Wednesday, October 1

It’s October! Already?

Progress report: I did end up removing the sky blues, and I also removed the purples from the blue side of the spectrum and replaced them with more russets and maroons. I took this picture so I could see them side by side (before and after) and I liked this better—I think it’s warmer. It’s going to hang in our living room (if I like it) and we don’t have any blue in there. Whatsoever. Nada.


So here’s where I am today. This only looks complicated. It’s not. Each piece is numbered and has an arrow pointing north so I can tell which way is up, and there are many hash-marks to assist in alignment. That paper I’m laying the pieces on is sticky so I can iron everything down before I sew it together. Meanwhile pins hold things in place. The towel acts as an ironing pad and pincushion.


I sewed some of the pieces together at the bottom, my method has always been to piece the whole background and then attach the border in strips—you can see a border strip on the design wall. Well, getting those suckers to line up perfectly is a real booger. This time I’m going to attach a border piece to each edge piece. I think it will be better. We’ll see.

In other news, we’re having a party! Just a little one, but it’s our first party in the new house. We’re excited.

We invited some neighbors over for some of J’s good vintage wines. We got to talking at last week’s happy hour about “what are we saving it for?” The milestone birthdays and anniversaries have all passed, there will be no more weddings—I don’t think—and there will be no more grandchildren. Those events call for champagne anyway. Many of these wines are ten years old and J is worried they may have gone bad (that would be tragic). Like I said, what are we waiting for?


We’re only serving cheese, nuts, and dark chocolate, all things that pair well with red wine. Nothing fancy, just laughter and fun times—like a happy hour. Maybe we’ll all go out to dinner afterward. Who knows?

This is such an easy do! Simple, simple! I think we’ll do this with more neighbors in the future. So we can drink more of J’s wine. And to make room for more, right?

Tuesday, September 30

The Casting Couch


Couch—get it? I held auditions yesterday. These guys made the cut:1-IMG_1334

The close-up. Interesting to see them all laid out in a photo..Now I’m thinking maybe tans and beiges for the backgrounds instead of grays and blues. I’d kind of like to have some citrine yellows instead of the ochre-y ones but I am NOT buying any more fabric! 1-IMG_1336

So what am I making.1-IMG_1339


I struggled and struggled because I wanted to do something cubism, a style I love, but I couldn’t break through the invisible barrier. My sister Mike told me to cut the crap and I did. As soon as I found some photos of leaves (in this case, ginkgo), my creativity came back. Well, I do have a lot of the right fabrics.


This is going on outside my window today. It is loud. I have the windows closed and this noise is rattling the fillings out of my teeth. These guys are not wearing earplugs.

It’s always a construction zone around here on weekdays. Gets old. We wake up every morning to the beep beep beep of trucks backing up, and hammering, and now jackhammers. It’s like living in New York City.

Saturday, September 27

Getting Fit and Healthy

We took a walk today. Yeah, I know I know, you’d rather read about the quilting. Later.

It was a beautiful morning, and we got out for a walk before it turned hot. I wanted to take some pictures from the hill in the front of our house. That’s our house with the little awning and the dirty SUV (“Bud”) in the driveway. 1-IMG_1322

There are many trails all around our development. We’re working up to the longer ones. This one goes up, up, up. 1-IMG_1324

Going uphill really gets your heart pumping quickly in addition to giving you a great bird’s eye view. 1-IMG_1326
The trail continues up, even steeper still, but we had climbed high enough for today and we still had to walk our little section of the neighborhood to see what our neighbors were doing landscape-wise. And we were getting hungry for breakfast.

Okay, that’s the fit part. How about the health part? Oh, I thought you’d never ask. Here’s a short bit of wisdom for today:


Whether it’s from a lollipop or a slice of cinnamon-raisin bread, we all know that sugar is not the healthiest of ingredients, especially when it is consumed in excess or comes from refined forms such as high-fructose corn syrup. We also know that sugar is partly to blame for challenges with our waistlines, appetites, blood sugar control, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. The data confirming the relationship between high carbohydrate (sugar) consumption and diabetes is clear. And the data that supports the relationship between diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease is profound. Diabetes is a powerful risk factor for simple cognitive decline, dementia, accelerated aging, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
(from Grain Brain, Dr. David Perlmutter)

Thank you for reading. Be healthy. And take your Vitamin D!

