Thursday, January 31, 2008

Last Day of January

Thanks to everyone who posted over the last few weeks. Tomorrow morning, I will draw one name from all of the comments and post the winner. I have appreciated all of the suggestions and support. Thanks to those who commented on my sewing machine question. It definitely will be helpful as I consider getting a new machine. I need to visit a few shops in the area and see what I can learn.

Last night we had a girls night. We all went out for a Christmas dinner last month, and decided that night it needed to happen every month. Last night was our first of many. We all went to Amy's and she cooked us a delicious dinner. Those of us who were not pregnant drank wine. (Those who are may have sipped some, too.) We laughed, and talked and even took a few pictures. I am looking forward to next month.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Snowy Sunday

It is a beautiful snowy day in Pittsburgh. Brooke and I were discussing how quiet, peaceful and safe snowy Sunday mornings feel in the city. It has at least flurried every day I have been here. I love it. I wish this would happen more in the mountains where I live.

I wanted to remind people of this. Any comments between now and Thursday will be included. I have thoroughly enjoyed the comments you all have left so far.

I had the opportunity this weekend to play with Brooke's sewing machine some. It can do many things that my own machine cannot. I need to go home and play with my own a bit more, but as far as I know, I can sew a straight line or a zigzag line. Nothing fancy. Fabulous for piecing, or functional sewing but, I am a ready for some embellishment options. So, what do you know? I know that at least a few of you know more than me about sewing and sewing machines. (Quite possibly more than a few...my own knowledge is fairly limited.) Do you have any affordable recommendations? What should I look for? What should I know? Do you have a machine you love? One you don't? Please share as much as you can.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Good Friends

Today is my fifth day in Pittsburgh. I have had a wonderful time visiting with friends. Lucky for me, a lot of that time has been over good food, as well.

On Thursday night I went out with a group of old co-workers. I don't know that last time I laughed that hard. I had so much fun. I always was and remain to be so amazed by how comfortable I am with that group of people. It was great to catch up, hear stories, discuss life, etc. It felt like I had never left.

Several of us are no longer working there anymore and all (well, almost) of us felt that we were both glad to be gone and that we miss it. I won't go into why we're glad to be gone, but I think we all miss the same things that made it amazing: the co-workers and the creative energy. When I left, I knew that for all I was happy to leave behind, this would likely be one of the best jobs I would ever have. I had to be okay with that in order to leave. I made the right decision for me, but I still miss those two things.

I have also had a great time with several other friends. Brooke and Homer have been fabulous hosts. It has been important and special being able to spend time with Deb this week as she mourns the loss of her father. I've gotten to spend some brief time with others as well. I am visiting with my old neighbors this afternoon and meeting Brinnly for the first time, and I look forward to seeing Erin and Keith a bit more on Sunday. With any luck, I can meet Neil and Susanna for coffee on Monday. It has been a great trip, and I really hope that Nick and I can return together sometime this last spring or early summer. There are so many wonderful friends here. Pittsburgh was such a great place to live.

I still have a few more days before I head south again. One thing I may try to do is make it to the Chihuly exhibit at Phipps Conservatory. I hear it is amazing. I also hope to have some more Vietnamese food and a little bit of Indian before I leave. The time is going to fly!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Well, there isn't really a Wednesday photo today. I haven't taken as many pictures as I would have hoped this past week. Today was the funeral. It was a full day and I am exhausted. It was really good to be there and to hear so many stories about Roger. He was an amazing man. It was also great to see some friends that I hadn't seen since we moved. I just have to accept that I am not going to get to spend as I want to with each person. Pittsburgh was a great place to live and we have so many close and wonderful friends here. That is a beautiful thing.

After the funeral some of us went out to the Church Brew Works for some food and beers. It was fun to catch up and with any luck our brief chatter about a college women's weekend will actually happen sometime this spring.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Traveling North


My Poinsettias look pathetic. What happens to yours after Christmas? Do you toss them? Do you replant them? Can they last all year? Any advice is welcome, I hate giving up on a plant.

Tomorrow I am headed to Pittsburgh for a few days. A dear friend of mine unexpectedly lost her father last week. It is incredibly sad. I am going to spend a few days there-attend the funeral, be nearby for support and be present in whatever way suits her best.

I haven't been to Pittsburgh since June, when we were there for my surgery. I have been thinking about all of the great restaurants and what I will be able to order. Vietnamese and Indian are topping my list. I'm also excited to visit Trader Joes and Ikea. I also have several other friends I hope to see while I'm in town.

I haven't had a seven-hour solo road trip in years. I wish Nick were able to be away from work and come with me. Before the move, we often spent a week here or there a part because of Nick's job. This past year we haven't spent much time away from one another. I'm really going to miss him.

