Thursday, December 31, 2009

I'm looking out the blogging window as a fresh snow is gently falling and reflecting on the year we are about to say goodbye to. My initial thought was to just say good riddance to a year that was filled with turmoil, but with just a slight pause I remember so many good and fun things that came about in the last 365 days.
Most recent among them was the Christmas celebration in our new home. Having The Princess here made it really feel like our home - familiar decorations, smells and lots of fun around the table playing games, chatting, laughing, eating and of course gifts.
The Princess surprised me with a new addition to my ABC book collection.
It's a beautifully drawn and very detailed. Many of the California references are quite subtle - giving the feeling of "I've been here before."
But The Princess really put the day over the top with this gift -
a scarf that she knitted for me. The picture just doesn't do all the work justice. I love a handmade gift and this one is truly from the heart. It will keep me warm in more ways that one through the winter and beyond.
There are other fun memories from the year such as the trips we made to Pasadena in January. First to view the Rose Parade floats in person and a couple of weeks later to see the Doo Dah Parade.
We made some big changes this year. We said goodbye to the place we had called home for a long time. And we said hello to the new place we call home. While we were between homes, we embarked on a cross-country adventure. The Princess prepared to take on a new chapter in her life. We celebrated a milestone anniversary. We are experiencing four seasons - including fall color and now snow.
There are so many new things to see and experience here in this new setting.
I still find myself pining for the things that have been so familiar in my daily life. But ringing in the new year and looking forward to the many new adventures it will bring remind me that life is good. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

From our family to yours . . . . .
Poe Ho Ho! Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Princess is in the house!
Our in the case of this picture - outside. The good news is she made it well ahead of the storm. We had 5 1/2" before 6 a.m. and the storm is expected to last until late afternoon. So far we all think shoveling is fun . . . . . wonder how long that will last.
Harper loves the snow, too.
She is completely unfazed and does not understand all the wasted time bundling up before we go out. The best part is that she patiently waits on the rug at the front door while we dry paws.
Soup's on the stove, fridge is stocked and Christmas movies at the ready. It's going to be a fun day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Have you had time to refresh yourself before the party starts? The central part of my trip was to attend the annual Christmas party with my Quilt Pals. You might remember when I was stitching away on signature blocks that were to be swapped at the party this year. I got my name stitched on all 15 just a couple of days before I headed west *whew*
As everyone arrived, they dropped their blocks off on the table for swapping later - first we had to eat! Dinner was from Pat and Oscars. If you ever get the chance to eat there, please do not skip out on the bread sticks. Chatting, laughing and catching up was the order of the day.
Soon enough it was time to swap those blocks, which we accomplished 'ring around the rosie' style - take a block from the pile in front of you and move to the right. When you reach your original position, you have one block from everyone. But wait - as I was looking through my stack of blocks admiring fabric, they were suddenly taken from me. A pronouncement that since I'm not, technically, part of the group any more - I shouldn't get to keep the blocks.
As quickly as I was ready to put on a pout and start to protest, out came a bag.
Seems I didn't need my stack of blocks because they had already finished the quilt for me. A block from each Quilt Pal - all pieced, quilted and bound. Suddenly that pout quickly disappeared - the best gift from the best Quilt Pals around! I slept under it that very night and keep it near now that I'm home.
Before the evening was over, I was slipped another little goody. No not leftovers.
A selection of threads by Aurifil.
Every year we close out the party with a much anticipated gift from our Fearless Leader aka Sweet Hostess.

