Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Holiday Greetings

It’s hard to say when a house starts to really feel like home, but if it’s when one starts having to fix things, then this was the year we settled into the new house.  2019 started off with a roof leak into our dining room, the death of my old washing machine, and a leak under the sink, so we’re very, VERY settled into the new house. And just in case we weren’t, in August we adopted a stray kitten we found (Charlie) who is busily tearing apart anything left standing.  For those counting, Charlie brings the feline population to 4, though some days it feels more like 9 or 10, especially during shedding season..

Andy continues liking his new job, and is enjoying being close to Bogus Basin and ran to work regularly in order to train for the Mesa Falls Marathon in August (in the mountains, so not as hot as that sounds).  For those not familiar, Mesa Falls is in eastern Idaho near Ashton, where the interstate gives up and goes back to being a highway.  We found a very charming hotel from the 1930s with plumbing from the 1940s, and enjoyed exploring the upper and lower falls, part of Yellowstone, and a shortcut that has no business pretending to be a road on any map not made exclusively for hiking or goats. Andy says the scenery along the marathon route was breath-taking, but so is running 26+ miles.

I, on the other hand, have joined a radio station as a marketing consultant.  I now do radio and digital advertising, and haven’t had to deal with city planning/permits or measure anything in the snow or rain for months--which might explain the recruiter’s timing.  I did have to warn them that I have no idea who anyone is in pop culture and proved it by getting lots of “big” names wrong--including our music festival headliner--but it actually hasn’t been a problem since I’m rarely in my clients’ target market.  I can, however, write commercial scripts, so I think it balances out that I called our headliner, Pitbull, by the wrong breed of dog. I had the right species.

After much research, Andy bought a laser-cutter this year, and has already made several new wall decorations for the house.  I believe several friends have scheduled playdates for when the garage is slightly warmer. 

And after delaying as long as possible, I am now going through braces for the SECOND time, and either they hurt ​much ​ more than I remember, or I have grown into a complete wimp. However, I am now a wimp with a large repertoire of blended meals.  11 months to go for Straight Teeth, take two.

Hope this finds you all well and enjoying a healthy and happy holiday season, and wishing you a wonderful 2020.

This year we have learned….
● That it doesn’t matter if the bag did happen to mention which lilies were the tallest if one doesn’t bother to read the label
● Planting 180+ bulbs wasn’t much fun, but watching them come up really was--right until a deer ate them
● One’s inner child may never age, but the toys get a LOT more expensive
● The learning curve with a laser-cutter is finding the exact point between not cutting all the way through and erupting into flames.  This is best done in a well-ventilated garage, possibly when one’s spouse is absent.
● With a crazy enough kitten, “climbing the walls” is not a figure of speech
● Even as exhausting as Charlie’s antics are, it’s impossible to get mad at her.  If I could ever have leapt that far above my own head, my parents would have been fishing me off of every barn we had
● Some of us are clearly incapable of being foster homes for animals
● If done well, even jazz music played on an accordion can be enjoyable
● Never get a touchscreen laptop if one has cats
● A “sewing room” sounds like it should be clean, so I have started referring to mine as a “studio.” It really takes the pressure off.
● There is no such thing as kitten-proof if the kitten in question is Charlie
● It is possible to melt slate with a laser-cutter.  Not advisable, but possible
● The “Charlie compromise” with the Christmas trees is no lights or decorations, removing the top from the 9-foot tree, and moving it into the center of the room so she can’t use it as a pathway to the windows above the door or anything else. 
● If a phone cord isn’t charging, one of the first things to check HERE is whether a kitten has chewed it into multiple pieces. 
● A group of cats is called a “clowder.”  We thought it best to know what we wake up to each morning.
● It is possible to hear yarn.  It doesn’t matter where Charlie is in the house, but if I try to take out my knitting, Charlie is there before the sock even gets out of the bag.
● The gardening book that we REALLY need is the one which states which shrubs can be safely trimmed back and which one it only encourages
● Most people one meets when running are pretty cool, a few are weird.  It’s best to be able to outrun the latter.
● Visiting Yellowstone Park involves more alert driving than I dreamed.  Either one is stalking people in the parking lots to try to get their spots when they leave or one is trying not to run into cars or pedestrians pulled off the sides of the road to get dangerously close to animals that can outrun and kill them.
● A rest stop in southeastern Idaho has one of those explanatory signs about the importance of sagebrush.  How can one not love the optimism that travelers will be THAT curious about the only plant visible for 50 miles in either direction and pretty much all of Nevada? 
● Nothing says “love” like eating soft foods with your wife every time her braces get tightened, just for moral support

