Counting my many blessings

 Remember that what you're seeing on the news is the worst of what happened, but I don't think it's representative of what most of us experienced.  More about getting through last week later.  

There wasn't much time to quilt or sew.  All the normal stuff took so long.  But, I did take a little time in the mornings for some project work.  

I got the next two flower blocks done.  The poppy and nasturtium blocks were fun, but I wish my reds had a little more contrast in the poppy, and I replaced several pieces on the nasturtium block more than once before I was happy with it.  

That makes six blocks.  the next one up looks like a challenge.  Fortunately, there aren't many with a lot of pieces.  There are 32 in this one.  That feels like so many more than it really is.  The photo quilt used two blues, so I am too.  All the freezer paper templates are cut out, but I haven't gone to stash for the fabrics yet.  I'd like to make a trip to the fabric store and pick up some more solids.  I've been surprised how much poly there is in my stash of solids.  I'm determined not to use it, so I'm making a pile of it to give away, if guild ever meets f2f again and if there's a "free table".

I had the nasturtium started when they told us to conserve electricity last week, but I wouldn't start the poppy block because I would need the iron, and that wasn't "necessary", so I picked up a WIP.  

I started this afghan a while back and ran out of white yarn.  My plan was to ask Project Linus for a small ball of white to finish it, but who knows when they'll be able to get together again, so I bought a skein.  I picked it up last week because I could sit with it across my lap in and work on it.  It kept me toasty warm and gave me something to do with my hands.  I have enough balls of yarn to do 3-4 more sections, and bring it really close to 60" long.  That should be perfect size.  

I was able to work all week, except I took Friday off because I was tired and "over it".  When I was working, I sat with this afghan across my lap and legs.  It's a very heavy afghan and it kept me plenty warm.  I didn't remember it being as heavy as it is, but I was glad I'd used the smaller hook when I was making this one.  It was perfect.  

We woke last Monday without water.  We had a frozen pipe.  Our pipe didn't burst, thankfully  Fortunately, we had neighbors who had water and they were willing to help us fill buckets and schlep them down the hill.  We have a lot of 5 gal buckets and I have a lot of really big pots and pans, and we filled them all over a couple days.  And, then came the process of managing the water.  Some went to drinking water, some to bathing, some to doing dishes and after, we used it to flush.  Moving and hauling water became Rob's job and I was in charge of food.  I gave us three healthy, hot meals each day, making things that took a minimum of water and gave a maximum of leftovers.  On Friday, I even splurged and made cookies, because we definitely needed a reward.  I even managed to feed the birds.  

It was beautiful.  On Monday.  

  By Tuesday, the novelty had worn off.  

On Wednesday around noon, the frozen pipe thawed and suddenly we had water coming out of faucets.  It took us both a second to register what was happening, but we both ran to the middle of the house to let the other one know and then we started searching for leaks.  We didn't find any, and the pressure was low,  but the water heater had kept the water warm.  I told Rob I wanted a shower before I went back to work and we both had a chance to shower before the water pressure dropped to a trickle, and we were back to managing buckets.  We managed our buckets so well that we were able to share buckets of clean water with a couple neighbors.  

The power stayed on, but the city asked us to be ultra conservative, so Rob and I each got one light bulb and there was usually one TV on in the house, but that's all the power we were using except for the furnace and my work laptop and monitors.  We were even able to let some neighbors charge their devices at our house.  We were very glad of the extra insulation, new windows and doors, and energy efficient central air unit we put in last year.  But, even with the thermostat low, the furnace ran most of the time.  

In the end, we took time to be grateful.  We were only inconvenienced and in the words of one of my co-workers, it's better to be stinky than cold.  We're seeing our neighbors battle burst pipes, we know many of them went days without power.  By Saturday, it was warm enough to walk the dogs, but the neighborhood was quiet.  I think everyone was a little shell-shocked.  But, everyone we passed was friendly and wanted to make a show of saying hello.  Hello was a way to commemorate that we'd all been through something really hard and we'd come out the other side by helping one another.  We're still boiling all our drinking water.  But, the weather is warm and the skies are blue and something unusual happened and it's a good time to count all my blessings, one by one because we got through it.

Be well and have a great week!  And, be grateful.  



I'm dreaming of a white...

