Farewell, Princess Leia

Say what you will, she will always be Princess Leia to me.  And, a perfect illustration of why I often feel sorry for people too used to money and privilege.  It doesn't necessarily make life better.  But she will always be a part of my history of pleasant memories spent in dark theaters watching people with brave and wonderful (scripted) lives.  And, wishing I was one.

Our Christmas was wonderful, of course.  The three of us had a very nice day.  It's amazing how pleasant a day can be when everybody is paying attention to one another and not their phone.  We started off with our traditional bubble bread...okay, not really started...Rob and I needed protein, so we had bacon and eggs first. 

And, after that, we opened our shoes.  I'm only partially kidding.  It was like the year of the shoe around here.  We all got shoes.  I got more shoes than anybody.  I honestly don't know what was up with the shoes.  Sydney was shopping for a new pair of boots and we took her multiple places and I found a pair of shoes on sale in every one for me...and I bought them.

And, on the day after Christmas, I sent four pair of old shoes to Goodwill. 

Rob surprised me with a new TV for the kitchen...have I mentioned that we are real movie people?  It has a wall mount and can be moved out of the way or aimed wherever I'm working.  We're very practical gift givers, so there were lots of clothes and shoes and my annual new egg skillet.  Rob got security cameras to hang around the house and Sydney got her boots...we had just about given up that hunt.  And, we laughed and enjoyed ourselves as we unwrapped our gifts and celebrated the traditions our family has come to treasure to celebrate the big day, including a LOT of eating. 

Just before the big day, when all things Christmas were on sale, I bought this kit.  It's based on a pre-printed panel for the center (thank goodness that's not all embroidery and applique) and will be our quilt for 2017.  We both thought it was very cute and when it was cheap, it was ours.  We got it on Wednesday before, and we laughed about whether I should try to make it for this year.  But, I didn't.  I need to leave a few things to look forward to.

Rob is really into camper trailers.  We don't have one...yet...but he collects miniature ones.  So, this year, I found this quilt pattern and I bought it for him as a pre-cut kit.  I had even picked up the background fabrics and laundered them, so I'm all ready to go.  A precut kit is different for me.  I rarely purchase a kit, much less a precut.  When I bought this one, I trusted that someone else picked great fabric combinations and did a good job of adhering the fusible and that the pieces are well cut out.  We will see what I find when I really dig in. 

I gave myself two craftsy classes while they were on sale last week.  Both were shirtmaking classes and I've made it through one and have started the other.  The first one was a great class and I enjoyed it very much.  I decided to try to make a shirt using her method on Monday.  She can make a shirt in 3 hours.  I worked on it all day.  And, I threw it away at the end of the day because I had ruined the neck...it was 4 inches too big...FOUR!  But, it's okay.  It was practice and was made out of an ugly fabric, so I only lost the day.  The method the teacher used required me to cut my seams narrower than my pattern had.  She doesn't use the standard 5/8, and it makes sense because so many shirt directions say sew it at 5/8, then trim it smaller.  So, she just starts with it smaller.  I think I cut my neckline twice.  Oops!  I ended up cutting the shirt down to smaller practice sections, starting with a new neck to which I attached the collar stand and made pattern adjustments that way.  It was something I learned in the first half hour of my second shirtmaking class.  One of the first teacher's suggestions was to make three shirts as fast as you can so your mind wraps around the concepts.  That was one.  And, I'm ready to dig into two and see if I can actually finish it.  I have more practice fabric.  And, I've purchased some beautiful checked fabric for number three. 

Yesterday was a long and hard day back at work.  Tw days of stuff I'd missed and no resources available to help me solve problems.  On the way home, I ran into my panhandler friend, Rick.  He'd been somewhere that they let him cleanup over the holidays.  We only had the space of a redlight to talk, so he didn't get to tell me.  He looked bright an alert and his beard was neatly trimmed.  It was a good change as I've watched him seem to fade over the last year since he lost his other leg.  I suspect Rick is a diabetic.  When I met him, he only had one leg.  And, now he has none.  Isn't there a saying about complaining about having a good life, until I met a man who didn't...I complained that I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.    That put some perspective in my day.  This time, I had a crisp $20 bill for him that I'd stuck in my wallet before the holidays, holding it til I ran into him again.    I was a little worried because I hadn't seen Rick in so long that maybe something had happened.  But, I held on to that bill, just in case.  And, yesterday, I got to give myself the gift of giving it to him and enjoying a nice chat.  Because that's who I really am.  Inside, I'm not the grumpy curmudgeon I pretend to be at work.  At least I hope not.

