the Vintage Memories quilt and I now have all of the blocks finished.   I only had Block #8 and 9 left and now that those are complete, I will be able to piece the quilt top in between projects.  I'm really committed to finishing this quilt THIS YEAR!

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 It's been a very hectic month and I don't see it letting up soon,  I'm just grateful that February came and went a lot easier than it did in 2015. My sister and I are trying to prep my dad's house for sale this spring and that means every weekend we are there purging, cleaning and making runs to Savers and the Salvation Army with drop offs.   I also started a full-time job this week so my project time is seriously diminished, which is another reason that I'm glad this month's UFO challenge project is an easy one.




Sunday, February 21, 2016

UFO Challenge

Just wondering if any of you are doing the allpeoplequilt.com UFO challenge here ?  I saw this referenced on another blog and decided to look into it.   According to the website, you identify twelve UFO's that you want to finish over the next year and number them from 1-12 on a downloadable form along with their current status. 


At the beginning of each month, a random number is selected.  Whichever project on your list corresponds to the number drawn, is what you work on for that month.   I'm getting into this a month and a half late, so I cheated a little.  This month's project # is 5, so I'm working on my Vintage Memories quilt which I put in the #5 slot.   I have seven of the nine blocks completed, so I'm hoping to finish all of the blocks and maybe even get some of the borders cut.

I had to go through the cabinets and shelves in my very messy craft room to locate the UFO's that I wanted to add to my list and found a lot more than twelve!  Yikes!  I had to use the back of the form.

Have any of you been shocked when you've realized how many UFO's you have or the money that's tied up in them?   I know we all start out with good intentions and a generous heart, wanting to feed our creative spirit and make beautiful gifts, but while I was ferreting out kits and patterns from shelves and cabinets, I started calculating the cost and it adds up to a staggering amount. 

I have two BOM quilts that I purchased and each kit was about $20.00 a month, plus the finishing kits which ran about another $40.  So I'm estimating each was around $200.00 to $250.00 not including any extra FQ's or yardage that I purchased because I loved it at the time. 

I also have a tote bag kit that I bought to make for a friend that was $50.00;  (4) four Patchabilities "monthly mini" kits that I purchased for about $20.00 each;  another Halloween BOM quilt kit (I bought one pattern but three separate fabric kits to make three of these) at a cost of $35. each plus the pattern $15.00; two charm packs, yardage and pattern and an a machine embroidery alphabet and design to make a Christmas stocking for my grandson at a cost $40.00.

This doesn't include the stashes of fabric, pre-cuts or  partially complete projects that are over 20 years old and non-sewing projects like the afghan for my sister I've been working on for 7 years!

When do you cut your losses and let go of projects you know you don't want to finish and what do you do with them?  Do you sell them online, donate them, swap with other crafting friends?  I'd love to know in the comments section.   Please share? 

I'm also thinking of having an online "yard sale' in the next few weeks so stay tuned.   I'll be listing some fabrics and patterns and there will also be a give-away! 

I'm still looking for a pattern I bought back in 2011 or 2012 for a purse made with strips of batting wrapped with batik fabrics.  I went to the Sewing Diva yesterday which is where I originally bought the pattern.  She no longer carries it but told me the name and because I didn't write it down, I forgot it before I got home.   It begins with "Auntie" something or other so if anyone knows what the rest is, please leave it in the comments below.

Well, I'm off to work on #5 for a few hours and then, since it's a beautiful day outside for a long walk!

Enjoy! 

Gail



Thursday, January 28, 2016

One Year Later

I never intended to go this long between posting on my blog but as John Lennon said "Life is what happens when you're making other plans."  And, sometimes when you're making those other plans and life is happening around you, you change focus on what is important.

My sister and I noticed a change in my dad's behavior after my mother passed away in 2013.  We were beginning to suspect that it was some sort of dementia and did some searches on the internet.  We would get middle of the night phone calls with bizarre stories of visitors knocking on the door, or else asking us where our mother had gone.  Sometimes they were irate calls filled with anger towards us for not understanding and sometimes we could hear the fear and confusion in his voice.

