Dec 30, 2008

Wrapping up the year

Just hours away from 2009 at this point.  I cannot say that I am sorry to see 2008 head on out the door, more so than in other years.   As DJ is known to say, you cannot “wish” your life away but come on, ‘09!  Do the best you can with the time you have, I guess.  I am still thinking about resolutions and quilting goals for the year.  Does one even bother to set some reasonable goals?  It does help to have a little direction----like start walking again.  Nip some bad habits in the bud---make your bed when you get up and don’t stay in the bathrobe, jammies and slippers for hours in the morning would be a good start, LOL.   Quiltwise, I know I want to work on my redwork Santa project this year and start on the Be-Attitudes quilt---maybe one a month of those and pick one UFO or quilt kit to work on.  That’s would be do-able if I don’t get bogged down with donation stuff. 

Today’s picture is part of my picks for my Christmas present from DJ as one of my packages from Connecting Threads.  I thought that the quilts in the Quick Cozy Couch Quilts might work up for the donation quilts as such.  That cover one looks intriguing!  The Sew & Stow book has a bunch of really cool “green” projects for storage and such that might come in handy for gifties or for home use. 
The other part?  Ah,just to torment Norma a bit.  I have gotten a good start on my FAB challenge.  There is a bit of applique involved so I have some prep work to do.  I am doing this part over a piece of templar so I can turn the edges evenly and then set with a bit of sizing.  One down and umpteen to go, LOL.
DJ and I took down the Christmas decorations this morning though I still need to put the wall hangings away which will only take a few minutes.  The house looks so naked!  I DID leave out the lovely winter plate that Judy gave me as a gift and along with it, a hand painted Christmas card that a friend gave me.  Janet had sent them in a frame type card and I had one from last year as well.  I’ll get to enjoy that out atop the living room entertainment center on trips back and forth from the kitchen.

Both my boys are napping at the moment though Skyler did manage to squeeze at least one eye open for me.  Such a handsome boy, if I do say so, LOL. 

Yesterday I had occasion to run out to one of the Belles’ home (Hi, Lois!)  She has a black and white cat named Mittens that looks a whole lot my guy.  Even though he is a younger cat, Mittens far outweighs my little peanut.  I wish I had taken my camera so you could see him.  Les and Lois had to coax him down from the rafters in the garage so I could see how big he had gotten.
Not much else going on today.  The sun is out and about 60 today but gusts of wind.  There is a U-Haul at one of the houses across the road in back---we have been trying to decide just what is going on there, moving stuff in or out?  New Year’s Eve will be quiet---fix a nice dinner and maybe watch a DVD or two.  DJ tells me that the 4th of July fireworks that got postponed due to drought and fire potential are on for New Year’s Eve but I doubt we will go.  Just take kick back and enjoy the evening with my two boys instead.
Rather than prattle on about nothing, I’ll just wish you the best things possible for 09.

Dec 27, 2008

playing in the kitchen

Since I seem to be stuck in binding mode the past few days, both stitching it and making it, I took a break this afternoon and made a batch of cinnamon rolls. My maiden voyage in this area, I might add. I am serious about learning some new cooking skills this next year.

I ordered the roll mix from the Prepared Pantry as I really liked their pizza crust that we had tried recently. There were a few kitchen tools in the order as well. LOL, I got to admit that I like kitchen toys as much as quilt toys. I like office supplies too--that might be a hang over from my days as the "purchasing agent" among other things at the podiatric practice where I worked for 12 years.

I wound up with two more rolls than the recipe called for so I must have rolled the down out a little wider than they showed in the pictures on the directions. They DID raise up like they were supposed to though. Not entirely the same size but I think that was the pan situation (the over flow went on another pan) and the jelly roll was a little fatter in the middle section. Tasted delicious though---lots of cinnamon. Smelled fantastic in here too.

You might note that the blender now has a cover on it. The toaster does as well. I'm working on the food processor one now but Skyler keeps getting either on it or trying to get under it like he does the bed covers.

