Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Forward

So. We've come to the end of the year. It is a good time to reflect, set goals, and move forward. As you know, if you've read my blog much, I'm a big fan of setting goals. Some of my goals are pie in the sky, others are more realistic. The 2009 Quilter's 12-step Program is a totally down-to-earth goal, in which we may not finish anything completely, but we WILL be moving forward. Baby steps eventually add up, and in the end, maybe an abandoned project or two will be completed.

My sewing mess kind of illustrates the concept. Here is the before shot of looking out of the room:

Here is the same view this morning:

It's still quite the mess, yet I've made definite progress in taming the out-of-control disaster that it was two days ago.

Again, here it was on Sunday:

Here it is today: Notice the "clean" surfaces on the chair, sewing table and ironing board. The things that were once there have not just been relocated, they've been put away. A definite step in the right direction!!

I think my next "clean-up" goal will be to piece together this wallhanging. The portable design wall is absolutely in my way all the time. If I take the pieces off, without piecing them together, they will be yet another impossible UFO that will be abandoned for years. If I take a few hours and make them into a top, odds are good that it will be finished some time during 2009. yay. Goals are good, and getting this portion of the mess off of my floor is a good goal. definitely.

And now, drum roll please, I will announce my goals for January 2009. First, my serious goal is to begin quilting this quilt. It is a 4' x 6' river rafting quilt, begun in a Ruth McDowell seminar at Asilomar in 2007. It's been basted for quilting for probably 6 months now, and I've done little more than quilt 2 or 3 lines of quilting. Ideally, I'd like to have the quilt quilted by the time I return to Asilomar in early March of 2009. Goals are good. ;)

My realistic, duty goal is to piece and finish one (or more) of these baby quilts. This is something that will definitely happen, whether I plan to get it done or not. (Past experience predicts future performance.) :)

And finally, ta da! This is my single Step goal, that I am proposing to the world, for January 2009. This coxcomb quilt, which has been worked on in bits and spurts and has been abandoned for much too long, is my January challenge. My goal is to decide what to quilt in the green setting blocks, and to finish the green portion of this quilt.

Since the green has been a stumbling block from the beginning of this project, this goal is much more of a challenge than you might imagine. I've got 31 days to accomplish it.

In the meantime, I plan to tack down the binding on this little goldfish quilt and put it in the finished pile. I finished the quilting on Monday, sewed the binding on yesterday, and will tack it down today. Another one done, completing my list of quilts finished in 2008.

How about you? Have you decided upon a 12-step goal for January?

Brenda has said that her January Step is to finish a baby quilt for a new grandson. I have a little giftie - not much, but something - for 6 of you that will put your goal into writing this month and accomplish it. If more than 6 of you do this, I'll draw names at random. But in the end? Everyone who participates will be a "winner," because every one of us will have taken one step closer to completing an abandoned project.

Okay team, let's go!!! It's time to set your step goal and we've got 31 days to make them reality!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Early Morning, This n That...

Okay, so it's not really THAT early in the morning, but I have been up for hours. I just noticed that the sun is thinking about joining me. Since I'm not one to usually look outside before 7am, it was a surprise to see this bright pink popping over the fence at me.

It didn't show up well, but it's proof (to me) that I was up before Mr. Sun today...

As we move closer to the end of the year, the boys are returning to their respective habitats. Andrew left on Sunday, but I remembered to snap this photo before he hopped in his car. See? The tree isn't really THAT big...

This is the posed picture,

This is the usual...

Boys will be boys, and they can't keep their hands off one another. Adam and Daniel live together...I wonder if they're like this in Davis, or if it's mostly for my benefit? I think it's the former...

Now that Christmas has come and gone, it's time to see if I can reclaim my sewing area. Yeah, I know. Y'all say that you make messes. That's nothing. This is an area in which I truly excel. Here is the view looking OUT of the room. See all the boxes piled high in the closet? I guess I can get rid of those now. I think (I hope) I mailed everything I was supposed to mail. But the laundry in the doorway is proof that I have been doing laundry. yay for that! :)

And here's the interior of the room. sigh. I set to work, prewashing some of my new clearance purchases, while I tried to make sense of this.