Sunday, December 1, 2019

One Month Left

December 1, and yesterday I finished projects 40:
and 42:
and I am taking a vacation day tomorrow.  There's a shirt I finally got cut out in spite of Charlie's help,
and there could be some machine embroidery.....

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving.  We went to the family ranch for what will hopefully be the last Thanksgiving there.  Theoretically, the ranch is finally sold, though it was supposed to close last week and didn't so one never knows.  We only spent one night there, partly because with the television on all the time and my family's tendency to squabble over even little things, it was loud and exhausting, but also because Charlie was spayed last weekend and we were attempting to keep her quiet.

 which is a lot to ask of a kitten who has just discovered that she can climb the 9-foot Christmas tree. 
 You can perhaps guess how far up the smaller tree she gets:
 It seems this tree is the perfect place to chase one's own tail.  And yet she looks so innocent...
Yesterday I started yet another project, but at least this is a very quick pattern,
and will need minimal quilting.  Clothes burn through the fabric stash a lot faster, but quilts are good projects to work on in the evening--or will be as soon as I figure out where to hide the pinned pieces so Charlie can't eat the pins.  We've learned there really isn't such as Charlie-proof, but there are some obvious things we know to avoid.  She's adorable, but she is quite a handful.  After we took the trees apart to stop her from climbing them while she had stitches,
she figured out how to climb onto the window above the doors.  I put the trees back together as at least she can climb DOWN from the trees.  I don't think I own any Christmas decorations that can be considered Charlie-proof...........

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Another Fast Month Goes By....

As you might have guessed from the general lack of activity on this blog, the new job is pretty demanding.  October was our big "sale," so there was tons of pressure to get everything signed leading up to it, but of course now that it's over, the pressure hasn't let up.  Plus they're remodeling the office to an "open office" design--throwing out, of course, the egalitarian origins of no offices for management--and just taking away all personal space from the sales team.  Originally, they were just going to send us home to work during the remodel, but then no one could micromanage, so even though there's no real space,we're expected to show up and work in the office, regardless.  Did I mention that I think we're up to 11 or 12 people leaving just since I started?

I've been knitting a lot to reduce stress, which really isn't helping, though I'm getting a sweater out of it:
 The back and now both fronts are done, and I'm working on the sleeves.  I made so much progress during our trip for Andy's marathon that I've just kept with this sweater, and while finishing 5 before the end of the year might not be possible, finishing this one certainly is.  We also took a crafting weekend last weekend, and I got the top done for what might be one of my favorite color schemes for the Spicy Spiral runner done:
I also attempted my first large rope bowl,
with lopsided results.  We're calling it "artistic."

And, of course,

There have been a lot of kitty cuddles.  I think some of it has to do with how cold it's gotten already, but it's still cute.

Happy November, my friends!

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Goals v. Charlie

It's September, and I'm 14 projects away from my goal of 50, and 5 projects away from my goal of 6 finished quilts, sweaters, or shawls.  And I have a new helper:

Believe it or not, I am making some progress on quilting the dragonfly quilt, partly because Charlie can sleep/play under the table I bought for the new machine,
and I can still actually quilt--unlike her version of helping me cut fabric:
I don't have a picture of her "helping" me knit because I'm diving to save the yarn too quickly.  She can hear me taking knitting out of the bag from across the house, so the only knitting I'm really doing is in my car or outside, which at least is getting easier now that it's no longer 100 degrees, but I'm still not that close to finishing a sweater right now.  

