"...for we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make" ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!

2009 has really been a nice year. I'm excited to see what 2010 will be like :)

And for my quilty friends...

May your pins always be sharp...
Shiny New Pins!
My pins were in really bad shape! I pitched them all and bought brand new ones this morning, taking advantage of a really great sale at Joann's.

May you always have a good sharp blade...
New Rotary Cutter Blades

More lovely sale stuff from Joann's- including pinking shears, something I've been wanting to get for a long time!

May you have time to sit down and enjoy the work made with your hands...
Hoop Up! Supplies
This hoop is the BEST!! The thread doesn't have anything to catch on!

And may your fabrics always coordinate!
Fabrics For A Quilt
I'm trying to find a pattern that these fabrics can be used for. Because I just love them all together!

Today is my 7th wedding anniversary :) It's hard to believe that it's been 7 years already! They've been good years, and I pray that the ones to come are just as good (or better!).

See you next year! (YES! I wanted to work that in somehow!)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December Bee Blocks

Hi everyone! I hope you had a lovely Christmas! I did... we spent Christmas Eve with my mother-in-law and had lots of fun and good food and eggnog with brandy in it :) Christmas Day was spent at home because the weather was bad. But that was OK too, because in addition to lots of nice things, Santa brought Hubby and I very bad colds for Christmas :(

I spent yesterday and today catching up on December swaps and bee blocks! I took everything to the post office this afternoon- just in the nick of time! I can't show you the mini quilts yet, but here's the bee blocks!

APOWB December Block
Joyce sent some red and green fabrics and asked for wonky log cabins for the "A Piece Of Work B" bee.

SDQB December
Kimmie sent some really pretty pinks and blues and asked for traditional, symmetrical blocks with no wonkiness for the "Sweet Dreams Quilting Bee" bee.

SDQB December Block #2
Kimmie sent enough fabric that I was able to make her two blocks.

December Buzz Cuts
And Sudi-Laura sent out white fabric, and asked for wonky stars made with our scraps for the "Buzz Cuts" bee! I have LOTS of scraps, so I made her two blocks...

December Buzz Cuts
I like making wonky stars. They go so fast and they're quite addictive! I may have to make some more of these to use up more scraps!

I spent part of the past weekend going through UFO's and making plans to finish them up! I also cleaned the room my GrandQuilter is in, organized all my threads, and went over the machine and frame, tightening bolts and oiling and generally getting it ready for heavy use. I have big plans for getting a LOT of stuff done in 2010.

As for my 2010 resolutions- I have set a goal of not buying ANY fabric from now until June!! It will be hard to keep that goal, but I am determined. I have so much fabric now it's really quite ridiculous, and it's also making my sewing room too crowded, which makes it unpleasant to be in. And I can't create in an unpleasant environment!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Well, it's been a very interesing day around here!! Part of my morning was spent breaking an ice jam on the porch roof. I managed to accomplish this before the roof collapsed, so that was good. The gutters are completely frozen, and a buildup of snow had started collecting water. Hubby noticed it last night and broke it up, but it re-formed.
Christmas Eve Ice Storm

 Christmas Eve Ice Storm
Our trees are not doing well either. The ice, combined with 30pmh winds is tearing them to pieces. As I sit and write this I can hear snapping sounds outside.

These pictures are not in black and white, by the way. It's really that gloomy outside today!

It is warming up, though, and now we're supposed to get plain rain- lots of it, too. Maybe 3 inches of it by tomorrow. Then it's supposed to get cold really fast and snow.

Hubby and I will be having our first Christmas Day at home tomorrow... this was not the plan, but this storm has made it unsafe to travel to my parent's house. I'm not terribly happy about this. I love spending time with my family! And since Hubby and I are not giving each other gifts this year, our only presents to open are also in Madison. But I think Santa is planning to fill the stockings I made, so at least we'll have something to "open" tomorrow morning :)

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Still Alive!

