Friday, December 31, 2010

Bocka Bock Bock!

Earlier in the week, I shared a picture of the lovely goodies that I received in Chookyblue's Annual SSCS swap.  I'm thinking this is the fourth year she's run it and I've so enjoyed participating.

She usually announces the swap in August and this year she was a bit later than usual. So I thought she needed some prodding.

And the reply came back:  If you're so eager, you can have me for a swap partner!

I was absolutely delighted.

I had these wonderful chicken blocks from a swap more than eight years ago.  Just languishing in the coop cupboard waiting to be made into something.  And then I saw the perfect border fabric.  Destiny, if I ever met her!  So here's a picture of the snuggle quilt I made for Donna.

She liked it.

A lot.



A Wintery Tale

Awhile back, Paula had a giveaway and I was the winner.  Her giveaway was this book, Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas, an author new to me.

When the book came, Joe was between reads, so he grabbed it and read it before I got to it.  When he was done, I was in the midst of a 900-page tome (oh, my wrists!) and just this past week got to read Whiter Than Snow.

It is a gentle book about an avalanche, which sounds like a contradiction in terms.  Each chapter is almost like a short story, as we are introduced to one character's story after another.  I liked it.

When I signed up for Paula's giveaway, I promised to give this book away after reading it.  So now it is time to do that.  If you want the book, leave me a comment, and I'll draw a name.  I think it would be nifty if you'd also promise to give it away when finished.  But that isn't mandatory.



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pinwheels

I found this to be utterly amazing!




Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Ten UFOs

Okay, so there I was, down in the studio, taking a break from assembling some on-point blocks with lattice and cornerstones (and if you know me, you know how many breaks I need on this type of a project), and trying to figure out which of my myriad UFOs would be the ten I would register for the Challenge, and what comes on the radio but Ravel's Bolero!  Comical timing, I thought.

So here are the projects I'm committing to tackling in 2011.  My understanding is that our leader will pick a number each month and that will be what we endeavor to complete.  My own interpretation of the challenge will be that anything that is a finished flimsy or nearly finished flimsy must get quilted and bound to be considered complete.  Anything that is just blocks will be considered "complete" if it gets to full flimsy stage.  Going beyond that would be optional.  It looks as though I have pictures of eight of the ten.

1.  Itsy Bitsy.  This sweet quilt is 4-1/2" blocks made from 30s repros on WOW.  The blocks were made in partnership with my Sistah Jan, who used to blog.  This top is nearly assembled, lacking only the corner triangles and a border or two.  So "complete" for this will be flimsied, quilted, and bound.

2.  French Provincial Squares.  This is a full flimsy that needs backing pieced, quilting or tying, and binding.

3.  Indigo and Caramel Baskets.  Needs borders, quilting, binding.  Possibly piping before the binding?

4.  Cinnamon Latte.  Needs corner triangles and possibly borders, then quilting and binding.

5.  Three Sisters.  Ready for quilting and binding.  I think.

6.  Bill's Baskets.  May be ready for quilting and binding.  Not certain.

7.  30s Baby quilt.  May be ready for quilting and binding; again, not certain.

8.  Neapolitan.  Ready to quilt and bind.

9.  Almost Amish.  These blocks have been hanging around for nine or ten years already.  Time to make something out of them.

10.  Platypuses.  A few blocks made.  Many more to go.

Okay, Miss Nancy.  I'm ready when you are!



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

UFO Challenge

Another Nancy, who blogs over at Patchwork Penguin, has posted a UFO challenge for 2011.  She's not the only UFO challenger on the block; I've looked over a couple of different ones and decided Nancy's was the one I could handle.

So I've registered.  My next step is to select ten UFOs and number them.    That shouldn't be difficult -- there are plenty to choose from!

I really mean to stay on track and focused with my quilting in 2011.  I've decided to make some Christmas gifts for next year, and while I won't likely be showing pictures of them until about a year from today, I want to make a list of those, too.  The UFO list will show up in the sidebar at some point.  The other one will be on my bulletin board.

I'm grateful to Nancy for coming up with this plan.  Stay tuned for The List!




The Many Days [and Meals] of Christmas

We had a lovely Christmas, extending over several days.  Some days were so busy that I didn't get any photographs!

On Christmas Eve, we were ushers at the early service and then had dinner at a friend's house where a beautiful grandson was visiting

We came home and I opened my SSCS package from Carol who made me these lovely gifts. Just look at the detail in the Christmas family grouping!  Isn't it great?  And she made that darling Christmasy totebag and little treat holder -- complete with melt-in-the-mouth chocolates.  Oh, my!  Carol, thank you so much for your kindness and generosity.

