Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring!

It is finally here!! :c)

We had our first truly nice weekend weather-wise this past weekend.  We had one day last week, but both Saturday and Sunday were nice here.  Much of the nice weather has been spent raking the yard to remove the dead grass....definitely not one of my favorite spring-time chores.  I'm sore from all the raking.  Half of the yard was done two weekends ago and the rest of it was done this past weekend.

However, my plants are starting to grow and its really nice to see some green! One of the "weaker" lupine plants below.  For some reason it is struggling a little in its current home, so I may decide to move it later this summer if it continues to struggle.

Spring 2015

I have some silver mound that I split last fall and now have four plants.  They are all a bit smaller, but will definitely grow a bit this year.  You can keep trimming them all year to keep them nice and tidy, so they provide a nice accent to the garden.

Spring 2015

My clematis are starting to show signs of life as well.

Spring 2015

You do have to look closely to see some of the green...but its there.

Spring 2015

I think these two plants are called columbine.  They were a bit over-crowded last year, so I did some re-arranging in the fall to try to give them some more space this year.  Hopefully it will help and make them happier.

Spring 2015

These ones are campanula.  They produce very pretty purple flowers...and lots of them.  These were also moved last year as they were crowded in with the columbine.

Spring 2015

These next two are my happiest lupines.  They have more stalks than I can count right now, so they are definitely in a happy place.  I can't wait to see how many flowers I get out of these guys this year.

Spring 2015

So this next picture is a bit odd.  You all know that I do quilting (or at least attempt to do it when I can find the time to get into my sewing room).  Aside from taking care of the garden, I also help split the wood we use to heat the house in the winter.  I started splitting wood last fall when I was going through a stressful time at work and I've found that I absolutely love it.  It is a great workout and is amazing at stress relief.  Beating on a big hunk of wood is very satisfying!  :c)

Since my husband also splits the wood, there were times last fall that we would both want to split, but we only had one axe.  So one of us would have to find something else to do, or just stand there and pick up the wood pieces.  I decided to fix that this year and put a new axe on my birthday list.  Its the same length as the old one, but is a tad bit lighter and had great reviews on Amazon.

Spring 2015

I didn't get a chance to test it out this weekend since we spent all of Sunday raking (Saturday was spent doing some family stuff).  I'm hoping to be able to test it out this coming weekend and see how it splits.  The reviews on Amazon said that it was really easy to split wood with the axe and has plenty of power to it such that you can actually get through the larger logs.

I do expect to get some quilting in this week as the next three days have nothing but rain in the forecast.  Hopefully I'll have something to share later this week.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Spring has Sprung...sort of

Spring has been a bit delayed this year in the northeast, so I've been enjoying seeing a lot of pictures from fellow quilters who are a bit further south and have their spring in full-swing.  I was sewing the other weekend (gasp - I know...it's been a while) and was able to capture this picture out my sewing room window:

Spring April 2015 -1

Just a small amount of snow left and at this point there isn't any snow in the backyard.  We do still have some piles in certain areas that are shady and had a thick snow-cover, but most of it is gone.  We had two days last week where we were near 60 degrees, and two days later we had a bit more snow.  Crazy!

I have been doing a mix of quilting on the Mariner's Compass quilt and also sewing some blocks for a BOM that I picked up last year.  I need the break from quilting, so its nice to do some piecing and applique between my quilting sessions.  I do it all on the same machine, so I typically wait until I finish up a bobbin for quilting and then I'll switch to piecing/appliquing something for a day or two, then load a new bobbin for quilting and do some more on the Compass quilt.

Here's the BOM that I've been slowing working on.  This is the 2nd block that I've completed out of 6.

Summer sampler March 2015

And here's the progress on the 2nd corner of the Mariner's Compass quilt.  Not much started yet, but its started and I'll continuing filling in around the quilt.

Mariners compass - April 2015 - 1

As I mentioned in my last post, we did have a big purchase earlier this winter.  Every year or so for the past 3 years we have toyed with the idea of buying a grand piano (or baby grand).  We both play and have been "limping" along on a digital piano.  The digital was very nice and has lasted us over 10 years of playing.  It was very handy for when we did a lot of moving around the first few years out of college.  Now that we're settled into our dream home, we wanted to get an actual piano.

