Sunday, October 01, 2017

Simple Woman's Daybook

Playing along...

For Today

Looking out my window - Blue skies and sunshine, but I already see a few shriveled brown leaves on the patio.

I am thinking - That as much as I would love a nap in front of the fireplace, I've too much to do today.

I am thankful - for the return of autumn, warm days, chilly nights, thick soups and stews, the return of routines.

One of my favorite things - Right now, the Instant Pot (see the previous answer re: soups and stews).

I am creating - A wedding quilt for family. With luck, it will be done before the wedding.

I am wearing - Yoga pants and a very old patriotic t-shirt. No socks or shoes.

I am reading - Jan Karon's latest Mitford book, To Be Where You Are. Just sweetness.

I am hoping - That this cold goes away for good. Two weeks of a persistent cough. a five-day course of prednisone, and it is still hanging on.

I am learning - The ins and outs of pressure cooking (see above favorite thing). So far, no explosions.

In my kitchen - Dutch baby pancake for breakfast, filled with apples sauteed with brown sugar in maple syrup and butter. Darn tasty. Rolls are currently rising in the cast iron pan (see the Pioneer Woman's Rosemary Rolls - yummy, easy, and a very cute presentation). Later today, chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms in the Instant Pot. That's dinner for most of the week.

That's about it. Sunday tends to be a big cooking day - I like to get as much of my lunches for the week packed (parcel out pretzels, pack the nuts/cheese/raisin snacks, make sure I've granola made for the yogurt) as well as at least a few dinners for the week prepared. I find if all I have to do is reheat and microwave a veggie, I am much more likely to eat at home than pick something up on the way. Like to make sure the house is reasonably clean as well, to avoid having to do much cleaning through the week.

And now - it looks like I do have time for a short nap.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fan the flames

I am, at best, a casual football fan. Living in Wisconsin, it's inevitable that one is drawn into the Packer frenzy, to some extent. Grocery stores are packed to the gills until twenty minutes before kickoff. The best time to do Christmas shopping is during a game - though good luck on finding a clerk to check you out. There are plenty of choices in new casual wear in the stores, provided you don't mind wearing green and gold, generally with a player number (well, some years there is the red and white for the Badgers, but that's not nearly as enduring as the green and gold). Even baked goods bleed the team colors.

Even a casual fan can't escape the furor over the various "protest" that overpaid, overgrown athletes are staging during the national anthem prior to their events. But like so many "protests", they've not thought through the ramifications.

The attention is no longer on the actual issue for which they are protesting, but on the protests themselves.

Even the athletes themselves seem to have lost the focus of what they are protesting, as this bit of a ramble from Packer's quarterback Aaron Rodgers points out:

“This is about equality,” Rodgers said. “This is about unity and love and growing together as a society, and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people. But we’ve got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a community, as a connected group of individuals in our society, and we’re going to continue to show love and unity.

“And this week we’re going to ask the fans to join in as well and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together.”

Well, no: the original reason Colin Kapernick took a knee was to protest perceived police violence targeted at black men. Note that Rodgers never mentions the central issue by name - racism - but goes on about "unity". The core of the protest is about anything but unity.

Bah. It's to the point where the only way to watch any part of a game is to watch it with the sound off, and to stay away from all media between games.

The better plan? Spend those three and a half hours reading a good book.

Friday, September 15, 2017

This and that 091517

Wow - not even a full week, and I'm posting again. Nothing of great value, but at least words into pixels.

I was on vacation the week of Labor Day, and naturally, got sick. Stuffy/nose-runny, then a dry, occasional cough began Thursday. Yeah, it's not so "occasional" anymore, and not so dry, but it's not keeping me up at night. More annoying than anything. I had a nasal spray the doctor had given me last winter to dry out my poor, plugged sinuses, and that has done a great job unstuffing them and keeping them from regressing, so breathing is fine.

That whole ability to sleep eleven hours a night - and take a short nap during the day - certainly helped as well.

All that to say I'm feeling a bit better.

