Thursday, October 16, 2014

Are You Going?

I'm taking the day off work tomorrow and heading out in the morning for a couple hour drive to Santa Clara, where I'll be taking a class at the Pacific International Quilt Festival.  Will you be going to the show this weekend, by any chance?  It's been several years since I've been to this one put on by Mancuso, and it's huge, with classes each day, tons of eye candy in the form of quilts, and a whole lot of vendors.

The last time I went to this show, I took an applique class and the only chance I had to visit the main rooms was spent zooming around to the various vendors, looking for materials for the class during our lunch break with almost no time to admire the quilts.  I think, if I remember correctly, our class was a two-day class, too, and we were filmed for Simply Quilts--I think this was near the end of Alex Anderson's TV series.  I've been told I show up in the episode, although I've never seen it!

Anyway, this time I'm taking just a half day class that's directed primarily toward learning a technique--needle felting using wool roving on wool applique.  And we're making sheep.  Here's a photo of the teacher's finished project--


Oh, yeah, and there's embroidery involved too--it looks like quite a bit, right?  I've never done needle felting and always wanted to try it, so this is my chance to learn.  If you'd like to see a little more of this process and the thought behind it, check out Debora Konchinsky's blog--she's the instructor.  Just click HERE.

I've booked myself a room and I'm looking forward to an early evening spent in solitary splendor, with a good book, a stitchery project to work on if I feel like it, and a new pair of jammies.  On Saturday, I'll head back to the show and hopefully I'll get to spend more time viewing the quilts than I did the last time I went.  And, of course, I'll take a little time to check out the vendors--after all, I'll have all day before I hop back in the car and head home.  Maybe I'll see you?

Show and Tell

I've pretty much finished the fall/Halloween decorating, but along the way, I did a little crafting too, and I thought I'd share my ideas and efforts with you--these really are super simple to make, so I hope they will spark a little creative interest in you too.

 Here's a little bling pumpkin for those of you who prefer your decorations to be a little bit elegant.  I came across the adhesive trim in the $1.50 bins at Michael's--it took a little over one roll to decorate a medium-sized pumpkin.  The trim comes with a peel off backing, so I just cut strips to length, and then I peeled and stuck each strip on the pumpkin.  I added a sparkly black ribbon to the stem end.



 My friend Imelda gets credit for this next idea.  Another friend of ours moved last year and asked Imelda if she wanted a small artificial Christmas tree she didn't want to pack across country; Imelda said yes, she would indeed like the tree.  A couple weeks ago, Imelda pulled out a can of matte black spray paint and sprayed her tree black.  And oftentimes, whatever Imelda does, I end up copying.  A trip to Michael's with a 50% off coupon netted me a small Christmas tree, and a rummage through the garage turned up a can of matte black spray paint.  After that, I picked up some of the scrap book type Halloween trims, also at Michael's and on clearance right now, and crafted up a few paper ornaments.  A bracelet of skulls and cross bones was deconstructed and restrung, and then the pieces were tied to the tree branches.  And I found a bat for a tree topper.



I've always wanted to try a gourd project, so when I made a trip out to a country farm stand for this year's pumpkins, I picked up a couple of gourds.  Let me tell you, gourds are NOT the quick and easy project that I mentioned at the beginning of this post because they take some soaking and scrubbing, but it's really not that terrible either.  I gave Imelda a gourd and the two of us got together one evening and did a little painting.  Have you ever tole painted?  I haven't but my friend has, so she helped me out with mine by showing me a couple paint techniques.  I still want to paint a second gourd to look like a pumpkin, but I thought I'd make a black cat for the first one--I found a picture of a similar gourd on the internet and the idea appealed to me.  We used painted wool for the ears.

 

Remember I told you about my sister-in-law's decorated pumpkins?  At that farm stand I visited, I picked up a couple pumpkins for friends and decorated them.  Imelda (yes, her again!) hostessed our recent stitchery gathering, so I decorated a pumpkin for her as a hostess gift.


I also made one for my other sister-in-law . . .


and my good friend Lisa to thank them both for all they did to help with the Wild Child's baby shower last month--I still need to post some photos from that party and tell you about it, but that's a post for another day.


Finally, I decorated a pumpkin for myself.  All of the pine cones that look like roses that I used in decorating were found on my lunch time walks.


