2021-02-21

Of Cats and Quilts

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I finished this small doll quilt back in 2020 but never shared it.  Since the video for it is now up, I wanted to write a blog post to go with it.  

Photographing anything is more challenging with Mushu around!  He always has to ham it up for the camera!  I think this is my favorite photo of him as it aptly shows his personality!  

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So here's what the quilt looks like.  The blocks are 6" when finished, making the quilt 20-21" square.  Perfect for a doll!  Originally, I had wanted to make a lap quilt with these blocks, but I ran out of the bird fabric that was used as the focal fabric.  And since it was from fabric my mom had, it was long out of date with little chance of finding more.  

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For the back, I had hoped to use the yellow and pink floral fabric and do a self binding with it, but I didn't have enough.  Instead I cut the required binding and used what I had left to add a strip down the center. The green and cream fabric is the same as used on the alternating blocks on the front.  

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Knowing that I wanted this to be a functional quilt suitable for my grandchildren to cuddle with, I opted to use simple seam embroidery with no additional embellishments.  All the blocks use the same basic assortment of stitches, but with a few variations.  

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It's amazing what just a handful of stitches can do!  

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It's always a challenge when stitching on brightly patterned prints to find the right contrast of color to help the stitches stand out.  

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This is the block that I made for the "Basic Crazy Quilt Piecing by Hand" and "Basic Seam Stitching" videos for my YouTube channel.  These continue to be the most popular videos on my channel!  

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I think Chickadees are my favorite birds, so this little one got an extra flourish with the detached chain seam that looks a little like flowers! 

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Mushu hamming it up for the camera.  "You didn't want a photo of that doll!"  

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"Oh, come on, aren't I sweet?  Wouldn't you rather pay attention to me?"  I must admit that though he is incredibly exasperating when he's being bad; he has the best personality and is a lovable kitty!  Thankfully, as he gets older, the mishaps get fewer (though seemingly bigger!) and further apart.  

You can find the YouTube video here:
CQ Doll Quilt

2021-02-18

2021 Update!


Not only am I blogging more regularly, I'm trying to get back to posting more often on my YouTube Channel!  This latest video gives a quick update on what kept me from working on all those 2020 projects.

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Of course there were other things that kept me from stitching as well.  Such as a pandemic.  And the fact that I spent a lot of time oil painting!  


I also spent every Monday from early June to early October in the mountains.  What a blessing it was to have that weekly outing to Rocky Mountain National Park!  It was rejuvenating and it also allowed me to spend some extra time with my daughter and youngest grandson as they went with me every other week!    

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Me in my happy place!  I had hiked from Bear Lake up to Bierstadt Lake and then back down.  3 ½ miles - not a terribly long hike, but with my difficult hip and knee, it was a real accomplishment!  So happy to be spending time in nature and in the mountains, even on a cloudy day!

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Painting in the Kawuneche Valley.  Sadly, the fires in October 2020 burned almost up to where I'm standing.  The view will be very different.  I'm so glad I took the time to stop and paint here and record it for posterity! 

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I painted just north of that area along the Colorado River.  Thankfully, this area did not burn.  

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It was a good year for my painting skills!  I felt like I grew leaps and bounds!  Loved being able to take the time to expand my skills.  In all, I think I did around 20 paintings from March through early autumn.  Then I got side tracked by The Great Photo Project.  

2021-02-12

The Great Photo Project

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Nope.  I haven't done ANY stitching.  Not for a long time.  Nearly all my time and attention have been devoted to The Great Photo Project.  This actually started shortly after my Mom passed away in 2012.  I even blogged about it here: The Great Scanning Project. It picked back up again this past summer when I decided to start organizing a box of unlabeled and undated photos.  

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I did some of this kind of sorting back when I started working on my Dad's memoir.  It's really hard figuring out dates on photos when they are unlabeled.  I at least attempted to sort my Dad's childhood photos into chronologic order.  I covered the dining room table with sheets of paper with the years written on them.  It helped.  I used this same process when trying to figure out the order of more recent photos.  It works fairly well, especially if you can find a dated one here or there. 

