Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Few Christmas Snapshots

Rub-A-Dub Dub
Three Men in a Tub.

Alex, Benjamin and Arjuna having some splashy fun in Nana and Pop's big bathtub.

Benjamin and the Radio Flyer Spring Horse he named Fred, a gift from Aunties Sarah and Kristin. There is always one hit gift every year and I think this was it for 2007. A great toy that will be enjoyed by the boys for years and years to come. I think Benj's face says it all.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Four Seasons Swap for Winter

Now that the holidays are pretty much over and done, I can focus on the Four Seasons Quilt Swap for Winter. I've had time to look over the blog of my recipient and have come to a design decision.

I won't say much about the recipient, but I've chosen a non-holiday winter theme that reflects the place where I grew up--the San Joaquin Valley of California. Visalia and the surrounding area is a renowned agricultural area and citrus is among its diverse crops. Winter is the time when all citrus in the valley both ripens and is most vulnerable to freezes. The oranges (and grapefruits, and lemons) require a certain degree of cold weather to ripen and sweeten, but can be devastated if subjected to sub-zero temperatures for more than a few hours.

I used my favorite program, to design the quilt and the block is from EQ's "Folk Art Classic Applique." I now have the central block bonded down for the applique and that's a good start.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Me and My Little Buddy

Just a quick picture of baby Alex and his Nana.

Merry Christmas!

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus.
He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

Francis P. Church
New York Sun
September 21 ,1897
Full text & story here.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ms. Santa Goes Green

I pledged to stash-bust, but made a bit of an exception yesterday and picked up some sale Christmas fabric. Why, you ask?

Well, to make reusable fabric bags for gifts I'm giving the kids. On the left, you see the remnants of the Christmas wrap I've been using for the last 5 years. These must have been gigantic rolls and I'm still using them for the kids. shown are the fabrics I bought at 35% off to make gift bags for this and next year. The plaid will likely get made into napkins because it has such a nice hand.
Here are the gift bags all filled up!

Every year, we give our grown kids a useful gift (almost always for the kitchen) and a check to help them pay bills, take a vacation, etc. This year we are giving them ?????? (I'll show you after they are opened).

I plan to repossess the bags to use again next year and even the ribbon is recyclable--wired ribbon purchased at 60% off at JoAnn's today.

I'm so happy that I actually did this instead of just thinking about it!

Finally, I decorated a towel for each of the little boys to use after they splash around in the big bathtub. It is a fast and easy gift for kids, just take a purchased towel, wash it and cut strips of width of fabric to sew over the woven strip on each end. Fat quarters don't work so well because they have to be pieced to be long enough. Simply sew the strip down, turn the ends. Simple, simple, simple. I've done a few for Benjamin, and these will be to leave at Nana's house so they can use them every time they visit.

The hordes descend tomorrow, so I'm off to cook.

I hope your shopping is done and your heart is full,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More Christmas Preparation

Holiday progress so far:

  • Charitable contributions made
  • Toys for Salvation Army purchased and delivered
  • Little boys gifts purchased and wrapped
  • Big kids annual toy purchased and wrapped
  • Dogs groomed for family visit
  • Handmade pasta done for spaghetti & meatball dinner on Saturday
  • Fudge made by hubby
  • Santa apron for Nana finished
Things yet to do:
  • Grocery shopping
  • Decorate towels for little boys
  • Make rolls
  • Get plenty of sleep before the deluge of kids big and little
  • Relax and enjoy having the kids here and together
Photo: My little sister and I (I'm on the left, as alway) with the big guy in 1957. Our only photo with Santa. Dig my Scottie Dog glasses.

La vita e bella

Monday, December 17, 2007

Free Parking!

We were out and about today, having breakfast for lunch at one of our favorite places, Macs Kosher Style Deli, not Kosher, but definitely delicious.

Then we trekked down the street to Cokas-Diko Home and Garden, a furniture and decorating place right up the street to look for a new end table for our family room. Bingo! We found a reddish milk-painted and distressed round table that was just the ticket!

We walked back to the car to go home for the truck to pick up the table and sitting on our windshield was............a parking ticket.......#$@#%!#$.

But wait, it was not a parking ticket, though the front side did look like a parking ticket complete with the "Santa Rosa" in official looking type. The back side read:

While you shopped
The Meter Maid stopped
To give you a Christmas Treat
The price of this gift

Could cause you a fit
As well as a present so neat

The G & C Elves

Thought your rage could be shelved

If the system could just be beat

So we put in a dime

To add to your time

And keep that maid in her Jeep.

Your expired meter was paid for by:

G & C Auto Body
"Meter Beaters"

Happy Holidays!

Is this a great idea or what? If, heaven forbid, I should have an accident and need an auto body repair shop, where do you think I'll go? Later, when picking up the table, we saw the "Meter Beater" Girl and gave her a big Thanks.

Then, we stopped at our locally owned toy store and bought some goodies for the little boys who will be here soon, Benjamin, Alex and Arjuna. I also found my adult kid toys for the year, so it was a bonus all around. =)

La vita รจ bella.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Picture With Santa

Christmas 1984.

