Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Good, The Bad, And The Sniffly

Look what I sewed! This was a test project. I want to make more of these but thought I'd better first test the pattern to make sure I understood it. AND ... I wanted to test my ... wait for it ... my ... my ... my ...


Here's the little beauty! It's the Pfaff Tipmatic 1151! Isn't she gorgeous?!

Here's what happened. If you've been reading my recent travails, you will know that I finally got to the end of my rope with my crumby sewing machine! Done. No more trying to sew on that thing. I put all that hand work into that baby quilt ... the one with the farm critters on it and the green minky back ... only to have tension problems with my sewing machine ... which led to screwy binding ... which led to a warped quilt. It won't hang flat. It curls in. It's still okay but it would have been better if it had hung flat. So I was mad at my machine. Again. And I said so.

So ....

Reading my plight, Angel Gayle came to my immediate rescue. She dug her old machine out of her closet ... deciding that iron-on hemming tape is more her style anyway ... and she dropped her machine off at my door. Friday night I set it up. I was excited right away because already I could tell that the feed dogs would be less problematic than mine. I studied the manual and got everything ready to go. I got it threaded and then went to pop in the bobbin, but natch! My bobbins are too small and I didn't have any others. I dug through the box the sewing machine came in and no bobbins there either and, as chance would have it, I was feeling really crappy so I wasn't about to go out to any stores any time soon to hunt down a suitable bobbin. Stymied again.

Then ...

I got an email from Angel Jo who, having read my story, wondered why she was still hanging onto her old Pfaff. She bought a fancy schmancy new quilting Pfaff a couple of years ago and, thinking she would use her old machine for taking to classes and retreats (it being more portable), she kept her old one. As it turned out, she didn't use her old one after all and she decided to offer it for sale to me! I only really know this old Singer of mine so I have no real knowledge of what a machine should sew like, I just know mine isn't doing what it should. So on Sunday Kevin and I stopped in at Bob and Jo's and I came home with a beautiful new-to-me machine! I LOVE IT! It purrs! I mean it. It really does! And it sews a straight seam! If the seam is crooked at all, it's my fault on this machine. I'm tickled as can be.

On Sunday we watched the grey cup game with friends, all the while bugging Matt (Hannah's boyfriend and die-hard Lions fan who was in the stands at the game) with many texts from Kev cheering for Winnipeg. No time for sewing on Sunday.

But Monday night after work, with Mom here to lend her experience and support, we made this little lined drawstring bag. They've been popping up all over the internet ever since Jeni posted what has become a very popular tutorial. You can find the tutorial here and you can see many sweet examples at her Flickr site. I see, too, that  Jeni has since announced a pattern for these bags for sale in multiple sizes, which would be handy. I'd like to make a shoe bag size. This one is just a little too small for adult shoes. The original tutorial is still on her site, though.

The Pfaff sews like a dream! Mom and I did struggle quilte a while with one little part of the threading system and struggled again with bobbin winding and there's a funny thing that happens with some threads that appear out of nowhere but that don't interfere with the sewing and I'll need to figure that out, but mostly everything went very smoothly. I'll bet I can whip these up really fast now that I understand the way they're made. I gave this bag to Mom.

And now for a little icing on the cake. Angel Pat went to quilt Mecca ... the International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texax ... and brought me back this ever so sweet little pincushion. It's filled with either sand or ground shells (I hear that's what a lot of pincushions are stuffed with - available at pet supply stores) and is cute as can be and heavy! Check out some of the winning quilts from the quilt festival here.

Well, all of that makes the "sniffly" part of the story pretty "meh". I'll only mention it in passing. Within two days of returning from Uruguay, Kevin came down with a nasty cold. I did all I could to protect myself ... he slept on the couch, we did a lot of hand washing ... I used disinfectant wipes on doorknobs, remotes, handles, phones ... but no luck. I caught the damn thing, too! It's a nasty one. We both feel pretty crappy still. Kevin went to the doctor today because he's prone to these things going into his chest but the doctor said his lungs are fine so far and that it's a viral thing. Hunker down ... lots of fluids ... sleep ... some kick ass cough syrup. So that's what we'll do. Actually being "normal sick" is almost refreshing. So much less worrisome than niggling little aches and pains and discomforts I can't explain. It's also more tolerable knowing I have a sweet new sewing machine right here on my dining room table beckoning me!

See? A happy story!

And while I'm at it, way to go, Shelley! The worst is over. And Barb ... be strong!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Saskatoon Christmas Tradition

If this is not your Christmas tradition, perhaps you'll want to make it one.