Christmas day was busy.  We began by opening our own gifts at home and then went over to Bonnie's for breakfast, just the three of us.  After her yummy meal, we exchanged our gifts and came home again for a bit of a nap before heading out to Sherry's where the whole family was gathering for the main Christmas celebration and non-traditional Mexican dinner.  I didn't get a single picture that day!

Sunday was my Christmas brunch, with family and our dear neighbors.  It was a sumptuous feast, as many people brought something to augment what I had prepared.

I had made Linda's famous ham balls in brown sugar and mustard sauce, a scrumptious solid cholesterol egg and cheese concoction called Eggs Presnov, spinach salad, pineapple and blueberries, cheese dip, Swedish plate, and lots of cookies.  Karen brought a chocolate chip coffee cake and Maggie some pears poached in wine; Susie offered a traditional toad-in-the-whole which most of us had never had before; it was an instant hit. And, of course, there was Amy's fudge, a Christmas necessity. Our neighbor Andrea had given us a lovely centerpiece to grace the table.

I do believe that people got enough to eat!

Sherry and her family had not been able to join us for the brunch, but all of our kids and their kids were at our house most of Monday.  Sam and Caroline are wonderful, well-behaved little people who were happy to play together and allow the adults to have time to chat.  I couldn't get enough of Elijah and Nate.  At one point Chris and I had a rousing game of two-person Scrabble.  Various people enjoyed taking Blackberry out for his first experience with snow.  A wonderful day!

And now the house is quiet.  Blackberry and Joe are trying to decide which of them is the more tired.  I have a bazillion loads of laundry to tackle, the Christmas cards to get to the post office (don't want to rush into these things, you know), and some much needed Bernina time on my schedule.  And, of course, there will be more visiting in the days ahead.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bags for Christmas

I made some big tote bags for Christmas gifts this year, but somehow got them wrapped without taking pictures of them!

Here's one that hasn't been wrapped yet.

There's still time to make one more for a neighbor who has a catering business and has been very generous to us.  She and Blackberry have a special relationship, so I think it would be nice to give her something.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

February Fancy Finished

Here's February Fancy, all tied and bound and ready to go.  Andrew and Amy will be here soon, and I'll give this quilt to them to take home with them.  Their friends' little girl is due sometime in February.

I so enjoyed making this quilt, a variation I developed for Second Hand Clothes.

Speaking of which, the squares and strips have been swapped out and I've been making the nine patch blocks as a leader-ender.  This will likely be the first top assembled in 2011.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Birds


An important part of Christmas for me since I've become a blogger is to publish my friend Frank's poem that he shared with me many years ago. I've shared it each year with my readers, and -- God willing -- I will do it again next year, and the next and the next.

If you like Frank's writing, you can read more of it here. The link in my sidebar is Carolina Singerman.




THE BIRDS





IT WASN'T THAT HE DIDN'T LIKE CHRISTMAS

HE ENJOYED THE HOLIDAY FUN

ALL THE BRIGHT COLORS AND SUDDEN GOOD WILL

AND THE CHILDREN'S HAPPY SUSPENSE



BUT HE COULDN'T BELIEVE IN CHRISTMAS

IN THE INCARNATION I MEAN

GOD LIVING A MAN-LIFE LIKE HIS? WHAT FOR?

IT JUST DIDN'T MAKE SENSE TO HIM




HE SAT BY THE FIRE

WARM IN HIS HOME

ON CHRISTMAS EVE ALONE

THE FAMILY GONE OFF TO MIDNIGHT MASS




HE HEARD A THUMP AT THE WINDOW

AND THEN ANOTHER

SOME MISCHIEF BOY OUT FOR FUN HE THOUGHT

HE WENT TO THE WINDOW TO CHASE HIM WITH A GLANCE




BUT FOUND NO BOY

BUT A SPARROW FLOCK

LURED BY THE LIGHT AND SIGHT OF WARMTH

HAD TRIED TO COME THROUGH HIS WINDOW



THEY HUDDLED NOW IN THE SNOW

WITH NO PLACE TO GO

AND HE FELT COMPASSION FOR THEM

HE PUT ON HIS BOOTS AND JACKET AND SCARF

AND OUT HE WENT TO OPEN THE GARAGE

TO GIVE THEM SHELTER



BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME

SO HE TURNED ON THE LIGHT

BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME


HE WENT AND GOT BREAD

AND THREW IT MANNA LIKE UPON THE SNOW

A PATH TO FOLLOW

BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME


HE TRIED TO HERD THEM IN

SHOUTING AND WAVING HIS ARMS

BUT THEY WOULD NOT COME




I'M SCARING THEM HE THOUGHT

I'M SO BIG COMPARED TO THEM

AND DIFFERENT




IF BUT FOR A MOMENT I COULD BE A SPARROW

I COULD LEAD THEM THROUGH THE DOOR

I COULD LEAD THEM THROUGH.....THE DOOR



FRANK A. VOLLMER 



Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ice Box

I hadn't thought of this in a long time.  My father used to say "ice box."  "That belongs in the ice box."  "Over there.  Next to the ice box."

