Tuesday, January 18, 2011


WISP::Work in Slow Progress

Before all the excitement about the new house and the drudgery of painting it, actual sewing took place around here.

I started these blocks this summer, kitted some pieces up to take when we went on vacation, and finished six or seven blocks. Some of them still smell of sunblock and that brings back memories of hard sunshine and the wind coming off the water in Maine. Isn't it odd how smells can do that to you?

Anyway, I finished the last two and I'm going to stop here. The blocks finish at about 8 1/2 inches, so this will be just the right size for a table topper or a wall hanging. I have just the right fabric picked out for lattice strips and a border, a beautiful repro blue stripe, but alas, I am also going to use the blue in another project, and I'd like to make sure I have enough to finish THAT one, so these little squares are going in a box until we move and I'm able to start machine sewing again.

The weather continues cold, gray, and dreary here. More snow is expected Thursday afternoon into Friday, so if the prediction stands, we could be looking at yet another snow day. I've had enough of January, thank you very much.

I'm itching, simply itching to start something new, but that would involve pulling fabric out of boxes I've begun packing and I just can't bring myself to do that. For now, I'm going to have to be content to work on the socks I have on the needles.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Notes From the Bottom of a Paint Can

I know I said I wasn't going to spend a lot of time posting about home improvements, but I'm afraid that's pretty much all that's been going on around here.

The young(ish) couple we bought our new house from had some very definite ideas about home decorating. One, unfortunately for us, was that walls need to be painted with very dark, saturated colors. The dining room was a dark salmon color with an even darker stripe about 24 inches wide of what could only be called "oxblood" (about the color of a pair of Bass Weejuns). The oxblood color even extended to a square in the center of the ceiling. Two of the walls in the master bedroom were deep brown, and the living room and my new sewing room were blue.

I was optimistic enough to think that a couple of coats of our preferred cream-colored paint would have the place looking light and airy in no time. We began painting over New Year's weekend. And painting. And painting. By the time we had applied the third coat (primer, then two coats of regular paint) to the dining room and we were still seeing shadows through the paint I was getting a mite discouraged.

My daughter and her husband came to the rescue this past weekend. My daughter worked for two summers on the paint crew for the local school system and she actually enjoys painting, even the cutting in around the woodwork and the ceilings. The two of them brought some much needed energy and enthusiasm, and by Sunday afternoon we had more or less finished the dining room and gotten a good start on the bedrooms and the living room. As luck would have it, I got two snow days this week so my husband and I were able to paint some more, and I think we're almost there. Almost.

For now, at least, we're leaving the other rooms for another day. The kitchen (green, blue, tan, and dark mocha) and the bathroom (dark pumpkin) can wait for another day.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Out With the Old, In With the...

The day after Christmas we picked up the keys to our new house. Well, new. Not new exactly; it was built in 1914 or thereabouts.

My husband and I have been looking around for a few years, not in any organized way, but checking out houses we've seen for sale and doing drive-by appraisals. It would go something like this:

Me: Did you see that house on the corner by the high school was for sale?

Husband: You mean the one with the swing on the front porch?

Me: It might need some work, but it could be really cute.

We would jump in the car and take a look. And it would be easy to talk ourselves out of it. Too big, too small. In need of a major overhaul. Too near the highway. Not close enough to work.

A couple of times we were interested enough to call the real estate agent and actually take a look inside. But, there was always something. A wet basement. Shoddy home improvements which would have to be torn out and redone. Or no improvements at all in the past 50 years, meaning that we would be renovating for the next ten years.

This fall we got a little more serious. We made a list of what we wanted. It was simple, really. All that time looking at different houses had given us a pretty good perspective on what we wanted, what we didn't want, and what we were willing to compromise on.

And then we found it. Not too big, not too small. Some renovations done, but done well, and in keeping with the age of the house. A big space for my husband to have his workshop. A nice light room for my sewing. On a quiet side street, but close to work.

This week I've been scrubbing down walls in preparation for painting this weekend. (Not that they needed scrubbing, really. The owners left it in immaculate condition. But, still.) And once we get it painted we'll be moving in.

Now I promise that this won't turn into a home renovation blog, because I think home improvements are really only interesting to the people who are doing them. But, blog posts are going to be a little more sparse than usual over the next month, as we disassemble this household and move it all over to the new house.

