Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More Holiday Cheer

All of us being adults, there are few surprises at Christmas, but we did have a good time opening our presents.  Among the lovely gifts I received was one DD Elaine gave me--a ruler I desired:

I'm planning to try it out on the ugly fabric challenge project :)  The advice in the instructions says to practice on scrap fabric first.  I'm sure that's sensible.

An unexpected gift from grandson Cove was this treasure:

"I heart my Mimi"--so cute!  Some of my favorite photos of that adorable baby. 

I did order myself a couple of gifts that my husband said "Merry Christmas" to.  Both are for streamlining and unifying my open, cluttered sewing room.  First is what is actually a computer desk, very simple, white, and open.  This will house an added scrapbooking storage bin cart.  The plan is to have three of the carts under the desk, which in turn will free up space under the cutting table, which in turn will allow room for my extra sewing machine, now occupying space in my husband's music room.  There will likely be a lot of things moving around in the near future!  This includes the current desk sitting next to my sewing machine desk:

This belonged to my mother-in-law.  She gave it to me maybe five years ago when she moved to a smaller unit at her senior living complex.  I thought it was mid century blond but it is maybe older than that--1940's?  While I like it, the storage is minimal and it isn't being used for housing a sewing machine.  I can't seem to find anything like it in online searches so have no idea what to ask for it if I sell it. Pondering...

There was some holiday sewing post-Christmas, more trees. 

These are improv trees from Amy Smart's tutorial. I used only two colors in my previous use of this method, for the crayon challenge I showed before, but free of that restriction, this deep red complemented the Cotton + Steel charm pack prints.  Leftover scraps for ground and trunk were easily added.

A little batting, rattail cord, stitch and turn, a little handquilting, and these were quickly snapped up by my daughters, niece and daughter's friend. Quick and fun. Tonight we will keep Cove for his first sleepover, and celebrate the New Year tomorrow with a family BBQ.

I think the best Christmas gift I gave this year was finding a new place for my sister to live.  This happened fortuitously when I called the mother of a friend whom I knew has a big house and sometimes rents to others.  Timing is everything--she had a room available and has met Kathy on several prior occasions so knows her already.  Serendipity!  Kathy's daughter is here visiting and will be helping her move to the new place before she heads back to St. Louis Jan 2, where she is starting a new job after being unemployed for many months.  Wonderful news for all--Happy New Year!  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Was Merry!

We had our little family gathering Christmas Eve, and after posing for our Christmas card photo, we shared a light dinner of two soups, garlic toast, and some gelato for dessert.  Then came time for the presents.  Cove, of course, was the star of the show.  

 He especially liked the bows and paper. 

Mimi had the honor of helping Cove open his very first Christmas present from us, which was a chunky wooden puzzle with knob handles--hence the odd lumps of the package.  He liked it!

Then he went to town as more presents were opened, grabbing all the wrapping paper and tissue and rolling it over and over in his hands, swiping it on the carpet, and throwing it out of his way as he crawled around.  He was having a grand time.

We finished up fairly early and our daughter and family headed home, which is less than a mile away.  We later got a photo of Cove completely crashed out on his changing table, knocked out from his exciting evening, not even able to stay awake enough to finish a bottle :)

Cove had a few more gifts to open at his great-grandparent's house on Christmas Day.  Here he is with his Dada meeting Mr. Fox, from his great-aunt and uncle.  The puffy red Patagonia vest he's wearing was another gift he received.  So cute!  We had a great time with a lot of family members, and I was a baby hog (and didn't care!).  It was a lovely few days off and I was stingy with my vacation time--I barely left the house for the next three days!  Today it was back to work, but I will be off New Year's Eve day and New Year's Day. 

Happy New Year to All!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Design Wall Monday--12/22/2014

On my design wall is the beginning of a project I showed a couple weeks ago.  My daughter Elaine's friend was having her second baby, who was expected January 1st.  Well, he showed up early so the crib quilt DD asked me to make is going to be late.  This morning I cut the 1/4 yard cuts we previously picked out into the strips called for by the pattern. 

