Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Day My Life Changed


Adopting a cat is not generally considered to be a life-altering event. Fifteen years ago today I drove down to Springfield MA to pick up a feral rescue kitten and bring her to live with me.

Millie had been living in New Haven CT as a feral kitty when she was hit by a car and left for dead in the middle of a busy street. One of her back legs had been broken in two places and dislocated at the hip. A passerby rescued her and brought her to a nearby animal hospital. Then he wrote about her on his blog, because she needed expensive surgery ($3,000 at the time) to put a pin in her leg. The Animal Hospital would help because he was a good samaritan, and the surgeon would donate his fees, but there were some costs that they couldn't make go away. The final cost would be about $1,000. He asked cat lovers if they could help foot the bill. He put pictures of the X-rays and the invoice on his blog to show this was all real. 

Cat lovers around the world did not let him down. Within three days, he had collected enough money to pay the big bill. He had a contest to find a name for the little kit. MILLIE, from "mil" the Spanish word for thousand, won by a landslide. Millie was an internet sensation for the next seven weeks as the word of Millie's story spread all over the world. Finally, she needed a home.

I had heard about the story on the second day, read everything I could find, and then donated twenty bucks to the guy who was doing a good thing. I had voted for the name MILLIE. But I had two cats of my own. I hoped she'd find a good home.

My mother often says that "Timing is everything in life." So it was, that a week before Millie found her forever home I brought my two (elderly) cats to the vet for their annual checkups. Gizzy was fine, but Jasmine had a tumor in her eye. As she had already had a cancerous tumor removed a few years prior, this was the end of the road for her. My sister told my not to wait until the end. "Adopt another cat!" was her advice. "Well, that cat in Connecticut is available..."

A few days later I had made arrangement with the owner to pick up Millie and bring her home. I also agreed to do the unthinkable - start a cat blog for Millie so her vast network of followers could see how she was doing. I figured I'd do it for a couple of weeks, just about as long as it would take for the novelty to wear off and everyone to lose interest, and then I could go back to my normal life.

Famous. Last. Words. 

"Millie" posted on her blog regularly for twelve years, then she semi-retired. I started this blog in 2008 and have been going ever since.

Because of Millie I met Tracey and Monty Q, and later, Violette.

Because of Millie I got back into making quilts. I started making free pieced letters, and I started this blog.

I met Julie and Chris, online AND in Real Life!

Because of Millie I met Megan, from Sydney Australia!

Because of Millie I spoke to a group of quilters at Quintessential Quilts 2013 in St Louis, MO, and got to see something I had always wanted to see - The Gateway Arch!

Because of Millie I have had quilts exhibited in many AQS shows all over the US. I've met hundreds of quilters, taught dozens of students, and met so many readers through this blog.

 Darling Millie, whose life really started the day she almost died, changed mine forever.

If it wasn't for Millie, NONE of this would have happened. She's now fifteen, and while she still doesn't come when I call her, she won't sleep next to me at night, she still won't let me pick her up, she does nap beside me when I sit on the couch and write my blogs (or tutorials, or whatever). She lets me know when it's time for treats, and when I need to sit down and chill. SOMETIMES, she even sits on my lap.

If you've seen my quilts on exhibit, if you were a student in my classes, if you have bought one of my tutorials, if you have read this blog once or every single time, you can thank Millie. I know I do, every day.

At fifteen, I know she is aging, and I won't have her forever. Every day with her is a gift, but what she has brought to me, what she has helped me to do, is the real gift.

If you had told me fifteen years ago that adopting a feral cat would change the trajectory of my life I would have laughed in your face.

Yeah, you couldn't make this up!!!


Monday, August 2, 2021

Fifty-Eight Carats


The Fifty-Eight Carats quilt is finished. It is named because there are 58 unique prints in the quilt. Each is used only once. It is not meant to be a colorwash quilt. I do not want the colors to blend into one another. I want you to see the edges of the diamonds that appear and disappear. One of the fabrics is from 1984. Most are from 2007-2019. I took me about ten days to design. It wasn't easy. There was a lot of grumbling. There are 58 fabrics in this, but I'm pretty sure I went through at least 100 to find the ones that worked.

Thought you'd enjoy seeing the quilt in real space, so you can get a good idea of how big it really is.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Quiet Room

 It's my birth month, and that means I have to register my car and get it inspected. So on Saturday I brought my car to the dealership. I prefer to wait in their "Quiet Room."

I brought the Fifty-Eight Carats quilt so I could finish sewing the hanging sleeve.

I brought my little mending kit with me. It has everything I need.

It's a chocolate tin. Pretty sure I bought it because I thought the tin was cool, not just for the chocolates inside.

Setting the quilt on the dark gray carpet really shows off the multicolor binding.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Updates on the Recap


The new cube is about a foot taller than the old one.

