Saturday, November 28, 2009

Maple Leaf Quilt Blocks

I sewed these 9" blocks together over the week.  Quick and easy - I love making blocks!  I had cut the fabrics back when I was in Canada and had access to my fabric stash, so everything was cut and ready to sew.  I just love making my own "quilt kits!".  Sewing the blocks is the easy thing - the hard thing is deciding upon a setting... at least for me. 
My computer with EQ is in Canada.  Soooo - that means I have to do the design options the old-fashioned way if I want to experiment with layout before actually sewing...
I want my Maple Leafs inside of a Log Cabin.  I love log cabins!  And the log-cabin pattern works perfectly with all the pre-cut strips I brought with me.  It is really easy to pencil in a 9 patch Maple Leaf - I just used a 3" grid.  1" for the 3 log cabin strips - so to scale that will make a 12" block.  My little paper blocks are 4".  While my son does homework - I color!

But then I thought maybe I want to turn the logs this way and that...  so I cut everything apart and played some more...

Finally I think I have a design that I like...  in order to keep track of which side to sew the logs on - because it varies by block - I draw myself a very small scale drawing.  Now, DH has no idea how I can tell what is what on my drawing - he is wondering if I could make it any smaller?  But I know what this all means - so I pay him no mind.
In the end I change my mind again - and now I have this small quilt drawing that I won't be using.The leaves and logs will be put away for another day.

My son thinks that he has found the PERFECT use for that itty, bitty scrap of paper.  His Lego man now has a quilt.  Don't you love it?!

While I really do like the above design - I am going to save it for when I can expand it into a bigger sized quilt - add a top and bottom row of blocks and maybe even seperate some of the units with Flying Geese. 
For this set of blocks, I first rotated the paper logs around in design I liked (just a simple Greek border - why reinvent the wheel?) and then plopped the Maple Leaf blocks down into the centers.  My leaves will be willy-nilly - like they are blowing in the wind.
With the issue resolved, now I can get back to sewing!  Don't you love traditional blocks and all the designs you can come up with using them?!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Waiting Is Over

Right after my son & I arrived in Europe my DH became very ill.  After 1 week in the hospital he had surgery to remove a 6.6 pound (3 kilogram) tumor.  This surgery was followed a few days later by another surgery - a liver biopsy.  He spent another week in the hospital and has now been home just over a week.  This photo is of a church you can see from the hospital.
You can imagine - I just arrived into a country where I don't speak the language (although most his doctors and many nurses do speak English, phew!), was getting my son settled into his new school AND making the trip to the hospital 2X a day to see my husband.  1 longer visit by myself while my son was in school and then a shorter one after school so he could see his Pappa.  Plus the whole stress of my DH being sick.  And grocery shopping - sometimes I meant to buy 1 thing and would buy the wrong item - oops!  So some meals were a challenge.  Walk, walk, walk everywhere.  Just to get my son to school is a 20 minute walk.  There was homework to complete that I didn't even understand for myself, food to cook, laundry to do (and my downstairs neighbor does not like me to do laundry at night because it makes too much noise?!).  And my poor lonely, scared DH who was extremely uncomftable.  He needed lots of company.  Fortunately his family is close by and we came up with a plan to alternate visits so he did have lots of company.  My son and I spent weekends at my DH's sister's house.  The company was good for me too!
The hospital is at the end of a tram line.  We like trams!  Here you can see the tram coming down the road - the red lane is for bikes and the sidewalk for people is to the right.  Most bike lanes are not painted red, but this one is because it is easy to confuse the bike/walking area.

