Monday, October 16, 2017

Laundry and Baking Day

Again a day with no photographs and no quilting or painting to talk about.  As you know, it was laundry day, and the good news there is it's all done.  But, as you may have done in your own home, light weight sheets are still on the bed. It still isn't reliably cold enough for flannel (sheets or nightgowns!).

Originally, I had thought that it might be the day to take down the summer clothes and bring up the fall/winter garments.  But that, too, was left undone.  One day the temperature is up, and the next, it's down.  It seems to me that most days I am wearing a combination of spring tops with a sweater over it.  That sweater is taken off and put back on several times throughout the day, too.

While doing laundry, I spent time-between-loads doing my first "cooler weather" baking.  Today was the day for trying new recipes.  I made an apple bread pudding which looks very good.  The second "new dish" was Sweet Potato Ginger scones.  It sounded so good!  It makes quite a few scones which turned out to be a good thing.  The first batch did not rise at all.  Taste-wise it was merely OK.  So I added more liquid as I found that first batch to be very dry with way too much flour for the liquid called for.  That second and final batch looks better, but . . . I can't taste the sweet potato and the ginger is faint at best.

Oh well, it was a change of pace day which was fun.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Quiet Weekend

Was it a busy weekend?  Hmmm, I can't really remember!  Wow, that's scary, but I guess it simply indicates that it was busy with normal and non-memorable activities .  

So on Saturday here's what was done: morning walk, tidying, cooking/preparing meals, entertaining a guest for lunch (before he and D went up to the computer room to work on the bonsai treasurer's reports), and making another set of indigo pillow cases.

And Sunday?  morning walk (I think I'm ready to purchase some two pound weights). a special Sunday breakfast consisting of gingerbread pancakes, grocery shopping for basics and fall baking, watering plants, painting, trying to select (without success)  fabrics for a new project, and that's about it!

All in all it was very uneventful but quietly enjoyable weekend.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pillow Shams

Today I made a flying visit to a quilt guild meeting.  Luckily I remembered to take my donation of a boy's quilt in and drop it off.  Since D needed the car to get to his meeting before I'd be home if I stayed for all of the guild news, I showed KG my quilt made from her pattern.  While we both like it as a very modern and intriguing pattern, it didn't work as well as hoped when using ombres (fabrics shading from vivid to pale).  Having done what I really needed to do, I left and returned home.

D went off to do what he needed to do, and I decided to get the pillow shams project finished.  D's 50th Reunion Quilt is on our bed now, and I found that its intense indigo color would really not look good with the older periwinkle shams.

What really surprised me was that the project was finished before supper!  My surprise was due to it being my own pattern, and I wanted a tight fit.  That meant measuring non-rigid surfaces (pillows are quite squishy) and re-cutting when things weren't quite right.  

Here's one of the two identical shams:

You'll see the central panel features Mt. Fuji.  While it may not have anything to do with D's reunion, both the indigo color and the Asian motifs are used in the quilt as well. And, of course, the shams are a very visible reminder of our trip to the Orient.  

For those reasons, these rather simple shams please me very much.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


Yesterday evening we went to see a performance of The Color Purple, and by the time we got home, it was too late to write.  If I had written, I would have mentioned that I moved this week's "garment day"to Thursday because I had to bind a quilt so I could show it at Friday's guild meeting.  Of course, that meant that "garment day" was today, and the report on that is also very good.  D's second shirt is almost finished.  It's even possible that I will be able to finish the handwork tomorrow night.

All that in one paragraph with no photos - whew!

So here are some pictures of our fall garden on a gray day this week.  I love the way the morning glories have grown up into the butternut tree which is about 20 ft high.

This is the canopy of the butternut complete with morning glory blossoms.

Morning glories abound in our garden.

The sedum with a few lingering marigolds.

What a bonus the warm weather this fall has given us!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

When Life Hands you Lemons . . . .

When I was setting up at painting, I wasn't expecting to have any problems with materials.  I had checked my bag last night to be sure I had my painting, paints, brushes, photos, and other materials that make painting possible.  You know what happens when you think everything is going your way?  That's right.  All of a sudden it isn't, and all you have is a bag of lemons.

While I had checked to be sure I had the folder with my photographs, I didn't check to be sure that the two necessary shots were in the folder.  One was there; one wasn't.  It's like trying to walk three miles with only one shoe.  It could be done, but it wouldn't be any fun!  So I decided I wouldn't even try to work on the Italian landscape.

Instead, I turned my attention to a subject for which I definitely needed and had with me only one photo.  It was also a photo that I took only because I loved the name of the street.  Later I discovered that the picture might be worth a painting.   Of course, I hadn't brought any paper, but Sharon gladly gave me some (more on that paper later).

And so I started a new painting; this one of Via Dell'Amore in Pienza:

Once again you are looking at a painting so pale it's hard to tell what it is.  You may be able to tell that there is a stone wall on the left with greenery above it, the road leads to an open archway and building.  There is another building on the right, but it's only barely indicated at this point.

The paper I was given was a challenge from Sharon.  It's called "Schism" (that's what it sounds like, but I doubt it's spelled the same way as the noun meaning "a split or division between two opposing views".  It has a rough surface which I really love, but the properties are quite different from other rough papers I've used.  It seems to suck up the wet watercolor paint like a blotter but quickly and it spreads quite a bit!  Other papers with which I am familiar either allow the water to sit on the surface for a bit before soaking in or soak in but with minimal spread.  

I say that I think it was a challenge because that's what a good teacher does.  She tries to stretch her students abilities by facing them with something new.  It makes the student grow in experience, and even if the experience doesn't pan out, learning has occurred.

