Monday, September 26, 2011

Baby no more...

My 'baby' turned 24 on the 24th. We spent the day together up until he went to work (with birthday cake) then the next morning he jumped on a train to go catch the Megabus to go to Omaha, Nebraska to see his GF. If you have not heard about Megabus - do check it out for travel in the east or midwest US. Super Cheap - with free wifi and electrical connections on double decker buses. I'll share Stephen's review when he gets home but hope it turns out to be a good way for weekend getaways when we don't want to drive!

Stephen will be back Thursday morning, I can't wait. Everytime he does something new (like traveling by bus away from me) I find I revert to worrying mother mode. Does that ever end?

Vacation is over - but more excitement coming!

Vacation was great!! Didn't realize how old my last post was until I signed in this morning. Wish I had some pictures to share - but we were so busy having fun we didn't really snap many pics!

Day one in SFO Mark and I walked from Market Street and Third all the way down to and around the waterfront. Straight through Chinatown, stopped at a little local pub and watched everyone queeing to get into the Sunday performance of Beach Blanket Babylon. Don't know why but on Sunday you have to be over 18 to get in - is it a differnt show than the other nights? hmmm...... no theater for us on this trip -

Lots of water though! We did the catamaran trip up the bay and under the Golden Gate bridge, took the passenger ferry from Oakland to SFO on Day 2 and then did the Emerald Bay paddlewheel boat in South Lake Tahoe and finished up with white water rafting on the middle fork of the American river. It was an awesome day shared with good friends.

The black mustang convertible was perfect - the top was down every day and the weather could not have been netter - we drove over 1200 miles.

Now - above is my review - my husband's varies. He enjoyed the trip also - but would have been happier with less 'driving and scenery' and more water. We did some long drives on dangerous mountain roads (curves at 10 mph) where we didn't see another vehicle for hours in either direction and while I felt in control after a while it did get very tedious and I was so glad when it was over! One road knocked us off schedule we did not get to overnight in Lake Tahoe but stayed about 45 minutes south of the lake and drove in the next day.

While on the paddlewheel boat (I highly recommend to anyone who visits Lake Tahoe) a local was talkign about other points of interest around the lake. Including the old CalNeva resort which at one time Frank sinatra was part owner in and the rat pack used to hang out there. It si on the north end of the lake, just where the road from Truckee comes in. We drove the long way around the lake to find it! It was kinda sad. Obviously the growth has really been at the south end of the lake. The north end is older and more residential than tourist - it's more snow-skiing than water sports. But it was interesting to see. there was some neat architectural elements and decoration that I wish someone whould come in and restore the place but I don't know what would draw the people back in this economy. Outside the showroom, there was a 'walk of fame' with pictures of Frank and other performes who appeared at the CalNeva, it was funny I had seen most of them and my husband didn't know some of them.

Since getting home I have been trying to find more time to relax and doing pretty well at that. Still wishing I had three day weekends....

On the quilting front - I have finished piecing the top for the Crayola challenge. Needed fushia thread for quilting and could not get in 100% cotton, so going to try a blend and see if I have breakage problems or not. I still have to get going on the Scraps to Treasures challenge which is due in 2 weeks!! I have the cutting done - but assembly is pending. If I fall behind I think it's okay - because this is a charity quilt that we decide who to donate to. I am thinking mine will go to NC to be donated to the children's home down there.

This weekend I made the '10 minute table runner' that I bought in a kit from my LQS. No Quilting, no batting and it was faster than 10 minutes. I love it and plan to make many more for gifts for friends and family. Seasonal changes - look out and easy to enlarge to be mantle length too! I'll post a picture next time!

Struggling with holiday gift for co-workers - may have to go get some ideas - and see if I can get started on them soon!

Oh - the excitement to come - so after we go back from SFO I squezzed in a 2 day trip to Florida for work. Had a great time with a co-worker staying ina small town just north of Sebastian. Old style Florida right on A1A. Long walk on the beach, beautiful sunsets and good work too! Then came back to find that I am going to be heading down to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Lima, Peru. Also for work - just 9 days and three of those will be travel days but going with a great team of co-workers and I am really looking forward to it in the middle of October.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pre-Vacation Update

Where has the summer gone?

I can hardly believe it's the end of August already. We had so much rain this summer it was a LONG growing season for the grass, but really limited the time we had to just 'enjoy' the weather. It was also record-setting hot in Chicago this year so if it wasn't too wet outside - it was too hot to be out there!

I have planted 3 more Norway Spruce trees at the house and have one more spruce and one more Colorado Blue baby to plant. Hope to get those in the ground before this weekend is over. I have to - because I can't rely on them getting watered while I am on vacation.

