Monday, December 30, 2019

Golden Orrery

My sister's quilt is done!  I think this is the most photos I've put in a single post. Which is fine - because this is also my year-in-review post for what I've quilted.  This is it! (Except for a name tag I made for a fellow dancer.)

I named it Golden Orrery (thanks, Quinn, for the idea!) because of its clockwork and stars.  No planets - is it technically an orrery without planets?  Well, I'm sticking with that.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Blogiversary #9

Wow.  2019.  A rough year of moving, losing two pigs, running multiple trips to doctors and hospitals.


But plenty of good stuff, too:  I've continued with my new years resolution of new recipes at Game Day (I'm sticking with that one).  Danced (and danced some more!).  Bought a kayak.  Own a house!  Finished my sister's quilt (which is the ONLY quilt I have to show this year).  Spent time with friends, family, and meeting the local wildlife.  And blogging.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

I Like Thursday: Boxing Day

Happy Boxing Day. 

I finished my sister's quilt!  Just in time to bring it to our family's Christmas celebration on Monday.  So I was under pressure to get good photos on Sunday before giving it away.  The photos of it took some creativity and work (thanks, Rob!).  I should be posting more about it in the next few days.  (There's always a flurry of blog posts at the end of the year.)

Needless to say, my sister is thrilled!

Christmas finally guaranteed me a few days off from work.  Huzzah!  I certainly like that.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Mr Tumnus

Merry Christmas!

It was a close call, but I finished this year's ornament just in time.  I went back to a classic:  Mr Tumnus from the Chronicles of Narnia.

Yeah - I reread his description after I had done the legs to discover he's got black fur.  Oh, well.  Brown looks better (especially since his umbrella is black).

Oh, so much new stuff to learn and I really don't do this often enough.  All my clay is drying up, and I'm not motivated to buy more.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Fairy Lights

A neighbor down the street has a glass jug on a stump at the end of the driveway.  Rob thought it would be a perfect place for fairy lights.  It would look like fireflies in the jug.  He found a set of solar powered ones and we set them up last week.  We haven't gotten a chance to walk by since (it's been a crazy week). 

I hope they've gotten to see them lit up in the evening.  Think they were amused?

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Pig Fix

No... don't get too excited.  These aren't mine.  I needed a pig fix and the Dakin Humane Society in Leverett is less than 10 minutes away.  I heard they had guinea pigs.  On my day off, I decided to visit with some carrot peelings and pea pods in hand.

I first met Cookie and Lucy, a pair of older sows.  Cookie has big paws for an adult.  She immediately stuck out her nose for treats while Lucy hid.  Lucy was so terrified she wouldn't even eat a piece of carrot right under her nose!  But after a while, she decided I wasn't trying to kill her; Lucy liked the pea pods the best.  Cookie eventually let me scritch her nose and chin, although she complained the whole time.  Lucy was brave enough to come out, but would not let me touch her. 

Cookie and Lucy

Thursday, December 19, 2019

I Like Thursday: Bits and Pieces

Lots of little things this week.

I like the new diffuser for the stove.  The lowest setting on the smallest burner was still too hot for rice and oatmeal.  This works great!

Ooh - and for cooking this week.  Not what I did, of course, but check out these Gingerbread houses.  Beautiful!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Onto Binding

Can you believe it?  Those two words bring me joy:  onto binding.

I ran into all sorts of issues with the ruler foot.  I'd really like to find a good jumping ruler foot, like the one I use for freemotion quilting.  Some stars rays are a little jerky and if you look closely, it's where I hit a seam.  Darn.  Any time there was a change in thickness, it would want to pull or jerk.

Also ran into issues with some of the long rays - my ruler would suddenly catch and I'd stop dead in my tracks.  I was more than half done with the border when I discovered it was hitting the hinges of my sewing machine cabinet.  Once I understood that, I moved things around so the ruler didn't stick too far to the left of the machine.

I ended up sewing the remaining border stars standing up.  Standing over the machine helped to keep an even pressure on the ruler (not always, but better than sitting down).  It was a better angle, too, to see the star come together and place each star-ray.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

I Like Thursday: December Days

It's December.  I take Mondays off for the month to catch up on whatever.  It's really useful!  I'm hoping next Monday I can get started on Christmas stuff (I'm a bit behind).

And why am I so behind?  My sister's quilt, of course.  I worked on the background and finished the borders.  Which means, excitingly, that it is quilted.  All of it.  How's that for a like?!?

