Thursday, September 30, 2010

Favorite Things Friday - Boating the Marsh

The phone rang Wednesday while I was in the middle of stripping wallpaper.  Dad asked when I wanted to take a boat ride with him on the marsh, which I'd asked to do this fall sometime.  "How about today?" I said.  That was fine with him.  I called my sister, who just happened to have the day open, so she could come along too.  

Going for a boat ride with Dad on the Horicon Marsh is one of my all-time favorite things!

The Horicon Marsh is the largest cattail marsh in the U.S., spanning some 32,000 acres.  The northern two-thirds is federally owned and managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  The southern third, where we would be cruising, is managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.  

I grew up in Horicon, so I'm familiar with this wondrous place, but Dad is an expert.  Lifelong resident (except for a the last 15 winters spent in Arkansas), avid hunter, and local historian, he is in his element on the marsh. 

When his forefathers immigrated from Germany, they settled on the southern edge of the marsh, farming, gardening, hunting, trapping, and acting as guides for the private hunt clubs whose members from Milwaukee and Chicago paid for the privilege of hunting the marsh.

This was our ride, Dad's trusty fishing/hunting boat that's probably as old as I am, an appropriate vessel for these waters.

It's been a good five years since I've taken this trip.  Long enough to notice changes in the landscape of the islands, including fewer trees, and a different policy regarding removal of deadfalls (i.e., they are left as is, not removed).

Although it may just look like an expansive cattail marsh to most people, Dad knows every one of the numerous landmarks by name and significance:  Stony Bay, Neitzel's Slough, One-Mile Island, Cotton Island, Steamboat Island, Miescke's Ditch, Clark's Ditch, etc. 

He was quizzing my sister and I on some of these spots as we cruised up the main channel.  Our answers were hit and miss, at best.

He pointed out his hunting spot this year in a little slough which promises to be well populated with waterfowl.  Duck season opens Saturday.  It's what's for dinner next weekend.

The colors weren't quite peak, but the trees made for beautiful reflections nonetheless.

On our way back to the boathouse, we followed the river back through town, past the plant that makes the pretty yellow and green lawn equipment, the company from which Dad retired in the mid '80s.

The river used to be lined with boathouses through town.  Now only a handful remain.  Remember when I said, in my bathroom redo post, that the framed picture reminded me of places I've known?  

Yes, indeed.

We passed a house with an old root cellar built into the slope of the riverbank, "Where they used to keep all the beer," Dad said.  He's been inside the cellar; it's empty now.

It was such a gorgeous, special day, and we had a wonderful time.  Hope you enjoyed it too! 

See what favorite things others are sharing today at Quilting in My Pyjamas' Favourite Things Friday.  Thanks for visiting!


"Loops" was the subject of practice for the free motion quilt along this past week.  I've attempted some loopy things before (ha! haven't we all?), and it did not go well, so I knew this would be a challenge for me.  I think I did okay, but I know I'm going to need to spend more time on this kind of motion until I feel comfortable with it.

Oddly, there was no music happening in my head as I practiced these loops on paper.  Nada.  Crickets.

Of course, now that I see things here on the screen, I'm hearing a Strauss waltz.  I think the muse needs to work on its timing.

I did come up with something I named "Ball & Chain."  It was fun to draw and almost as fun to quilt.  

My stitches got really tiny on those small circles in the chain.

Those open figure eight type doodles (third from left)?  Fuggedaboudit.  Not feeling the loose and loopy love this evening.  I like the way they should look, though, so I'll come back to trying those again another time.

My second favorite, after Ball and Chain, was the loop within a loop.  It kind of reminded me of peacock feathers.  Either that or pimento stuffed olives.

Continuing with the loopy practice, I'm going to try to quilt some posies next.  Kay Lynne of Kay'z Quiltz posted a tutorial and I'm fired up to give it a go!

Until next week's FMQA update, keep your needle moving!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Plan for the Can

I'm about to start deconstructing the half bath, probably Wednesday.  Tomorrow morning, though, I'm going to do my free-motion quilt along homework from last week.  A gal's gotta have priorities.

Okay, bathroom "before" shots, here we go.  Here is the overall view of the three by eight foot space.  The ceiling height is dropped a bit from standard, so it'll be easy to paint.

Here's the view from the throne (yes, the lid is down).  I'm even leaning back here (and artsy angle, woo!) to give the illusion of more space, but I'm not kidding anyone am I?  In reality, one could multitask quite easily from a seated position, what with the sink being so handy and all.  And one does.