Wish us luck, please!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Time

We had planned to drive up Christmas eve and spend the weekend with my daughter and her husband, but the weather forecasters started early in the week with dire predictions about bad weather and snow on Christmas eve and Christmas day. One to 2 inches! No, 2-4 inches! No, wait, 2-5 inches! Freezing rain! Sleet!

Fortunately my husband had nothing pressing at work, so we left a day early and were able to hang out with my daughter and her husband for an extra day. And, after all the doom and gloom in the forecast, we only got a couple of inches of snow--enough for a nice dusting on Christmas morning.

There is no direct route from our house to my daughter's. You can drive north on the interstate, then turn onto a country two-lane road for about fifty miles. Or alternately, you can first drive on an even narrower country road, then drive north on another highway. Neither is appealing. So when we started the trip and my husband, who was fiddling with the GPS, asked if I would like to try a more interesting way, I said why not.

Because if you don't try the interesting way, you might miss things like this covered bridge. I couldn't find out anything about it except that it was built in 1995. Not old and certainly not historic, but something nice to run across unexpectedly on a back road.

We had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas with my daughter and her husband, not doing much of anything except watching movies, reading, listening to Christmas music, and doing a bit of knitting. She prepared a lovely Christmas dinner with a traditional plum pudding for dessert.

Here it is, lit up with the flaming brandy. And it was delicious.

I hope your Christmas stocking was filled with good things!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Just in case there is any doubt about the honey I'm married to...

We woke up this morning to a slippery, icy mess. I had some urgent banking business to do, and I was worried about just getting out to the garage. But this is what I saw when I opened the door. Tarps laid out over the deck.

And the stairs to the driveway with the ice chiseled off.

The driveway was an icy mess,

and a half-inch of ice is covering everything.

The temperature is hovering at the freezing mark, making travel on all but the most traveled and treated roads next to impossible.

I made it safely to the bank and back, but I think I'm staying in for the rest of the day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Design Wall Monday

Sadly, there has been very little sewing around here for the past couple of weeks. I did cut out a few more diamonds for another seven sisters block, but you can see progress has been very, very slow.

Since Thanksgiving weekend things around here have been busy. Work and just life in general have been getting in the way of crafty endeavors. I don't even have the excuse of Christmas preparations because I haven't started those yet. Yes, I am one of those last minute shoppers you hear so much about. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like things will let up this week either.

This weekend my husband and I took a weekend trip out of town. We both needed the time to get away and just relax. We drove down the road aways to Madison, Indiana, a small, historic town on the Ohio River. Our plan was to spend Saturday seeing some of the historic homes that are open to the public, do a little bit of shopping, and enjoy the wineries. When we arrived we found out that we had lucked into the weekend that Madison puts on a Christmas historic homes tour. So, instead of shopping, we took advantage of the tour.

As you can see from the pictures, we chose a very snowy day. It was cold, but most of the sites on the tour offered warm drinks and cookies. The house above is a restored mansion which belonged to James Lanier, a financier from the 1800s.

A bedroom from the Lanier house.

The tour lasted all afternoon and into the evening. Everywhere you looked you could see sights like the picture above; most of the downtown area features houses from the 19th century which have been restored and are owned privately, although some are owned by a foundation and are open to the public for tours.

It was a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday afternoon and evening, walking through the snow and viewing the homes. We've decided to go back in the spring when the weather is a little better and see even more.

You can see what others have been working on this week by checking out Judy L.'s Patchwork Times blog.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crazy, Beautiful Trees

So, here are some of the tree blocks I received in our sewing group exchange last weekend. (The color of the red background fabric is truer in the first photo. It's what I would call tomato red.)

Some are free-pieced, a la Gwen Marston, some are paper pieced and some are appliqued. I just love them. When I add my four blocks I'll have 24, just enough for a very vibrant couch throw.

Edited to add: I got to the bottom of the problem with posting pictures from my computer. Blogger has added a new post editor, which I had somehow clicked on. In the new editor, when I clicked on the "add image" button it didn't give me the option of adding a picture from my computer. I clicked back on the older editor and the problem seems to be solved.