During this time, there were also several "incidents" and ER visits where the VNA and elder services got involved.  He flooded the basement, and set the oven on fire but he was at the time still very resistant to any kind of help or outside services that were offered and when I signed him up for meals on wheels, he called and cancelled the program.  We were told that it was no longer safe for him to live alone, so when I had a job offer nearby that allowed me to move in it seemed like a good solution.  For a while it worked and the middle-of-the-night calls stopped.

Then in mid-December 2014 when neither of us were there, my father's dementia required another ER visit and this time he was transferred from the ER to a geriatric hospital that specialized in dementia.  There the diagnosis was confirmed and over the course of several weeks they tried him on medications and dosages until they felt he was stabilized enough to be released home with 24-hour supervision and day care.  

That never worked out.  Shortly before his release, he acquired an acute viral infection that nearly killed him and left him weak and unable to walk without assistance.  I won't go into all the details but after he recovered, he spent time in nine different institutions and I watched my dad decline steadily with each move.

Dad passed away last September alone in a nursing home.  My sister got the call from the nursing home that morning but she got there just minutes too late to hold his hand and say goodbye.  I was away on my first real vacation in ten years.  And even now, my heart breaks when I think of him alone without me.  Though in my heart I know that it would have been what he wanted.

My father was not a very sentimental man.  I know he mourned the deaths of close friends and the three brothers who preceded him but he would also admonish my mother, sister and I when we were overly sentimental.  Maybe that came from growing up Irish and poor during the depression, or maybe because he was a Boston policeman or soldier in the Korean war whatever the reason, he was pragmatic about death and violence and saw more of it than most.

I do not think I really knew him well, the private man or his hopes and dreams.  I wish that was different and I wish now that I'd spent more time with him; knew his friends and talked with him more than I did, but my sister and I were our mother's girls and my father always seemed happy that we chose her to spend our visits with.  We relied on my father for his technical expertise--he was the most amazing handyman and mechanic and a reliable worker.  Self-taught, he could do anything from plumbing to carpentry.  One thing I have learned since from his many neighbors,  was that he was also generous with his skills and time.

I am grateful for those six months that I had with him during the summer of 2014.  I made dinner for us both on a broken stove while he shared stories about his family, youthful adventures and lost loves.  We watched  television and sometimes went out to eat at the "99" which he loved.  We took a few walks at a park he loved and admired his beautiful lawn while sitting outside one summer evening.  Looking back, I think he knew he would lose some of those memories and wanted to share them before he did. 

Good-bye Dad.  Thank you for being my dad.  I love you.

John Crowley
8/4/29 to 9/27/15





Saturday, November 29, 2014

Saturday, November 29th

Tomorrow is the last day of the month.  There are only 25 days, nine hours and 15 minutes till Christmas as I write this!  I’m sure you wanted to know that, lol :)

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with much to be thankful for.  Our thanksgiving was a little cold and cloudy but at least three of us got to spend thanksgiving together even if it was a restaurant dinner and not home-cooked.   Not surprisingly, my dad did not come with us, making excuses at the last minute.  He does not enjoy eating out anymore and prefers to stay close to home.  Change in routine upsets him-these are all aspects of dementia. 

In NH it was a different story, the same pre-Thanksgiving storm that gave the south shore of Boston rain and slush, dumped 10 inches of heavy, wet snow on the southern part of the state and created a widespread power outage, Thursday.   I guess it was lucky that I wasn’t hosting a large crowd like last Thanksgiving.  What do you do with a partially cooked 18 lb turkey when there’s no power?  

I was scheduled to work Friday but after calling to confirm that my house was part of the outage and that power wasn’t expected to be restored till Monday, I decided to come home Friday morning,  it was a good thing I did too, because I had accidentally turned the furnace off the previous weekend . The good news is that we got our power on last night ahead of schedule.  

One casualty of the storm was my beloved Sargeant’s crabapple that was split in two by the ice laden snow.  It survived many storms including the ice storm of 2008.

Monograms really seem to be a  big decorating trend this year and I’ve seen several Christmas wreaths on Pinterest that I liked.  I decided that I would revamp my berry wreath that I’ve had for eons.   I purchased a 7 1/2” letter “G” at Michaels and a can of red spray paint.  Applied several coats and then brushed on a coat of Mod Podge and sprinkled it with red micro-glitter.  Changed the bow from red-velvet to red & white check ribbon and I love how it looks.     Decided to hang it on the porch wall adjacent to the door because live greens would dry out too quickly on the closed in porch.