Just before Christmas we had started looking around and didn't initially find anything that we liked (or liked and wanted to spend the money on).  We eventually found a local used piano dealer and fell in love with a piano he had.  It took us several weeks of trying out pianos and making sure it was definitely the one we wanted.  Then it took another 4-6 weeks for him to prep the piano and for the weather to clear up enough for it to be delivered.

And here she is!!!!

Grand piano

It is a beautiful piano... with how it sounds, how it plays and how it looks.  It is a Steinway piano (we weren't initially looking for a Steinway in particular, but this piano had the touch and sound we wanted).  The difference in this piano from other Steinway pianos is that it is a German made Steinway piano.

Grand piano

The piano was made in Hamburg, Germany in 1937.  It has been certified by Steinway in NYC that it is in fact a 1937 piano from Hamburg and that everything in it is original to the factory there.  No one knows how it came to be in the US, but it did... and we are glad that it did.

We love having it in the house and we play about 2 hours every night and more so on the weekends.  It truly is a special piano and we're so happy to have it.  The one and only downside is that I tend to play it more and it is taking away some of my quilting time.  :c)

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Crazy....

That one word pretty much sums things up for the past few weeks.  This post is a non-picture post unfortunately, so if you're here for pictures... you can bypass this post.  :c)

The first 3 months of every year is crazy for me at work due to it being appraisal time for the 25 individuals who work for me.  It takes a lot of effort and time to initially write up all the appraisals (i.e. performance evaluations) and it takes even longer to have the discussions with 25 people.

Each year I somewhat forget how emotionally taxing it is to get through the reviews.  I try really hard to make sure the reviews are accurate, which doesn't always make people happy.  By the time I get home from work, I'm completely exhausted from the day, which means I haven't been doing a lot of sewing or quilting lately.  I have been doing some and will be able to share some pictures soon.

The other bit of "news" is that we purchased a piano a few weeks ago.  Both  my husband and I play and we've used a digital piano for several years, but finally decided that we wanted a real piano ago.  I will definitely show a picture of it when I get one taken.  :c)  Its a used Steinway piano with a wonderful sound/touch as well as a bit of history and mystery surrounding it.

I hope everyone has been surviving the last bit of winter the country seems to be having.  I'm hopeful that it will finally feel like spring soon here in the northeast.  We've had a long, cold winter and it will be wonderful to have some spring-like temperatures again.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Monday, March 9, 2015

More Progress...

Whew!  Another post and it hasn't even been a month yet.  ;c)

A weekend ago, we finally had the sun creep out for a bit during the morning and it made the outdoors look awfully inviting despite the snow.  We have had a lot of grey, cloudy days due to the cold and almost constant snowfall.  Here was the view out my sewing room the other weekend:

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 04

That was the day that I was finally able to start sewing on the outside corners of the Mariner's Compass quilt.  Here's a section that was partially done...

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 05

And a slightly different angle (and later on in the day) showing the texture created.  Some of the triangles still have some non-straight "lines" in them from the basting stitches.  Once I get this washed, those lines will disappear.

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 07

Up-close and personal with pebbles...

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 06


Mariner's Compass - March 2015 - 03


Mariner's Compass - March 2015 - 02

I love the overall texture and depth the pebbles are giving to this quilt.  Sometimes I think I should have gone with some more than just pebbles, but too late now!  I'm definitely not ripping out this much pebbling!

Mariner's Compass - March 2015 - 01

I'm still not quite done with this one corner, but very close.  Its probably another 1/2 hour of quilting or so and it should be done.  It takes me a bit longer as I try to break it up into manageable chunks and get myself up and moving in between.  I've found that I can do about 10-15 individual pebbles before I have to re-adjust my hands.  So after I do 3 or 4 re-adjustments, I typically will get up, walk around, etc.   It makes it so it takes longer to get the quilt done, but my body appreciates the break.

 Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Friday, March 6, 2015

Another Month Gone!

