Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mail from The One Who Isn't Rosie (aka Carrie Nelson)

I had a really good week this past week.  It started out with us getting DH's health insurance premium from Aetna - $366/mo with no pre-existing conditions excluded.  Much more affordable than the portability policy through BCBS so we were very happy about that.  Having our health insurance lined up has taken a huge load of stress off.

On Tuesday I found out that I was the runner-up winner of this lovely giveaway on the Fat Quarter Shop blog, courtesy of Miss Rosie's owner, Carrie Nelson.  You know it's a good prize when Carrie's involved!  Carrie is a fast shipper and seeing that we live in the same city, the box made it to me yesterday. 

First I found a lovely handwritten note from Carrie.  That lady has the most perfect handwriting.  I'm so jealous.  Anyway, in the note she mentions delivering my next parcel in person, but what she doesn't know is that if I win another giveaway from her, I want to come pick it up so I can see the "Magic Closet" full of Moda fabrics that Darlene mentioned over on her Quilting Daze blog awhile back.  That seems like great fun.

Oh, and speaking of fun, I've had stuff leaving the house all week for ebay sales so it's been great to be getting rid of stuff I don't need and making some extra cash in the process.

What's that?  You want to see what I got from Carrie?  Oh yeah, that was the title of the post, wasn't it?  Sorry, I have a short attention span and can get distracted faster than the wind blows.  So here you go.  The giveaway included this beautifully packaged Lumiere de Noel fabric, enough for the entire quilt top, plus a signed Schnibbles book, and this great Schnibbles project bag.  Oh, and this cute little drawstring bag from French General.

But that wasn't all.  Carrie being Carrie and the generous person she is, also included this extra little prize - two Wiscasset layer cakes!  Woo hoo!  This fabric, as well as the fabric in the kit, is gorgeous!  Thanks Carrie!!! 

If that wasn't enough good stuff for the week, this morning I was sorting the mountain of fabric needing to be washed, and there nestled between the bottom two pieces in the stack, was my 1 carat diamond solitaire ring that had been missing since the day after we returned from Texas in June.  I knew exactly what had happened.  I had taken the ring off in my sewing room to put lotion on and forgotten to put it back on.  Well of course Sassy the thief has to take everything she can find that is loose and portable so I knew she had taken it, but just couldn't find where she'd put it.  The fabric was stacked on the floor near the nightstand where I had left the lotion and I searched everywhere in that area, except in the fabric stack obviously, and could not find the ring, but I was convinced it was in the room somewhere.   

About the same time the ring went missing I also found that the large eraser from my desk was MIA (Sassy again) as was the insurance policy I knew I had received for our Texas house.  All three items were still missing when I left for ND, although I had ordered another copy of the policy by that time.  One of the first things I noticed upon my return was that the eraser was back on my desk.  DH said he had found it while I was gone, but couldn't remember where.  Then I was going through my stack of paperwork to do's and there was that darn policy.  I KNOW I looked through that stack multiple times before I ordered another copy.  At that point, I was 2 for 3 and was really hoping that it meant the ring would show up soon too and today was finally that day.  It is back on my finger and I will never leave it laying again!  I swear!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Recycling Afghans & Kitty Convention

I mentioned in my catchup post that I'd bought some afghans recently from the thrift store in order to recycle the yarn.  Before I ever bought any afghans, I recycled one of my own.  I had most of it torn apart before vacation, but had a few squares to finish when I got back.

Here's what the afghan looked like before.  This afghan was made by me long before I was a quilter and it got a lot of use.  I really liked the pattern I made up, but it was coming apart in a number of places and needed more repairs than I was willing to do.  I decided that recycling the yarn to make cat mats or a new scrap afghan would be the best use of it at this point.

And a close-up of the block pattern:

And here's what I had after everything had been torn apart:

Rather than wash all of this yarn to get the kinks out, I spent a lot of my TV watching time last week winding it into numerous larger balls that should relax the kinks if left that way for awhile.  I didn't tie the yarn together like I did for the cotton yarn scraps I wound into a ball because I don't yet know what I'm going to do with this yarn and if I do anything other than my cat mat pattern, I don't want knots because there will be nowhere to hide them.  I ended up 14, four inch diameter balls of yarn from the pile of scraps above.  That is quite a lot of yarn that I now have to use for something else and it didn't cost me a dime!

Now on to the kitty convention.  I walked into our bathroom last night and this is what I found going on in the separate toilet room.  I've never found all three of them in there at the same time.

