Thursday, December 31, 2009

The End of 2009

What a year!

That's all I have to say about that.

ha! Fooled you! ;) I'm no Forrest Gump. I can't be a person of few words. I like to ramble, doncha know? ;)

For the past month or so, I've been a bit sulky, thinking that no matter how hard I try, I don't get any quilting done. zip, zero, nada. I've dwelt on the fact that I did not finish a show quilt in 2009. I look at my Step challenges on my sidebar and see FAILED! and know that I'm adding another FAIL for December. I feel like I can't call myself a quilter, because I haven't been quilting.

I remember my high school PE teacher, we called her "Miss Pete." She was a wise woman, despite her lack of years and grey hair. On one occasion, when I was listing my failures, she reminded me that while it's necessary to acknowledge what still needs to be done, it's also very important to look back and see what has been accomplished.

This morning I was reading Tanya's blog, and she took the time to review the year and see what she'd finished, quilt-wise. Rather than "not finishing anything," she'd completed 21 quilts!! To see her entry and photo collage, check here.

And so, I've gone through my blog, so see what I've finished. Rather than finish "nothing," I see that I finished and gave baby quilts to Heather, Julie, & Michele. I made large-ish quilts for Sean, Jeff, and Daniel. I made wallhangings for Sharon and Pete. I finished my 2009 Hoffman Challenge, made a quilted background for our guild website, made a quilt for the spare bed and finished an adorable wallhanging of young Adam in Scotland.

According to photos on the blog, I also finished and sent out at least 32 quilted cards.

And I quilted 17 quilts-for-hire.

And I successfully navigated my first year as chair of Best of the Valley.

Wow. I read that, and it sounds like bragging. Truly, it's not meant to be. I had no idea I'd finished so many quilts, no matter how small. Does it matter if they measure 5" x 7"? They were sent to touch 32 people. Hopefully that contact was just as meaningful - or MORE - than making a "show quilt."

Maybe the time I spent quilting for hire wasn't "wasted." It helped others finish some of the tops that might otherwise be on the shelf, gathering dust.

If I look around my house, I see a bed quilt, the Scotland wallhanging, and a photo of my 2009 Hoffman Challenge. Not much to show for my efforts. But if I look at the bigger picture? Maybe I DID do something quiltie this year after all!!

So, if you're feeling like you didn't accomplish much of anything this year, I encourage you to take the time to sit back and actually think about what you DID do, not what you DIDN'T do. Goals are good, and all that, but I'm pretty sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!!

Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Post Christmas Wrap-up

I trust you all had a memorable Christmas? Ours was very different. My husband was on call, which is par usual. But he was not called out, which is anything but usual. Christmas Day from 1984 on has meant that the kids and I spend much of the day waiting for Dad to come home. Not this time. It was the strangest thing... But it was a good strange. If he does it again next year, we might even get used to it! :)

Opening gifts is often a leisurely affair, and he took a break to examine one of the boy's gifts to another. You can click on it to make the picture bigger, but I'll warn you in advance: The title of the book is "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." yeah. The book's cover art lets you know that the title is not a misprint.

Under the tree, Malcolm looked for something desirable. It was found inside a small box, addressed to "Kitty." It was a mouse toy, made from rabbit fur. He likes it almost as much as string. Note the drum in the foreground. I purchased it earlier this year, at World Handcrafts in Reedley. It was a popular item.

For dinner I tried something new. The color is a bit off, but we've got filet mignon with sauteed mushrooms and bleu cheese, Hawaiian sweet rolls, garlic-stuffed olives, salad, and mashed potatoes. It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself. It was my first successful grilling of filet mignon. I may have to do it again sometime.

Today found me running errands. I returned a few gifts (extra calendar, sunglasses too small to fit the face, etc.), I got a new windshield: snow + defrost = great big crack, and I found time to run up to Reedley. World Handcrafts/Mennonite Quilt Center is having their annual clearance sale through tomorrow. I meant to take my camera along with me, but it stayed behind. sigh.