I think I'm going to have lemonade when all is said and done!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Decisions Can Be Hard to Make

Today was a holiday, and I did think about all workers who were enjoying a special day, a three day weekend!  For us it was another day of relative freedom.  After all, it was laundry day!

Fortunately that is a job I don't mind doing. I get a certain amount of pleasure in the routine.  It's routine that is allowed by the freedom of retirement.  There must be some irony there somewhere.  Anyway, once that job was done, I was finally able to find the time to set up our Halloween decorations.  It makes me happy to put up these cheerful items so it certainly wasn't a chore.

After lunch the difficult chore began.  On my list of projects to complete this month, I repeated one from last month - the sorting through of bins of fabric.  Fondling fabric is almost always fun, but today wasn't quite the same.  What I am trying to do, is sort out fabrics that I no longer think I will use in this lifetime. 

Sound easy?  For most of the fabrics it's an easy yes or no, keep or not.  But every now and then I come across one that still sings to me, one that I look at and still love.  Today I came across fabrics (notice the plural?) that were to have been used for a particular quilt pattern.  Every one of those fabrics was beautiful and each one was lovely in combination with the others.  Even though I knew the colors wouldn't work in this house, I don't usually allow that to "color" my thinking (sorry, I couldn't resist!).  The majority of those fabrics were also in the traditional/reproduction style - which normally I use in very small doses.  It's just not what I would use for an entire piece.  

But oh, they are lovely!

What to do?  

After lengthy consideration, I put the bundle back.  I'll make the decision another day.  

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Two New Works in Progress

Last week the winter fabrics I squirreled away several years ago were pulled out of the bin with the pattern, my notes, and sketches for pattern alterations (to suit the fabric better).  The plan is to have it ready for professional quilting the beginning of November, and that means that I have to keep working on it.  Right now I am thinking about 33 - 36 very simple blocks; thirty for the main portion and at least three for the borders.  

Here's what some of the blocks look like:

The borders consist of two fabric frames made from several different fabrics - just enough to add color interest.  The focal fabric is cut to try and make different scenes, and the two orientations help give the illusion of more than are available.  It has a "country look" I've always liked, and it portrays a happy winter time not the frozen waste land that so many of think of when winter comes around each year.

The second project is the wool work shown below - well, it is the beginning of another wool mini-banner.  The group of these banners I had purchased more recently but had done only one immediately.  My intention is to finish the ones I bought (I didn't buy all twelve of them as some of the patterns didn't resonate with me), and then to take on another hand-work project that has been languishing. 

Anyway, the various wool pieces mark what will be the edges of the piece (the charcoal is the background and is closer to black than it appears in the photo).  Now that I look at it again, I don't like the top row.  The way I laid it out, the pieces at the top form a tiny triangle where they meet along the bottom.  I don't like that and will have to see if I can rearrange them without creating more problems.

The winter quilt is on my October list, but the wool work isn't.  Don't worry; it will be !added

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Modest Achievement

Even with the best will in the world, there are days that simply slip by.  One may be busy, but it isn't necessarily the kind of busy that enables one to cross things off one's to-do list!  

Wednesday is "Garment day", and I had hoped to finish D's second shirt today, but there were too many other household chores that needed doing.  Some headway was made however; I had enough time to sew on the shirt cuffs.

Even something this small is a step forward.

Who knows what excitement tomorrow may bring!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

First Tuesday of the Month

First Tuesday means that I have fun with both of my passions.  First I have painting class, then lunch with best friend, and finally she and I go off to a class on crazy quilting.  That's three things, isn't it - ha, never said math was either a passion or a strength!

So here's today's work on the combination painting I am doing at D's request.  If you remember, he wanted a painting with the Italian cedars, and I decided to combine it with Montalcino, am Italian hill town.  Last week, showing the first day of work was frustrating for both you and me because it was so very hard to photograph and therefore for you to see.  Last week the painting was merely a watercolor sketch, the very beginning.  

Looking at what is shown below, you are within your rights to feel that not much progress was made today.  In one sense you'd be right.  I worked on only the top half of the landscape, and this week's work is more detailed (okay, slightly more detailed).  I do try to paint all the way across a painting instead of concentrate in one spot because it's all too easy to lose sight of the the whole and what you want to do.  It's also hard to pick up later on and try to remember what one did and/or why or to mix the same paints.  And of course, if one spends too much time on one area, it can quickly become overworked.

So after all that "more-than-you-wanted-to-know", here's what I did today:

As usual, the color on the photo is awful . . . but at least you can see it!

Nothing worth talking about when it comes to the crazy quilt block I worked on, but well, maybe next month.  And my lunch with BF?  That is Top Secret between just the two of us!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Laundry Day Plus

Since today was laundry day, sheets had to be changed.  That gave me the perfect time also to change the quilt on the bed.  While I still have a long way to go to make my dream of a different quilt for every month, we now have three (only nine to go!).  So the pretty summer quilt was pulled off the bed and D's Reunion Quilt went on. 

Of course, that meant that now I want some new pillowcases and definitely new shams for the decorative-but-full-size pillows.  Yesterday I started one set of pillowcases but made a critical error in cutting.  I measured incorrectly so the cases were too short.  Ugh.  I wound up piecing them which is not the best thing to do, but since I didn't have enough fabric to start all over and I love what I had, well, piecing was it.  Now I did make an error, but I also hadn't realized that our new pillows are longer than the old ones by about 2 inches!  Ah well, these just the first for this quilt, and they are now a model on both a how not as well as a how to for the next sets.  

While the shams were started too, since they are a design-as-I-go, I didn't have time to complete them. They're being counted as part of my October list, they will be in use by the end of the month.

