Monday, January 30, 2012

Quilt with Legs and Progress on Stars in Their Eyes

Don't you just love "Downton Abbey"? I sure do. I had it on last night while I was binding this little quilt and I was enjoying it so much that from time to time I'd forget to stitch!

These are my Bonnie-Hunter-prescribed bowtie blocks all made into a quilt for a dear little girl. Andrew and Amy have friend who have a daughter about six months younger than Eli is. And nobody in their family makes quilts! I'd made a little quilt for Claire when she was born and I'm certain she is too big for it now. So when I made that CW HST quilt for Eli, I also made this one for Claire. I'm going to the Mailboxes place tomorrow to ship them off.

Progress continues on Stars in Their Eyes. Here are six of the ten star blocks finished. I haven't started the alternate blocks yet, but I imagine they will go fairly quickly. Not that I'm in a hurry. I've thoroughly enjoyed taking my time making these blocks, even to the degree that the small blocks in the borders of each star block do not repeat the fabrics in the individual block. I don't know why this matters to me, but it does. These are the biggest blocks I've ever made (and the bowties above the smallest, actually). They are 16" finished. So far -- knock on wood -- my points are all good! Unusual for me. Must have something to do with (a) pressing most seams open instead of to The Dark Side, (b) pinning pinning pinning, and (c) stitching slowly.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Stars in Their Eyes

He's been working at the school for about a decade; she's been with us a shorter time. A couple of years back, they discovered each other and watching their relationship grow was fun.

In September, she returned to school wearing a ring. Both of them were radiant. With stars in their eyes.

It turned out that the date they have chosen for their wedding is Joe's and my forty-fifth anniversary. This calls for a quilt.

I had the feeling that they might like William Morris and I was right. So I ordered the FQ pack of Morris and Company. By gum, it is gorgeous stuff. Okay, so I'd gotten that far along. But what quilt to make stymied me. For a long time. And then dear Thelma posted a picture of a quilt she was going to make (and has since completed!) and I knew that was the one for Brian and Erin. I studied the directions for "Starry Eyed" on the Moda Bake Shop site and decided that I didn't want my star points to be wonky, so I drafted a pattern for how to make them non-wonky.

One evening this week I cut the ten centers for the star blocks, and yesterday cut and matched up the points pieces and began putting them together. I'm loving it. I'm hoping to finish the main part of the star blocks this afternoon and begin getting the outer part on them. But I've got a whole lot of cuttin' to do -- Am going to need about a bazillion 2-1/2" squares!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Elijah Boo, This One's For You

Weeks ago, I unearthed a collection of 6" HSTs in CW colors. I had no idea what I had planned to do with them at the time that I made them. I waited a little while and when no remembrance came, I started putting them together and liked what I was seeing.

My youngest grandson takes a nap at "school" during the afternoon, and I asked my dear DIL if he needed a quilt for those naps. With her affirmative response, I added a couple of carefully chosen borders and took the quilt off to Mary Ellen to machine for me.



It came home on Wednesday and the next night I made and machined on the binding. The past two nights while watching "West Wing" on Netflix, I got the hand-stitching finished. 

This is a photo of the back; if you click to make it larger, you can see the beautiful leaves motif that Mary Ellen quilted. I don't think Eli will care. But I do.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blest Be the Ties

The quilt I've been thinking of as "Rogues' Gallery" has made it to flimsy status. I got the last of the columns put together on Monday and affixed the border on Tuesday. Need to get to the LQS for batt and wide white muslin for backing, I think.

I'm planning to tie it, most likely using DMC white floss on the main part of the quilt and blue on the border (photo of the flimsy to come soon). I haven't tied a quilt in a while. Marsha showed me a way to tie so that there are little "Xs" on the fact of the quilt with the knot on the back. I tied one quilt that way and liked how it looked. Recently I've tied with DMC perle, but feel like the knots are more prone to come untied than with the regular floss.

