Saturday, July 30, 2016

And the Heat Goes On and On and On....

Am I the only one who cannot wait for fall? Between the election coverage as well as the advertisements, not to mention the relentless heat we've been having, November cannot come soon enough!

I've been in the pool most days which is actually unusual in July, mostly because we are always soaked, however, this summer the rain is eluding us, allowing the temperature to soar. One of the days I saw this amazing sight in between two of the palm trees.
I've seen these tiny Spiny Orbweavers before, but never with a trapped bee! According to the link I've posted, those little globs are to help birds not fly into the webs. Nature is so darn amazing, isn't it?

Things are pretty quiet in the blooming flowers department around here, but heat notwithstanding, Pam has a few beauties in her yard. I adore the colors of this plant!
Aren't they just lovely? Speaking of color, while writing about the new paint color in the guest room, I neglected to assure you that the coral passed the "paint name test" with flying colors! Jovial!! How about that for a guest room?

Still in Pam's garden, a big fat bumblebee! Or so I think that is what the name is.
Another little fun fact I neglected to mention is the last name our new neighbors next door.

Are you ready for this? QUILTY! How crazy is that?

I have been doing some sewing this week because, frankly it is just too hot to do anything else. Plus, I like it! Every now and again I've ventured out, but who could blame me for staying in when it is this hot?
Actually, it has never been this hot; I really have no idea how the car thermometer works, but it has been mostly unbearable which is why I mow the lawn at 7AM! I read in the newspaper that our average rainfall for July is nearly seven inches with this month's reported amount hovering around 2.5 inches. I don't remember even that much rain, which leads me to believe that what the official record is, and what our own experience tells us, is oftentimes not one and the same. We did get the tiniest teaser last evening.
Later, the sunset does not give me the slightest hope for rain today.
Poor little Baxie has a soft tissue mass in his right groin. Before you get too upset by my description, it does not hurt him, nor does it appear to be anything terrible. Last week I took him to the vet for both his shots, and an examination of said mass. Following an x-ray and two veterinarians checking it out, she prescribed an anti-inflammatory treatment for a week. In the meantime, the groomer came and he looks much spiffier even with his strange little mass. This week I took him back for the shots they did not do during our previous visit; moments before the vet came into the room I took this photograph.
While putting my camera back in my purse, the door opened, and Baxter jumped right into my lap! He knew what was going to happen next was nothing he wanted any part in!

That same day, 10 days after I brought it home, I finally decided to donate the desk that was a part of the dresser set up. Carrying it around in the back of the Pilot because there was no room for it in the inn, it pained me to do so but I had to let it go.
The Goodwill girl, whom I am getting to know because I am there most every week, upon seeing the desk, said "someone is going to snatch it up quick". I bet they are. :(

One of the most important skills to have when making quilts is to have good color sense. Even if a quilt is technically perfect, without a good color scheme, it doesn't work. Because there are endless combinations,working out what looks good together is of the upmost importance. Isn't it really interesting how the same block can look entirely different? I made first one block, actually trying to see if I liked the size, then decided to work it up three different ways.
You may not like the colors themselves, but isn't it interesting how the different placements of light and dark fabric draw your eye in?

As you already know we've gotten into the Jeopardy routine. Yup, once you actually start watching it, you get hooked which explains why it has been on television so darn long! Anyway, one evening I thought we might shake things up a bit and eat outdoors, followed by some night swimming. I, of course, spent more time in the pool than Mr. Peck did, but he did admit it was so refreshing after a hard day at work.
You should have seen my hair the next morning after sleeping on it soaking wet. And that, my friends, is what a pony tail elastic is for!!

One advantage to this dry weather seems to be the lack of Cuban Tree Frogs, so there's that silver lining. Then too, with all of the weird winter rain we had, officially, we are still above our normal rainfall for the year. There's a contradiction here isn't there? We both like ,and dislike, predictability: finding comfort in the same, while at the same time complaining of boredom. Interesting, right?

May your weekend be cooler than mine,

Gail

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Days to Remember

If only I could! Thus, a blog that should I wonder about something in my past, I can look it up!!