Instead you'll just have to imagine the treasures they sell. Everything was 25% off. I decided to pass on the fabric, and focused on the world-wide treasures. They don't show well, but I brought home a pretty lacquered box and two paperweights with brilliant orange goldfish.

If you click on the photo, you can probably see the blossoming fruit tree note cards and the Rebecca Barker notepad that also came home with me. To the right is another drum. It's different from the Christmas drum, but I like it almost as much.

Here it is from the side. It was made in Indonesia, and the bottom is hollow. It has a very nice sound to it, when tapped with the fingers.

Christmas may be over, but for some reason I found myself humming "The Little Drummer Boy" for much of my drive home.

As to sewing or quilting? It hasn't happened. But I've almost found the floor to the Studio, so that bodes well for the coming week. Stay tuned to see how it plays out...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!!!

May your day be filled with family and feasting,

Fun and games,

Thoughts of friends in faraway places,

Bright colors and good cheer

quilted card by Wendy Van Beek, 2009

And especially the greatest blessing of all: the all-encompassing gift of love from our Savior, whose birth we celebrate. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Organizing Christmas?

I feel a bit more discombobulated than usual this Christmas. I'm not sure what it is. It's probably just me, but my Powers of Organization have gone from capitalized powers to itty bitty barely recognizable ones. *sigh* Can I blame it on age and the constant reminders from AARP? ;)

This weekend our four children were under the same roof with us for 22 hours. wow. That doesn't happen very often any more. We were still missing one - our daughter's husband stayed home to work. :(

But that didn't mean we didn't try to be festive. I did my part to decorate the kitchen, with a little help from my friend Pat. Thank you, Pat!! :)

Here we are, once again saying, "Cheese!" for the camera. I'm not sure if you can tell, but every one of the cats is ready to bolt. Two photos and they were done. Party poopers!! :) (The guitars to the side are part of the game "Rock Band."

Finally, our daughter opened this gift before she left. I thought you might enjoy seeing it. Earlier this year, she went snorkeling in Maui and ended up swimming with sea turtles. (They were swimming with her, she was trying to avoid them.)

If you click on the picture, you'll see it much bigger. I've used some of the silk ribbon I bought in August, along with some puka shells from a necklace I bought at a thrift store. The turtle is a cloisonne pin that I purchased at a local museum.

And on that, I've got so much to do I amaze myself. How did I get so far behind this close to Christmas? One of these years I'll get it right. Right?

P.S. I picked up my photo albums and journals from Arts Visalia. If anyone is in the market for gifts, just let me know. They are for sale...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas is Coming...

I'm not sure about the geese, but with the goodies we've been welcoming into our home, someone's waistline is increasing. Nothing subtle about that, folks. January will be here soon enough and the gym memberships will hit my mailbox daily. Some things are constant, won't you agree? ;)

On Tuesday, the view to the East was this:

By Thursday, it had changed to this:
The fog shot is actually north from my doorstep, as opposed to east from 4 blocks south, but you get the general idea. Clear blue skies have given way to the usual valley fog. Rudolph? We could use your assistance...are you busy?

This morning my husband almost hit a cow in the road. He says it was because it was dark, not because it was foggy. hmmm. As the story goes, the cows planned an escape at 1am, and many were still hiding in the darkness. Silly cows. You shouldn't hide in the middle of the road!!

Christmas vacation means college students coming home, bearing gifts. oh wait. I think that's laundry.

And college students at home plus older brothers times snow in the Sierras means "Let's go snowboarding!" Don't worry boys, Mom will stay here and man (I mean mom) the washer/dryer.

Have a great weekend! I've been taking a few pictures, but am not ready to post them.