Friday we finally got the test results.  Yes, my husband's tumor was cancer.  BUT, the doctors feel like they got it all out - such a strange, all enclosed tumor.  And unbelievably big.  No wonder he was so tired all summer.  The tumor was smooshing a kidney (which they thought they would remove, but then did not!) and crushing a main artery.  Right after surgery my DH went from white to pink - so immediately we could see results!  The recovery from this surgery is coming along slowly, but it is so much nicer to have him home instead of at the hospital!  The tumor originated in the fat cells and was not attached to any organ.  The liver biopsy came back clear.  Bone scans are clear.  Blood work is clear. 
It has been a long 3 weeks, but now with good news in hand and a recovering DH, I can get around to the business of unpacking and settling in.  I have now unearthed my sewing machine from down in the basement storage area and looking through projects that I left behind... 3 years ago.  Look at this - an almost completed quilt top - I used the "rejected" blocks to make a different quilt, which is in my sidebar photos.  I guess I am making this in reverse order.  I just know that a little bit of sewing therapy will do me worlds of good right about now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bright Honeycomb Mittens

I like to dress my son in bright colors.  And orange is one of his favorite colors, so that works out just fine for the both of us.  Before we left Canada he picked out this bright orange wool (Briggs Little)  for his honeycomb mittens.  They are all done now - I just have to wash them in hot soapy water to shrink them a bit - I knit them a little big on purpose so I could shrink them.  I especially like him to wear orange because generally - every other week seems to be a hunting season of some sort or another in the fall. 

Here he is with another family dog!  This one is Burro and belongs to my husband's sister.  As you can see - I really make sure that no hunter is going to accidentally think my son is a deer!
Obviously, I don't really have to worry about that right now since we now live in the city.  None-the-less, he has orange mittens for the winter.  Nice, warm, wool mittens!

I am just trying to figure out why everyone in the city wears dark colors.  Maybe  is because they don't pay attention to hunting season, do you think?
*You can find a honeycomb mitten pattern in the book Homespun/Handknit - Caps, Socks, Mittens & Gloves.  My version is slightly different but that is the fun part about knitting - you can change patterns around to suit your own needs.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Destination

All that family visiting was leading up to... my final destination.  Here I am - back at the Munich train station.  How not to travel in Europe by train... with lots of luggage.

There is my tired boy - in the past 24 hours I think he slept 2 hours.  About that luggage - in my defense, we had to pack our winter coats, his rubber and snow boots and rain gear, favorite blanket, etc.  My clothes I kept to a minimum, but I had to pack a functioning office for the winter.  I tend to prefer smaller suitcases/bags so I can actually lift them up.  So - we have 2 suitcases each, his little carry-on, my carry on and laptop bag.  But when you are all by yourself - this is alot of luggage to manage.  Fortunately, DH met us in Munich and helped.  Because look...

All your luggage has to go way UP over your head on the train.  That's why I like smaller bags!  In Europe when you buy a train ticket they usually don't tell you - but for another $3 per person you can RESERVE a seat.  This tells you what coach and what seat is reserved just for you.  The reservation is well worth it... because the trains can be full and finding seating together for 3 people and luggage would have been impossible.  Plus - with a reservation you just stand there and watch the coach numbers carefully and then you can jog down the track with all your bags and get on the correct coach.  Sure beats hauling your bags, single file, through train coach after train coach looking for seats.  We had reservations, but there were already people in our seats and they did not want to move.  Geez!  Our seats were clearly marked "reserved".  So - the conductor had to oust the squatters and we got our reserved seats.  This particular train had 6 seats to a cabin and each cabin has its own temperature control.  Really comfy!  But take a tip from me - if you go to Europe and plan to travel by train - do yourself and favor and get a really good hiker's backpack and make everything fit in there and then make sure you can lift it up over your head.
We changed trains here - I think at this point in time we were in Austria.

I love that the farmer's fields are full of these old fashioned hay huts, which are still heavily used despite new, modern hay-wrapping techniques.