Speaking of memory, before I forget, I wanted to discuss what's happening in the neighborhood. On our street, the only remaining original resident has now gone into a home. Well, they call it a Memory Care Center, but it is still a home for the aged. Miriam had round-the-clock caregivers for the last five years, however, she now needs even more looking after, which I suppose most of us will at some point in our lives.

So, while her house now sits empty, the rest of our immediate neighbors are now 30 somethings, several with children as young as one. For instance, Elie and Maria, next door on the Appleton side of our yard, decided they were ready to move up in the world, selling their home to a young couple with a one year old son, and moving to Southern Oaks. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to hear that little one with his family in their swimming pool while I am in mine. Indeed they will look back on this time as days to remember.

Across the driveway, Herb and Corrine have been replaced by his grandson, and the three children. Down at the end of our cul de sac is another little one, a girl of two. George and Lucia are now living in Angela's old house, a really sweet, and industrious couple. I shake my head every time I see them mowing and trimming in the worst heat of the day! They too are in their 30's. Although I knew the neighborhood would be turning over, still when it has now occurred, it feels both weird and refreshing.

While I am on the subject of neighbors, when AT&T were installing UVerse next door, they cut into our yard, and in the process, cut the wires to our back yard sprinklers! I am trying to recoup the $157 I spent on the repair but they are not making it easy. Uggghhh...

What else is going on? Always something! Bruce needed to pick up something at the mall, but before we went to TMobile, I insisted on having a look at the progress. Looking at the photo below, keep in mind B has to know every detail of the restaurant, not to mention handle the budget! At times it is daunting, made even more so these days because of the lack of skilled craftsman available. Bring back vocational schools and apprenticeships.....we all need these types of workers!!!
Andrew is nearly finished with the mural...
So, while Bruce was doing his business I went over to Macy's to use the restroom. Big deal, right? Anyway, on my way back I was pretty amused by this gentleman standing outside the salon, using what looked to be a Blackberry, while waiting for his hair color to take. Seriously?
Maureen called, needing help with her kitchen chairs because the wood was splitting on the legs...Bruce to the rescue! Even after all these years, I take such pleasure in watching Bruce work with wood.
While he was at the men's group on Saturday morning, I actually left the house to do some errands. I am such the homebody these days! The front page of the newspaper carried a photograph of Hillary Clinton visiting Pulse on Friday, and although I did not see her, I did see the white roses she left.
People are still visiting and leaving mementoes,
and you would not need to be a rocket scientist to know that many of the victims were Catholic.
Or gay, for that matter. It is a really, really sad place.
Saturday evening, following the service for Nancy, a group made plans to gather at Johnny's Other Side on Michigan. A rare, at least for this summer, thunderstorm fell as we were exiting, stopping just in time.
I am the absolute worst at remembering most people from high school; they are far better than I, however, it can be somewhat embarrassing when they call me by name, and I am clueless. Two things to point out in the photo below.
The standing man in the black shirt on the left is Doc Holiday. Now Bruce is much better than I at the name business, however, even he was shocked when Doc reminded him that he was the fellow who broke Bruce's collarbone while playing football in ninth grade. He also told B that the whole team was mad at him because Bruce was the center. Come to think of it, he still plays that role.

Secondly, the fellow in the white shirt talking to Bruce is Kenny Lester, or to folks in Seminole County, Judge Lester. I remember reading in the newspaper that he was the judge assigned to the Trayvon Martin case which worried me, however, talking to him about it, he was cavalier concerning the whole thing. A technicality resulted in a new judge trying the case. Another funny thing he said was when someone mentioned family strife, he asked if it involved guns, or beatings. Of course not! Well, you don't know family strife then!  It was good to reminisce about old Orlando with folks who feel the same as we do about how much our city has changed. Mostly bewildered is probably a good description.

During the summer there is no choir at church, instead special musicians fill the musical needs. Last week it was a jazz trio, really great btw, whereas this week I read in the bulletin the music would be provided by a barbershop quartet. Are you as surprised as I was at the make up of the group?
They were terrific! Who knew there were young folks singing in that style?

We tried a new restaurant on the way home--ASH, which stands for Ashley Nickell.
Apparently she was a contestant on both Cutthroat Kitchen, as well as Hell's Kitchen. My bar-b-que, a Sunday special, was excellent!

