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.
 Posted by Picasa

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.

 Posted by Picasa