Monday, December 31, 2007

Thank you Hanne!

I love the fabric diet badge I've added to my sidebar. That describes just what I want to do - control my buying just like i hope to control my eating! Doesn't mean no fabric at all - after all, I'm not starving myself. It means using good judgement when I shop or eat! Curb the impulses, stick to what's healthy for both my body and my stash, and focus on eating or buying what I really need - not want!

Are you up for a challenge?

May Britt has issued a WISP challenge for January. WISP is a new word for me - but it certainly works - "Work in Slow Progress". My WISP's are SO slow that one can hardly ever see them moving at all LOL! I love a good quilty challenge - especially when it has to do with finishing things - so I told May I accepted her challenge. You can see by the list on my sidebar that I certainly have my work cut out for me!

The first rule is that we have to blog a photo of the WISP before we start working on it. Easy peasy - I know just what my first two WISP's will be. Christmas table runners! Maybe this was they will be done before next Christmas! Some of you have heard this story before. I pieced these blocks in 1992 when I was teaching a precision piecing class. I didn't want to make an entire quilt, so I made three table runners from the nine blocks. One of them actually got finished this year and went to my daughter-in-law for her birthday. One of them is promised to my daughter, and one is for me. These last two have been pinned to my longarm waiting to be quilted for almost a month. This is the third time one of them has been pinned to the machine. This time I'm determined to finish them before removing them. So you see before me my project for tomorrow and/or the next day - finishing these two table runners.

Maybe the third time is the charm?

1. A short but nice visit with Cher this morning.
2. A kitchen sink drain that is finally cleared of all clogs
3. Fresh, clean sheets on our bed
4. A beautiful wedding for a dear friend
5. Fun quilty challenges from online friends

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Whoops - forgot some!

I've already had to edit my sidebar. I completely forgot to add Bonnie's Carolina Crossroads to my list of unfinished tops. Call it selective memory I guess - I swore I wouldn't start another project so I conveniently forgot I did. That will never do - nothing but total honesty here LOL! I see she has published the fourth step. I guess that will be my project for tomorrow!

I also forgot to add my Crumb Chaos blocks - all 1016 of them! I had them listed in my "scrap projects" section before, which I've eliminated. Instead I've created a new list called "Projects Started in 2008". So I've now listed them with the unfinished tops. A bit misleading however, as I listed them as only one project. In truth they will probably turn into at least 5-6 projects or more. Time will tell!

2007 Wrap-up

I decided to stop kidding myself. I'm sure I'll do some type of quilting in the next couple days, but I'm not going to finish any more UFT's or quilt any more flimsies. So now is as good a time as any to evaluate my accomplishments of 2007.

I started the year with four goals. I decided early on there was no way I'd accomplish the fourth goal - to use more fabric during the year than I bought - so I erased that one.

I finished Sophie's quilt and Joseph's quilt top. I didn't pressure myself to quilt Joseph's quilt because as the year progressed the date of his arrival was pushed farther and father back. Now we are hoping for the end of January, though early February is probably more realistic.

I started 2007 with 21 unfinished tops. I'm ending the year with 18 unfinished tops. That doesn't sound like a lot of progress, but when I consider that I finished nine tops during the year, including all but one of the new tops I started, I think I did OK. The only new top that I didn't finish is the mid-century Album quilt, which I never expected to finish as the class goes through next March. I admit that for the most part I still have the same unfinished tops that have been hanging around for years. Next year I'll have lots more time to sew so hopefully that will change.

I started this year with 41 unquilted flimsies and now have 34. I finished several flimsies that have been hanging around for quite a few years as well as a few that were started and finished this year. I added only four new flimsies to the list that are still unquilted. I feel really good about this goal

So . . . . I accomplished my goal of decreasing my number of both unfinished tops and flimsies. The drop in number is less that I'd have liked, but since I completed quite a few quilts from start to finish this year - something I didn't expect to do - I can live with it.