With that said, it is also a bit exciting to think about returning to see what he accomplishes on our house project. This weekend the hardwood floors were installed in the master bedroom and partially in the hallway. Maybe I'll return to trim and doors and painted base-board radiators. Whenever I bring this up, Nick laughs. So, who knows, maybe he has other plans.

I have some Vietnamese-language lessons I plan to listen to on the ipod. I don't know if they are worth my time or not, but I figure it is a place to start. Actually, now that I think about it, the last time I had a road trip this long by myself, I didn't have a cell phone, an ipod or a CD player. Surely, those items will make the time fly by quickly.

I'm taking my camera and the laptop and will post throughout the week. Maybe I'll finally get around to photographing the old bridges and churches....something that I always meant to do. Or maybe I'll be sitting in my favorite restaurants with good friends, and never get around to braving the cold for a few pictures. Which I have to admit, sounds pretty good. Yea, that is most likely what will happen.

Thanks to you all for the many comments and suggestions of the last week. I love them all! I'll keep you updated on what I do for my artist dates each week. I have a few ideas for while I am in Pittsburgh, but we'll see what happens.


My Poinsettias look pathetic. What happens to yours after Christmas? Do you toss them? Do you replant them? Can they last all year? Any advice is welcome, I hate giving up on a plant.

Tomorrow I am headed to Pittsburgh for a few days. A dear friend of mine unexpectedly lost her father last week. It is incredibly sad. I am going to spend a few days there-attend the funeral, be nearby for support and be present in whatever way suits her best.

I haven't been to Pittsburgh since June, when we were there for my surgery. I have been thinking about all of the great restaurants and what I will be able to order. Vietnamese and Indian are topping my list. I'm also excited to visit Trader Joes and Ikea. I also have several other friends I hope to see while I'm in town.

I haven't had a seven-hour solo road trip in years. I wish Nick were able to be away from work and come with me. Before the move, we often spent a week here or there a part because of Nick's job. This past year we haven't spent much time away from one another. I'm really going to miss him.

With that said, it is also a bit exciting to think about returning to see what he accomplishes on our house project. This weekend the hardwood floors were installed in the master bedroom and partially in the hallway. Maybe I'll return to trim and doors and painted base-board radiators. Whenever I bring this up, Nick laughs. So, who knows, maybe he has other plans.

I have some Vietnamese-language lessons I plan to listen to on the ipod. I don't know if they are worth my time or not, but I figure it is a place to start. Actually, now that I think about it, the last time I had a road trip this long by myself, I didn't have a cell phone, an ipod or a CD player. Surely, those items will make the time fly by quickly.

I'm taking my camera and the laptop and will post throughout the week. Maybe I'll finally get around to photographing the old bridges and churches....something that I always meant to do. Or maybe I'll be sitting in my favorite restaurants with good friends, and never get around to braving the cold for a few pictures. Which I have to admit, sounds pretty good. Yea, that is most likely what will happen.

Thanks to you all for the many comments and suggestions of the last week. I love them all! I'll keep you updated on what I do for my artist dates each week. I have a few ideas for while I am in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Studio


Nick and I worked together on Thursday to set up a more useable space for me in the studio. (a.k.a. Get off the floor already!) New shelves, new hooks, rearranging furniture, etc. If you were to stop by, here is some of what you would find in my studio. For starters, Mona-our cat- loves to be in here with me when she can...especially lately b/c Nick is often banging around upstairs on our bed/bath remodel. She's not so fond of commotion.


This is a project I started in December (maybe November). I've been frustrated with it for a while and decided again this week to try to make some progress. It will be FAR FROM perfect, but I think I might end up liking it anyway. I have a bit more quilting to do on it and then a binding. I'll share a picture when it is finished.


For the last 5+ years I have been collecting corks to make a peg board. I finally finished it this week. I just decided to go with what I had, and miraculously it was exactly as many as I needed. (If you count the unopened bottle that was in the cabinet...which I did!) Now it just needs to be framed. I'm planning to use some old trim and use dark wine-colored paint.


Jess and I picked up some great upholstered fabric samples from our local free-cycle last fall. I haven't decided the best way to use it yet. Maybe pair it with some tweed on mini-stuffed animals. (If anyone has any good patterns for a stuffed elephant, please let me know...I think that could be a lot of fun.) Any other suggestions are also welcome.


