Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to you all!

It is very strange to NOT have Christmas festivities today, 12/25. The original plan had been to "do" Christmas with my children and grandchildren on the 24th and then stay over until today and see what Santa brought the children. The snow and ice was too much for this very hilly town. Our roads are "kind of" plowed, there is some sanding but no salt or de-icer is used. So it can be doggone treacherous to take on some of the streets. The only smart choice was to postpone until travel looks to be easier.

So, Saturday all the troops will be coming here for Christmas. Presuming that everyone can get here safely. In the meantime we had been emailing with the kids and sending pictures of the house and getting ready:

Nana is heading toward lemon tarts:

As well as making sure our feathered friends are not going hungry:

All of this change of plans has allowed me some unexpected time at the sewing machine. Three of us in my RV group are making and exchanging easy blocks. December is the third month, so three groups of blocks so far.

I finished up one Crazy Exchange item to mail off - so I can't show you, but I received an exchange yesterday later in the day. Perfect timing:
Carol does really beautiful needlework, lovely finishes (there are little gold beads all the way around) and is just prolific. So it is a treat to be the recipient of one of her pieces.

We may be a bit "tardy" but we are sure gonna have us some fun. And hey, why not stretch this out over several days. Such fun.
Happy Holidays to you and yours

Monday, December 22, 2008

"God Bless us, everyone"

Well, like much of the entire country, we are covered in snow. I know - you've heard me comment on this several times. But for a city that normally get 3 inches of snow in an entire year, we have had over 8 inches, just at our house, in the past 10 days. And with all our hills, it makes getting places mighty dicey.

But as I cannot get out, it means that I have been able to finish up a number of items that have been "calling my name" (from out the sewing room). In fact, I have finished up 5 tops for Christmas next year (a bit too late, now.) I have finished the tops for two different four patch posey table runners (my new favorite size - bed quilts take TOO long.) The wider of the two will be a gift; the long, skinny one will hang around here until the april Quilt Guild show.

Next week it is my dear friend Ronda's birthday - how many is this????? So I made her a little wall hanging, using the new (to me) technique that Caroline taught me on Skype.


Did I ever show you the quilt that our Stashbusters group made? Each year we make a quilt (together) that is then auctioned off. The proceeds from that quilt auction "cover" our rental for the space in which we meet during the year. It really is quite gorgeous and I wish my tickets had won it. I understand it was a woman from Pennsylvania. I was part of the team who selected this pattern. Not sure what we'll do for next year - but I'm just a worker-bee for this next one.

I'm a little anxious about getting to my daughter's for Christmas. We are supposed to be there on the 24th, so that we can have Christmas with her family and my son and his wife. We then stay overnight and see, the next morning, what Santa left for the children. While they don't live that far, in miles, it requires a ferry ride. There is a long, steep hill down to the ferry terminal, boat for 30 minutes, then a short-ish drive on a small, two lane road to get to their home. I feel sure that the county hasn't sanded that road. Hmmmmm. I do hope we won't have to delay our celebrations.

I hope that your celebrations are timely and joyful.
Good Holiday wishes,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Thanks Jacq

Jacqueline had a link posted to find a new background. I really liked this one - so if you wish to do the same, check this out.

"Baby it's cold outside"

As you can tell from my little weather girl, it is doggone chilly outside. In the midst of our Christmas wrapping party (for our adopted families) it started to come down. It has stayed mighty cold, thus the snow has not gone away.

Carol S. (crazy exchange) said they were out of power for quite a while, with their ice storm - much worse than we suffered here. But still, I don't want to go outside. What shall I do???? Perhaps I could sew?

Soon it will be my dear friend Ronda's birthday, so I cannot show you what I'm making (she has been known to peak here) but have been working to finish up my table runner, in-the-making. I forget the actual pattern name, four-patch flowers - but they are such fun. You start with a less than perfect fabric:

Stack up four repeats of the pattern, exactly matched, and cut them into squares. Mine are 3 1/2" squares, and then reassemble them into different "flower" shapes. It is astonishing how different they look.

Add a bit of sashing and you would hardly know it was the same fabric. Our quilt guild has decided that as we have all made our own version of this pattern (four patch whatever) we would show them as a group at the big quilt show in the spring. Just kind of a peak into what you can do with the same pattern but different fabrics (and settings). Should be quite fun.

Stay warm!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Check-In

Greetings on a very gray, windy day. The TV weatherman says we might even expect snow overnight. I do wonder about that little weather pixie sometimes. She is showing a bit of sunshine behind a few clouds. Nothing like that at my house. We did get all the outside faucets wrapped up, just in case it really does get cold over the next week. There is even the possibility of overnight temperatures in the teens and twenties - that's really cold for us. This is the moderate northwest with winds off the ocean (Puget Sound) to keep things neither too hot or too cold. Still thankful that furnace is back with us. :-) [I know that I read this this morning, but can I find the exact citation? NO! Did you read that a Russian has copyrighted these little smiley faces - although he won't go chasing after folks like me who use it in emails and such?]