When I glanced out the window, I thought I was seeing things...

No, it was real. These young men were being filmed for the movie portion of the local high school production of Singing in the Rain. The parents of their drama coach just happen to live across the street from us. It wasn't long before another vehicle deposited several young ladies, all dressed in powdered wigs and long dresses. I have to say that I definitely had my entertainment as I worked on cleaning out my sewing mess.

I eventually abandoned the cleaning, in favor of something more rewarding. I quilted a baby quilt. yay. This morning I'll add the binding, then I'll go back to cleaning mode. That leaves me with only two quilts pin-basted and waiting for machine quilting. That is a GOOD thing.

Finally, tomorrow I will post my January goals, both the broad and the narrow. I think I will be setting three quilt goals for the first month. First will be my serious goal, second will be my usual goal, and third will be my fun, challenging, first step goal. I suspect the first two goals will be the easiest to accomplish, but as I always say, "Goals are good." You have to set them to be able to achieve them!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Doing My Part

Shopping, Day 2. I haven't been anywhere, really, or seen much of anything, other than quilt stores. But I have to say that the rumors are true. There are deals to be had, for anyone wanting to do their part to stimulate the economy. I, for one, have accepted the challenge, and now have Day 2 under my belt. Day 3 awaits, on Dec. 31.

For those of you who aren't sure whether it's worth a trip to Thimble Towne for their clearance sales, think again. This is what waits for you in the classroom. Every bolt is 50% off. wow. I couldn't get it all in the frame, but I tried. I waited for the bulk of the customers to wander into the other room, so that you could get a feel for what was available. Decisions, decisions. How does one decide?

Since I really don't need ANYTHING, it was easier said than done. I guess what was first and foremost in my mind were the baby quilts that need to be made. I bought more fabrics for my baby bin, as well as blenders that will work well with my usuals. I saved $125 on fabric alone! Big smile!

I also found this book in the backroom. For those of you who don't know, my mom died from breast cancer. I've debated about buying this book for a while; the 50% off sticker sealed the deal.

When you open it up, you find that Kathy Veltkamp, Thimble Towne's proprietress, has a quilt featured just inside. It was made from pink fabric from the collection of our friend Julie Reed. (She was an Itty Bitty, until cancer took her from us.)

And that's all for today's shopping report. I should probably go out and cruise the mall or something, but since that's not my favorite thing to do, I probably won't. Instead, I'll work on finding a place to stash these things. I have more clearance fabric shopping in my future, but the sewing dump is getting crowded. Time to transform it into a more inspirational setting.

Oh, and the clock is ticking towards 2009. Have you identified your January project for the 12 step program? I have. Hopefully by this time next week, I'll know exactly what step I want to tackle...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Clearance

Santa used to arrive in the wee hours, long after the kiddies had gone to bed. The kids grew up, and eventually had more stamina than Santa. It got to the point where Santa finally put us at the end of his evening, swinging by around 6:30am instead of in the 1am time slot.

This year, he came early. wow. I got up at 7am (a couple of the boys were up visiting until 4am), to find this. ooh aah!!

Not only did Santa visit, but he cleaned the living room!!! When I went to bed, the floor was littered with proof that three grown men/boys had come back for a visit. When I got up, the only sign of them was deep breathing, aka snoring, coming from the bedrooms. Amazing!!!

I didn't get any great group pictures, but I did get this picture of Malcolm. It is the best picture he's ever taken. Doesn't he look great?!! I wonder if he remembers that he was a Christmas kitty, given to me by Andrew so many years ago? He sure looks like he remembers. He also looks like he's certain that he was the Best Christmas Present Ever...(other than Jesus, of course.)

This morning I got up with a sense of anticipation. Three of the local quilt stores are having clearance sales, all on different days. How great is that? I can hit them all, and rest between each spree. Today's destination was World Handcrafts, home of the Mennonite Quilt Center in Reedley. I can't believe what I found. Such a deal, such a deal!!