This is the old cube.

The new cube feels a bit tighter, and that's partly because the wall on the right extends farther out.

Here's the business end of my cube. A bit more space for pictures. My son, my granddaughter, my cat, my quilt calendar and one of my favorite birthday cards ever.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I don't know if the range has induction burners, but it has a convection oven. MAN, does it heat up fast! So nice! Also ladies, I have been gradually replacing my old pots and pans. As I get older I have difficulty lifting my cast iron skillets, so those will have to be re-homed. I recently bought a pair of really nice saucepans. My old ones were warped and I needed another really small one to cook my steel-cut oats each day. (I HATE the wallpaper paste consistency of overnight oats, so I toss 1/4" of steel-cut oats into 1 cup of boiling water in a small (1 quart) saucepan before I go to bed. I cover the pan, take it off the heat and let it sit overnight. In the morning I'll add a pinch of salt, move the cover over slightly and cook it about 15-20 minutes. Anyway, I needed a second pot in case I didn't get around to washing the first one.) After the new range was delivered yesterday I tested each pot and pan for flatness and then made some hard decisions about what to keep.

One of the really nice features of the dishwasher is this third rack for tools.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

OK ladies, as long as we are on the subject of kitchen appliances, pots and pans and cooking... I have now lost over 30 pounds on Noom. I love it. Being on Noom has taught me how I look at food and helped me navigate the many issues that surround eating that really haven't got anything to do with food. It has been a real eye-opener. If you want information, you'll have to look it up. A weight loss journey is personal, and I won't be answering questions about it. I don't know how you can be successful about weight loss if you don't cook for yourself. I have a few cookbooks for one that have helped me out. I love this one from the folks at America's Test Kitchen Cooking for One, and this one Healthy Cooking for One, and this one, Healthy Meals for One or Two. And basically any cookbook from Cooking Light.

OK! That's IT! I'm done with the kitchen and food and the office. I have prepared the backing for the quilt for my dad's friend the lady priest and next I will be working on the Zig-Zag flimsy that Julie gave me. After that, I have absolutely no freaking idea.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Recap


It wasn't even 8:30 in the morning yesterday when Steve texted me "Did you lock the file cabinet in that other cube?" My new cube was finished and he wanted to set up the other one. Because I had locked some personal items in the file cabinet, he couldn't move it. In the end he set it aside and unpacked a new one, so it was all good, but holy crap! I didn't have any idea that would be so quick! I can't wait to move back in.

On the home front, I cleared all the furniture and cleared out the space under the kitchen sink so the dishwasher installer would have room to work. 

The appliances arrived just after 11:00 AM. The range is gorgeous. So bright!

They brought the dishwasher in and set it to one side. The installer would remove the old one when the new one was installed "later." So I read both manuals while I watched the Olympics on TV. The installer for the dishwasher didn't show up until just about 5:00 PM. 

While I waited I shopped for and ordered pink fabric for the backing of the Pink Panther quilt. I bought several things I will piece together, so that will be fun.

The dishwasher installers were very sweet. When they saw the clean area under the sink one of them looked at me "We love you! NOBODY does that for us. Thank you!"

I can't believe how quiet the dishwasher is. And the range totally rocks. I actually went through all my pots and pans to discard all the not-really flat bottomed ones.

Ok, it's been a long day, but it was a good one, and there were no surprises!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Mooooooo------- ve!


That's my cubicle up there, with the green panels surrounding it. I'm away from everybody else in the office, which works for me. The problem is the cubicle is about four and a half feet tall, which means everybody can look down into it from any spot. I've had people walk by and rap the top edge from one end to the other. We had an audit last week and one of the auditors took a "private" telephone conversation away from the small conference area (just visible to the left) and leaned up against my wall, leaned OVER it, actually, gesturing, talking. I stood up, walked in front of him and coughed loudly. He turned away, but didn't move away. I do AP/AR, it's kind of sensitive. This cubicle had no privacy whatsoever.

Friday morning the VP came over (leaning over the wall, of course) and said the company had purchased taller cubicles for me and my eventual accounting partner just behind me. Our maintenance guy needed to know when he could set it up. Translation: When could I move all my stuff OUT of my cubicle so he could dismantle it and build the new one. "Well I am off on Tuesday because I'm getting a new stove delivered...." OK, so it will be Tuesday. That means on Monday, before I leave, I had to move everything out.

My now empty cube.

 Well, I ALSO got a new printer on Friday, but the resident Geek wasn't there to install it, so he did that on Monday. Which disrupted my day more than once because there were little technical things I really needed (like being able to scan files to the network server). So my day got disrupted. But by the time I left I had moved my stuff to the other cube. (Which will be dismantled and rebuilt on Wednesday. Can you say Disruption?)