This berry wreath has served me well.  Some of the paper-mache berries crack, but it’s a quick touch up with nail polish. 

Well, I’m off to the attic to pull down some more decorations.   Have a good weekend!

Gail :)

 

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Quick Catch Up

Just catching up here.  Haven’t posted since July.   As I drink my second cup of coffee this morning, I look outside and there is frost on the deck, the BBQ grill and the lawn.  We’ve already had a dusting of snow and that’s gone now but next weeks is Thanksgiving and then it’s a short four weeks till Christmas. 

My family is scattered this year so I won’t be hosting Thanksgiving Dinner.   Instead four of us will be going to a restaurant and most likely it will end up being three of us (my father, who suffers from dementia has a habit of cancelling at the last minute).

Living back home and caring for my father  hasn’t been everything I thought it would be.  My father puts up obstacles to anyone helping him.  He fights to stay in control but is losing the battle with memory loss and rationality and this makes him fight harder.   I wish that he would recognize that he can accept help and still keep his dignity and most of his independence.  Being a former police officer, marine and athlete, he is very much a “macho man” even at 85.   It would make all of our lives much easier--if he would accept some help and social services and stop pretending that he is as capable as he was.  We are trying to make it possible for him to stay in his home environment as long as possible but neither my sister nor I can be there 24/7.  The state is suspending his license in mid-December because of three minor accidents where he was at fault.   He refuses to give it up voluntarily, insisting that he is a “good driver”.  We have tried rationalizing with him about his decreased reaction time and the amount of traffic where he lives to no avail.        

I have found it’s hard to reconnect or make new friends in a new place at this “age”.  Everyone is pre-occupied with their own lives, family,  work, etc.  It seems like people no longer make conversation.  They are self-absorbed by their phones, email, text messages and e-readers. 

I dressed up for Halloween and handed out the candy at my father’s house.  My dad did not participate.   It was nice meeting his neighbors & their children and grandchildren.  I heard so many “nice” stories of favors and kindnesses that my mother and father did for many of them.  My mother especially was much loved and remembered.  

On a funny note, when my father saw my costume he didn’t get that it WAS a costume and  thought I was dressing up to go out.IMG_0539 IMG_0546

 

I decorated my house for Halloween and Ernie put on a seasonal bow tie!

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I’m going to my daughter’s next weekend so I can bring Calvin’s advent calendar that I made from a panel last winter.  We won’t see each other for Thanksgiving because there is a family wedding on her father’s side that weekend.   I’ve finished purchasing all the “advent gifts” to go in the pockets.   Because I didn’t want to candy in all of the pockets, it ended up being quite expensive, even at the dollar store.   Some of the  gifts were too large and  will be wrapped up. I’ll put a card in that days pocket with a corresponding number on the gift.   

 

In hindsight, I wish I’d made an advent calendar that had ornaments to hang on buttons for each day.  Oh well, lesson learned.  I do think it’s a good tool for learning to count though.

 

Well that’s it for this post.   Thanks for stopping by.

 

Gail

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Consider the bees

Haven’t been posting for a few weeks.  During that time, much has happened.  I got to spend a few wonderful weeks with my DD#2.  We spent most of our time visiting places in New England that were on both of our bucket lists before she left for a new life and career in Spain.  I also started a new job—closer to my dad’s so that I can stay with him during the week.   Unfortunately, I don’t have access to the internet at his house.

That’s partly been a good thing as I tend to be distracted by it.   Not having the internet has forced me  to turn to other activities like long walks after work and restoring some of the gardens at my dad’s house that are overgrown.   I also do most of the cooking and spend more time in conversation with my dad.  I’m catching up on books I’ve wanted to read and learning how to download books from the library onto the kindle my daughter gave me.

The weather has been wonderful.  My walking has taken me through neighborhoods where I grew up and I’ve rediscovered the pleasure and convenience of living in suburbia—a walk to the corner store for milk and a newspaper, a short drive to reach a major store, rubbish pick-up and mail delivery—all things I don’t have here.   Ernie, my cat travels back and forth with me and is adjusting well to living in two places.

