All about the garden

 Every January, we get what I've come to think of as January Gardening Weekend.  It's that one weekend when the weather is perfect and I can get out in the garden and do the hard work that I can't do in summer. While the northern parts of the country were digging out from a nor'easter, we were working in the yard.  I could have worn shorts and a t-shirt, but didn't want to get a sunburn.  The mornings were cold, in the 30's, but by 10am, it was 60 and lovely.  All that's left is digging up the stone path and re-setting it.  But, I'm having trouble deciding whether I want a solid path, which I've been collecting stones for for years, or individual stepping stones and fill around them with small plants I can step over as I move around in the garden.  Both are tempting.  

In the mornings, I worked on the arc quilt.  I got the stitching picked out of a corner that I'd messed up and I tied and buried about 45 knots, then I marked it and put the lines back in.  I'm filling in some pearls now, but that's not taking long.  The corners are not all going to be exactly the same, but I'm hoping they are close enough that no one will notice.  Anyway, the brightt sunshine was too tempting and I took it out for a quick photo.  I really need this quilt to be done.  I'm feeling stifled by it.  I want to move on to something else.  It feels like all I've done is this and some quilts with large edge to edge quilting.  I'm ready to work in a different style for a while.  Get back to some of the small accent quilting I used to do.  Maybe some thread painting.  But, I'm making myself wait until this is finished...or this will never get finished.  

The garden has been looking rough.  Even from the kitchen window, I could see the dead of it and not the potential.  The 80* days with 28* nights have really done a number on it.  Plants continued to grow, then froze, then grew, then froze...  The border grass had gotten out of control, so we started with Rob mowing it down for me.  Then, I came in and dug half of it out which made the bed look wider (my secret plan is to take over the yard, 2" at a time, by digging out the "inner" half of the border grass, letting it expand into the yard).  I was really close to the beds while I was doing that, and took the opportunity to move some things around.  Smaller plants to the front, taller plants to the back.  and to dig up some violets, which were getting out of control.  The soil was perfect, firm enough to stick to the roots, but soft enough to crumble in my hands.  I got a lot done.  This is before.  

And, this is after.  It doesn't look that much different now, but it will in the spring.  

This Forsythia is going to be very confused this weekend when we get a hard freeze.  It's bloomed most of the winter, which has been nice for me, but probably isn't good for the plant.  

And, I'm showing my hot house strawberries to everyone that will stop and listen, because, yeah.  I did that.  I bought a few more yesterday so I can make up another hanging basket or two.  I can't keep the slugs and snails off them in the ground, but they do really well in hanging baskets.  

Last week, I completed step 1 of train the manager.  I scheduled 1:1 meetings with my managers.  One was excited, the other less so.  I didn't point out that my main manager should have been doing this, or that he'd only scheduled one in the 7 months I've worked for him.  I just said I wanted to feel more like part of the team and that meant getting to know them better, and that we could use our meetings however we wanted, to talk about work or about ourselves.  My manager acted like he'd been scheduling these all along and that they'd just lapsed on the calendar.  He's obviously going to be a tough nut to crack.  But, I have the right nutcracker for that.  

The deposition went okay.  The attorney was as difficult as I'd imagined.  When it was over, I felt let down that he didn't let me tell him how things worked...he just kept coming back to the same question, like I was somehow going to answer it differently than I had before.  Our counsel finally had to object and ask him to move on because I was obviously not going to change my answer.  I am nothing if not doggedly persistent.

Everybody have a great week!  Think spring thoughts.  And, have a little quilting fun.  




 Like most of the work week, the weekend was just random acts of entertainment, meant to keep my mind on the things I enjoy in life.  I was awake a couple hours on Friday night, worried about work, so I logged in a couple hours on Saturday to take care of said thing that was worrying me.  While I resented it at the time, when it was done I felt enough relief to make it worthwhile.  I enjoyed the rest of the weekend.  

It was cold and windy on Saturday, so we mostly stayed in.  I finished the cosmos block for the Ruby McKim Flower Garden Quilt.  I found this block to be difficult, likely because of all the sharp points, so instead of making the flowers one petal at a time, I appliquéd the petals together to make the flower, then appliquéd the flower to the background.  That worked out well for me and I can think of a couple others I wish I'd done that with.  

That's block 16.  Block 17 is the water lily.  That's the block I wanted to make the most when I saw this quilt pattern the first time on Simply Quilts with Alex Anderson.  I've got it reduced and have made my template and cut all the freezer paper petal and leaf templates.  Next time I get a few minutes, I'll get those ironed to fabrics and then I'll be off to the races on this one.  The quilt I saw was on an off-white background and the white petals of the lily didn't really show up well.  On my tan backgrounds, this should really pop!  The pattern doesn't come numbered and figuring out the order to place the petals on this one was fun.  Definitely a job to be done in pencil.