In the early years of our marriage, our rented apartments and houses came with refrigerators already there.  Even the first house that we bought came with a fridge.  Avocado green. As opposed to copper tone or harvest gold, you now.  Eventually we bought a house where we had to buy a refrigerator and I was surprised at how much more they cost than a washer or a dryer, appliances we already had purchased.

At some point, when I had three thirsty kids living at home, I had to have a model that had ice and water on the door front, so we got a side-by-side.  And quickly realized that the convenience of the ice and water  didn't quite make up for the narrow shelves on the fridge side and inconvenient baskets on the freezer side.  But we lived with it.  And still do, even though the support for one of the veggie bins has broken in one place, making the bin slide off track with the slightest mishandling.

A few years ago I discovered the then-new french-door style with a nice freezer bin below.  I loved it.  So about a year and a half ago, I designated my ING savings account as the french-door fridge fund.

Last night we went shopping.  We looked over several varieties and ended up with a french-door model in sleek black (matching our dishwasher front and countertop stove) with ice and water on the left side.  It has movable shelves, space on the door that holds a gallon jug, three or four pull-out drawers, and a nice bottom freezer with two separate compartments, one just right for holding boxes of pizza kits.  It is gorgeous.  And it is coming on Tuesday.

From time to time I think about how technology has changed in the fifty years since my dad died.  He'd be fascinated with cassette tape recorders, with VCRs, with cell phones.  And I just know that were he around and able to come here for Christmas, the first thing he'd say would be, "Wow.  What an ice box!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Unexpected Gift

It is the time of year for thicker envelopes and for parcels to come in the mail.  Such a nice change from the standard bills and circulars!

This week the postman brought me a squishie with an unfamiliar return address.  I opened it up and inside was this beautiful Christmas candle, made as a gift for me by Deb A, a visitor to my blog.  It is just perfect in the center of my circular coffee table.

What a lovely thing for Deb to do!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In Which Judy and Nancy Join the Guild

About a year and a half ago, Bonnie Hunter was going on a road trip and inquired how close one of her destinations was to Near Philadelphia.  She was speaking at a guild there and thought I might want to come over.  It was about a forty-five minute drive, and Judy and I were up for it, so off we went, Googlemaps in hand.

Well, it turned out to be about the friendliest bunch of quilters you could imagine!  One of the members even confessed to reading my blog!  We had such a nice evening and decided on the spot that we wanted to join, if they'd have us.  Well, it turned out that the fire code required the membership be limited to 100 (though there could apparently be countless guests!) and they were filled to capacity.  Undaunted, we put our names on the waiting list.  We were #6 and #7.  We continued to attend meetings, paying the guest fee, as frequently as we could.  Both of us thought the president to be about the sweetest, funniest person and she always made us feel so welcome.  The show and tell each month was amazing, and there were a lot of good bed quilts, and not a whole lot of arty offerings.

New members would be accepted in January and so we held our breath.  Numbers 1 through 5 were admitted.  And then they were full.  So we remained on the waiting list for another year, now #1 and #2.  We continued to attend.  We spoke about the guild with such enthusiasm that I know Joe and Bill were envisioning Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton on their way to the Racoons meeting complete with funny hats and secret handshakes.  At a recent meeting, a letter of resignation was read from a member who had moved to Florida.  Judy poked me with delight -- "You'll be in!" she whispered.  "Not without you," I told her. 

Two weeks ago we both got The Call.  There were openings and we were the first to be invited to join!  I literally jumped up and down!

Last night we went to the meeting and paid our dues.  We received membership cards and little fabric insignias to make into name tags.  The rules and regulations will be provided to us in January.  Meanwhile, we'll get to work on our name tags and the raffle quilt kits we picked up and brought home.  We're ready -- more than ready -- for whatever rights and responsibilities full membership holds.  And can't wait to learn the secret handshake!


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Return of the COW*

In July, we received an invitation to attend a friend's daughter's wedding.  The wedding was on Labor Day weekend, would have involved a twelve-hour car ride each way, two nights in a hotel, and not knowing anyone at the wedding except the friend. 

We stayed home and sent a gift from the registries that accompanied the invitation.

The wedding did come off -- I saw photos galore posted on Facebook.  But I never heard from the bride.

A few weeks ago, I finally sent her a message on Facebook, asking if the gift had been received, saying that if it had not, I would have to deal with the department store and my credit card company. 

After a week or so, I sent a duplicate Facebook message.

Today I received a response: 

Sorry for not replying earlier!! Forgive me!! It did come! We appreciate the thought even though you were unable to join us! Thank you Nancy! Thank Joe for us too!

