What Does a Quilter Do When She’s Too Tired to Do Anything Else?

She knits, of course! I had all but given up knitting, but spurred on by Shelley’s magnificent knitting, I took it back up again. And of course, Shelley and I have gotten together several times in the past few years, and each trip has included the prerequisite visit to THE YARN STORE.

This meant that I had quite a few skeins of beautiful yarn accumulated, and I always bought enough to knit a scarf or a shawlette–nice easy projects that don’t require a ton of thought.

Each time I finished one, I threw it in the quilting studio closet, anxious to start the next! fun! project!

And then the other day, Shelley asked me about some of them…Oh, I know, I said, I’ll block all of them today! so I can take pictures of them and do a blog post…

Oh my oh my. I’m here to tell you–do not do that to yourself. An entire day and thousands of pins later, I finally had 6 projects blocked. I swore to Shelley that I solemnly promised to block each future project as soon as I finished it!

Anyway, here are the six scarves and shawlettes. They are so much prettier when they are blocked, and now I have six nice presents waiting in the closet.

I think I found all of these patterns (with Shelley’s help) on Ravelry. This one is called Summer Flies.


The ruffly one–I can’t remember what its name is. It starts out with over 600 stitches on the needles, and then you gradually decrease and knit the center part, and then you start increasing again for the ruffle on the other side. And the coral/gold/green scarf is made of yarn I spun myself, and a pattern I made up myself.


This one is called Calais Shawl.


Close up of the pretty lace pattern.


This one is called Citron.


And this one is called Dangling Conversation. It is quite dangly–appropriately named!


You should be able to find the patterns by clicking on the link to each one. Some of them are even free patterns!

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a new! fun! project! to get to work on!







Back to Normal

Back to normal–whatever that is, huh?  After any trip I am always anxious to get back to normal.  That seems to always include a stop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on dairy and vegetables, making a batch of homemade yogurt, and cleaning the house.  How does a house get dirty while you are gone?  Oh.  Three little doggies…

Anyway, it was a wonderful fall trip.  Full of color and inspiration, and that was before I ever got to the quilting retreat!  So here’s my rather long and picture-full report.  And then I can truly get ‘back to normal.’

First stop was just an overnight stay in Klamath Falls.  I didn’t want to try the 9 1/2 hour drive to Sisters in one day.  (Although I guess I thought that would be okay for the drive home…)  Hotwire helped me make this reservation.  I can’t say enough good about my experience with Hotwire.  I called them because I had made a reservation and then they sent me an email with a better deal.  So even though their reservations are ‘no backsides,’ they honored that and gave me a $30 refund.  Which I applied to this place.  It was a very luxurious resort, only about 3 miles off the main drag.  I thought it would be a perfect place  if I was a writer and wanted a place to hide out and write for a while!

The next morning as I drove towards Sisters, I crossed a body of water and noticed the name was ‘Pelican Bay.’  Hmmm, isn’t that funny how they choose to name something?’ (thinking that Pelicans were sea birds, and this was an inland lake.)  Just then I noticed some big birds out of the corner of my eye!  Fortunately there was a place to pull over, and I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car.  I was so EXCITED when I saw the first  three pelicans in this picture.  They were so much bigger and brighter than the ocean pelicans I am used to seeing!

And I was beyond excited when this PLATOON of pelicans floated into view!  So glad that I stopped to enjoy the view.  So many times I just keep on driving.

I had done map quests to Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods to stock up on food for the week.  And so I stopped at Costco, and it turns out that was the only place I needed to stop.  I got one of those whole cooked chickens, a bag of salad with all the fixings, a loaf of their good bread, and a giant container of grapes.  Turns out this was a non-cooking trip.  So all that stuff was just right for grab and go meals.

The little cottage I rented (ha!  It was bigger than my ‘house,’) was beautiful and perfect for two people.  I was alone until Sunday night when my best friend arrived to spend a couple of days with me.

First night I was signed up for a lecture with Gwen Marston.  She is such a talented artist, and so funny and down to earth.  Her hand quilting  is beautiful, and has influenced how I am quilting my ‘housetop quilts.’

I had a free day in between, and I took advantage of that to explore the town of Sisters on foot.  I got in plenty of walking exercise.

I was inspired by Gwen’s work, and took out a little pack of hand-dyed fabric I had bought at the previous quilt show, and started a little quilt.

Later in the week I actually started hand-quilting on it, using Gwen’s liberated quilting method!

And finally the retreat started!  Here is an example of the work of Sue Spargo, the other teacher.  Her work is over-the-top spectacular, filled with every kind of handwork imaginable.

close up of some of the stitching:

I was quite unsure of myself at the beginning of this workshop.  All I knew for sure was that I wanted to use some deep magenta and green wool that I had bought for the project.  So I ended up spending a day and a half just piecing the top.