I'm assuming they were looking for bugs, crickets, etc. to play with.  It's also scorpion season here and so far the score is Cats - 4, Laura - 2, and Scorpions - 0.  Sassy has found two and Echo and Tyrone have each found one.  Of course we don't let them play with them or try to kill them themselves, but they are really good at spotting them for us so we can arrive with a shoe to take them out.  We seem to get quite a lot of the crickets, scorpions, etc. in the area of this bathroom and I think they come in through the vents and are attracted to the water.  Tyrone is always staring at the ceiling near the vents in either the toilet room or the master bathroom, so I'm guessing it's because he sees stuff come out.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cat Whizzer done!

Ok, it's time to post some of projects I got done while on vacation.  It's amazing how much you can get done when you don't have to work or be responsible for any household duties LOL.  I did help with meals of course, but no cleaning or cat box scooping for me while I was gone.  And no bill paying or other paperwork stuff either!

So, without further delay, I present my cross stitched Cat Whizzer.  I know exactly when I started the stitching on this piece...on an airplane coming back from an Arthur Andersen function in 1997.  When you see how small this piece is, it's really pathetic that it took so long to complete the stitching.  But, it's done now and it can move to the pile of stitched cross stitched pieces that still need finishing. 

Isn't this a cute little piece?  You cut it out around the design and attach a wire for finishing and then you can hang it somewhere.  You would think that I should be able to get the finishing done yet in 2010, but you never know with me.  I can drag finishing out for a looooooong time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I'm back - finally!

Whew, it seems like I've been gone for a month.  Oh wait, it has been a month since I typed all of those blog posts that posted while I was in North Dakota.  Vacation was great and I do intend to do a post with some vacation pictures, but I haven't gotten to that yet.  As I mentioned in my last post, the day after I got home, I got hit with some kind of a bug that plagued me for the next week.  My personal opinion is that it was a mild sinus infection, but I'm a CPA, not an MD, so who really knows.  All I care about at this point is that I am finally feeling good again. 

So, I thought I'd do a quick little summary of what I've been up to for the last month, with more detailed posts to follow soon, I hope, for the items of interest, like project finishes, stash enhancement, vacation, etc. 

Here goes:
  • Spent two weeks visiting family and friends in Minnesota & North Dakota where the weather was MUCH nicer than it is in Phoenix this time of year.  I left ND at 8 p.m. in 80 degree temperatures and landed at 10 p.m. in Phoenix where it was 105 degrees.  Thank goodness for working air conditioning.
  • I got approved for health insurance through BCBS; however, DH was denied after spending 30 days on the application process with them, including paying to have medical records sent to them.  Their process was a huge pain compared to the other carriers, and apparently you have to pretty much have a squeaky clean health record to be accepted.  Hindsight is 20/20 and now we know for future reference.  The reason we originally applied with BCBS is because they have been DH's existing group insurance carrier for the last 9 1/2 years, so we thought it would be a piece of cake with them.  Not so much.  Anyway, we found out he was denied on July 8th, the day before I flew home.  So, we scrambled for another week getting DH through the application process for a policy with Aetna sponsored by AARP and applying for portability coverage through BCBS to the tune of $1,217/month as a backup plan if we couldn't get anything else by August 1st.  COBRA ends on July 31st so the portability policy was better than nothing.  Most of this was happening the week I was sick which truly added insult to injury. Thankfully, Aetna came through on 7/23 and while we don't yet know how much they've raised the premium from the base quote of $244, I'm certain it won't be more than $1,217 and DH will have insurance effective August 1st. 
  • Finished 9 cat mats for the shelter
  • Finished one cross stitch UFO and am almost done with the new project I started while on vacation
  • Quilted and trimmed a quick and dirty baby quilt for our nephew's baby that was born on July 10th, although I think this is now going to be a Christmas gift instead after finding a beautiful baby afghan at the thrift store in new condition for $1.50!!!  The quilt is flannel as I wanted to use up some kids' flannel I had in my stash, so this will work out better to give the summer afghan now and the flannel quilt for Christmas.
  • Rescued a number of other afghans from the thrift store as well and I have been recycling the yarn to use for cat mats and other projects.
  • Have been on a massive decluttering kick since I've been feeling better.  I've actually been working on decluttering and paring down for the last couple of years (obviously not in the fabric department LOL), but now that we are focused on moving to Texas sooner versus later, DH is also on board and we are going to town.  We have thrown out, recycled, and donated and will continue to do so.  I've got stuff on Ebay with much more to list and have gotten set up for Freecycle as well. 
  • Purchased a new printer/scanner/fax/copier, finally, that will talk to the new computer I got in January.  Of course, this also happened the week I was sick because it became a rush purchase after DH managed to infect the laptop with the worst virus I've ever seen.  The laptop was the only remaining computer in the house that would talk to the existing printer and scanner, so that put me in quite a pickle for work in particular, with payroll filings due on July 31st, but also for home as we had items needing scanning, faxing or printing with regard to the health insurance applications.  The laptop is still inoperable and will remain so until I have time to reinstall the operating system.   The virus has disabled all programs, including System Restore and Internet Explorer, but the files still seem to be accessable, which is strange.
  • Watched a number of hours of Tour de France coverage.  I'm an addict, and between the vacation and illness, I didn't see nearly as much of the Tour as I have in years past.
  • Picked up two framed cross stitch pieces from Joann ETC.  They did a great job.
And for those needing a kitty fix, here's a couple of pictures of our furry family members.  Sassy is still as sassy as ever and Echo is as lovey dovey as ever.  Tyrone has been pretty happy since I've been back since he's always been my boy and only sucks up to DH for his morning treat of stinky wet cat food.  That stuff is so disgusting smelling that I'm glad I don't have to give it to them.

