Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to all...

December is always a busy month, and this one is no exception.

I've mentioned the Twelve Days of Christmas swap I participated in, and we've now finished opening and are able to post pictures, so here we go!

First, these are the gifts I made...luggage tags.  I got to stretch my wings a bit because I've not sewn on vinyl before.  I learned the trick of putting tissue paper on top of the vinyl to sew, because it would stick otherwise and not feed through.  I also used quite a bit of my scraps of binding!

And here's the first set of items I received.

The lotion and blue coin purse were from Catwomn27; the Dear Santa wallhanging from Angelinamor; the bookmarker on the right from DJillM; the bookmarkers in the center from Gemsq; the gray cell phone holder made from a tie is from LanaR, along with a page of her favorite recipes; and the pincushion with snippers in the center is from Fleur53.

Here's the second set received.
Starting in the lower left, the box of note paper is from Nylirose; the 4 potholders from Quilter Chris; the pin cushion is from Ely (if I'm guessing correct, made from a tuna can!  I only know because I held onto 5 or  6 tuna cans for several years thinking I'd make one and didn't).  The blue covered notebook is from PatriciaAnn, and the 2 mug rugs are from Margie.
This cute little thread holder came from Luvthosequilts.  It came a few days later than the others, so it got its own picture.  For those of you not familiar with thread holders, they hold the snippets of thread you have, whether from doing handwork or machine work.  Kind of tidies up the work area.

Its nice to see the creativity these ladies come up with in making small little remembrances for next to nothing.  My kind of people!  I'm sure I'll be doing it again next year, along with several of the other ladies.

I also used directions from a PJ party class on journal covers, and came up with a few.  We had a class on the same subject a few years ago, and those covers came out well, but these were quite a bit simpler. 

I don't get the opportunity to watch Rhett and Ashlynn a whole lot, but I did a week ago when Robert and Angela went out.  It was nice to be able to spend some time with them.  We went to Rosa's Cafe for a light dinner.
Last night the kids and grandkids came over for our family time.  Unfortunately poor little Ashlynn got sick on the way over and Angela took her home, so she didn't make it into the pictures.  She's doing better today though, so hopefully it was either something she ate disagreed with her, or a little bug.

Elise and I made some shaped sugar cookies Saturday night, and the kids got to get their hands into decorating.

And Lily gave a concert to display her skill with the violin.  Fun!

After presents were opened, David helped Rhett make sure his toy was working properly.
And this year I decided to give myself a present, and got a KitchenAid mixer.  Anyone who knows me knows I don't cook a whole lot, so it's a bit of a stretch for me to have this, but after borrowing Elizabeth's to make the cookies, I was hooked.  I was really impressed with how it whipped the cheese balls together!  Here I am with a slicing attachment, playing with it a bit.  Still on a learning curve, the bell pepper wasn't a nice clean cut...but I'm still impressed.  :)

December is also a good month for working puzzles.  Elise has gotten big enough now that I feel comfortable working them in the living room when I watch her during the week.  She's turning into quite the puzzle person!  I'm glad she enjoys them.  You can see her little monkey there in the corner.  He helped too.

That's it for now.  I hope you have had the opportunity to fully appreciate all the blessings in your life.  At this time of year when we celebrate the birth of Christ, we can also celebrate each other.  Merry Christmas!

And to all...a good night.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

you ask who cares...well I do!

Elizabeth gave me a nifty little book (well, she may have loaned me the book) about blogging. 
Its a good little book, so this is not a criticism at all.  However....

I made the most delicious meal yesterday!   I told you I'm in the 12 Days of Christmas swap.  Well, in one of the packages I opened she included a page of her favorite recipes.  I tried her roast recipe, and it was so good.     Note:  proper credit will be given to her at the end of the swap...I'll come in to edit this.  Editing to add:  Swapper LanaR was the cook! 

"Using a chuck roast, use A1 sauce to marinade in (I do mine for several hours), put into a dish and cover with a package of Lipton onion soup mix and a can of mushroom soup.  Cover and cook for 2 hours at 350.  When I do it mine always takes longer and I uncover it.  It is so tender and good!"

Now I modified it to the extent that I put it in the crock pot (and I always use Pam spray on the crock to make clean up easier), and added maybe 1/2 soup can of water.  Oh, I also am not a fan of mushrooms so I used cream of celery soup. 

When I bought my chuck roast, the store didn't have any small packages, so my $11 package was cut into 3 sections and I have 2 in the freezer.  I still used the full can of soup and the full package of onion soup mix (store brand) for the gravy.   Since I cook for one, I didn't bother with sides.  Instead I had an open-face sandwich on toast.  I'm sorry there's not a picture to share, but I was ready to jump in and start eating!

