Sunday, November 29, 2009

Almost all Caught Up

PROGRESS! To be reported. I did some housekeeping, actually most of it these past few days. There is still more to do, as always… so now I’m going to stay on top of it so it doesn’t become such a chore. Not that cleaning is ever NOT a chore…

Thanksgiving was very pleasant and low key. I enjoyed the day with my husbands family in Indiana. One sister drives in every year with her husband and 3 kids from VA, another sister drives in from the city of Chicago, and a brother lives nearby and comes for the day with his wife and 2 kids. I took my computer and setup SKYPE with video, so everyone could say hello to their -son - brother - uncle- since he couldn't be there. We had the traditional meal, which was delicious as always. I don’t mind not cooking the meal at home, because when they carve the bird, they take all the meat and leave a pile of bones (with meat still on them too), which I get to bring home with me!!! I have already turned it into stock and will finish the conversion to soup this morning. As I have invited a friend over to enjoy some with me for lunch as we look over the information for a large Quilt Guild project she has taken on.

I did NOT do any ‘Black Friday’ shopping. Mostly because we are going to donate to the Heifer Project in all the names we would normally buy a gift for this year. But … I did look through all the ads and there just wasn’t anything I had to run out and buy… well nothing I was getting up in the middle of the night to buy!!! I did see one thing, which I sauntered into OfficeMax at nearly 11 am to buy, even though the ad said there would only 20 for the sale in each store…. It was a Brother P-touch labeler. Now, I can just make a label and not have to use the computer. As for the Heifer Project, I can’t decide if we want to do one large animal or lots of smaller animal pods…. A real dilemma for certain.

I must also bake at least one more batch of biscotti, possibly 2 today. Yesterday I made traditional Anise Almond and a Chocolate Chip Walnut. Today I will make a White Chocolate Cherry, new this year and I also have an idea for a Lemon Pistachio- saw the combo in a magazine… sounds good. I have plans for all this biscotti. It is my version of Christmas cookies. I have been making biscotti for years and have perfected a recipe and technique to the point of perfect!!!  I just tasted the Chocolate Chip Walnut- delicious!

So the last of the ‘Sparkly Chicken’ swap blocks have straggled in. I have posted a picture here of all 11 that I have (one of them was lost in the mail and she is working on the replacement now!!! I can't wait to see it.). Don’t they just scream original!!! I love each one. There is one that is a 3-D nest box!!! That is also a pocket. I’m thinking I am going to make some sparkly eggs to slip in…(Click on a picture to make it larger for viewing)

I have also taken a picture of the fall blocks I received. Oh, my they are so neat…. I might just have to make 2 wall hangings from them.

The jacket, I made (see previous post), fits beautifully!!! No pointy shoulders in the back, no funky collar gaps and no extra bulk in the sides. Can’t wait to make another, although I do think I will quilt one… and line it. When??? Not sure -yet.

There will be MORE Later!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slowing Down

So, is the housework done? No. I have found very little ambition to clean; although I did stay home more last week. It was sort of forced on me. In what dimension does a house with 2 cars have them both develop mechanical problems- not just on the same day but in the same place on the road? Fortunately neither car was crippled enough to have to call a tow truck, but both had to go to the shop. The only other big outing was a bee meeting. They are always fun and entertaining.

Being stuck at home means I got more done… in the sewing room, (not in the housekeeping department). I am in the midst of making a baby quilt, which of course didn’t start with a plan… and needed more fabrics… but I have the top done, and now needs to be layered and quilted. Once again I have to decide on the quilting pattern. Don't forget, if you want to see more in a photo, just click on it and it will open in a new window larger.

After bee the other day, I was a mere ½ mile from a nice – but expensive quilt shop; so I stopped there. I have been wanting to make a jacket… quilted of course, but I saw a pattern that would look perfect made up in one of the fabrics I brought back from South Africa. So I whipped it up too. I wish I had made a sample first… some of the construction is a bit odd, and I would have altered it to be lined and/or quilted. Oh, well next time. I did alter the pattern a little. It is designed to be worn buttoned, but I liked it better open. So I took the placket and buttonhole loops off. Next time… I will at least face the front from the shoulder seam to the hem… It would hang so much better and the need for a funky placket would be eliminated altogether. While there, I also found the perfect fabric to back the baby quilt. It has a soccer theme to it, and since South Africa will be hosting the 2010 World Cup Soccer games, it is appropriate.