Everybody have a great week.  I'm working on resolutions for 2017.  The guild is having a UFO challenge for next year.  Commit to finish certain ones, then as you finish them, bring them to show and tell.  For every finish, there's an entry in a drawing.  Nothing like a challenge to help me with something that was already a priority for me.  Oh, and cleaning things out.  I have so many things that I can't find the thing I need when I need it.  So, I'm paring down my things and letting go of things I don't think I will ever actually use again.  It's a fire sale...everything must go!



Just one more project syndrome

Are you like me, suffering from just one more project syndrome?

You will know if you are because you're jonesing for a project right about now.  Or, you're hurriedly trying to finish one up.  An unexpected one that you just decided at the last minute that you could squeeze in before the fat man wedges himself down the chimney.  More about mine later.  First, the last of the holiday decorations. 

If you've followed for a while, then you recognize the swag that runs across the living room ceiling. 

This year, we got smart.  Instead of hanging the swag and me spending three hours on top of the ladder decorating it, we decorated it on the ground and used a system of pulleys to raise it to the ceiling.  It was so much easier; it was crazy that we'd never done it before. 

That's how we're taking it down, too.

And more of Rob's villages. 

And, the important village.

So, sitting in all that and watching the endless stream of Christmas movies, most of which make me "cry for happy", it's nearly impossible not to have the Christmas spirit. 

And, in that spirit, I put done to two last minute projects. 

I finished Rob's shirt yesterday, but that wasn't really my "finished it at the last minute" project. 

This was my last minute project.  Several years ago, we were in an antique and craft mall and there was an elderly lady selling quilts.  I was kind of a new quilter and decided I wanted to support her.  So, I sent Rob and Syd back to get me one of her quilts.  And, this table runner was the best of what was left.  And, it was kind of expensive but they got it for me anyway.  And, we put it out sometimes, but really, it's just never fit in with the rest of the house. 
So, this year, I decided to take it apart and re-make it.  This is it, after I took the one inch wide green binding off of it. 
This was the back.  The prettiest fabric was definitely where you wouldn't see it. 

I wanted to focus that cute fabric, but the only way I could was to do some piecing.  I added the turquoise and the red and used about half the tree fabric.  But, it doesn't really match the tablecloth and dishes.  
This side best matches my table cloth, without that white striped inner border.  I even got to use the original binding, which was a strange shade when it was an inch wide on both sides, but it was much cuter when I cut it in half used it as a double fold.  

I also made 12 more diamond shapes for the broken star quilt.  That gives me 20...just 12 more to make.  Sometime.  But, I'm going to try to stay out of the sewing studio for the holidays and enjoy the family.  But, I reserve the right to hide from all this Christmas spirit at any time and make something.

Everybody have a Great Holiday, whatever holiday you're celebrating. 

May it be peaceful and may all your arguments get resolved over a good glass of eggnog...unless your argument is about how to make eggnog.  Then, make peace over a piece of fruitcake.  Because fruitcake is so dense, you won't really be able to argue with a mouth full of it. 

Make Joy! 



Bit of this, bit of that

How about a few Christmas decorations to start us off? 

The tree with our ornament collection.  Ornaments from my childhood, and from friends, and that we've collected as a family. 

Rob stumbled up on this quilt kit in a shop in Branson, MO.  Fell in love with it, and before you knew it, it was done. 

The mantle with the Santa collection.  And, the gaudiest wreath in the world.  My own creation.  
The hearth with the newest Cmas quilt hanging.  The stocking is one my Mom crocheted when I was a kid. 
One of Rob's village displays.  Just one of many that I'll share.  The people get moved around and there's always a bit of story going on in the towns.  

We love to decorate for the holidays.  We really do it right.  This is about half of the pics I have to show, but I need to save something for later. 

