Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous


I'm afraid dear readers that you're doomed to listen to me whine about painting in the same vein that we listened to Mrs. P. of Quilting in My Pyjamas whine about kitchen renovations.  And so it begins.

We had four days in the house before our furniture arrived, and we didn't pass the time idly.  No, we began painting immediately.  Decided we had just enough time to prime and paint behind where the fridge and washer & dryer would go.  Here is a picture of that work:

Then our walls sat like that for three and a half weeks.  Today we finally got back to it.  Got the remainder of the laundry room primed today.  The previous owners did something a bit odd; they painted the door with flat paint instead of semi-gloss.  You can see how grubby it is near the knob.  We'll be using semi-gloss.

In priming, I realized that part of the issue with the paint job in the house is not just the color, but that these shades seem to suck the light out of the room.  It may also be because they used a flat paint, as opposed to the satin paint we are using.  Not sure.  Just know I'm tired of walking around and feeling like it's dark in every room.  (Really, I'm not crazy.)

Joined A Gym:

On Saturday, my mom and I joined a gym for the first time in our lives.  We know the Kansas winter will preclude any outdoor activities like walking much of the time.  In Nevada, we could almost always go out and walk at some part of the day.  But I'm excited about having access to the weight machines.  I've got creaky knees--which I'd like to blame on old age, but I've had them since my late 20's.  My uncle, the physical therapist, told me what he would recommend to strengthen the knees, and the exercises really require weight machines.  We've got our orientation appointment tomorrow afternoon at 3PM.

Latest Book Read:

Undue Influence by Steve Martini
Genre:  Mystery/Courtroom Drama

This is the 2nd book I've read by this author.  Steve Martini has written a series of books featuring defense attorney Paul Madriani.  The basic formula is that the attorney must solve the mystery in order to defend his client.  Good mysteries with a twist.  The courtroom action is intriguing because it demonstrates how the same set of circumstantial evidence can be viewed logically in two or more ways.  Also a little unsettling for the same reason since it must play out in real life in a similar way.

I hope you all have wonderful days in the week ahead.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Photo Tour of Newton, Kansas with my Awesome Family

Since moving to Newton, my mom and I have been delighted with how quaint and well-preserved downtown Newton is.  It's wonderful to walk Main Street and peer into the shops housed in these turn of the century buildings.  Imagine our delight when we found that my cousin, Lori, and her husband, Eric, were equally intrigued.  When they came to visit from Texas over the Thanksgiving holiday, we put a photo tour of downtown Newton at the top of the agenda.  It follows below, starting with an introduction to my dear cousin, Lori.

First stop, the train depot.  My grandfather remembers being shipped out from this depot during World War II.  Amtrack still uses the building today.
(Train depot, Newton, KS)

(My grandparents, ages 88 and 87)

Notice the fine detailing on this Railroad Building and Loan building featured below.  It was not only important to put up a good building, but also to make it pretty.  In my opinion, we could use a little of this on our modern buildings today.  Obviously, it is no longer used for Railroad Building and Loan.  Instead, it is home to a  variety of offices, including the Chamber of Commerce.

(the side of the Railroad Building and Loan building)

Along the way, our photographer told us to "Go to that that corner and loiter".  So this is our rendition of loitering.  Mostly, we were laughing.

(Michelle, Suzanne--my mom--Lori)

This bay window is another example of the pretty architecture to be found along Main Street.

You can see the window on the building in the background of the picture below.  We were lucky, because since it was Sunday and the shops were closed, we pretty much had the street to ourselves.  We took advantage of the table and chairs left outside by the restaurant.  Oh and by the way, I am smiling at the cameraman, but I realize it looks more like I'm having a seizure.

What would a photo tour be without a picture of the local quilt shop, Charlotte's Sew Natural?  The photographer got a bit arty with this shot.

The next two photographs are pictures of the First Methodist Church, also located on Main Street.  Once again, the architecture is a work of art.

This Baptist Church below can be found just a block off Main Street.

There are a lot of quaint towns in Kansas, but I've never seen one so well-preserved (although I don't pretend to have done a thorough search on the subject).  In our wanderings we did find an explanation that contributes to the fact that these wonderful, old buildings still exist.  In 1880, there was a terrible fire in downtown Newton, and many of the buildings on Main Street were burned to the ground.  After that, the city passed an ordinance requiring all buildings on Main Street between Second Street and Seventh to be made of stone or brick.  I have no doubt that has contributed to the longevity of these buildings.

Our photographer has a sense of humor.  Do we really look like we're up to no good?

