Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Flock of Sheep

A week or two ago, I showed you the two sheep I made for the twin daughters of one of my bosses for Christmas, but I don't think I showed you the sheep I made for my stitchery friends for Christmas.

I made the sheep using a Buttermilk Basin pattern, that includes a pattern for the sheep and patterns to make wool "blankets" for the sheep for each month of the year.  (There's a similar pattern for punchneedle embroidery "blankets.")  My plan this year is to give my stitchery friends kits each month to make blankets for their sheep.  Today I made the January blanket.

It's hard to believe it's nearly the end of 2012, isn't it?  Hubby and I thought we might go to a movie on New Year's Eve.  Have you seen anything lately that you'd recommend?  Hubby's been suffering from a scratchy throat all day today, though, which could change our plans; I hope he's not finally coming down with my cold.  Both of us have done pretty well so far keeping my cooties away from him, but as I've started to feel better and do more around the house like cooking, I suppose it's more likely I'd pass something on.  I hope not though!

What do you have planned for New Year's Eve?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Rhythm of Things

Have you noticed that life seems to have its own rhythms?  I completely expected to get up early today and head into the Sweat Shop for some quality quilting time, but when I got up, I fixed a cup of coffee and snuggled up on the couch with a book.  I couldn't figure out why I wasn't sewing instead of reading.  For the last couple weeks, reading seemed like the choice that made the most sense, given my snot-plugged brain and sluggish cold-ridden body, but surely I was feeling well enough now to sew, right?

As the hours passed today and I remained on the couch reading, I finally realized what was going on.  For most of my life, the week between Christmas and New Year has been a quiet time to unwind and relax.  It's been a reflective time.  And, ever since I was old enough to read, I think I've often spent that period of time reading--sometimes because I've received some great books as Christmas gifts and sometimes just because it seemed like the most attractive idea.  After all, a good book, a cup of hot chocolate, and a warm blanket are SOOOOOO comforting when the weather outside is cold and rainy!

In keeping a blog, I've noticed I can look back throughout the year and see what I was doing the year before or the year before that.  It's surprising to find that I'm pretty consistent when it comes to starting to think about things at certain times.  For instance, if I look back and see when I start to think about Christmas and Christmas projects, it's often right around the same time each year.  I don't know if those thoughts are triggered by what's going on in the commercial world or whether it's just my own annual time clock, but it's an interesting thing, I think.

So I'm just going to relax, get well again, and enjoy doing whatever I decide to do at the time, whether that might be sewing, reading, cooking, or something else completely.  As we head toward the new year, it's a good time to slow down and reflect anyway.  I've been giving some thought to my quilting direction next year and what my goal might be.  How about you?  Do you know where you're heading?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hey Out There!

It's been awhile since I posted anything, which is completely unlike me!  I've been taking my medicine as the doctor prescribed, and I've been slowly getting better each day.  Our family had a pretty nice Christmas, all in all.  The Wild Child had to return to Eureka on Sunday, and after Hubby and I talked about it for awhile, we decided we didn't like the idea of her returning home by train and bus without the Drooling Dog and then spending Christmas by herself, so Hubby drove the two of them--the Wild Child and the Drooling Dog--home, through a terrific storm.  They made it safely to Eureka by Sunday night; Hubby even got to watch a little bit of the Sunday night football game once he got to the hotel--he spent the night at the same hotel/casino where we stayed when we visited her for Thanksgiving.  After having breakfast with the Wild Child on Christmas Eve morning, he drove back home.  I was so grateful and proud that he was willing to spend the time and do all that driving to get her and her dog home!  In the meantime, I stayed home and rested; it was kind of nice to just have to take care of myself and not worry about anyone else.

Soccer Son and his Lovely Wife spent Christmas day with us eating and visiting.  I cooked a non-traditional--for us--Mexican meal, which was enjoyed by everyone except maybe me.  You know how when you cook a big meal sometimes, by the time it's served, you're tired and ready for it to be over?  Well, it was kind of like that.  I thought the food was okay, but I think I was too tired to really enjoy it.  Soccer Son brought a movie over to watch after dinner with his Lovely Wife and Hubby, so I took a little nap and felt better afterward--good enough to eat a little dessert, in fact!

I went back to work on Wednesday and I'm looking forward to finishing the work day on Friday evening and heading into another four day weekend!  While I've been well enough to go back to work, by the time I get home each night, I don't really have the energy or motivation to do anything but watch a little TV and go to bed early.  And I sure haven't had much to tell you about either since I haven't done much of anything, so I've stayed quiet.  I have every reason, though, to hope that by Friday night or Saturday I'll feel well enough to get back into the Sweat Shop and find something to motivate me again.  And maybe then I'll have something to show you and talk about.