And finally, just in case you didn't notice it in the first picture....I have all of the rulers organized individually. Nick felt adamant that they rulers should not share nails b/c of how annoying it would be when I needed the ruler on the bottom--which inevitably would happen often. I gave in, and as long as I remember to put them back, I think he'll be happy.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Old Singer





Numbers






And my question today is, are you wide awake or half asleep? Take this tiredness test to check your alertness. My average score is 307--not too impressive. However, I am still functioning in my morning mode....curled up on a chair, under a warm comforter, in my pajamas....I'm not to concerned if my alertness is questionable.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

tea for two

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Local Antiques


This morning I took myself on an artist date to a local antique mall. The concept of an artist date is something that I found in the book "The Artist's Way", which I'm currently reading. Anyway, the idea is that every week I'll go on some kind of artist date by myself. The last two weeks didn't really happen...I had an exclusive couch date. Now that I am doing better, I knew I wanted to do something I hadn't done in a while. So, I took my camera, $20 for some splurging on me and headed in town. Above is a montage of some of the many pictures I took and one picture of my splurg. So, I have several more of these artist dates coming up, but not a ton of ideas. If you have any thoughts of what could be a fun (must be free or super cheap) artist date, I'd love to hear your ideas.

 

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Tea Towel Apron

I have recently followed a very easy pattern in one of my new books for repurposing a tea towel into an apron. I love how it turned out. Very simple, but quite effective. Plus, while I have been very intrigued by aprons for a while, I haven't had one until now.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Give-Away!

Several of the craft blogs I follow have give-aways every so often. Sometimes its a weekly thing. Sometimes it is a random thing. But every time, it catches my attention. Since I have just turned the 200th post (I went back and checked...about 5 of them are still just drafts), I decided that maybe now is the time to do a give-away.

All you need to do is leave comments on my blog between now and the end of January. For every comment you leave, you're name will be included in a drawing on Feb 1st. If your name is randomly pulled, you will receive a package containing an assortment of handmade items. I promise it will be worthwhile...even though I don't know what they will be yet. As one who blogs, comments are part of the fun.

For my part, I will try to post some questions that inspire you to respond. However, on this post, I've got nothing...so you just can leave a comment and tell me if you're interested.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Night







Earlier this week I finally finished the binding on this comforter. I don't expect us to use it a ton, but it is so warm and heavy that it has been living on the couch for the last few days. It certainly is not perfect, but we like it! Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to use the wool backing--it definitely works and really makes it what I love.

It is Friday night and while that doesn't have the same sense of relief that it did before, it is still pretty exciting. Friday nights mean Saturday and Sunday mornings. I love the days when Nick is around because he always manages to get out of bed first, have the coffee made and be cleaning the kitchen by the time I come downstairs. Usually we will then sit on the couch and drink coffee while we catch up, dream, plan and eventually get around to starting the day...always much later than we had hoped.

This is my 200th post. A bit crazy. And at first I thought I would find something significant to share. However, one of the best things about life these days is my time with Nick. I love that time disappears over coffee or that we sometimes still find ourselves talking and laughing at midnight on a work night. I hope that lasts forever.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Calling All Knitters!

I had meant to post today, but somehow forgot to do several things on my list today. I forgot to do my morning pages. Forgot to talk to Brooke. (Sorry Brooke, maybe Friday this week?) Forgot to post pictures of the finished comforter. I did however learn that I have four rotated ribs, which explains a lot. I saw a local chiropractor today for an adjustment and have been feeling much better. I need to go again tomorrow morning, but I am feeling very optimistic about my chances of being able to comfortably move around again soon. So, some of the things I had hoped for today didn't happen, but some pretty good things did. 


Having said all of that, I had a post in my drafts folder that I figured I'd just go ahead and post....hence the title that doesn't relate to anything I have written so far. From here on, this post is for the knitters.

I have recently come across two separate knitting related things and thought I'd pass them on because I know of several people who read this blog that also really enjoy knitting.

The first is Ravelry. Maybe you have a blog, a facebook account, an etsy store or even a MySpace page, this however is Ravelry. It is a knit and crochet community that specifically networks knitters to each other and to resources. So, I thought some of you may appreciate it...whether you're looking for ideas, wanting to share your kick-ass hand-spun yarn or just curious, there you go! Ravelry.

The second is afghansforafghans.org. This is great for those who love knitting but don't have a specific projet in mind. And pulling directly from their website: "afghans for Afghans is a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan." I learned about this site from a fellow adoption blogger at Journey to Miles.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Wednesday's Weekly Photo (1)

This year I am going to try to take more pictures. And so with that, I am going to start something I'll call "Wednesday's Weekly Photo." I am hoping this will allow me to get to know my camera better, start taking some risks again, and just get out and shoot more.
So, here we go, week #1:




Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Down Comforter

Last December, in our puff-back, we lost our beloved down comforter. In fact, it was on the bed that got hit the hardest. Even in its death it was wonderful...it saved the quilt that Nick's grandmothers made together for him. We've missed this comforter quite a bit this winter. Piles of beautiful quilts don't offer quite the same special warmth and weight that a down comforter can deliver.

