Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sasha's having a second surgery

Remember her?
and these posts? 
She's Doing Fine

Well, she blew her other knee and while she hadn't fully torn it before and would limp a little then be fine, she came to the point where she was hobbling on three legs. We weren't going to have surgery done on the second leg, I mean, this is a few thousand bucks and frankly, while I was willing to do it, I steeled myself that she just wouldn't have the life her heart wanted (running free in the woods, hunting) because of it. However, we could not ignore that even as a house dog, her quality of life was now being affected.  She had a hard time with getting around. It would not be fair to address this.

We are putting a basement finish in our new home on hold and using our savings for surgery on her other hind leg.  It's a Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy.

I'd be appreciative if you would say a couple prayers for her today for her surgery to go well and maybe for me,  for me to relax (and you could tell me to switch to decaf tea instead of coffee, too). I seem to be more anxious about this one than the last. Less upset she has to go through it because I know how happy she'll be once she's fully healed but more anxious, for sure beacuse I know better what she has to go through.

Anyway, I'd appreciate any good thoughts. I do love Baby Girl. I've told her, she couldn't have found any other family who would have been suckered in by her love so much as to pay for 2 surgeries such as this. She certainly was a smart girl in sucking up to us.  Actually, now that I think about it, it hasn't been me she's sucked up to over the last couple of months or played up her limpness with, it's been the hubs. She's  acted tough for me and pathetic for him so he'd carry her down the stairs, etc.  She played him just right to get this second surgery... lol. :)

Have a good day... Beck

Friday, November 18, 2011

Favorite Things Friday - Music

I love music, always have. I'm not emotional but good music can get me crying all the time.

I don't appreciate visual arts as much as some (weird that I'm into quilting, isn't it?) but darn if I can't gush over a musician's instrumental tone and genious (voice or actual instrument).

I love singing and pretend I'm Broadway quality by belting it out in the car (without anyone else in it, of course.) I thoroughly enjoy picking out and singing the harmonies instead of the melody, too.

I used to play french horn (mellophone in the marching band), trumpet in the jazz band and occasionally flute.  I enjoyed violin when I first started playing music but moved to brass and never took it up again. My sons play clarinet and viola and I'm thrilled they choose to. 

I won a solo position with the Binghamton Youth Symphony when I was in highschool. 
(Clipping from the Press & Sun Bulletin just to prove I was a big-haired teenage, too!)

I pondered going to performing arts school (but realism ruled & I decided if I wanted to play my horn as an adult, I didn't need school to do it but I did need a job that would feed me.)  I went to the University of Scranton where, it turned out, I had exceptional experiences and contacts with professional musicians (and it wasn't a music school!)

I was able to enjoy being a back up musician to Eric Ruske (french horn) and be able to take a master class with him. Eric was then a part of the Empire Brass Quintet. (He's not listed on the Scranton music website, though, as a past performer, but I promise I did not make it up.) There were other members of the quintet I also played back up to (as part of the symphonic band) but I just want to highlight my top 3 musical experiences overall.

I was also able to play jazz with Wynton Marsalis.  Yes, you read that right... Wynton, people!  All I can say is it's awesome to be near gifted musicians.  It just rubs off on you, you're jazzed (forgive the pun) to play better. Check it out, Wynton is on the left, my ex-husband next to him and then there's me!
(The photo is pulled from the University of Scraton Music website linked above. The direct photo link is here:  http://academic.scranton.edu/department/bandsing/photo.html)

Finally, my most memorable and rewarding musical experience while I was in college was being able to play under my all time favorite composer. I fell in love with his music in 7th grade (even as it was modified for our age group) and in highschool, when we played his pieces as written, I remained in love. In college, Cheryl Boga, the music director, worked with and brought Vaclav Nehlybel in as the composer-in-residence at the University of Scranton.   My loves, this meant I played under my favorite composer!!!!   (I used "my loves". This should express to you how my heart still sings at that experience.) It was such a gift I received, to have been able to play one of his pieces as he heard it in his mind when he composed it, underneath his own direction.  I think I remember this better than the birth of my first child... almost. :-)

So there you have it people, I love music. Singing, playing and listening. Maybe one day I'll play often enough to be able to join a community orchestra but for now, I'll just reminesce.

Check out other Favorite Things by linking over to Quilting in My Pyjamas today.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The weekend's to do list...

Beginning today, since I'm still on vacation from work.

