New Year’s Day

We got back home last night. I must admit that this introvert is hibernating today. I love family and friends, but I need some alone time too. While I was in the Midwest, I also missed the mountains. Here is a picture I took in Wyoming. Yes, there are mountains on the horizon, though they aren’t too obvious. I finally felt like I had space again.

Wyoming sunset, 29 December 2016

We ended up driving to Gillette, WY again, staying in the La Quinta again. Then we drove to Bozeman (snowy roads most of the way), dropped off son and his dog, then did some shopping. We stayed at the Lehrkind B&B in Bozeman.  It was a very nice place with a truly outstanding breakfast. Coming to Utah, we had snowy roads about 1/3 of the time, and the end of the trip was on cold clear roads. Now that I am back home, I have to get working. First I will pull out the quilting I started on my daughter’s quilt. It will be nice and warm on this cold, bright day.

Post Christmas

It has been a while since I posted. Christmas was, as usual, frenetic! We left our home on 20 Decemeber to pick up my son in Bozeman, MT. The roads got a bit challenging north of Pocatello, ID so we took a round about way that added an hour to what is normally a 6 hour trip. We ate dinner and did a little shopping, waiting for my son to get off work. We left Bozeman a little after 6:00 pm and drove to Gillette, WY for the night. The La Quinta Inn is quite nice, but we were out by 7:00 am. We got into our destination in Iowa by 8:30 pm, so it was a long day even with the time change!  We definitely ran into snow covered highways in Nebraska, and there were dozens of cars in the ditches and medians. Oh the joys of winter travel! We did miss a huge snow storm in Utah. I am very glad I arranged for someone to shovel the sidewalk and driveway so my house sitter didn’t have to.

We have stayed at another son’s house most of the time, but spent one night at my daughter’s house too. The holiday was great fun, and today my daughter and I are going shopping for part of her Christmas present. We leave on Thursday, 29 December, to do the drive back to Bozeman over 2 days. I love my family, but I will be glad to get home too. Probably no more posts until we get home.

Another busy Sunday

As usual, Kevin and I went to choir rehearsal then attended the service. I just love this Advent season – music, candles, and good food. After we got home I finished up the quilt flimsy for my daughter’s forthcoming baby. Isn’t it adorable?

We also attended the local Eccles Theater to see a Broadway touring company production of White Christmas. It was a very professional and enjoyable presentation. We have season tickets to the Broadway at Eccles series. Our tickets are in the first balcony, and we have a great view of the stage.

Tomorrow – keep working on the quilt and start candy making!

 

First world problems

I am not a person who worries a lot about my appearance, but today’s haircut has put me over the edge! Why is it so hard for a hairdresser to actually do what you ask them. “I want only 1/4″ taken off the overall length, just a bit more here where it is not shaped. I want to grow it longer. I don’t want bangs.” Guess what? Over an inch taken off most places, bangs (short ones!), the top shortened even more than an inch. I never thought I would almost cry over a haircut at my age, but I have been on the verge since I looked at it. This one will never get me within range of her scissors again! I can tell the Christmas pictures are going to be dreadful this year.

Pictures finally

I did a reasonable amount of piecing on my daughter’s quilt today. It is lots of little squares, what is called a pixelated quilt. Here are the first 10 rows, all sewn together.

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And here are the remaining piles of pieces.

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There are still another 30 rows or so to go, then I will need to sew the rows together. After that will be borders, followed by sandwiching the front, batting, and backing. Finally I will quilt it and do the binding, so there is still a lot of work to do.

We also went to the Dr. Strange movie today. I love Benjamin Cumberbatch, but the movie was pretty good on its own too. Great special effects as expected in a Marvel movie, but the story was fairly good too.

We put up the Christmas lights a few days back. Here’s a (not so great) picture of those too, or at least part of them. Notice the overgrown roses and silverberry bush in front of the porch. I didn’t get anything pruned last year, and it shows! In January I will prune everything waaaayyy back where they should be.

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Thursday night already?

I have let the week get by me. Monday and Tuesday I did a lot of cutting out the quilt for my daughter’s baby. In fact, I cut so much my hand is sore! I also did a lot of sewing and pressing to prepare the strip sets. I only have a few more sets to finish up, then I get to start putting it together. I promise to get pictures of all my little piles of fabric before I start sewing it all back together. Yesterday I did a lot of shopping plus an eye appointment plus choir practice, so it was a busy day even without any sewing.

Today was was the start of a new volunteer activity. I took the first of many full-days of tax training with AARP for doing taxes for seniors. I take six full days of training this month followed by two more days of classes in January. There is even homework! Assuming I pass the certification test from the IRS, I can then help others fill out their tax forms. I think I will enjoy it. I am analytical, and this will be a good fit for my skill set. I will also be qualified to work with low income folks through the VITA program, though I don’t think I will have the time to do that this year.

Choir, church, snow, and quilting – a normal Sunday

Pretty much every Sunday when we are at home we do the same thing – choir rehearsal, church, dinner, and then home. My husband doesn’t sing, but he is kind enough to drive in with me each Sunday morning so I can make the hour or hour and a half long choir rehearsal before the church service. Today was a full hour and a half since we have a Christmas concert coming in addition to the normal service music.

