Saturday, December 30, 2006

As the old year is about to begin, I wanted to finish a couple of projects that didn't deserve to move unfinished into the new year. The first is a quilt that I made pulling only from my scrap box. The pattern can be found at Quilttown USA . I have been calling it A Trip Around My Scrapbox. The top has been finished for months now, the back pieced and the binding ready to apply. There was just no excuse for dragging it unfinished into 2007. It has found a happy home on top of the diningroom table.
The next quilt is the top I made for the Wounded Warrior Center. The top has been complete since November. I got stalled when I had to order fabric for the back. Even though I received the fabric weeks ago, the top just laid there. I gave myself a stern talking to concerning this quilt. It's for a good cause and there is NO reason why it should be left to languish in the house when it could be out in the world. I'm much happier with myself now that it is complete. I will add a label and deliver it first thing next week.
The last photo is my very first citrus crop. I have wanted a Myer lemon tree for several years. Because we don't have a particularly large yard, it didn't seem possible to add another tree. This past spring I discovered that a dwarf variety is available. Lickety split to the nursery I went and came home with my lemon tree and an orange tree, too. I had visions of lemon slices in iced tea and fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. I'm off to a good start. There are still about 8 or 9 lemons ripening. The orange juice might have to wait another season -- there are two oranges right now.
Time to take down the Christmas decorations and give a thorough cleaning of the house to begin the new year.
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Thursday, December 28, 2006

It all began with a gift certificate. On Christmas, I was the lucky recipient of a gift certificate at my favorite quilt shop. That same shop has an after-Christmas sale where everything is 40% off -- not just Christmas items.
I had a plan. That's right -- had. If truth be told I didn't need a single thing, but I wanted to add a 'back-up' bolt of the aged muslin you see to my stash. That was my plan for weeks leading up to the sale.
Then I opened my gift and the plan went right out the door. It marched right on out with all the wrapping and ribbon that left that day. My mind began to dance with possibilities. I hadn't gone to the shop last week to pre-plan my strategy, to see what books would be great additions to my library, what thread colors would round out my collection. I went to the sale totally unprepared to make the most of my purchasing power.
Of course it was crowded, women everywhere, putting things in baskets, Christmas decorations, rotary cutter blades, fat quarter packs. They were laden with bolt of fabric waiting their turn at the cutting table. I managed to wander around aimlessly for 5 or 10 minutes before my shopping brain finally kicked in. I got the bolt of muslin I wanted, I found 3 other neutral fabrics to have on hand as backgrounds, a few pieces of wool, a Lori Smith pattern I have had my eye on for some time now, a fat quarter pack of Regency prints by Judi Rothermeil and some basting spray, and a wool star ornament -- for good measure. A lovely purchase that made me and the shop owner VERY happy. I must admit here that I went a bit over my $25 gift certificate, but it was worth it.

We traveled to my husband's hometown for the holiday and spent the day with his parents, aunt, sister and her children. We had a delicious meal prepared by his sister -- the flavor only enhanced by the fact that I didn't not lift a finger to cook or clean. Due to space limitations, we stayed at a hotel nearby. Our room had 2 queen beds. Here is Harper on her bed with her new Christmas baby. I'm sure if she got the chance to visit Santa now, she would ask for her very own big girl bed instead of a puppy cushion on the floor.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"...And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. " ~Dr. Seuss