- Put label on QOV quilt
- put borders on top for living room
- make backings for 3 living room throws
- make Christmas placemats for mom (already cut, no piecing, just sew front, batting & back)
- post tutorial for pieced geese/dish drying mat
- write out post re: taking photos for your blog
- quilt 3 living room throws (nothing special, just a large meander)
- cut commissioned quilt blocks (ha, didn't tell you about that one, did I?  I'll post news on that later when it's finished. It's a surprise.)

Ambitious schedule, do you think?  I'm going for it. Without work to tie me down, it's only house chores and 4 days of me, tv, iTunes, fabric, thread and sewing machine.  :)

Weigh In Weds. clarification

Um, if any of you saw the comment by Quilting in My Pyjamas on my last post, you will probbaly understand why I'm posting this additional clarification to that same post.
Shay was commenting (if I know here only partially) about her gluttony as shew as reading my post and it made me realize, I have to explain my intent a little more clearly and maybe some of you might be more inclined to at least consider joining me (or at least not consdider me an epic fail when I tell you of certain splurges later on.)  hehe

That said, I re-joined WW online since I'm on the computer or phone all the time, with the iPhone App, it's easy for me to use it to track my points and weight. It allows me to get credit for my exercize, which I love.

When I started Monday, I found I was super motivated, ate really well and come evening (even after my husband made beef tips and a glass of wine), I had 7 daily points left which I was supposed to eat. I also had my 2 activity points on top of that which I could use if I wished. But I wasn't hungry and it was 7pm and I didn't want to force feed myself just because I had points. I decided a glass of Chocolate Silk would be a good way to get a couple points down but add protein b/c of my exercise. I chose that over the slice of chocolate cake sitting in the refrigerator. 

Now, before you think me all goodie, goodie, I knew I was going out with a friend the following day and I had NO intention of eating well and I didn't. Wait, I started well, a fruit cup and non-fat latte at Panera. Then for lunch, after shopping at Hobby Lobby, I did eat cruddy and it was WELL WORTH IT!! I ate at Firehouse Subs, an 8" beef brisket & cheddar sub w/ barbecue sauce and mayo.  A small bag of sour cream and cheddar ruffles and a large seltzer water flavored with raspberry syrup. (That was my nod to a healthy choice. LOL) This meal alone left me 1 point away from reaching my daily total. Clearly, with breakfast and dinner, I'd be over my points.   

Last stop of Tues., still with my friend, McDonald's.  I had a side salad w/ ranch and 4 piece nugget.  At least I had a hot tea instead of soda, right?  That put me over my points for the day and into the "courtesy extra" points, as I call them. I was not going to stress over it. 

Wednesday, I did fine. Decent breakfast, big salad for lunch with about 1 oz of leftover steak (I'm trying hard to be sure we eat all leftovers these days) and for dinner, a sandwich since I wasn't all that hungry (and hubs didn't want to wait for pot pie). Plus I worked out.

I am not starving from the workouts and I'm not over doing the stress about eating. I'm just trying to re-think about my eating and make sure I'm balancing the choices a little more evenly and regularly. I don't want to give up all my good stuff at once or I'll fail. First step is to better balance and start exercising regularly again. Second step, increase the exercise. Third step, as I'm feeling better and looking better (and i'm anticipating this to be right around spring time... slow and steady is my motto to be sure it's a lifestyle change) I know my body will crave the healthier foods more often, so I will be revamping recipe index and shopping lists further. :)

So, Ms. Pyjamas, no problem with your dinner. I'd ask, what's for lunch tomorrow? -wink-

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weigh-In Wednesday is back. Join me?

I've talked about it.
You've talked about it.

Occasionally we pay attention to it and do something about it like choose a salad over a burger but have we really changed our lifestyle and made it important?

I, for one, have not. I wanted to for a while, I still want to but I let life get in the way. I won't bore you with details but sometimes, it's enough to fight the emotional battles while maintaining an existing lifestyle as opposed to trying to add weightloss and diet change in the mix. (And there was/is nothing to worry about with me. Just life weighing me down.)

Anyway, I have decided it's time to settle back in and start changing the lifestyle. I started on Monday. No Jillian, yet but I will.

No, I am so badly out of shape that I noticed taking a flight of stairs quickly left me slightly winded. I started with 20 min. elliptical on Mon., today, and Fri.  Sat. I will start some sort of strength/stretching and next week hope to be able to do 20 min. elliptical M-F with Strenght/stretching every other day. 

