Sunday, December 31, 2006

SRE Vest Progress

Spent most of the day working on the silk ribbon embroidery (SRE) vest that I started in September. The embroidery is DONE! I hopefully will get it put together either tonight or tomorrow.

Here is the design on the back:


And here are the front pieces:



I am thinking of getting some of those buttons you cover with your own fabric and making buttons with a flower on them for the vest - otherwise I am thinking I need some pretty metal buttons...don't know if I will get to Joann's tomorrow or not - I hear they are having a great sale on batting and quilting notions on New Year's Day...

The ABCs of ME ME-ME

Sophie tagged me. Last meme of 2006!

A- Available or single? Not for a loooooong time.
B- Best Friend? Julia. She’s responsible for infecting me with quilt-pox. She’s also my sometime office partner (we share an official office but both of us have been co-located in client sites for years.)
C- Cake or Pie? Usually like pie better – though our secret family birthday cake is pretty tasty! Key Lime is definitely in my top ten. Apricot, apple and boysenberry make the list too.
D- Drink of Choice? Tea – specifically Stash Chai Spice with cream and Splenda…yum…
E- Essential Item? Computer of some sort…artistic materials…
F- Favorite Color? Green.
G- Gummi Bears or Worms? Can’t eat either variety – they are made with corn syrup to which I am dreadfully allergic. Worms seem like more fun though! Especially in a ‘Dirt’ cake for a little boy…
H- Hometown? Not comfortable saying but its somewhere in So Cal.
I- Indulgence? Dark Chocolate...Belgian…
J- January or February? January…it’s a month of new hope.
K- Kids and names? Have two – one of each kind – eh, make that three (I recently acquired a DDIL). Sorry for not posting the names…but that’s not something I am comfortable with either. Both kids have two middle names. DD’s name has a cool translation and it fits her.
L- Life is incomplete without? My DH.
M- Marriage Date? August 27, 1978
N- Number of Siblings? One sister.
O- Oranges or apples? Apples. The greener/fresher the better. Love to pick them and eat them right off the tree.
P- Phobias/Fears? Spiders. Used to have problem with heights but that’s mostly gone. And I can whack spiders with the best of them!
Q- Favorite Quote? “The best revenge is living well” – DH. Or “There are no coincidences” – James Redfield
R- Reason to Smile? Today – it’s a beautiful day.
S- Season? Fall…love the colors and the tang of coolness in the air. We actually DO have some trees in So Cal that turn magnificent colors! Someday I want to do a Color Tour of the East Coast during Fall…
T- Tag three people! If you haven’t done this…yer it!
U- Unknown Fact About Me? If I said, it wouldn’t be unknown anymore!
V- Vegetable you hate? Not really fond of Brussels sprouts though I have been known to choke them down. With. Lots. Of. Butter. And some nutmeg.
W- Worst habit? Procrastination! Second would be getting diverted…like on this meme!
X- X-Rays you’ve had? A bunch…probably too many
Y- Your favorite food? Dark chocolate…and fresh raspberries
Z- Zodiac? Leo/Virgo…and the best of both, I might add.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

My Little Black Sheep


One of the gifts I received was this cutie patootie little black sheep. His tail pulls out and is a tape measure. My friend who bought him said he came in a box of 12 white sheep and 1 black sheep...everyone wants the black sheep though so the store owner has tons of the white ones and the black ones go as soon as she opens the box.
Maybe she should invest in a box of black dye!

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's A-Maze-ing - Progress

My theme for the Quilt Studio 12x12x4 Challenge is 'Circles'. My first exploration this year is a circular maze. I've always thought a maze would be a neat quilting design.

The design I chose is a floor pattern in the nave of the cathedral in Chartres, France. This cathedral was built in 1235 AD. The pattern is known as 'Chemin de Jerusalem' (Road to Jerusalem). Here's a picture of the floor:



In the process of investigating circular mazes, I learned the secrets of how to draw a particular type called a Cretan maze. Fascinating stuff! I decided the full Chartres maze would be too intricate for my little 12 inch piece so I used a modified version that has 5 rings instead of 11. Here is the pattern:


I used a piece of mottled green flannel to represent the green turf that a lot of mazes in Europe are constructed with. I used my old Staedtler Mars SuperBow compass from my early college days to draw the rings onto the flannel and then used pre-fused bias tape and ironed on the maze walls.

