Thursday, June 20, 2019

It's Like Pulling Teeth

My book decluttering, that is.  I've a whole stack of books pulled out from the shelves to go through, but, I've only managed to declutter these two:

I've had this book on houseplants for several years.  It escaped a previous decluttering effort.  But, there aren't that many houseplants that are safe for cats and Dancer insists on eating plants.  Besides, these days, one can look up all the information one needs on plants online, so I think I can let this book go, now.

A Child's Garden of Verses
I had a different edition of this book as a child (the poems were the same, but the illustrations were different) and it was a favorite.  I can still recite a few of the verses from memory.  I bought this edition for my daughter, but, she didn't care that much for it.  When she decluttered it from her bookshelves, I kept it in my bookshelf.  Re-reading the poems, now, however, I can see how much they reflect the attitudes of the times in which they were written.  This book has been put in the donations bag.

How are you coming along with your book decluttering?  Are you finding it easy or hard?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Princess Mary Christmas Box

The Princess Mary Christmas Box

Sunday, June 16, Father's Day, was also the death anniversary of my step-father.  Among his possessions was this brass box.  It was one of the very few personal items he brought with him when we left Sri Lanka.  I must have been 9 or 10 when I first saw it, back in Sri Lanka.  I was told it was  an old toffee tin and I knew his father's service medals were kept in it.

But, it was much later that I found out exactly what it was - a Princess Mary Christmas Box.  I was reading a magazine and I came across a picture of a similar box and I recognized it!  Apparently, the then 17 year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary wished to send a Christmas gift to all the soldiers and sailors in service on Christmas Day 1914.  As a result, a fund was set up, donations to the fund were solicited, and these boxes were made and sent along with tobacco and cigarettes to some, a bullet shaped pencil and sweets to some (non-smokers), sweets and spices to Indian troops, and chocolates to nurses.  All, apparently included a greeting card and a picture of the Princess.  Only some received their boxes on Christmas Day; others received theirs much later, especially as the list of those receiving them expanded.

The box is brass, about 5 inches by 3 inches by 1 inch, embossed, according to one source that I read, based on a design by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey. 

The surface of the lid contains a portrait of the Princess Mary, in the center, surrounded by a wreath of laurel leaves and her monogram "M" on either side:

Portrait of The Princess Mary

At the top edge of the lid, there is a decorative cartouche containing the words, "Imperium Britannicum", with a sword and scabbard on either side.

Top Edge of the Box
On the lower edge, there is another cartouche with the words, "Christmas 1914", with the bows of battleships on either side:

"Christmas 1914"

Close Up of the Battleship Bow

In the corners and on the side edges are the names of the allies: France and Russia on the two sides and Belgium, Japan, Montenegro, and Servia in the corners.

I don't know when my step-father's father received his box.  The original contents are long gone.  What is inside the box, now, is a collection of badges, medals, and deteriorating ribbons, that he had received:

The Collection
Apparently, he was in the service of the Ceylon Sanitary Company, which, from the little research I've been able to do, were attached to the Royal Army Medical Corps (according to the British National Archives) and served in the "Mesopotamian front (Iraq) from 27 September 1917 - 31 January 1919"

Medals and Ribbons

Which helps to explain this particular medal:

"Baghdad 1917-1918

And why this medal mentions service during the Great War of 1914 - 1919:

"The Great War of 1914-1919"

When my daughter was in school, studying about World War I, I gave her the box and the medals to take to school with her as a "show and tell" item.  I hoped that seeing (and touching) these items from a long ago war made what they were learning in a book seem more real.

I haven't done a lot of research into this, but, I might look into the British National Archives to see if they have more information.  I have his name, service/serial number, and the company he served in.  I wonder if my step-father's sister knows more about it.  I should check with her (I called her, just now, and left her a message as she didn't answer her phone; I'll call her back another time).  I shall also ask her what she wants me to do with the box and its contents.  My step-father didn't have any biological children and neither does his sister.  However, they had other siblings who had children.  I shall ask my aunt if she would like me to send these items to her to be given to her nieces or nephews or their children.   After all, these items belonged to their grandfather and great-grandfather and should be their heirlooms to cherish.  There is a photograph of my step father's mother, too, among all the various papers I have, as well as photographs of his grandparents' graves.  I need to find them and send them off, as well. 