This week of course is the week of either harried preparation for Thanksgiving or traveling for the event. I shall be with my In-laws, as we are every year. Since DH is in South Africa, I will go without him. I will not be traveling far and only for the day. It’s a 2 hour drive each way and I will be leaving Axel at home, so I won’t be able to stay more than 4 or so hours. Weather is calling for our first snow on Thursday, but only flurries. I will be making a batch of Biscotti to take… not really sure if anyone besides a BIL really likes it… but I make it anyway. I LIKE it!

My next task is to find our small (fake) Christmas tree and prepare it for a journey to South Africa. It isn’t much, but I want DH to have something Christmasy in the condo… and if it doesn’t come back- no problem. It’s been around for at least a decade and has almost out lived it usefulness. I keep it in its own box with the lights left attached. There is also a small box of ornaments that are just for the tree. Sometimes we just needed a little bit of Christmas, not the whole time consuming enchilada.

I hope all of you have a warm and happy Thanksgiving and that you have more to be thankful for this year than last; that your list of blessings continues to grow.

More Later!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 2- Go Go Go

Hi De Ho!!! Well it’s been quite a week!!! It seems like I have been on the non-stop go, go, go or do do do, since DH went back to South Africa. I have, it seems to me, neglected housework for so long that I will never get it caught up and done. Don’t get me wrong- I am not Suzy Homemaker first and everything else after. But I do like my house to at least appear neat and clean and that there is not so much pet hair floating about that you are seriously concerned about eating at my house. I also like it neat enough that if someone were to drop in it’s ok. So I have made myself stay home that last few days and get a handle on it. I am making progress slowly.

Last week, on Sunday, I hacked down 3 very large and overgrowing Forsythia bushes. I hack at them every year, sometimes twice a year, trying to keep them from becoming so unsightly. Well now they are down to 3 feet tall and thinned, I hope!!! I filled 7 ‘paper’ yard bags with debris and made 4 tied up bundles of branches… for the yard waste pickup. I only have one more set of bushes to trim… and if I don’t get them done now, there will be plenty of time in the spring. We are supposed to get some rain…. But even so, the temps are cooling outside. The lawn guys came too and I think it was the last mowing of the season.

I have also been working on the ‘Replicated Chickens’ which I must say is going back to the drawing board. I am not happy with it. So the red and white blocks that I was going to put with them, will be refashioned into a baby quilt. I also put the border on the wreath top. I think I’m liking it. Pondering the quilting design… So if you have an idea… let me know either by email or in a comment- either way is good.

Also if you are interested in looking at one of the pictures closer, just click on it for a better view.

I had a guild meeting last week and took a Workshop as well. I had volunteered to cover the

assistant librarian job for a friend at the meeting, so I went early and stayed late. The best part was I had the chance to check out the hottest items… because I was there!!! Not sure I would like to do it every meeting… but it was a fun change. I encourage everyone to participate in their guild in some capacity, not just as a member!!! Last year I assisted with our Guilds ‘Gathering’. Less than a full blown quilt show, but more than just a meeting; on 3 committees- 2 of which I chaired. It was fun and I got to meet lots of my guild members in a different capacity!!!