So there you have it.  Even though the book says no one cares what I had for lunch, I'm taking a chance and telling you what I had for dinner. 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

a tisket, a tasket...a basket!

One of the ladies over on the HGTV quilting and sewing board posted directions for a little gift basket.  Way cute.  One of the other ladies then posted a picture showing about 20-something of them she made to give as little gifts.  Of course that triggered a "hmmmm" response!

I made my initial basket according to directions, but it was a bit big to suit me.  So then I took the other lady's suggestion about making them smaller, and used 6.5" squares instead of 10.5" squares.  I'm really pleased with the results.  I think my 3 little neighbor girls might be the recipients of these with some Hershey kisses as the treat inside.

Oh!  I think I mentioned that I made some items for the Twelve Days of Christmas swap.  Several of us each made 12 things and sent them to a coordinator to swap out and return.  I got my package the other day, and today I got to open the first one!   Actually, Elise helped me open it.  :)   I can't post pictures of the opened packages until everyone has opened, so that will be about Christmas Eve.  In the meantime, here's what I have tempting me. 

Also over on the HGTV board, they recently had a PJ party class on journal covers.  I really like her method of making them.  I made this one and I actually got it a tad small, but I'll continue to use it until I get another one made now that I know what I'm doing.  We did a journal cover 2 or 3 years ago, but this was a much simpler method.
So what are you working on these days?

Monday, December 3, 2012

peace of mind

I've learned over the years that peace of mind matters.  This past week I've been trying to put that into practice.

First, I was cleaning out the lint trap on my dryer, and a little piece of paper fluttered in.  Naturally, it was not something I could get to easily.  Having heard  in recent months of fires that have been caused  by dryer and lint related problems, I knew it needed to be taken care of.  Knowing I don't have the physical agility to climb over the dryer and maneuver around enough to disconnect the hose, I called in some assistance.  Don was here the next day, and in short order he had removed the hose and pulled out the little piece of paper.  We talked about cleaning out the vent pipe, but he's not equipped to do that.  The hose itself was really quite clean he said, so for now I'm comfortable with it the way it is.  He did give me the name of a service person that can do the vent cleaning, so that's a good thing.  I didn't know how it would be done, but Don explained that generally its done externally, with a vacuum being inserted through the vent up on the roof. 

While I was in the service mode, I also called my heating and air conditioning guy.  Lately when I turn on the heat, I'd hear a gurgling in the drain pipe.  Looking it up on the internet, I saw that's a common occurence, so I wasn't unduly alarmed.  I went ahead and had Jason service it, and now I'm set for the Winter.

And my last project is in the works.  You may remember I posted about a problem with my smoke detectors going off in the middle of the night awhile back.  My neighbor James is an electrician, and he's going to get everything back to proper working order.

Yep, peace of mind.  Can't beat it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Ah, another Thanksgiving comes to an end.  Its always nice to gather together those nearest and dearest to my heart.  We of course ate plenty, and then everyone just relaxed a bit...the modern way.  :)

We ate our meal at lunchtime, and for those wanting to watch football games, they weren't on until a bit later.  Not only was this group tuned to their various technological games, Elizabeth took the picture, edited it to include Albert Einstein, and sent it to Facebook...all while I sat with my feet up, looking on.  I think Angela, Elise and I were the only ones without a gadget in our hands.  That's okay, we make up for it during the week.  :)   Oops, I have to take back that part about me not having a gadget in my hands...I took a couple of pictures too.

On a different note, I tried my hand at making a little coin purse this week.  I had bought the purse frame, 2 of them actually, because I saw the coin purses over on Thearica's blog.   I had to come up with a pattern, and this one is a bit longer than I want, so I'll probably re-do it to more closely resemble the smaller purses that Thearica has.   I also want to work on it to make it feel more firmly attached, it feels like a good tug could separate the fabric from the clasp.  All that's holding it is the little bit of hand stitching you can see on the clasp.  It was a good use of my crazy quilting fabric though, with a shiny brocade on the outside, and a satin-like lining on the inside.

Let me close by saying I'm so thankful for the life I have with my family and friends.  Each day I wake up with a "thank you" in my heart.  Don't let Thanksgiving be a once-a-year event...make it continuous.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

a bug got me

All I can think of is that a cleaning bug must have bitten me.  It was a small one though, because I've not tackled anything major. 

