Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Design Wall Monday--December 30, 2013

On my design surface today is what will become a mini quilt for my wooden stand.  I haven't any quilt for January and felt this snowman would be perfect.

This is from the Winter 2013 issue of Quilts and More magazine.  The pillow is 16" finished but with the snowman and first border set it is only 12", just right sized for my wooden stand.  If you are like me, choosing the fabrics is both the favorite and the hardest part of small projects!

Ugh.  The iPhone camera did not do much for this grouping, but there is actually no orange in the selections--it is reds, olive and sage greens, and some brown.

I save all the scraps of Steam a Seam when I do the occasional applique project, which come in so handy for the little pieces like those on the left.

The colors are better in this photo but still a bit off!  Originally I planned to use the bright blue as the background but decided I liked the lighter background better.  Since this photo I have buttonhole stitched around all the appliques.  Next, piecing time!  I'll use the same dot on the back.

See more Design Walls on http://www.patchworktimes.com/2013/12/30/design-wall-monday-december-30-2013/

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post Christmas Cheer

This holiday week sure went fast!  I worked Monday then had Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after off work, which was very nice.  I even managed to get some gifts wrapped before the 24th, a new record for me, as usually I'm spending Christmas Eve with paper, scissors, and ribbon. 

The large printed bags at the base of the tree in green and red have been recycled yearly for at least 10 years!  It has become a family joke that I carefully remove the staples and fold them up for another year each Christmas.   We had no children in the house on Christmas morning for the first time ever--Erica was house/dog sitting for someone and of course our married daughter Elaine and our son Nick don't live here.  Our present opening was delayed a bit but by noon we were all gathered and enjoying spending time together and opening our gifts.  Later we all met up again at my parents' house where 26 of us dined on filet Mignon, potatoes, salad, and homemade bread, followed by a large number of homemade candies, cookies, and pies.  Yum!

It was great not to have to go to work on the day after Christmas and leisurely start the cleanup.  Lucy the cat helped by climbing under all the tissue paper piled on the chair and knocking it down :)  The only post-Christmas shopping I did was at the fabric store with my sister and sister-in-law. 

Saturday there was a special trip planned--one my sister Kathy has done nearly every year she's come to California but I have never done--a whale watching trip. We drove up to Santa Barbara to catch the Condor Express, taking our two nieces and nephew plus Kathy's daughter, who flew in on Friday.  It was a gorgeous day weather wise as we set out for the Channel Islands, 11 miles from the coast.

 Leaving the Santa Barbara Harbor. 

Stearn's Wharf, Santa Barbara, and the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background. 

 The captain first stopped the boat just a few miles from the harbor, when these two Dall's porpoises were spotted.  These porpoises look like mini Killer Whales (Orca).  Though they jumped and swam about the boat for a minute or two, they were very hard to catch with a camera!  We headed on further to the west end of Santa Cruz Island.  It was very windy and moderately choppy, which made the search for whale spouts more difficult, but I kept looking to the port side, sure they would show up, and they did!

These are California Gray Whales, which are baleen whales, on their yearly migration to breeding grounds in Baja Mexico.  There were at least three whales, and up to five.  We followed them along the island for some time, getting lots of chances for good photos as they came up every 3-5 minutes from feeding dives.  

 Loved the spouts!

A final parting tail fin shot was our goodbye.  I took dozens of photos :)  Then we turned back west and learned more about the Channel Islands.  These islands were never part of the mainland, having been formed volcanically, and about 20 million years ago they were much further south, somewhere near San Diego.  Because they were formed independent of the mainland, they have endemic flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. 

The Chumash Indians inhabited these islands for thousands of years.  They called this Painted Cave due to colorful walls formed naturally from the volcanic makeup leaching out.  It is one of the largest sea caves known in the world--over 1200 feet in length.  The naturalist on the boat pointed out the right turn the cave makes and said there is a beach inside where sea lions like to rest at times.  Kayakers can enter the cave.

Taking a photo on a bobbing boat is difficult but I did get this halfway decent shot of a what the naturalist called a periwinkle, though I could not find any further information on-line about it.  Not finding any further whales or other wildlife on the far end of the island, and encountering a lot of choppy waves and wind, we turned back towards the Santa Barbara Channel on the hunt for more whales and sea life, but nothing was sighted for about half an hour.  Just as my sister was lamenting that we had yet to see any dolphins, the captain announced we were approaching a huge pod. 

These small common dolphins (about 5' long) are very very fast and hard to catch with the camera, but you can see splashes far out in the photo, indicating hundreds of dolphins.  We passed through the pod, then turned and caught up with them again.  The estimate was 500+ dolphins.
They were all around the boat and all the passengers were thrilled.

