Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today is the big reveal! I haven't been able to show you the Christmas wall hangings that I've been working on since October so that I wouldn't spoil the surprise. Although I still have two Christmas exchanges in January, the people involved have either seen these already or don't have a computer. Either way, it's now safe for me to show these.

This is a shot of all 7 of the completed wall hangings. 6 are snowmen, 1 is of trees. The bottom snowman is smaller than the rest and is going to be mine! I ran out of background fabric and just decided to make a small one for myself.

Here's one of the snowman quilts. I decided to make the snowman in gradual stages. The first snowman only has eyes, the second snowman has eyes and a nose, etc. One of the reasons that I did this progressive snowman was for artistic expression. The other reason was laziness! Less embroidery work for me! Once I finished one of the quilts, I knew I could go back and embellish all of the snowmen if I didn't like the way it looked. Obviously, I liked them and left them as is.

Here's a closeup of a finished snowman, with all of his parts, including a scarf.

Here's the tree quilt. I only made one of these and really liked the way it turned out. It's a little more formal than the snowmen, but still displayable all through the winter. I didn't want to make any of the wall hangings so Christmas specific that you could only use them for a few weeks a year.

Here's the closeup of the tree quilt. I used all gold hearts except for the last tree segment that received a red heart.

This is Bev, receiving my wall hanging at one of the exchanges. I hope that she will get many years of enjoyment out of it and will think of me (fondly....I hope!) each time she displays it in her home.

Overall, I really enjoyed making these hangings. I did take on quite a huge project and should have started them much earlier than October. I've already started planning some gifts for next year in hopes of avoiding last minute panic attacks! I work well under a deadline, but enjoy the task much more if I'm not rushed. Live and learn!

Friday, December 26, 2008

It turns out that my Cousin Lisa is pretty sneaky. While shopping a few months ago, we both picked up some cute cross stitch kits. Before checking out, I put a few kits back because I was trying to stick to a tight budget. Well, Lisa picked up these kits, completed them, and gave them back to me for Christmas presents. Aren't they just great!? I have a couple more small cherries kits that I think will compliment these two. I'm not sure if they are the same scale, but if not, these two pictures by themselves will make cute focal points on a small wall hanging. Thanks, Lisa, for finishing these kits so that they are ready to go directly into a project!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Claws.........is that you.....I've been very good........Santa......?
And finally they sleep......visions of sugar-plums (AKA-Catnip) dance in their heads.......ZZZZZZZZZZ

Merry Christmas!!

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
Luke 2:11
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.
Luke 2:14

May God bless you and yours!
I'm back......

I had a quiet, one on one Christmas exchange yesterday with my dear friend, Kathy. This is one of the gifts that she got me, a collection of Marie Osmond's fabric line of fat quarters. I just love them! These will be used in a quilt contest sponsored by Janome and Marie Osmond. I can't wait to design my project then cut into these beauties!

I finished my Christmas gifts today! Christmas Eve, and I'm just now finishing them. I'm never this late with my gifts but I usually don't make most of them. I'm one of those people that hates to be around crowds so I don't like to shop once December arrives. This year, I had finished buying my "store" gifts months ago, but had too many hand crafts to complete. Well, the timing all worked out and I'm ready for Christmas Day!

This is the fleece blanket that I just finished. I really love the way it turned out. It is the warmest, thickest fleece blanket that I've ever wrapped around myself. It has two layers, throughout. I used a pattern for this, Simplicity #4745, in case you are interested in making one for yourself. Although the pattern was very simple and easy, it was quite difficult to maneuver so much fabric bulk around the corners. It was worth the struggle to get the mitered corners. They make such a nice finished, border.

I didn't spread it out for you to see the whole thing as it would then be covered with cat hairs. As it was, I had to use a ton of masking tape to de-hair it after I finished sewing. I'd like to make one of these blankets for myself, but I certainly wouldn't use black fleece! Whatever I choose must be cat hair resistant!