I need to stitch down the bias tape and put the on the backing and satin stitch bind...and I have a little surprise that I haven't finished yet - hopefully it looks as cute as I think it will.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas to All!

Now that the annual Christmas Festivities are over I can reveal the Christmas presents that I made this year.
I made pillowcase sets for all the guys. A couple said I even got the colors right for their sheet sets (pretty good for stabbing in the dark!) The second one from the left on the top row is upside down - the cuff is actually the yellow and blue print. The one on the bottom right has monkeys in the print, which went over really well.

For the younger ladies, I made raggy schlep bags out of blue jeans. A couple of the gals used them right away to haul all their gifts home in! The squares on these were 7 inches which makes a sizable bag. I think they liked them. I folded the top points over to make a casing and included a piece of clothesline that if they want can be used for a drawstring to close the bag.
I washed each one of these separately in a pillowcase then shook them outside to get the strings off..the birds will have a lovely time using these thread scraps in their nests!

This is the one for my new DDIL...she is expecting a girl that they have named Lily, so I made her schlep bag into a diaper bag out of Disney character fabric - Winnie the Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore.
There were supposed to be 4 pieces of fabric in the bundle, but when I went to start the cutting...danged if there were only three and no time go back to Joann's to complain. So I made the best of what I had and used up almost all of the 3 FQ's - only a couple of tiny scraps left.
Notice I did not cut off the top triangles and put the handles on the points. This makes the bag a bit deeper.

This is the one for my DM. She wanted one that she can carry a notebook in for her piano lessons, so I made hers with the extended points too. I put the handles on differently too.

This is the one for my DS. I love the way this one turned out! (It's more stunning in real life than the picture) I think I will go back to the store and get more of the fabrics to make me a matching one! I put dragonfly appliques on hers.


On the receiving end:
A Dyson Animal Ball (they wrapped it in a 'crazy quilt' of wrapping paper - my Dad said it was actually rather difficult to do on purpose but it looked so CUTE!), a mini Exercycle that I am putting under my desk so I can exercise while reading blogs, Electric Quilt 6, two sweaters, two long sleeved cotton shirts, two pairs of incredibly soft sleep sox, a package of cafe curtain clips for hanging my mini-quilts, a Grammie's Brag Book for pictures of Lily when she arrives, a six-piece Poinsettia bowl that will be great for next year's relish tray at the Christmas party, homemade cookies, some good old fashioned cash and gift cards for movies and good eating!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
Wishing you all the very best for Christmas and have a marvelous New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Closer to the Finish Line

Boy...this re-arranging the living room sure has taken up a goodly chunk of the week. Today I rented one of those Rug Doctor machines and had at the living room and hallway. I am glad I did not put up the tree yet!
Finished a couple more presents - have two more cut out and one more to cut...I am pretty sure I will get done!
Tomorrow I have to return the Rug Doctor and hit Costco for the party food - hopefully early in the day before all the crowds. Then move the furniture back into the living room, decorate, wrap and bake a batch or two of cookies and that will be that!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This Is The Table That Suze Built

Table is DONE and behind the sofa! Color at least matches the color of the trim on the sofa, so that worked out. I was going to put another coat on this morning...but just got too anxious to have the project done with so I skipped it - the can recommended two coats so that's where I stopped!


Here's the view from the front...you can't see the table, only whats on it! I have nominal Christmas decorations up - the Christmas Carol Bear sitting on the speaker is a Vermont Teddy Bear that I got from a Christmas drawing from a local radio show I listen to.
In the foreground is the coffee table - I restored its finish and replaced a couple of the leg brackets on it that were making the table wobbly. Now its solid! That's my hand paper pieced and hand quilted Hunter's Star table runner on top.
This is the mantel to our curved fireplace with our Nativity. It stays out all year - DH likes looking at it. In the left corner is the Angel with harp music box...its electronic and I think the battery is running down, she's sounding a wee bit tired (like me!) Next to her is the Swedish Angel Bells. Next is a stained glass Angel that a friend from work made for me one year for our Christmas exchange. Gracing the two sides of the Nativity are 'Hope' Beanie Bears. On the other side of the Nativity is a little Angel holding a dove - DM thinks she looks like I did as a child. Then a Threadbear Bear which a friend gave me as a thank you for dog sitting, a 'Darling' Beanie Dog that has the same birthday as me and which DH got for me for my birthday several years ago. There are a couple more Beanie Bears in the back, including a 'Princess Diana' Beanie Bear.
I used to put out my collection of Christmas music boxes on the mantel but since the youngest cat likes to jump, I have been reluctant to trust all of them up there!
One of these days I need to make a mantel cloth...it will be a tricky one since the mantel is curved around a 90 degree angle.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Notes from the Workshop