NO.  Those are not yellow clouds or mushrooms.  I ended up using this next picture that I took of the scene right outside the lodge where the class was held.  Lovely shapes of drying yarrow.  The quilt will look better when I fill in with stems and foliage and maybe some birds (I hope!)

I did get the hang of appliqué, and I finally got around to learning some new stitches the last day.  Very fun!  It was also fun to work with wool and silk, and velvet, some fabric that is considered difficult to work with.  Sue had a lot of experience in using those fabrics.

My friend arrived Sunday night, and so of course we went out shopping on Monday.  So fun to be able to talk in person with a friend.  Much better than the telephone!  I had to check out the local yarn shop, just for Shelley!

I bought three skeins of an old favorite, Koigu yarns, and started a ‘linen stitch’ scarf.  I totally LOVE the way the colors change constantly, and this is a fun and easy stitch to do.

Soon enough, the week was over, and I was on my way home.  I drove home in one day through rain and snow and sunshine.  And beautiful views of Oregon, one of my most favorite states.

It was a week full of creativity of every type, beautiful color, a little too much good food, not quite enough exercise, and plenty of great conversation, with just enough relaxation mixed in.

And now…back to normal.



Where Do I Start?

To borrow the language from some of my favorite cooking shows, this vacation had a lot of different components to it, which added to the complexity and the “flavor” of the experience!

Who flies across the country to spend three days with a person they’ve never met?  Only a blogger, I think!  Of course, I ‘knew’ Sharon from reading her blog for the past two years, and I felt that we would get along well, and I was right!  Sharon was such a gracious hostess.  She has written all about our time together, so I will not elaborate here, except to say THANK YOU once again to Sharon for her time and generosity.  Sharon and I developed a really fabulous muffin recipe that I will share in a separate blog.

Here’s a picturama of our hike in the Smokey Mountains!

Everything is so green in Tennessee–I love it!  Kind of a young green, if you know what I mean.

We saw this deer in the middle of the stream, which seemed so unusual.  Later, when she moved, we could see that she looked pregnant?  Hormones, maybe?

These little log bridges were a bit scary!

I have a bit of an obsession with stumps.  Isn’t this beautiful, though?

And we made it to the waterfall!!

I loved that you could get right up next to the waterfall!

And photographic proof that we were there!  You know, I think these national parks underestimate their mileage by quite a bit.  It sure seemed a lot longer than 5 miles round trip to me!  But worth every single step.

Next, Sharon and I drove to Nashville to spend the day with Cammy.  What fun!  (and why is everyone TALLER and THINNER in person than I thought they were?)  Hey, nobody says to me “You’re taller and thinner than I thought you were LOL.”  I guess nobody imagined that I was 4′ 8″ and 110 pounds?  Anyway, we had another great day, and Cammy wrote all about it here, so I won’t try to improve on her report.

We went to the Opryland Hotel, which was a mammoth place, and included INDOOR waterfalls!

And gorgeous flower plantings.

It would have been just plain weird if Cammy and I had met and frozen yogurt was NOT included.  This was CiCi’s, and it was really delicious.  And much more decorated than most of the froyo places I’ve been!

I had a day to recuperate from all the festivities, and then an old friend from my spinning and knitting days drove up to meet me in Nashville.  The last time we saw each other was in 2003, when we had the great experience of co-teaching (actually I was assisting her) at a national spinner’s conference.  It was like no time had passed at all, and we had so much fun talking dogs and knitting and life.  We went to a gorgeous yarn shop, and I spent too much money, and then we went to a big mall and sat in the courtyard and knitted and talked some more.  What a great day.

And then the quilt show tour began.

If you can stand it, come back for more tomorrow!  I know I included a ton of photos, but I came home with 400 pictures on my camera, so consider yourselves lucky LOL.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies…and Other Stuff

I recently re-subscribed to the Nutrition Action Healthletter.  To thank me, they sent me a nifty little booklet with a rating system for fruits and veggies, and a few other foods.  Interesting.  Guess what vegetable was at the top of their list (rating fiber, potassium, vitamin C, Lutein, and vitamin K.)  Kale!  I gotta try that stuff again!  Spinach was right below it, and guess what!  Canned pumpkin was way up there at the top of the list!  Romaine lettuce had a surprisingly high score–above butternut squash and tomatoes and asparagus.  And believe it or not, a potato with skin was above my beloved beets!

Then on the fruit list, guava was far and away the highest scorer (scoring fiber, folate, potassium, vitamin C, and carotenoids.)  Never had one.  Guess which one was second.  Watermelon!  Wow.  I be eating a little more watermelon this summer.  Plus, it only has 80 calories per two cups diced.  Orange, strawberries, mango (my latest love) and pineapple were all high on the list.  They were all above the mighty apple.  Hmmm.  Oh, and blueberries were farther down the list. Raspberries and blackberries had a considerable higher score than blueberries.  All this just served to remind me to stock up on a variety of fruits and vegetables, and to try to get more of them into my daily food choices, especially the vegetables.

