Sunday, April 30, 2023

Stitching Stuff: Week 16 of 2023


Sorry this posting of the linky party is a bit late.  I went to a quilt retreat yesterday and didn't get in till late.  I must be getting old, sewing all day just took it out of me and I overslept this morning.  But I had a great time at the retreat.  Getting ready for the retreat kept me in the sewing room this week, so my stats look really good. 

  • 15 minute days/week = 7/7 days
  • 15 minute days/April = 28/29 days
  • 15 minute days/2023 = 98/119 days
  • Success rate = 82.35%

April has been my best month for sewing time so far this year.  So hopefully that means I'm getting a better handle on my retirement schedule.  

How did you do this week at finding time to play with fabric, thread or yarn? 

1. Karen
2. Marti
3. maggie f
4. CathieJ
5. DonnaleeQ
6. Shasta @ High Road
7. Melisa- Pinker n' Punkin Quilting
8. Gretchen
9. Quilting Gail
10. Janice - Jannimary

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Saturday, April 29, 2023

Week 68 Photo Challenge: Abstract Close Up

One last photography post for this week.  Our family photo challenge has been mostly inspiring, but often exasperating as well. This week's challenge card was one of the inspiring ones. 

I had a pretty good idea of what my subject matter would be.  I did try out several subjects, but finally went with my initial subject matter. 

Kate: Into Pink

Mine's probably not difficult to identify.  

My Guy as usual came up with something unexpected. 

My Guy: Close Before Striking

I'm not sure which lens he used for the cool out of focus edges.  Can you guess what it is?  I'm not sure I could have if he hadn't also provided me a more descriptive photo of the object. 

It seems that Grad Girl and I had similar approaches to this week's challenge in both subject matter and color. 

Grad Girl: Abstract Pink and Green

This one isn't hard to identify either, but it's still a fun close up. 

Next week's challenge is probably going to be one of the more exasperating ones.  

Grad Girl may have a slight advantage here as she has access to a very cute pink nose.  I can't wait to see what My Guy comes up with.  He got really creative with the tongue challenge card a few weeks ago.  Me, I'm really clueless at the moment. Thankfully I have most of the week to figure this one out.  

Friday, April 28, 2023

Photo Play #12: Oklahoma's Cold and Wet Spring

Taking photo walks several times a week does remind you of what the weather was like the month before.  Most of March was cold, wet and windy.  Not conditions I like to walk in and not always ideal conditions for photography.  But the purpose of my current lessons is to try to see things from a different perspective and take photos that you wouldn't have taken before.  I really tried to do that with these photos from the end of March. 

The photos below were all taken with a Canon 70D combined with a Tamron 18-400 mm lens.  The files have been reduced in size for posting, there has been no other photo editing on the images. 

My Guy will tell you that I'm really bad at deciding that something isn't photo worthy, then something happens and I don't have my camera ready. I'm trying to be more open to images just happening, so I've been taking more photos where I normally wouldn't.  I was photographing some ducks on the lake.  Good shots but nothing special, till this happened. 

Maybe not a pretty picture, but I thought it cute and funny. It made the review cut because it's a photo I absolutely would have missed in the past.

The sun screened by thin clouds makes for some really interesting photos. I have no idea what kind of tree this is, but the shapes backlit by the sun make for an interesting photo.  I took a lot of photos to get the settings just right so the sun's not completely blown out.  I could probably raise some detail in Photoshop, but I like the black and white image.  

It was a really windy day (typical of March in Oklahoma) so I was lucky to get this in focus shot of the Crab Apple tree buds. Normally I would brighten this a bit in Photoshop and make the pinks pop a bit more. I probably should have used a higher ISO to get better color right out of the camera. I like the details in the leaves and that spring green with the dark pink buds.  

A different path on a different day, but with similar conditions yielded this shot. One of my goals that day was to photograph the new growth that was showing up along the path. The new green of spring often has a glow about it, if you know what I mean.  I wanted to capture that glow in a photo. There was just a touch of sun coming through the clouds and I caught that on this branch. It's pretty close to what I was going for.   