As we all go about finishing the last minute touches of our holiday preparations, I want to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. No matter how or with whom you celebrate, I hope there is peace and joy in your home and heart.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Technology has not been kind to our wallets . . . we are the generation that purchased the latest hits on 45 rpm records when the new Top 40 was published each week in junior high. In high school, we began buying albums that we could listen to on stereo systems in our bedrooms and supplemented our music libraries with 8 track tapes that made our favorites portable for a Friday or Saturday night of cruising downtown. Do you remember using a matchbook to balance the tape just right in the player?
Quickly we saw that cassette tapes were the wave of the future. More music in a smaller container -- no track changes in the middle of a song. We became adept at tightening the tape with a pencil in the wheels. We bought new music and also updated old favorites on the new medium.
Soon we saw the wave of the music future was in the compact disc. Hmmm . . . really, do we need to buy our favorites -- again? But the sound was so good, no hissing or popping like vinyl. The player didn't eat the discs the way 8 track and cassette tapes disappeared. So we began with a few essentials, filled in with 'Best Of' and hoped this would be the end of the line.
In the meantime, vcr's came on the market. We purchased our first vcr for a now ridiculous price, paid for a 'life-time' membership at the local video store and dove into the world of classic movies. Sometime in the 90's, The Princess grew weary of being our human vcr remote - 'Honey, can you press the button?' is a phrase she hopes to never hear again.
Soon renting videos gave way to purchasing our own movie library. We were certain that Christmas movies would be a wise investment -- movies we enjoy watching over and over again.
Somewhat reluctantly we purchased a dvd player. Could it really be that much better? We would still be looking at the same television. But it became increasingly difficult to find VHS movies and the writing was on the wall. We bought a combination vcr/dvd so we could continue to record favorite television shows.
Last year for Christmas, we gave ourselves a new dvd that records as well as plays. We moved the combo machine into the bedroom and felt smug that we purchased the latest technology before we were forced.
Fast forward to this past Saturday. Hubby and I planned a day of watching Christmas movies. A full line up of favorites. The ones we have been watching for years. The movies we count on to put us in the Christmas mood. It was a blustery rainy day, perfect to stay in pajamas all day long.
I opened the cabinet. I was stunned. None of the movies were on dvd. No Miracle on 34th Street, It's A Wonderful Life, Christmas Vacation, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Bells Of Saint Mary's, Holiday Inn, White Christmas. The video store loved us on Saturday.
p.s. We did have A Christmas Story, Elf, Frosty and Rudolph . . . don't want to leave you thinking our library is lacking *s* And we still have a working 8 track player in the stereo in the garage. It only plays on track 3, but it does a beautiful job. No matchbook required.

Friday, December 15, 2006

These are the decorations of the generations. They represent four generations of women in my family beginning with my grandma.

I don't ever recall Grandma's house being decorated for Christmas. All of my memories are of Grandma at our house for Christmas. She always came a day or two before and stayed for a day or two after. I often went home with her for the remaining days of Christmas vacation from school.

The Santa on the left was the one thing in her home that reflected the holiday. He was on display year'round on the dining room buffet. He is a bank with a slot for coins in his sack. I was always intrigued by him - we never had Christmas decorations on display all the time in our house. He was a happy reminder whenever I saw him that Christmas would soon come again.

The choir boys are actually a music box that plays O Come All Ye Faithful. This was my mom's favorite Christmas decoration. She always seemed to have great delight in winding up the key to make the music play for the first time each year. The music box doesn't play anymore, but I can still hear the music in my head. It was always fun to hear the song at a very fast tempo and then dwindle down until you weren't sure if you had just heard the last note.

The Chimney Santa was a gift I made for Mom in Camp Fire Girls when I was about 8 or 9. He is made from the chimney of an oil lamp and is meant to hold candy. Just lift the top of his hat and fill him up. He used to hold peppermints every year. These days he rests empty -- the glass seems so thin, I don't think it could take many more years of clinking hard candies. It amazes me to think that something made by my own hand is closing in on being classified as an antique.

Last, but not least, is the clothespin reindeer The Princess made for our tree. I really like this little guy with his holly leaf saddle and googley eyes. He has been with us now for 20 years. My where does the time go? Even though the years fly by, it's so nice to have these mementos to warmly remind us of what has gone before.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ahhhh -- a finished quilt. I shared this top in mid-November. I received the back and binding fabric in the mail last week and got it quilted and bound over the weekend. The fabric on the back is a coordinate of the Chocolat line that is available in 108" width. This was my first time using a wide fabric. Such joy, no piecing -- just baste and quilt. The binding is from the same line and has diagonal stripes of red and brown. When cut on the straight grain it looks like bias binding. This quilt could not have been any easier.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Okay - I made the switch. I didn't want to . . . I really didn't. But this morning I was not being allowed to leave comments on blogs that have made the move the Beta. I can put up with a lot of things, but when I have something to say I really want to say it. So far it seems to have gone smoothly. Nothing is lost and I did go leave a comment even before I tried to post. Okay -- see you on the 'net.'