How was your Christmas?  Are you looking forward to the weekend?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Moving Toward Christmas

I finally decided to make a doctor appointment, and I saw my doctor on Friday afternoon.  I was pretty sure I didn't have anything like a sinus infection or bronchitis and didn't need antibiotics, but the coughing and the other symptoms were really wearing on me; I figured some cough syrup with codeine might help.  By the way, thanks for the whiskey/lemon/honey recommendations.  When I first met Hubby, he swore by a hot toddy made from warmed lemonade and Wild Turkey, which is pretty similar.  What I didn't mention in my last post was that I'd woken up early on Friday coughing, and so I stumbled out to the kitchen and mixed up a little honey and lemon juice which helped a bit; I'd thought about whiskey too, but since I had to get up for work in about an hour, adding whiskey didn't seem like a great idea at that point.  Anyway, the doctor prescribed the cough syrup, as I thought he would, but he also prescribed a nasal spray and two inhalers, one to use twice a day and one in case I get really short of breath and need something to act quickly.

What puzzles me a bit is that the pharmacist, in giving me instructions on the new medications, explained the twice-a-day inhaler and the nasal spray don't really act immediately; it will take several days before they really kick in fully.  Seriously, I'd like something that makes me feel better NOW, and I really think I'll be over most of the worst cold symptoms in a few days, so spending $90 on medications that don't really work for several days--other than the cough syrup--seems kind of pointless.  Then again, I don't have a medical degree, so I'll go along with the program for now.

Between the inhaler, the cough syrup, and exhaustion, I finally got a decent night's sleep on Friday night, and then another nice nap today, but I had to miss the big family Christmas gathering at Hubby's mom and dad's house--not only was I not feeling great but I didn't want anyone else to catch this thing.  So I stayed home and looked through recipes, planning what to cook for Christmas day, and making a shopping list.  Oh, and I also took that nice nap too.

I'd really like to bake a few goodies, but I guess it will depend on how I feel tomorrow and on Monday.  The Wild Child came home for a few days with Manager Man, but they've gone on to his parents' house now for the night, and she needs to return to Eureka later in the day tomorrow for a work shift on Monday afternoon, so we won't see her for Christmas.  Still, at least we had her for a little bit and she was able to get to the family celebration today and see the rest of the family.

Most of my Christmas gifts went to friends at the office, so those have been exchanged now--even though my plans were interrupted by this cold and I wasn't able to do all I wanted, I'd done a bit of shopping and sewing ahead of time, so I managed to have a little something for the people I'd planned to give gifts to.  I have two new bosses who I don't know very well yet, but I gave cookies and a set of the fabric coasters to one boss, who is single and just moved to the area to take the job.  The other boss has three daughters--two twin toddlers and an infant.  I gave him some cookies also and made two sheep for his twin girls--nearly the same but with slightly different colored wool for the faces and ears.  A year or two ago, I'd bought a chenille bedspread at a thrift store and I used it for the sheep bodies.

I made the Twister pillow behind the sheep for a fellow secretary/friend at the office.  I thought it would go well with some new family room furniture she'd purchased.  Most of the other gifts I gave were store-bought.

I also was able to finish binding a wedding quilt for my nephew late last night.  He and his wife were married in June and asked for a quilt in their colors:  browns and geranium green.

I'm not sure if you can see, but I quilted roses in the plain brown squares.  And, although it wasn't a Christmas gift, Hubby was able to deliver it at the family Christmas gathering today.

The next couple days I can spend relaxing and trying to get over this bug.  I need to go grocery shopping and do a little baking if I feel up to it, but the pressure of getting ready for the holidays is over, I think!

I don't know if I'll blog much in the next few days or, for that matter, if you'll have much time for blog hopping, so I want to wish you, your families, and your loved ones a happy and joyous holiday!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Still Here, . . .

Still alive, still sick.  This is some monster cold!  I don't have any signs or symptoms that it's progressed to anything antibiotics would cure, but I feel just about the same as I did at the beginning of the cold--stuffed up, full of mucus, tight cough, irritated throat, and sinus headache and pressure.  No body aches or fever, so it doesn't seem to be the flu.  ARGH!