Have you seen one of these Princess Mary Christmas boxes? 

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Stringing Along

My string quilt patchwork piecing is coming along nicely.  I took some photos of the process and thought I'll share them in a post.  This is not meant to be a tutorial, as such; there are plenty of them online.  This post is simply to show how I am going about it!  And to share some thoughts I've had while sewing. 

I am making this quilt mainly because I am blessed with an abundance of fabric leftover from other sewing projects!  My own sewing projects, my late mother's sewing projects, and, even, some others' sewing projects, as, over the years, friends have blessed me with their leftovers!  My baskets of scraps are overflowing!  Sometimes, I look at all the fabric in my stash and feel stressed by the abundance!  So much to store!  At other times, I am grateful for the abundance and recognize it as a blessing.

These past few days of decluttering files and going through my books have been difficult for me.  So, on Thursday, when I was feeling out of sorts and upset with myself, I knew that I needed to take a day off to relax and indulge in what has always been a joyful activity for me - play with fabric.  Looking through the stash for suitable fabric for a baby gift (I found two or three possibilities), I realized that I really ought to sew down the stash of scrap fabric!  I have two baskets of smaller pieces of fabric (solid colors in one, print fabric in the other) and both were overflowing!

I thought a string quilt would be a good way to use up the stash.  In a way, I'm still decluttering!  Decluttering my stash of scrap fabric, that is!

I started out with a foundation piece  - I chose to do a 6 1/2 inch square, which should, hopefully, give me a 6 inch square block, when sewn together.  I say "hopefully", because I always seem to end up with blocks that don't measure as accurately as they should! 

Foundation Square

For my foundation squares, I am using an assortment of soft fabrics which aren't suitable for regular patchwork quilts, as they are so thin.  Some tutorials said one can use thin paper (which get torn off once the strips of fabric are sewn on) for the foundation, but, since my purpose is to use up the stash of scrap fabric, I am using fabric as my foundation pieces. 

Basically, one sews strips of fabric to this foundation piece until the whole of it is covered.  The individual strips can be of any width.  Most of my strips are cut 2 inches wide, but some are a little more and some are a little less.  I wouldn't cut them less than 1 1/2 inches wide, though, as I am sewing 1/4 inch seams and narrower strips will end up being mostly seams with not much of the fabric showing!

For this particular quilt, I decided I wanted to have one dark colored strip going diagonally across:

Starting Strip

Some string quilt tutorials say to mark 1 inch on either side of the corners of the foundation square to help center the starting strip.  I simply eyeballed it.  It doesn't bother me if it is slightly off center.  What does matter is that the starting strip is placed right side up! 

The next step is the add strips on either side of this center strip.  It is not necessary to trim the length of each strip of fabric to the size of the foundation square at this point.  As long as the strip of fabric is long enough to cover the foundation square (if not, I'd sew another piece of fabric to the strip to make it long enough). 

Strip #2 

Place the second strip, on top of the starting strip, with the right side of the fabric facing down and sew it, on top of the starting strip, along one side:

#2 Strip Sewn Down

Next, open it out and iron it, so it lies flat:

Strip #2 Pressed Open
Most of the tutorials on string quilts I've read have said to continue to sew strips along one half of the square and then, sew along the other half.   However, I chose to sew on either side, so strip #3 was sewn on the other side of the center diagonal, instead of next to strip #2 (oh, I am such a rebel!):

Strip #3 Sewn and Pressed Open
You can see how the strips of fabric extend beyond the foundation square.  These get trimmed off, later.

Other than a dark, central diagonal, there is not much planning as to the placement of the rest of the strips of fabric.  It is a completely random arrangement.  I am just taking a long enough piece of fabric strip and sewing it.  Eventually, as I run out of longer strips, I can see myself piecing shorter strips together, and that will just add to the randomness.  This is meant to be a "stash buster" quilt!

