Thursday, October 31, 2019

Checking In For October - Part 2: Travel and (Finally) Some Quilting

So in my last post, I detailed some October garden and car buying activities.  Of course, when you have a new car you want to "blow it out" with a good long trip.  Fortunately we got our new car just in time because my husband had a vacation coming up and we wanted to go visit his mother and her husband who has been ill.  Right before that though, there was the community garden event I had mentioned.  That happened the day before we took our trip.

Each year, our garden hosts the fourth grade of one of our local elementary schools in the Fall and then again in Spring.  This year was special because the fourth graders that came have been to our garden before -- three years ago they came as first graders and released butterflies they had raised in their classrooms into our garden!

All pictures taken by Debra Levine for Rivers Run CG.
This year, their gardening tasks were to plant tulip bulbs which will bloom in Spring and garlic to overwinter in our new community garlic bed.

They also particpated in workshops on composting (facilitated by two of our members)....

....bullying (facilitated by officers from our community police force)......

....and self defense (taught by senseis from a local martial arts school).

The kids always have a great time, come armed with information learned in their science classes and ask good questions.  They will be back in late Spring just before school lets out for the summer to visit us again.  Hopefully the tulips will still be around then and they will definitely get to see the garlic they planted and which will be about a month away from harvest when they come.   We always hope we have encouraged some future gardeners!

Garden event over, we were off!  My DH, DS1 and I headed down to......

....North Carolina! 

My MIL's husband has been seriously ill for a while now and the plan was for us to stay a week.  However he was released from a physical rehab facility two days after we arrived so we had to stay a few extra days to help out until they could arrange for home care.  We wound up not getting back home until this past Saturday.

The trip did provide a few quilty moments though.  The week before the school garden event, I had demoed a quilt class I'd been asked to do for one of our community's Building Associations.  Our garden's president has been trying to arrange a quilting class ever since she saw my last journal cover when I brought it to a journal writing workshop that was held in the garden.  Her Association got a grant this year to hold a series of crafting events that also address the theme of recycling.  A perfect theme for a quilt class!  Since their meeting room can't accomodate having a bunch of sewing machines, we decided it should be a hand work class.  Of course my first thought was for an English Paper Piecing class.  Popular as ever now, it also is a chance to talk about using recycled materials not only for fabric but also for templates and project storage.

I'd been gathering materials and project ideas since we talked about this in the summer.  I was able to present in the demo to the Association's Class Committee what techniques I could teach.  We agreed to hold the class in mid November.  With my husband taking the first shift for the drive down,  I of course, used that as an opportunity to work on hexies!  

Once we were in NC, the trip was also the opportunity to FINALLY crack open my long awaited "travelling kit" ---  I had packed up Bonnie Hunter's "Old Tobacco Road" last year as a travel kit and now I got to finally start it!

This is a post-trip shot of the pack up -- I forgot to take a shot of my setup while in my MIL's sewing room.  I got this started just in time too since Bonnie's next mystery will be starting soon.   We had been so busy down there that I only manged to get 3/4 of the Part 1 Four Patches done and barely started the Part 2 HSTs.  Now that I'm back home, it's a start that I can build on that's perfect for daily fifteen minute sewing sessions.

To take a break from caretaking, my MIL (also a quilter) and I did a little quilting retail therapy.  For me it was a chance to do some more mystery season prep:  I've long needed to rebuild a stash of the lighter neutral background prints of whites and creams.  As you can see, I did really well there!

All summer Vanessa Vargas-Wilson, The Crafty Gemini, had held "Friday Flash Sales".  Each week she offered a fabric bundle for a project kit.   In July she had one for a zippered pouch.  The kit included a bundle of fat quarters anchored by a cute "Church Kitchen Ladies" print and included a zipper with a cute charm attached and instructions to make the pouch.  Since my MIL is a dedicated church lady (although as far as I know she doesn't help with the kitchen duties!), I just knew she'd get a kick out of it.  I purchased the kit with plans to make it up and gift it to her when we got to NC.  Unfortuately time did not permit me to make the pouch before going down but I was able to make it up while there.  After I finished the pouch, my MIL wanted a strap so she could carry her keys and cell phone around while at church so I obliged.

This shot I DID get in her sewing room!
 As Vanessa had promised, the kit included more than enough fabric to accomodate the addition of the strap as well as provide enough additional fabric for me to make another pouch for myself.  I purchased the zipper for that during one of the retail therapy sessions and hopefully can get mine made up in the next few days (or maybe weeks!).