My Christmas cactus is nearly in full bloom.  It hasn't had this many flowers in years.  Hard to get a good picture of it - I may try again on a sunnier day.  So many pink blossoms.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Winter Wonderland

It rained most of the day Monday and all our snow is soggy.  But on Sunday morning?  The trees look liked they'd been sugared in the morning sunlight.  So very pretty!

Rob was nice enough to brave the 5℉ temperature to snap these.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Getting in Gear

Once I finished the background of radiating gears and suns were stitched, there were two bare patches left.  At first I thought I'd extend some of the border to cover them, but once I started quilting the border I decided that wouldn't work.

Since the border is all stars, I thought the two bits of background should feature more gears.  Gears needed patterns.  I spent Sunday morning tracing and cutting paper patterns.  Cans of various tomato products and a plate served as my circles (I really need to buy a compass).  Three basic size did the trick.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

I Like Thursday: Snow Activities

December already?  How did that happen?

With December came snow... about a foot and a half.  The sun came out on Tuesday - it was beautiful.

Rob and I went snowshoeing at lunchtime.  Quite the workout!

While it snowed on Monday I baked cookies.  It was a perfect day for baking.  Christmas cookies all packed and off to various people.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Background and Borders

The background and borders have been coming together much faster than the circles.

The sun rays were so much fun to fill in.  Some of the larger ones required me to stand up to see where I was quilting.  I don't think I've ever quilted while standing over the sewing machine.  It was an interesting viewpoint - I'll need to remember to do this when I have a long, large pattern I can't see when sitting down.  It wasn't as difficult I thought it might be (and comfortable, at least in short bursts).

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Cavia Porcellus Africanus?

A friend and I met up at the Fitchburg Art Museum on Saturday.  One room had all sorts of African art.  I was totally smitten by a black and red piece in the middle of the floor.  The colors, the bead-work, the feathers were all so cool!  But the first thing I thought of was Bertie:

Can you see the resemblance?  I suspect the museum staff person thought I was a little nuts with how I laughed out loud, then excitedly asked if I could photograph it.

I should have taken a look at the tag to find out what it really is, but I am pleased simply by what I see in it. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Circles Filled, Onto Background

Last circles quilted!  I'm onto background next.

Everything so far has quilted flat and smooth.  Oddly enough, it was this last one, on an outer corner, that bulged the most. 

No tucks!  But the orange triangles are very puffy, and there's a bulge where the last red triangle and the black band meet.  The basting had all still been in place, so I'm not sure why that happened.  The only reason it's so noticeable to me is that everything else quilted absolutely flat.  Amazing.  All that time I spent sandwiching and basting really paid off.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

I Like Thursday: Thankfulness

Happy Thanksgiving.  May you enjoy time with loved ones (even if it's just yourself).

Rob's been snapping photos before I get up in the morning.  I enjoy discovering them as I download what's on my camera.

We got our first snow on Sunday.  Hard to see, but it was quite misty that morning, too.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Remembering Mabel

I found Mabel (then named Jewel) at the Potter League rescue.  She was bright and cheery when we met her, but simply flopped down exhausted after 30 minutes of meet-and-greet with Wedgwood.  I doubted the wisdom of bringing her home:  she was listed as 5 years old, was so tired, had some signs of neglect and had just lost her long-term cage mate.  I braced myself for heartache and figured she might last a year, tops.  But having met Mabel she had to come home with me.

Turned out to be a really good decision and my predictions were really bad.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

I Like Thursday: Fruit, Blinky Lights, Porcupine Butt

Got a little bit of everything this week.

I found this little chest at a craft fair two years ago.  It's made from old cranberry crates.  I had never heard of Decas Brothers before, but I found their cranberries at the store last week.  Cool!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Eight, Nine and Ten of Thirteen

Progress slowed a bit. But I'm still plugging along.  Three more done, three more left.

These circles all have gear edging.  I really struggled with the last one - the quilt kept threatening to pucker and the foot got caught on some of the seams.  The tricky bit was that the cogs went all the way around - but they lined up pretty evenly out to the raw edge.  Yay!

The middle one does not yet have its cogs.  The circle is not along the quilt edge and requires the teeth all the way around.  Gotta do some math or some measuring or something so I don't have one teeny-tiny or massively big tooth where the quilting meets.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

I Like Thursday: Fun Finds, Flowers and Food

Lots of this and that this week.

My Christmas/Thanksgiving/Whatever cactus (half blooms in the spring) is seriously happy in the sunroom.  I don't know when I've seen this many buds on it.  Just wait until it blooms!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

I Like Thursday: Soup, Ringlets, Dresses

Thursday already?  Where has the time been going??