I had pretty much finished my shopping before I got sick and I'd managed to bake a couple batches of cookies, but I'm afraid that's as far as I've gotten in Christmas preparations.  Luckily, the only cooking and hostessing planned for the holiday is some sort of Christmas brunch for Hubby, Soccer Son, and His Lovely Wife--pretty low key, all things considered.  We have a family gathering planned for Saturday at the In-Laws' home, but all I need to do for that is show up.  So I'm hopeful another four days of rest through the weekend and holidays will help kick this thing.  And I'll post if I have anything to say that's remotely interesting, but mostly I'm just hanging around and resting.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I've Been Better . . .

My friend Julie-Julia emailed me today to make sure I remain among the living, so I thought I should at least post a short note to let anyone else who has similar concerns know that I'm still kicking.  Barely.

I took a sick day on Monday but I went back to work on Tuesday and struggled through, and I'm trying to do what I can to get ready for Christmas while at the same time putting off doing anything that might pass this thing on to friends--like handle gifts of baked goods.  As I write, the DayQuil has worn off but I can't take the NyQuil just yet because I'd probably fall asleep in my bath, sink below the surface of the water and drown.  After all, there's not a lot of difference between a bathtub full of water and the quantity of snot in my head.  TMI?  Yeah, probably.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, I'm still here, but I might not post since I don't have too much to say.  Oh, but there IS one thing.  Over the weekend, when I was feeling only half dead, I went for a short last-minute Christmas shopping trip with a couple friends.  We strolled along Sutter Street in old Folsom--if you're familiar with the Sacramento area, you probably know what I'm talking about.  I've driven by one store for a long time but never went in until I was shopping with friends--it's called Melange, and it has a funky blend of vintage "stuff" as well as a few newer things.  I found a stacked set of three vintage Santa mugs to add to my collection--I don't have a photo of them yet, but the following are photos one of my friends took of the shop on her cell phone.  Enjoy a little eye candy while I try not to drown myself, and stop by the shop if you're in the area.

Monday, December 17, 2012

More of the Same

Yep, still sick. 

We had plans to get together with friends to celebrate the holidays this afternoon and we DID, but after a couple hours, I was worn out and it was time to head home.  Being ill sure puts a crimp in the holiday plans, doesn't it?  I'm heading to bed early in hopes that a good night's sleep will do wonders.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Plugging Along . . .

After the school shooting on Friday, writing a blog post for Saturday didn't feel right.  Not talking about the shooting seemed frivolous, but everything I could have said about the shooting has been said elsewhere, so I just didn't write.  I've heard, though, that those who counsel people in times of stress and grief say the best thing is to try to get back into normal routines, so here I am--posting again.  Of course, my thoughts and prayers are with the families who have lost loved ones.

I've been working on Christmas projects--I'll have to show you what I've accomplished soon, but I haven't taken any photos just yet.  There are some things I can't share just yet, but I can tell you I've made a pillow for a friend and some stuffed animals for the young children of someone I work with.  I ran around town today gathering supplies I needed but didn't have--both sewing and cooking "stuff."  And I made the first batch of some really excellent cookies--the cookies are called Texas Sized Almond Crunch Cookies and they're one of my favorites.  But the really excellent thing is that I made up a filling using marshmallow cream and a cocoa almond spread (by Trader Joe's; kind of like Nutella but with almonds instead of hazelnuts) that I thinned slightly with cream and spread between pairs of cookies to make sandwiches.  Yum!  I still need to make another batch--maybe tomorrow.

And I have a cold.  I started feeling sick later on Friday and I finally stopped believing it could just be allergies by the time I woke up Saturday morning and still felt just as sick.  So I've been taking medications so I can keep going.  It's NOT a good time to be sick, but I guess it never is!  I hope your weekend is going well and you're on track for the holidays.  Christmas will be here before we know it!

Friday, December 14, 2012

An Oldie But A Goodie!

I was feeling so stressed about Christmas that I took a mental health day off work and shut myself in the Sweat Shop for about 15 hours.  I accomplished quite a lot and I feel a bit better about getting things done on time.  I wish I could show you all I did, but since they're gifts, I can't right now.  However, do you remember making these about five to seven years ago?  I made several "sets" for friends and family and they loved them.  I still have some I use myself.

In case they're unfamiliar to you, they're fabric coasters.  (Sorry for the less than stellar photography, but it's late and I'm not taking the time tonight to run my photos through Photoshop.)  I was brainstorming to come up with a gift idea for some people I wanted to remember with a little something for Christmas and these came to mind.  When I last made them, I don't think charm squares had come out yet.  Now charm packs make them super easy to make--after all, charm packs contain 42 squares that are already color coordinated and the right size, so there's very little cutting.  I thought I'd do a really quick tutorial in case you've forgotten or perhaps never made these--I think they still make pretty good gifts.

