Sunday, February 28, 2021

Snow & Sew

We had another good ten-inch snowfall on the night of the 24th.  The next day I had a mammogram appointment and after I was done being squished I waked through the hospital's outside courtyard to  admire the lovely view of Mount Sanitas.        

The courtyard has several sculptures which were fun to see, and I especially was taken by this one.   

The joy of these two dancers reflected the surge of joy I've been feeling this week as we watch Colorado's vaccine numbers increase and the rates of hospitalizations decrease.  Our Governor has made the optimistic projection that everyone who wants a vaccine can have one by early summer, which is a joyous thing to hope for.   More immediately, Ben and I are really looking forward to seeing close friends inside without masks, which should happen by the end of April.   We're beginning to joke about how we'll have to move the "office" off the dining room table. 

Thinking about the state of the house led me to seriously consider how to fit an ironing station in my sewing studio, something that I've wanted ever since I moved in.   I have a small wool pad and iron next to my machine and it is convenient for ironing seams as I create blocks and other small units, but I have to haul the big ironing board out of the closet and set it up in the hall when I need to iron anything larger than about 8x10".   So I thought and thought and finally realized that the old sewing cabinet/table I used with my first sewing machine would have to go.   I just use that machine as a backup and I was using the table basically as a desk, which was not a priority for my sewing space.  

You can see it here, jammed up next to my very useful floor to ceiling built-in bookcase.   The desk blocked access to the bottom shelves and took up a lot of space, but it has sentimental value since Ben bought it for me way back in the 80's,  when money was tight and a special sewing table was a big treat.    

I finally had the idea to move it down to the basement.  Maybe in a few months I'll sell it, but meanwhile it can sit down there out of the way.  We had a rolling butcher-block topped cart that we'd used in our kitchen before it was remodeled and I realized it was the perfect height and size for an ironing station.  It's been in the office but wasn't really need there, so I topped it with a pressing board Ben and I made using Leah Day's excellent instructions and it works perfectly for ironing and holding ironing supplies.  I love having it, I love the pretty blue of the cover, and I love how I can fully use the bookshelves. 

Here's how it sits to the right of my machine.  This shows the two little pressing mats I used for a day or two before we made the new pressing board. 

As I worked in the room I was struck by how shabby my daybed looked.  It was covered with several fleece blankets to protect the upholstery,  a bed sheet and pillow for sleeping, and stacks of fabrics and quilts.  In short, it looked a mess!  I didn't need to protect the sofa as Turbo never hangs out on there; for some reason he stays clear of my studio which is really a good thing.   I don't sleep there anymore since I've cured my insomnia with "sleep aids,"  and I hate having stacks of fabric around.  So I cleared everything off  and it looks soothing and appealing now.   

So what have I been doing in this studio?  Making things from scraps.  I have too many small pieces of fabric and decided to get rid of some by making a few scrap quilts.  
This batik strip piece top is underway.  Not sure how big it will get and what will happen to it; most likely will end up given to "charity."  I think my next step will be to add a piano key border using the same type of scraps.   

And I finished this small top, also for charity.   This one used half square triangles, which I haven't sewn in a million years, so it was kind of fun to figure out how to make them.  The border wasn't exactly a scrap, but I'd had it a while and liked how it gave the top a more modern feel. 

I've had this piece of flannel for a few years and decided to put it on the back.  This quilt needed some "kid like" fabric, and this fit the bill while also using it up.   And how about those thread colors?  Yummy.  They are heavier than what I usually use, so that will be interesting. 

Well, let me end by just saying that snow, cold, and sewing don't stop walking and hiking around here.  

On Friday the wind was howling but we did a four-mile hike anyway, up the Homestead trail, one of my favorites.  This photo of Ben gives you no idea of how gusty and strong the wind was as we started out.  I would have turned back but Ben was really excited about the hike, saying the wind was "exhilarating."  Whatever.  I pulled my scarf tighter around my neck and continued we up, up, up and finally rounded a bend and we were out of the brunt of the raging, howling, gusts.  Then I got my reward with a very pleasant descent back down to the trailhead.   Turbo was a trooper and never complained about the wind, instead busying himself with digging little snow tunnels with his nose whenever I paused for a quick rest.  

 Yesterday there was very little wind and I had a hiking date with my friend Sara.  We ended up doing five miles up and around through the park.   I love hiking with her because we stop and look at things, which is both interesting and gives me a chance to catch my breath.  Here's Sara looking so colorful against the snow. 

And here's one of the interesting things we saw.  It's the Maize Bear, one of the fifteen artist-decorated bear statues now on display in the park for Winterfest.   I hear the bears will be auctioned off this spring and think he'd look great in my yard!

Photo by Sara Tollefson-King

Monday, February 22, 2021

Moving Ahead

We've had a couple of light snowfalls these past two weeks, giving Boulder a lovely coat of white.  Last Wednesday night we got ten inches of the prettiest white sugar snow, but had hardly any sunshine on Thursday.  

