Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Remember kids . . . no tricks, just treats. Everyone have a fun-filled Halloween.






image courtesy of http://www.webweaver.nu/clipart/halloween/witches.shtml

Monday, October 29, 2007

I got right down to business yesterday afternoon and finished stitching the second little tree table topper using Marcie's pattern. It went together even easier than the first. This time I chose to just put a plain inner border - partly to make it easy for me and partly because it's a gift and not everyone appreciates my scrappy little treatments. I hope to get it quilted and bound in the next couple of days. Guess where I will be bright and early tomorrow morning. WalMart . . . WalMart ? ? ? Yes, WalMart. Now I have not a single thing against WalMart; however, I am a Target-girl at heart. Anyway, I'll be at WalMart to purchase the new Eagles cd. There has not been a studio album of new material released since 1979. I was barely out of high school, a new bride and The Princess was not yet born. It has been a LONG time. I would have pre-ordered via the official website but the shipping was more than the cd and I would have had to wait all day for the mailman to deliver rather than spending my day committing the lyrics to memory. I'm so excited. I can hardly wait.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

While the fires are not out yet, they are on the way to being contained, controlled and extinguished. With a nice layer of fog to add a little humidity back in the air, it seemed like a good time to begin getting back to normal yesterday. First thing was to hose down the patio, outdoor furniture and sidewalks to settle the ash before the parade of gardeners arrived in our neighborhood armed with blowers to stir everything up.
Then I came inside and tried to think up ways to remove some of the smoky smell from inside. Baking always makes the house smell so good . . . bread seemed like just the thing. Not only does it smell wonderful while it's baking, but I just love standing at the counter kneading the dough. It always makes me smile.
Also a couple of strategically placed candles around the living room. These soy candles from Lehman's just smell delicious. I need to remember to add them to my Christmas wish list. It will take some time to completely air everything out, but until the fresh air returns these things will sure help.
Look what we found on the patio this morning. RAIN DROPS! I sure didn't believe it was possible that we would have rain at this time of year. Surely not enough to put out fires, but every positive change in weather is welcome relief.
Hubby did have a chance to get Harper for a short walk before we went on 'rainy day protocol.' She has been such a good girl this week, what with being virtually captive in the house. Just when things were looking up for her. While Harper wondered if she might ever be allowed free rein to go outside, I spent the day finishing the little quilt I started from Marcie's pattern at Patchalotpatterns.com. Marcie designed this little table topper with four different border options and made the instructions available free at her website. Thank you Marcie . . . what a lot of fun.