While I was off, they came to paint the outside of the condo. Let's just say they did not do a stellar job. They did not replace the globe over the outside light (I can't reach it without a ladder) and did not put the giant planters back where they belong (they only had to move them six inches to paint; instead, it took two guys to move each of them to the center of the patio - yeah, like I'm going to be able to move them back). Oh - and the guy doing trim work overpainted onto the window glass, (again, the highest windows on the place) and that has not been cleaned up. I sent a complaint to the management company a week ago, which they are doing a great job of ignoring.

Oh yeah - they also raised the condo fees for the next quarter, with less than three weeks' notice.

That, at least, is a good development. They were decreased in April, mostly because a bully on the HOA board wanted to sell his unit. But more than three weeks notice would have been appreciated.

While on vacation I began reorganizing the studio. Rather, reorganizing the projects. All of the various tools and patterns, books and fabric stash have homes, but although I know what my started projects/kits/fabric pulled for quilts bins generally contain, I'm no longer sure which of the three bins they reside in, nor what, if any supplies are still needed for completion. That this is an issue was highlighted when I went through the basket of fabric waiting to be used/put away, to discover I'd bought backing for a particular quilt twice. Gah.

I'd planned to take in the 830 for servicing, well, annual cleaning (it's running just fine) and software update, but I'm glad I didn't. My cousin's daughter is getting married in a month, and I'm going to hem a couple of bridesmaid's dresses and the mother of the bride's dress. The 830 has a handy dandy rolled hem foot that makes doing that narrow little hem a breeze.

We finally have a new area vice president at work. The good news is that he has an accounting degree (from our institution, no less); the bad news is that he has absolutely no experience in higher education. Going to be a steep learning curve for him. His first day is Monday; he's scheduled to come and say hi to us that afternoon.

Summer has returned, with temperatures in/around the low eighties for the next week. This, after more than a week of highs in the high sixties. Argh. Once the urns are moved and the light cover put on, I'd like to pack up the patio for the winter. Didn't expect to want to use it this week.

Like I said, not much for content today. There are a lot of things on my heart I can't talk about - friends struggles with health, other things going on - that are an ongoing heaviness. All you can do most of the time is just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Winnie the Pooh

As I mentioned a while back, because my direct report was "too busy" to organize an easy-peasy work baby shower for her assistant, I ended up doing it. Naturally, because of all that, I didn't quite get the last stitches in the binding of the baby quilt started back in April. And it's not even that big.

I fear the picture of the extremely adorable quilt label is on my phone (I really, really hope so) - the pictures below were taken with my actual camera (novel thought, I know) on the floor at work before I put the quilt in the gift bag. Nothing like waiting until the last moment to take pictures. I used both the camera and the phone, covering my bases as the camera on the phone is actually a better one than the Canon, which is at least seven years old, most likely more. You know how quickly things change in the digital world.

The Winnie the Pooh fabric squares were an impulse buy back in January when a pack of 40, five-inch squares were the daily deal at a favorite online quilt store. Silly me, I should have bought two sets, as when they are part of the daily deal, it usually means the retailer is running out of the fabric and it will soon be gone forever.

Which is what I found in April when I went to get some yardage to make things big enough for an actual quilt. The honeycomb fabric on the ends, which I don't particularly like, was the only fabric left from the entire line. Well, since this was all impulse anyway, I rolled with it.

Full quilt
There were forty-two of the Winnie the Pooh fabric squares in the original charm pack; I used every one of them. To make the quilt wider, the six character squares in each row are separated by 2" stripes of a medium gray, which is one color that is in most of the character pieces. In between each row, to give a bit of length, there is a pretty yellow two-inch wide strip. The six-inch strips of honeycomb fabric at the ends got the size where I needed it to be. If memory serves, the quilt ended up around 40 x 56.

The quilting is where the fun started.

I stitched "in the ditch" along the seam lines to stabilize the quilt. just sat there for over a month, while I thought about it. It's been a while since I've done much machine quilting. In addtion, the batting used is wool, which is not only nice and warm, but very fluffy. What to do?