Sunday evening we gathered at Cheryle and David's home to wish Catherine goodbye for another six months. Returning to her home in the Isle of Wight, no doubt she will be back in January. Nonetheless, she gave a speech about how much she will miss everyone.
Oops, I almost forgot...following church we drove over to Orange Blossom Trail to see for ourself the mobile home park that is home to 13 tiny houses! Bruce is crazy for that show on HGTV. Set amongst the existing RV's, they are cute as can be. The plan is that when an RVer leaves the space will be opened up for another tiny home.
This is one of the larger ones; some we saw B estimated to be less than 200 square feet!!

Thank you ever so much for keeping up with me. Kenny told me that he was Googling something, and he came across this blog. I think I will take it as a compliment that he said he felt like he was a part of our lives. :)

Hoping for rain,

Gail

Friday, July 22, 2016

Made With Love

So, while Nancy was still visiting two weeks ago, one morning I had my idea for the quilt I wanted to make for the Pulse tragedy. Thinking that quite a number of them might be going to men, I decided I just could not do an entire quilt front of hearts. Don't get me wrong, I do like hearts, but do men? I was thinking not so much. I drew my idea which was pretty good, however, Nancy suggested instead of spaces between the lines, I should put them side by side. Much better! Then I fiddled with it a little more after finishing my previous project. As you will soon see, I chucked part of the idea.
Should you be tempted to think this all comes easy for me, think again. I am terrible at planning, as well as the math part of quilting. Furthermore, I usually cut as I go, rather than the entire project, thus, while making the last quilt, I ran out of the white fabric I was using for both piecing, and the empty squares. It helped not one whit that I'd cut 21 squares 6", instead of the required 6 1/2"! Thinking I'd purchased the white at Wandering Stitches, I made a trip over there with no success. The young woman working there suggested maybe I could do an alternate color, something that in the store looked somewhat like a light gray, however, at home it looked like baby blue to me, and I set it aside.

Well, was that serendipity, or what? As my sketch above shows I'd planned on a baby blue for the sky, the colors of the rainbow like a pulse (stretch your imagination there), and a small heart. And then along came Mary with the absolute perfect fabric for the binding, not to mention the backing material pictured above. God is good.

As the mother of a gay son, how could I not make something that might bring a tiny bit of comfort?

Although the design is super simple you might be surprised to learn that sewing long strips of fabric together is not nearly as easy as it looks because the fabric often gets a little wavy the more strips you put together. I used the trick of sewing one strip from the bottom, the adjacent one from the top and so on, which seemed to help. And then there is the matter of straight line quilting which, again looks simple, and it is until you lose your concentration for a second and the line goes astray. It helps greatly to have the walking foot I showed you before, as well as a guide to follow. Keeping your  eyes focused on the tip of the guide, you can do a remarkable job. My mind wanders, if you can imagine!
To the left of the walking foot you see two lines quilted quite close together which in my little world was meant to signify the hope of never walking alone. Sorry, just can't help myself.

I did a practice run on the little heart applique, sewing all seven colors together, tracing a heart dish B gave me for Christmas, and using the blanket stitch, it went pretty well for a novice. Joining the ends of the binding stymies me most times, however, this time it went together like magic. Here's my awesome needle threader gadget with the needles ready to finish up the binding.
So here we are, all ready for the washing machine before I turn it in.
While finishing the binding I watched a FANTASTIC documentary that tells the story of the legendary Carter family. Called The Winding Stream, if you are a music fan, don't miss it!!

A little close up of the aforementioned heart, quilting, and the binding which is like icing on the cake.
Remember how I mentioned I can't do a thing without help from everywhere? You've noticed I mentioned Mary again, as well as Nancy, but how about Bruce who works so hard allowing me the time and money to do this sort of thing? And then there is Irene, Pam's friend, who I've learned so much from about quilting. I'm pretty sure we are kindred spirits in some ways.

She sent out a request to accompany her to an estate sale this morning over in Audubon Park. How crazy is this....the large home is on the shores of Lake Rowena, with several streets leading to the house. I chose to park on one of the roads a few streets from the house because I knew the crowds would be large. Amazingly, I pulled up, and there was Pam who'd also chosen that street to park. Seconds later Irene texts us saying we should park on such and such street...Pam replied, "we already have!" Crazy, huh?

