We've survived another Christmas

Christmas comes with so many expectations.  Everybody has them.  And, at one time, I thought it was all about meeting other people's expectations.  Those expectations nearly ruined Christmas.  Then I found Rob and we started our family and learned that the holidays are about everyone enjoying themselves rather than expecting everyone else to do something that would make the holidays enjoyable.  Rob loves the decorating.  I love the food.  And, like Jack Sprat and his wife, we make a successful go of it, together.

This is one of my early Christmas quilts.  It's a small hexagon wreath. 

I always take this quilt when I teach a class.  Look at all that quilting in it.  This picture isn't very clear, but it's densely quilted with poinsettias.  I quilted this one upside down and outlined the poinsettias and leaves in the print on the back.  Where the print was red, I used red thread and green and white for the berries.  It was a brilliant idea for getting complex quilting on the front of the quilt without a lot of marking to make it happen.

This is another early quilt where I tried to use a large print to make an attic window.  Another great idea.  But, I had to buy two copies of the print to make it work out right.  Now, I think I could probably do it with just one copy. 

Here is this year's Christmas quilt, hung in its place. 

On Christmas eve, early in the morning, Rob goes shopping.  It's his thing.  And, he came back with a mini muffin tin that holds four dozen muffins, so I had to make another batch of those fruitcake cookies to use up the last of the candied fruit. 

One of our traditions is tamales for Christmas eve.  We have tamales and beans and rice and queso and guacamole and chips.  Definitely gets us prepped for the high calorie Christmas feast.  You can see we're not very formal. 

Sydney makes a gingerbread house.  She has the patience for that.  And, the time.  I do not.  This year, she made two, and I made it a point to include them in just about everything we did. 

On Christmas morning, we have Bubble bread, which is balls of roll dough, rolled in cinnamon sugar and sprinkled with pecans and raisins and baked.  It's always been a good way to get Sydney out of bed as the aroma of it baking is heavenly.  We let Syd sleep in, and we were done with coffee, so we had it with eggnog. 

And, we opened Christmas presents.  There were tears of joy.  Rob is good at surprise gifts.  One of our traditions is that we all shop together, and for the most part, we pick our own gifts so there's no returning after the holiday.  We know it's the right size and color before we wrap it.  I know this looks like a huge excess of gifts, but a lot of it is clothes and shoes and things we needed that we wait until the holidays to buy for ourselves.  When Sydney came, it was all about the package count (a bad parent before us tried to make up for the year in just one day and it was clear early on we'd have to find a creative way to run up the count or it would break our bank).  And, there are some fun gifts thrown in too.  Sydney got a camera, Rob got some tools and a sign to hang out back.  I got a cookie jar that matches my good dishes.  We were all very happy. 

And, then it was time for lunch. 

I am so tired of ham.  Last night, we were talking about what we wanted to do for supper.  And, I was mock crying, talking about how tired of ham I am. "I can't even make tears I'm so dehydrated from eating ham".  It really is a very salty ham and we are all desperately tired of it because I can't stand the thought of wasting food, especially meat.  I've already frozen two baggies of it to use later in soup.  And, I've pretty much hit a wall with Rob.  He's not likely going to eat any more ham, which means I'm eventually going to have to cook something else.  And, I'm not looking forward to that.

On the day after Christmas, I pieced a quilt back for the purple and blue quilt. 

And, I've started quilting it.  It's going very well, but I'm just doing ditch work.  This one told me it didn't want fancy quilting, so it isn't going to get it. 

I've also been making half triangle squares.  I just about have all of them made for the next round, but about 60 of them need trimming.  My cutting station that is at the right height is in the garage and it's been too cold for me to go out there and trim those squares down.  But, I have made a few more blocks and you can see where my quilt is going.  Not quite the effect I was go
ing for, but I'm going to give it some more time before I pass too much judgment on it. 