If you'd like to decorate a pumpkin, scroll down a couple posts to the link to Mumzie's blog--there are instructions there about how to prepare the pumpkins and how to add the decorations.

Happy creating!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Ugly Truth

I don't think I've ever showed you a "behind the scenes" glimpse at my decorating process, have I?  Be forewarned--it's not pretty!

First I tour the house to make sure I've taken down and put away everything from the previous season's decorating efforts, including all of the decorative quilts and bedding.  Then I pull out the next season's quilts and decide where they will go.  Normally I do these things, in order to set the stage, more or less, the weekend before the big push to change things out.

Once I'm ready to really dig in, the next step is to comb through the garage storage areas for the various boxes and bins that hold the decorations.  I pull some of the boxes into the house and then I start unpacking.  Before long it looks like this:




Kinda like fall vomited all over the kitchen, right?  All of the available surfaces are covered with foliage and "stuff" (my husband would tell you "stuff" equals "junk," I think!).  And these were taken AFTER I'd already sorted though everything and put the mostly-empty boxes away.

I should also mention that we're stalled out on the kitchen cabinet refacing because Soccer Son is super busy right now and we haven't found cabinet doors to match the refaced "boxes" anyway.  As a result, I spent a lot of time last weekend trying to make the kitchen shelves look a little more "decorative"--kind of like the open shelf thing was the plan all along.  And, of course, that took a bit of time.  One of the things I did was to cut a curtain panel and then I re-hem it to cover the opening under the sink--you can see that in the photos.

And then somewhere along the way in the fall decorating, I found I was missing some of my favorite items, like my Halloween dishes, so I made another search of the storage areas in the garage.  Waaaaaaaay up in the rafters with the Christmas decorations, I spotted a box marked "Halloween."  Soccer son came over on Monday to get that box down for me and found four more boxes.  So the decorating continues this weekend, and I hope to have some photos to show you soon.

It's always still fairly warm here in Northern California through most of October, and true to form, our highs have been running in the high 80s/low 90s, so it feels a little odd to be getting ready for fall.  But cooler temperatures are due to arrive a little later this week, and the leaves in the trees are just beginning to turn.

Today it's still going to be pretty warm, but it's fairly cool and breezy this morning.  Now it's time to pour myself a second cup of pumpkin spice coffee and get back to the decorating.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

It's Decorative Gourd Season!


This weekend, I'm getting ready for fall.  Are you?  I'll show you what I've been up to soon!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

So, There's a Story . . .

You may recall that a few years ago, we had an uninvited house guest . . . a FURRY little uninvited house guest.  But maybe "uninvited" isn't quite accurate since the little guy definitely WAS encouraged to visit by our tuxedo cat, Stitch.  Remember the mouse guest?

Not long after I finally escorted the little guy out the door, bag and baggage, a few months later, I decided to decorate a small Christmas tree using mice "ornaments" in memory of his stay with us.  Here's an old photo--


The other evening, I started thinking about Christmas--yes, TOTALLY TOO EARLY, I know, and don't judge me--but I wondered if there were any new mouse ornaments out there that I could add to my mouse tree when it was time to decorate this year, and I found a couple on eBay.  So into my eBay shopping cart they went.  But then I started thinking, "Do I really need more mice?  Do I really want to pay that much or should I wait and see what I can find locally?"  I figured I'd sleep on it--by then it was pretty late and time to get to bed anyway.  So I shut down the computer and headed toward my bath.

Stitch was waiting in the bathroom for me; he's funny that way.  He totally knows my routine and anticipates my every next move.  But what caught my attention was the fact that our other cat, Spike, was also hanging around the bathroom--normally she's in bed by that time, or off in the living room doing cat things (whatever those are).  My suspicions raised, I inquired, "Okay, kids, what's going on here?"  Stitch simply looked up at me, blinked, and turned his gaze toward the bathtub.  Dare I look behind the shower curtain?  Ah, but the real question was dare I NOT?  So I did.  And yes, you may have already guessed what I found:  a mouse!  A LIVE mouse!

I must say, it seems I'm getting pretty good at capturing mice and escorting them to freedom.  A little maneuvering with a flat piece of cardboard and a smallish box, and before Stitch knew it, I had his little friend out the back door and onto the patio.