 To preserve my sanity speed things up, rather than using the quarter-inch channels I'm using on the squares, I did half-inch channels for one side of the blocks,
 and am thinking about just doing two lines of stitching on the remaining pink strips going the other direction.  There are 8 rows of blocks, and I've done the itty-bitty lines on two and a half, though it feels like I've been doing them forever.  Still, I'd like to get this thing finished so we can use it, though I might wait until Charlie is a bit less of a terror. 

I'll admit, I need regular breaks from wrestling with that quilt, so I'm cutting out the last of the fat quarter sets I bought for Spicy Spiral runners.  I had actually forgotten I bought this green set,
 though it's someone's new favorite,
 already have one set of strips ready to go, and am slowly getting two more sets ready to go,
and for these two, I'm cutting whatever is left into strips for fabric bowls, so it's taking just a bit longer but I won't have to re-iron later, which is always a bonus.  And if I can get all 3 runners done plus 2 bowls, that would only leave 9 more projects to finish by the end of the year.  It could happen, right......?

Saturday, September 14, 2019


Back in 2007, I started a pair of flannel pajamas for Andy as a Christmas present out of what I thought was a fun coffee print,
only to discover after making the pants, that I was about a yard short for the top.  We searched Joann stores everywhere, friends searched--nothing.  Three years later, I gave up and bought some brown flannel.  Andy actually never wears brown because his mom insisted on dressing him in brown when he was a kid and he's never worn it since, but for the sake of a finished set of pajamas, he agreed to try.  However, when I started cutting, I found I hadn't bought enough of the ugly brown flannel either!  And it was probably around this time when I discovered I didn't know where the pajama-top-in-progress was, so mixing the two fabrics was out. 

When Andy and I were driving back from our trip to Ashton and Yellowstone, we stopped along the way for lunch in a town that just happened to have a Joanns, and by this time I'd acquired ANOTHER piece of flannel that was too short because now the regular Joanns flannel is a new we're-so-cheap-we've-invented-a-new-skinny-width and one must add about a yard and a half of extra material to compensate.........which I didn't know until after I bought it, and clearly after I walked out the door with my insufficient flannel, my local stores gathered up any remaining bolts of that particular print and set fire to them, as no less than 4 stores AND the online ordering no longer had it.  The store we visited DID still have some, and
they had a coffee print that was close enough to work, and the following weekend I immediately made a new pajama top before I could lose the pattern, the fabric, or Andy and just short of twelve years later, Andy has a finished pair of pajamas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just call me Speed...................

Monday, September 2, 2019

What ELSE We've Been Up To

Charlie has been so much of our last month,

 that several weeks just slipped away, but BEFORE Charlie:

*  I MADE A KNIT SHIRT!!!!  I've not really sewn much with knits in spite of the fact that I own a serger, and usually I would have talked myself out of doing this because I might ruin the fabric, but instead...
I made a shirt almost entirely on the serger!  I couldn't figure out how to do the hem on the serger, and it turns out I didn't do a great job on it with my old sewing machine either, but it's done and I'm pleased with my first attempt.  In fact,
while the things I would change were still fresh in my mind, I got two yards of another velour knit to make the same shirt again to make sure I was really learning how to do this--and getting some fun new shirts for fall.  I don't think I had any velour in my wardrobe, so these are fun additions.

*  I also finished another table runner for Christmas:
* We've also been spending a lot of time in the early mornings on the nature trail near our new house,  and this is one of my favorite parts:
some houses are right on the path, and guessing from the number of gates, no trespassing signs, and the obligatory signs admonishing bad dog owners to clean up after their dogs, I'm guessing "the public" make pretty bad neighbors in general, but this house has a row of rose bushes that can't be seen from the house--just from the nature path.  I think it's so lovely that someone would have a garden spot just to give a little beauty to strangers walking by that it gives me a lift every time I see it.