Yes, Vacation!! Finally!!! Mark and I booked this trip over a year ago and have been anxiously awaiting the date - August 27 - to leave Chicago and jet to a coast and just relax and be tourists! I'll share more info and hopefully pictures when we get back on Labor day weekend.

Thomas was in for two weeks - wish it had been more. he's a great young man and I am so proud he's mine. He is back at school now and this weekend I also plan to get a box out to him with a few surprises for his new dorm room. Luckily he does not read my blog (does anyone?) so he won't see this!

Stephen is working, his new job is going great he is now on the night shift from 4 to midnight and that suits him better than days. We are both so nocturnal, it's great he can do this and it fits his sleep patterns better. Of course it means I hardly see him, especially with Kim still in town, but she heads back to school on Saturday morning, so hopefully I'll get in a dinner once a week with my son after then.

Quilting - not a lot of activity. I have the RMHC crayola challenge quilt due Oct 31 and the Scraps to Treasure due Oct 7 so I better get cracking. I did get a pattern designed for the RMHC quilt and a nice start on the cutting and stitching - of course that's the one that's due later!! LOL..... When fall kicks in I'll spend more time down there!

I have been crocheting a lot. It allows me to watch TV and still get something accomplished - so I have been working on holiday gifts and a gift for delivery on vacation. No more on that until it's done and delivred, since that person might read my blog.... she is a lurker I think.

That's it for today - Take care - !! Toby

Friday, July 1, 2011

No picture this week

I looked at my last post - 2 weeks ago - picture below... and I can see the changes in my new little garden patch easily. The rose bushes have filled in so I guess they are happy. We've had several windy rain storms so they have shed their petals but lots of new creamy blooms are on them now. Last weekend I covered the area with landscape fabric and spread 4 bags of mulch over top - I also planted 6 heather plants at the front edge nearest the yard and put the ledgestone blocks in front of them. The hose has been compromise keeping the pool filled - so they have been left on their own. Today in Chicagoland we are expecting record breaking heat, so I think when I get home I better disconnect the hose and give this bed and my container pots on the front steps a good soaking. I am considering getting a drip hose and putting it under the mulch all across the front of the house when it is finally done - that would be good for all of the new plantings - maybe next year.

I have been helping a co-worker friend with identifying plants and trees for his 'new to him' house so it has been fun and he has also gotten enthused about these knock out rose bushes. He got some pink and says he also found a double deep red - I may have to go today and look at those! Deep red would be lovely with my cream...

So this weekend is the fourth of July long weekend I am looking forward to some relaxation, how about you? Tonight I hope to hang my big flag on the front of my house. I used to have it up most of the year, but once it comes down it's hard to get back up - so this would be the first time this year. I like it, so I will try my best to get it done.

I am scheduled to pick up my car today from the repair shop. It was discovered after they opened her up that another part in the radiator got cracked and that part alone was another $1531 !!! Amazing what what little knock in the driveway can do! This week I have been driving a bright blue Ford Focus - it's okay - a speedy little car - I can sneak it up to 80 on the highway and not feel any shake or strain. Don't think I'd want one full time, it's not as spacious or luxurious as I like, but it's fine for free!!

Hope you have a safe and happy holiday weekend - or just a regular weekend if you are not in the US of A.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New garden spot

This is a picture of a new garden spot on the front of my house. I had to wait until we had the concrete work done to our steps and since we did not change the configuration of the steps, our paver sidewalk remained intact and I was able to start on this new bed. This is at the corner of the driveway and the sidewalk, you can see the retaining block just put in and the damaged corner of my car (oops!) so that let's you know the orientation. Oh - This is North Facing. Also - this sidewalk is about 90 feet from the road so the plants will be at quite a dstance from pollution etc. I will by continuing with the retaining block all along the sidewalk as my intention is to extend the bed all the way across the front of the house - encompassing the giant Colorado Blue Spruce that is smack in the middle of the hous and then the new Norway Spruce we planted at the western corner last fall. More pics of that area to come....

So these are three knock out rose bushes in the color called sunshine - which I liked the name also - with red wave petunias so I should get some spread on those this year and a groundcover blue juniper that will spread to 1' high and about 8' wide. I anticipate pruning that to fit the corner. The master plan is to find some incredible large flat outcropping rocks in a cream and grey shade to place along the front edge of the bed - proving focal points - and have perennials and evergreens like the blue juniper creep over the rocks or growing between the slabs. A lot of the back side of the bed will just be rock and mulch as we have very difficult spruce roots in that area. We do have two raised planting beds along the front of the house so we have a soft foundation line. More on that later.....

