Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A New Year Challenge

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope that 2014 will bring you enough challenges to keep life interesting and, just to get you started, I have one for you.
Everyone knows that brain health comes with learning something new.  This year, I challenge you to learn a new quilting technique; preferably one that you dislike.  If you have never tried paper piecing or applique or .....give it a try.  I am going to learn art quilting.  I have never been particularly interested in this interpretation of quilting but I have been reading magazine articles and studying photos.
I have an idea that I would like to try and think I will do a small wall hanging first to see how it works out.

I also have another idea for a quilt back just to try something different.  I am going to repeat a block used in making the top: just one block enlarged to the size needed.  Border strips will have to be added to turn the block into a rectangle but I think the overall appearance should be nice.

We are going to my brother's for our New Year's Day meal.  His wife is a great cook so I am looking forward to the feast.  I am contributing an apple pie.  I was beginning to think we might not make it as we had to get a repair done to the car.  On Saturday, one of the rear wheels seized and we found that the cause was a brake pad which had come loose.  We were able to buy a new one and my husband and a friend replaced it today.  Today is also when I had to bake as we were out of bread.  I was trying to do that while taking phone calls and listening to my husband talk.  He left and the fellow came to plow the lane.  I couldn't find the money my husband said he was leaving to pay for the snow removal.  Looked everywhere without success and decided he must not have left it.
He had, of course.  It was on the kitchen table in the serviette holder.  I hadn't paid attention when he told me.
The bread is now in the oven.  The apple pie is done although I forgot to add the  butter to the filling and the car, complete with new brake, is home. Tomorrow, we will deliver the money for the snow removal on the way to our dinner. Everything comes together eventually but it sure can take a circular route getting there.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Learning Curve

I need a break.  I got a tablet for Christmas an am now trying to learn how to operate it.  Actually, dear hubby bought me an e reader which I had been saying I wanted.  Once I got it, however, I realized a tablet would do much more as well as still being able to upload (download?) books.
I have bought an Asus and I think I am going to be really pleased with it but, right now, I am going through another of those learning curves.  I am tempted to believe I am getting too old for this but as long as I have a functioning brain, I will soldier on.
I have taken my first photo with the camera and am pleased with that. So, baby steps, but in the correct direction.

We had a problem yesterday on our way to Huntsville to shop.  Our rear right wheel froze and wouldn't turn.  We dragged the car (fortunately the road was ice covered snow) to a friend who had a nice warm garage.  The men worked at thawing it out only to discover that wasn't the problem.  The brake pad had come loose and was causing the problem.  We have ordered a new pad but I am going to be calling the garage that did out brakes in the spring.  I am so thankful this didn't happen on the highway on Christmas day.

While we were at our friends, another couple arrived on their snow machine.  The women visited while the men did the same in the garage.  During the 'get to know you stage', I mentioned my quilting addiction.  The other lady asked for my web link, looked up the photos of my quilts and asked about a commission!  She is considering an appliqued wall hanging.  I am looking forward to doing this as it is a pattern I have been wanting to make.
I hope everyone is still in a peaceful post Christmas mood.  I am starting to think about undecorating but will leave it until at least New Year's.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Day After

I am sure most of you are still celebrating with your families today or are, perhaps, on the trek back home. But, just in case you are like me, and enjoy catching up on all the news, I thought I would share a few thoughts.