So, what you need for each coaster are four 5" charm squares folded and pressed on the diagonal.  You need a fifth square for the bottom of the coaster--or a coordinating fat quarter can be cut for the backs, and then a charm pack will yield ten coasters.

You'll also need to cut batting--one for each coaster, also 5".

Select the four triangles for the coaster.

You know how to fold box flaps over one another and when you get to the fourth side, you have to tuck it under the first flap?  Layering these triangles is just like that.

Layer the triangles with the "good" side up--that's what will end up on top when they're all sewn and turned.

Place the one bottom square on top of the overlapped triangles, "good" side down.

Next, layer the square of batting on top of that.

Carefully flip the "sandwich" over, adjust so the corners all line up, and begin stitching, using a 1/4" seam allowance.  I also like to use my walking foot with all these layers.

Keep stitching all the way around, overlapping the beginning stitches a little bit so they won't come out.

Trim the corners almost up to the stitch lines.

Where all the triangles come together in the center, reach through that little hole and start turing the fabric--turn so the seams are on the insides.

After the coaster is turned right side out, press with a hot iron--I like steam too.

Before long, you'll end up with a nice pile of coasters and, perhaps, a couple of your Christmas gifts done!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One for You and Two for Me . . .

Because I don't like to shop much, it usually turns out that at this time of the year, when I'm much more likely to set foot inside a department store, I end up coming home with many more things for us and our home than things for others (i.e., Christmas gifts).  Because, of course, there are things I've meant to get for months now, but I've put it off because I didn't want to shop.

Today, for instance.  During my lunch hour, I went to a beauty salon/supply/personal gift store; I was kind of looking for a gift for a friend and thought I'd use one of those rewards punch card ($25 off next purchase when card is fully punched) before it expired.  What did I buy?  Well, I was nearly out of hair conditioner and I found they had a special running on my product (buy one, get one half off), so I also got shampoo.  Oh, and a gift for a friend--but not the friend I had in mind when I went shopping.  So, hair products for me and a gift for a friend.

On the way home from our end-of-the-year Thimbleberries Club party, I stopped at Walmart; not exactly to find a gift, but more because I wanted to check out the options for a component part (coffee mugs) of a gift I'd been considering for a group of people. What did I buy?  Well, I'd been meaning to pick up a magnetic curtain rod for the last eight years or so (to hang a quilt on the metal door to the garage), and I also needed to replace the casserole dish Hubby dropped on the floor last week (unfortunately there was no way to replace all that yummy mac 'n cheese that hit the floor with it).  Oh, and I needed a couple pillow cases for the Wild Child's former bedroom to go with the quilt that's on her bed.  And a pair of new jammies for me.  But since they really didn't have enough coffee mugs, no gifts were purchased at Walmart.

As I was driving home, I was feeling a little guilty about doing so much shopping, spending so much money, and having so little accomplished as far as gift shopping went.  Hubby HAD told me a couple weeks ago that I should buy myself a pair of new jammies, wrap them up in gift wrap, and put his name on the tag, but I didn't really want jammies from Hubby.  Hummmmmmm.  What DID I want?

Well, at the Thimbleberries end of the year party at the quilt shop, I'd seen a really excellent quilt hanging near the cutting table, and they just happened to have a kit.  Now THAT might make a good gift from Hubby!

Lucky for me I'd had the foresight to buy it while I was at the shop.  Do you know that that means?  That means I successfully purchased TWO Christmas gifts today, which goes a little further to equalize the balance between buying stuff for us and our home and buying Christmas gifts.

Now that I'm feeling a little better about the whole shopping thing, I'd better get to bed.  There are still a few more gifts I need to find so I really should rest up.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Midnight Shopping

Since I'm a night owl anyway, I love the fact that stores stay open really, really LATE this time of the year.  Last week I went to pick up a few things at Kohl's that I needed for the house and for a couple of gift exchanges--I was there until 11:45 p.m., it was raining outside, and I think by the time I left, I was the only customer in the store.  Do you have a Kohl's near you?  At various times during the year, Kohl's rewards its customers with Kohl's Cash to spend on their next shopping trip.  As a result of their promotions and discounts, my purse held $20 in "Kohl's Cash," a $5 coupon, and another coupon for 15% off, so I thought it was time to go back to Kohl's again tonight and search for a few of those gifts I needed to find.  I understand from my friend Geraldine--a long time Kohl's shopper--that at some point, I'll amass so many rewards that Kohl's will practically pay ME to shop there.

