Friday, February 26, 2010

Great week . . .

Here it is - Friday evening - we have been enjoying the little guys on Fridays and doing nothing else. I just took Weston home as he wanted to stay for supper. This is a long blog as I have posted lots of pics below of my effort this week to get my studio cleaned up for my coming sewing "retreat" with my good friend from Denver starting tomorrow. My good friend is a naturally tidy, organized person so I didn't want her to have a heart attack when she saw my studio.

This first picture is of the "before'. I was going to take more so you could see how badly I needed to get things in order, but I was too shocked by my own mess once I saw this one picture. But, believe me, it was mostly all this bad. I am not a tidy person. I am not the kind of person who starts on one project and then finishes that, straightens everything and then starts the next project. I always have several projects going at one time. One is always just "mindless pieceing" - something that doesn't require a lot of thinking. One is always an art type quilt that is free and continuously changing. One is always functional for someone - a baby quilt, lap quilt, whatever and then on the other end of the long studio room is where I quilt for others with my longarm.

This next photo is of the same part of the room "after", but from further away. I will set up my little Janome on the table across from my sewing machine for Gail to use while she is here. She has one just like it so it is an easy transition and since she is flying, she can't bring many things. That sewing table is a glass top from another old table held up by 4 filing cabinets - it is a perfect height - shorter than normal table height and I can easily place a lamp under the glass area for a light table.

Here is another picture of the same end of the studio area, but more on the other side of the room. That table here is an old dining table that got replaced - long story - so I use it in my studio as a work table. It used to sit in the outer room area and I moved it into the studio so I can use it for stamping and beading - like I have time for that, but I do have the desire. As you can easily see, my studio is furnished with "early life specials" - furniture gathered along the journey. Sometimes I think I would like to just pitch it all out and have nice custom cupboards and counter tops with perfect builtins like I see in so many magazines. But then what would I do with these very charming pieces that have my memories embedded? So, I will just keep them until they no longer have any service left.

If you turn 180 degrees, this is the longarm end of the studio area. My studio is a longer than wide room - about 16 by 30 I think. Hoke, my IQ, is resting so he is not on the machine. I love my A1. As you know, her name is Miss Daisy so of cousre I had to name the IQ Hoke as he often drives Miss Daisy. I have had my A1 for 5 years and have never once had an ounce of trouble - it runs all kinds of thread and makes beautiful stitches in every direction. I can quilt easily with one hand as it is so smooth. And it is so quiet that I can listen to music or the TV without earphones or anything higher than normal volume. I can't imagine anyone who would not love such a machine, but I know it is each to his own and everyone probably feels that way about whatever machine they have.

Here is my cozy chair where I can rip out mistakes, hand stitch bindings, or just be mesmerized by a great TV show. The front of this little chair comes up and forms a foot rest so it is very comfy. The whole room is more comfy this year as we added radiant heat in the floor when we changed out the boiler system in the whole house last summer.

This area is in the little outer room where you enter the studio. I moved a cabinet out here that used to be in the studio and placed a larger counter top on it that we have had for years. This used to be an island in our kitchen before we remodeled several years ago. It is a perfect height for a cutting table and I have new lighting in this area so it is perfect. The little old sewing machine cabinet holds an old White machine that I used for sewing on my felted wool wearable items. That cabinet was one Mom bought 60 years ago when she bought a new Singer. The White that is in it now fits and it is 35 years old - works perfectly.

The basket on the cabinet was a first anniversary gift to Mom from Dad in 1942. Mom always loved to sew but always garment sewing, fine tailoring of her own clothes. She was - and still is (at 89) - an excellent seamstress. So, she gave me this sewing basket - it is priceless to me.

Across from the cutting counter, are these two chairs and an Apple poster of Einstein from years back. The two chairs were from the Apple Sales office in Denver where I worked for many years in marketing and sales person as a corporate rep to schools in Colorado and Wyoming. A few years ago, they moved that office to another city and when they did the furniture was sold. I just happened to be in Denver at the time visiting and one of the folks asked me if I would like a couple of these chairs. I always loved them and they really mean a lot to me now as a remembrance of a great time in my life.

