How do you measure success?

At the end of the day, as we left the Apple Scrapple Festival with an SUV loaded with boxes, my hubby asked if I thought the day was successful.  It is difficult to measure when you aren’t really there to “sell” a product.

Apple Scrapple is just a month ahead of the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club annual open house, and it is such a great opportunity to promote our coming event. It is FREE advertising for the club.  (One of our members RUNS the entire craft show and allocates the club a 9×13 booth space for no charge).

So, I figured the measuring stick was the open house brochures we passed out.   We took a case of 1000 brochures for our upcoming open house. (There were maybe 50 out of the top of the box when we started).   We brought back about 1/3 of the box.   Hubby printed out 210 “labels” with info on an EXTRA RUN (more about that in a minute), and every brochure with that EXTRA Run label was handed out.  I can say for certain, that we spoke to OVER 210 people.  My “guess” is we handed out something like 700 brochures, so I think it was a successful day.

All set up and ready for visitors

People would see and hear the trains running and walk over to the table to watch.  Usually they were in groups of 3 or  4.  The men were attracted because they had been “schlepping around the craft show” carrying bags for the wife.

(I am a people watcher, and most of the men would stand at the edge of the booth while the wife, mother, daughter etc looked at the various craft wares.  They were bored.)  (It’s a good spouse who will wander the craft show, but then…I’m sure those wives have done their bit at car shows, fishing shows, etc) (Please don’t be offended gentlemen if you happen to LIKE craft fairs…this is strictly my observation and conclusion with no facts to support my particular point of view.)

When the men got to the train layout the eyes would light up, and they got to chat with the club members, and we were not “hustling them” to buy anything.  Then the women would wander up, and look at the “display” more so than the trains.  It gave us an opportunity to talk about both areas of interest.

We would hand an Open House brochure to someone in the group, inviting them to come see the “big layouts” at the club.

2017 2018 open house flyer

Overall, for a week & 1/2 worth of work getting this display ready to go, I was really pleased with the reactions it brought during the day from the public. By the time you put the buildings on, the trees, the vehicles on the streets and parking lots, and get some trains moving, it starts to look like a nice little town.

Double track

This little 4×8 train layout was built on a Styrofoam base with a plywood bottom and sides. That is what we started with the first week of October.  In my previous posts, I talk about the scenery, track, etc. After we had it all set up, we added plexiglass around the edges to keep the fingers away from the trains.

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We took our 2 big open house raffle prizes to showcase.  We have a Polar Express and a Harry Potter set to raffle, and I was surprised that we sold a few tickets.  Not a lot, because that wasn’t the point, but some.  My point with the raffle tickets is to “show off” those great prizes, and not hustle sales.

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We had the special Maryland Delaware box cars, and sold a couple of them. (These are available on the club website if you are interested in one, and not in the area).

I took along my train “pillowcases” and sold 3 of them. That was all “bonus” in my opinion.  If we had a separate booth with more space for display, I imagine we could have sold more, and could have brought other items from the club to sell. Oh good thing we left those wooden train whistles at the club!

The member of our club running the craft show was pleased with our set up.  It “slowed” people down near the back of the cafeteria, and as they wandered away; they stopped at the food booth run by his church and family. A win/win for all of us I think.  His son is also a club member, and he did the big job of transporting the 4×8 layout and the saw horse it sits on.

I think we met our purpose, achieved our goal, and will encourage the members to do this again next year. We’ve had a few years without the train layout at the festival, and people “LOOK” for it. Of course, I wore the hubby out pushing to get this ready and to “do” this festival.   I took the lead and did all the planning and coordinating, list making, 75% of the loading and unloading; and a smaller % of the tear down and reloading. We had 10 folks show up during the festival to help with the “passing brochures”, talking to the public etc.

Now, it is time to unload what we are storing at home, and sort what needs to go back to the train club this week.  We have to get ready for NEXT Saturday, our EXTRA RUN, when St Stephens UMC has their Fall Festival.  The church asked the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club to open for the festival. This is a first for the club. The club is very grateful to be located on the 2nd floor of the church fellowship hall for the last 32 years!  So, if you missed seeing our little 4×8 display, take a run to Delmar DE and enjoy the St Stephen UMC Fall Festival, and come upstairs and check out the over 8000 square feet of layouts!  I’ll be there, at the front door, greeting visitors, selling raffle tickets and inviting them back for the annual open house season.

 

 

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Grandma’s Kitchen – Block 11

Block 11 for Grandma’s Kitchen is called Peppermint Swirls.  Pattern is by Pat Sloan and can be found at http://www.ilovetomakequilts.com/2017/09/free-block-1125-grandmas-kitchen-sew-along-a-weekly-deal.html

Grandma's Kitchen Block 11

My peppermint swirl pieces still need the applique top stitching done.  They are “just fused” to the background piece.  When I get my Janome back, then I can do that stitching. I think I will color match the threads when I do the top stitching.

With each block, Pat tells stories of her memories of both of her grandmothers.  They are sweet stories, and really make me ponder on my own grandmothers. Pat’s grandma always had peppermints.  My Grandma Bessie always had lifesavers in her pocketbook.  I decided to go with the “peppermint swirl” after I thought about the block for a while.  Grandma Bessie always made ice cream with the leftover peppermint candy canes.