One block, completely covered

The next step is to trim the strips of fabric to the size of the foundation square.  A cutting mat, rotary cutter, and a ruler are helpful at this stage.  If not, a pair of scissors would be sufficient, I'm sure.  But, if I was cutting this with a pair of scissors, I might sew my strips down around the outside edges of my foundation square, just to make sure they stay in place! 

The back, showing the foundation square

This is the ruler that was included with the cutting mat and rotary cutter in the set that my daughter bought for me.  It is 6 1/2 inches wide and 24 1/2 inches long.  It's easy to measure a 6 1/2 inch square with this ruler!

Ready to Trim off the Excess!

I just rotate the pieced fabric square and trim all four edges:

All Nicely Trimmed

Most of the trimmed off pieces are too small to reuse.  But, I've saved some of the triangles to use for the corners on other blocks. 

The Trimmed Block
You can see that the central diagonal strip is slightly off centered!  That's because I didn't bother to measure and mark equal distances from the corner!  But, I'm OK with that.   All of the fabric used for this block are remnants from other sewing projects.  None of it was bought for another quilt.  I look at this block and I see fabric leftover from sewing dresses, nightdresses, and pillow cases. 

I've made 41 blocks, so far.  My plan is to continue to make as many blocks as I can and then, decide just what I am going to do with them all!  I think some will become a second border for the Mile-A-Minute quilt top I made earlier (the one I decided wasn't quite as big as I'd like it to be).  Others might be sewn into a quilt for a certain cat who threw up all over my own quilt, this morning!  He is now sleeping on "his quilt" in the spare room! 

Today, I am grateful for:
- An abundance of scrap fabric!
- The memories they bring
- Time in which to sew and play with fabric
- Cutting mats, rotary cutters, sewing machines, etc., which speed up the process
- My eye sight and being able to see well enough to sew!

Have you made any string quilts?  Do you think you might make one, one day?

Friday, June 14, 2019

Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt - First Link Up

Today, June 14 is the day for the first link up for the Summer Photo Scavenger Hunt!  I had forgotten all about it, until I saw Eileen at A Bracelet of Days' post!  Ooops!

I am afraid I didn't take many photos, but here are what I was able to take:

#3.  Repetition:

Telephone/Power Poles
The repetition of telephone poles/power lines down the road

#8.  Shells:

Sea Shell Wreath 

#10.  Something made of stone:

Stone Wall Between my Garden and Neighbor's Garden
#11.  Fish:

My mother's fish dishes
These were my mother's and some of the few items she decided to bring with her when we left Sri Lanka.  I love how the undersides of the small dishes have been finished to show the fish on that side, too.  They were made by a company called Shorter & Son, Ltd., Stoke on Trent, England.

Trade Mark

#13. Two colors of the rainbow:

Two colors of the rainbow: Yellow Lemon and Green Leaves

#15. A broken chair/bench/stool:

My Garden Bench
Those are my photos for the first link up.

When Scrap Baskets Overflow

I had a bit of an "off" day, on Thursday.  Just didn't feel up to doing anything.  So, I gave myself a day off!

First, I called one of my friends and chatted with her for a bit.  Then, I decided that, since another friend's daughter is to have a baby, later this year, I should check my fabric stash to see if I had any fabric that was suitable to make a baby gift.  As I sorted through the fabric, I decided that I really ought to do something to bring my fabric stash under control.  My scrap baskets are overflowing!

An Abundance of Fabric Scraps!

I have been wanting to make a string quilt for some time, so, that's what I decided to do:

String Quilt Blocks

I made several individual blocks.  I set them out to see how they might look when arranged so that the diagonals form a secondary design:

Sample Layout
I know I said I wasn't going to start a new quilt before I finished my other quilts, but, I changed my mind!  Obviously, today's joyful activity was playing with fabric!

Today's book decluttering:

6/13 Book Decluttering
I've had this book since 1984; it's time to let it go!

Today, I am grateful for:
- A cooler day
- An abundance of fabric scraps!
- Playing with fabric
- Being able to take a "me" day
- Friends who are wise and share their wisdom with me

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cooler on Wednesday

It was cooler, today, with the highs only in the 90s.