And last night I finally got to do some piecing. I have Breakfast Club tomorrow and I am way behind with my project. So, I got it out and worked on it a bit last night. The blocks are fun and quick, but I was so tired I didn't get much done. I had hoped to do some tonight, but I am heading to bed once this blog is written. A 9 month old and a 4 year old have worn this old Grandma out today. I will just have to go without my assignment done. But, I am going to love sewing in this newly cleaned and organized sewing area.

A month ago, I finished my 2 week "vacation" here at "the lodge". Tomorrow, I start a quilting retreat in the "studio at the lodge" - which is really just the upstairs over the garage, but it will be a wonderful week of sewing. I will try to post our progress periodically throughout the week.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Getting organized. . .

You know - blogging is kind of like talking to yourself, but you can actually look back if you forget what you said.

Not just because I have wonderful company coming, but because I am a very messy worker, I am spending a couple days reorganizing and cleaning my studio. It is funny - what used to take me 4 hours to do, now takes 8 hours - or else I am just much more thorough. That is what I would rather believe.

I rarely watch TV during the day and watch only specific programs when I do. I had gotten into the habit of having it on for "background noise only" - but found it was detrimental to my creativity. So I now listen to music. That said - this morning, I turned it on to enjoy a cup of my wonderful new "homemade latte" - more on that later - and Rachel Ray was on. I don't watch Rachel Ray more than once a month and then it is unplanned like this morning. Her guest this morning was Peter Walsh. He has a new book out, "It's All Too Much". They shared one tip on the show from the book called the "trash bag tango". And this was within the first 10 seconds after I turned it on. No, I don't believe in coincidence - I believe everything happens as it is meant to so I should listen. And, listen I did. Give everyone in your house two bags for ten minutes each day. Go all over wherever and in one bag, fill it with garbage and in the other bag, fill it with donations for thrift type stores. So simple - and that is what Bob and I will be doing in the house. And, I am going to do that in my studio each morning - only I am going to have three bags - one for trash, one for donation, and one for sale.

Now about the good "homemade latte". I don't want another machine on my counter of any kind. So, no capucino machine for me - but I want a nice hot latte experience once a day or so and I live out in the country so I don't want it so badly that I will drive 10 miles to get it. I have tried putting regular coffee in the cup and then adding some skim milk with flavoring - poor. I don't like the creamer flavorings much. Monday I decided to heat a half cup of milk - add one teaspoon of good instant coffee - heat a bit more - add a little flavoring - poor in my favorite red cup - fill with boiling water (less than half a cup) and - Wow! I am impressed - it is really good!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good one . . .

Here is a great quote - fits so many situations. We seem to be more intent on preserving "things".

"People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone....." Audrey Hepburn

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday -

On Friday's for the next couple weeks I am going to be the "Granny Nanny" for both Walker and Weston. Yesterday was week #2 of this new adventure. Of course, when we take off in Gus - whenever and wherever - that will change for a few weeks, but it is fun for now.

Here are some pictures of Walker. He is almost 9 months old and has really changed. For so long he was just a good baby! He would eat lots, fuss when his pants were needing a changing and fuss if he was sleepy. He didn't do a lot of moving around and he just smiled at everything. He was what I call "an easy keeper". And then - what a change. It is like he woke up one morning and decided he had to walk. He learned to crawl very quickly and is now pulling himself up and trying to walk - a few problems here because he hasn't yet figured out he needs to have some balance.

He comes on Fridays at 8 am and Weston goes off to preschool. I pick up Weston from preschool at 11:30 and then keep both little guys until about 3. We are keeping Weston alone until after supper so he gets some Grandma time alone. It is a full day for me - but I am getting used to it. I look forward to the day all week - and I exhale deeply when they are safely at home with Mom and Dad.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Great News . . .

We just got back from Billings - came home this evening (Wednesday) as our news was very good. The blockage in Bob's carotid arteries has actually decreased and the blood flow has improved "significantly" as the doctor said. We are thrilled so we just decided to head home and get on with our life. . . which seems to have been a bit on hold the past 3 months while we waited to see if surgery was needed.