Hope you have had a good day in whatever you chose to do--------

Dec 22, 2008

This and that on a Monday

All too soon it will be Christmas Day. I had some quick errands to run bit ago which included a run to Wally World. I could not believe the cars in the parking lot! It looked like everyone in town was shopping for something there. Me? Just some frozen yeast rolls since we are not having stuffing and a turkey sized oven bag that I forgot on yesterday’s grocery shopping day. Quick dash in and out with the self check out.
Thanksgiving was such a bust with DJ being ill earlier in the week. We wound up having homemade mac and cheese for the holiday meal. The golfing friend showed up at 530 pm on Thanksgiving but had already eaten. I fixed the steaks I had planned for our meal the next night, more meat than any of us could eat in the first place especially since I fixed twice baked potatoes (the frozen kind—why bother with any other kind?), tossed salad (from the bag) and a Dutch apple pie. I don’t “do” crusts but the rest of it was homemade.
Normally I just make do a small turkey breast in the crock-pot but the turkey had been on sale for a decent price between the two “eating” holidays. I’ve got about 8 lbs of meat thawing for the big day. I can see that there will be plenty of leftovers---some for the freezer that will be repurposed for soups, salads and casseroles later. Wednesday, I’ll be making the cranberry sauce and pecan pie. Either way, I’m making up for the not so festive thanksgiving.
Skyler has made himself at home on the sewing room perch this afternoon keeping me company and sunning his backside. I think I wore him out tossing his little sponge ball around. Now that was the best buck and a half I have ever spent!! Early he was laying on a pile of clean laundry that I need to put away. I am happy to report that he has paid no attention to the tree ---maybe since it is artificial and has nothing dangling down on it? He has made no attempt to get to the snow village either. Jan from It's the cat's house suggested in an email that he might find the brushy trees too attractive if he did which never occurred to me! I wonder if she is speaking from experience there? No more sheep are missing from the nativity set either. I must admit that this is mainly because I stuck the lone sheep down to the bookshelf top with some poster putty rather than a reflection on cat behavior, LOL.
Good to see that sun! We were in that pattern of it warming up to rain last week. Mild, humid temps but that cold front that many of you have been experiencing around the country whooshed in last night. The wind was howling and DJ was putting more weather stripping on the front door. The temps dropped from 61 at midnight Saturday night to around 31 yesterday morning---quite a shock to the system the first trip out the door. DSC01951
Speaking of sun, some fabrics I ordered last week arrived—the “go-withs” for the FAB “summer in winter” challenge. Pat and Cher are the challengers this round and after they put their heads together, Pat sent us all a yard of that speckled yellow-orange fabric (the second one from the left) . The picture does not show just how bright it really is. Darn near glows---just like the sun! I will be making a gift for Norma this time around. I am not to tell what I am making but I can torment her a bit with a preview, LOL. The 2nd gold-ish print is something I already had that I might use but the rust color, blue and the two greens are the new acquisitions.
As usual I am on the spend down program as my gift from DJ. I don’t care if there is no package for me under the tree—this works for both of us. One package arrived today and here is my picks-- two cute patterns I found online from Happy Apple Quilts. I really like the graphic look of “Charlotte’s Star” and the lap size is right in line with the preferred range for the Wrap Them in Love donation quilts. The Buckaroo Bears is just darned cute for a donation quilt too. I am thinking that you could substitute any critter or motif you wanted in that space if you didn’t want to do bears—say, a cat maybe?? Again, right in the Wrap ‘Em size range. The fabric, a fat quarter, came with the patterns. Pretty cute, huh? I just ordered a neutral package of Essential thread from Connecting Threads (on sale, even better) and Cable Confidence knitting book for next to nothing from a book club with my bonus points. The rest goes in my Dream Trip to Oregon (DT2OR) fund.
No cooking tonight as we had leftovers available for both meals. Yesterday I made a pot roast on the stove top last night, braising it in the Dutch Oven following the directions in “Joy of Cooking”. I believe it was the best roast that I have ever made. Very tender and fairly moist even without the gravy. My gravy even turned out right meaning without a swirl in the blender to get the lumps out! I made sort of a modified beurre blanc, (I think that is what it is called) with equal parts of butter and flour kneaded together and dropped bits of it into the drippings whisking with each addition. You need 1 tablespoon of each for each cup of liquid-- something I read in the local paper. I might learn how to cook one of these days, LOL rather than the slap dash methods. Okay, butter is not so good for you but then margarine would not have been either. Or red meat for that matter. You gotta eat! Once the meat package in the freezer is depleted we won’t be eating much roast or steak anyway. Who can afford it? Who can afford even chicken lately---sheesh!
Normally I would throw a roast in the crock pot or the pressure cooker, depending on what cut it was. Since it was cold out, it was a bit chilly in the living room/kitchen with those vaulted ceilings and the wind howling. I didn’t mind the heat from the stove top or the oven being on to roast the veggies later. If it were summer time I would re-think that whole deal! But summer seems so far away now that the first official days of winter are full at it.
Well, fabric ironing awaits. I hope to do a little cutting and possibly sewing tomorrow on that top secret project. If I feel the need for a little handwork, there is always binding on those appliance covers. Yeah, still not completely finished with those and thinking ahead to the next project---will I never learn?
Merry Christmas to all!