So now that we are back home this has been a busy week of appointments, checking in on our garden plot, laundry (despite having done a load of wash before we left!), shopping (to restock what DS2 ate while we were away!) and some additional quilty shopping for some things I hadn't been able to find while in NC.  With all of that and a forecast of rain for today, I decided not to buy candy for Trick or Treaters.  In fact, it's been pretty quiet this evening which gave me the chance to finish up these posts!  If you are entertaining little (or big!) visiting ghosts and goblins, I wish you a safe and Happy Halloween! 

Checking In For October - Part 1: Gardens and Cars

It's been busy since my last post and not necessarily with quilting -- at least not the quilting I had planned to do!  After finishing up my friend's desk mat, I expected to get started with quilting my Quilts of Valor for Veterans Day.  However, I had a lot of community garden activities to tend to first.  I had what I thought might be our garden's last pepper harvest to collect and submit (Rivers Run is one of the gardens that grow Serrano Peppers for The Bronx Hot Sauce) and needed to start cleaning our own plot for the start of the Fall growing season.  Our community garden also had a big event coming up so I spent a few extra days with our other members getting it spruced up for the event.  

I aso attended a workshop at another community garden, the Green Patch on Walton,  on natural plant-based dyes.  The brown cap in the picture below was dyed with Black Beans!

Before and After!
Caps were also dyed with onion skins!  

I was able to take another light cap (in the picture with the bean dyed cap) to try it at home.  I'm  collecting skins for that as well as harvested some fennel (which will dye something a navy-green color) from our community garden with plans to try that on some muslin.   I'd love to be able to arrange a workshop on this in our garden next Spring.    

With the preliminary gardening activites done, I thought I'd be free to quilt.  However, then there was an unplanned interruption in my schedule:  the sudden demise of our old car!  Our beloved minivan "Vanessa", a 2000 Mazda MPV breathed her last.  

Vanessa in her younger years
When the repairs she needed were going to cost more than her current value it was time to give her up.  And with that, my DH and I were thust into the world of Cars-From-This-Decade!!  It took us about a week to research models and features and view internet car reviews on YouTube.  My DH was really motivated to get this done as quick as possible since he works nights and in another borough (Queens) so had to take public transportation throughout this time.

Research done, we spent a weekend going around to dealerships and used car lots near us to familiarize ourselves with all the different car makes and models in person. Well, not all, we already knew we still needed to be able to haul cargo (for our youngest, the budding filmaker and our community garden) but figured we could downsize from a seven passenger van (in recent years we rarely used our third row and most of the time kept it "tumbled under") to a five passenger SUV crossover.  After hitting the dealerships and picking two finalists and seeing one really appealing "luxury option", we also searched internet car sales sites to expand our choices of what was available for sale.  We had been scheduled to go to a credit union car sale when a slighty older model of the "luxury option" was posted to True Car at a price that was within our budget.

Going to see it (a trip for us since it was out in Brooklyn!), we ultimately went with that one.  Ironically,  before this search this was a make we had no familiarity with --- a Hyundai.  We had seen the newer model of the car at the dealership but admittedly since we haven't had to carry a car note in ten years, it was more than what we wanted to spend on a car right now.  The tipping point was that when we checked with our insurance company on the coverage rates for all the SUV models we were seriously considering, the Hyundai was the lowest to insure.  Even better, the operator I happened to connect to also owned a Huyundai, had recently upgraded hers to get more features and assured me they were very reliable cars!  Couldn't get a better and better timed recommendation than that!  So we went with the one from True Car: a 2016 Santa Fe Sport that came with all the bells and whistles (Turbo, large touchscreen, sunroof and power everything).

Our New Yara!
To reduce our insurance costs further we also spent another week doing an online Defensive Driving Course.  At first my husband didn't want to do it -- he had done it online the last time and said it was text dense and a bit boring.  He would rather go to an in-person class like we used to do.  However this time one of the courses our insurer recommended was "Traffic School by the Impov Comedy Club".  Pretty funny, the same good information that you get in other classes and definitely not boring!  Even better, you have twenty days to complete it.  Once completed they gave us a discount code to pass along so if you're interested in saving money on your insurance (here in NY the discount is good for three years) use the coupon below:

Ok, so now that we had a car, it was time to move!  There's more to my October doings in the next post and this time it'll actually include some quilting!