Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post Christmas wrap-up, no gift wrap required.

We had a joyful Christmas celebration with the family.  It was Toby's first Christmas and by the end of the night,he was totally wiped out!

He found this spot himself.

I was finally able to give the Rings Around quilt to it's intended recipient.  I wish I had taken a picture, but I can tell you he really seemed to appreciate it.

Our family decided a few years ago to exchange a small gift with each branch of the family.  This year, our gift was  "soup in a jar".  We started out with these ingredients:

Then measured and layered them in the jars, until we had these:

Which eventually looked like this:

All you have to do is add water, and it makes a wonderful pot of  "Pasta e Fagioli",  aka  "pasta with beans".    One of the layers is sun dried tomatoes, which really infuses  it with flavor.  How do I know? I made a test batch the week before Christmas, and it was really good, so one of the jars managed to stay home with us.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Preparing for puppy's first Christmas

Over the years, I have collected a few of the Village houses that are sold at JoAnn's.  For a while, I would get a new one every year, usually in the after Christmas markdown sale.   I tried to buy houses that reflected something going on in our lives.  Of course, this is the one that started it all:

Look!  The door is open.  Wouldn't you like to go inside?

The next year, I got the little Stone Church.  I love how it has a little manger scene out on the front of the building. 

At some point, they issued a second Quilt Shop, so, of course I chose that one to add.
I love the little quilts draped over the porch railings.  Wouldn't you like to live in this village that has TWO quilt shops?

I haven't added any new houses in the past couple of years, because I ran out of room on the table to display them.  But, this year, I just HAD to add one more. Can you guess which one?  Here it is:

This was my nod to the new addition in our family this past year. 

Toby is actually being pretty good about leaving the trees alone, now that he has grown accustomed to them.  When we first put up the big tree, I started by laying down the tree skirt, and in 2 seconds flat, Toby had settled right in on it.
Notice the ever present tennis ball!

We made a few changes, like putting the Nativity scene up on the mantel rather than on a low table, but so far it's been easier than I thought.  We'll see how he handles all the paper and bows on Christmas morning!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Be careful what you Don't wish for....

Every year our quilting guild has a Christmas party for the December meeting.  The planners always arrange to have the tables set up with centerpieces that are usually quilt-themed, and alway festive.  In the past, I have hoped to be the lucky winner of the centerpiece, but I hadn't been lucky enough. 

This year, each table had a beatiful Poinsettia plant as the centerpiece.  Knowing that poinsettia's are potentially dangerous if ingested by dogs, I did not want to be the one to take it home, so when it was announced that the person with the blue painters tape stuck to the bottom of their chair was the lucky winner, I didn't rush to get up to look.

One by one, my tablemates stood up and flipped over their chair to look for a patch of blue tape, but nobody found it.  Eventually, I flipped over my chair, and, of course, I was the lucky one.

So, the plant came home with me, but I'm giving it to my parents who do not own an almost-grown puppy.

In this household, even Santa isn't safe......

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Friday, December 18, 2009

A banner day

Some of you may have noticed a sign on my sidebar asking for prayers for Benson and Claire.  They are a brother and sister who both share a congenital defect which affects their livers and kidneys.  Sweet litttle Claire has been on dialysis since she was 3 months old, and has been on a waiting list for a transplant for months now. 

Well, today is the day!  She is getting a kidney transplant that will change her life!  If you are a prayerful person, please say a little prayer for her, and also for the family of the donor who have just lost their little one.

You can read more about this darling girl, and her inspirational story here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Need a quick pick-me-up?

This video of a darling kitten makes me smile every single time.

Click here to see it.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vintage “Glee”

I have been watching the show “Glee” on the Fox network since it debuted this Fall.  It’s brought back a lot of memories about my days in Glee Club when I was in Junior High School, and although some things remain the same, other things are TOTALLY different. 