Pam, dressed for her Pilates class, Irene, and myself, walked up the beautiful tree lined street, entering a wonderful home filled with fair priced treasures.
You already know I have a love/hate feeling regarding estate sales, however today Irene may have turned my thinking more to the love side. She said she hoped people would find pleasure in all that she'd collected during her lifetime, and I kind of hope the same. The rooms were filled with people, amazed at the prices, the lowest I've seen at an estate sale in a long time. Here are some of the goodies that made their way to our home. Not only are there eight hand embroidered linen placemats, there is a little runner as well. Plus, the napkins with bird eggs!!
I kept wondering about the woman who made these and now I know something about both she and her husband. Sounds like pretty amazing people to me, so I am now honored to have a part of their life. As an aside, his brother is also a physician, a neurosurgeon whom I worked with in those long ago days as an x-ray student!

Who could resist a little Fiestaware dish for $2.00? Not this blogger!
Nor could she resist this beautiful cake stand made by Aynsley.
In fact, I think when I finish this I'm heading into the kitchen for a little cake baking just so I can keep it on the counter for a few days! I wonder if I have enough carrots for a carrot cake? Doesn't that sound tasty? Actually Bruce is working from home today, and his idea is that I should buy a fake cake in order to keep it on the counter all of the time. :)

I bought two books, one, a signed copy of the Rowena Restaurant cookbook, which will only mean something to long time Orlandoans. Speaking of long time Orlando residents, if you are of a certain age, you will have gone to the Infinite Mushroom near Colonial Plaza. Sadly, our  high school classmate Nancy Noyes, who ran it first with her Mother, followed by our friend Phyllis, died suddenly last Saturday. You just never know, do you?

There was just something about this children's book that had my name written all over it. Little did I know it was the first book by Arnold Lobel who went on to write the Frog and Toad books.
Who also, as it turns out, in spite of being married to Anita, and fathering Adrianne and Adam, admitted to his family in 1974 that he was gay, dying from AIDS 13 years later.

No, you just never know.

On a lighter note, I've written not much about this growing out my bangs business because it has been painful. Resorting to barrettes and headbands, I am happy to report that the Duchess of Cambridge is sporting a headband here. I can now go around with a bit more confidence knowing she's wearing one!

Happy weekend my friends,

Gail

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

An Impromptu Makeover

An alternate title could just have well been, "With a Lot of Help from My Friends" because that is how this little makeover was accomplished. The joy of willing friends is one of life's true treasures, isn't it?

Well, let's get started, shall we?

Sunday night, following Hill's Happy Hour, I received a message from my friend Mary Whited, a queen amongst the garage sale/estate sale/auction, crowd. This note was a follow up to a recent visit she made here with boxes of fabric she'd accumulated from the above sales. During our conversation I mentioned I was looking for a little dresser for the guest room. She said she'd keep an eye out for me, however, as my last post detailed, I was fortunate to find one myself. Unaware of my purchase, she and Sam, while attending an auction Saturday, purchased not one, but two dressers, AND a matching corner desk for $65, about half what I paid.

Show me what you've got Mary!

Her email with photographs showed up early Monday morning, and I was smitten. Now what? How can I make them work, because it was just too good a deal to pass up? Thinking to myself, I will find a way to make them work. Calling her immediately about when I could pick up the goodies, she replied, "we are home now." On my way....

Sam and Mary have lived in a modest home in Winter Park for more than thirty years; what they affectionately called, a house in the woods. Well, not having been over for a few years, I was STUNNED by what their street looks like now. Oh my goodness! Winter Park is filled with tear- downs, and their street, after finally being paved, is no exception. In fact, there are now only two other hold outs amongst the large new homes. Before, looking from their front yard there were loads of trees with very modest homes nestled amongst them. Now it looks like this from their driveway.
Looking down the street, the new homes dominate the landscape where once it looked like a mini forest.
So, I guess this qualifies as a giant makeover, right?

