Monday, May 25, 2020

A Memorable Memorial Day 2020

This stand of purple irises has grown in the same spot in my backyard for as long as I can remember. Following the advice in Jim Crockett's book, I try to divide the irises in the fall every seven years. (I try to remember to do this; note: "try" being the operative word. . . ) Back in the day, Jim Crockett was the gardening expert/host of "Victory Garden" a PBS program which began in 1975 and was must see TV. Whenever I have a gardening question, I still go straight to his book first.

Now a bit about Memorial Day. . . 620,000 soldiers gave their lives during the Civil War. The tradition of visiting and leaving flowers and flags on the graves of fallen soldiers began a few years after the war ended. Gradually, folks began visiting and leaving flowers on the graves of their loved ones, soldiers or not. The tradition continues along with patriotic parades and speeches. For many, it marks the unofficial start of summer, and usually on this day, along with parades, there are barbecues and trips to the beach. This year in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic things have changed, but we still remember those we have lost and the brave men and women who have given so much to protect our freedom. I wonder where we, our country, and the world will be next year when
Memorial Day comes around?

Here are a few more one inch wool circles that I have stitched based on Sue Spargo's designs.

Below is a shot of my overall progress. I've stitched thirty-nine circles so far. I rested it on my puzzle board to take this shot. The puzzle's theme is New England and features many of the places I would like to be visiting this summer. Maybe next year . . .

 I worked on two circles during the televised epic golf game for charity yesterday featuring only four players: Tiger Woods and Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson and Tom Brady. Two great golfers and two great quarterbacks ... the event raised 20 million dollars for corvid-19 relief efforts. It was pouring, soaking rain throughout the match.You have to hand it to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady playing golf in front of millions of viewers. One of the announcers at the end of the match wondered how it would be if Woods and Mickelson had to play in a football game. :-)

Well, Miss Emma has waited patiently long enough, so it is time to go stretch our legs. 

Stay safe.  Stay strong. Have hope. We will get through this. Peace out.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Stronger Together

Hello Fellow Quarantinees! How are you all doing??? I've been meaning to post all week, but time has gotten away from me. Gardening and stitching and walks with Emma have been keeping me busy. Yesterday as I drove down Green Street in North Weymouth I spotted this colorful display. Isn't it great!

This morning I was greeted by the first of the season poppies. These old fashion poppies originally came from my aunt's garden many, many years ago. Hopefully, tomorrow's possible showers will not ruin them as the blooms are as delicate as tissue paper.

Speaking of tissue paper, I received an order of large size "bleeding" tissue paper, so I hope to do some more sun printing with it next week. The package that I had used in my first attempt had smaller length pieces, and I wasn't thrilled by the seams it caused.

I have been keeping up with the Sue Spargo "Down-Toned Circle Sampler," and here are a few of my favorites. 

I have not done every one of Sue's suggested circles as a few did not suit my taste. In the end, I will create some of my own designs to fill the other circles. I did stitch one circle that simply says, "Have Hope."

 I'm also working on the Alex Anderson "Sequoia Sampler" quilt. She is giving instructions on Youtube for this project. When she first talked about it, I knew just what I wanted to use. After scouring the internet, I found this Timeless Treasures bundle of lemon themed fat quarters, and yes, you guessed it, I'm going to call my quilt, "When Life Gives You Lemons." It seems perfectly appropriate to mark this time.

A few types of businesses are beginning to open on a limited basis here in Massachusetts. As you can see, it is not a moment too soon for Miss Emma. She has a grooming appointment for June 2. Now, if you think she looks cute but more than a bit shaggy, you ought to see me. Bushy does not begin to describe my new coiffure!!! I am reluctant to go to the hair salon, so I may have to order some industrial strength clips to hold back my curly, wild, incredibly bushy locks. I used to dreams of having long, curly red hair, but common sense and a look in the mirror always motivated me to keep it short and controlled. Now I can see why.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Have hope. We will get through these troubled times.
_________          ___________     ____________       _______________     ________________

Covid -19 Statistics: May 22, 2020

                                  Cases                       Deaths
World                     5,168,665                  335, 941
 United States         1, 509, 349                   95, 495
Massachusetts              90,899                       6,228         

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Sun Printing on Fabric

Hello Fellow Quarantinees! How are you all doing? The last three days in Massachusetts have been absolutely gorgeous . . . so much so that it makes one forget for a brief while the troubled state of our world.

