Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year Lies Ahead

I may have written before that I've never been big on New Year's Resolutions. I see them pretty much as setting oneself up for failure. One of the graphics I found said that New Year's Resolutions are a to-do list for the first week of January. I liked that.

So, anyway, I'm not making any New Year's Resolutions.

But I am going to order the Inklingo products for the Improved Nine Patch Block. And I'm going to do it before the current year ends! And another thing I'm going to do before this year ends is dig out the Emily Cier book Quilt Remix and open it to the Pinwheels page and take out some new fabric. So there.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Quilts I Gave for Christmas 2013

Three of the grandchildren received quilts for Christmas this year. Aberdeen's is a wall hanging for her room. I've shown it on this blog before; I'm so pleased with it. I made it all from Liberty tana lawn scraps and hand quilted around each little dress.

Joe made a hanging bar for it.

I believe you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it.



Nate's quilt was made by putting together most of a big pile of swap blocks from ancient times. Dear Susan ran a swap of primitive-type applique on black and at one point each block had to contain a heart, a star, or a bird (I think). I was enchanted with this swap and apparently had lots of time on my hands because I swapped literally dozens of blocks.

I thought they would make up into a nice quilt for a big-boy bed, and that they would be interesting for someone who is three-going-on-four -- could play "I Spy," looking for the kitty, the cow, something to do with Christmas, etc.






And then there is Eli's big boy bed quilt, my favorite gift that I gave this year. This quilt gave me fits when I started. First of all, the pattern I started with was for a crib and contained twelve blocks. I knew I was going to hand buttonhole all of the pieces, so I went down to nine blocks. And then enlarged them. A huge problem was that when I didn't prewash the fabrics, the bonding didn't take, and the pieces were destroyed. So off I went to buy additional fabric, prewash, and recut. The hand-buttonholing was done in front of Netflix, and I used the same blue thread as the background of the border. I'd chosen all of the fabrics from the border colors.

When I was putting it together, Joe said it needed a STOP sign, so I made a snowball and he drew the letters on for me to embroider. I had a lot of fun designing all of the filler blocks. I laid it all out on graph paper and it all worked out according to plan.

When I took the quilt to the machinist, I was thrilled to discover that she had a transportation design where the shapes of the vehicles were practically identical to the shapes of the appliqued vehicles. I had thought she should quilt it in yellow or green, but she suggested the orange and I know from past experience that she is never wrong!


And here's Eli, pleased as punch with his new quilt. 
He does have hands, actually; he just can't keep them still!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Carolina Singerman: A New Poem


THE DAY JOSEPH HELD THE BABY

I HAD GONE TO CHURCH
TO SEE THE CHRISTMAS PAGEANT
WHEN I WAS MET AT THE DOOR
BY THE DIRECTOR
CAN YOU BE JOSEPH
JOSEPH IS SICK
WHAT ARE MY LINES
AND WHAT DO I DO
YOU HAVE NO LINES
JUST STAND AROUND
LOOKING HOLY
IT’S A STRETCH I SAID
BUT I’LL GIVE IT A SHOT
NOW I’VE BEEN A SHEPHERD
WRAPPED IN SHEETS
TENDING COTTON COVERED LAMBS
I’VE BEEN A MAGI
IN A BATHROBE
I’VE BEEN AN ANGEL WITH WINGS
MONITORING CHERUBS
SO THEY WON'T FIGHT
BUT JOSEPH
I’VE NEVER HAD THE HONOR
SO ON THE STAGE WE WENT
MY EIGHT YEAR OLD BRIDE
AND HER EIGHTY FIVE
YEAR OLD HUSBAND
WHAT A LOVELY PAIR
SHE WAS HOLDING THE BABY DOLL
SOMETIMES SHE'D PUT IT IN THE CRIB
THEN SHE SAID TO ME
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HOLD THE BABY
I WAS SET BACK
FOR AN INSTANT
IN ALL MY YEARS
I’VE NEVER SEEN JOSEPH
HOLD THE BABY
IT WAS ONLY A DOLL
BUT WHEN I HELD IT
I FELT TRANSFORMED
INTO A BETTER PERSON
SO THAT WHEN SHE ASKED FOR IT BACK
I DID
BUT WITH RELUCTANCE
I WOULD LIKE TO SAY
THE DOLL SMILED AT ME
BUT IT DIDN’T HAPPEN
BUT THERE WAS A WARM SPOT
IN MY HEART
I WON'T SOON FORGET
FRANK A VOLLMER




Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Birds

Close to Christmas each year I republish my friend Frank's poem that he shared with me many years ago. I think this will be the eighth year for me to share it with you, my readers. I cannot tell you how much I love this poem.

If you like Frank's writing, you can read more of it by going here


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

Thursday, December 19, 2013

TV or not TV

I don't watch much television. The Olympics, of course, which are coming along in just two months (I need to get a big pile of hand work read!), and Masterpiece Theatre, not a whole lot more than that.

Last winter we received a Roku which got us started on watching TV series after the fact. We started with House of Cards (US version), watching an episode or two each night, and then moved on to other series as they were recommended to us. Most recently, we've finally gotten to "Homeland," and are perhaps half-way through the first season.

