Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

A stocking with seven things on it

It is really getting hard to come up with things I did for Christmas to fit the theme so this might be considered a bit of a stretch but I made the new baby a stocking with 7 little decorations on it. This is not the first I have made nor will it be the last. We have a stocking tradition in our family. My grandma made my brother and I a felt stocking with little felt decorations on it. When I got married I asked my mom to make one for my husband and so a tradition was born. I have updated the process bit because I use my embroidery machine to decorate them instead of hand sewing little felt images on but the end result is another stocking for a family member - we are up to 12 now.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

Six Southwest placemats

I made placemats for my mom who lives in Arizona and loves anything southwest style. I used the miter tool from Bolt Over Fabrics (there is a booth at many quilt shows around the country) and they really were a snap to make. My lunch bunch quilt group decided to learn to use this tool back in October. I wanted batting in them and we all thought that it would need to be quilted to keep everything from shifting. I think it worked well and then I made matching napkins although they were not the 2 sided mitered corner ones because I did not have enough fabric. I just used woolly nylon and did a rolled hem on my serger. Mom likes them so that is a good thing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

Five people for dinner
French Onion Soup
Seven Layer Salad
Prime Rib
Yorkshire Pudding
Braised Brussel Sprouts
Twice Baked Potatoes
Gingerbread Cake

I don't have a picture for this one but our Christmas Eve dinner was fantastic. We always have our big dinner on Christmas Eve and it usually is quite a production, this year was n0 exception. The prime rib had aged in our refrigerator for 3 days and then was cooked for 5 hours (we didn't eat until 8:30). the soup was the best I have ever had. The gingerbread cake used 3 kinds of ginger (powdered, fresh and ginger ale). Sometimes we have more people but this time it was just part of the family and it was delightful.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

A "four" ever quilt

This was one of the first designs I did on Electric Quilt. I really have fun with EQ and I decided to put this one together to test the pattern. I used really bright colors and I planned to give it to my "forever" friend, Nancy. I didn't finish it in time for last Christmas but I did finish it during the year and finally got around to mailing it on Dec 22nd.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

On the Third Day of Christmas

Three family Aprons

I decided to make Kari and Evelyn matching aprons and then since I got a cookbook for Conrad I decided that the boys needed them too. I used the Cupcake Pattern from Sew It Up for Kari but I had to make my own pattern for the twins and when it got down to the wire I ended up purchasing a denim butcher apron for Conrad, hence three aprons for a family of four.

Friday, December 26, 2008

On The Second Day of Christmas

Two men's shirts

I have made shirts for my husband for years (at least 25 years) I pretty much have the instructions memorized because I use the same Kwik Sew Pattern every time so I am pretty speedy but this time I amazed even myself. I started sewing 2 shirts on Monday sewing only when he wasn't around and also finishing 2 quilts and some other things in the meantime I finished them on Wednesday (Christmas Eve) before noon. They even had buttons(a family joke because many times I have wrapped shirts up with no buttons)!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I got the most amazing book for Christmas. It is called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I had learned about it from Judy and decided just a few weeks ago that I might like it so I got the Mother Earth News with an article about it and then told my husband that it would make a great present (along with a baking stone and peel). Well my wonderful husband went shopping and ordered the book and peel from Amazon and found the stone at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

This afternoon I followed the instructions without reading every word of the book (which would be my normal way of doing things) and just a little while later I took the most beautiful loaf out of the oven. After letting it cool we were amazed at the taste of the most wonderful loaf of artisan bread I have ever made! I highly recommend this book.

On the downside we tried to make cheese to go with it and that was a failure with a capital 'F'. A gallon of milk made about one cup of soft stuff we spread on the delicious bread and it also made a big mess. We will not give up though and tomorrow I will go to the library and get a book about cheesemaking and we will start anew.

On the First Day of Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone - now I can post about my Christmas creations and since it is the first day of Christmas today is . . .

A bird on the pocket of a dress

I made this for my grand daughter, Shannon who is almost 2. She is wearing a size 3 in RTW but I did a 2 in the pattern which is McCalls. I appliqued the bird on the pocket with a design from Embroidery Library. The jumper is lined and red piping is along the hem. It was easy and it turned out pretty cute, I had fallen in love with the bird print corduroy- it called to me and said "you need to buy me". I got a black turtleneck at Target and did a red lettuce hem at the neck.

I just hope it fits.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Down to the Wire

As usual it is Christmas Eve and I am working hard to prepare for the big day but the big news is that all of my sewing was done by noon - its a miracle because every thread was trimmed and every button was sewn and I closed down the sweat shop. Last night I was nearing the end and I started to worry about running out of things to do. I think that is the reason I am always starting new things - I never want to be projectless, as if that could ever happen!