Thursday, September 25

Like Riding a Bicycle

I had fun making this little (75 x 15) piece. I think I made it in four days, that has to be some kind of record for me. The free-motion quilting is stars and holly, with ribbons. The ribbons are no-brainers and allow me the breathing room to look ahead and maneuver into position for the next motifs. I don’t draw on the fabric (my pens all dried up in the desert anyway), I just sew and go. However, I do practice on paper until the design is committed to memory. If I get lost I just sew over to the side to stop and plan my next move.


I chose a honey-colored rayon instead of a metallic because I didn’t want the hassle of sewing with metallic thread, which can be so temperamental. It has a nice sheen. Sorry, we’re a bit out of focus here. Happens.


Here’s a shot of the underside because my sister Mike likes to see the back. I used white rayon thread in the bobbin. The Janome performed perfectly despite being in dry dock for almost a year.


Finally, I glued sequin stars in clusters…well, I started to. But my glue dried up like my pens, so I need to go to Michael’s before I wreck the whole thing. I almost finished it without mishap…sigh.

On the home front, our landscape plans have been approved and groundbreaking should commence next week. Yippee!

In other news, I am reading Grain Brain by David Perlmutter, MD.KRUPP KOMMUNICATIONS GRAIN BRAIN

It was first recommended to me by Judy of Stitch Along With Me.  There was a long wait at the digital library, but I finally got to the front of the line and I have been nose-in ever since. Thank you, Judy! I have been a Perlmutter fan ever since, and now I get to read the book for free! I have a bunch of other books I should be reading, like the book club selection for example, but I can’t put this one down. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on since I learned about this wheat stuff. I’m positively rabid. And, for the record, we are five months wheat free. Jim has lost 27 pounds. Only 21 for me, but I still drink wine. I’m not in any hurry.

Sunday, September 21

Christmas Table Runner

I debated whether to call this post what I did, or “Adios I Don’t Need You Anymore,” but I thought I might convey the idea that I’m checking out. I’m not going anywhere, THIS is what I meant:


These are the drugs I no longer have to take. Three meds for the asthma that I had for 25 years. The Advair is hideously expensive and makes the drug company billions every year. Bye-bye, Big Pharma! The prescription on the right is for migraine—if I took that at the first sign (visual aura) I could knock some of the fury out of it, but the drug made me feel SO AWFUL for about six hours that sometimes I made the conscious decision to suffer through the full-blown migraine because I hated it so much. Once I took two by mistake thinking they were Excedrin because they look alike, and I felt so bad I almost went to the hospital. I lost so many days over the last 10 years to debilitating migraines. But now I don’t need you, either! Bye-bye and good riddance! The other stuff is OTC, but I don’t take them either because I no longer have chronic joint pain and stiffness, and I sleep great every night. I think I’ve had one headache in six months.

Okay, so here’s the table runner I’m working on:


The strips on the left/bottom have been sewn together, the others are in the queue. I spent some time cogitating designs and I had one all set to go, but yesterday I went to Scrabble Club, and while there I used the ladies’ room and noticed the tiles on the wall had been cut to varying widths and lengths and I just liked it. So that’s what I did.

Here’s a close-up:


The narrowest strips are 1” wide finished. The greens look black, and the strips are actually straight, unlike how they look in the photo. I am using the crappy camera, obviously. All the fabrics are metallic, but the camera doesn’t pick that up, either.

I am deciding whether to use hot-fix crystals (rhinestones) or snowflake sequins for sparkle. I think the crystals. I also have some white beads that could look like snow, but that requires hand sewing and I don’t know if I want to put that much effort into it.

It feels good to get my hands back into fabric.

Thursday, September 18

Down The Rabbit Hole (Again)

This week three of my cyber friends actually emailed me to ask if I was still of this world because I’ve been so silent.