Everything has been crazy!!! I'll be so happy when it's 2010, and all this holiday stuff is over.

I've been sewing... something... for someone. And something else for someone else. And another thing... you can see where this is going. I can't post pictures of my latest stuff until after Christmas!

I did have a very lovely birthday!! Turning 31 was made a LOT nicer by the discovery that I've lost 17 pounds since the end of October!! I credit this to changes in my eating habits. For example, my birthday was 4 days ago, and we still have 3/4 of my cake left. Last year it was all gone by the next day!

I don't think I'll be on here until after Christmas- I have so much sewing and baking to do!!


I wish all my friends a lovely, peaceful, and blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

And The Stockings Were Hung...

By the chimney with care- and then adored by all in the house!!

Hung By The Chimney With Care...
I just love how they turned out! Hubby likes them too. So much so that he asked me to save the scraps so additional ones can be made if and when that becomes necessary :)

Hubby and I are not doing presents for each other this year, so we won't have anything to open here at the house on Christmas morning. But I think Santa is planning to fill the stockings with lovely treats for us :) And that will give us something to "open" before we head off to Mom and Dad's for the rest of the day.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Very Lovely Gift!

My birthday isn't until Thursday, but my friend Vicki decided to give me a present at the lock-in she hosted at Tammy Tadd Designs on Saturday- and it is one AMAZING gift!!

Living in such a large city area, we are blessed with many different cultures to explore. One amazing place to explore (and spend LOTS of money on insanely cute things) is Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL. It's not far from where Vicki works.

Happy Birthday!!
Check out this amazing birthday present!

Happy Birthday!!
The tea cups and tea bag plates are just so adorable :) These came from Mitsuwa. I just love them!

Happy Birthday!!
And just look at all this amazing caffeine... er, I mean, tea! This will be SO nice for those long winter quilting sessions. Harney & Sons is just about the best tea money can buy, too. Yummy!

Happy Birthday!!
And lastly... Vicki knows I'm a pretty big fan of the bad boys of Hogwarts, namely Professor Snape. She found this adorable little green "Slytherin" snake at Mitsuwa :)

Thank you, Vicki, for this amazing birthday present!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Winter Wonderland!

We are getting our first snowstorm of the season. And I must admit, it is rather pretty! It's a heavy wet snow that's sticking to every branch, outlining the trees and bushes. Hubby says the roads aren't bad, either. We've gotten about 8" of snow so far here. But my parents are getting creamed up in Madison, WI! They have 18" of snow and parts of the interstate are shut down.

Sticky Snow!
On some bushes outside the window...

Sleeping Garden
The garden is resting under it's white blanket!

From The Sewing Room
The maple tree from my sewing room window. Just for fun, I did a mosaic of this tree..

Maple Tree
What a difference!

The wind is really starting to pick up now- I am very thankful to be a homemaker! I don't have to go anywhere at all today, and that is really nice to know.

I do need to clean the bathrooms, sweep the floors, bake bread, and get some sewing done today, though :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

My birthday!! It's not until the 17th, but Hubby's gift to me was some extra cash (more than our usual monthly hobby allowance) to take advantage of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales.... and boy, did I take advantage!

My Birthday Present
There are Amy Butler solids, plus some of my favorite "Lotus" print... some Joel Dewberry "Deer Valley" to make a couple things, some Heather Bailey "Freshcut" to border and bind a quilt... some of my favorite Kaffe Fassett clouds (just because!), some GORGEOUS prints from Sandi Henderson's new "Meadowsweet" line, and last but not least- every print in the "Shade Garden" collection by Michelle Engel Bencsko!

In other news... I FINISHED THE TREE SKIRT!!! If you're one of my Twitter friends you got to follow the angst involved with quilting the thing... but I finally got it done, and bound it while watching all 5 hours of Pride and Prejudice (the 1995 Colin Firth version).

