Home Improvement – Support Beam Bummer!

Hi Friends,

Today we opened up the soffit in our kitchen.

But before we get to THOSE photos, here are a couple of BEFORE shots.

West Wall…


North Wall…DSCF1637

South and East Walls… DSCF1651

…and here’s the soffit opened up…DSCF1655

I’m not sure if you can tell, but where Jim is, the soffit is actually a support beam!  Yikes!  Guess that is not going to come out (but glad we looked and opened it up).  However, the soffit on the North wall is open and clear and could be removed, so that does give us an option to have some taller cabinets!  Whoot!

That’s all for now.

Slowly but surely we keep moving forward.  Now that I have the answer to the soffit question I can finalize our cabinet order…so exciting!

More to come!




Sad Day Here – We said goodbye to our 1 in 2 Million

This is a good bye post and a post just for me to remember the best cat I’ve ever owned — and I add to say ever KNOWN.  Hands Down.  Chloe came into our lives in July 2009 and has been a re-occurring feature here on the blog.

Chloe as muse

What made her so different from all the other cats?  For one, she was just so sweet.  She loved everyone.  She was never mean, never hissed or swiped her claws at anyone.  She loved to be held and would purr for hours in complete contented bliss.

She loved the dogs.  She tolerated Mike the Dog, raised 2 CCI service pups, slept with them when they weren’t feeling well and even welcomed Holly into the pack.

She would go on walks with us.  People would stop their cars to look, just to make sure they were seeing what they were seeing.  Sometimes asking if that was our cat.  Yes.  That was our cat, just prancing along with her tail high up in the air walking right along with us.  She loved to be around us.

She would climb ladders whenever we were working on and about the house.  She would get up on the roof and meow at the window until I let her in.  When she was younger she would climb on our neighbors roofs, just completely un-aware that she wasn’t supposed to do that!  She was hard to contain as an indoor cat and loved the outdoors.

She was a mouser.  She once took out a squirrel but learned the mice were easier prey.  She made sure the annual field mice invasion was kept in check and brought them to us, a show of complete affection.Chloe with christmas cactus in window

A little over a year ago she started having muscle tremors, or what I thought were seizures.  She seemed to pull through them and come around to her usual self.  We went through many tests to find out what was wrong but we never did.

Earlier this month she started having more and more episodes and I took her to the vet on Saturday.  I had video of one of these episodes and the vet felt that there was definitely something going on so we started a new round of tests.  I also asked to get her annual boosters, something that in hind-sight was most likely what put her little body into too much stress.

Cats have a way of hiding their illness and I unwittingly put her in a situation that would cause her to struggle and her underlying illness came to light very quickly and it wasn’t good.

Within 24 hours she was in distress and on Monday morning she couldn’t breathe, just gasping for breath.  She spent 24 hours in an oxygen chamber and this morning she was crashing.

Ultimately, the end results are always the same.  We were so not ready for her time to be up and this was so unexpected but after seeing her gasp for breath and watch as she struggled, basically drowning, it was enough.  We gave her the rest she needed and let her go.

She is buried under a pine tree now and will always be remembered.  I never thought a cat would tug so much at my heart strings, but I guess when you are a 1 in 2 million, there’s going to be a big piece of your heart missing when these special friends leave us and pass over the rainbow bridge. . .

Goodbye sweet Chloe, you’ll always be loved and missed…


Back To Square One Block Tutorial – Part 1: The Flying Geese Segments

Hi Friends!

As I’ve been working on these ‘Back to Square One’ blocks I’ve been writing up this  tutorial and paper pattern pieces…so first things first.

Here is the pattern: Back to Square One Block r1

This is a combo-pieced pattern using Paper Piecing for the Flying Geese blocks, Paper Foundation Piecing for the String Triangles and Traditional Piecing to sew the parts together.  The paper pattern printout contains the foundations for both the flying geese and the string blocks as well as a pattern piece for the center square.  The second page is just optional as you’ll see I use phone book paper (gasp! — yes…I used a paper pattern to make a string block…but I’ll get to that in a bit) and you can just cut those out of phone book paper.  The center square can also be rotary cut, it is a 2-1/2″ square.