I did put my own little 'stamp' of on the inner border. Armed with a second set of trees and a pile of hst's, I plan on making that second one to give as a gift. It is quite easy to put together. Pop on over to Marcie's, say 'Hi,' and try one out for yourself.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thanks to each and every one who sent such kind and encouraging words concerning the terrible fires that have been burning this past week in southern California. The fires continue to burn but the upper-hand is being gained and many people are beginning to return to a normal daily routine while for others the devastation has only begun. I'm so proud of my community and the way they have rallied to help one another. I hope this neighborly feeling will continue while those most affected rebuild their homes and their lives.
Even here on the edge of the fire area, we can see the remants all around. The sky is gray and the sunlight a filtered orange tone. The smell outside is like being at the bottom of the fireplace and everything is coated with ash. I took this picture of my very confused and out-of-season narcissus two days ago. Yes, they are blooming in October . . . again. They look a bit dry and crispy around the edges. If you look closely, you can see the ash beginning to accumulate on the petals.Everyone in the county that was not evacuated was asked to stay indoors in order to keep the roads clear for those who needed to escape and for firefighters to move freely. It was certainly no pleasure to be outside. So I monitored the news and appliqued. I got a great start on the circles for A Penny Saved that I began last week. Just about 1/3 are ready to applique to the background.
But that means there are still 60 more sets to go.
Today I was beginning to tire of the handwork and decided an afternoon session at the sewing machine would be just what the doctor ordered. Using a lovely pattern provided by Marcie from her webstore Patchalotpatterns.com. I started making this darling little Christmas table topper she shared on her blog last week.
Okay, so I didn't start one . . . I started two. I thought it would make a nice gift for the gal that cuts and colors my hair. But I knew I was going to really like it and want one for myself. There's never any harm in making extra.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just wanted to check in from my little corner of San Diego county. Our community is safe from the fires at this time and our high school is being used as an evacuation center for those who have had to leave their homes in order to be out of harm's way.
I got an extraordinary amount of applique done on those circles yesterday while watching all of the coverage on television. The wind gusts whipped up in the afternoon making an already awful situation ever more unpredictable. We had an area of blue sky above with a horse-shoe shape of ugly black smoke all around. This morning our blue sky was gone and the smell of smoke is everywhere. There was a gentle falling of ash from above and everything is coated with a sprinkling of gray.
We are so grateful to be safe and keep our thoughts on those that have lost everything, still don't know their fate and those that are working hard to keep the devastation to a minimum. Hopefully this weather pattern will end far sooner than predicted allowing the firefighters to do their work and put these dreadful fires out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's time for the last of the vacation photos. We took the train from France to Germany where The Princess picked us up at the station near her home. It sure was fun to see her standing on the platform waiting for us as the train pulled in the station. We had just enough time to do little laundry and regroup before heading out in the morning to the southeastern part of Germany (Bavaria) and some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen.
Our destination was Schloss Linderhoff. While I knew we were going in the direction of the Alps, I really had no idea what was in store. A portion of our drive was on 'The Romantic Highway'
and believe me there was beauty and charm everywhere I looked.
This is the view from our hotel room balcony. At just after 7 in the morning, it was a crisp, clear morning. Just a touch of fall color all around.
After a delicious breakfast, we purchased tickets for a tour of the castle, then walked up to wait for the English speaking tour to begin. We had some time to take in the exterior of the buildings and some of the grounds while we waited. This is the front view of the castle.
Another view of the front showing the reflecting pool and fountain.
No photography was allowed inside the castle, but trust me when I say it was beautiful. Still completely decorated and filled with ornate pieces and architecture as well as some stunning textiles. If only I could have photographed the fabulous marquetry work in the floor.
King Ludwig enjoyed all of the arts and even had an artificial grotto built in the side of the mountain where he could enjoy his favorite opera performed live for him.
Another picture of designs to walk on and translate into quilts.
It was difficult to leave such a beautiful spot. There were many hiking trails to enjoy but we had a long drive back to The Princess' home. We had hoped to have enough time to tour Neuschwanstein Castle - another castle of King Ludwig II, but road construction difficulties on the Autobahn the previous day put us far behind schedule. Instead of touring this castle, which was not completed in Ludwig's lifetime, we decided to just see it from a distance.
In this picture it is easy to see why Ludwig is sometimes called The Fairytale King. It is said this castle is inspiration for Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle.
This would be some of the view from Neuschwanstein Castle. I wonder how many times I gasped in delight at the pastoral scenes. Grazing cows wearing their bells, sheep dotting a hillside, freshly harvested fields of corn and hay, even a herd of lop-eared bunnies grazing near a vegetable garden. We were also able to return to Heidelberg. When we visited The Princess last year, toured the castle and city there on a rainy, miserable day. More wonderful scenery but much more enjoyable with clear, warm weather. Perhaps one day we will have the opportunity to return again and explore even more of this beautiful country. There is far too much to see in such a short time.
The rest of our days in Germany were spent enjoying time with The Princess in her home. It was difficult to say goodbye at the airport - it will be many months before we see her again. It's a good thing she is just a phone call away . . . I think the phone company thinks the same thing *s*
Here is a little sneak peek at the circle project. You can find the pattern - A Penny Saved - in the current Fons and Porter magazine. All the circles are marked and cut. Putting each group of 3 together is the perfect evening television project. I'm going to enjoy making this quilt very much.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gadgets - take 'em or leave 'em? For me, the newest gadget doesn't usually end up being a high priority. I have the basic necessities - sewing machine, rotary cutter, mat, ruler(s), scissors, needles and thread . . . oh and fabric. Lots and lots of fabric. When it comes to making templates for applique, I will reach for the freezer paper. Sometimes, out of laziness, I have just cut pieces free hand in order to get to the stitching step more quickly.
For my newest project, I knew I was going to have to come up with a better, more consistent solution. You see I need 90 circles in three different sizes - 270 total. While I don't expect them to be perfect or exactly the same like a die-cut, I do want them to look uniform to the naked eye. With pattern in hand, I headed to the kitchen to find 'round' things that I could trace, over and over and over again.In pretty quick time, I found just what I needed - a little bowl, a mortar and a drinking glass each fit on the pattern just right. Here is my little assembly line. Lighter fabrics get the Pigma pen and darker fabrics get the white pencil. When I have a good pile (and I'm bored of tracing) I start cutting out the circles with the scissors, leaving a nice little seam allowance to turn under. So far it has been fun . . . we'll talk again when I'm closer to the end.
Darlene tagged me a couple of days ago - let's see how I do.

