Monday, September 25, 2017

first quilt

Maybe I should say my first FINISHED quilt. I have another quilt I started when I was about six years old that's still not done. Maybe someday?

This one is done though. It's mostly made of charm packs of Tabby Road by Tula Pink. I wanted to concentrate on the assembly of the quilt rather than cutting fabric so I started with pre-cut fabric. I've learned a lot about modern quilting tools and machine quilting and have added a lot of new words to my vocabulary. I also learned you have to invest a lot of money to get started in this particular practice. Kind of like furnishing a woodworking shop, which is something else I'm working on.

This is a crib size quilt. I wanted to start small to get the feel of everything. It's the first project I've done on my new sewing machine, so I was learning how to operate the machine as I went. I had to buy a walking foot for the machine, because it didn't come with one. The quilting is minimal on this quilt. I didn't plan ahead for it, so after everything was pieced I couldn't find a thread color that would look good on all the squares. I finally just stitched in the ditch around each square. My stitching wasn't very straight and a lot of the stitches are alongside the ditch rather than in it.

As a rank beginner, I relied on  this quilting book & online tutorials to figure out all the steps needed to finish the quilt.

Trouble is, there are a lot of different ways to do things. How to decide which method? For example, at left is the quilt before binding. The tutorial I watched recommended cutting the backing and batting 8 inches wider and longer than the pieced part and I don't know why. The process of pinning the sandwich went well, but I ended up cutting off all that extra material. Seemed wasteful to me.

I did better with a wonderful tutorial by Leah Day on how to machine bind a quilt. She made it so simple!

Now I just need to wash the quilt and send it to its new home.

PS There's still plenty of time to join Hanna's DIY postcard swap.

Make and send ten postcards and get ten cards delivered to your own mailbox.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

the box of magic clippings

It looks like it's been 8 months since I posted anything on this blog. I thought my genealogical reboot would get the the words flowing through my fingers, but it didn't. Maybe I need to write about something a little more artsy - like Hanna's annual fall postcard swap.

Hanna has hosted this DIY postcard swap twice a year for over ten years I think, and whenever I've participated it seems to give a real boost to my creativity. This year, however, I didn't feel very creative & I wasn't sure I would be able to create ten postcards from scratch, so before I signed up for the swap I decided to dig through a couple of my boxes of old clippings to see if there was any magic left. I'm happy to report there is.

One of the fun things about this swap is seeing other people's creative processes. It's a puzzling thing the way the mind works. I've described my process before, but I'm taking another look at it now.

Collage is my method of choice for making postcards. Below is a glimpse into one of my boxes of clippings from magazines, ads, and other paper media. I have four old 10x10 inch Kodak boxes that once contained round slide trays. Now they are filled with clippings of birds, small landscapes, faces I like, and all kinds of colorful this and thats. They're not organized. I tried that once and it didn't work well for me. I prefer the randomness created by a messy collection of dissimilar parts.

I usually use cardboard cut from cereal boxes or six-packs of Texas beer as a base for my cards and I like to have a few cut to size before I start dipping into my collection of paper clippings. It helps me see how a piece will fit onto a finished postcard. On the table to the right of my Kodak box I have a few pieces I've been arranging on some pre-cut cards.

I pretty much just start fishing out clippings from the box and spreading them out on the table until a couple of things seem to go together. Usually it's color combinations that catch my eye. This yellow bird, below, looked so bright against the dark cityscape I thought they belonged together. The cityscape was big enough to cover an entire card, so it'll be the background. I played with positioning the bird in different places and then started looking for other colorful pieces that might work as part of the composition. Sometimes I think of silly captions and I'll look for a clipping that adds to what I'm thinking. I have a caption for this postcard already, but I'm not telling what it is, at least not just yet.

Wouldn't you like to get ten handmade cards in the mail?

Go HERE to learn more about Hanna's international postcard swap.

Friday, January 27, 2017

research reboot

I had a DNA test done through in October, and after I got the results, it seemed as if I was suddenly drowning in data. There are so many family lines to research I was jumping from one to the next and generally giving myself ADD. As the new year approached I knew I would have to change some things to become more efficient at translating my research into proof and creating readable stories. I picked up Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over Workbook a few weeks ago and found it to be just what I needed to maybe get my genealogy mess in order. I'm starting my "do-over" a bit later than January 2, but it's just a happy coincidence that a group do-over is happening at the same same as my own re-boot. I may not follow the curriculum exactly, but I can view comments on the Facebook group for helpful hints along the way and maybe pick up some new research links.