The next morning, I fired up the computer and placed my order for one of those eBay mice.  I think it was some kind of cosmic fate and obviously meant to be.  The little guy arrived today.



Thursday, September 25, 2014

Time Flies . . .

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since I last posted!  You all know I love fall, and fall has arrived . . . and you know I love Halloween, and that will arrive before long too.  So, having woken up to the first rainy morning of the year today, and having spent at least part of the day thinking about the season, I thought I'd share something with you that will get you thinking about fall too, if you aren't already.

Hubby and I made a little trip about an hour and fifteen minutes south to visit my brother-in-law and sister-in-law on their "ranch"--they've lived there for two years and this was our first visit.  What took us so long?!  My sister-in-law, "Mumzie," is a very creative person who decorates for the seasons beautifully, and one of her specialties is pumpkins.  Before we left for home, she gifted me with the raw material (i.e., a PUMPKIN!) to make a creation of my own--she has grown her own pumpkins in a big pumpkin patch for the last couple of years and they're beauties!  How lucky am I to get one?!!

Mumzie told me how she creates her masterpieces and showed me some of her decorating supplies, and because she has described her process on her blog, I can share her methods with you.

Here are a couple before and after photos.



In a series of posts, Mumzie shows us how to clean and prepare the pumpkins and then how to decorate them.  Take a look a the first one HERE and then continue on by clicking on the related links at the bottom of each post.   Once I've had a chance to transform my pumpkin, I'll share it with you.  Happy Autumn!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stopping in for a Visit . . .

It was a busy weekend of chores, as so many of my weekends seem to be.  I feel like I used to have more play time.  I know working out has cut into my time, as has meal planning, so maybe that explains it a bit.  Nevertheless, I've done a little bit of stitching last week and this weekend, so I thought I'd share with you what I'm up to.

A friend and I have started a new applique project, Grandma's Kitchen.  The pattern is by Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet.  Here's a photo of the pattern--


I finished my first block, the apron block.  We've decided to use mostly 30s fabric/colors for our version.


Next we'll start on the block with the pitcher of lemonade.  The other project I completed is a version of a pattern by Kimberbell called Too Fa-boo-lous.


Also in the last week or two, I've prepped the applique for the Country Houses quilt, but there's still a lot of actual sewing to be done.

So that's what I've been up to.  How about you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

There Goes the Neighborhood

I'm happy to report that home construction has come to an end for some of us.  Yes, I'm talking about the Country Homecoming quilt blocks.  I'll give you a peek at all 12 of my blocks up on the design wall:


And here's a look at blocks 11 and 12 made by three of us--first up are Tina's houses:



Sheryn's houses 11 and 12:



And finally mine:



You'll also want to check out Tanya's blocks over on HER BLOG. Tanya also shared a photo of Paulette's quilt and I'll show you Anna's.  Paulette and Anna were part of the original blog group who inspired the rest of us to make this quilt.


Just a reminder:  This quilt is one of the patterns in a book called Primitive Gatherings:  Quilts and Accessories.   It will be a couple months before you see our tops finished--we're allowing ourselves extra time to get the sashing and all of the border applique done.

Here's another little project I recently finished--it's a monthly Buttermilk Basin pattern for August.  If owls are showing up on our quilt projects, can fall be too far away?


It's hard to believe that summer is almost half over!  Happy quilting!

Addendum:  Check out Nancie Anne's houses HERE.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hard to Believe, I Know . . . .

But I FINALLY have a finished quilt project!


Remember Scrap Basket Sunday?  This was my ongoing project over the past year or so.  The pattern is called Pie in the Sky and it's from Kim Diehl's book, Simple Graces.


There were all sorts of stops and starts on this one.  I went along making four blocks a week okay for quite awhile, but then piecing it all together took some time, partly due to the size of the quilt top and partly due to other personal distractions.


And then there was the quilting.  It was hard to decide what color thread to use, but the backing of the quilt is a purple fabric, so I decided on purple thread.  This is a king size quilt that I quilted on a domestic machine, and the weight alone made it very tiring to quilt.  And once I finished quilting the main blocks, I ran out of gas for a couple months until I made up my mind to just jump back in and get it done.  I had to fill in a some open areas in the sashing and block intersections with a quilt pattern, and after looking at what I'd done so far, I ended up quilting a couple of different sized circles in those spaces.