Grandma Bessie was the one that I knew the best. She lived about 150 miles away, and we saw her frequently.  I know that when I was really little she lived much closer and my older siblings say she really took care of all of us.  My mother was recovering from cancer following the birth of my youngest sister, and I was just too little to know much of what was going on. I was only 1 1/2 when my sister was born, and I presume my grandmother kept the ship afloat while mother had surgeries and radiation.  I have scant memories of toddler times.  I am told that my mother and grandmother took the 5 children on a trip to Wyoming, and along the way I contracted scarlet fever. I must have been about 3 years old at that time.  When we got home, all the children went to stay with my grandmother, while my mother cared for me in our home that had been quarantined by the health department.  I know that my grandmother made silk nightgowns for me, from my father’s WWII parachute.  I also know that the garments, linens and so forth all went into the incinerator in the back yard.  I remember lying on the sofa in the living room, under the big picture window in those silky nightgowns.  Grandma would dye them yellow, because it was my favorite color.

My best memories begin when I was probably elementary school age, and got to spend more one on one time with her.  By then, she lived in the Mojave desert, care taker of a ranch. It was a place where the “wealthy” people came on the weekends.  I don’t really know what work she did; but I do remember hiking in the hills, picking up arrowheads, and learning about rattle snakes and the like.  Grandma always carried a shovel with a sharp edge in the trunk of the car. She was a feisty woman, and there was not much she would not try to do on her own.  She was a “rock hound” and a collector of those pretty bottles that changed colors in the hot sun.  Her window sills were lined with the bottles she had gathered around the desert.

This photo was taken of her in 1973 or 1974. I remember she was excited to see my “new” car.  I was 17 or 18, and she was approaching 80.

And this photo was from the late 50’s, near her “new car”.  It’s funny, I think she had that same car until she quit driving! I look so tall next to my baby sister!

We had some lovely adventures in that old car, driving trips out in the desert to lava fields and dry lake beds, and to the base of Mount Whitney, and out to old abandoned gold mining towns. Why, as school age youngsters, we even went to the Senior Citizens center with her, and learned to play cards.  She really made each of the 5 children feel special in their own right. She was the typical grandma in an apron, cooking something wonderful for dinner, dishing up scoops of ice cream and tucking you in at night!

This is a fun project and brings up lots of lovely memories.

What’s happening in your sewing room this week?

 

#400 and more fun stuff

Wow; I am reminded as I logged in to write this blog post that this is the 400th post I have written to share.  I started out back in November of 2012 just writing about my projects, and am happy to now have 511 people who follow through WordPress, Blogger and Facebook.  Some folks have been with me since the very beginning, and I am honored they have hung in for this long.

Recently, I had a great time working with 2 ladies in my “Queen Bees” quilting bee.  They are both owners of new embroidery machines, and we spent a bit of time talking about how to “organize” all those fantastic designs they have been purchasing.  I shared my methods, using the computer and a “notebook”.

Whenever I download a design, I make sure I give the stitch file, and the thread change pdf/doc similar names, incorporating the names the designer has used along with a name that makes some kind of sense, months down the road.  I encouraged them to also print out the pdf/doc file, and put them in folders or behind dividers that mirror the “file folder” they used on the computer. The goal overall is to make it easy to find the file you are looking for.

I have several thousand designs “stored” on my computer, and I use file categories like Animals, Holidays, Flowers etc.  Inside those file categories are sub-folders.  So for instance; if I am looking for a Christmas design of “Jingle bells”.  I am going to open the HOLIDAY file, and look for the sub-folder called Christmas. Inside the Christmas folder will be my JingleBells.pdf (the thread change document) and the JingleBells.pes file (the stitch file).  In the 3 ring binder I keep the printed stitch file pdf, I will have similar tabs or dividers, so I can flip through and make some design choices.  (I am on my 4th big 3 ring binder!) Recently I printed out the file directory, and went through my binders, rearranging slightly, and putting names on the tabs that really reflected what was in the computer. Big improvement!

About 2 years ago, I wrote a blog post Machine Embroidery Resources, and did a refresher recently with a bunch of new links Updated Machine Embroidery Resources  .  In both of those posts, I talk about all the free designs available from various sources.  I also mention stabilizers, thread etc.  I have also written about “moving files” Moving files between the computer and the machine .  If you are new to machine embroidery, you may find all 3 of those blog posts of interest.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a Material Girls Bee on Wednesday. It is always fun to catch up and just sew for a while and visit and share projects.  Of course, I forgot to bring my show & tell.  I was the hostess, so I was fussing about getting the fresh fruit in the car, and happy to know that I didn’t forget any vital sewing items.  I love walking around and seeing what others are working on.  My table mate Barbara was working on a Quilts of Valor project. We got to ooh and ahh over Cindy’s wonderful “under the sea” applique project she is doing. There was another applique project going on by Kathi, and it was her “quilts around the bay” beauty!  Jean was working on stitch & flip rectangles for her husbands patriotic quilt. She had a few hundred of them to sew.  Judy was basting a beautiful quilt that was all applique done with asian prints. It just shimmered with those lovely metallic shots of gold. Francie finished a mug rug and was starting on a baby quilt. Gayle was cutting for a new quilt, and I am certain I looked at what Cheryl was doing, but now have forgotten completely! We have been privileged this year to use the fellowship hall at an area church and have great space and great light.  The ladies arrive and help set up, bringing irons, extension cords, pressing mats/boards; pvc pipes cut “just right” to raise the tables for ironing and cutting etc. So, my job as host is really just bring a few snacks and cart home the leftovers.  Clean up is just as easy as set up.