Do you think Sassy finds one of the afghans that I am recycling comfortable?

Sassy must have known I was leaving because the night before I left for vacation, she climbed up on my lap and then went to sleep on my stomach.  The second picture I took myself after she went to sleep on me.  Doesn't she look content?

And here's Echo in his latest sleeping spot.  Typical Echo.  He doesn't quite fit, so he just lets body parts hang off the edge.

And here's Tyrone.  He hasn't made the blog in awhile so I thought he needed a picture posted as well. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back from Vacation but Under the Weather

I made it back from North Dakota late Friday night as planned, but have been under the weather since mid Saturday.  UGH.  I felt better on Sunday and yesterday morning and thought I was over whatever bug I'd gotten, but it came back even worse yesterday afternoon then it had been to start with.  I still feel really crummy this morning, even after sleeping for nearly 10 hours, so we'll see how the day goes.  I didn't sleep well the entire two weeks I was gone and I'm sure the 20-30 degree temperature change coming back didn't help either.  Hopefully I will be back to normal soon.

I had a great time with my family and have pictures, etc. to share, but am just not up to it quite yet.  I visited four quilt shops and got some great fabric (you had to know I'd get fabric, didn't you LOL), saw lots of family and friends, and all in all had one of the best vacations ever.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Koda's First Year - Cute Puppy Picture Alert #2

Today is Koda's day to have his first year summarized in pictures.  Koda was born on February 11, 2003 in Estonia.  He had to travel for two days and take three planes to get here.  He was only supposed to travel for one day and take two planes, but he missed his connection in Houston and had to stay overnight and catch a flight out the next day.  He arrived in Phoenix on May 1, 2003 at 11 weeks old and a weight of 23 pounds.

Some pictures from his first week or so with us:

He found the big dogs food right away and the raised food bowl didn't deter him one bit:

So tired!

Learning to beg from the master herself:

Hanging out in the yard:

Sticking close to his new best friend:

The Three Muskateers:

Koda got in a few messes when he was a puppy.  This incident occured a few weeks after we got him:

All clean again!

What a difference a month makes.  The food bowl is no problem now, except for the fact that he's supposed to be eating the puppy food.

This one is at almost five months old.  Koda grew really fast at first and then just stopped.  He's actually quite small for the males in this breed at only 90-95 pounds.  Maya is a large female at 110-115 pounds.

And now we have a teenager!

At about 9 months old - finally filling out in the head a bit:

With his favorite human (DH) at about the same age.  DH created a monster by letting him on the couch.


The next photo is one of my favorites of Koda of all that we have.  It's from December 2003, so he's still not a year old yet, but he's gotten rid of his baby face and I think he looks so majestic in this picture with his beautiful head.

Koda and his human again, also from December 2003, as is the next photo of him standing by the pool.  He's a big boy now!

Koda also had quite the sock fetish for awhile, which was kind of patethic for such a large dog.  He would steal socks, but only sweat socks, either clean or dirty, and carry them around the house and then lay with them.  He never chewed them or damaged them in any way.  If you tried to take the sock away, it stressed him out to no end.  His habit went on for a number of months and then stopped as suddenly as it had started.  He hasn't touched a sock since.

Here he is with one of his socks right around the time of his first birthday:

I hope you enjoyed this photo montage of Koda's first year!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's All About Rugby Today

So as to set expectations accordingly right from the get go, this post is not about the sport of Rugby, nor is it about Rugby, England.  It's about Rugby, North Dakota, my home town and where I'm probably sitting and visiting with my dad right now. 

