Friday, December 31, 2010

Joined Up

I have joined Judy's UFO Challenge 2011.  I added her button to my sidebar and also a page tab at the top of my blog for my entries.  It is my first time making a page and I hope I did it right!  It seems these things should be easy but I'm no computer whiz.  I'll be editing the page to add photos of each UFO.   Today is the last day to join.  I love a deadline!

Out of all the wonderful UFO challenges currently out there in blogland, I liked Judy's because of the mystery involved.  We have been told to number our UFOs and she'll draw a number at the beginning of the month--that's the one we'll work on that month.  Fun!  Most of the ones I listed were old but several are new and I can't wait to finish them.   These are "selfish" entries because they are all for ME and my dream of having a pile of finished quilts that I made, in my house.  My hope is that I'll have time to work on the one UFO per month and still have plenty of playtime with other projects that are in earlier stages.  I have a lot of those too (I am a Serial Project Starter).  Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

After Christmas Fun

I took my sister Kathy and my friend Pat on a road trip a couple of days ago.  Originally I wanted to go to Jalama Beach, but it is at the end of a 14 mile long, narrow winding road that climbs up and down hills, and with the recent rain I was not sure it was a great idea.  So we went to Solvang instead.  I showed a few pics of Solvang when Grant and I passed through in February on our anniversary weekend.  It was a lot more crowded this few days after Christmas!  We looked at a lot of shops, ate lunch, did a lot of talking and laughing, and generally had a great time.  I did not get my camera out once while in town, though there were hundreds of other folks talking photos!  On our way back home, we stopped at a lookout:

This is Lake Cachuma.  It has not been this full for quite some time.  The hills were starting to green up. The peaks in the distance sometimes sport a bit of snow. They are part of a vast State Park.

Here's Kathy--I'm so glad she's here with us from St. Louis!

Yesterday Kathy and I had a sewing day.  She looked at my usual ironing board set up, above, and said, "Oh, you're left-handed", to which I replied that I am not.  She said I should turn my ironing board around so the iron rests on the "cone"...

...and leaves the larger area for ironing.  I had not thought of that!  Here is MY quilt that she started for me four years ago.  She worked on it yesterday and it is becoming a throw size.  I love the colors.  So excited!   I worked on Erica's quilt and have to say that the Supreme Slider Kathy gave me really did make a difference while I was quilting the fleur de lis motifs.  So much easier to move all that weight of the quilt over the machine bed.  I have 9 more fleur de lis to stitch but am making progress.  There's a deadline in a few weeks, as I hear from Erica every time she passes by me sitting at the sewing machine!
Here's Mini holding down the cutting ruler for Kathy.  Cats are so funny!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday's Orts--Dec 28, 2010

Oh, dear, it's pretty late for this edition of orts, but here goes:
  • Christmas Eve we had a few guests for dinner--my mom, her brother Jim, and my sister Kathy.  It was really nice to have only part of the horde over!
  • The broiler in our oven decided not to work so I had to transfer 10 pieces of garlic toast from the big oven to our tiny toaster oven, in twosies.  Why does it seem to be only on holidays that appliances refuse to function?
  • My uncle and Grant played guitars and sang after dinner, running through some of Grant's band's playlist.  After one song, Uncle Jim said he was having trouble following some of the chord changes on the page until Grant explained that they were for the bass--which is what their lead singer plays.  Mystery solved!
  • Our Christmas morning tradition was always that we didn't care what time the kids got up, they could creep out and get their stockings, but the parents were not to be disturbed before 8:00 AM.  The kids still open their stockings first but these days the most popular item in them are the $50 prepaid gas station cards Santa brings.
  • I got the book Word Play Quilts from DD Elaine, which has the word I made for Tonya's Cake quilt.   My word is SOAR--it's in the quilt on the cover!  My name is even listed inside the book!  Very exciting.  I'm inspired to add words to some of my older UFOs.  I'm thinking it would be fun to give names to each of the witches in my Any Witch Way quilt.  Any suggestions for names?
  • Erica and Elaine both had gifts which were too bulky to wrap, so I sent each of them to another room to find their hidden gifts.  Elaine was really happy, since none of her packages were the right shape to hold the boots she wanted most!  
  • Dinner at my mom and dad's was wonderful.  My brother barbecued filet mignon in the rain, sheltered by the patio table's umbrella and assisted by co-captain Nick. All 21 of us feasted on filet mignon, oven roasted veggies (I tried a parsnip for the first time--it was delicious), salad, baked potatoes and creamy Sue's potatoes, and crusty french bread, followed by stuffing ourselves with multiple choice desserts.  It was a lovely Christmas.
  • Elaine really liked her tree skirt.  I delivered it a couple of days before Christmas and she posed with her dog, Scully:

It was a great fit! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Design Wall Monday--Dec 27, 2010

We had a lovely Christmas, but more about that in a separate post.  Yesterday I played with fabric and even hit the quilt shop with my sister and SIL.  I'm working again on the Kitchen Sink quilt from the book Scrap Basket Surprises. 