This was my accidental subject during that walk.  There's a little mushroom in the upper left of this photo and that caught my eye as I was attempting to photograph all the new growth.  I liked the idea of monochromatic color scheme, but I also shot some with the new growth. I thought this composition worked best.  Not at all what my goal was for this practice session, but I'm beginning to appreciate the unexpected. 

By the end of my walk, it was raining lightly.  The path felt closed in and dark. This photo best captured my impressions at the point in the walk.  I headed back to the car not long after this shot was taken.  I was happy to get home to a hot cup of tea.  

Take homes from this set of images:

1.  It's hard to get good shots when it's windy.  The right shutter speed and ISO will get you in focus. It can take a bit of playing to get there, but definitely worth it as you go from nothing in focus to most of your shots being in focus.  

2.  Taking more "accidental" images and more photos that in the past I would have missed due to not being prepared.  Getting better at capturing the vision/feeling I have in a photo.  

3.  Most of my photos are in focus, but still need some work on depth of field and color saturation.  

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Photo Play #11: More Texas Flora

Now that I can sit at the computer for longer than an hour each day, I'm pretty much caught up with replying to comments and blog reading.  My goal the next couple of weeks is to get caught up on the photography posts.  Quilting posts will resume on Sunday for sure.  

We spent almost a week in Texas back in March hanging out with Grad Girl and checking out some old haunts. Three favorite places we visited that trip were the Antique Rose Emporium, Old Baylor and Brenham.  All of them great places to take lots of photos, especially during peak wildflower season.  

The photos posted below have not been edited other than to reduce the file size for posting. 

The Antique Rose Emporium is actually a garden center that specializes in roses. They do sell other plants, but most of their collection is roses.  They have beautiful grounds and a lovely garden. If you've followed my blog for awhile, the pink roses that I routinely post in the spring from our garden were purchased at this garden center.  The rose was named the Katy rose because they found it growing along I-10 near Katy, TX. if you know anything about Houston, you know the traffic along I-10 is massive. I figure if a rose could survive along that corridor, then I couldn't kill it.  That has proved to be true. But I digress, here are the photos from the more recent visit. 

This photo of a Firecracker rose was taken with my I-phone 12.  I zoomed in a bit and took a shot. I love the fade from pink to orange to yellow. (Yes, two of these rose bushes came home with me).  So you don't need a fancy camera to get beautiful photos. Most of the I-phones now take really nice photos.  That's nice when you don't really want to drag out your DSLR (or it's just not practical, such as a place of business where people are shopping).  

Another I-phone photo.  This is probably my favorite Blue Bonnet photo from our trip.  It's a little grainy at the top, but it makes me think of an oil painting, not that it's a bad photo.  The advantage of photographing under cloudy skies is that you can get much better color, the sun can sometimes wash out the brilliance. I really like the deep purples and bright whites in this photo.  The garden center had a wild flower patch as part of their seasonal garden.  The grass was trampled in a few places, so you could tell that someone had plopped their child or puppy in the middle of the plot to get some photos. 

Old Baylor park is just down the road a bit from the garden center.  It's the original site of Baylor University which is now located in Waco, TX. Here's all that's left of the university (Canon 70D/Tamron 18-400 telephoto lens)

That's a Live Oak in the foreground. They are really impressive trees.  They don't grow very tall but they have the most wonderful wide tree tops with the most textured and gnarly branches.  

If you want Texas wild flower photos, Old Baylor is a favorite spot to get them. Same camera but switched to a Sigma 105 mm macro lens.

These yellow Coreopsis are another common spring wildflower in South Texas.  There are whole fields of these in some places.  It's hard not to love these sunny flowers.  

This is my favorite Indian Paintbrush photo from this trip.  I struggle with reds on my DSLR, but the overcast sky helped and I got the settings just right. This is the very top of the flower.  I love the reds and pinks with just a touch of green. That's it for my wildflower photos from this trip.  