I had a small strip of the Yoda fleece leftover and made a nice, warm scarf out of it. There weren't any Yoda faces on the strip, but the Star Wars logo looks nice. I think it makes a nice bonus gift.

So now I can officially relax! The gifts are done, the weather is better, and life is good!
The worst of the storm appears to be over! Last night, the temperatures warmed up and the sleet turned to rain. Now we have flood warnings, but it's sure better than the ice. Because of all of the downed limbs, the city has agreed to chip up the branches if you just pull them to the curb. For many people, this will enable them to clean up their yards. Originally, they told people that it was their responsibility to take their trees and branches to the yard waste centers. You'd need a lot of man power for that, plus a truck......most people would just have to live with the mess in their yard.
Overall, it looks much better for most of the area. We still have 9,000 without power, but most will have it restored by Christmas, a few will have to wait until Friday. I have to applaud the electrical workers who have worked with below zero wind chills and freezing rain. Thanks for all of your hard work! I'll be back with more posts in a bit.......

Monday, December 22, 2008

The ice saga continues! I'm still one of the lucky ones with only minor moments without power. They are reporting that 45,000 are still without power, and that they won't have power restored until midnight Friday. For tens of thousands of people, that will be almost 8 days without power. And this estimate only applies if the weather doesn't present further problems. Over 1500 workers have arrived from other states to help out, yet we still need more. We have shelters set up around the city and they are now letting people bring their pets with them. Many, and I'm sure I'd be one of them, refused to leave their pets at home.
I'm just praying that this will all end soon. It would be so nice if it were under control by Christmas so that people didn't have to spend Christmas in a shelter. I know it's not where you spend Christmas that counts, but it surely would be more pleasant to be safe and comfortable at home.
To all of you out there, I hope that this finds you safe, snug, and settled in for the holidays. I know that this ice emergency has made me even more grateful for a warm, cozy home!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Early Friday morning, in the wee hours, we received a major ice storm, frosting the area with well over 1" (closer to 2" in many areas) of ice. As breathtakingly beautiful as it is, it has devastated the area. At one point, almost 200,000 people were without electricity, limbs were down all over the city, blocking roadways, and it was one major mess. So far, my power has only shut off and on for a few seconds at a time, always coming back on. I seem to be in a little pocket that has power, as even across the street, there is not a light to be found. Not even street lights. In my alley, however, the lights are working. It's literally, night and day between my front and back yard.

This is my little bird bath and small garden area. The ornamental grasses are quite pretty in their ice suits.
As of this afternoon, about 70,000 remain without their power. Crews have been brought in from surrounding states to speed up the electricity hook ups. The bad news is that we won't have any warm up for at least a week, which will keep the ice hanging on, and tonight, we are supposed to get a small snowfall of 1 to 3 inches. That wouldn't be a problem except that the weight of the snow is expected to cause more damage and power outages.

Well, I guess there's nothing to do but stay inside and enjoy the beauty. As long as I have power, I'm content. And we will definitely have a white Christmas!
On Thursday, I had a wonderful luncheon/Christmas exchange with my quilting friends. The weather cooperated for travel and we were all able to make it! We started the festivities with a feast of goodies for lunch. Each one of us brought a dish to share and the food was delicious and abundant!

At each place setting, Kathy, our hostess, had placed these cute, handmade tissue holders and tissues.

After lunch, we settled into the living room for our handmade gift exchange. This is what I received from Lois, an appliqued Santa on an oven mitt. Isn't he cute? I took a picture of the gift I made and my friend receiving it, but I still can't post pictures until all of the other exchanges are over.
Then came the cookie exchange. Here's a shot of my haul! Lots of cookies, lots of different types to sample, and all delicious!

We had a wonderful afternoon of sharing Christmas traditions and just enjoying each other's company. This was our first Christmas exchange and we've all decided that we want to do this for the next 25 years!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

And today, for my people pals, here's a really simple recipe for my cookie exchange tomorrow.