About the same time I checked Georgie’s blog, and she had a most excellent article on ‘losing weight on a vegetarian diet.‘  But it was just a very balanced overall view of the best way to eat.  And she had that reminder in there to have fruits and vegetables filling half your plate!  Well, I’m not there yet.  But I’m trying.  This week I’ve had apple, orange, mango, strawberries, and pear.  On the veggie side, I’ve had green beans, asparagus, artichoke, brussel sprouts, beets, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots.

On to other stuff.  Well, truth is, not much other stuff to report.  I’ve had a very uneven week of eating, starting with the ‘super bowl of dog shows’ last week.  One day, I eat just ‘perfect,’ and the next I overeat a bit.  I do not like it when I overeat.  Sunday I took a quick trip to the bay area to visit my mom.  And of course I ate too much.  But that I expect.  I did visit a farmer’s market, and paid $6/pound(???) for some brussel sprouts.  Good grief people.  Good luck on that farm.  Personally, I do not think that is sustainable.  They were good though.  Of course, the trouble with farmer’s markets is THE OTHER STUFF.  I also got a giant chocolate chip cookie, and some kettle corn, which I shared with my mom.

On to good news.  I am continuing to be very consistently active.  I am very happy with that.  Getting to the gym 3X/week to work out on the weights, and if there is time, I do a little bit on the stationary bike.  Working out consistently, I have been able to increase some of the weights I am using.

The other day I was grousing about how I had overeaten the day before, and that famous line from “City Slickers” came back to me–“today is a do over.”  I don’t have to get stuck in that mode of overeating and making poor choices.  I can just start from today and get it right.  I think that is a key to continuing on a healthy life of good food and exercise.  It made me feel better, anyway.

I have been doing a lot of quilting, and having fun blogging about it.  I’ve also been knitting more than usual, thanks to Shelley’s inspiration!

And now, I have to get a going, because it is ‘sewing day,’ and I am going to stop at the gym before I head over to join my friends for a day of sewing and quilting together.

Poor Me…

Wow, I got hit big time with a case of the ‘poor me’s’ this afternoon.  I wasn’t particularly hungry.  But I was wanting to have something more.  I was thinking about how carefully I track my food, how I don’t really eat that much (about 1400 cal,) and how, IF I lose weight, it CREEPS off of me, and then it stands in the shadows, just WAITING for a chance to POUNCE back onto me.  Okay, I wasn’t really thinking that stuff about the shadows, but it sounds good, doesn’t it?

Its been raining here all day, and at 4:30 it let up a bit, and I thought its now or never.  So the rainboots went on, and me and Noah headed out for a walk.  Its not that fun to walk in rain boots, but  I am ever so grateful to have them.  While we walked I was going over all this stuff, trying to think how I could change my thinking.  Cause like I said, I wasn’t really hungry, and I wasn’t really craving anything in particular.  Just feeling sorry for myself.  So I thought about what I had planned for dinner, and I decided I didn’t really want to eat that.  It would still be good for tomorrow.  And then I thought about what I did want.  And I remembered I still had some of that healthy chili in the freezer!  And that bag of new high fiber pasta from Trader Joe’s that I haven’t tried yet.  So I am allowing myself one extra grain for the day, and will have that for dinner.  In the meantime, I walked quite a bit longer than originally planned, and that also made me feel better about myself and my choices.

Okay, so now dinner is over, eating is done for the night.  I still came in around 1460 calories.  The ‘chili pasta’ was delicious, and was just what I needed(?)  I weighed out the pasta, and the chili was already frozen in single serve portions.  So no overboard on amounts.  Then I had a piece of dried pineapple (after I checked the calories online) and some walnuts for dessert.  And back to basics tomorrow.  This is just the way it is.  Maybe not fair.  Maybe tiring, boring, endless.  But that’s just the way it has to be for POW’s (previously over weight.)  I know from filling out the survey for the NWCR that this is common practice for weight loss maintainers (planning/calculating/tracking food/meals.)

Scenes from the past few days:

As you can see, I am not suffering!  This bowl actually looks better than it tasted.  Although it was pretty tasty.  It is my version of katie’s chocolate oatmeal.  I just increased the unsweetened vanilla almond breeze to 1 cup, and left out the banana.  I think I added in 1/4 cup of eggbeaters to make it custard oats.  Came in around 300 calories for this bowl.

This salad was yummy and easy to assemble.  White tuna on top of chopped romaine with some carrots, some crushed pineapple, and a few spiced cashews on top there.

I am right back in the swing of knitting.  I found this pattern in my stash, and decided to try it.  After sweating bullets over the first couple of rows (lots of counting with a pattern like this,) it all came back to me.