Ignore the bright green underneath the strips, it doesn't belong!  The fact that I woke up at 3 a.m., got up at 4, and cut these at around 5 hasn't much to do with it, I suppose :)

Here's a potential strip set.  DD Elaine will hopefully have a chance to collaborate on the strip sets, which will be sewn together WOF and then cut into 45 degree diamond sections.  The pattern is Scout by Cluck Cluck Sew.  The sections are mirrored cuts separated by solid color strips.  Here's a pic of the pattern and the fabrics we picked out at Superbuzzy.  See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Christmas countdown is ticking away and I'm still not ready for it.  This year we're accommodating the growing family by switching our holiday get-together to Christmas Eve dinner rather than our usual Christmas morning breakfast.  So glad we'll get the time together, the "when" isn't important.  Grandson Cove liked the stocking ornament I made for him--he immediately tried to eat the silky cord hanger :)  I fed him his breakfast and watched him play with his toys.  What a joy he is!  Looking forward to seeing him unwrap gifts in a few days.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

It's Almost Christmas Already--Happy Holidays!

Here I am, catching up once again!  It has been a very busy month and I've meant a hundred times to get a post together.  Better late than never, I hope. 

Our quilt holiday meeting on December 8 was a lot of fun.  We had a potluck dinner, a drawing for gift cards, a Dirty Santa gift exchange game, the results of the crayon challenge, a fat quarter game, details of next month's ugly fabric challenge, show and share, and preview of a round robin that anyone could join.  My crayon challenge project turned out well, I thought.  My crayon colors were gold and yellow-green:

The colors are a bit off in this photo as the gold is much more gold in person.  The little trees were a bit frustrating to make at first, as I kept cutting them too wide at the base.  But I got the hang of it after about 6 of them :)  This runner is less than 24 inches wide so these are very small trees.  It's displayed on my coffee table for the season.

I won these great Gingher scissors in the gift bag exchange. We drew numbers and in turn picked a bag or wrapped gift at random from a table.  There was Dirty Santa stealing and my sister Kathy ended up with the most popular gift of the night, an Ott light, as only two steals were allowed.  These fat quarters came home with me in the game where we stood in a circle and passed the fat quarters to the next person every time the word "THE" was said in the "A visits from St. Nick" story being read.  Fun!  Next month's challenge is an ugly fabric one.  And boy, it is ugly.

Hideous shoes in hideous colors.  We are to make one 12.5" block--keeping the modern aesthetic in mind.  It's going to be tough!

Here's a nighttime shot of our tree this year.  I bought a new tree topper that is a reasonable facsimile of an expensive Capiz shell star.  Erica and I had quite a time with putting on the lights.  It took two store visits and two days to get all the lights we needed and then ON the tree.  We bought new LED ones this year and they look fine.  I can't seem to be able to stop buying new ornaments!  One day we may need that 9 foot tree Erica never stops asking for :)

Here's Lucy in her nest of tissue paper as we unwrapped the ornaments.  She loved it.

My early Christmas present to myself was swapped with my husband's early Christmas gift to himself, so we are both down one present to buy .  I bought him new pickups for his guitar :)  This tower of 40 fat quarters was jammed into a priority envelope, amazingly enough. Lots of yummy prints in this Minnick & Simpson collection.  With the great sale from Green Fairy Quilts, each fat quarter cost about $2.10.  Score!

Cove gets a handmade ornament from Mimi tomorrow.  I tried to make it more modern by doing a "negative space" version of the cross-stitch alphabet letters.  This stocking is about 6-7 inches long and I'm pretty pleased with it.   Here's the little devil standing alone for a number of seconds at 9.5 months (his mama helped him stand up).  He'll be 10 months at Christmas.

Still on the to-do list are the Holiday Newsletter with photo (which we haven't had taken yet), more shopping, wrapping, and all the celebrating!  I'll be working Monday and Tuesday but then won't have to work until the 29th.  Hope you are all enjoying the festive times and family gatherings.  Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

It's December already

Thanksgiving was a blast--always worth the extra work.  We had 22 people and tons of good food. My request to my sister was for her to make a 7 layer bean dip, a dish our paternal grandmother always had at Thanksgiving.  Kathy was dubious but researched how to improve this simple dish and knocked it out of the park by melting the cheese a little and then adding finely chopped olives on top. Yum. We had great weather and there was plenty of room for everyone.  It was a really good day.  I even got gifts!  My SIL Laura bought me this beautiful pheasant--which is actually a gravy boat.  Isn't it lovely?  From Williams-Sonoma (but no longer available).