 Birthday.  Like it has never been before.  I don't believe it's ever snowed on my birthday before.  And, we woke to no water, but I'm pretty sure that's the city and not our pipes...our pipes shouldn't have frozen. The house was plenty warm, even under the cabinets.  And, the faucet in the middle of the house isn't running either.  There's no way it could have frozen.  Rob's been scooping up snow to melt to keep the toilets running.  Fortunately, we have plenty of bottled water.  

We're going to have to clear a place for the dogs to go.  Bella was belly deep and made sure I knew she was not going to squat in whatever that was on the ground.  

Yesterday, it was just an ice storm.  Everything had a think layer of ice on it, but you could still see the ground.  

But, by last night, the street was covered in black ice and a fine layer of small ice pellets.  It got so bad that the main grocery stores all had to close to get people off the street.  Because in any crisis, all of Austin goes to the grocery store.  Except us.  We're fine.  

 I finished binding the leaf quilt.  It's ready to go in the laundry.  I kept thinking I should do that yesterday, but I didn't.  It probably won't get done today.  Oh, well.  Once that was done, I made progress on the flower blocks.  Here are the four that I've made.  There's another that's almost finished, but I ran out of weekend before it got done.

I talked to my Mom last week and she commented that the tulips were pretty, but the iris was iffy...I agreed, partly because it wasn't finished, but even when it was finished, it was iffy.  I looked at the quilt photo to see if it looked as plain and they'd used two colors of petal, So, I took half the petals off and replaced them.  This is what it looked like before.  I think the photo quilt on the pattern is pretty plain, but all inspiration is good inspiration, right?

We spent the weekend holed up in the house, eating warm food.  I made potato soup, chicken soup, and chili.  Rob and Syd had planned a nice birthday dinner for me tonight.  Rob asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said I wanted him to cook dinner.  He asked what Syd could give me and I said I want her to come it that dinner.  But, it doesn't look like we'll be doing that.  It's not supposed to get above freezing today.  Rob gave me this really cool pair of Bernie socks.  These are going to be very warm today.  

Everybody have a great Monday and enjoy my birthday...do some sewing or some quilting or some knitting...I guess gardening is out of the question for everyone today.  But, whatever you do, enjoy it!  

I'm going to be working...because people schedule meetings on birthdays...co-workers are so discourteous. 😂

Just kidding.  I'm sure they'll all take the opportunity to bring it up and make sure half the company knows.  



The new year, in full force

 Things are so busy at work, I can hardly turn around.  I'm logging in early every day and working hard all day and by five, I'm pooped.  I still got those two last inches into the sweater body during TV last week and have set that aside and started an arm.  I'm still working on the cuff, so nothing to report there, but even though it's still part of the same project, the sleeves, which are knitted in the round, feel like a new project to my hands.  

I was able to work on my flower block several mornings and got the tulip finished and got started on the Iris.  I'm going to have to be careful cutting flowers out of fabrics that are too close in tone of the background.  

I am enjoying this project as much as I thought I would when I bought the patterns and am so glad I cut these from 10.5" blocks to 8.5".  Thank goodness for home printers.  Have you been quilting long enough to remember what a pain it was to resize back in the day?  

I made a cutting mistake last week and cut the pink tulip out of a poly fabric.  I didn't know I still had poly in that bin, but both my medium pinks turned out to be poly blends at best.  They've moved to the goodwill box because both pieces are big enough to make something for a kid.  The fabric wouldn't crease along the stitched edge, so I took that one off and cut a new flower out of a light pink, didn't like it and cut another out of the lavender.  I'm surprised that poly got past me.  I can usually smell it when my hot iron hits it, but I missed this.  Those pink tulips would have been beautiful, tho, and I liked them better than the lavender.  Who knows...I may make that block again after a trip to the fabric store.

I got the last of the quilting done on the falling leaves quilt and made the binding and got it attached late yesterday afternoon.  Now, all my hand sewing time will be devoted to getting that sewn to the back so this is ready.  The deadline is the 17th and I've easily hit it.  I didn't have to feel rushed and I didn't have to set everything else aside to devote all my time to hitting a deadline.  I'm glad I started in October.  Plus, there was lots of good falling leaves inspiration going on outside my window from the maple in the front yard.

The only other news is food.  We eat good, but I didn't take any pictures.  I baked bread yesterday and Saturday, I made three light, flaky tart shells and put a chocolate filling in one that reminded me of my Grandmother's chocolate pie.  All it needed was meringue.  