This was the view I had yesterday afternoon as I worked on my hexagons. No, it's not another tree in my home -- I was sitting in the lobby of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel. Our power company sent out a letter a couple of weeks ago saying that they would be shutting off our power for 9 hours on the 11th to do routine maintenance. While I can entertain myself for a while, 9 hours seemed like a long time so I planned a day to be out and about.
I dropped Harper off at day camp and headed north to The OC. I stopped in at a quilt shop, didn't find anything of interest so continued on to Disneyland Resort. Hubby and I have had annual passes for a few years now so my parking and admission were already taken care of. There really is magic all around, the decorations are beautiful at this time of year and I enjoyed walking around the parks to take it all in.
It's not fun to go on rides when you are alone. I prepared for that by taking my English paper piecing along in a little ziplock bag. When I was done with lunch and my little tour, I headed to the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel. The hotel is built in the Craftsman style and furnished the same. The lobby has a giant fireplace and sofas, easy chairs and rocking chairs set around for conversation and relaxing. A grand piano is usually at the center, but during the holidays it's pushed to the side to make room for this spectacular tree. Someone comes and plays the piano for about 30 minutes at a time - Christmas music, Disney tunes, show tunes, I even recognized a song by The Eagles.
I found an open chair with a table and lamp beside it and this perfect view of the tree. I stitched merrily away, got a chance to people watch a little and enjoy the music. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The trees are trimmed, the stockings are hung. Now we can take a few moments to sit back, relax and enjoy the season. This year we purchased a new tree for the living room. It's a little taller and much fuller than the tree we have been using for the last 10 years. The only thing it lacks at this point is a topper. I have been looking and haven't come upon one yet.
I couldn't bear to get rid of our old tree. I fell in love with it when I first laid eyes on it and couldn't wait to bring it home. This year it moved into our bedroom along with any ornament that is an animal and the angel. I have taken a lot of ribbing over the years about this tree -- but it doesn't matter because I have really enjoyed it and now will continue to do so.
The third tree has wooden ornaments that I painted back in the early 90's. Originally the tree was one made from dowels covered in torn fabric. While the ornaments held up the tree did not. Last year I put them on this little artificial tree and stuck it in the milk can as a holder until I could decide where to put it. Voila -- the milk can made a great holder -- quite a happy accident.
The last picture is the tree skirt I made for The Princess' home. Inspired by the construction paper reindeer that children make in school and the quilts by Jan Patek, I traced Hubby and my hand and footprints and made this little skirt. We all have a piece of handprint art from our kids somewhere, but how many have the same from their parents? The little candy cane toes you see at the edge of the photo belong to The Princess herself.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

I love everything about the Christmas holiday season (well, except for wrapping presents). There is a sense of joy and wonder as decorations begin to appear in store windows, living room windows and the exteriors of homes all around town. Holiday music is everywhere and it's fun to sing along. I remember anxiously waiting for Santa to arrive in my small town so I could pay him a visit and tell him all of my heart's desires. Moore's Department Store had a mechanical polar bear that jumped out of a box - over and over and over. He was moving oh so slowly the last Christmas the store was open, but I could have watched him for hours anyway. He was still magical to my jaded teen aged eyes.
At home, we decorated a tree. It was festive with red lights, red bows, red balls and candy canes. My mom's favorite color was red and she did not spare it's use at Christmas time. Our house was comfy and cheerful, filled with all the things you would expect to find. I would get up every morning and check my stocking . . . just in case.
My real love of all things Christmas came at the knee of Mrs. Neff. I spent a good deal of my childhood with Mrs. Neff and 'Neffer,' her husband. They were both very dear to me and expanded my view of the world greatly. From Neffer I learned about shoeing horses, how to reload shotgun shells, and about doing a professional finish when doing home-repairs.
Mrs. Neff was my stay-at-home mom when my own mom no longer could be. I watched her can beans from the garden, make crabapple butter, made consparitorial trips to the burn can in order to destroy the evidence of a cake mix being used. Neffer would swear he could taste the cardboard if he saw the box, but would praise with delight the very same cake if no box was spied. But holidays were an extra special time in their home and I always felt privileged to share in them.
Each year there was a fresh-cut tree, decorated to the hilt with balls and ornaments of all colors, a string of lights in every shade available and more tinsel that should be allowed in one home, angel hair that made my itchy but was pretty to look at, garland swirled around and around. I don't know how those trees managed to stand under all that ornamentation.
Each year there was much work to be done in the kitchen. Fruit cakes baked and left to "age." Batches and batches of cookies, baked, decorated and placed carefully in tins. Candy coated walnuts - different colors of candy for different batches then mixed together for an eye-pleasing arrangement. And then there were the pecan rolls. Delicious vanilla-y fudge, shaped into logs, home-made caramel sheets cut to size and wrapped around. Once they were completely encased in caramel, pecan halves were neatly pressed into the caramel before they were wrapped up in waxed paper. Those pecan rolls are still the most delicious candy I have ever tasted.
Over the years, Mrs. Neff outfitted my Barbies, came to my piano recitals, put Band-Aids on skinned knees,picked me up at the bus stop, took me Camp Fire Girls meetings, watched me turn into a bratty teen and waited patiently for me to return. She sat proudly with my mom in the front pew when I got married. Gave me my first Mother's Day present and The Princess her first doll. And, of course, she gave me a box filled with hand-made Christmas ornaments that find their way on my tree every year. They are starting to show their age, but they will never run out of love.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