I've been working on my Mom and Dad's memoirs for some time.  My Dad's is nearly finished, except for photos. Most of those photos were in albums or on slides in the family archive stored in my temperature controlled storage locker.  I knew it was going to be a huge job.  So in October, my sister came to help for a week.  

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Here is the 10'x10' storage locker before we got started.  It was at least ⅓ - ½ full of photo albums and genealogy research.  All the boxes you see in this photo except the plastic tub are filled with the family archives.  

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I brought home as many of the boxes of photo albums as I could before my sister arrived.  There were 2 very full car loads.  This was all just photo albums.  

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Before my sister came, I sorted and labeled several boxes of loose photos and made a plan. I had also scanned the better part of a box of really old family albums dating to the 1920s-50s.   

Once my sister arrived, we moved into high gear!  Here I am a day or two into the downsizing effort.  As you can see, there are still lots and lots of boxes, plus a few that were out of sight in the living room.  In all, we had 18 moving boxes and large plastic tubs filled with photo albums that covered 120 years.  

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My sister and I!  Wow, this really was a project!  Truly overwhelming at times!  We took photos out of albums.  We labeled photos.  We organized by year.  We threw out photos (lots and lots) of landscapes, scenery, flowers, clouds, people we didn't know. We made envelopes full of photos for family and friends that we did know and eventually, I'll get those sent off.  We discarded 2 ½ large wheelie trash bins with now empty albums and pages, and all those unwanted photos.  I started a family calendar to help us date photos and keep track of events.  We wore out 2 pens and purchased more.  We kept filling up photo boxes and bought more.  

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Whew!  Even the cat was tired!  

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We were a little over halfway through when this photo was taken.  

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In the end, we narrowed all those moving boxes of photo albums down to this.  I continued to find more photos after my sister left, so now there are 20 boxes of photos, 6 boxes of negatives, and two larger boxes of oversized photos.  

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The genealogy archive now fits a little more loosely on the storage locker shelves and there is room in the middle for other things.  There are at least as many boxes of genealogy research as there were photos, plus I have a few more boxes at the house.  Once my parents memoirs are completed, I hope to scan what the immediate family is interested in and make a family history book.  

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After my sister left, I put the negatives in order and started scanning a number of them that had survived my house fire in 1999.  A lot of the photos had not survived, so it was great fun to see some of those photos we hadn't seen in over 20 years again!  

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Of course, there were mishaps along the way - Thanks Mushu Kitty.  Sigh.  

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Once the negatives were scanned, I got to scanning slides.  I had done approximately half of the slides in 2013, but there are still 14 boxes to go.  

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Now, most of the photo archive is neatly organized on this shelving unit in my new study.  The shelves just to the left contain the negatives, more undated/unlabled photos, more slides to be scanned and some scrapbooks.  Always more work! 

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And after taking the month of January off to change rooms around, I'm finally back to scanning slides.  I'm up to 1988.  Only 11 more boxes of slide carousels and 3 enormous notebooks of slides to go.  Then I can start looking at photos and deciding which of those need scanned and then maybe, at long last, I can finish my folks memoirs!  Then I need to tackle the genealogy archive and a family history book.  And once that happens, I might actually have time to stitch once again!  One can hope!  

I'm considering writing another post in the near future on some of the tips and tricks I've figured out when dealing with a large photo archive like this.  Let me know in the comment section below if you would find this helpful and let me know if you have any specific questions!  

2021-02-03

February Journal Set-up

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A new month calls for a new layout in my Journal!  Using the January set-up as my guide made this one easy and quick!  I had more practice watercolors to cut up for the header, so I think I'll continue this theme throughout the year.  This month, the watercolors are in shades of blue and green - one of my favorite color combinations!  Using dot-grid paper, I created a little calendar for the month and listed out the important days.  I choose a new focus verse for the month, one that came up in my devotions during January that spoke to me.  

