Friday, November 30, 2007

Holiday Favorites

Okay, enough decorating already! I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a little holiday FUN!

First of all, I wanted to do a little holiday dance for all of you faithful readers. You'll need Flash Player to view this and I know there are a few of you (like my good friend Eileen) who may not have a system to support it, but I think basically if you're able to watch U-Tube type videos, you'll do fine with this link:

Second, what holiday season can go by without a little bowling? Have you ever played Elf Bowling? Truly it's a fun game to play at work because it's tons more fun than actually WORKING, but if your office or place of employment has a policy against goofing off on the office computers when you're supposed to be working, then perhaps you might try it at home instead. Here's a link:

NStorm has all sorts of Elf Bowling games--this link should take you to the first and original game. You can check out their website, though, for later incarnations. Seems to me I recall some kind of elf shuffleboard that was kind of fun too. They have several "Elf" games now, and I haven't played too many of them--something to look forward to during this holiday season!

Oh, and by the way, do you have someone difficult to shop for on your holiday gift list? Don't forget to check out the Elf Bowling "gear." Perhaps the Elf Bowling thong would make the perfect gift for your best friend. Or maybe you can pick up a T-Shirt for your husband that reads, "Want to See My North Pole?" Or maybe the mousepad with the elf that says, "When life hands you an orange, make screwdrivers" would make the perfect gift for your boss! As you can see, there's truly something for everyone in the NStorm gift shop!

And I DID say this post was all about holiday favorites, right? So here's a fruit cake recipe from my house to yours--enjoy!

Holiday Fruitcake Recipe

1 C Water
1 C Sugar
4 Large eggs
3 C dried fruit
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 C Brown sugar
Lemon juice
1 FULL bottle of your favorite whiskey

Sample the whiskey to check for quality. Take out a large bowl. Check the whiskey again to be sure that it is of the highest quality. Pour 1 level cup and drink. Repeat. Turn on the electric mixer; beat 1 C of butter in a large fluffy bowl. Add 1 tsp. sugar and beat again. Make sure the whiskey is still OK. Cry another cup. Turn off the mixer. Break two geggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit. Mix on the burner. If the fried fruit gets stuck in the beaters, pry it loose with a screwdriver. Sample the whiskey to check for toxisisticity. Next, sift 2 cups of salt. Or something. Who cares? Check the whiskey. Now sift the lemon juice and strain your nuts. Add one tablespoon of sugar or something . . . whatever you can find. Grease the oven. Turn on the cake tin to 350 degrees. Don't forget to beat off the turner. Throw the bowl out of the window. Check the whiskey again. Go to bed. Who the hell likes fruit cake anyway???

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cat for Sale

Anyone want a cat with a delightful personality but a proclivity for knocking down and breaking glass Christmas ornaments? No? Probably just as well because I'm pretty attached to her, but gosh darn it! This morning she was fascinated by the ornaments hanging from the valance in the bedroom--which hung there last year and were ignored by her. She's pretty mischevious, though, and decided this morning that she wanted to bat one down. All I can say is that she's no longer on Santa's list of good little cats.

Can you stand more Christmas decorating photos? I'm at the stage where I'm trying to finish up the last bits--which happen to be a couple trees--and fine tune some of the decorations I put up earlier. By "fine tune," I actually mean "change things around a little." I won't bore you with a lot of chat--I'll just tell you what you're looking at 'cause you KNOW my photography skills aren't always the best!

The tree in the Sweat Shop.

A close up shot so you can see the cute button and bead garland (Target) and one of the Williraye ornaments (Target again) and rusty-looking bells (where else? Target!).

Remember the sleigh I painted? I decided to move it to my son's former room, put a lighted tree on it, and enlist a friendly bear to pull it along.

Do you have any of those old wooden spools? I stuck a candle on top of one and tied a bow on--fast to do and I like the way it looks.

Thought I'd just show you that platter I mentioned the other day. My husband still hasn't noticed it--or at least he hasn't said anything! It's the green one at the back with the penguin.

This is me. No, not really! LOL! I was in JoAnn's today--YET AGAIN--and decided to take a look at their patterns for pajamas. I haven't sewn clothes for a long time, but my girl boss and I were talking the other day and she mentioned that she likes to make herself a pair of PJs every Christmas. That sounded like an excellent idea to me, because I never seem to find any in the store that I really like all that much. Anyway, I doubt I'll have time BEFORE Christmas to make a pair, but maybe after. And what was I doing in JoAnn's again? Well, my personal Christmas decorating consultant, Missy, was at work today and I was telling her about some issues I have with decorating the tree in the kitchen, and she sent me off to JoAnn's for some crystal-ice-encrusted branches. So I was forced to go--not my fault at all! Really! I'm waiting for some ornaments to arrive via UPS that are scheduled to be here by Friday and then I can try to get that one finished up. In the meantime, I have another to decorate for my daughter's former room. I think I have six trees. Yeah, I know I'm nuts. But I love Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

People Are Nice, Life is Good, and Sharon Needs to Start the Hometown Christmas Quilt!