It's been cold here, and Saturday I gave myself the gift of letting me start something new.  I want to make a Broken Star quilt.  But, in miniature.  These pieces are cut from 1 1/4" strips, so the diamonds finish at 3/4" side to side.  The whole star should be about 21" from point to point.  This is the first 8 sections.  To make a broken star, I'll need a total of 32. 

Of course, it didn't want to go together so I had to do a little "forcing".  I drew out the shapes, pinned the pieces to the shapes, and then wet them and let them dry.  That made them much better. 

And, I cooked. 

Which resulted in dish mountain. 

But, don't feel too sorry for me because I got all my dinners cooked for the week, plus over 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies.  I'd like to say I grew the bananas and baked all the bread.  But, I didn't.  Just a stew, a scout dinner casserole (scout dinners cooked in a casserole dish instead of wrapped in foil), and a chicken pie.  And, a quart of really good chicken broth as a bonus.

And, it didn't take too long to get everything cleaned up. 

And, another weekend was over. 

Hope you all had a great weekend.  It's cold here, so I can only imagine how it is for some of our friends to the north.  Stay warm.  Rob's cat, Sugarfoot definitely had the right idea!

Have a great Monday.  Lane


They did it all in one day...

Our family has developed our own method of Christmas shopping.  It works for us.  One of the main reasons is that when Syd came to live with us, what did we know about buying gifts for a girl?  Or for any child?  Rob and I were used to going out and buying what we wanted without waiting for Christmas.  And, we'd both been wounded in past relationships by bad gift givers and receivers.  So, we started going out shopping together, all three of us.  We pick what we want and we put it in the pile and somebody takes a turn paying.  And, we come home and wrap it all up and put it under the tree and on Cmas morning, we unwrap with abandon, knowing the other person will love it and it will fit.  We haven't returned an unwanted gift in YEARS! 

And, we have a few surprises.  There are things that we know one another will like and we pick those up or have them delivered.  And, Syd is always trying to hide something in a pile at the store so one or the other of us doesn't see it.  And, because we do all our shopping in one day, it's easy to forget what we picked out, so there's always someone saying "oh, I forgot that." 

Anyway, I digress.  Friday was our shopping day.  Syd works weekends, so Rob and I took Friday off work.  It was rainy and cold, so that gave the extra benefit if keeping most people at home or work.  I made breakfast and then I turned all drill sergeant and told them we had this much time and don't do anything that isn't directly related to getting out of the house and getting started.  We shopped from 9 to 4 and then had an early supper at a deli that serves great soups.    And, when it was over, we were done.  And, on Saturday, Rob and I wrapped.  And, wrapped.  And, wrapped. 

We were in one store and stumbled up on the clearance section.  And, Rob saw a Hawaiian shirt from across the way and I saw him beeline to it.  And, I knew he loved it.  I wandered over as he was touching it.  But, it was too big and there was only one left.  Not to be deterred, we checked the fabric content (100% cotton), and I told him I could cut it down to his shirt pattern.  So, now it's disassembled and ironed and ready to be recut.  I've done this several times.  It's sometimes hard to get good shirting, so I will buy a really nice very large shirt and cut it down.  The bigger the easier it is.  The only thing that's weird is the collar, but I'm good enough now that I can work through that and end up with one oddly placed seam.  I have to take size out of the middle of the collar, not the ends. 

I quilted when I could, which didn't seem to be very much.  I finished knitting a hat and scarf.  I have a green coat and no hat and scarf to go with it.  Brown didn't work and neither did black.  So, I made something.  I even splurged on some really nice wool. 

When I started making socks, I didn't really know how much yarn it took, so I bought two really pretty balls, but they were only large enough to make one sock each.  I can't match them, so this weekend, I decided to give them a try together, alternating, one inch from one ball and one from the other.  I had no idea how nice it would turn out.  One ball seemed to be green, but has a lot of brown and gold in it.  The other seemed to be gold, but has a lot of brown, and some green.  This is what I'm ending up with.  I'll make one heel from green and the other from gold and do the same with the toes to make sure I have enough to make the pair of socks.  These two self striping yarns together make an even more interesting stripe.

And, finally, yesterday, I baked.  I made cinnamon rolls, oatmeal cookies to take to work as a "thank you" to a team that helps me out regularly.  I made a pot of soup, and I made Mary Berry's fruit cake...the one she puts under her tennis cake on the show. 