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Overall, the layout is exactly the same as for January.  I have the intro page with focus tasks listed and a page of items I want to track.  With just these two pages to set up, it was quick!  

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Many of the focus tasks are the same or are extensions from the January tasks.  Debt payments are ongoing as is downsizing.  Work on the magazine, doing blog posts and hopefully getting back to YouTube videos are also ongoing.  From my yearly task list, I added a few things, such as dealing with more of the stuff in the storage locker, and house/yard stuff that needs done.  I can't do much outside at this time of year, but I can get approvals now so that I'm not delayed once the weather improves.  

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The tracker worked really well in January and so I decided to continue with it, unchanged.  There are a few items, such as not snacking on carbs and getting more exercise in that I'd like to improve upon.  I found that tracking how much I was spending on food and other items helped to curb my spending, so I'll continue to track that.  

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So here's a look at how the January pages looked like at the end of the month.  As usual, I've covered or blurred things that I'd rather not be public knowledge.  

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I continued to journal every day for the entire month!  Some entries are fairly short, while others take up a page or two.  I started adding a gratitude or two at the beginning of every entry.  Thinking about what you are grateful for is a lovely way to end each day.  


2021-01-30

February Issue of CQ Magazine!

 The latest issue of Crazy Quilt Magazine is available for sale on MagCloud!  This issue has been a fun one to work on and I am delighted to share the wonderful work presented here!  

Crazy Quilt Magazine February 2021

By Lisa Boni in Crazy Quilt Magazine

40 pages, published 1/30/2021

February 2021 issue of Crazy Quilt Magazine Focus on Silk Ribbon EmbroideryFind out more on MagCloud






2021-01-28

Cat-astrophy

There was a cat-astrophe at our home a couple of days ago.  

To tell this story properly, you must know the back story behind “The Mirror”.  

 

My Mom brought this mirror home in the early 1970s.  She’d found it at a sale of old hotel stuff.  The entire family thought she was a bit nuts at the time.  It didn’t go with anything in the house.  It was huge.  It was heavy.  It was way over the top!  But my mom loved it and so my Dad worked out a system to hang it by adding a wooden cleat to the back that would hang from a matching wooden cleat on the wall.  They hung it in their bedroom above the dresser.  It stayed there until they moved to a new house in 2009.  I wish I had a photo of it in their bedroom as it really was the focal point! And truthfully, it grew on us and we all came to love that mirror! 

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When they moved to new house after nearly 45 years in the same house, the mirror went with them and hung in the dining room. 

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When my parents passed away, there was no question that I was keeping the mirror.  It hung on my dining room wall for several years.

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I really loved how it went with the room. 

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When I moved to my current small home, I hung it in the guest room.  Oddly enough, it fit really well despite the rooms tiny size!  It was a perfect complement to the black and floral trays on the wall and the black and gold floral rug. I loved it!

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As noted in my last post, I have switched rooms around in order to create a storage area in my home.  The mirror no longer worked in my new office space where it had been hanging.  So, I made plans to move it to the end of the hallway, hoping it would bring light and still allow me to enjoy it.  Ironically, this photo, which I took as I was trying to decide if it would look ok there is the best photo I have of the mirror.

 

After a busy day of moving stuff, rearranging, installing shelving and new undershelf lighting, I didn’t have the energy to get the mirror hung that evening.  I marked the wall and had everything ready to go so I could do it first thing in the morning.  The mirror was propped up carefully and seemed quite sturdy and safe.  And since we were preparing for bed and the cat sleeps with me with the door closed, I thought all was well.

Suddenly, MuShu got the zoomies.  He went tearing into my bedroom on the opposite end of the house.  Then he rocketed out.  Towards the other end of the house.  And the hallway, and the mirror!

I could see it all happening and was powerless to change it.  I had no opportunity to stop him, nor could I reach the hallway in time to save the mirror.  

