Monday, March 31, 2014

Ready to Paint

In getting myself ready for my studio class tomorrow, I took a good look at the drawing I had done for the upcoming new work, and I wasn't happy with the job I did of transferring it to the paper (tracing the original drawing and then using "carbon" paper and stylus to get the drawing transferred - sounds time consuming which it is, but it eliminates drawing directly on the specialty paper which doesn't take kindly to erasure).  In short, I had negligently ignored tedious elements like roof lines, windows, and the like.  So I had to re-position the tracing and graphite papers - tricky to do since one can't see through the graphite layer - and finish work I should have done earlier.  Well, most of what I need is visibly there now.

Next I used the masking material and that I had actually thought about earlier and had planned exactly where I would use it.  Sometimes I amaze myself!  Anyway, some people don't like to use masking material (think of something the consistency of rubber cement only opaque, dull yellow-cream, and fishy smelling) because when removed, it leaves a very hard, distinct white line.  Now think of the characteristics of water color - the fluidity of water, color swirling around, soft blending of shapes and shades - well, you get the idea.  And for the most part I agree and that is why I had to really think about using it only where such hard demarcations won't matter.

Then I mounted the drawing on my board.  That, too, took thought.  I have been using masking tape to adhere the paper to the board, but masking tape can lift some of the paper to which it adheres when it is removed.  So this time, I used the "Post-it" tape.  The only problem was I couldn't locate the white so I was left with either bright yellow or equally bright green.  Yellow won this time; I taped the paper down and instantly knew it wouldn't do.  In what I think is a brilliant compromise I used masking tape over the offensive yellow (which toned it down but didn't completely hide it) being careful not to get any on the paper itself.

Finally, I attached a wax paper "screen" over the whole thing so the masking medium doesn't rub off as I carry the board, and Bob's your uncle, I'm ready to paint!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Little News

We spent time in western New York visiting our daughter and grandson over the weekend.  This morning we woke up to 6" of heavy snow.  Oh my, more snow????  Yes, indeed.  After meeting for breakfast at our favorite "if-it's-Sunday" diner, we jumped in our car, and headed for home.  Usually we take back roads for a while before hitting the Thruway, but after a mile or two of unplowed country roads, we headed for the nearest Thruway entrance.  The good news was that the farther east we traveled the less snow we saw.

Once home we did our usual get ready for the week chores, and then I sat down to work on my "Winter" crazy quilt block.  Ironic, isn't it; you'd think I had enough of winter for a while, wouldn't you?  Ah, but this is different.  This I can control - well, sort of control.  I sorted through my beads, threads, buttons, ribbons, and laces and set aside the ones I thought might find a home on this block.  And then, bliss! I stitched! 

Maybe I'll be able to show you the first elements soon.  We'll have to see.  There's a lot to do on my painting project (the drawing for which I managed to transfer on to watercolor paper this afternoon), also.  

And then, there's always the cleaning and bringing order back to our home which I took a break from last week, lazy wench that I am.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blank Canvas

The evening Crazy Quilt class met tonight, and because I was able to sew on the binding I moaned about yesterday, I had time to think about getting ready for class.  Having finished a block featuring my great-grandmother, my "rules" allowed me to plan a "fun" block (that is, one dependent only on my imagination and not constrained by any factual matters such as names, dates, history, personality, likes, or dislikes).  

I had already decided that the four corners of this crazy quilt will represent the four seasons.  The gifts I have been given by the women in my family have to do with creative needlework, something that can be both an source of tranquility and of creative energy year round.  I had also drawn a simple landscape that will be the same in each corner and different only in the way each corner shows that scene in varied seasons.  

Today I had to figure out how to translate that drawing into fabrics suitable for a crazy quilt and then how to adhere them to the backing (fabrics for a crazy quilt block are sew onto a plain background that will support all the pieces as one adds the embellishments).  My pieces would be more oddly shaped than usual so I decided to use paper so I could get both the shape and the sharp edges I wanted.  

Here is what I wound up with:

This is my "blank canvas" on which I will create a winter landscape.  What you are looking at are rolling hills covered in snow (white for those in moonlight and blue for shadows).  On the left is a tree and its shadow stretches across the lower right edge of the block in a very deep blue.  The very small, brown boxy shape with an X stitched on it is a house off in the distance.  In the far right background is a purpley mountain.  It will be interesting to see if the finished block matches the picture in my imagination.

Of course, I put the block on my design wall so I could take a picture of it to use in this blog and promptly walked off and left it there.  That's right.  I didn't have it with me to work on tonight.  But . . . I was able to work on another aspect of this block in class so it wasn't wasted time.