Here's most of my stuff in the extra cube.

OH! Remember I said I got a new printer? Guess where the old one ended up? Yeah, that's my desk at home. Looks kinda familiar, doesn't it. That's the company's laptop (closed) over there on the left. Which means I can work from home when needed.

This is handy, because...

Tuesday is the day the new stove arrives. So I've cleaned it out, and moved a lot of stuff on the counters so the install guys won't bump into anything.

I've also cleared out the stuff that usually lives under the sink because the dishwasher is getting replaced too. I expect plumbing will be done, so I am ready for that as well. (In theory...)

I will also move things out of the way on the path from the front door to the kitchen so the guys will have a clear path through the house.

It's gonna be a day.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Size Matters

From the very beginning of the pink quilt, I knew I wanted to use the Perfect Rectangle ruler.

I cut some of the triangles the full ruler size and set them up on my design wall. The big diamonds were so big, I'd only have had four rows of them. I decided to make them smaller by about a third. You can see the new size at the upper right.

I put a piece of blue painter's tape near the 8" line of the ruler. This was where I decided to cut the fabric.

This made the finished rectangle 3-3/4" x 7-1/2". 

And I'll say it again. This was not a scrap quilt.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

The Pink Panther is Sewn Up


It's a flimsy! It is 62" x 76".

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Sewing Rows


I've started sewing the rows of the Pink Panther quilt together.

Here are all the rows on the design wall. These aren't sewn together, but I wanted you to see it all.

I'll be watching the Olympics (like everybody else) while I sew.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Ten Rows Sewn


I have ten rows of blocks sewn together, but I haven't sewn the rows to each other yet. Soon.

Oh, and this is not a scrap quilt. I bought sixteen fabrics used in the quilt. The other twelve came from my stash.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Pink Panther Grows

 No, Judy I will not think of Peter Sellars. I will think of the cartoon pink panther grinning slyly when I think of my Pink Panther quilt.

I finished designing the extra columns on the left side of the quilt. It's important to note that until the pieces are sewn together, things are apt to change.

It won't be long now before this is a flimsy. (And the eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the changes I made in the left side of the bottom photo.)

Monday, July 19, 2021

Stitched Up, Out of my Mind


Last week, when I was wrestling with the sewing machine dilemma, I knew the pink quilt, as I had designed it, would be too narrow. It would only be about 52" wide, and if you've ever tried wrapping yourself up in something that isn't big enough to cover you when you're cold, then you get it. Back then I figured the solution was simple - just add another vertical row of blocks to one side of the quilt. 

So Saturday evening, I did just that. I worked it all out, cut the blocks as I needed them, paired them up and pinned them into place. On Sunday I would start sewing the blocks together into horizontal rows and I'd be good to go.


Take a look at the photo at the top of this post.

On the left side, there is now half a diamond, or a pinwheel. Looks dumb. I can't add only one vertical row of blocks. I have to add TWO.

Like this, above. Now I have eight full diamonds running across the top.

This damned quilt is laughing at me, like Loki or Kokopelli, the trickster gods of mythology. I thought I might name the quilt Kokopelli, but I decided to look up trickster gods, and then I discovered a list of trickster characters in the arts that included something very famous and very pink. A trickster if ever there was one.

The Pink Panther.

And so this quilt has been named.

Sunday, July 18, 2021


 Early Saturday morning I got a notice that my pink pillows from Spoonflower would be delivered. They are everything I wanted them to be! 

It was supposed to rain on Sunday, so I decided to drive to Peterborough NH on Saturday. I specifically wanted to visit the Monadnock Oil & Vinegar Company. I wanted more of their Lemon Infused Olive Oil. I also wanted more of their Cara Cara Orange & Vanilla Balsamic Vinegar. Of course I didn't stop there. 

I saw this recipe card and decided I had to try it. I already have the Coconut White Balsamic Vinegar, so I brought home a bottle of Blood Orange Olive Oil too.

Just down the hall from MOV is Ana Marie Chocolates, and I love their milk chocolate covered Oreo cookies. It's the only way I will eat Oreo cookies. Since I have lost 30 + pounds, I need to be careful with sweets, so I only brought home four of these beauties. I shall savor them.

When I got home, it was sunny, so I decided to take beauty shots of the Yellow Ribbons quilt. Here it is on an old stone wall.

I also like this picture of the quilt tossed over a rail fence with the field in the background.

You know I keep telling you to listen to your instincts? Here the quilt is draped over a gate to the neighborhood community garden. The gate is made or rough wood and chicken wire. Something about it called to me, and I tossed the quilt over the top and got this picture. I think these three are the best.

The Yellow Ribbons Quilt is a Zebra Quilt. It's easier to make than you think, and goes together pretty quick. You can get my tutorial here, if you'd like to make one yourself.