4 jobs I've had-

motel maid (that lasted less than 2 weeks)
McDonalds
various positions at credit unions over the years
wife and mother

4 films I could watch over and over-

To Kill A Mockingbird
Disney's The Kid
One True Thing
A Star Is Born (any version)

4 TV shows I watch

Ugly Betty
Project Runway
Amazing Race
Friends, Gilmore Girls, Mad About You (I know that's 3 shows - but since they are all cancelled I just catch the syndicated reruns whenever.)

4 Places I've lived

California
North Carolina
California

4 Favorite foods

Cheese enchiladas
Seafood
Popcorn
German Chocolate Cake

4 Favorite colors

Red
Black
Olive/brownish green
Mustard gold

4 Places I would love to be right now

Right here in my very own little house
Flagstaff, Arizona
Germany
Hawaii

4 Names I love but would/could not use on my children

Harper
Dru
Dizzy
Cajun
(I would not want to name a child after a pet *s*)

Feel free to tag yourself if you'd like to play along.

Next time I'll share the last of the vacation photos - next stop Germany.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

*editorial note* This is about my car . . . Harper is fine and as cute as can be.

It can be hard to say farewell . . . particularly for me. You see, I become very attached and want to keep the people and things I love close to me always. So after lots of back and forth inside my head, much research on the Internet, 14+ years and 185,283 miles - I had to say goodbye to my beloved Jeep on Saturday.
It was a day that I knew, in my heart of hearts, would come. It just came much sooner than I anticipated. I had hoped we would be together for 500,000 miles, but in recent months it was becoming more and more clear that was not to be the case. Finally last week I came to the realization that the time had come to let go. We had crossed the line from dealing with little quirks to safety issues for me as well as the other people on the road.
Saturday morning I went out to the garage, cleaned out all the personal items, and with tears in my eyes said goodbye. I left a penny in the ashtray for good luck and made a wish that my trusty friend would perhaps become an organ donor for another Jeep with a few miles still left in it. The only picture I could find to share with you features Harper far more prominently than the Jeep.

One last scenic drive along the beach and off to the dealership we went. By early afternoon we were home with a shiny new Honda Ridgeline. The biggest hurdle so far has been to rearrange the things stored in the garage in order to accommodate the longer length. Hopefully it will be another 14 or more years before I'm saying farewell again.
On the quilting front, I'm still working my way through the pages of Prairie Children and Their Quilts. The signature quilt is now quilted, bound and washed. Look carefully and you can see my very first feathers. I drew double straight spines with a ruler and the feathers are drawn in free-hand.

I'm almost done quilting the next quilt - Broken Dishes, from the same book. I chickened out and used a pre-cut stencil to make Baptist Fans. I'm not terribly excited about the way they fit. Lesson learned . . . next time I will draw them myself to achieve the spacing and look I want.
Last week at my local quilt shop, I picked up (on sale *s*) a fat quarter pack of the prints from Vintage Reserve by Minick and Simpson. I bought and have partially used the wovens from the line when it first came out. Combining all that coordinating fabric, I've begun working on A Penny Saved - a pattern in the current issue of Fons and Porter. I need another project that is mostly hand work like I need a hole in the head, but there was no way I could resist either the fabrics or the quilt. I'll just plug away a little at a time on each and before I know they will all be done.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I have to admit your comments on my previous post sure did make me smile . . . you see, I have fallen victim to some ambitious vacation photographers. Where the stacks of pics let you know there was nary a moment of the trip left undocumented. This has left me a little shy of being labeled an 'oversharer' myself. But your enthusiasm encourages me to share with you the next leg of our recent trip . . . Paris.
This is a photo looking at the front of Notre Dame. What an amazing building - so many details. I wonder how long it would take to see every bit of detail and nuance from top to bottom and front to back. Just looking at the pictures, I see something new each time. Now that I've been in person, I feel I must read Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I will be able to put myself right there with Esmeralda and Quasimodo.

