Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Quilt to Work On

During the Christmas season I started this quilt for my friend Helen to give to her friend Jack. The concept was that it would be a Christmas gift, but that wasn't to be.

I've gotten as far as putting the background fabrics in place, which for me is the hardest part. The next step is to join them together with a little zig zag stitch, then add a little more mountain in the back with thread painting.

The little stream will continue in a larger version with lots of rocks and will have Jack fishing in the lower right corner.

Helen supplied me with several pictures that I'm working from. Jack originally saw a quilt at Tamarack in West Virgina that he really liked, hence the idea. I'm excited, hope it turns out well.

I'm making red beans and rice for New Years Eve. Not a tradition, it just sounded good.

Monday, December 28, 2009

And Then

Saturday after lunch in Mt. Adams we went half a mile to Krohn Conservatory.

The Christmas display is always wonderful, with warmth and humidity and the gorgeous flowers. Every year it looks much the same and that's part of the charm. The traditional train display features landmarks from the streets of Cincinnati.

A dulcimer group was playing on that Saturday afternoon and people were clustered them around them, singing.

The Christmas tree had handmade ornaments made by park volunteers. The show goes until January 3 - I'd like to go back and see it again.

In the evening we wint to the Festival of Lights at the Cincinnati Zoo, along with Steph and Nora and Bridget, Reza, Helen, and Jack.

This was the second trip for Nora, the first on a warmer less crowded evening, but she was a trooper in her stroller with the Scooby Doo blanket wrapped around her.

It was fun to go, and after a couple of chilly hours, it was fun to get back in the warm van too. Steph and Nora stopped at the house for awhile and when she left Nora whispered to her mom, "I want to stay." I wish I'd asked if she could.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Several years ago, Sarah and I started a Christmas tradition that we enjoy - going to the movies on Christmas afternoon, once Steph's family has headed for Christmas with Mike's parents' family. This year we saw Up in the Air - good choice. I forgot to ask Winnie whether she'd ever been to the movies on Christmas before.

Afterwards we watched the light and music show at the Levee, but not for long since there was lasagna in the oven and it was cold and windy.

On Saturday, remembering the recommendation from my cousin Gregg, we went for lunch at the Rookwood Pottery Restaurant in Mt. Adams. It's in the building that originally housed the Rookwood Pottery.

We had beers with lunch, all good but I can't remember the names of any of them. There's just something about having beer with lunch that seems really I'm-not-at-work-today.

Sarah had sliders with pulled pork and coleslaw, Winnie had soup and salad, and I had the veggie sandwich and we split the fries that came with it

and also a cheesecake with fig for dessert.

The kilns are still in the building, and even though we didn't get to eat in one we did take a peek after lunch.

Great restaurant, full for a Saturday-after-Christmas lunch. I have a new favorite.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Pictures

A few 2009 Christmas pictures - and every one touches my heart. I hope your day was as good as mine, which was the best Christmas I can remember.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All I Need

All I need is . . . two more days. To bake. To work on Helen's quilt. To just look at the tree. To address my cards. All I need is two more days.

But, all I have is two more hours in the morning so I'll be happy with that, and in case I don't have any blogging time tomorrow,

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I've never been a fan of those fringed and knotted fleece throws, but lots of people like to make them and the fabric store near me has a huge fleece selection and sells shopping cart loads full of it. They're now selling their fleece remnants and bolt ends for $2 per yard.

I got some tonight to make a blanket for Aaron, not that he needs another Christmas present, but I love bargains and it's cold outside. I found this 1 1/4 yard piece with pictures of Linus, Snoopy, Lucy, and Charlie Brown, or, as Aaron calls him, Brown Charlie. With the matching blue backing, the blanket probably cost $5, and since fleece is 60" wide, it's plenty big. For non-fleece enthusiasts, finding a piece of fleece with licensed characters is as especially good bargain.

I overcast the edges with the sewing machine, and since it's for Aaron, there are ribbon tags on all four corners because he likes to feel the tags. Tomorrow's project is a blanket for his sister, with Scooby Doo, one of her faves.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No Pictures

No pictures, because it's Christmas week, and the projects are flying out of the sewing machines. I love this last week before Christmas, when my energy seems to increase and so does my creativity. I can tell, though, that I won't get everything finished. And no sneak previews.