The Workshop was fine. I don’t think it was anything I didn’t already know in the sewing / stitching area. My sewing machine was having a fit… and I still don’t know why, unless it is because we were sitting low (banquet tables and folding chairs low) and I might have been putting some drag on my project. I am a short person. Nowhere near the 5’6”/ 5’7” average for women so when we have such crappy accommodations for sewing I really suffer and you know it’s bad when a person that is average has as much discomfort as I did. So is my project done? NO. I have done a bit more stitching on it… because of the tension issues, it is warping a little which is discouraging, however it is a stitched photograph, and I will most likely gallery wrap it for a finish, so I can stretch the crap out it and it will lie flat with the liberal use of staples!!! Not something we can do all the time with our quilts, although it’s something we’d all like to do to get the wavy edge to lie flat. If you want to see … what we were doing… the instructors put us on the blog… Altered Photo Artistry

On Thursday, 2 friends and I went on a Chicago ‘alternative’ Fabric Stores field trip. Alternative -in that they carry a huge stock of ‘Fashion’ fabrics rather than quilt shop stock of 100% cottons. One of the stores was a warehouse, and it was about a block long and had 3 floors of fabrics- dress through upholstery weights!!! Not to mention the trims, laces, zippers and buttons to go on them. This was my favorite store, because when I was young my mother would take us with her to San Francisco… to these same types of warehouse fabric places. We didn’t buy much, because this was an exploratory day!!! The next shop was a well organized store, but we decided to have lunch first. So off to Manny’s a Jewish Cafeteria-style Deli, but just as we arrived, a bus load of seniors was off loading so we went to shop #3- Vogue Fabrics. They have several stores, and this was not the flagship store. They often vend at many of the BIG quilt shows. It was fairly well organized, and I bought some Dupioni Silk, (Thai like, in that it was the 2 color silk). We next went to the Deli, where we had a fantastic lunch! Then back to store #2, which was also very well organized and immaculate!!! No dust and very well arranged. While it was nice for looking, it was not quite as adventuresome as the first place. We also stopped in a bead shop, but that was it, a stop. There wasn’t anything good for textile embellishing.

So that brings me to now… I spent the last couple of days doing housework and I still have more to do. Hopefully I will get all the big jobs done and I can then keep up, by doing a bit every couple of days…. and spend more time in the sewing room.

Thats all for now- More Later!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alone Again- the first week

DH is back in South Africa. From the time I dropped him at O’Hare International Airport, to the time I was able to talk to him was 24 hours! Communications in other countries is NOT like here. For some reason his new iPhone doesn’t work. When he landed in Durban, the guys from work picked him up and had a few staples to help him get through his first night back in the Condo and I sent a jar of instant coffee with him. He was up this morning… well closer to noon so he could get his car and then make a short trip to the grocery and pay for the lease on the condo.

I took a class last week and I’m still thinking about what I learned. The instructor did not bring any information in hand outs. She really wanted you to read chapters from one of her books. So I took notes, lots of notes. Also we had to write down the exercises… that we were to do in class. There was one exercise that several had different interpretations for after writing it down. Also, I like to take a short bit of info home from a class to help me remember the class and instruction. Granted this class was not expensive, but I would have liked some printed material to keep. I think classes would be a better value if we didn’t have purchase items we never even open in the class. I think- that is why some students don’t come with all the items on the materials list. It doubles the cost of the class. I would sugges an instructor give a list of items we DON’T need to bring, but might be nice to have in class.

On Friday, a friend and bee member (Susan L) asked me if I wanted to go up to Northbrook to a Fiber Arts Show, sponsored by 3 different entities. It is held at the Botanical Gardens of Chicago, so there were some greenhouses to explore too. I saw some really great stuff, fibers, beading, some awesome quilts and some really pedestrian quilts. My favorite quilt was the Herons.

It was done raw edge applique, but it looked so lifelike.

This is a detail shot of the Heron quilt.

And the one that I had a childlike affection for was the African Quilt. It had animals, vegetation and bugs of Africa. The appliqué was so well done I could even name all of the animals, even the deer, (there are so many varieties, and they look alike).

There was one small quilt in the challenge that the beading detail caught my eye.

I saw one that was all photos, printed on the fabric and minimal embellishments to enhance the photo accordint to the maker, (it needed more!). But I have the photo for inspiration.

I had a good time in the greenhouse, and Susan got her camera out and joined me!!! I don’t know the names of most of them, so it’s just photos.

The 1st has interesting color, #2 is cactus flowers as are #3

#4 are pink flowers ; }, # 5 & #6 look like blue butterflies!!!

Well, that's all for now- More Later!!!