Getting home, my husband went to get the garage ready for winter since we are supposed to get 3-6″ at our house while the mountains behind us are forecast to get 18-24″. In our case that means moving the lawn mower to storage and bringing the snow thrower home. Of course that generally requires rearranging pretty much everything in the garage! I leave him to it and head to my sewing studio. I spent yesterday cleaning it up and finishing a few small things. It is still a mess, but I have a corner suitable for a new project. I need to make a baby quilt for my daughter’s baby coming in February. Here’s the pattern:

Quilt pattern for Clay's quilt
Quilt pattern for Clay’s quilt

Isn’t it cute? It is from Bean Counter Quilts, and I am making the smaller size, though I may add another border to it. Lots of strip piecing with eight gray/white background fabrics, five turquoise fabrics, with the elephant also having gray, black, and lime green accents (not the pink as shown in the photo). This is what I got accomplished: pressing 16 pieces of fabric and cutting 125 separate 2″ strips. It may not sound like a lot, but it is!

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Tomorrow I start sewing the strip sets together and sub-cutting them. Tonight – PBS or Netflix since my back is sore! I really should improve the ergonomics in my studio.

Black Friday

I do not like to shop. When I have to shop, I try to go when few other people are around. That means that I seldom leave the house on Black Friday! I actually did some shopping today though I waited until 11:00 a.m. My son wanted to buy me some type of sewing gadget for my birthday, so we went to a local quilt store and I picked out a new Omnigrid ruler. I have had my current 7×24 ruler for many years, and it had nicks on the corners where it had been dropped. It was inexpensive enough that I didn’t worry about not using my Joann discount. Joann’s Fabrics is crazy on Black Friday because they run huge sales on flannel and fleece. I stay far away! Same son wanted painting supplies for his birthday and Christmas, so we went to Michael’s for him to educate me about the options. While there we found a wonderful easel and desk that was half-price so he got his birthday present a month early. He was quite pleased, and we will get him paints and brushes for Christmas. Nice productive day, and it wasn’t too crazy.

I am now totally delaying heading into my sewing studio to clean it up. It has gone past the stage of usability, and I need to finish a couple of quilts. They will take space, and far too much of the studio’s horizontal surfaces are covered with scraps of fabric to even think about starting something new. I put together one big trash sack full of scraps already, but I probably have at least one more. There are also bigger scraps that need folding and put away. Sigh. Sewing is much more fun that the aftermath.

Oh, and I didn’t take any pictures yesterday. I had so much fun with family and friends I totally forgot!

Cooking!

I spent a lot of today cooking and prepping, but I decided I would wait until tomorrow for pictures. Three pies (two pumpkins, one pecan), a 17 pound turkey cooked and cut up, “pink stuff” salad, cranberry sauce, and the dressing is made (mushrooms, onions, celery, cornbread, wheat bread, egg, chicken broth, sage). Tomorrow all the last minute stuff and a lovely dinner with husband, son, and friends.

Well, I thought it would be an easy Thanksgiving dinner …

I am a planner. I spent 30 years planning and executing engineering projects, and I look at Thanksgiving dinner as a project with tight deadlines. I have everything planned pretty carefully for resources (oven space, stove space, refrigerator space, ingredients) and schedule. We are only having a total of six people for dinner, and I was looking forward to a pretty relaxed preparation. The menu was smoked turkey, a good Amana pre-cooked ham, sage/cornbread dressing, gravy, mashed sweet potatoes with syrup and pecans, cranberry sauce, a cherry/pineapple/cool whip/condensed milk salad known in our family as “pink stuff”, plus lots of pies – two pumpkin and one each apple and pecan pies. Friends are bringing a cranberry salad and another vegetable dish.

Plans:

Monday: Smoke Turkey

Tuesday: Bake cornbread for dressing. Roast pecans for pies and sweet potatoes. Unrelated to Thanksgiving, smoke a big piece of salmon we bought on Monday morning. Make smoked turkey broth for the dressing with the remainder frozen for later.

Wednesday: Make the dressing, cranberry sauce, four pies, and put together the pink stuff salad.

Thursday: Cook (small) ham, rolls, gravy, dressing, and sweet potatoes. Enjoy friends arriving at noon with dinner planned for 1:00. See how easy?

Well, that lasted until Monday afternoon when Kevin discovered the main burner on the smoker had burned out! Of course, this was after the turkey had been in a 110-120 degree smoker for four hours (the heater for the wood chips was still working). It certainly would not be safe to eat so it went into the trash. Search the entire city for a replacement burner, but they have to be mail ordered – not available before late Wednesday. Off to Costco Monday afternoon for a new fresh turkey only to find them sold out! Way too late for a frozen turkey, so we were at their door as they opened today to pick up a turkey they had delivered last night. Now I have to cook a 18 pound turkey (the smallest they had) on Thursday in addition to doing the ham, sweet potatoes, and rolls plus cooking the dressing. I will have to plan everything pretty carefully since I only have one big oven plus one (relatively big) toaster oven. The poor salmon is getting baked this evening since it won’t be any good by Friday when the replacement burner element will be installed in the smoker.

Sigh. I might have to push dinner back some because of how much time the turkey will take. I am even thinking of the sacrilege of making the turkey on Wednesday using an oven bag, and then just reheating it in the microwave on Thursday. I will report back, with pictures.