Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Cotton Creek! No photos today; I am at home in Alabama with no photo capability, and no sewing has been done anyway. The past few days have been a flurry of tree decorating and present wrapping. Dinner is cooking, and all is peaceful and bright. Today is my father's 72nd birthday. He has declared that he is actually 41. Which is a real trick, because I am 44. I've made his birthday cake (German chocolate, his favorite), and he has spent the day making his famous peanut brittle and giving it away as gifts.

I wish everyone a very merry and love-filled Christmas, whether I have ever met you or not. May the peace of Christmas descend upon your family, and may the new year bring you good health and happiness.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's A Placemat Christmas!

Since making placemats for Anne, I have been on a placemat making craze. Many friends are getting placemats for Christmas and in the end, I made fourteen in all, from Laurel Burch fabric. I really enjoyed making them, but it is time for a break. After the holidays, I think I will make myself some placemats, maybe from 30s reproduction fabrics.

I leave tomorrow for Cotton Creek, Alabama to spend Christmas with my family. My time will be spent decorating the tree, shopping and wrapping the gifts, and cooking (there is probably another batch of cookies on the way). Christmas vacation has begun, and it didn't come fast enough as far as work is concerned! I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, with much peace, love and joy.

Parting shot: Postcard from VickiW. I tried to capture how the tree glistens, but my camera just couldn't get it. I love it:

Friday, December 12, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

Happy Friday! Jennifer over at Conversion Diary has started a Friday tradition she calls "7 Quick Takes Friday". I'll give it a go:

1. My obsession with the television show "House" knowing no bounds (in my defense I just started watching it about six months ago - what have I been doing with my time for the last four or five years?), I headed over to the show's website and clicked on an interview with Hugh Laurie. Hearing Mr. Laurie speak in his natural English accent for the first time was a jolt, to say the least. It wasn't just the accent though, the entire pitch and timbre of his voice was different from that of Greg House; lower, I think. It was as jarring to me as if my own brother suddenly one day started taking like Daffy Duck. Weird.

2. A friend of mine who is a mother of three called me this week and left a telephone message. At the end of her voice mail, I heard her three year old daughter screaming as if she has fallen into the seventh level of hell. I returned the call, getting my friend's voice mail, which didn't surprise me; she obviously had her hands full. When she rang me up, she apologized for the delay.

Me: "Don't worry about it. I heard."

Friend: "What?"

Me: "The yelling? The screaming? The wailing?"

Friend: "What are you talking about?"

Me: "At the end of your message - your daughter sounded like she was being murdered."

Friend: "Oh. Yeah. The kids were playing 'Monsters'. I had forgotten that."

Me: "You are kidding, right? That was a noise that would have split my spinal nerves. And you didn't notice?"

Friend: (Laughing)

This exchange explains why she has the vocation to motherhood, and I, apparently, do not.

3. My plan is to leave next Friday to fly home to Cotton Creek, Alabama to be with my family for Christmas. The universe has discovered my plan, however, and therefore everything is blowing up at work. I can't get people to make a decision on things I need them to make a decision on. People who HAVE made a decision, have made the WRONG decision, and not wrong as in, "I disagree with you" kind of wrong, but objectively wrong. So then those messes have to be righted. I so don't have time for this. What is the saying? "All stressed out and no one to choke."

4. The gingerbread cookies I made last week for my sewing guild were wonderful, but the cookie swap is THIS weekend, not LAST weekend. So I had to make more. I'm starting to wonder at my mental capacity.

5. Erin at is raising money for a charity that buys books and dictionaries for women in prison. If you donate (doesn't matter how much), Erin will enter your name into her drawing and if she picks your name, she will name one of the characters in her next book after you. The charity fund drive lasts until the Feast of the Epiphany. Pretty cool, huh?

6. My PBS station is running "Celtic Woman" during their fund drive this week. My favorite songs are the traditional ones sung in Irish Gaelic, like "Mo Gile Mear". I don't know what they are singing about, but the music enthralled me so much I was possessed with an intense desire to learn Gaelic, just to sing the songs. This lasted for about 20 minutes, fortunately. Tá mé ar buille.