Do you think the idea has merit?  Will this block work?  Can you see it done as a series of seasons in the same landscape?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Felled by a Faulty Brain

Sometimes it seems as though the little tasks I think will be the easiest to get done become mountains when my back is turned or in this case, when my brain is turned off.  Today was the day I thought I would be able to sew the binding on a quilt that has had to sit and wait while other more pressing jobs around the house were taken care of.  After all, thought I to myself, sewing binding on isn't either hard or time consuming.  As a result, I spent this morning doing ordinary chores around the house and organizing some projects and their assigned fabrics in my studio.


First I discovered that the binding I had already made was only half as much as I needed; what was I thinking?  Of course, my dread was that I didn't finish making the binding because I had run out of the material.  Luckily that was not the case.  After uncovering the binding material in my closet, I cut, sewed, ironed, and then attached the new pieces to the existing piece.  Now I was ready to whip this little job up and get it done in an hour.  Ha!

The pinning and sewing didn't really take that long, but the interruptions were plentiful so it did take longer than the allotted hour.  What made it even worse was me.  Sewing the binding ends together has always seemed to me to be one of those inside-out, upside down, and backwards sort of things that my brain doesn't take to kindly.  I always have to check the picture then ponder and puzzle over it a few times before I can get it right.  Of course, with the move into my studio, some of my basic references have been misplaced.  The photos with clear explanation that I had run off the computer some time ago is not where it should be.  In its place was a different one that I couldn't make head or tail of.

Aha, computer, You-Tube!  Phooey.  Even though I found what I thought was a very good explanation, I finally had to stop the video at every step, run back into the studio to try to complete the step as shown while mentally reversing the video which was taped from the viewer's point of view (in other words, not from the sewer's point of view).  How silly is that?  Finally, by late afternoon the light dawned in my little pea-brain, I realized which critical step I hadn't been doing, corrected myself, and finished attaching the binding to the FIRST SIDE!  

I decided that was enough sewing for today.  I did go ahead and pin the binding to the other side so all I have to do tomorrow is stitch it in place (I'm using the machine and a decorative stitch instead of hand-stitching this one).  You can be sure it will be the first thing I do tomorrow, though!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Amazing Sighting

E asked me today why I haven't been writing, and I had to admit nothing was happening of interest.  That is the truth.  I have been spending my days unpacking bins of kitchen goods and finding places to put the things I pull out.  That may sound easy, but I find I put something in a cabinet only to decide two or three times that the items should be elsewhere.  The funny thing is that for many of those things I am trying to put them at least close to the place they have been for the last 35 years so we have some hope of finding them.  I don't mind doing this, but it does take quite a while to accomplish and isn't very interesting for anyone else.

When I'm not doing that, I am trying to tidy the rooms that have been the storage sites for kitchen appliances and cupboard contents as well as clean off the 5 inches of construction dust, grime, grit, sawdust, etc.  Every single surface has to be dusted, washed, or vacuumed.  Again, although I am not a person who ordinarily enjoys cleaning, I don't mind doing it because the results are so satisfying.  However, another tedious chore not worth writing about.

But today something exciting did happen.  ME and I took a drive to one of our favorite quilt stores where we managed to limit ourselves to purchasing fabrics for the specific projects that are high on our "to do" list.  On the way back, I saw a bald eagle perched in a try beside the river!  This is only the second one I have ever seen in the wild.  Believe me, I think ME is going to lose her hearing as a result of my excited cries.  Poor woman.  I know I startled her when I started yelling.  Of course there was no way I could get a photograph of the bird, but it was a very special treat for the day.

Having no photos of the eagle, I'll share my most recent cardinal pictures.  These were taken from my studio - I was struck by the sunlight on the cardinal's breast as he so obligingly perched in the sunshine for me.

This is the cropped version so you can appreciate his spectacular color.

And in this shot you also get a view of the damage being done to the blue spruces trees by the virus, blight, or whatever it is that is slowly killing them all.  Such a shame . . . but the bird is a sight to see, isn't it?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Is She Right???

Yesterday my best friend left a message on my blog.  She noticed that I haven't been really showing any photos of the kitchen renovation and guessed that I am waiting until it is finished so I can show it off in all its glory.

Hmmm . . .

Here's a photo of the shelf:

This shelf which spans three doorways used to be painted a dark green.  It is now a golden yellow.  We display our collection of tins on this shelf, but you'll notice that there are no tins in sight.  There will be tins eventually at either end, but I like this - green insulators, pitchers, tea cups, and a Majolica camel/tea pot. When we add some tins, we plan to choose them carefully and put up only those that are "display worthy".

And here's a photo of the top of the "pantry" (antique wooden cupboard):

Until this project, the top of this cupboard had four willow baskets to hold various and sundry items that didn't fit either inside the cupboard or in any of our cabinets.  Now that we have more storage space in the new cabinets, we made a pact to keep the top of this cupboard "junk free".  Today I thought we'd be more likely to adhere to that plan if the top was occupied by something more aesthetically pleasing to look at than overflowing willow baskets.  So there's my mother's copper bowl, two reproduction fish pitchers/vases, an old pitcher, old beer stein, and new, inexpensive art vase.  Spacing needs fiddling with.

