Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is snowing here, making for a lovely Thanksgiving.  I do think that one of the nicest things is being snug and warm at home while watching a beautiful snowfall outside. 

Later today we will travel the half mile up the hill to our good friend's home to share dinner with their extended family, and we are grateful for their friendship and hospitality.  Ben is making a special scallop appetizer to share, I am making the pumpkin pie that my mother always loved to have on Thanksgiving, and Paul is sharing his chocolate covered Oreos, decorated with the sentiment of the day. 

Wishing all our family and friends a wonderful holiday!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Let It Snow!

We finally got our first decent snowfall the other day.  The average date for the first snow is mid October and here it was mid November, so it was time.  It was only a couple of inches and it melted quickly from the roads.  But when we went hiking up in Chautauqua we found many of the trails snow covered and a few with ice.  It was beautiful, though sometimes treacherous.  

I had been anticipating the first snowfall.  You may have read about the big blizzard that hit southern Colorado a week or so ago before moving east into the plains of Kansas.  It dumped enough snow on Denver that some schools were cancelled for the day, a very unusual event.   That storm was predicted to give Boulder up to eight inches of snow, but it swung east before hitting us, so we received hardly a dusting.  

To offset my disappointment I decided to play around with making a little 8x10" machine stitched image to capture my feeling.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out. 

The trees were cut from a fabric that had a snowy scene printed on it and the snowy sky was cut from another fabric and embellished with some crystals and white thread.   The title was cut from a piece of ribbon I've had around for years.  

I finished it up at the quilt retreat last weekend and put it up on the mantle to invoke the snow gods.  I guess it worked!  

The latest forecast for Thanksgiving Day calls for a chance of snow.  Wouldn't that make for a cozy holiday? 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Basting the Christmas Quilt

 Last November I surprised myself by buying a pattern and kit for a Christmas quilt that was on display at a local vendor's sale.   I'm not sure that I've ever bought a kit before, but I was so taken by the colors and lively design that before I knew it I was handing over my money to buy Ric-Rac 2 by the Sweetheart Quilt Design Company.   I put the top together at a spring retreat, adding several more fabrics to those included in the kit.  At another retreat last weekend I pieced together a back so the quilt would end up being reversible.  After all, it was going to be a lap quilt so both the back and front would be seen.  Coming home from the retreat I promised myself to get the quilt basted together soon so I'd have the pleasure of quilting it over the next few weeks, a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit!

Basting a quilt in my house is quite an operation.  First I have to get out the ironing board so the front and back can be pressed.  In my studio I usually just have up a small ironing station.    When I have a big job to do I set the big board up in front of one of my computers.


Then I have to extend the leaves of my wonderful cutting table so I have a surface to lay the back, batting, and top out on.  This meant moving everything off the cutting table, of course.   I choose to pin baste, which meant a lot of pins.

Of course I had only a full size bat for my lap size quilt, so that meant cutting off quite a bit of batting.

After closing all the pins I could finally flip the quilt over to see how well I had stretched out the back.  Good enough for a seasonal lap quilt meant for me to enjoy, not to display. 

Here's the front, all ready to quilt. 

 And the back, displayed on my studio day bed to tempt me into quilting it whenever I enter the room.

Friday, November 13, 2015


I''m packing up for a weekend quilting retreat up in Longmont, about thirty minutes from here.  Unlike most retreats, this one is "in town," meaning that you don't stay the night but go home at the end of each day.  Packing up everything you'll need for a day of two of quilting is hard work and as I began the process I thought, "Now why am I not just doing my sewing at home?"   Of course one reason is that quilting with other people is not only fun but educational.   I have a good time socializing and I always learn something new by seeing what others are doing and asking questions about the techniques that challenge me. 

But the main reason for going on retreat is to get away from the distractions of home, which are many.  You can well imagine what many of these distractions are but here's two you might not consider. 

