Monday, December 28, 2009

Miniature Armoire

This was a handmade gift from my Mom. Isn't it the cutest!

Complete with fabric. I called her and told her I've always wanted an armoire. Now I have one.

Monday, December 21, 2009

From Black to Blue

There are some tasks I just don't want to do. Can you guess?

I've lived here fifteen years and I think I've cleaned the oven three times. Should I even tell you that?? Forty-five minutes later:

Things I learned for next time:

Loosen the screws that hold the heating element in the back and lift it up and out of the way, easy!
Have something to *kneel* on, after the first 20 minutes on that linoleum floor, my knees were killing me.
Wear a face mask and long rubber gloves, man the *fumes*.
Don't wear your favorite cream colored tee-shirt that says, "Quilters Come With Strings Attached" You will inevitably splash some of the midnight black sludge on your front.
When you're done, heat the oven to about 300 to burn off the residual cleaner from the oven walls.
Don't wait so long, the spray-on cleaner really did cut through the lighter stains and they wiped away. The heavier stains had to be scraped away with a knife!
Now I can sew away the afternoon without guilt. What did you do today?

Thursday, December 17, 2009


There's a special feeling to a quilt made in secret for someone you love. All the time you're working on it, you're thinking about them, sending prayers their way and holding them in your heart as you choose a pattern, select colors, cut out the fabrics and piece the blocks. This quilt was just that sort of gift.

I used fabrics from my stash and Su's, pieces she'd given me to add to my scrap bag.

Last night I gave Su the Love Ring - Bowtie... to give to her grandson, born earlier this year. When she opened the box, her eyes were lit from within.

There's no greater gift you can give a quilter, than a quilt, for they know all that making one means.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Set to Ship

I've finished the holiday cookie baking and candy making. I was waiting for the stocking stuffers I ordered on line to arrive so I could put them in the boxes, but I can't wait any longer.

Got to get these to the East coast in eight days. Gee it looks like we give Amazon and the local shoe sellers a lot of business. =D

Trimming the Tree

Frank always strings the lights for me.

Lila helped too. We recently bought her a cat mat, one of those pet bed heaters, but she won't lay on it. Her new favorite spot is under the tree by this gift. Somehow she must know how special that particular package is.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Holiday Baking...

... and candy making has begun. Last night was Snowballs and Almond Roca; tonight will be Oatmeal Scotchies and Spiced walnuts.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. =D

Sunday, November 29, 2009

de Young Museum Visit

DS2 lives an hour from San Francisco and the de Young Museum of Fine Art. They currently have the Faith and Stephen Brown collection of Amish quilts on exhibit, called Amish Abstraction; so the day after Thanksgiving we ignored the Black Friday sales and drove to Golden Gate park. It turns out thousands of other families had the same idea and it took us quite awhile to find a parking spot and walk to the entrance. But that only added to the excitement for me.

Regrettably, photography was not allowed in the gallery, even if you knew how to take a photo without flash. In fact museum staff were at key points throughout the exhibit stopping patrons from taking photos. Therefore I hesitate to include any images of the quilts, but you can see the entire collection here and click the thumbnails to enlarge. They were breathtaking to see in person, softly spot lit to accentuate the color combinations and bold graphics, the cotton shone. Well here's one, just to give you an idea, taken from a calendar.

The thing I found interesting were the placards introducing the Amish lifestyle and their quilts to the public. They described the Amish simplified way of living as a "Minimalist's approach to life". That their quilts were reductionist art long before the idea of self denial and getting down to basics in an effort to create something new in your art was even conceived. The quilts are displayed in a darkened gallery that highlight their "Abstraction" but don't reveal the exquisite hand quilting. I feel the exhibit missed the point, divorcing the heart of Amish quilts from the work in an effort to present their own art concepts. This quote is from the Brown's web site:

Unlike painters, however, the Amish did not intend their quilts for public exhibition because they do not believe in demonstrating worldly pride in their work.

After Amish Abstraction, we toured the rest of the museum. King Tut and his artifacts were on exhibit in another gallery, but the lines for the tour were mind boggling. Another time perhaps.

After three hours we reluctantly headed for the car. But not before perching on a limb just above ground, what a welcome relief to our tired feet.

We made a memory.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Just after dinner. One picture says it all. =D

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's New?

It's Thanksgiving vacation at my house and I want to sew! My neck is still an issue after the accident and I've been spending my time taking care of it; heat, massage, PT, Chiropractic adjustments. Eventually it'll hold a happy curve and I can stop the pain meds and get back to my life!

A and B blocks

But in odd moments I sew an Ocean Wave block and add it to the shoe box. I decided to lay them out and Wow! was I surprised at the progress. "Little and often fills the purse" they say and it's true about 5" blocks too.

I labeled the blocks so you can see how they fit together. 'A' blocks rotate clock-wise and 'B' blocks counter clock-wise. So far I haven't gotten lost while piecing the blocks, but I sure did when I tried to put them on the design wall. It's been a little over a year since I laid them out last.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sewing Lesson with My DIL

DS1 and his (new) wife came for the weekend. Danielle wanted to learn to sew and had an idea for a Christmas banner.

We developed our own pattern and cut out two; one to learn on and one to give as a gift.

I introduced her to the basics of using a sewing machine, how to thread it, wind a bobbin, needle up/down and reverse. I explained tension and stitch length, thread weight and needle size, she sewed a few test samples. It was wonderful teaching such an enthusiastic student!