Saturday, July 17, 2021


 I am pretty sure we have all had a day that goes sideways, despite our best laid plans. My Friday was like that. My boss had encouraged me to start taking some of my vacation time, so we decided I would take Friday off.

I had it all planned out. I would get up, shower, strip the bed and change the sheets, go to the town hall to register my car, pick up a few things at the grocery store, then head to Bittersweet Fabrics to bring my Elna sewing machine for servicing. Then I would drive to Peterborough NH, where I would get some fresh herbs and flavored olive oils, have a good lunch, and then drive home. I even had a restaurant picked out.

The first distraction was when I decided I should make myself a cake. After all, I have a birthday coming up. I decided I would make Dorrie Greenspan's Celebration cake, and I would use lemon curd as a filling. That meant I needed to go to Angela's because I think Stonewall Kitchen makes the best lemon curd anywhere. I don't keep the stuff in the house because lemon is my favorite flavor, and I have absolutely no problem eating the stuff out of the jar every time I open the fridge.

This is the Cocoa Yogurt Cake with Coffee Glaze and Toasted Almonds from Yossy Arefi's book, "Snacking Cakes"
But that was a pretty fancy cake. I could make that for my birthday and bring it to work to share. I checked out the ingredients and added them to my grocery list. I could make a "snacking cake" to enjoy right away. I had all the ingredients, and I didn't even need to get my stand mixer out. So I make that and put it in the oven, then took a shower. When I got out of the shower I stripped the bed and put the sheets in the washing machine, like I do every Friday morning. About that time I got a text from the pharmacy saying one of my prescriptions had been automagically refilled and I could pick it up. I made a note to swing by the pharmacy on the way home from the grocery store.

So I got on the road about an hour later than planned. I drove to the town hall and registered the car. On the way to the grocery store I stopped at the local farm stand to buy some fresh corn on the cob. Then I hit the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I drove home, put the stuff way, and was about a quarter mile down the road when I realize I had forgotten the list of stuff I wanted to get in Peterborough.

I drove back to get it, then I was on the road to Bittersweet Fabrics in Boscawen NH, home of Dave, the Janome and Elna dealer. I've written about the shop before. You can read that here. I brought my machine in. Dave was right there, "Did you call and make an appointment?" he asked. I had not. I explained the problem, "It needs regular maintenance, and there's some thread stuck in it. Do you want me to show you where?" "No, I'll find it," Dave responded cheerfully. Dave is the very definition of cheerfulness. "It'll be next up on my bench," he said, "you can pick it up tomorrow, but we close at 1 PM, so make sure to get here before then."

Needless to say I was dumfounded. "OK," was all I could manage. Looking around, I saw one of my former students and beta testers, Marie. We chatted for a while, and she introduced me to Dave's wife, (whose name I have forgotten) Mrs Dave and I chatted about what kinds of quilts I made, and what kinds of classes I taught, and what kinds of tutorials I wrote.

Dave came up to me, "Are you going to be in the area for the next hour and a half," he asked? "I'm going to be working on your machine next, and you can come back and get it then." 

Again, I was dumbfounded. "Yes, I was heading out to Peterborough. I can swing by on my way back." I left the shop and programmed the address of the shop in Peterborough. It was almost 90 minutes away. It was almost lunchtime. 90 minutes there and 90 minutes back was three hours. That and having lunch would make it a tight squeeze, given the late Friday afternoon traffic I'd be facing on the way back. And the leisurely day I had planned in Peterborough would be reduced to a mad dash. Not my idea for the day. So I found a restaurant in Concord, and drove there to have lunch. 

After I ordered my lunch, I thought about getting my Elna machine back right away, and the three rows of blocks I had been tinkering with all week. WELL HELL! I had already started sewing them together with the Bernina. Now I was going to have to... what? Take THOSE apart too?

Home again.

After lunch, I drove back to Bittersweet and picked up my machine. Apparently a spring had become loose and fallen off. The machine was skipping stitches. Dave got it humming like new.

You're all probably wondering why, with a Bernina, do I use my Elna as my #1 machine? Truthfully, it's the bright light. I can see so much better on it than the Bernina. I actually have one of those little clip on lights, but it isn't as bright as I'd like it to be.

 Back in the car, I decided the trip to Peterborough was not going to happen, so instead I drove home and cut out new blocks for all the rows I had previously sewn together. Yes, it was probably silly, but I figured it would be a lot less stressful than ripping and tinkering.

The afternoon's work complete.

Then I cleaned up.

OH! Do you know the absolute BEST PART of the day (NOT!) ?

When I got home and unpacked the car I realized I had left my jacket at the restaurant in Concord (a 25 minute drive away.) I drove back to get it after supper.

So when will I go to Peterborough and have a nice relaxing day visiting the artsy shops? Damned if I know.