Thursday, November 01, 2012

Thanks A Lot, Hurricane Sandy...

Hurricane Sandy blew through here on Monday. Because I am a nurse, I had to go to work. Around 8 pm, I get a call from one of my sons who is home - a tree had fallen and some of the branches had punctured the dining room and kitchen ceiling. Not too bad, but still a mess. Ok. An hour later, another call - "um, mom, the rest of the tree is in the family room". Fortunately, the falling tree missed the gas line in my house, and because my power lines are underground, we still had power. What a mess. My insurance adjustor still hasn't been here. I need to get people to fix this fast.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Packed Up

Packed Up by momcat14c
Packed Up, a photo by momcat14c on Flickr.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Humming Right Along

I've been using my new sewing machine quite a bit lately. Right now, I'm sewing sashing on a smaller version of City Sweets quilt, featured in Cherrie House's book "City Quilts". I'm hoping to get this done before Easter, but I don't know. I still haven't tried out FMQ on this machine (or any other machine, for that matter). I wanted to FMQ some sort of simple design on this, but I don't know if that's going to happen. I may have to go for the old "follow the seam lines" design. If I could manage to stay out of quilt stores, I might have had time to try this. I spent a fair amount of time at my two not-so-local quilt stores in the past few days. But, I have a nice new machine, and I need something to quilt, right? We won't discuss what's already packed into my closet.

Not only have I been spending time trolling quilt stores, I've spent a fair amount of time on education for our new hospital. We're moving to a new facility in 7 weeks, and there is so much to do. New procedures, new machinery, not to mention not getting lost in the new place! I went for education on the new med pumps, and to learn to be a "super-user" for our new pneumatic tube system. You know, like the drive-up window at your bank, only more complicated. Since I'm a superuser, I have to train others, which means I have to find time to get over to the new facility to go play with this system. Preferably with someone else, so I'm not sending stuff off to the ozone, never to return.

Spring sprung last week, and by the end of the week felt more like summer. 81 in March?? Really?? That's a bit much, I think. It's been a bit more normal this week, with chillier temps during the day, and freezing at night. I'm not a summer person, and while the spring preview was nice, I didn't want to be reminded of how hot and sticky summer is.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New Addition To The Family

In my last post, I mentioned that I was thinking of buying a new sewing machine. Right after I started thinking that, I saw a post by Rachel at Stitched In Color about that very same subject. She tried out several machines, and she took some quilting with her. So, armed with her list, and with a quilt sandwich and some piecing, I headed out to the shops. I first stopped at the store near my Joann Fabrics. They sell Pfaff, Brother, and Viking, and to be truthful, I wanted a Viking. I've heard a lot about how reliable they are. The salesperson sat me down in front of the Viking Sapphire 875, and I started to sew. Wow. Sewing machines have come a long way! Automatic lock stitch, automatic cut, a host of other things my machine didn't have. I loved, loved, loved the way this machine sewed. However, the one big drawback at that point was the price - $2199 sale price. Wow. I wanted to stay around $1000, and was willing to go up to $1500 if I found something I really loved. Well, I really loved this machine, but more than doubling my budget gave me the willies. I played around with it for an hour, and then said that I would have to think it over. I checked it out on the web when I got home, and was very disappointed to find that the machines were not made in Sweden anymore, and have been having quality control issues for the last few years. Sigh. Back to the drawing board.

A few days later, I head out to another dealer. This dealer sells Janomes, brothers, and a host of used, reconditioned machines. There were machines everywhere in this store! As a matter of fact, there was everything all over this store. It made me nervous initially, and I was just getting ready to ditch this place, when someone asked me what I was looking for. They sat me down in front of a Janome 6600P. Now, I don't know anyone who has a Janome, and I'd only heard of them in passing. Brought out my assorted quilt pieces and started to sew. It sewed really nice, but I wasn't sure at this point. I figured I needed to go do a bit more research. I thanked them for their time, and they asked me if I'd like to take one home and sew on it for a week. Huh? I'd never heard of a store doing this, but I said yes (Duh! Would you say no to that?) I figured I was getting a store demo to take home, but what I got was a brand new, still in the box Janome! Took it home, set it up, and the rest is history!

I loved it, and it was in my budget - they extended the sale price til the end of the week for me! I quilted a table quilt, did a fair amount of piecing, and tried out many of the stitches and feet.

This machine comes with 9 inches of harp space, and a large extension table that gives me about 15 inches on the left side of the needle. It has a built in walking foot, which was excellent! So many options. I don't know where to start! I love the thread lock, and the thread cutter. It came with a 1/4" foot, which is accurate! My patches have never looked better.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

So, What's New?

Wow, it's been a while since I posted. Time just sort of got away from me. I'm always busy during the holiday season, and I don't usually find too much time for quilting or knitting, and I don't think that you all want to see every row I've knitted on an afghan, or every single almost identical block on a quilt, so I limit my posts during the holiday season. However, I really have no excuse for January and February. It's not like I was out shoveling snow every day, or even one day for that matter. We've barely HAD any snow, and certainly not enough to shovel. Not like last year, when we all started to wonder if perhaps we had been moved to Greenland when we weren't looking. So,I guess I just sort of lost my mojo. January was uneventful to say the least. I did a lot of knitting and crocheting, but not much in the way of quilting.