To make the Flying Geese Segments:


Start by working the area of the pattern marked with the number 1.

Layer a DARK scrap of fabric RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER with a LIGHT scrap of fabric.  Position these two so that the DARK is against  the BACK of the paper pattern at the position marked on the paper with a 1.  Double check to make sure both the dark fabric and the light fabric will completely cover area 1…

With the PRINTED side up, sew across the horizontal line under the 1…

Do this for the remaining 3 segments.

*****This next sequence continues for the remainder of the segment, for all 4 flying geese sections.*******

Fold back along the seam you just sewed and trim off any excess fabric.  Try to trim slightly less than a 1/4 inch seam allowance (these are small pieces so it helps to clear out as much bulk as possible.)DSCF9787


Press up the LIGHT fabric…DSCF9788

Turn the segment over and peel back and crease the paper along one edge of the triangle…DSCF9791

Trim, same as you did before, giving yourself a seam allowance no more than a 1/4″.  Just use scissors.  The pieces are small and it’s easy to get the job done with one a clean snip of the scissors…DSCF9792  DSCF9794

This is what it looks like from the right side.  A big triangle has been cut away (above) which if big enough could be used again, but I find I can toss much of these snips as they are too small for anything else.DSCF9795

Now do the same on the other side of the triangle.  Fold on the line, crease and trim the other side of the triangle…DSCF9796 DSCF9797

Here is the trimmed triangle center of the next flying geese!  It is ready for the wings!DSCF9798

Having a trimmed edge now makes it easier to get the wings lined up…

For the wing portion, select fabric large enough to cover BOTH the right side and the left side.  Here, I’ve chosen a scrap, which just so happens to be a larger triangle leftover from a project.  It is a perfect size to cut into 2 units (smaller triangles).  You don’t have to use triangles.  Rectangles work perfectly well too, just something big enough to cover that area of the paper pattern.DSCF9758 DSCF9759

I use one of wing triangles and position it against the trimmed edge of my body triangle…DSCF9760

I hold in place with my fingers, flip it over and stitch along the wing sewing line…DSCF9761

Stopping just past the horizontal line and into the next unit.  (just one or two stitches)…DSCF9762

Continue to sew the other segments in a chain and remove the unit.  Press up the wing.  Check the seam allowance and trim if necessary.  Usually you shouldn’t have to if you’ve lined up a straight edge against that body triangle edge.  DSCF9768

Next, place the other wing against the body and sew this in place…  DSCF9770

Trim if necessary and press! DSCF9777

Continue in this manner until the last flying geese unit…     DSCF9799

For the last round of flying geese make all the units the same, using the same fabrics (this is of course optional, but I found that having all the same fabric helped to punch up the center star when the block is sewn together).  For the Body of the geese on this block I’ve pulled out some scrap from a One Block Wonder quilt (graciously given to me by my friend Ellen).  I thought there was enough ‘white’ space in these small chunks to act as a neutral…DSCF9800

For the wings, I’ve cut apart a 2-1/2″ scrap strip into 8 smaller triangular units…DSCF9801

String piece the whole process, just as we did before…DSCF9802 DSCF9803  DSCF9805 DSCF9806




And lastly, remove paper!DSCF9808

That completes these flying geese units!  We are ready for Part 2 – The String Blocks!

Isn’t this fun?  Just think of how much scrap you can get rid of using this segment!!!  I love it!

Part 2 is next!

Happy Quilting, Happy Sewing!


New water heater!

20150406_135100We have a new water heater installed and the flue pipe issue with our furnace is now fixed!

I spent the day home so the crew could be here to work.  So glad this part of the kitchen remodel is done!