My photos from Brenham didn't make the cut as some of my best from the trip, but I'm going to share a couple because Brenham has the most wonderful mural art.  Both photos were taken with my I-Phone 12. 


The owls are such fun, love the detail in that mural. Yellow roses are a favorite, so how could I not snap a shot of that. 

So what did I learn while taking these photos. 

1. You have to take a lot of photos and play with your settings to get an exceptional image.  I have in excess of 100 photos of the wildflowers. Most of those are good photographs and I'm happy with them. 

2.  The I-Phone camera works just fine. In some cases it works better than the DSLR does (probably because I'm still figuring out all the controls).  I'm beginning to utilize my I-phone more. It's something I always have with me and I'm beginning to realize you can still get a good photo even if you don't have the fancy camera with you.      

3.  Stopping to change your lens can make all the difference between an OK photo and a really good one. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Photo Play #10: Texas Wildflowers

Spring has been a really fun time to work on my photography project.  Much more colorful and interesting subject matter.  I've definitely been taking more photos. Which means I'm spending more time at the computer reviewing and critiquing.  I've not done much with the lessons lately. I'll get back to them when there's not so many pretty spring things to photograph.  

I'm still about a month behind on posting the outcome of my lessons and practice sessions.  I'm hoping to play a bit of catch up by posting a few Photo Play blog posts this week. The photos below were all taken in March on the trip to Texas to see Grad Girl.  March is prime wildflower season in Texas. The Blue Bonnets and Indian Paintbrush bloom all along the highways. The trick is to find someplace you can stop to get good photos. 

All the photos in this post were taken with a Canon 70D equipped with a Tamron 18-400 telephoto lens.  The photos have not been edited other than to reduce the file size for posting. The photos were all taken in either Waco, TX or along Highway 6.  

The yellow flowers in the shot above are known as Butterweed.  


I have lots of wildflower photos, enough for another post.  What came out of my critical review of these photos? 

1.  Macro photography is my comfort zone, but I did try to take more landscape photos.  My landscapes weren't wonderful, I'm learning you need just the right light to make those memorable.  Need to manage depth of field better, most of my landscapes appear fuzzy and out of focus.  Switching to a wide angled lens might help.  

2.  Indian Paintbrush are hard to photograph because some are so red, they saturate out easily. At least with my digital camera they do.  I played with the settings some, but still have some work to do on that front.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

To Do List for the Week of 4/25/2023

This week marks the 6th month of my retirement.  It still feels weird when My Guy leaves for work and I don't go with him. I don't miss the politics at work, but I do miss the people and the technical aspect of the work I did. Like any change, it will take a while to settle in.  I'm not sewing as much as I thought I would. Part of that is due to the shoulder/back issues that popped up earlier this year. The other part is the other projects I've taken on such as decluttering, getting more physically fit and pursuing photography lessons. So the quilty weekly to do list is probably more important now as I tend to wander more as my time just isn't as structured as it was with a 7 to 6 job. So it's no surprise to me that I didn't finish last week's list. 

To Do List for the Week of 4/18/2023

1. SAHRR: Continue assembly of border 5, windmill blocks 

2. Diatom: Assemble block 3, cut fabric for block 4 - progress

3. Wild and Goosey: Finish a block, cut more purple scraps 

4. Chilhowie: Continue as leaders and enders project ✔    

But three check marks with progress on the fourth item is still a good week.  This week's list has one new to do item on it. 

To Do List for the Week of 4/25/2023

1. SAHRR (Quilting Gail):  Finish assembly for border 5, make windmill blocks

Those windmill blocks are amazingly time consuming.  But I'm more than halfway done with those.  Three of the border 5 strips have been sewn to the top. The last strip is almost sewn together.  There will be another 1" finished border to add between border 5 and 6. Hopefully I can get started on that this week.  

2. Donation Blocks: Make HSTs, assemble blocks

Two of the eight sets of HSTs are completed.  I'm hoping to have all of these stitched and trimmed before Friday.  We'll see if I actually get that far.  The donation blocks are various combinations of the HSTs laid out in a 16 patch block. 

