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.

 

 

Embroidery resources

Welcome to my new “readers & followers”.  I don’t say that often enough, but I am glad you found my blog and hope you will find something helpful, amusing, interesting or motivating in my posts.  I started this blog over 3 years ago, and use it as a “journal of sorts” of my hobbies – which continue to expand.  I originally wrote about quilting and sewing for the grand children; and have expanded to paper crafting, card making / stamping; and machine embroidery.  (Note – I flunked out of knitting 101, so you don’t have to listen to that story unravelling). Occasionally, I will chat about other things, like domestic life, my pets and travel.  Mostly, I am a stitching grandma!

I had a lot of fun on Monday, meeting ladies from Ocean Pines MD at the Embroidery Club they have established.  They have been meeting for over a year, and this was my FIRST chance to go.  I went immediately after the Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting and it was a 45 minute trip.  Thank goodness I had so many helper to “pack up” the Second Time Around shopping and help me “get out the door” quickly.  My wonderful husband came over to the church with my car, and swapped out for the loaded SUV, and took it home. Next month, there is a luncheon at OWQG, so I will be able to “grab my dish” and head out on time.

What I enjoyed about the meeting with the Ocean Pines Embroidery Club was the willingness to share SKILLS that the experienced stitchers had acquired.  We learned about various stabilizers they like, design sources, and techniques for “in the hoop” designs.  They have been creating some wonderful projects.  Of course, I have terrible “machine envy” right now.  My little Brother PE500 can only accommodate a 4×4 design, and they were showing some projects that needed a 5×7 or larger frame.  I’m not investing in a new machine any time soon, so I will just “admire” and learn from the “bigger machine operators”.  I want to learn all I can, so when I eventually take the leap to something bigger, I will have “proof of use” of the little machine to satisfy the hubby……     😉

I mentioned to several ladies at the Embroidery Club that I had a blog, and had recently written about “transferring designs” between the computer and the embroidery machine.  If you are interested – that blog post can be found here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/moving-files-to-the-embroidery-machine-tutorial/  .

A few years ago I wrote a detailed post on resources for embroidery machines.  I shared lots of websites for free designs etc, places to buy designs, and supplies you might want to consider.  Again, if you are interested – that blog post can be found here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/machine-embroidery-resources/

I spent yesterday attending to normal domestic life stuff, with NO sewing/stitching. (Have I ever mentioned that I would rather sew than clean house or grocery shop???)  I deserved a nice cold glass of wine after the “stuff” was taken care of, and sat out in a rocker on the front porch and watched the traffic go by!  Can you believe it was 70 degrees yesterday?

After dinner, I had some time to “surf” on the computer.  I did find some interesting new “sources” for free designs and spent several hours   downloading things. I joined a group a few months ago on Facebook – Resources for Free Machine Embroidery Designs, Sales, Tutorials, Networking . https://www.facebook.com/groups/624604440941908/  Those members share links to FREE designs.

Following some of those links that had been posted on the Facebook group, I ended up at http://www.krisrhoades.com/  and picked up the cutest little elephant.  (Of course, I ended up window shopping for other designs too).

I also dropped by http://www.thebikestore.com/starling/index.html and picked up the mug rug pattern for March.  Once I downloaded the design, I was disappointed to find it was a 5×7, too big for my machine. Oh well, I have it saved now.

Then I popped over to http://missmarysembroidery.com/free-stuff-sales/  and picked up a “Luck of the Irish” free monthly design and an SVG cutting file too.

While I was browsing around on the Resources for Free Machine Embroidery….. group, I saw a link for Janome.  I don’t have a Janome EMBROIDERY machine, but I popped over to Janome’s website to see what they had, and was surprised to find FREE designs in multiple formats.  I need to subscribe and start downloading.  There were over 70 that would work for me, and I think I will be a little selective about what I download.   http://www.janome-embroidery.com/c-132-free-embroidery-designs.aspx

Another place on Facebook that I have found free designs is StitchDelight . https://www.facebook.com/groups/StitchDelight.FREEBIES/   I’ve collected some great alphabet  designs in the last month; new letter daily.   This is also a group you have to “join” to be able to download.

I am subscribed to a mailing list from Artistic Thread Works and get lots of freebies there every week.  You have to “subscribe” to the email list to get the free stuff – http://www.artisticthreadworks.com/public/main.cfm

As I mentioned, I am working with a Brother PE500; which is an embroidery only machine, with a 4×4 (100mm x 100mm) capability.  My machine has a “cable connection” to my computer, and uses PES files.