I poked a hole in our soffits on Saturday to see if I could see any reason why they needed to stay up but it was inconclusive.  We’ll be pulling those down this week.  We can’t finish our cabinet order without knowing what is behind the soffitts.

posting from my phone


I’m testing my posting abilities from my phone.  I ‘m one of the last dinosaurs to get a smart phone, so please just ignore this post for the most part.  Above is our sweet niece we were able to visit last weekend.  She’ll turn 2 come August.

~More later

Testing my ‘Back to Square One’ Block again…

Here is tester block No. 2 for ‘Back to Square One’.  I’m much more pleased with this version but I still had difficulty getting to be EXACTLY sqaure.  I think I was taking too much of a ‘Bite’ when sewing the paper piecing… DSCF9727-001

I made a conscience effort to remember to make all the center flying geese the same.  I like the way it came out.  I also streamlined how I made the string blocks — I used paper (blech) but it worked.  This block takes a good hour to sew but it’s easy mindless sewing and gets rid of all those odds and ends.

Here is a peak at what my design idea is going for.  A simple 2 block number…DSCF9728-001

I’m planning 17 of each block (I already have about 40 of the Arrowheads) so now it is just a matter of getting the ‘Back to Square One’ blocks fine tuned and made.

Happy Easter everyone!

More to come…

Oh…we had some water heater and flue  pipe issues yesterday….DSCF9717-001

We’ve had the flue pipe issue for a while now and decided to replace the water heater at the same time.

Jim has been antsy about the age of our water heater…


…practically a baby if you ask me but 20 years is about the max so we ordered a new one.  However, our work crew wasn’t able to install the new one because of the lack of space in the location.  Gee, imagine that!  They worked up all kinds of plans to make it work but at the end of the day we opted to get an entirely different system….

To be installed on Monday….

Oh the rehab blues!!!

More to come!


International Quilt Festival – Chicago

I took lots of photos of the International Quilt Festival – Chicago yesterday both before my volunteer work began and after, when I had time to just gaze and admire all the quilts…

I’ve included the maker’s names where possible in a corresponding photo.  These red and white quilts (names were not listed for the ones hanging)…

20150328_095708 20150328_095727 20150328_095751 20150328_095800

I was stalking the Dear Jane quilts.  I found 4 throughout the grounds.  Two of which I was able to photograph.  This one below, the blocks are not in the same sequence as the book so I took lots of photos so I could study it later!

20150328_121404 20150328_121532

Funny how life imitates your blog sometimes.  My volunteer location was outside the Demonstration booth and guess who was doing a demo?  Stay with me here…yes, Anita Grossman Soloman…yeah…the author of the book and inspiration for my Arrowhead block!

Coincidence or me…just another one to add to my life of coincidences…just catalog this one.  She said she had several of her quilts in the show.  I found one of them hanging up in the rafters, this red and white pineapple…


She was also demonstrating a Monkey Wrench block that was eerily similar to my Churn Dash block…see my link here

I came home and tried a google search for her Monkey Wrench but couldn’t find it.  Oh well.  Just weird is all…

Then I had to stop and gaze at some really cool quilts…

20150328_121715 20150328_121723 20150328_122346 20150328_122353 20150328_122413

More Dear Jane stalking….20150328_125003 20150328_125013 20150328_125021

…and looking for applique border inspiration for my 16 Patch Double Pinwheel quilt top…I thought this one was fantastic…20150328_125045 20150328_125051

There was an exhibit of star quilts that I couldn’t figure out…20150328_125155

…until I found the sign in deep space…then it all made sense….


Then I got nabbed for a souvenir photo.  I usually don’t do these but what the heck.  It may come in handy someday…


Have a great day everyone!