The Saskatoon Fireside Singers
Christmas Memories!

Directed by Marilyn Whitehead

December 20th and 21st

7:30 pm

TCU Place

Tickets by phone (975-7799)
or online at

In addition to the over 100 voices in the choir, there will be feature performances by several guest artists.

Really ... you'll get goosebumps!
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Oklahoma! At Evan Hardy This Week!

If you're looking to be entertained, you might want to take in Evan Hardy Collegiate's presentation of


November 23 to 26 (Wednesday through Saturday)
7:00 p.m.

Call the schools to arrange for tickets - 683-7700.

Our niece, Alexa, is performing in it this year. I've attended several high school performances at various schools and the quality and work put into everything involved always impresses me.

*apologies for the unfortunate cropping of the poster.


Kevin - Home From Uruguay ...

... with so many stories to tell and photos to show. These are just a few. We haven't even downloaded them all, there's so many between all of the guys that were there. We intend to make a book using Picaboo, like we did for Don and Syl's 50th wedding anniversary. I think that will be the best way to showcase the photos and document what Kevin and Dwayne have called the experience of a lifetime!

Here are the guys at a popular sculptural installment at one of the many fine beaches - the hand in the sand. They swam in the ocean that day and enjoyed the beach.

The airport, they said, was amazing! Incredible architecture. The red dog sculptures in front appear to have aqualungs on their backs. Could that be? Must research.

Pedro, their driver, did some reel and rod fishing while the rest of the guys were fish collecting.

The man on the horse is almost 80. He brought the guys lunch that his wife had made to the river where they were fish collecting one day. Kevin said it was an indescribably good meal!

This is one of the finer establishments the guys stayed in. They were mostly in rural Uruguay ... around farms and villages ... where the hospitality and food was prime and the accommodations ranged from rustic to "you want me to sleep WHERE?" One place they stayed didn't have electricity, though they would be getting it for the first time in 2 weeks.

Here are a few of the many fishes the guys caught in their nets and, sometimes, with rods and hooks. Mostly they used nets ... from individual nets, casting nets and then, the big ones, seines.

There were lots of interesting birds to see, too. They ate the eggs of one of these birds - Rheas One of their eggs is equivalent to a dozen chicken eggs. It took two of these eggs to make a big breakfast casserole for the group. Ray, who had some excellent camera equipment, got many good photos of birds and scenery.

Interesting turtles, snakes, and frogs were abundant.

Kevin had a blast! It's very good to have him home.

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I'm glad Kevin got home before the mouse made its presence known. When I asked him how he knew there was a mouse, he said he saw it dart away when he opened our lower kitchen cupboard. Sure enough ... a few mouse droppings and it was nibbling the corner of my box of granola cereal. It must have only just arrived on the scene because that was the only evidence.

Kevin set the trap. I'll spare you any photos if we catch the thing.

And just to settle my nerves ... ahhhhh ... another photo of my first solo quilt. In a room full of books. Just the place for a cozy quilt.
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I've Edited Out All My Expletives

The quilt for Robert is going to be cute ... if I get a new machine to sew it on. Today I tried to sew the first squares. This is what I got. Disappointing.

See how the pieces don't lie flat? That's because the underside stitching is puckering and pulling things out of whack.

Look at the curling fabric. *sigh* The sigh is replacing a bad word.

See the puckers? I'm saying more bad words. Lots of them.

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My First Solo Quilt Finish! TADA!

A quilt for Bart's baby son, Beau. It didn't occur to me until I was finished that since I bought that green cushion in Lunenburg a couple of months ago - the one with the brown star fish on it - this little quilt matches our typically brown and red family room. Hmm ...

Nonetheless, away it will go in the mail. I just have to add a label. I think I'll write right on the quilt on the cream coloured sashing.

I was able to finish the binding because after another last ditch effort to get my machine working before hauling it into the repair shop, I did get it working. Well, kind of. Actually there's still something not quite right and I'm most frustrated with it. You might not have noticed in the photos right away that the quilt doesn't want to lie flat. It wants to curl a bit. That's because my machine is stitching with uneven tension. It's gathering the fabric just slightly on the underside which pulls things a bit wonky.

I have declared that I can not wait until next year to get a new machine. I have sewing to do NOW. I started sewing on the quilt for Robert today and right away I'm having trouble with the slight gathering my machine wants to do on the underside of seams. It pulls things crazy. If it does that on one little square, multiply that wonkiness by several squares and you get one great big unhappy mess. Not gonna do it. New machine. Now. **I just stamped my foot**.