My absolute favorite magazine is Quiilting Arts, and I am not happy that our local PBS station is not showing the latest series. I'm a great one for watching surface design tutorials on Youtube and then buying necessary supplies, but my follow through isn't always so good.  I'm determined to change that and to use some of the items that I have in my studio. (Wait a minute . . . I don't have a studio; yes, but I do have a big cellar with a table and lots of shelving with "art" stuff just waiting to be used. . .  so it's sort of a studio :-)

Anyway, Wednesday evening I watched Sun Prints with Karen Eckmeier of The Quilted Lizard on Youtube.  Her tutorial focused on sun printing fabric using 'bleeding' tissue paper. I had purchased 'bleeding' tissue paper the first time I had watched this video, so bright and early Thursday morning I decided to give it a try. It was great fun!!! (I will not discuss the steps; I recommend that you watch her wonderful tutorial.)

I love this result as the colors remind me of a Southwest sunset.

She does say that the colors will dry lighter, and clearly, I may have diluted my paints a bit too much for this one, but there are still some very usable sections in this piece.

After I tried the 'bleeding' tissue paper, I decided to use up the rest of the paint left in the cups. This mat is something that I picked up at the dollar store. 

 Didn't it turn out pretty!!!

Here's another one. I love the snowflake piece and let me say the purplish/blue background is more vibrant in person. You might be wondering about the bottom two examples. That's what happens when you don't realize that you have mistakenly used two layers of fabric. :-) Oops!

Sun printing fabric was definitely fun, and I will do this again soon. Give it a try. We all need to have some art playtime and Karen Eckmeirer's Youtube tutorial is a great place to start. Be sure also to visit her website, The Quilted Lizard, and her Youtube channel.

Binge Watching . . . Speaking of beautiful days . . .

 I am not a TV binge watcher. Oh, sure, I could probably do the dialogue along with Leroy Jethro Gibbs and the gang on any old NCIS episode. I will admit to passing many a wintery afternoon watching episodes of my favorite show, BUT I have not really been a binge watcher until now.

"It's a beautiful day at
the Red Pony Cafe
and continual soiree."

Yes, thanks to my friend Laurel, I have come under the spell of "Longmire." I love this show on Netflix. How much? I'm in the middle of season three, and Laurel only told me about it a week ago. Last night I watched three episodes!!!  I think that I need to pace myself so it lasts longer as there are only six seasons.

Well, it's time to go out and enjoy more of this beautiful day.

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Have hope. We will get through this.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Well Owl Be . . .

Hello Fellow Quarantinees . . . How are you doing this week? Isn't this little owl cute? It's a design from the Sue Spargo "90 Day Toned-Down Circle Sampler." Believe it or not, I was originally going to skip doing this one as it didn't appeal to me. Crazy! The other evening I thought better of it and spent the night stitching him, and I am glad that I did! I love the drizzle stitches on the top of his head. Come to think of it, my curls are beginning to look a bit like that as well. :-)

Maybe I should break out the hand clippers. I've shown this vintage gem before. Not only can you use it to cut hair, you can "MAKE HAPPY FRIENDS EVERYWHERE." A win, win!!!

Here are four more circles. I changed the design of the one in the top left simplifying the flowers by filling the basket with French knots.

I saw this incredible bookcase image on Ariane Zurcher's blog, Where Life and Art Meet,  this morning.  Click on it to enlarge it and then read the booktitles from left to right. Amazing!!!