Husband and I went to his sister's farm for a family gathering on the big day.  We were scheduled to go to her son's new home but the death of an elderly relative changed that plan. We also missed another couple and their son because of work commitments.  However, we did get to see our new grand nephew born one month and one day before Christmas. 
It was a fairly low key day.  We had the usual turkey dinner, of course, gifts for the children and an exchange for the adults.  This year, all the women bought a small gift suitable for a female and the men did one for their gender.  The packages were placed in a group and starting with the oldest male and female (husband and I) choosing first, then the next in age etc. until  everyone got a package.  Everyone opened at the same time so there was a lot of laughter and sharing. 
I like doing this much more than the usual buy 'something for everyone'.  We are at the point of not needing much and, if we do, it is going to be expensive-new tractor, tires for the vehicle, and so on.
Another tradition was started which is going to be a lot of fun.  Each family received a book from the Chicken Soup series which we are to read, put a signed comment on the fly leaf and pass on.  It is going to be interesting to see what each person shares.
I love books with notes in the margin although some might shudder at the practice.  My mother was a great one for underlined passages often with a series of exclamation marks and written thoughts on any blank space.  I have some of her books and I treasure them.  It is like being able to hear her voice.  I have the same habit.  This something that all those who confine their reading to mechanical devices will not be able to do and I think that is a shame.
I received an e reader for Christmas but it will only be used for on line magazines and books that I would read and toss.
Hope this day after Christmas finds you at peace and enjoying the your left over turkey.  For those who are still without hydro after the big ice storm of 2013, my hope is that you will soon have everything restored and that these past few days will have bonded you closer to your family and reminded you of what is truly important in life.

Friday, December 20, 2013

So What

I hate to sound grumpy just before Christmas but this is something that is really fussing me. So, I am getting really irritated by everyone starting a sentence with so.  So, I think this is a new phenomena but I hope it soon runs its course.  I have noticed that professionals such as news anchor's and motivational speakers do it.  It is even more common in written speech. So, I would be happy if everyone became a little more conscious of their speech and written words.  So many thanks.

We are getting another heavy snowfall.  I don't have anywhere to go so I won't.  I've finished my Christmas sewing and baking so (I have become hyper sensitive to that word) I might start a new quilting project.
 Here is a cute Christmas verse to counteract the previous grumpy.  I am sure none of you need these gifts but hope you enjoy reading it anyway.

Merry Christmas To My Female Friends

If I were ol' Santa, you know what I'd do
I'd dump silly gifts that are given to you
And deliver some things just inside your front door
Things you have lost, but treasured before.

I'd give you back all your maidenly vigor,
And to go along with it, a neat tiny figure.
Then restore the old color that once graced your hair
Before rinses and bleaches took residence there.

I'd bring back the shape with which you were gifted
So things now suspended need not be uplifted.
I'd draw in your tummy and smooth down your back
Till you'd be a dream in those tight fitting slacks.

I'd remove all your wrinkles and leave only one chin
So you wouldn't spend hours rubbing grease on your skin.
You'd never have flashes or queer dizzy spells,
And you wouldn't hear noises like ringing of bells.

No sore aching feet and no corns on your toes,
No searching for spectacles when they're right on your nose.
Not a shot would you take in your arm, hip or fanny,
From a doctor who thinks you're a nervous old granny.

You'd never have a headache, so no pills would you take.
And no heating pad needed since your muscles won't ache.
Yes, if I were Santa, you'd never look stupid,
You'd be a cute little chick with the romance of a cupid.

I'd give a lift to your heart when those wolves start to whistle,
And the joys of your heart would be light as a thistle.
But alas! I'm not Santa. I'm simply just me,
The matronest of matrons you ever did see.

I wish I could tell you all the symptoms I've got,
But I'm due at my doctor's for an estrogen shot.
Even though we've grown older, this wish is sincere,
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Must See Video: Bethlehemian Rhapsody

Peace on Earth

I really like this moose nativity.  It belongs to a friend and he collected the pieces a few at a time.  There is a little drummer boy moose sitting to the right and at the front of the stable building.  You can see it easier on the overhead photo which my friend was kind enough to send.  I went to the web page of the company (Blue Sky Carvings) and they have pages of things I love.  There is a bear nativity as well as one with chickens (be great for my husband).

I hope you are nearing the end of your preparations.  I have a few odds and ends to do but nothing much.  I am making a couple of Christmas wall hangings for next year.  For some reason, I tend to do my seasonal sewing during the season.

