Saturday, December 30, 2023

Chookshed Stitchers 2024 Challenge


Ooohhhh, challenges make me nervous.  I feel like I'm being watched.  Held accountable for being ambitious and then guilty for not holding up.  I am not a very prolific quilter.   

The day after Christmas Chooky and Deana came up with a challenge and put it out to the zoom group, which, by the way, it was so nice to see everyone again.  Chooky organizes these zooms and administrates them so she has every right to hold them when SHE can.  Sometimes the time just isn't convenient for me so I have to miss a session.  I do love meeting up, keeping in touch, it's like these people from all over the world are now my quilt community.  

So.  Excuses noted, I had time to think about this challenge because I wasn't on zoom when it was suggested.  Because I had time to think about it I decided I would give it a chance.

Basically, we are to list ten projects we want to work on, name and number them and once a month Deana will pick a number and that's the project we work on for that month.  That was my selling point. I had a month to work on something that could be as small as a single block.  

I say that like it's easy but I still haven't made the block I'm supposed to make for April's retreat and I've had the assignment since October. But for me, normal life comes to a halt in October and goes through Christmas. I can only think of one thing at a time and Christmas is all consuming. 

So. I am not including a photo of these projects but they are piled in a special spot so I know what to do. If I come to regret this I will say so and summer might be a challenge and some of these numbers might have to be moved around because that one block needs to be done by April and the top finished, and Charlie's quilt needs to be done by May.  So some shuffling may happen if number 5 isn't chosen right away.

Anyone is welcome to do this challenge but you must have a blog. 

My list:

1. Charlie's quilt - finish  Done

2. nine patch bird medallion - applique and finish  assembled, layered, pinned

3. Liberty circles - finish least get the top composed

4. Blue quilt - a new start using blue stash  houses - 78 composed but not yet attached to each other

5. one basket square - make the block and finish project for retreat  done

6. quilt top 1  Done

7. quilt top 2

8. Kathleen Tracy basket QAL

9. Kathleen Tracy small quilt almost done in April

10. Lowell map - finish

Notice most of these say "finish" and it wasn't hard to come up with seven things that needed finishing.  But it will feel so good if I DO get them finished.

So, good luck everyone!

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Christmas 2023

 Well, another one in the books.  Ceci is holding the prize for finding the pickle this year.  They arrived in their pajamas on Friday evening and never got out of them the whole day Saturday.  Some people dress up in their holiday finest for Christmas...and some don't.   

By the time everyone left at 6 p.m. on Saturday we had a Friday night ham dinner, opened stockings, played games that failed miserably, made up beds on the floor, couches and spare beds, breakfasted on monkey bread, bacon, eggs and mimosas, ate all day from a cookie buffet, opened gifts, searched the neighborhood for the escaped naughty puppy (and found her,)  ate a dinner of insanely thick rib eye steaks and trimmings and champagne, played cards and finally called it done.  PH and I slept for 12 hours. 

 Christmas Eve was spent serene, quiet and peacefully at daughter's house where Adelaide played carols on her violin, we played hours of charades, nibbled on a delicious spread and Colin read his favorite Christmas poem that always, always makes him cry unashamedly.  We all named our top five favorite Christmas movies and each of our lists contained a tear jerker.

Christmas Day we could have just stayed in OUR pajamas all day but got some air with a nice walk in the morning, since the temperatures are the highest they have been since sometime in the 1800s.  You don't get sunshine, blue skies and sweater weather in Michigan on Christmas day.  We consider ourselves lucky if we don't have a snow storm.   In the afternoon we went to a movie.  

Today I'm taking the tree down and packing it all away.  Done and done.  

This one is number 50 for PH and I and that is a big number when we say it out loud. 

I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas, whether you spent it feasting with family or on the couch in your pajamas.  

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Holiday cheer

 This is the reason I insist on getting the Christmas shopping done early as possible - though I still need one stocking stuffer.  There are just other things pertaining to the holidays that I would rather be doing than shopping or wrapping.  

I stopped over at Friend Aina's and caught her on baking day.  Now, Aina is an old world cook, like me, and the holidays mean one thing - you just overdo it. You make and bake and plan on way more food than anyone could possibly eat so there is plenty for the family to take home with them. I'm not even going to list what she is having for dinner on Christmas Eve because I can't remember it all.  

I absolutely love her Latvian gingerbread cookies, and came away with a hunk of dough to bake some of my own.  That was a timely visit!

I found this mold and thought it might work to try to replicate the Violet Crumble bars Jude sent me awhile ago. I've made sea foam (honey comb) before but we liked the shape of the Violet Crumbles and I've been looking for a mold.  
The recipe needed to be halved because you have to work fast but the shapes held and then I dipped them in chocolate and sent them over to Elizabeth to test.  I am waiting for her verdict before proceeding.  Edit:  Elizabeth said the texture was good and to proceed.  Of course she would, I shared a couple of the Violet Crumbles with her and she loved them so it happy to see me try to make some.

THEN we had lunch with our friends at the most outrageous Christmas decorated place in the area.  This place is over the top with kitsch, corny, fun and noise.  You absolutely can't go in here if you are bothered by any of those things.   On the other hand you would be hard pressed to find a place where people walk in the door with smiles on their faces and share everything from tables to ketchup.
Look at that pretzel appetizer!  Every table is lined with stuffed animals that sing and dance and squawk and they are all going at the same time because everyone at all the tables is playing with them.

The seating is communal, reservations for Christmas start in October and go through January.  We walked in at lunch, miraculously got four seats and were warned it would be an hour before one of the two waitresses came for our orders.  We said we didn't care, we were there to visit and had all afternoon. They kept the drinks coming!
Where else can you go and have the waitress say to you (as she said to PH when he tried to order before I was finished)  "It's not your turn, Bucko."  And laugh for the rest of the afternoon and declare PH now had a new nickname.  And left her a big tip for it. Where else???

Grand Rapids was trying something new this year.  They are trying a Christmas market and we were hearing such good things about it we decided this morning because the sky was blue and the temperatures were nice to go see it.  The only thing we missed was seeing it lit up at night. But we also missed the crowds.
This is the first year but I'm sure the success means it will only get bigger from now forward. There were two 'streets' lined with these huts. 

There was a hut selling raclette sandwiches.  We opted out because, well, because the other guy selling sausages looked good, too.

This is the raclette heater, the cheese melts but the rind doesn't.  As it melts they open a large bread baguette, smear the cheese on it and wrap it for eating.  I told PH we would have had to split it between us, it was quite large.
It was interesting to watch
But we opted for Polish sausage sandwiches, potato pancakes and a huge soft pretzel, which after the sandwiches was brought home for tonight's supper.
PH got a beer in the beer hall and I got a hot chocolate.  It was such a good lunch I'm not cooking supper tonight!  We'll eat that pretzel.
We both agreed this Christmas market will only grow from here.  We talked to a couple of vendors and they said they have been overwhelmed with the business they've had and can only say good things.  If nothing else, it puts their business on the map.

So, yes, I'd rather be doing things like this to enjoy the holidays.  But after coming home from a long day advenuring and a nap I am now back in the mood for more baking, planning, list making because for us, it's coming next Friday and Saturday.