We have our big dinner tonight so all afternoon has been spent cooking. I also made a double batch of cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow. We have so many traditions in our family and grandma's cinnamon rolls are one of them. Yummy.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Amazon Christmas

We decided Amazon got the "dot com" thing right. We seem to be having an Amazon Christmas at our house. Every day packages arrive with the familiar logo on the box - how exciting! Except for one thing, we don't know if they are what my husband and I ordered or what someone else ordered and had shipped here. Should we open it? or just put ugly brown boxes under the tree?

I have checked with family members and found that my daughter in California has sent a number of packages for me to open and then wrap the gifts for the recipients. So now I get to be an elf? Did I mention that wrapping is not my favorite part of the holiday? She did assure me that my gift would be coming late so there would be no chance of me accidentally spoiling the surprise for me.

My other daughter is going crazy because I haven't opened any of the boxes to put things under the tree, I told her I could just wrap them Christmas morning because they would probably want to sleep late. She didn't like that idea. So I guess I will start wrapping today.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

One Week

Can you believe that in just one week it will be Christmas Eve? I am amazed every year. I am also always amazed at my ability to have great plans for gift giving and then not having the time to follow through - oh well that seems to be the story of my life.

I got the first package in the mail today, on its way to California, only three more to mail. I need to go finish my mothers gift and then make some peanut brittle for my father in law and then I can package them up and send them out.

As I put all of the gifts in a priority box and everything fit with room to spare I felt kind of bad that there wasn't more. So I had to remind self that:

  1. some gifts are being shipped directly
  2. my son in law will be getting a t shirt quilt but first he has to give me the shirts
  3. they live in an apartment
  4. they already own every toy known to man
  5. the baby has plenty of hand me down clothes from her sister
  6. big sister and mom have a birthday in January and I have gifts for that already

So I made some little things for the girls, got a "?" for their mom and dad's will have to come later. Why do I feel guilty? What makes us think that it isn't Christmas without lots of stuff? I really am trying to get over this because I certainly do not need stuff for the sake of stuff. Those days are over for me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Baby its cold outside

Brrr - it has turned cold here. It is 25 right now and while I know for many of you that is a warm front, for us here in Texas it is cold! So what is the best thing to do when the weather outside is frightful? Why sew of course. Actually the very best thing to do is quilting because then you are actually under the quilt part of the time. So yesterday I quilted a gift quilt - one down one to go. I really need to finish the things that need to be shipped but that quilt and its warmth was calling to me. It just needs binding and that is another great thing to do when it is cold.

Oh did I mention that on Sunday it was 75? That is why we love Texas weather.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Learning Curve

Blogging certainly has a learning curve, I feel like I am starting to get it. My kids and husband have been helping me out and just now I figured some things out on my own and I feel pretty clever. I now have a blog description and new font colors. I know that is not a big deal but I like learning new things.

I am also finding out how blogging can become another hobby. I am seeing my world in a new light and thinking "oh I could blog about that so I had better take a picture" I don't know if anyone will ever read this but I hope to put out some helpful information at some point. Maybe I am just writing it for me but that is okay too because I am recording bits of my life and my posterity can get to know me better.

I have quite a few blogs that I follow on a regular basis and I really like the ideas and things they share. It is like being in a quilt bee 24/7. I finally joined a guild a couple of years ago and then got in a small group known as a bee, prior to that I had always stayed pretty much to myself as far as my sewing went but now I understand. Having a group where you can exchange ideas and get encouragement is great for the creative process and the blog world is also a place where that happens. I am glad I have joined the "blogging bee."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


It seems that quilters like to moan about having way too much fabric. I can moan with the best of them but the other night at our quilt bee party I realized that I don't have enough fabric to even worry about joining "stashbusters." We met at Kayleen's house and Maureen told us about taking a pledge to purchase no fabric for a year. Then Kayleen talked about her closet of fabric. We all went upstairs and saw it and I would have to say Kayleen does have a lot but Maureen evaluated and said she did not think there was enough to qualify as a stashbuster. That is when I realized that I am totally out of my league.

I have a room that I store it all in and there is a lot of fabric but the room also has yarn, scrapbook, art supplies as well as various other crafts that I have participated in. I also sew clothing so there is fabric and patterns for that as well as all of the needed interfacings. So even though my room is very full it is not all for one activity. I do have a problem throwing anything away so I have a a lot of scraps. Bonnie at Quiltville has inspired me to keep even more scraps but they are getting organized. I use her scrap savers system and cut leftovers into strips and nickels. So far my bins are small but I am working on it!

Recently Judy at Patchwork Times had a post about her stash - once more it is brought home to me that I really don't have that much (it is all relative remember?) I don't have a lot of big pieces or batting so I think I am okay to buy more. This is what I have purchased since Thanksgiving.