Mother always said, "Patience is a virtue."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Parties & Such

I feel like I'm leaving blog gaps, but the gaps are not only on the blog. They're also in my days, as I hop from party to party. I could be an extra in "Wayne's World" this week..."Party on, dude!" (That's about all I know about the movie, so I could be mistaken.)

Anyway, as I was decorating the tree, I ran across a number of ornaments that I've made through the years. I don't have them in chronological order, but you will probably see a progression.

The first ornaments I remember making were zoo animals, cut from Christmas prints. Recognize this fabric? I made these in the early 80's, probably in 1982. I've got a few giraffes, a dolphin and a camel. I don't know what happened to the rest of them.

Fast forward to the early 90's, when I was introduced to Stiffy. I made a dozen Christmas bows, and I have to say that they are some of my personal favorites. If I knew where I could get more Stiffy (do they even make it any more?) I would put aside a day and make more. Oh wait. I'd have to buy a glue gun too. But it would be worth it. I love hanging them, they're so bright and cheery.

Somewhere I saw a wreath made from this simple 9-patch. I sewed up a few, then decided they weren't as effective as they should be. This is the only one I have in my possession. Who knows what happened to the other dozen? Did I make someone a wallhanging? I don't remember...

This one was made from trimmings from a Christmas vest. Carletta? Do you recognize the geese? ;)

I remember EXACTLY when I made the gingerbread men. They are also favorites, but they were time-intensive. I made the majority of these while sitting on the bleachers in the Selma High School gym (no heating), in December of 1996. My daughter played with the varsity basketball team her freshman year, although only during all tournaments. I stitched away as I watched and wondered what the years had in store for her...

Year after year I've made stocking ornaments. I've tried to vary them, and the degree of difficulty depends on how late in December I begin.

This is an early one. I know that, because it is hand-quilted. With the cows and farmer boys, this likely belongs to Pete.

Sometimes I make them functional. This one has a football, indicating that it belongs to one of the boys. I'm guessing it's Adam's, because of the candy, but I could be wrong.

A few years ago I began adding beads. I like the sparkle, but I don't have the feel for what makes for effective beading. Is it all trial and error? Or is it something that can be learned? Sometimes my beading works, most times I look at it and groan. I do like this particular stocking...

This one was made last year. I think I made three dozen ornaments last year, both hearts and stockings. This is the only one I have left in my possession. I don't keep the best, the last ones at home are those I like the least...

In 2009, I've made a total of two ornaments, both stockings. I gave one to the bug man and the other to my mail man. We've got a big party coming up on Sunday. Last year I gave all the attendees (16) stocking ornaments, complete with candy canes. I hope they're not expecting something this year, because to get my act that organized, it's going to take a miracle.

Hope you enjoyed the show!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Itty Bitty Breakfast

No, no, I'm not talking about the size of my meal, I'm talking about my friendship group! :)

Each year we gather at a local Danish restaurant called Valhalla, for a Christmas breakfast. Good food, good friends, what more could one wish for? Maybe for those who were once in our group and have either moved or passed on. :(

But our core group continues, and here we are again.

Leslie, Wendy, Elaine, moi, Charlotte, Sue

I'm not sure if I've posted pictures before, let's have a look-see. Here we are!

Tonight is another Christmas feasting, this time with our Art Group. Party on, folks! Party on!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Finished a Project!

The tree has been up since Sunday, but I didn't touch it until yesterday. I started with the lights and plugged in The Santa Clause. The ornaments took me to The Santa Clause 2. This morning I was still at it, and listened to Rudolph and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the real one - the cartoon)... whew!!! Oh, and I put on Millions in there somewhere as well.

I finished at 4:20pm this afternoon, which put me 20 minutes behind for this evening. We had 9 dinner guests, oops! But the food was good and the company was better, and the tree is done.

I'm a happy girl.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Party Time!