Kate was 6 and in first grade at Conyer School in Visalia, Ca; Daniel was just 4 and in preschool at Children's Manor. I was in the first semester of the Dental Hygiene program at Fresno City College, commuting 4 days a week (90 miles round trip), going to class and clinic 6 hours a day and doing homework and makings straight "A's."

My kids' father lived in Missouri, so weekends off for visitation was not an option for me.

I look back and wonder how I did it, but we do what we must.
In so many ways those were sweet, sweet times with my children.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

My dear Hubby, knowing my love of all things bookish, sent me a recommendation for a book that served as inspiration for the new movie The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The story is a memoir written by Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor-in-chief of the French magazine Elle, who suffered a cerebrovascular accident to his brain stem at the age of 44.

In times of less sophisticated medicine, such a catastrophe would surely have been fatal but Bauby survived, a victim of Locked In Syndrome, unable to control any part of his body but his left eyelid. Through a painstaking method that involves a scribe reciting the entire alphabet in a sequence of letters most frequently used, Bauby dictated this short memoir during July and August of 1996.

The story begins with Bauby's descriptions of daily life and about how his trapped body still feels discomfort, though he cannot even reposition an aching shoulder or ask to have a too-loud television set turned down. He tells of his mental travels to places far away and gourmet meals he consumes in his imagination while being fed via gastric tube. The final chapter tells of the day he suffered the stroke and how ordinarily the day began. A day, supposedly, like any other.

This book is very touching and I highly recommend it to everyone as solemn reminder to enjoy every single day because life can indeed change in the "blink of an eye."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I'm SEW Lucky!

We had the drawing for Sew-A-Rows today at our Holiday Luncheon and I am happy, happy, happy!!

I won the color study on black that Phyllis started, and if that wasn't enough, I also won the 1930's Mini that Betty started.

How lucky can you get?

Not only that, a couple of members presented me with some very precious vintage pieces. I'll photograph them tomorrow in the daylight and post then.

Many more starter rows were also submitted and I think the drawing today encouraged folks to submit more starter rows by our first meeting in January.
One gal, Susan, won four of the five tops she worked on!

After all the excitement, I got to sit and chat with some of the gals who've been sitting at the same table with me since I joined the guild in 2003. We had such a great time chatting--are there any people better than quilters to hang out with?

Dancing and happy in Santa Rosa,

Monday, December 03, 2007

More Eye Candy

I've been working on getting the house decorated for Christmas, so not sewing much. I am working on the first round of Karrin's block for the Round Robin Bloggers. Since we made a pact not to reveal what we're doing, I won't, but it was a fairly challenging foundation pieced block with some applique.

Since a blog post without pictures just ain't any fun, here are a few more of the Sew-a-Rows that will be given away on Thursday.

I love this Halloween quilt and the sign-ups went so fast that I couldn't get in on it and I'm the organizer. I'm planning a couple of Halloween starters because they go fast, obviously.

This quilt is an ultra-mini and started with what appears to be the second row. Betty's Log Cabin blocks are about 2 inches on a side and the half square triangles are about 1/2 inch! I did the fans and posies row and if I win, I'll add something else to the white areas.

Finally, here is the Sunny Skies top that began with Carolle's darling kites. I love the sun peeping over at the kites.

More tomorrow!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Nancy Pays It Forward

Lucky me!

My longtime pal Nancy, Near Philadelphia decided to participate in "Pay It Forward" last summer and I got a little surprise in the mail yesterday.....

These dancing ladies have become Nancy's trademark and I am so lucky to get some of them. I'm thinking that these darling gals are going to go on a tote bag. After all, you can't have too many tote bags.

Stashbusting Sunday: no sewing/no progress. I did, however, get caught up on my dreaded ironing. Not so bad with a new ironing board cover!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Little Eye Candy

Since I haven't been sewing too much this week, I submit to you a few of the 2007 Sew-A-Rows that have been turned in. We will select the winner at our last meeting of the year next Thursday.

At the right, we have our Polarscape, started with the wonderful polar bears by Linda and finished with Inuits, Penguins, a walrus and the northern lights. It is one of my favorites. Linda designed and painted the Art Quilt for our guild and she is a wonderful artist. (See link to SR Quilt Guild at left).

The quilt at the left started with the sailboats and turned into a "By the Seaside" top. Very creative.

This was my first year as Sew-A-Row coordinator, taking the job from Phyllis, who was our programs coordinator for 2007 and while she's a whiz, she can only do so much....a girl's gotta sleep sometime. She let me keep it because she's taken over the job of being the organizer of the Moonlight Quilt Guild's annual quilt show and that ought to keep her busy for a while.

Finally, here is Moon Over the Mountain and Kathy just turned this one in today. It started with Justine's Moon Over the Mountain blocks and has progressed very nicely.

More tops tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's a couple of the starter rows for 2008. Doris turned in these darling Victorian ladies with a fabulous Civil War reproduction border.