As I mentioned above the gardens that once were a showplace of 100 year old peonies and roses have become overgrown.   The rich loamy soil that was once like wet coffee grinds is now dry and powdery and full of shallow tree roots,  due to my father letting trees grow everywhere.   He has several 2nd generation Norway maples that are the offspring of a larger tree in a neighbor’s yard.   He thought the trees would meant less mowing for him but the trees have sapped all of the nutrients out of the soil and the grass now has to be heavily fertilized and watered in order to maintain the “golf-course” look that my dad wants.

My dad isn’t alone,  all of the neighbors on his street seem to be in competition for the greenest and thickest turf and most mornings when I leave for work, I see at least one landscaping company trucks parked at a neighbor’s. The problem with this is that across the street from my dad’s house, the Plymouth River flows.   All of that nitrogen-rich fertilizer and pesticide is leaching through the soil into the river. 

Years ago a beautiful lawn was lush and green and full of white clover.   White clover is a legume, it pulls nitrogen from the air and fixes it to its roots.   The grass that grows in with the clover is dark green, healthy and lush.  

White clover is no longer added to grass seed mixtures.  I had a difficult time finding it and when I did the salesman told me that it was considered a “weed”.  Some of the other reasons are that it dies down in winter and creates temporary bare patches, which, btw, quickly fill in by the more desirable perennial grass rhizomes.   Clover also attracts honey and bumble bees which are docile and non-aggressive but sometimes get confused with wasps and hornets which are aggressive.  Clover also attracts wildlife like deer and rabbits because it is rich in nutrients and lastly there are the little white flowers which some lawn purists find objectionable.  They can be minimized by frequent mowing.   Clover also smells amazing when it is cut, even better than grass, and recovers very quickly from mowing or foot traffic.  Clover will quickly shade out weed seeds like crab grass and chickweed.

Lastly, all of us have in some part contributed to CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) that is affecting the honey bee population.  Most experts agree that one of the  main contributors to CCD is the use of pesticides that are used in the lawn industry.   It’s been a long time since I’ve seen honeybees buzzing about in my garden or lawn and this year, I’ve seen less and less solitary bees.   I’m getting worried.    We need to make it right again and not be swayed into thinking that a weed-free/insect-free  lawn is the only alternative and only possible by using chemicals (there are organic alternatives available).  Water, ph levels and choosing the correct species of grass for the area are equally as important.

Benefits of Clover (excerpted from www.almanac.com/content/clover-comeback)

  • White clover (Trifolium repens) is a rapid spreader that crowds out broadleaf weeds while it grows harmoniously with grass. It will thrive in areas that are poorly drained or too shady for a conventional lawn.
  • Being a legume, clover has the ability to convert nitrogen into fertilizer using bacteria in it's root system, practically eliminating the need for additional fertilization.
  • It is an extremely drought-resistant plant and will keep its cool-green color even during the hottest and driest parts of summer.
  • Left uncut, white clover grows 4-8 inches tall and produces small white flowers that are often tinged with pink. The flowers not only create a beautiful visual effect, but also bring in bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects that prey on garden pests.
  • Honeybees rarely sting when they are away from their hive, but if they make you uncomfortable or you are allergic to bee stings, simply have the lawn mowed more often when clover is in bloom.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day - 2014!

memorial day_52614 Today is a day for parades, flags, barbecues and decorating the graves of loved ones.   I am always reminded of red geraniums on Memorial Day.  They were the flowers that my mother and grandmother placed at our family’s gravesites because of their patriotic red color, draught tolerance and because they bloom continuously till frost.   

These days, Geraniums seem to be underappreciated in home gardens, but if you have difficulty keeping up with watering, they work well for containers and window boxes, and now there are  so many more hybrid colors and forms available besides the traditional “fire engine red”. They also combine well with other popular annuals.  I planted some pale salmon bi-color geraniums and white Bacopa (Sutera) in my father’s window boxes this spring because I know that they will look good, even if he forgets to water them between my visits. 

Memorial Day is also the day for remembering our fallen heroes.  I saw this poem by Carl Sandburg on a paving stone in a public garden. It made me think of Memorial Day.  

 

Grass
By Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

 

IMG_0195 memorial day grass 2014