November's end included some shopping, sewing, planning, and a lot of family time.  Grant's cousin and her husband came up from further south and we had a thoroughly enjoyable takeaway dinner at home Friday night.  We hadn't seen them since DD Elaine's wedding three years ago.  They always loved our kids and its a great thing to see them enjoying them as adults.  Grandson Cove was greatly admired, of course :)

Then on Small Business Saturday I did a little "me time" shopping.  It was all me because the only thing I bought was fabric! I started out with an online sale at Green Fairy Quilts.  A fat quarter stack of Minnick & Simpson Crazy for Reds was on for a great sale, with free shipping.  I couldn't pass that up.  Then I went out to Superbuzzy to catch their sale, and ended with a few purchases at my local fabric store.  It was a very satisfying few hours and no fighting through crowded mall parking lots.  Selfish, I know, but it wasn't all for me!  Here's the loot:

A little Cotton & Steel, some Kona, an acrylic template, and some prints.  Some of this is for a Christmas gift and some is for a baby quilt. And some is for a Modern Quilt Guild December challenge.  The challenge involved blindly choosing two crayons and then making a no more than 24" quilt from only tones of the selected colors. 

My crayons were yellow-green and gold (metallic).  Now, while these are colors I like, it was a little challenging to come up with an idea for a quilt, until I saw this post on Diary of a Quilter of her mini tree quilt block.  While I do prefer her color combo of white, red, and green for the Christmasy look, I think the gold and green will make cute trees too.  Another great idea for mini trees is on Amanda Jean's blog, Crazy Mom Quilts.  She has a pattern for her trees.  I like both of them.  I'm going to be stitching that up this weekend for the guild meeting.  We're also having a gift exchange and a fat quarter game.  Looking forward to it. 

The black and white Kona will be used in my next project, which is a baby quilt for a friend of my daughter's.  A few weeks ago we went to Superbuzzy to choose a pattern and fabrics for the future baby boy, due January 1st. 

We chose the Scout pattern from Cluck Cluck Sew.  I picked up the black and white Kona for the center stripes.  I'm afraid I will have to use these fabrics without washing since the 1/4 cuts might skew too much to get the several width cuts I need from each print.  I know lots of people don't wash their fabrics first but I always have.  I do have a box of Color Catchers!

Meanwhile, the Winding Ways quilt blocks are still being sewn.  I'm hoping to get them all done by the weekend and then call my quilt commissioner to come help lay them all out in rows.  Oh, and then there is the decorating, shopping, partying, card addressing, and general Christmas mayhem that fills up the next few weeks...trying not to panic!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Monday, November 24, 2014

Design Wall Monday

On and off the Design surface are the Winding Ways blocks.  Due to some recent time sitting in doctor's waiting rooms, I was able to pin a bunch more pieces.  These curvy blocks require a lot of pinning, which of course adds to the total time it takes to make a 12 piece block.  But after some dedicated hours I have a pile of finished blocks:  

All 36 copper blocks are complete, and join the 6 cream blocks already sewn, and the 9 combined teal and copper blocks for my planned layout.  I have 30 cream blocks to make before assembly can happen but I'm feeling that downhill slope!  Feeling virtuous, I allowed myself to start a new project.  Well, this is two year old idea that I've wanted to make. 

This is a picture of the finished mini quilt I made in 2012.  I bought this as a kit at Helen's Hen House Quilt Shop in Florissant, MO (the website now shows a new name and location for the shop), which I made and gave away in 2012.  I always meant to make one for myself, and was reminded of this during my scrap drawer organization a couple of months ago, when I found some leftovers from the kit. 
Most of the browns in my new Turkey came from a bargain-priced scrap bag I bought at Helen's Hen House. I had fun digging through my nicely sorted 2.5" and 3.5" scrap drawers for additional prints and background selections. 
Poorly lighted shot of the quilted sandwich. I changed the kit layout to add a plain row to the right of the tailfeathers. 
This fat quarter for the backing also came from Helen's Hen House.  I used a couple of leftover triangle-squares for corner hangers and will bind this with a Jo Morton print.  I had a really fun time putting this together and plan to get the binding on tout suite.  