So what do you think of my new roses?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The COF class in Basket Making

So I wanted to share this also - this is a basket I made after getting home from the retreat. At the retreat one of the classes was making rope baskets. You use 7/32 inch cotton rope, wrap it in folded 1 inch strips of fabric and sew it all together zigzagging each row. The one I made at class was smaller and looks like golden straw. It sits next to me in the LR where I read and sometimes stitch. This one is quite large - about 13 inches long and 9 inches deep - so it's great for holding mail, books, would be great in a bathroom for rolled facecloths, or toiletries. The end of the 'rope' is twisted into a four leaf clover shape on the front of the basket. That was the hardest part!!

Please excuse the photo colors - the blues are lighter and the cream is a pale cream - all batiks again!

Mug Block for a Friend of COF

So... finally I am back here has been so busy I can hardly believe it has been over a month since my birthday and like 6 weeks since the retreat ended. I think I told you all about the wonderful potter from NC who did a demo and talk for us? I brought home a lovely vase he created? well - it was suggested we might make him a quilt as a thank you for his time and attendance - and so I have finished mine and will be mailing it off today. It is batik on batik, my favorite blues in the background and I love the new Perle thread that is ombre in shades of sapphire. The mug I rec'd at the retreat is creamy white so I thought this appropriate. The finished quilt will have probably 80 of these blocks on it! is that cool or what?

On another note spring has finally come to Illinois and I am busy in the garden - more pictures soon!

Oh - also more shopping at the LQS this past week - after a stressful week at work and the car accident and everything else I splurged a bit on medicinal fabric. Batiks and CWR and a new CWR pattern that I love..... oh my! life is so good when you have new fabric.... going to make some more rope bowls soon!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So I was just bouncing around some new COF friends blogspots and was thrilled to see some people update so frequently -others like me - not so much! oh well. It seems I was so geared up for so long to get to the retreat in Charlotte and then it came and went so quickly! I don't have many pics to share with you because after I arrived and turned on the newly charged camera it displayed a 'this card cannot be used' message. Something with formatting the memory card or something - anyway - lots of pictures elsewhere on the web. Here is however a picture of something I made BEFORE the retreat.

This is just a portion of the 102 yo-yo pins I made for the retreat attendees. (Scattered on my desk at work, see my diet coke cup in the background? smile) I wanted to do the best job I could to meet everyone - so I decided making something for each person was the way to go. So MONTHS before the retreat I started pulling fabrics (and buying fabrics) and making yo-yos. (Yes 204 of them and I had 2 yos left over so thats 206 yo-yos I made!) Each pin has two yo-yo's sewn on top of each other and held in place with a vintage button. No two pins are alike. The buttons came from a tin I inherited from a neighbor of my aunt in Florida in 1994. The original owner of the tin used to have a fabric shop in the NE with a sister dating back to the early 1900's. So many of the buttons were actually cards of stock samples and it was easy to pick out the deco and hand carved beauties! Unfortunately a lot fo them were bakelite and just didn't survive the passing of time but way down in the bottom of the tin I found a metal dog registration tag from the city of New York stamped 1903!! Cool eh??? So I made all these by hand then stitched brooch bask on the backside (by hand) and bagged and tagged them. We had about 80 attendees plus some guests, so I have very few of these left - it was a lot of fun, but I'm not sure what I can possibly do next year to surpass this.

More retreat news soon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Pick yourself up...Dust yourself off......

Great old song, and it's what I'm humming as I realize how far I have fallen down on updating my blog. I have been planning to come back for a long time, but was thinking too much on what I wanted to post instead of just doing it.

What I really wanted to post was the picture of the CWR (Civil War Reproduction) quilt I got back from custom quilting in January. But it's a gift for a loved one, and I didn't want to risk spoiling the surprise! So, I didn't post. Well - that's unacceptable - so here I am. Still not showing that quilt - but with other news.

First off - I can barely contain my excitement after almost a year of waiting I will be going to my first quilt retreat in less than 2 weeks!! I have lots to do still and am tracking tasks and packing on a spreadsheet to try to defray some of the anxiety. I am road tripping to Charlotte North Carolina and will be gone from home for almost two weeks! wow......I will miss my men, but it will be a good miss and I know I will be so happy to come home to them!

The other news is that we met last night with a landscape designer who is going to draw plans for our front yard and our back terrace. It will be a 3-4 week adventure as we share ideas and desires back and forth. This came from needing to have our front porch and stairs replaced. The 55 year old concrete had just broken down and it has to go. We could just hire a concrete guy and tell him to replace it - but I hate the way it is now - want to re-orient and enlarge the porch and the steps and the best way to visualize what it's going to be is with a plan. We will get the hardscape work done probably in late May early June and then slowly incorporate the planting changes as we can budget it. Just in case you don't remember how ugly the front of my house is - here's a picture of it. I'll be sure to post more before, during and after as we proceed with this project. Now I guess I need to go buy Lottery tickets and hope I win so I can do all this!!