3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

12 graham cracker rectangles

1 tbsp butter, softened

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 to 3 tsp milk

1. For filling, in medium saucepan combine 3/4 cup butter, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup milk, and egg. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a full boil. Remove from heat. Stir in pecans and crumbs. Cool 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place 6 of the graham cracker rectangles, side by side, on foil-lined baking sheet to make a rectangle about 10 x 7 inches in size. Spoon filling in small mounds onto graham cracker rectangles. Carefully spread to an even layer being careful not to move crackers. Place remaining cracker rectangles on top to match up with bottom rectangles. Lightly cover bars with plastic wrap. Chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours or until filling is firm. Cut into bars.

3. In small bowl, beat 1 tablespoon butter with whisk or electric mixer until smooth. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and enough milk to make a thick drizzling consistency. Drizzle over bars. Let stand until set.

Makes 24 bars.

(This recipe was found in October's Better Homes and Gardens Magazine)


Monday, December 15, 2008

Between all of the sewing yesterday, I managed to get a little baking accomplished. For all of my puppy pals out there, here is an easy, healthy recipe for you to enjoy. (I've even sampled them......if they had sugar in them, they'd be "people friendly.") There are tons of great cookie cutters available too. Obvious shapes like dog bones, but also, specific breeds, squirrels, mice, cats, whatever might trip your dog's trigger. Have fun and be a hero to your best friend. After all, their priceless gift of unconditional love is certainly worth a few treats!

Peanut Butter Dog Treats


2 cups whole-wheat flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 cup peanut butter

1 cup skim milk

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine flour and baking powder. In another bowl, mix peanut butter and milk. Add wet mixture to dry, and mix well.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface and knead. Roll out to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out shapes. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake 20 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Makes about 20-30 dog biscuits. (This depends on your cutters....I made about 60 with various sized shapes.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Just checking in so that you know I'm still out here. I've been working away at the wall hangings and I'm now done with all of the machine sewing. This week end, I'll focus on the last of the hand sewing, which is sewing the binding to the hangings. I've finished three of them and have four to go. I may actually finish them on time!

After I get this batch finished, I'll be able to get back to my regular projects and will be able to post more updates. I'm about four blocks behind in my block of the month series and my Psalm series combined, and I'm looking forward to getting back on track.

Hope you are done (or almost done) with your Christmas crafting and shopping so that you can relax and enjoy the holidays. I'm almost at that point, myself. Phew!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2008

I just finished the first of my Christmas exchange wall hangings! Gee, and I only have 6 to go! Anyway, I wanted to show you a simple way to hang small quilts and wall hangings that's quite easy and doesn't require a rod sleeve or curtain rings.

You will need to cut two squares, one for each upper corner. The size will depend on the size of your wall hanging. These were 3 1/2" squares.

Fold these squares diagonally, corner to corner, making a triangle, and press.
After your wall hanging is quilted, squared, and trimmed, baste these triangles to the top right and top left corners on the back side of your hanging. The raw edges are toward the outside edges of the quilt. Use a tiny seam allowance so that your basting stitches won't show after you have attached the binding.
This shows the upper left back corner, after the binding has been sewn in place. The folded squares, now triangles, are all sewn in and their raw edges are completely covered with the binding. A removable dowel rod, cut to length, has been inserted from corner to corner, ready for hanging. You can also use a cut-to-size yard stick for your hanger.

Here's the top, back side, with the dowel rod slipped under the triangles. I learned to do this from a vendor at a quilt show and I really like the way it works. The hanging triangles don't have to be used if you just want it to be a table runner. They don't add much bulk and aren't seen on the front side.
Now, back to the rest of the waiting wall hangings!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This fabric post card arrived in the mail today. All the way from England. As you can see, even though it's made of fabric, it holds up quite well in the mail system. Again, the subject of this post card swap was "Winter Windows" and I still have one more post card to receive. I'll post a pic when it gets to the USA......Indiana, specifically.