I've been enjoying my handmade sweaters and pulled this one out to wear over the weekend.  I love this sweater and it fits me well.  I've been wearing the red one, too.  I can pull it on and walk outside on even the coldest of days.  (we took down the Christmas quilts over the weekend before someone could give us a February violation)

It's funny how some things stick with me from childhood.  I keep myself stocked in miniature chocolate bars.  They've been a wonderful diet tool.  When I want a snack, I can have one of these and feel satisfied.  My first memory of these mini chocolates was in my Grandmother's candy dish on her coffee table.  I don't have her candy dish, but I did find one just like it in an antique store many years ago.  I got really excited when I found it and Rob and Syd both thought I'd found something priceless for a ridiculously low price and were surprised when we got to the car and found out it was just a childhood memory.  But, I guess for me, it was priceless.  Anyway, I decided to store my bars in my candy dish to help remind me of the good stuff.  (It's a good thing this is a really big candy dish)

This week, I'm being deposed in a frivolous lawsuit against my employer.  The whole thing could have been taken care of in a two minute phone call, but the customer made that call to an attorney instead.  We pissed off the attorney by offering a low ball out of court settlement, so I'm expecting he's going to give me a hard time.  I researched the attorney's questions and spent part of last Friday taking notes, and today I'm prepping with our counsel.  I am incredibly prepared.  But, I am also anxious and will be glad when it's over.  Anyway, to deal with my anxiety yesterday, I cooked.  Three small pans of lasagna, one for this week, two for the freezer.  (this is one recipe of lasagna, divided up)

Two small pans of hand rolled beef enchiladas, one for this week.

And, a big pot of vegetable beef soup that went into the freezer.  We don't go a lot of places, but we sure do eat good.  

And, finally, I picked this up to work on.  Not because I'm loving it and can't wait to finish, but because I'm not loving it and resent it giving me the side-eye from across the room.  I wish I'd made the rows wider.  I've got a LOT of yarn ends to weave in at some point.

Everybody have a wonderful week!  Make sure to do something you love.  Send power thoughts on Wednesday!  



I believe

 It's Dr Martin Luther King, Jr day and it's hard to find a blog title with a positive outlook that doesn't harken back to some positive message he delivered to people, some of whom would not hear.  But their children heard.  And, that's what changes the world, so while it may feel discouraging to see ignorance in power, the world is still changing.  We should have known it would be dramatic.

Last Monday, Rob came home with covid.  His boss's wife was sick first, then she gave it to her husband and he gave it to mine, but the order really doesn't matter because I didn't get sick.  I don't know how.  I can only attribute it to being triple jabbed.  I rushed through the work week thinking I'd have to take time off without warning, but it never really happened.  I had symptoms that could easily be attributed to cedar allergies.  And, while Rob was sick, he wasn't sick for long and his after effects seem to be resolving, so we're feeling pretty lucky to have been so lightly touched by fate.  

We've spent a very quiet weekend inside, tho.  There's been so much wind and so many allergens blowing around that we've stayed inside as much as we can and that led to sewing and cooking.  Barbara Brackman has started her 2022 BOM featuring 4 pointed stars.  I cut block one and then decided to change a fabric.  I pulled a few and laid them into the pieces and picked one and cut it and put all that away.  And, the other pieces I'd cut were missing.  Even Rob, the finder of all things...I don't make this stuff up, he can find anything...could not find them.  So, I cut more and in five years when those originals show back up, I won't know what I was planning to make with them.  Oh, well.  I made the block on Saturday but knew it wasn't right, so on Sunday, I took it partially apart and made some tweaks and put it back together much better.  I wish I'd paper pieced it.  It would have been easier, but I decided to rotary cut it and machine piece it without a foundation, both of which I think Barbara was trying to subtly advise against.  I haven't posted it to the Facebook group, but I think I'm going to.  

I also finished the Linus quilt binding and it's ready to launder and hand off.  They had a meeting last week, but since we'd had covid in the house, it didn't feel right to make a drop-off.  

I started the cosmos block.  We were trying to decide whether a gold/orange or a magenta.  I decided to lay my blocks out and to look at the blocks coming up before deciding to see which would be the most complimentary.  I'm 15 blocks in.  Every time I lay it out, I like it a little more.  You'll have to wait to see which color I picked for the cosmos.  There are 29 tiny pieces and I'm not even in the double digits yet.  I'm thinking that tulip (3 from the left, three down) needs replacing.  The tulip is too close to the shade of the background.  Oops!