Dec 16, 2008

Christmas around the house

It looks a little like Christmas around the house. I thought I would share a few of the pictures with you. Of course the shots loaded in reverse order so you are starting the tour in my bedroom instead of the front of the house but hey, if the pics will load you take it!

First, the little snow village that I set up on the armoire in the bedroom. Dickens' Village knockoffs but it works for this small space. So far, Skyler has not hopped up here to see what's going on, LOL.

Bedroom door---wreath made by a friend in Illinois who has since passed away. The wall hanging was one I finished years after the fact, hand appliqued and hand quilted. "Santa Magic" designed by Wild Goose Chase. I purchased it from Keepsake Quilting as a kit so no stash busting was involved with that--more like acquisition in that case. I would still like to do the stockings in the same pattern. That one or scrap patch stocking pattern from Thimbleberries that I got as a door prize at some point................

The angel corner in the hallway. The plate is one that was given to me by Judy last week while the angels are mainly secret pal gifts, package tags or picked up along the way. Most have some sentimental value to me or I wouldn't put them out. The wall hanging was sorta adapted by me from one of the Appli-quilt books by Tonee White. I listened to the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" I don't know how many times to see if it Zuzu said "its" or "his" wings

The sewing room door--I purchased the "Welcome" sign with little seasonal hanging years ago. The snowman is the winter offering. The door banner is a Katrina Designs pattern with removable seasonal centers. Veronica so kindly sent me the Santa insert last year as well as the turkey for Thanksgiving. Pretty cute, huh?

The hallway---normally the one above lives here. Debbie Mumm Santa---not sure which book but it's been around awhile. I made it probably 6-7 years ago, maybe. The ornament in his hand was made by the same friend who made the wreath.

The tree---Mom made the tree skirt and Joy, the stuffed mouse under the tree. Skyler is quite interested in the braided tail it sports but it is too heavy for him to drag off, LOL though in this shot he was just looking out the door. No ornaments--just lights and red bows.

The Santa collection is on the mantle. Purchased over the years but the golfer Santa I made for DJ stayed in the box---that guy has seen better days and I don't know that even hot glue would help him, LOL. The stockings were purchased at a church bazaar. I think they forgot to flip the pattern so it cracks me up when I see them facing the opposite direction. Marilyn gave me the "nice kitty" stocking for Pippi a few years back. It's Skyler's now!

The VCR has been replaced so now I get the top of the entertainment center for decorating. The ceramic tree was made by my mom years ago though somewhere along the line it lost its star. I made the Recycled Santa and Snowman--patterns from Fabricrafts---somewhere in the last 11 years we have lived here. Essentially you are using a 2 liter or so bottle and dressing it up weighting it down with kitty litter or sand. (Made a Noah version for my sister as well) I didn't take a picture of the holiday runner on the coffee table, the wreaths on the doors, the purchased holiday throw on the back of the couch or the JOY door mat my godchild gave me but trust me, they are there.

And last but not least, the reason for the season. The ceramic nativity set made by my mom--that missing sheep has not turned up yet though I am still looking. Where did you drag it off to, Skyler??? The creche was purchased on a visit with my sister-in-law Ann.

Thanks for stopping by and Merry Christmas!