So, yesterday, our new down comforter arrived. Besides the fact that I seem to have tweaked my back again carrying the box from the basement door--where UPS insists on leaving all packages--up the basement stairs, I was thrilled. When I opened the box though, my first thought was...this is not as thick and wonderful as our old one.

A little while later Nick brought the comforter to me on the couch in an effort to get the afgan for his own use. I was very warm, very quickly, but figured that it was because it was still folded up in four as it rested on my lap. So, when we went to bed, we stripped the bed, pulled off and folded 3 of the 4 blankets previously keeping us warm and thought, 'one quilt and this comforter should be plenty.'

Plenty? Try ridiculous. I think it was just pay-back for assuming its inferiority to our first. I spent the majority of the night furiously hot. Of course, I was too miserable to get up and do anything. My back was really feeling crappy, I had to pee, I was burning up and the cat loved the new comforter. I don't mean love in the way that she stretched out fully on top, but more in the way of "I love this comforter! It's great for flips, and chases, and pretending that there is a mouse underneath!"

Nick is pretty amazing though. He removed the quilt, listened to me bitch about the unfinished bathroom, (hopefully he remembers that when I am sane I am also patient about this project), and threw the cat out....even though she made her way back in. Seriously, she was like a kid with a new trampoline. Unfortunately, when I am uncomfortably awakened in the middle of sleeping, I am not very friendly. I've got to work on this.

Meanwhile, I am still excited about this comforter, even though I am pretty sure that is why my back is spasming again today. Between carrying the box and jolting up in fear in the middle of the night every time the cat attacked the blanket, I'm pretty much going to be spending all day on the couch.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Hee Hee


One of the other items we got at the auction was a set of six yard sticks. Odd, I know. However, while I was working on the comforter, I needed one and so I ran up to the closet and got on. I noticed as I walked down the stairs that it said, "Stitch & itch". Of course this was confusing, so I stopped and took a closer look. The "B" was scratched out! Because you know how inappropriate it is to have a yard stick (that you keep in your closet and use when you're alone) that says "Stitch & Bitch"!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Snow









Thanks to heat, ibuprofin, some muscle relaxers and acupuncture, I was able to slip outside for a few shots today. It wasn't long, so it isn't much, but I was glad to make it out for a few mintues.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Remnants



As anyone reading this is probably aware, I am enjoying quilting and sewing a lot these days. Last week when we were at Nick's grandmother's auction, I really liked looking at all of the quilts and quilt tops that she had made. Apparently everyone else did as well because they all went for several hundred dollars. We were lucky to find an old quilt in one of the boxes that we bought. It's a bit tattered and has some stains, but it is still a great quilt. I may need to do a little bit of repair work on it. It definitely has that worn quilt look.



But, that wasn't all. We got her old sewing machine. Its a Pfaff. (I think that's spelled correctly.) It was serviced routinely and the only sewing machine that several of her children can remember her having. I am not sure how it will work for me. It doesn't has all of the bells and whistles of modern machines, but it is housed in a great sewing table and hopefully it is a strong machine. Unfortunately, we didn't bring it home yet though. It wouldn't fit in the car. Maybe next time someone visits it can hitch a ride.

In addition, I got a couple bags of old fabric remnants. They came from the box that she'd throw fabric scraps in to later pull out when she made a new quilt. So, I decided to go ahead and make one more quilt from her remnants. I spent most of new years day piecing together this small trip around the world. I had been reading different blogs that talked about using thrifted vintage fabrics, etc. I loved the idea but didn't expect to come across any of my own. I have to say though, while I love the variety of textures... I would not have purchased most of these because of the fabric blends. Super synthetic. I used interfacing on several of the squares that needed a bit more support to hold their shape.



I may add a border around it before finishing the top. I haven't completely decided about the back. I have two options (I think). I may have enough of an off-white muslin from the same stash. I'd love to create something exclusively from her stash, but realize that it may not be possible. So, the second option is this:



It's a huge bolt of wool. The plan is to knot the quilt with some embroidery thread that I picked up at Nick's other grandmother's sale a few years ago. The wool would help make it a heavy comforter. We'll see what happens. I may try the off-white muslin and if I don't have enough, go with this.

The plan had been to get to the point where I was ready to knot it today. My back had other ideas though. I've been having muscle spasms since this morning and haven't been off the couch hardly at all. Finally we've gotten some snow-it has been snowing all day. I had hoped to be out taking photographs. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

Oh, and I also got that great vintage thread at the auction, too! I don't have a solid plan for that yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something.