Thursday, February 11, 2016

What is That Thing?

Man, you guys, I've been on a feeding frenzy lately.  I want to eat all day long, and that's not good.

Oh, I probably know why, or at least have some reliable theories, not that it matters.  Usually it's because I've gotten in the habit of eating more carbs than I really need, which messes with my blood sugar.  And then those carbs want more and more carbs to keep them company.  Needy, greedy little buggers.

Maybe the carb sitch would be okay but I'm not exercising enough to burn the carbs.  Maybe I'm stress eating.  Maybe it's a pre-lady time thing, but that's kind of funny because that's in the realm of the great unknown these days.  Or maybe I've finally passed into the post-lady-time phase and this is how it's going to be.  I am going to want to eat all the time and wear nothing but elastic waist pants.

And yes, there's a part of me that says, What's wrong with that?


So I find myself wishing I could just eat one more thing, one last thing.  The ONE THING that would stop the cravings and make me not want to eat anymore.  Something to just flip the switch, hit the reset button.


I ask myself as I stare into the refrigerator and pantry.  Is it protein?  Eggs?  Bacon?  Chicken, salmon, steak?  More salads and greens?  Fruit?  Something fatty?  Yes, please.  Yes, yes, yes.  All of it.

It certainly can't be cookies, tortilla chips, nuts, popcorn, brownies, chocolate, more chocolate, peanut butter, and did I mention chocolate?  Because I've tried all those.  And yum.

Look, I know this sounds ridiculous.  As if the key to solving a food issue is more food.  Crazier still, ONE food.

But wouldn't it be awesome if it were?  And the ONE THING was easy to find, and everyone could just go to the store and buy the ONE THING that would cure their cravings.  Or just drive out to the ONE THING orchard, where ONE THINGS are always in season, and pick a big ole fresh, juicy, tasty, mouthwatering, satisfying THING.

Ah, it's nice to dream.

More likely, realistically, it's not a ONE but NONE.  As in just stop it already.  Maybe do a short fast (ugh...), and then go back to more sensible eating. Maybe do a Whole 30.

Ha ha!  Now I'm really dreaming. 

Well, at least while I was writing this, I wasn't eating.  Now if only the way to the treadmill didn't take me through the kitchen.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rays of Light

I tell you what, these first six weeks of my husband's retirement have been an adjustment period.  I am not retired myself yet; that's not on the horizon for at least a half dozen or more years.  

One of my jobs is done from home, and both jobs are somewhat flexible.  Nevertheless, I used to have my own weekday routine, of a sort.

Now?  Not so much.  It feels pretty boggy and nebulous to me.

These days I wake up and smell the coffee, literally, and wonder what day it is (used to be I only woke to the smell of coffee on the weekend, when Norm made it).  There is a sameness to each day, and although I've tried to maintain some of the former touchstones, the days seem to blur together and slip by, one into the next.  Also, it's midwinter, and I'm sure there's some cabin fever that factors into that equation.
One thing I continue to do is throw open my bedroom window first thing in the morning and let all the heat out of the room the direct sunshine warm my face for 15 minutes or so.  There's science behind that strategy, with sunlight and seratonin and Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  When the sun's not shining, I park myself in front of a light box at breakfast during the winter months.  Have for years.  It definitely helps keep the winter blues at bay.

[Icicles on the river birch outside my window]
One of the upshots of Norm being retired is that he's been going for walks with me on milder days, i.e., above 30 degrees.  I'm not a particularly cold-loving gal.  Mostly, I don't want to wipe out on an icy sidewalk.  It's good to be able to grab a supportive arm as I totter over the slippery bits.

And so we're finding our new groove, little by little.

Speaking of sunshine, this lovely little runner brightened my day when it arrived in my mailbox recently, a gift from fellow quilter Marei.

What a lovely surprise!  Wonderful piecing and quilting, isn't it?  I love it!
The news from my sewing room is that I finished the Joy in the Evening quilt this past weekend.  

The multicolored thread I ordered came in, looking somewhat different than the first spool, but close enough that I don't think anyone will notice.

I really like how it turned out.  It makes a cute kid's quilt or lap quilt.  I will probably be donating it, unless someone in the family makes a claim.

Also worked on the Quilty 365 circles for February.  I'm enjoying using various reds and pinks from the stash and scrap bins.

I've also managed to temporarily sidetrack myself with another task, sorting through several decades' worth of old photos which belonged to my in-laws.  They've sat in a big storage box since 1999, when my father-in-law passed away and the house was sold.
[Father-in-law Ed on the far right]
I was looking for an old photo of my sister-in-law the other day, to surprise her with on her birthday.  Didn't find the photo I went searching for, found another instead, and one thing led to another.  
[Ed in the Civil Conservation Corps, late 1930s; mother-in-law Marion, 1940s, lower right]
Pretty soon I had my whole cutting table covered in piles of old photos.  Why this job has fallen to me is another story, albeit somewhat of a mystery.  I think every family has its "keeper of things," and/or its family historian.  Perhaps it defaults to the person who shows anything resembling an interest.  I bet you could name the person who holds that honor in your family.  Is it you?