Isn't it darling? A big impact in an 8" mini quilt! It was hard to say goodnight when it was time for the party to end, but surely there will be a way to get the whole group together again in the not too distant future.
As a matter of fact, some did just that the very next day. This time we headed north to Orange county to a furniture dealer with some really great, one of a kind pieces. Sadly, none of it would have fit in the overhead compartment of the plane. So no purchases there for me. But we did manage to find a nice place for lunch. One last stop to check out an antique shop, where I did find a couple of things that could fit in my carry on and round out my collection.
In the end, I shipped the bowls home because I just couldn't let that signature quilt out of my hands.
Back on the road with just enough time to freshen up again. Another party to attend - the Fat Quarters Quilt Shop party. Sweet Hostess was able to secure a special invite for me. You can color me flattered. It was fun to chat it up with all the gals that work at the shop. While I was never an employee, I have been a loyal customer there from the beginning. Michelle, the owner, even surprised me with a gift.Where in the world did she find time to make gifts all while running the shop and planning and prepping for the party?
All too soon it was Friday morning. One last get together for breakfast.
Some fresh tortillas slipped into my tote from a Quilt Pal as a treat for Hubby before I got on the plane bound eastward. A whirlwind five days filled with non-stop fun. I can hardly wait to do it all again. Whether it's west coast or east coast, makes no difference - as long as we plan it soon.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh ho, the Wells Fargo wagon is a comin' down the street . . . . . no wait, that's our friendly UPS man. None the less, the package was for me! The first box of California goodies arrived yesterday. Yippee!!!! Everything arrived just as it was packed, if only my friends could have been in there, too. Let me admit right here and now that I did not take out my camera one single time last week. There was just too much fun and chatter going on at all times. Still plenty of pictures from the box to help paint a picture. Ready? Here we go.
I arrived on Monday mid-morning in a pounding rain storm. Now most folks would be disappointed to land in San Diego to find such weather. Knowing the drought conditions they are living through, I can find nothing but good in it. That wet didn't bother us one bit. I was greeted at baggage pickup by my Sweet Hostess and two of our Quilting Pals. Once my suitcase was secured, we quickly made the decision to have lunch here , where we were met by another Quilting Pal and just around the corner from Rosie's Calico Cupboard, The Quilted Rose and The Country Loft. After a lunch, the shopping began in earnest.
Over the course of the week, I focused on finding brushed cottons that would fill the gap in my stash when it comes to backing fabric.
Can't you just feel the fuzzy, warm softness?
Also we visited Canterbury Gardens - known in the area for it's beautiful holiday decorations. So many lovely things and lots of holiday decorating inspiration - before we headed home for homemade cookies and milk. I was tucked into bed early that night (having gotten up at midnight California time to get to the airport on time) and woke feeling refreshed for another full day on Tuesday.
First on the agenda was a haircut (and color) for my shaggy self. I have not yet found a hairdresser here, so it was the perfect opportunity to go to my familiar salon. I planned the timing of my appointment to be done at lunch time. Then met Sweet Hostess and two of our Quilting Pals at my favorite Mexican place for lunch. We toasted Hubby with chips and guacamole as we happily chatted away. Since the rain was but a distant memory, we took a stroll around town afterward, poking into a few shops in the village. We said our goodbyes and Sweet Hostess and I headed to the shop where it all began - Fat Quarters for a quick visit and some shopping.
Going into Fat Quarters is a little like going home. It's such a welcoming shop, the staff is friendly and I know just where everything is located -
and it is a shop that features Cheri Payne patterns - my all time favorite.
With plenty of daylight left, Sweet Hostess and I returned home. Straight to the quilt room we went and starting working on a little project.
We didn't quite finish before the week's end (too much shopping and chatting and not enough stitching.) I'll get those last stitches in soon and always have a fun memory of our time together.
Wednesday was a FULL day. We started out early and headed to the north. Picked up one Quilting Pal along the way and met up with 6 more as we caravanned to Quilter's Coop, our first stop.
We refueled with lunch - more Mexican food. I was surprised with a zip top bag filled with these blocks. A project we had been working on last spring. I had started my blocks when all the life changes began and pushed them aside. I left mishmash of pieces with a Quilting Pal hoping she would make them into something for herself.
Instead, she assembled the blocks and returned them to me. I'll have that quilt made after all.
Refreshed and refueled again, we hit the road. So many quilt shops - so little time. Next stop - Temecula Quilt Co.
What a fun shop. I can't believe that I lived less that an hour away, but waited until I had to travel 3,000 miles to make my first visit. One last stop at Rooster Creek (no website) before we finished out the shopping day. We had to hurry home, freshen up and get ready for the party!
I'll tell you all about that next time . . .