So let me introduce our photographer, my sensationally fun cousin-in-law, Eric:

Eric Howton & The Prairie Quilter 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Favorite Things Friday--The Juki Sewing Machine

This week's Favorite Things Friday is dedicated to our Juki sewing machine.  She and I have had a long dry spell these past few months, but this week we were able to become reacquainted again.

We bought the Juki for one simple reason, we needed a machine that would enable us to learn to do free motion quilting.  We didn't need it to do fancy stitches, embroider, or sing The Star Spangled Banner.  The Juki does only straight stitching.  It doesn't even do a zig-zag.  The machine is built like a tank.  All metal parts.  It just feels solid.  It has a 9" harp and is considered to be a mid-arm.  I can tell you, the extra harp space makes a big difference when trying to work on a quilt of any size.

When we began looking at sewing machines--and there are a lot of wonderful machines on the market--we kept coming across machines that would do way more than we wanted them to, and their prices reflected that as well.  My mom and I debated a long time.  After all, when buying a machine of this caliber (as opposed to the $200 machines at Wal-mart), you want to be sure you've got it right.  That first test drive after we unpacked the Juki told us that we'd made the right decision.  I've been on the free motion quilting band wagon ever since.

So head on over to Quilting in My Pyjamas, and join in the Favorite Things Friday fun.  Everyone is welcome to play.


Hmmm.  I just noticed that this is my 100th post.  Who would have thought when I started this blog back in February I'd have this much to say?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Buying A House Online: Part Two

Finally, we are organized enough in our new digs that I can finish the series (all two parts of it) on Buying A House Online.

I can honestly say that the house and neighborhood are pretty much as we expected. The relatives and friends did a good job of assessing both. It didn't hurt that the friends live only a few blocks from our house. The pictures online (there were 30 of them) did a good a job of showing what the various rooms looked like. We were a little fuzzy on the layout of the rooms, but we had guessed at what the layout probably was given what we knew, and were darn close.

We're not crazy about the paint job in the house, although I suspect it would be an interior decorator's dream--3 shades of gold used throughout the upstairs with a dark brown accent wall in the living room, and one very green room upstairs. About half of the basement is painted the same green color, with the rest of the basement being painted tan. Not a white wall in the house. Logically, I understand how some people could find this pretty, but I find it overwhelming. We'll be painting. However, we suspected that would be the case when we looked at the pictures, so seeing it in person only confirmed it. (I had been hoping that once we got here, I wouldn't dislike the paint as much as I thought I would.  No luck.)

(living room)

(basement living room)

The room featured in the two pictures below is what I've begun referring to as the "multi-purpose room".  It is our sewing center, office, and a mini kitchen--sink, fridge, microwave, toaster, and coffee pot.  I considered straightening up the sewing area before I took the picture, but decided I should show it to you in its natural state. And yes! I've begun quilting again. The Juki and I spent some quality time together the last couple of days.

There weren't really any surprises, except one. The home inspector did a lousy job. We've got a phone plug in the basement that doesn't work (the only phone plug in the basement), and the plumbing in the basement bathtub is all screwed up. Water comes from both the tub and shower faucets at the same time, and the one handle that controls hot and cold will only go halfway so the water is lukewarm. I've seen this in another house and it is an installation problem. I think this one was probably installed wrong from day one, but the previous owners never used it and so didn't know. The thing of it is, even if we had come in person to look at the house ourselves, I wouldn't have tested these things out myself. That's what the darn house inspector is supposed to do!

Oh and that home warranty that the sellers paid for doesn't cover the plumbing problem because it is an installation problem; the policy covers only items that wear out.

The other thing is that we were spoiled by the oversized 3-car garage we had in Nevada. This house has the standard two car garage. No place to store the lawn mower we'll eventually need. We didn't ask about the garage in advance, but it would not have been a deal-breaker if we had known.  Storage sheds for items like lawn mowers are the norm here, so eventually we'll need to get one.  Luckily we're going into winter so it's not necessary that we deal with it immediately.

Despite the items I've pointed out as issues--the paint, which we already knew about; the plumbing problem that the house inspector should have caught; and the garage size--the house is proving to be ideal for our combined family.  My mom and I cook the main meal relieving my grandparents of a task that has become difficult for them.  We've somewhat divided the house, giving the main floor to my grandparents, while we reside in the basement.  We're nearby for anything they need, but we each have our space.  Given our specific needs, price range, and time constraints, I highly doubt that we could have done any better if we had made the trip to see houses in person.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous

Out of Sight, Out of Mind No More:

Last winter I began hand-quilting the Scrappy Star, then put away in April or May when it became too hot to hold it on my lap.  When I packed it away for the move, it was still too warm to hold on my lap to quilt.  The unpacking was a different story.  I'm now back at work on it with a handful of blocks left to do, and some work on the borders.  I'm seeing a strong possibility of being able to finish it some time this winter.