This doesn't look like much (actually, kind of looks like saag), but this Mushroom Spinach Soup is delicious.  It was prettier in the pan, but we were too busy eating it to take a photo until I packed up the leftovers.  The recipe suggests serving with a dollop of yogurt.  Really good!

Had to use up the last of my tote apples along with some cheese and leftover sausage - which adds up to Apple Sausage Pie.  It's a fall favorite.  Rob has converted me in pouring a bit of maple syrup over it.

Yeah, I am looking forward to cooking my favorite fall and winter meals.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Apple Peeling Challenge

It's the time of year for apples.  Yum!  Apple crisp for me, apple peelings for Mabel.

I need to dole out the peelings a little at a time.  Too much all at once will upset a guinea pig's stomach.  So Mabel only gets a few pieces a day.  Plus I make her work for it.  The peelings hang nicely from the grids.  She needs to locate them first, then stretch up to grab them.  As soon as she pulls one down, she runs off to a corner with it to enjoy.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Six and Seven of Thirteen

I've rounded the halfway point for quilting the circles.  I still will have sun-rays and the border to do, but the quilt is held together with more quilting than basting.  Huzzah!

Most of the remaining circles are full round, rather than 3/4 circles. Lots of designing and stitching in those.  I'm trying not to repeat too many patterns, so it's tough to figure out what I want to put on these.  Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, November 2, 2019


Mabel had been doing well.  She'd been off all the meds since Labor Day.  Her fur had finally grown back.  She'd gained more weight.  Things were looking great!

Then a week or two ago, she started losing weight.  Her paw looked odd - I was afraid the infection had returned.  She's started to be needy, always looking for food and attention, and started to chew apart her cozies.  Clearly not feeling well.

Back to the vet.  More antibiotics.  No fun.

Soon after Mabel went back on the antibiotics, she started pulling this Houdini trick in the morning.  This first photo?  That is a guinea pig on the wrong side of the gate.  At 7am.  Surprised the heck out of me when I pulled the fleece cover off the cage.  How long had she been on the wrong side?  Just since we got up?  Longer?  I suspect it couldn't be too long for the lack of chewed furniture/boxes on the floor and no poo. 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

I Like Thursday: Halloween

Happy Halloween!

I love this old Lanz dress.  I bought in the late '90s as a Halloween costume.  I trot it out every 7-9 years when I dress up as Mother Nature.  Most of the leaves on the hem I picked from the yard earlier that evening.  I feel a little guilty stapling them to such a nice dress!  I lost about a dozen leaves at the dance.  Said I was shedding.  It's Fall, after all!

Lots of people liked the dress the Halloween dance.  Very retro.  It has a wonderful full skirt - so it was fun to dance in.

There were lots of terrific costumes there.  Black cats and witches.  Several kitted out pirates.  An aviator.  Beetlejuice.  Johnny Cash.  A pair that came as Ursa Major and Minor - those were really cool.  It's fun to see people's creativity.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Three, Four and Five of Thirteen

Three more circles quilted.  Two more sets of cogs done.  The second two were easier than the first.  Learned a bit more of what I can and cannot do.

I'm enjoying the process.  I draw out what I'm going to quilt, then it often changes as I'm about to quilt.  Some of designs stay similar, others change quite a bit.  Hands and shoulders get tired after a while - so one circle at a time at most.

I picked gold thread because it went well with the fabric, it matched the theme of suns and clockworks.  On one hand, I'd like the quilting to stand out more.  On the other, the quilt is busy enough - it doesn't need a lot.

The quilting has been smooth - no tucks or bulges so far.  I'm happy that the stripe across the back seems straight and even.  I've only quilted over a bit of it - we'll see how the rest lines up.  The shine to the thread is really pretty, and I'm loving how the back looks quilted. 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

I Like Thursday: Fall Ball, Fog and Faucet

I ended a rough crazy week of work with a day of dancing.  Oh, the Fall Ball!  Great music.  Fun dances.  Lots of happy twirling people...

and twirling skirts.

Health issues kept me from dancing as much and as long as I wished.  I was grateful to last as long as I did.  And while I rested I got to spend time with friends.  Listen to the music.  Watch the people dancing.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Who Thought Gears Were a Good Idea?

I'm going to start giving the quilting Borg designations:  this one is Two-of-Thirteen.

Who the heck had the idea that quilting cogs around the circles was a good idea?  Oh, yeah.  That would be me.  I thought it was a good idea.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Twelve Circles Left

Quilting has begun.  I hope to have more time this weekend to sew.