I took a break from laundry and sewing in the afternoon and went outside.  The summer annuals in the big pot, near the front porch, and in the porch railing pot were ready to be pulled and tossed so I did.  That gave me room for the fall gourds.  Here's how the porch pot looks now (wish the stem on the mini-pumpkin weren't so straight, but it is and rolling it on its side makes it too unstable) :

I also played with the "pop-out" feature on my phone's camera.  That's why the photo below looks as it does.  Experimentation taught me that it doesn't work for every photo and that one has to really think about the composition before using it.  However in the photo below, the pop-out section works as a stand alone composition and the rest of the photo works as a relatively non-intrusive background.  Oh well, the beautiful white chrysanthemum S-i-L "A" gave me really pop!

Laundry day put a bit of a crimp in my plans for today, but still things were started, things were learned, and some were completed so I feel it was another successful day.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

More Halloween Fun

I am really enjoying the monthly list (you have my permission to get on my case when I complain!) because I feel impelled to get work done.  Have I ever mentioned that I love lists?  Yes, I'm sure!  Were my hand/wool projects on my September list?  No, but having to get the assigned-by-list materials ready made me look for whatever missing pieces I needed to complete the project and that looking made me find some fun things.

Now that they are finished, here are two of them. The first one is a very small wool "banner".  It's a pattern to which I added the ghosts (buttons) and the ground on which the pumpkin is resting.  Unfortunately, to me the so-called ground wound up looking more like a basket than any field, but I can change that .  For this year, it will remain this way.

The second one is another dish towel (remember the two ghost towels I embroidered for our daughter?).  This one is a witch, and I had fun with her, too!  However, for everyone out there who might want to do this kind of embroidery on something like a towel, remember that it means a lot of knots!

Whatever project/s you're working on, I wish you as much fun as I had!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Garment Day & Halloween Towels

Before I start on the towels, I have to report two good things that happened today.  Very quickly, I found the binding strips for the quilt I need to bind this month.  That means if I can plan my time and if I have no surprises, I can complete that task before October.  

And a garment day yielded positive results. Good progress was made on D's shirt.  It isn't finished yet, but I believe the machine sewing is at least half done in one day of work.  The second day will complete the machine sewing while a third day will see the shirt's handwork done (in the evening so it doesn't have to be done on a garment day saving time) and voila!  D will be able to wear it!

Meanwhile, I have given R the two Halloween towels I embroidered for her:

And today I began another one which I will show when it is finished. This one is a witch, and I haven't decided whether daughter will receive it or if it will live with us. It doesn't belong to the ghost family, but it is a Halloween theme.  

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Painting Day, New Work

D asked me if I would undertake a new painting from our trip to Italy that would have some cedars in the composition.  That was an easy request as if one takes photos in Italy one would be hard put not to includes cedars in at least one photograph.  So all I had to do was find one photo that I would enjoy working with.

After running through the photos I settled on one I've already painted for the friends who were kind enough to be our tour guides.  I think this is the first time I have chosen to repeat a subject, but I chose to use two photos for one painting.  

The repeated photo is of Montalcino, a hill town, and the added photo is a landscape in the same area.  I did this for a few reasons.  First, it would would be a challenge to merge the two images thereby making me really think about composition.  Second, that same merger would also make it a new painting, and it would be like doing the same thing over again.

Here's the painting I did for our friends:

And here is the first pass of the one for David.  You'll have to look carefully because it's very light.  It's just the first wash which lays out the composition and gives me a chance to see if it will work.

I think it will work.  This layout is one to which I am quite partial, and it makes it clear (or will) that Montalcino is a hill town.  D's cedars aren't in evidence yet, but they will be.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Treasures in a Storage Bin

The "Bamboo Forest Stroll" painting is off to the framers as of this morning even though we aren't sure (or I'm not, anyway) where it will hang once framed.  Garden Room?  Master bedroom?  Or will it become a replacement for a painting now on our walls when we feel the need for a change?

On our way home from that errand we stopped and picked up two more of my fabric bins from the storage area.  So, in addition to the laundry, sorting through those two bins became my task for the day.  Oh, did I have fun!

The fabrics in the bins were sorted before being placed in storage, but I'm trying to winnow my stash even more.  It isn't easy, but I was able to identify some fabrics and/or projects with all necessary fabrics worth keeping. Others were set aside for re-sale (at an oh-so-modest price, of course).  

Projects for which I have gathered supplies but haven't started yet are a handkerchief quilt and a Ricky Tims ("Convergence").  Both of those are definite keepers.  A Pineapple quilt in batiks (surprise!) and a Friendship Star quilt are the two that had already been started, and therefore will be put on my monthly to-do list at some point.  Realistically, they will probably not appear on that list until 2018, but I am looking forward to finishing them.

My choice of  fabrics for the Friendship Star quilt (a pattern that appeals to me a lot) is surprising and may be to you also.

It is made with a dark Japanese floral fabric and all the others have fonts.  Neither of those fabric types are what would amaze you.  What would are the colors.  They are so opposed to my usual brights. These, by contrast, could be called drab.

But aren't they beautiful!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

An Important Project Completed

The donation quilt for a young boy is finished!  It's a bit too big for a twin bed, but it will be usable.  It spreads out almost to the edges of our bed so it will be more like a bedspread than a blanket.  

It's what happens when you don't use a pattern and don't bother to look up bed sizes.  Fool that I am!  

At least it's bright and cheerful!

While it's completion enables me to check off another project on my To Do List for September, that's not the important thing.  To me the thought that this quilt just might make some little boy warm, comfortable, and maybe a happy is what matters more.