I took the car in for a service, today.  I was told that, in addition to the oil change, I also needed to do a few other things, since the car now has over 36,000 miles.  They estimated it would take two to three hours (it actually took a little less than two hours).  I waited in the nicely air conditioned customer lounge, read a bit, and watched TV.  They had an Indian cooking show on; I tried to change the channel, but I couldn't get the remote to work and neither could the three workers there that I asked!  Not that there's anything wrong with Indian cooking - they were showing how to make samosas, chicken biriyani, rice pudding (kheer), mango lassi, etc.  But, it was making me hungry!  LOL!  The car service bill came to $435.09; I budget $100 per month for car maintenance, so that was not an issue.

After the car service was done, I drove to the pharmacy to pick up my medication refill and came home.  Had lunch and went through another couple of file folders.  I am now starting to have a little room in the filing cabinet!  At least, in this one drawer!  Yay!  After that, I tried to sew a bit, but, even with the stand fan playing on me, it was too hot in the living room/dining area where I have the sewing machine set up, as it gets the afternoon/evening sun.  So, I cleaned my bathroom, watered the indoor plants and, because it was cooler outside than inside, by then, watered both the backyard and the front.  Even the succulents in the front have got sunburnt!  

Today's book decluttering:

Day 12 Book Decluttering
Which brings me to the question: just how many books relating to Christmas does one need?  I know I gave away at least one other Christmas related book ("A Patchwork Christmas") in an earlier decluttering session and this is the third one in this decluttering session!  I still have nine more Christmas related books on the shelf!  

Cousin P called in the evening and we chatted for a bit.  Later, I video chatted with my daughter.

Today's joyful activity was watering the garden.

Today, I am grateful for:
- Getting the car serviced and having the funds set aside for that
- A nice, air conditioned waiting area, with TV, etc., at the service station
- More drama-free medication refills!
- An abundance of books!
- A slightly cooler day

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Take the car for a service - DONE
- Clean my bathroom - DONE
- Continue to declutter my files - DONE
- Do another load of laundry
- Water the indoor plants - DONE

Thursday's To Do List:
- Do a load of laundry
- Vacuum
- Clean the kitchen
- More file clearing

How was your Wednesday?  Do you budget for things like car maintenance?  What are your plans for Thursday?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Still Hot on Tuesday

I left the house at 9:00 a.m. to go to my medical appointment, this morning, and the temperature was already 85F.  It was 98F when I came home at 11:30 a.m.  It topped 100F, again, this afternoon.

My appointment with the new podiatrist went well.  He checked my feet, there were no issues, all was well, and I have an appointment for a return visit in August.

After I came home, I did a load of laundry, called the car service center (made an appointment for tomorrow), and returned a couple of phone calls.  I now have an appointment to meet with my financial planner, scheduled for next week.

In the afternoon, I watched some TV - World Cup soccer (the U.S. Women's win over Thailand), news, etc., and went through another file folder of papers.  This one contained my health insurance coverage and benefits confirmation letters for the past 20+ years!  I should have tossed the prior year's letter when the new one was received, each year, but, instead, I just filed the newest one in front of the older ones and the file just grew.  The older letters had social security numbers, etc., so I have to cut them up, instead of just tearing them.  That's taking some time.

I also called friend R to check on her.

My daughter flew back from her conference, today.  It was a direct flight, she said, and went fairly smoothly for the most part.  Later, we video chatted (we didn't do that while she was away).  Today's joyful activity was video chatting with my daughter.

Today's decluttering included two brochures and this book:

Day 11 Book Decluttering

Today, I am grateful for:
- My daughter had a safe flight back and a safe journey from the airport to her apartment
- I had a good visit with the podiatrist and a safe drive there and back
- The car got a bit of a run
- Fans and the electricity to run them
- Iced water!

Tuesday's To Do List:
- Doctor's (podiatrist) appointment - DONE
- Bring the trash cans in - DONE
- Dust the family room - DONE
- A load of laundry - DONE
- Call to schedule a car service - DONE

Wednesday's To Do List:
- Take the car for a service
- Clean my bathroom
- Continue to declutter my files
- Do another load of laundry
- Water the indoor plants

How was your Tuesday?  What are your plans for Wednesday?