With time rapidly winding down, I decided to do flowers. After all, the Hundred Acre Wood must have some pretty flora, right? Not to mention that the baby is a girl.

In each of the character squares, there is a swirly-centered daisy. The gray rectangles got a messy rose, or peony, depending on your viewpoint. The long strips simply got a run of leaves, which is also the filler used in the end panels.

All of the quilting is done with a variegated Aurifil 40 weight thread on the top, a solid Aurifil 50 weight on the bottom. The top thread moves from a medium yellow through a very pale lemon and back. The solid thread was a medium yellow. I love the heavier weight for adding a bit of depth to the flowers. Aurifil is an Italian thread, pretty much the Ferrari to everyone else's Ford. I use their color #2600-Dove for piecing, as the light gray seems to blend in with more fabric colors than an ecru or beige.

Assuming I do have one, I'll update with a picture of the label. It was worth setting up the embroidery machine for twenty minutes of stitching, I'll say that much, as well as being in keeping with the theme.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A quick note...

Why yes, I'm still alive. Remember how so many people were whining that they could not wait to see the end of 2016, mostly because of so many celebrity deaths? Well, I feel that way about 2017, but for different reasons.

Lots rolling around in my head, not much making it out anywhere except in the pages of my private journal. Whole lots of sadness in the real world - please pray for a coworker's husband whose cancer is very advanced, and the son of some college friends who collapsed at football practice last week - his heart stopped and was restarted, but there is some concern about neurological damage. They still have him sedated.

I'm fed up with anything political. Both sides. I almost don't recognize this country anymore.

I had to organize a baby shower for a coworker. We don't do much, but it was still an added layer of stress. Pass the card and an envelope for money. Buy the gift, get it to work and hidden under my desk (we collected enough to buy the car seat, which is great, but it was rather bulky in the box, making that whole process, not to mention wrapping it, rather interesting). Order, pick up and bring in to work, a cake. Make sure we have paper plates, napkins and plastic forks. Get the conference room set up (spread out my cute pastel plaid table topper and plunk the cake, napkins, plates and forks on it). Agh. Much easier to do this at home. The mom-to-be was thrilled, which is nice.

Took the last two days of this week off - I usually do take at least the day students return to school as a vacation day. I say it's because of the parking hassle, but honestly, I miss going back to school myself. Not enough to take advantage of our tuition remission program, but I do miss the anticipation and the sense that everything is shiny and new.

Speaking of which, I am making a quilt for the mom-to-be. There wasn't quite enough time to finish it before the shower, but all that is left is to embroider the label and handstitch the binding down. And take some pictures. The last several quilts I've made, I've forgotten that last step. That's why I'm on the computer - I needed to download the (probably illegal) Winnie-the-Pooh motif I want to use on the label to a usb drive, to stick in the sewing machine.

Pictures of the quilt soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

This and that and the other thing

- #24in48 - All told, I probably spent more than ten hours reading over the weekend. I did make some progress on the nonfiction, most time was truly spent in fiction. I'm a sucker for a good story.

- Speaking of good stories...the sixth book in the Monster Hunters series dropped yesterday. I may or may not be 37% done with it, having started reading during my lunch break yesterday. By the way, the first book in the series, via the link here, is currently FREE for kindle.

- Good for business - if the environmentalists don't ruin it. Governor Walker announced several days ago that Foxconn was planning to build an enormous facility in SE Wisconsin. Foxconn makes parts for Apple. It would bring thousands of jobs to the state. Since the announcement, the local liberal rag has done nothing but run stories on 1. Whether or not Wisconsin has enough qualified workers to fill the spots, 2. Whether the environment will be totally!!!trashed!!! due to the concessions on a couple of environmental regulations the state is offering to Foxconn, 3. Whether the taxpayers will be able to bear the brunt of the horrible!!!unreasonable!!!unheard of!!! incentives being offered to cement the deal. This tongue-in-check piece captures a bit of the hysteria the announcement has generated.

- How did it get to be August? Seriously, I feel as if July just poked her head in the door to say hello, then disappeared. I realized this morning that in another week, maybe two, I'll be driving to work in the dark again. Oy.