I'm also doing my very best not to be distracted by this.  Rob went to the LQS and bought me a half dozen fat quarters, all in the same print to go in my stocking.  And, he challenged me to make a quilt from them.  He knows I enjoy that kind of a challenge.  But, he forgot to give me a light to set them off, so on Wednesday, we trekked back to the quilt store and I found two more colors of that print and the light grey.  Now, I need to pick a pattern for them.  I've been thinking something really simple; monkey wrench or churn dash.  Or, go all crazy with something like wheel of mystery.  The print seems to call for something simple, but we'll have to see.  I'm not in a hurry.  It's not like I don't have other projects to work on. 

So, that's a summary of my Christmas week and the break from work I've taken and how I've spent it.  Lots of cooking and sewing and relaxing and enjoying myself.  Well, until I caught a cold.  I spent yesterday coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose.  But, it didn't get any worse over night, so that's a good thing.  We're having lunch with friends of Rob today, and today, he's got it.  So, I guess we will give it to his friends as well. 

Like a bad Christmas gift.  I don't want it.  You don't want it either.  Let's re-gift it. 

Everybody have a wonderful Friday and a great weekend.  It's new year's.  We don't all celebrate the same end of year holidays, but new year's is one we have in common.  I've been thinking about what I want my 2018 to be like; figuring out what I'm going to be working on, what I want to finish.  What I want to start.  What changes I want to facilitate in my life.  And, what I'm going to do New Year's day because what you do on New Year's day is what you'll do all year long.  So, I plan to spend it in the studio.  And, maybe some in the kitchen.  But, no matter where I am, I want to be happy and content.  And, I hope you are too. 

Oh, and I'm not going to eat anything but lettuce and celery and cucumber to try to make up for the damage I did with all my Christmas baking, cooking, and leftovers. 




The first Christmas quilt

I've made a lot of Christmas quilts, one just about every year I've been quilting.  But, this was the first one. 

There is a drawback to making a wonderful quilt as the first in a series.  The rest all have to live up to that first one.  And, that's hard. 

My mentor shared the pattern with me.  She had bought it as a kit.  We worked together to pick fabrics from our stashes for my version.  It's fusible web applique and a little bit of piecing. 

It was so much fun to make all the blocks and see them develop.  I think I started this just before Christmas, with a totally unreasonable deadline and ended up finishing it for the next Christmas.  Rookie quilting mistake, right? 

I did all the blanket stitching with the Pfaff 7570 that has since passed away and been replaced with a machine that doesn't have nearly the stitch control that one had.  I miss it. 

The only block I really had trouble with was the nutcracker (above, left).  He was supposed to have pieced black and white teeth.  But they were like a quarter inch wide and I couldn't make it happen...new quilter.  So, I did something different.  Much easier.  If I did that again, I'd have used a white fabric and added the black with a sharpie. 

It has simple ditch and outline quilting that really shows off the applique.  We hang it every year and I'm pretty sure it's everyone's favorite.  I know it's mine. 

I've finished the 1" half triangle square 6 patches and have started sewing them into 12" blocks. 

I needed to make sure all the seam allowances would nest so I laid all my blocks out upside down.  That let me plan how the seams come together and make adjustments to my pressing, which I thought was so well planned when I was making the blocks.  But, half of them had to have seams re-pressed in the other direction.  I almost turned the blocks over, but when I realized that it had to be a mirror turnover, which meant moving blocks as well as turning them over, I decided to just sew them together upside down. 

But, it left me blind to what was happening on the other side.  I decided to wing it anyway.  And, of course...

There are 576 hst in these blocks.  I didn't know there were any two that were identical.  So, what are the chances that two identical squares would end up next to one another?   Rob and Syd both asked if I was going to pick it out.  No, I'm not going to pick it out.  What are the chances that could have happened?  With that kind of luck, I need to buy a lottery ticket. 

The next round of squares measure 2" unfinished.  I don't have any head starts on that.  I've made maybe 50 so far, but they're very similar as the bonus triangles came from just a couple quilts.  I need more variety to start seriously making 16 patch blocks. 