Originally I was just going to use my blue and red scraps but since it just about kills me not to put green in a quilt, I cut up some of those scraps too.

Mock up of some of the little paddle wheels.

At the quilt shop I picked up a couple of yards of this dot, which will become the setting triangles for the Kitchen Sink quilt.  I also picked up some more background fabrics as my stash is getting very low on those.  No idea what the borders will be made of yet, but I plan to use flannel for the backing.  Don't have that yet either!  See more WIPs on Design Walls on Judy's blog.  Happy Monday to me, I don't have to work at Job #2 all week!  I'm planning to take my sister and a friend up to Jalama Beach tomorrow.  However, if the roads are bad we may just go to Solvang instead.  Either way, we're getting out of town!day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Wishes

From our house to yours, a Very Merry Christmas.  May you cherish time with loved ones and raise a glass to those who are missing from your table.  Happy Holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday fun and a finish

My intention last evening was to go straight home after work and get DD Elaine's tree skirt finished and also work on some last minute gifties for my co-workers.  But I was waylaid by a phone call from DD Erica asking if I was going to my mom and dad's for dinner.  I chose dinner!  Is there anything more fun than sitting around with your brothers and sister, nieces and nephew, mom and dad, husband and kids and telling family stories, laughing, eating homemade minestrone soup, and talking over each other?  It's this that makes me feel rich!   I must say I feel sorry for "only" children at holiday time as they have no siblings to rib or relive childhood adventures with. 

Finally I tore myself away at nearly 9:30 and headed home.  I sat down at the sewing machine probably around 10ish and finished the tree skirt about 12:30 after a few fits and starts at unsewing and unquilting. 

Perhaps it was not the best choice to stage the skirt on top of those placemats--the reds are clashing!  (See my cute shiny ball salt and pepper shakers in the top right corner--of course the red one has the pepper in it!)

I decided simple was best and only buttonhole stitched/simultaneously quilted around the ornaments.  I used the "tube" method of continuous bias binding construction found here, and like the effect of the rick-rack stripe fabric.  This small tree skirt surprisingly required over 120 inches of bias binding, which I cut from a 19" square of fabric.  I used the tail end to make the ties. 

Here's hoping this is not my last finish of the year--my sister flew in last night and brought her sewing machine with her.  She also gave me a fabulous gift--a Supreme Slider sheet.  Thanks, Kathy! This will help a lot with my work on Erica's quilt, which has remained untouched for two weeks since I did the first round of free motion fleur de lis!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday's Orts--Dec 21, 2010

Another edition of the orts that float around in my head and land once a week on my blog:
  • Rainy California--I sure recall more drought years than rainy ones.  In fact, the drought years are the reason we no longer cut down our own Christmas trees--too dry, too many dead needles, bugs, and spiders!
  • I've yet to get my annual holiday newsletter out.  I've ceased to call it a Christmas card since so often it doesn't get in the mail until a day or two before that. 
  • We had our staff luncheon last Friday and each brought a White Elephant gift.  Somehow when the party is small it lacks the Dirty Santa aspect, though one gal had her gift stolen twice (once by me).
  • Why is it that the color of tops/sweaters I most want to buy are unavailable this year?  I'm talking about that deep berry/maroon and also caramel or dark tan.  Manufacturers should make way more cardigans than pullovers, IMHO. 
  • A type of clothing I do not understand:  A short sleeved turtleneck.  Sleeveless turtlenecks are even more puzzling.  Why cover your neck and not your arms?
  • Somehow I always have the urge to weigh myself when I feel fattest.  This is self-defeating, to say the least!  Anyone else do that?
  • Update on my driver's license:  After calling the DMV seven weeks after I renewed my license online, and requesting a paper temporary license upon being told it takes the state 60 days to process the new security licenses, I did receive my license in the mail.  The actual license arrived on Monday and the paper license arrived on Wednesday.  Our government at work...
  • Traffic rant:  Somehow, even making it a law in California that you must turn on your headlights if you have to use your windshield wipers appears not to occur to some people.  Even if they drive a silver car and are on the gray freeway in the pouring rain.  Poor visibility = turn on the headlights, you idiot!  Oh, and slow down while you're at it. 
  • My eldest nephew had a birthday over the weekend.  He threw an Ugly Christmas Sweater party to celebrate.  Erica and her friends had a great time at the thrift store finding the perfect party wear:
Of course they did glam them up by making these matronly denim shirts into mini-dresses!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Design Wall Monday--Dec 20, 2010