Now bring on 2008 and retirement - I hope to get WAY more done this next year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

A lesson learned - maybe - at least temporarily

I need to stay out of the sewing room when I'm tired. We all know this, right? And and do we pay attention to this rule? I know I don't - and I suspect many others don't also. That's when mistakes happen. Sometimes little and fixable. And sometimes big and un-fixable.

Last night was my mid-century album quilt class. I've finished quite a few blocks since our last class in October so I wanted to take them with me for show and tell. The last one I finished needed trimming. Easy peasy, right?


I was tired. I'd not slept at all well Wednesday night. I didn't get to sleep until almost 1:00 a.m. When the alarm rings at 6:00 a.m. then that means I'm going to be tired. I made the mistake of having a glass of wine with dinner and almost fell asleep at the table. Did I pay attention to my body? Of course not! When have I ever been known to have a lot of common sense?

So I pressed the block. And trimmed of the extra allowance for applique shrinkage. And put it on the design wall to take it's picture. That's when I noticed. Can you see it? I was looking at the wrong lines on the ruler. My simple little block is now horribly lopsided. Not at all appropriate for this Album quilt.

And so I have another orphan. I guess this is why one can always find orphans for another ride on Finn's train. Oh well. I used reverse applique on the center of this one and wish I hadn't. The seam allowances on the center motifs shadow through the off white background. If I make it again I'll use regular applique for the whole thing. How's that for an attempt to convince myself this wasn't that bad an accident after all?

What's on my bed

Nothing like picking up on a blog topic weeks and weeks after everyone else has posted. Oh well - better late than never, right?

We have only a couple quilts that are big enough for our bed. (I hope to do something about that this next year LOL!) One of them is the blue log cabin quilt that you've seen in the past. Currently that quilt is upstairs being used as a snuggle quilt on the couch. The other quilt is also blue, and it's story is almost as amusing as the story of my first quilt.

I went to my first Clark County Quilters guild meeting in June, 1989. That was the last meeting of the year, as they start a new year every September after having no meetings in July and August. I enjoyed myself a lot, and eagerly anticipated the September meeting, especially since one of my new quilting friends was installed as guild president at that June meeting.

In September I eagerly joined in on whatever activities I could, including the block of the month. A copy of a quilt block was distributed at the meeting, and I could make as many as I wanted before the next meeting. My name was put in a hat for every block I turned in. I really went to town the next few weeks. It was an easy to piece block and I had plenty of fabrics in my stash. I knew next to nothing about putting together prints so I played it safe (read boring!). I turned in 20 blocks at the next meeting! I was thrilled when my name was drawn to win half the blocks (which included a bunch of my own - no surprise there!)

Well, I started playing with the blocks I'd won and discovered a problem right away - almost half of them measured 12" instead of 12 1//2"! Some new quilter - who knew even less than I did - didn't know that a 12" block should measure 12 1/2" unfinished. She'd carefully cut all her blocks down to 12" unfinished. Not only that - the blocks were BORING!!!!! The required colors had been dark blue, medium blue and muslin. It looked like a disaster. I left them on the design wall for days and days, switching them around and around. Nothing made them more interesting. It wasn't until I was home from work with a bad cold that I suddenly realized what they needed was something to spice them up. Red was perfect. So I pulled a bright red solid from my stash and added a very narrow border around all the blocks that were too small. I added muslin sashing and red setting squares. The quilt went from boring to lively.
The next year I was lucky enough to have my name drawn as the member who could have her quilt in the frame at our quilt show. So for 6 days many, many guild members and show attendees quilted on it. After the show I finished the quilting. It's now very faded from sunlight and washing, but it's still fun to see it on the bed.

The pillows are blocks from a class I taught at work using the book Quilts, Quilts, Quilts. I didn't want to make them into quilt but they made perfect bed pillows to go with this one. They, too, are faded because the dog loves to take his nap in the middle of the bed on top of the pillows.