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time is escaping from me so quickly that it is making my head spin. Since returning from California I've not yet caught up on emails nor blog reading. Preparations for Christmas and the pending arrival of The Princess has taken all my time and energy. Still I'm more than anxious to share all the details of my trip.
Let me confess, right here and now, that I'm waiting for the boxes (yes, that means more than one) of purchases and swag that had to be sent home via the good folks at UPS. When they reach my doorstep later in the week, I'll start taking pictures and sharing some of the fun that was had. What a great bunch of friends I have - they packed every minute with something fun!
What I can share are the bookends to that trip. Just before I got on the plane, I found a little surprise package in my mailbox from Dixie. Do you know what that is?
It's a belt for my treadle sewing machine. Hubby and I purchased that machine from a junk shop back in the early 80's never once thinking that one day I would learn how to sew. We thought cabinet would make a great table. It has served that purpose well, but for some time have been thinking about how fun it would be to stitch a quilt top using the machine. Dixie and I have agreed to challenge ourselves to do just that in the coming year. I can hardly wait to get started. Thank you to Dixie for getting me started.
On Saturday I found another unexpected surprise in my mailbox. A darling little quilt from Marcie.
Marcie knows how much I enjoy Cheri Payne designs. Look how she used a 'Cheri' bird for the applique. I can't wait to find just the right place to display this little gem. Isn't the mailbox a wonderful place? Stay tuned . . . .

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety jog.
Trust me - this is NOT what it looked like in California this past week. I tried my hardest to bring a little bit of snow with me, but it all melted into rain by the time I landed. I was glad for it, too. I know just how very badly the rain is needed there. While my shaggy bangs suffered from the damp, it didn't place even a little crimp in all the fun to be had.
Right now I need to unpack, do some laundry, and fill up the cupboards. I'll be back soon with all the details from my week of fun out west and a couple of packages that have arrived here on my doorstep. There are over 200 posts to catch up on in my subscription list and an box full of email to read. Hope you won't mind waiting just a little longer to hear all about it while I catch up with myself just a bit.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Magical -
the view from our backdoor this morning.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Just in the nick of time.
Old St. Nick is finished - piecing and applique done in California, quilting and binding done in Massachusetts. It was pulled fresh from the dryer, all crinkly and warm, ready to snuggle under on the couch just as the first real winter storm arrives tonight.
And when that storm arrives, I'll be winging my way back to California. A week of fun in the sun and parties with quilting pals. Hopefully Hubby and Harper will build a snowman in the yard to greet me on my return.
See you next week!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Just when life began to feel like it was regaining its routine, I turned around and saw that Christmas will be upon us in the blink of an eye. No rest for the weary, I suppose. Hubby and I spent the weekend decking the halls all to a nice effect, if I do say so myself. Finding new places to display our traditional holiday decorations has done much to make this house feel more like our home. I can honestly say that it is a huge relief!
That feeling hasn't reached everyone just yet.
Harper does not care for 'The Great Tile Divide' - she'll walk on it, cross over it and even run on it; but she'll not tarry. She must always be moving. You can see the corner of one of several area rugs we have placed strategically like little islands to give her a place to rest and be near us and a part of any action happening in the dread region. When we do the kitchen remodel next month, the tile is a goner. Everyone will be happy about that.
I've not done any holiday baking yet this year, but I'd like to share a recipe. First a little background - I have been a subscriber of the 'Slide of the Week' from Charles Phoenix for a number of years now. He buys old slides at thrift shops, yard sales, etc. and composes them into shows that are an extravaganza of the glory of mid-century middle-class America. He presents them at various venues with wit, sarcasm and a healthy dose of double entendre. If a slide show does not come to your area, books featuring some of the best of the slides can be purchased. This weeks' slide is not a vintage image, but instead a demonstration video and recipe for Cherpumple Monster Pie Cake - a dessert homage to the turducken. I'm not sure I will ever take on this recipe, but from this time forward when I bake a cake I will live by the words - 'Frost it like you mean it'! If you decide to take this recipe on, please tell me how it goes and send Charles a picture.
On the quilting front, I am on the home stretch hand stitching binding on Old St. Nick. Up next will be to quilt Christmas Punch.
No matter how busy you are at this time of year, it's always a good idea to take some time out to quilt. Thank you to Marcie for a great pattern.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Procrastination - thy name is embarrassment.

Four years ago I participated in a block swap using designs from this book (the favorite book in my library). The blocks languished in the cupboard until two years ago when I finally decided to assemble them. I chose to make them into pillow covers rather than a quilt. I found a fabric in my stash that made a perfect back and loved the finished piece.
So what's the problem, you ask. I only completed one of the two pillows. This week when I was unpacking Christmas decorations, there was the second top - neatly folded with its backing fabric. Two more years of waiting have finally ended. A second pillow has been born.
Balance has been restored to the couch and I can enjoy the fruits of my friends' labor rather than the guilt of putting off a job that took under an hour to complete.
I did dangle a little carrot for inspiration.
Now I will allow myself the pleasure of hand-stitching the binding down on Old St. Nick.