No, that's not my floss box. It is from the internet. Mine used to look like that, back when I was doing counted cross-stitch. No longer . . . .

What do you use to tie quilts? And do you put the knots on the front or the back? Anything else to share on the topic?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Business As Usual

Contrary to what you may be thinking, I have not forsaken quilting. It's been one of those weeks where I had to be out every single night for one thing or another, and I had precious little time to sew.

A while back I had a vivid dream that I'd made a quilt for a couple that I know and was taking it to them. The dream was very clear, so as soon as I could I began their quilt. I have twenty blocks made and have begun the process of putting the columns together, not my favorite part of making a quilt. I have border fabric selected and I believe I'm going to tie this quilt with white DMC. I'd love to get it finished and delivered to the recipients within the next couple of weeks. However, this Wednesday I'm picking up two toddler quilts from the machinist and getting them bound will take priority.

Woke up to sleety snow with a small accumulation this morning. It is pretty and perhaps a little slippery in spots. I made a yummy baked oatmeal with blueberries and bananas and honey to start the day and after while we ventured out to the food store. The rest of the day I've been sewing and catching up on laundry. Nice.

Hey, Janet -- click on the picture to make it bigger and look at the upper right corner block to see someone familiar. That's all for now.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Saki-rilege



Joe's birthday. Orchestra tickets. Dinner at a favorite restaurant with dear friends. Had the makings of a perfect evening. When I made the reservation, I mentioned the birthday; the reservationist said she would make a note of it and have a candle put in his dessert. There was practically no traffic and we arrived downtown in good spirits, eager for a delicious meal and a lovely concert.

When the hostess showed us to our table (I could see that Maggie had already arrived), before I could even sit down and while I was still greeting my friend, a short, bustling and imperious waiter asked me what I wanted to drink. I told him I thought I'd like to sit down before thinking about that. He wasn't pleased. The waiter (I found out later that his name is Saki) was standing near me when we placed our drink orders, and I quietly mentioned to him that Joe was the person who should receive the candle (I know you can see where this is going, but indulge me because there's more). Maggie whispered that she had also reminded him that Joe was to have the candle.

Three of us opted for the pre-theatre menu, while Frank skipped the appetizer and ordered a dish from the regular menu. The first course arrived quickly and the calamari was delicious. The restaurant was busier than usual, and there was an interminable a long wait for the main course and eventually we were were supplied with two "complimentary" orders of bread. I find this practice a bit annoying, when restaurants think we might prefer to fill up on bread and not have room for what we had ordered. Nonethless, my lamb shank, when it finally came, was one of the best things I've ever eaten in our many times at Estia.

The entrees cleared away, immediately came the three desserts (none with a candle, but you knew this already) and Frank was never invited to order dessert. When we called the hurrying, officious waiter back, he actually scolded my friend for not ordering dessert, though he'd never been given the opportunity! Saki was so unpleasant when Frank wanted the same little dessert that the rest of us had, claiming that it was available only as part of the fixed price menu. I was furious and this disrespectful treatment and said to him, "You were reminded twice that my husband was to have a birthday candle in his dessert, but you didn't do it." He glared at me and pulled himself up to his rather unimpressive full stature and snapped at me, "I have arranged to do something very special for him! But you didn't give me a chance!" Then, of course, to cover his ostentatious lie, when he finally brought Frank's dessert, he came with a piece of candled cake for Joe. Oh, it was a tasty enough treat, but after a full three-course dinner including all of that complimentary bread, it was, actually, too little too late. I was glad that someone else was handling payment of the bill, because had it been up to me, I would have given Saki exactly two cents.

Don't be put off by my experience, friends. Go to Estia. You'll love the setting, the slide show of Grecian scenes in the lounge, the opulent restrooms, everything on the menu. Just be sure you don't sit in Saki's section.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MLK Day 2012

The school where I work has offered service opportunities on MLK Day for several years. Up until this year, I didn't participate. I stayed home in the morning and slept in and then sewed. Then I'd meet Honna for lunch and while at the mall stop at the bath gel store where there was always a sale and pick up a year's supply of raspberry vanilla. The stores would have lots of things on sale, and usually I'd get Himself a couple pair of boxer shorts and myself some knee-highs. And then I'd come home and sew. This year, however, I chose to participate. And still got to sleep in and do all of the other things!