He doesn't have to go back until August and the doctor said to keep on doing what we have been doing so we will get that 50 pounds of steel cut oats and 10 pounds of ground flax that I bought in Portland all eaten up by then. Of course we will also stay with the other diet changes, exercise and the meds. Whatever has helped, we will stay with it!

We are blessed and so thankful!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Medical trip tomorrow . . .

I can't believe it has been three months since we were in Billings for Bob's tests regarding the blocked carotid arteries. He has done everything suggested and taken the meds. His blood tests last week look good so we are planning on good news tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Good friends . . .

Great news - my friend, Gail, from Colorado is coming to sew with me in a couple weeks. I am so excited. We have not been able to do that for a couple years due to life getting in the way of our plans.

We have known each other a long, long time. We were assigned freshman roommates in college here at MSU - didn't know each other then, but we were both from small Montana towns and we just clicked. She is the godmother for my first born son, Stan, and I was her "matron of honor" when she married. No matter where our lives have taken us, we have remained "best friends" for over 45 years. When I lived in Denver, we lived fairly close to each other and sewed together a lot. We made clothes, drapes, uphostery, placemats, purses - and whatever hit our fancy. We also walked 3 miles each day together and we shopped til we dropped together. We also shared tears together through the raising of teenagers and family illnesses and deaths when in Denver and all times since.

She started quilting before me and then I started about 6 years ago. We even made a quilt together. She pieced the little blocks on "Tumbling Through Time" and then I did the piecing to put it all together and did the quilting. Here is a picture of that quilt with the two of us when we won a first place ribbon at HMQS a couple years ago. We always planned on doing more together, but as life dictated we focus on other things, we have not done another quilt together. She has not done a lot of piecing for the past couple years as she heads up the holiday craft show for one of the larger women's charities in the Denver area. I went off to teach for that year at the University of Wyoming and then have spent a lot of good time since helping Mom and Dad during Dad's illness with selling their house, helping Mom move, helping Dad with all of the meetings and adjustments of the nursing home and then spending time with them until Dad's death in December.

I am not sure what we will sew on while she is here, but I can promise it will be a wonderful time to do whatever we want. I am beyond excited! Friendships like Gail and I have come few and far between and I am so blessed to have known such a wonderful connection through my life.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sharing some memories of love . . .

Someone on Facebook started the movement to post your picture with your significant other along with a story of how long you have been together. It is meant to be a special Valentine celebration. So it got me to thinking. The years have gone by so fast.

The picture of Bob and I was taken about 18 years ago - yes, it is at a bar - and we were certainly thrilled to be together - and we may have been celebrating a bit. You see, Bob and I both lived in Helena, MT 35 years ago when we met the first time. I was a young, single mom teaching school. He was one of the most eligible bachelors in Helena and had a corvette that really caught the eye of my two little boys. We dated for about a year and we really, really liked each other! But I was kind of a "wild child" with two little boys to raise, a full time job and a part-time job doing commercial art work at home. For lots of reasons, we went our separate ways.

I took a leave of absence from my teaching job, came to MSU here in Bozeman about 100 miles away and spent that next year getting a masters degree with my two sons in tow. From Bozeman, the boys and I went on to Billings where I did an internship and became an elementary principal. Meanwhile, Bob, continued his job in Helena and came to Bozeman on weekends to build the "round" house we now live in. He eventually left his job with state government in Helena and moved to Bozeman where he had also gone to college years before. He had always loved Bozeman.

While in Billings I met the man I thought was Mr. Perfect and married. We moved to the Denver area with his job and I continued in my field of education as a teacher and an administrator. Mr. Perfect had some imperfections. The best part of that marriage was being in the Denver area. I love Colorado. The marriage didn't last, but I thrived. I left education and went to work for Apple Computer in sales and marketing focused on education. It was a glorious time. The boys both grew up, hit some bumps along the way, but I suspect we all really, really loved our time in Colorado.

About 18 years ago, on a trip back to Montana, Bob and I reconnected. He had never married, but came real close. The same old magic was there. We dated for a couple years. I came to Bozeman on some weekends and he came to Denver for others. Then we married and I took a job with Apple as a consultant so I could live in Bozeman and travel. And the rest is history as they say. We built the second half of the "round house" together that he had started so many years before. It is the house in the heading of my blog. Even though both of my sons really grew up in the Denver area, the older son always loved Bozeman (skiing and fishing) and he and his wife moved here about 6 years ago. They live here now with their two boys. My younger son moved to Portland, OR and that city is the perfect match for him and his lifestyle. And, it is a wonderful place to visit when we go to see him and his daughter.