Everybody have a wonderful Friday.  I had my annual evaluation yesterday.  It was full of praise.  It should be.  I wrote it.  But my boss complimented me that it was a really good self-evaluation that described the major things I did over the year and how each thing worked out, both the successes and the less successful.  And, my one big assed embarrassing fail. 

Hey, no need to hide from failure.  Failures are just early versions of successes.  But, for some reason, people think it's brave that I don't mind facing mine. 




Finally the holiday spirit

First, a picture of a quilt.  This is last year's Christmas quilt. 

I picked this up at the boutique at last year's quilt show.  And, I couldn't follow the pattern, so even though it came from a kit, there's not another one exactly like it anywhere.  I added trees and changed borders.  Maybe added a snowflake.  And, changed the background size to accommodate all that. 

Saturday, we had lunch with our friend LD.  She was her normally chipper self and we exchanged gifts and had Mexican food for lunch and a nice long visit.  When we got home, I squeezed out a little quilting while Rob took a nap.  Then we had our traditional Saturday night dinner and a movie. 

Yesterday, I woke knowing I needed to get things done.  I got to quilt a few minutes in the morning while the butter softened.  And, then I made our Christmas cake.  A mincemeat cake.  First time, but I think it's going to be perfect!  I baked the cake that had mincemeat in it, and half way through baking I topped it with a mincemeat mixture that baked into a firm but gooey topping.  And, that made me so happy that I made 5 dozen cowboy cookies (oatmeal and chocolate chip).  I finished at 8:30 and we went to the grocery, then home to unpack and then we did the rest of our Christmas shopping.  Well, the most of it anyway.  And, then we came home, and I made 5 dozen fruitcake cookies.  I think my Mom called these fruit lizzies.  But, they're a really good cookie.  And, then a batch of hello dollies, which are chocolate, coconut and pecans on a graham cracker crust.  And, a shepherd's pie for dinner tonight. 

After I washed dish mountain, I wrote my Christmas cards and then I wrapped all the presents I've bought.  Holy reindeer, Batman!  I haven't wrapped in a long time.  Usually, while I'm in the kitchen making some delicious holiday treat, I get Rob and Syd to wrap one another's gifts for me.  Turns out, I'm a really good wrapper.  Really fast.  I'd forgotten.  I wrapped a whole pile of gifts in a very short time. 

I walked through the bedroom pretty early and Rob was making down the bed.  And, I said something.  And, he explained that he wanted it already made down when I collapsed. 

I think it's the fruitcake cookies that got me in the mood.  I remember how much prep time it took and the baking time.  They take a ton of fruit and nuts and just enough spicy batter to hold them together.  And, the recipe makes 10 dozen.  They bake a long time and they're made in mini muffin tins, tho I might think about making them as a regular cookie sometime to see if it works.  They'd be a lot easier that way.  I only have enough tins to make two dozen at a time.  They're another Christmas memory.  Fruitcake cookies were my Mom's cookie.  When all the family came together over the holidays, everybody brought something sweet to snack on.  And, everybody tried to bring something different.  My Mom brought these cookies and I remember them very fondly.  They were her contribution.  They were the first time I encountered alcohol in cooking.  We grew up in a strict teatotaller household and I didn't even know my Mom kept sherry in the house for cooking until she made these cookies.

When we were shopping, I was singing carols out loud...especially in the grocery where I feel really comfortable.  Spending time with LD, writing cards, wrapping gifts, Christmas baking.  Holiday movies that make me cry. 

I hope I always cry when Scrooge wakes on Christmas morning.  It means I'm alive and my heart hasn't turned to stone.

Everybody have a great Monday! 



What is that man working on?

Welllll, best laid plans aside, I have not started quilting the blue and purple quilt.  But, I have been working my leaders and enders, just not as leaders and enders. 

Remember this project of blocks I'm remaking.  I introduced it here.  I'm up to 70 blocks made.  Just 38 to go.  And, I still don't know what layout I'm going to use.  I need to find multiples of 108+108 plain squares and haven't sat down to do it yet.  I keep assuming I'm going to mess one up (or more) and that the number will change, so I shouldn't put too much effort into a plan yet. 