Finished Tree Skirt
I'm very happy with it :)

It's also beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Christmas Tree take 1, Christmas Tree take 2, Christmas Tree take 3
Hubby spent a great deal of time trying to get the perfect picture... these were my favs of the dozens that he took.

I'm off to clean my sewing room now... I have a friend coming over to sew tomorrow and the place is a disaster!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holiday Happenings!

W-O-W!!! Did this holiday weekend become jam-packed with food, family and fun!! I've spent today just trying to figure out exactly which day of the week it is! It's Sunday, for the record :)

Pretty Thanksgiving Table :)

I managed to clean up my scrapbooking/cardmaking room, which is otherwise known as the dining room :) I love setting my pretty blue table for Thanksgiving. It's the only time in the year it looks so nice!

On Friday we went to my grandparent's house for an old-fashioned family get together! It's been a long time since that many of us were together... at one point there were 18 people eating in the dining room, living room and kitchen! it was nice to see some cousins and aunts and uncles I haven't seen in a few years.

I spent the majority of the time visiting on Friday laughing, talking, eating, and embroidering! I hate to sit around doing nothing, so I brought along a little project....

Name Embroidery
I'm making new stockings for Hubby and I, and I embroidered our names for the cuffs.

Saturday was spent with my great aunt and uncle (Mom's aunt and uncle). They are truly some of my favorite people! We had a really lovely time, and we got to go out to Maggiano's for lunch! Maggiano's has *really* good food... and they don't skimp on it, either :)

Today I've been cleaning and getting the Christmas decorations out. I'm currently pinning out the new Christmas tree skirt I made...

Tree Skirt

I did a tiny bit of Black Friday shopping, too.... from the comfort of my computer chair! Quilthome.com (THE best place on the internet for the hottest designer fabrics!) had 25% all quilting and home dec fabrics... SCORE!! I have a bunch of Amy Butler solids coming, as well as some of my fav Kaffe clouds, some Heather Bailey for a border and binding on a quilt, and some Joel Dewberry "Deer Valley" fabrics that I want to make a bag with. Fabricworm.com also had a sale, and I bought some of the new Sandi Henderson "Meadowsweet" fabrics from them. I can't wait until it all comes :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Garlic Smashed Potatoes

By popular request...

Jennie's Garlic Smashed Potatoes

Disclaimer: these are NOT "diet" potatoes. They are completely delicious potatoes. :)

5 lbs red potatoes, scrubbed but NOT peeled
1 head of garlic, broken into cloves and peeled
1/2 - 3/4 cup milk
1 stick butter
about 12oz sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

cut the potatoes into chunks and boil in just enough water to cover them. Put the cloves of garlic in the water too, and boil them with the potatoes.

When the potatoes are soft, drain out the water. Add the milk, salt, pepper, butter and sour cream and smash together until creamy.

Whip with a wooden spoon until fluffy.

Make these potatoes a day before you want to serve them so the flavors can mellow together. I put them in a casserole dish and re-heat in the oven.

Have wonderful Thanksgiving, US friends, and have a lovely day, International friends!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fred The Octopus

I recently joined the "Hoop Up! Stitch And Send" swap over on Flickr! I'm so excited- it's hosted by John (QuiltDad) and I just know it's going to be tons of fun! It starts in January 2010. I'm going to be a "stitch boss" for it, too, making sure that the "stitcheroos" in my group keep things moving :)

I was browsing through some online coloring pages (one of the best sources for free embroidery patterns!) when I came across...

Fred The Octopus
Fred the octopus! Well, I named him Fred. He was nameless, poor thing, when I found him. He was just begging to be embroidered, so I transferred him to fabric and whipped out the ol' thread and needle!

I finished him into a circle to make it look like he was outside a port window. Now he hangs on the wall near my sewing machine and keeps me company :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leftover "Pie Crust" and The Bags In Action!