Cousin's Visit:

My cousin, Lori and her husband Eric are visiting this week, spending time between her mom's house and ours.  Lori and I haven't seen one another in 10 years, and yet except for catching up on the miscellaneous of our lives, in some ways it seems like we'd just seen each other yesterday.  It's always been like that with us.

We took a photo tour of Newton yesterday.  Eric is a wonderful photographer.  He couples an artist's eye with a bit of whimsy.  I think (I hope) he plan to share some of the pictures with me so I can share with you.

Copying is the Highest Form of Flattery:

Last week, P. from The Way I Sew It shared the commercials she found funny.  It got me to thinking about my favorite commercial.  Here it is:  (I hope you enjoy it too.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Favorite Things Friday--Organization

An organized room.  

Organization is a vastly under-appreciated state of being--until you don't have it.  I've recently discovered that organization is one of my very most favorite things. 

Today, my room is finally organized (okay there are a couple of little things on the dresser that you can't see that still needs some attention, but it's mostly good).  I've discovered the clutter in my house is directly proportional to the clutter in my brain.  The more items that have been put in their proper place, the more space I have in my brain.

Organization saves time--no more searching for things.  Organization saves energy--no more searching for things.  Organization improves mood--no more frustration while searching for things.  (I bet you're beginning to see a trend here, eh?)  Organization feels successful.  It will be a long time before I take it for granted again.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Familiarizing Ourselves with Newton through Fabric

My mom and I took a well-earned break from the unpacking today. We had an excuse. The coolant system in the car needed to be flushed after its hissy fit in Flagstaff. The kind man who helped me added water to the system to get me through to Newton--which it did very successfully--but that wasn't satisfactory for getting us through the winter. We located our local Dodge dealer and got it done early this morning.

After that we decided to treat ourselves to a little exploration in downtown Newton. The weather was typical November weather for Kansas--cloudy and gray with a bit of a bite to the air and erratic wind gusts.  We didn't let that dampen our spirits though.

Goal number one was to find the local quilt store.  Oh yum!  The fabric array was just as beautiful as I'd hoped.  For quilters like me who love black and white prints her shop is a must see.  I bet she had 30 bolts of different black and white fabrics.  I managed to restrain myself since we're still digging out and organizing the fabric we do have.  But only for a moment.  There was a display quilt made up with these fairy panels:

I've been eying the fairy fabric that's being featured in Keepsake Quilting.  I'm not sure if this is exactly the same, but it's close if it's not.  My excuse is that I have a little cousin who might enjoy a fairy quilt, but the truth is, I just want to make one.  Guess there's still a little girl lurking in me.  :-)

We also located the Et Cetera shop.  It's the local Mennonite version of the Salvation Army.  They accept donations which are sold in the shop and the proceeds go back to help the community.  We needed to drop off some kitchen items.  Since we're combining two households, we've got a lot of duplicate items.

Naturally we had to look around.  The shop has a fabric remnant bin.  The sign said to get a sack from the cashier and fill it for fifty cents.  Yep, fifty cents.  Can you believe it?

For a scrappy quilter like myself, this was just too much fun.

We also located the local organic food shop and stopped in for coffee.  Being a quilter I enjoyed the handmade items featured there--honey, salsa, syrup.  Nice ambiance.  The store has a very high ceiling.  Hard for me to guess, but well over the twelve feet featured in many old buildings.  It has a tin pressed ceiling (at least I think that's the right term for it).  I plan to take my camera next time we go.  The tin ceiling would be a great item for Vintage Thingie Thursday.

Oh and by the way, after I whined on Monday about not even working on the New York Beauty blocks, I got them out.  I've now completed another one, and seem to be rolling along.  Hopefully, I'll be able to get back to FMQ soon too.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Miscellaneous

New Blog Name:

Since I no longer reside in the desert, it just seemed wrong to continue as The Desert Quilter. A kind of false advertising (although I honestly doubt that I’ll quilt any differently than I did in the desert). I’m now officially The Prairie Quilter. I tried to think of a funny blog name, like Quilting In My Pyjamas or Confessions of Fabric Addict; I tried to think of a clever play on words like The Way I Sew It or Such a Sew and Sew; or even a blog title with a bit of whimsy like Taradiddle and Malarky. I got zilch, zip, nada. It just seemed a straight shot from The Desert Quilter to the Prairie Quilter, so that’s how it is.

I also have a new email address attached to my blog: michelle_of_the_prairie AT (I'm nothing if not predictable, eh?)  Hopefully, all the blog settings are correct.  When I'm sure the new email address is working well, I'll phase out the old one. It really needs to go. I ordered some meds online and the company must have sold my email address. Now, I'm getting all kinds of ads for viagra amongst other things, and a lot of it is getting by the spam filter. Very irritating.