My newer project, the half square triangle project is proceeding at a lightening pace, like all new projects do around here (explaining why that blue and purple quilt isn't done).  I talked about this one first, here.  My plan is starting to take shape.  The center takes 576 1" finished half triangle squares.  And, you can see a couple of blocks of larger squares at the bottom.  The squares get bigger as you move out from the center; 1", 1.5", 2", 3", and 4" if I need it.  The original plan was a 72" square quilt.  But, I'm not so sure.  The biggest problem so far is I haven't made much of a dent in my scraps. 

Except for the two tins.  I've emptied the neutral one and used most of the dark/medium ones.  I may toss those now that there are no joined neutrals to sew them to.  They're pretty scrappy and I have tons of small pressed, orderly, trimmed dark/medium hst's in the other bins so I can afford to lose some little bits of scraps and am on the verge of giving myself permission.  This is all that's left. 

I intended the hst project to be a new leader/ender.  But, I've worked on it pretty steady, so it's not really fair to call it a l/e project.  But, I've kept making progress on my original l/e project. 

A friend sent me three bags of swatches from a fabric manufacturer that she ordered.  She didn't want to throw them away, and she didn't want to sew them, so she sent them to me, knowing that 1.5" is right up my alley.  I've been making 9-patches.  More than 40 so far, made as true l/e blocks, run through the machine at the end of a line of chain piecing.  It accomplishes so many good things, like keeping constant tension on the thread and you don't have long thread tails at the beginning and ending of all your chains.  And, it makes it much easier to get the point of a hst square to feed under the foot without going in the needle hole or folding up against the seam guide. 

And, as I write this, I looked up and saw a basket.  And, peeking around the lip of that basket is my last l/e project.  The four patches are made and they've been sewn to solid red squares.  And then it wasn't good for l/e anymore, so it's sitting, waiting it's turn at bat.  One day.  I fully intend to finish every one of these quilts before I die.

So, I better live a really long time.

A really, really, really long time.

Everybody have a great Friday.  Work is still weird, and I am very glad that today is the last workday of the week.  One of the good things that's happened has been something that most people think of as a pain in the rear.  We can ask five peers to provide feedback on our end of year evaluations. It's hard to think which 5 people you interacted with that you want to provide feedback that could affect a raise.  I'm pretty confident, so I add the challenge of asking four people that I think will say good things...and one person that I had a difficult interaction with that I hope will say good things about what happened after that interaction.  It's really worked out well because those folks sometimes have the best things to say about me and how I worked to keep a relationship, even after something difficult occurred between us.  And, one time, one of them said some pretty unpleasant stuff I needed to hear.  And, my boss at the time really respected my willingness to solicit and accept that feedback, so even that worked to the good.  Anyway, the good thing has been that I've been asked to provide feedback on quite a large number of people.  It's quite a compliment that these people respect me enough to let me have impact on their end of year evaluations and potential for salary increase. 

Today was the deadline and I wrote the last two at the end of the day yesterday.  So, I'm going into Friday ahead of the game.  And, everybody else will probably leave me alone because they'll have waited to write theirs until the last minute.

And, the early bird gets the easy day worm again.



Snow and memories

They told us it was going to get cold last Thursday night.  But, just a little cold.  One degree below freezing.  And, the climate in our backyard is more temperate than the weather in the rest of the city, so I wasn't worried.  I moved a few things.  Thursday night, Rob and Sydney moved some more. 

And then, it snowed in Texas.  It happens.  But, then it started to stick.  That almost never happens.  I've lived here 33 years, and I think it's only happened a couple times.  We normally get ice, not snow.  But, snow we got.


This is the only picture I will probably ever have with Christmas decorations on the house and snow on the ground. 
 (and in case that doesn't show up, which happens with edited photos sometimes, here's the original)

I never quite realized how much of the Prius is horizontal and glass until I had to try to scrape ice off it with a kitchen spatula.  Don't laugh.  It's Texas, y'all.  It don't snow here.  And, when it ices, we stay home.  So, that's what I ended up doing.  I'm sure my Cleveland co-workers thought that was funny. 