I made chex mix too, tried the Buffalo style. Good, but not as good as the original. And cookies - well, I'm baking the ones from the refrigerator section, although I have some recipes ready. But now - I'm ready for bed and it isn't even 8:00 yet. So, I'll bake a couple of batches of cookies and try to stay awake.

The count-down has begun. Five more days. Four, really, since the fun starts on Christmas Eve. Sarah said more snow is expected on Thursday, her travel day, and I'm hoping there isn't much. She has so much snow now, but has power again. I thought I heard a salt truck go by here a few minutes ago, and it looks like there may be a little snow tonight.

The winter solstice is tomorrow - I'm excited. It's one of my favorite days of the year. A holiday bonus.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Fill-In # 155

Friday Fill-Ins. Check here to get in on the fun.

1. No, we will NOT get all in a panic about the little bit of snow coming tomorrow. Yes, I WILL clean the leaves off the steps so there won't be a seasonal combination of leaves and snow.

2. Probably we all have memories of sitting down at the old kitchen table. My parents' table was yellow formica. When I moved into the house I live in now, I asked in the sales contract for a little red formica table with matching chairs. Since the house was part of an estate, the owners agreed. The little table lives with Sarah in North Carolina now. Oh, and my sister recently reminded me that our grandmother's table legs were made from wooden spools, probably from the local glove factory where she once worked.

3. I watched the steam rising from the cup of hot coffee (or tea) and thought, "What's up with this, I don't drink coffee or tea." Maybe the occasional decaf - I guess that's what it was.

4. Despite the loss of Chris Henry, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to be ok. I felt sad all day today thinking about how that young man with little children was so suddenly and violently gone. And feeling reminded how just a quick decision in life can change everything.

5. I'll take each day from now 'til Christmas as it comes and enjoy the making and the baking and the cooking and I'll think about my friends and family. And I'll celebrate the Winter Solstice, coming so soon, when the earth changes direction and we go toward the light. I'm planning on taking lunch for my work colleagues that day to celebrate.

6. It looks a little more hopeful, at least from my point of view. I didn't see the previous president even acknowledge global climate change.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to drawing more of the design for Helen's quilt, tomorrow my plans include working, then threading my serger with red and green, and Sunday I want to go to either the aquarium or the museum center.

Happy Friday, everyone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Different Times

Ages ago, many years ago, I made this Christmas angel for my grandmother. Felt with sequins and beads and lots of handwork. When my grandmother died the angel came back to me.

I used to love those Bucilla kits with felt, sequins, beads, and trims and made Christmas stockings for each of my daughters. I have kits, somewhere, to make stockings for my grandchildren, but that's never happened. Why is it that I don't have time to do these labor-intensive things any more?

I guess there are two possibilities. One would be that I don't have that much disposable time, and that's certainly a possibility, although I can't quite buy it. I live by myself, don't do cooking and chores for a family, don't go to high school basketball games. I should have lots of time.

So, on to possibility two - there are so many things I want to do. If all I want to do is made an angel, I can spend a month making an angel in my spare time. But if I want to sew and quilt and dye fabric and have many projects lined out, the angel might fall from grace, so to speak. I think that's it.

Here's another example of a project from times past. I think I made this little butterfly for my mother, and once again it came back to me. Tiny stitches around cording, lace sewn on by hand, the kind of thing I wouldn't even attempt now.

I miss that fussy little hand work, although I know that I won't be doing it any time soon. My heart hurts a little at the lack of it, but in the morning I have a Christmas gift to make and I have an hour to spend on it. It will be a lovely gift, probably much enjoyed, but it won't be an heirloom. The recipient won't care about that, but I will, just a little.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Say Cheese, Please

Often mechanical instructions elude me the first or fourth time through and I've never been a "pick it up and figure it out" type of person. As a result, I am impressed with people who are, and that apparently includes my grandboy Aaron.

I know that digital cameras are easy to operate these days, but Aaron's just two and he totally gets it. He can take my camera, turn it on, point it in the right direction, request "say cheese, please," and press the button. And now and then he actually gets a picture, like this one of Nora's My Little Ponies.

I am hopeful that one day a sixteen-year-old Aaron will knock on my door and say, "What do you need for me to do, Gran B?" and I will give him my list.

Tonight at Quilt Guild we had a Christmas potluck and white elephant gift exchange. My number was the first one called, and I chose a wonderful packet of scrap leathers in luscious colors. I am so amazed by the colors and by someone's generosity

Back to work tomorrow. Last week was a something-every-night week, but after tonight this week should be an at-home-every-night kind of week. I'm grateful.