Ariane Zurcher also has a Youtube channel, "Ariane Zurcher - On the Other Hand" where she posts videos showing the various stitches that Sue Spargo is using in each circle. The videos are especially aimed at Lefties, but Righties like me also find them incredibly helpful. :-)

One last thing . . . did you see Anderson Cooper of CNN announcing the arrival of his precious baby boy, Wyatt Morgan Cooper? We all need to see moments of pure joy like that during these difficult times. He will be a wonderful dad.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Have hope. We will get through this.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

A Glorius Day in the Neighorhood

Well it turns out that my neighbor Dewey is not the only feline jigsaw puzzle aficionado. Here is my godchild Kristin's cat Franklin. How many piece he actually placed or whether he merely served in a supervisory role is unclear. 

We have turned the page, and it is finally May. Thank goodness! April was the coldest April on record since 2007 with not one day over 62F.  Today, May2, it is already 68F. Yeah!!!  Emma and I were able to take a long walk this morning in the bright, warm, restorative sunshine.  The glorious weather does seem to lift one's spirits.

I have completed a few more circles for the Sue Spargo "90 Day Toned - Down Sampler" wool project. You may find information on her Facebook page and her website. I love how the wings on the butterfly and the bee are dimensional.

Though I continue to make face masks, I have not been able to get my quilting mojo going. Alex Anderson from The Quilt Show is going to do a live streaming quilt along starting Monday, and so I have purchased her pattern, "Sequoia Sampler." (Note: the lessons will be on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and you may also check them out on Youtube at your convenience. You may purchase the PDF or the paper printed version of the pattern HERE. )

Her Friday program dealt with choosing fabric from one's stash for this quilt. I have only one fat quarter packet that I won at a recent  guild meeting, but as I have another quilt in those colors presently in timeout, my quilt will be probably scrappy. {Note to non-quilters: when we get tired of working on a project, we will often bundle it up for another time and say it is in "timeout."}

I wish you peace. Stay safe. Stay strong. Have hope. We will get through these troubled times.

-------------          ----------------             --------------     ----------------     ----------------      ------------------

   It is the end of week six in isolation for those of us in Massachusetts.
   As of May 2, 2020 . . .

                                      Cases                         Deaths 

World                        3.3 million                 241,000
United States            1.1 million                    65,000+
Massachusetts            66,263                           3,846

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Twas a Puzzlement

Yes, twas a puzzlement . . .  how was my neighbor completing the jigsaw puzzles that I was loaning him so quickly??? And then I received photographic evidence that shows he had been getting help!!! Dewey is clearly examining each piece and honing in on just the one needed. . . Not only is Dewey a friendly, pretty cat, he is obviously quite intelligent.

My jigsaw puzzle board is set up on my sunporch, but I have not been doing much. Partly, it is the cool, rainy weather and partly, an inability to concentrate. I have a 500 piece "Marble" puzzle that I was not having much luck with so I quit and boxed it up. Maybe Dewey and my neighbor will be up for the challenge.

Every evening I work on the Sue Spargo's "90 Day Toned Down Circle Sampler." As you will see, I am using my own palette which is not toned down. :-) Look at my gorgeous stash of #8 perle cotton. Who knew that it would come in so handy?

Here's my piece showing some finished circles. By the way, each circle is only one inch, and each day Sue Spargo posts that day's circle. She uses stitches that I have never even heard of and a short video to show how the stitch is done. (Note: Lefties can find videos on how to complete various stitches on Ariane Zurcher's youtube channel, On the Other Hand.

 Here are my completed circles so far. I'm not unlike this little snail when it comes to my stitching. It is only supposed to take about forty--five minutes to an hour to stitch each day's circle, but not in my case. First, I watch Sue's video on Instagram, then review her book, Creative Stitching, and then decide which color circle I will stitch and which colors of thread I will use. This sometimes takes me a couple of hours. . . a true snail's pace. Some circles are easier than others, and I do find that I am getting a bit quicker. Most important of all, I am enjoying the process and am finding it a comfort in these troubled times.