Wherever you are in getting things ready, try to find a few moments each day to stop and think why and what you are celebrating.  The birth of the Prince of Peace was, partly, to bring freedom of strife, frustration,  and worry to each of us.  Not something that is easy to grasp but, if we try, we can find it.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Doubled Fun and a New Link

We had an especially nice day at quilting yesterday.  It was our annual Christmas potluck lunch which tends to go on a bit longer than our usual meals.  Each year everyone brings an edible something which is shared with everyone else.  We have done this long enough that certain items are expected.  One lady always brings her lovely and delicious salad, I contribute home made buns (as well as, this year, our smoked ham).  Another always adds a dessert.  Because we had two new members this year plus another who came for the first time that day, we also had some  additions; a lovely mixed salad, home made lasagna.  The food is wonderful but what makes the day special is the same thing that makes all other Monday's special; the women. 
Nine individual, strong minded ladies all bound by a common interest; the love of quilting.  I hope that you also are able to share your interest with someone else.  the old say, a problem shared is a problem divided is true.  So true is pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled.

I have a new link for you.  If you have a problem determining how much fabric is needed for backing, binding or a specific number of strips or squares, you can download  free charts courtesy of Victoriana Quilt Designs.  www.victorianaquiltdesigns.com.  Scroll down to the bottom on the page and you will see a heading for the calculators. She has a lot of other nifty items on the site so do a bit of browsing before getting your downloads. Sign up for her newsletter for even greater benefits.


Friday, December 13, 2013

More Cookies-the Good Kind.

We didn't make it to the concert last night as it was cancelled.  A lot of the participants are from other communities and driving conditions were treacherous.  We were looking forward to the event but, at the same time, were glad of an evening home.
It is still cold here but the sun is shining and, for the moment, it isn't snowing.  I found a new cookie recipe I wanted to try so did that this morning.  I now have seven dozen molasses cookies to add to the jar and give away.  While flipping through the book, I also found another recipe that looked good so I've asked husband to pick up a needed ingredient when he goes into the village to play euchre today.
Poor man.  He keeps trying to lose weight and I keep cooking.  It will be nice when my sister moves next door so I can spread the bounty around.
I have become interested in art quilts lately.  After Christmas, I am going to see if I can make one. In the meantime, I have other projects to finish. Have you made one?  Did you enjoy the process?
How are your Christmas preparations coming?
Craftsy is having an 'up to 65% off' for a limited time.  www.craftsy.com if you would like to check it out.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Nativities Galore

Window display.  Bottom nativity is over 50 years old.

Fabric Nativity on my stash shelf

Two of my favourite.  First Nations and tiny snowmen

Got the quilt sent off to my customer today.  I always feel pleased to have sold a quilt and sad to see one go.  Of course, I still have quite a few left so I don't have an empty nest yet. 
We are going out to a Christmas cantata tonight unless this snow fall gets worse.  It seems as though we are getting a winter's worth in one week.
Tomorrow, I plan on relaxing.  I may get the two vests that I have cut out finished but I may not.  I will take some more photos of my other nativity and post later.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Winter Beauty

We got about 10 inches of snow last night and we had to wait for our driveway to be plowed before going out.  However, as you can see, it looks beautiful.  All these photos were taken this morning as the sun was coming up.  It is now mid afternoon and our back woods looks like a Christmas card.
Tomorrow, I will show you some photos of the nativity sets that I have spread throughout the house.
Just a short post today but I suspect you are as a busy as I am.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Good News.

I have just sold one of my quilts.  I have to go into the village tomorrow and get an accurate postage cost and then it is off.  I am, of course, thrilled.  It is such an encouragement to have someone like your work enough to pay for it.
It has been snowing heavily here in the backwoods for the past few hours.  Yesterday, we had snow and strong winds so driving wasn't good.  I had a meeting in the evening but it was cancelled because of the weather.  I wasn't disappointed.

I finished my shopping today.  I had to go to Huntsville for an eye appointment so did everything else while I was there.  I have to get my eyes checked every 6 months because of a problem I had earlier in the year.  I always worry in case there is a bad report but everything was fine today. 
The drive down and back wasn't the best and made worse because my windshield wiper needed replacing.  I bought a new one but didn't want to put it on until I got home.  It is an easy enough process but, still...
It is nice to be back snug in our rural rug.  No meetings.  No schedule to meet.  Just my cozy quilt room and time.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nativity Sets

Dog Gone Fun


This little wall hanging is made from preprinted blocks. Each are different. I love that the dogs look as though they are from a children's colouring book. I quilted the background fabric-which is dark green, in free hand bones. The sky is stippled in variegated blue thread.