I'm also grateful for everything crossed off my to-do list today, especially getting some bags of topsoil for winter weight in the back of my truck. The lack of it has been bothering me and I'm feeling so relieved that it's taken care of.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy Birthday Dear Nora

All day Friday at work I was looking forward to Nora's family birthday party at the end of the day. I got there in time for cake, which was just what I was hoping for. Pap and Aaron had front row seats for watching the blowing out of candles.

Aaron requested, "I want to sing Happy Birthday to Nora again," so we did.
There were some pretty awesome presents and cards. Pap found a birthday card with a knock/knock joke, very appropriate for a little girl who loves knock/knock jokes.

From Grandma and Pap - Crocs boots in pink. Good choice.
Playing with Bridgie on the floor. Lots of pieces, lots of fun.

It's hard to believe that my grandgirl's five.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Fill-In # 154

Friday Fill-Ins on a Saturday, surely I'm not the only one. Answers are in bold.

1. Good times: going up to my second-floor studio in the early morning, looking around and easing in, and working on a quilting project. That morning studio time is precious.

2. I enjoy my home and feel lucky to have it. I looked for about a year until I found just what I wanted, where I wanted. This week, finally, I programmed the thermostat for winter - I really appreciate the programmable thermostat and like to think of the house warming up just before I come home or get up in the morning.

3. Sleigh bells ring, not so much any more, but it's a nice nostalgic thing to think about.

4. I was looking at Nora and Aaron this week and thinking about how babes don't stay little. They grow so fast and learn so fast and both of them are big talkers, which gives us an idea of what's going on in their minds.

5. Once more I wish I had more time before Christmas comes. More time to sew and quilt and cook and bake and decorate. More time to take in some concerts. More time to just sit and enjoy.

6. I haven't seen a weather report lately, and I wonder when this cold streak will end. I realize I have nothing to complain about because there is no snow outside and the power is on and I've put the wonderful electric blanket on my bed this week and can snooze comfortably through the cold nights.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm planning to go to Nora's family birthday party and enjoy everyone there and see Nora's happiness and Aaron's excitement about singing Happy Birthday to You, tomorrow my plans include a big sale at work then some quick in-and-out shopping, and Sunday I want to get ready for my journey group, Art and Spirituality.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nora's Birthday Quilt

Today is Nora's birthday. Five years ago today, time stood still as I rocked her at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati, glancing out occasionally at the Cincinnati skyline and the snow. In the evening, Janice, Don, Aunt Tina, and Uncle Bob came to meet her and have their turn at rocking.

Now she's a very girl-y girl, starting to read. Last night when I was babysitting, she was playing with a tic tac toe game when she said, "Wait, it says 'toss,' there should be beanbags downstairs." And there were.

Sometimes things happen as they should, and I just this morning finished her Wizard of Oz quilt. It's approx 30" x 36" done primarily in corduory so that she can feel as well as look. It's hard to get corduory to piece precisely, but there wasn't much piecing in this quilt and I know Nora won't be looking too closely. Even though it doesn't look like it in the picture, the quilt is square. Design collection is by Dakota.

Steph and Nora went to see the Wizard of Oz production last year, and in my perfect world, I would have put on the back a picture of Nora at the theatre in her blue and white dress. My world just wasn't that perfect, but I can add it later.

For both Nora and Aaron, I embroidered this fleece with little bears. Last Christmas I loved this fleece with the stripes but found it hard to work with. Now I know I should have used more stabilizer. Anyway, if I'm remembering right, I cut away one of the edges when I tried to embroider a design that just had too many stitches and made a mess. These outline designs were fine. Embroidery Library.

Aaron is into tags on his blankets these days, so I added little ribbon tags at all four corners.

The party for the family is tonight.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Last night, with a prompt from Steph and Bridget, I made a reservation for the fireflies weekend in June at Elkmont campground. There is hope that we will indeed make it through the winter and it will be camping weather once again.

There is thanksfulness that I have a senior pass, which allows me to camp for half price at any national campground, which includes Elkmont. Six days camping for $60. I've only used my pass at Elkmont and Koomer Ridge in Kentucky, but I so appreciate it.

There is joy at the thought of Aaron joining us this year. I'm sure he will have much to say about going camping. I'm picturing him riding his Stryder bike along the paths, playing with Nora and Bridget's nephews, eating camping food. Eating is big with Aaron. Splashing in the river.