Once again, I have no idea where the month of February went.  It seems like time is flying by faster and faster and I'm not quite sure where its going.  We've had a lot of cold weather and snow here in the Northeast this winter.  While you would think that would equate to lots of quilting, it really hasn't.  It has been so cold that I've been spending a lot of time near the fireplace, which is far away from the sewing room.

We had almost 8 weeks of temperatures where it did not go above freezing....at all!  Just constant, sub-freezing temperatures all the time, not to mention the wind chill.  Brrrr!  I think we bottomed out at -27F with straight temperature.  We did have one day earlier this week where it was 37 and it felt absolutely wonderful! :c)

I did finally get the center section of the Mariner's Compass quilt fully quilted.  I still have to do the corners and in the white section of the pieced border, but I'm making progress.  Here's almost a full view of the quilt:

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 03

A little bit more of a close-up so you can see the pebble quilting.

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 02

And getting right down at the quilt level to see the stitching and the texture it creates...

Mariner's Compass - February 2015 - 01


I'm really digging the texture this quilt has so far.  I've started on one of the corners and it is almost quilted and the design really pops out, but those photos are for another day (and hopefully not a month from now).

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Snowy Day of Quilting

Last weekend, I spent a little bit of time in my sewing room.  My husband had traveled the week before and was exhausted after arriving home late on Friday.  He slept most of Saturday, which meant I had time to play.  :c)

I was perfectly happy to be inside was we had snow showers on and off all day.  It was just before the "blizzard" hit New England last week.  This was the view out my sewing room window.  It is a little hard to see the snow, but it is coming down lightly.

IMG_2627

This next picture shows what it looked like with one of the snow squalls coming through.  Lots of white stuff in the air.

IMG_2626

As you can see, I was making progress on the Mariner's Compass.  It has definitely been slow-going and I'm sure the few people who read my blog will be bored of this quilt very soon.  Quilting small little pebbles all over a center portion of quilt just takes time and I haven't been able to devote as much time as I would like to it.

After doing pebbles for a few hours...yes, a few hours... I decided I needed a change of pace.  Last spring I purchased a quilt kit that was similar to a Block-of-the-Month (BOM).  In the fall, I was able to get the first block done and all the appliques fused in place, but I never actually got around to doing the stitches to actually applique them in place.  I decided that since I needed something different besides quilting pebbles, I would do the appliques on this piece.  It took about 2 hours with the thread color changes, but its done now and back up on my design wall.

Summer_BOM_2015_1

I've also been doing a lot of needlepoint lately.  Its nice to be able to do it and sit by the fire at night.  I don't have any pictures yet, but will share when I remember to take one.  LOL!

So the "blizzard" from last week didn't really impact us here in upstate NY.  On Monday night the weather folks were forecasting 8-14" of snow overnight.  We woke up Monday morning...without even a dusting of new snow.  There were a lot of disappointed kids that day!  However, we did end up getting snow during the day on Tuesday...about 6-8" worth of it.  It was just enough that we had to clear our driveway and the commute home was a little exciting for some folks.

With the AWD Subaru, I just don't worry about snow anymore.  It performs fantastically in the snow.  I've driven through 6" of snow on the roads without any issues whatsoever.  Its a standard shift car and it didn't even have any issues starting up on a hill (as anyone who has driven a standard shift car, that's usually the nemesis of driving a standard).  I absolutely love the car (and the heated seats are REALLY nice this time of year)!

I'm also trying to re-design the closet in my sewing room.  Right now its pretty much a standard bedroom closet that we added some free-standing bookshelves to such that I could store my fabric and patterns and thread.  However, its really not the best setup.  I want to have pull-out draws for my thread so I can more easily see the colors and to also keep dust off it.  I'd also like to have better shelving for the books/fabric as right now its not really enough and the shelves are bowed from years of having books on them.

I'll probably try to post some sketches on here for ideas/suggestions, but any thoughts on good storage options are definitely welcome!

I hope everyone is enjoying the winter and getting lots of quilting/crafting done!

