Sunday, June 22, 2008

Stash Busting!

I just couldn't leave well enough alone. I just had to make another quilt. I decided I didn't want to cut fabric for this quilt. I wanted to use the four patches I already had. I picked through the bin full of blocks and pulled a bunch out.

I also pulled out some strips that seemed to fit what I already had and made up some more four patches.

With the help of Electric Quilt I put in a larger center block made up of several four patch blocks, added borders and started putting things together.

Electric Quilt wasn't that helpful when it comes to putting a bunch of blocks that aren't the same together, but it did tell me how many blocks I'd need.

'Round and round. I used some of the strips I'd found to put in the borders, trying to keep some semblance of order but keep it scrappy. I made sure to keep with the half-square corner blocks. Those were left over from yet another project.

How many projects really went into this? Hmmm... I think there are blocks from a wall quilt I made in New York to a nice lap quilt I made for my friend when I lived in Rhode Island. Some baby quilt bits are in there, too.

Overall, I think it came out quite nice. Honey says it looks "springy." I think the colors do come together to make something that reminds one of spring.

The good news? I only had to cut once. That was for the final border. I'm not sure what I'll back it with. I think it would make a great cuddle quilt for a little person. In that case, it needs flannel. Little people love flannel. Or, that's just my perception of little people.

Before I finished it, my mind was already working on what I should do with some more of those orphan blocks and strips I have hiding in bins.

Well, that's it for this week. I'll have to figure out what to do next week. I heard a rumor that we're going on an adventure next weekend. I'm not sure how that will work out. I'll let you know if I find any fabric.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

And a Matching Bag!

First, I have to apologize for the quality of the picture. It seems my camera and I are not getting along. I failed to check my "during production shot" so you totally missed out on that part of this project.

Here is the finished bag. I used a few of the "extra" four-patch blocks I had left over, put them together into a 16" x 16" block, cut what remained of the focus fabric to match, then used some of the blue to make the straps.

The front, back and both sides are quilted with wonderful free form flowers sewn in red thread. I used a lighter batting to cut down on bulk. The straps go all the way around the bottom (the bottom is three layers of fabric without batting) to support the not-substantial weight of a quilt.

As you can see, it fits very nicely into the bag so she can carry it with her on the train back home.

It also occurred to me that this would be a great knitting bag. That's right, quilt-errific and can hold your yarn and needles. I think it would really be better with some inside pockets. I'll have to keep that in mind for my next "quilt transportation unit" is needed.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Finally..... A Project!

Yes! That's right, I have found the fabric, the sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc. and the motivation to create something.

(This post was intended to arrive yesterday, but blogger was refusing to upload pictures. Sorry for the delay.)

My Aunt came to visit me for a week or so. She quickly realized that we are wicked boring. It was easy to convince her that she really needed to make a lap quilt to commemorate the trip and to keep her busy. That took us to the local Ben Franklin for supplies. We found the perfect fabric to pull my stash into some semblance of order. Stash-busting is fun. Besides, it means I get to buy more fabric.

I broke out my Electronic Quilt software and came up with something I figured she'd like. After playing with color we went looking for the fabric. Before the move, I knew where everything was. Now.... well, I think the whole first day was just finding all the quilting fabric and the batting. We ended up changing the color choices a little to meet the stash, but I think it will work out fine.

I have wanted to do a quilt with a big center block and several borders for a while. I made sure to take pictures of each step so you could see it grow. I suppose I could have broken it up into several posts, building suspense. I just didn't have the time. With Auntie's help I worked through the whole top on Sunday.

Each round, I used the focus fabric and chose fabrics that were contained in the focus fabric to create the four-patch borders, separated by solid borders.

There was a horrible cutting accident when I put the border on the center block. I cut to actual size of the yellow strip and had to add another one to make up the difference. I think it came out okay anyway.

Round and round we went until we hit 44" x 44". Then came time for the batting and backing. Since I'd gone over the size of your standard fabric width, I had to piece together the back.

Also, because I wanted to keep Auntie involved, I picked a fluffy batting so we could use the tie technique to hold it all together. (You'll have to wait for the finished product picture.) I added the binding, helped with the ties and we were almost done.

Of course, now I need to make something for her to carry it in to get it back home. Wouldn't want her to try to tote along a lap quilt on the train without a bag. Wish me luck. I'll have that one posted later today (assuming blogger lets me post pictures, that is).

