Monday, December 27, 2010

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for some snow days . . . . be back soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

There's snow on the pig! I couldn't be happier knowing we will have a white Christmas.
There's gingerbread to be baked, dough for rolls that needs to rise, stuffing to prepare, breakfast strata to assemble . . . . the list seems to go on and on. The Princess will be here soon and I want to have it all done beforehand. Gotta go - Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Are you getting excited? I am. Christmas will be here before we know it. Even at my current advanced age I cannot help but get excited that the big day! I love to wake up early (really early) on Christmas morning. The rest of my family may not be quite so anxious, but they play along because they know I find it so magical.
A couple of posts back I showed a photo of quilts that are hanging in our hallway. I've had several comments and emails asking about the red 9 patch quilt.
It is a pattern from Blackbird Designs. Several years back they offered a series of patterns to make a quilt called Christmas Memories. In each of the four pamphlets there were 'bonus' patterns to make. And this quilt is one of those projects. It is called Little Ben's Quilt. The patterns are available here. I just couldn't resist it - the ticking and those vintage strings of lights, well they just say, 'Ho Ho Ho.'
Gotta go, plenty to be done before the big day!

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's getting down to the wire! Time for those last minute preps. All the packages are wrapped and under the tree. Only things left to do are maybe a little baking and a last minute trip to the market for those fresh ingredients that you don't want on hand too soon. Oh . . . . and could we please get a little snow? If a California girl is not going to be living in California then the thing she wants most is a white Christmas. I'm just sayin'.
Daisy and I dropped off a little gift basket at the kennel where we go for daycare and all of our training and boarding. They are so sweet there, really love the pets and go all out for them. For example, they offered photos with Santa recently.
Didn't the picture turn out darling? I will have to remember that the photographer used a 'squeaky' to get her attention instead of food. No drooling!
With the sewing machine put away for the holidays, my stack of hexagon diamonds is getting larger by the day.
There are now 30 complete diamonds ready to be added to the top. Six more diamonds to go. Then I will need to baste what seems like miles and miles of the setting fabric and a few partial diamonds for the edges. It's getting very exciting. Does that make me a quilt nerd? I hope so.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Putting up decorations has been an interesting process this year. We had not been in this house very long at Christmas-time last year and I was still trying to unpack everyday household items. In some ways, I was just going through the motions and I didn't even get many photos of how it looked. This year I've decided to take more pictures and share a few more, too.
This is the tree in the family room.
We bought this tree in 2008 not knowing that would be the only Christmas it would be used in California. I am so glad that at the very last moment I chose the 8 1/2' tree rather than the 10' *whew*
We also have a tree in the dining room.
All the ornaments on this tree are animals.
In a brief flash of creativity, I started placing holiday cards on the gate above the fireplace.
Is it kismet that so far all the cards are 'landscape-oriented'?
I came up with a fun way to display some smaller Christmas quilts.
3M Command Poster Adhesive Strips made it easy to do - no holes in the wall or the quilts and no need for hanging sleeves either.
One wall in the hallway is large enough to accommodate two quilts.
I like to add something new each year.
We picked up this gourd snowman while in Vermont for Thanksgiving.
All of these new things have kept the curiosity level on 'high' for Daisy.
Looks like she's peeking down the stairs to see if Santa has arrived yet.
All of this decorating activity has not stopped the regular chores.
I am continually amazed at how two fairly neat adults are able to generate SO many dirty clothes each week! That basket, as you can see, is filled to overflowing and nary a towel or sheet set in sight.
I've been stitching away on my hexagons. Only 12 diamonds left to go and lots of Christmas movies still to be watched. The light at the end of the tunnel is getting ever brighter.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Were you in New York City this past Saturday? If not, you may well be the ONLY human-being who wasn't. First, a little background:
About 10 years ago, Hubby and I had a discussion about Christmas gift giving and came to the conclusion that for us the best gift of all is the gift of time. So other than perhaps a token little something under the tree we really haven't 'shopped' for gifts for each other in over a decade. Instead we plan for fun evening events, day-trips or weekend get-a-ways all through the year.
Last weekend was one of those get-a-ways. As a 'girl of a certain age', I have long had a secret crush on Donny Osmond. When it was recently announced that Donny and Marie would be bringing a holiday show to Broadway, Hubby put the wheels in motion for a trip to the Big Apple.
We started out bright and early Saturday morning, driving to New Jersey where we set up camp at a hotel conveniently located to public transportation into the city. Before we knew it we were leaving the Port Authority bus terminal and we were greeted by a legion of Santas assembling at a subway entrance.Thinking they may be part of a flash-mob, we quickly crossed the street to get a closer look. But the Santas had an agenda and disappeared into the subway leaving us wondering what in the heck was happening.
It appears that only Santas were invited.
These Easter bunnies looked lonely walking down the street. We later learned that this was all part of SantaCon 2010. There is a SantaCon website that has crashed. Visit if you like, but it does contain strong language. However, you may learn things such as: SantaCon is NOT a pub crawl. When called such a sugarplum fairy dies. It looks like a great way to have fun and get into the Christmas spirit.
We next went straight to Times Square where preparations are underway for the New Years Eve celebration. The ball is in place, the reviewing stand has been erected - all we need now is for the day to arrive. At the Times Square Visitors Center, I wrote my New Year Wish on a confetti square that will float out with all the others when the ball is dropped at midnight.
After lunch, we joined the crush of people walking the city streets. We made our way to the theater and enjoyed our show. It was just what I had hoped it would be. It makes me smile to think about those in attendance. The number of women in the audience was quite high, but there were a lot of men who, like Hubby, were happy to be there just because they knew it made their wives happy.
When the show ended, we were ready to hit the streets again hoping to see some of the holiday sights for which the city is famous. After a stop for a Jamba Juice - yes, the weather was nice enough to enjoy a cold treat not easily found in our neck of the woods - we walked ourselves to the edge of Central Park at The Plaza Hotel. There among the lights, horse-drawn carriages and holiday shoppers, Hubby purchased a holiday treat long immortalized in song.
We sampled our very first roasted chestnuts, leaning up against The Plaza, watching people going to and fro before we joined the bustle down 5th Ave to look at the holiday window displays with a goal of reaching Macy's at Herald Square.
Soon it became clear that we had been swept up in a tide of the masses. It was just a sea of humanity in motion. We were unable to stop and actually look at the window displays, best to keep moving or just be run over. Finally after mere jostling turned into being body slammed by people going in the opposite direction, we moved off 5th Ave hoping to make our destination on an alternate route.
But before we reached the goal, this small-town gal came to the conclusion that it just wasn't going to be worth it. A combination of unseasonably warm weather, holiday shoppers, and tourists such as ourselves brought out SO many people that it would impossible to enjoy the experience. The only way to get a view of anything would be to push, shove and generally be rude to others. Rather than leave with a disappointing memory, we decided to keep our imaginations in tact and changed course again. We turned around, walked back to Rockefeller Center for a peek at the Christmas Tree before taking the bus back to our hotel just in time for It's A Wonderful Life on t.v.
It turned out to be a great way to end our adventure. George Baily reminded me that even though we didn't see all that we had planned there were some perfect, wonderful moments to stash away as memories and every single bit of it was shared with Hubby. To me, that is what makes the gift of time the very best gift of all.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - everywhere you go. But I'd say nowhere more than right here in my own home. This is Daisy's first Christmas and all the hubbub is keeping her on her toes.
She has helped to decorate the trees.
There was a photo session for our Christmas card. I never even got a picture of her wearing the Santa hat. It was down over her eyes and she just looked miserable. All of my laughing probably didn't help.
This idea didn't exactly pan out either - Daisy wants NOTHING to do with items in her mouth unless they can be eaten.
In order to get a more perky looking pup, I posed her while holding a doggy treat in my teeth or balanced on my head.
Take a closer look and you will see the drool on my scarf. Yes, it's headed to the dry cleaners.
This past weekend was the big holiday season kick off in our little town. Lots of church bazaars and activities at local businesses. We joined in by purchasing a wreath for the door from our neighbor church's craft fair. Daisy visited with Santa at the kennel where she goes to daycare - (photos pending.) I hope they are good because we won't be doing that again next year.
Just before sunset* on Sunday the townsfolk gathered at the Common for the arrival of Santa. He rode into town on a fire engine to officially light the town tree.
We stayed just long enough for the lights to go on and headed straight home. Gosh it is cold! And not a flake of snow to be found. If it's going to be this cold the least it could do is snow. Good thing you don't need snow to enjoy hot chocolate. That's how we closed out the weekend, steaming mugs of hot chocolate topped with mini marshmallows and a holiday movie. A scene to be recreated again and again this month.