 Our Glee Club director was the Music teacher at the school.   She was very strict with us.   It was rumored that she had spent many years in the Army because of the way she ruled with an iron fist.  I'm not sure if that rumor was ever verified, but sometimes Glee Club felt like Boot Camp!

Each year, all the girls had to try out, and if you made it into the club, you received the following letter on a mimeographed sheet of paper.  (Remember mimeograph paper?  It had a distinctive smell, and the print came out colored purple.)

CONGRATULATIONS!  You have been accepted as a member of the Girls’ Glee Club for this year.  Rehearsals are held on Thursdays from 11:10 to 12:00 in Room 28, with an occasional rehearsal after school.    You are expected to attend all rehearsals.   It is your responsibility to find out whether or not there is a rehearsal scheduled.     Attendance is taken at rehearsals, and no one is excused from rehearsal if they are in school.  Too many girls will be waiting to be placed in Glee Club, if you skip rehearsal to do homework, study for a test, etc.

You are expected to keep all music in a folder, which may be purchased in any stationery or drug store for 12-15 cents.  I prefer the folders with 3 metal rings attached, and the color to be medium blue.  If you forget your folder, you  DON’T  report to rehearsal. Take a zero.

The rule for dress at assemblies is as follows:
- a long, black maxi-skirt (which our girls usually make themselves)
- a white blouse (long or short sleeves – ruffles, etc.  something feminine looking.  I’m sure you have such a blouse in your wardrobe at home.)
-dark shoes – no sneakers!!!
-various colored scarves- orange, brown, gold, yellow for Thanksgiving, red or green for Christmas, red or blue for Memorial Day  (These scarves are worn at the neck of the blouse to add a little color to the season.)   

We have some exceptionally fine singers this year.  It is a very large club, and as I said previously, many girls are on the waiting list.  Don’t make it necessary for me to ask you to leave rehearsal because of whisperingchewing gumpoor attendanceforgetting music and other silly reasons.  I don’t want to replace you, unless you leave me no other alternative. 
Let’s have a successful year!      
                                                        Mrs. Baker

I think you can get a feel from reading this letter just how "no nonsense" Mrs. Baker was.  Kind of funny to lay out all these rules and then end with a cheery "Let's have a successful year!"

I love how it is implied that every girl had the ability to make herself a skirt!  Of course, back then sewing was still taught in Home Ec classes.  I also love how Mrs. Baker was so sure that we each had at least one white, feminine blouse in our wardrobes, along with an array of colorful scarves.

Other than the dress code, what strikes me as the biggest difference between Glee Club then and now is that it was considered a privilege to be a part of Glee Club, rather than the way the TV show depicts Glee Club as only for outcasts and losers.  Maybe it had a lot to do with the way Mrs. Baker treated it.  (Quite frankly, I'm not sure there ever really was a waiting list of hopefuls just waiting for one of us to snap our gum too often, or forget our music enough times to get kicked out so that they could take our places in the Club.)

The other big difference is that the boys had their own separate Glee Club.  No Co-Ed singing back then!!!  Oddly enough, I remember being part of a singing group in grade school that included both boys and girls.  I guess they figured that the younger kids  still looked upon the opposite sex as something they could catch "cooties" from, but by Jr. High those "cooties" were darned magnetic.

Here’s a grainy photo of some of us onstage, in our “maxi-skirts” and "feminine" blouses:

 Instead of the colorful scarves, Mrs. Baker had us wear pastel colored blouses for this particular Spring concert.  Don't we all look like Marcia Brady?

This is Mrs. Baker receiving a bouquet of roses after a performance.  (She's the one in the floral skirt.)   There were so many girls in the Glee Club, that we couldn't all fit on the stage.  Some of the girls had to stand on the stairs leading up to it. You can see them to the left of the flag.

The funny thing is, nowadays I’m a member of a community chorus and what do we wear for concert attire?  White blouses and long black skirts! 