I spent the last few weeks reviewing my past methods for taking notes, entering data, and citing sources, as well as thinking about what time of day would be best for working on genealogy. I looked at different note taking methods, research logs, and genealogical software. I think the software review is scheduled for May, but I see several programs now have a way to enter a research log and a to-do list that I think I would prefer over a spreadsheet. I might as well get started on creating good work habits as soon as possible. I also spent time upgrading my current programs and making sure everything is getting backed up.

Part of the do-over is setting aside previous research so you can see facts and sources with fresh eyes. I put most of my paper files into boxes and just kept out some things related to my immediate family, and I'm going to try to avoid looking at the family tree I created on I will either start a new tree on their site or at home with whatever software I end up getting.

I think I'm almost ready for February.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

how i spent my summer vacation

.....and all of autumn on in to early winter.

Last year I had the sad duty of moving my 87-year-old mother into a facility for dementia patients. She had lived with me for about 15 years, so I had to get used to her not being in the house. About the same time my 15-year-old dog died, so I had a lot of sadness to deal with.

Life goes on. I adopted a rescued dog and began renovating my mom's old room.

Mom's messy & dark room

I knew I wanted to remove the wallpaper border and paint the room a lighter color. My new puppy also had some accidents on the carpet, which seemed to activate the smell of every previous accident from the previous dogs who lived here. No amount of baking soda, vinegar or Nature's Miracle could get rid of the entire smell. The carpet and padding had to be removed and trashed. I decided I wouldn't replace the carpet; instead I would use an acid stain to add color to the concrete floor and I hoped it would be easier to keep clean.

I watched a lot of videos on You Tube, and staining looked pretty easy. It's the preparation that's murder.


I won't go into all the problems I had with my floor. I did learn more about concrete than I ever expected to know. I repaired the holes from the carpet's tack strips and hairline cracks from aging. I sanded off a lot of 35-year-old old joint compound and paint spatter, but I couldn't remove the stains from the old carpet glue. I ended up resurfacing the floor with a concrete and a pool trowel. The floor didn't come out as I expected, but I think it looks pretty nice. I wanted it to look like stone or rocks.

While I wasn't working on the floor I removed the wallpaper border, repaired holes in the wall, and primed and painted it. I replaced the very low-hanging ceiling fan with a smaller but brighter ceiling light fixture. I removed all the baseboards and door molding and repaired and repainted it. I have arthritis in my back and hands so I could only do a limited amount of work each day. I was constantly reminding myself of Lao Tzu's proverb that "the thousand mile journey begins with a single step." It took almost five months to complete most of the work, but today I have a new craft and sewing room. The tiny room that was my combination office-studio-junk collector is now becoming an efficient place for doing "office" stuff like scanning and organizing my genealogical research.

I still need to sort through all the shoe boxes on the shelves and make some curtains. For now I'm using Mom's old card table as a work surface.

Monday, January 2, 2017

happy new year

Maybe I will post more pics here this year just to remind myself of the weird toys I pick up on my daily walks. Just a thought, Not a resolution.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

sometimes politics can't take a back seat

"I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn't born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I listened.
I watched.
I paid attention.
Now, I'm being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To 'Get over it.'
To accept this...
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.
And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I've tolerated all I can.
Now it's their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day
forward is now Trump's fault just as much as they thought it was Obama's.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give."

Author unknown. (Copy and Paste Everywhere)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

the little monster

Doesn't this look like some cute little shaggy dog you'd love to pet?
Don't Do It!

This is the furry puss caterpillar of Megalopyge opercularis, the Southern Flannel Moth, and it is considered to be the most venomous caterpillar in the United States.

Must be the season for me to see weird bugs

As I've learned from experience, if a caterpillar is fuzzy, spiky, or begging to be petted, you should avoid it like the plague or be prepared to face Pain. Or as WIRED put it: Never Touch Anything That Looks Like Donald Trump's Hair.

This worm had an interesting brown stripe along its back, which included the tail. Looked like a Mohawk haircut. It was crawling around the withered top of a spider lily in my back yard, perhaps looking for a place to attach itself prior to morph into THIS.
I got a short video of this creature on my phone but forgot & turned it the wrong way.  When I went back outside to redo the video the critter had vanished.  So, apologies for making you turn sideways to view it.