Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013–Year in Review

I can’t believe that it’s been a whole year since I posted the 2012 year in review … seems like it’s been just a couple of months or so.  Surprised smile 

2013 seemed to be the year for traveling … in January we took our first cruise, visiting St. Thomas and St. Maarten.  Once we were back on dry land, we stopped to visit my Dad who was wintering on the Alabama Gulf Coast.  In May, we spent two weeks in Florida with DD and her family … if you’ve been here long, you know how much I love the beach … and to be able to spend time on the beach with my Ts was perfect!  We spent a week and a half in September at my “happy place”, Hilton Head Island, and we had a weekend getaway in November.

There were a few milestones in 2013 … I collected my first Social Security check (guess that makes it official – I’m old ha!) and my Dad turned 90 in March.

I finished a wall hanging and two bed quilts for our granddaughters … fewer quilts than I had hoped, thanks mostly to a 2-month hiatus due to nerve issues in my index finger on my right hand.  I started and am still quilting a Storm at Sea and am working on two English Paper Piecing projects ( a big change for this previously one-quilt-at-a-time gal). 

DH and I tried our hand at a garden, renting a plot at our village’s community garden … with mixed results, our green beans were an epic fail, but we got plenty of tomatoes.  In the fall we put raised beds in the back yard and will try again next summer.  And we replaced and enlarged our deck … I can’t wait for spring, when I can sit out on the deck, basting hexies!  Winking smile

I returned to “work” in 2013 … I watch my Ts 3 mornings/week while DD works at the YMCA.  I LOVE my time with my Ts!

It was an exciting year for our Cardinals … another trip to the World Series, but not quite the outcome we were hoping for.   

All in all, 2013 was a very good year … and I’m looking forward to 2014!

Wishing you and yours a very

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Unexpected Slow Stitching

I certainly didn't expect to get in any slow stitching today ... my sister, her S.O., and her grandson were going to come down for a post-Christmas Christmas celebration.  I got up this morning and got to cleaning (please tell me that I'm not the only one who postpones a thorough housecleaning until company is expected). About the time I was just about done, I got a phone call from my sister's S.O. ... they aren't coming. My sister's grandson had a stomach bug a couple of days ago, and my sister was up all night last night with it ... and her S.O. was starting to feel a little puny himself. While I'm disappointed that they're not coming down, I have to admit that I'm glad they're not as I'm not interested in receiving that kind of Christmas gift!  ;-)

We headed up to DD's not long after we got the phone call ... we needed to deliver the electrical cord for their PS3 player ... and to get some time with our favorite people. We had carry out Chinese from a new (to us) restaurant ... yummy!  

We got home in time for me to pick up my needle and thread and get in hand quilting on my Storm at Sea while watching the Blues. 
I've moved the hoop twice now after getting all the old, ugly stitches removed and replaced.  I'm making progress, slowly but surely. I know I've said it before, but I'm so veryglad that I decided to rip out those ugly stitches ... it's looking much, much better, if I do say so myself. Instead of dreading working on it, I'm finding myself looking forward to the times when I get pick up my needle and thread. ;-)

I'm going to link up to Slow Sunday Stitching http://kathysquilts.blogspot.com/2013/12/last-slow-sunday-stitching-for-2013.html ... if you want some quilty eye candy, come on over to see what the other slow stitchers are working on.

Hope you're having a blessed Sunday!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

It Really Is a Wonderful Life

My Christmas was the. best. Christmas. ever!  I hope that yours was fabulous as well. 

We spent Christmas Eve at DD's.  It was a wonderful day ... presents, good food, lots of fun ... with my favorite people.  It just doesn't get much better than that. I was a little sad when the night came to an end. 

DD and her family gave me these sand dollar ornaments and little quilting boxes.  Yep, my daughter knows me!  

DH was a real sweetie, giving me an Accuquilt Go Cutter (cutting fabric is probably my least favorite part of quilting), a couple of puzzles, a personalized ceramic casserole, and a box of Turtles. 