Here's one from way back...way, way back.  it's a UFO that's roughly 17 years unfinished.  We were poking around in my UFO pile and Rob pointed to it and asked what it was, so I pulled it out.  It's a game of Old Maid.  Each block has a mate in a different color and if you match them all, the one that's left is the block named Old Maid's Puzzle.  25 blocks would have made that real easy, but at the time, I thought every quilt had to be a bed quilt, so I went with an even number.  The intent in the black block was to embroider the game instructions.  I couldn't think what to write, so decided to start quilting it anyway.  I thought it was only half done, but there are only a couple blocks and the sashing around them in the upper left corner and the border all around that aren't quilted.  And, I'm wondering if this wouldn't be a fun quilt to finish.  

The quilting stitches are ginormous and I joked with Rob that it would be hard to make stitches that big again...but I bet I could do it.  This is the way my family heirloom quilts are quilted and that's what I was trying to imitate.  I didn't look, but I bet this was done before I knew to bury my knots.  The back is red and who knows how color safe it might be but the white quilting thread I used is beautiful against that red background.  There's plenty of red fabric folded over to the front for me to whack off a piece and check colorfastness.  I'm sure I washed it three times, but have learned that doesn't mean much.  

Bread is a small miracle every time I bake it.  

We are doing this today and I'd encourage you to as well, if you can.

Everybody have a wonderful week!  If you have the day off, enjoy it and spend a little time sewing.  If you're working, then bless you and may all your customers be in a good mood.  

I believe that things are changing, but I'm discouraged with the pace.  I believe we can do anything if we work together and I'm ready for us to prove that.  "Everything will be okay in the end.  If it's not okay, it's not the end."  John Lennon



Time flies

I looked back at the weekend this morning and couldn't remember what we did.  One day it was cold and rainy and the other, it was sunny and warm, and our activities matched the weather both days.  

Saturday was the cold and rainy day.  I couldn't seem to get warm.  We talked early in the morning and neither of us had plans to do anything but relax.  After yoga, I went right into the studio and got started on the Tiger Lily flower block.  I had added about 5 pieces during down times last week, but I sat in my chair all Saturday morning and finished the block.  Rob would come in once in a while to check my progress.  We basically watched TV all day, streaming the last season of the Dickenson series (the whole series has been a fun and funky twist of past and present) and some more Yellowstone and we watched Red Notice that night.  

The next block up is cosmos.  Lots of pieces, and lots of embroidery.  

When I was done with that and it had been rinsed and was pinned down to dry, I started working on the quilt binding for the Linus quilt.  I got it made and sewn down, but I've only gotten about half way round with hand sewing it down on the back.  

Last night Rob and I were talking and I need a new way to bind Linus quilts.  Does anyone have a trusted tool that lets you run the quilt and binding fabric through the machine once and sew both sides down at the same time?  I've tried machine bindings before by sewing the binding to the back of the quilt and then flipping it over and sewing it down to the front.  I can't seem to get the seam straight on the front of the quilt when I do that, so I gave it up, but may have to try that again and practice til I get good at it.  

Part of it might be that I was trying to fold too much quilt into the binding and needed a narrower seam allowance when I sewed the binding on.  I love a stiff binding on a quilt that I'm going to hang, so I sew those bindings on with a 3/8" seam allowance.  That makes a tight binding that's pretty stiff.  For a bed quilt, I use a 1/4" seam allowance, which gives a very soft binding.  But, I haven't always known that and made some very stiff bed quilt bindings while I was learning that lesson (why is this so stiff?  I did it the way I always have...except I wasn't really doing it the way I always had.  Trial and error are a very effective teacher.)

Yesterday's weather was different.  It was sunny and warmer and we walked the dogs in shorts.  After a very early grocery run, we worked outside.  I cut almost all the winter death back and filled three cans with the refuse.  But, the yard looks really good  will look that way until it's spring and green again.  I'm looking forward to the new configuration.  Later in the spring, but hopefully before the spring rains begin, I'm going to re-work the garden path.  I have to do that about every 4 years, lifting the stones from the clay and re-setting them.  I'm taking out part of the path and that will give me mores stones, so I plan to fill in the path instead of a stepping stone path.  Maybe.  Who really knows what I'll do.  Sitting here writing this, I've had a different idea that I might like just as much..  