I am fussy about my calendars. I like them to have pictures that depict the season or holiday of each month. It can sometimes be a long, drawn-out process for me to make a selection. First finding a look or graphic that pleases my eye, then testing each month for it's 'seasonal applicability'. I always anticipate turning over a new month on the calendar, but particularly when December arrives. This morning when I turned the page I was humming It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas . . .

I began hanging Christmas quilts last weekend - they are starting to look a little more relaxed now that they have been unfurled for several days.

This quilt is another that I look forward to putting up each year. It is Little Ben's Quilt by Blackbird Designs. This is actually the 3rd that I have made. The first had much lighter lights and much brighter reds. A friend had admired it very much, so last year I gave it to her as a housewarming gift. I then selected new, darker fabrics to remake for our home - a win/win situation for me and my friend. I had plenty enough to make two, so I did just that and gave the other to a friend who had had a particularly difficult year.

Linda J commented on the 'kite-shaped' applique I put on one of the baskets. It was a left over from piecing this little quilt last Christmas. I showed a photo of it's spring sister back on Aug. 9. I thought doing it in reds would resemble a poinsettia, so I had to make it again.
No sewing has happened in a few days. I think I'll start a fire in the fireplace, pop in a dvd and work on hexagons tonight. Sounds like fun. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Well, isn't this fun? I purchased the book "It's A Wrap" and took a class at my quilt shop and now look what I can do. It's fabric strips wrapped around cotton clothesline. Using a zig-zag (that doesn't show nearly as much as it appears in this photo) you can make ovals, rounds, even square baskets,bowls and bags. I need to work out adding handles -- my first attempt is not too sturdy. I wouldn't want to try carrying anything of substance.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's time to think about decorating for the holidays. I gave Hubby a reprieve and postponed the full-blown decorating extravaganza until the upcoming weekend. I did take down the fall decorations and started hanging Christmas quilts since they are not stored in the garage rafters. This quilt is called Tree Angel from Ginger Cookie Company (I think.) I made her in 2001 and she just makes me smile.
I love getting out my Christmas decorations. It's like seeing old friends as I take ornaments from their boxes and find a place to display them. So many memories are kept in the rafters and I just get filled with excitement when the time comes to unpack them all.
I'm looking forward to sharing some of my favorites and seeing yours, too. Happy Decorating. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It seemed like everywhere we turned our trip the view was even more picturesque than the last thing we saw. So many rolling hills of farmland and grape arbors dotted liberally with villages and church steeples standing in the distance. I wonder how many times I sighed or said this is so cute -- it was like stepping directly into a fairy tale.
These pictures are from our day in Heidelberg. It was wet and rainy the whole day, but that only added to the charm. The first photo is a courtyard on the edge of a shopping district. The Princess sent me a photo of this exact spot during summer. It was full of outdoor dining tables. Just the place to sit with a pastry and latte, resting tired feet from an afternoon shopping. I still think it looks pretty good -- even on a rainy afternoon.
The leaves are changing and there were beautiful fall colors everywhere we went. Hubby and I were both drawn to the vibrant yellow of this tree. We just don't see things like this in southern California -- we could have just stared at it all afternoon.
We walked up and down this entire plaza poking in the various shops. We even found a Starbucks where I added to my collection of City Mugs. We found a restaurant for our lunch that had a partial English menu *whew* The three of us selected different dishes and shared around the table. It was very relaxed, no hurry to get us on our way to free up the table. Once we were full and dried out a bit we were on our way again.
The goal was to see the Heidelberg Castle ruins which you can see in the background. How amazing to see building so very old. Here we think buildings from the late 1800's and early 1900's are so very old. Imagine what stories these castle ruins could tell. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 24, 2006

