The last post of 2019

It's my last blog post of the year.  This morning, I was thinking about what I'd post and I couldn't think of much to say and almost didn't post.  Then, I had a coffee and came up with too many things to say, so here I am. 

I can't think of many big memorable events that happened in 2019.  I was politically enraged most of the year.  That might have gotten a little bit out of hand.  And, I continued to see big progress in getting over my shyness.  We had the house repaired, but I don't really want to think about that too much, and honestly, it was just the first in a chain of things we have to get done.  Next we have to replace our HVAC, and after that the house needs painting, and a stone mason has to come in, but those are things for 2020.  Sydney moved into her own place and seems to be thriving...at least she hasn't asked for money yet.  She's moving in a few weeks.  From the apartment she's in to a house with fewer residents (and fewer pets).  I think that's a good choice and reflects her growing up.  (Three adults and four pets in a 2 bedroom/1 bath apartment was never going to work for long.)  All our cats and dogs and most of the fish made it through the year.  And, I got a new job and sort of a fresh start at work, with lots of people getting to know me for the first time and lots of new opportunities.  And, I helped make the quilt guild's raffle quilt.  That was a big undertaking that took a big chunk of the summer.  And, I'm wrapping up the year by making a new jacket pattern and multiple pair of boxer shorts and a paper pieced quilt that was just a tad above my skill level. 

Sometimes, years are about the little things, not about big memorable events.  Home repair, parenting, hobby, changing underwear style...the things that fill the average day, that's what life is mostly made of.  The unmemorable events that make waffle days special (and yes, I got a waffle iron for Christmas and I'm going to have more waffle days in 2020).  So farewell 2019.  2020, it's your turn to impress me.  Let's see what ya' got!

But, for today, I've been obsessin...uhm, diligently working on my new jacket from Vogue 7004. 

I made my muslin, leaving out all the fiddley bits, like topstitching and focused on fit.  I even made a muslin of the welted pocket so I'd know how it went together.  The instructions were...vague.  It turned out to be a very good thing I did the practice run because that didn't work at all like I had it set in my mind.  This is going to become the lining for the jacket...including the blue leaping frog fabric for a bit of whimsey.  Maybe. 

This is after I made some alterations.  It needed more size in the middle, it's too short and the shoulders are too low, but overall a good fit and comfortable in the yoke. 

 And, then I got started on the real thing.  In two days, I've only gotten this far.  It has been a tremendous amount of work and figuring out how to do things.  Like this morning, I lay in bed and figured out a better way to get the lining in, so I got up and took out some sewing to make that happen...two steps forward, one step back.  That's how it's been all along, but that's okay, all I'm wasting is thread.  I get frustrated, but then I remind myself that I'm learning something completely new (and it's not my fault that the polyester fabric won't hold a crease).  Today, I'll put the lining in it and finish off this part of the jacket with some hand sewing.  I hope to get the sleeves made, then tomorrow, I'll only have to insert the sleeves and finish the hem.  Fingers crossed.  But, I've also got to take down the tree and the swag, so this might be the first finish of the new year. 

Everybody have a great New Year!!  Next year, there's going to be lots of boring political stuff.  But, there's going to be lots of good stuff too.  I'm sure of it.  Now, I'm going to go sew.  Hope you get to, too.



Twas the day after Christmas...

Rob asked me what I was going to do today and I said I'm going to sew for a little while, then I'm going to unpack my presents and then I'm going to sew some, then probably have lunch and sew some more.  So far, I've made a pair of boxer shorts, but the day is young and I bought the supplies to make a new lightweight brown jacket for myself and I can't wait to start.

One of our family traditions is Tamales for dinner on Christmas eve.  And, nothing goes better with tamales than a margarita. 

Then, on Christmas morning, we have monkey bread and (new tradition) hot cocoa while we unwrap gifts. 

One of Rob's gifts was a set of glasses for when we have bloody mary, so we like had to try them out to make sure they weren't leaky or anything.  That one lasted me all the way through cooking lunch. 

I'm not showing a picture of my table because at the last minute, I decided we could help our plates from the stove and take it to the table (see above paragraph for details). 

Just kidding.  What really happened was I looked around at all the dishes that were going to need washing and decided I didn't need to add a half dozen large serving pieces to that pile.  But, we made up for it laughing and talking while I cooked.  With the three of us and at least one dog and sometimes a cat in the kitchen, it was crowded and fun and peaceful and happy.  Just like Christmas should be. 

Rob's surprise gift this year was baby yoda.  Or at least as close as I could get with a good pattern, yarn and crochet hook.  I bought a pattern and adjusted the size down by using a lighter weight yarn.  If I made a second one, I'm sure I could do better.  Just not sure I'll ever get around to making a second one.  I worked on it every morning between the time he left and the time I had to get up to get ready for work, plus a few hours I had to steal over last weekend.  But, it's done now.  And, he liked it and his facebook followers did too.