Sharon, the amazing Librarian of our guild made these adorable paper pieced Red Hats and included some great paper-pieced shoes and handbags as possible additions. Today she gave me some great lavender fabric with red hats to go-with.

More fun tomorrow!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Ghosts are Done

My ghosts are finished and looking very scary in my opinion. The top of the lower ghost can't be finished until the blocks are sewn together as the top of his head overlaps the other block.

In the spirit of further stashbusting, I used some new yardage I acquired on a field trip to Eddie's Quilting Bee when we were at P.I.Q.F. in October.

I fell in love with the Fresh Air by Chez Moi line from Moda when I got a fat quarter of it in a Sweet Treat from the Pincushion Boutique. I found more and used it as my fabric in our Fat Quarters' online group block lotto. Ad Eddie's, I found it in a darker colorway than I'd used for my lotto block and I was crazy for it so I bought 2 yards of one print and 3 yards of the other. Just because.

So, I'm looking at these two fabrics on my cutting table and thinking "What was I thinking?" "What am I going to do?" I was also looking at my ironing board with its slick specialty cover I'd bought at PIQF a few years ago. If you've been to a major quilt show on the West Coast, you know the ones I mean. The vendor is always there and they have these covers in every conceivable size and they sound too good to be true. Everything slides off the darned things and onto the floor! The things come with a cheesy sponge pad that wears out in no time flat and my bigger-than-standard ironing board was sadly in need of a facelift.

Enter an old bathsheet style towel folded in half and trimmed and a quick cut out and stitching of a casing on the edges and voila! An ironing board covered with a fabric I absolutely love.

Now maybe I'll get caught up on the backlog of shirts piled on the floor!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Stashbusting Sunday

In baby steps, that is....

Judy Laquidara at Sunshine Quilts issued a challenge to all of us in Blogland to work at busting our stashes and no one needs it more than I do.

I'm also knee deep in the final Santa Rosa Quilt Guild Newsletter of the year and winding up the 2007 Sew-a-Rows and organizing the 2008s.

In the spirit of both tasks, I dipped into my black and white and pink stash and made up a little Sew-a-Row starter project that I designed in Electric Quilt 6 last night.

I have a darling striped print with pink and black on white that features French femme fatales, the Eiffel Tower and other pink and black harlequin patterns and dots that I'll include in the package along with generous scraps of all the fabrics included in the row.

I guess this qualifies, doesn't it?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are visiting with my Mother and Father-In-Law in beautiful Carmel. The weather is cool and clear and we spent yesterday afternoon on the cliff above the beach with wine, cheese and crackers. We always have fun with Daisy and Ed.
We have much to be thankful for and we know it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We Can Say We Knew Her When...

Congratulations to Miss Bonnie at Quiltville!

Bonnie has long been renowned in the online quilt world for her smarts and generosity with the designing and sharing of patterns using scraps. She's been published in the new issue of Quiltmaker! Congratulations Bonnie!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm a Stitchin' Fool

We've been watching our latest Showtime serial (and I mean serial) via Netflix.....Dexter, the blood spatter specialist who is a forensics technician by day and a serial killer by night. We are enjoying it, in a warped kind of way. Given that, it is fitting that I continue stitching on Happy Hauntings.

The candelabra points were a pain in the behind to do with the freezer paper method--the method in which you iron freezer paper to the back of the applique piece and press the seam allowances under with starch or sizing. I really prefer needle-turn applique so I've decided to use a combination of both methods, depending on the location.

As you can see, I used a fabric marking pen in a color that was very close to the ghost color to mark the edges of the applique piece. Outside marking is favored by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins of Piece O'Cake Designs and all you have to do is roll the marked edge under as you needle turn. That doesn't work as well for darker patches, so I'm using Pearl Pereira's method used by my pal Becky who took a class from Pearl herself.

Now that I'm getting caught up, I wish the blocks would come faster, but I'll bet I won't feel that way when the skeleton and haunted house arrive.

After a chat with Benjamin today, we decided to make chicken enchiladas when he comes to visit in December. The boy loves to cook and I love to cook with him.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

W.I.P. Wednesday

Sooze put out the call for a W.I.P. Wednesday post, so here goes.

I'm working hard to keep up with my Block of the Month Happy Hauntings.

I finished block #1, the man in the moon and block #2, the blackbirds with candy apples.

I finished all the prep work on the #3 the candelabra and #4, two ghosts and all I need to do is stitch down the applique. Hopefully, I'll have that done before the end of the month when block #5 arrives.

I was a bit annoyed that the candelabra block was missing the fabric for the candelabra, but I had just the thing to substitute and that seemed easier than waiting to get some from Thimble Creek. Had it been a background fabric, I'd probably been a bit fussier.

The preparation is such a pain, but I do love to applique and I really love this project.
Here is a sneak peek at the whole thing :

I doubt it will be finished for Halloween next year, but perhaps 2009.

What's your WIP this Wednesday??