Rugby was a great place to grow up.  People are friendly, there's no violent crime, you get snow days in the winter, your vehicle comes with a block heater you plug in so your engine doesn't freeze, you get to experience temperatures well below freezing even without the windchill (hence the blockheater) which will toughen you up, and you also get to experience 100% humidity and 90+ degrees in the summer, during which you will long for the aforementioned cold weather.  Oh, and mosquitos.  Lots and lots of them just waiting for you to show up for dinner.  Really, you can have it all in Rugby *grin*. 

In all seriousness, it really is a great little town.  Probably the best and the worst feature for me is that everyone pretty much knows everyone else.  That's great in many respects because people are always willing to help each other out, but to say that nothing you do will ever be kept a secret would be an understatement.  Rugby is quite the hotbed of gossip.  News travels fast in Rugby.  Sometimes this can work to your advantage and sometimes not so much.

My DH also grew up in a small town and he said it wasn't like that where he grew up.  Our newspaper actually had gossip columns for Rugby and all of the surrounding small towns.  I'm not sure they still do it these days, but if not, that is a pretty recent change.  You could read about who visited with whom, funerals and weddings that people attended, who came home from college for the weekend, who came home from Arizona to stay with her dad for a couple of weeks, etc.  You get the idea.

Rugby does have a claim to fame.  I bet you didn't know that Rugby, North Dakota is the Geographical Center of North America.  Well, it is, and we have a monument to prove it.  I thought the dog was a nice touch in this picture.  Not sure whose he is as I pulled this picture off of the internet.

We also have a great museum.  It doesn't look like much on the outside, but it's loaded with great stuff on the inside.  We had many a field trip there for school.

There is apparently also a Victorian Dress Museum, which may or may not have been there when I was growing up.  It sounds kind of familiar, but I just don't remember for sure.  I've been gone for over 20 years at this point and things do change, even in small town North Dakota LOL.

Rugby is also home to the Pierce County Fairgrounds.  The fairgrounds is a hotbed of activity all summer.  I was fortunate enough to grow up a half a block from the fairgrounds, so we could go down there whenever we wanted and we could watch the 4th of July fireworks shows from our backyard.  It was great. 

If you want more information on any of these landmarks, and I'm sure you do *grin*, you can find it here.  I hope you enjoyed the mini tour of Rugby.  There is much more on the website that I didn't cover.

In addition, not too far from Rugby are the International Peace Gardens, a 2,339 acre botanical garden on the border of the United States and Canada.  If you are ever in the area, it's worth checking out.  There are concerts and other activities in addition to being able to just walk around the garden.  My dad, his GF and I planned to take a day trip up there the first week I was home.  If we made the trip, we will have already been there by the time you are reading this.  If I got any good pictures I'll share them when I am back home.  In the meantime, here's a nice one from the website.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Maya's 1st Year - Cute Puppy Picture Alert

Since a number of people have requested to see more pictures of the dogs, I originally thought that I would do  "Maya through the years" and "Koda through the years" posts with a bunch of pictures to post while I was on vacation.  As I went back to puppyhood for Maya, I realized that there are so many cute pictures of her as a puppy, I'd better just do one year at a time for each of them.  Koda's first year pictures will show up in a couple of days.  Who knows when the subsequent years will be posted, but it will give you something to look forward to LOL.  So here's a little photo montage of Maya from the age of 10 weeks to 1 year.  She was born on 1/1/2002 and arrived in Phoenix on March 15, 2002.

The day she arrived in Phoenix having been flown here from Virginia.  First up is meeting Samson, our older Tibetan Mastiff at the time.  She weighed 26 pounds when she arrived at 10 weeks of age.  That's DH with the two of them.  Doesn't she look like a little bear cub?  Tibetan Mastiff puppies are so cute!

All tuckered out after the long flight:

First day outside and then with her first pigear that same day:

Maya was the most stubborn puppy.  We should have been warned when she gave us this look on her first full day with us:

My dad and his significant other were here visiting when Maya arrived.  Here's Dad with Maya that first weekend:

The start of the stick obsession - hanging with new big brother Samson a couple of weeks after we got her.  He didn't like her at first, but they became buddies before too long.

Following right along on the same day as the picture above:

Getting a little bigger:

The lanky teenager phase.  Note the lush tree in the upper left of the first photo.  That was the original apricot tree that Maya and Koda slowly killed.

Probably about 10 months old here:

Graduated to big sticks!

Happy 1st Birthday!

At full alert showing off her pretty tail:

I hope you enjoyed this photo summary of Maya's first year!