Saturday, December 30, 2017

2018 Aspirations

“The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written.  We can help write that story by setting goals.”  ---Melody Beattie

Tackling the upstairs after Christmas is always a chore.  The entire second floor of our cottage is my space and includes my office and sewing room.  It's also the place where the clutter is sent before any holiday season.  Today I would just be happy if the horizontal areas in the room weren't filled with stuff.
The rooms are also littered with legal pads.  I've been recording what needs to be done and what I'd like to accomplish in the next year.  My list is just a loose outline of what I hope to complete.  But first I had to scour through the mess of the sewing room to find out what needed to be done.

I know what I have in the fabric region; it's easily visible on shelves and in cabinets.  I'm content with this area.  For the past few years I've donated or passed on fabric that I decided I wouldn't use.

But then there the UFOs.  These things are tucked (hidden) in drawers like ghosts of projects past just awaiting to loom up like ghouls of guilt.  

Often in block form, some are pieced and needing more blocks, others are cut and need piecing.  Some terrible ones are just piles of fabric awaiting the whole shebang of assembly.  It would be nice if I could tackle at least 5 of these projects.

I have two drawers of oddments.  Leftover blocks from completed quilts, they would be useful for premie quilts, placemats, or mug rugs.

Then there is the scrap montsers.  I wish someone could explain to me how it is that I recently completed six scrap quilts and now have more scraps than when I started.  I'd love to whittle them down but I don't even have room on my lists for scraps.  I attack them every now and then when I am frustrated.  
Scout says, "Seriously?  How many scraps do you need to save?"

I have 17 tops.  Not all of thse will get quilted; but many that are completed will be gifts or donation quilts.

There are also 5 quilts that I would like make in the next year or two (or three).  These enterprises I've thought about it for a while and haven't gotten to yet.  You might call them pre-UFOs but my friend Linda would call them think-dream projects.

On the business side of my sewing, I have a new guild program to develop and will continue to develop my Nine Patch Notes.  I have a work blog called Pennsylvania Piecemaker that has been long neglected.  Since LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" has been successful for me, I'm going to adopt a day to keep the work blog functioning.  It's a start.

I hope you have a productive 2018!  Have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve and day!

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 Year in Review: A Prolific Year


Whenever I have a productive year of quilting, I like to take stock and assess what I’ve done and the impetus for finishing projects.  My neighbor (and sewing buddy) Carol has been asking me for months how much I’ve completed but I didn’t really care enough to count.  I was too busy sewing.  This year I’ve managed to complete 21 projects (more than half were laptop quilts) plus premie quilts and another 11 tops.   

So here is my list of personal reflections on this past year.  I want to remember what I learned so that I can return to this when my creative mojo is off.

Sewing as Therapy
I had made a list of why I think it was a prolific year but when I was talked to my neighbor he pointed out that I had forgotten the biggest reason:  I was very anxious. 

2017 has been a year of tumult for our country and the world.  I’ve done what I can to support the causes I believe in and contacted my federal representatives so many times they probably know me by name.  But it wasn’t enough.  So I sewed.

I love lists.  Even more, I love crossing things off lists.  Anyone who has knows me realizes that my best sewing years are the ones when I participated in UFO challenges.  I joined two this year:  the first was a challenge put out on Facebook by the American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine.  Then my guild initiated a UFO challenge and I joined that as well.  I had three pages of projects that needed completion.  I finished about 70% of my quilts.  

This year, I was on the computer less, used LeeAnna’s project of “I like Thursdays” as a time to blog, and limited television (news until 9 a.m. and then relax and watch tv after 6 p. m.).  I allotted two days a week for cleaning and errands. 

Flexibility has been a big battle for me.  I’m very understanding towards others and hard on myself (bet that sounds familiar to some of you).  I have not mastered relaxing my own self-expectations but I have improved a wee bit.
               The project list is not the alpha and omega, instead the process became my focus.  First time feeling:  There were tops like this one (below) that I closed the sewing day very pleased because I wasn't  finished!  I was just enjoying the work.