Okay. That's decided. HELP! Any recommendations? Janome? Bernina? Pfaff? Husqvarna? Any tips?

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Special Kindness

The timing couldn't have been better. I was feeling a big down in the dumps and there arrived a package at my door. And this is what was inside!

I follow a quilting blog, "Around the Block" and the blogger, Cindy, had posted in October a little story about her husband, Mark's, mother who had had breast cancer in the 70's. She'd had a horrible prognosis (stage 4) and wasn't expected to live very long at all but, amazingly, she did survive and lived for another 30 years! And when she did pass, it wasn't even cancer that took her! I don't hear enough of those stories and when I hear one or read one, I take heart in the possibility. I commented to Cindy how happy I was to hear the story and how it gives people like me hope.

I hadn't expected Cindy or Mark to reply to me and it was so nice that they did. Mark told me the more complete story and how in some ways it mirrors my own. He, too, was just a young college student on a football scholarship and far from home when his Mom was diagnosed. She had his coaches tell him after a game and someone (he still doesn't know who) paid for his flight to go home to be with his Mom. Mark surely understood how Luke must have felt in similar circumstances. It's been such a nice correspondence for me and I'm very grateful to Mark for sharing his and his Mom's story with me.

And then this arrived in the mail! Mark makes these ... fused glass trivets ... to encourage others in honour of his Mom. I marvel and feel touched by grace.

Thanks, Mark and Cindy! Thanks so much!

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So Little Accomplished

I had big plans. BIG plans. I was going to get so much quilt making done while Kevin was away. How disappointing. I ran into a few snags. Just when I was getting some momentum I ran into problems with my sewing machine. I finished the hand quilting on that baby quilt and I made my first binding (yippee). I started sewing the binding on and made it around the first corner ... all neat and tidy (yippee) ... and then something went wonky. My thread started to make messy nests on the underside. I fiddled and diddled and rethreaded everything several times, I checked to make sure everything is clean, I changed the needle ... no good. In frustration I abandoned the machine and took a break after which I came back to it and worked at it again. I looked up information on the internet and tried everything suggested. And still, I can't get the damn thing to work! So much for progress. I'll seek professional help this weekend perhaps.

Also, unfortunately, I've felt kind of crappy for the past while ... a whole bunch of little things and partly just a little downtrodden from all the little things and doctor's appointments of the past 6 weeks or so ... and feeling SO tired. Mostly while Kevin's been away I've retreated and did a lot of nothing. But I guess that's what my body and mind needed to do. Unfortunately. It isn't much fun, that's for sure. Kevin sure didn't miss anything ... well, except meeting Robert and seeing Josh and Noelene. Today I feel a bit better. Just in time for Kevin to get home tomorrow morning.

And look what Kevin comes home, too! Our first nasty weather of the season. And he's home in time to shovel (yippee). And ... well, of course, it will be wonderful to have him home again and to hear all about his trip! I can't wait! I hope this weather doesn't cause any flight delays.

I finally shut my bedroom window and have been able to stay under the covers most of the night which means I sleep a lot more soundly, too.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's Your Roller Derby Name? Mine's "Tamoxalot".

What a relief to have some quiet time this weekend! On the way home from work on Thursday I stopped for a few groceries and some particular thread because I wanted to make sure I had everything I could possibly need on the weekend so that I would not need to leave the house unless I really wanted to.

I didn't feel so great all week at work even though I slept good most nights and Tuesday night in particular I napped after work and then was only awake for a couple of hours before I went to bed and was down for the count. I felt rested when I woke up but then, mid afternoon, I felt more tired than usual. I could hardly keep my eyes open at work. I hate that feeling. For a long time I felt that way every afternoon at work. It was awful. This was reminiscent of that.

By the time I got home Thursday night, every step I took was painful. The bottoms of my feet hurt more than usual and my joints were rapidly becoming more and more sore. By 7:00, my joints ... fingers, wrists, shoulders, hips, knees, feet ... hurt so badly I was pretty miserable. I had been really looking forward to a get-together with a bunch of friends I used to work with at the "awful law firm". I had REALLY looked forward to seeing that bunch of people but I knew I couldn't go. I was just too miserable and in pain. It was bad enough that I lusting after morphine. I couldn't remember where I put the couple of leftover morphine-type pills that I'm pretty sure I kept on hand ... just in case. But I must have put them somewhere REAL safe, because I couldn't find them. I would have taken them if I could.