Inside their lovely home it is warm and cozy; I dare say, more so than the new places! Creativity runs wild in their family of four daughters, but it didn't just come from nowhere. Sam is a crazy talented woodworker who is now on a table building run. Taking down a Golden Rain Tree, a nuisance tree for most of the year I might add, he told me once the bark dried, it stripped off like magic.
There is a pretty good chance the Mission chairs were purchased for a song, as were these beautiful tools Sam cleaned up.
Everywhere you look there is a story attached as to how and where each item was procured. I am in heaven in that kind of environment! Another table by Sam, loaded with garage sale finds.
I know my son Matthew will surely recognize this look on Sam's face as he was showing me around his workshop.
While I'm thinking about men with beards, I convinced B to let me photograph him on Sunday evening, and doesn't he look as cute as can be?
Plus, he got rave reviews from everyone! However, yesterday morning he shaved off the sides of the beard, instead going for that front patch look! I'm keeping my mouth shut this time around.

So, back to the find. The three of us loaded the back of the Pilot with the pieces, and I could not get home fast enough to see what I could do with them. Realizing the larger dresser was more than I could handle alone, I called Pam asking for a hand. "Sure, I'll be right over." In the meantime I carried the smaller dresser in, finding an ideal spot immediately. Arriving she expressed her approval at Mary's find, and we carried the second drawer in, finding another ideal spot! Curious are you?
Unreal, right? These pieces have had a long life judging by all the previous paint colors, including yellow, white, green, and now this very soft blue. I never mind furniture with a history! Actually the photo above is after all the tidying up which included Pam sorting all of my fabric pieces into color groups! This is what the table looked like during the sorting process:
Check out this miracle!!
I got rid of my printer and the little table it sat on, moved the file thing, as well as a tall bookcase, and things are looking mighty spiffy around here. The dust I referenced in my last post is a thing of the past in this room after Pam insisted on dusting everything! Here's dresser number two:
Isn't it amazing? Chairs had to be re-arranged, working out beautifully as well.
Please note the pile of fabric on the ironing board because there is a story connected to that as well. Remember earlier I mentioned Mary brought me some fabric? A good deal of it was far too fancy for what I do, however, I nearly gasped when I came across some striped fabric. I bet you want to know why, don't you? A few weeks ago I'd committed to being a part of the Quilts for Pulse movement, organized by the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild. The theme is hearts and rainbow colors. Well, here you go for some perfect striped binding fabric.
Furthermore, in the earlier photograph showing my table covered in fabric, the red fabric, courtesy of Mary is covered in little white hearts!! Using that instead of the red pin dots pictured above, the top is now pieced in a very simple design, and after purchasing some batting today, I will put it together. I don't even need to buy backing fabric as that was part of the stash Mary brought over!

Don't you just know I'll show it off when it is finished?


I could not do a thing without my friends and family,

Gail

p.s. The darling corner desk is still in the back of the Pilot, looking for a good home.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Living with Dust

Although we are generally okay living with dust, there does come a time when even I have had enough. That time was this weekend. What, pray tell was the tipping point, you ask?
Probably a culmination of things, but if I had to name one event it might just have been when this baby went into the washing machine, a very exciting part of the process.
Did it take me the whole British Open to finish it? No, but long enough to know that this was not going to be Jordan's event. Beginning on Thursday, I probably worked on it for about three hours, followed by early, as in 7 AM early, I sat down once again on Friday, rarely stopping until I finished just after noon. Whew!! Having used this technique while sewing the binding on the anniversary quilt while flying to California, I realized it was a good one even though I did not have any restrictions like I did while on the plane. Threading five needles at a time is a good plan, even though I had to re-thread those five needles at least three more times, it is a nice way to keep your momentum going. At any rate, sitting in my living area for all those hours, I just could not help noticing all of the dust piled up everywhere!

I really meant to get going on the cleaning Saturday, and I did some, but not anywhere near enough, mostly because I kept having ideas that I needed to jump on while they were fresh in my mind. One such idea was how to cover the now exposed box springs. You can imagine my quilt was not showing off as much as it could what with box springs in full sight! Pam gave me two lovely quilted white shams, however, in spite of looking everywhere, she never could find the matching dust ruffle. I thought about going to the store and just buying one, but then it hit me...would a stripe look good? Going through my remaining estate sale fabric, I found this lovely piece in a good weight. Woo hoo--the little label was still attached! Okinawa!!! Amazing.
Sorry for the weird blue tint on this; must be because the camera was still on the sunset setting which I'd used the night before!
The tiny red streak was no indication of rain the following day that is for sure; only one inch of rain has fallen in July if you can imagine.