I have some this-and-that stuff to share with you--miscellaneous, non-cohesive, tidbits of chat. I think those words, "miscellaneous," "non-cohesive," and "tidbits" probably describe my life during the holiday season. In fact, I suspect they describe all our lives! If you're anything like me, you've realized that Christmas is now less than four weeks away and you have a lot to do. And you have no idea how you'll get it all done. And you know that you have more to do than you've even thought about yet because the idea of thinking of any more stuff to do scares you silly. And you want to scream. And you want to crawl into the back corner of a dark closet and pull your eyelashes out. But you don't. Do you?

Or maybe you're not like me. Maybe you've already finished your Christmas shopping, wrapped your gifts, and gotten your Christmas cards in the mail. Now you're free to sit by the fire gazing out at the gently falling snow while contemplating world peace, mingle at cocktail parties in a perfect size 5 dress, and hostess lavish charity events for homeless children. But probably not.

I digress. So, you're probably wondering what I did tonight, right? But even if you're not, it doesn't matter because I'm telling you anyway. I went to Target yet again, this time to buy some snowflakes. Why can't I just go to Target and buy snowflakes? Why does a trip for snowflakes end up costing something like $80? One of life's mysteries. But then the national and world economy is a mystery to me too. All I know is that I'm apparently stimulating it. I think I'm probably better at stimulating the economy than a hooker is at stimulating . . . well, never mind. Where was I? Oh, snowflakes. So I came home and told my husband I was starting dinner. In the meantime, because I'm a woman and fully capable of multi-tasking, I got myself a hammer and finishing nails so I could hang the snowflakes on the wall behind the range. My husband had a hard time understanding why I needed a hammer and nails to cook his dinner, but I figured I could hammer and stir, hammer and stir, and before long, we'd have soup AND Holly Jolly snowflakes. That worked pretty well until I accidentally hit the handle of the wooden spoon, which flew out of the pot and onto the floor, and splattered tomato soup all over the stovetop, the front of the oven, and the floor. But at least it didn't get on my snowflakes! And sure enough, by the time the soup was ready, so were the snowflakes.

So here's Holly Jolly now, surrounded by glittering, colorful snowflakes. Better, yes? And I would suggest that if you try this trick at home, you paint the letters a color that contrasts with the walls. Before I added the fabric to the fronts, I painted the letters white. If I had painted them black, for instance, I think they would have "popped" from the background a little more. Live and learn. Read blogs and learn more. Not a great photo but I couldn't wait until morning when the light would be better.

I was reading Sharon's blog tonight to see how she's doing on that Hometown Christmas project and I noticed that Carole had commented on "Rob--I mean Rod--Stewart" and it reminded me that I don't think I mentioned what a nice thing my guy boss did for me a couple weeks ago. We were talking about music one day and a few days later, he gave me two CDs he had made of some music he thought I'd like. It took me awhile to get around to listening to them, but I finally did over the weekend while I was decorating and my husband was gone--I cranked those speakers up so I could hear them no matter where I was in the house. And he was right--I did like them. Wasn't that a nice thing for him to do? Both of my "kids" are great to work with!

And speaking of stuff that makes me do a little happy dance, in yesterday's mail I receive my bingo winnings from my online Thimbleberries group--we've been playing lately for 2-1/2" strips of fabric, and I probably won about the equivalent of a jelly roll--here's a photo:

Cool, huh?! My win, though, means I have to call the bingo words for our December game. Heavy responsibility during a busy time of the year, but I'll try to rise to the occasion.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday), I think I'll work on decorating the tree in the Sweat Shop. Some of what I purchased at Target tonight is for that tree, and I was so excited about the goodies I got that I WOULD have started decorating tonight if it wasn't for having to hang snowflakes, cook dinner, and clean up sloshed soup. But tomorrow night will do. If all goes as planned--and you know it rarely does!--I'll get it done and share a photo with you.

Finally tonight, for those of you working on the Hometown Christmas project, our next section is due by Friday. Have I done mine? Nope! Have I even looked to see which section it is? Nope! But I will! I have a feeling it might be that holly and berries one--someone said it looked like something their cat had walked on and I have to laugh and agree. If that's the one, I'll be doing something completely different with applique, so I may well be late this time. How are you all doing? Who's keeping up? Who's getting ahead? Who hasn't even started theirs yet?! I think it may be a little hard to keep up this month, but you can always catch up in January if you need to.

Have a great Wednesday and thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

More Christmas

Are you getting tired of my decorating yet? I am! But frankly I'm just too pooped tonight to think of anything else to entertain you with, so I'll give you a few more photos. (I still have two more trees to decorate plus a little more--just a warning of what's to come!)

My son's room. Doesn't that photo look blurry or is it just my tired eyes? The camera didn't TELL me the photo was blurry!

I had to move my unfinished quilt tops into a larger basket, so I decided to decorate it while I was at it. Sure makes me feel less guilty if I can turn unfinished "work" into something pretty! But yep, there are a bunch of rolled up quilt tops hiding behind those pinecones and stuffed animals! I'm such a slacker!

Another photo that catches those alien red balls on my tree. Really, though, I was taking the photo to show you the quilt--I don't think I showed you this one before. This is a Thimbleberries pattern (Starlight Pines) that I half sized--and it's still big enough for a throw.