[Ed was a tank driver in the 7th Armored Division at the Battle of the Bulge in WWII]
Anyway, it may take a while to dig out.  

If you don't hear from me in a couple weeks, send reinforcements.  Or cookies.  That works too.

Monday, February 1, 2016

January Blues for Quilty 365

It's time once again to party with the Quilty 365 quilt along.  I'm linking up with my first month's worth of circles.  Thirty-one days' worth of blues.

I decided to do one color a month for my circles.  It was really fun to poke through the stash and scraps to find blue fabrics that caught my fancy.

Admittedly, I didn't make just one circle a day.  I did several at a time when the mood struck, and that turned out to be a good way of working for me.

A couple of my favorites from the month were the fussy cut house block...

And the bluebird.

But honestly, I like each and every one of them.  There is part of a repurposed '80s dress my sister gave me, a thrifted shirt or two, fabric from friends, and others with their own special story.

February's colors will be red and pink.  I haven't made one yet today so I better get busy.

Pop over to Audrey's blog, Quilty Folk, to explore the links.  It's fascinating to see the creative variations on the Quilty 365 theme.

Of course, when I think of the blues, I think of some great music.  I recently saw the band Lake Street Dive on Stephen Colbert's late night show.  Here's an earlier bluesy song by their amazing lead singer, Rachael Price.  Ooh, I'm telling you, that girl can sing! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Sundry 1-31-16

Well, I ran out of thread last night while quilting the Joy in the Evening quilt, and none of the same was to be found at the local Jo-Ann or Walmart today.  So here I am in front of the screen, because the next job on my task list was organizing some of the paper piles that are encroaching upon every available flat space in my office area.

Do you know what happens when your spouse retires?  Paperwork.  Among other things, for sure, but, oy, the papers.  About the pension, about the Social Security, about the changes to the Social Security, about the retiree health insurance, about the COBRA benefits, about the 401K, about the company to which you may roll the 401K.  

And then there are my notes about the papers and my notes about telephone conversations with representatives about the papers, and to-do lists scribbled on notes mixed in with the papers.

I'm going to need a snow shovel up in here if I don't handle the papers.  But here I am, pecking out a post, not dealing with the papers.  Hi!

This is "discrastination" in progress.

But about the thread I ran out of, I had a full spool of Coats and Clark multicolor machine quilting thread that seemed perfect for the Joy quilt.  Who knows how old it was, but I wanted to use it up.  I don't use a lot of CC thread for quilting anymore, preferring other brands instead.  So use it up, I figured.  

And I did.  It got me exactly halfway through the quilt.

Fine.  I'll go to the store and buy more of the thread I don't use much anymore.  This spool was 275 yards (a regular sewing spool size), and one more ought to do the trick.  

But what's this?  They don't carry that same 50#, multicolor, 275-yard spool of mercerized (what does that even mean?), 100% Egyptian cotton, machine quilting thread anymore?

Fine. I'll go online and find it.  Okay, found it, but what's this?  It's only available in 1,250 yards?

Fine.  I'll buy 1,250 yards more of the thread I don't use much anymore.  Just so I can finish the remaining half of this project and then have 1,000 yards left to...not use much anymore...some more.

Ever see that Subaru car commercial where the kid is driving his dad's car?  (See it HERE)  And it's one thing after another and he's stuck in traffic and says, "Move it...killin' me..."   

I feel your frustration, little buddy.

* * * * *
Moving on, and talking turkey, I just had to check the skin grafts on my breast.  Let me explain.

I am cooking a turkey breast.  The kind that comes without wings and drumsticks for those who dislike eating said appendages.  Which makes them kind of tricky to prop up in the roaster, but I digress.

So this particular turkey breast was missing a significant amount of skin on its—what is it called, a belly?  The part at the bottom of the breast right above the hole where all the innards were yanked out.  

Mm, that was appetizing.  Hungry?

Anyway, there was no skin over a very meaty part of the turkey, and I was afraid roasting it without anything to cover the meat would make it dry out. 

Now I've heard of people putting bacon on a turkey breast and that's what I reached for, but all the bacon we had was frozen.  And I had to get this bird started cooking, so what to do?

Well, you know all that loose skin they leave at the neck hole for no apparent reason other than to hide the bag of innards—what are those called, giblets?  You know, the heart, gizzard, spleen or what-have-you that you're supposed to maybe cook or, if you're like me, throw away?  

