Friday, December 30, 2011

Lots to share today!

The news and papers are filled this time of year with the past year's highlights. I'm going to share a few of the hightlights of my Christmas break from school. Two whole entire weeks!
Our Christmas with our children and grands was the weekend before Christmas, so once they left I truly had two whole weeks left to do things I just can't get to during the work week.
This was a highlight for us for Christmas. Charlie is very into soldiers as many 6 year old boys are. Colin, my son-in-law, is very talented, detail oriented and also into soldiers. He paints them. So his and Lisa's gift for Charlie was a playboard, which Colin made, with soldiers, which he painted, and a burnt out shell of a house, which he painted. Notice the holes in the board. That's so Charlie can move the trees around for different effects. Charlie absolutely loved it and and told me it was "a very special present. "
I like to examine the men closely for the detail Colin puts into the painting.
Those of us who make things and can appreciate handmade gifts would very much agree with Charlie, that this was "a very special present," indeed.

Christmas day. It was windy, sunny and warm enough to hang clothes on the line. Unheard of in Michigan. There should be at least a foot of snow on the ground. Yes, indeed, Patient Husband was doing laundry on Christmas day. He's obsessed.
Christmas afternoon we had Christmas Orphan neighbors Bill and Kathy over for a paella. They'd never had paella before and Kathy is still talking about it a week later.

I read Juliet and started Night Circus. I really, really liked Juliet, but I'm not telling my friend Laurie that. She is a very critical reader. My critique goes this far: if I finished it, I liked it.
Life is short, I have gray hair and just counted up my birthdays. I decided that if I don't like a book I don't have to finish it. I read for enjoyment and I TRULY would recommend Juliet. Night Circus is grabbing me and holding me close.
I pieced Adelaide's I Spy quilt. When I made Charlie's I Spy quilt I used lots of dark colors so when I went to use the rest of the squares for Adelaide's I discovered that making the same sort of design wasn't going to work. Right now her favorite color is blue (and I hope it stays that way for awhile.....I may have to buy her a lot of Blue Moon ice cream to keep that going till the quilt is finished.) so I decided to keep using my stash and brought out this blue and white pinstripe to do a nine patch. I love blue and there's nothing so crisp as blue and white, is there?
Then the saga of the back started. Boy, did I struggle with this. There wasn't enough blue and white pin stripe. I was NOT going to buy anymore fabric so decided to piece the back. I couldn't find anything to really get excited about in the stash and then I noticed the still large pile of cut squares. I randomly pieced a LOT of them together and kept laying them out till I had enough so that the flowered section on the top and bottom would fit. Phew! I think the back took longer than the front! I'll pin baste this at school.
I pinned this quilt. That's why I'm going to pin Adelaide's at school. I just can't crawl on the floor and don't have table space enough at home to get a nice tight back on a big quilt. This drove me nuts so I will either have to buy a ping pong table at some garage sale or do more pinning at school.
My good friend Marge's son and daughter-in-law are going to have a baby boy in May. Mommy likes monkeys so I pulled this out of the drawer and put this together for the coming baby. I always loved that Aunt Grace border fabric and when I really love something I don't want to cut into it. But it really was the right thing for this border. The binding is going to be yellow.
So! That's my two weeks in review. I sat at the machine piecing squares for most of it but the feeling of accomplishment is great. Not a lot of piecing is going to happen till these are quilted so show and tell might not happen again for awhile.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas surprises

This was the view of the lighthouse as we left church this morning. Yes, the church has the best real estate in town!
I want to show you what my Secret Santa in Australia sent me. I absolutely love this table topper and wonder how she knew my favorite color is blue! Her name is Julie and her blog is called Simple Stitches ( I can't figure out why my computer won't highlight so I can link like I'm supposed to so this is the only way I can link you to her site for now. I may have to wait till I go back to school and use their computer. It works from there but not here.
Here's the gorgeous nine patch (you can see by the indentations where the vase and candles went because I put it to immediate use on the dining room table) .....AND...
This heart did she know I have a heart necklace in green???? It's amazing!
Three of her patterns.
Wow!! Thank you, Julie!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