My watercolor, "The Four Little Peppers and How They Grew", is hanging above the sink thanks to D.  That was the first thing he did when the workers left today.  It looks good there - appropriate subject matter.

So the workers are gone for two weeks.  They won't be back until the counter tops are in place and they can install the back splash.  Two weeks of quiet but hectic work to put things away and clean as much as possible.

Do you think my friend is correct about not showing you pictures of the kitchen?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Day in the Life of Our Kitchen

The stove is in place and in working condition.  So even though as it turns out, the dishwasher can't be used, I am thrilled that all is coming together and that I can use the kitchen!!!  For the most part - for the important parts.

Some detail work was done today and a lot more painting.  This cold weather is not helping the painting as is doesn't dry as quickly as it would on warmer days.  I am finding the plain white walls just so restful, bright, and a lovely foil for all the rich cabinet and floor colors.

One huge thing that was done today was the man came to make the templates for the counter tops!  It was fascinating to see how they do it.  I had visions of someone with a roll of brown paper, a big carpenter's pencil, and a tape measure.  No way!  It's done with laser and computer - well, I shouldn't have been surprised, right; what was I thinking?  We were also asked several questions about the kind of edge we wanted, whether we wanted the edge of the sink to show (it's an under-the-counter-mounted-sink), and our answers were recorded to prevent any problems.  With the expense of stone and the labor involved, it's a smart thing to do that.  

Also, two left over projects on the studio were taken care of today.  Actually, only one was left over, and that was the second design wall fabric.  It was added to what I have already, and it now goes from one wall to the next at a right-angle.  That may sound strange, and it would be easier if it could have gone straight, but with the huge windows I requested, there just isn't enough room on a single wall.  This way I have more design wall space, and it's all usable just a bit quirky.  The other was having a second slat-wall mounted (a more attractive version of pegboard).  We had a lot left over after the first was put up, and it's so useful that I thought I might as well have it put in also.  Of course, then I had to order more hanger-thingies some of which are pricey, but as an organizational tool for items like my rulers, it's indispensable.

The only down-side is the dishwasher which we'll have to check on that tomorrow.  Hey, at least I can wash dishes in the kitchen sink instead of the upstairs bathtub!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Avocado and Gold Redux

Our daughter asked me yesterday what colors I thought I'd be using in our new kitchen.  Believe it or not, that had me stumped.  I hadn't even thought of it!

Well, today I had to pick up a quart of paint for the shelf on which we display old tins, and while I waited for it to be mixed, I had a great time strolling through the garden of paint chips.  Oh my, what a feast (it's one of my favorite spots in places like Home Depot)!  After I was home, I sent her a photograph of the winning chips that I'll share with you:

Paint chips of choice colors (displayed on kitchen floor)

Then once I had sent the picture, I sat back to admire them again.  Suddenly I sat bolt upright and started to laugh.  Can you guess why?

Check the title of this blog.

Okay, so they're not exactly the same, but they are close.  Isn't that funny?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Spring Training in Port Charlotte, FL

Not everyone is a baseball fan so I won't show you all the photographs I took while on our most recent trip.  I did select about 10 to put on view this evening, but luckily for you, several did not make the trip to the folder I thought I had selected.  And fortunately for me, the three that traveled to their appointed place are decent pictures to share.

All of these were taken in Port Charlotte where we saw a game between the Tampa Rays and the Minnesota Twins.  The first shot is fun because I actually got the baseball coming in.  Don't ask who was up because I'm not sure.  I think it might have been Longoria. 

The next is of Price, the very tall and slim pitcher.  If you look at his stance (he had just released the ball), you can see how pitchers have to torque their bodies even after the ball has left their hands.  It's a wonder they can play for more than a few seasons!

And the last is of one pair of ospreys at their nest.  I think it was at this park that we saw several nests.  

The tall poles almost always had platforms for the birds to use for nesting. So if the game gets dull one still has something to watch!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

News from the Past Week

We are back from a week in Florida where we enjoyed the beach, the sun, great people, and baseball.  It was a break that D needed a lot, and I certainly wasn't adverse to it!  We both said that we are at a point where we should try to get away for at least a week to a sunny, warmer location every winter - even those that aren't as severe as this one was.  The kitchen chaos made the trip even more necessary.  It's easier to say we can bear the upheaval now!

Speaking of upheaval - we came back to find that we now have a floor, cabinets, and painted walls!  That is huge for us as progress has been made, and we can begin to see that it is all worthwhile.  However, the dust and dirt is phenomenal!  It will take a long time to clean it all up, but that's a concern for later.  Right now, things are looking good, and that's all that's important.

