One monthly goal: May 2021

My quilting life started in 2020, then got packed away for Christmas and didn’t get restarted until after Easter. I decided that if I’m ever really going to get my quilting going, I needed to set one monthly goal (idea borrowed from one of the blogs that I follow).

My monthly goal for May 2021 has been to achieve a blog post. Here we are! It was a bit more complicated than it ought to have been, because I had to get over my reluctance to use my new laptop, find my travelling mouse and mouse-mat, and locate the appropriate passwords. Fears conquered, necessary stuff found, done.

Now I’m going to set my One Monthly Goal for June, which is:

Try some free motion quilting

It means conquering another fear: trying the free motion quilting (FMQ) foot on my Janome. And the fear of making a quilt sandwich, which only means cutting a bit of scrap wadding and using a little bit of basting spray. It even looks like the weather will be good enough to use the spray outdoors as I should, so I’ve chosen a good month.

And now, because every blog post deserves an image: my progress on Bonnie Hunter’s Grassy Creek mystery quilt, that started at the end of November 2020. I’m still on Clue 1, which was a bunch of grey and yellow half square triangles in sets of 8. For my half-sized quilt, I think I need 11 or 12 sets and I’ve got 8, pictured, with some short-changed sets where something went wrong. Typing this has helped me to realise that I’m going to have a go at each clue and making some complete blocks, and will then go back to fill in the blanks. I’m not sure I really love Bonnie’s finished quilt but I do think that learning from Bonnie is a good thing to do. The mystery isn’t available any more but you can get the pattern.

Restarting on the balance

Randomly restarting this blog. Catching up:

  • 2018 was OK until I landed in hospital with double pneumonia and then had a fall in hospital so emerged walking with a Zimmer frame
  • 2019 was about getting back to walking again and a busy time professionally
  • 2020 was … well, you know about pandemics

I’m still seeking balance, and part of that has been to start quilting.

Quilting has been an ambition for years

I’ve longed to do piecing of fabric forever, as the combination of fabric and small pieces making patterns is so compelling for my visual mathematical crafty brain. Maths has always been about patterns for me, not numbers. Piecing seems like doing jigsaws but where I get to choose the picture. It seems like counted cross-stitch but on a bigger scale with a quicker finish, and without needing the extra-strong light and magnifier that I need for cross-stich now.

Maybe just maybe I’ll keep updating

Today I planned to talk about quilting the ‘grassy creek’ mystery. Then it seems odd not to have any roundup. So here we are.

Walking again

Scene in early spring with bare trees
View across the river and water meadow

After my last post in 2015, we descended into a raft of health problems.

2016 and 2017 were about health problems

The OH  had a catheter inserted to start peritoneal dialysis because of his polycystic kidney disease (a genetic problem); that took up most of 2016. I had a tricky year professionally.

Then both of us had a tough time in 2017: he had a successful kidney transplant but with some complications that took a lot of time to recover from. I had health problems that landed me in hospital for four months in total and also took a lot of time to recover from.

It’s great to be walking again

I tried my best to keep up my 7000-steps-a-day target but it wasn’t easy. This year, I set myself a target of 50,000 steps a week for 50 weeks of the year.

I’m currently about 70,000 steps behind, due to a couple of weeks that were blighted with a combination of snow and colds. I’m also managing to get to just over the 50,000 steps each week, so I’m gradually eating into the deficit.

I enjoy taking the same picture

I often follow the same route: across the water meadow, along the canal, and into town. At first, I needed several rests to achieve it but now it’s quite easy again.

I take the same photos nearly every time: from three of the fenceposts near the bridge. This one shows the little river and the fishing platform.

Walking a thousand miles

This year, I gave myself a target of walking 1,000 miles.

My theory: if I do my 3 miles a day, that’s 21 in the week. Another target; 10,000 steps four times a week. That should get me to 25 miles a week – and if I do that for most in weeks in the year, I ought to get there.

Well – I feel like I’ve missed that weekly target more often than I hit it. But somehow: I’ve made it to just over 1,000 miles.

Surprising but gratifying.

Three lovely weekends in a row (wrap up September)

The last two weeks have been a whirl.

