Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

It is hard to believe that today is the last day of 2013 and we are just a few hours away from 2014.

A quick update on some things I've been working on lately.  Although most are still Christmas gifts that have not yet been opened by recipients so you will have to have a bit more patience with me.

I made this table runner for my brother and sister-in-law.  I'm using the picture she sent me of it after she put it under their t.v. set.  I can't believe I did not get a picture of it before it got out of my house.  She has requested another one using the same fabrics for her birthday (which means I have some time to get it done).  I did go to the quilt shop on Monday and picked up the fabrics and is a good thing I did too as they were almost out of a couple of them.
These were the last two scarves that I had to get knitted before Christmas.  I finished them Sunday and delivered them to the intended gift givers on the Monday before Christmas.   Whew!

These two items are gifts I've stitched and as they've not yet been opened by their intended recipients, I cannot share the entire photo with you at this time.  I can't wait to share them as I'm delighted with how they have turned out.
I've been the recipient of a couple more lovely little gifts.  My friend, Mindi, gave me these delightful ice skate ornaments to add to my collections (#34 and #35).  The little pair with the rusted blade on the bottom are my new favorite skating ornament.  They are just precious!

On Christmas I was so touched by the gift I received from my husband's, Aunt Nanc.  She made this beautiful box using fabrics from a stash of Bill's moms fabrics and lace.   We lost Bill's mom 22 years ago so this was an especially meaningful gift as it was made by Nanc with stash from Sharon.  I will admit to it bringing tears to my eyes when I opened it.  I remember Sharon having a basket lined with this fabric.  Tucked inside was a pair of scissors, a needle threader and a kit for sachets.  You can see I have already put my necessary stitching items in it by my stitching chair to use.  Just needs a tiny pincushion for my needle that will fit in there.  I think I know where the perfect one is to buy that will fit in the space left in the box.

You may remember I signed up a long time ago to do the swap through Primitive Hare using her Primitive Atmosphere book of designs.  I received a wonderful package from Fabrizia (http://ricamandoe.blogspot.com) and couldn't have been more delighted with the design she chose to stitch for me.  It is the one I was hoping to find time to stitch one day and am thrilled she chose it.  Of course, most of you know my favorite color is blue so love that the inside and back fabric both have lots of blue in them.  Notice the scissor fob she made as well.  I've a fondness for crocheted doilies, ornaments, etc. so this was a lovely surprise.    Thank you again, Fabrizia!

I finally found some time over the past couple of days after my workouts to do a little "after Christmas shopping".  It is wonderful to go back into the stores and not have the crowds.  For my efforts I came home with these flour sack towels.
I also purchased these adorable mugs.  I'm still blaming this on Belinda (http://www.blueribbondesigns.com) for posting hers on her blog.  I've resisted them since the day we were shopping and she bought her first one but could no longer fight the temptation.  This is the frog (for Keith) and dragonfly (for me).  When you turn them over, the parts become the feet.  For instance the frog's eyes become feet.  I was lucky and they were on clearance so I bought the other two (another dragonfly and a hedgehog).  I think they will make fun gifts.

Lastly, I snagged the only packet of these adorable Sticky Notes at the same shop.  They seemed like a perfect fit for the stitcher/quilter/sewer/crafter that I am.

Every  six months I have my blog entries printed into a bound book and pulled out my book with the start date of January 1, 2013 to see what was going on in our lives at that time.  

I was pleased to see that I had actually accomplished the goals I had set out for myself for the year.  If you remember I set my goals to be more progress oriented rather than total completion of the goal.  Here are a few updates to my goals.

1.  More photos taken of myself.

Glad to report that thanks to family and friends I have had many more pictures of myself taken throughout the year - even a couple of them are good.  Sadly this is the year we did not get around to making a family photo Christmas card.  Best keep this goal on my list for 2014.

2.  Live a more healthy lifestyle.

I also had positive results with this one.  I joined the local "Y" and am pleased to report I've been using it pretty much Monday through Friday since joining.  I mostly use the treadmill and stepper machines in the gym and take a weight class called Body Pump which is based on repetitions rather than amount of weight.  I'm pleased with the results I've seen so far.  This goal will continue into 2014 as I would like to add another class or two to my workouts.