Rob and his best friend go to one of the local restaurants near their office at least once a week for lunch.  They've made friends with the manager.  She gave them these Santa onesies for Christmas and made them promise to take a picture in them and post it.  And, they both did.  This is Rob's picture. 

Ya gotta love a man confident enough to post that picture. 

Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday filled with peace.  And, that you get to spend today doing what you want to, whatever that is.  I'm going to make some bobbins and get on with my big day. 



Twas the day before Christmas Eve...

I wonder how many of us will start our blogs that way this morning.  It's my Dad's birthday!  Happy Birthday, Dad!  I hope your day is peaceful.

We spent the weekend busy as elves.  Rob wrapped presents.  He must enjoy it.  He wrapped everything, including the gifts to him.  And, I really appreciated it because I was at deadline for a surprise that I'm making and locked myself in the studio for several hours.  I'm practically finished.  Actually, I'm finished enough to give, but not finished enough to be perfect.  And, since I have extra time... 

We also did some last minute shopping and ordering on Amazon.  I've given myself several things, like a new iron and a rice cooker and a new coffeepot.  We are frugal all the year long, but at the end of the year, we splurge on all the things we've been thinking and learning about and shopping for all year.  Rob gets a nail gun; Sydney, a new set of pots and pans.  We are practical gift givers.  Christmas is when we get new sheets and towels and underwear, so I don't feel bad that under our tree looks like the gift wrapping room at an Amazon shipping center.  And, man am I looking forward to my new pair of shoes!  (I've become shoe obsessed.  I really need to talk to the therapist about it.  And it must be contagious because Rob bought two pair of shoes this weekend, too!  And, he never buys shoes.)

I wanted to show the last of the holiday decorations.  For many years, we collected a new Santa every year.  We've had to slow that down and just go for the ones we really like now, but this is the collection. 


And, this is the rest of the village.  We have tons of victorian village pieces, but Retroville is the one we prefer, so he just puts out a few favorites every year.  The farm scene and the shops and some people milling about. 


Rob loves these ceramic trees.  He saw them everywhere when he was a child (as did so many of us...my Mom's was all white), but his family didn't own one.  He shopped for one for several years as they were gaining renewed popularity and couldn't find a vintage one he liked enough to pay the price, but he was about to bite the bullet and buy one anyway.  Then, one day we stopped at a garage sale and there was one for about $10.  He insisted on giving her about $20 for it because it felt like taking advantage of her.  It was a fun find and everyone ended up happy and it sits on this table every year. 

One of the last Christmas gifts from Linda.  Cute little glass decorated tree. 

The other thing I did this weekend was finish some boxers.  When I started Rob's shirt, I cut me out a pair of boxers.  I didn't choose well and they needed different color thread and I didn't get much done on the boxers until Saturday morning.  When they were finished, I put them on and they were huge!  I turned the hem up , but they're still baggy in the seat and the legs are really big around.  This is not the time of year for failures (too many sweets in the house), so yesterday, I bought a pattern online and put it together and cut a pair out of a fabric that was in my Linus bin.  The plan was to tailor the pattern to fit me, so most of my stitching is basting length stitches.  And, when I tried them on, they fit perfect.  No adjustments needed.  So, I'm going to be making some boxers.  I don't know when.  But, I'm going to be.  !Voy a!

Everybody have a wonderful holiday week.  I hope whatever you're cooking comes out perfect and that if you burn something, it gives your family something to laugh about for many years to come.  I hope it's peaceful and quiet, like ours will be.  Or rowdy and rambunctious, which is what many others of you enjoy.  But, I hope it's filled with love and laughter and joy and kindness.  Think about the people that have to work this week and if you encounter them, be kind. 



Weekends are always busy...

And, even with all I get done, I still don't feel like I got everything accomplished.  I've started having to keep lists of what is really important to make sure I stop doing the things that are fun long enough to get to the things I have to do. 

This weekend, I did some holiday baking; oatmeal cookies, cheese straws, more spiced pecans, and two batches of fudge...but one went in the garbage.  In my defense, it's the first time I've made fudge that didn't come out.  And, it's because I tried a different recipe.  So, when we went to the store, I picked up the supplies to make the regular recipe and it came out perfect!  The first batch tasted great, but was the color and consistency of dirt.  Too bad.

I also started a shirt for Rob.  I told him Friday night that I was giving him a gift this weekend, and when he asked why it was early (I think he was thinking it was something alive) I explained that this weekends gift was setting everything else aside to make him a new shirt to wear on Christmas day.  The shirt is a second gift.  He picked the fabric several weeks ago.  He's obsessed with vintage travel trailers. 

And, yes, the pocket does match. 