Luckily, this
was in a different direction.  As much as I loathe wasps, the nests are always amazing--especially on those rare occasions when I find one without getting stung by the wretched little monsters.

* I am loving the new sewing machine, and lashed out last month during a big foot sale to buy 3 new feet (buy 2, get 1 free), and yesterday I got to play with the first one:
 which is a button foot.  I've always sewn buttons on by hand, and sometimes have done such a lousy job that they came off within short order, and I always struggle with leaving enough slack for them to lay properly, so after all the button-down shirts, lately, I decided it was worth a try, and
 tried it out yesterday on the latest shirt.  It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but it really is an improvement and will be MUCH faster.

* Last weekend Andy ran a marathon and we visited Yellowstone Park.  We made it a 5-day weekend, and I'm glad we did as it was enough of a drive to be a bit hard on my hip.  We stopped for scenic attractions, and let me just say that when the scenic attraction is sage brush,
you're in one of the less-lovely parts of our state.

The marathon takes place in a tiny town called Ashton and is one of the most beautiful marathons you'll probably find around here--if you can check out scenery while running 26.2 miles.

We stayed at this adorable motel built in the 1930s,
and while our shower head with its NINE working holes was probably installed shortly thereafter, the rest of it was quite charming.   The runners boarded the bus to take them to the top of Mesa Falls at a spot quite close to our hotel, so early in the morning Andy walked over and I spent my morning knitting
and exploring the town. 
I was at the finish line in plenty of time to cheer on lots of the runners, including Andy, who finished third in his age group and was pleased just to have done it at all.  There was more knitting while Andy napped, rested, recovered, and then the next day we visited lower and upper Mesa Falls, went for a quick hike, then decided to drive into Yellowstone which was only an hour away, and we made MY day by stopping for lunch in West Yellowstone, Montana, right across from a quilt and yarn shop.   I didn't buy any yarn, but we did purchase some fabric for a souvenir shirt for Andy, a pair of souvenir earrings for me, and some dragonfly prints which are in the dryer right now.  :)

Here's a little tip if you're going to Yellowstone:  It's REALLY crowded and there's a lot of walking, so starting your day with a hike that was a bit hard on your bad hip anyway isn't probably your most brilliant idea.   By the time we hiked up to see this,
I was about done.  Rather than turning around, there was a dirt road just outside of the southern border of the park on the map that would take us back to Ashton, and we thought that would be faster AND give us a view of the Tetons.  There are a LOT of gravel roads in Idaho that really aren't too bad if you're used to them and the note saying the road was closed in winter isn't unusual at all for roads in the mountains, so I really wasn't at all worried--it was only 47 miles...........


And while we are now intimately familiar with the foothills NEAR the Tetons, as the old saying almost goes, we couldn't see the mountains for the trees.  Luckily, we had a full tank of gas, fun audio books, enough humor to make it an adventure/bonding experience/bad road trip story, and managed to NOT leave any of my car's undercarriage in the many craters and ruts on the "road." 

The next day we drove home using ONLY major roads, to find some kitties very happy to see us:

and Venus would like to go with us on the next adventure:
 *  We got back to work in time for my work's last big event of the year--the balloon classic.  In general, I don't really like crowds so I don't go to things with too many people, but as long as one has to go, the balloons are really fun.  I went to the first day kick-off morning, then took Andy with me on Friday morning.

It really was fun, and on Friday the winds were such that most of the balloons were able to return to the park.  I think it's called Box Winds, but don't quote me.  We're surrounded on 3 sides by mountains, so sometimes that creates the right conditions for that to happen.  So we got to see balloons launch and land, and it was just a great end to the week altogether.

And THAT, my friends, is what I did with August.......... :)