So my pledge for the coming year is to only buy what I want to - I will refuse to purchase any fabric that does not inspire me and that I don't love, unless of course it is just what the quilt needs!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas or else

Today has been declared "Decorate for Christmas or else". I feel a bit overwhelmed because as usual I have bitten off way too much but oh well we don't want to be bored do we?

I committed to hosting a portion of a progressive dinner on Thursday, I have 2 quilt group get togethers and gift exchanges and I forgot I am babysitting the twins tomorrow and now she needs me today. This is in addition to sewing gifts and some embroidery work I said I would do for others. What was I thinking?
I was panicked about adding the babysitting but then I decided that was the most important - family comes first. So today I will decorate while I am here.

The tree is up with some ornaments, we have really cut back from past years when we had a 9 foot tree loaded with ornaments and lights. Last year when we had everyone coming we bought a smaller tree and put less ornaments, mostly at the top because of the 1 year olds. This year they are 2 year olds so we are still putting on fewer decorations but I want to set up a train around the base because they will enjoy that.

Jon set up the Fontini Nativity last night, I really like it. We can add new things as we desire and the city of Bethlehem is starting to grow. This is becoming more important each year and it helps us to remember what Christmas is really all about.

We panicked last night when the Christmas CDs were not in their box but while looking for them I found Trent's stocking in an odd spot. Today I opened the box with the rest of the stockings and could not find mine so I may not even get coal this year.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things

I have been prepping the living room for the Christmas decorations and I decided I needed to clean the carpet. We have the lovely "we need to put is new carpet to sell this house beige" I guess it makes rooms look clean and big but it sure shows the spots and after 12 years walking on it and multiple pets it can be ugly. Then of course when we have people over we eat in there and now with the grandkids . . well you get the picture!

My friend, Joyce, had told me about a cleaning product that worked for her and I have to tell you I think it is a miracle product. I bought it several months ago and did not use it until now but I sure hope it is still available.

This is what you do:

  • Spray on and let set

  • cover with a wet white terrycloth

  • press with iron on medium

The white cloth will become yucky as it pulls up whatever is on the carpet. I found that pet and food stains come out the best. It did not work on some black greasy spots but it did take out spots I have worked on so many times for so many years I have given them a name.

I bought a pack of cheap white washcloths at WalMart (the place I bought the cleaner). My iron got pretty stained but I used an old one, if I ever want to use it for fabric I will probably need to clean it.

I then used my carpet cleaner to clean the whole carpet. I really like having a carpet cleaner because I can do it at my own speed whenever I feel like it or need too. I did the living room in three sections over three days, allowing each part to dry before moving everything back onto it.

My carpet looks very good now if I do say so myself!

Friday, December 5, 2008

First Saturday Quilt Block

My local quilt shop has a first Saturday block of the month where you pay $5.00 for the first block kit and then each month you bring in the completed block and then you get the next one free. If you don't finish or miss a day you have to pay again. I think this is about the 4th year at this particular store.

Last night before I went to bed I realized that my block wasn't done yet and I planned on taking it in on Friday (today) so I got up this morning at six and put it together.

This is how I work - with everything right where I need it. I make it a game to see how much I can chain without cutting the thread, so I will cut off the back pieces, press and keep right on sewing. I can usually do a single block like this without clipping until I put the last row on.

The block was done in time and I even remembered to take it with me. I always say I will make the next block as soon as I get it but it never seems to happen. I know this month I won't because I have way to much other sewing to do.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Making Do

I am working a quilt I designed and started over a year ago. I made some changes and then decided to make it bigger. The blocks are all done and today I am working on the sashing but oops- not enough fabric.

What to do? I thought of a few solutions:
  • go to the store to see if I could find more (that would mean leaving the house)
  • try to find a close enough match (it is a pretty neutral background after all but I didn't have anything in my stash)
  • sew together the pieces I had left to make do

I decided to sew together the strips before cutting them so that some of the sashings have a seam or two in them. I have no problem with this solution and it is probably what granny would have done.

How Did This Happen?

I put my daughter and her family on a plane yesterday and said to myself now I can think about Christmas. The realization is setting in that it is just over 3 weeks away and naturally I have lots more I want to do than there is time for. I planned on making 5 quilts and at least 5 other sewing projects plus a scrapbook project and decorate my house. I guess Christmas cookies will go on the back burner this year.

So now I must prioritize. Several quilts are started so I will work on those first. I have to decorate since I said yes when asked to host dessert for a progressive dinner next week (what was I thinking?) and if I get the sewing projects started I can do them in small pieces of time. The only thing I can't figure is how to fit in is shopping - I hate that anyway but I do need some more fabric for some of the projects so at least my shopping will take to the kind of stores I like.

Today I will clean the carpet in the living room so that we can put the tree up later this week and I will get the sewing machines humming.