Deciding what to pick for my binding was a no-brainer:  I pulled out my bag of random leftover sashing pieces and pieced quite a few together for a scrappy binding that matches the scrappiness of the rest of the quilt.  I love the finished quilt--it seems like the perfect scrappy, happy combination of colors to dress my bed through the summer months.

Now onto the next project . . . .

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Been Awhile, Hasn't It?!

A couple of you have emailed me to ask if I'm okay and to say you miss me, and I thank you for checking in on me.  I'll catch you up on some of the happenings in my world in a minute.  First, though, I want to share with you the next phase of the Country Homecoming house construction.


Last month, Imelda finished her seventh and eighth houses a few days after I posted photos, so the above houses were from May.


Here are Imelda's June houses, the ninth and tenth houses in the neighborhood.  She said she's not quite done yet, and I think she still has to applique some of the windows and things, but they're looking good!


Janet sent in a photo of her first nine houses, some of which are still under construction.  Her neighborhood, though, is looking bright and beautiful, isn't it?!


Above and below are Sheryn's ninth and tenth houses.  I love the awnings above her windows.



And Tina's ninth and tenth houses--looking kind of beachy to me in the sand and sea tones.


And here are mine.


It's hard to believe that we're nearing completion of our neighborhoods--for those of us making 12 house blocks, we only have two more to go.  You can also check out Tanya's blog to see how she's doing with her construction.  Just click on her name to jump over to her blog. 

Have you been watching World Cup soccer?  Since the USA was playing today, it seemed only right to start the day with a workout using the kettle bell Soccer Son made for me from a soccer ball.  Did I ever show this to you?  It was a gift--I think it must have been a Christmas gift if I remember correctly--from him.  He's so inventive!


So, what have I been doing?  You may remember Hubby fell about a month and a half ago and broke his leg.  He had to have surgery to place a plate in the leg, and when he was ready to be released from the hospital, he was transferred to a nursing home.  Well, after a couple of weeks in the nursing home, Medicare felt he was ready to move on . . . the question was, where would he go and how would we pay for his care?  On the one hand, he didn't need nursing care exactly, but he couldn't be left alone because he still couldn't put any weight on the broken leg, and he was a fall risk for transfers from his wheelchair to anywhere else--recliner, bed, toilet, chair, etc.  We learned that whatever we did, the cost would have to be paid by us.  And the cost of attendant care in our home for 12 hours a day while I worked was steep.  But then so was adult day care in a nursing facility, or placement in a residential care home.  In the end, though, we decided the best option was to have Hubby stay in a residential care home for the next month, and he moved to a home not far from our own house at the end of May.  It's not ideal--the food isn't wonderful and the other resident patients don't make for great company for one reason or another.  The caregivers are kind and attentive to Hubby's needs, but it's not the same as being home.  And the cost is crazy expensive.  But we're now beginning Hubby's last week there--I'll bring him home next Saturday--so the end is in sight.

When I say I'll bring Hubby home, I mean I'll bring him home to stay; he actually HAS come home since he's been in the care home, but only for one day each weekend, as I spend the other weekend day doing chores and running errands.  On the days he comes home, besides the comfort of sitting in his own recliner, he probably most appreciates home cooking.  And by the time I drive him back in the evening, he's tired out and ready to go back, as his energy level isn't quite what it was before the accident.  But he's most certainly looking forward to next weekend's homecoming--and Sunday is his birthday, so it will probably be one of the best birthdays he's ever had!

While Hubby's been recuperating, I've been trying to keep up with my exercise routine as well as taking on the chores Hubby used to do.  And I visit him after work each week day and on the weekends.  So, as you may imagine, where I was having difficulty finding time before to quilt (not to mention BLOG!), my time has been even more limited in the last month or two.

I'm going to take a week's vacation the first week Hubby's home so we can make sure we have plans in place and the household arranged so he can take care of himself when I return to work.  I'm hoping to have a little time to sew during that week's vacation, but it seems that every time I think I might have some time to sew, something else comes up that requires my attention instead; and I already know there will be things to do during that week that don't involve sewing at all.

I'll try to remember to post to my blog every now and then, but in life's prioritized list of things that must be done, I'm afraid blogging isn't terribly high.  But I miss it and I miss all of you and the energy that comes from the exchange of quilting ideas so I definitely want to get back to it when life calms down a little bit. Thanks for checking in!