3. Diatom (Quilting Jetgirl): Finish block 3, start block 4


Block 3 is almost assembled, but I still need to add the frame to it.  I've got a ways to go on this project.  A new block comes out on Friday and I'm not anywhere close to being caught up.  This project will move up once I finish assembly of the SAHRR project.  

4. Wild and Goosey (Bonnie Hunter): Finish a purple block

Block 3 is finished, I just haven't got the paper completely off the back yet.  

5. Chilhowie (Bonnie Hunter): Continue to make blocks as leaders and enders

Block 4 is coming along.  I need to make sure I've got enough parts and pieces so I can continue to use this as a leader and ender during the retreat this weekend.  

That's my list for this week. I'm linking up with The Quilt Schmilt: For the Love of Fabric for this week's To Do Tuesday.  Good luck with your to do list this week. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

And More Pinwheels

I almost didn't post today. There's not really much new to share, I'm still working on the pinwheels for the SAHRR.  

Only three new ones up on the design wall, but there are another four under construction over at the sewing machine.  More time was spent cutting triangles and rectangles then sewing them together this weekend.  The top square in a square border is all sewn together. Since this picture was taken it's been pinned to the top and is over at the sewing machine waiting to stitched. 

I did spend some time on Friday searching the stash for fabrics to use for the donation blocks for next week's guild retreat.  I needed 4 children's prints and 4 patriotic prints, plus a tone on tone white.  This is what I pulled out of the stash. 

These fabrics are old. The children's prints are between 15 to 20 years old. I had to dig for those. The patriotic fabrics are left over from a QOV that was finished almost 10 years ago. Definitely stash that needs to find a new home. The donation blocks can be any layout of 16 HSTs.  I've gotten the HST triangles cut. The plan this week is to sew all the HSTs and get them trimmed so I can assemble the blocks during the retreat. Fingers crossed I get that far before Friday.  

That's it for me this week. Linking up with Monday Design Wall and Patchwork & Quilts.  

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Stitching Stuff: Week 15 of 2023

Yesterday was Earth Day.  One of the companies here in town celebrates that by hosting a clean up party where you can dispose of some chemicals (oil based paints, fertilizers, pesticides etc), electronics and old appliances.  I spent my decluttering efforts this week in the garage (old paints and finishes) plus the attic and office (old electronics).  It was nice to remove a carload of items from the house. But boy I've been paying for it, my thighs still haven't forgiven me for the stair steps it took to get the stuff out of the attic. My reward for all the manual labor (and dealing with the spiders) is a nothing but sewing day today.  But before I head towards the sewing room, I should review how last week's stitching efforts went.

  • 15 minute days/week = 7/7 days
  • 15 minute days/April =  21/22 days
  • 15 minute days/2023 =  91/112 days
  • Success rate = 81.25%

My decluttering efforts didn't interfere with my stitching efforts, so it was a good week on both fronts.

I'm still navigating this retirement gig and figuring out what works for me and what doesn't. One long time goal has been to actually join a quilting guild.  I didn't know that there are actually two here in town. The first one I went to met during the day and it just wasn't my cup of tea. Nothing really wrong, but it just didn't make me excited to join.  But the second one I went to was a lot more welcoming and fun, so I've joined that one. There is a retreat next weekend and the cost is 8 donation blocks, 4 with patriotic fabrics for veterans quilts and 4 with children's prints that go to 2 or 3 local charities (I should have taken notes, they went over that really fast).  The patriotic fabrics weren't a problem, but the children's prints aren't something I have a lot of. After a deep, deep dive in the fabric closet, I came up with my four, including this one. 


Note the copyright date.  Definitely vintage stash. Grad Girl would have been 5.  Along with this piece there was a blue print with teal moons and stars along with a pink/purple unicorn print.  I sorta remember buying these fabrics to make her a quilt when I first started making quilts. Obviously it never happened.  She did give me permission to use them elsewhere.