*It was SO cold that the zoom feature on my camera would not work. A quick 'lens error' message and then the camera would power off. Poor camera :-(

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Once again time is flying by faster than my mind can grasp. I feel as if I've lost an entire week. Honestly, I thought there was going to be another whole week between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. Well, what's a girl to do but cope?
So I began by returning the dining room table to its original purpose rather than my quilting space in preparation for the holidays and associated decorating. In doing so a question crossed my mind: Are finished quilts overrated?

Two of these three are works in progress. Yet they look pretty darned nice hanging on the ladder as they are. When I first began my quilting career, I insisted on fully finishing a quilt before beginning a new project. That didn't last too terribly long. I soon learned that variety is not only the spice of life but the creative juice that keeps quilters going. Now it sometimes feels like a 57 Variety of unfinished projects are swirling all around me.
But it's really not a race to have the most quilts but enjoying the process that results in quilts that is what keeps us coming back for more. So I've put my sewing machine away until the new year. But I'm fully prepared to stitch my way through the holidays.
These diamonds are waiting to be stitched together and added to the quilt top.
This box holds all the strips needed to make the rest of the diamonds.
And these strips (and then some) will need to be basted for putting it all together. While my work is cut out for me, I do feel like I'm starting to see the light at the end of this tunnel and I can just begin to envision this quilt on my bed rather than on that ladder.