We like our sun around here so it was particularly wonderful to have a lovely sunny, even warmish, day yesterday.  So pleasant, in fact, that after a long walk in the nearby town of Niwot with our friend Lotus we sat for a half hour or so in the delightful sunshine at the Old Oak coffee shop.   It was great fun to be out again among happy people just chatting and enjoying each other and the nice weather, and a much needed reminder that this pandemic winter won't go on forever! 

After what seemed like a long wait,  Boulder will begin vaccinating 65-69 year-olds this week, and several of our friends have appointments.  Ben and I got ours last week by driving an hour to Bennett, a small town east of the Denver airport, where a one day vaccination clinic was organized by the Town of Bennett and the Colorado Department of Health.  At 10:45 PM the night before the clinic, there were two slots left, so we didn't feel like we had taken spaces that the good folks of Bennett wanted.   In fact, we were sorry to learn that it had been a "slow day" at the clinic to the point that walk-ins were being vaccinated although the plan had been that only appointments would be honored.   I guess people changed their minds and didn't show, which is too bad.   But it made for a good experience for us as we were in and out quickly and easily.   

We were so happy to get the shot!  Another step towards the end of this long winter.            

Meanwhile, life at home continues.   We didn't go out or have friends over for Valentine's dinner, but we did note the day with a some good homemade chocolate cake.   Isn't it cute? 

The usual 9" two-layer cake is just too much cake, even when you're sharing it, so I used a 6" pan and this small cake recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction.  The first one was such fun that I ended up making two more to give away!   They did add a little pizzazz to an otherwise unremarkable Valentines' Day.

I'm really enjoying the online Photoshop Elements class I started the first of the month, but it takes a lot of time to watch/read the lessons and do the homework.   A fun thing we learned recently was how to take a photo like this.... 

...and turn it into a cutout version like this.  This isn't quite right yet but after it is I could use it to make a fiber image from it, finding appropriate valued fabrics for the four values (light to dark) shown in the cutout.  I did some other images of the Flatirons and a flower, and we'll see if I translate them into fabric or not.   

Turbo continues to be a joy.  Most nights after dinner he stands by the stairs to the basement waiting for me to go down and watch tv with him.   Sometimes he wants me to throw the ball to him and play catch while I watch, sometimes he takes a nap, but sometimes he actually watches the screen with me.   

When that happens I have to be mindful, since any animals on the screen causes him distress.  He leaps off the bed and charges at the screen, barking at the intruder.  Turbo has a loud bark and it takes a while for him to calm down, so I've learned to be on guard and hit the fast forward button!   Kind of funny, though, and always makes me smile.  

I'm writing this on a very windy Monday morning.  We'll get blown around as we deliver meals today on our Meals on Wheels route, and of course when we walk Turbo.  I have on my "to do list" to clean the kitchen floor, send out two cards to friends,  do the next lesson in my Photoshop Elements class, find and throw out old ratty t-shirts,  and to add a border to an kid's quilt that I'm making for Outreach.  Plus Turbo has a doggy play date this afternoon and we'll make a nice dinner.   So it promises to be a full day!    

Friday, February 5, 2021

Around Here

Around here I've been doing some remote learning, taking an online class on Photoshop Elements from the Pixeladies and a Color Seminar from the Studio Art Quilts Associates.   Yesterday I learned the coolest thing from the Pixeladies class, how to straighten your image using the Perspective Crop tool.  This is probably easiest to explain by showing the following two images, which I took in Rome several years ago. When I took the shot I couldn't get directly in front of the image.    

But here it is cropped and transformed into a straight on view, using two clicks with the Perspective Crop tool.    Pretty neat, yes? 

I'm loving this class but it has given me an appreciation for what kids are going through these days to get online, follow the lessons, and turn in their homework.  Here's my homework for yesterday; looks simple, right?  Well, it took me over an hour to get it sent in due to a glitch in the new version of Safari which resulted in error messages when I tried to upload the images.   Took me some frustrating work to figure this out and resolve the problem by switching to Chrome.   Pity the poor child figuring this out on their own.  

Around here I quilted and finished the edges of the pretty purple, green, and pink piece I had started a while back in an online class by Cindy Grisdela.  

By the way, the above photo was edited with the Perspective Crop tool.  Here's the original photo which was distorted since I took it from across the nearby cutting table.   I'm loving this new editing tool! 

Around here we enjoyed a nice treat from our friend Raymond who shared the Muffaletta sandwiches shipped here from the Napoleon House in New Orleans via Goldbelly.   We don't get much from Goldbelly, but when we do it makes for a fun meal. 

And speaking of eating,  little miss Sheba is eating!  All day long, it seems, with maybe five tiny meals being delivered to her whenever she cries to let us know she wants more.  Of course she has dry food to nibble on throughout the day but that won't do.  No, she wants that yummy pate and she gets it.  The poor little girl is having teeth problems and will need "some work,"  so she is getting babied for the moment.  Look at that face; could you tell her "no"? 

Around here we celebrated my sister-in-law Dawn's birthday with Coq Au Vin made by Ben and a pretty and tasty angel food cake with whipped cream topping made by me.  It was great fun having them over, which was such a treat in these virus times.  We cracked open the windows (yes, it was cold!) and turned up the two air purifiers and wore masks when we could and hoped for the best.   So far, so good; that was five days ago and no one is sick.     