At guild the other night, a friend asked me to make a bib for the guild's boutique.  There's that smile again...Sure.  How hard can it be, right?  She only asked me to make one, but, uhm, there were two pieces of fleece stapled to that pattern that only called for one...what does that mean???  They did take me longer than I expected, but a lot of that was wasted picking fabrics and deciding what patchwork to use on the front and waiting to be inspired.   

I pulled down my gallon jug of 2" squares.  And, it worked.  I sorted through them and found fabrics I liked together and had enough of to make a block and I made one for practice but couldn't find a larger background that I liked with it, so for the next one, I chose all the fabrics at one time.  I made them assembly line style until the finishing work because they each took different thread for that.    And, this is what I ended up with. 

I think they're cute.  But, Rob and I both commented that they looked kind of store bought.  When we were in JoAnn's the other day to get a cotton batting, I picked up some fusible fleece to make some more.  I have a friend that's expecting and I'm going to be starting her quilt soon and thought a couple bibs would be a nice addition.  I might make another couple for the guild. 

When I was a child, holiday candy was one of the traditions.  You could go into my Grandmother's kitchen and there would be stacked tins of candy on a table near the door.  So hard to choose just one kind.  One of the candies was divinity, which is kind of like a marshmallow with pecans in it.  That one was my Dad's favorite.  Making divinity was a long, complicated process.  Here's my childhood memory of the recipe. 

Beat about a dozen egg whites.  Cook some syrup and five pounds of sugar on the stove until it makes a ball when dropped in water.  Pour it into the egg whites so slow that your children start to age.  Beat it with the mixer until somebody says you're going to burn that mixers motor up, then call in a man and have him beat it with a spoon until he thinks his arm is going to fall off.  Shape on waxed paper into thousands of bite sized pieces. 

Oh, how deceptive memory can be. 

My Aunt Jane was the master of divinity.  You had to schedule your day with Aunt Jane and she'd bring the mixer and you could make candy with her.  Some of my best memories are of them doing that with multiple Aunts in attendance, making multiple batches of candy at my Grandmother's house and laughing the whole time...well until the mixer started to get hot.  Then, it got real serious for a time as they all watched over it and prayed the mixer would make it.  Aunt Jane is gone now and I don't know if anybody back home makes Divinity anymore. 

I decided I wanted to make a batch for my Dad.  So, I found a recipe...BTW, it only takes three egg whites and a lot less than 5# of sugar.  And, I pulled out my good, heavy bottomed pot and my KitchenAid mixer and I cooked me some syrup and I poured it in very slow and I beat it until it held a shape.  And, I added about $6 of pecans and I made my candies.  And, as time passed, the began to flatten.  And, the flatter they got, the bigger they got.  The next morning, it was just a sheet of candy on the counter.  Thank goodness it didn't run off the waxed paper very much.  But, it tasted like heaven!  So, I rolled that up and threw it away and the next day, I gave it another go.  And, I really did beat it until I was worried the mixer would overheat and then I added the cold pecans and beat it with a spoon until I thought my arm was going to fall off.  And, then I shaped it into some candies that were about four bites each...because I was dang tired of candy by then. 

And, I sent it to my Dad. 

And, I got an email last night that they'd gotten it and it was good and they were enjoying it. 

And, I enjoyed a happy Christmas memory.  Doing something I watched my Aunts do many times. 

And, just like them, I stood over the mixer and prayed the mixer would make it. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  Work isn't going so well, but sometimes, it's like that.  If it was all fun and candy and sewing, they probably wouldn't pay me to do it, so there's that tradeoff. 



My voice

So, this post is all about feelings and emotions and voice.  Lots of words, not a lot of action.  But, I know how much quilters like pictures, so here's a piece of cross stitch I found when I was cleaning out the closet the other day.  For years, I've thought it was a UFO, but when I unfolded it, I found an FO. 