My first quilt - Part 2

I hope everyone had a glorious holiday celebration - whichever holiday you were celebrating this month.

Rick and Rebecca took down their tree on Wednesday, so I was finally able to get some good pictures of my first quilt. Note the fact that I struggled through quilting five white squares before I gave up and tied the rest with fuzzy white yarn. Also note the wonderful quality (not!) of the white broadcloth I used. You can also see the exciting print on the two calicos LOL! There sure wasn't much available in 1974 - particularly 100% cotton! Not at all something I'd ever want on our bed - but it makes a great Christmas tree skirt!

It's always so much fun to see first quilts and hear their stores - some of them are doozies!


1. Just a bit of snow on Christmas - lovely to watch it falling
2. Six days of vacation before I head back to work
3. One more day of work before retirement!
4. A fantastic hubby who is willing to teach an extra year so I can retire now
5. Three more days this year - how many more UFO's can I get finished by New Year's Eve?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Cinnamon Rolls

Home made cinnamon rolls have been a tradition at our house for years and years. My mother baked them, and then taught me when I was about 10 or so. The recipe she used was from a very old Fleishmann's recipe booklet. It was in black and white, no pictures, and talked about scalding and straining the milk. Mom had already adapted it when she taught me, as it was no longer necessary to heat and strain the milk. She made these at Christmas for sure, and several other times during the year. Sometimes she shaped them as Swedish Tea Rings - my father was a full Swede - and now and then in the shape of a Christmas tree. Neighbors would be given some for their Christmas breakfasts.
My father was a true craftsman - a sheet metal mechanic. Hundreds of schools, restaurants and hospitals throughout the northwest had sheet metal kitchens made by my father. My father made mom's cinnamon roll pans, and then made me some when I became engaged. This recipe makes 32 rolls, which fit perfectly into two pans.

Soften together:
  • 2 pkgs. yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 c. warm water
Mix then add to above:
  • 1/2 c. evaporated milk
  • 1/2 c. very warm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
Stir in 3 cups stirred flour

Beat together well, then add to above:
  • 6 tbsp. butter (REAL butter)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
Add about 4 more cups of flour and mix until dough pulls away from sides of bowl.

I add about 3 1/4 more cups of flour, reserving the last 3/4 cup flour for the bread board. I use a pastry cloth. I rub about half of the reserved flour into the cloth, then dump the dough onto the board. Knead, adding more flour as necessary. (The humidity in the room will affect how much flour is needed.) The dough should be smooth and shiny. 4-5 minutes of kneading should do it - it doesn't take nearly as much as regular bread does.

Oil a large bowl. Shape the dough into a large ball, put it in the bowl, then turn around until surface of dough is oiled. Cover with a damp cloth and keep in a warm place to rise. (I put mine on the bathroom counter, turn the heat way up and then close the door.) When double in size punch it down. Let rise until double in size again.

Flour your pastry cloth covered breadboard again as necessary. Punch down dough and turn onto cloth. Shape into a rectangle with your hands, and then roll dough into a large rectangle. Roll until it's about 1/4" thick. It's about 20" x 24".

Melt butter - REAL butter - about 1/2 cup. Spread it over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle the dough with sugar and then cinnamon. I've no idea of the amounts. I just try to cover the dough with a thin layer of each. Roll up the dough, starting at one long edge. Pinch it shut, and turn the roll so the pinched spot is next to the breadboard. Cut into slices of about 3/4", and lay slices in an oiled pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double.

Bake in 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until brown. I always set the timer for 15 minutes, then switch the pans so the bottom one is on the top rack. If I'm giving them for gifts or freezing them I take them out about 5 minutes early, so they don't get too brown when they are reheated in the oven before serving.

Make a glaze from powdered sugar and evaporated milk. I usually start with 2 cups sugar, then add milk until desired consistency. Beat well to make sure there are no lumps. Increase the amount of glaze if you want very sweet rolls - or make a cream cheese frosting for them. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls as soon as they are removed from the oven.
Currents or raisins can also be rolled inside, as can chopped nuts. My mom used to decorate them with red and green candied cherries at Christmas, but I don't as my family doesn't like them.