It was raining again tonight.  I had several things to do at home before I could leave, but around 10 p.m., I changed into casual clothes and put my sneakers on to head out to Kohl's.  As I came down the hallway, I saw Stitch lurking there, and I swear his eyes immediately locked onto my shoes.

He's a very judgmental cat.  "Don't judge," I told him as I passed by, but I know he does.

I was in Kohl's until 11:45 p.m., so of course I'm up late once again, but I found a couple of the gifts I needed and came up with a few ideas for other gifts and things, so I'm feeling a little more optimistic than I did when I posted last night.  It will definitely be a struggle to get everything done, but it just might work out.  By the way, if any of you know where I can buy little cat shoes with people's faces on them, please tell me.  I really think they'd be the perfect gift for Stitch.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Voice of Christmas Doom

Can you believe Christmas is only two weeks away?  Where does the time go?  I'm starting to panic a little bit.  I have a pile of Christmas craft stuff and no time to work on any of it.  I've kind of finished decorating for Christmas, except I keep seeing things here and there that I've forgotten.  And I've realized there are more people in my life I'd like to remember with a little gift and I have no idea WHAT.  I'm starting to envy those people who devoted a day a month--or a whole month!--to Christmas gift preparation.  What was I thinking?  ARGH!

How are your preparations coming along?  I've arranged for comment verification to fail for any of you who want to write glowing comments about how you're all ready for the holidays now and can just sit back and enjoy your friends and family.  Besides, I don't believe you.  Bah Humbug!

You know that classic poem, The Night Before Christmas?  It was SOOO obviously written by a man.  No woman I know would be in bed with a settled brain on the night before Christmas--we're all up, trying to finish wrapping the gifts and prepping whatever we can for Christmas brunch and dinner.

I know that somehow, everything will get done, and whatever doesn't get done, really doesn't matter much anyway.  In about another week, I'll simply give up and surrender myself to the great cosmic universe, muttering under my breath, "It is what it is," but for now, life feels a little crazy.  Wouldn't it be better to celebrate Christmas every OTHER year instead of annually?  Or every FOUR years, like the Olympics?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Keeping Up . . .

At least I've kept up with ONE project this year:  Harrington and Hannah.  I've just finished the November block and December should be out any day now.

The original design had a small embroidered "bush" with heart flowers on it, but I elected to leave that out--I'm not adding as much embroidery to mine as is contained in the blocks Michelle May has designed.

When I gave the wool kits to my friends this weekend--I've been kitting these blocks up each month for them--a couple of the ladies told me how much they've enjoyed this BOM, and I have too.  I think this is going to make a really cute quilt before too long.  Each block DOES reflect the time of year but in a fairly subtle manner, which is kind of fun.

I'm not certain yet how I'll set these but I think it might be a little different from the pattern, and that's why I haven't been adding the pieced sashing as we went along.  If you haven't been making this quilt this year but are interested, you can still download all the patterns and directions on Michelle May's pattern page, HERE.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Merry Christmas to Me!

Today my stitchery friends met at Imelda's house, and it wasn't too long before we started talking about the Christmas crafts we were working on, what supplies we'd used, and where we bought them.  Next thing we knew, we were all piling into two cars and caravanning to Hobby Lobby because each of us decided we "needed" something or other.  For me, it was mostly more of the Looking Glass paint, glass frosting paint, and Christmas ribbon.  I found what I needed but I also found something else.  Merry Christmas to me!

I'd been looking for awhile now--maybe even a year--for a dresser of some sort to fit into a small spot in the Sweat Shop where I could store some of my things and use the top for a cutting surface, but everything I'd found that was the right height for a cutting surface didn't have storage and everything that had adequate storage was too tall.  At Hobby Lobby, though, I found this small dresser on sale, and I knew it would be pretty close to perfect.  It's about an inch or two taller than my sewing table but it doesn't feel too tall for cutting.  And it could have been about 6 inches wider, but the fact that it's a little narrower than the space means I still have room on either side to hold things like my light box, my large rulers, and my embroidery box.

Of course, a new piece of furniture meant a lot of reorganizing had to be done in the Sweat Shop so that's what I spent Saturday night doing, but it's looking pretty good now.

I've been saving usable sized wool scraps for quite awhile, and having to clean out the Sweat Shop made me decide it's about time to package up some of them and list them in my Etsy shop.  If you enjoy working with wool applique and are interested in adding a little variety to your wool supply, or if working with wool is new to you and you want to experiment a little and need a variety of scraps to start, you might want to check out my listing HERE.  Each bag is stuffed full of scraps and weighs approximately 12 ounces--that's actually a lot of wool!