First, there was this basket. I saw it a few months ago, and REALLY wanted it. But $63 for a basket? I couldn't justify it then. But today? It was 25% off, plus I had a $35 gift certificate. I brought it home for $12.50 + tax. How could I NOT get it?!!

And since I was saving money, I saved too much math...I saved $127 on fabric! I bought 16.25 yards for $1.99/yard, and 6 yards for $4/yard. Woohoo! And no, I don't want anyone saying a word about adding another 22.25 yards to my stash. I needed it. Really. I did.

And if that wasn't enough, the handmade ornaments from 10,000 Villages were all 75% off. wow. I bought these.

And then there was this set from Peru. It's made of clay and hand-painted. Originally $48, it was marked down to $12.

When all was said and done, I wrote a check for $105 (including tax), and had so much to carry that I needed help taking it to my car. oh my goodness.

I did so well, I can't imagine what deals I will find tomorrow! I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Past Revisited

Oh wow. I checked my lap top and found more photos. Here are some Christmas quilts sewn before I'd ever heard of blocking a quilt. Square? What is square? If it's hip to be square, I was definitely NOT hip...

This first quilt was made for a guild challenge. We were given 6 Christmas fabrics and told to use at least three of them. We could add three more. I added a red with gold stars and the creamy background. You can't see it, but the interior is hand-quilted with gold thread. I remember quilting this while sitting in the waiting room at Children's Hospital while Daniel underwent gastric endoscopy. He had bleeding ulcers when he was 3. I'm glad those days are LONG gone!!

Poinsettia Challenge
Suzanne Kistler 1991

We used to live in Tulare, near Kaweah Drive. They went all out every year, putting lights on everything on the block. They would have decorated their pets, if they would have held still long enough!

I belonged to a small quilt group, and each member made a 4-house block for me. All of the trees and houses are covered with beads, representing Christmas lights. I was thrilled with the result, but now, so many years later, I cringe at the woobly edges. yikes.

Christmas Comes to Kaweah Drive
Suzanne Kistler 1992

Here's another oldie but goodie. I never named it. I just wanted a red and green throw quilt to make the house more Christmas-y...


And then there's this one. It's got to be a few years old too, because I remember sewing it while my machine was set up in our bedroom. That would have been before I appropriated Andrew's room, which I stole around 2004... Then again, I think I made this while I was working at Thimble Towne, and that was 2002-ish... yep. Another Christmas past. I gave this one to sister Carla that year. It was my lone attempt at a "string" quilt. It wasn't very successful...

I hope you've enjoyed this little trip down memory lane. It's kind of fun to pull out the pictures and remember back to by-gone eras...

And now, it's time for Christmas Present: Merry Christmas! And God bless us, everyone!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Past

I was rebuked by my son for not sending out my "daily" today. I didn't post either. Posting is faster than writing a letter, but for posting, pictures are preferred. Time to look in the files and see if there's anything related to Christmas...

Wow. This lap quilt was made for my sister in 2004. Was it really that long ago? It doesn't seem like it... It was the one and only time I bought a collection of fabric to make a quilt... The leftovers live in their own little box, labeled UFO...maybe it's time to let those fabrics roam free...

You've seen this before, but it was in my folder. This is the Double 4-patch that I made for myself in 2006, the year that I made "matching" quilts for myself and all the kids...

In 2007, I made this "challenge" quilt for AQS. It was sold either at a live or silent auction, I don't know which. I was in Paducah that year, but never saw the quilt. It seems to me the challenge theme was "Red and Green." I made the quilt from leftover blocks from an abandoned mystery quilt. I still have leftover blocks...

hmmm...I guess that's it for Christmas quilts on this computer. You've already seen my Christmas Lone Star and my Advent Calendar in previous posts. I'll have to go hunting if I want to post more pictures.

Two more days.