I AM HERE! Just busy. Totally.

I guess the best place to start is I joined a book club, and, at this book club—beside the fact that I’m reading lots of fiction that I may or may not love—I learned that, if one has a library card, one can download and read books for free on their Kindle! This is like getting free candy at the candy store—and off to the candy store I went.

I’m still digging (deeper) into the subject of inflammation and gut health. I have forsaken all grains and sugars in exchange for a better, thinner, pain-free me, with amazing energy, a happier outlook, and just better health all around. Anyway, I am plundering stacks of books and learning new things. Once I stopped eating junk my brain woke up and it’s hungry.

The days and weeks are flying by. There are clubs and happy hours several times a week. You’ll remember that having a social life was one of the reasons we moved (the other being climate). I love the gals on my street, we’re like old friends already. It’s all so much fun.

I got out for some golf but then the weather turned very hot. As soon as it cools I’ll be back out on the course, and that will be soon. I’m very rusty.

I am making a concerted effort to spend time in the studio, I have made some sketches for the next quilt but I’m finding it challenging to wake up my creative juices. I ordered some Christmas fabric and decided to make a table runner to get my hand (and brain) back into it. Something happened to my photo-editing software, so these photos are unedited. Jeez—now I have to go chase down THAT problem. It never ends.


I have yet to work out a design, I got the fabric yesterday and am letting it speak to me. I didn’t want the standard red/green Christmas colors, but I had that red piece in my box of holiday fabrics so I’m auditioning it with the others.

On the house front, we still have contractors almost every day. There are only a few things left on the fix-it list, but the major one, the floor  was damaged when they wheeled in the cast-iron bathtub, remains a big problem because they can’t find wood to match. If they can’t, we may have to get a whole new floor. Needless to say, they are trying very hard to hand-pick the wood pieces to match.

Landscaping is not underway yet, but soon. Maybe three weeks. The cabinet-repair guy has arrived, so I’ll stop here.

Love, Rian.

Thursday, August 28

How to Lose Weight and Feel Great

Haven’t we all heard this one!

When New Year’s rolled around this year, we promised ourselves we were going to lose weight. But we weren’t diligent about it, in fact I think we put on more weight. Looking for yet another holy grail, I started reading about diets and nutrition, and one thing led to another, and then another, and exciting new worlds opened up. I learned some pretty shocking stuff, too.

I eliminated a few things from my diet, and I have done so well that people have asked me to share what I’ve learned. It’s a vast, complex subject and I’ve tried to distill it down to as few words as I can. At the end of the post there are links to resources if you want to explore further.

I started on this path with the Paleo Diet, which basically asserts that man has not yet evolved to eat modern food. Fundamentally, if you eat like our paleo ancestors, you will lose weight naturally and be a better person (just kidding about that last part).

Along the way I learned about wheat and gluten and how good ol’ American wavin’ wheat has been modified to increase its yield tenfold and make it more resistant to pests and drought, and make the stalks easier to harvest. In other words, it ain’t your grandma’s wheat, and the extraordinary high amounts of gluten in modern wheat are making some people sick. We weren’t meant to eat the seeds of grasses; they’re for cows.

I’m sure you’ve heard about Celiac Disease, it’s the buzz these days. Celiac is an autoimmune disease and you can’t get the nutrients from your food. But it’s actually pretty rare, and that’s not what I’m talking about.

What I AM talking about are the 50% of people who are sensitive to gluten and don’t know it.

Grains cause inflammation in our bodies, and inflammation is responsible for a number of health problems that get worse as we get older. Things like coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity, and more. When you get a bug bite or bang your knee, it becomes swollen and inflamed. This something you know, because you can see it. Well, the same thing goes on quietly inside you, in your arteries, your intestines, your joints.