In February I sort of got back into quilting. I have a couple of queen size quilts that are finished, and at least one of them has been done since 1985. I'd really like to be getting around to quilting it, but I don't really have the room to lay it out and baste it, and needless to say, I'd probably spend more time than it's worth kicking cats off it. So, what to do, what to do? My not-so-local quilt shop has several long arm machines for rent (no - not to pack up and bring home with me - once again, room is an issue!), and I thought I might take their basic lessons and learn how to operate them, and rent time on them. It sounds like something I'd at least like to try. I was supposed to go down there on February 14; being that that was Valentines day, they had a few openings in the schedule. However, as does happen sometimes, fate had other ideas for me. My younger sister had been bothered by pain in her back for a day or two. Turns out she was having a heart attack. I wound up at the hospital with her that day, and for the rest of the week, too. What we thought was a minor attack turned out to be a major attack. Her doctor said only 1% of people survive the kind of heart attack she had. That's right - 1%. She is home recovering right now, and feels fine. As for me, it put the fear of God in me. I've had a lousy diet for years, and I work nights, which doesn't help. Those damn vending machines always call to me around 3 in the morning. So, I have cleaned up my diet, and started eating some fruits and vegetables, and I've lost six pounds without even trying.

But I digress. The weekend before Valentines day, I was surfing some quilt blogs and saw a cute quilted table topper made from Valentines fabric. So I knew I had some heart fabrics in my stash, and thought maybe I'd make a quick run out to Joann fabrics and see what else they had. Then I started thinking wait, what if I do this in two days? What if I DON'T go to Joanns - just make this completely from stash stuff? Since I have enough fabric in my closet to rival Joann's, that part was easy.
I had some cute white fabric with tiny red hearts on it that I used for the back, and the white sashing was leftovers from my 1930's quilt, while the nine-patch blocks were leftover charm packs. Even the batting was from my stash. I sorted and cut all the fabrics on Saturday night, sewed it together on Sunday, and decided to do my first ever machine quilting on Monday. Heh. That's where the problems started. Turns out my $129 Singer from Target is not up to the job. Crossing seam lines while maintaining a decent stitch length proved next to impossible for this machine. At that point, I decided that I really needed to invest in a new machine, but that will be the subject of another post. I laid out backing, batting, and quilt top on my dining room table, and pink basted it. Pretty handy, but closing those pins was a pain in the knee. Instructions say to use a special tool or a grapefruit spoon to help close the pins. I don't have the special gadget to close the pins, and have no real desire to go out and buy one. I have enough gadgets in this house already. I don't have grapefruit spoons either. We're not grapefruit people here. So I improvised with a regular teaspoon. After a few issues, it went along rather well, and I got all the pins closed without stabbing myself even once.

I did get this little project quilted and bound, and I stayed on schedule with it, too! It's really cute, and it looked nice on my table with a vase of pink and red tulips, and the requisite cat.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Why I'm Not Posting...

Christmas decorating, Christmas shopping, and Christmas cookies...

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

How I Did It

This is how I did yesterday's bokeh shots of Christmas lights.

You need:

Camera (Dslr works best, but I think you can do this with a P&S, with a little perserverance)

Lens - I used a Canon ef 50mm f/1.8 - aka the Nifty Fifty. This is basically a cheapo plastic lens, but it gets good reviews everywhere and with good reason. I picked mine up used on ebay for about $70.00

Black construction paper, paper punch, or small sharp scissors, depending on how dexterous you are.

First, cut a strip of construction paper to fit around your lens. Tape together. Next, cut a circle with tabs to fit over this. You want to block as much light as possible from your lens.

Then, depending on how good you are with circles and cutting, you can proceed two ways: either cut a circle with about a 1 inch diameter out of the middle of this circle, or freehand cut your desired shape. If you have cut the 1 inch circle out, do this next: Cut a slightly larger than 1 inch circle out of construction paper, punch your desired shape, and tape over hole you cut. Tape the tabs over the taped strip that fits over your lens, and voila! You have a mask.

Set your lens to manual focus. Make sure you have the lowest aperture you can get with your lens = mine is 1.8, duh. Point camera at lights, make certain they are out of focus, put mask over lens, and shoot. You should have something similar to what I posted yesterday. Depending on your camera, you may have to play with this a bit. If you are using a point and shoot, you may have to play with it quite a bit! Also, make sure your cut shape is very small if you are using a point and shoot. I was able to do this with my Canon S5IS, so YMMV.

Also, you can see my lens masks are a bit battered. Don't let your cat sit on them!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


My camera, my Canon ef 50mm f/1.8 lens, and a couple of construction paper masks, and come Christmas lights:

Monday, December 05, 2011

Night Sky

My first attempts at getting long-exposure star shots. It was a lot of trial and error, and sometimes just dumb luck, but I did manage to get a few that I liked. Unfortunately, all my tripod connections apparently were not tight enough, so I did get a bit of star wiggle on a few of them, so not posting those. Just as I started getting the hang of it, the clouds moved in.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Over on Cat Patches, this week's Foto Challenge is cold. I had my pick of images, giving that last winter was one of the coldest we've had, with endless snowstorms. The image I picked was that of my windowboxes taken the day after our December 26 snowstorm last year. The windowboxes are filled with holiday greens and lights, and covered with snow, even though they are set way back under my eaves.