It's slow going.  The quilt is much larger than the throw quilts I've quilted lately, so it's heavy and hard to move through the sewing machine.  I'll be happy to start working towards the edges.  I won't be all wrapped up in it, literally, as I quilt.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

I Like Thursday: Bits of Fall

The fall colors continue to captivate.

Rob sent me out on Sunday morning to snap these.  The pines keep things green.  The burning bush is just about burnt out.  Still lots of golds. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

I Like Thursday: Golds and Yellows

I like that I am quilting.  Only practice stuff right now - I'm getting used to new thread (first time I've used Sulky that's not snapping!) and attempting some ruler work (I'd rather have a hopping foot, but this one seems to be working alright).  I think I can do what I want to do, which is great news.

My sister and I got together on Monday for dinner (what a treat!).  We traded stories how our latest projects are going, and how difficult it can be to figure out what the quilt/painting wants.  My quilt wants lines.  Her painting wants different colors.  Keeps us on our toes!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

I Like Thursday: Pignic, PFD, Pastries

I headed east on Sunday for several stops.  First up - the Boston Pignic.  Got my fix of loafy, wuzzy guinea pigs.  So many colors.  Such cuties.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Quilt Doodling

My sister's quilt is basted.  It took a good hour to get it all tacked down.

I have lots of ideas how to quilt in the circles, but not so much how to quilt the space between the circles.  I doodle before quilting, often sketching the pieced pattern before drawing in where I'm going to quilt.  The idea of drawing all the circles in the right place, though, was overwhelming.  I played around with LibreOffice Writer and came up with the layout.  Printed these on a bunch of scrap paper and started doodling.

My sister wanted the quilt to give an impression of clockwork and stars/suns.  So I've mostly been playing with cogs and curvy rays.  I really like the cogs, but I'm not sure what I'd do to fill all in with them.  The rays by themselves look to spidery.  Or maybe sea anemones?  My sister wanted rounded corners on the quilt, so the last batch of print outs have the corners cut.  I'll see if that changes how it looks and feels.

Like the rainbow colors?  The sunroom windows added a lot more pizazz to the plain pen and paper. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

I Like Thursday: Greens, Reds and a Bit of Blue

I loved the green from last week.  This week there's a lot more gold in those trees.  Even some reds behind our house.

In the green of last weekend I found little red mushrooms.  Aren't they so bright?

Did you read about the porcupine we met last week?  How crazy is that?

Saturday, September 21, 2019


We're returning from Thursday morning's walk when we hear click-click-click.  We look up to see a dark animal loping towards us.  Rob asks, "Is that a dog?"  At the same time I'm thinking: is that a porcupine?!  He's seeing the tail wag, I'm seeing an odd body shape, odd lope, and a head that's too small to belong to a dog.

It's still heading towards us.  As it gets closer, we can finally see the quills.  That's a porcupine!  I fumble for my phone and fail to get the camera working until after he passes us by.  Dude's got no interest in us - he's on a mission. 

Camera up, I jog after him.  He's going at a clip and I don't want to run too fast after him, so all I mange to snap are these two blurry, slightly-from-behind photos.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

I Like Thursday: More New Things

The weeks are flying by.  Work continues to get crazier, but home life continues to settle in.  It's nice to have a weekend that's not booked solid running errands.  I caught up on some shows.  Did a little sewing.  Went dancing.  Even had some time to start this post.  All good stuff.

I bought this pendant during Chick Weekend.  The guy had wonderful stuff.  There were pretty pastel teardrop pendants.  He had round ones, too, and some shaped like sea turtles.  One looked like an octopus tentacle (complete with suckers).  Really cool.  The pastel colors were so pretty but I kept gravitating towards the shapes.  I love this one.  Makes me happy!

Monday, September 16, 2019


My sister's quilt has been languishing.  It's not right.  My sister will be the first to agree.  (And at this rate she'll finish my chair mat before I finish her quilt!)  I finally started to work on the backing.  I had ideas, but upon laying them out, I wasn't fond of any of them. 

Back to the drawing board. 

The idea was to lengthen the backing with a  minimum number of seams.  Well, that's not happening.  On the plus side - this will give one last hurrah for a number of the leftover fabrics.  Unfortunately I cut a few of them into strips too small to cut a 6" square.  But who says all the blocks on the back strip need to be the same width?  So I jammed in a few of our favorite colors with whatever width was left. 