The kitchen tree so far. I think I'm taking the pinecone/berries off and using those for the tree in the Sweat Shop, but I'm waiting to get a box of lime green ornaments and a box of turquoise blue ornaments I ordered. So, this is still a work in progress, but mainly I wanted to show you the tree skirt I made from Marcie's cute, free pattern. The Holly Jolly "It's a Wrap" quilt will hang on the wall behind the tree once I get it quilted.

The Christmas quilt hanging on my bedroom wall. This is one I made a couple years ago.

Guess what? I think I've figured out what to do about the slighly barren look of the space where I have my Holly Jolly letters. I remember seeing some flat-ish glittery snowflake ornaments at Target in these colors I'm using. I think I'll stop by on my way home from work and see what I can get. I should be able to use some tiny nails to hang them around the letters and spark that area up a bit.

And guess what else? Today I went to JoAnn's where I found they have 3-packs of Christmas trees on sale--you get a 2' tree, a 3' tree, and a 4' tree for about $15. Of course, one of those boxes came home with me. I needed one--maybe two--trees but I couldn't pass up a deal, so I settled for three. They also had some fun Debbie Mumm Christmas "stuff." A couple of Christmas dish towels, a quartet of snowmen ornaments sitting on jingle bells, and a platter with a penguin came home with me too. Shhhhh! Don't tell my husband about that platter! He has fits when I bring new dishes into the house. He's not real observant sometimes, so it might be a few days before he notices the platter sitting in my hutch and then I can tell him I've had it for awhile! Then again, sometimes he notices things right away. He DOES enjoy the decorations and sometimes he'll wander around looking at things, but he's already given the hutch the once over, so maybe he won't look at it again for awhile. We can only hope.

Okay, bedtime for me--tomorrow's another work day, darn it! Oh, and a special preview just for you: If you've avidly followed my Saturday Day of Beauty posts and have missed me posting anything for the last several weeks, I'm seriously considering shaving my legs on Saturday, even if it means a loss of warmth in my lower extremities. So, if you're following along on this routine with me, sharpen up that razor or get out the Ginsu knives, because it's been awhile now and we'll probably need some sharp blades for cutting down that forest we've been nurturing. But I figure it's always nice to pay special attention to personal hygiene and beauty during the holiday season, don't you think?

Finally, don't forget the next section of the Hometown Christmas quilt is "due" by the end of the week. Sharon, are you listening? Sharon? Go on over and ask Sharon to show you her Hometown Christmas, okay? "See" you tomorrow!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Back to Work!

My vacation's over and it's back to work for me! I'm incredibly tired tonight and I've stayed up waaaay too late--as usual--but I was on a roll and trying to get everything done, more or less. Yes, there are many things I thought I'd get done while I was on vacation--like taking in and hemming a few pairs of pants--that I didn't quite get to, but I'm happy to say that the house is just about ready for Christmas and it's nice and clean! I think the only thing I have left to do is decorate my tree for the Sweat Shop--and maybe a tree for my daughter's former bedroom, but I'm undecided about that. I need to make a trip to JoAnn's for a few things, so maybe I'll look at their trees. Or not.

Besides the decorating, today I shampooed the rest of the house--my daughter's room, my bedroom, and the other half of the hallway. I also decoupaged some Holly Jolly and Christmas Past fabric onto my Holly Jolly letters and used Gorilla Glue to attach thumbtacks to the back. Not ideal but it seems to have worked--at least for now.

Anyway, I'll just share a couple photos with you before going to bed to get my beauty sleep.

"Holly Jolly" of course! It looks a little stark in that space, so I'll have to find something to liven it up a little bit--not sure what though. And remember that Santa cookie jar on the left? I decided since we aren't eating cookies, I COULD fill it with our 100 calorie snack packages.

And since I'm showing you letters, here's the "Noel." They seem to be reflecting the flash too much, but they look pretty good in the space, which can be seen from the front entryway; to the right is the kitchen and to the left is the hall leading to the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Back in the kitchen, here's my hutch. The hutch is a dark green, and I like to decorate with red and white for the holidays. I can then leave some of it up after Christmas as we move toward Valentine's Day. In fact, I have a Valentine's Day tree. Really! Wait until you see it! But one holiday at a time. Oh, and those "dolls" on top of the hutch--I bring those out every couple years and stick them somewhere in the house. These guys are "vintage"--they were my mom's many years ago. Since I'm going for a slightly retro look this year, they seems to fit.

The front bathroom--I just figured you'd want to see the runner I put up on the wall.

And a stitchery and paint (acrylic with textile medium) pillow cover. This is in my son's former room. I tried to get a couple photos in there, but the flash reflected off the window in one, and the other didn't turn out very well either. I'll have to get a few more photos another time.

And, finally, the quilt on my daughter's bed. I took a shortcut on the applique when I made this a few years ago. I traced the shapes of the holly leaves, berries, and bow onto a lightweight nonfusible interfacing. I then sewed that to the fabric, "good" sides together, cut a slit in the interfacing and turned the pieces right side out. After pressing them, I pinned them to the quilt and sewed them on while I was quilting the quilt. It worked out just fine! I'm sure I'll use the technique again someday.

Time for my beauty sleep, so I'll say goodnight! Thanks for visiting, and I'll "see" you later!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like . . .