Did not find a skinny table for behind the sofa...so I am making one myself. Bought a chunk of lumber, 4 screw on legs, 4 brackets for holding the legs on, 1 can of stain, a brush, a sanding block and some mineral spirits for cleanup.

Here's what my workshop, aka my kitchen, looks like. These are the legs suspended upside down from twine anchored from one cabinet to another. The color on these is not too bad.



Here is the table top (its 1"x8"x7') resting on my TV tray saw horses. I am not liking the color on this too much...will have to see what it looks like after another coat but I think its going to be too light so I may have to make another trip to the hardware store to get a darker color. The kitchen cabinets behind are the right color (those are the ones I restored a couple of weeks ago) . I might just make a skinny table runner and call it a day though.


Here is a picture of the Batik Birds hanging over the sofa (the one that will get the skinny table put behind it) and yes, the borders are a bit 'friendly', actually a lot 'friendly'! (they definitely wave)...This was my very first hand quilted piece and I did not know very much then! I used some icky poly batting and did not measure the borders too well. I should just cut them off and rebind the piece, but that's a job for another day! The quilting's not too bad, especially in the center - I ripped it out several times before I was happy with it! The center is a hand painted batik piece that my Auntie brought back from Bali a long time ago...it was sitting in my craft stash, waiting...

Most of it was quilted in the Barnes and Noble Bookstore while I was waiting for DH to pick me up - I went into work in a carpool at the time and we only had one car that worked. I would sit in one of their comfy chairs and stitch away...I think I sold a couple of hand quilting books for them - people would come up and ask about what I was doing.

But, even with its foibles, I still like it!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Ch-ch-ch-changes!


Did something today that I have not done in YEARS! I re-arranged the living room...it was definitely time. I am tired but happy that its looking pretty nice. I need to go get a very skinny table for behind one of the sofas and some table lamps to finish it off so I think I will head over to the local Target early in the morning...need to go to Home Depot for some other repair items anyway and its just next door.


I even got more sewing done, hung up one of my wall quilts (the picture is the center of the quilt..I need to get a full picture of it - it has a flying geese border) and decided to do the 12x12x4 Challenge since I designed 4 pieces already...I am WOMAN...hear me ROAR!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Getting 'Mall'ed

Had this coupon for 20 bucks off...tried to redeem it online but website said one of my items would not ship until January 7th! Kinda late for Christmas...so I had to visit the mall to pick up the items. I headed out after lunch...BIG mistake...should have been there when the doors opened at 11...The mall was crowded - it took about 15 minutes just to get OFF the freeway at it's exit...then finding a parking spot was no easy task. What I like about this particular mall is there is metered parking close to the stores (its an outdoor mall) and since I knew what I wanted and where to go, if there was a spot open, that would have been ideal...but..no such luck. Found a spot a the top of the new parking structure down the road a bit...It was pretty chilly here today (it was colder here than in New York City!) Made my way over to the store, dodging guys pushing hand cream and shoppers with strollers and large packages...once inside the store, a saleslady came up and got me the items...a definite advantage of knowing what you want! I was outta there in less time than it took to get off the freeway - and there were several large SUV's that were fighting over my space. I took a back route home.

I am OFFICIALLY DONE with shopping for this year. I do have to get food at the end of the week for the party, and I have a few maintenance chores I need to do that will necessitate heading into the hardware store, but for gifting...I AM DONE with the shopping!

Still have to finish making the rest of the gifts that I am making, then pop them into the waiting bags that have already been purchased!