 2021.01.26Mirror-6

He rocketed down the hallway, hit the mirror like a missile hitting a target, bounced off of it even as it began to fall and managed to fly back down the hallway without getting crushed or impaled.  I think the glass actually began to break in that moment he hit the mirror, he hit it with such impact. 

 

The noise was astounding.  The mirror hit the floor with enough force that the heavy carved top broke off the rest of the mirror in two pieces, one of which ended up several feet away.  


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I grabbed the cat, who was as spooked as I’ve ever seen him. (as he should have been!)  Right to the kitty carrier with him and locked him in as soon as I was sure he wasn’t injured.   

 

Then I took stock of the situation.  I put my shoes on as there was glass everywhere.  Crunch, crunch, crunch with every step, I gingerly lifted the frame.  Oh my.  What a pile of heavy broken glass was under the frame.  The glass mirror was ¼” thick and there were huge sharp shards and flakes of glass and glass dust everywhere.  I found glass not only in the hallway, but the office, the sewing room, the bathroom, and the kitchen and living room.  Also pieces of the wood frame.  It simply exploded when it hit the floor.  

 

The floor didn’t fare so well either.  It is peppered with little gouges from the shards of glass and there are several good-sized abrasions/dents from where the frame hit the floor as it fell.  

 

I knew those big shards would make mincemeat of a trash bag, so I found a box I could put them in and started cleaning up.  I swept.  I vacuumed.  I vacuumed again.  I swept again.  At that point, I called it a night.  It was now two hours later and after midnight.

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The gratitude I wrote in my journal that night?  


Neither the mirror, nor I, killed the cat.  

I guess I don’t have to worry about downsizing the mirror at some point. 

 

Mushu was contrite after, and he slept like a baby, cuddling with his mouse.  I on the other hand couldn’t fall asleep for a long time.  


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Next morning, I had to vacuum once again as I could see glass glittering across the floor in the kitchen.  I thought perhaps I could salvage the mirror frame and put new glass in it.  But upon inspection, I realized that it wasn’t possible.  There was little structural integrity in what remained.  It was trash day, so I got the box of shards and the lower frame in the trash and it is now gone.  I did save the upper carved pieces in hopes that perhaps I can reconnect them to use as a piece of decorative /architectural accent.  For now, the pieces are going into the shed to wait for warmer weather to work on them. 

 

So, the tale of my Mom’s mirror comes to an end.  My daughter won’t inherit it as she had hoped to.  We loved it while it was part of our lives, but it is gone now, and I have one less piece of “stuff” to take care of. 

 

I must say though that despite being in the middle of downsizing a lot of stuff, I’d prefer to do it on my own terms rather than have it forced on me involuntarily.  So I am definitely a bit frustrated.  I lost two cats and most of my belongings in a house fire 21 years ago.  It was not fun.  But I also lost my attachment to “things” as a result. While I will miss having the mirror, I recognize that it’s just another piece of stuff.  Neither the cat nor I were injured as we both could have been, and I am grateful for that.  It happened; I can’t change it; life goes on.  My burden of stuff is a little less.  It’s all good. 

 

After thought: If it’s bad luck for 7 years if a person breaks a mirror, what is it for a cat?  I’m certain he lost yet another of his “9 Lives”! 

p.s.  MuShu has his own instagram account where you can follow his antics.  @themushuchronicles

2021-01-24

Making Changes

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The process of getting rid of my storage locker has resulted in some big changes at home.  I needed to find somewhere to store seasonal decor, artwork, suitcases, and the genealogy research of my Mom's until I find a better spot for it.  But with tiny rooms, no garage, and an already packed garden shed, there didn't seem to be many options.  Then my sister made a passing comment about the possibility of turning the guest room into a storage room, that it might be a better use of space, since the guest room only gets used once or twice a year when she visits.  