So, no fancy photo’s today because I have stitched not a thing!  Maybe later.  Grandbaby # 4 is having a birthday and I saw something tempting…..

DISCLAIMER – With most of these websites & Facebook groups, you need to “subscribe” or “join” or “set up an account”.  Be careful about what information you chose to share when doing this.  Honestly, one of these sites wanted my “birthday”….but I was not giving up the year….too much identity information!  And of course, Be careful about clicking on unknown links etc.  Make sure your “virus software” is up to date and running, and scans your downloads BEFORE you open them.   FYI – I have not had any problems with ANY of the links or the websites I am sharing, so if you ‘know and trust me’ you know that I won’t ever knowingly steer you wrong, but there are “evil doers” in the world who like to trick people; so be cautious when clicking on links in emails; on websites etc.  

Have fun with what ever you are working on today!

Happy New Year!

Gosh, we finished 2016 off with a big bang!

 The week between Christmas and New Year were very busy around our house.  I did lots of cooking, cleaning, shopping, and celebrating.

My quilting bee friends gathered for the first Annual Queen Bees Christmas Party luncheon at my house on Dec 27.

Table set for the Queen Bees

We had a “pot luck luncheon”.  I made  a lovely broccoli cheese soup and served it with croutons, sour creme and extra cheese for toppings. We had 3 different salads, and fried chicken and rolls, and LOTS of sweet goodness like chocolate dipped pretzels and fudge too.  We had a fun “gift exchange” and then got prizes for UFO completion. And of course, the project finishes.   The most exciting finish comes from Pam.  She had a project she started hand quilting YEARS ago and put away. She has kept it all these years with SOMEDAY in mind.  She joined Ocean Waves Quilt Guild and was inspired to finish. Our UFO challenge enabled her to “break it down” into smaller goals.  I know she has achieved great satisfaction from this finish!  This will be a treasure in her life!  Our bee members have been cheering her on for the last 12 months!

The 30 year quilt!

There were a few other projects shown at this bee too –

Suzanne's Crazy Quilt

Suzanne's baby quilt

Dotti Christmas wall hanging

On New Years Eve, we kicked the party tempo up a bit!  We had a New Years Eve party/anniversary celebration.  When we got married 10 years ago, we had a big New Years Eve party/wedding reception at a local mansion, called Sunnybrae Mansion in Milford DE.

Bill & Mary's wedding reception

Bill & Mary’s wedding reception

 

 

NYE wedding reception

NYE wedding reception

We were told it was the “best” New Years eve party people had been to in quite a while!

On our 5th anniversary, we held another party at home; and then our friends asked if we were going to do it again “next year”.  I told them “every 5 years”.  Bill asked me earlier in the month what I wanted to do to celebrate our anniversary, and I said “throw a party”.   This year we did quick “email invites” and kept our fingers crossed that we were not “too late” in planning a party. Silly me, we had a great turnout! (I even invited a new “quilting” neighbor at the last minute.  I was so glad that Barbara and Robert were able to join us.)  Our friends consisted of folks we know at church, my quilting friends, old neighbors, new neighbors and Bill’s railroad club buddies.  It was an interesting mix and was enjoyable.

So, this New Years eve was our 2nd “every 5 year” party!  And silly me, I did not take ONE photo during the party or as I was getting the table set up!  (Well, I did take a picture  a few days before, while I was inventorying the liquor…..and determining what I needed to buy etc)

20161229_120128

So shopping commenced in the middle of the week to round out the liquor and mixers and soda’s and food choices.  I had the expertise from my daughters who know how to host a great party on what to make etc. I borrowed a 3 unit crock pot from my daughter and filled it with hot spinach /artichoke dip; grape jelly meatballs, marina meatballs. On the dining room table we had chips & 7 layer taco dip; bruschetta, shrimp with 3 dips, (avocado cream; ginger remoulade and cocktail sauce); baked brie with puff pastry, a lovely vegetable basket, and nuts chips & dip etc.  We had cheesecake, we had cookies and fudge and caramel popcorn.  And again, those great friends of mine brought things to round out the choices on the table. We even had a big bowl of black eyed pea soup with dumplings.