I remember that I changed the poem a bit.  I think the pattern said it was the love inside that made a home.  Gag.  So, I changed it to something I thought was cute.  Even then, I couldn't follow a pattern.

Lorraine Torrence spoke on finding your voice the other night.  There were several parts of her talk that really spoke to me.  She had 7 "steps" to finding your voice and I can't remember them all, but they included things like find your passion, study, fail well, create a journal, repeat in a series, try something different and practice.  She said too many quilters try to make every kind of quilt instead of focusing in on just one kind and that's a mistake and that we should focus on one type of quilt until we master it. 

I was like um-hum, nod politely, tight smile...you know the look.  Because it felt like I do that by making so many different patterns.  But, she drew me in and suddenly, I realized what she was talking about and realized that without knowing it, I had found my voice.  My voice is in the machine quilting I do.  That dense background quilting.  Circles and pearls.  And, even as much as I'd like to branch out from them, feathers. 

Hear me sing!

When I first started quilting, Diane Gaudynski and Harriet Hargrave were at their most popular.  And, I decided right off that was what I wanted to do.  Fifteen years later, I was doing that.  Still maybe not as fine of work as Diane and Harriet, but good work nonetheless.  And, I think they'd both be proud to have been my inspiration. 

When I looked at Lorraine's steps and compared them to my quilting, I found that early on, I had chosen my passion, I studied the work of others and their teaching,this blog is my journal, I've certainly repeated my quilting in every quilt I've finished and that covers practice, too.  And, I've branched out in a couple different directions that have included dense backgrounds and looser feathers, and plenty of shapes in between.

That just left failing well.  Failing well is not giving up.  Well, I sure haven't done that.  And, when you don't like something, try something different.  Lorraine made me laugh here.  She  said, if you're not liking it, don't just pack it away in the back of the closet.  Try something different.  Add something to it or take something away, or cut it apart into smaller pieces and put it back together again.  Or, pick out the quilting.  Try anything because it's not like you're going to train yourself to suddenly like it the way it is.  But, don't give up.  And, I do that, too.  I have picked out many a mile of quilt thread. 

When I quilted the most recent Christmas quilt, I tried new things.  And, I hated it.  Don't get me wrong, it all came out good in the end.  But, I hated the process.  I like more dense, patterned quilting and that quilt wanted very free form, and loose quilting.  I'm used to focusing on a 10-12" square of quilting, but loose quilting means looking forward and planning what happens several inches from where you are, and meandering means planning which direction to go so you don't hit a dead-end.  That made me uncomfortable.  Even in the border, where I tried to enforce order, you can't see it because of the riotous print it's quilted on.  Paired with the pattern, it is a good match with a good finish.  But, it wasn't in my voice. 

I made that miniature card trick quilt and started quilting it.  And, picked it all out.  Because what I was doing wasn't in my voice.  I blamed me for doing bad quilting.  But, there was nothing wrong with that quilting, which trying so hard to pick it out proved.  But, it wasn't in my voice. 

So, maybe, instead of griping about only being able to do feathers again, I should start to think of feathers as maybe something along the lines of middle C.  And, accept that my voice goes up and down from there, within a range.  And, I need to celebrate that as my range and accept that things outside my range are going to make me feel uncomfortable. 

And, I scored a half yard of this beautiful fabric from the free table, to boot!

On a different, but less unrelated subject than you might think, Sydney's mom has reached out to her.  They've had a couple exchanges through facebook private messaging.  Sydney hasn't told me about it yet, but Rob is keeping me filled in.  If you're new to the blog, the short story is that we took Syd in 11 years ago when she was 9.  Her mom said she couldn't keep her and she had lived with four families before us.  Her mom sent one letter and two birthday cards at the very beginning and we haven't heard from her since.  The fourth year, Sydney put her hand on her hip and said she was NOT sending a mother's day card to her mother, and I stopped telling her to. 