Christmas Day was a quiet day here at Chez Nana, just DH and me. We watched It's a Wonderful Life (our Christmas tradition) and rebroadcasts of a couple of 2013 Cardinals baseball games. I spent a good part of the day quilting on my Storm at Sea ... I'm just about done with ripping out and restitching.  I'm almost ready to move the hoop to the last bit of the ugly stitching.  I'm beyond thrilled that I chose to rip out all that stitching ... I was so very unhappy with my stitches ... I confess that I was sorely tempted to just shove that quilt into a bag and hide it in the basement ... out of sight, out of mind. But then I reminded myself of all years I dreamt of making a Storm at Sea quilt and all the work I put into piecing that top, and I knew I couldn't give up on it. It's been a lot of work to rip out and then restitch, but it's been worth it because instead of being ashamed of the quilt, I'm thrilled with how it's turning out. 

The next week is going to be a busy one ... today is DSIL's 39th birthday. My sister, her S.O. and her grandson are planning on coming down for a post-Christmas get-together.  

It's hard to believe that Christmas 2013 is now behind us ... and equally difficult to believe that in just a week, it will be 2014. How time flies when we're having fun ... and we are certainly having the time of our lives here at Chez Nana.  


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Still Here ... Still Slow Stitching

It's been a busy couple of weeks and while the next couple of weeks will also be pretty busy, I'm hoping that I will be able to pop in a little more often.  In the meantime, let's get caught up, shall we?

Week 1:  DD picked up a few extra shifts at work and worked a couple of shifts at the Scholastic Book Fair ... so there was a lot of time spent at her house ... a lot of time with my Ts.  The week was capped with a 3-day swim meet  ... Friday night T#1 swam his first 500 yard (20 laps!) competition, and T#2 swam a 200 yard event.  T#3 finished 4th overall in the 6 & younger boys, and T#1 finished 5th overall in the 11-12 boys. T#2 didn't finish in the top 6 places for the 9-10 girls, but she swam very, very well and swam several personal bests.  I was so proud of all 3 of them and thrilled beyond words that I got to see them swim. 
Forgive the poor lighting and the goofy expressions on the faces of three exhausted kiddos.

Week 2:  DSIL took a week's vacation, but I still was blessed to have some "T-time" on cookie day Wednesday and Thursday when DD and DSIL drove up to Springfield for the visitation for a friend's father.  The downside of the week was the Crud that I came down with on Tuesday ... an idea of how rotten I felt?  I didn't pick up my needle and thread at all until Friday. You know I'm not feeling well when I'm not feeling well enough to spend some time with my needle and thread!  I'm still not 100%, but I'm certainly feeling better than I was at midweek. I'm praying that I will be back to normal by Christmas. 

Over the weekend, I was able to make up for the lack of quilting during the last couple of weeks ... with some time with my needle and thread during a movie marathon.  I did get some work done on my Storm at Sea. I've probably got 2/3 of the previously stitched blocks ripped out and re-stitched ... and I have to say that I am so very happy that I decided to redo the quilting ... it's looking so much better!
(See the lights from our Christmas tree there in the background?)

I also got some piecing done on my Martha Washington's Flower Garden. 

We watched White Christmas, To Have and Have Not, Now Voyager, Casablanca ... when we weren't watching last week's NCIS episode and the Illinois vs Missouri Braggin' Rights game.  

I'm linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Slow Stitching Again

It has been a busy weekend, but I did get in some time with needle and thread In spite of all the busyness.

We spent Friday with the two older grands - fun times!  I had hopes of getting out to play some laser tag, but with snow falling, I just wasn't sure that it was worth the risk of getting out on the road. We made the best of being housebound. ;-)

I spent Saturday in the sewing room working on the Christmas ornament gifts. It took almost all day but I got them done!  The two on the left will go to my sister and the two on the right will go to DD. These are made using the fabric I bought at Hancock's of Paducah when we were there last weekend. I have plenty left, and I'm thinking of using the fabrics on the left to make a Christmassy table runner or wall quilt ... some day. I've got to finish up my storm at sea and my two hexi projects first. 

Sunday after church, I was able to do some hand quilting on the aforementioned storm at sea. I got all the unstitching and re-stitching done on another hoop-full. When I sit back down with it next time, I'll have to move the hoop. I'm making progress - slowly ... but slow can be underrated.
I'm going to link up to Kathy's quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday. 