Dec 14, 2008

more quilts to share

These were a few more of the quilts that the Bama Belles had for "Show and Tell" at the Christmas party last week.

First up--Lois' Scrappy Trip Around the World" from I think Lois might be the queen of scraps around here!

Lois' Butterfly---do not know the pattern source though it is a little like the Marsha McCloskey version in Quilts for Katie Rose. She has some machine embroidered butterflies in the mix as well.

Linda C Scrappy Courthouse Steps is what I called it for the document---I quilted it for her.

Aline's version of our "Non- Mystery" Mystery quilt AKA Trudie Hughes' Jacob's Elevator from Crib Quilts. I made some adaptations in the pattern and passed it out in several steps this past year. She did hers in two colors.

Next, another of Linda C's scrappy quilts using the leftover fabrics from another project. Stashbusting!

This next one was pieced by Lois but the fabric is some that had once belonged to Linda C. I like the light green with the browns in this one. Linda didn't see the possibilities for this mix but looks like Lois found a use for them.

Marilyn is shown with one of two Christmas samplers. Most of the blocks were made in a Christmas block exchange for the JOY Quilt Guild in Jacksonville (AL) They have done this exchange for a couple of years.

Linda C's version of Twin Sisters from Eleanor Burns' book Quilts Through the Seasons. Lois had one as well and I quilted both of them recently. Linda is making a larger bedsized version now. This is one that I would like to make too.

And that concludes the showing of the quilts.

On a personal note I got the Christmas decorations put up Saturday afternoon. The nativity set is up, the Santas and angels are up as are the holiday wall hangings and such. I put the snow village up as well. The whole shooting match. The VCR is gone so I appropriated the space atop the entertainment center this year that I would ordinarily not have. My friend Judy had gifted me with an etched holiday plate the other day and that led to a hunt for a plate stand I knew was somewhere----bathroom cabinet or kitchen buffet?? "Chain reaction cleaning " ( to borrow a phrase from Pam) ensued till I laid hands on it, LOL. (Buffet drawer, under the pile of placemats)

DJ was sitting at the table eating breakfast and I was seated on the couch looking at a recipe book when we heard something crash to the floor. "What was that?" he says and Skyler goes running out the kitchen. I replied that my guess would be one of the sheep in the nativity set. Sure enough, one is missing. I have hunted and I cannot find that thing anywhere. The shepherd is being no help in the herding either. I don't know if Skyler hauled it off when he ran and dropped it I don't know where or if it has skittered somewhere on that laminate floor. I've been down on my belly twice today with the flashlight and only came up with a ribbon thing I pinned together for him, two rubber bands and a candy wrapper.

We decided to put up the tree as well and just use some red velvet bows and white lights----both strands are not working so that's at a standstill. Skyler seemed fascinated with the bow on the tree skirt but has since gone on to napping. Come to think of it, so has DJ, LOL. Me? Grocery errands have been run and I am getting ready to pack up some of those quilts I just showed you. The snow village is up atop the armoire in my bedroom so no stashing quilts up there till after Christmas! I wonder how long it will be before a little black and white tuxedo kitty decides to hop up there and run off with a tree or little porcelain people?

Have a happy day in whatever you chose to do--------

Habitat Challenge quilts

For any of my new readers, the last four years the quilt group has done a challenge quilt and the resultant quilts have been donated to Wrap Them In Love. The goal is to have a top or a completed quilt for "show and tell" at the Christmas party. This year was no different and I'll share those pics with you in a minute---as many as blogger will let me upload in one post and overflow if I have in another post, okay?

In 2005 I found a primary colored paint spill print at Hancock Fabrics. If you are really bored and want to troop through the later pages of the "Belles 05 album" you can spot them in the later numbers of my webshot album HERE. On page 10 for example 1389-05 uses some of that fabric choice.

In 2006 Cher and her Portland Piecers shared a lovely butterfly print. You can see our quilts on the link I just gave you. Her group was to make quilts from the same fabric and I suppose you can spot them on the WTIL gallery pages for that year.

When I mentioned on the WTIL group list that I was looking for about 5-6 yards of something our pal Kitty in KY came to the rescue and sent me enough yardage to use for several years to come. In 2007 we used the Michael Miller Merkitty fabric. Those quilts can be see in two posts HERE and HERE.