I will also add eating more "clean" in the coming year.  Try to get away from eating processed foods and eating more fresh foods.

3.  Stitch from my stash rather than adding to my stash.

I have to say I've done a pretty good job with this goal.  When I made the goal, I did allow myself to purchase those things that really "called" to me.  All in all I feel I did pretty well in this area.  I have managed to complete several of my WIP and used up fabrics and threads in my stash.  This is a goal I plan to continue in 2014.

4.  Another goal was to actually stitch some ornaments for my own Christmas tree in 2013.

I am pleased to report that I did manage to stitch 3 ornaments for myself.  However, did not have the time to finish them for display this year.  This goal too will continue in 2014.

This post as taken me all afternoon and evening to write as I've had many little interruptions.  I will close with wishing you all Health and Happiness in 2014!


Saturday, December 21, 2013

I Should Be Knitting!

I'm going to be honest I should be knitting as I've 2 more scarves to finish for friends who want to give them as gifts but on a Saturday morning a trip to Rich's Brew with my son for vanilla chai teas sounded like so much more fun.  Besides yesterday I knitted (4 scarves) and gave up at 9:30 p.m. last night when I could not longer hold the knitting needles in my hands my fingers were so stiff.  I picked up the last skein of yarn from my friend for her last scarf this morning and I already knitted half of the other scarf last night before I gave up so I am excited to think I will be done with them tomorrow. Here are a few of the scarves I have finished.

I somehow managed to get really motivated last Sunday and whipped through my list of items to knit, sew and stitch of which there were NINE!  I was amazed at how quickly I was able to get things done with a little organization.  Making a list of what needed to be done was the most helpful of all as I was able to group things into like activities.  Cutting fabrics, machine sewing, hand sewing, stitching, etc.  Having it all sorted helped me to make most efficient use of the time I had for working on the projects.

I received a couple of Christmas presents this week and am delighted with their uniqueness.  I'll highlight a couple of things.  

My friend, Allison, was in Paris this Fall and she has gifted me with some delightful items from there.  A couple of lovely pictures.  I adore the watercolor she picked up from a local artist.  I'm going to get in framed soon.  She also picked up this fun little coin purse and a  kit from a needlework shop she found.  
Non-Paris items include these adorable owl measure cups as well as some homemade essential oils room spray, lip scrub, sugar scrub and an oil when rubbed on the bottoms of feet is supposed to make you sleep better.

I also received this scarf ring from my friend, Donna.  A local shop came up with the idea and they are to be used on an infinity scarf to give you another way to wear them.  It is such a clever idea.  I just love it!
I also wanted to mention that Jen (Wheresistersgather) has reopened her Etsy Shop and has a new Christmas cross-stitch LED pillar candle.  I love these candles as you don't have to worry about starting a fire and there is a timer on them that shuts them off after 5 hours and they restart at the same time the next day.  I picked one up and it is part of my holiday display right now.  I love when I come into a dark house and have this warm welcoming light to greet me and light my way!
Yesterday was supposed to be the day my friends, Belinda and Mary and I were to have lunch and a holiday gift exchange but unfortunately the night before we had a bit of freezing rain which covered the roads, sidewalks, driveways with a thin sheet of ice.  Does matter whether it is a thin sheet or thick sheet - ice is ice!  After watching the cars in my neighborhood sliding backwards down the road on the incline in front of my house I chose to keep my son home.  It ends up it was a good choice as his bus driver called 30 minutes later to thank me for my common sense.  Another family did not follow suit and she was stuck on a hill just 6 blocks away and had been there for 30 minutes.  It was also decided we would reschedule our luncheon for a safer travel day.

Keith and I enjoyed a wonderful unexpected day at home.  ABC Family was running holiday movies and cartoons and we also watched the White House Christmas 2013.  Add to that a cup of vanilla chai tea and a fire in the fireplace and we were very content!  Again a simple joy of the holiday spending time with a loved one!

Expecting a measurable snow storm tonight into tomorrow so am looking forward to spending a quiet Sunday at home with Bill and Keith.  Although I feel a walk over to the park with my camera if we get the snow amounts they are talking about may be in order.  Looks like we will have a white Christmas after all - YEA!