I can't wait to cut into that.  For some reason, I think fruitcake should "set" for a little while to let the flavors meld.  But, soon, we're going to cut into that and I can hardly wait.  It's full of fruit; cherries, pineapple, apricots, raisins, and almonds.  Mmm-mmm good.  And, we finished the day with tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches again. 

We don't do a lot, but we eat good. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  I hope all your holiday priorities are working out and that the season is as low stress for you as it is for us.  Don't get me wrong, it's still stressful, but not as stressful as it is for a lot of people. 



To knot, or not to knot

That's actually a bigger question than we realize.  Normally, if I'm doing fun quilting, I just quilt in a quarter inch of tiny stitches that hold the end secure and trim the tails.  That works really well with cotton thread.  But, this time, I'm using two very fine threads, and one is silk.  I started out with the tiny stitches and found out that those fine threads wouldn't hold the tiny stitches, so by the time I had pulled the tails taut and cut them, I'd picked out all my tiny stitches.  So, I went with the buried knot method.  Buried knots are what we use in hand quilting, but they work for machine quilting, too.

When I bury my knots, I leave about a three inch tail on both ends of the line of quilting.  I tie a simple "rabbit through the hole" knot, about an eighth of an inch from the surface of the quilt.  I can use the point of my needle to force that knot where I want it.  So long as the needle is in the hole with the rabbit, I can move that knot up and down the thread tail.  But, once you pull the point of the needle out, that knot is set where it's going to be.  These threads are so fine that I'm putting two of those knots on top of one another so that the final knot is large enough to stay buried inside the fabric. 

Then, I thread the tails through a self threading needle and bury the knot in the quilt and trim the tails and you can't even tell there is a knot.  This is my needle.  It's open on the end, then there are two bumps that touch and form an eye.  But, because they are bumps, you can pull the thread through them and into the eye instead of the way we would traditionally thread a needle, by wetting the thread ends and then trying to thread them through the eye from the end.  Believe me, if you plan to bury knots in machine quilting, you're gonna want self threading needles. 

Burying knots is on my mind today because I haven't been burying mine, so I have probably a couple hundred thread tails to bury.  Soon, I'll just sit with the quilt in my lap and tie those off.  The only drawback to leaving them is that they are just another thing to get tangled in the foot as I move the quilt from section to section to quilt.  And, I have to make sure not to quilt over them. 

The best advantage to buried knots is in "fixing" mistakes.  I can cut a mistake and pick out the stitches before and after it to give me tails, knot the tails, then replace the quilting, starting exactly where the old quilting ends, so you can't even tell I picked out a mistake. 

Okay, that's my handy tip for the day. 

Now, I'm going to brag on Sydney.  I don't know if she's faking it or not.  And, I don't care.  But, she's being so nice to me and we are getting along so well.  Rob and I both think she needed a "reset" and to do that, we needed to get her attention.  And, once we had it, she's been willing to comply with our requirements.  She's sleeping at night, getting up in the morning on her own (most days) and taking care of her business again.  It's such a welcome change.  Tomorrow, Rob and I have taken off to take her Cmas shopping.  With her working weekends, it's gotten difficult to shop with her, and we need her to pick out some things to go under the tree. 

And, she wants to shop for us. 

That feels good.



Oh, Christmas weather

Often, we don't get a cold December.  Many years, we've shopped for Christmas in short pants.  Those of you that just shrugged out of a huge bulky coat, scarf, hat, gloves... just asked "what's wrong with that?" 

Nothing.  But, once in a while, it's nice to have cold rainy weather for the winter holidays.  Everybody wants a different experience, right?  So, this is nice for us.  I mean, it's part of the season.  So many of the season's songs talk about fires and coats and snow and sleigh rides that it's hard not to long for that. 

Anyway, Syd worked and we shopped in the mornings and napped in the afternoons.  We bought a few gifts for one another.  Rob is impossible to shop for, but we found a couple things he needed...and when he said his feet were wet from a hole in his boot, I knew he needed to get that gift now and I'll wrap the empty box.  Needs must, right?