So here we are in 08 and working with a stylized Habitat fabric in green. Kitty had sent two fabrics from the same line so a couple of the girls had a slightly different piece. I don't think that they were quite as thrilled with this one but they rose to the occasion, I have to say. Maybe that was the real challenge this time since the colors were a little hard to match? I DO believe that we have some fun doing this project as they are already asking when I will be giving out the fabric for the next one. 2009 will be red lunch pails so they have a hint anyway. I'll pull that one out when I look for backing fabric for the 4 tops that were just turned in.

A couple tops will be delayed as fabric was misplaced or life just plain intervened. That happens--no pressure from me. The first quilt I will be showing was one of those delayed quilts. Pat M has been building a new home for the last 18 months or so---how she got any sewing done with all that going on, I'll never know! Liz in SC offered to quilt a top for us on her Handiquilter set up and it was just turned in after binding completion. I wish I had taken the picture when Pat had it draped over her! Thanks again, Liz. Pat was thrilled with how it came out.

The next two tops are from Linda S. She got a "bonus" top out of the deal. She made this log cabin top 2nd with the Habitat fabric used in the narrow border. The print she used was from a piece of clothing she found at a local thrift store. Recycling! The other one, below, she did a log cabin variation with the beginning square the challenge fabric.

Next up is Lois' Puss in the Corner quilt. She has some lovely machine embroidered squares alternating with the Puss blocks. The plaid in the quilt I believe she said was an old Dan River print that at one time had belonged to her MIL? I showed the top earlier this summer but here it is with some lovely curved quilting.

This one belongs to Linda C--the rust fabric seemed to be a good choice with this fabric plus she picked up the other greens and gold colors. I quilted it for her a month or so back.

Here is Beverly with her version. I think she used one of the Wicked Easy patterns or something similar?? I had sent them an online link for them to check out and she tried it out here. Again the golds and oranges seemed to contrast nicely with the Habitat fabric.

Marilyn said her version was "hot off the press" and she had leftovers so I see some of this fabric turning up in another quilt since she gave it back to me. She framed the cut squares with 3 inch strips all around in two colors and then used about a 10 inch to cut them at an angle in a wonky manner.

These last two are mine---I had posted my version of the Jungle Nine patch on here before. If I had not cut out a bonus quilt I would have worked in one more square at the bottom of the quilt. I added one more nine patch row to mine and skipped the borders. I used the leftover peach fabrics as well as the light green pin dot from the J9P for the Puss in the Corner below --the peach toile is the background and the pin dot, the binding which still needs to be stitched down. I think Nancy volunteered for that detail and one of the others we held up. Oh, the plaid in the J9P is also the backing on the PIC. Stash busting or working in series??

I have more pictures to share as there were others that were completed. I'll save those for another post. Once I started yakking, you can't get me to shut up, LOL. Stay tuned!

Dec 13, 2008

unofficial blogging break?

Time flies. I'm not going to say that I can't believe it has been two weeks since I last posted as that is almost a cliche. Nothing much to say lately. Don't you need some pictures to go on these things? Well, I STILL have not completed those darned appliance covers which is the main thing I have been supposedly sewing recently. Just don't feel like sewing. It is hard to talk about busting stash or sewing when you aren't doing either of those things. What's more, I am not even thinking about the next pattern I would like to try. That is unusual for me.

It is not that I have been busy with holiday preparations either. DJ and I have little shopping to do though I did run a few errands mid week. I have not been busy decorating the house for Christmas either. It rained for several days this week. DJ said we had about 4 inches of rain, all told, so we have/had a muddy mess in the yard and water collection on the car port. I did not want to get of that mess in the house just to haul the decorations in from the shed. It could wait a few days. We have almost ruled out the idea of putting up the tree anyway since a little black and white boy kitty will surely be too nosy about that whole deal! He'll string up some lights on the cedar tree outside at some point. At the very least I'll put up the Nativity set and a few of the Christmas themed wall hangings.