Friday, September 22, 2017

New Look at an Old(ish) Quilt

The quilt I had intended to work on remains missing in action (or maybe I should say in "inaction").  But all is not lost.  There are plenty of other quilts that need attention, and I am sure that the one I put on my list will be located sometime (probably in the bin at the bottom of the pile).  

Instead of "Women's Voices" (the name of the missing quilt), today I pulled out a donation quilt for a little boy that I started three years ago (I think). All blocks are made and two of eight rows were already sewn.  Despite the inevitable time spent organizing the pieces, figuring out what the notes made three years ago mean, and changing the sewing machine from buttonholes to quilt work, four .  more rows were sewn this afternoon.

However, there is something I am both perplexed by and excited about.  While looking for the missing quilt, I found a bag hiding behind the bi-fold door of my stash closet. 

"Ha, you little sly one," I said as I pulled it out.  "You thought you'd avoid the big upheaval of tidying, didn't you, but now you're in for it!  Since you missed simply being put in a bin without further interrogation, you have have my undivided scrutiny!"

And I dumped the contents onto my cutting table.  And there was something I had totally forgotten about to the extent that I didn't even recognize it at first.  Here it is after being ironed:

(Yesterday the bamboo painting was too dull and today this is too bright).  In a class at a quilt shop that is no longer in business, I started this wall hanging.  It is part of what is called a "watercolor" quilt because of its use of lights and darks.  This is only one-quarter of the pattern.  It is mostly hand sewn which, since I was still working at that time, is probably why it was put away.  The notes on the left side identify the number of the row and where its matching row should go.

Now I have to figure out what I want to do with what I have. The bag may have all the fabric I need to complete the other three quadrants to finish the intended pattern, or it may not.  I haven't checked that thoroughly partly because I'm not sure I want to adhere to the pattern.  But if not that, then what?

Gail Perry has patterns and books on watercolor quilts filled with ideas on what can be done with small squares of different values.  If I am correct, her ideas tend toward impressionist landscapes and still lives.  Those two options don't intrigue me.

I'm thinking more geometric.  Maybe.  

Clearly, I shouldn't do anything yet!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Another Day of Ups and Downs

Yesterday I talked (briefly) about the title of the most recent painting saying that I shouldn't have rushed the process.  

Having said that, you'd think I could take that lesson and apply it to another situation, right?  Well, since it's me, no.

Today I had two jobs I thought I could work on.  There's one more binding, and one quilt to work on.  The binding strips I cut yesterday need to be sewn together, and the quilt needs to have maybe half of its blocks finished.  While eating breakfast, the binding strips won the toss.

Then I went upstairs.

The work surface had fabric all over it because for some reason which I still can't remember, yesterday after sewing buttonholes, I decided to rearrange my batiks.  No work could be done until I finished that chore.  So I did. There were discoveries - such as I have more pinks than I thought I did (which I thought was zero), and I have many fewer purple than I should have (a mountain would be about right).  Again an "and" - I don't think I need to buy any batiks for quite a while!

There wasn't enough time to work on the quilt, but I thought I'd get it out and ready.  You probably know what happened next.  I couldn't find it!  Remember that I have made great strides in getting the studio organized?  Clearly I have organized that quilt away.

If I can't find it tomorrow, I may have to pull out another unfinished quilt to work on.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Progress Made!

Our computers have been on the fritz since the end of last week.  D had to take his computer and its appendages to the Geek Squad for repair which meant that I was without Internet capability.  

It's good to be back online.

During the days without computers, I found I did have a little more time (no card games, email, or Facebook which probably gave me an additional hour and a half a day).  The list of projects did not go down, but work on them was significant.  For example, today is garment day, and D's shirt now has buttonholes and will, after this entry is posted, have buttons.  It will be wearable!

Then there is the painting which isn't covered on the List.  During the past week, the painting also received attention.  Here's how it appeared in last week's blog.

During the week, I worked hard at trying to get it at least close to finished.  I wanted to be sure it had a chance of being completed during class.  This is what I took on Tuesday:

It was finished in class, and here it is!

Now signed and dated it is called "Bamboo Forest Stroll".  

Okay, I should have waited longer before putting that title on this painting, but well, the need to call it "done" yelled louder.  Lesson learned?  I hope so!

Friday, September 15, 2017

One More Check Mark

Today I think I have come to terms with my dislike of binding - the final stage of making a quilt.  First, for anyone who doesn't already know, I am the diva of ducking the finishing stage of quilt making.  There are innumerable unfinished quilts languishing in our home - most of them needing only a binding.

You may also remember that on my September to-do list of projects there are two binding chores (I am smart enough to know that listing more than two might have been the kiss of death for the entire idea of the to-do list).  Yesterday I began working on the first quilt for which I had already at least made the binding.  I machine stitched binding to quilt but decided to leave half finished until I purchased thread that would match the binding material more closely than any I have.  Today, I decided to forge ahead and just use what I have and get the job done.

Also, I have always found making a totally smooth joining of the binding strips an iffy business at best.  Sometimes it went well; sometimes it was a disaster.  The more experience I had, the better it went - most of the time.  BUT there were times when it really mattered that it didn't go well at all, and I think the more uptight I got about it, the more it didn't work.

However, I have finally found a truly foolproof (well, all right, one really has to follow directions carefully!) method, and oh, how my heart sings to see the joining smooth and fitting perfectly!  That took away a bit of my dislike and delay in "finishing".

Next there is the issue of machine stitching BOTH sides of the binding.  Typically one machine stitches one side in a way that can't be seen and by hand blind-stitches the back side of the binding to the back of the quilt.  I've experimented with machine stitching both sides of a quilt.  That can make the stitching either semi-hidden or (as I prefer) visible and decorative.  It's also much faster.  Guess which one I like to do!