Okay, maybe it's not QUITE looking a lot like Christmas around here, but at least I got the tree and the living room done. I'm never quite pleased with photos of Christmas decorations because they just don't capture the glow of the Christmas lights. And for some reason, the camera flash does weird things to the red balls on the tree. I call this my "gay guy tree." Politically incorrect, I'm sure, but what else can you call a tree covered with a bunch of elves, fairies, and butterflies? Actually gay guys probably have much better taste, but we like these decorations--for now, anyway. I suspect I'll want to do something different in another couple years.

When the kids were growing up, we always had a soccer tree because the two of them were mad about soccer. Once they moved out, though, I changed the tree.

Actually, what it's looking a LOT like around here is a supreme MESS. I sorted many of the boxes of Christmas decorations and distributed them to various rooms. I have "stuff" piled here and there--stuff to decorate with and stuff I took down to make way for decorations. But I know that underneath all that mess, my house is fairly clean. By the way, I "tested" out the new rug shampooer today and did the carpets in my son's former room and The Sweat Shop--works great! It's probably a sign of some deep-seated psychosis, but I get a bit of a kick out of dumping all that filthy water afterward--it's kind of like a pat on the back, knowing that I did an excellent job busting the dirt! I should have take a photo--or maybe not. Just take my word, okay? It's MUCH cleaner than it was before!

In the midst of decorating the living room, I had to stop for a few arts and crafts moments. Here's the first--the "before" photo.

I was really tired of gold deer--in fact, I was so tired of gold deer, I haven't put them out for the last few years. The only problem is that the large area on top of the entertainment center needs something . . . well, LARGE on it, and these deer work fairly well. If I could come up with a better idea, I'd change it, but inspiration hasn't struck yet, so I decided to repaint the deer a bit more realistically. Here's the "after."

Then since I really liked the display on Warm Pie, Happy Home's blog with the sled, quilt, and books, I wanted to recreate something similar. So the other day, I pulled out a boring old sled and gave it a crackle finish. Tonight I painted some holly leaves and berries on it. Here's how it came out.

I also had this carved wooden Santa who had gotten a little wobbly over the years, so my husband was nice enough to take Santa to the garage and give him a sturdier base. I love the folk arty look of this guy, although my kids think Santa's doing something naughty with the tree. Take a look. Naughty or nice?

Remember how moms used to lick their fingers and smooth down kids' hair? Do you ever do something like that to quickly remove pet hair or lint? Well, I was trying to get a little cat hair off a quilt and I didn't want to climb off the step stool to go get a damp sponge, so I tried the damp finger thing. The first attempt didn't quite get it all, so I repeated the steps and now I think I have a hair ball in my throat. Maybe I DON'T want to come back as a cat in my next life after all. GACK!

That's my decorated mantle. I figure if there's a home invasion robbery, I can grab that spear that's holding the wreath and defend my property. You'll notice there are no stockings hung with care. That's because my stocking is 6 feet long and looks pretty silly up there, so we don't bother. When my husband and I first got married and didn't have much money, we agreed we'd just do stocking stuffers. That's when I bought myself a 6 foot stocking. I may be sort of blondish (grayish), but I'm not dumb!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Play Time

As I'm writing this, I'm almost too tired to stay awake, but I suspect there are a few of you who check in every morning and would probably wonder what happened to me if I didn't post something. I'll try to keep this post short though so I can crawl into bed. Too many late nights are finally catching up to me, I think!

I gave myself permission to "play" today. After all, all work and no play makes Kim a dull girl! (Not to mention the sore muscles and aching back.) Besides, this IS my vacation, right?! So no decorating and no cleaning happened here today. Not even any arts and crafts, unless you lump quilting into the arts and crafts category--which I guess it probably is. So, okay, yeah some arts and crafts took place.

This morning I made this little quilted gift bag. Kind of cute, huh? Now I just need to figure out what kind of gift to give myself that will fit in the bag. What? You think a gift bag ought to be given? Well, okay, you win. I actually DID make it for someone else, but maybe I need to make myself one or two someday. But not today.

Today I made this for myself:

This is the It's a Wrap pattern by Sandy Gervais/Pieces From The Heart made with the Holly Jolly fabric. No, don't look too closely at my points and sashing/cornerstone intersections. They're not horrible, but they aren't perfect either, and I know that at least ONE OF YOU--and you know who you are!--likes to check to see how I do on my points. (The back, however, is simply stunning--come on over and take a look if you don't believe me! Lovely pressed seams all over the place!) I do like to be fairly accurate, but I'm not going to have a cow if it's not perfect. I'm a student of the "back of the galloping horse" school of quilting--if something looks okay from the back of a galloping horse (theoretically speaking, you understand--I don't really get on a horse and test it) and I don't have the patience to fuss with it, then that's okay with me! This is actually a very forgiving pattern, though, since there aren't a lot of pieces to line up. I made mine a little smaller than the pattern with 16 presents instead of 25 because I have a specific place in mind to hang it and a limited amount of room.

I have another two days before I go back to work, and I'm planning to spend all the time I can in decorating and cleaning--play time is over! I would like to try to get this quilt pinned this weekend, though, so I can get it quilted next week and up on the wall before long.