So, using the stripe, with my honey here to consult,  there are slats that hold the mattress in place; he pointed out that a dust ruffle to the floor really would not have worked anyway, Instead I made a very short dust ruffle. Super easy too! Then, I convinced B to come along with me on the mission to find a small dresser. No luck at our first stop, however, stop number two was the charm. Surprising both myself and Bruce, I asked the fellow if the price was his best, and he said he would take $25 less. Score! Rarely, if ever, have I done this before! Anyway, we brought it home and it is just perfect.
Honestly, it is cute as a button in spite of a few scars on the top. No surprise there as it is from the same era as your favorite blogger!

I think it must have also been Saturday when I made a little block, and mailed it off no less, for a charity quilt that my Days for Girls leader, Sharleen, told me about. The theme was patriotic in case you are wondering.
By the way, after wanting one for a long time I finally bought a Rowena iron, an absolutely essential tool for a sewist. (!) Never say that I'm not trying to keep up with the times; using a word like that proves it!

And should you be wondering if I have given up on my bicycle riding, not completely, but I will admit since it has been SO hot, the morning rides have been few, and far, between. Plus, there is little to photograph this time of the year, but I am still on the hunt. This is the prettiest sight I saw the other day.
Speaking of sights, after returning my books to the library, I drove by Pulse, and the crowds are still coming. Plus, did you hear that in the last few days, the club has been broken into twice. Sick!
Look what else I saw at the SODO center, just two blocks from Pulse!
This was a lovely surprise, and much appreciated, as the news this summer is enough to make anyone not want to leave the house!

One of the great things about Bruce's new job is his boss Steve who insisted that Bruce not only stay away from the job this past weekend, but take me out to dinner on his dime. Friday night we enjoyed a lovely meal at Le Coq au Vin, a place we should frequent more often, living just down the street and all. For the most part though, this is where Mr. Peck spent the weekend!
Amongst the dust I might add, that is until Sunday afternoon, by which time it was nice and tidy. Yup, I got up Sunday morning, turned on the television at 6:30, and began dusting away. Because Jordan was so far back from the leaders he was playing, so I got to enjoy that at the same time.

I dusted the end tables, swept behind the curtains, the coffee table is once again sparkling, and the kitchen is much improved. Heck, I even polished the kettle which is saying a lot. There are two brown grocery bags filled with books I will never re-read. They were threatening to topple the place where they were displayed, not to mention they were COATED with dust. Yeesh!!

While on the subject of books, one of the ones I returned was from a favorite author of mine, Elizabeth Strout, who wrote the now famous, Olive Kitteredge. This one, called, My Name is Lucy Barton, is hard to describe which is why I am providing a link to the NYT review. I suspect there will be as many people who dislike it as do the opposite. That said, if you share my taste in novelist, find yourself a copy! 

Cooking in Carol's kitchen, which now seems like ages ago, I used an amazing non-stick skillet called a Green pan, or I think that is the name. So amazing was this pan that I had to find one for myself. Not green inside, although it is a super neat sea foam green on the outside, I found one at Marshalls very similar, or so I hoped. Oh my gosh! Having made fried potatoes with onions and peppers a gazillion times before, never once have I left not an ounce of residue in the pan until this time.
You would have to have been there to be as amazed as I. Apparently, in spite of her pain and general discomfort, she was listening to my excitement about the pan. Lo and behold last week she sent me one as a thank you gift ,so now I have TWO super skillets. Let the cooking begin in earnest!

Carol is improving steadily, so there's that. Also, Angela called me while we were out shopping Saturday and she sounds pretty good. If you can believe it, last week was the one year anniversary of Matt's death which she spent in Seattle with his parents. Her son Michael is home from college, and the two of them are on their way Tuesday to London to spend time with her English family. Day by day she told me.

Now to tackle the bookcase in the foyer which is swimming in dust. That is if I can keep myself away from beginning my next quilting project which I'll tell you about soon.

Dusting awaits,

Gail


Long Beach, CA