Here is a close up of machine-stitched binding.  It is a curlicue pattern you have to look closely to see on the edge of the quilt.  It's a view of the edge of the quilt as it would appear at a casual glance.

This machine stitching is deemed of lesser value, something that simply isn't done, and it is not accepted as appropriate.  Oh well.  They used to say that about machine quilting as opposed to hand quilting.  Here's what I realized; I don't like hand sewing binding.  It is tedious.  It is not stitching that adds to the beauty of a quilt by its presence because the hand sewing isn't visible if done correctly.  Indeed, I thought to myself, it's like sewing the hem in a skirt - another job of finishing I never enjoyed doing.  Light bulb moment: I like a creative not a routine approach.

Below is another view of the edge of the quilt, and in this view you can't see that I did the machine stitching on the front.  

So here are today's revelations:

1.  Having lumps where binding ends meet really drive me bonkers.  Question: Why continue to sew them as taught?  Answer: No one cares or notices the method only the result.  Solution: Use the method that really works and that satisfies that perfectionist soul within.

Donation Quilt for a Female Veteran
2.  Hand sewing binding is a chore I thoroughly dislike.  Question: So why do it?  Answer: It isn't accepted by judges.  Solution: Hand sew ONLY bindings on quilts that will be judged!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Not Exciting but Satisfying!

It was a busy day with the construction men back in to take care of odds and ends left from their last work as well as a couple of things D wanted done.  

While they were working, I went off to Her Treasure Box (craft shop run to raise money to help victims of human trafficking) with a bag of some material, craft items, and unopened patterns.  It also gave me an opportunity to see the apartment in the same building that the owner has allowed Her Treasure Box to use rent free.  What a great space!  Until they have women who need a place to live, the apartment will be used for meetings and as a classroom space.

And that's why I was invited up to see the apartment because I will teach watercolor painting in there on Saturday.  I've done it before but in the shop itself which is quite dark so I am looking forward to having the class in such a lovely space full of light.

Once home again I was able to spend time in the studio and make some more inroads on my to-do list.  It is with some pride I say that I pinned the binding on a quilt made some time ago.  Tomorrow I will sew it on.  May not seem like much, but to someone like me who really doesn't like to do binding, it's huge!

It helps that my best friend and I each have project lists and that we keep track of the progress each other makes.  Having a cheer leader is great!

Oh, and I found the buttons for the shirt so now I can make the buttonholes!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Shirt

Another day working on my list of projects, and I am very pleased.  I have one of D's shirts almost completed, and if it were not for the lack of buttons, it would be finished.  There are plenty of buttons in my stash that would be suitable for a basic shirt, but this isn't a work-in-the-garden or clean-the -basement shirt.  Of course, it also isn't a go-to-an-important-meeting or even a celebrate-an-important-occasion shirt.

This is the type of shirt it is:

The purple leaves are bamboo, and there are other skeletal leaves in white.  In the gray patches there appears to be  Korean writing, and in the golden yellow patches there is either Chinese or Japanese writing.  So to me it is a Bonsai type of shirt.

However, only D will be able to describe its true "kind of shirt".

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bamboo Forest Painting - More Growth

Today was a slow day for me at painting class.  First, I had accomplished quite a bit with my quilting but nothing in the painting realm.  That has been the way has been for the past several - well, for a long time.  

Anyway, because of that I had not reached any conclusion about the color for the second woman's kimono.  Originally, I had painted (in my studies) her in the color she was actually wearing (red purple with yellow designs) when I snapped the photo, but I really didn't like it.  I didn't like the colors or the combination, but I especially didn't like it next to the lady in the red kimono.

While I was mulling the problem over, I worked on the roadway, the wooden railing, and the thatching.  Those last two items made the barrier between the public and the bamboo.  Originally, I wasn't going to add the barrier but wound up feeling the composition needed it.

Then I tried out some possible kimono color combinations on scrap paper.  When Sharon came by, she and I discussed the ones I had and tried a few more.  Before the end of class I was able to paint the first kimono washes.

Oh dear, on my screen it looks like an orange and a blue; I hope it show up better when posted.  The lady on the right is wearing red and the one on the left is in a blue-purple kimono.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Three Steps Forward . . .

Three steps forward sometimes mean at least two steps back.  While the list is moving in the right direction, every now, and then it takes a step in a direction that wasn't planned.  

Yesterday, for instance, I was ready to tackle a sewing job that is not a favorite when I discovered I didn't know where my interfacing was and I couldn't proceed without it.  Before I knew it, I was pulling all my stabilizers, battings, and fusibles out of my closet.  WOW!  I had no idea I had so much!  By the time I had it all out, I realized that I had to purchase a new storage bin to hold my stash of - well what is the correct noun to cover what I found?  In the meantime, I grouped like things together in clear garbage bags so now I can find what I didn't know I had!

Okay, did I find interfacing?  Nope. So I thought I should put the project in its appointed place and start something else.  Of course, when the fabric was replaced in that pile of similar projects, I found the interfacing I had been looking for before getting distracted by organizing all that batting and stuff! Frustrating on the one hand, but on the other hand, a task was completed that I hadn't even thought of doing!

Hmmm . . . wonder if I can put it on my list so I can cross it off?  


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Progress on Projects

After making a HUGE amount of soup, I spent the rest of the morning sorting and putting away my collection of embroidery threads.  Why I was so astonished that it took me until lunch time to finish that task I don't know.  Everything takes longer than I expect!