Finally, I thought I'd share this with you. You know that pesky younger cat of mine, Spike? Well, I went into my bedroom this afternoon and closed the door so I could have a few uninterrupted minutes of time on the computer. Lately she's taken to trying to climb onto my lap while I'm on the computer and I was trying to avoid that. I guess she must have tried following me but had to settle for opening the door of the linen closet that's outside my bedroom and climbing up into there instead of my lap. Silly cat!

It's long past my bedtime, so I'm heading to bed. Hasta la vista, baby!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Are you going--or have you already been--shopping today? The biggest shopping day of the year and I hear that one quarter of the U.S. population will go shopping. I'm very tempted because of all the hype, but I think I'll stay home. Goodness knows that after the last several days, I'm pretty well shopped out! In any event, I have some quilting things to do and I think my only trip out will be to the post office. Besides, my husband threw out the newspaper before I could look at the ads. Do you think he planned it that way?!

I hope those of you here in the U.S. who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful day filled with family and friends. We spent a quiet day doing things around the house and then went to my in-laws' house for dessert in the evening. My husband baked two pumpkin pies to take along, and they were yummy! Because dessert was at 6 p.m. and we didn't have our turkey sandwiches for lunch until around 2 p.m., we ended up having our dinner after we got home from dessert! Backward, I know, but it worked out well.

There's still no real, all-out decorating going on here as I've continued to clean and get the house ready to decorate. I spent most of Thanksgiving day cleaning out my craft and junk closet in my son's room as well as some of the other drawers and places I store things in there. Looking at some of the craft stuff I still had brought back memories of the '80s! I took out a couple large bags of trash and emptied a few storage containers, and when I finished, the closet looked much like it did before I started. Somehow that doesn't seem quite fair! But at least now I know what I have in there and where it is.

After we got back home from visiting relatives, I went into the Sweat Shop and played around with my big wooden letters, trying out different techniques with paper, stickers, inks, and stamping.

I couldn't get a good photo that really showed the true colors, but I think you get the idea. I'm reasonably happy with my first efforts at playing around with these materials.

I think I'll either put these up on a shelf that can be seen from the front door or I'll put them in the living room somewhere. I think. I'll have to play around with different ideas and decide where I like them best.

I have more letters that are smaller and will spell Holly Jolly. I think I'll just paint those, and I'd like to somehow mount them on the wall over my stove. Any ideas on how to do that? I can't think of anything temporary that wouldn't be affected by the warmth of the stove and oven. The letters in "Holly" are smaller than "Jolly" and I was thinking maybe pins stuck in the wall would be reasonably invisible but strong enough to hold up the smaller letters, but I'd probably need small nails for the larger letters. Or maybe I'll think of a completely different plan by the time I get them done--who knows?!

If you're braving the shopping crowds today, I wish you good luck and good deals! Thanks for stopping in to visit with me!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone here in the U.S. I'll be spending yet another day cleaning and decorating for Christmas, but I'll stop long enough to go with my husband over to my sister-in-law's house for dessert in the evening. My husband will be making a pumpkin pie in the morning--hopefully he'll be able to find some empty space in the kitchen where he can do that. I just realized--and here it is 1:30 a.m.--that I STILL haven't packed away the fall decorations covering the kitchen table. And since that stuff was covering the kitchen table, I'm afraid I've piled a few more things on the kitchen counters--stuff that was in the living room that I've taken down to make way for Christmas decorations. You know those little tile puzzles where you move the tiles around to make a picture or put number in order? My cleaning and decorating is much like that--everything keeps getting shifted from room to room until things look right.

I think my seven years of bad luck are over--knock on wood. Not that I'm superstitious or anything, of course. But here's why I think it just might be true. I left the house this morning at 10 a.m. for Target and was back home, after driving through Starbucks, at 11:15. I never knew I could spend that much money in that little time! But I got another rug shampooer, found the perfect sheers for my bedroom (I was worried I'd have to settle for something boring), found some new RED corduroy tie-on chair pads for the kitchen chairs, found pre-tied little red bows (instead of having to make a separate trip to JoAnn's or Michael's), and came across numerous and sundry other wonderful things that I simply HAD TO HAVE. How often do you go shopping with several specific things in mind and find them all at the same store? I know that rarely happens to me! See, seven years must have passed!

Then today I was one of two winners of my online group's monthly bingo game. I won a pattern and a bunch of pre-cut 2-1/2" strips of Thimbleberries fabric. Cool, huh? Yep, I'm thinking that seven years is definitely over!

So what did I do today? I took a few photos 'cause I knew you'd want to see.

After shopping, I hung the new sheers and the old valance and threaded cream-colored ornaments onto the points of the white eyelet valance. And see those bows on the ornaments? Those were my fantastic Target find! For a few minutes there, I thought my seven years of bad luck might not be quite over because as I went to hang the valance, I realized I had mixed up the rods for the sheers and valance, so I had to take everything down and switch the rods, but it really didn't take too long after all.

Once I got the curtains hung, I finished cleaning the bedroom. Funny all the cobwebs and things you can see when the sun's shining in the window and you have no curtains up! But I had planned to do the cleaning anyway. Oh, and when I dusted off the pin up board that I never use, I remembered I had some vintage Christmas cards, so I put them up--now I have something interesting and festive to look at when I'm sitting at my desk.