I finally broke down and made a plastic template to make that easier.  I can place the template where I want it on the shirt and trace some shapes.  Then, I just need to look for the same print repeat in the leftover fabric and I know exactly where to cut my pocket.  And, then I can erase my drawing for next time.  I don't know why I waited so long to do that.  Every time I make him a shirt, I think about how convenient this would be.  And, apparently my matching pockets have become a trademark that people look for when he shows off the shirts I make. 

Here are the pics of his village.  Retroville is his favorite.  JoAnn's sold this for a limited time and he bought a couple pieces, thinking he'd be able to buy more later.  Then on Christmas morning, he got most of the rest.  We're only one piece short and one day, I'll find it at a price that's reasonable.  (the danger of collecting things that are only available for a limited time!)

This is on top of the TV cabinet, so only appropriate that the TV shop should be front and center. 

On the china cabinet, he's set up the first village we bought together.  It's a different scale and fits this space perfect, but I keep trying to move the cookie jar.  It feels like a distraction.

This house is off by itself.  It's the first village house we bought from JoAnn's, back when I was nervous about being the only man in the store (hahahahahahahahahahaha, silly me).  The ship captain's son lives here.  The ship captain lives in the light house.  I think the ship captain might own the local gay pub...he's there enough.  (Rob's villages have stories and sometimes, the pieces move to fit the story.

These plates also hang in the dining room, and I've hung my collection of Lenox ornaments from them.  Sydney bought me this collection last year (and I think she and Rob are adding to it this year). 

The camelia is in bloom.  I say this every year, but my Grandmother grew camelias and I remember how fascinating it was that they were in bloom at Christmas.  So, I planted one and am always surprised when that first red bloom opens between T'giving and C'mas. 

And, the last thought for the day was from Goodwill yesterday.  We are avid goodwill shoppers and are glad to receive gifts from there, tho this time it was about needs, not gifts.  Rob cracked the joke that this is what it's going to look like at Goodwill when I die.  He's so wrong.  It will be black, steel, heavy duty, metal geared machines in cabinets, y'all.  Not white plastic. 

Everybody have a great week!!  I have two lunches scheduled to catch up with friends for the holidays, and I'm sure it will be slow at work.  Speaking of work, I did great at my meetings last week, talking to people, meeting people, laughing a lot with people I was getting to know. while my team huddled together like a high school clique.  I've really gotta show those folks how it's done.  You gotta mingle if you want to be accepted.  Let people get to know how you are. 

Now how's that for different from the shy introvert you guys met when I started this blog? 



Getting ready for Holidays

This weekend was about shopping, but there was still time to work on the arc quilt and another secret project I'm working on.  I didn't make any significant progress on the arc quilt.  I'm altering those borders that didn't fit and that's a lot of small steps, including picking fabrics that will work with what I've already used to give that continuous flowing effect I'm going for. 

But, I thought I'd show the holiday quilts we have hanging. 

This one is a kit I bought, but I can't follow a pattern, so there are changes.  I made the quilt bigger so I could use up that gold tone background fabric and I added at least one tree and changed the border.  Rob and I both love this little one.  And, it was 80 degrees yesterday, so it's not like we're using the fireplace.

This is one I made a couple years ago that was a free pattern from a fellow blogger.  This is another favorite.

And, there's this one.  If you haven't seen it, zoom in and look at the threadwork.  What you think might be a print is really a thread drawing on a tone on tone fabric. 

And, then there's the favorite.  This was the first holiday quilt I ever made.  And, I still can't tell you how it came out so well at the skill level I was at when I made it.  But, it did. 

There's a favorite gift shop we always stop at.  We usually find lots of gifts there.  There's a service organization that has a booth and they always put out cool holiday stuff and I always end up with an ornament or two (or 5).  I found this ornament and when I pointed it out to Rob, he asked if I just couldn't make one of those myself. 

And, I said yes, but not for $2 and put it in our basket.  It's very tiny.  I've put a quarter on it (3/4" diameter) to show how small.  I was surprised the stitches show up so big in these closeups.  You can't see them from a normal distance. 

Yeah, I think I'll pass on making that...but I could.

We worked in the yard a lot, taking care of the leaves.  Rob mulched them up and I spread them in the flowerbeds.  It's supposed to rain this week and that should pack them down and by spring, they'll be feeding the flower bloom.  I also made some spiced pecans.  MMMMMmmmmm!  These are so good, with cinnamon and nutmeg and clove and sugar.  I couldn't resist snacking on a few. 

Next week, I'll make some fudge to give away and maybe some sugar cookie cutouts.  I might even frost them...you never know what my mood will be. 