Wednesdays are fun too, as the hubby has his train club and I can sew as “long” as I can stay up!  I’ve been working on sorting scraps into color waves, and have been through about 5 boxes so far.

In between the scraps, I managed to do my next block in the Grandma’s Kitchen project by Pat Sloan.  Block #8 of 25 is called Grandma’s Apron.  I was able to get the stitching done on my little Brother machine, but will have to wait for the big Janome to come back from repairs to do the blanket stitching.

Block 8 of 25 Grandma's Kitchen

My Grandma Bessie always had an apron on. She was a bit rounder in the waistline than this dress would imply! I remember they were always floral dresses or floral aprons.  I am enjoying finding various 1930’s reproduction fabrics that go nicely together and can carry over from one block to the next.   If you have been following, you know that I used yellow and green in block # 1.  As I have done since the beginning of the project, I converted the photo to black & white to make sure I captured the “light/medium/dark” the pattern was suggesting. I upload my photos to FLICKR from my cell phone, and the B&W option easily available during the upload process. It does help me see if I am getting “close” on the contrasting colors.

Block 8 of 25 Grandma's Apron block

If you want to “stitch along” do go check out Pat Sloan’s website and join in –Grandma’s Kitchen Free pattern

I will be linking this post up on her page too!

Other fun stuff — Hubby and I went and previewed an estate auction on Monday evening. An former co-worker, Ed, let me know about the auction, as it was full of model railroad stuff.  He thought my hubby might have an interest and other friends who might also.  One man’s treasure might be something we would treasure was the thought process I think.

Turns out, my hubby had known the owner of the home and was familiar with the things he collected.  What he didn’t know was that the gentleman’s wife was quite the crafter, and had an entire crafting room that was ONE lot .

We had previewed the listing on-line, and there were things that caught my hubby’s eye, and we took a ride and spent a few hours browsing about checking lot numbers against the listing, and making sure we understood what the lot looked like and were able to make some value determination.  Now, in case you  missed it,  I said it was an estate auction.  I am keeping my eye open for a vintage dining room table for 12!  So, I studied the listing carefully.

SIGH……It made me very sad to see that no one in this gentleman’s family wanted/had room for/ or an interest in his fantastic model railroad. The train layout was the 3rd stall of a 3 car garage. It was amazing, and done with expertise using the finest quality items.

Someone (my daughter….) recently told me to read an article that pretty much summed up the attitude “Your kids don’t want your old junk”.  Type that phrase into Google and you will come across article after article about Millennials not wanting Great Grandma’s antique breakfront or Seth Thomas mantle clock or those fabulous cut crystal dishes you worked so hard to collect.

As we walked through this home, that had been well loved, and admired the collectibles, the model railroad train layout room, we came across the “craft room”.  That room was 6×16, filled with shelving, a treadle sewing machine cabinet (no machine), a 1960’s heavy Kenmore sewing machine; and a work table filled with every kind of crafting implement known to be used up to the beginning of the 21st century. The shelves were filled with carefully labeled boxes indicating the contents, with holiday decor for every season. My friend, Ed, who told us about the auction ended up bidding on and winning the lot.

I spent this afternoon helping Ed, his wife, and four of his favorite co-workers (young strong fellas) pack up and load up this craft room.  Ed’s wife really wanted that craft room, and she has a big job ahead, sorting out the stuff we hurriedly packed.  I never in my life have seen so many individual bottles of craft acrylic paint, and every other type of craft paint known to exist.  There must have been 60 or more  aerosol  cans of spray paints along with every kind of adhesive known to exist.  I was amazed!  My hubby and I had been tempted to bid on the room because we knew there had to be some hidden treasures.  I think I found the one box that will pay them back for the investment they made on the room.  It was a box of cut crystal dishes, with an inventory price sheet inside.  It was tucked away under a desk with junk on top.  The heirs of the estate at this particular auction, could have made a lot more money if that craft room had been “sorted” into multiple lots.  Hindsight I am certain.

It was interesting to see the number of people coming and going with their prized “lot” they won during the on-line auction.  Seeing the happy faces of the winning bidders pick up their items, it affirms what I have told my kids….”don’t worry about our old junk – call the auction house and they will sell everything from the china and silverware to the collectibles and the old toys to the junk in the craft room(s).”  They won’t get rich, but someone else will do the hard stuff, like sorting things out.  And, it is a lot easier than trying to deal with it on their own. Seems the whole generation is  “on the move” and would rather keep it simple, keep it light, etc.  I get it, sorta.  Hey, I moved 7 times between 1974 and 1986. My one daughter has moved 4 times all locally in this millenium, while the other has moved around the country and world  at least 10 times in the last 14-15 years.