Several of you mentioned using your iPads for just about everything now ... which leads me to a question:  do you all use your iPad for blogging?  I've been using mine to compose my blog posts, but I have yet to figure out how to insert links or pictures using a URL.  Any help or advice?

I'm not sure how much I'll be around Blogville the next couple of weeks ... crazy busy ... so I'm going to take a break from blogging. I hope to continue to visit, but I can't make any promises.  In the meantime, have a blessed Christmas season. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

It's Going to Be One of Those Days

It was snowing when I went to bed, so I was hoping for some snow this morning ... only to have my hopes dashed. Technically we have snow ... but it's just enough for a thin layer on the driveway and sidewalks ... not even enough to cover all the grass ... there are blades peeking through.  I can only keep my fingers crossed that the second wave of snow that is supposed to push through today will bring a decent amount of snow.

I rarely use my laptop any more ... it's just too convenient to check Facebook or email from my iPad. I mostly use my laptop for Quicken (checkbook register), to use spreadsheets, to check emails that I've saved over the years, etc.  My ISP's mobile mail server wasn't responding this morning, so I thought I'd check my emails on my laptop. But I booted it up, I discovered that my battery was draining ... I checked the connections, unplugged/replugged the power cord, and rebooted the laptop ... to no avail.  I was sure that the power cord had gone bad ... so I searched Dell's website to find the proper replacement power cord (I had to determine what model I had, and after some searching, I found a service number conversion chart - whew).  $90 for a replacement cord!!!  I told myself that would be cheaper than a new laptop ... while I rarely use my laptop, I'm not prepared to do without one completely as I still use several programs that will only run on a PC. For some reason I decided to check my iPad's power status (it's plugged into the same power outlet) ... it wasn't charging either.  Hmmm ... maybe the outlet or the wiring to it was faulty ... which caused me to remember that the outlet on the other side of the island has a GFCI breaker ... and sure enough, it had tripped. All I had to do was push a button, and power was restored to our island!  All that time, fretting and frustration for nothing.  Not the start to my morning that I would have liked. 

I can only hope that the rest of my day will go better ... 

I was able to move my hoop yesterday on my Storm at Sea.  It's slow going, but then hand quilting isn't the fastest way to complete a quilt ... although it's the only way for me.  ;-) So far, quilting doesn't appear to be causing any problems with my finger. It's still not healed completely yet, but I certainly have seen a lot of improvement since the problem first appeared. My doctor said that nerves heal very, very slowly, so I shouldn't be too impatient. (Easier said than done - ha!).

My plan for today is to work on the Christmas ornaments ... miniature pineapple blocks sewn up in green and red. There's a nice big window in the sewing room ... I'm hoping that I'll be able to watch snow falling while sewing the ornaments ... good way to really get into the Christmas spirit ... and a good way to end a day that didn't start as well as I would have liked!  ;-)

Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Bizzy, not dizzy!  Ha!  I thought that once we got past Thanksgiving, things would slow down ...not the case. 

I've been spending even more time at DD's this week ... she's picking up a few extra shifts at work so the university student employees could get away to spend Thanksgiving back home ... and after she's gotten off work, she's had a few errands to run. She certainly didn't have to twist my arm too hard to get me to stay later ... I love my time with my Ts, and I remember a promise I made to myself 35 years ago ... one of the first things my mom said to me when I told her that my ex-husband had left me was that she hoped that DD and I weren't planning to move in with them.  While I had absolutely no intentions of moving back, it crushed me to hear her say that. That's when I promised myself that if my daughter ever needed my help, I would be there for her, no matter what. 

But spending more time at DD's hasn't meant that I haven't had a little time to spend with needle and thread. I promised myself that after Thanksgiving, I'd see if my finger would tolerate hand quilting ... and I'm happy to say that it does!  I'd almost forgotten just how much pleasure I get from hand quilting!  It's going slow as you'd expect with just a few hours to spend on it in the evenings - not to mention having to rip out the existing stitches before I can put in my new stitches ... which was absolutely the right thing to do. I am so much happier with my stitches!  