That comment spurred some thought about possibilities and I spent  time sketching room layouts and trying to figure out how to fit the storage shelves into the guest rooms.  In the course of our discussion, we had noted that the guest room gets the best light in the house.  And so, to make a long story short, I decided to move my office/study into the room with good light, and turn the studio/sewing room into a three function room; sewing, guest, and storage.  

The above sketch is the final plan I came up with.  Note that the study is 10'-4" x 9'-0" at the largest and narrows to 8'-0" at the doorway. The Sewing/Guest/Storage Room is only 11'-0" x 12'-0" and that might be slightly generous.  

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Here is the Studio's office wall as it started off last year.  I loved the lights under the shelves and having the printer on the shelf above.  It did get pretty cluttered as I worked on various projects.  

This is looking the other way, when it was nice and neat and clean.  I obviously wasn't working a project at the time!  

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My son-in-law got me a new monitor to help me when working on the magazine. My small laptop screen was far too small.  While I have an iMac computer with a beautifully large screen, it is old and not up handling the multiple large programs I run simultaneously while working on the magazine.  At the moment, I use it almost exclusively for scanning slides and photos and organizing the family photo/genealogy archives onto external hard drives.  Eventually, my goal is to get down to ONE laptop with a large monitor and a couple of external hard drives and get rid of this mess of multiple computers/laptops/hard-drives and mouses that I currently have.  Regardless, the new monitor helps enormously but required a different desk configuration, so we tried this corner arrangement which has worked very well!  I loved being seated where I could see out the window when I worked.  

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The guest room had beautiful light and though it was small, it was a lovely little room.  

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I did move things around to make more space and my sister loved staying in this room.  The view isn't much though as the window looks out at the side of the shed.  Hopefully, that will change soon and if all goes according to plan and I can afford it, there will be a new garden this spring where the shed currently sits and the shed will move about 10' away.  I'll share more of that when the time comes.  

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And so the move began.  Total chaos.  If you want to see just how much stuff you have, switch rooms or move.  Ugh!  I did get rid of about 1/3rd of my fabric and I have a dozen jars of sorted buttons to get rid of and hopefully more in the way of trims and ribbons and other bits I probably will never use.  

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And so I shifted things into the new study/office space.  Here you can see the "Great Photo Project" taking up the entire tall shelf and the corner shorter shelf.  Someday, I'll finish getting all this scanned and we can get rid of all those boxes of photos and slides and I'll have lots more space!  The other shelf to the left has my watercolor supplies and now some scrapbook supplies in addition.  

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Once we got the desks moved in, it started to feel a bit more like an office space.  I desperately need some wall shelves and better lighting over the desk though.  Right now, I am running back and forth between rooms to access the printer and needed office supplies on the shelves in the other room.  I also need to change the rug.  I love this needlepoint rug, but it's not sturdy enough to handle the office chair running back and forth over it.  And I don't like having the cold wood floor underfoot when I'm working all day at the desk.  

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The new sewing/guest/storage room is making progress as well.  Once I get the office shelves up, I'll put my stitching supplies on these shelves and neaten things up.  It still looks cozy and is functional for sewing.  I'll do another post once I get the storage shelving moved from storage to show you how that works.  I have a canvas or muslin curtain planned to allow the shelves to remain accessible, while still having a nice looking room.  I'm thinking those panels may actually make a nice design wall from time to time, something I've always wanted but never had space for! 

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Mushu likes the new layout and it's now his second favorite place to nap (after my bed).  He also like knocking things off the shelves, which means he doesn't get to nap in here very often!  

So, other than getting the newest issue of the magazine ready for release on January 30th, this is what I've been spending my time doing!  Next update will hopefully show the new shelves in the office and the re-decorated shelves in the sewing/guest room.  Moving the storage shelves will take a bit longer as there are things there I need to get rid of before I can move them into this space.  But oh, how nice it will be to have everything here and not have to drive an hour to get my seasonal decor or a suitcase or a painting for the walls.  And to not have that additional bill each month will be a huge help as well!