I DID print up address labels for both of us---his cards are out while mine still sit but in my defense I had a bulk mailing to do earlier in the week for the Belles' Christmas party. (The date kept changing so it was a bit like mailing Jell-O to the wall, LOL) I was working off an old data file and had to update my lists. Something that I had not done with the switchover/upgrade earlier this year till I had to. I need to type up the note to go with my cards---that's the hang up there. Maybe this afternoon..........

I have been a little more involved with cooking lately. I find myself scanning the recipe files to find new ways to fix some of the old ingredients. I have 6 lbs of apples to use up from a buy one, get one sale so the pecan pie bars I planned to make for the Christmas party turned into Apple Pecan Cake, my sister-in-law's recipe. DJ thought I made it just for us though. He was not listening when I told him it was for the potluck. He was all set for dessert on Thursday night. I decided we would keep the Jemison Inn Holiday Eggnog Pie that I had also made (while he was napping) as I figured it would be harder to keep frozen at the party. Funny though, I thought I had some nog leftover last time I made this and we had a couple egg nog lattes?

I made my own pizza crust the other day and found out I need some help in the yeast and bread making area. My troubles might have been because I don't think I put the dough hooks in the mixer the right direction and then had the wrong size mixing bowl. Did the dough even raise properly??? I had to get the mixer manual out to read up but did that after the fact. It tasted fine, even used the stone to cook it, but it sure was not a thing of beauty on the edge of it. In fact, DJ said much the same thing---"it didn't look that hot but it sure tasted good" LOL, I should have had him roll it out as he worked in a pizza shop years ago as a moonlight job. Heck, he can probably even hand toss the dough with a little practice. I find myself yearning for a taste of fresh baked cinnamon rolls and not sure just how to go about making that happen. I think it is Judy L and Libby's "fault" as well as some other cooking blogs I have linked to lately. I want to be a better cook, try some new tricks and enjoy the process rather than rush through the deal and fix the same old, same old just to get the job done. I can "do" egg whites now without freezing up about it, so I think pie crusts and breads should be next.

Also on my mind--a few of the quilting goals I would like to set for myself this year, besides learning how to make bread. I know I have another t-shirt quilt to do after the first of the year. A WTIL challenge quilt top with "that fabric" should be done by the end of January. A FAB challenge will need to be in the mail by Feb. 1st too. Two of the Belles just turned in a total of 4 tops for me to quilt at some point but no deadline there. A UFO a month would be a good goal---those half started tops or kits are not doing any good in storage but I think I need to keep it simple. A redwork Santa from Birdbrain and a Bee-attitudes block each month maybe? That would be fun for me! Food for thought anyway.

The Belles and I did have our Christmas party yesterday. Linda C hosted it this year with help from her husband in setting up the tables. Because it was later in the week than we usually have it I think we were missing just two of the girls. Delish meal. Good company. Betsy had made up quilter's bingo "cards" using a pattern from an article in the Fons and Porter magazine so some of us played Bingo before we headed home--that was a lot of fun! I can see I need to make my own card up for next year after I track down the article, that is. We thought a couple of the cards were "duds", LOL but I think we played long enough to have most everyone win that wanted to. Thanks, Betsy for sending the prize box along.

Pictured above, me with Aline and Judy. Not sure why I looked so serious but I was telling the girls about a memorial donation we had received on Theramae's behalf about then. Her daughter-in- law's Priscilla's brother and his wife had sent a generous check recently. Priscilla told me that the wife was one of the author's of the play "The Quilters" I had seen a production of the play at the junior college in Paducah during the AQS show years ago and loved it. Since Theramae was such an avid quilter, I loved the connection in the story. So what am I doing in this picture? Those wonderful Belles surprised me with a money tree with strict orders to spend that on ME. not the donation projects. Since I am planning to go to Oregon in August 09 for a FABS retreat, I told them I would apply it to my trip monies as I know we will be heading to Fabric Depot if Pam has any say in the matter. And she does.........

It is sort of a tradition for us to show our donation challenge quilts/ tops when we gather for the Christmas party. We did a "show and tell" with the other projects and quilts that had the bindings done . I came home with a pile of quilts that will headed off to WTIL headquarters as soon as I get a box for them and log them in on the quilt documentation. I'll post some of those pics in a separate email as this posting is sorta all over the place.

Stay tuned................