As we age, it is a good reminder that it is time to start using up what we have, and paring down what we no longer need, so the heirs don’t have to do too much when the time comes (down the road).  I’m glad I didn’t bid on the craft room, was happy to help my friend Ed & his wife get it packed up, and happy to know I didn’t bring any more stuff home with me.  I was VERY tempted, and if there had been more sewing stuff and less painting stuff, I might have succumbed to temptation.  After spending the last 2 years sorting through other peoples sewing room donations, I do know that I must think about what I am keeping, what I should be getting out of my house! And, to stop acquiring things at a rate faster than I can use them……like all those embroidery files I am never going to stitch out!  My dear Aunt Jean said there was a time in life when you learn to “Admire rather than Acquire” and I think I am at that point.

So, what’s your plan for your beloved treasures, that “junk” your kids don’t want?

In closing this 400th blog post, I want to tell you some of the things I learned by writing this blog.  I learned that the connections I make with the readers is through their great comments. The comments are conversation, and often times I “chat” back and forth with the reader. I’ve made some “virtual friends” I think with this blog, especially amongst those who have been following from the beginning.  I’ve exchanged email discussions and conversation with several readers, sharing information, and learning from them too.  I  love that readers are sharing my posts.    New readers continue to find their way here, and I welcome each of you!  When new readers are also bloggers, I try to find their blog right away and follow it too.  So, thank you for finding my page, and for taking the time to read along as I share my quilting and sewing projects, stories about domestic life, and sometimes travel, pets and other fun things that life throws my way!

The Chemistry experiment in the back yard

June is almost over!  I can’t believe how fast it has gone by!  We jumped right into summer after Memorial Day with hot weather!  Air conditioning on, windows closed, pool opened.  Sort of….

I have a funny story about our swimming pool.  We have used a non-chlorine product called Baquacil in our pool since it was installed in 2010.  Hubby had always used that product in an above ground pool prior to the in-ground pool going in.  I had a pool at my previous home and for 16 years, always used Chlorine products.  So, when Hubby & I  got married over 10  years ago, we started discussing the pros and cons of pool systems.  We have been debating the good/bad/ugly of these types of products and the Hubby won the battles of pool products…..for a while.

4 years ago, our local pool store suggested “adding” a product to the water that was a “one-time” thing called Endure – a borax based chemical, that was supposed to “enhance” the other products and keep us from constantly adding chemicals …blah blah blah.  Well….it was a giant fail!  I won’t go into the details, just know that the manufacturer’s product rep and I spent all of July and August on the phone that summer, and our pool was one problem after another.  (This ended my trust of the local pool store too).  From that year forward, we have battled with our pool every summer. The end of that story is that the Endure and the Baquacil were incompatible, and the chemical reactions to each other really were ugly. (And expensive beyond reason!)

Last year, I had “had enough” of the big chemistry set in the back yard.  Swimming pools are supposed to be relaxing, right? My one daughter (the science teacher) and her hubby had converted their chlorine pool to a salt water pool, and the more we discussed it, the more my Hubby began to see the “light of day” or the “cool blue pool”.  Salt is supposed to be easier on your skin, less chemicals etc, the very reason he liked the Baquacil…..but much less expensive to run annually.  Initial start up with the purchase of the equipment not cheap, but ideally, it will “pay for itself” in 2 years.

So, fast forward to June 2017 and we FINALLY made the switch. Equipment was purchased in the spring, plumbing bits and pieces acquired,  electronic controller mounted and wired….and you would think – ready to go….well…not so much.

The “switch” from a chlorine to a salt pool is simple. The “switch” from a Baquacil pool to salt…….like everything else…not so easy.  You see…the premise is…a salt water pool has a “chlorine generator” …. “A salt-chlorine generator uses the simple process of electrolysis in combination with the water to separate the chlorine and sodium molecules and then reintroduces them into the pool as liquid chlorine. ” info from-   https://pinchapenny.com/info/salt-pool-basics

We knew diving in, that it would be complicated. We had prepared last fall by the way we closed the pool.  NO Baquacil in the closing process….ok, I started to trust the pool store again!  We added “non chlorine shock” in the fall; again in January and April, in order to eliminate any residual Baquacil in the water.  But, when we wanted to turn on our salt system, we still had “too much” of the Baquacil in the  pool.  We had 27 PPM of Baquacil sanitizer, and the goal was 0 PPM.  Early in June the “experts” at the local pool store had us use “non chlorine shock” just like we did over the winter and at closing last year.

We did that and were able to reduce to only 21 PPM.  The pool was crystal clear, but, after doing that for 2 weeks we still could not make the switch.  So, another water sample to the “experts” at the pool store.  The “experts”  said we “think” the only way to get it moving quickly was to introduce chlorine into the water. (The alternative was to continue using non-chlorine shock until the Baquacil stabilizer dissipated over the summer).

Chlorine shock would make a chemical bond with the Baquacil.  Oh, they also told me that I should enjoy the reaction.  Trust me, I took photos.  We had a crystal clear blue pool and the first sprinkle of chlorine turned the pool LIME green.  (I was REALLY glad they warned me it would happen the way it did!)

Adding chlorine to Baquacil

This looks terrible

Chemical reaction

Now, this was a bit of  a scary experiment, because I was not convinced we would have a pool this summer!!  However, as I read and read online forums, and knew eventually it would sort itself out. (This was a good read –Tired of Baquacil ) (And this – Pool Spa Forum ).  At one point in the last few weeks Hubby and I were CONVINCED this was going to be our daily routine all summer.