Yesterday marked the beginning of my personal party season. It started with our guild meeting at 11am. Our officers decided to feed us, and what a feast they presented! Last week we received an email suggesting that we bring table settings. My Itty Bitty friends came prepared and set this gorgeous table. The room was transformed from an all-purpose auditorium to a nice pleasant venue for a luncheon. I took this candid shot...I'm sure my friends love it! ;)

From there, I went home. I shipped a package and basted a quilt, and headed off to another party. There's another party tonight. And two more on Monday! I need to get myself organized if I'm going to be coming and going so frequently!

This is the quilt I basted. It's for my daughter's niece, who is due next week. I had the blocks in my orphan block pile. I pulled them out, and they seem to play well together. The picture doesn't show the vibrancy of the colors as they appear in person. It's a happy little quilt, and it drew compliments from the quilters at Thimble Towne, where I basted it.

Today's goal is to quilt this quilt, before heading out for the next party.

Goals are good!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


I know, I'm a big baby. Everyone who lives in cold territory knows that 34 degrees F is not cold. But if you live in the Central Valley, and it is not foggy, 34 is cold, I tell you! When it's foggy, I expect it to be cold. But when the sky is blue and the sun is out? No. It should not be cold. :)

I walked out this morning and saw the frost on the neighbor's roof. And my son's car. And my lawn. And...oh, my poor narcissus!!! They looked like cooked lettuce.

Down the road a bit it looked like powdered sugar all over the roof and bushes.It was a good day to stay inside and try to get something done. Which I did, but I can't show you yet. Be patient, I'll show you soon. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Back in the Studio

Yay. After an hour of clean up yesterday, and more today, I found the top of my sewing table. The two last photo albums waiting for attention were attended to. Here is the first:

Here is the second:

While I was on the computer, it occurred to me that I should check my alternate email address. I rarely check it. I have issues with ATT, so typing in ATT doesn't make me want to correspond, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, while I was not checking my email, these pictures were waiting patiently for me to show up. They were taken at the Hartland Quilt Retreat, back on November 1. wow.

Actually, this is a project I was trying to locate yesterday. I found it today. I don't think I need it any more. I'll work on it next year.

And here is proof that I press every time I sew a seam. yep. up and down, up and down. With all that exercise, you'd think I'd be in better shape, eh? ;)

That's all I've got for you today. Hope your December is looking merry and bright!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Funky Chicken

First I'll show you our Christmas lights. They are like nothing, compared to some friends of mine. This is what it looks like with a flash:

I prefer the "night" setting on the camera. More ambiance. Or something.

Remember when we were in Germany, and I saw that piece of yard art that I had to have but passed on? hmmm. Maybe I didn't post about it. That's odd. I'll have to show you...

I was absolutely captivated by this crazy fellow, but not enough to pay 65 euros for him. I've looked everywhere for something like him, but nothing has crossed my radar.

Until Friday night.

I got up on Saturday, and in between one studio and another, I slipped by Lowe's and bought this fine fellow home. He's not as crazy as the parrot-ish bird, but he's metal, he's yard art, and he comes with quite a personality.

It's the little things that personalize a front porch, ya know? ;)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Quilt Studio Tour!

Wow. Does that sum it up? Wow.

Today I went on a Quilt Studio Tour, touring studios in Visalia, Hanford and Kingsburg, CA. Nine studios were included on the tour. I made it to eight. The one I missed was Country Manor, which I was told to be sure NOT to miss. I missed it. It is a place where many local quilters congregate for retreats and classes, but I've never been there. I can't find a weblink to get a peek. Sorry about that.

I loaded fairly large photo files, so if you want to see details, be sure to click on the photo. :)

The first house I went to was Debbie Van Fossen's. ooh aaah. I stopped dead in the living room, not needing to go further. It was like walking into the pages of Country Living magazine, when they're all dressed up for Christmas. Debbie has an artist's eye, and it's not limited to her quilts. It is on display in every corner of her home.