               A finish is a finish.  It doesn’t matter if it is a placemat or full sized quilt.

               It’s okay to do the same thing more than once.  This was a tough lesson for me but now I find that is comforting because I can just concentrate on piecing.   So for example I began the blue underground quilt as a gift for Jana May (see above); everyone that saw it wanted one.  I decided this was great because I would make enough tops to use up all the fabrics plus I incorporated other fabrics from my stash and Voila!  5 tops completed; three of which are already finished and gifted.

             This also applied to quilt patterns.  I usually only do one type of quilt and then go to the next thing.  But this year, I did two tops of Missouri Star's two step quilt, a few square in a square quilts (love these for scrap and donation quilts),  and the pattern I made for two Camp Erin quilts.

               Goals are malleable.  Years ago I bought a layer cake called “Origin”.  It was the fabric I never wanted to cut because I loved it sooooooo much.  A year or two later a friend helped me pick a grey fabric that I was going to use with it.  Well guess what, the grey no longer appealed to me and to make matters worse, I couldn’t find the original pattern I wanted to use.  
By the time I got to this project I just didn’t care anymore.  I had been moving the fabric for years and wanted it used up. 

               Life happened.  We lost Seamus after Christmas.  We adopted Scout the last day of April.   I didn’t sew in April, May, or June.  I was exhausted.  Scout was up every two hours every night and I just needed to focus on getting Scout acclimated and settled.  I had to slow down my sewing again in September when Scout took me for a drag and I had an injured arm.  Projects that were to be completed for the holiday won’t be done until the new year and that is okay.  A gift is a gift and it doesn’t matter when it is delivered.

On the business front, I did complete and introduce a new lecture called "Designs Still Worth Doing:  A Celebration of Ruby Short McKim" which has been popular with the guilds that have seen it.  I also started working on my sewing themed stationary, Nine Patch Notes.

Hal Borland wrote that "Year's end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on; with all the wisdom that experience can instill in in us."  I'm hoping to incorporate some of the lessons of 2017  during my quilting journey of 2018.  

Have a great day!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I like Thursdays, December 28, 2017

I like that Christmas is over.  By the last two weeks before the holiday, I always find myself stating that as "soon as we get through Christmas" as if the holiday was a plague or a tornado. 

Yes it is exhausting but it is wonderful too!

Scout's first Christmas!  She loved her new toy!

Scout loved that the Hallmark channel didn't just have the yule log but lots of kittens, puppies and even a baby pig on it.  She was fascinated!  Dog TV!

I love my present from Peter and Jessica!  They gave me a "hygge" basket full of all sorts of calming things and it is a wonderful reminder to slow down!  Tea, homemade apple butter and even dark chocolate! 
Jess even made her own lavender spray and soap.  She is so clever!

It's been cold.  Right now the "real feel" temperature is -3 F.  I'm grateful for long underwear and the ability to turn up my heat when necessary.  Scout and I put off our walks until late morning/noon when it is a bit warmer.  I'm sewing again and it feels really good to be back at the ol' machine :)

What have you been up to?  Have you been keeping warm and calm this post-Xmas?  

Be sure to check out all the other like days at LeeAnna's here:

Hope you have a wonderful day!


Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

May your day--and year--be full of joy and wonder!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve 201 7

Have a safe and happy Christmas Eve!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

I lilke Thursdays: December 21, 2017

This week join us as we find new things to feel positive about and share them on the "I Like Thursdays" hosted by LeeAnna (here).  This day of positive energy has become an important part of my week and inspires me to post on my blog at least once a week.  With the current political climate, I needed a day to reflect and "stop and smell the roses" and this feature has been a godsend.  Thank you LeeAnna.