Bob and I feel truly blessed and each year I love him more. It has been a glorious journey!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good day . . .

Some days are just that kind of day - everything seems good!

Did you have a chance to watch Oprah today? She had Kimberly Reed on as a guest. Kimberly grew up in Helena, MT and was an outstanding athlete and student in high school. She grew up as a boy. She has a documentary film about her life titled, Prodigal Sons. I want to see the documentary or order it when it becomes available. I was so impressed with her mom also on the show. When asked how she handled all of the changes, she simply said, "I believed in my child." It is an amazing story.

I worked on some quilting today - nothing new to share in pictures. No studio time tomorrow as I am going to have a couple little guys visit. Walker is going to be out in the morning and Weston may join him later in the day after he finishes preschool. I haven't seen them for a couple weeks so it will be a good day, but I know there will be no studio time.

I am blessed every day, but today it very clear. Thank you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It came . . .

The cable for my little Casio Exilim finally arrived. So I have posted a couple pictures from the end of my Portland trip last week. Just pretend it is last Friday for this post. I don't know why I say the cable "finally arrived" - it really didn't take that long once I located a place to order it. I learned there are several different USB cables that fit the Casio digital cameras to connect to a computer - not something I could just go to the local Staples and buy.

This first picture is of Meagan at the pedicure parlor the last night I was in Portland. I sure do miss her. She had never had a pedicure before so she was a little tentative. She was going on a cruise with her mom and aunt and they were all getting pedicures. The thing that amazed me was that she had no doubt about the color she wanted - she wanted the toenails on one foot painted turquoise and on the other foot painted purple and she picked that polish out in no time flat. Oh, the glory of being six!

These flowers are what I came home to late last Thursday when I arrived. I had driven through the thickest fog for the last 50 miles of the trip so these were a wonderful wecome home from Bob. He missed me! I love to be missed. I should not drive all 750+ miles in one day alone - I was too tired.

And the next day, I emptied out the car and this picture shows the shelves in our back pantry where I stored my buys from Bob's Red Mill in Portland. Remember, it was the wonderful grain place where I could buy large quantities of the steel cut oats. That is a 25 pound bag of steel cut oats. I also got some oat bran, some high fiber oat cereal and some flax seed there as well. We have enough for several months or at least until the next Portland trip in May or June. The pictures tonight helped me remember what a wonderful week I had.

Tonight our neighbors came over for a "breakfast for supper" evening. We don't eat eggs, bacon, potatoes, etc. for breakfast any more - in fact - we rarely eat them at all any more. But sometimes one just gets hungry for it and tonight was the night. I called our neighbors - who are also good friends - and they joined us. We had the whole works - bacon, hash browns, and eggs all from the grill as well as toast, juice and coffee. I felt like a short order cook. I love the grill top part of my stove. In addition we had the long, leisurely visit that sometimes comes after a good breakfast with good friends and good coffee - all for supper.

I also did more in my studio - pictures of that tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Does not want to be done . . .

So, I loaded the quilt again, added the SID and as I was taking it off for a second time, I noticed one place I missed. I am thinking this quilt does not want to leave the table. Probably because it took me so long to get it done. LOL.

Love these Tuesdays -

Every since getting back from Portland, I have been very inspired. Must be the good vibes from Portland - it is a very artistic city and I always enjoy going. And, I always love that each trip helps me refocus on my art and craft. And I am still thrilled with the memory of the newly planted pansies and the green grass. We still have all of our snow here.

Yesterday I was talking with my Denver friend and we were talking about this quilt - remember it? It is from a customer who is a friend of hers. The customer is in Florida for the next couple months and ask me to just hold it here until she gets back. So, I finished it and packed it away. Then when talking with my friend, I said it would be a nice bed quilt - very Irish looking. She then said the customer (her friend) was planning to hang it as a large wall quilt in a stairway. I don't know how I missed that part, but it caused me to rethink what I had done. So, I got it out and decided it did need some SID around the white areas where I had the Celtic knots quilted. I did do the CC in the green with green thread after this picture was taken, but it still needed the SID. So I reloaded it and that is what I am now doing. I am much happier with it - and I am now proud of my work which I was ho-hum about before. I will try to get some "after" pics posted this afternoon.