Unpacking is the gift that keeps on giving. We’re probably about half done. Here’s what happened when I unpacked a box of clocks:

We’re not up to officially placing clocks, pictures, or wall-hangings on the walls yet.  However, the previous tenant left this wall full of screws.  (I’ve been wondering what they had hung there.)  It seemed a good place to “store” the clocks until they find a permanent home.  The interesting thing is that I kind of like it.

The room pictured is the sewing room (please ignore the mess).  Yep it has a wet bar—sink and small fridge.  We’ve got the coffee pot and toaster in place and will be adding a microwave soon.

Cat-Proofing the Kitchen:

Charley may be my quilt inspector, but he doesn’t limit his inspecting to quilts.  Kitchen cabinets are also fair game.  So I’ve been installing latches (no picture) and knobs.  The knobs make it easier to open a cabinet with a latch on it, and it dresses them up a bit.  I’m thankful for all the times I served as my dad’s helper.  Until now, I’d never drilled a hole, but I can’t count the number of times I watched him do it.  It’s coming in very handy.

New Ailment:

I’ve developed a most distressing ailment.  It’s called TripleT Q.  It stands for Too Tired To Quilt.  I haven’t quilted since I left Pahrump—not even hand-piecing on the NYBs.  I so miss it, but the brain just doesn’t have room to think about it.  It’s all unpacking all the time, and then when I can relax a bit in the evening, I’m just too darn tired.  I never thought I’d say that.


I’m still hit and miss on my blog reading.  You don’t know how I miss being able to sit and relax, and just peruse all your quilty loveliness.  However, I do try to reward myself from time to time.  If I’ve missed reading your blog lately, believe me it’s under duress.   The darn boxes just keep demanding attention.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Move is Complete--Mostly

(Newton, Kansas)

We're here.  Those two words are among the finest I've ever spoken.  Seriously.

The Road Trip:
In my humble opinion, road trips are vastly over-rated.  I enjoyed them when I was a kid, but in recent years, not so much.  It proved to be even more exhausting when I was doing all the driving.  I've vowed that in the future, if I'm going anywhere further than a day's a drive, I'm flying or taking the train. 

To make the road trip even more exciting, we had car trouble.  Our Dodge--the car with less than 13,000 miles on it--decided to act up the first day out.  We'd just pulled up in front of the hotel in Flagstaff, when I noticed steam coming from underneath the hood.  I got out and pink fluid was spewing from below.  Ack!  Being pink, I was sure it was transmission fluid.  Opened the hood to see it coming from the coolant tank--which was puzzling.  The hotel manager was really nice and said we could leave the car there until we could get service for it the next day.  Called my male relatives to pick their brains, but they were at a loss about how transmission fluid could get into the coolant tank.

In the meantime, I was so tired I could have taken my brain out and played it with it.  Then had the added fun of having a full-blown anxiety attack about how long we'd be stuck in Flagstaff, and whether I could trust whatever mechanic I might choose. 

Fast forward to the next day, and the hotel maintenance man had the front desk call me to tell me he didn't think it was transmission fluid and he'd look at the problem with me.  Before I could get out to the car,  my uncle called and told me his mechanic said that some coolant is pink now.  (Pink!  They had to make it the same freakin' color as transmission fluid?  What's up with that?)  So I met with the maintenance guy and he tells me it absolutely is not transmission fluid.  He checked out all the fluid lines and determined there was no leak except out of the coolant tank.  (The car never registered as being hot either.)  Anyway, he looked at the radiator cap and found some grit under it.  He said that could cause a pressure build-up.  So he put water in the tank, cleaned the cap, and then waited while the car got up to temperature to verify that we wouldn't have a repeat performance.  It's been fine ever since.  What a lifesaver.  Bless you Ryan!

The Cat:
Charley pretty much hated riding in the car.  He yowled from Pahrump, clear to the other side of Vegas, then it became more intermittent.  The intermittent protest was pretty much the norm the entire trip.  (How can a cat cause such guilt?)  The first night in the hotel he hid under the bed for 4 hours.  At the next hotel stop he wasn't nearly so timid.  By the time we arrived at the house, he was ready to explore.  This house has stairs, and the first night, he really enjoyed running up and down.

At This Moment in Time:
The furniture has arrived with like a bajillion boxes.  With the boxes stacked around, it looks like a bunch of hoarders live here.  We're unpacking, but it hasn't made too much of a dent yet.

I need to make changes to my blog.  Obviously, I'm no longer the "desert" quilter, and my weather app needs to be adjusted to our new location.  

I hope to get back to blog reading soon.  I've really been missing you all.