7. My wonderful loving friend Eileen, sends me a beautiful Advent calendar each year. It is of St. Mark's in Venice, and I hang it on the door of my office. One of my co-workers just loves opening each little window with me every day of Advent, which surprised me last year. He's nearing 60 but his enthusiasm is heartbreakingly childlike. While I have worked with him for several years, he only told me a couple of weeks ago that his mother died when he was a baby. He and his sister were raised by his aunt. Now when he shows up at my door each morning to open the next Advent window, I am aware of the blessing God has given me to do this simple childhood tradition with him during this wonderful season.

Parting Shot: My re-done cookies for tomorrow. I was going for a delicate blue color to remind us of snowflakes. Instead, I got a garish Walt Disney technocolor blue. Doesn't matter, they will taste the same!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up

In addition to working on Christmas gifts this weekend, I was able to work on Tammy's Asian Strip Gift Quilt. The fabrics are luscious and it is turning out better than I imagined. I still need to add the sashing and the border, but above is a quick shot of it. Between the snow on the ground and the twenty-five miles an hour winds, I was unable to get a proper photo. But here is a close up:

I am hoping I can get this done this week, along with my Christmas gifts - I'm getting a little carried away, but fortunately, I feel good and I have the energy, so as long as I feel good, I'll keep sewing.

I was relieved to find out that Summerset cuts out all her creations with scissors, not a rotary cutter, so I've decided to give myself a break and forgo the practice with the rotary cutter on anything that isn't a straight line. If it is good enough for Summerset, it is good enough for me.

And Judy has got me interested in learning how to bake bread. I'll bookmark that one for after the first of the year.

Parting Shot: A vintage pattern that I am planning on trying out come spring. I think I got it in Carytown this summer when Summerset discovered that a second hand shop that I had been going to for years sold vintage patterns. Who knew?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It's Snowing!

I took a half day off yesterday and I am glad I did because I was able to get a photo of this:

This is the lap size quilt I having been making for Prayer Sister Maria. Yesterday afternoon was the last sun I saw and I was able to get this close up as well:

This quilt was made from a pattern I got at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show in February. I can't remember the company who devised it, but it is one of those quilt patterns you can make from five fabrics each 1 yard long. I obviously used more fabrics than that, mostly from the Moda line. Maria loves flowers and she loves pastels, so I thought this quilt was perfect for her.

I made my Prayer Sister Donna a quilt from this same pattern, in the five fabrics as intended. I also got a photo of it yesterday while the sun shone:

Here is a close up:

I'm pleased with these, although as I have said before, the pattern was so easy that I found it boring and as it result, it took me 10 months to get them done. Not good.

These quilts will go to the machine quilter after the first of the year; the size is just on the cusp of too large for me to machine quilt, and besides, I hate machine quilting on my sewing machine.

Parting Shot: I have no parting shot tonight, but I should have taken a photo of the dinner I made. I cooked! I made a pork roast, according to the instructions given to me by Greg, Sherri's husband. I made it with apple cider as my basting liquid, and I cooked onions, crab apples, and carrots with it. Also made sweet potatoes in butter and brown sugar. And then I shared it with Glen and Tammy since I very well couldn't eat all that by myself. The roast wasn't as good as Greg's but then, he is a professional chef - I'll have to pester him some more on further details of the great pork roast receipe. But everything tasted pretty good.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Anne!

It's Anne's birthday today and last weekend I made her four of these placemats:

The pattern came from "The New Handmade" by Cassie Barden.

I'm enormously pleased with these placemats, as there is a pocket for the napkin and silverware. I quilted them according to the directions with just diagonal straightline quilting.

The blue fabric has fishies on it and the white fabric has flip flops, which makes them perfect for her river house.

I may try more projects from Ms. Barden's book - the instructions are clear and her projects are easy, yet clever. It is full of things I would actually make.

I hope to get going on Tammy's Asian quilt this weekend. Until then, check out Audrey's new purple jacket - it looks like a shirt and jacket, but it is actually one garment. Also, Isabelle is back and I am great relieved. I have to say that Isabelle has the best cat in all of blog land. I read her blog not just for her creations, but also to see her gorgeous cat.

Parting shot: I made Christmas cookies!

Actual, from-scratch-roll-out-cookies. Gingerbread, to be exact. Which I have never done before. I got the receipe from my friend Sherri, who passed some around at Thanksgiving dinner. I loved them so much, I asked her for the receipe. I'm pretty pleased at how these turned out, although they don't seem to taste as good as Sherri's, but maybe I need more practice. Half of these are going to my sewing guild meeting on Saturday morning where we are exchanging cookies, and half of them will be given to friends!