Last night I started on a new design book, "Design: A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists & Craftspeople" by Steve Aimone. It is a great refresher course on formal design classes. There are tons of pictures, quick connections of the concepts and quilts are included to illustrate points of design implementation. I will share more as I go through it.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday - already!

What happened to the rest of the week in Portland? It was like a whirlwind. Wednesday was more shopping and a fun evening with Meagan - watched her get a pedicure with her mom in preparation for a Disney cruise they were all leaving on this weekend. But - I lost the cable from my camera to my computer so no pictures. . . yet!

I left Portland on Thursday morning early - drove all the way home to Bozeman. I must be crazy as I should know better. What was the big hurry? I was just ready to be home I guess. I know I left the camera cable in the hotel room, but they didn't find it. So, I have had to order another one.

Yesterday, I got into some quilting again - love time in my studio. I will get some pictures. I am obsessed with not having that cable. Maybe I need another vacation.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sunshine in Portland . . .

It was an amazing day today - lots of sunshine as you can see in the picture of Mt Hood.

Here is what I did today -
1. Drove up to Vancouver to go to a mall there where one of my favorite stores was having a sale - the sale prices were still twice what I can get the same things for at home - but the drive was beautiful and I loved walking in the mall.
2. Stopped to see the BabyLocke Sashiko - neat machine, but expensive for one stitch.
3. Lunch at Sweet Tomato's - my favorite place for lunch.
4. Got the car washed and a piece came off the mirror in the carwash - hmmm - not sure what will happen with that
5. Did some sewing and washed a load of clothes here in the hotel
6. Went to supper with Roy and Meagan at Macaroni Grill
7. Did the "Build A Bear" thing
8. Got a good sale on Shea Butter at Body Shoppe.

One more day and I head for snow country.

Monday, February 1, 2010

lots of fun - lots of pics

Here is my day in pictures. It was a cool, rainy day here in Portland as you can see.

I left the hotel about 10 and headed to Bob's Red Mill which is close to where I am staying to check out their prices on steel cut oats and ground flax seed that we eat every morning. We love the brand - and it is much cheaper by the 25 lb bag here so I will be taking some home - will stop back on Wednesday or Thursday.

From there I went to the Pendleton Mill Store. They have remodeled since I was there three years ago and moved the store upstairs. The bargains are not as good, but I did find some ultrasuede on sale and got an idea for a cute wool jacket so it was worth the stop .

After the Pendleton Store, I headed for Fabric Depot and some uninterupted browsing. It is a huge store filled with all kinds of fabric - quilting, bridal, upholstery, and on and on. I walked all over the store and looked at lots of wonderful fabric. I picked up a few pieces of brights on sale that I like to use in children's quilts, but I could have gotten really carried away on another day.

It was then time pick up Meagan from school and we had to have a stop at Krispy Kreme before we hit Toys R Us. I didn't take a picture there. In addition to a couple other gifts, I gave her 3 coupons - each for a shopping trip to a store of her choice. She used the first one at the Toys R Us. She is very convservative with Grandma's money so she is fun to take. I think the real fun is in looking. And we did a lot of that before we settled on a couple small items.

We then came back to the hotel where she played with her new purchases and watched Sponge Bob. From here we went back to her house and met up with Roy and his dad and stepmom. They brought her a birthday present of a new pink suitcase. She is going on a Disney cruise with her mom later in the week and the new suitcase is just right.

Bob and I also gave her a new digital camera and she enjoyed taking lots of pictures of the entire evening.

We all went out to dinner at Papa Haydn. They have desserts to dream about and Meagan had a Valentine cheesecake after her meal. Here she is with her Grandpa Ross and Grandma Yvonne - they are Roy's dad and stepmom. And, yes, decades ago, I was actually married to him. We are so civilized now.

It was a good day!