After dozing an hour later than usual, I went off to school. We gathered at the Meeting House first, for about 40 minutes and then were sent off to our assignments (there were about a dozen options and we had to preregister). I'd been told I was going to be making dinner and filling meal trays for Aid for Friends, so I took my apron along.

There were perhaps 40 people in the school cafeteria and somebody had done some very thoughtful organizing. There were stations for snapping the ends off of fresh green beans. There were tables for writing out menu sheets and making greeting cards to accompany the meals. Some people who could be trusted with sharp implements were assigned to slicing mushrooms; others to chopping parlsey. I snapped green beans for a while and then wandered over to one of the tables. After my hand got tired of copying the menu (chicken and noodles with mushroom gravy, green beans, peach crisp), I wandered into the kitchen where I was enthusiastically greeted (apparently the apron was giving me  credibility) and put in charge of the dessert makers. I had a small tribe of middle school girls and boys and we measured ingredients, stirred liquids, and ultimately with hands made the crumbly good stuff that goes atop the peaches. I had some other folks draining canned cut-up fruit and putting it into huge pans.  Then, of course, we had the fun of spreading the crumbly and carefully getting the pans over to the oven! The kids were enthusiastic and cheerful. One fellow, about 13 years old and very tall, washed dishes for literally more than an hour and never complained or asked to be relieved. I had a ball and couldn't for the life of me figure out why I'd never come before.

I had to leave at noon (we were nearly done covering the trays), though, to meet Honna for lunch. I was bubbling to her about my morning as she patiently waited.  Got the raspberry vanilla shower gel (and some warm vanilla sugar to try, too) and learned that my store no longer carries the knee-highs.  And then came home to sew.

And eagerly look forward to next year's Day of Service. Maybe Honna will come too.



Saturday, January 14, 2012

I Survived

Yup. I survived the pilgrimage to the KoPM. Survived and then some. Despite the thick traffic on Mall Blvd., there was plenty of space in the parking garage on the bottom level. We knew how to get through the first building to the crosswalk to the second, and upon arriving at the second, were greeted by a pleasant soul wearing an untimely Santa Claus Hat with his guard uniform, and he asked if he could help us. He provided simple directions to the Apple Store. That place was populated by three bazillion folks surprisingly of various ages (i.e., we weren't the only bewildered geezers), and about 10% were wearing blue employee shirts. We found the iPad cover and also got a cleaning kit and quickly we were on our way back to the first building; Santa Claus told us on our way out that our next destination was on the top floor. And, indeed it was. While I went in to exchange the slippers (and yes, they had the correct size and the clerk and guard were cheerful and pleasant), Joe went elsewhere to begin another errand.  I then went on to find the Rockport store all on my own and again, was greeted by a charming, knowledgeable and energetic person.  This one was named Christine and she helped me find brown shoes to wear with dresses and black shoes to wear with pants, both of the things on  my list.  There was a sale in process:  Buy two pair, save $50; buy three pair, save $100.  I had Christine hold my two pair and went back to find Joe, who had said he needed shoes.  And, behold, they had just what he needed and off we went to the food court for a scrumptious salad.

And then it was time to go back to the errand Joe had begun -- at the Verizon store. He'd bought us each an iPhone. Friends, you have to know what a leap this is for me. I've had a couple of different pay-as-you-go phones that each cost fewer than $25. I feel like I've been promoted! Because I'm [slightly] familiar with the iPad, learning this gizmo is not going to be so hard. It's very, very cute, with a little soft pink protective case and my very own data plan. As my sister said, "Welcome to the 21st Century!"