It was a really fun experience watching them leap and play about the boat.  They were practically at our feet.  Two little girls next to me kept reaching out their hands through the railing to feel the spray :)


Sleek and speedy!  As it was getting late, the captain reluctantly let the dolphins outpace us and then he turned toward the coastline again.  Not minutes later, the captain again stopped the boat for an additional sighting of gray whales.  These two juvenile males were very cagey, however, and I did not get any photos of them.  The last sight of them was a beautiful tail fluke which raised "Oohhhs" all over the boat :)  We were over half an hour late getting back to the harbor but no one cared.  It was a great time!  Many thanks to my brother Ted and my sister in law Laura for giving us this gift! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solistice Saturday

Feeling nearly back to normal and trying to catch up with the near week of time I'm behind in Christmas preparations.  About the only thing that is finished is the decorating!  Here's a few shots from around the house:

In the lawyer's bookcase in the entry, a display of the beaded and sequined satin balls my husband's grandmother made many many years ago.  She passed away in about 1970, and my in-laws displayed these in their home for many years before they were passed on to us. 

The larger balls are about 6" diameter and she used a lot of costume jewelry--of which she was very fond--to decorate them.  Velvet ribbons and pearled pins add additional luster. 

Also in the lawyer's bookcase, a simple ceramic mini creche I've had for years, brass angels given to me decades ago by a dear lady I used to houseclean for, and the card my mother had printed with her drawing of the Madonna and child.

On the kitchen shelf, a vintage bottle brush tree that this equally vintage candle holder mouse is wondering will hold an ornament. Isn't he the cutest?  These also came from my mother-in-law.  What a saver she was!

A small stitchery that I finally finished a year or two ago after it lingered in the UFO box for years and years after I made a stitching mistake--that I can't even find now! It's fairly easy to see I prefer handmade, well aged and loved holiday decorations :)

 There was a little bit of sewing this week.  I made this mug mat for a co-worker as part of our department's Secret Santa gift exchange.  A leftover 6" block that has been floating around for years, some fancy machine stitches for quilting and a stitched initial for personalization, along with binding from some striped piping I made a long time ago--quick finish.  I gave this to my co-worker along with some spiced Chai tea and cookies.  When she showed up to work wearing a narrow striped shirt that matched the binding, I knew she'd love it, and she did. :)

My gift from another co-worker are these gorgeous green fat quarters and some dark chocolates from around the world.  I'll enjoy both--so yummy!  Now I'm off to try to finish the Christmas shopping, no doubt amid hordes of others doing the same.  Happy Holidays! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What a Week I'm Having!

So, instead of the ultrasound tests, I did what I should have done in the first place:  I went to the ER yesterday morning.  My next door neighbor, an ER nurse, was my triage nurse.  It was wonderful to see a friendly face.  They were having a very busy day at the ER and it took another hour and a half before I got in an exam room, but I expected that. After waiting a while, the doc came to see me; he nixed the ultrasound and ordered a CT scan.  He also disagreed with the Urgent Care doc starting me on antibiotics immediately, saying they complicate the picture.  I had an IV inserted and waited another hour and a half to get the CT, then another 45 minutes after the CT for my diagnosis. Turns out I have an ovarian cyst.  However, the doc also said the antibiotics could have been masking an appendicitis and if I got worse I should come back, so it wasn't 100% that it was the ovarian cyst.  I was given a script for pain meds and released to home with instructions to follow up with OB/GYN for the cyst.  Yay, no appendectomy for me.  So I celebrated at home by having some real food--get this--a small portion of white rice with chicken broth and a few crackers. Woot!  I think the upper stomach discomfort is like bruising on my stomach from being distended and rubbing against my ribs.  Also, I think the antibiotics were bothering my stomach a lot.  Now that those have been discontinued, I can take some ibuprofen for the discomfort and gradually work my way up to a regular diet.  I have a follow up appointment with an OB, and hopefully the cyst I have is one that will go away on its own.  I had polycystic ovaries and pelvic pain when I was 21, which resolved with no treatment. Fingers crossed!  Feeling better today though still a bit weak and woozy if I move around too much.  Tomorrow I'm going back to work, but will drive myself in case I can't last a full day.

FYI NOTE TO SHERRILL:  It seems every time I reply to your comments gets bounced back to me--I even tried leaving a comment on your blog directly and that got bounced back too.  Just wanted to let you know I wasn't bypassing your lovely comments!


What a week I'm having!--one of my favorite lines from the movie "Splash", uttered by Eugene Levy's character.

I started out last Monday working a partial day so I could drive back to town and have a regular mammogram.  Cross that off the list (it was normal).  Then Tuesday I worked a regular day.  In the afternoon my throat started to get sore and swollen, and when I woke up on Wednesday I was not surprised that it was more sore and accompanied by a pounding headache.  I called in sick.  After some hot tea and Advil it wasn't so bad, so I puttered around finishing up the Christmas decorating in between rests on the couch.