Now that I've joined a guild, I need to make a name tag. If you have any favorite tutorials on that subject, please add the link to your comment. 

So how did your stitching week go? 

1. maggie f
2. Julie in GA
3. Karen
4. Ivani
5. DonnaleeQ
6. Quilting Gail
7. Marti
8. Melisa- Pinker n' Punkin Quilting
9. Deb in Canada
10. Frederique
11. Andre
12. Carol Andrews
13. Amanda

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Saturday, April 22, 2023

Week 67 Photo Challenge: A Coin

We had a beautiful day yesterday, but the colder weather is back today.  I'm actually OK with that, my plan is to spend my day sewing.  But before I go indulge that hobby, I'm going to post about my other hobby and show what we came up with for last week's photo card. 

A very simple and common subject.  Even so I struggled to come up with something photo worthy.  

KAS: Fake Coin

I looked everywhere for the fake coins I know we had left from some of the Mardi Gras parties at school, but I completely struck out on that front. But I did find this necklace and decided it was fake enough. 

My Guy's photo is a bit of history. 

My Guy: 20 Centavos


My Guy has had this coin since he was young.  Either his dad or his uncle gave this to him.  This Mexican Centavos has the same image as the Mexican flag, an eagle killing a snake while standing on a cactus.  It was minted in 1954 

Grad Girl initially bailed and said she wasn't going to have time to get an image.  But she came through a bit later in the evening on Friday. 

Grad Girl: Odd One Out

The very dull coin next to the nickel is Chinese.  Grad Girl keeps a small bowl on the table by the front door and that is where she puts her change.  No idea where that coin came from. 

This week's challenge is close to one we've done recently. 

Week 64 was something abstract.  I guess this is different because it's a close up.  Should be fun, I'll get to play with my macro lens this week. 

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Photo Play #9: What the Cat Sees

The photography lessons have been a lot of fun. I don't have a schedule for when I work on a lesson, pretty much when I have the time and inclination.  In mid March, I finally finished the last of the lessons on learning to expand your perspectives. 

All the photos in this post were taken with a Canon 70D equipped with a Tamron 18-400 mm telephoto lens. The photos have not been edited other than to reduce the file size for posting.  

The last assignment on photographing the familiar was to photograph your house from the perspective of your pet. We don't have full time live in pets as I'm allergic to animal dander. But Grad Girl's kitty, Queenie, came to stay with us over Christmas.  So I wandered the house taking photos from the places she hung out when she was here. 

Queenie's most favorite vantage point in the house was at the top of the stairs. If Grad Girl was out of the house, that's where she'd watch the front door patiently waiting for her person to come home. I'm not really a fan of this photo, but it does what it's meant to, shows her view from her most frequent napping point.

The view of the front door is to Queenie's left, her view to the right is My Guy's music room. Other than to vacuum, I don't do much in this room. I have to admit from this perspective, it looks much cleaner and less cluttered than it is from normal perspective.  It's not a great photograph, the window are overexposed.  Even so, I do like how the light diffuses through the rest of the room, with the focal point being just behind the music stand.    

When she's home, Grad Girl pretty much hangs out on the couch, napping more often than not.  If she was there, that's where Queenie would be.  The couch is also where My Guy will play his mandolins in the morning, especially when Grad Girl is home as her bedroom is across the hall from his music room. So that's his music spread across the coffee table. This isn't a great photo either, but some things in the bookcase caught my eye and lead to whole other photo session later on.  

That's it for the photos from the cat's viewpoint that I'm willing to share.  I have a few others, but to say they were uninspiring is an understatement.  

Later in the same week we headed to Texas to hang out with Grad Girl for a few days during spring break.  We stopped in Waco, TX and took a long walk in Cameron Park along the Brazos River since we couldn't check in till late afternoon. Grad Girl had a meeting with her advisor that afternoon, so couldn't take off anyway.  