Comments for this post are strongly encouraged. Please, let us know what you think!

Also, because I liked how the multiple borders thing worked out (thank you Electric Quilt!) I think I'm going to try it again. Maybe I can work through my scrap bag a little.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I started work on Tuesday. I wanted to show you some of the neighbors we have there. Having left the city for the country, it's nice to see wildlife (and not so wild life) again.

We have a nice fence and some friendly black Angus that follow our every move if we go outside. Something about humans means food to them. They are curious, but cowardly.

Just outside the door to the building, we have some bats that have taken up residence. Cute little furry fellas.

Let's not forget the hares that live under nearly every building there. The rabbits are very tame. They have been there so long they just don't fear humans. Makes me wonder if the cattle are smarter in that respect. We also have mice, but I don't have pictures of them. I also don't have pictures of the rattlesnakes I have yet to see. I've heard all about them, though.

On the drive in, we saw a pair of foxes along with their litter of what looked to be five kits. They were rolling about in one of the many grain fields on the ride in.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

437 Line Items

The movers came on Monday to fill the house with boxes and boxes and boxes. We checked off 437 line items. Everything appears to be here. As usual, we are amazed at what movers will pack. I know, they don't know it's a silly thing to pack. If you didn't want them to pack it, you would have thrown it away before they got there. I'm really glad I got that little plastic pack with the napkin and the fork, I don't know what I would have done without it.

The dogs were traumatized by the whole affair. They were sequestered in the back yard until the movers were gone. We learned in RI that the best plan is to keep them out of the way. Good news, the movers were done by 2pm and everyone could come back in and sniff around. They were mostly so tired from all the barking that they just wanted to take a nap.

We put together a couple rooms, including the kitchen and the Kid's bedroom. We made ours good enough to keep us from tripping in the middle of the night. We will be at this unpacking thing for awhile yet. I just hope it doesn't take 3 years.

For an update on US2, here is a picture of a piece of it they HAVE paved. I understand that every time it starts raining, they give up. The mud that is the main street is impressive. The rumors say it will be done sometime this year. I have no idea if it will happen, but I'm hoping.

Today I have the Montana Weird Stuff picture. I'll try to include these as I go along. The watch phrase is "We do things a little differently in Montana." I don't know if it's true, but I like it anyway.

This is a picture of some of the available seating at a local fast food place. They serve real hamburgers, foot-long hot-dogs and greasy fries that are wonderful. I wasn't quite sure what we would do if these were the only available seats. I hope I don't have to find out.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The move to the house.

We have been staying in the hotel for the last couple days. We were earlier than we'd planned and a couple things still needed to be done to the house. We did start putting things in the house. We emptied the trailer so we could empty the truck (still no word on the truck).

We ran around and replaced things we needed that the rain ruined. My tarp-fu isn't that good, I guess. We learned what things we should and should not do for the next trip. You must understand, this is the furthest we've moved in nearly two decades. Just moving a day up and down the eastern seaboard is cake, moving nearly across the country is.... well, cow pie.

We left a trio of nomadic bunny-men at the Super 8. (Some of you may wonder why we keep staying at the Super 8. For the record, they usually allow pets, with no additional fee. They put you in the smoking room, but it costs the same as any other room.) I hope the housekeeping staff gives them a good home.

The house has some problems. The kind of problems that you have to scratch your head and wonder what people were thinking. Evidently, the space under the basement takes on water, which means the basement has a tendency to take on water. We found part of the problem was this sump pump discharge line being right next to the house. Every 5-10 minutes, it would spit out what seemed like an awful lot of water. We picked up a flexible hose to get the water further from the house. The basement seems to be drying out, now. The next project is to get the gutter discharge lines away from the base of the house. The lot just isn't graded that well. I think the water just follows the foundation down until it can sneak into the house.

I think the back deck is smaller than my last one, Honey says it's the same size. I don't really care, as long as there is room for the grill and a table and chairs.

The back yard definitely is smaller. The lot size is similar, just most of it is in front or on the side of the house instead of in the back yard. The puppies are happy back there; they have enough room to run and play.

The kitchen is definitely bigger than our last one. The breakfast bar is great. I don't know if we will even put in our dining set.