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was tempted to add the red hexi "path" for my Martha Washington's Flower Garden blocks ... to see how a finished block would look. 
Ok, maybe it's not the best photo, but I tried and tried to get a better shot - but this was the only one where the colors were even halfway accurate. Now that I'm able to hand quilt, I suspect that my MWFG will go on the back burner.  And of course, I need to get to work on those miniature pineapple ornaments!  Too many quilts, not nearly enough time!  ;-)

It's been downright balmy lately ... highs of the upper 60s the last few days.  But winter will be returning - with a vengeance. We've got single-digit lows coming up, but not before we get some freezing rain, sleet, and snow (2-4"). I'm excited about the snow ... the freezing rain and sleet, not so much. Of course, it sounds like a little further south is in for even worse weather than we are ... up to a quarter inch of ice ... been there, done that 7 years ago and it wasn't fun - we were without power for 7 days.  

Wherever you are, I'm praying that you will be safe ... and that you'll have a fabulous day!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Another Slow Stitching Sunday

Saturday morning I visited the quilt museum in Paducah. I was convinced that there wouldn't be many (if any) hand quilted quilts ... hand quilting just seems to be a forgotten art. But I was pleasantly surprised at the number of hand quilted quilts. I spent a lot of time up close and personal with them, and you know ... I learned that even award winning quilters aren't perfect ... I saw a few lopped off triangle tips (granted not by much ... I didn't even see the missing tips until I got waaaay up close) and a few appliqué stitches (again, I had to be very close to see them). The point is not to criticize those quilters but to remind myself that I don't have to be so hard on myself ... perfection is an impossible goal. The important question is not is my quilt perfect, but did I enjoy creating it, did I stitch love into it?

After our morning at the quilt museum, we headed south to visit the Land Between the Lakes and Kentucky Dam.
This is taken as we walked along the top of the dam ... I could see desks in the windows.  I guess there's a staff who control the locks to control river traffic as well as water levels.  I tried to get a picture of the dam itself but it was late afternoon and the sun was behind the dam ... causing a shadow on the dam.

Another 3 hours on the road to head home from Paducah game me another opportunity to get some work done on my hexies. I love working on hexies ... there's just something about having a needle in my hand that is so restful, so soothing to me. And it helps relieve the monotony of riding in the car on our travels.

I won't get much hexi work done in the next few weeks ... I've got to work on those Christmas gifts that I bought fabric for at Hancock's. And I'd like to bring back out my Storm at Sea and see if my finger has healed enough to allow me to do some hand quilting. I hope so as I am going to be doing a lot of unstitching before I can make any more progress on it. :-(  Whenever I start a new project, my first few stitches are always bigger than I'd like but I quickly get back in my rhythm and my stitches are fine. Not the tiniest ever quilted, but certainly respectable. This time those initial stitches were bigger than my normal first few bigger stitches and for some reason I decided to just keep stitching all my stitches that same size. Somehow I convinced myself that consistency in size would somehow compensate for the embarrassingly large stitches ... and I must have convinced myself that they weren't that large.  :-o I looked at them carefully during the time I couldn't quilt because of my finger and saw them for what they were - way too large to be acceptable!  Ugh. I knew that I'd never be able to enjoy or use that quilt ... I realized that I would never be happy with that quilt and that after all the work I put I into piecing it, I would rather unstitch all those stitches and stitch over... I knew that I was unhappy enough with those stitches that I might never even get back to finishing it. While I realize that my aim is not perfection (see above), that doesn't mean that I should settle for an embarrassingly mediocre job, especially when I am certainly capable of better work.  ;-)  It will be a pain to remove all those stitches, but I know that I will be much happier in the long run so it will be worth it.

We arrived back home around noon ...after a light lunch, we put up our tree, Christmas village and nativity set.

By the time I put the last piece in place on the village, I was done ... we will have some leftover Thanksgiving turkey for dinner, and I'm going to spend my evening in the recliner. I hope to feel energetic enough to work on my Martha Washington's Flower Garden ... or maybe just do some semi mindless basting on my hexagon star pieces. 

I hope you all have had a blessed Sunday ... and are looking forward to a fabulous week!

P.S.  I'm linking up over at Kathy's Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.  If you're a quilter and have done some slow stitching this weekend, why not join in?