Somewhere in the process - I think it was when I was shaping the rolls - I forgot to put my apron back on. I laughed when I happened to look down at myself. I couldn't resist poking fun at myself by having Fred take a picture to post.


My first quilt

I know I've not told the story of my first quilt because I haven't had a picture of it up until now. I still don't really have much of a picture, but enough to tell the story.

We moved to Vancouver and into this house in July 1974 when Rebecca was 12 days old. It wasn't long at all before I decided to make my first quilt. It was almost impossible to find 100% cotton fabric at that time, but the Mill End Store in Milwaukee, Oregon did have a small selection. I spent hours pouring over the two quilt books I had - pretty much all that was available at that time. I finally decided on a triple Irish chain in red, green and white. I bought enough of the red to make pinch pleated curtains for the bedroom windows and enough of the green for a gathered curtain for the bathroom. I made a template of a 1 1/2" square from cardboard and sandpaper, and proceeded to draw around it several thousand times. The pattern called for four green squares to be appliqued to the corners of the large white square to make the alternate block. This quilt was to serve as our bedspread.

Well - with a new baby I found I had little time to work on the quilt. I was making all our clothes, raising a garden, canning and freezing all our vegetables and fruit, and baking all our bread. I worked on the quilt when I could, but it took a LONG time to cut out and then piece. Remember, I was cutting out every square with scissors! Finally the top was done - probably 3-4 years after I started it. The curtains had been on the windows for years - I made them first - and we already significantly faded. I bought a large white sheet for the back and some batting. I don't remember how I basted it together - I just know that I did. Then I started the hand quilting - learning the best I could from one of the books. Of course that sheet was VERY hard ti stitch through, as were all the seams. I quilted a straight line grid in 5 of the plain white squares and called it quits. I rolled it up and shoved it into the attic and forgot about it.

About 10 years later I dug it back out and decided to finish it. By that time I was doing lots of holiday bazaars, selling dolls, teddy bears, Christmas items and other things that I'd sewn. I needed something to cover the table and the quilt was perfect. So I bought some white yarn and tied the rest of it together. Again, I didn't really know what I was doing, but I did my best. I bound it and used it as my bazaar table cover for the next five years. It was perfect colors - red and green and white - and looked just fine since most of it was covered with things to sell.

After 5 years I went back to work and stopped doing bazaars, and was going to put the quilt back in the attic. However, I got a brainstorm just as I was putting it away. How about using it for a tree skirt? Once again it would be covered with things to hide it's ugliness. So I ruthlessly cut a slit from the middle of one side to the center of the quilt, and zig zagged the edges shut. It served as our tree skirt for the next 10 years or more. When Rick and Rebecca put up their first tree I passed it along to them, and now it can be seen at the base of their tree every year.

You can't see much of it in the picture, but enough of it so you can tell more or less what it looks like. Before they put it away this year I'll try to get a picture of it spread out in all it's lumpy, bumpy, uneven ugliness. It never did serve as our bed spread, but it makes a great Christmas tree skirt!

Almost Christmas

Here it is the afternoon of December 23rd. Where oh where does the time go? Today I planned to do all my baking - cinnamon rolls and two pies. So far my cinnamon roll dough is doing it's first rising and that is it. The pies will probably get done tomorrow morning. I tried kneading my cinnamon roll dough for the first time with my Kitchen Aid mixer - sure hope they turn out OK. I've made them for over 40 years and always kneaded them by hand. The dough doesn't look the same. Time will tell - if they aren't quite as good then hopefully my family will forgive me. Better to try out on family than the batches I'm making later this week to give to friends.