More later - Toby

Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Time in Chicago!

Well - as most of the world knows - we got hit with a big storm this week. Today is my first day back at work and the drive was incredible - almost double the time as usual as there was a lot of trucks on the road still removing snow from where it had been plowed on Wednesday and Thursday. On Route 53 right at the busiest interchange near Woodfield Mall there were two lanes completely filled with snow. I understand it's hard to have anywhere to push it when your on a highway overpass, but couldn't the trucks come and do their clean up and haul away at night instead of during rush hour?

I tried to drive to work yesterday and it took about 40 minutes to go 2 miles - and that was with limited time stuck in a snow pile as I tried to turn a corner. Thank you to all the people in 6 lanes of traffic who realized I had a problem that could only be resolved by backing across all of their lanes and turning back to go home. Also thanks to the man who was in the intersection facing out next to me when I got stuck for clearing out fast before my car could skid and potentially hit him. He left with a smile of understanding instead of fist shaking/cursing which is what a lot of people do in bad traffic!

I guess that's one of the joys of living in a small town. You have to be nice - because you are bound to run in to that person again somewhere!

So while I was at home what did I do... well I did work on line - the company closed our offices on Wednesday but all of us who could do so worked from home. I phoned in to conference calls and checked emails - reviewed documents - whatever I could do. As a global company we had to think about all our co-workers around the world who were still up and running and potentially needed us.

I also got in plenty of couch time in the evenings - not having to drive 2 hours each day allowed me to make dinner for the family and get in some extra sewing and crocheting time. I started the binding on the CWR quilt last night and after three hours am halfway done! It is teh largest quilt I have ever made because of the extra length to do the pillow wrap. I am excited to send it to my brother eventually! Will include pictures here in my next posting.

I am also finally assembling the blocks for my new BR quilt. I finished all the blocks on the weekend (64 blocks) and am now joining the rows. It's a challenge and I do have to pay attention - I guess this is where a design wall would really help - Then I could just arrange them on the wall and then pull them down in order to stitch together. Maybe a birthday idea? Hmmmm I'll have to think on it....

I have a lot of art that is sentimental to me. Prints collected in travels many decades ago that have been framed and hung in different homes. Right now my walls are mostly bare. After repainting the LR Dining room Entry last year we have not hung anything, and my new walls in the Sewing room had just one batik print and a bulletin board hanging until this weekend when I finally chansed down the special big hooks I bought and figured out how to hang my thread racks. I love where they are - out of the way of fabric hitting them as I sew and yet within easy reach when I stand up. I am loving the new desk also - as sona s it warms up we will get rid of the one mattres on the daybed and move the daybed to the garage and get more organized. But for now I can work in what mess is left......

only 11 more weeks until I leave for the Quilt Retreat!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A new year has begun

It was great to be away from work for more than 2 weeks - I realized that's the longest break Ive had in almost 6 years! and that was only while I was between jobs! I am back to work already, but thankfully this is a short week since we had Monday off. I can feel the difference in my stress levels, it's like the looming deadline of year end is gone and we have an almost clean slate for the new year.

Work is quiet - you can get things done which is welcome and tomorrow is our Thursday Stitch n B--ch lunch hour and even though a few people will be out - I have already been advised by one new avid crocheter that she will be there tomorrow. I have been ordered to bring in what I did over Christmas break to show.

So what did I do... well I worked almost 11 skeins into a new afghan and am about halfway through a baby blanket. Last night I worked on some crochet flowers but now have switched to yo yo flowers which I think are a lot more fun! I made up a half dozen in assorted fabrics tonight and tomorrow we will be looking at them and I have to decide to go ahead or change it up again!! These are really cute with a vintage button stitched in the center . I think I am committed so this weekend I will have to dive into the garage to get to the big antique button box I inherited about 20 years ago. That is a treasure trove!

I am also busy thinking ahead to the quilt retreat I am going to in April. After driving down for Christmas I didn't think I would want to do it again but it is easier to take my sewing machine etc by driving and if it works out I will be picking up a friend in Ky on the way down and bring her back so I will company for much of the way! We might also room together too which should be fun. Other than DH I can't remember the last time I shared a room with a friend! Taking my car will also allow me to get over to see the family or do other shopping there is some great shopping in Charlotte and I did not have nearly enough time in December!

well That's about it - I just wanted to drop in before the new year got too far underway. I;
'll post some projects soon. I promise...