Then a FB friend of Norwegian extraction posted something about "Lilyhammer," so one night this week we put it on. I tell Joe that I miss about a third of everything because of the hand sewing that accompanies the viewing. This show was even harder to stay with because prolly 80% of the dialogue is in Norwegian. My Norwegian is pretty much limited to "Skal!" But I could tell it was a good show and stuck with it. Then, midway through the third episode, we discovered that there are English subtitles.

Wonder what the Norwegian is for "duh"!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bringing the Light



Miles Thomas
Last Friday was Santa Lucia Day; in Sweden, the day when girls will rise early and bake special cakes. Then, wearing a crown of lit candles, they deliver the cakes to the family. They are bringing light and joy at this dark time of year.

In our church, we have an Advent wreath. Each Sunday during the worship service the acolytes lights the candles -- one the first Sunday, two the second Sunday, until all four are lit on the fourth Sunday of Advent. Bringing more light into the world at this dark time of year.

On December 21st, the longest, darkest day of the year, parishioners will gather at twilight to be together, to talk, to pray, to have a cup of tea and some treats, bringing more light into their lives at this dark time of year.

Last December 15, light came into our lives when our youngest grandchild was born. Today, at this very dark time of year, his beautiful smile continues to illuminate our lives more than anything else we can think of. We weren't able to be with him on his birthday and look forward to celebrating it again in two weeks.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Baking on a Snow Day



Old habits die slowly. Soon after I got up yesterday morning, it began to snow. The forecast was possibly eight inches in our area, and the local schools were all closed. Having worked at a school the past thirteen years and only fairly recently having ended that association, the notion of a "snow day" was pretty solidly entrenched in my make-up. And I'm a Serious Wuss about driving in the snow. So I emailed the rector (surely among the most benevolent of men) and said I was going to take a vacation day and I'd see him when the roads were clear.

My church is having a cookie sale this Sunday to raise money for Stephen Ministry (a program close to my heart). I'd promised to contribute and had planned to do the baking on Friday. But there are few activities more wonderful for a snow day than baking. So I made a great big batch of criss-cross peanut butter cookies and bagged them up for the sale. Then, since I had the mixer and cookie sheets and everything out, I decided to  make a batch of oatmeal-raisin cookies for the family at Christmas time. When they were done, it wasn't lunchtime yet, so I made a big batch of Andrew's favorite chocolate chips. Then I had a little lunch and took a great big nap.

Perhaps you have noticed that the cookies in the sidewise photo above (????) don't match the description. That is because they aren't the cookies I made. It turns out that I wasn't the only baker yesterday. When I arrived at work this morning they were in the church kitchen. Gina, the little girl I've written about in the past, also had a snow day yesterday and she also knew exactly what to do with it. She baked. Three kinds of cookies. And brought them in to share. She's eight years old. And she's autistic. I am so impressed.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Chop Shop Reopens

We'd planned to go to the movies this afternoon since "Philomena" had such good reviews from friends. But when I emerged from church the snow had begun and after I slid all the way through a stop sign on the way home, I decided I wasn't going anywhere today.

There was some laundry waiting for attention and the fabric I'd bought on Friday was more or less calling my name and there are presently four aprons in progress.

Might have to take a wee break from them, though, because dear Judy shared a pattern for the darlingest table runner and I imagine I have everything I'd need to make it.

Upstairs, in front of the TV, is the binding center where the first of three quilts is half bound.

What a fine weekend it has been!

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Sister Time

Have I mentioned how much I like having Fridays off?

This past Friday was one example. My sister and I live fewer than two miles apart and see each other in group settings fairly frequently, and we are good at on-the-fly visits, but seem to have trouble finding decent size chunks of time to be together. For a few months I'd been wanting to go out to Intercourse and wander around the shops and have lunch at Kling House. Who better to do this with than Bonnie?

It wasn't a very nice day, weatherwise. But we were undeterred. On the drive out, one of us remarked that we prolly wouldn't have any trouble getting seated in the restaurant because it was a raw and rainy day.

Hah! The wait for a table was estimated to be a half hour. Not a problem. We took the beeper that we were given and headed off to Kitchen Kettle Village's main building, the one where their jams and things are prepared and sold. And did some Christmas shopping. And some birthday shopping, too! We sampled several of the offerings at Kitchen Kettle, but didn't spoil our appetite and when we returned to Kling House, we were seated relatively quickly. It's one of those places where I always get the same thing. And so does Bonnie. This time we added a shared order of sweet potato fries to our chicken salads with cranberry topping. And were too full for dessert!

I hadn't been to Old Country Store in a while and always like to see what is going on up on the second floor where they have a selective gift shop and small gallery. We admired burn-out velvet scarves and handbags and I spent some time with the arks. Downstairs I bought fabric for more aprons! It was a fine day despite the weather.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Take the Time to Dream

Well, this good-sized tote bag pretty much finishes off the huge amount of pale grey with tiny white dot fabric that I'd bought some time back. I kind of wish I'd bought more when I was at Burkholder's on Saturday. I might be in a fabric store towards the end of this week; I'll look to see if they have any. I've just loved working with it.

This tote bag is a Christmas gift for someone who doesn't read my blog. I enjoyed making it for her. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you'll see the stitchery.