Possibly Last Blog Post

Well, today's the day. About once every two or three years, usually in January, we venture out to King of Prussia, the site of "the largest mall on the East coast." I'm at the point where every two or three years is too much. I just loathe it. The hugeness of it is overwhelming. The traffic is terrifying. The parking is confusing and usually remote. I certainly couldn't go there alone. I feel like I should put my affairs in order before leaving the house. Just in case.

We have a total of three errands at KoPM: to get a cover for the new iPad at the Apple Store, to exchange my slippers at Brookstones, and to see if I can get some new shoes at Rockport. I doubt we'll have it in us to do any free style shopping/exploring.

I spent about half an hour this morning on the computer and phone trying to find out precisely where in this concrete jungle the three stores are located so that we can do the logistics of the visit.  The website for the place refuses to list the "house numbers" for the various stores.  Oh, they do provide a "mall map" but the type size is so miniscule that these eyes can't read it.  I went to the iPad to see if I could blow it up (excellent phraseology here) but all I could find there was the map, no list of stores underneath. I even downloaded an app but it was even less helpful. Joe says the mall owners are deliberately obtuse; they want people to get so lost that they have to stop at some expensive place for fortification. I think that perhaps an Ativan before heading out is in order. (Why do I think I'm channeling Murr here?)

So, after phone calls to the three stores to get their locations (Plaza, Lower, near Neiman; Court, Upper, near Macy's; and Court, Upper, Near Bloomingdale's, respectively, just in case you should have the identical errand list), we're heading out as soon as Himself is showered and dressed.

I'm closing comments on this post. The last thing I need would be to return home (God willing) from the outing and find that twenty-two of your have directed me to a simple, easy-to-use site that answers my every question.

See you later.  If I make it.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Scrap Talk


Does it ever happen to you that you are pondering a concept, an issue, a possibility, just thinking about it and considering that when refined it might be fodder for a blog post, and all of a sudden you find that someone else (or several someone elses) has been doing the same pondering? That has happened to me, and it has happened again this morning.

What I'd been thinking about is scrappy quilts. There are some scrappy quilts that I love and some that I find horrendous not to my taste. I've noticed a movement to use up scraps and while this is surely something laudable, I think it can be carried too far. Thirties and Kaffes and daiwabo all together in one project. Makes my eyes blur and my head ache.

Last spring Bonnie Hunter was in town and did a workshop for a group of people I'd pulled together; her topic was letters, wonky stars, and crumb blocks, all made out of scraps.  People loved it, and I learned a lot of new and different techniques. Bonnie's such a fabulous teacher, all hands-on, and I was tickled to finally learn the letters and the wonky stars. But the crumb blocks made me a bit twitchy!  Putting all that stuff together, stuff that didn't go with each other, not just into one project but into one block.  Oh dear. People were giggling at my nervousness. But I jumped in and found the process to be fun. I discovered that the completed blocks that I liked all had bits of one distinctive fabric that sort of unified them. Echoing in my ears were the words of the great Liza Lucy who once hollered out during a workshop, "Oh, Nancy, don't be so anal!"

I'm all for making use of scraps. No issue there. But the end product, for me, has to be pretty, has to have some sort of cohesion, kind of like the way my friend Helen takes scraps, sorts them by color, and then makes wee little montages of one color at a time. My current leader-ender is scrappy crumb blocks (see, I did buy into them!), but there is a theme, MAWL*.

So, anyway, getting back to the beginning, this morning as I was trawling the blogs, I came upon this post and knew, once again, that there is some sort of a collective consciousness out there.  Julie's April barn is spectacular, but after you get done admiring it, scroll down to below "Elsewhere in the studio . . . " and come to her phrase for the year. Amen, Julie. Amen.