(Aside:  Do you think you get the actual innards that were in the bird you buy?  Or is there an innard sorting line at the plant for livers and such, and then another job is to pick out one heart, one liver, one spleen and bag it up.  Like the Brach's Pick-A-Mix candy stand of innards?)

Lookie there!  Candy!  Not innards!  Because if you have read this far, you need a palate cleanser.  Have a butterscotch disk, won't you?

Anyway, skin graft:  I cut that loose neck skin off and placed it over the breast where the meat was exposed.  The end.

Not really, because it's still in the oven. And I just basted said turkey breast, and half of the graft shriveled up and fell off.  Ah well, it seemed like a great idea at the time.

Good thing there's aluminum foil.

* * * * *

I've taken some non-quilty pictures the past week or two, which I have yet to share here until now.

A hawk swooped past the kitchen window and then perched in a tree off the deck.  I grabbed my camera and sat taking pictures of him through the sliding door.  

He could see me as well as I could see him.  I think we shared a moment.

It was a juvenile red-tailed hawk.  I am happy to see him in the neighborhood, where the squirrels and rabbits are plentiful, and moles and voles too.  

It's a smorgasbord!  Knock yourself out, little hawk!

And we had some snow last week, which should not be news for the Upper Midwest, but it's been a mild winter so far.

The snow was the kind wet enough and with the right wind behind it to stick to the trees, making them looked flocked.  It was really pretty. 

We're looking at a winter storm in a day or two, but predicted snowfall amounts vary.  It was maybe 16 inches, then changed to maybe half that—or it could be rain.  We will see!

Well, the turkey smells like it's done, and the papers are still here to be sorted.  Time to go!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Little Bits of Beautiful

I had a "Squirrel!" moment this past week—and it's so compelling to chase those squirrels when you're busy procrastinating, isn't it?

I think there needs to be a word that combines procrastinating + distraction.  Protraction?  Discrastinating?  I like the sound of the last one.

So as I procrastinated on quilting (some things never change...much) two basted (basted!) flimsies, I spied this baggie of little bits from Marei, part of a scrap swap we did last year.  By little bits, I mean about 2.5" pieced squares.

When I first got them, I may have fiddled around a little but nothing really struck me.  This time within a minute, I was like, DUH, red pinwheels!  And I was off chasing that squirrel. 

It all came together pretty smoothly from there.  Tried a few borders...

And soon I had a mini quilt!

It has a Valentine's Day kind of feel, I think, so it will go up on the wall for the season once it's quilted.  

With three projects now basted together and ready to quilt—and my basting pins bowl completely empty—it's time to "just do it."  I started quilting the Joy in the Evening quilt last night.

Linking to:  Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?

Friday, January 22, 2016

String Diamond Quilt Top

I set off on a tangent this week, stringing together a little string diamond quilt top.  

Bright strips pieced on rectangular phone book pages, slightly trimmed to 6.5 x 8.5 inches.  

I started with a black and white strip centered on the diagonal of each block.

Thirty-six blocks made this little flimsy, which measures roughly 36.5 x 48.5.

An alternate way of putting this together could be like so:

Norm wasn't keen on that layout, though, for this particular quilt, and I agreed that the original idea of a central diamond with the blocks radiating was my preference as well.

Kind of trippy, no?

Trippy and happy, just the way I like it!

Linking to:  Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?  Hop on over and see what Sarah and others are sharing!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Joy in the Evening

"Joy in the Evening" is my version of the "Joy in the Morning" quilt pattern by Gayle Bong, which featured yellow as the background for the bright squares.  I went with a deep teal/almost navy blue instead. 

Interestingly, it's what I used in one of my earliest quilts, a Bonnie Hunter Chunky Churndash, which remains one of my favorites.  I was happy to find that fabric was still available at Jo-Ann.

The flimsy measures about 51-1/2 x 61-1/2.  It'll be a happy little quilt! 

On the Quilty 365 project, I've found it difficult to make one circle a day—as in just one.  

They're kind of like potato chips in that way.  So much fun!

I've decided to do all the circles in one color per month.  January is blue (or mostly blue).

There may be a month (or two) of "multi" as the color, or "anything goes."

In scrounging around for light backgrounds, I took some light squares out of part of a charm pack Marei had included in her fabulous scrappy treasure box.  Since the rest of my backgrounds had been prewashed, I hand-washed and dried the dozen or so charm squares as well.

Interesting to note the amount of shrinkage.  The prewashed squares are on the left for comparison.  

They lost on average about 1/4 inch in length along the grain line and 1/8 inch in width.

Now I wouldn't prewash a whole pack of charm squares if I was making something with them all, but I'm glad I did it for the handful of charm squares I'll use in this project, to hopefully minimize puckering around the appliqued circles.

Have you ever prewashed your precuts?  Feel free to 'fess up!

Linking to:  Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?