Watching the transition became our daily fun.  Basically, the chlorine acted like little PAC-MAN, eating up the Baquacil.  We spent 3 weeks, putting chlorine (3# at a time) into the pool in the evening.  It would “bloom lime green” ; and by morning, it was crystal clear and blue again.  The little chunks of Baquacil would get swept up by the turtle, and we would empty his bag.  Whatever went through the filter got back washed out every day.  (Sometimes 2 or 3 times a day near the end of the process.)

 Comment – we did determine that the chlorine shock from the pool store was a better investment than the stuff we picked up at Walmart for 1/2 the price.  The pool store product was a much higher percentage of actual chlorine, and it dissolved much better than the stuff at Walmart.  We figured we were “saving money” but it ended up not worth the savings. (So, that said, if you are buying shock at the local pool store, overall you are saving money because you are getting a better bang for your buck!)  I think that using the cheaper product slowed us down some.  Several forums direct you to use straight out of the bottle chlorine bleach from the laundry aisle, but I was not sure I wanted to take that route. I stuck to official pool chemicals.   

Each morning, the water was sparkling blue and swimmable. Each time we added the chlorine, the transition time from lime green to blue shortened.

On Monday, it cleared within a few minutes, and on Tuesday, there was little change in color at all. The last step was to “clean the sand filter” (more chemicals) and I did that overnight on Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, the filter was clean and we were READY!  The Hubby switched out the plumbing parts, installed the “cell”; and plugged in the business ends of things and flipped the switch.  He set the electronic controls, and we were ready to go.

Oh, I forgot….FIRST someone had to put 480 POUNDS of salt in the pool …. Those 40# bags just about wore out my arms.  (Ice on elbow all evening last night for me…..) I loaded them on a little hand cart and pushed it along the edge of the pool and cut the bags open one at a time and let the salt “sprinkle” into the pool like a salt shaker !  It dissolved quickly and if there was a bit of a pile in the pool, our little turtle floating around would “sweep by” and stir it up and help it to dissipate.

As the cell was switched on we had a little clouding initially, but it seemed to clear up quickly.  One bottle of “stabilizer” was added, and hopefully that will be it for us!  Of course, we have to monitor like we always did, keeping the various levels right (PH, Alkalinity, Hardness etc).  I will take a water sample in for an “official” test to make sure we are “RIGHT”, and our test strips are giving results that match up with the pool store.

Overall, it has taken us 25 days to make the switch.  I think I could have shaved a week off had I not bothered with the cheaper product midway in the transition. (I was trying also to avoid the 30 mile round trip to the pool store…..). 

I think it looks pretty good this morning!  Day 1 of the Salt water pool

Salt water startup

Day 1 of the Salt water pool  — Crystal clear, sparkling  and ready to swim.

Note – the turtle (Polaris Turbo Turtle) floats on top, runs off of a Polaris fitting we have on the side of the pool, powered by a  water line return. He skims the bottom and sides of the pool and I empty his little mesh bag every day.  Saves us from vacuuming the pool.  His name is Earl, our pool  butler!  Between Earl, and the salt system, I am hoping for hot sunny days of relaxing in the pool, in a lounger with a book.

How do you plan to spend your summer ?

PS….Hubby needs to spend his doing some serious yard work……right after he gets over his run of bronchitis.  I can dream of those relaxing hours, right after I finish getting my quilts ready for the show and the last of the 2nd Time Around donations priced and boxed up for the show. ….  wait…another shameless promo –

“Peach Blossom – Quilts in the Orchard”

Quilt Show

July 21 – 22, 2017

at: Cape Henlopen High School, Lewes, DE

over 300 quilts; vendors, nationally know speakers and classes….and of course my 7 tables of 2nd Time Around !!

https://www.oceanwavesquiltguild.org/quilt-show

Part 4 of Scrap Dance Mystery 2 Step

Say that 3 times – Part 4 of Scrap Dance Mystery 2 Step….Big title for a fun project.  I love a mystery, so I am having FUN with this little  project.  Little for me, as I decided to do a “twin size”.  Lately everything I have made has been double or king!

I am enjoying each month an hour or two of sewing something totally different than anything else I am working on.  Carole has great directions. If you are interested in playing catch up – check out the instructions on her blog here – Scrap Dance 2 Step – April info  . Carole releases the directions once a month and I “schedule” some time on my calendar so I can play along.  Carole has a great blog.  She writes about a lot of things besides quilting at From My Carolina Home on WordPress.

The directions for April have me using the hourglass (quarter square triangle) blocks and join them with a scrappy square –

Part 4 of Scrap Dance Mystery 2 Step

Of course there are 2 Steps, joining “bar units” and scrappy squares –

Scrap Dance 2 Step April Units

Now, I am second guessing my scrappy square choices……………I’m not sure I love them like I should…..but I am going to leave things alone and wait and see what happens next month.

(Note – my extra ironing board right now has 600 or more 4.5″ scrappy squares stacked up on it……waiting to be bundled up for the quilt show….so it must be scrap fabric envy!)

Overall, I am happy to say that all the fabric used for this project except the background neutral came from my “scrap box” and my scrap storage system.  I like scrappy quilts and I like the way each of Carole’s patterns have turned out; so I just need to practice a little patience today!  My units for this step are complete, and filed away in big zip locks and on the tray on the shelf to wait for the next part of the Scrap Dance  Two Step in May!