After that, if it goes well, I'll reacquaint myself with Jillian Michaels.  In the meantime, I follow her on Facebook and will find her on Twitter as a constant reminder she's always out there waiting for me. :)

Anyway, I started on Monday at 163.5lbs. and today weighed in at 162 (although I am not taking much stock in the lost because I fluctuate 1-2 lbs on any given day). 

So is anyone with me? Ready to step back into the get healthy lifestyle mentality? I hope you do. It will be nice to share our successes and rough patches.

For tonight's dinner, individual chicken pot pies on this chilly, rainy and gray day.

By the way, take a look at these two videos with Rachael Ray and Jillian. See the one with Rachael exercising first and then Jillian in the kitchen. It was great fun to watch.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Candy Causes Bomb Scare

Remember that post-Sewing Summit mini swap I was in? The one I created the Confused Geese mini quilt for?  Heard from my swap partner and she loves it.  I'm so relieved and proud of myself that I could deliver something so liked.  Makes me feel like I don't always produce crap. :D

Now, however, I have to share that bomb scare thingy that happened in our house today. Daughter comes home and brings in the mail. I ask her if there is anything good in the mail and she replies, "umm, there's a couple advertisements, looks like bills and box thingy." 

Me: "Is it a good box thingy?"
DD: "I don't know, but it's making noise, like rattling." She walks into the room and starts to hand the stack to me.
Me: "What are you doing? I don't want the bills, advertisements or a rattling box? Is it a bomb, because if it's a bomb, then that's the tri-fecta of bad mail and here you are handing it to me."
DD: "Well if it's a bomb you wouldn't want me handling it would you?"
Me: "Of course I would, especially since you were the foolish one who picked it up out of the mailbox in the first place. Besides, now that you've done that and we discussed whether it was a bomb, if I open it and it goes boom, you will be an accessory to murder b/c you gave it to me."
DD: "I don't care, I'm outta here. I'll listen for the boom."

Geez, this is my daughter, where's the love?

So I set about opening the "bomb" (really a USPS Priority mail envelope which is bulging and rattling with each movement.) I have to share my thoughts with you, you will find them amusing.

"What is this? Is it from my swap partner? It's elk fabric... did I order fabric that hasn't come in? I don't remember ordering this." 

As I turn over the plastic bag this was in, I realize it's a bag. A small bag with a drawstring.  "Oh! This is nice, I like this."

I pull the drawstring bag out of the plastic back and look at it, yep, there's something inside!  I open it up and glance in and see a little fabric, graph paper book.  "Cool".  And I notice some chewy candy, "ahh the rattling." 

Then I see a mini-quilt.  In my excitement to open the folded gift, I completely overlook the fabric on the back. Had I noticed it, I might have had a clue as to what the mini looked like before I opened it because I saw a peak of this mini on our Flickr group. As a matter of fact, when the picture was first posted I commented the partner was a "lucky partner!" :)

That said, I unfolded the quilt and might have screamed like a girl...Well, not quite (I don't know if I ever screamed like a girl) but I did holler, "Yey!!" In a loud and high pitched voice.  Then I couldn't stop smiling for about an hour.  Not kidding.  Even now, I am upstairs, it's downstairs and I'm grinning at the thought of it. 

You see, this particular mini just makes me happy. I'm so thrilled to have received it and beyond thrilled I can look at it anytime I want, IN REAL LIFE! :-)  Actually, I was so happy with the mini and the bag and the notebook (and candy and sweet little hand-made card) that I wanted to fly to my partner's home in WY to deliver a hug.

I don't do hugs.

Sharon of A Prairie Sunrise sent me the following in my bomb envelope. All hand made. 

The card was made by her mom (and is quite sweet looking), the little bag is from one hunter's wife to another but I am sure she won't mind if I actually use it for when I go hunting. It will be great for adding a hat, gloves, hand warmers, turkey call.. :)  The notebook (also made by her mom) is made with graph paper and a fabric cover so I can start sketching out quilt ideas. This tickles me. I've heard of folks sketching them out but I've just never really thought I would be one of those people. I don't like drawing but with the arrival of this little notebook, I'm actually looking forward to using it.  Sharon is a wise woman.
And finally, the mini. Isn't this just gorgeous? And happy? And fun?
I love it Sharon. I love that you finished the fun with a rainbow binding and glow in the dark thread for the quilting. I tried to get a photo of the glowing thread but couldn't.  What I can tell you folks, though, is if you are quilting for a kid, get this thread and do a cool quilt design on the quilt.  They will love it. 