Now while I do have photos of both the kitchen and our trip, I'm going to show you my more recently finished crazy quilt block.  This is the one that seems to have taken me altogether too much time but that I have finally, at long last, completed.  Huzzah!!!  (Click the image to get a larger format.)

If you have ever had a project that seemed to hang over your head like the sword of doom, you will understand how I began to feel about this block.  The major problem was that I had made a major mistake at the top of the block but just kept on trying to make it work.  It wouldn't cooperate. Then I took off the offending fabrics, re-sized the area making it smaller, and hid the connection between the two sections better.  After that, the sewing flew by with ease.

There is a lesson for me in that; stop fighting the inevitable.  Acknowledge what doesn't work, change it, and move on!

You'd think I would have learned that by now, wouldn't you?

You also know this will probably happen again, and the next time, I'll have to struggle all over again as though this time had never happened.  Sigh.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

More Nothing

Okay.  This is it.  This cold is taking too much fun out of my life.  Didn't go to the guild meeting because the doctor said I was still on the "cusp of being contagious".  Couldn't let any of my friends share this beastly lumpy common cold.  Oh, I went to the doctor to make sure I wasn't incubating bronchitis.  Felt like a fool, but knew it was worth any embarrassment, and fortunately, no one made me feel like an idiot.

More mud on the tape in the kitchen and that was it.  I'm going to take a break from writing and when I come back to it, I should have some photos to share.  At least I hope I do!  

Stay well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Silver Lining

Thanks to all who wished me well!  I am on the road and expect that today will be my last day of feeling washed out.  It certainly had better be as I have a lot to do (like everyone else) and can't continue to sit around blowing my nose.

Besides - tomorrow is guild day, and I will be there so I have to be well!

Today was an ┼▒ber quiet day construction-wise.  One man came and slapped a second coat of goop (aka "mud" in construction language) on the tape that covers the seams in the dry wall.  Each application (and there are many) has to sit, untouched, until it is really dry.  Then they put on another layer, and the whole process repeats itself.  A tedious process.

However, on the up side, we actually had scallops tonight  Thank all the goddesses of microwaves!

See, there's always an up side.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Short Entry

The cold I have caught is making me quite tired and not very energetic today so this won't be either very long or especially interesting.  

While at my studio class (in which we have a new student who knows D from work!), I spent time on "Laissez les bon temps rouler" ("Let the good times roll') which is my newest painting.  It required fiddling with the composition as I traced it it for transfer onto watercolor paper.  While I plan to do a watercolor study first as I find that so helpful, I'm not sure if it will end as a watercolor or as an oil painting.  In my brain it works either way, but in actuality?  It's a "wait and see" sort of question.

Then, instead of going to Crazy Quilting, D and I ran kitchen renovation errands.  That took precedence over stitching, but when we got home I did spend my evening working on the CzQ block.  This one is nearing the end, and I have to decide what my "just for fun" block (which will be next) will be.

For me, the highlight of the day was D hooking up the microwave!!!  Now we will have far more interesting and tasty meals.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kitchen Renovation - Dry Wall

The dishwasher has moved to the family room to keep the refrigerator company, and alas, the blue pail has disappeared!  However, the biggest news of the day is that after what seemed to be an interminable delay in delivery (it's always something, isn't it?), the drywall arrived giving our workmen enough time to get at least some of it up before the end of their working day.

In the picture above you can see both the wall and the ceiling (with new recessed light fixture).  The wall with the broom leaning against it and the green opening is the sink wall, the one we see when we enter the kitchen.  It's really nice to have that wall up again as well as the ceiling closed in.  They haven't been taped yet, but that will come soon now.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Weekend Report

Did you have a good weekend?  I hope you were able to relax and do things you really wanted to do.  D and I took time away from the chaos here in our home by visiting one of his sisters.  What a great time we had . . .  and not just because we were in a tidy environment!

The visit itself was the high point of the trip as we had not been able to get together over the Christmas holiday, nor in January, nor in February - all because of weather complications.  We went to a basketball game that was really fun to watch.  I did take some pictures which I sent to our daughter and then erased from my phone - they weren't very good, but I could have shared them anyway.  Silly me.  We also ate as several remarkably good restaurants - had amazing hamburgers (which I haven't eaten in ages), super pizza, and ended our feasting with breakfast at a very well known deli.  Exchanging Christmas and belated birthday gifts was another part of our fun.

We did leave right after breakfast today just in case the weather became bad and also so we could take care of laundry and other household chores.  Arriving home in good time gave me the opportunity to get our wash done, pick up odds and ends, and pack away some fragile items that I didn't want to leave out during the phase of kitchen construction.

Reading this over, I see that the weekend won't seem exciting to you though I think you'll understand the importance of having family time.  It made us feel refreshed, and that's what weekends are good for, right?

Wish you could tell me about yours!