Sew this together, insert it into the backing then I can sandwich this baby.  I've been admiring lots of pretty quilting patterns.  Time to get into freemotion mode.  Ooh! 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Design Wall

I promised myself that when we bought a house I'd put up a design wall.  Well, we bought a house!  My office/sewing room has a big bare wall that looked great for a design wall.  We spent weeks discussing and finding the materials to create the design wall I had envisioned.

We eventually bought a 12 foot dowel and hooks and were all set to put it together.  Three days later Rob tells me we should ditch my idea and install picture rail molding.  I cried.  I had it all planned out and knew what I wanted to do and it was a good idea.  And now I was to ditch it all?  But his idea was better (he was inspired by the picture rail at the Whately barn he saw when we went English dancing).  So we hunted down picture rail molding.  The second lumberyard I called knew exactly what I was talking about.  Turned out to be cheaper than the dowel/hooks combination, went up easily, and looks a whole lot nicer than my original plan.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

I Like Thursday: Cape and Companions

Had a great time down at the Cape for an annual Chick Weekend.

The morning I left a neighbor had harvested a bunch of her sunflowers.  They were in a bucket at the end of her driveway, marked FREE.  She urged us to take a few as we passed on our morning walk.  I did.  I was afraid they'd be dead by the time I returned home, so I packed them with me to the Cape. They had a rough trip, but perked up quite nicely when we arrived.  The were cheerful all weekend.  Everyone liked them.

She still had a few left when I returned.  I had left these ones behind (I hope my aunt liked them!) and picked up three more at home.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Ramp Revision

When we moved, I couldn't run the guinea pig ramp the same way I had in Rehoboth.  It would have terminated in the corner under the cage.  I did a quick fix to have it start at the same point in the cage, but the ramp stuck straight out into the living room.  I kept tripping over the end of the ramp and Mabel didn't like it (too exposed and too wobbly).

Monday, September 9, 2019

Cape Chick Weekend 2019

We were discussing how long we've been doing Cape Chick Weekend.  Turns out this is number thirteen.  Amazing.

One set of castle builders, the crazy wind, home with ribbons
Hurricane Dorian's leftovers were enough to cancel much of Saturday's Windmill Weekend events.  The website said that stuff would start at noon.  So my sister and I headed to Encounter Beach to participate in the Sand Art contest.  The parking lot was nearly empty, there was no bandstand.  There were as many car leaving as arriving.  But when we got close to the beach, we could see a family digging in the sand.  I stepped out of the car and said "Is it canceled?"  The organizers had left one intrepid guy to tell us - it's canceled.  We stayed long enough to photograph my sister in the crazy wind and get a little sandblasted.  The guy knocked on my car window just as we were about to go home.  He handed us a pair of red participatory ribbons.  He said: you showed up, you earned these.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Three County Fair

Submitting quilts to the Three County Fair earned me a free ticket.  Cool!  My mother came out for the weekend, so we attended the fair on Sunday.

We passed through the agricultural barn first.  Lots of terrific looking fruits and veggies.  This sunflower greeted us on the way out.  Look at the size of it!  Balancing in that tiny pot!  And so many sunflowers.  It was truly impressive (and of course had a blue ribbon hanging from it).

Next up was the art exhibits.  Lots of stuff from some very talented kids - especially photography.  I got a kick out of a blue paper mache llama.  And isn't the little sleeping fox cute?  The cross stitch sampler was by an adult - the light was too dim to get a good photo, but the stitching was wonderful.  It was certainly worthy of best in show.  My mother and I admired a lot of nice sewing and painting (and checked out the ribbons my quilts won).

Thursday, September 5, 2019

I Like Thursday: Shopping Trips and Errands

It's been a busy weeks, picking up a lot of things.

Saturday included a trip to the Greenfield farmer's market.  I got to use my guinea pig and bunny picnic bag.  Isn't it cute?  Mabel thinks it's even cuter filled with carrots.  (Although Kiki and Mason ate the majority of the carrot tops.)

I was very excited to bring home a 25lb box of tomatoes to make sauce.  The house smelled delicious on Tuesday as we cooked them down.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

I Like Thursday: More Neighbors and New Stuff

Another busy week.  But I've been having fun.

We try to walk every day (some mornings we just get too late of a start).  We never know what we'll see.  This is Kiki the donkey who lives up the road.  She liked the carrot tops we brought (chomp!).  Her buddy, Mason the horse, was not as impressed with our gifts.  He told us to come back when we have the actual carrots and not just the tops.

Kiki was much easier to please.