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!