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Quilty Update

I finally got back into my sewing room this weekend.  It is the first time in about two or three months that I've spent any real time in there.  It felt good to be sewing again.  :c)

I made some progress on the Mariner's Compass quilt that I've been working on.  The quilting is slow-going as it is lots of little tiny pebbles.  However, so far it has been worth the effort.  I used wool batting on this quilt from Quilter's Dream, which gives a nice puffiness to the minimally quilted areas.  I'm also using Superior Threads' So Fine in the top and BottomLine in to the bobbin.  The denseness of the quilted portions really allows the points of the compass to pop-up


I'm really loving the texture that the pebble quilting is giving on this quilt.  The little circles really offset the straight lines of the rest of the quilt.


Can't help myself... another close-up picture.  :c)


So aside from stressing about work the past few months and not getting into my sewing room.... I have actually been exercising a bit more.  I realize during the summer that I just wasn't happy with where I was in terms of body size, weight, etc.  I finally decided to do something about it.  It may sound weird, but I went out and purchased a FitBit.  I got the Flex version as I wanted something that was easy to carry around with me.  I always had trouble with pedometers that either clipped on the waist or went in a pocket as I don't typically have pockets on my clothing for work and the waist option was just annoying.

The first week or so I simply wanted to track how much I was actually walking without changing any of my existing habits.  I was surprised to find that I wasn't walking nearly as much as I thought I was.  All my "running" around at work was really just going from meeting to meeting and then sitting for an hour or more.  Since then I've paid attention to how many steps I was getting in each day and forced myself to get up more frequently.  Instead of picking up the phone, I would walk to someone's desk.  Instead of parking close to the building, I parked further away.

I'm happy to say that with tracking my walking and a few small changes to my diet, I've been able to lose almost 20 pounds since September.  I'm routinely walking about 7,000 - 8,000 steps a day and when I go to the gym (2-3 times a week), I'm close to about 12,000 steps those days.  In the fall when the weather was nice, I was really walking a lot and most weekends had close to 20,000 steps on both Saturday and Sunday.  I'm looking forward to the spring weather in another few months and I hope I can increase my amount of walking again.

I saw that Karen posted about recently getting a FitBit.  I've had success with it and really like the features that the Apps have.  You can challenge friends during the week and on weekends to meet step goals for a day or for an entire week or just a weekend.  Sometimes its surprising how much a little thing like an easy way to track steps can help, but for me, it helped a lot.  It made me aware of the fact that I didn't walk nearly as much as I thought I did, which made me want to walk more.  I look forward to each day when I get that little buzz towards the end of the day signaling that I met my step goal.

So while you are sewing...don't forget to get up and walk every now and then!  :c)

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations

Friday, January 16, 2015

It's Been A While....

Do you ever wonder where time goes on you?  That's how I feel about all of last fall and through Christmas!

The last three months of the year were busy beyond comprehension, which is why I realized today that its been 3-4 MONTHS since I last posted anything.  To be absolutely honest, I really do have no idea where the time went.  I think I was so busy with work-related things that it was all I could do to get through each week.  With the nice weather on the weekends, that time always went by quickly, too.

I had some high-stress things going on and my method of dealing with them through the Fall was to simply work it out with hard, manual labor on the weekends (and sometimes during the week).  I picked up splitting wood...by hand.  It is great exercise and really worked my upper body.  It was also very stress relieving to be able to beat on something!  :c)

The holidays went by too quickly as well.  There was a fair amount of travel involved for us and just a lot of time spent visiting family.

Despite having two weeks off for the holidays, I did not get a lot of sewing or quilting done.  The last time that I was actually in my sewing room to do sewing as before Thanksgiving.  I'm hopeful that now that we're into the new year that things might settle (at least a little) and that I'll be able to get back to sewing again.

I feel like I've lost a bit of my sewing mojo, but hopefully it will be back soon.

I've been keeping up with a lot of blogs and I'm glad to see that lots of folks had good holidays and have already started their new projects for 2015.  Even if I can't manage to get some sewing done, at least I can enjoy looking at everyone else's great progress.

Happy Crafting!
~Sarah at upstateNYCreations