*More About Which Later
Oh, and BTW, that scrap picture at the top isn't mine.  It's from Google images.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Bow Tie Check-In

Sometime last summer, Bonnie Hunter became smitten with a quilt that featured wee little cheddar bow tie blocks.  She and the people she was with thought it would be fun to issue some sort of a challenge to do cheddar bow ties as leader-enders for a while and see what happened.  At least that's how my addled brain remembers it.  As I recently said, I'm not one to jump onto a band wagon, but I kind of thought those little three-inch bow tie blocks were cute and I had a bunch of CW scraps left-over from another project so I started making double pink bow ties as leader-enders and kind of got to purring as I did.  As I worked, I put them up on the wall and tried different arrangements and at some point knew exactly how to set them.  I hadn't purchased any fabric so far, and when it was time for borders, I knew I had enough browns for the inside border and thought that doing it scrappy would relate to the center of the quilt itself.  I did have to buy some fabric for the outer border -- I thought at that point it needed to be just one print, not scrappy.

I finished it tonight, coincident with Bonnie's request that bow tie-ers check in with a progress report.  I love it, and am eager to get it to the machinist for quilting.  It is going to a little girl who has undoubtedly begun to outgrow the infant quilt I made for her.


"See You at the Wedding!"

Joe and I went to a party last night.  It was a Meet and Greet for the families of two terrific people.  My dear niece, after more than a dozen years of single parenthood, has met a wonderful man and became engaged a month ago.

We were eager to meet my niece's fiance.  And to determine whether he is worthy of her.  Suffice it to say that he passed our judgment with flying colors!  A military man, soon to retire from active duty, he is articulate, warm, engaging (pun intended), and obviously in love.  I don't know how long he has been a single parent, but he has two sweet children, younger than my niece's teenage daughters.

My sister held the party at her home -- the wedding is to be early in the spring, and she wanted the two families to meet.  It was the finest event I've attended in years.  Much of our family was present (alas, our sons and their families were unable to come up) and even more of his was able to come.  They are a gregarious lot, conversational, funny, and interesting.  We all marveled at the peculiar connections that the two families had -- it turned out that one of his aunts is someone we've met at our neighbors' New Year parties -- and as we moved in and out of conversations, relationships and names became blurred.  But nobody cared.  By the end of the evening, everyone was saying, "I'm still not sure who you are but I'm so happy to have met you!" and with great joy and enthusiasm, "See you soon!  At the wedding!"



Sunday, January 08, 2012

2012: First Finishes

Late yesterday I had my first two finishes for the New Year.  Polly's birthday is this week. She has just moved into a new apartment, alone, and I thought it would be nice for her birthday present to be something she could use in the new home. Since I haven't visited yet, I don't know her colors. But I think that an Amish-style something will go almost anywhere. I had some Cherrywood FQs that I had bought a few years ago that I'd never used, and chose three of them to make Polly a table runner and a pair of pot holders (of course!).  They are bordered in Kona black. The pot holders are insulated, but the runner isn't. I had never sewn with Cherrywood before, and was amazed at how sheddy it is. I had wee wisps of fabric all over the place.

On Friday night I had a terrific dream! There is a party scheduled for this evening, to honor Abby's mom, who has just become engaged after many years as a single parent. My dream was about the party; it was well-attended and everyone was so happy. When I saw Abby, I reached into my handbag and pulled out a dark pink belt that I'd made for her as a surprise, and she was just delighted, putting it on immediately! 

Clearly, I thought, this was a dream to make come true, so yesterday at Burkholder's I bought the fabric and when I came home, I made the belt, and it is all ready to go into my handbag, to surprise Abby when I see her later today.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Retail Therapy to Cure a Cold?

A head cold that began on Tuesday night while we were at the movies seeing "War Horse" (save your money) settled in for real on Wednesday morning, putting me out of work and home at rest for three days. I slept and slept and slept and sipped peppermint tea and took assorted drugs and by Friday night believed that the worst of it had passed and I was, indeed, fit to participate in a fabric outing with the Executive Committee on Saturday.