Moooooo.  COW* here.  Sure, honey, you're forgiven.  But don't go sending me a baby announcement.




*Cranky Old Woman

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Seems Like Bronchitis, at This Point

It started on November 19 with a bit of an annoying tickle and for the next couple of weeks cycled through head congestion, chest congestion, runny nose and then all over again.  Last Wednesday I was convinced, for the second time, that the end was in sight.

Friday it returned with a new intensity.  I cough a lot.  I have trouble sleeping because of the cough.  I have taken all kinds of remedies, some in combinations that might make my pharmacist cringe.  All to no avail. 

And I feel sick.  Lethargic.  Achy in the chest frm the exertion of the cough.  Today I never got dressed.  Spent two hours sleeping in the morning and another two in the afternoon.  Joe fixed a lunch and a dinner and I had no appetite.  So you know I must be sick.  The internet says that bronchitis usually resolves in "a few weeks."  I'm so exhausted from coughing that the thought of another "few weeks" puts me over the top. 

In addition to the remedies, honey-and-lemon, Chambord and the famous Vicks on the soles of the feet treatments.  Eh.

Going back to the doctor tomorrow.  Meanwhile, keep away!


While I Was Gone

...I coughed a lot.  I blew my nose a lot.  I continue to do both of those things.  A lot.  If you've read this blog for a while, you know that each winter I succumb to a head/chest cold that morphs into something evil.  Today marks three weeks and two days since onset.  Earlier in the week I had thought the end was in sight; Thursday, all symptoms returned.  With a vengeance.  Monday, I'm off to the doctor.  Prolly I should have gone yesterday.

Each year I give up a lot for this illness.  This time it included a two-day professional meeting that I'd really looked forward to, my older grandchildren's winter program, a trip to visit a grandbaby, and a dinner party.  Enough with this.

...I sewed.  Not a lot.  But some.  Right now I'm making some wonderful things that I can't share at present.  Because they are Christmas gifts.  As if you didn't guess that.  I did finish February Fancy and will try to get a photo of it this weekend.

...I watched videos.  Joe and I are presently engrossed in a series we're renting from Netflix, "The House of Eliott," a British series that Bonnie recommended sometime ago.  It is very engrossing.

...I read Corrections by Franzen and wished I'd not wasted my time.  I read Follett's Fall of Giants and liked it.  But it was so huge it tired my hands!

...I spent a lot of time pondering a relationship that was in trouble, ultimately deciding that it really wasn't worth holding onto.  I might write more about this in time because I learned a lot, both about the former friend and about myself and how I respond to mistreatment.

...Sadly, I learned that a very old friend, a wonderful woman I've known since the junior high school library club, was suddenly diagnosed with lung cancer.  This news hit very hard.  There's such a stigma that comes with that disease, that somehow smokers who develop it really don't warrant a lot of sympathy.  I don't think my friend was a smoker; even if she had been, that wouldn't diminish the ache I feel for her.  She was living far away and has returned to Near Philadelphia this week.  I am eager to reconnect and try to give her some support.

...On the heels of that news, a newer friend, one I seldom see but hold dear was discovered to have a malignant colon tumor; she is undergoing treatment and while no real prognosis has been shared, I'm feeling optimistic.  I pretty much have to, in light of the other sick friend.

...I rediscovered matryoshkas and am smitten with them.  I even bought some for someone for Christmas!


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Didn't See This Coming



For someone who claims to watch very little television,
 I'm embarrassed to tell you just how smitten I am with the Kia Soul hamsters.  

Anyone else?


SSCS Received

The postal person delivered a puffy package day before yesterday.  From AUSTRALIA, no less!  It was my Secret Santa Christmas Swap from an as yet unknown friend.  I opened the package to find two things inside.  One was my surprise gift, to be placed under the tree until Christmas morning.  The other was a tree ornament, to be opened right away and placed on the tree.

Would you look at this darling Santa?  I used to do some counted cross-stitch, about a hundred years ago, so I have some idea of how much work went into it and how long it took this lady to make it.  What I've no clue about is how she got it mounted on some sort of stiff stuff so that it would hang nicely from the tree.  I'm SO pleased with it, and am eager for the grandchildren to see it.

Meanwhile, the gift package waits.  I'm trying to be obedient and let it wait.  So far, so good.  But it's only been two days . . . .

Thank you so much, dear Carol!


Friday, December 10, 2010

It Can't Be Helped


I find myself remembering the old "Gestalt Prayer" from the '70s.  You know:

I do my thing and you do your thing.

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations,

And you are not in this world to live up to mine.

You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it's beautiful.

If not, it can't be helped.

Sometimes we find each other for awhile.  And when it ends, it can't be helped.  Thanks, Fritz Perls, for helping me to make sense of a murky time.