Yesterday, I did a good bit of cooking.  I made tomato-basil soup and Rob and I had soup and grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner.  I also made some Hello Dolly cookie bars.  We've been watching the Great American Baking Show and one of the recent ones we saw was cookie bars and while mine are delicious, they'd be judged as kind of "crumbly".  When the home cooks made Mary Berry's Apple Almond cake, I went to the internet for the recipe to see what they were trying to accomplish because it looked fun.  They left steps out of the recipe for the show, so we giggled about how the cooks adapted and compared that to what they were "supposed" to do.  Anyway, since I had the recipe, I decided to make my own. 

The cake is extra moist.  I don't think I cooked enough water out of the apples.  But, it is DELICIOUS!!!  And, as far as I know, it's the only gluten free thing I've ever made. 

I need to piece Barbara Brackman's latest Westering Women quilt block, but I didn't get around to that.  I just quilted.  Little, tiny circles. 

Hundreds and hundreds of little, tiny circles. 

As I've worked on that, I've run into several structural curves that have "problems" so I'm picking out and repairing that as I go.  I also had a pretty significant pucker in one corner, and I ended up picking out a good sized triangle of quilting there.  But, that wasn't enough.  the crease just wouldn't go away and I was pretty sure I was just going to quilt it in again, so I turned the quilt over, spritzed it and pinned it perfectly flat, like I had ironed it.  But, there's so dang much blue ink in this thing I wouldn't dare approach it with anything as hot as an iron. 

This one is a long term project.  But, it's going faster than I expected.  I'm trying to figure out what to quilt in the border...the quilt is so densely quilted and the border is a busy print, and I've got to find some way to "meld" those together.  Or, replace the border...

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's a new week!  Anything can happen. 



One, two, three

Single nine patch.

Double nine patch.

And, I'm calling this one Triple nine patch.

Nine double nine patch blocks.  These are fabrics left from our Double Wedding Ring quilt.  I've been using it as a leader/ender, but yesterday, I decided to just finish it.  I was already close.  All the blocks were made and it just needed assembly.  And, even part of that was done.  It was originally planned to be a 7x7 block quilt, which left the outer blocks incomplete, but used up all the lighter print I had on hand.  So, I got some help from by blog friends and found some more fabric and kept going.  Turned out I only needed the 8 outer 3" blocks cut from that, so I have nearly a yard left over. 

The quilt finished at 36"x36".  The blocks were 3.5" unfinished and the border cut 4.5" unfinished. 

Now, I have something new to put on top of the UFO pile.  But, that's okay.  I'm finishing quilts, too.  And, not starting too many new ones.  But, I will need a new leader/ender. 

I have my eye on a miniature pineapple block or a half sized broken star pattern as my next project.  But, I'm not pulling out any fabric to start anything.  I'm just not ready right now. 

We've had a small emergency at home that's caused us to limit our adult child's access to social media.  We can do that because we're paying for it.  We watched and watched her develop an overdependence on it.  We knew it was getting worse.  We tried to talk to her about it.  And, she wouldn't listen.  Now, the universe has stepped in and given her a good sharp slap in the face back to reality.  And, all we need to do now is support her through "learning her lesson".  It's funny how much harder it is to learn a lesson as an adult than it is as a child.  Now, she has the lesson.  And, we are waiting to see what she will do with it.  We are hopeful that it makes a permanent change.  Nothing bad happened in the grand scheme of things.  She made mistakes that many, many freshmen in college make.  But, not the worst mistakes that many other freshmen make, so we got lucky there.  But, it is going to be interesting to see what she chooses to do next.  And, that's exactly how we are framing it.  She has choices to make.  She's an adult now and we can't make her choices for her. 

And, I have new advice on social media for any parent.  Make the kids pay as much attention to the parent as they do to the phone.  Force them to put it down and interact with you.  That is the only thing I see that we could have and should have changed.  We're not beating ourselves up for missing this, but I did think I'd pass along what I've learned to anybody else that might be dealing with the same thing.  Don't back down.  Don't take no for an answer.  Monitor your child's phone use.  Make sure they aren't using their phone when they should be sleeping or doing other things. 

Dammit, parents are at LEAST as important as anybody a child can reach through their phone.  We know we are more important.  But, our kids need to be forced to acknowledge that we are at LEAST as important. 

Everybody have a great Thursday.  It's almost the weekend.  We are looking forward to some down time.