Earlier this week for some reason I decided to clean my dining room windows.  Is this something I do regularly?  No, far from it.  But awhile back I had to spray at a wasp that managed to get in the house, and he was on the window, so you now have a visual of the dried wasp spray that had dripped down the window.  I could have just taken the windex and squirt the one area and been done with it, but no, I took off the screens so I could clean down in the "gutter" part of the window, as well as getting the inside and out.   I was fortunate this week that I had a helper, which made the job much more enjoyable.

I can well remember years ago that window washing was one of our chores assigned by Mom.  And I'm talking all around the house.  Fortunately those windows had a little mechanism that opened them out away from the house, and it was easy enough to clean both sides while standing outside.  And you know, I actually kind of enjoyed it.  Instant gratification in being able to see a job well done, one that made a difference.

This morning the bug either bit again or the virus was reactivated.  As I was looking at my spices to see if I needed more of one particular item, I noticed an out-of-date container.  Then another one.  Then another one.  You get the idea.  I don't cook a whole lot, and it's not unusual to pick up a spice when I need it, especially with holiday cooking. I started pulling things off the turntable, I was dismayed at how much needed to be tossed.  But I was ruthless, and jars started flying.  Well actually the contents started flying into the trash, the containers themselves will be rinsed off and into the recycling tub.

In other news, I recently went bowling with Robert and the kids while Angela had a  Bunco night with some friends.   We went to an older bowling alley in Cleburne, and had a great time.  I even dragged out and dusted off my bowling ball and shoes that have been sitting in their bag patiently waiting for me the last ten years or so.  I did realize my body ain't what she used to be as I tried to be graceful in my swing.  Oh well, I didn't want to outshine everyone too bad, so it worked out fine.   As we were getting set up, we noticed a plastic dinosaur off to the side.  We took a closer look, and they're for the kids to set the ball on top and push it down, rather than trying to swing or heft the ball.  Between that and the gutter rails, we all did pretty good!

I don't know why their pictures came out in different sizes, I still haven't figured out getting pictures from my phone onto the blog in a really good format.

Okay, better get around.  Have a good week!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

let the sewing begin!

Such an exciting day!  Emma and I had our first sewing session together!

We took a few minutes to get familiar with her sewing machine.  She had sewn a bit on it before this, but was glad for a refresher course.  We adjusted the tension to get a nice stitch on both sides of her fabric, and then she sewed several rows of stitching to get comfortable with guiding the fabric through.  For an 8-year old girl, sewing can be an intimidating process, but she was so willing to get right at it.  

She happened to have a UFO (unfinished object) in the form of a doll quilt she had started previously, but was not able to finish.  This worked out really well, because she already had the squares cut for the one remaining row.  Emma laid them out in an order she liked, and stitched them together.  Once the row was completed and ironed, she attached it to the other two rows.

I helped her with another pressing to keep it nice and neat, then we added a backing to it.  I cut the backing, and she did the stitching and pulled it right side out.  Another pressing, and I helped her stitch the opening closed.   She and her mom liked the idea of a tie quilt, so I showed her how to tie it off with embroidery floss, though we could have used yarn.  I left her with the homework assignment of finishing  the tying off and making the bed for her doll!

Great job Emma.  I enjoyed our lesson.  I see great things ahead.  :)

In other news, Halloween has now come and gone.  Here are three of my favorite little trick-or-treaters.

Monday, October 29, 2012

the making of Flying High

Well, the Scraps to Treasure challenge for 2012 has officially come to an end, so I'm free to post about my entry, Flying High.   As you recall, everyone was given the same sets of 6" squares, and we were allowed to add a certain number of squares and fat quarters from our stash, with the challenge to create a quilt.

It all started last winter as I was trying to come up with ideas for the 2012 challenge.  I thought about a few options, and this one evolved from thinking about things that fly.  Flags, birds, planes...those were the obvious.  I wanted to take a bit of a whimsical turn, and came up with flying turtles, getting a chance to look down on their surroundings.  I thought, even if they could only be 12" off the ground, it would be high for them.  :)    Here's the first sketch.
Its important to have an idea in mind because when you send in your initial squares for the exchange, you're allowed extra of that fabric to use.  Knowing I'm looking at sky, even without a totally firm idea in mind, I went with three blues.  We were only required to send 2 squares for each, but by sending in an extra square, I gained an extra bit of blue to use.  I took a couple of pics of my fabrics, but they didn't come out the best.  Instead, here are the fabrics each of us started out with, and I'll try to put an arrow on mine...though it's rather obvious when you look at the final quilt.  :)

So I received my squares somewhere around the end of April.  Plenty of time to finalize my thoughts, put it together, and be totally at ease in the process.  Yeah well, that is unless you procrastinate like I did.  By mid-August I had about decided to forget about it, my muse wasn't speaking to me about quilting.  Then Labor Day weekend rolled around and I decided to jump on it and see what I could do. I gathered together my sketches, laid out the squares, and just started pulling them together and sewing.  First were the turtles and their parachutes.  One turtle or two?  Same size or different?  High or low?  Greens worked well for the landscape the turtles were flying over, with a couple of teal blues thrown in for a lake.  Browns and tans across the bottom gave an interpretation of the road of life.  Not always smooth, a few bumpy spots and unexpected pot holes.  I also decided some mountains might be a nice touch, so I pieced them together.  Going with the Flying High title, some flying geese were an obvious choice, and the pinwheels were fun. 