It warmed up, the snow melted and and we are able to take longer walks again.  It took a lot of work but Scout has become a good walking companion.  Unless she sees a squirrel, then lookout!  Our neighbors have noticed as well and she is becoming more calm as she gets older.  She has been 36.5 lbs for a few months now and it is clear she is going to be a very small standard which pleases me and the vet.  She loves being cradled in our arms and rocked like a baby while we stroke her belly.  If she wants to be rocked this way she can be quite a noodge. 

Like when I'm binding quilts.  Her nose looks huge because of the angle of this photo which made us laugh as well.😄

We are grateful she is finally eating again.  She had some real problems after the allergic reaction she had to an antibiotic.  I finally switched her to a wet food and she loves it and is eating regularly.
I like Scout's new Christmas scarf.

Instead of being tied, it has a sleeve for her collar!

I love our new humidifier.  This is $18 of total relief.  My sinuses have been terrible and running this little machine has made my life and sleep so much better!

I don't have much time today so I'm just going to wish you a happy Christmas and hope you have a wonderful holiday season!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

I like Thursdays: December 14, 2017

It's Thursday and another day to feel positive and find goodness in the world!  Hosted by LeeAnna you can find more happy posts here

We had our first snow and I have to say that I liked how pretty our backyard looked:

And how pretty our neighbor's yard looked.  This is Katie's swingset.  It actually started as another neighbor's swingset, then it was gifted to our next door neighbor and their four kids.  But it is mostly beloved by the youngest next door, Katie. 
Katie and her girlfriends would sit on this swings for hours chatting with each other.  Somewhere upstairs, I have photos of Helena,  feeling very important playing with the "big girls" and swinging on it.  Katie is 17 now but I would guess her parents keep the swingset up at her insistence.   I still occasionally glimpse Katie and her friend Natalie on the swings talking and laughing during the summer.

I like new recipes!
Jenny is my 22 year old cousin (yes much younger than my son I was raised with my aunts and uncles as siblings).  She loves cooking and she is always sharing new recipes online.  This is one she found it is called "Christmas Crack" and you can find it here.   I made mine with gluten free saltines so my husband could enjoy this!  I mentioned to my neighbor that I had just made some crack and she gasped (thought I was referring to drugs although she knows me better).  Now a bunch of our neighbors are baking "crack" 😆  We all seem to be using different toppings instead of the candy used on the original recipe.  I used toasted coconut; Carol used some toasted coconuts and pinenuts.  It's a great little recipe.
We are still enjoying all the wonderful Christmas displays in our neighborhood, this week our favorite is our elderly neighbor's arrangement.  It's adorable!

I like sewing but I also enjoy other crafts.  I started with just wanting to make some favors for Christmas and then two of my neighbors wanted to join in.  Then my Mom got interested.  We had a lot of fun doing this!  

Last summer I collected salt shakers at yard sales and dollar stores to make photo holders.

 Some we painted and then in November we had a get together and used up old jewelry and doo-dads to decorate the shakers.

I used vintage cards to put into my shakers and then embellished the cards too.  I  hope our guests enjoy them.  

I made two for our own home as well.  I didn't have to do anything but stick the pick in these shakers, the colors and shape were perfect!

We woke today to more snow:

I'm sure the kids in the neighborhood are happy about that; there is a two hour school delay!

I hope you have a wonderful day and enjoy some holiday spirit!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Scout's first snow!

It was the first snow for Baby Scout yesterday!  It started earlier than expected, and we were surprised that we didn't get the 1-3 inches predicted.  By last night we had nearly 5 inches.  Scout's impressions were that it was curious, edible, and decorates the nose well. 

Finding a place to do her business became more problematic as the snow continued to accumulate.  But this morning she decided she rather enjoyed the stuff and darted out the back door before I could get her coat on her.
And then she hid from me because she didn't want to come in:
Silly goil!

I'm grateful that my husband is actually home to shovel the stuff!  But I'm also wary.  Snow this early is not a good sign and we could be in for a challenging winter.  Well we have food and heat so we are doing okay!  Hope you stayed safe and warm yesterday and have a wonderful day!