And, finally, somewhere along the way - a little, tired, someone got some sleep.  Our flight left Boston at 9 pm and they did not serve dinner until 1 am and then they still kept the lights on.  Finally 3 hours before we landed they did turn off the lights, but 2 hours later they turned them back on for breakfast. 
Fortunately, we got to Boston in PLENTY of time - well ahead of the internation flight check-ins so we had no line at check-in and just a small line at security.  Because we were so early we were able to "enjoy" an airport meal while waiting for our plane, which is a good thing because my son would have never lasted until 1 am for meal!  We went that early because we were taking the bus and the bus schedule is such that I didn't want to take any chances.  Good thing too - because our bus broke down along the way and we had to go to the bus garage and get a new bus, which then needed the tires pumped up.  But, I didn't have to get all stressed out like some of the other passengers because we went on such an early bus.  Phew! 

After a bit, I laid him down in my lap and he never even stirred.  I am so lucky that he is such a good traveler.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

On The Mountain Top!

A quick weekend trip to my sister's in NH - and we hiked Mt. Kearsarge (3268 feet).  We did it the easy way - drove way up and then went up a 1/2 mile trail to the summit.  My son was soooo excited to reach the peak and had a wonderful time.  Truly, a fantastic 1st mountain summit experience for a 6 year old.  Here he is with an older cousin enjoying the view.  His cousin has a firm hold on him because he didn't want him to fall, so cute!
There was a lot of rain recently and the trail up was like walking across stepping stones in a brook.  The sun was shining and the water was all sparkle-y. 

New Hampshire isn't called the Granite State for nothing.  The entire top of the mountain is granite.  Here is my son - making great progress just like a little moutain goat.  Mountain climbing is in his blood - his grandfather (my DH's Dad) loved climbing mountains.  He died many years ago in Nepal - he got strep throat on a climb and by the time they reached Katmandu it had gone to his kidneys and he died.

We dressed in layers.  Started in jackets and peeled them off as we went along.  As soon as we reached the top - on went all the winter jackets/hats/mittens.  It was really cold and windy up there!  The boys had fun squishing down behind various rocks looking for the perfect wind-break.  It was a good lesson because I explained that even in the summer time you shouldn't climb a mountain without warm clothes in your pack, no matter how warm it is when you start out.

Down at the parking area there are picnic tables.  Isn't this a lovely picnic spot?  We ate our lunch at the summit though.

This is a photo of my sister's back yard.
New Hampshire sure is beautiful!

Monday, November 02, 2009

A short visit

My son and I have been on the road again.  I just love driving straight through Boston!  Drive, drive, drive.  But the visit was worth it!  Headed to see the family!

You might be able to just make out the large square building in the far right of this photo - that is the hospital my son was born in.  You aren't a Cape Codder unless you are born on the Cape.  In the 1920's when my Dad was born, this was a very big deal.  Grandpa got a teaching job off-Cape and Dad was due in September,  What to do?  Nana said she wasn't going to have a "wash-ashore" (someone born off-Cape but who lives on the Cape) and refused to leave Cape Cod soil - never mind the fact that she was by herself, the hospital was 45 miles away on a dirt road and she had to go crank up the car when she went into labor... my Dad is a Cape Codder.
We did try to stay with Dad, but he smokes cigars in the house and my son has allergies.  We manage in the summer with the windows/doors wide open, but in cold weather - it didn't work.  So after 2 days we were rescued and moved to a house with this view... ahhh.  And we had a wonderful visit with the occupants of that house too!

One day we went to a shellfish festival and boy, did they ever have shellfish! 

They had a kid's area with a boat filled with things from the local seas. 

And, I saw something I never saw before... a BROWN preying mantis on the beach - I never knew that they turned the color of sand!  I've only seen green ones before.  Who knew?

Of course, we saw my big family and my son got to play with lots of cousins.  Good times.  I'll leave you with a photo of yet another family Dog - this one is Willie.  He is really sweet, but a big goof-ball.  If you read the book Marley - he is like that.  Seriously.  But how could you not love a face like this?  He is now the proud Grand-pappy of 11 squiggling, grunting puppies.  Precious!