Since we were able to add a designated number of extra squares from our own stash (only 1 6" square of any given print), I pulled out an eagle and fussy cut him for the corner.  As it was coming together, I thought it still needed something.  My bathroom rug caught my eye, and in an aha moment, the idea for a row of houses came together.

A square of dragonflies made its way into the bottom left corner.  Those dragonflies eventually were used for the backing and binding.

Of course there was a bit of frog stitching going on (rip it, rip it), but by the end of the weekend the top was pretty well stitched together, and by the next weekend I had it sandwiched and ready to quilt.

Flying High didn't come out in the top ten this year, there was some pretty strong competition.  Yes, I admit I'm a tad disappointed, but in the end its all about enjoying the process and being happy with the result.  So in that regard, yes, it's a winner.  :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

blowin' in the wind

As I've mentioned, recently I've been trying to finish a few of my ufo's.  I started piecing what I call Blowin' in the Wind around 2005 or so, maybe a year later.    I had originally come across this picture of a raffle quilt that Hill 'n Hollow Quilt Guild had posted on line, a group in northern Arkansas.  It really resonated with me, and I couldn't get it out of my mind.  Sorry, I don't know the name of the original creator of the pattern to give proper credit.  I don't think this picture shows Mr. Wind up in the left hand corner, blowing the leaves around, but he is what really captured my attention.

I looked for a pattern similar to what the guild used, and I found a leaf block in one of Jennifer Chiaverini's books.  I used different autumn flavored fabrics, and there were several days of taking the stem blocks to work so I could applique the stems in place on my lunch hour.  I decided not to go with a bed size quilt, rather a smaller version.  Mine finished out at about 45" x 49"

Wah-lah!   Another UFO completed!

Friday, October 26, 2012

milestone time again

Another family milestone day has come and passed...Elizabeth had a birthday!  She took the day off work, and I was able to spend a good part of the day with her.  

We went to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and out to lunch, then later had birthday pizza and cake.  Great day!   I came across this picture of Elizabeth on her third birthday.  I think its appropriate to show it since Elise just had her third birthday.  :)
and here's Elise on her third birthday:
I'm editing this to add a little side note.  When we were at the museum yesterday, we were outside with Elise at one of the other exhibits.  It turns out one of the other little girls was named Elise as well.  The moms talked about the names, and how they each spelled Elise.  Then the other mom made the comment that people sometimes ask her if the child's name is Elsie.  "Can you imagine?  Who would name their child Elsie???"   Elizabeth and I just looked at each other with a bit of a smile.  Later I thought (isn't it often later, when it's too late to do anything about it) I should have introduced myself by saying, "oh, I'm Elsie".  Ah well. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

this time of year...

This time of year we start getting into the "sorry, can't talk about it" or "sorry, can't show any pictures" mode.

We know my challenge quilt is still in the voting stages, and that won't close unitl next Saturday.  Maybe they ought to consider a 10 day voting period, instead of 2 full weeks.  Anyway, time's moving along on that one.

I'm also in another swap, The Twelve Days of Christmas.  I participated last year, and it's fun.  At least 12 people join in, the more the merrier, and each person makes 12 items that are mailed to the coordinators.  They swap out the gifts (they are wrapped when sent in, and have our individual names on the outside of the package for being "from"), and mail them out in time for us to open one a day before Christmas.  As we open the one a day, we get on the forum at HGTV and let them know we opened something, but can't say what so the other people will be surprised.  Last year I sent in my embroidered hankies, and received among other things a potholder, decorated journal using scrapbooking supplies, and a hot pad for the table.  The idea is to do an inexpensive remembrance type gift.   While I can't say specifically what I'm doing this year, I can say I'm using up some of my binding tape that I've had awhile!  And I'm learning a new-to-me technique too, so that's a good thing.