I'm still collecting scraps of fabric with people for a crumbs project and was delighted to find nurses, chefs, and Elvis today and bought a FQ of each.  I know at one point there was a line of fabric with Scarlett and Rhett on it and I'd love to get some scraps of that -- if anyone has any of it -- or any other distinctive fabrics with people including The Grinch -- and would like to trade for scraps of the above, Alice, or some other "peopley" fabrics, please write and we'll see if we can do business together.  Seriously.

After a satisfying lunch at TDFKAZ, the four of us went to indulge in the 30% off sale at Burkholders and I bought the people shown above and the fabrics to the left. To my credit, I did not buy anything I did not need to complete a project -- the Kona bone will be for Brian and Erin's quilt, the pink for the brown and pink bowties, the blue as a binding and also the red on brown (isn't it gorgeous!) and the two pink prints will be made into belts for a couple of people. In fact, one has already been made and will be gifted tomorrow. We apparently charmed the big guy in suspenders at Burkholder's, because each of us found an extra bit of fabric or a free pattern in our bag upon leaving! The only thing on my list that I didn't find there was D-rings for the belts, but I was able to pick them up at Sauder's.

I always have a wonderful time with Judy, Helen, and Honna, and today was no exception. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch (in particular the 7-layer cake with four forks), laughed a lot, sang a little, and pondered Great Issues, even reaching some conclusions.

And now it is time for some hand-binding (photos tomorrow, perhaps) of a table runner gift for a friend, in front of a Netflix with Himself. And perhaps a bit more peppermint tea. Life is lovely.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Starry Eyed

I was interested to read the comments yesterday about why people do [and in some cases do not] participate in mystery quilts and quilt-alongs.  It all made sense to me.  We do what works for us.

I don't believe I've ever directly copied another quilt, but goodness knows that I've been inspired by so many projects I've seen on the blogs.  Take the one to the left, for example.  I ran into the picture on Thelma's blog and just loved it.  But that fabric isn't to my particular taste.  And the size of the blocks 16" doesn't work for me.  Thelma is going to make the blocks bigger (18"); I'm going to make mine smaller (12" finished).  Oh, and I'm not going to follow the directions in the link -- I know there is a pattern somewhere in Around The Block for that particular star and I'd prefer the points to be regular rather than wonky.  So I'm inspired by this quilt that Thelma shared, but am making my version, much the way dear Nicole often does (she's back, by the way -- why not go pay her a visit?).

Who will this quilt be for?  I knew you'd ask.  There is a young couple at school; I've watched their relationship start and grow for several years.  They are the sweetest kids and they got engaged last summer.  When I learned recently that they had selected for their wedding date the precise date of Joe's and my 45th anniversary, I knew they were quiltworthy.  And -- wouldn't you know -- they both like William Morris!  So, I've got a couple of things in the works that need finishing up, and then I'm eager to adapt "Starry Eyed" (what a great name) for Brian and Erin.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Quilt Projects and Musings, Early January 2012

Got a couple of things going on down at the design wall.  One is a Leader Ender and the other a Real Project but I'll be dipped if I can tell you which is which!

Bonnie Hunter last summer casually suggested bowtie leader-enders might be a good thing to be doing and although I'm not one to jump on quilting bandwagons, I pretty much agreed.  Bonnie was doing cheddar; I had gobs of pink and brown left from another project, and promptly began cutting.  My bowties are made from 2" and 1-1/4" squares and finish nice and small.  You can see that I've begun to sew the little blocks together; my quilt center will be 9 x 9 bowties.

Because crumbs didn't get out of my system with Pictures At An Exhibition, I'm making more of them; these will finish at 6" rather than 4" and each one has a person or an animal among the bits and pieces.  Talk about addictive!  I'm going to need a couple of off-to-college quilts in another year and a half, and I'm convinced that these crumb blocks will be just the thing.

Speaking of bandwagons, I've been thinking lately about people who participate in quilt-alongs and in mystery quilt projects.  I've never done either of those things and I've sorted out the reasons why:

(a) I more than enough ideas for quilts I already want to make!
(b) I don't want to be doing the same project that a bazillion other people are doing.
(c) I can't imagine going out to buy fabric for a mystery quilt -- that I wouldn't know how it was going to turn out -- talk about a possible expensive mistake -- and I don't have a huge stash of yardage.
(d) I don't want to invest time and fabric in a project without knowing what it is going to be.
(e) So far, I haven't wanted to make an exact copy of another quilt.