How about this bad cat, who loves this quilt that I'm working on? It's a little quilt someone in the guild made for the guild's outreach program for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Boulder Hospital.  I took it home to quilt and bind it and Fetcher fell in love with it.  As I sat at the machine quilting it the other day he actually came on and lay on the half that wasn't under the needle.  And batted at me when I tried to shoo him away!    

Fetcher also loves my new chair.  

And then there's this fellow, who often rattles on his habitat walls demanding to be let out.  He likes to sun in the big kitchen window, and supervising him there doesn't take too much of my attention until he begins to move around and prepare to leap off onto the floor; then I have to stop what I'm doing and move him safely to the floor or his cage.

But if he's on the floor taking a walk around the house, I have to really monitor him or there's trouble.

See that pile of kitchen towels on the shelf?  Well, so did Spikey the other day and he decided it looked like a cozy and warm place to take a nap.

Of course I wasn't watching him the way I should and I didn't see him climb up there.  When I noticed him missing and hunted for him I couldn't find him anywhere!  How frustrating to spend all that time looking for him!  Finally I spotted the tip of his tail above the towels and realized where he was.   Bad Spikey! 

Distractions like these are the main reason I'm packing up my machine, supplies, and projects, and head out to join my fellow quilters at the Longmont Moose Hall for the day.  I'm looking forward to finishing up the two baby quilts....

...making a back for the Christmas quilt I started at the Spring retreat... 

...and finishing up a little snow scene I got into when we had our first "measurable snowfall" (of only 1.7"!) the other day.  

I have to be home today by 5:00 and I have a "getting to know your new machine" class tomorrow morning, and I'm not signed up for Sunday, so my retreat time is limited, but I'm looking forward to the time I do have. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How About an Online Photography Class?

The challenge for last week in my online photography class was to use Photoshop to make a panorama.  The above photo was my submission, a panorama made from three photographs taken from Mt. Sanitas in Boulder looking east towards the plains.  If you turn around and look to the west, you see the Rockies.  Boulder itself isn't in the mountains, but sits right in front of them, part of the series of towns and cities which make up the "Front Range."

My class is a year long and we have only seven more weeks until the end.  The teacher, Ricky Tims, has announced a new class for next year under a new name, "Photoclass For You!"

You can check out the web site here.  One change from this year is that instead of signing up for a full year, Ricky has divided the 2016 class into three parts and you can take one or all the parts.  Another change is that the class is more expensive than last year.  But the basic goals and format are the same; a new lesson each week along with a new challenge, teaching either students a Photoshop technique, basic design, or use of a DLSR camera.

To give you some idea of what you might do, here's some photos I took for recent challenges.

Week 37, Selective Color

Week 33, Found Alphabet

Week 41, Decay

I'm glad I took the class this year and I'm also glad the year is about up.  Fifty-two weeks is a long time to sustain interest in a class which requires a product every week, and I think Ricky is on the right track to break it up into smaller parts.   And while I met my goal of learning the basics of using Ben's very good Nikon camera and acquiring a basic knowledge of Photoshop, I've also learned that at heart I am a "point and shoot" type of person.  I'd much rather take a quick shot to capture a moment than set up a shot to match a preconceived idea.  I would like to learn more about Photoshop and may look around for a class to pursue that.

This week the class challenge is to experiment with something in Photoshop that we haven't learned to do.   Should be interesting.  In just a few minutes of experimenting I found two cool filters to apply to this image I found in Google. 

Here it is with "trace contour" applied to it.   Could be useful if you wanted to turn it into a fabric appliqué or a coloring page.

And here it is with "pointillize" applied.  

Should be a fun week!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

November? Really?

Can it really be November? 

Boulder has enjoyed a long period of summer like weather this year with wonderful warm temperatures and no snow or even frost right up to this week.  By Thursday "a bit of snow" is expected with a high only in the mid 40's, but as of now we still have a lovely sunny day with plenty of warmth.  I love it, but it does make it hard to think that it's really November.  I was shocked to see that Thanksgiving will be here in about three weeks. 