By the time I was done, I decided to take a little break and enjoy some arts and crafts therapy out on the patio. Mostly I was painting stuff, like all those wooden letters. I also wanted to do a crackle finish on that little sled. I love crackle finishes. How often do you get to work on something where you actually WANT the paint to look old and deteriorated?

After a bit, when I got tired of watching paint dry, I decided it might be time for a little snack. Painting's hard work and a person can really work up an appetite. Besides, what says "Christmas" more clearly than hot chocolate with marshmallows served in a red and white cup? Yeah, I really didn't WANT the hot chocolate, you understand, since I'm on a diet, but I thought I probably ought to force it down for the sake of the festive holiday spirit. Besides, marshmallows are a low fat food, right?

I don't have any more photos, but after that, I cleaned the living room really, really well, so my husband could haul in and assemble the tree--yes, we do have an artificial tree. So that's done and ready to be decorated. Then we had dinner (turkey leftovers) and I headed into the Sweat Shop with my big, red wooden letters for a little more arts and crafts therapy. I'll show you those when I get them done.

In the meantime, have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Seven Years Bad Luck

I didn't mention it before, but when I was cleaning house on Sunday, I was trying to move a small bookcase back against the wall after unplugging the vacuum, and something on the bookcase bumped into the mirror that hung above it and knocked the mirror down. Shattered, of course. I was kind of bummed but I'm not very superstitious, and since I was heading out to Target anyway, I figured I could simply replace the mirror.

As I was getting ready to leave for Target, I sat down on the bed to put on my shoes and sat on my reading glasses. Yep, they were kind of bent up, but I was able to bend them back. Mostly.

The next day (Monday), as I mentioned, we had a slight turkey mishap. Coulda happened to anyone. Or maybe I should say it coulda happened to any one who has a husband who doesn't pay attention and who leaves that same husband in charge of checking the turkey. (By the way, is that redundant? "Husband" and "doesn't pay attention"?)

Tonight (Tuesday) I had planned to stay up late and shampoo the carpet in the living room. See, one of the things that turns the whole Christmas decorating thing into quite the ordeal for me is that for some silly reason, I seem to pick this time of the year to do what most people call "Spring cleaning." Weird, huh? It just seems to me that as I'm climbing around decorating and moving furniture and such, I might as well do some good cleaning. So tonight I moved the furniture and vacuumed the carpet, and then I got out the carpet shampooer and filled the soapy water container and the hot water container and plugged it in and got started. After a little bit I realized it wasn't spitting the hot soapy water onto the carpet although it was sucking water up.

You may be wondering how I know it was sucking water up if it wouldn't spit it out. Well, genius that I am, when I realized something was wrong, I thought I'd just tilt the thing a little to see if I could look underneath and figure out why it wasn't "spitting." That, of course, caused a bunch of the water in the reservoir to spill out, thus requiring the "sucking up" feature of the shampooer.

When I realized the darn thing just wasn't going to work, I went into the bedroom where my husband was trying to sleep, and stood on his side of the bed and stared at him until he opened his eyes to see what I was doing. After I explained the problem to him and didn't go away, he wandered out to the garage in his underwear to see if he could fix the shampooer. Frankly I think he got too cold out there to really try very hard, because a few minutes later, he came back in, said he couldn't fix it, and headed back to bed. Of course, I then took the thing apart myself and cleaned it really well and tried it again, but it still didn't work. I guess breaking a mirror really does bring bad luck.

So I got a pot of hot soapy water and a soft brush and got down on hands and knees and did the worst parts the old fashioned way. At least I was able to use the shampooer to suck the water up again. I think I'll go out and buy a new one.

The day wasn't a total loss, though. I do have some photos to show you of what I did get done.

I spent about four hours or so taking down all my fall decoratings and gathering up my quilts and bedding for the wash. And although I've since washed, folded, and put away all the quilts and bedding, all the fall decorations are still piled on my kitchen table. I probably would have put them away tonight except the carpet shampooing thing took longer than I expected.

This is our Christmas cookie jar. When I told my husband that it would not be filled with Christmas cookies this year because of our diet, he cried. Now that I think about it, maybe that's why he didn't really try to fix the carpet shampooer. Passive-aggressive tendencies. I think I'll probably put the cookie jar up on top of the hutch in the kitchen, though, because I think it's cute.

I got my Christmas bedding onto our bed and did a few other things in our bedroom, but I have to go shopping to buy new sheers for the window--the old ones are just about falling apart. So I'll get to the Christmas window treatment once I get the sheers. The quilt on top of the bedspread is the same pattern I used for the quilt I made for my boss last year and showed you earlier this week. (Silly cat likes to pose for photos. In my next life, I'm coming back as a cat. If the hardest thing I had to do was lay on the bed and be fat, I think I could manage quite nicely.)

Last of all, I finished quilting and binding my Trees on the Table tree skirt. In fact, after my last post Monday night, I went into the Sweat Shop and stayed up until 3:30 a.m. quilting--too much coffee after dinner, I think. Between taking fall decorations down, cleaning, and doing a little decorating, I took a few breaks and managed to get it bound, so it's ready to go once I get the kitchen tree up. (I'll need to wash it first to get the markings out, and don't look too closely at the spacing of the quilting lines in the green border--that was done around 2:30 a.m. and is far from perfect! I don't care--done is better than perfect, right?!)