I explained terms as we went along, fusible interfacing, right sides together, seam allowance, pivot, clip the corners, turn and press, top stitching. Her excitement at learning something new and making something fun and pretty fueled her energy to continue.

We finished that afternoon and the bright smile says it all. She was *very* happy with the banner and that she'd *done it*. I was tickled to share what I love with my new daughter-in-law.

More Autum Color

The maple just across the street

The vintner five houses down didn't harvest this year; too bad we can't collect some.

Wash Day

Well I found out that 100% of the quilters that commented on my recent post about prewashing also prewash. We'll never know about those that didn't comment...

I recently went through the closets that hold my quilting stuff and pulled out a Warm and Natural bat that I'd bought some time ago. I love this bat, it's the one I choose over and over. But when I pulled it out of the plastic bag I couldn't believe how strongly it smelled of adhesive. Whoa. So I washed it too; set the water to cool, opened up the layers and placed it in the machine. It just sat there on top of the water, what the? I turned off the machine and submerged it by hand, it was almost water resistant, I pushed it down and it kept popping back up to the surface. Eventually I won and put it through a short, gentle cycle. I stopped the machine again, pulled the bat to the side and looked at the water. I didn't take a picture but it was cloudy and sorta thick.

I feel much better about using this bat now. Makes me wonder what they use in it.

The Incredible Kindness of Molly Dunham

I was reading Molly's post entitled Soup Weather , go look... I'll wait, and I got such a nice feeling knowing she used the same mixing bowl I do. Silly maybe, but it felt fun. I left a comment:

Hey I have that same set of mixing bowls. They were a wedding gift, circa 1979. I'm sorry I broke the largest making bread in the first five years of its life. Been searching second hand stores ever since. :)

Imagine my surprise when she wrote and offered to give me hers?! Seems she'd found one in a thrift store and it was an extra at her house, would I like it? You can bet I answered that email the same day! I was amazed at her kind generosity.

Turns out it's similar in size to the medium bowl I have in this set, but hers has handles, now that's cool! I didn't even know those existed.

And the lid from the casserole set fits it, perfect for microwaving. I just love the 'Celebrate Fall' card she made to go along with it.

My husband made waffles this morning, the bowl's maiden use. It's lovely Molly, thank you. Blogland friends are great!

Sunday, November 16, 2009

The glorious, golden sunshine just keeps pouring down like blessings from above. We desperately need rain, but who can fault a day like this?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What To Do With Jack

Remove pulp and seeds.

Steam for 40 minutes or until fork test pierces rind.

Cool and scoop from rind with spoon.

Impossible Pumpkin Pie
Place in electric blender:
2 cups fresh steamed pumpkin, 1 can evaporated milk, 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites (more protein, less cholesterol), 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 white sugar (I used 1/3 cup Splenda sugar blend) 1/2 baking mix, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, 1/2 allspice, 1 Tbsp cooking oil. Blend until smooth, scrap sides of blender if needed. Pour into a deep nine inch pie pan that's been spray coated. Bake in the middle of the oven at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cold with ice cream or whipped cream. Serves eight, but never lasts long in my house!

This pumpkin was large so I'll freeze it in 2-3 cup containers and use it for pie and bread in November and December. The last few years I've noticed they don't sell pumpkins after October 31st. Huh...

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sewing Room

Because of the new light I suddenly saw how *cluttered* the sewing room is. The room is 10' x 10' and I've been collecting and adding to it for 8 years, when my youngest moved out. I just keep bringing more stuff in and the collection is starting to reach 'critical mass'. I decided after three years of blogging it was time to post pictures of where I sew.

Clockwise starting by the door -

There are two totes and my feather weight tucked under the sewing table.

The design wall is a sheet of foam core board covered with white felt. It's small but better than the piece of batting tacked to the closet door I used to use

My stash is stored under the cutting table in rubbermaid totes and is grouped red/orange/yellow, blue, green/black, pink/purple, white on white/cream/muslin/backgrounds and tan/brown/chocolate. When I stash dive I pull out the tote color I want and literally dive. Lila usually comes from wherever she is in the house and joins in, purring and rubbing against me and the totes. I've decided I must give off a happy vibe that somehow summons her.

This is my clothes closet which doubles as project storage, the boxes are labeled, Lights to be cut, Darks to be cut, 2" squares, 2 1/2" inch squares, 1 1/2" strips - light and dark, etc.

I tried to figure out what I could get rid of to make space in the room, but I can't part with any of it. There's 30 years of fabric collecting and works-in-progress in there. Generally it's comforting to spend time in there; sometimes it's overwhelming to think about. I just try to stay focused on the project at hand and let the rest whisper to me.

More Light on the Subject

The lighting in my sewing room has always been somewhat limited. I have a task lamp over the cutting table, a pole lamp by the sewing machine, a table lamp above the ironing board; still it's not enough. So for my birthday Nathan gave me a ceiling light and the offer to install it. I was de-lighted. :)

Nathan said the first thing to do was make a template the size of the fixture, trace around it on the ceiling and cut the hole. Hey, I can make a template easy. Frank cut the hole, it was a family effort.

Nathan climbed up in the attic to run the electrical wire, oh, after we'd determined which breaker controlled the sewing room light that he was going to tap into, and turned that off. I teased the guys that this picture reminds me of Michaelango's Creation, where God is reaching His hand out to Adam.

Ta-dah! You can see the table lamp in the left background and the task lamp in the right rear, they pale when compared to 120 watts of energy-saver light bulbs. Man what a difference! No more shadows. And I find I don't get as tired as I used to, that's a nice added bonus. Thank you Nathan!