So the first step will be to remove the wallpaper.  Cross your fingers that it comes off relatively well and reveals little damage to the underlying wall.  It seems like it's really stuck on there good.  I have a feeling I may be in for a challenge, but I hope I'm wrong.

I have already bought the paint that'll go on the walls (because the 40% off sale ended Sunday).  The color is called "Take Five" by Sherwin Williams.  Here it is in the paint can, but I'm hoping it looks a tad darker on the walls, like it did on the paint chip.

You're going to laugh at me for this, but whatever.  I bought this picture at some garage sale or thrift store, I don't even remember when or where.  I was going to use the frame for something else.  I think the image is just one of those flimsy papers you're supposed to take out before you frame whatever nice thing you intended to frame.  I could be wrong.  Anyway, I liked the picture, so I left it and put it up in the bathroom.  I reminds me of places around here.

I will be "retiring" this picture, but I'm not sure what I'll put in its place.  That's way down the list of things to worry about later.  In the meantime, if any of you are seized with inspiration for wall art, please let me know. 

Current light fixture (circa 1977 when the house was built?):

Possible future light fixture?

I like the modern look and the profile doesn't come too far out from the wall.  Haven't bought it yet though.  It was at Home Depot.  I have a photo of it mounted on the display wall at the store, and you can see the curve of the light, but Blogger has a mind not to allow me to upload that pic for some reason.  What gives, Blogger?

At another home store, there was this one, which I originally thought I liked more.  But now, I think I like the first one.  As far as finishes, I prefer brushed nickel to chrome.

Floor before:

Floor after (a few weeks from now):

Not sure about the medicine chest.  We do use it.  Right now, my inclination is to leave it as is but change the hardware.  Mostly because I'm lazy that way, but also because with blue walls and brushed nickel accents, the room might already be on its way to being "cold."  But I would consider painting it too, if that seemed like the thing to do.

Definitely will need something besides the fake foliage on top, and something interesting for the shelf, eventually.

Oh, and these little things will also be retired.  I bought them at a craft fair long, long ago in another millennium.

Towel bar and TP holder will be replaced with something non-wood, probably brushed nickel.

So that's the current plan for the  Thoughts?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 8

I had the nagging feeling, as I was describing my affinity for yellow and green yesterday, that there was something else that I was fond of in that color scheme.  What was it?

Thanks, JKP, for reminding me!

The Packers play the Bears on Monday night.  With any luck, I should be home from work in time to catch the second half.

A Little Less Thought and a Lot More Action
Why is it that the older I get, the more often I feel like my mother I've told someone something, but I haven't?  Well, I have, but apparently only in my mind.  Which is neither very practical nor remotely helpful, in case you're wondering.

This goes for other things too, like blogging.  Oh, the posts I have written in my head but never committed to Blogger.  And quilting—if you could see the quilts I've made in the space between my ears!  

There is probably a name for this condition, and it's probably in the DSMKreskin-itis?  Whatever it is, I'm sure overthinking is a concomitant problem.  Come to think of it, I read a book several years ago called The Hamlet Syndrome: Overthinkers who Underachieve, which was something along those lines.  I found myself described on many of its pages, yet by the end of the book, I was just like, meh.

But what if we could put just a fraction of those transient flashes of brilliance into action?

The Ponder-osa
Recently, I've been enjoying Crystal's blog on minimalism, A Prettyish Kind of Wilderness.  You may know her from her quilt blog, Sonnet of the Moon.  It's got me thinking about the stuff that we surround ourselves with.  So many questions come to mind about the things we buy/collect/can't imagine living without.  

I wonder, for example, what my life would look like if I concentrated on collecting interesting experiences versus things? 

And Now...Things!
I haven't been to a thrift store this week, but here are some things from previous weeks that I know I haven't told you about yet.

Remember those three black and white aprons I fished from the depths of the domestic table at Goodwill several weeks ago?  Well, about 10 days ago, lurking below the surface of the same domestic table were two more aprons.  

I have a hunch they were made by the same person who made the other ones, though I'll never know for sure.  Anyway, I thought they were cute and well made and deserved a good home (mine).

Found this set of Pyrex casseroles at St. Vinny's last Saturday.  They're in perfect condition and came with all the matching glass lids.  Despite the fact that I don't exactly have a place to display them at the moment, I did buy them for $6 for the set.

Turning Dreaming into Doing
The flooring guy came out and measured and quoted us a price for new resilient vinyl flooring this week.  Looks like we're going to go with this, from Mannington.  It's called Macedonia.