 Don’t tell anybody I spent time with the vacuum this weekend !  I thought when we bought that cute little Dyson Animal Stick Vac last week that the HUBBY would be the only one using it.  Honestly I would rather be quilting too, but the windows & doors have been open and the pollen has been coming in the house, and the darn cats refuse to operate the vacuum or the swiffer or even the dusting cloths.  It is “almost” time to set up our free standing a/c units, and the one for our bedroom needed a good cleaning before the season starts….(because we didn’t do it at the end of the season last year).  Hubby helped me get the entire cover off so we could get the vacuum in on the coils. We have 5 of these units, between the house & the garage sewing room,  and the filters are easy to remove and wash; but there are “intakes” that get covered in dust, lint, cat hair etc that you can’t easily get to, in order to clean.  It was like major surgery yesterday. And of course, all this took time away from any progress in the sewing room until evening!  Hubby agrees that the other 4 need to come apart, one at a time for thorough cleaning.

I was lucky to squeeze building these units in on Saturday night after I made binding for 2 quilts.  I did manage to get the binding made for 2 more quilts, and got 3 of the quilts trimmed and ready to attach the binding after dinner on Sunday night.  One more quilt on the table ready to trim, and then it will be time to get busy sewing the binding on those 4 quilts.

I am saving the binding attachment for my 3 day “sit & sew camp” later this week.  The good thing about “going to a sit & sew camp” is I won’t see the dust bunnies rolling down my hallway, or the laundry piling up all week!  Out of sight…..golly I need a housekeeper to follow around and pick up threads that I drop!

Since Downton Abbey is off the air, do you suppose the staff is looking for a new position?  I could give a few of them room and board!  I suppose they would require a paycheck beyond my meager means, so I guess I will have to continue “scheduling” the domestic chores…..My sister-in-law, Carolyn, who writes the great blog – One Block Wonder Woman reminded me that BALANCE is the key; and her formula is 2.5 mins housework, 2 hours in the garden and 8-10 hour s for quilting!  My schedule is Monday laundry – Tuesday toilets-Quilting the rest the week.  (I keep forgetting about those floors…..which is why I bought the hubby that cute Dyson….)

My projects are stacking up.  How about in your sewing room?  Do you have “more than one” going at a time?  How do you keep it all straight?

Note – linking up this post to Oh Scrap !!  Check out the button on the sidebar on this blog or use the link in this paragraph!  (I love the full name of that blog by the way, because I believe it!)

Gardens,Quilt show and Talkin’ Turkey

I spent 3 days in the garden this past week, working on 9 months of weeds! Yes, it is true, I gave up sewing time for working in the garden.  I made multiple trips to our compost pile in back in our woods to empty the trailer of the debris.  I still have “many” days worth of work in the yard.  I decided that I like quilting better than gardening.  I should be outside right now with a tool and a bucket working on some of that stuff, but then, who would write my blog post, or read yours?  Seriously, I have had to force myself to “schedule” yard work time on my google calendar!  But at least now, I can see the remaining tulips blooming, and know that the hostas are emerging from their winter sleep, and the sad looking azaleas will bloom once more.  The sedum have all been dead headed, and I started to split them for transplant in to other areas of the garden.

If you know a trick to rid my flowerbeds of the “mums gone wild”, let me know. Backstory – I planted several pots of “mums” one fall and they have turned into weeds, taking over the beds.  I have dug and dug and dug until I am crazy.  They never bloomed again after that first fall, and I just want them “out” of the garden.  The other thing I want out is the lighting system and soaker hose system, until at least I get the weeding done.  Over the years the lights have been damaged and the hose has felt the edge of the shovel when I was attacking some wild thing that sprung up.  Perhaps it was a great idea “way back when” but not today.   I’ve been ruthless removing sections, as I come to them, and will put the hubby back to work “laying fresh hose” once I have the mulch down.

More work to be done

There is still more weeding and mulching to be done!!  And, I have some time “blocked out” on my calendar!  

Meanwhile, between all the garden work, I went and picked up “more” donations for the quilt guild “Second Time Around”. Two trips, and two vehicles, and just when I saw light at the end of the tunnel, I have more “stuff’ to weed though.  I have had several workdays this month and lots of great helpers getting things pressed and trimmed and folded and priced to resell at the quilt guild and at our quilt show in July.  Gosh – if you are on the East coast in July you should plan a visit – details here – Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show – in Lewes Delaware.  Last show we had over 200 quilts on display, and lots of vendors.  Of course, you can stop and say hi to me at the Second Time Around tables and get some great bargains!!

I did get a couple of opportunities to work on my Talkin’ Turkey project since my post about making those Flying Geese. This quilt pattern, is by Bonnie Hunter, in her String Fling Book.  By Friday of last week – I had a few blocks on the wall. — Do you recognize those flying geese from my last post?

Talking Turkey 19 to go

(Do you see the blocks all stacked up under the ones pinned to the wall?  Those are 4.5″ squares that were donated, and they are being sorted into “pretty stacks” for sale at the Second Time Around Table at the show!)

I got a bit of time on both Saturday and Sunday evening to sew, and I did LOTS of assembly!    There are 21 blocks up on the wall now, and lots of pieces “ready to sew” for the last 9.  I have all the units prepped and pinned on the blocks, and when I get an extra hour, I can zip right through them.  