Around here we've had some good weather, with a few days up into the 60's.  Perfect for getting out, but where is our snow?  There's been some good storms up in the high elevations, but not much down here.  We have two jigsaw puzzles and five banana muffins just waiting for us to enjoy on a snow day, but none are in sight.  Oh well, we "make hay while the sun shines" and get out while it's nice.  These shots were from yesterday's hike up on the Bluebell Mesa trail in Chautauqua.   

Around here you can tell things aren't all that exciting.   Our Covid numbers are going down and our rate of vaccinations is going up, which is great, but there's a long way to go.  We mostly stay home, limiting our risks to some grocery shopping, a very occasional dinner with family or friends, and a rare outing without any close contact with people.  I'm so glad that folks around here do wear masks and keep a distance while also remaining friendly and chatting informally when we see each other on the street or wherever.   And everyday I 'm so glad to have Ben as my "Pandemic buddy."  I'm a lucky girl!

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Baking and Reading

We had a few inches of snow yesterday and to note the occasion I made delicious baked donuts using this recipe and this pan, which had conveniently been delivered to our house a few days ago by Fedex.  I only made six donuts and Ben ate his two instantly while I savored one in a more leisurely fashion and wrapped one up to save for afternoon tea.  Ben took the other two over to a neighbor's to keep us from temptation, which was both sad and good.  I'm sure another snow day will be arriving soon, as February and March are the snowiest ones in these parts, and more donuts will be on the menu.   

My good friend Paula had a birthday last week and while we were limited to a Zoom cocktail hour as a celebration, I did make her a "from scratch" three-layer German Chocolate cake, which happens to be a favorite of both Paula and myself.  I used the original Baker's chocolate recipe which calls for German Sweet Chocolate, which was not to be found even when I ventured into the big Big Sooper's, so I made do with semisweet chocolate and extra sugar, as recommended by Lord Google.    

It was fun to make and turned out pretty great!

And Paula was a happy birthday girl.  In case you're wondering, she didn't eat the whole cake herself but shared it with her mother and her husband, Raymond.  Oh, and sent half back to me and Ben!  We offered some of ours to Paul and his roomates, but had plenty for ourselves. 

I've had some good luck finding engrossing books recently.   On a whim I picked up And They Called it Camelot from the New Fiction shelf at the library went I dashed in to pick up a book I had put on hold, and it was quite a good read.   It's a first person fictional account by Jacqueline Kennedy of her life with John Kennedy and Ari Onassis, which didn't sound too promising, but grabbed me from the first page and had me hooked.   Reading it reminded me of how limited the career and life choices were for white wealthy women back in the early 50's.  What could a person like Jackie do except to marry well?   

Now I'm "captured" by a thriller recommended by my fellow blogger Rian, The Woman in Cabin 10.  I'm just a few chapters into it but can already tell that it's going to be be hard to put down. 

During my walks I'm listening to Barack Obama read his A Promised Land,  which is a nice treat for getting out to exercise.  

In addition to baking and reading, I have some sewing projects underway, but that's a story for another day! 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Almost Here: January 20th!

Since we made it through January 5 with its close Senate runoff and through January 6 with its shocking events, perhaps we'll actually make it through January 20th with, we hope, its peaceful transfer of power.  

The election of the first female VP, the first Black VP, and the first South Asian VP is certainly something to acknowledge and celebrate and Ben and I are planning to toast her and the new President in with a bottle of champagne!   

While waiting for this big day I've weeded out the linen closets (and we still have seven more flat sheets than we really need), taken down all the indoor Christmas decorations (leaving the pretty outside ones to brighten the early dark nights), hung my Canyonlands quilt above the fireplace,  dusted the dining room shelves, and finished two excellent historical novels (The Diary of Mattie Spenser by Sandra Dallas and The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber).  Ben made a fabulous Coq Au Vin from scratch, repaired a loose railing on our staircase,  and cleaned the stove and the refrigerator.  Go Ben!

And we have hiked.  My phone tells me that I averaged 2.8 miles a day for the first week of the month and 3.4 for the second.  That's a lot, in my opinion, especially since so many of our routes involve a fair amount of "up."  All that walking is partly because it's a way to do something with friends that is relatively safe in these COVID times.  Lots of my walks/hikes are a social events, for which I'm very grateful.  Of course walking is also great for your body and your mind, and I take many walks by myself listening to books via Audible or just looking at the scenery.  

And another reason for all this activity is this fellow, who would spend most of the day outside if he could.  

Here he is at the off-leash Dry Creek Trail, where he gets to run with other dogs and "play ball" with me and Ben.  Can you spot the ball?  

The Dry Creek trail is a good place to be at sunset.  We don't get to see them from our house as we're too close to the mountains. 

And here is Turbo on the Chapman Trail, which winds up, up, up the back of Flagstaff Mountain. 

All that exercise sure makes for a good rest afterwards! 

Just Monday and Tuesday to go and then we'll inaugurate our 46th President.  I'm looking forward to the big day!