Baa, baa black sheep, have you any wool?  Yes sir, yes sir, FIVE bags full!

Speaking of wool, I spent a little bit of the day today working on the Harrington and Hannah block for November; this is the one I kitted up for my friends and gave them today.  Depending on how things go the rest of the weekend, I might have my block ready to show you tomorrow.  I hope to see you then!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Never Enough Time . . . .

True?  True for me!  I think I just get excited about too many things and I think I can do it all.  I was off work Thursday for a couple different reasons--a workers' comp exam and to try to do some things I hadn't gotten around to doing.  And you know what?  I somehow thought I'd be able to get about twice as much done.  Well, I knew it would be busy, and that's why I took a night off blogging, but I don't think it helped very much.

Still, I just about finished getting my house decorated for Christmas except for a couple little "tweeks" that I'll take care of this weekend.  And between yesterday and today (Friday), I've gotten things ready for my stitchery group's monthly gathering tomorrow.  Well, mostly.  I WAS hoping to have everyone's Christmas gifts ready to take tomorrow, but they will have to wait until a little later in the month--that was one of the things I THOUGHT I'd get around to on Thursday, and it turned out to be completely ridiculous of me to think I'd have enough time.

One of the things I did get done was to "kit" for my friends and prepare for myself the Harrington and Hannah November block, so I might have that to show you tomorrow night.  And I have the second Snow Flakes runner to take with me and finish.  If I get both of those projects done--and I might--I have two other wool projects I could work on.  Ah, but will there be enough time?  Probably not . . . there never is.  Especially when the six of us get busy talking and eating.

Speaking of the Snow Flakes runner, I randomly picked a winner of the pattern and the little kit I put together.  The winner is Shirley I.  She said, "This little project is so cute! Here in New York state we are supposed to have snow--but it was 60+ degrees yesterday. The mailman was wearing shorts!!! Thanks for the giveaway."  Shirley, please email me your full name and address, and I'll get this in the mail to you on Monday.

Thank you all for checking in on me.  I hope you have a fun and/or productive weekend planned!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What a Flake!

I confess I'm infatuated with this Snow Flakes mini runner project.  In fact, I'm nearly done with a second one.  A couple of you asked me to share with you how to make the runner, but I can't really do that because it's someone else's design.  I CAN do a couple things though.  First, you can call the Quilt House and ask about ordering the pattern and possibly the kit.  They made these kits up for a quilt show I attended and they may have some left.  Their phone number is (775) 782-8845.  And while you're ordering that, they also have the pattern and button pack for the Christmas Pine pillow I made last year.  You may want to add that to your order.  If you click on the link (where it says "Quilt House" above), you can see the pillow they made from the pattern.

The other thing I can do is have a giveaway of the pattern and a kit I made up that's identical to the fabrics I used in this one I'm working on.

There's a little bit of orange wool for the noses, but the rest is cotton.  There's enough of the blue fabric to use as a backing and binding if you're careful.  You just have to add the batting and embroidery floss.

I don't think I'll post tomorrow night because I have things I want to get done around my home, so I'll give you the next two days to comment on this post, telling me you'd like a chance to win the pattern and kit.  And this one is only open to those of you in the US--sorry about that for the rest of you, but it gets a little more expensive and complicated when shipping out of the country.  Friday night around midnight Pacific Time I'll pick a winner and announce the winner on Saturday's post, so come back then to see if you've won.

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shopped 'Til I Dropped

Over the last two days, I shopped until I dropped . . . not only physically, but I also I dropped a lot of money in several stores along the way!

I hate shopping, most of the time.  Over the weekend, as I was getting the kitchen decorated for Christmas, I realized we were missing a few things.  There are, I think, four things I change out in the kitchen depending on the seasonal color scheme:  A utensil holder, a dish towel peg rack, the kitchen chair cushions, and the throw rug.  For winter and summer, all of those things are RED.  For spring and fall, they aren't--I use a beige crock to hold utensils, a green dish towel peg rack, beige chair cushions, and a mostly blue rug.

The first thing I couldn't find was our scrolly red-painted metal utensil holder.  Upon close questioning (there might have been a little gentle torture too), Hubby confessed he may have stuffed it into a random box without thinking about why it was sitting out on a shelf.  So it will turn up someday, but with all of the Christmas boxes filling what garage space wasn't already taken up with boxes of books waiting to be picked up by the Wild Child, we have so many boxes that it's hard to get to all the OTHER boxes that might hold the scrolly red metal utensil holder.  So it probably won't be found soon.