Recycling with California Liquid Sunshine

Yesterday...decided to get the recycling out of the garage - DS used to do it but since he's married, he doesn't do that for us anymore. It needed to be done badly - the bags were in the way of getting to the Christmas decorations! Took two loads in my small car. The first load was easy. Got almost 15 dollars. Second load had more cans and when I got there it started misting-was hoping to get done before the skies let loose - they were looking rather ominous...but no such luck! The recycle guy made me an emergency raincoat by cutting holes in a big plastic bag, but by the time I was done dumping the stuff out of the car, I still looked like a drowned rat - water was dripping from my now soaking locks of hair. Recycling here is a two step process -you fill up the cans and the guy gives you a slip for what it's worth - then you have to go into the grocery store to turn in the slip to get the cash. The second load I got almost 20 bucks...and the rain stopped as soon as I got in the store. I went home and took a nice hot shower!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time Keeps On Slip'in, Slip'in, Into The Future

Whew...its been a busy couple of weeks!

Weekend before last, on Saturday, I taught my DS how to make the secret family birthday cake for his birthday - I bought him all the tools and supplies and made a copy of the all important recipe. He thought it was humorous to have to SWEAR, with his right hand in the air, that he would NOT REVEAL the recipe except to direct family members or his children (once they are past the age of 16) who must agree to the same terms! Hey...I had to do it, my Mamma had to do it, Granny had to do it...its really very fun to have a secret family birthday cake!

I also taught him how to make turkey soup - he had frozen a turkey carcass after T-Day and wanted to learn how to make that too. His bride was not feeling well, so she did not participate much that day.

The next day was his birthday party. He wanted to borrow our barbecue, which I had to dig out of the garage (I looked like a very dirty urchin after I retrieved it out of its hiding place - its very dusty in our garage!) and then my DD picked it up and hauled over to his place in her truck. We finished making the cake (the frosting, yummm!) and added the veggies to the soup. He barbecued a bunch of meats and we had a wonderful time - watched Pirates of the Caribbean and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy...

So..I was exhausted after that.. and just wanted to go to sleep!

During the last week, I purchased some supplies for making Christmas gifts.

Last weekend, I started in on making gifts...I cannot reveal most of them here, since persons to receive them are known to frequent this blog (Hi!)...will post pix after Christmas...

My best quilting buddy (and sometime office partner - we share an 'official' office but have both been working at different client sites for several years) had a 'project day' at her house for our sewing/quilting/crafting group - we are all computer professionals, by the by! One of these days we are actually going to form a guild! We brought our machines and set up in her living room...One lady was working on trimming quilt blocks, another was making machine embroidered Christmas Ornaments (She made me the lovely white dove in the picture above), another lady was making a machine embroidered Bear (she collects bears...and is thinking of making one for each of her 6 grandkids!), my GF was knitting and fixing a broken beaded bracelet and me...I had an assembly line going making my items! Its really fun getting together and seeing how all our projects are going. Here is a picture of the pincushions I made for my sewing buddies:

I got back home and put my sewing room back together (it's amazing how much I dragged over to my friend's!) In the process, I decided I HAD to sort most of my stash...it does look better now and its way easier to see what I have! It neatly folded and filed horizontally in the two totes...One tote has all the larger than 1/4 yd pieces, the other has the fq's and smaller pieces and a couple of gallon baggies of scraps. Before I folded them, I was having trouble getting the totes closed...now its really easy! (now I should organize by color...but that's for another day!).

Sunday I set up my assembly line again. It's amazing the difference in how your back feels when you are cutting at a table that the right height - I HAD good intentions of getting all the pieces cut before I headed over to my GF's on Saturday...but you know that old saying about the best of intentions! Was cranking right along...SMOKEN'...when I discovered a loose thread somewhere where a loose thread was NOT supposed to be...ARRRRGH - I had sewed one piece with raw edges where a folded edge was supposed to be....sigh...the only recourse was to ENTIRELY FROG STITCH the item...then, making another item that had to be washed, I dropped it in the dirt outside the back door while shaking it out and had to wash it all over again!

Yesterday...I decided to try a different route home and missed a turn in the dark...ended up kinda lost...because the name of the street I was on changed names and I did not realize it, so I missed that street too when I turned around. Luckily in So Cal...freeways are all over the place and once I found a street that I knew was junction with the freeway, I was back in business. But for a while..I was a wee bit panicked!

Came home today and made a batch of coconut fudge for the nibble table at work tomorrow.

Luckily for me...vacation starts in 3 days...I have off until after New Year's - Hurrah!