Are you ready?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wrapping Up Christmas UFOs

'Tis the season, ho ho ho!

Last night, I passed out the bulk of the mini-stockings. Today, more will find their way to our C/C kids who were out of town and missed the party. And as I make my list and check it twice, I find that there are still more folks that need some sort of remembrance. Do I or don't I have time to put any more mini-stockings together? That is a question that will remain unanswered for a day or two. Good intentions and all that.

But hey, look at this! My bin of Christmas fabrics has been depleted to the point where the lid now fits. Remarkable!

Then again, maybe it has something to do with finding this stack of blocks hiding in the middle of the fabric...

I couldn't resist piecing a few more, and will you look at that. I did it again! sigh...

And before I get too excited about the decrease in fabric volume in the bulk Christmas bin, I'd better take a gander at my sewing table. yep. The scrap bin continues to be filled to over-flowing. Awww, isn't that cute? The basket was filled with stockings, each holding a candy cane...

I just couldn't resist. I was house-bound on Thursday, waiting for AT&T, and I started taking pieces out of the scrap box and sewing them together...

The woman is incredible. She finishes up one UFO and creates two more. What are we to do with her!! Maybe we should treat her like the miller's daughter: lock her in that room and insist that she turn all UFO's into finished products before allowing her to escape. Rumplestiltskin! I'm in need of your services!!!

As to the 12-step program, how about this: At the beginning of the month, we will identify which abandoned project we intend to make progress on. We will also identify what step we are going to take on that project. If we speak it into existence, we're going to have to make a serious effort to take that step and actually accomplish it.

I've narrowed my January step down to one or two possible projects. Stay tuned, because there will be an unveiling of my personal first step by January 1. I want the full 31 days to make some progress. Goals are good, keep on setting them!!!

A Weekend Away

We are back! Did you miss us? I would have posted a getaway note on Friday, but our computer was uncooperative. I could say a lot of nasty things about AT&T's U-verse, but we'll just leave it as "It was installed on Thursday, and on Friday our computer ceased to function."

We've since fixed the problem ourselves, after waiting HOURS for AT&T to show up. They came at 5:20pm, for their scheduled 10am appointment. By then, we were GONE. If you're sensing some hostility towards AT&T on my part, at this point, you are quite perceptive. It is definitely there.

Anyhoo... to get back to my get out of town story...

We decided to try a little pre-Christmas family get-together this year, and rather than stay in toasty Visalia (where it's been 45 degrees), we headed for the mountains. Our destination? Tenaya Lodge, on the outskirts of Yosemite. It's a two hour drive from the valley floor to the majestic snow-covered mountains.

Isn't it beautiful? Indoors they really get into the Christmas spirit, and decorate with lots of greenery, lights and big red bows. Here is a picture of their real tree, taken from the second story balcony...

There are a number of things to do, including ice-skating, cross-country skiing, taking a sleigh ride or snowshoeing. We chose the latter. Here's a picture at the beginning of our hike...

They look pretty excited, don't they?

And this is what the winter wonderland looked like, as we made our way through it...

jing, jing, jing, jing...could that be sleigh bells ring, jing, jingling? Indeed it could. Look what came around the corner!

The little dog, running ahead of them, ran out of the picture. She was the perfect accessory.

Finally, here is a picture of the five of us, gathered together at the base of the tree.

We're missing two family members. Allison's husband stayed home to work, and our son Andrew is winding up his trip to Japan. Who knows when we will all be together again in person, but we always hold them close in our heart.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still Stocking Stockings

I've decided that my Christmas scraps box is a magic box. It was full when I began making these hearts and stockings two weeks ago. I've made how many? At least 20 hearts, and probably close to 30 stockings, and the box is still full. Look at it, on the left side of the table. It's amazing. I wonder if it will ever go down? It should be gone by now! This does not bode well for my 12 step program. ;0

I've been busy the last couple of days. Here is what I have to show for my time...

I've probably mentioned our College/Career Fellowship. Depending upon how many show up on Sunday, I'll have a mini-stocking for each of them. I should make more, since I only have 16 ornaments...We had 13 attendees last week...