But the mountain peaks are covered with snow and when Ben went up there to hike recently he found at least a half of foot on the trail.  Winter will be here soon.

 Halloween has come and gone, though our decorations are still up.  We had a little dinner party to celebrate the holiday and the completion of the kitchen, and that was a lot of fun.  Two people even came in costumes!  Don't you love this skunk? Maybe I'll dress up next year. 

Having a party is a bit scary.  You wonder if the food turn out well and will everyone mix nicely and have a good time.  I think some stage fright just comes with the package of being a good host, but it is still scary.

It seems like I've been doing a lot of nerve wracking things lately.  I'm in charge of a holiday wreath and flower sale for the music kids at school which means handling a lot of student orders and checks, placing big orders with vendors, and arranging for delivery and pickup of the products, all things that are well outside of my comfort zone.  And I went down to the school board meeting to make a statement about a change in the school music program which the board should reject,  which was definitely scary.  Even today when I loaded up a photo for my online photography class I was nervous about whether I had made the image the correct size and got my metadata right.

I think I'm feeling the affect of dealing with upheaval of the kitchen remodel, which not only had the kitchen in an uproar but my studio and the dining room.  For a few weeks it seemed like nothing was where it should be.  It also seemed like technology kept changing, especially apps and operating systems, and I couldn't count on anything working the way it used to.  It probably didn't help that I was at the beginning of a learning curve for my sophisticated new sewing machine. And then I upgraded to the iPhone 6s the other day, which is great but still means learning its new features.  Even the cable box was changed out yesterday and now when I go to use the TV the remote isn't what I'm used to.  

Ordinarily I'd find these changes exciting and fun to deal with and I know that it's good to move outside your comfort zone.  But right now I'm ready for things to slow down and stand still for a while.  As winter approaches, I'm feeling like being in a bit of a rut would be a nice change for a few months.

I think I'm ready to be like Spikey and just hang out and watch the world go by for a while.

It sure is a beautiful world.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Kitchen Reveal

The kitchen is now done!  The tile was installed earlier this week and that was the last step in the overhaul which began the end of August.  The plan was to leave the basic footprint of the old kitchen while adding a few conveniences -- such as a place to make espresso and a place to charge cell phones -- as well as giving the overall space an up to date look.  Besides replacing the window, there were no structural changes.

Here's the "before" view... 

...and here's the "after." 

Looking towards the window, here's the "before"...

...and here's the "after." 

The sink area "before"....

and "after."

The corner... reworked into the perfect spot for making our morning lattes.

The old cooking area...

...and the new.  Check out that tile!  Oh, and I have to tell you that the old pink tile made more sense when we took down the old cupboards and found that the original paint was pink!

Here's a closeup of the cool inset above the stove.

We kept the idea of these clever open shelves....

...but they are so much nicer now.

The old cupboards around the refrigerator ...

....were replaced by ones that give the space a "built in" look.  

Check out the nifty cupboard above the fridge. Finally we have a place for all those large flat cooking pans.

We liked having the open shelves next to the fridge... we put bigger ones there, giving us easy access to most of our pots and pans.  

The window area used to be just for growing plants...

...but now provides much needed drawers, a place for the microwave, and a large counter. 

The old pantry shelves were moved to the dining room where they are quite useful. 

And the cart that held the coffee machine is also now in the dining room where it serves as a place to make cocktails.   

We were so lucky to have the help of our friend Lotus, owner of Interior Motives, doing the design work and acting as our contractor.  She thought of all the little details that make the kitchen so workable, like including a spot for the step stool I need to reach the upper shelves, and found, hired, and oversaw the various workmen.

Now that it's all done we are kicking back and enjoying the result of all our planning.

You should come enjoy it, too!  Family and friends are always welcome!