The really funny thing is that back then, when most of the girls' skirts were homesewn, mine was store bought due to lack of sewing skills, but now, when most of the women in my chorus buy their skirts, mine is homesewn!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Double Duty

Karen, over at Sew Many Ways posts every week with a "Tool Time Tuesday" idea where she shows interesting new uses for ordinary objects.  It made me think of a couple of items I have on my cutting table that have been re-purposed from the stationary aisle.   One is a pencil holder, and the other is a letter holder:

Together, they make great holders for rotary cutting tools.

I put a few pieces of batting on the bottom of the letter holder to protect the edges of the rulers, and I covered a cardboard circle with batting and fabric to give some cushioning to the points of the scissors.

Very handy to have on my cutting table, and the bottom of the pencil holder doubled as a template for a circle when I needed one:

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Power of Prayer

My mom's church has a Prayer Shawl Ministry where knitters come together and make prayer shawls, which are then blessed and given away to someone who needs a little extra comfort in times of illness, loss or anxiety.  You can learn more about the Ministry and how it got started by going here, which is the website of Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo who are founders of the Prayer Shawl Ministry.
As a strong believer in the power of prayer, I was truly touched, as well as suprised, when my Mom gave me one of the shawls.

There are times when that little extra bit of comfort, wrapped around my shoulders like a hug from Mom can make  a big difference in bringing a sense of peace to my life.

If you visit the website, you will see that the shawls are made not only for times of trouble, but also for times of celebration.   Included with the shawl, was the following prayer:

May God's grace be upon this shawl,
warming, comforting, enfolding and embracing.
May this mantle be a safe haven... a sacred place of security and well-being...
sustaining and embracing in good times as well as difficult ones.
May the one who receives this shawl be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace,
and wrapped in love.
Blessed Be!

Thanks, Mom!  I truly do feel blessed!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

By hook or by crook

Like so many quilter/crafters, I like to have something to do while watching TV with the family.  In the past that has been either a hand quilting project, or a crochet project. 

Imagine the following scene:   the family gathered together, dishes done, the aroma of a sweetly scented candle, a handwork project to do while settled into a cozy recliner chair and ...
(*screech of brakes*) Toby?!  No way!  It just hasn't worked out  for me to be able to  do any handwork with him around.

   Last night,  I realized that he has finally gotten to the point where he settles down in one spot, mostly on somebody's lap, but sometimes on the floor. Last night was one of the "floor" nights, so  I stealthily got out the crochet thread and hook and started working on making a snowflake.   I had about an hour to get something done before he woke up from his dozing state and decided Mom's lap would be so much more comfy than the floor, and I gave in to his puppy eyes and let him up.   Yeah, he's spoiled, but at least I had a little something to show in the way of progress by the end of the night, and those velvety soft ears are hard to resist, even if they do come attached to a 30 pound dog.

Shown in the photo are snowflakes I made last year.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

All Hanky No Panky

I finished the last few hankie blocks:

Now I have to figure out how to set them together.  I'm thinking that attic window frames would be a nice way to set them off.  A trip to the fabric store is in order, but don't know when that will happen.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Toby vs. the ball

Toby is just crazy about tennis balls.  He loves retrieving them so much, that he purposely pushes them under the chairs just so he can have the challenge of getting them back out again.  I don't know what he's thinking about, but I imagine it goes something like this:

I'm sure I saw a tennis ball disappear under this chair.

Yup.  There it is!

I can see it!

I can smell it!

But I can't quite reach it!  Darn these little short legs!

Please come out little ball!  Don't make me get on my knees and beg.

Well, okay.

Mom won't like this move, but I'm getting desperate! *

Okay, one last attempt.  Legs. Almost. There.

Toby wins!  Until next time.....

* No chairs were harmed during the taking of these pictures.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Progress report.