Their new conversation seems to be going something like this:
i love you so much and i want us to have a relationship
I'm pretty busy right now.  My life is going in the right direction and I'm in school and working and have my friends.
they took you away from me
No, they didn't.
they wouldn't let me have contact with you.  they must have thrown away all the letters i sent
No, they didn't.
i think you should be showing me more respect
No, I shouldn't.
i know they're making you say all this
No, they aren't.

When Sydney is ready to talk to me, she will.  She knows Rob and I don't keep secrets, so for some reason, it's easier to have him tell me.  I can do that.  We've done it this way all along.  One of us is the buffer and it's not always Rob.  That seems healthy.

Have a great Wednesday!  It's another workday.  I just keep telling myself how lucky I am to have a good job that provides good benefits. 

I am lucky to have a good job that provides good benefits.

I am lucky to have....

I wish I was quilting.

Darn, how my mind drifts.



A Christmas finish

Twas the night before guild show-and-tell and all through the house, I was leaving little thread trimmings, just like a quilter.

I got the last stitches in the Christmas quilt so I can take it to guild and show it off tonight. 

I did a holly leaf pattern in the border that you can't see, but it does a nice job of holding the layers together in an irregular pattern on that bold paisley. 

I did the flanged binding, and was going to sew the second seam by machine, and chickend out.  It just wasn't coming out straight and even.  So, I sewed it down with a running stitch in that ditch that you're supposed to machine sew it down in and it looks perfect.  Once it's been shown off, it will get hung in the living room.  With all the others. 

We hang a lot of Christmas quilts.  I make one every year.  I really need to stop that. 

So, now I am temporarily between projects.  But, I'm sure that won't last long.  It's not like I don't have enough started that I can finish. 

On December 1, Rob started turning on the Christmas lights.  This is what that swag looks like in the dark.  It casts a nice holiday glow. 

This is one of Rob's villages.  The one from the oldest time period.  (Please note, I said one...there are four.  Rob's really into Christmas.)

This is the quilt that hangs over it. 

The corners are FMQ.  The tree, the ornaments, the lights and the gifts.  There's a bow in the border that's also FMQ and filled with tiny pebbles.  (that one won a ribbon.)

This weekend was about me and Rob.  Syd was around, but a minor player.  We were both dealing with end of year stuff and needed to argue and make up and get along and make plans and talk over coffee and watch movies and build stuff...all the stuff couples that are involved in one another's lives need to do.  And, need to make time to do.  Even around the holidays. 

That's it for me today.  I'm going to go sew something.  And, after that, I'm going to work.  And, then a meeting and guild.  The speaker is Lorraine Torrence.  I'm not familiar with her work, so it should be fun. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  It's the start of a brand spanking new week and anything can happen...even something good.  If you let it. 



Post-Thanksgiving post

Well, that's one holiday down.  Two more to go, in rapid succession.  We even started Christmas shopping over the weekend, so there's no getting out of it now. 

Swag-day is over for another year.  And, I survived it.  I should have a t-shirt made every year.  I don't know why we never tried to make hanging the swag easier in all those years I hung it before last year.  Before that, it was all "on the ladder" time.  And, by the time it was over, my legs and knees and hips ached and all I could do was sit.  Last year, we got the bright idea to tie long cords to it and tie those to the sofa, hanging it a few feet from the floor and I decorated it.  When I was done, we hoisted it to the ceiling.  And, it worked great.  When the holiday was over, we tied the cords to it again and lowered it and un-decorated it. 

This year, we hung it from the ceiling using cords half as long.  That kept us from putting that kind of weight on a part of the sofa that was not intended to hold it in an upward direction. 

I spent a couple hours wiring red ornaments to it.  You can't just hang them on it.  They have to be wired on so they don't come down and konk somebody in the head.  One year, a red ball came off the garland, hit a ceiling fan blade and went flying across the living room like a softball.  Fortunately, it was some kind of metal and dented rather than break.  I saw that one just the other day when I was doing all this and remembered how that happened. 