I'm trying to move to a more Mediterranean diet with less red meat and healthier snacks.  Yesterday was a bit of a contrast because I made hummus and baked a carrot cake.  That cake is not part of the diet.  But, I can't go cold turkey on the sweets right now.  In my recent reading, I've learned why stress triggers such a strong hunger response in me and am hoping I can use that knowledge to try to cut back on some high-fat salty daytime snacking.  The secret to resolving my weight is backing off or changing the snacks.  Hummus with carrot sticks is a better snack.  (my mind says yes but my Cheeto fingers say different)

Work was pretty stressful last week.  I found out I'm being deposed in a frivolous case against the company and am still trying to build a relationship with my boss.  He says he'll schedule one-on-one meetings.  He says he'll schedule meetings to explain what he wants me to do.  But, he ain't scheduled no meetings and I've been working for this man for 7 months.  And, sometime this month, he's going to review my performance for last year, and I'm not sure how because he doesn't know what I do for a living.  

He won't be the first manager I've had to teach how to manage.  

Be well.  Have a great week!  Tell someone how you really feel.  It will help you both.  



Back to work

Well, the last almost two weeks off has come to an end, and today I get back to work, diet, exercise and regular life.  As Rob said, we're going back to work for some rest.  We managed to finish some of the projects we really wanted done and we spent a lot of time together and a lot of time on opposite ends of the house and we ate.  A lot.  I think we're both coming down from our two week sugar high.  And, I'm pretty sure that we'll be able to find things to do and be able to get along when we retire.  And, after almost two weeks off, I'm ready to retire.  

Christmas was wonderful.  Syd spent Cmas eve here and got up early with us the next morning for coffee and monkey bread and we opened presents.  Her boyfriend got here a little before noon and we ate a huge meal.  I had pulled out all the serving dishes and decided at the last minute not to use them and we served ourselves out of the corning ware at the kitchen counters, buffet style.  Dishes were done a LOT quicker than at Thanksgiving.  Everybody ate a good meal and watched some movies and napped in the afternoon and then they moved on to their next thing and we sat back and enjoyed being alone together.  Everyone enjoyed themselves and I was not exhausted when it was over.  

The next day, I decided I needed to do something for someone else, so I pulled out a Linus quilt top, took it apart just enough to change it from a square to a rectangle and pin basted it.  I spent time over the week quilting it and am down to the binding.  I have a fabric picked out, and will try to get it bound next weekend so I can add it to the pile.  

And, I finished a flower garden block.  I'm starting to realize this is related to Ruby McKim's original patterns, but I don't think these blocks are all just like the original patterns.  That's okay.  I'm still loving them.  This is supposed to be sweet peas and if you squint your eyes just right and turn your head just a bit to the left and give them a side eye, they look a little like sweet peas.  

The next block up is a Tiger Lily and I've done my tracing and cut the pieces and can start the appliqué anytime.  I think it's block 15 of 25.  The plan this time last year was to make it as a BOM and finish at the end of '22 so I'm a little ahead of schedule.  If I stick to one a month, I can have it assembled by end of this year.

We worked in the yard a LOT over the last two weeks.  I got all the plants I'd dug up for the new fence back in the ground and got the greenhouses ready for our first real freeze, which is going on now.  I took the time to replant things in what I think will be better places, even moving a few things I hadn't originally dug up and look forward to seeing the yard in spring.  But for now, everything that I normally grow in a pot is in the greenhouse, packed in tight and heated.  

I used the 6" bundt pan I got for Christmas yesterday to make a lemon cake.  I pulled the recipe from my cooking for two cookbook and remembered that the cakes from that cookbook have all been dry and disappointing.  I'm going to pick a regular size bundt cake recipe and try making a third of the batter and see what happens.  It sure looks pretty tho.

Since food was such an important part of the last two weeks, here are some other bakes that came out well.  Monkey bread from Christmas morning.  My family did this when I was a kid and I've made it a tradition for Syd.  

The Christmas cake, a spice cake with an espresso Swiss buttercream frosting.  I made a 6" cake this year, so I'm not still having to force myself to eat it to keep it from going to waste.  I learned my lesson last year.  

And a quiche made from leftover Christmas ham, broccoli and Swiss cheese.  That became breakfast for a couple days (please don't tell my doctor because I'm sure this was bad for my cholesterol)

We were sad on NY eve to learn of Betty White's passing.  We laughed at Sue Ann Niven and at Rose Nylund and had so much respect for the positions she took and the wisdom she shared and willingness to give the finger to social traditions.  She was a great role model for so many of us.  She's the last Golden Girl and the fourth MTM cast member to pass in 2021.  The world will be a little less wonderful without her.  Thank you for being a friend, Betty.  Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.

Everybody have a wonderful week!  If you're like me and going back to work, then chin up and let's make the most of it.  If you have a job you love, the go at it with gusto.  And if you have a job you hate, then there's no better time to make a change.  Life is too short to do something you hate every day.  


P.S. We've been binging Longmire and Yellowstone and I'm thinking I might need a new pair of boots.