At least I had time in the afternoon to finish a project I started a few days ago.  While tidying the studio, I came across a series (or part of a series) of banner patterns I bought several years ago.  The pattern that caught my eye initially was the September banner of a school house.  It was shown sewn in a red homespun plaid set on the diagonal, and it was charming!  I didn't want to do it that way even though I love homespuns because I wanted to use my collection of fabrics with printing: letters, words, script, etc.  Even though this was not on my official list of Six Items to Complete, I started it anyway.  After all, it is September!

Even though I set the bell cupola too low and may not have room for a school bell charm, I do like the way it came out complete with typewriter keys roof and a ruler door.  

So I put it on my list and then crossed it off; one down for September!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Painting and Crazy Quilting

What a wonderfully busy day!  So I'm back to my usual pursuits of painting and quilting and those two pursuits filled my day.  As the first Tuesday of the month I had both my morning painting class which is a weekly occurrence and the once a month Tuesday crazy quilt class in the afternoon.  

After several, okay, more that several studies of the Bamboo Forest painting, today I started all over. My first run at the forest itself was no more than that - a first run.  There was no way it was worth going on with.  The second and the third were along the same line - trying new paint mixtures to get the color for the bamboo, the women's kimonos, and in the last couple of "studies", the composition was not quite right (the proportion of the paper to my subject was off).  Also, I had not been satisfied with the size of the two women; they were simply too small.  

So after doing nothing on it for a couple of weeks, I decided to start all over.  Here you see the women have a greater share in the space than in previous attempts.  Also, after chatting with Sharon I made the decision to put the barrier between walkers and the bamboo forest itself back in the painting.  While it doesn't seem as though I got very far, the decisions that we discussed took time as did the women and the new bottom edge.  It's on its way.

Then I met my best friend for lunch (always a good time).  It's the first time we've done that, and I hope it will become a habit - at least as often as we can.  Then off to the quilt shop where we have our class. The block honoring my sister has been a struggle since I started.  I feel so guilty that I didn't know her as well as I should have.  The block for my mother sailed along and so did the one for my great-grandmother who I didn't know at all.   I hope I have broken through the wall with today's work.  What you see below is only about half of the block where a finished the lower portion of the garden beneath her photo.

Once again, today I was reminded that working in a group is very helpful.  Ideas are bounced around and sometimes the mere chatter about what each person is doing is helpful to say nothing about sharing opinions on everything from materials to colors to composition.  

Let's hope it works!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hello Again!

It's been a very long time since I've written and that is only partly due to the number of summer activities involving family, friends, and house work.  The other part is that - possibly because of those activities - I have done almost no painting or quilting. 

If it sounds as though I am feeling down about that, I'm not.  Having time with friends and family is such a bonus and makes me very happy.  The house work was more than the usual; you know, dusting, vacuuming, laundry, or other things of that sort.  Over the course of all renovations, lots of odds and ends wound up in my studio in with all my clutter.

That's was really did me in.  I couldn't, simply could not, work in that room in that state so I spent a few hours every possible day for the next couple of weeks.  All is neat-enough (meaning it isn't perfect), semi-organized (meaning I know where most things are), and I am back to sewing.

Painting?  Only during classes which isn't a good idea but is the only time I've had lately.  That too should change with the end of summer.  I should be able to find a few more hours in the week now.

All is well and good!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Odds and Ends

Yesterday we spent our afternoon at the race track for our once-a-year day at the track.  I lost more than I have in the past (under $10), and D came home the modest winner of an Exacta.

Today it's pouring, and we were scheduled to take our daughter and grandson to a local baseball game.  But when we talked with them this morning, we suggested they visit next weekend.  Grandson just got home from a trip to D.C., and when the rain came down as it did when we were at the Yankees' game, they decided to stay home.  Smart move!

However, as this game and the picnic before hand is a fundraiser for our local library, since we have already bought the tickets, we will go anyway.  At least for the picnic (as soon as I finished that sentence, the skies opened up again!) . . .

Reporting in on my list of six things I need to accomplish:  One more bin for the dining room was emptied and contents put away this morning.  Now there is just a small bin (of the size one can put under a bed) to tackle and the dining room will be back in order.

This afternoon, I planned to work on the painting side of the studio.  Planned to but didn't do.  I was lured to the fabric side (it's much prettier than paint brushes and easels!) and spent a couple of hours in more organizing.  Actually, I was looking for some stencils I had purchased to use as embroidery designs for dish towels, but I couldn't find them.  At least not yet!  I did find a small box of items I had set aside to use on the crazy quilt block I'm working on that honors my sister.  It will be fun to check that out tonight when we return from the ballpark (though it's beginning to look more doubtful that we'll go).

Another day on the plus side of getting the studio organized!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Progress Made

Another day of following my plan to get some things done that have been hanging fire for too long.  First I took a look at the yarn I had recently purchased.  That reminded me that I had yarn downstairs that needed to be sorted through also.  One of the problems I face, with the yarn I have, is that there is lovely yarn bought for specific projects, but I can't remember what the projects are!  So I took the time to find the patterns and match it to the yarn.  Once matched up, I put the yarn in a bag with the pattern or (if the pattern was going to be used with other yarn also) with a note with the specific pattern's name.  That took over an hour but was not on my list so I can't really count it.

Then after lunch, I went back to the studio where I spent almost three hours.  I could get more done in more quickly if I merely put things away without bothering to organize, to figure how items were going to be used, and most importantly, to decide whether I really wanted/needed the objects I was sorting through. I did fill a garbage bag with things that I didn't want and that could not, for a variety of reasons, be given to others.  Other things were organized and will be ready to be either put in a bin (if it isn't going to be used soon) or put on a shelf.