Btw, what do you think about the photo I took? I was experimenting based on what I learned about photography at the Sewing Summit.  I took several photos in the hopes I could share with you a little of what I learned.

I hope your day went as well as mine but if not, there's always tomorrow for good things to come your way.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mini Finishes

As part of the Sewing Summit, we were given the opportunity to participate in a blind swap with other participants. As part of the swap, we will create either a mini-quilt or a zippered pouch, whichever we chose. These reflect "hot topic" items at the Summit for participants. 

That said, I was given my partner assignment and I set to task stalking her blog, flickr photo stream, Pinterest likes, etc. to get a feel for what her style was. I think I've got it but since I am only just mailing the package off, I can only show you what I created and the little extras (a wallet pattern w/2 coordinating fabric choices, 200 1/4" paper hexi templates (hey! she likes tiny piecing so I'm sending a challenge lol) and I'll be cutting up 200 fabric squares to go along with those hexi templates) I'm sending along. In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed for me that I don't disappoint. :-)
Using the pre-cuts in our swag bag from the Summit, I put squares together and created half square triangle squares. Then I sewed blue solid to those and created another square comprising of three triangles. 
I pondered making these into geese blocks or into pinwheel blocks and ultimately decided geese was appropriate. 

Last, it was a question of layout. All one direction or in different directions? 

Since the geese were pieced, different directions also seemed to be the better choice. All sewn up and it looked like my geese were confused. 

Now, I would like to pause a moment here and give you a little advice. USE AN IRON, even when working with little pieces.  The temptation, when these pieces are so small, is to use a wood presser, fingers, roller, etc. However, I learned that it can lead to seams not laying flat enough and then you can't get matching lines. 
No match...

Back to our regularly scheduled program, I present to you, measuring in at approximately 14"x11",

"Confused Geese"
Look okay? I used a simple straight line quilted edge and chevron pattern as the quilt motif. Contrasting thread felt right even though I knew it would show errors easily.  Undettered, I quilted away. Poor partner.

Also completed this week is a set of 4 reversible placemats for my sisters.  I saw the M&M fabric and it screamed my sistser's name. Then I showed her the cookie monster fabric and she loved that, too. So, reversible placemats were decided upon. (Although she will have to wait until next year to use the M&M side).
Of course, this led to my sister asking for a year round table cloth and we spent a few minutes one morning picking fabrics out of my stash. It will be interesting completing this b/c one's tastes are bright colors (aqua, pink, purple, orange, etc) the other's tastes are more subdued earth tones (greens, blues, etc.)  We found fabrics that work and I have a diagonal stripe in mind but well, I'm sure you'll read more about this later. :)

How is your crafting going?

Cheers! Beck

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Read up, please. Quilts of Valor

Ladies and Gents,
Quilts of Valor is in need! Alycia has no more and there is a need! 

Do you have a quilt that can be sent (it does not have to be patriotic colors).  Please look at Alycia's post and forward what you can.

I'd like to offer my services, for whatever they are worth, to those of you who have completed tops which fit the requirements but need quilting and binding done.   I have a mid-arm and can do basic continuous-line quilting if you are willing to send the top, batting and backing.  I will then attach a binding (or you can send that, too, if you have it).  Once complete, I will happily forward with my couple of submissions to Alycia (copying you on the communication so you know it arrived and your work went where you meant it to go).

Most of you know, but for those of you new to my blog (life), my husband's last post in the Army before his retirement this year was as CSM of the Warrior Transition Battalion (it's the wounded-warrior battalion) in Ft. Campbell, KY.  This was an extremely rewarding post for him and us as a family. Those soldiers and their families are amazing and I feel strongly that anything I can do to assist their healing should be done.  This is the place I come from when I offer my services above or reach out to you in a call for help on behalf of Alycia.

So, if you are interested, take a look at her post and see if there is a way you can assist please reach out.

Oh, and if you cannot assist on this immediate needs but do want to help down the line, please do not hesitate to look at the Quilt of Valor organization as an alternative. I promise, it's a worthy and very appreciated cause.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and consideration.

Warmest Regards,