It is not often that we make it to midnight on our anniversary, but this party went on past 1 am and everyone seemed to have a good time.  I judge the party satisfaction by the conversation. Over the course of the evening, wandering around the house talking to people, I could hear animated conversation in  every room.

We opened the prosecco, the champagne and the non-alcoholic bubbly  at midnight and toasted !   Of course, there was lots of leftover food to put away when everyone went home, and I am very thankful to a husband who helped deal with that quickly.  I did break out the box that held the original New Years eve party hats and noise makers, and a friend added to the noise makers with another package! Bill brought out his train whistle to add to the midnight sound effects!

Sunday, after 4 hours sleep I was up and clearing up the dirty dishes that didn’t make the first run of the dishwasher the night before.  We had a casual New Years day and I puttered around putting things to rights, in between napping.  I have determined there is enough leftover liquor/beer/wine/mixers to have a party every weekend for a month!

The “bar” was set up in the kitchen and the bulk of the food in the dining room, buffet style on the table.  Guess where the people were hanging out??  The kitchen.  I’m beginning to understand why people would want an “open concept” kitchen.  Somehow it doesn’t suit this 110+ year old house.

I am thankful for my friends Nancy and Bob who came back over on Sunday afternoon!  I was able to “share” with them some of the leftovers.  The kitchen floor got swept, the rugs vacuumed of any crumbs, the holiday cups and wine glasses put away; and the liquor stored for the next go round.  We munched on leftovers for lunch and snacks. I hoarded the wonderful “fresh veggies” that Gayle brought.  (It is always tastier when somebody else did all the cutting!) I figured if I was going to snack the day away, the carrots and cucumbers would be a good choice!

I had told my hubby we needed to plan “undecorating” for Monday and Tuesday this week, to get it done before our next two “very busy” weeks.  He looked so sad.  He decorated right up to Christmas eve.  So; I am relenting.  I will LEAVE IT all up through Epiphany.  And, the undecorating will be postponed until next Tuesday.  It always takes several days to put it all away properly. We have two busy weekends back to back with the DelMarVa Model Railroad club open house, but having a “target time” set aside will leave me not to worry about the “stuff” for a week or so.

I hope you are able to keep the spirit of Christmas and love alive all into the New Year.

Happy 4 years!

Wow, can’t believe I have been a somewhat “active” blogger for 4 years. WordPress reminded me that I have written 351 posts; had 41,004 views from 21,859 visitors.  Gosh, I hope you have enjoyed something along the way!

My goal when I started the post was to share my projects, mostly in a journal style.  I ran out of “space” on the “free platform” for photo’s early this year and thanks to another blogger, Carole, I starting using FLICKR as my photo site and linking into the posts.

Once a year, I like to go back and “recap” my projects.  I find this helps me feel better about what I have been able to get completed. This year, I feel like I am staring at a lot of UFO’s. And, I am kind of like the person who sees something shiny, and gets distracted by the glitter of something new. I want to work hard at “finishing what I started” over the last 4 years.  But, I do want to play with some of the “shiny objects” that pop up!

Since I last wrote, I made a batch of “Thomas” pillowcases to sell at the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club open house. I was disappointed that only 3 actually sold last weekend.  I think I better come up with a better “display”.  It is not really a “craft” venue, more geared towards the train hobby and the trains running on the various layouts. But there are lots of little children coming in and out during the Open House, accompanied by Grandma’s.  I think I will “wrap” up a gift in a Thomas Pillowcase to showcase the possibilities.  Meanwhile, I won’t be making any more until I move some of the 13 I have left.

I haven’t been sewing since last Friday. On Saturday night I whacked and broke a toe, so I have been “grounded” to the recliner between visits to the doctor for examination etc.  The good news is, a toe will heal without much other care. It is buddy taped to it’s nearest toe and other than trying to stay off for a few day, it will be fine. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t worry with a doctor visit etc, but on Monday morning, I couldn’t put any weight on my foot and had to resort to a cane.  By today, I am well enough to leave the cane and just hobble. Hoping to maybe find my sewing room again! (I need a seam ripper from up there…as my handwork that I did under the influence of a pain pill leaves much to be desired!)

Before I go, let me again extend an invitation to visit —

2016-train-club-flyer

and do check out some of the great video’s shot at this club –DelMarVa Model RR Club videos

Enjoy!  (And here is a more recent shot:  2015 Open House video