I'm all caught up on Bonnie's Mystery. I'm so glad I decided to join! Most all the strips came from my strip bins. I had to cut some blue strips from stash fat quarters but that's it. The blue squares came from my 3 1/2" square box and the neutral squares were cut from my 3 1/2" strips. I can hardly wait to see what we are to do next.

Rick, Rebecca, Chelsea, Jeremy and Sophie will be with us for Christmas Eve. We are having our traditional cheese fondue, plus a honey glazed ham, fruit salad, green salad and pies. It will be fun to watch Sophie experiencing her first family Christmas. Then Rick and Rebecca will join us for breakfast on Christmas morning. All the kids will be with their other families the rest of Christmas, so Fred and I are blessed to be having dinner with Tangled Threads friends.

Wishing each and every one of you a happy holiday season - whatever holidays you celebrate.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Checking in for a moment . . . .

Time seems to be whizzing by faster and faster. I now have only 6 more working days left! I've done very little sewing lately. I meant to sew all weekend - instead I pretty much sat and read Christmas stories from old Regency anthologies.

For those of you not familiar with Regencies - the first Regency novels were those written by Jane Austen, who lived through the Regency period herself. (This was the time when the Prince Regent - affectionately called "Prinny" - ruled England because his father was unfit to rule - the early 1800's. This is the time of the wars with France and Napoleon.) A more modern Regency author was Georgette Heyer, who wrote in the early to mid 20th century. Regencies are romances known for their wit, and always feature characters from the cream of British society - dukes, earls, etc. - as well as the "landed gentry". They are sweet romances your daughters could read - no sex at all - just sweet stories and make you cry, smile, and feel all warm inside. I have many Christmas anthologies, and often reread them this time of year.

I do want to show you my last project - an apron for my daughter-in- law for her birthday. Doesn't she look great! By now it's probably been initiated with flour, etc. from Chelsea's Christmas baking.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

So much for resolutions . . . .

I've been so good this year. I pledged to myself and my readers that this year would be the year of the UFO's and scraps. Other than Joseph's quilt and the mid-century album quilt I pledged to start no new projects except for those that used strips, squares, triangles, etc. in my scrap boxes. For over eleven months I stuck by my pledge in spite of many temptations. I kept my focus on my goals.

So here I am - December 13th - and I've caved in. From every side I see people doing Bonnie's mystery. Everyone is talking about it. Friends are urging me to play along. I resisted. For two weeks I resisted. But I could feel myself weakening inside. I tried to be strong - tough - and all along my inside of marshmallow jello was quivering and shivering and caving in.

So I'm going to rationalize here - make excuses - tell myself it's OK. I pulled out my 1 1/2" strip bin and pulled out all the lights. Then I went with reds and blues - not because Bonnie is using them but because there were more strips in those two colors than any others. I don't have nearly enough strips - I'm going to have to cut a bunch more - but I'm telling myself that's OK. After all, my shelves have more red and blue fabric on them than any other color. I'm stretching the limits - some of the blues are so dark as to be almost black. Some definitely lean towards turquoise and teal. But they are still blue. Some of the reds are so dark that they really don't contrast well - but since I have a strip or two already cut from those reds then those strips will be used. So - I'm only half breaking my promise - I am using up strips from the bins. So how is that for rationalization?

Tonight I sewed together most of the already cut strips and finished about 24 rail fence blocks. I can already tell I may have to cut more strips just to reach 100 pieces for this first step. No matter. I'm having fun, I'm eager to proceed, and best of all I should have plenty of time to catch up. After all, there are only 9 more working days until retirement!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Holiday preparations

Seems like I'm so behind this year. It threw me having a baby shower int he middle of the holiday season in that I lost a weekend I usually have for getting ready. With Fred's help yesterday we finally got our tree up and decorated. Hopefully the shopping will be finished this week. Christmas is such a very special time - filled with love and family gatherings as we celebrate the birth of Christ. This is the last Christmas season that I'll be working - I'm so looking forward to lots of time for holiday baking etc. in the coming years.