The Waco Zoo is part of Cameron Park.  All along the pathways there are statues of various animals.  We drove by this one on our way to park.  What drew me back to this statue originally is that it's funny.  The wide angle view of the statue shows an elephant sitting on a park bench with a parrot on his other tusk. What surprised me when I reviewed my pictures later was the intensity of this close up photo.  The sculptor really created an aura of intensity in the elephant's eyes. From this perspective you'd never guess that the overall statue is one that conveys humor.   

I really like the silhouette of this photo. It's a great photo for Halloween.  It was an unexpected outcome of shooting at a low ISO. We didn't pick the best week for our trip. It was cold, overcast and often rainy the week we were in Texas.  But the overcast sky is what makes this photo work, a blue sky would have made this just another picture of a crow.  So a good reminder that you can often get more interesting images when the weather isn't cooperative.  

This is my favorite photo of this set.  I really like butterflies.  The overcast sky does make it easier to get a good shot of the yellow spots on this Black Swallowtail getting it's lunch from the pink sweet peas. I have a dozen shots of this butterfly, this is really the only one that turned well.  A reminder that sometimes you have to shoot a lot to get one good shot, especially of a quick moving subject.   

What's my take home from this set of photos?

1.  Moving to a different level can really change what you see and focus on. 
2. My house isn't very photogenic. 
3. Photographing under an overcast sky produces different opportunities for good photos, very different than you would get on a sunny day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

To Do List for the Week of 4/18/2023

Spring is still in that manic stage. One day it's in the 80s, the next we are back to the 50s.  Even so, I'm enjoying the longer days. I feel much more productive.  But even being more productive didn't translate to a completely checked off to do list.  

To Do List for the Week of 4/11/2023

1. SAHRR: Continue assembly of 5 border, make pinwheels. ✔
2. Diatom: Assemble block 3 - progress
3. Wild and Goosey: Finish a block, cut purple scraps 
4. Chilhowie: Continue as leaders and enders 

Still not a bad week, 3 out of 4 checkmarks with progress on the fourth item.  This week's to do list is the same as last week's list. 

To Do List for the Week of 4/18/2023

1. SAHRR (Quilting Gail): Continue assembly of the 5th border and windmill blocks.

It takes a lot of stitching to finish just one pinwheel block. I've got the assembly process pretty much down now.  Chain piecing is a big help there.  

2. Diatom (Quilting Jetgirl): Assemble block 3, cut fabric for block 4

The 4-patches for the corners still need to be assembled, but after that's done I should be able to start assembling the block.  

3. Wild and Goosey (Bonnie Hunter): Finish a block, cut more purple scraps.

The plan is to make at least 4 purple blocks for April. I'm halfway there.  

5. Chilhowie (Bonnie Hunter): Continue construction as leaders and enders. 

Monday, April 17, 2023

Just Pinwheels

It was a bit of a mixed weekend. Taxes are done! My Guy finished his review and given his approval.  Grad Girl has approved hers.  That's one big item crossed off my distraction list. I celebrated with trips to both quilt shops in town.  And yes, I did reward myself for surviving the process again this year.  

I actually bought this background to go with a different set of charm packs, then found the Bee Free pack and decided those were more fun that what I already had. Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs is releasing a new book next month, "Just Two Charm Packs". The plan is to make something for the blog hop or for the quilt along later.  I've enjoyed participating in Cheryl's mystery quilt alongs, so this should be a fun project.  Now I just have to decide which quilt to make.  

Then I found something that might work as either a border or backing for my SAHRR project.

This has all the colors that are in the top. It is My Guy approved. So we'll see where it ends up. 

The SAHRR is still moving along, though still pretty slowly. 

Two sides of border 5 have been attached to the quilt and the top border is almost assembled.  I'm still making the pinwheels. Another 17 are needed to finish out the 6th border.  I will be very happy to finish all those pinwheels.  The 1.5" HSTs are really fiddly to work with.  

Linking up with the Monday Design Wall and Patchwork & Quilts linky parties this week.  Happy stitching this week.