Of course to make a sweater, I have to keep going and make five big pieces.  And then sew them together.  And pray that it actually fits right.  Just reminding myself.

The Queen was in fine form this weekend.  Thought I would share what a day looks like for her.  (Its exhausting, if you ask me.)

Assuming her position of authority in front of Noah.  I truly do not know why she does this,  She doesn’t really seem to enjoy it.

She has to endure a little sniffing.

“Just pick me up and get it over with, will you?”

And then a little ear-flipping…

Until finally she’s had enough!  (actually, I think she was just starting to yawn here, but the expression on Noah’s face is priceless.)

Then I caught a sweet picture of Mr. Monk by the woodstove.

Oh, no.  That will not do at all.  “Here, I can improve that picture for you.”

“Yes, it is exhausting being queen.  But SOMEBODY’S got to keep order around here.”

The queen must always sleep with one eye open.  Especially if there’s a camera in the area…



Various and Sundry

Well, it seems like forever since I wrote here.  I still don’t have much to write about.  Plus its so cold and it seems like my hands are permanently frozen.  Not much motivation to type.

I’ve been staying on track with my healthy eating, mostly bobay plan (which is a carb cycling type of plan,) and I have most definitely kept up with my newly defined “I am an active person.”  I told my BFF about this proclamation, and she said, “Debby, you ARE an active person already.”  And I said I know, but now I want to be.  That seems different to me than just fitting in activities/exercise because that’s what’s necessary to keep the weight off.  I think that’s partly why I stuck that sentence in there about “If being a little heavier is part of this, so be it.”  I am going to be active because I want to be active, NOT because I want to look a certain way or fit a certain size. Does that make sense?  And does anybody else think its weird that it has taken me seven years to come to this point?

So between being active and having too many new games on my Kindle Fire, creativity is a bit stalled.  Must work on that trait next.

Today, in between the five loads of laundry that are all folded and put away, I started a new knitting project.  I started it because ever since I taught Shelley how to knit, well, before that even, I’ve been thinking about knitting again.  And I had a whole bagful of beautiful white yarn (that was previously an almost finished fisherman knit sweater in my former size 26-28!)  But while I sat there knitting (and Shelley, do you know how long it takes to get through a row of 195 stitches) I started thinking really negative thoughts about myself.  Why are you starting a new project that you’ll probably never finish?  Why are you sitting here, when you could be doing so many other things that need to be done?  You’re never going to get around to getting chickens (topic for another day.)  There were a lot more negative thoughts, and they are quite common, I realized.  They go on every day.  And if I hadn’t started knitting that sweater, negative thoughts about what a waste–all that good yarn and you just never get around to knitting it.  What’s wrong with you? would have been added to the mix.  So I did stop with those particular negative thoughts and realized that I was doing something positive that I had thought about for quite a while.  Its exhausting to be me.

I have consciously worked (mostly through this blog) on not indulging in negative thoughts about my weight.  I feel like I’ve made major progress in that area.  But these others…I’m gonna have to put a stop to them.  Probably has a lot to do with the major changes in my life in the past year.  I have a pretty good daily/weekly routine down, but it is very different than my life a year ago.

Well to end this post on a positive note, we (Wendy and I, and our project, “The Bridge,” for the kids of Carrefour Poy, Haiti,) had a stupendous day at church yesterday.  We did another presentation in front of the church.  Wendy had made a slide show of some of the kids and the scenes in the village (I was so nervous I forgot to look behind me to see it.)  There was such a positive response.  Since starting this in mid-December, we already have sponsors for 23 kids.  I was just elated when I realized how much money this would enable us to send to the pastor down there  to help with their school.  There is a lot of work involved, but I am more than happy to be able to do it.  This is what I was looking for when I retired.  Only then I didn’t even know what I was looking for.  Just being open to God’s leading. I started out telling Wendy that I didn’t think I could sponsor another kid, and for sure I was never going to Haiti.  Guess who has another little girl to pray for, and guess who is going to Haiti, probably sooner than later.  There are just a lot of details that we could take care of that are difficult to do long distance.  Plus, I want to see for myself, and look for what else we can do to help.  I am very excited about how this project is going.  Wendy came up with a verse that describes exactly how things have been happening since we started:

 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Tomorrow is sewing day, and guess who is bringing the food!  I made Helen’s recipe for the Coconut Curry Kale Soup with Shrimp, and I looked up a recipe for low fat cornbread that sounds simple and delicious, and quite reasonable calorie-wise.  It just seemed like a good pairing.  And for the morning I am going to make that delicious Triple Berry Granola Crisp.  I got it covered with healthy food for the day!

And now, as one of my favorite bloggers, Mr. Taylor, says, “Its back to the sofa” to knit one more row on that new project.