I can not thank Sue Spargo enough for hosting this ninety day gift to stitchers everywhere.

Mask tip: As I write this post, I am watching a live video presentation on asthma and covid-19 hosted by Medic Alert. The presenter, the head of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Dr. Kenneth Mendez,  thoroughly answered a wide range of questions, and offered this tip regarding protective face masks. Shine a flashlight through the mask, if the light shines through strongly, add another layer when masking masks. Batiks, having a tighter weave, work better than regular fabric.

*** If you are making a mask for someone with asthma, the recommendation is to add an extra layer. (Being asthmatic myself, let me tell you that sometimes it is tough enough breathing through the regular masks. Having said that, I will be making a couple of new masks with the extra layers. My doctor suggested washing and drying a white t-shirt and then cutting two layers from that fabric to sandwich inside the cloth masks that I am making.)

I wish you peace. Stay safe. Stay creative. Stay strong. Have hope. We will get through this.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

My Excellent Adventure to the Supermarket

Wait . . . that does not sound as if this will be a very interesting post. Nope, probably not, but I want to continue to record my thoughts and experiences as we all work through the Covid-19 pandemic. Personally, maybe it's the former middle school teacher in me, but I think everyone should be keeping a journal of some kind to record these troubled times. You could write, draw, paint, collage, scrapbook, make mini quilts, etc. It would be an incredible gift for your children and grandchildren, and young people should also be encouraged to keep a record as well as these events will forever change their lives. Besides, the act of creating art or recording your thoughts in a journal can be a very helpful thing for your psyche.

Okay, back to my excellent supermarket adventure. Truly, you will not hurt my feelings in the least if you skip down to today's smile.

I have not been to the supermarket for over five weeks. What have I been doing for food? Well, I really, really stocked up before the shutdown orders came. I have been buying dairy products at Hornstra Farm in Norwell. Besides having the best ice cream on the South Shore, they also have a small store. (The ice cream windows are closed during the quarantine.) I'm going to explain how to shop there for those from this area who might find this info helpful. Go to their website's product page. Make a list of the items that you would like to purchase. When you get to the farm, you may have to wait a while in the driveway. (Tip: go in the afternoon.)When you get up to the store, roll down your passenger window and hand the masked and gloved young lady your list and credit card. She will shortly return with your purchases and put them in your car. (No customers are allowed to go inside the store.) Just for information: besides dairy products, they have eggs, chicken, hamburger, meals, bread, some vegetables, etc. (If you go, pick up some coffee oreo ice cream; trust me . . . you will not regret it.) [Yes, I know their milk trucks still make home deliveries of products including milk in real glass bottles just as in olden days, but there are currently a couple of hundred other names on the list before mine as would be/want to be customers.]

So, up until now, I have not felt the desire or need to go to the supermarket. Actually, I was nervous about going, but today I grabbed my mask and gloves and went to Roche Brothers in Quincy. There was a sign on the door indicating that customers must be wearing masks to enter the store.  At first, things looked normal, but on closer inspection I realized things had changed. The coffee bar was closed, and the long take out food bar was empty as was the deli/fish section. There were red footprints indicating which way to move through the aisles. (This was a concept which did not compute for some customers, but at least they were wearing masks.) At the end of this excellent shopping experience, there were two designated lanes: one for twelve items or fewer and one for regular orders. All of the cashiers were wearing face shields and the baggers wore masks. $210.20 later I was done. ( I really, really stocked up and will not have to visit the supermarket until probably June!!!)

When I returned home, I carried each paper bag straight out to the sunporch. (Plastic bags have recently been banned. and reusable shopping totes are not allowed at this time.) I wiped down everything going into the refrigerator or freezer with a cloxine wipe. The boxed products will sit on my porch for twenty-four hours before I put them away. I'm following the guidelines. Is all this necessary?  Who knows but why take any chances? [Note: Proofreading this I saw that I had "whipped" everything going into the freezer or refrigerator . . . that would have been totally unnecessary :-)  ]

H'mmm . . . I'm going to dig out my cash register receipt to add that to my journal/scrapbook. It may be fun to look back at the prices and to see what I thought was necessary to buy. (Honestly, I did not see those two packages of Oreos make a leap into my shopping cart. ) If we can't have comfort food now, when will it be acceptable???