Home again. My how time flies when you are having fun and trying to remember every single thing you see and do. We had such a wonderful time on our trip to Germany and I'm already looking forward to another visit to see even more.
I had no idea what to expect from on this trip - what I might see or do. Just some photos and promises from The Princess that I would fall in love and want to stay. She was so right. While the weather didn't often cooperate, we had a few rainy, drizzly days (the ones when we went siteseeing) the rain seemed to make everything look cleaner and all the colors more vibrant.
Fall colors were still abundant everywhere we went. Quaint villages with cobblestoned streets were all around us. This picture is the view from the ruins of Nanstein-the Sickingen Castle in Landstuhl. The castle was built in 1160 and was destroyed and rebuilt more than once before falling into ruin in 1689.
I must say that it is a treat to have your own personal tour guide for such a trip. The Princess has only been living there since July, but was a champ at taking us around and showing us what she has discovered so far. This is the girl who will take the longest route possible if it means avoiding a freeway she is unfamiliar with at home. Now she's maneuvering around without a full understanding of the language on road signs.
It is just the best feeling to see your very own kid - the one you nagged to brush teeth or clean her room - making her way in the world. She found a very comfortable place to live, has it decorated as cute as can be. Of course I'm proud to see the product of what Hubby and I tried so hard to raise, but that's just patting ourselves on the back. I'm just so happy to see her living a good, productive life -- making good decisions, working hard, experiencing the world and maybe even making a little difference in the lives of others.
More pictures and stories next time. I'm still trying to adjust to the time difference. It'll be a couple of days before I'm back at full speed. In the meantime, I am trying to catch up reading everyone's blogs. While I may not leave a comment everywhere, I'll read everything and do my best to leave a little note here and there. It was a wonderful trip, I miss my girl already, but it does feel good to be home. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Happy Thanksgiving to one and all. Our turkey dinner is but a faded memory ... already. Hubby and I have been in Germany celebrating with The Princess in her home and exploring new places. The Princess prepared a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for us on Sunday, complete with all the trimmings. Delicious! We have had a delightful time here and have plenty of pictures to share and stories to tell when we get home again. Special times with the ones you love most is really something to be thankful for.

Monday, November 13, 2006

She sits, she sews, she quilts, she finishes . . . . sort of. It seems to me it has been some time since I shared anything that I have been working on. I got myself to sit down at the machine last week and got to work.

This first quilt is done now - sort of. Originally I started hand quilting, but realized that I didn't really want to dedicate the time to doing so. I sat down, picked out the meager amount I had stitched in and then went to the machine. As I have said before, I am pretty much a one-trick pony at machine quilting and this is no exception. I did an all-over meander and it doesn't look half bad -- from the front.

I must have done some tugging and pulling to get the hand quilting out, and there's probably a bit of sloppiness when I basted mixed into the equation. The back of this quilt just looks yucky. There are wrinkles and tucks quilted right in. I went ahead put the binding on and stitched it down, washed and dried so I could really assess how it looks. BAD! I had 3 fat quarters left that coordinate with all of the fabrics used in the top. I am now doing applique on the back to camouflage the uglies. No one will ever know except for you and me . . . . and we'll never tell. Hopefully I can share a photo of the back tomorrow after it has been all prettied up.

This is a top that I finished up this afternoon. I bought the fat quarter pack of wovens from Chocolat and just had a little party. It is just the perfect size for keeping your feet warm while watching a movie on a coolish afternoon. I toyed with putting borders on, but I really like it's current size. I'll have to pick something for the binding and get more. I'm thinking one of the reds, maybe a brown, but probably a red.

It sure feels good to have made this progress. Neither quilt was particularly taxing, but sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered. On to the next project. Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy 231st Birthday USMC.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I was just beginning to feel like times had changed too much and there was no hope left. Then yesterday I realized that the world is not as dark as I feared . . . Customer Service is still alive.