The big thing, though, is that we can't find the red throw rug.  Where could a red throw rug have gone?  It was too large to go into a box; Hubby usually keeps it rolled up and stored in the garage wherever it will fit nicely, but there's nothing out there that looks like a rolled up rug.  And when rugs go rogue (i.e., when the rubberized backings start to molt or the fabrics fade or look ratty for one reason or another), we cycle them onto the garage floor, so Hubby's feet are warmer when he's out there creating pot people or other creatures.  But there was no red throw rug on the garage floor.  Hubby thought maybe the weaving started to come apart and we had to throw it out . . . but neither of us truly remembers that happening, and you'd think we'd remember since it would have happened in late September when I got out the Halloween/fall decorations.  So, for whatever reason, the rug's gone AWOL, and I needed a new one.

You know how it is when you go shopping for something specific, right?  Of course, you never can find it--not easily anyway.  Monday's lunch hour was spent at Marshall's.  Monday was also the day Hubby detoured to the Walmart rug department when he was there looking for outdoor Christmas lights.  Tuesday's lunch hour was spent at Target (aka the $100 Dollar Store).  After a late dinner on Tuesday night, a trip to Kohl's seemed like a good idea.  (They were open until midnight, and at 11-something p.m., I think I was the only customer in the store!)  I finally found an extremely similar replacement throw rug at Kohl's--hurrah!  But along the way, with all that shopping, I found a lot of other things I didn't even really know I needed.  I hate that.  And I love that too.

I have a few gift exchanges coming up and several other things I needed to shop for, so now I've done that at least; now I can stay out of the stores until I think of something else I need to shop for.  Which will probably be on Thursday or Friday, the way the season's going so far.  Happy shopping!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Quilting Withdrawal

Between Thanksgiving and this past Sunday, the only sewing I'd done was to blanket stitch the wool applique I previously prepared for the Harrington and Hannah block.  By this past weekend, I was going crazy, knowing there were a lot of things I wanted to work on but not having the time to get into the Sweat Shop.  Finally, by Saturday night, I couldn't stand it any longer, so I MADE the time I needed to cut some pieces for a little project, and then I worked on the project on Sunday off and on, whenever I needed a break from Christmas decorating.  I finished the binding this evening.

The pattern is called Snow Flakes by Farmhouse Threads.  It was super quick to make and would have been even faster if I'd used wool for the snowmen noses instead of hand appliqueing them using freezer paper and starch.  This little runner measures about 5" wide by 22" or so.  I bought the pattern and the kit to make it at local quilt show I attended a few weeks ago.  These would make good gifts, wouldn't they?

I was looking for something in my embroidery basket tonight and came across this piece I embroidered a couple years ago.  I really need to make it into something--most likely a pillow, I think.

It should make a fairly quick project the next time I just can't stand to be away from the Sweat Shop another minute!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Kitchen

I thought I'd just share a few photos of my kitchen all decked out for Christmas--at least part of it's done, but there's a little more to do on the other side of the room.

To lighten up the hutch a little bit, I used red with white polka dot wrapping paper taped to the back of one of the sections of the hutch.

Instead of a tabletop Christmas tree, this year I made a gumdrop tree.  I'd seen the idea in either Women's Day or Family Circle magazine.  I want to add a bow to the box the branches are sitting in, but I haven't tracked down the Christmas ribbon yet.

The Santa quilt is a simple panel I quilted a few years ago.

Here's a close up of one of my craft show purchases--the wooden gingerbread man plate.

I wish I'd gotten more done this weekend, but at least I have what's always one of the most time consuming parts done!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Welcoming in December

When I last posted, I was planning to head to bed early with a book and a cup of hot chocolate, but something happened--I think I was mesmerized by the computer and somehow got sucked into ordering shoes.  By the way, I've been on a shoe buying odyssey lately.  You may remember when I needed mother-of-the-groom wedding shoes in a wide size and several of you recommended some online sources.  Ordering online didn't work out for me then because I just didn't have enough time, but I've been trying to find some winter ankle boots and some other shoes, so I hit the keyboard recently and I've placed several orders.  The first boots from Zappos went back; the next two pairs of shoes from Amazon were slightly more successful--I'm keeping one pair and sending the other back.  And I'm waiting for two more pairs of boots and a pair of Mary Janes to arrive.