Blogging - both writing and reading - has just fallen by the wayside in the need for something to give. Other than making an apron for our daughter-in-law for her birthday I've been doing no sewing to speak of. I have been doing some reading in spare moments but that's it. Here are the last two books I read.

The Handmaid's Tale - "In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies? Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now...."
A very different book, quite disturbing. It certainly made me think.
Broken for You - A buoyant debut novel about two women in self-imposed exile whose worlds are transformed when their paths intersect, and a glorious homage to the beauty of broken things. An absolutely beautiful book full of wonderfully interesting characters. I fell in love with this book. A wonderful read.

1. Tiny snowflakes falling off and on throughout the day
2. A family birthday celebration
3. Favorite Christmas carols sung as I remember from my childhood
4. Watching "Miracle on 34th Street" with family
5. Friends, new and old

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Finn made me do it . . . . VBG

You Are Christmas
More than most people, you are able to find magic in life's small moments.
Traditions mean a lot to you, and you tend to be quite nostalgic.
You are a giving, kind person who really understands the true meaning of holidays.
You inspire others to be as altruistic and caring as you are.

What makes you celebrate: Tradition and a generous spirit

At holiday get togethers, you do best as: The storyteller. You like to recount memories with everyone.

On a holiday, you're the one most likely to: Give a gift to everyone you know

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday report

The baby shower was very nice on Sunday - thank goodness! I always get really nervous when I entertain. We had about 20 people - and barely managed to squeeze them all into the room. I took very few pictures as it turned out, so I cant' show much until I get a picture disk from a coworker of Rebecca's that took lots and lots of pictures. The weather was horrible for the day - heavy rain and wind - which prevented one couple from traveling down for the party - but everyone else made it. We had just the right amount of food and the cake was super delicious. Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting - can't beat that!

Somehow in the middle of the preparations I managed to complete the second snowball block. It's similar to the first one - just a wee bit different. Tonight I'll start on an eagle block - the easier blocks are all done for now.

The storms hitting western Washington have been completely devastating during the last 24 -36 hours. Winds of over 100 miles battered the coastline. All roads between here and the coast are closed. The major north-south highway - I-5 - is closed about halfway up Washington state at Centralia-Chehalis. The water is over 10 feet deep across the freeway. The only available detour is a 440 mile trip over the mountain passes and through eastern Washington. The railroads are shut down also because of tracks under water. Some areas of the state are estimated to be without power for the next 6-8 days. Generators are not going to be much good because they are already running out of fuel and no roads are open for fuel trucks to come in. The best news coverage picture-wise is from one of the Seattle papers.
Here is a link. The first picture you see is the town where my longarm reps live. They were evacuated yesterday and have no idea whether their home is underwater or not.

Luckily we didn't fare so badly. Lots and lots of down tree limbs and some flooded roadways, but as far as I know homes are OK and no local loss of life. One local bridge over a major creek is now closed until spring due to damage, but that's it as far as I know. It's going to take a long time to clean up from this.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Another block - and it's party time

I won't have much time for sewing this weekend, as tomorrow afternoon we're throwing a shower for Rebecca and Rick. I'm expecting between 17 and 20 guests so today and tomorrow morning will be spent getting ready. I want to bring out all the Christmas decorations except for the tree. The table will feature Winnie-the-Pooh and the rest of the house will have a festive holiday feel. Normally we decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it seemed just too early this year.

I did finish another 8" block for the mid-century album quilt last night - another "cutwork" block. I love how this one turned out - it makes me think of snowflakes. Speaking of snowflakes, we are actually getting snow today - though nothing is sticking. So pretty to see it fall - and so rare for around here. I also finished the reverse applique on the bowl for the 16" fruit block - I think it's going to be a beauty.

We have new pictures of Joseph - the 8-month report. He has such an engaging grin!

The countdown to retirement is continuing - I'm down to 18 more working days! It seems so very strange!

That's it for now - have to get back to work!