Here is a far off view of the Eiffel Tower. It certainly is impressively large. Seeing it in the distance was my first peek.
Then we got right to the heart of the matter. This is looking straight up under the base. The balloon you see is advertising the Rugby World Cup matches that were (are) taking place.

The Paris Opera House - another imposing yet beautiful building. It is the setting for Victor Hugo's Phantom Of The Opera. A story I enjoy very much. I've read the book and seen the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical several times not to mention one or two of the numerous movie adaptations that are out there. The beauty and size of the building were far more than my mind could imagine. At the Musee d'Orsay there was a wonderful display dedicated to the Opera house with a scale model showing a cross section of the interior. We learned that the main stage can hold up to 450 performers. The only word that comes to mind is - vast.Here is another floor photo. This one is from The Louvre. Yes, we saw the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace and many other beautiful works of art. Yet, I couldn't help myself when it came to seeing quilt patterns in the floors everywhere I went.
Our time in Paris was quite short, only two full days and one partial day. Again we saw a lot in the limited time we had. Next up, Germany.
On the quilting front, I finished up the applique piece I started earlier in the week. It is now gracing a pillow on the couch. I like the idea of making seasonal pillow slip covers for the sofa pillows . . . easy on- easy off and they won't take up as much storage room when not in use.
I shared this wall hanging last fall, but decided to show it again. I finally got around to adding a hanging sleeve this afternoon. The piece is just a smidgen narrow for the spot I wanted to hang it allowing part of the dowel and hanging hardware to show. I think I solved that problem nicely by digging out this garland of silk fall flowers. With careful tucking around the edges, most of the hanging works are camouflaged. Now all of the fall decorations are up indoors. The weather seems to have cooled down enough that I feel comfortable buying pumpkins for the porch. Ahhhh . . . fall

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Do you dread when people want to share all of their vacation photos? Stacks and stacks of images of the very same thing, each from a slightly different angle. I know I have fallen victim to that very scenario more than once in my day. With that said, I can't help sharing just a few myself . . . I hope you don't mind. First stop - London.
This is a view of The London Eye - a giant, slow moving Ferris Wheel-like attraction right on the Thames. This is standing at the base and looking straight up. We were told a complete trip takes about 30 minutes and the views are spectacular, but we chose to skip it and keep moving.This is Parliament with the clock tower and Big Ben. For the first time in 147 years, the bell was silenced for a thorough cleaning. No chimes of us.
I was completely enthralled with the rows and rows of chimneys on the tops of buildings. I just couldn't help but think of Bert and his friends from Mary Poppins dancing and singing their way across the rooftops of London.
From the Egyptian collections at The British Museum. Wouldn't these make great quilting patterns?
All right - you get a little bit of the flavor. Next stop . . . Paris.
On the home front, I got the chance to take a few stitches yesterday. It sure felt good to have needle and thread in my hands again. I stitched down the binding on this little quilt. Also I started a simple, primitive applique piece that will become a pillow. It won't take long to finish and I'll share a picture in a day or so.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ahhhh, vacation. So many new places, new experiences . . . then you come home and reality hits you like a ton of bricks right on the top of the head. The house is dusty, the plants need watering, the laundry hamper is filled to over-flowing and there is more accumulated mail than you can shake a stick at.
We tried to get right on top of everything on our first day home. Priority number one was to pick up Harper from The Holiday Pet Hotel. Don't get me wrong, she loves it there - but she was a blur as she ran passed me on her way outside to her car. 70 pounds of furry, blurry puppy joy!
While we were out, we stopped in at the post office to pick up the tub of mail that had built up for us. It seemed like a daunting task to weed our way through the junk, expired sale circulars, bills, magazines, random notices that came to our address, and even a hand written letter from a far away friend. A job I was not looking forward to, but it had to be done.
Imagine my surprise when about halfway through I found a fun little package. A package with my name on it. It was getting better by the second. I had received my Four Seasons Swap quilt.
Isn't it a beauty? Wendy from Snippets of a Quilter made this just for me. It's called Prairie Baskets and is from Prairie Children and Their Quilts. Aren't the colors wonderful? Makes me think of working by the light of the harvest moon to bring in the last of the crop. Thank you so much - I just love it.
Okay, now back to the mail bucket. My various piles were growing by the minute - magazines, junk mail for recycling, junk mail for shredding, catalogs to look at, catalogs to toss, bills to be paid . . . wait a minute - another package - with my name on it. This is almost too good to believe.
Look at all the fun stuff that Carole of Quilting Adventures sent me all of these little treats. A few weeks back we had some email correspondence about my use of small pieces of fabric. Carole said she had the fabric swatches that Keepsake Quilting sends out and thought I might be able to use them in a project. Well that sounded like a lot of fun - so they made their way across country.