21 done Talkin Turkey

Of course, at this point my brain has moved on to “other things”, like the next step in the assembly process.  (There are LOTS more steps to go in this project, with multiple pieced borders.  I saw a “finished” Talkin’ Turkey for sale on Etsy for $1200…… ) Anyway, I had to count out how many more neutral  and red squares I will have to cut, and check if I have the next neutral sashing cut yet or not.  I won’t start that step until all the blocks are assembled and I have a chance to really “arrange them” on my design wall so I get a nice balance of the “scrappy”.  I have several blocks that have “bright bits” that I want to spread out; like stripes in the center of the nine patch or polka dots (both black and white) that do jump out at me.  So, a bit of “design layout will be in order, and I will have to “clear my wall” to make room for the entire project. It is very satisfying to see it come to this point.  

A busy week ahead for me with a Quilt show meeting, 3 mornings with 2nd Time Around helpers coming over, an all day quilt bee and two days where I have ladies coming up to church to help “tie” quilts for our graduates.  (Hmmmm….when will that garden work happen or any more of my own sewing happen…..)

I hope you are having fun with your projects!

Road Trip to Pittsburgh

I took a road trip with the hubby this past weekend and went to Pittsburgh. My husband was involved in a model railroad gathering and we attended seminars all day on Friday and Saturday. The delight to the model railroad folks in the area is the opportunity to model many railroad lines in the western part of Pennsylvania, and the very real availability to physically “see” what they are planning to model.  This group of modelers do “prototypical modeling”, so they want as much “realism and accuracy” as they can get.  A lot of the “fun” of modeling in a prototypical fashion is the historical research.  Which rail lines went through, what industries they serviced, what commodities were being moved etc. are all factors to consider.  Some fellows were modeling from Pittsburgh to the West, while others were modeling Pittsburgh to the east.  Some folks considered a geographic area as small as 1 mile, while others spanned hundreds of miles. Throughout the seminars, one thing was readily apparent. These folks take their trains very seriously. Walking around the hotel lobby, you could hear discussions on what type of engine was used during a particular era, which line interchanged where etc.  For someone like me with a background in logistics, I am always fascinated about how freight moved before the invention of a C-141, C-5 and C17 aircraft. That is where my area of expertise makes we want to delve further back in time. I understand freight priorities, cargo tonnage and distribution concepts.  We had a speaker who fascinated me.  Charlie Blenko, was 16 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he spoke with more confidence and poise than almost any of the other presenters.  He was researching a short line railroad that had operated not very far from his home over 100 years ago.  His use of various tools, such as US Geographic maps, tax maps, and other on line sources from places line Penn State’s library were fascinating.  He really put together a presentation that was worthy of a boardroom in a business setting.  We attended a presentation by his father also, who introduced himself the next day as “Charlie’s Dad”.  You could certainly tell that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.   Charlie’s dad has been building his model railroad at home for the last 15 years.  Charlie has become quite the railroad fan in the process.  It was nice to see this relationship between father and son over the shared hobby. Charlie’s dad, Andy Blenko, was pretty proud, with good reason.

Part of the RPM Meet (Railroad Prototypical Modelers) involved “operating sessions”.  We were included in a group of 11 to “operate” the train layout at a private home in western Pittsburgh, about an hour away from our hotel.  I am SO glad we were able to drive over in the daylight.  We were up and down, and around and across streams and hills and valleys on 2 lane country roads.  I am also very glad that the drive was worth it.  We went to operate on James Pinkney’s layout, and he was modeling the Western Maryland RR.

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HO Equipment – Western Maryland

I was the “conductor” while my hubby Bill was the engineer.  I was a little “less than confidant” operating on a strange layout but all went well.  My job was to make sure I was “sorting the cars” into the right industry as we passed through various parts of the train layout. Operating is a bit like a giant game.  We pick up the train from the appropriate rail yard. The yardmaster gives you an engine or 2, set up with 20+ rail cars, and the documentation to go with each car.

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Rail Yard

The engineer (Bill) contacts the dispatcher for permission to enter the “main line” of the track and proceed to our first stop, where I advise (as the conductor) which cars are to be dropped at the various industries, and which cars are to be picked up from sidings and included in the train for transfer to their next destination.  The engineer attempts to do this without tying up the main line, and with the minimum number of switching moves.  We proceed with our drops and pickups around the layout, all the while getting direction from the dispatcher.  This particular layout had several yards and a helix to help us enter higher or lower levels of the train layout.  We ran two trains between 7 pm and 11:30 pm.  One was a “local” that had a great deal of switching and was very entertaining. We learned a lot about the layout along the way.  And of course, at the end of the run, there was a beer for the conductor!   I enjoy this aspect of model railroading and had forgotten how much fun it could be.  I haven’t “operated” in a long time, so I was a bit nervous, but it came back to me quickly, especially once I figured out the paperwork, the drop points etc.

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Port interchange

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Steel Mill

As I mentioned, model railroaders like to depict particular era’s and industries, and this layout was nicely done.