Thursday I woke up early with my throat not feeling any better, but as I walked downstairs to call my manager, I noticed but I had a new problem:  a very distended tummy and pain in my right lower abdomen.  Thinking this might be turning into a stomach flu, I went back to bed.  However, six hours later, the pain was still there, I had fever and chills, and decided I'd better see my family doctor.  He was not in, naturally, so I ended up at Urgent Care.  The doc was very nice and she did some palpation tests that didn't entirely rule out appendicitis, but said it might be diverticulitis except my pain was on the opposite side of normal.  Great!  I was advised a liquid diet/bland foods and placed on precautionary antibiotics.  The doc ordered ultrasounds of my pelvis and abdomen.  However, by late Thursday afternoon I couldn't get scheduled in anywhere until Monday, despite calling three different facilities. 

So this was my view most of the day on Friday:

At least I got to use my new quilt first! 

Saturday I felt a bit better and by the afternoon was able to be upright for longer, even getting some sewing done.  Moving around and bending forward made the pain worse, but I could stand and iron for short periods.

 A whole pile of flying geese for my grandson's quilt.

 Love the fishes.  

And the raccoons. All the geese that had been cut got sewn.   My grandson is due in 10 weeks, my daughter texted me yesterday, so I gotta get moving.  

However, today I felt awful and had a new pain, high in my stomach under my ribs.  A full day on the couch and only managed to take my pills and eat one Popsicle.  I haven't had very much food since Thursday and am beginning to get a bit unsteady on my feet.  I had hopes that after tomorrow's tests I could go to work but I don't think that's going to be possible.  My DH waits on me hand and foot but hates it that he cannot help me feel better.

Of course all of this is happening during a holiday season in which I have only managed to get the house decorated and buy a few gifts.  No cards have been sent and certainly no holiday baking has been done.  I hope this all goes away soon so I can enjoy the rest of the holidays and even eat some Christmas dinner.  Wish me luck! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Picnic in December

Since the weekend was full of getting the tree and decorating the house for Christmas, it wasn't until today that I finally took the last stitches in the binding of my Picnic quilt today.  It had been waiting for several days under the sewing machine needle before I could get back to it.  That's because my sewing room looked like this:

Yeah, I know.  I did manage to get some sewing done in here, believe it or not! (Shay, are you impressed?)

 The binding is a polka dot.  I love a red binding! The brown print is the last of the Katie Jump Rope fabric I was hoarding.

"Picnic", designed by Kim Brackett, Scrap Basket Sensations book.
The goal was to have green the primary color, then red, then gold, but in the end the mix grew more varied and I love all its scrappy goodness. 

 Here you can see the great texture that Mary of Quilt Hollow gave to the quilt.

 Love the swirls and ginkgo leaves.  

 Mini the quilt inspector checking out the backing.  Originally I planned a green flannel backing but when my MATH was a fail, I went to leftover yardage instead.  I'm happy with the secondary idea. 

See the two sizes of ginkgo leaves?  The best birthday gift I gave myself last month was sending the quilt to Mary for "frosting", as she calls it.  Yum!  I have to give credit to my sister Kathy for pushing me to make this quilt top a priority.  This Picnic is complete and I'm happy to say it is staying with me. It feels great to have another finish.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Slow Ride

Bad accident on the only freeway access north gave the bus a slow ride through town. I had time to take a few pictures (and an accidental selfie video--oh my). 
The above brick building was a very fine jewelry store for decades. The inlaid tile work is wonderful. One of my favorite downtown sights. Now it is a popular upscale restaurant called Watermark. There is a new bar on the top of the building with ocean views. 
This is the Erle Stanley Gardner building. Yes, the creator of lawyer extraordinaire Perry Mason practiced law in Ventura and wrote some of the books here in the building. 
And there has been time to stitch, too. We are about another 20 minutes to our destination so this will be a short workday for me!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Design Wall Monday--Dec 2, 2013

On my design surface today is another baby quilt--this one is for my grandson who is due in a few short months. The quilt design is all Flying Geese in groups of four like geese.  My daughter Elaine and I met up at Superbuzzy on Small Business Saturday to pick out the three B's, background, backing, and binding.  Superbuzzy was having a drawing for the occasion, and each customer was greeted by an adorable, about 8-10 year old girl who was dressed in a bee tutu and holding a plastic bin with slips of paper representing a prize, for which she would run off to the back room to retrieve.  Elaine's slip draw yielded a set of purse handles--which she promptly gave to me.  I totally made out with my lucky draw number--see?

An oversized charm square pack of Dimples fabrics--one of my favorite graphic designs.

It must have every color of Dimples made!  I'll have fun with this prize.

All cut fabrics were 20% off and we found a nice white on white background for the flying geese, plus backing and binding (forgot to take a pic of those!).  I got busy this afternoon cutting some pieces for the geese, for which I'm using the fast piece method shown here.  There will be 24 sets of geese and this cutting session I got half the small squares and over half of the large square sets ready.  I seldom cut out a whole quilt at once--preferring to cut some, sew some, rinse and repeat...

See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Design Wall Monday--Catching Up

 Design Wall Monday --See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog.  I disappeared for awhile, due to computer issu...