I wasn't sure there was going to be Design Wall Monday today, but I missed it last week.  I had a request from DD Elaine for a Christmas tree skirt.  She and her boyfriend brought home and decorated a small tree so she didn't want to buy a standard size tree skirt.  I let her choose the skirt fabric (and she picked one of my stash favorites, darn it!).  Then I showed her some ornament designs I could fuse onto it.  She liked the plan so I got busy playing with fabric and figuring out the tree skirt size, which is about 30":

These designs were from the 2010 American Patchwork & Quilting Calendar, a pattern called Vintage Ornaments.  I used Steam a Seam 2 and cut from scraps and stash.

These two prints are vintage stash!  I've had them for nearly 30 years.

A scrap of a gray scrolled print from son Nick's quilt was perfect for the "silver" ornament hanger tops.

The background skirt fabric is Redwork Romance from Alex Anderson.  Wish I'd bought many more yards of it when it was around!

The ornaments have been fused and the skirt is pinned to batting and backing.  I wanted to use either purchased bias binding or hem facing I had on hand.  The cream colored bias binding was stained from being wrapped on the cardboard, it was so old, and I was short of the hem facing by eight inches.  So the skirt is unfinished.  I may use some of that vintage stash fabric for the bias binding.  Or would that white print be too bright?  Hmm, pondering.  See other Design Walls on Judy's blog

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday Decorating--Part II

Continuing the tour...
I finished the Crazy Eight throw.  I would definitely buy another pre-assembled kit like this one.

A simple large meander for the quilting using a tan/brown variegated thread.  Love the bias striped fabric for the binding. The small throw is gracing my loveseat in the living room.

This vintage 50's mouse belonged to my MIL and is meant to hug a candle, but I put him on my kitchen shelf.  He's trying to shield himself with the glass ball from those piercing cat's eyes!

Erica's string tree from elementary school on the fridge.  The beaded poinsettia magnetized clip I found years ago at a discount store.

Rustic decorations on the lawyer's bookcase. The tin ceiling tile Santa was a junk shop find.

I couldn't resist this happy St. Nick in his sleigh.  It makes me smile to see the plump penguins and the chubby polar bear.  This was a garden shop find from a couple of years ago. 

Grant bought orchids for the girls and me last year.  This one rebloomed--the first time that has ever happened to me!

No idea what sort it is, but I love the waxy yellowy-green flowers.

I put together this wreath in about 3 minutes with clip-on poinsettias, a pre-made bow, and some fancy berry sprays.  (Our front door badly needs paint!)

More poinsettias.  This was an American Patchwork & Quilting design from more than 10 years ago.

It was my first complex applique project and I was pleased with the way it turned out.  I still have most of the $26 worth of rayon specialty thread spools the pattern called for!  I believe I finished it in 2001 and it hangs in my dining room every Christmas.  I still have scraps of the batiks I used for the flowers and leaves! 

Holiday Decorating

A picture heavy tour of holiday decorating here at Casa de Orts:
My kitchen's garden window.

The holly cups are vintage--a gift from a dear lady I used to houseclean for many years ago.  The Santa cup is newer but not that new!

I made these from a Nancy Halvorsen book.  I love her designs.

Raindrops on my poinsettia.

It got pretty tall this year but is not as lush as last year due to all the weird weather changes we had.

Our Noble fir tree stuffed into the already full living/dining room!  Tree skirt made by me.

Some favorite ornaments--this little mouse in a walnut shell I've had for many years.

A cute plaque I painted some years ago.

Mittens I had fun making.  I made lots of these and gave some away.

Of course the kids' projects from school. This is Nick in preschool.

Dear little twins in a wagon.  It is actually red and white check but the flash washed it out.

And perhaps my favorite walnut shell baby with the dotted flannel.

The sideboard with some of Grant's grandmother's sequined satin balls.