May your Christmas be filled with

and smiles

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas fun

Have you ever heard of the term "it's like herding cats?" Well, getting these four over Christmased wigglers together on the couch for a photo was a lot like trying to herd cats. I told them they could not look in their stockings until we got a photo of all of them. Together. Sitting still. Looking in the same direction.
We had our Christmas this past weekend. There was lots of excitement - at times too much and some of the people under the age of 6 had to take a nap.
I'll post more as the week of your Christmas approaches. Kind of like a preview!
Right now, though, since my cooking, cleaning, baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating and thinking is finished for the season, I am going to go work on some long neglected quilting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Good Times

So...................does it look like they're having a good time?????????????????
We had a family Christmas party Sunday. Aunts, uncles, cousins, babies, about 30 people all trying to be heard at the same time. My mom (in black) and my aunt commenced singing Christmas carols in Polish (they sort of feed off each other.) There weren't many of us missing out on this photo op.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weekend fun

We decorated cookies

We went for a walk. Charlie saw five deer in the road just where the tire tracks start to curve. He ran as fast as he could to see where they went but only counted footprints when he got there. But whoa! was he excited!!!
Ceci, bless her little heart kept up with us, even bundled up. She took a 3 1/2 hour nap when we got back to the house. We couldn't decide if it was because of the exertion of trying to walk while all puffed up like a marshmallow or because of the fresh air or because of the length of the walk. But she was with us every step of the way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One more bird

I really like birds. I made this one from a pattern I found on the internet way last year. I loved it and decided to give it a try a few weeks ago.This is the first one I made. I carry this little one around with me. It's about the size of a robin. I think I'd like to try it without the legs, too. And I'd like to try it by turning the wings in so it isn't raw edged, though that doesn't make a huge difference. It's going to be awhile, though.
The next couple of weeks will be busy for us with Christmas visits from the grands. Once the 19th dawns we'll be finished with our Christmas and I'll be dragging out the fabric and projects and begin again.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Carol's Cookie

A few weeks ago (Nov. 14) Allie over at Allie Oops Sweet Happy Life dedicated a mug rug design to Carol from Attic Window. She said she was grateful to Carol for helping her get started on a project and so dedicated this pattern to her.
I told Carol, who I have never met yet we live in the same area, that I, too, was grateful to her for all of the help she has given me over these two years of blogging. If I have a question I can ask her and she helps. Little things like this can mean a lot when you're ready to toss the computer out the window. I decided I would create a cookie for Carol and set to thinking of what sort of cookie to invent.
This weekend it came to me in a brilliant flash. I make candy peppermint patties at Christmastime. I recently made 200 of them.
Well, this weekend I was preparing for Charlie and Cecilia's weekend here by making cookies to freeze for decorating when they get here. And suddenly it hit me. I'll make a cookie version of the peppermint pattie!
I started with a basic shortbread recipe. Everyone has one of those....sugar, flour, butter.

Then I melted 1 cup of chocolate chips, added 2 tablespoons of solid Crisco to the chips (this gives them that pretty sheen and prevents that 'gray crawl' that happens to chocolate. I added the peppermint flavoring to the chocolate after it was melted. I used peppermint oil instead of extract simply because it's what I have. It's very powerful so start with a little and work your way into how much minty taste you want. I melted the chocolate and shortening in the microwave and after it was melted I added the peppermint.
Then, I just dropped a cookie into the chocolate and fished it out with a fork and put it carefully on a parchment covered cookie sheet. I put them in the refrigerator to set.
Voila! A very yummy cookie version of peppermint patties! I fed the other half of this one to Patient Husband, who doesn't eat baked goods much, and he said, "Wow! What are these?"
"Carol's Cookie," I said.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I've been making flocks of birds lately. They are simple, easy and it's great fun to riffle through my itsy scrap bits looking for pretty wings. I think the thing I liked best about these little birds is after I made 15 of them I told my grandchildren they could pick four, one for each of the people in their families. They didn't want to stop at four ("Grandma, can we have more?" "Grandma are there anymore?") and Charlie and Elizabeth divided the whole 15 up between them! They loved them!