The living room is huge. The biggest problem is that we had to figure out where to put the furniture without the furniture here. The cable guy came yesterday. Where the television goes is the most important thing, you know.

The biggest travel tip that the wrecker driver gave us the first day was that 1st St was completely torn up for almost the entire length of town. What isn't gravel is dirt, what isn't dirt is mud. Mostly mud. From what we've heard, it has been like that for over a year. Here is a little idea of what it looks like. My little plastic car hates it.

Last night we had our first, new-home cooked meal. Steak and potatoes. We're simple, sometimes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Big Move, Day Five

The Longest Day.
(WARNING: This post is considerably longer than you would expect.)

How far can you get in one day? Well... let's just say that day five turned out to be way more of an adventure than we had ever planned. I'll get to that part, really.

The times for this day of the trip will be a little wonky. Somewhere, we crossed into the mountain time zone. I'm not really sure where. If it suddenly seems like we jump back in time, just take it in stride and pretend I can tell time.

We were all checked out and underway from Bismark by 10:45am. Seemed like a late start, but we weren't far from the time change, so I figured we were doing fine. Our first stop for gas was less than 100 miles away. $3.89/gallon. We wanted to get some distance behind us before we stopped for breakfast. For the record, if you are ever traveling in North Dakota and you think you can make it to the next gas station, stop to get gas now. It could be another 100 miles to the next gas station.

Exit 72 on Interstate 94 in North Dakota has what is billed as the largest out-door metal sculpture in the country, or something like that. I don't know if it is true, but Geese in Flight is a neat sculpture that I drove a couple thousand miles to see. I'm sorry if the pictures are poor. I can only do so much with a cheesy digital camera at 70 miles an hour.

By 12:30pm we had found another Perkins. The server at the Perkins tried to give me back the nomadic bunny-man. We were back on the road by 12:29pm. Oh, time travel, I love it. I know, the time actually changed before we got there, but that's what my notes say.

We crossed over into Montana at 1:25pm. I actually stopped the car for the picture of the sign. I'll be living in the state, I should make this first crossing count. I didn't really pull over, though, there really isn't that much traffic once you get West of Bismark. My friend Triple-A called me a couple miles after I crossed into Montana. The cell service is less than stellar near mile marker 230. I will have to call her today.

2:00pm we left the relative safety and comfort of the interstate for state roads. The entire trip has been an adventure, but when you leave the interstate, things get really fun. We stopped at Circle, MT to get gas ($3.95/gal.) for the Taurus. The pump was so old that the poor young guy that wanted to use it after Honey had to ask how to use it. It still amazes me that our technology has changed so fast that if you can't put your credit card in it, some people can't use it. My theory is that the pumps at that station haven't changed since the gas station was built.

On to another county road. We soon reached Wolf Point, where the Kid and I fueled up for what we hoped would be the last time. We also got onto US 2 for the last real leg of the trip. At the next town, Glasgow, we stopped to fuel the Taurus, again. We looked at the map and thought we could make it all the way to Havre before it was really late. Yes, yes, it would be pushing it, but we could do it. Just another 150 miles or so. We were getting excited about being there. Sure, we were tired, but the Kid and I just wanted to get there. We decided that we could do it.

For most of the trip, we just followed Honey. Honey had the Mapquest directions, he was the slowest, having to pull the trailer. For this leg of the trip, the Kid set out ahead of us all, Honey was behind me. We figured we could make it there about 30 minutes before him. Not a great time save, but it would be nice to get checked into the hotel before he showed up.

For the record, if North Dakota or Montana decide they need to repair part of a highway, they mean it. The will completely tear up miles and miles of road, leaving you with either one lane, or a gravel road. On this leg of the trip, we found no less than 6 miles of highway that had been converted to the most impressive strip of gravel road I have ever had the pleasure to drive across. The kind my little, plastic car is very unhappy about driving on. Somewhere along the way, a rock found my new windshield. I'll need another one. Nothing drastic, just a crack that is threatening to run across my windshield.