Tomorrow (actually today), I'll need to do the above-mentioned shopping for a shampooer and sheers, finish decorating my bedroom, and do some more cleaning. More photos to come as the decorating progresses. I do hope I won't need to report any more unexpected, unlucky set backs. Hasn't it been seven years yet?!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Turkey Tale

I know what I was trying to remember to tell you the other day! Remember the Wild Child and the Drooling Dog were coming to stay for several days and we were going to have our Thanksgiving early? Well, as it turned out, the Wild Child's friend Liz needed to return a vehicle to Colorado. Liz doesn't have a driver's license, so she offered to pay all of the Wild Child's expenses if the Wild Child would drive. Unfortunately, it meant the Wild Child would have to miss our Thanksgiving celebrations. Now to tell you the truth, the prospect of NOT HAVING THE DROOLING DOG here was pretty darn appealing. So, much as I miss my daughter and am sorry she can't be here with us, I'm not quite devastated by the news.

We had planned an early Thanksgiving specifically so the Wild Child could be here and not have it interfere with her work as a waitress/bartender. By the time I learned of this change in plans, the turkey was already defrosting in the refrigerator, so we went ahead with our Thanksgiving on Monday.

Since I've been desperately searching for lime green ornaments, I got the turkey ready and put it in the oven before heading out on yet another shopping expedition. I carefully instructed my husband to check the turkey in two hours and cover it if it was looking pretty brown. I also mentioned that he should be very careful about brushing up against the oven dial since the bird needed to cook at 325 degrees for about four hours.

Three hours later, I came home to find that my husband had accidentally brushed against the oven dial and turned the oven up to 425 degrees--presumably when he covered the turkey. The funny thing is that when he looked at the dial to make sure he hadn't changed it, he saw it was set at 425 degrees and thought that was what I had said. So, needless to say, the turkey was done. Okay, actually the turkey was overdone. And it was still over two hours until dinner. So much for multi-tasking. I guess it wasn't a good idea to think I could shop and cook a turkey at the same time, huh?!

Everything turned out okay though. We spent a lovely evening visiting with my son and his girlfriend. I didn't cook too much food and I managed to send a lot of the leftovers home with the kids, including the half of a chocolate mousse cake. (Hey, I know it's not quite a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but if I'm only going to have ONE dessert, it sure as heck isn't going to be pumpkin pie when the chocolate mousse cake was calling my name!) So, back to the diet tomorrow--more or less. I'm sure we won't be quite as good at sticking to it during the holiday season, but at least we'll try. Or I'll try. My husband, on the other hand, will probably moan and groan and whine every time I do something like send a chocolate mousse cake home with my son.

I took one last photo of my Thanksgiving decorations in the dining area since they'll be coming down Tuesday.

Oh, and these are my Thanksgiving plates--a pattern by Johnson Bros. called Frozen Up from the Historic America line. I dearly love these plates--I'm just sorry I can really only use them once a year, but that makes it kind of fun to bring out the "special" plates, don't you think?

And what do I have to show from shopping while the turkey burned? (Okay, a slight exaggeration, but it sounded good.) Here are my green things. I still didn't find plain old glass balls, but these will do. Target had some green ornaments that I nearly bought but they were glittery, and glittery wouldn't go so well with the rest of my stuff for that tree. Anyway, I thought maybe this green garland and the green bells will add that color I need to the tree and blend okay with what I already have.

And then Kari left me a comment with a link to Amazon. They had some green ornaments and some turquoise ones too, so I placed an order--hopefully they won't take too long to arrive. And thank you all for your suggestions on where to look. They were helpful, but I didn't find quite the right thing. However, if I ever want pickle ornaments or Green Bay Packer ornaments, I certainly know where to look now!

Oh, and I guess I should explain my need for this green--I don't think I really said, did I? It's that darn Holly Jolly fabric and the Christmas Past fabric I used in Marcie's Trees on the Table pattern. I'm making one of the two "Trees" tops into a tree skirt and I want to make a wallhanging using the Holly Jolly fabric. Both of those lines have a lime green in it, and I'm trying to coordinate the decorations for my kitchen tree. Makes sense? Yes, doesn't EVERYONE have a kitchen tree that they coordinate with fabric for quilts they haven't even made yet? And may not get made if they don't stop shopping and stay home long enough to plant their rear end in front of a sewing machine and get some sewing done?

And okay, so yes, as a matter of fact, I AM a bit obsessive when it comes to Christmas decorating, and yes, I certainly will subject you all to photos in the coming days--I just wish my photographic abilities and/or camera were a bit more adequate.

Time to head into the Sweat Shop. Yes, it's midnight, but I'm on vacation, I've had two (or three?) cups of coffee tonight, and I quite clearly have projects to finish now that I've found green ornaments. "See" you all later!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Searching for Green!