Tomorrow I will be totally housebound. ATT is going to install U-verse, whatever that is. They've been harassing me constantly about upgrading us - we still have rabbit ears on our TV. I finally gave in and agreed. If I don't like it, I can cancel within 30 days, no charge.

In the meantime, I have to be home for their 8-10am arrival, and stay home 6-8 hours for the installation. I see the gift of sewing time in my future, don't you?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Trudging Along

Yesterday was a L O N G day. I don't know if you ever have a day like that, but I did. It started off on a happy note, with our annual Itty Bitty Christmas breakfast.

Our friendship group is called the Itty Bitties, specifically because we are so small. We've been bigger, but we've lost members. This is the core (or are we hard-core?) group. It's been altogether too long since we've all actually congregated in the same place at the same time. We always mean to meet on Thursdays, it just doesn't always happen...

After breakfast, I was off to two funerals. That filled the bulk of my day. God is good, all the time. And I guess facing death, as we approach the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord, is something that is important. It was quite the reminder that it is eternal things that matter, not the things of this world.

Our front porch now looks like this:

Last year my name was drawn as the lucky winner of this church nativity scene. It was made by my friend Rose, and a friend of hers. Last year it was on display at my husband's office, but this year it was sent to our house. It's fun to have it here, it makes us a bit more festive. My favorite part is the star, which is suspended by a giant spring. boing! It sways back and forth when bumped.

And finally, I wasn't the only tired one yesterday. The cats acted out on the way I was feeling. Edgar and Charlie are not playing - they sleep like that. Same with Malcolm. Malcolm sleeps on his back, with all 4 feet in the air. It is very unbecoming for such an aristocrat, but he feels that he is so superior he can sleep as he likes. We are not to mock him. (His eyes are open because this was the second picture. oops. Sorry about the flash, Malcolm. Go back to sleep.)

Not much was accomplished yesterday, but today, I've been wrapping packages and preparing more boxes for shipping. I've also been busy with the Bernina, whipping up more mini-stockings. I'm running out of time, because we have big plans for the weekend. Stay tuned, it's going to be pretty. :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Puttering and Making Snow

Well, it hasn't been a weekend for much Bernina activity, that's for sure! The only thing that has happened in the sewing room is dumping - gifts have been purchased and unceremoniously dumped there, awaiting wrapping. They're more patient than I am, I look in the door and shudder. There is much to be done.

And much includes same old, same old, but these days that's changed a bit.

I've got these helpers, who seem to want to be in the middle of everything. Take changing the sheets. Edgar was quite put out, since he'd already declared it naptime by the time I was ready to get to it. He refused to budge. I think he's been studying Malcolm, because I'm pretty sure that's a dirty look he's giving me. I don't think I've ever seen one from Edgar before...

Here he is again. "Fine. You said change the sheets, it's changed. It's NAPTIME. Leave me alone!" Edgar, Edgar, I'm not done yet!!!

When I went shopping on Friday, I found this cute area rug. My usual inclination is to acknowledge how cute they are and walk right by. But this time, I thought I should do my part to help retailers survive the Christmas season.

Yeah right.

But it sounds good, doesn't it? ;) That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. ;)

These two were up to something. I could hear it rolling back and forth and back and forth. I finally had to investigate. They'd started an impromptu game of hockey, and were batting a metal pin back and forth. It was a hoot.

Finally, here's Charlie, doing his best to get into the Christmas spirit. He's making snow. He found a piece of tissue paper, and proceeded to shred it into pieces smaller than the one he has his eye on. It was quite effective. :) (I'm just glad he hasn't discovered the toilet paper roll. I don't think I'd be as amused...)

And there you go folks, as I said, not much to report from the weekend. The tree is DONE, and perhaps I'll get another picture or two. In the meantime, there is plenty more to do, and I'm not sure I'll get into my workshop until Thursday. I'm going to HAVE to get better at budgeting my time!!!