Shifting gears, every fall the local Friends of the Library hosts a Mansfield Writes program, as well as a Mansfield Reads program in another part of the year.  I went to the writing program Friday night, and it was an enjoyable evening listening to 6 authors, mostly local people.   Diane Kelly, Liz Lipperman, Carl Stower, Wendy Watson, and Melissa Bourbon, and newspaper columnist Judy Lee spoke and answered questions, and also of course had their books available for purchase.   It turns out the fellow I was seated next to has also written a couple of books, Ken Aldridge.  I don't know that Carl Stower has ebooks, but the others do, and I'm ready to read the few I've downloaded.  I think they'll be entertaining. 

I was talking to my neighbor the other day, and she homeschools her girls.  She talked about craft time, and I may be helping them learn to sew.  There are several projects that they could do, and would serve to introduce them to sewing...pillowcases, pot holders, and coasters, and who knows what else.  Should be fun. 

Guess that's it for now.  Have a good week!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

let's see now...

The ironing cover on my tv tray needed replacing, so I made a new one in the last couple of weeks.  Forgot to show it last week.  It sure comes in handy.

I've continued to work on my ufo's.  I started this "Through a Winter Window" either last winter or the winter before. I finally have gotten it ready to be sandwiched and quilted.  The problem with taking awhile to finish is I sometimes forget things...I think I must have worked this up with the background bigger than it should have been with the intent of trimming it down, then forgot to trim it when I got to that point.  Oh well, it's still cute, and I'll know for next time.  Oh, and to give credit where credit is due, the pattern was in the 2004 Quilting for Christmas magazine, by Pearl Louise Krush.  I think the pattern is probably still available at LQS if you don't happen to have the magazine.
The Friday night PJ parties have resumed on the HGTV quilting/needlework forum.  This week was Artist Trading Cards (ATC's), which I've not done before, taught by toryam.  Now the class started out with the premise of "drawing" a flower, but you know art sometimes takes it's own direction.  Mine resembles more of a gnome, but hey, I'm fine with that.  I still need to complete some stitching on the side, and maybe add a bit of bling, but here's what I came up with.  I look forward to trying more of these.  Care to offer an idea for inspiration?

And on a different note.  I usually sing a little song to Elise before her naptime, "you are my sunshine, my only sunshine..."  Its one Ashlynn liked when she was about Elise's age.   Elizabeth downloaded a few songs to her IPod recently, and this happened to be one of them.  She sent me a text, telling me how Elise heard it and was happy saying, "just like Gaga sings", and then just a short time later was crying because "I miss Gaga".  I had to blink my eyes a few times on that, they started getting kind of wet.  And yes, while I'm Grams to all my grandkids, Elise has stuck with Gaga.  Somtimes its Gaga Grams, or Gaga Mommy (which I consider her version of grandmother).  Its all good.  I think it also qualifies me as another version of Lady Gaga.

Remember my challenge quilt?  All entries have been submitted, and voting started today.  I think it closes on the 27th, so after that I can show pictures and tell you about it.  I'm sure your enquiring minds want to know.  I've got some heavy competition out there, as I knew there would be.

I'm editing this to add one other new thing I learned recently.  You know, with the advent of debit cards and on-line bill pay, I rarely write checks these days.  Occasionally I'll stop in at the credit union and they'll print up a sheet or two of temporary checks for a nominal charge.  This last time I asked what was the smallest amount I could order of the pre-printed checks.  She scratched her brain a  bit remembering something about this, and made a phone call.  They offer a package of 50 checks at no charge!  You have no choice in the design, and they come in a variety pack.  Probably samples of what's available.  I don't think this is something you see on the check re-order form, so if you're interested in saving a few dollars, ask about it at your local bank or credit union.

Guess that's it for now.  Have a good week!

Friday, October 5, 2012

reminds me of Grandpa

As I mentioned earlier, my tv now only gets the local channels. Its gone really well, probably better than I expected.  Tonight however, I felt a bit of frustration that the local channels weren't airing the American League Wildcard game between the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles.  I happened to think about the radio, and found that it is indeed playing on the KESN 103.3 FM station.

I had to download an app so I could listen on my IPod, which didn't take but a few minutes. With it parked in the speaker, it's coming across loud and clear.  I find I like the play-by-play commentary, and also that I can move around the house and not be tied to a visual game.  I also find that Grandpa Johnson has been right here in the room with me this evening.  No, Grandpa and the Rangers weren't in the same era, but he was indeed a big baseball fan.  I remember many visits to Granny and Grandpa.  He had on his bib overalls, and was sitting in his recliner with the radio at his side.  At the time, I had a hard time seeing the appeal of listening to a game on the radio, but you know, I'm enjoying it tonite.  Since I went to The Ballpark last year, I have a nice mental image of the team on the field.

Hey Grandpa, want some popcorn?