So, anyway, no early bed and hot chocolate for me, but I got a decent night's sleep.  This morning I met my girlfriends at Starbucks at 10 a.m. and from there we went to the St. John's Craft Fair.  Here in Sacramento, this is an annual and anxiously awaited craft fair; I've always wanted to go but never had.  I'd heard the crowds were horrible and that kept me away--that and the realization that (1) I didn't need to buy anything else and (2) I needed to stay home and decorate for Christmas.  But today I went and it was great!  Sure, I bought a few things I probably didn't really need, but I can hardly wait to show you.  They had some great things there.

At one point I'd become separated from my friends, so I found a chair to sit and wait for them to catch up.  While I waited, I watched people walk by with bags filled with stuff that seemed kind of tacky to me, but that got me thinking about the fact that I'm sure some people would find my tastes questionable too.  I guess it takes all kinds of people who like all kinds of things, right?

I was crazily tempted to splurge BIG and buy a large, primitive-ish/grungy snowman.  I thought it kind of looked like it was by one of the Bethany Lowe designers, if that gives you a bit of an idea.  (Think of a big fat guy sitting on the sofa watching TV all day who suddenly changes into a snowman.  Like that.  And kind of creepy looking around the eyes.)  I resisted, but it was really hard!  Speaking of Bethany Lowe, I DID buy a Santa by one of her designers, Greg Guedel.  (I got the photo off the internet--I'm not this far along in my own decorating!)

I think he's pretty cute!

All the while we were at the craft fair, the rain was coming down, sometimes very lightly and sometimes a bit heavier.  Most of the fair was indoors, in school classrooms, meeting rooms, and the cafeteria, but sometimes we had to brave the elements as we dashed from room to room, searching for treasures before anyone else got them.

Sometime in the early afternoon, when our energy began to flag and when the five of us were satisfied we had seen most of everything, we left the fair and headed to a favorite Mexican restaurant for my friend Lisa's birthday lunch--today was THE day.

I've got to say, today was a great way to welcome in the month.  Cheers!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Happy December!

Can you believe it's already December?  Well, it is by the time you read this because I'll set it to post at midnight on December 1st, but for me, it's still November.  Not that it makes much difference, because I'm not planning to accomplish much between now and the time my eyes close for the night.

What is it about stormy days and nights that makes us want to curl up in bed with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book?  Or don't storms affect you that way?  Maybe for me tonight, it's partly because it's the end of the work week, and going to bed a little early sounds like a fine idea.  Or maybe it's because I've been up a little late the last two nights.

Last night--Thursday night--when I went to bed, the storm was raging outside.  When I woke in the morning, it was quiet and the light outside was subdued.  What time was it?  I turned to look at the bedside clock and saw it flash 3:16, 3:16, 3:16, 3:17 . . . .  Of course, that meant the power had gone out in the night, so I still didn't know what time it was until I got out of bed, padded down the hall, and started up the computer.  It was 7:45--I was only about 20 minutes late waking up.  Not too bad, considering how much worse it could have been!  There must have been a little elf watching over me to make sure I made it to work on time--more or less.

Tomorrow (Saturday), I'm going to a large craft fair with friends and then out to lunch.  Tomorrow night Soccer Son has another indoor professional soccer game, and Hubby and I plan to attend.  When am I going to do my Christmas decorating?

I've started decorating a little bit.  Originally the plan was to start last Sunday when we got home from Thanksgiving, and I had arranged to have Monday and Tuesday off work so I could devote that time to Christmas decorating.  What happened instead was that I spent Sunday cleaning out and boxing up most of the books on my numerous bookshelves because I'd decided our house was just too small to keep collecting books that no one here was likely to read again.  On Monday, I did something similar with my many cookbooks, and then I moved some of the smaller pieces of furniture around, making a little more room in the house, so it seems less cluttered.  Then, finally, late on Monday, I got out the Christmas quilts and began distributing them around the house.

On Tuesday, I was feeling a little lazy and took frequent breaks for other pursuits, but I got a little bit done.  We got the big livingroom tree up (but not really decorated) and some of the garland up and lighted here and there.

The rest of the week's decorating efforts progressed equally slowly with nothing at all accomplished last night or tonight.

In past years, when my friends invited me to the annual craft fair the first weekend in December, I've declined on the ground that I had too much decorating to do.  This year I'm rethinking that response.  After all, what's more important during the holiday season:  Spending good times with friends or decorating the house for Hubby and me to enjoy?  Well, of course I want it ALL--doesn't everyone?--but I think I'll try to put more emphasis on my friends and less emphasis on my surroundings this year.  Oh, and I think I'll also put a little emphasis on snuggling into bed early, drinking hot chocolate, and reading a good book.  Everything else can wait a little longer.