Thanksgiving is rushing up fast and there's a lot to do in the next few days, as we will host as usual and I've just learned of three more guests coming, making our total 22.  I've taken Wednesday off but this dear little grandson will be spending it with me, as his daycare is closed that day: 

Silly face, Cove, waiting for more snacks, please, at his last visit. He's getting close to 9 months old and already trying to stand alone for a few seconds, I hear.  Four teeth now, and as active as can be.  I doubt much holiday prep will happen Wednesday, but can't wait to have a Mimi day again!

See more design walls on Judy's Patchwork Times.

Monday, November 17, 2014

MQG Scrap Swap and Catching Up (again)

These last months of the year are speedy, aren't they?  Here I am, catching up after a long break again, my apologies!  But busy I have been.  In the quilty department, there is this:

The Modern Quilt Guild I'm now a member of has monthly meetings.  There are a great group of ladies and several men in our growing guild.  A couple of months ago there was a challenge where members signed up to swap a shoebox full of scraps and make a quilt out of the scraps--keeping the modern aesthetic in mind.  I was very lucky and my name was drawn to swap with one of the finest and most prolific quilters.  However, that was a bit intimidating and I pondered, made a board on Pinterest, pawed/sorted the scraps, and scrolled through many of my quilt show photos but still could not come up with anything striking, until, of course, the rapidly approaching deadline.  The funny thing is that one of the photos I happened upon late and thought, "oh that would be a great idea",  turned out to be of one of HER quilts at the County Fair in 2013! (here it is---note the Blue Ribbon)
  It was a good jog of inspiration, however, and off I went. 

In the box were a lot of solid strips and chunks, and a lot of prints.  I decided to separate them and make a two-sided tablerunner.   I played around with pencil and paper and came up with these banded pairs of solids.  We were allowed to add one fabric; I added the green Kona solid in Tarragon, as my swap partner Kathy told me she liked sage green. I actually took a scrap from the box and matched it.

 I thought making the banding in black and white would help unify the design.  I think it did. 

The alternate blocks got random triangles, mostly in the neutral scraps. The hardest part of this was getting the triangles on the corners, oddly enough.  Then, for the prints, I decided to unify them with one shape and started cutting tumblers. 

While my pencil and paper idea included a lot more open space, it didn't turn out that way when I laid out the cut tumblers.  I loved all her modern prints and wanted to use as many as I could, weaving in the background color, in a sort of color progression.

Very simple machine quilting and binding.  Originally I was only going to use the green for the binding but at the last minute I threw in the black and white print around one corner.  The binding got put on the morning of the deadline!

 My co-worker held it up for me during a quick photo break. 

Back view.  Finished size was about 21x50.

I was so excited to see if Kathy liked the tablerunner that I nearly forgot I was getting something back.  The first two pairs of swappers had fantastic ideas and some made multiple items from the scrap boxes.  Then it was our turn.  I showed Kathy what I did with her scraps first and was pleased that she really liked what I came up with. Then she revealed what she did with mine: 

I had by this time completely forgotten what was in the box of scraps I submitted.  Kathy took all the Asian prints and chunks and made a HUGE bag--probably 24x30".  She and her husband have been bringing similar bags to the Guild meetings that hold quilts to share and projects they are working on.  These have been much admired by all, including me (excuse the lighting making pics way too yellowed).

The bag is completely lined and has a giant pocket inside. Kathy even added some hand stitching around the handle opening and on the inside pocket.  The blue fabric surrounding the rectangles is what fabric she added.  She also made me a small bucket from other scraps, which I neglected to take a photo of, but now lives on my ironing board.  We both agreed it was a fun challenge for making your brain work, and I'm sure a lot of members were kicking themselves for not participating. I can't wait to use the bag for the next guild meeting :)  

Since my last post, I have been able to keep up my early morning sewing for a number of days.  It really is nice to get some stitching in before going to work, and inspires me to get back to the sewing room at night, too.  There is certainly enough that needs to be done in there. I'm working away on the Winding Ways commission quilt and hope to be sewing the top together before too long.  It is a challenge of another kind!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October Round Up