Trust me when I say I have doubted for some time that customer service was still there. I'm not talking about the fake marketing ploys designed for employees to receive a 'perfect' score from a secret shopper. You know what I mean, a clerk will call you by name as if you are old friends, try valiantly to cross-sell any number of goods or services that you are not interested in, offer to carry your bags, cheerfully tell you how much you saved by using your store reward card, offer coupons for use on a future shopping trip.

Do I really want the guy at the post office to cross-sell money orders? Remind me to buy stamps -- sure; but when you clearly see a wallet with a debit card, credit card and checkbook, I'm probably not going to be in the market for a money order. And does he have to call me 'Miss?' I have been going to the same post office for 15+ years. He has watched The Princess grow up, he sees me with Hubby. Clearly I am not 'Miss' and I'm not flattered.

The grocery store I frequent must spend a good deal of money to be told they must appear helpful and friendly. An employee will greet you with, 'Are you finding everything okay,' no matter how many times they see you during the same shopping trip. While that shouldn't be upsetting, I can never locate one of these helpful people when I really can't find something. And the tactic sunk to an all-time low when I was greeted at the door picking up a basket with, 'Are you finding everything today?' I wasn't even completely indoors.

I have grown tired of being greeted (or not greeted) by unhappy, sullen workers too busy to acknowledge my presence in the face of their own personal conversation, phone call or snack break. I don't think it's too much to ask for a simple thanks and even a little smile while I'm scooping my change out of a dish at the register and waiting for a receipt to come my way.

Then, I went to my local dry cleaners to pick up the pile of things Hubby dropped off on Saturday. I saw the owner squint a little as I pulled into the parking space to see if he could recognize who was coming in. He began looking for my order before I was out of the car, chatted pleasantly about our unseasonably warm weather, and counted back my change.

Next he did the unthinkable -- he took the clothes off the rack and carried it out to my car. He carefully placed everything into the back of my vehicle and opened the driver's door for me to get in. Of course, Harper is hanging her head out the window to see what all the action was about. He ran back into his shop and came out with a doggy treat, smiled pleasantly, and wished us both a good day.

I hope some of the chain stores will take notice of practices like those at my dry cleaners. Even though the stores are nation-wide, the employees are members of the community just like me. A little bit of friendly mom and pop service can go a long way to establishing loyal customers. While in the past I have been a little embarrassed at having my cleaning carried out to the car for me, I now realize that it really is just the personal touch I have been looking for all over town.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Yesterday, Ann at Quilt Til You Wilt shared some pictures from her trip to Houston including a tremendous quilt made from hexagons --163, 128 hexagons -- to be exact. I can't imagine the time and effort that has gone into the making of this quilt. My mind is simply boggled.
Her post did inspire me to share the progress on my hexagon project. I don't have a pattern -- I'm using a photo of an antique quilt for inspiration. I picked a random amount of fabric and began basting to my paper pieces. I keep each fabric separate in a snack-sized zip-lock bag.
At this time, I have basted something over 4,500 but less than 6,000 pieces. I think I have enough to complete 27 stars with more basting of the light that goes around and the black. I have no idea if I have enough color to make the diamonds that go between the stars. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
I keep the baggies in a basket. When it comes time to make a star, I just reach in and pull out 4 baggies -- I don't want to get caught up in what goes with what. There are definitely fabrics I like and fabrics that I don't, so I make myself use whatever I pull out. I have five different lights that go around the stars and the black will be all the same.
Right now I am working on getting a supply of stars that need black only to take on an upcoming trip. That way I only have to travel with one bag of hexagons. I would like to make three more for a total of eight to take on the trip. It takes a long time to get all the way around with the black, so that should be more than plenty to keep me busy. I have some basting of blacks before then, too.
I started working on this at the beginning of the year. I don't work on it everyday and I have no idea when it will be done. I do know I'm going to love it when it is.