Thank you so much for the nice comments that were left on my last post about the quilt I'm making with handkerchief fabrics.  I've really been enjoying pairing up the fabrics for each block to bring out the colors in the hankies.  I've got 6 blocks finished, and the fabrics cut and chosen for the last 3.  Here's a peek at what I've got so far:

The only hard part about using the handkerchief print fabric, is that not all the hankies were printed symmetrically, which means that not all the corners are exactly the same, so I'm fudging it a bit.  The real test will come when I put the blocks all together.

I'm not at all sure how I want to put these together in terms of sashing color, and what the border fabric should be.  I'm still sorting that out, but it's a fun "problem" to have.  ;-)

I wanted to add a few comments about my grandfather, since he is also in the picture in yesterday's post.  He was very reserved and a man of few words.  He was content to sit back and let my grandmother be the lively one. He was never late for anything.  He would rather arrive early and wait in the car than be late.

He had a lots of thick hair on his head that never thinned as he aged, although eventually it became pure white.  He worked for years in a paper cutting factory, which is where he met my grandmother.  We were never at a loss for scrap paper in my house because Grandpa had always been able to bring home bundles of it that were leftover from paper cutting projects.   He never cooked a day in his life, until my grandmother became ill in her later years and then he learned to cook while she sat in the kitchen chair and coached him along. 

When I was old enough to learn to ride a two wheeled bike, Grandpa took the best parts from  3 bikes that had belonged to my mother and aunts and turned them into a "new" bike for me.   I wish I could say I knew him very well, but he wasn't much of a talker.  He was just always there, providing a solid base for the rest of the family to branch out from.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Grandmother's Hankies

My mother's mother was born in 1898. That's her in the picture,  sitting on the hay bale looking rather cross.   It's seems unusual to see her looking cranky.  I remember her as always having a smile on her face.  Perhaps the big hat that her sister was wearing was poking her in the face, or her button-hook shoes were too tight.

Grandma married rather late for a woman of her era, and she also broke with traditon by marrying a younger man.  She gave birth to  my mother,  and then 6 years later, had twin girls, not knowing she was carrying twins until the day they were born.

My grandmother always dressed up, complete with stockings, heels and jewelry, (and gloves if she was going into the city).  She often came by our house to babysit if  my mom  needed to run an errand, and she would don an apron over her dress and do all the ironing while Mom was out.  She might stay long enough to  have some lunch, but then she would head back home to watch her "stories" on TV. 

 Every Christmas, she gave my sister and I a new pair of patent leather shoes and we loved getting them.  She was kind and generous, and paid for a year of ballet lessons for me when I was little.  She was always so interested in everything her grandchildren did, and would attend any school play or recital and applaud heartily.  She was caring and approachable, but she liked to sign her greeting cards with "Grandmere", even though we called her "Grandma".

One of the things I'll always remember about my grandmother is that she always had a pretty handkerchief in her purse. She would spray a little perfume on it so that it was both pretty to look at and pretty to smell.

Whenever I see a beautiful ladies hankie, I think of my grandmother, and I wish that I had some of those hankies to keep.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giving back

One of the nice things about being part of my quilt guild is to be able to participate in charity projects.  We have an ongoing relationship with the Walter Reed Veteran's Hospital where we send lap quilts in red/white/blue to be given to returning soldiers.  
Today being Veteran's Day, it seemed an appropriate time to post this.  But our guild has also done other charitable projects as workshops during our meetings.  This past month we created heart shaped pillows, made from fat quarters, that will be donated to a local hospital to be given to cardiac patients.  After surgery, it is more comfortable for the patients to hug a pillow to their chest if they need to cough, and these pillows are just the right size for that.

Another workshop we've had was to make stuffed teddy bear pillows that we donate to the local fire department and amubulance services to have on hand to give to any child in need of comfort during an emergency.  The pattern is a simple gingerbread type of bear shape, just traced, sewn and stuffed.  Here's the table full of teddies we had by the end of the night:

I told my brother about my recent post about the pillow I made from his ties, and that I wished I had taken a good picture of it.  He was kind enough to take this picture and send it to me via email.  Here is his pillow made from his ties:

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