Back To Square One Block…

Friday I was working on a complimentary block to my Scrappy Arrowhead block.  I think I’ll call this block “Back to Square One”.  So appropriate don’t you think considering our dilemma with the kitchen remodel?  It could also most definitely work for my Weight Loss Journey Quilt I’ve boxed up and put on the shelf ready to re-visit (but that is just yet another saga).   So much symbolism  in such a grouping of scrap…DSCF1516

This block is a tester.  It finishes at 8.5″, an odd size I know, but I wanted to create a block that would compliment the Scrap Arrowhead so keep that in mind.  The strip pieced blocks didn’t turn out quite like I’d planned, I should have placed them in opposing positions and I think in the next go around I’ll make an effort to keep the 4 flying geese surrounding the center square the same which should make that pop a bit more.

Yesterday I volunteered at the International Quilt Festival in Chicago…which I’ll need to get those photos off of my phone.   Short of actually having a quilt in the exhibits I guess when I volunteer to be part of the whole big event I may as well call it official.  I AM A QUILTER!

More to come!

Happy Sewing, Happy Quilting!


Home Improvement – The Kitchen Planning Begins!

DSCF5733I just LOVE this above photo.  Complete chaos!  Ha!  Actually, we are moving everything out of the cabinets in this photo so it literally is a complete mess.  But I took a photo none-the-less and our cavern of blegck is here for you all to devour!

Can you believe, after almost 20 years we are finally getting to the LAST remodeling project for our house?  Just to catch you all up on the most recent major renovation progression, we started our downstairs overhaul 2 years ago with the living room.  Gosh!  Has it been 2 YEARS already?  Wow.  Time has gone by so fast.

Last year we completed the family room and now, the last room in the downstairs is the Kitchen/back hall and bathroom area!  We just love saving the most complicated for last right?

Well, it’s also the most expensive too.  At this point of the project I was ready to just have someone come in, design it and let them do it.  We spent the last month working with a remodeling business here in town and we have their proposal in our hand.  Friends, let’s just say my emotions were all over the place.

My first reaction was excitement!  Yay!  The plan is here!  I can see the light!  Our home will be finished!  Whoot!

Then getting more into the plan I realized I was going to be compromising SOOOoooo many things that my heart sank, I actually shed a small little sniffle of a tear, let out a really BIG sigh and stood in my kitchen almost in a daze.  I’ve waited sooooo long to have this space made over that I just DON’T want to compromise on the quality of cabinets I WANT, the tiles I WANT, the amount of cabinets I WANT, the counter tops I WANT and so much more that literally our proposal was so compromised full of reduced cost items that I couldn’t bear the thought of parting with twice my budget for what I’d be getting.  The Value to Cost ratio was so off that I knew I’d have to find another way.  So my Veruca Salt (from Willy Wonka) melt-down ensued.

After a few days I went back to square 1 and now I’m working and designing the plan with the help of some virtual planning software.   I stumbled on Lowe’s version so far that is easy to use.  Wow…this was only after a couple hours playing with the program!…Kitchen with 2 tone rev1

Then I re-visited our friends at Barker Cabinets in Portland, Oregon (we visited them last year!) and WOW!  They have so many options now!  Their website has expanded and options, options, options galore (I was getting really excited!).

These are photos I took last year…DSCF6885 DSCF6884 DSCF6883 DSCF6882 DSCF6881 DSCF6880 DSCF6879 DSCF6878 DSCF6888 DSCF6887 DSCF6886

After lots of hours on the computer I think I have the confidence to go forward and make our kitchen happen now.  We’ll be hiring some professional craftsmen and tradesmen for the things we can’t do ourselves but I’ll tell you.  I am so relieved now.  I think we actually CAN get what we WANT within our budget now.

Another big sigh!   And full of renewed excitement!

Happy Happy!


More Scrappy Arrowhead Blocks

I’ve been working all week busting my scraps into these Arrowhead Blocks….DSCF1271 DSCF1273 DSCF1275

I’m up to 15 so far!  I’m gonna keep going until I get to the bottom of my 2″ strip pile!  This is really making a dent!

Stay tuned!