Blogger friend, Carol, encouraged me to do a tutorial for this little sweetie. Apparently blogger won't let me load a pattern so I'm going to assume you can tell by looking at these little sweeties how to free hand draw them. From beak to tail - across the body they measure about 4 5/8 inches.
If that doesn't work for you, well, I don't know ...

Here's what I did:
I used Steam-a-Seam2 and set two small pieces together. This saved having a sticky iron bottom.
I then ironed on wing pieces cut from freezer paper. And below, the body and breast pieces.

Everything is cut and ready to be sewn with #8 perle cotton cut to 48 inches (I know it sounds like a lot but you'll use it because you'll go around both sides of the underbody.)
I made sure the wings were lined up.
I liked a simple stitch for the wings, as you can see below.

I started to sew the body together under the beak. Then it's easy to position the breast when you get to the underside.
I went around the top of the whole body till I met up with the underside where I attached the breast piece and sewed it on one side,
went around to the other side until I had a hole small/large enough to stuff it.
Finished, but not stuffed.
I sewed a ribbon on with two very small buttons, mismatched if possible, and eyes.

I got this pattern from a neighbor who got HERS from some of her church friends. They used old sweaters for their birds and they were really cute, but the wings were very floppy and I don't have that many old sweaters around. I DO have felt! The possibilities are endless and I've seen other cute little birds on blogs.

Here Comes Santa Claus

Santa flew by. I saw him pass by on a clear night (I didn't know why he was out so early - maybe scouting a route?) As it turned out, he had something for me all the way from Australia!!
I shook the package, opened the box and found this lovely gift - but the tag said I must put it under the tree. Sigh.
I was allowed to open this very sweet embroidered ornament, though. It had a tape measure and cookie cutter tucked inside. Someone on the other side of the world knows I love cookies, the stars and delight in the birds.
Thank you, Santa! I still don't know who you are!

Monday, November 28, 2011

To the hunt




Friday, November 25, 2011

Momma don't allow

We had Elizabeth and Adelaide here Tuesday and Wednesday night so momma could get ready for Thanksgiving. Immediately when they walked in the door they climbed up on the dining room table and started to decorate this tree I keep on the table. My most fragile ornaments are on this tree but anybody could see there was no stopping them. Little did I know the top of the table was going to be their play place for the whole time they were here. I kept thinking what their momma would say if she knew.
Grandpa and Elizabeth are negotiating how many candy canes a person can eat in one day before their left ear falls off. As you can see, Adelaide didn't care what they decided on. She was enjoying hers and the view out the window.
They hardly left the top of that table. At one point I said, "You know, I don't think Mommy would believe you were walking around on top of my dining room table." Elizabeth said, "Well, Grandma, there ARE a lot of footprints up here."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

For everything there is a season

Where does the time go? Wasn't it just last week I was taking pictures of my mom's magnolia tree in bloom? Now, Thursday is Thanksgiving Day and I'm just not mentally ready. Time is spending itself faster and faster.
One of the fourth grades had their Thanksgiving feast for lunch today - parents bring a cooked turkey and all of the trimmings. During recess we staff graze on the leftovers. How can I be eating a turkey sandwich and buttermilk pie right now? How can we be this far into "the season" so soon?
When things happens this fast it's hard to get into the groove and not just feel like the holiday to-do list isn't simply a bunch of chores to be ticked off a list.
People wonder how other people can possibly be "thinking" of Christmas so soon. I hear it all the time, people think shopping early, baking and freezing weeks ahead is spoiling the season. Well, hey, if I didn't start early nothing would happen because before I know it, the holiday would be done and I'd be wondering when it's supposed to start.