I started my favourite part of Christmas preparation this morning: setting out the nativity sets.  I don't know how many I have any more as quite a few of them a very small.  Some of my favourites are: a tiny one from Cuba, one that is snowmen,  another of first nations complete with tent,  nesting dolls and one we had when I was a child.  This last one is a bit worse for wear but it always gets pride of place.
I would like to have glass set.  I do have a glass Mary and Jesus figurine but not all individual pieces.  Eventually, I would like to add sets that depict different countries.
I will take photos of some and post closer to Christmas.  It is nice to be able to set them all out so they are displayed properly.  I haven't been able to do that since moving to this home but now my husband has built my lovely large quilt room I have the space.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Memories and a Free Pattern.

Do you decorate all at once or over a period of days?  I tend to be the latter.  My husband just bought in some more totes this morning and I have no idea what I will find when I open most of them.  I was missing our stockings, door wreaths and tree skirt so I knew that had to be another container.  I don't know where the other ones came from and, to tell you the truth, I am afraid to look.
I have always gone a bit overboard on decorating.  When my son was young, our Christmas started when we went to a nearby tree farm to get our perfect spruce or pine.  We would take the dog and a toboggan as well as a small saw and walk around and around the area until we spotted the right one.  Richard would cut it down while I took a photo.  When we got back home, we would have hot cocoa before getting our prize in its stand ready for decorating.
One year I was so busy that it got later and later into the season and we still hadn't got the tree.  I had two jobs at the time plus various other commitments and I just couldn't find a day to do it.  Finally, my son, who was in his mid teens by then, told me that he didn't mind if we dropped the tradition.  I got an artificial tree that year-second hand, if I remember correctly, and we didn't go again.  I missed it though and when I see the ads for tree farms on television I still think of the fun we had.  In my mind, it was that giant leap from him being a child to an adult.

I have a free pattern for you today as an early Christmas gift.  I saw a photo of a floor tile and drew it up in EQ so it isn't an original.  I think, however, it is a fun pattern and hope you enjoy making it.

It will be on my web site as well as the Free Pattern page of this blog.  Here is a photo of  a sample layout to pique your curiosity.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Shopping and Computer Games

I made the mistake of ordering some computer card games and it came this week.  I knew I shouldn't do it because I would be tied (against my will, of course) to my pc desk playing Curds and Whey, Triple Klondike, Kings and Queens etc.
We have this CD on the lap top but as it doesn't work anymore we have been missing out on our games.  I am going to have to try really hard to limit myself to only playing one game when I have other things to do.
Hubby and I drove to a nearby community this morning that has a couple of discount places and I was able to pick up a lovely doll as well as a couple of other things.  I like making clothing for dolls but try not to buy them unless they are special as we only have so much room
I bought stamps today so tomorrow I will get my cards ready to send off. I've already received some in the mail.  I want to tuck a photo into some of them and still haven't got the reprints done.  This means another trip to Huntsville but as Fabricland also has a really good sale I don't think I will complain too loudly.

We seemed to have missed the freezing rain that was predicted for this area or at least the roads were good when we went out.

I am going to take wee Heidi for a walk, hang some more bows along the driveway and then do some more work on a quilt top.  I decide to add another row as I don't want to have a border.  I made three blocks at quilt group on Monday so only need one more.  I am really pleased with the look of this top.  It is reminiscent of the ones made in earlier times because a lot of the fabric is reproduction civil war era.  I will, of course, post a photo when I have it done.
I have a couple of quilt patterns buzzing around in my head so I need to get them done.  One of them will be a freebie so keep an eye out for it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Tree is Up

As you can see, our tree is decorated.  I also got our fruits cakes made so I've accomplished a little bit.  Last night was one of those times when I woke up just after three and didn't get to sleep until after six. And, of course, dog and husband got up at 7.30.
this isn't a very good photo as I need to replace the batteries in the camera and then change the setting but you can see, at least, that I am getting ready.
We have one little problem this year.  Squirrels got into our tree and it smells of pee.  Not sure why they were using an artificial tree as a bathroom but they did.  I have a scented candle burning in hopes that will absorb the smell.