I had a hard project last week.  One of those things I do once every year or two and am unfamiliar with and slog my way through, feeling insecure and stressed.  And, I couldn't get my manager's attention.  They were all busy and no one took time to review any of my work or give feedback.  It was very lonely, but now it's done, I see what a great compliment it was that no one felt like they needed to put everything aside to check my work and make sure it looked right.  This week, the state will let me know if I got it right by either letting it sail through, or sending a bunch of questions.  And, whatever feedback they give will make me feel embarrassed and bad, but after that, I'll take what they say and learn from it so next time I have to do this task, maybe I can do it better.  

Everybody have a great week.  It's going to be a noisy one, lots of stuff going on.  For me and for our country.  I'm going to try to keep focused and maintain a good attitude.  



And a flower for the soul

When I was in college, I went to one of my Aunt's houses almost every day for lunch.  One wasn't at home, so I could have lunch in her kitchen and then a nap on the sofa and back to the next class.  The other worked at the university and I'd meet her at her office and we'd walk to her house and if I didn't have a lunch, she'd feed me.  She taught me a blessing; a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine, and a flower for the soul.  

Not going to try to say I'm not working on the Ruby McKin Flower Garden quilt anymore.  I finished the second block and started the third.  This fits a niche of time I have to play but is too short to bring my other current projects to a new stopping point.  Pretty darn happy with how these are coming out, and with only 16 or so pieces, they go pretty fast.  

The third block is tulips.  The photo block is red, but I'm going to use a nice pink.  I think they're really going to show up nicely and there's not much pink in the photo quilt, so this is a good chance to include some.  

Mari asked about thread.  Becky recommended 60 weight, 2 ply.  I had some and kept it out to use it, but I also bought a couple of Superior threads Super Bobs, which will give me a lot more flexibility in trying to match colors.  I know they're expensive, but it works out to just over $1 per bobbin, and having thread flexibility is worth it.  In the daisy block, I tried using a heavier white thread on the daisies and was feeling very disappointed about seeing every stitch.  I went to a 60 weight without changing anything else and the stitches disappeared.  The gold plastic thing in the upper left is a Bohin needle threader.  It was $20 and I almost didn't buy it because of that, but it is the best hand sewing tool since the needle and I will always make sure I have one.  High quality, durable.  I've only tried once that it didn't thread the tiny eye of my appliqué needle on the first try.  Love it!  Love it much!

And, one last flower.  This Jacobenia bloomed in the greenhouse and I had to take a picture and show it off.  Lovely!!

Sweater progress.  I'm at 15.5".  At 17.5, I stop and make the sleeves, then join the sleeves to the body and make the shoulders all as one seamless piece.  Still can't quite believe this work is coming off a pair of needles in my hands.  I think I have way more yarn than I'll need.  The pattern called for 2200 yards, and that's how much I bought.  But, I'm only about a third into it and expect I'm going to have a couple small skeins leftover.  Oh, well.  Somebody will get a beautiful red wool scarf if I do.  

I got two new cookbooks for Christmas.  They're both "cooking for two" books.  I have made two servings of some really tasty dishes since then.  This weekend, I was on a baking binge.  I made lemon tarts.  There were only supposed to be two, but the tart pans I bought are an inch smaller than advertised and I ended up with three.  First time making lemon tarts and the filling was so strong lemon-ey that they tasted a little metallic and the crust was hard, not flaky and light, but they were certainly good enough to make again and try to perfect the recipe.  

I also made a very small scratch peach pie.  I'm dieting to lose some Christmas cookie weight, but dieting can't be about deprivation for me.  It has to be about portion control, so I can have little treats, like a half a tart or a small slice from a 6" pie.  Baking small means I don't have that huge leftover chunk that I feel like I have to eat to keep it from going to waste.  BTW, this crust and filling were perfect!  Crust was flaky and light and the peach filling is delicate and sweet!  

Best book I've read in a LOOOOONG time.  I highly recommend it.  Everyone at book club loved it, but it spoke to me most of all.  In a couple weeks, I'll be the same age as Ove.  

Everybody have a great week.  I'm enjoying every day of government doing things to help me and my fellow Americans.  Woo-hoo!  We're important again!