All this time is being spent on only the first item on my list of things I want to do.  If I merely work around the disorder to sew or paint, the mess will not only stay in the same place, it's more likely that it will grow.  

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Sharing a List of Chores

All right, I have to admit it; my phone and I are at cross purposes simply because I don't know how to upload photos from my phone directly onto my computer.  Well, I knew I needed to attach my phone's cord to the computer, but then?  I thought it would be simple - that I would receive a prompt or icon to click on and presto! my photos would be uploaded and easy to use.  Not so! and I still haven't figured it out so I'll have to trek back to the phone store and humbly admit my ignorance.  Until then, the photos I promised from my phone will remain among the missing.

Instead today I took photos using my camera which I do know how to use (okay, I know a little!) and took photographs that I will share shortly.  First though, the background to this story.  Since we started our most recent renovation, I have exclaimed and complained about the untidiness that goes along with such an endeavor.  So much of my time has been spent re-organizing that I haven't had time to do much else.  Enter Best Friend (known hereafter as BF). She also was having some trouble getting things done.  Putting our heads together, we decided that by joining forces we might conquer the problem.

Last night we exchanged lists of what we wanted to accomplish and thought we might be able to do in one month's time - give or take a bit (the amount of time was not critical, completion of listed tasks is the focus).  First on BF's list was a particular quilt, and first on mine was tidying my studio.  Today she and I met to run an errand and promised that we would check in on our progress daily.  As I left her, she reminded my that I had to do an hour (a manageable and reasonable period of time) of work in the studio while I reminded her that she had to focus on her first project.

Shortly after arriving home, I repaired to the studio and put in two hours of tidying/organizing.  Much of that time was spent putting fabrics in a bin but . . . keeping in mind that my task had to be organized in such a way that I could locate the fabrics easily in the future.  Usually I type out a list of contents and put 2 copies facing out on the inside of the bin - one copy in the front and one on a side. While this has been helpful in the past, I thought I'd try something new today.

So I took photographs of the fabrics and will add them to the list of contents.  Remembering the fabric line a year later by name alone or by proposed use doesn't always work.  

Here are a some of those photos:

When you look at these few pictures of fabrics and see how different the fabrics are, you can understand how hard it might be to describe them briefly but succinctly enough for recognition after the passage of time.

Yet, the real point is that something was accomplished today that had been so overwhelming to me that I had been unable to get started on it before now.  I'll bet that some of you have experienced the same issue.  My advice?  Ask a friend like my BF who will encourage you and/or nag you when necessary to share a list of projects you want to do. 

Believe me, it's working so far.  I'll keep you posted about my progress.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Summer Time"

Do you ever find yourself singing the song "Summer Time"?  Well, the living may be easy, but it is also busy, isn't it!   This past week D and I had a super time with SiL A in Corning and in Austerlitz, NY.  No photos, alas; my phone and I aren't on speaking terms right now.

We went to Corning to go to the glass museum where we took a guided tour that was absolutely top notch with a docent who not only knew her "stuff" but was truly enthusiastic and happy to be there sharing her knowledge.  Taking that tour allowed us to hone in on areas that we wanted to re-visit the next day which was a good thing because it is a large museum with many different areas that appeal to different interests.  

We also went to two demonstrations of glassblowing and of how Tiffany glass is made.  Wow!  If you go, you absolutely have to go to the demonstrations.  First, we learned a lot, and second, the demos were fascinating!!!

We also took a "glass class".  That, too, proved to be fun.    More about that in good time.

The next morning we took the free bus from the glass museum to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in downtown Corning first.  What a surprise that turned out to be!  None of us expected the wealth of fine works (from early to contemporary) that took our breath away!  The museum store is small but had some fine items.  Don't worry; I think I spent under $20.  Oh, and fabulous building, too.  We highly recommend that museum!

From there we climbed back on the bus (not a long ride but welcome transportation on a hot summer day) and returned to the glass museum.  Once there we returned to some of our favorite displays and found many new ones to amaze us.  And of course, we also visited the HUGE museum store there, too, where I picked up a few small gifts).  We had lunch, and visited some more displays before leaving for home.

And of course, among all those activities, we did pick up the results of our glass class the previous day.  By unanimous acclaim, SiL A won!  She made a picture frame that is really good - bright colored squares on a white background - very eye-catching.  D came in second with his night-light; we plugged it in when we returned home, and it is a happy scene with shining sun, trees and grass.  We all agreed that the less said about my attempt at glass design the better.  Frankly, it was downright UGGG-ly!

Don't worry; I swallowed my chagrin with Brooks barbecued chicken that we bought as we passed through Oneonta on our way home.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

August Update

It is truly August - already!  We have had a terrific time with daughter and grandson at a Yankee vs Tiger game in NYC (Tigers won - D happy; daughter and grandson good sports) despite the absolute deluge at the end of the 7th inning. Didn't get home until after 1:00 a.m. - groans all around. Company in the late afternoon today for quiet drinks in the backyard.  Painter to come Monday to work on more odds and ends, and (we hope) start on the front porch.  Next up?  SiL coming this week for a trip to Corning to visit the glassworks and take a class!  Then on to visit the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay (a favorite of mine since my teen years).

In between those busy and happy times, we have been managing to find and gradually return various items that had been put away during laying wood floors, painting, and carpeting.  Lovely jobs like locating the bins with the china cabinet's contents and putting all that away while deciding which things could be passed on to charities.  Finding lamps and vacuuming their shades, putting new ones together, and trying to remember where we wanted to put them!  Realizing that closet doors can't be put up because new carpet is too high and having to call construction guys back to shave doors.  Cleaning the garage where construction guys had to cut floor boards on rainy days (and they all were rainy!), dusting every inch of every piece of furniture stored in garage so floor could be put in, and then carrying everything back into the house.