There is enjoyment at the grace of loving this holiday season but looking forward to June.

And there is remembering past years with Nora, starting when she was just little and the tent leaked and we stayed a night in a Gatlinburg motel. Sitting on a rock and playing cards with Blake. Being happy in her sleeping bag. Splashing in the river.

June is coming.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aaron at the Party

Before the start of Nora's birthday party, as the children gathered, Aaron showed me the tennis players and the racketball players. Obviously, he'd been to the gym before.

I couldn't resist this picture of his two cowlicks. For now, pretty darn cute, although it could be a styling challenge later.

Midway through the party, Mr. John brought out a bouncy house and blew it up. There was a limit of four kids at a time, but as the birthday girl, Nora got to bounce with everyone. Aaron liked to crawl in the door but opted out of bouncing.

When the other kids were doing something else, Aaron would try out the mats and equipment.

This little guy has skills.

All week long, I've heard reports of Aaron's nix noux (as my grandmother would have said, have no idea how to spell it) antics, but he was gold at the party. With all this at his disposal, I'm sure he'd be a perfectly behaved two-year-old.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nora's Day

Nora's fifth birthday will be on Friday, but her party with her friends was today. The party was at Steph and Mike's gym, with the gymnastics/karate/aerobics instructor providing the organized entertainment for the kids.

All the little ones had a good time playing on the mats and tumbling. And their moms got a shopping break.

After about an hour everyone left the gym and had cake and lemonade. Nora's in pink.

And then there were presents.

If I'm remembering right, there were four Barbies, all different. It was a perfect party for a little girl who loves gymnastics and Barbies too.

It just so happened that I got off early today and was able to show up right at party time. I got to watch Aaron, who had a ball - pictures tomorrow.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Fill-In # 153

Friday means Friday Fill-Ins. If you have a blog, you might want to try it.

1. You get this and I'll get that - I love going in with someone to get combined Christmas presents.

2. Go right to go toward the fabric store and go left to go to the library. I like my neighborhood.

3. It's Advent time and holiday time and the Winter Solstice will soon be here. And I love it all.

4. The amount of sugar in processed foods is ridiculous. I never paid alot of attention before. All the more reason to eat fewer processed things.

5. I feel more grateful for things with each passing year. How did I get to be so blessed?

6. I just talked with Steph and Aaron had fallen asleep in the van on the way back from shopping . . . goodnight!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading more of a book I'm enjoying, tomorrow my plans include just half a day of work, surprise, maybe I can catch part of Nora's birthday party, and Sunday I want to sew. I'd planned to go to a baby shower, but the baby's already here.

Happy Friday, everyone.

December Rose

I noticed this rose yesterday when I was at the bank. I like roses any old time, but a rose blooming in December is special.

I also mowed my yard yesterday, most of it twice. When I had the flu the leaves fell off the trees and I couldn't deal with them so there they lay. Now that they've been mulched by the mower the yard looks sloppy but not abandoned. I've noticed that the neighbors' yards look pristine, nicely mowed and trimmed and ready for winter with not a leaf in sight. Sigh. I still have some sweeping and raking out of flower beds to do, but that can be done any time now.

Lots of the neighbors' yards are decorated with nice Christmas lights and displays. Absent, though, is the over-the-top decorating of a house a couple of blocks away. Their Halloween and Christmas displays contained many, many lights and lighted plastic figures. The house looks suddenly empty, too. I hope they've moved on to a larger house with all the more decorating space, not fallen victim to foreclosure.

It's dark now when I leave work at 6. Sometimes if I'm giving lessons late in the day I look outside at the gathering darkness. My mind is on the Winter Solstice on the 21st, when things reverse and the days slowly lengthen. I love the Winter Solstice. And Advent. And Christmas, too. I love it all.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Five Days Late

Five days late, the turkey quilt is machine quilted and bound and finally off the floor. I know that I'll enjoy bringing it out next year - sometimes I think quilters and other crafters are optimistic people who look forward to their late projects showing up the following season. Or maybe that's just me.

Also completed - a Martha Pullen work sample, a little lingerie bag that was surprisingly easy to put together. Thanks to Steph for riding around in the parking lot with the kids while I ran into the fabric store for 18" of lace.

And the Husqvarna Viking free project for December. a little ornament featuring sewing supplies.

And this morning, I embroidered the tin man for Nora's quilt. Could be birthday, could be Christmas.