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Last Halloween I was at the beginning of a long, difficult project. Hubby and I own the home that was built by my grandparents and then passed to my mom and then passed to me. With the hope of living in that home one day, we have rented it out for the last 15 years. Last fall we had to evict a long-term tenant due to the condition the house and property was found in during an annual inspection by the property manager.
The list of needed repairs was long. Some things were just normal wear and tear, others things required extensive repair, the walls had cracks from earthquakes, the plumbing was failing due to it's age, the lawn was dead and landscaping over-grown, etc., etc., etc. It made me cry to see it in such bad shape. I made a list of what needed to be done and with the help of the terrific women at the property manager's office found an outstanding contractor, a painter, a plumber and landscaper.
Over the next several months, Hubby and I made several trips to check the work, pick out paint colors, window treatments, carpet, new appliances, fixtures for the sinks, tile, and put in some good old-fashioned elbow grease of our own.
On one such trip I saw the greenery from the bulbs that had always been planted in the backyard along side the house. I had forgotten all about them, but suddenly remembered my grandma and my mom tending to them -- cutting them back after they bloomed, digging them up to separate and replant again. I remembered how cheerful it was to see those first blossoms in late February and early March.
I made a quick trip to the hardware store for a trowel and a container. I then dug up a bunch of the bulbs to bring home for my own yard. They didn't take the 300+ mile car ride too well. I prepared a nice place for them in my yard and tried talking to them nicely. The greenery wilted, died off -- no blooms in spring here. I cut back the brown foliage and sort of forgot about them again.
We made our last trip to the house in March. It looked great -- everything fresh and shiny new. I felt good because the house knew that we still loved it. We found a good family to live there and take good care of it for us.
Today I noticed this little bloom in my yard -- they survived the move after all. It was a long year full of hard work and lots of emotions. I think this little flower sums it up and closes it out very nicely. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 30, 2006

This is my other spot. Yesterday I showed where I sit to do handwork. This is where I keep my machine set up. I used to take everything down and put it neatly out of sight. Then I only put it away when company was coming. Now it is basically a permanent set-up. At a 90 degree angle to the sewing table, I put up the ironing board to my right. I do put it away because it completely blocks the front door otherwise.The entertainment center is on wheels, so I pull it away from the wall in order to see what's happening while sitting at the machine. At one time, I tried setting up camp in The Princess' former bedroom. Even though I am here alone during the day, I felt isolated in the far corner of the house. This has turned out to be a good solution. Hubby doesn't seem to mind the clutter and I feel right in the thick of things. It has turned out to be a good solution.
Several of you spied quilts in yesterdays post and asked about them. The quilt on the ottoman and on the treadle can be seen in posts from September. The quilt on the wall is called Prairie Star and was made entirely from the scrapbag and stash. It was one of those quilts that spoke to me at the quilt shop. I bought the pattern and had the top pieced the next day. Originally I was thinking of it as a 'spring' quilt because I used pink and blue in the applique -- not colors you normally see in my quilts. After spring was over, I just wasn't ready to put it away for a whole year. It has moved around the house all summer and fall. I'll put it away during Christmas and it will be right back out again after the first of the year.

Update - the fire is now 70% contained. We had a nice marine layer this morning which usually means good things for the fire fighting efforts further inland. They are actively looking for the arsonist that started the fire and the reward has grown quite large. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Here it is -- My Spot. This is where I watch t.v., leaf through magazines and do handwork. The chair is nice and comfy. I have two lamps - one on each side of me - and the sliding glass door behind, all to provide lots of light. I have pincushion, thread, thimbles (and the remote control *s*) all within reach on the table. I store extras in the drawers. My basket of hexagons is ever present right at my feet. Hubby's chair is just out of view on the other side of the table. When I'm alone, I turn the ottoman so it's directly in front of my chair. When Hubby has joined me, we put it in the middle and share. Harper likes the ottoman, but prefers if we beg her to get on it. If I am up doing things around the house, she will sit in my chair and look out the window. She never sits in Hubby's chair.
I found this little surprise in my mailbox Saturday morning. Earlier I shared the fall Valentine that I made for Hubby and talked about my favorite 'quiltworthy' fabric. Linda came across this lovely piece in her stash and sent it my way. I know just the project I'm going to use it in. I can't even begin to express how excited I was over this piece of fabric or how sweet it was of her to think of me and send it my way. Aren't quilters just the best?
The last photo is Harper in her spot. She hopped right up on her ottoman and got cozy. She is not always cooperative when it comes to looking at the camera, but she does seem quite pleased with her pose.  Posted by Picasa