I thought September went fast, but October passed by in a blur as well, though plenty of events occurred.  DD Erica went to London, Paris, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  No sooner was she home than DD Elaine and family went to Puerto Vallarta.  Grandson Cove was a champion traveler, his parents reported.  He turned 8 months on the day they returned. All had a wonderful time, thankfully. 
Cove studying the Airline Safety Card
My sewing room has not seen nearly enough action this month, nor has my blog.  One more year without my finishing the Witches quilt or a Halloween wallhanging, both of which are still neatly folded on the Hoosier cabinet.  I'm still working on the Winding Ways quilt but it is very slow going.  I did spend time with a box of pieces last week, pinning segments, in a waiting room while DD Erica had a surgical procedure.  I also put some  "big" stitches in the Pink Lemonade quilt, which is still not done.  Erica didn't need much nursing when we got home, but still I couldn't seem to settle to the machine.  I had to ask for another month to get Winding Ways completed, and hope that is enough.  Sheesh.

Halloween week snuck up on us as well.  The decorating was haphazard at best but there was some done! 

The owls are felt coasters from Target last year.  The skull light has some great flickering bulbs.  (No idea where to get replacements for them when they finally burn out!)

Erica and her best friend obliged at the last minute on Halloween with cobweb duty.  (Pay no attention to that silly man in the doorway).  We had more trick-or-treaters this year than last--its always iffy when the holiday falls on a Friday, in my opinion, as it seems more people hold parties instead of going out.  Grant resorted to handfuls of candy in the last hour when things slowed.  It was all over by about 8:30.  Our first trick-or-treater of the night was our grandson.  His mom and a best friend plotted for a year the babies' first Halloween costume and revealed their secret only on October 31st.  It did not disappoint:

In the hat, Cove was Wayne, from Wayne's World, and friend Jude was Garth.  Party On, Excellent!    Southern California got a treat Halloween night as well, a drenching storm, with some showers overnight and the next morning.  Our rainy season starts October 1, so it feels a good omen that the month did end with measurable rain!

Cove spent today with Mimi and Papa today while his parents celebrated their 3rd wedding anniversary.  He's crawling, standing, jumping, babbling, and rarely still.  Which explains the short naps.  We loved every minute, of course, he is such a sweetie.  November is filling up with events and the holidays will be here before we know it, so it was nice to savor a Sunday with Cove.  My goal for the coming week is to get in some sewing time every morning, even if it is only a segment or two, then continue that after dinner.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mixed Bag Continues

The mixed bag of goings-on continues here at the Orts compound.  I couldn't stand the state of my sewing room anymore and spent last weekend wading through piles, bins, boxes, and more piles.  There was folding and sorting and shoving and tossing.

Many of the piles here, there, and everywhere were scraps that needed to be cut down.  I was ruthless in getting rid of scraps I never want to see again.  Do your scraps do that to you?  I was so sick of some of them! I shoved a bunch in a plastic bag and it will go to the charity shop; ones that were too thin, too stiff, or too small went into the trash.  I do not save strings, selvages, or anything smaller than 1.5" wide. The rest I cut to the sizes I had already set up: 1.5", 2", 2.5", 3.5".    They were sorted ROY G. BIV style and placed back in the drawers.  Larger scraps will be cut into 2.5 strips with my GO! cutter at a later date.  The eventual plan is to separate the precut squares from the strips for easier use.  There is also a drawer of neutral scraps that needs to be dealt with. 

To also cut down on visual clutter, I covered the cutting table with a king sized sheet to hide the bins/drawer stacker/tools, etc.  Lucy thought that was great fun (see her tail there on the left).  This blurry shot was me hurrying before she ran out, which she did, seconds later.  So, while I still have piles and unfinished projects, things are a bit neater.

Friday I worked an early shift and came home in time for DH and me to get out of the house for a sunset stroll on our city's pier, and dinner at a favorite restaurant.

The "marine layer" hanging offshore looked ready to roll in.  But there was no wind and it was warm out yet.

Orange-tinged selfie!

A few dozen surfers off the point, tiny specks.  There wasn't much wave action and most of them were just sitting on their boards, enjoying the sunset.  We had yummy fish tacos at Spencer Makenzie's and were home before eight.  We promised ourselves more of these types of workweek endings!

Some Sewing and Scenery

I've been spending little time in the sewing room lately, sewing a few blocks and rows together here and there, but not making much prog...