In the meantime, I have to go to Houston for work.  Just one night, so I'm carrying a rucksack instead of a bag.  I needed my shirt to stay ironed until Wednesday, so I folded it up on a piece of stiff paper and zipped it into an airtight bag.  It will be this same shape when I take it out in a couple days.  Packing is probably the most important thing I learned from my Martha Stewart years.  I left a shirt with a work logo on it packed like this for two years and it came out fresh as the day I put it in. 

Everybody have a great Monday.  Hope your holidays are going as well as ours.  After we shopped in the stores on Saturday, I logged onto Amazon and got myself pretty close to done with the shopping.  Rob is getting a big gift that we will need to pick up in the hardware store, the pressure is definitely off.  I just need to pick up a couple gift cards for Syd.  It was weird not having her there to shop with us this year.  We usually all go together for most of our shopping, so when it gets unwrapped on Christmas morning, we know it fits and is the right color and just what everyone wanted.  And, we also try to surprise one another a little bit. 



Enjoying time off work

Taking time off work doesn't really mean not working.  But, the work is more fun. 

I want to start with the arc quilt.  I put the two halves of the quilt together over the weekend.  I didn't join them yet.  I go through a period of hate on every quilt.  It's because nothing comes out exactly like the vision in my head, so for a while, I think I hate it.  Some people give up and end up with a UFO.  Sometimes, I do too.  Usually, I either do something to make me love it, or I get used to how it ended up.  I laid the first half on the floor and had my hate period.  That fabric used to make the comma shape in the corner of the blocks was too bright, too different in shading, too much.  It overwhelmed the rest of the quilt.  So, I started cutting and laying on pieces that I thought might work better.  I tried many different multi-colored fabrics and a steel gray.  I didn't like any of them better and decided to replace the corners with black quarter circles.  And, I was going to take those 3/4 circles and make them full circles by turning the four arcs in the center.  I was about to start disassembling the quilt so I could do that and decided to take one last picture so I'd have a "before" shot.  I laid the second half of the quilt down...and voila!  It all came together.  No additional work required...except to sew the two halves together and fix a few points that didn't match. 

I barely see those comma shaped pieces and I certainly don't think I need to replace them. 

I put it together to see how the border was going to fit before I made other sections.  Because the printer changed the size of the printed templates, the borders are four inches short.  Now, I'm glad to blame some of this on the printer, but honestly, that's not just the printer.  That's a mistake at the publisher that created the pdf files for printing.  I've never had a pattern I printed come out this wrong.  I print Barbara Brackman pdf patterns all the time and the most they've ever been off is 1/8".  I laid the pattern pieces on the floor, overlapping the seam lines and there's no way that goes together to form an 11.5" block.  The curves don't even match, so the only thing that brought this quilt together was all the bias.  So, my word of caution is that if you're going to print patterns from Perfect Paper Piecing by the Quilt Mavens, print the patterns, use them as templates, but before you sew a stitch, re-draft the block to make it the right size.  The bigger the printed pattern piece, the more "off" it prints.  Now, I've got to figure out how to add two inches to both ends of the border. 

I don't like to give bad reviews because we all work hard on our quilts, but honestly y'all, I paid full price for this book.  I shouldn't have to re-draft the patterns.  Thankfully my mentor taught me to do that first, before I ever sewed a stitch. 

Thanksgiving went off mostly without a hitch.  Syd brought the green bean casserole and the pumpkin pie and together, we did the rest.  The stuffing bombed.  It was the third time I've used this recipe.  The first time it was perfect and we all loved it.  The last two times, it was a total waste.  We ate what we could and threw out the rest.  And, I put an X in the corner of that recipe to remind me not to try that again.  I used a Bobby Flay recipe for the rolls for the second time.  And, for the second time, they were a flop.  X'ed that recipe, too.  Everything else was delicious and we ate until we were ready to pop!  Then, we washed dishes until we were ready to flop.  Then, we had pie and a nap and started all over again.

Yes, there is a cast iron skillet on my table.  The corn casserole was so beautiful that I couldn't break it up  to put it in a bowl. 

I saw this yesterday and it speaks TRUE!!

Then, as our tradition would have it, we decorated the poop out of the house for the holiday.

There is a topper on the tree now!  But we had to buy a new one.

I believe every tree branch deserves an ornament.  Good thing I own enough ornaments to do that. 

My ornament collecting might be a bit out of hand, tho.  We walked through the store looking for a topper yesterday and it was so hard not to buy an ornament!  These are all hand painted ornaments from the Li Bien collection at Pier One.  We will be buying ornaments from there every year until they stop selling them...but we wait for them to go on half price. 

Yesterday, we caught up on chores and prepared for the upcoming week.  It's first week of the month and I took three days off last week, so it's gonna be a busy day for me.  Rob has jury duty downtown and I feel sorrier for him having to find a place to park than I do about him having to be on duty.  Everybody have a great week!  I have 22 days to diet before the next feast.