- Something is up at my elderly neighbor's. When I came home Monday, they had a trailer backed in to their parking bay, and a van pulled up in the center. One of their sons and his wife were loading things up, and I overheard bits of "Goodwill or toss?" conversations. As of today, the parking bay, which had been a sort of extra storage spot for the couple, is pretty much bare. Not sure if this is just a huge purge, a purge because they plan to move, or something else. Have never met the son and wife, so didn't want to pry.

- I've been looking at prices on new appliances, in preparation for remodeling the kitchen. Holy mackerel. Gone is any thought of a higher end stove. Because of space issues, I'd like to get a "counter depth" refrigerator, preferably with french doors. Yikes. And I don't need the in door ice/water thing, so the prices I'm seeing are comparatively low. Since I mostly cook for one, a dual oven range makes sense (and I can ditch the toaster oven), but that ups the price a bit. Also forgot I'd need a new garbage disposal.

There are limited things I can do to keep the cost down. I can certainly do the painting. I can mount cabinet hardware. Everything else? Most likely beyond the limits of my ability (or patience).

- 'Tis the season - I've a family wedding shower midmonth, and a baby shower at work the following week. Urgh. Not much of a fan. Happy for people, but sitting around watching someone open gifts is less exciting than watching paint dry.

- Not much of excitement going on, or anticipated. That's fine with me.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#24in48 post two

So yeah, not so much with the nonfiction. A couple of weeks ago, I started rereading Larry Correia's excellent Monster Hunter International series. It's urban fantasy at its best - inventive villians, brave, if slightly unlikely heros, lots of guns and things that go boom. Perfect summer reading.

The reread was prompted by a recent read of two books set in the Monster Hunter universe, but co-written by John Ringo and Larry Correia. Fun reads, both of them.

What I didn't know until this morning, when I finished the fourth book in the series, and went to pull up the fifth (MH:Nemesis above) is that the sixth book is due out...on August 1st. Hurrah! My preorder is in.

Tomorrow I'll switch over to the nonfiction, both of which are actually paper books, rather than pixels in the kindle.

Time read to date: Roughly four hours.

#24in48 post one

The #24in48 Readathon is off to a blurry start in the quiltbabe household. Ironically, it's because I'm tired to due staying up too late last night...reading.

Need for coffee: Caffeine level five.

The plan, assuming things don't get derailed (and the train of my life never, ever runs on new, smooth track) is to get some coffee and breakfast into me while reading for about an hour. There is still housework to be done, but even that has a reading strategy: clean for twenty minutes, read for twenty minutes. Off and on until the housework is more or less done, or I get so deep in a book I forget to clean. (I know which of those two things is more likely)

The two books I'm trying to finish this weekend:

Giddy Up, Eunice, by Sophie Hudson
This is a simply delightful book on women's mentoring relationships among believers. If you are familir with Sopie's style from her previous books (A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet and Home is Where My People Are) you know that her books are much like sitting down with a good friend and letting the conversation flow.

This book is a bit more structured, as she shares what she has learned both from Scripture and other women on the importance of us mentoring one another. It's worth noting that unlike a lot of other books on the subject, she is not pushing a program, but promoting relationships. I think I'm over halfway through (nonfiction is not my usual jam; it may have been over a month since I last read any of this book.)

Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential, by Barbara Oakley
A couple of years ago I took a free online course called Learning to Learn, for which Dr. Oakley was one of the teachers. The course went through the science of how we learn, and why certain strategies for learning were effective/ineffective. This book carries those ideas a bit further. Through stories of people who have successfully made radical career changes or discovered passions they did not know they had, Dr. Oakely explains the shifts in thinking needed to make those changes.

Interestingly, most of the people whose shifts are documented here have moved from a more creative or less structured realm into the areas of math and science.

I'm slowly making my way through - I'd say I'm about a third of the way done.

I suppose I should wash my face, put in the contact lenses and get to it, huh? Will come back and post the updated hours read periodically.

Total hours read: Zero.