Thursday night was the worst my joints have felt since about 2 years ago when I was on Arimidex and I felt 100 years old and crippled. Why now? I do not know. I didn't take my Tamoxifen Thursday night. I just couldn't bring myself to take something that might acerbate the problem. That night I slept pretty good despite my discomfort. I woke up a few times aware of my aching bones but was able to go right back to sleep. And the next morning? Amazing. I slept late and when I got up my bones and joints didn't feel any worse than they do any other usual day. Everything felt what I consider my "new normal". Nothing worse. Amazing! I don't even know how I can go from feeling so much ache and pain one day to very little the next. All I can attribute it to ... and I'm just guessing at the only thing in my life that was different ... is the level of activity the weekend before without enough time to properly recover. I only skipped my Tamoxifen Thursday night and have taken it every night since and my joints still feel "normal for me". So I don't think it was the Tamoxifen ... at least not alone ... making me so miserable on Thursday night. So strange. I wish I understood it all. The main thing is that for the rest of the weekend I've had lots of rest and I feel back to usual self. My "new normal". Thank God! I never thought I'd be grateful for "new normal" but it's so much better than some of the other conditions that I feared would become my "new normal". This one is liveable.

In addition to finishing the quilting on the farm critters baby quilt, I started getting fabric cut for wee Robert's baby quilt! FUN!

Kevin is, by all reports, having a crazy awesome time in Uruguay! They're in pretty remote areas much of the time so I haven't heard much. He did email yesterday ...
" ... just wanted to let you know we are good, just got out of the North last night. It was amazing, very poor, very beautiful, very wonderful hospitable people. Everyone is treating us well. Its like we stepped into a time warp and its about 1955. Have some amazing pics to show you and some amazing fish. Weather is smoking hot, 25 - 30 each day, we are getting tanned."

"we just got back from the cyber cafe (where we emailed you from) and they charged Dwayne and I 20 pesos (which is 1.00)
for the 2 of us for 30 minutes. We only used 15 minutes so they wanted to give us change, or buy us a soda. We declined. It is amazing. Will try to call when we find a phone."
I'm so glad Kevin's having a great time and experiencing an unfamiliar environment and culture. It must be so interesting for him!

Speaking of Kevin (my handy man) being away, I had an especially heart-warming surprise yesterday morning ... late morning. I was sitting at the table eating my cereal ... still in my pj's ... hair looking like a twin peaks version of Krusty the Clown's hair style (tres bizarre - and unsightly) ... when I heard the sound of shoveling. I was only semi-conscious of the sound ... assuming my neighbours were shoveling their walks ... when I see out my kitchen window my brother Jim shoveling MY walk! Jim. Shoveling. My walk. MY walk. I was both astounded and grateful to tears! Thank you, Jim. My arm thanks you, too. That was so thoughtful and kind and so appreciated!

Last night ... Saturday night ... I went to see some Roller Derby with a couple of friends. I've been wanting to go since I first read about it in the paper about three years ago. Timing has been such that I haven't been able to get to it but knowing this was the last weekend to see any until March and since I was feeling better and ready to venture out in public again ... well, off to Roller Derby we went!

It was pretty fun! I had my new camera with me ... the one that's just a newer version of my old camera ... so I took a few photos. Mostly disappointing photos. I find that with this camera if there's any motion at all, I get blur. Our old camera while on automatic settings could handle motion very well. Next time I'll have to experiment with the settings to find one that will accommodate motion. And I'm not just talking about sporting action, I'm talking about trying to capture a photo of someone whose movements are more subtle. I didn't use to get any blur on those at all but with this camera I do. Nonetheless, I hope the following photos give you some sense of what Roller Derby action was like. Very fun! Erin said my Roller Derby name should be "Tamoxalot"! Ha! Laurie's is "Ram Bunctious", and Erin's is ... I can't remember what we settled on. At first it was "Bomb Malicious" but she chose a variation of that for her ultimate Roller Derby name. Maybe it will come to me ...

In this match it's the Saskatoon Killa' Bees against the Redneck Betties from Swift Current. "FN Star" visited with family and friends during half time. "Black Betty" is one of the refs. That's "Jazz Mean" in the bottom photos (after taking some brutal hits) being attended to by paramedics. It's definitely not a sport for the timid! And it's a great time. Check out their website and prepare to attend the next match in March.

We felt a little conspicuous without tats and fish nets! And more mascara.

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