Of course my favorite one is green!  Blogger seems to want me to stop uploading pics so I'll split this into two posts.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday's Orts

This week's Orts will be a hurried affair, I'm afraid.  I woke up late and then had lots of transcription work to do and need to rush out the door to the post office before going to Job #2.
  • Shopping in Newport Beach was a lot of fun, though Grant's co-worker and wife saved their entire spree amount and spent their own cash to see a movie and eat out.  They had their eye on a new big screen TV closer to home. Smart!
  • The hotel was fully decorated for Christmas and in typical So Calif style there were poinsettias everywhere, stuck into the base of all the large potted palms and amid all the outdoor landscaping.  I just love those bright pops of red.
  • Entertainment at dinner was a magician/comedian who had us all laughing.  He brought several people up on stage and riffed off all of them.  I admire people who are quick with the witty lines...I always seem to be three beats behind!
  • Traffic rant:  Crossing major streets in marked crosswalks with a green walk sign means the pedestrian has the right of way.  I was almost brushed by the car of a lady driver who couldn't wait another two seconds for me to reach the curb.  If I had dropped a package or something and bent down to pick it up, she would have flattened me.  Really, people, just count to three--or even two--before you barrel around someone walking past your vehicle!
  • The tree decorating took two nights.  I only had help from Erica with the lights and did all the rest myself.  I can't imagine having multiple full sized trees to decorate alone!  Finally all the decorating is complete.  I think.
  • I'm feeling more than a bit overwhelmed that suddenly it is 10 days until Christmas Eve--the stockings are not hung, the presents are not wrapped, the shopping is not done, and I'm not ready for our staff party this Friday.  I need another week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which we won't get until 2012, but the world is supposed to end then anyway, so why worry?
  • The perfect accompaniment to holiday decorating:
Fuji apple slices and warmed Fleur de Sel caramel sauce from Trader Joe's served on a Christmas plate.  Yummy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Post spree

We had a lovely winner's weekend, Grant and I, best of all it was on someone else's dime!  It was a great promotional prize and we thank the vendors and company for putting it on so generously.  We arrived at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel by 9-ish and got lots of exercise trying to find our way around.  The hotel was elegantly decorated and seemed to stretch on for miles.  In fact, they have 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms/ballrooms/salons.  Our room was very nice, quiet and comfortable, with a king sized bed and a king-sized shower!  The air conditioner was nice and quiet too, unlike my last hotel stay

A typical foggy Southern California morning greeted us the next day.  We were treated to a light breakfast in an enclosed atrium in the center of the main tower and received our welcome packages, including the spending spree credit card. 

The sun broke through and by the time we were ready to get shopping at about 11:00, we could see golfers at the country club next door and the harbor and Pacific Ocean in the distance.

Loved the xeriscape garden seven stories below.  After walking across the street from the hotel we entered the very large shopping center and were surprised to find Fashion Island was an open air mall.  All very upscale with Nordstrom's, Bloomingdale's, Neiman-Marcus and Macy's stores, and dozens of other major retailers, well known restaurants and lots of small specialty shops.

This huge 60 foot tree was in front of the Bloomingdale's.

One of the many shopping corridors, all cobblestoned and beautifully landscaped with dozens of seating areas, fountains, and pavilions. 

A walkway to a stone obelisk and a downtown skyscraper with an impossibly blue So Calif sky. The most surprising thing was the dogs that were everywhere.  Dozens of people with their animals in shops and on the walkways, of every size from Yorkie to Mastiff.

It was a lot of fun shopping with the spree card but we took some time out for a delicious lunch at The Yard House.  Here's my turkey club...

...and Grant's parmesan crusted chicken with garlic mashed potatoes.  Grant topped out at about 3:30 so I sent him back to the hotel loaded with all our purchases and went on to do another hour or so of shopping before my feet were too sore to walk much more!  We knocked out a lot of our shopping list and I even made Grant spend money on himself, albeit he chose boring stuff (a black casual jacket and a black hoodie). 

We enjoyed a gorgeous sunset, the sun going down behind Catalina Island off the coast.

And beautiful clouds looking towards the northwest and home.  We were further treated to a cocktail reception and a lovely dinner and some entertainment in a ballroom.  It was a relaxing and fun evening and Grant came home with an award trophy.  The next morning breakfast was also on the company, and we ate on the patio overlooking the pool (I forgot my camera!!!), but were a bit roasted in the hot sun, as it was already about 75 degrees before 9:30 a.m.  We had a bellman load all our packages and headed home, with money left on the spree card and many Christmas wishlist items scratched off.  It was a great getaway.  I'd be willing to do it every weekend, no problem!

Design Wall Monday--Catching Up

 Design Wall Monday --See more design walls on Judy's Small Quilts and Doll Quilts blog.  I disappeared for awhile, due to computer issu...