One last awesome scrapbooking/ journal tip . . .  if you cut  something from the newspaper and spray it with hairspray, the paper will never fade or turn brown. At first, the paper will be wet, but when it dries, it will be preserved forever.  That's your reward for reading my supermarket ramblings

Now to something to put a smile on your face. This was emailed to me, but there was no attribution given.

Your smile for the day . . .
The world as we knew it has been turned upside down. 

2019: Stay away from negative people. 2020: Stay away from positive people. 
Old folks are sneaking out of the house, and their kids are yelling at them to stay indoors! 
You think it’s bad now? In 20 years our country will be run by people homeschooled by day drinkers… 
This virus has done what no woman had been able to do…cancel all sports, shut down all bars, and keep men at home!!! 
Do not call the police on suspicious people in your neighborhood! Those are your neighbors without makeup and hair extensions! 
Since we can’t eat out, now’s the perfect time to eat better, get fit, and stay healthy. We’re quarantined! Who are we trying to impress? We have snacks, we have sweatpants – I say we use them! 
Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands??? 
I never thought the comment “I wouldn’t touch him/her with a 6 foot pole” would become a national policy, but here we are! 
Me: Alexa what’s the weather this weekend? 
Alexa: It doesn’t matter – you’re not going anywhere. 
Can everyone please just follow the government instructions so we can knock out this coronavirus and be done?! I feel like a kindergartner who keeps losing more recess time because one or two kids can’t follow directions.   
I swear my fridge just said “what the hell do you want now?” 
When this is over…what meeting do I attend first…Weight Watchers or AA?

 Quarantine has turned us into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food. We are told “no” if we get too close to strangers. And we get really excited about car rides.  And some more: 
  • First time in history we can save the human race by lying in front of the TV and doing nothing  Let's not screw it up.

  • Reminder: 9:00 pm is the time to remove your day pajamas and put on your night pajamas.

  • My cleaning lady just messaged to say she will be working from home and sent me instructions on what to do.

  • We're about two weeks away from seeing everyone's true hair color.

  • Which is worse: two masked guys trying to rob you, or an unmasked pizza delivery guy?

  • I've almost completed my 90-day trial of 2020.  How do I cancel?

  • Anyone else feel like life is being written by a fourth grader…?  "And there was this virus and everyone was scared.  And then the world ran out of toilet paper. Oh yeah, and then there was—like—no school for a month."

  • If you need 144 rolls of toilet paper for a 14-day quarantine, you probably should have been seeing a doctor long before covid-19.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Some Color and Some Smiles for These Troubled Times

On Saturday we awoke to a few inches of snow. By the afternoon, it had all but disappeared.
Yellow . . .  Here's Emma in her raincoat checking out the daffodils.

 Flashback photo for Emma fans . . . Here's one of my favorite Emma photos taken in 2014.

Purplelicious  . . . An Easter surprise from my godchild and her family. I love the sparkly container.

Red . . . This amaryllis bulb was purchased before Christmas, but though I planted up two others, this one remained in the box. (I still have another one to plant up.)

And now the smiles . . .  

Just think of how much time we have spent making masks when folks have come up with their own  creative alternatives  . . . though I do think the scuba outfit is a tad much.  My favorite . . . the man in the checkout line with the plastic water bottle.  Brilliant! That one cracks me up!!!

Governor Baker is on TV now giving an assessment of how things are going in Massachusetts as we are in the midst of the coronavirus surge. He announced among other things that all schools in the Commonwealth will be closed for the rest of the school year. That is the right decision and will  allow teachers, principals, and administrators time to plan for a hopefully safe opening in September. 

 Please stop here if you wish before I record grim coronavirus statistics.  