I need--NEED--green glass Christmas ornaments. Kind of that lime green color that we see popping up all over the place these days. All over the place, that is, except on the shelves where all the Christmas ornaments are. So far, I only found this assortment of small ornaments online but I need some larger ones--and possibly this size too. I'm not looking for any fancy heirloom ornaments--just something simple to add that particular color to the tree(s) that hopefully won't cost a bunch of money.

I did find a couple "sets" of ornaments at Target and at a craft store, but they were mixed in with a bunch of other ornament colors that I either just don't need or that make me gag a little.

Have you seen any around at any chain stores or online? Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Me Again!

Second post today! I just wanted to say real quick-like and not take up too much of your time that I'm sure getting excited about decorating for Christmas. Seeing all the lovely photos out in Blogland of what some of you are doing (or buying or making) is totally and completely inspirational--I have so many ideas, I'm sure I won't be ready for Christmas until February!

And did you all see Kairle's blog the last couple days? I've been drooling over her photos, and if it wasn't the peak holiday travel season, and if I didn't have to cook and serve our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I'd hop on a plane from Sacramento to Salt Lake and make her take me shopping.

One of the shops she talks about, Broadbent's, has to be one of my favorite shops of all time--so many neat things to decorate with and at good prices too, not to mention the fact that there's a quilt shop in the store. I was lucky enough to shop at Broadbent's when I visited Kairle last year. Unfortunately, she had not yet discovered the other shop she talks about, Scrooge and Marley's. If there's anything like those two shops here in Sacramento, I sure don't know about them. Well, there's the William Glenn store, but I don't count that because their prices aren't nearly as good as the shops in Kairle's blog.

So, instead I'm heading out to Target. I love Target. I love Broadbent's more, but Target will have to satisfy my craving for retail therapy. I think I read in someone's comments on somebody's blog where they referred to Target as the "Hundred Dollar Store." So true, isn't it? And just to be on the safe side, I activated my new Target credit card that was sent to replace the one that expired. Tis the season to carry plastic, fa-la-la-la-la!

It's The Little Things . . .

Little things. Today's been all about little things. Well, almost.

This morning I prepared backs for and pinned several little quilts. One down,

. . . five more to go. Actually, I have the second one nearly done--it just needs binding and a couple other little details, but I won't be able to show you that one for a couple weeks since it's for a Secret Santa-type swap.

Then there's this:

Lava Bar--a liquid "chocolate bar." Not that I don't imagine this little tube is filled with magically wonderful goodness, but a liquid candy bar? Why not just buy a bottle of Hershey's syrup and suck that down? Heck, buy a can of whipped cream while you're at it for a chaser! Anyway, my husband came home from work Saturday with this little giftie for me--the guy came to replenish the snack machines and this was one of the new products. Remember that "diet" my husband and I are on? My husband made a loaf of homemade bread for the guys at work and couldn't pass up eating a thick slice himself, so I think that bringing me this "chocolate bar" was an effort by him to balance the scales--pun intended!

Finally, when I got home from work on Friday, I found a box waiting for me with these little guys inside, pounding on the lid, and screaming to be let out. Remember that blog I talked about the other day with all the wonderful decorations? I ordered these little guys off the website she mentioned and I was completely and totally amazed at the speed in which they arrived. That's some service!

What wasn't so little today was the burrito I had for dinner. My husband and I stopped at a local Mexican fast food chain, Adalberto's, and picked up dinner--I ordered a "super burrito." We had only eaten there once before and I don't remember what I had. This super burrito, though, was ginormous--I had no idea until I looked in the bag on the way home! We thought that maybe instead of serving a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, we could just pick up a burrito--it would probably serve a family of 6! Seriously, though, this thing was about a foot long and 4 to 5 inches wide. Needless to say, I didn't eat it all. Not even close.

My bill at the local craft store wasn't little either--that's where my husband and I went before we picked up my 20-pound burrito. Boy do I have a lot of projects to work on in the coming days! The other day when I was blog surfing, I came across this (click HERE to visit the blog):

I really thought maybe I needed something along these lines, so when I found the local craft store had large wooden letters, a few made their way into my shopping cart. LARGE wooden letters. Yeah, I guess those weren't so little either. Okay, so not everything today was little. But I still have four little quilts waiting for me to work on in the morning plus a little bit of the fifth to finish, so tomorrow will probably be another little day. I hope you enjoy your day, no matter what size it is!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thinking About Making a Quilt as a Gift?

When I looked back in my photos for the quilt I made my niece, Kelly, last year, I remembered this one I made for my former boss:

I thought I'd share it with you because it's really a simple quilt to make with a lot of visual impact, particularly for any guys on your Christmas list. I think the cutting and piecing probably only took me about a day, and then I kept the quilting pretty simple with just some straight lines to fill in the "star" and some meandering in the background. From start to finish, this one only took a few days and I think it turned out nicely--so did my boss and his wife!

The pattern is the Carpenter's Wheel, and I think you can find the block on the Quilters' Cache site. It's made up primarily of half square triangles and a few plain blocks, and I believe I made each block 6". In fact, when you're thinking about simple quilts with lots of visual impact, you might consider just taking a regular block pattern that you like and making each piece much larger, as I did with the Carpenter's Wheel block. Sometimes just one large block can make the whole quilt--or maybe four large blocks set together. The possibilities are endless! All you have to do is think outside the box a little bit!