But hey, the car is back in the garage, the house is a little closer to habitable, and D and I are still married!

Monday, July 31, 2017


Visitors, laundry, and more visitors for baseball . . .  all that adds up to a busy several days leaving little time for writing.

But . . . I did have time to snip a few lilies and roses

Lovely and fragrant and evidence of garden fighting its way back from neglect.

Have a good several days!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Our Last Meal in Hong Kong

Hooray!  We've made it to the very last entry with photos from our Asian trip but the first with some photographs of us and the people with whom we had such a rousing good time.

We wanted to have lunch at a place where we could get dim sum, and the concierge at our hotel recommended this restaurant which was run by primarily Chinese-only speakers.  Because most of us were not familiar with dim sum menus, we relied on the expertise of one couple because no one else could help us.  First the couple told us to look closely at the menu. David and Tom followed directions:

That started the hilarity that ensued throughout the entire meal.  The three you see below are merely attempting to look like serious and normal Americans-in-a-strange-land.  From left to right they are Lori, Dave, and Inge. There will be a test later.

This couple has been our bonsai-couple-friends-of-longest-standing since we joined the bonsai club 15 to 20 years ago (D is wrong; it's closer to 20 but I'm being diplomatic).  Tom was behind David in the "taking a close look" photo.  Sandy is very smart and didn't bother.

Then there is this couple who tagged along.  Oh yes, one is the closer-look guy.

Okay, now Sandy is perplexed.  We ordered as instructed by the members-of-our-group-who-will-remain-nameless but are probably in witness protection by now.  They told us that in the US when one orders in this kind of a restaurant, one places an order for ONE and receives ONE dumpling.
So each person went through the menu and ordered ONE of whatever struck her/his fancy.  Keep that in mind.  Sandy is perplexed because we seem to have SEVERAL baskets of MANY items, and this is only the first part of our order.

Notice the table behind us.  They were having a great celebration of some kind and were full of laughter although they may look quiet and subdued in this photo.  Remember the test.

The baskets kept coming and coming and coming.  There would be a pause but then more baskets would come.  By the time this next photo was taken we had realized that ONE order meant we received ONE tower of baskets for that particular item.  We had ordered enough to feed the entire bonsai club had they gone with us to this restaurant as well as those members who didn't take the trip!  Finally, one of the smart members of our dinner party got an idea (someone had to - the rest of us were crippled by laughter), grabbed piles of the baskets and took them to the party goers at the table behind us.  One of that party spoke English well enough that he was able to explain to the rest what had happened, and they immediately joined our hilarity while graciously accepting the extra food.  They thanked us profusely and laughed and laughed and eventually came over to join us for various photo opportunities.

By this time, everyone in the restaurant was aware that the crazy Americans had done something singularly foolish but were having such a good time about it that they could also share the joke without being rude.

It's hard to write this so you can understand what was so funny so the test is:

Who was with us at the restaurant?
How much did we think we were ordering?
How much did we actually get?
Who ate the food?
Did we have a good time in Asia?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Painting Day

While there are still some photos yet to show from Hong Kong, today was painting day.  Unlike last week's sketches in my sketchbook, today I worked on a study.  What's the difference?  In my mind, those sketches were one way to try out something that I liked but didn't like enough to make a finished painting.  Today's subject is something I like enough to take it from study to finished work.

The bamboo forest we visited in Japan provided me with many possibilities for a watercolor painting, but there was one that talked to me from the first time I saw it.  I certainly hope it shows up better on the blue background of my blog than it does on the white background I have while writing!  Not that it's really much to look at on either color.

First I worked on the background to get a feel for the brush strokes needed and to try out the paint colors.  Didn't have time to go back to making the bands that mark bamboo stalks because I thought I'd do it once the trunks were dry. I had done only that much when Sharon walked by to help out.  She gave me quite a bit of advice that should help with the next attempt.  

Then I just decided to paint in the two young kimono-clad women.  That was fun even though I didn't have time to finish them.  Playing with the colors and figuring out how to handle the obis (sash and big roll of fabric) kept me busy until it was time to go.  That's when I realized that I had the proportions of women to forest all wrong.  They are much too small.  Sharon laughed and told me to cut the lower corner away from the larger surface and use the women as a note card.  Something to think about; it is a way to salvage it!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Victoria Peak and Aberdeen Fishing Village: Hong Kong

Nearing the close of our Asian jaunt we left the city itself and drove up to Victoria Peak for the views.  While it was a very cloudy morning, we didn't mind as the previous day it had rained quite a bit.  We considered ourselves fortunate to be there when we were.

But before showing show those photos, I want to share a picture of Asian scaffolding - made from bamboo!  While I knew that bamboo was strong, I had no idea it wa this strong!

Back to Victoria Peak.  Since is was such a foggy day, I played a bit with black and white photos.  In this one, I tinted it blue so the harbor might be a bit more apparent.

And in this one of a look-out spot, I emphasized the structure and the people (taking photos) with red.

Leaving the Peak we went to Aberdeen Fishing Village for a "voyage" on a sampan.

While the men are out fishing, the women provide tourists with rides through the harbor.  It's very much a business for those women; taking a photo of our pilot would have cost me money.  Can't say I blamed her, but she didn't inspire me.  So what you see in the photographs below are the views we saw as we motored around the harbor.

And then we returned to our starting place.

Our return to dry land was through a wooden structure where I saw a dragon Hong Kong style.

This one of the harbor from land.  I love the juxtaposition of the old harbor-side structures with the modern buildings on the other side of the harbor.