As of Sunday . . . 
                                      Cases                                  Deaths

World                          2,501,156                          171, 810
United States                 788, 920                            42, 458
Massachusetts                 39,643                               1,809

Massachusetts is third-highest in the number of cases behind New York and New Jersey. 

Here is one item that struck me. The Boston Sunday Globe published sixteen pages of death notices.

 I wish you peace and comfort. Stay safe. Stay creative. Have hope. We will get through this together.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Oh Deer Me !!! - Sunday Visitors

Have you herd ??? I had planned a different post for this morning, but we had some visitors earlier today in the woods behind my house, and I wanted to share these photos with you.

There is a little bit of green growth which apparently attracted them. They sure attracted Emma's attention when we stepped out our back door, but I was  able to scoot her back inside.

Will all of the brush, it was difficult to get clear shots.

This grouping became so comfortable that they turned around affording me a chance to shoot their lovely tails. 

Where's Waldo? The deer camouflage so well that it sometimes difficult to see them. How many deer do you see in this image? (Answer below) You may and should click on these photos for larger images.

T-shirt straps update: I have found that it is a good idea to pull the t-shirt cord out a bit before sewing it in place on the side seams. It's stretchy, so it is good to sew over the end a number of times to really secure it before turning the mask right side out. Of course, it will get sewn over again, but it doesn't hurt to be over cautious. :-)

The Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, MA, sent out a message with this image. Mom is surrounded by toilet paper,  there is take out, there is hand sanitizer on the keyboard, she is wearing gloves and a mask, and she appears to be checking off the days in quarantine. Well done!!! 

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Be creative. Have hope. We are all in this together.

Answer: Four deer

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Covid 19 - Easter 2020 - T-Shirt Cords for Masks

Hello fellow quarantinees! How was your Easter? Mine started with my parish's Mass being broadcast on Facebook. Later in the morning, my godchild delivered some veggie sides for my Easter dinner along with some old t-shirts. (More about the t-shirts below.) I did not want her to drive here from her home on the other side of Boston, but she came and it was good to see her. It was warm enough to socially distance ourselves in my backyard for a few moments.

At 1:00, I along with millions around the world watched Andrea Bocelli's live streamed "Music for Hope" from the Cathedral in Milan. As of Tuesday morning, this concert had been seen by over 35 million people. In this magnificent, empty edifice with only an organist accompanying him, he began with a breathtaking "Panis Angelicus." At the end of the thirty minute concert, he exited the cathedral and sang "Amazing Grace" on the steps of the duomo. You may watch this concert on Youtube.

In the afternoon, I visited with my old friends, the Crawley Family and their staff at Downton Abbey. Having seen the movie when it first came out, I knew that I would enjoy it again and I did. That was followed by our weekly family Zoom session. It is good to see everyone looking healthy and happy. Say what you will about technology, but where would we be without it during these difficult days???

I began this happy spring welcome wool applique mat in late March before the world began falling apart. I truly enjoyed stitching on it, but it is a bit too happy and cheerful for these times. It may be best to put this adorable spring piece away for next year in hopes that days will be brighter then.

[This was an April welcome mat wool applique kit from Shabby Fabrics. The pattern was from Buttermilk Basin.]

And now to the t-shirts . . .  those of us who have been making face masks have been dealing with a shortage of elastic. A number of online sites suggested making cording out of t-shirt strips. It is magic!!! First, lay an old t-shirt flat on your cutting board. Cut off the bottom hem and discard it, and then begin cutting one inch strips. The strips will, of course, be flat, but then . . . begin pulling on one strip as if it is an exercise band and the magic happens!!! The more you pull, the longer it gets. Amazing!!! Discard the top of the t-shirt where the logo or design is as that section will not work.

Before and after . . .  How cool is this!!!

A couple of things . . . the t-shirts with slightly heavier fabric work best and as you can see in the photo below, I do knot the ends of the cords.

Well, that's all for now. Stay safe and stay strong. We will get through this together.