When all the ornaments are wired to it, it gets pulled up to the ceiling.  It's only difficult around the fan.  But, because they're all wired to the garland, only a couple dropped and nothing broken. 

And, before you know it, it's all done.  I'll try to get a pic with the lights on.  That's when it really sings. 

And, then I found six boxes of red ornaments that didn't get hung on it. 

Yay for lucky timing!

So, that is it for me today.  I made a bunch of 6" hst blocks and I'm down to one short border on the Christmas quilt, but those will have to wait for another day's post. 

Sydney has had a Christmas tree in her room since she came to live with us.  One she can decorate the way she wants.  Peacocks, y'all.  Dark blue, purple, gold.  It's beautiful.  She's a very creative young woman.  I can't wait to see what she can do with that as part of her career. 

And, no matter how much she don't want to admit it, I've been part of her getting to express that creativity.  I wasn't so good at encouraging it early on.  I thought she should conform.  Don't know why.  I don't conform.  But, I thought she should.  And, then I let that go.  We had bigger fish to fry.  And, now her creativity has matured.  And, like me, she's likely to try something and then if it doesn't work, re-do it.  And, she got part of Rob's planfulness that I don't have, so she doesn't make as many mistakes as I do.  Or maybe she's too smart to tell anybody.

Everybody have a great Monday!  It's off to work I go.  Thankfully, almost everybody has been off work, so there won't be much catching up to do. 



It's tradition

The holiday traditions have begun.  And, as much as I complain about them, I do enjoy them...I must, or I really wouldn't go to all the trouble.  We saw a TV show last night where the family cook decided to take the holiday off and then found out she missed it (and didn't enjoy any of the other family traditions that happened outside the kitchen).  I'm sure I'd be the exact same way.

We had the annual feast, and after dishes were done, the annual nap of gratitude.  It's tradition. 

Of course, being who I am, we have to eat every bite of it...and we have.  I think there is a little bit of turkey left and some carrots.  I've learned to make a manageable amount so we don't get too tired of it and don't have to throw it away.  Last night, we had blackened fish, oven fries and a salad because that's about as far from Turkey and stuffing as I could get.  It worked out great!

Most of Friday, I took the day off.  Sydney gave me a really hard time because she and Rob were working and I wasn't doing anything...well, I was quilting, but she can't say that's anything or it might come across as a compliment or something, and she can't be seen doing anything like that, you know.  After all, she's 20.  Just kidding.  It was all in fun...she knows how hard I worked on Thursday and she only had to help do what she wanted to help do.  Anyway, they started the holiday decorating.  It's tradition.  They start on Friday and I rest and put away the good dishes.  It's tradition.  But, on Saturday, I'm up with them.  Saturday is swag day.  We hang a garland across the vaulted living room ceiling.  It's decorated with red ornaments and white lights.  It's beautiful.  It's a tremendous amount of work.  I used to stand on the ladder the whole time, but we've come up with a better idea...more about that later. 

I woke up this morning and started...swag-day, swag-day, swag-day...it's the worst day of the year.  And, Rob asked if taking-down-the-swag-day wasn't worse...and I said, taking-down-the-swag-day is the second worst day of the year.  And, we laughed.  Because I can't just enjoy anything.  I have to pretend to gripe about it.  I guess that's tradition, too. 

I'll do better pics when we're done, but for now, There are Santas on the mantle...it's tradition. 

Something happened in the village last night.  A massacre.  Or a cat.

Retroville at night.  Before 9:30 because a town like Retroville would have shut down after that. 

This is a new vignette.  The only thing that changed is the trailer.  Rob has the same trailer, without the tree on top.  With the other trailer, this stays up all year. 

Thursday evening, after all the dishes were done and Turkey sandwiches for dinner (it's tradition), I finished the little quilt needlepoint.  Now, I want to make this as a real quilt...loving the pattern.  I'm so glad I re-did it. 

Everybody have a great Saturday.  I have a little while to quilt, and then I need to get on that swag.  Because it's tradition.  Swag day, swag day...the worst day of the year.

Be well!  Lane