I have eaten bread my whole life without any ill effects. But the more I read about grains and how bad they are for your health…well, I decided to quit eating them for a while. I saw marked improvements in my health, and the weight is coming off easily. I also gave up sugar, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s what happened: In the four months that I have not had wheat, I have not had a migraine. For decades I suffered several migraines a month, each lasting 2-3 days. Then I started noticing I have not had a canker sore in a long time either—I used to get those a couple times a month and I never knew why. I would get gunky sinus drainage at night, and my nose was often plugged up. That’s gone, too—I can breathe! Stiff, achy joints are a memory, and I have ankles now! Wow!

I decided to do an experiment to see what would happen if I stopped taking my asthma meds. Ordinarily, if I forgot to take it, I would have symptoms by the end of the day. I am now into my second week of not taking asthma meds and I have zero wheezing or tightness in my chest. Asthma…gone! (That medication was expensive!) And that’s just the stuff I can tell. I have no idea what is going on in my arteries or liver. Or my brain.

In four months I lost 20 pounds (so far) without trying very hard.

So let’s cut to the chase. I gave up wheat. Pizza. Bagels. Donuts. Big, fat blueberry muffins and cinnamon rolls. Cookies. Whole grain bread. Even cereal—especially cereal! It may be labeled “Heart Healthy,” or “Natural,” but that’s just marketing. I won’t eat them because they are toxic and they were making me fat and sick. I’ve told you before about the food pyramid and how it was devised by the USDA to benefit agriculture. And how it was based on bad science. Remember Ancel Keyes?

So what do I eat? Answer: Everything else! Meat, chicken, fish. Beautiful, fresh vegetables with butter and salads with dressing. Eggs. Cheese. Fluffy cheddar omelets for breakfast. Nuts. Avocados. Bacon! I might have some dark chocolate for dessert, or raspberries with whipped cream. How easy is that.

We no longer eat processed food because it’s full of stuff that wears out your body. Intrinsically we all know this, but processed food is convenient and readily available. But eventually it catches up with us. We get fat around our middle and it’s harder to lose weight and keep it off, our blood pressure goes up, our cholesterol gets out of whack, our organs are stressed…the list goes on.

The other side of the coin is sugar. Sugar is poison. It’s poison and it’s addicting. The food companies know it—processed foods are designed to be addictive by scientists who develop the right balance of sweet/salty/fat “bliss point,” so you will want more. It’s a three Trillion dollar industry.

Even worse than sugar is high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is in everything because it’s cheaper than sugar. But the body doesn’t process it like sugar, instead it goes straight to the liver to get stored. That’s one reason kids today are getting fatter and fatter. We were lucky that we didn’t get raised on that stuff, but it’s in our food today. Look in your pantry. It’s everywhere. Sugar also has many disguises; evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup…because the manufacturers don’t want you to know.

In a nutshell, sugar raises your insulin levels, and what you don’t burn is stored as fat. Eventually the insulin can’t keep up with the demand and your blood sugar stays high. Over time, this leads to obesity Type 2 Diabetes. It’s way more complicated than that, but that’s the Cliff's Notes version.

One more thing, just when you thought it was safe, Aspartame is ten times worse for you.

It’s not easy to give up sugar and wheat, because they are addicting. You even go through withdrawal. But it’s only a few days, it’s kind of like jet lag. And then you wake up. I mean, you WAKE UP! It’s like a veil is lifted and you have energy and your brain lights up. Your body will start to burn fat instead of glucose for energy. Glucose burns quickly, that’s why you get hungry in a few hours. Once you start burning fat, which burns longer and slower, you DON’T GET HUNGRY. That’s what I find amazing. No hunger.

You do have to read labels. But I’ve found it’s just easier to not eat anything that comes in a box and only buy foods without a nutrition label.

The takeaway is this: We’ve been fed a load of crap.

Get rid of the foods that are making you sick. Investigate on your own, I’ve provided some links if you want to learn more.

Paleolithic Diet

Modern Wheat

Ancel Keys

Food Pyramid

The Darker Side of Wheat

Leaky Gut

Gluten and Inflammation

Your Brain on Gluten

Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome

The Cholesterol Myth

Glycemic Index

Sugar: The Bitter Truth



Gary Taubes

Dr. David Perlmutter

Maria Emmerich

Dr. Mark Hyman