What a nice weekend I had! It was so laid back, and happy! I got a lot of sewing done. Before I shaved off part of a finger, anyway. I think Hubby is just about ready to ban my use of rotary cutters! But that would mean HE would have to cut out all my quilt pieces, since there's no way I'd give up quilting. So we just keep the bandages and Neosporin in stock and go from there :)

I worked most of the weekend on this....

Christmas Tree Skirt Beginning
It's a new Christmas tree skirt! Well, this is 1/3 of one, anyway... I am SO happy with it! It's made with plain strip sets and the 10 degree wedge ruler from Phillips Fiber Art. It's amazingly simple, really. The only "issue" is that the edges of the wedges are completely on the bias, so they need to be handled very gently. I have all the rest of the wedges cut out and sewn into pairs, so it should only take a couple hours to finish the top. Then I need to do the hard part (for me, anyway...) quilt it! I think I'm going to have to pin this one and do it on my regular machine. It would be difficult to quilt it the way I want to on my frame.

Some other things...

Leftovers Mini Top
I took the leftovers from my "Pie Crust Pile Up" quilt and made a mini! I just love this little quiltie :) I am still deciding how I want to quilt it.

And, the grocery bags in action!!

Pretty Groceries!
I got so many compliments on these bags... people were definitely looking! They certainly are a lot brighter and happier than those drab "green" bags most grocery stores carry. Many people asked me where I got them... it was fun to see the look of surprise when I said I had made them. I guess there are a lot of people out there who don't craft and create things.

Those poor people... I really feel sorry for them!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Other Stuff

Sometimes I go a little nuts and do some crafty things that don't involve a sewing machine! Yesterday was one of those days...

Simple Christmas
I designed the Christmas card I plan to send out for this year! It's super simple, but I think it's just so darn cute!! Now I need to make a lot (LOT) of them. I like to mail my cards by December 1, so I need to get cracking!

I also sat down yesterday and pulled out a book I found on vacation. It's called "Knitting Circles Around Socks" and it interested me because it is a technique to make a pair of socks at the same time, on the same circular needles. The best part is? It actually works!! Which is super amazingly cool because I actually want to knit socks now, when I can make them a pair at a time!

A Pair At A Time!
Here's my start! The yarn is "Socks That Rock" by Blue Moon Fibers. They come up with the funniest color names... this one is called "Faulty Dryer"! It's 100% superwash merino wool- so soft!

If you are a beginner, or a "pre-beginner" to socks, I have 2 books to recommend very highly:

Sock Books
Start with the book on the right- Ann Budd's step-by-step isntructions are outstanding!! Once you're comfortable with the idea of knitting socks, try the book on the left. Knitting them a pair at a time is so satisfying- you can wear them right away!!

I knit socks on two circular needles, and highly recommend it. I found double pointed needles to just be frustrating. They were constantly falling out and getting lost. Knitting on circular needles is especially nice for travelling, since the cables keep everything connected :)

Today's plans include binding my STUD quilt and sending it off to Norway and cutting all the cardstock for the Christmas cards. I also have some cleaning to do but hopefully that won't take very long :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner!!

OK, boys and girls! Here it is!! There are 188 comments (O-M-G!!!).

Using the random number generator at Random.org, the winner is #76!!! Sorry, I can't get the screen capture to work... but I SWEAR that's what it says!!

#76 is:

"Mary Grace McNamara said...
Happy Anniversary to you! What a great giveaway! Thanks for the chance to win such nice gifts.MGM from Leominster, Massachusetts"

Congratulations, Mary Grace! Thank you so much for leaving me such a lovely comment! If you will send your mailing address to the e-mail in my profile, I'll get your threadcatcher and fabric out to you!!

If you didn't win and want to make your own threadcatcher, you can buy the pattern online from Tammy Tadd Designs.

Thank you so much to everyone who came by and participated in my blogiversary!! I had so much fun reading all the comments and visiting new-to-me blogs! Here's to another year :)