Since the half bath is one of the rooms getting new flooring, this seemed as good a time as any to undertake a little renovation project in there.  Let me show you what I'm talking about.

This is our tiny half bath, three feet by eight feet, to be exact.  Seriously, there are larger facilities in most gas stations.  And how about that wallpaper?  I did not choose it, the previous homeowner did, in approximately 1985, by the looks of it.  My daughter's old boyfriend called it the jail cell bathroom.

So the plan is to remove the wallpaper, paint the ceiling and walls, and replace the light bar.  I may need your input on what to do with the cabinet there over the throne.  New knobs?  Repaint it?   Replace it?  Stay tuned for more details as this project evolves.

We Need the Funk
Though it might not make for a hilarious blog post, being in a bit of a funk can sometimes have its upside.  A little introspection is good from time to time, I think, especially if it motivates one to make beneficial changes.

Musically, a little funk never hurt anyone either.  So let's let the Isley Brothers take us into the week ahead.  It's your what you wanna do!

Friday, September 24, 2010


Yes, thank goodness it's Friday.  It's been a fairly busy work week for me, and besides that, I have been in a bit of a funk.  However, after a little time spent in the sewing room this evening and a nice phone call from a friend, I am on the upswing.

Made another clutch tonight with some of that vintage yellow yardage from the thrift shop a few weeks ago.  This cheery fabric just makes me smile. 

The front strip is a little swatch of Frolic that Elizabeth thought would go well with the yellow floral, and she was so right.  It's perfect!  Thanks, E.! 

(The flash made the colors look a bit bright/orangey; it's really more subdued.)
The inside is another piece of vintage green check.  I have always loved yellow and green together.  Dandelions in the spring, John Deere tractors made in the city where I grew up, sunflowers in late's all good.

Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict has a TGIF!~Thank Goodness It's Finished! linky on her blog today for anyone wanting to share their Friday finishes, if you usually link to Amy's Sew & Tell but don't have anything Amy Butler-related to show today. So nice of Sarah to do that! Check it out!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

FMQA - Lines and Angles

I spent some time this evening practicing lines and angles as part of the free motion quilt along (FMQA) led by Christina at A Few Scraps.

I practiced making the various shapes on paper first, pretty much copying what she did.  I liked her suggestions.

There's a rhythm to drawing these out, a "beat" to the repetitive pen strokes on paper.  Sometimes a song would pop into my head from that.  I also thought of names for most of the designs, which sometimes related to whatever song I heard in my head, as well as the overall look of a design.

For example, here's what I came up with on this page, from left to right:
  • Name:  Frankenstein.  Song:  "Frankenstein" by Edgar Winter Group
  • Name:  Snore
  • Name:  Gap Tooth
  • [Nothing came to mind]
  • Name:  Pueblo
  • [Yuck. Had trouble drawing this one.]
  • Name:  T-Square.  Song:  "Green Onions" by Booker T & the MGs.
  • Name:  Elf Ears
And on this page, left to right:
  • Name:  Telephone Line.  Song:  "Telephone Line" by ELO, and "Telephone Song" by Stevie Ray Vaughan.
  • Name: [Nothing came to mind].  Song:  "I Know What I Am" by Band of Skulls.
  • Name:  Kite Tails (Christina's very apt description).
  • Name:  Yard Sale Signs
  • Name:  Stringed Peas
  • Name:  Spiral Sixes
  • Name:  P's, G's & Q's (I felt like I was writing those letters).
When it came to quilting these shapes, it was a whole 'nother story.  I put on some music but not what you might expect:  Classical music on public radio.  Classical music doesn't distract me when I'm concentrating, and believe me, I was about to be concentrating.

I'm still all over the map with my machine speed, stitch length, etc.  That's just going to take some time and more practice.

What I learned was that it helped to pause a bit at the point of an angle or else it'd be rounded.  And doing plain zig-zaggy stitching was harder than it looked.

Also?  Those kite tails were freakin' ridiculous to stitch!  I gave up and went on to some funky looking stars instead.  I kind of like how they turned out.

My favorite is—gee, wouldn't you know I didn't name that one, but it looks like Post-It Notes on alternating sides of a string (far right in the pic below).  I also like the retro look of Telephone Line (third from right below), although it was a little tricky to get the hang of at first.

So that's the second week's report.  I wish, for your sakes, my practice quilt wasn't quite so fugly, but for me it's what I needed—no pressure to make anything pretty, just to get on with it.