I'm trying to keep up with the Kid. I keep getting stuck behind people that just don't want to go as fast as I'm going. An afternoon thundershower slows everything down. Rain coming down in buckets, windshield wipers that don't move fast enough. Just after the thundershower, I am trying to find a way to get around the car in front of me, and what do I see on the side of the road? That's right, a little blue pickup. I quickly pull over, my heart skipping a beat, or two. Oh, no, what has happened? Before I can get out of my car, I see the Kid, opening up the hood of the pickup. I'm still concerned, but I calm down a little. It is 7:30pm and I'm certain we won't see Havre any time soon. Pickup won't start, we check the oil, the Kid looks under the hood and under the truck. He says he was driving along and it just died, he lost everything. I get on the phone to Honey.

After I take out some of my frustration over my windshield and the truck on Honey, I get the number to road-side assistance. 7:45pm, we have road-side assistance working on getting us a tow-truck to take the pickup to Havre. Best guess? We're about 32 miles from Havre. We all sit around, waiting, watching the clouds of the last thundershower move past us and another set move towards us. 8:30pm, a really nice good ol' boy shows up with his wrecker to tow the pickup to Havre. 8:45pm, we are back on the road and headed West again. 9:25pm, we all pull in to the lot at Robert's Big Sky auto repair, on the East side of Havre.

The wrecker driver gives us some advice about driving in Havre. Evidently, Montana still means it about road work. They have torn up all of Main Street in town. A normally 4 lane road has been turned into a gravel and mud pit that runs through the center of town. He tells us we really should take the side road and not drive down US2 through town. We thank him and give him a nomadic bunny-man to hang from his rear-view mirror. Then he is off to do repossesion work.

10:15pm we are checked in to the Super 8 at the end of town. The nice lady at the desk is not as helpful as the wrecker driver. She gave us directions to the diner that took us right down US2, through the middle of all that horrible gravel. "It should be okay, they graded it," is what she told Honey. I will reserve comment. After some driving around and being really mad about the state of the road, we found a way to get back onto proper pavement. After some more driving around, we found the alleyway that would take us where we wanted to go. It was the adventure I promised them. We finally found ourselves at the little diner. The server was very nice. The food was slow. She served us in her house-shoes. Another nomadic bunny-man found a home.

I have no idea what time it was when we finally got back to the room. We all crashed. We had made it. Tomorrow we will have to talk to the mechanic about the truck. We will have to get in touch with the guys with the keys to the house. We will have to get some stuff out of the trailer and the truck. We have so many more things to do. We will be moving into the house on Thursday. It seems there is an "Everything Antiques Show" in town. The hotels will all be booked up. That's okay, though. The cable guy should be there Thursday morning.

Miles traveled: 512 miles

Total Miles traveled: 2360 miles

Road Kill Statistics
4 Birds
7 Prairie Dogs
21 Unidentifiable

Potential Road Kill
3 Prairie Dogs (those little buggers are fast)
3 Antelope (very pretty on the side of the road)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Big Move, Day Four

We left St. Paul, MN around 8:15am. For the record, the speed limit for Minnesota (on the Interstate) is 70mph. At 8:45am, we were stopping to fuel up the Taurus, again. They put up these cute little dinosaurs so you remember where your gas comes from. Well, I don't know that's why, I just think they're kinda cute.

A little down the road, we stopped to get breakfast at Denny's. I was really surprised that they weren't crowded. Usually, Sunday mornings are very crowded. Yet another nomadic bunny-man finds a home with the very nice server.

Around 10:40am we were back on the road, headed West towards North Dakota. By 1:05pm, we had crossed over into North Dakota.

Everyone stopped for fuel at 1:23pm. Best price we've seen so far at only (a year ago I would not have said that) $3.79/gallon.

2:50pm we stopped at Subway for lunch. Quick and easy and back on the road by 3:30pm.

Our last stop for gas, before reaching our destination of the day was offering Free Ternet. We aren't sure what that is, but we have ideas.

At 5:30pm we had pulled into the lot of the Super 8 in Bismark, North Dakota. The capitol of the state is allotted all of four exits off the interstate.

The big question for tomorrow: do we drive the entire 500+ miles to our destination? or, do we take our time and spend two days getting the same distance. Everyone will just have to wait and find out.

Miles Traveled: 442 (Approx.)

Road Kill Statistics

2 Raccoons
4 Deer
4 Polecats
30 Unidentifiable

Some of you may wonder why I provide the "miles traveled" as approximate. I just wanted to let everyone know, that I give the actual number of miles my car traveled. It is certain that we will actually travel more than the mileage quoted of 2302 miles.