Threw off the cold, somehow, and headed off for a very busy week in the US. An unexpected bonus was that my only day off, the Saturday, was perfect. Kind friends took me on a sightseeing trip in perfect weather – lunch at a 1950s diner in Anapolis, a drive to a pleasant walk in a nature reserve on the Maryland shore, and then a crab feast at a traditional crab shack. Even my friend taking a nasty fall and badly twisting her ankle didn’t dampen the proceedings too much. (It turned out to be a hairline fracture).

Back home into another unexpectedly lovely Sunday, perfect for a big family-and-friends party to celebrate my aunt’s 80th. Her garden, her pride and joy, was the ideal setting for a marquee decorated with amazing dahlias from my cousin – like her mum, a keen gardener.

Then, amazingly, a third weekend of gorgeous weather – this time in Cornwall. Sitting outside enjoying a coffee. Wandering up and down the hill. Chatting with dear friends.

Overall: walking – not nearly enough, but the hill at the weekend helped the floor count a fair bit

Weight: +2lb after the US trip. Back to +1lb after a week at home.

Another pesky cold

The week started so well, which seems odd to say when it was the anniversary of the death of a dear friend. We went to meet his family at Stowe Landscape Garden, and had a lovely day wandering around gently. We didn’t talk about him but we did think about him; getting together to do simple, family things was just exactly the sort of activity he most enjoyed.

After that: a cold set in. Another one. I’ve had more colds this year than I can ever remember; it seems like no sooner have I got over some minor issue than another one appears.

Luckily, it was just a cold. But no fun, especially as I was away at a conference. Felt too rough on the Wednesday evening to join in with the conference social thing and opted instead for buying a picnic in Marks and Spencers. Somehow, managed to miss my footing and fall full-length, with no damage apart from a badly bruised base of my thumb – another silly thing, painful for the evening.

After that, things started to look up again. The beautiful weather worked its magic, the conference talk went well.

Walking for the week: a bit rubbish.

Eating: not too bad. Still on -2lb.

A lion at Stowe
A lion at Stowe

Autumn starts calmly

Sometimes we get a beautiful summery September. Not this year. The end of August was cold and miserable. Last week was pleasant but nippy, and I’m clinging onto the last few outings of my favourite sandals while recognising that really, autumn has arrived.

The turning season feels calmer to me. M is a lot better, and my attempts to gently but firmly Get A Grip seem to be working. -2lb from start on the scales on weigh-in day on Saturday.

Walking: didn’t quite hit my target due but not outrageously far off.

Craft: a big win. Finally finished my third blanket that had been lingering on for a year. Started on a rug to finish up the leftover stash. 

Resisting the temptation to choose my favourite autumnal image of berries. I loved the shape and colour of this purple tassel from my walk

Planted wild flowers (August ending)

Last week was a shock on the scales: +2 lb from my starting point. Not good. Not where I want to be.

It wasn’t so much the baking (although that did have an effect). It wasn’t so much the stress (not nearly as bad as it was). It might have been the lack of walking: travel and a cold meant that I only got to 16.64 miles. But I knew what it was really: the ‘see food and eat it’. Too much snaffling up of bits and pieces, too many extra helpings at meals.

Continue reading Planted wild flowers (August ending)

Starting on crafts: Christmas cards

Earlier this year, I realised that although I love making all sorts of Christmassy things, I rarely have time to do them in November or December. So why not try a bit of Christmas makery whenever I had a moment?

The selection of red cards represented my first attempt.  Continue reading Starting on crafts: Christmas cards

Progress – August is better

Teazles in the water meadow
Teazles in the water meadow

July turned out to be rubbish. Too many things to do, too much pressure from husband not being well. In hindsight, any month where  he had that many tests (MRI scan, PET, scan, endoscopy, blood tests, lots of visits to various doctors) wasn’t going to be great.

Add to that: a funeral. A merciful release for a neighbour with advanced dementia, but still a funeral.

Add to that: generally feeling out of sorts and unsettled.

It’s taken until a week into August for me to throw off July and make some progress. Husband finally got a diagnosis in mid-July – polymyalgia – and a daily low-dose steriod has him back to very much like his usual self, but it’s taken me longer to dig myself out a bit.

Weight: stayed the same, on reflection not too bad considering that I only managed 11 miles of walking this week.

Craft: mostly jigsaws. Always feel like a huge indulgence, but why not? An occasional recreation.

Exercise: coming off a week off with a mildly sprained ankle. Pleasant walk across the water meadow yesterday, first time in ages that I felt able to enjoy the walk for itself rather than grimly heading into it to earn my steps.