On Sunday, we had a couple of hours to go do a little “rail fanning”.  We drove out to a steel mill area and checked out the bridges – both auto and rail, and how everything came together.  We had a good time getting off the highways and up and down and in & out of the neighborhoods and back sides of some of the industries. I was enchanted by the George Westinghouse bridge, built between 1929 and 1932, which “George Westinghouse Memorial Bridge in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, carries U.S. Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, over the Turtle Creek Valley near to where it joins the Monongahela River Valley east of Pittsburgh.” (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Westinghouse_Bridge )

Before I arrived at the RPM Meet, I knew very little about the G. Westinghouse bridge.  The lecture by “Charlie’s Dad” introduced it to me and I could understand his excitement in modeling the bridge when we drove down to view the area.

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Of course, we had to do a little “off highway” driving to see more!

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We took a turn just before the bridge and found this road.  It was still paved, but grown over.  No longer a means to access the bridge, but I bet they were glad of the guard rails when it was in use.  We went back up to the main road and took the very NEXT turn and found another road that took us down “under” the bridge.  There are 3 rail lines in this photo and one rail bridge, along with the Westinghouse bridge and a more modern bridge on the right. There was a group of about 6 or 8 homes down this road, under the bridge.  Those folks “knew someone” who kept fresh asphalt on their road.

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That railroad bridge is for the Union Railroad.

Bill wanted to see a little bit of another steel yard, so we headed out from this location, and using our faithful GPS, we found the spot he sought!

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Of course, he took lots of photos of the steel mill and I wandered around looking for interesting things.  I happened upon Joe Maragac!  The story on the blue plaque was quite fanciful.

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Joe Magarac is a fictional character, depicting a Croatian steelworker.  There are many legends attributed to Joe.  I spent this morning learning a bit more about his story, and the fable that depicts him – http://www.croatia.org/crown/articles/9492/1/Joe-Magarac-a-legendary-Croatian-steel-worker-in-the-USA.html   .   The descriptions on this Croatian website are quite poetic.

On another website, I learned that Joe Magarac, the story goes, was a man made of steel. He was born in an iron ore mine and raised in a furnace.  Some versions of the story said Magarac was seven feet tall. Others claimed he was as tall as a smokestack! His shoulders were as big as the steel-mill door and his hands like the huge buckets (ladles) used to pour molten steel. He ate that hot steel like soup and cold steel ingots like meat.”

  source – http://www.jaha.org/edu/discovery_center/work/folk_hero.html    .  

An article I read from a Penn State website gave a little grimmer part of the tale.  It put the reality of the immigrant unskilled labor into a totally different light.  The article addresses the issue of fair pay, and working conditions of the steel workers, and takes all the glamour right out of the steel industry. ” Conditions were not exactly comfortable in the mills or the mill towns. Steelworkers were both overworked and underpaid at 15 cents an hour for the average 12 hour day. These wages were considerably below the living wage of the time, $3 per day. Jobs in the steel mill were hot, dangerous, and grueling but immigrants considered it better than no work at all. Not only were conditions uncomfortable, but the jobs were segregated. Prejudice ruled the mills as easier jobs were given to citizens and Northern Europeans, while the most dangerous tasks were assigned to Eastern Europeans.”  Source – http://pabook2.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/JoeMagarac.html

So, for me, the glimmer and gloss of the steel mill is not so shiny.  As years have gone by and labor unions struck and demanded safer conditions and fare wages, the industry changed. In Pittsburgh, the decline of the US steel industry is very apparent. There were so many areas we drove around that depicted the living conditions addressed in the article above. Turns out, the steel barons were much like the railroad barons of the 19th century.

Further along we stopped at another point and browsed around about.

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This shows a hearth from the “Superintendents Club”.  On the left is another bronze  plaque that sent me to the wonders of Google this morning!

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I wanted to know who this Braddock was and why they named a community for him, and what battle took place in 1755.  Turns out it was the French and Indian war, and Braddock was a British officer.  George Washington accompanied him in this battle, and survived, where Braddock did not. Braddock’s Defeat as the event was called made quite the impression on George Washington.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braddock_Expedition  . The more I read about General Braddock, the more I realised he was lacking true leadership skills.  George Washington penned a letter to his mother, following the death of Braddock and described the defeat in general terms. He tells his mother “I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me.”  http://www.nationalcenter.org/Braddock’sDefeat.html  Other accounts are not nearly as generous to General Braddock.    “His rudeness and arrogance made a thoroughly bad impression on the colonials and were to contribute to a jaundiced view of the British officer class.”   http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/general-braddock-defeated

We are still trying to decide why the area was named for this General!

Across the street directly from this monument was another memorial, this one to the US military.  Sadly it is in a terrible state of disrepair, which is indicative of the community that surrounds this steel mill.

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As I left Pittsburgh, I thought a lot about the human side of industry.  This monument in such terrible condition reminds me of the human side of the US Military too, who work those very long shifts, in often poor working conditions; much like the steel workers did. Gratefully the pay is much better, but often not always a living wage for the lowest ranking. I also know why so many people I had contact with in the Air Force over 37 years, had left the rust belt, looking for better lives for themselves and their families, and finding the Air Force offered those opportunities.  Some of the folks I knew from the Pittsburgh area were among the hardest working and hardiest people I encountered.

In closing, I want to express that the hobby of model railroading is so much more than a “bunch of men playing with trains”.  There is so much history to be learned, along with the logistics of moving freight. It is a great hobby to introduce to a young person, as there are so many directions to make the hobby your own.