All of that being said, I'm fascinated by the number of quilters who do get involved in quiltalongs and mysteries and enjoy seeing the various outcomes.  I'd be interested to hear the reasons (if there are any!) that people choose to participate in these activities.

Home sick today with a head cold, I spent a couple of hours sewing, but more time reading (the current book club selection, Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler which so far I'd give about 5 stars) and sleeping.  My hunch is that I'm going to be here another day but if staying home from work in any way prevents this from morphing into bronchitis, so much the better.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Christmas, 2012

We're just home from a week of traveling.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home, going to church, visiting family and neighbors, entertaining Sherry and her family for Christmas Dinner, giving and receiving gifts.

Here's a picture of the wonderfulness that I received from this year's SSCS swap -- I'm a charter member of this group and each year it is wonderful.  I was assigned to make goodies for someone on a different continent; I made her a tote bag and a hand-crafted ornament, but I've not heard back from her whether she liked them.  My name was given to dear Annette in Oz, and she sent me the darling stocking that held the blue FQ, the wee zip-tote, and the Australian birds calendar.  The main gift that she made for me was just amazing -- she made a block tote out of lovely CW fabric appliqued in a William Morris-like motif!  I was so delighted with Annette's thoughtfulness.

Bright and early on the 26th, Joe, Blackberry, and I left home to visit Richmond, Virginia.  We had to make a stop at the local camera shop -- Joe had given me a wonderful new digital camera but it had a bit of a problem that we needed to have fixed.  That took us some time, but soon enough we were on our way and we arrived in Richmond just it time to sit down to a delicious pasta dish Anastasia had made.

I couldn't wait to try out my new camera and this wonderful subject, Nate, was readily available!  We spent two nights staying at a motel that is very close to Tom and Anastasia's home.  It is a bare bones kind of place, but for $49 per night, we had a clean, well-heated room, excellent mattresses, comfy pillows, a fine shower, a free breakfast that we did not indulge in, and permission to have the dog stay!  One morning Joe helped Tom do install a new fixture in the powder room and the second morning they did some work under the kitchen sink.  Anastasia took me up to Quilting Adventures, where I'm a faithful but infrequent customer, and I bought some FQs and a couple of yards of "finish the bolt sale" Kona Snow.

We arrived home on Wednesday evening and on Friday afternoon we set south again, this time to Alexandria where Sherry and family had already arrived to spend New Year's with Andrew and his family.  Another most photogenic subject, Eli, awaited me.

We did presents again, and of course there was more eating and merriment.  Andrew's guest quarters were filled by Sherry's family, so Joe and I used our Holiday Inn points to stay at a nearby hotel.  It was more grand that most Holiday Inns and for some reason, we were upgraded to a suite!  That was kind of fun.  We received a complimentary breakfast one day but took most of our meals with the family.

One afternoon we went to the Botannical Garden to see the trains exhibit, which was really very nice, and then wandered through several of the other exhibits.  There were so many of us that we had to caravan in two vehicles, and the kids were all such good travelers.

We thought about going to see the National Christmas Tree and the MLK Memorial, but parking was an issue and some of our personnel were feeling a bit under the weather, so we elected to go home and some of us went over to run around in the park instead.

One night we went down to Old Town for dinner and after the meal visited a shop or two and then walked back to our cars by way of the marina.  I enjoyed trying out my new camera again.

Another night we went out to view some rather ostentatious Christmas decorations.  I forgot to take my camera, but Joe had his, and I'll share pics in another post.

So here we are at the start of a new year, having had a wonderful week with our children.  I'm fortunate to have another day before I need to return to work.

I wish my readers much happiness and only good, good things in 2012!