There were quilts on the railings outside the house:

Here is Debbie, in her Studio. Notice the piece of furniture her hand is resting on. This is a popular piece, available from Ikea. You will see it in a few more of the studios on tour. Each quilter is thrilled with it. Her walls are painted with pale pink and white vertical stripes. Very happy!

The second house was that of Barbara Sindlinger. Here it is from the outside, and again, there is a quilt on the bench near the front door.

Of all the Studios, Barbara's was the most like mine. I say that because I suspect she needs to be able to see what she wants to work on, just as I do. Then again, I was told that she finishes a project before beginning a new one. hmmm. The two shelves below the shelf of books are completely filled with finished quilts.

Next on my list was the home of Kathy Veltkamp. I loved the quilt hanging outside, signaling that yes, indeed, I was at the right place.

This is Kathy's Studio. (See the Ikea storage to her right?) Her Studio is immaculate. And I know it's ALWAYS like this. :) Kathy oozes with organization. I wish it would spill over and infect me! Oh! And see the quilt to the left of her head? The one with the Log Cabin border? I made that quilt for her a few years ago. I was THRILLED to see it hanging on her wall. The center is machine quilted with a wreath of cherries. Kathy is the one who taught me to machine quilt and gave me the confidence boost that I so sorely needed. I am honored to have a quilt hanging on her wall. Thank you, Kathy! :)

I don't remember if I saw this license plate in her driveway or at the next house. I kept running into it for the remainder of the tour.

Next stop, Hanford, and the home of Anna Koelewyn. She's the Featured Artist for our 2010 Best of the Valley show.

Here's Anna, in her Studio. (See the Ikea piece under the window? It has glass panels in the drawers, and hers are filled with fabric.)

I wanted a second shot of Anna and her Studio, to show you her new baby (on the table) and the sign on her door.

From Anna's, I went to the home of Sara Kelly. Her husband is a photographer, she is an artist, and the home is just what you might imagine the home of two artists to be. Every nook and cranny has something of interest, and I could have poked around there all day. But that would have been nosy and presumptuous of me.

Here is Sara's Studio. She (and several of the others) is working through the book to the right, on the table. Many of the completed assignments are behind her, on the design wall.

Next on the list, Grace Hoya.

I wanted to show you the fantastic natural lighting in her Studio, unfortunately it backlit everything and you see no detail. (If you click on the picture, it looks better bigger.)

Here she is, from the other direction. Do you see that black storage on the left? She's the only quilter I know of who has a wine collection (labeled and catalogued) in her Studio.

From Hanford, I traveled to Kingsburg, and the home of Becky Karlie. I LOVED Becky's home. If I thought I had a lot of Christmas ornaments, I was mistaken. Becky has all kinds of Christmas decorations FILLING her home. It is beautiful!

Here is Becky's Studio. For the past several months, she's been saying she couldn't find the floor. Doggone! I should have gotten a picture of the floor! It's a beautiful wood floor, with plenty of walking around space. She says it took her days to find. Well, Becky? It was worth looking for! :)

The last house I visited was that of Linda Blassingame. Even the leaves dropping from the tree outside were artistically arranged. I'd been told that Linda could be an interior decorator, and her home certainly displayed a lot of flair! It is beautifully decorated - ALL of the homes were beautifully decorated! But Linda even had a runner on her washer/dryer and Christmas decorations in her laundry room. I have to admit, that never would have occurred to me!!

This last picture is Linda, in her Studio. She asked where I wanted her, I requested the rocking chair. It was my favorite piece in the room, and looked so welcoming. (Do you see to the right of her elbow? There's that piece from Ikea again. Linda says she had hers first.) How about the CD tower on the left, filled with fat quarters?

So wow. What do you think? Are you inspired?

I came home feeling a bit inadequate. My Studio is the only part of my home that I would show to anyone. However today, it looks like a tornado has gone through it. The rest of my house? It's done in early garage sale. It would never stand up to the scrutiny of curious quilters. I now have new goals for 2010, and they're not quilting goals.