Wednesday and yesterday I managed to find some dedicated sewing time. Hurrah! I'm working on finishing up bits and pieces in the sewing room. I still have a couple of Christmas table runners in the works. Guess I'll have those for next year - ready really early. My daughter asked for a tea cozy for Christmas - she complained that with a quilting mom, she should surely have one made especially for her. I did that yesterday, but I've already wrapped it and forgot to take a photo. Here is the fabric I used, though: (tea bags for the outside and cups for the lining)

I also managed to finish up a 5" charm squares table runner (still be be bound, of course)

(I didn't actually hang it sideways, but you know how that goes.)

And I finally put together some 8 1/2" squares that I bought years ago at Hilo Hattie's (in Honolulu). They are a Hawaiian shirt fabric - so I'm thinking they are rayon. But it might make a very nice summertime coverlet. Anyway, getting fabric out of the drawers feels so good.

Tomorrow night is our annual wrapping party. For the past 10 (?) years a group of friends have gathered at Christmas. We adopt a family (or 2, this year) and each buy gifts for one person and then bring them to see what each other has bought and to wrap them. I make some sort of main course and the others bring things to share. I will make a cheesy chicken and wild rice soup, this year. Other donations include salad, bread and dessert. It is such fun and a marvelous way to really begin the holiday season.

Happiness to you all.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Oh thank Heavens

Gracious but it is good to have some heat again. Our furnace had problems starting last Thursday and the gas company turned it off. On Friday the serviceman arrived to tell us that we had to order the part and it wouldn't be here until Monday. Fortunately we do have this gas fireplace and so the living room was comfy, but the rest of the house - NO! It turned out that the furnace service company couldn't get the part to Seattle until late last night, so they have only just left (1:30pm, on Tuesday). I might be a bit more forgiving if they had even a modicum of sympathy for our situation - no "gee, I'm sorry" or anything approaching that. You can be sure they are crossed off my list for any future service calls. And if you live around here, I'll tell you the name of the company so they can come off your list, too.

Meanwhile, there are some bright parts of our life, too.

I realize they are "forced" but they add such cheer to the house.

Here are a couple of photos from the CTA Christmas party I forgot to put up. Isn't this shoe just the cutest thing. They bought baby shoes at the thrift store and stuffed them to make pin cushions. What a clever idea.

Also, for your 'drooling' pleasure, the chocolate fountain was a big hit at the party as well.

Today the Somali ladies and I had a potluck (new concept for them) lunch to celebrate the last class until the first of the year. They made marvelous food - lots of food.

Meat pies and rice. We also enjoyed some raw vegetables, a quiche made by the other teacher and I made a cake. One member of the office staff is Cambodian and she brought shrimp spring rolls with peanut sauce. We feasted well!

Well, a pretty foodie post today. Stay well, stay warm.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's that time of the year. . . . . .

Life is starting to speed up, I think. It's hard to imagine but fun things are happening almost every day. Last Saturday Ronda and I had a "play date" and decided that we would teach ourselves how to make a shopping bag. Ronda's is a light blue corduroy; mine is the Debbie Mumm sunflower fabric.

I know that I have told you about how much I love Skype. It is such fun to talk with folks all over the world. I probably talk with my friend Caroline in the Netherlands once or twice a week. Last week she taught me, via Skype, how to make little squares. See her blog, where she talks about this and shows her very creative project. Mine is pretty small stuff in comparison, but fun to think about what else I can do with the technique. Tomorrow is the CTA Christmas meeting and among other things we are having a handmade ornament exchange. So I took two of the squares and sandwiched them with a piece of batting. Put a bell on the bottom and ribbon on the top to hang it. Viola!

The other part of the Christmas meeting is a cookie exchange. I made the most fabulous cookies, recipe from my friend Janis-

Coconut-Cranberry Chews

1 1/2 cp. butter
2 cp. sugar
1 tbsp. grated orange peel
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/4 cp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cp. dried cranberries
1 1/2 cp. sweetened flaked coconut

Beat butter, sugar, orange peel and vanilla until smooth. Mix flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to butter mixture. Stir to mix, then beat on low speed until dough comes together, about 5 minutes. [I suggest a stand mixer. I used a portable hand mixer and it was difficult as the dough is stiff.] dough should be a smooth, homogeneous mass, not too crumbly. Mix in cranberries and coconut. Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on a buttered baking sheet. Bake at 350` until the edges begin to brown. [The recipe says 8-11 minutes. My oven took almost 15 minutes.] Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Makes 5-6 dozen cookies. FABULOUS.

Finally, we brought the Christmas tree inside tonight. We got lights on it and a very few ornaments. I love its simplicity. This is a sheared dougles fir, from a tree farm down in Oregon, sold as a fund-raiser through the church.

Don't let the days go by too quickly without noticing what's going on.
Joy to you!