But Carole didn't stop there. No she added a few more little treats - some pieces from a Buggy Barn collection and repro fabrics from the Smithsonian collection. Can you see that little baggy right in front? Carole sent along some little teensy weensy triangles from a project. Wonder what I can make of them? Oh - there was some yummy chocolates, too. But sadly they didn't last until I took pictures.
Boy am I glad I got right down to business with the mail - it was sure fun thanks to my blogging friends.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Home again, home again. Jiggety jog. Let me first start with thanking each of you for the warm, wonderful comments and well wishes for our anniversary and the quilt I made to commemorate our 25th a couple of years back. It was a delight to read each one and to share them with Hubby.
So where have we been? And why am I posting to my blog before 4 in the morning? The answer to the second question is: JET LAG! Here's a hint on where we have been . . .First stop - London. We had four days to attempt to see and do everything there is in this bustling city. I think we should receive an 'E' for our valiant effort - The Albert and Victoria Museum, Harrod's Department Store, a tour of the city on the famous red double decker buses and a ride down the Thames, The British Museum, tour of St. Paul's Cathedral, a performance of Phantom Of The Opera at Her Majesty's Theater, The Tower of London, The National Gallery, and what seemed like miles and miles of walking to see Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, 10 Downing Street, Hyde Park, Green Park, Trafalgar Square . . .
We then presented ourselves at the train station for a trip to . . .
Paris. That's right - I stuffed my fears deep down inside for a fantastic train ride via the chunnel- which turned out to be not so scary after all. With only 2 1/2 days in Paris, we once again crammed in as much as humanly possible - fortified by lots of croissants, baguettes, crepes and cheeses. From our hotel we walked to Notre Dame and climbed aboard another double decker bus for an overview tour of the city - Champs Elyses, the Arc d'Triumph, the Eiffel Tower, the Paris Opera House (setting of Phantom of the Opera - are you sensing a theme?) We went to the Musee 'd Orsay and the Louvre. We felt like we were almost on art overload - it's one thing to remember what you saw but another to remember exactly which museum each piece was in. It was impossible to see everything - but we certainly made every effort before boarding another train to . . .
Germany. We had 7 wonderful days with The Princess. What fun to see her standing on the train platform as we pulled into the station. After a quick overnight at her home, we climbed into her car for a trip southward to Schloss Linderhof and Schloss Neuschwanstein. The breathtaking scenery was well worth the long car ride. It was like being transported into a fairy-tale. The trees were sporting their fall colors, fields of hay and corn were being harvested, cows and sheep grazing in roadside pastures all with the back drop of majestic snow capped mountains.
There was a day trip to Heidelberg with different but equally picturesque scenery. And even a couple of days to relax and visit with our girl in her home. It was hard to say good bye at the airport - it will be some time before we get to see her again, but it was a wonderful trip filled with many new adventures and memories.
Now we are home, suitcases stored, laundry all put away and trying to get back to the Pacific time zone. As you can imagine, there are tons of blog posts for me to catch up on and lots of email . . . not a bad thing as it will provide quiet entertainment in the wee hours of the morning if I can't sleep . . . I can't wait to see what you all have been up to.