I have not found any time to pick up a book to read in over a week and am looking forward to picking up a good book on Christmas afternoon/evening after the festivities are over.  Any recommendations?

Well date night tonight so off to get a few things done.  Have a wonderfully relaxing weekend!  

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Taking Time to Enjoy the Simple Things!

Christmas is approaching at a rapid pace and I've been working feverishly on the handmade gifts I have yet to finish for family and friends.  I will admit that the working feverishly to finish these gifts is my own fault as I've also chosen to take the time to enjoy the simple things in my day to day life so that I don't miss the joy of the season.

A beautiful moon overhead at 5:15 AM this morning.
The first snowfall of the season a couple of weeks ago.
A fat red bird sitting upon my deck who I might add quickly moved to the tree next to the deck when my camera came out.  Still less than 5 feet away so pretty hard to hide from me. 
Taking time to enjoy family movie nights at home on Friday nights.  Date nights on Saturday whenever possible with my hubby.  Baking cookies with my son only to have hubby arrive home from work and to join in - what a wonderful time.
I've also managed to keep up on my workouts at the Y and am pleased with my progress there.  The Eagles are back for the winter by the river just a quick 10 minutes from us.  Keith and I took a drive by there on Saturday to see them flying overhead.  I'm hoping to take my camera down to take some photos in the near future.

Here are a few pictures of what I've been working on.  Keep in mind I can't show entire pictures of some items as they are gifts and have not yet reached their recipient.  These are 3 cross-stitch projects that are going to friends.  You will get to see the finished projects over the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Last night I stayed up much too late doing some finishing for my friend, Allison.  Here are five ornaments she stitched as well as one design she wanted made into a pillow.  I could have gone to bed at my normal time I know but I WAS SO CLOSE to finishing them all and it was just like when I get to the end of a long cross-stitch project - just 5 more minutes - just 5 more minutes - just 5 more minutes.  You know how those can add up - LOL!  The good news is they are finished and I boxed them up and shipped them to her this morning.  Her "CHALLENGE" project for me (and it will be a challenge) will have to wait until January.

Notice the table runner underneath???  Well I found a tutorial  on a quilt as you go table runner by the  Missouri Star Quilt Company (click on the link to their home page to find tutorials) and decided to give it a try.  They have the best tutorials and I also used their tutorial on quilt binding and have completed my first bindings ever.
This picture shows the back side where the binding is hand stitched to finish.  I took completed project out to my local quilt shop and was pleased that the accomplished quilter working there was surprised to learn it was a first binding for me as it looked so good.  I have to admit I was pretty proud and surprised at myself. 
I've been all over the place in my crafts this holiday season.  I've managed to knit one scarf and as usual when knitting is discussed I've 3 more requests to be done by the 1st of the year.  Thankfully those are quick projects.
Oh and before I forget the strips and what they were going to be.  I modified one of the tutorials for a Christmas ornament from the Missouri Star Quilt Company to be a mug rug/coaster/snack mat.  Whatever you want to call it.  I like that you can make this whatever size you want using the circle cutter template.  Mine goes from 2 inches up to 10 inches.  I chose to make mine 8 inches.  In the tutorial it calls for using aluminum foil at the top and making a hole to hang a ribbon through.  I chose to use some leftover red wool and no hole to make a nice mug rug.  My son has the only one left in this house.  I've several cut out on my sewing table just to be put together.  I'm hoping to find time to get them together before Christmas arrives next week.  The good news is at their current stage  each one will only take 15 minutes worth of work.
Well, I'm out of time for today.  Hope you are all taking time to enjoy the life's simples pleasures during this holiday season!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New Designer!

I stopped in at the fabric store yesterday to pick up a bag of batting and as usual I came out with more than what I went in to get.  However, I just couldn't resist this mug especially as it was 60% off. 
I also could not resist this bit of bowling fabric as well.  I'm thinking mug rugs or a table topper.  Dad and both of my brothers are bowlers.  There are several colors to choose from to create something spectacular.

I want to share about a new cross stitch designer who has an Etsy shop.  Her name is Teresa Murgida and her Etsy shop is called Primitive Acorns.  She designs primitives and I like them very much.  She was running a promotion today that if you buy 2 designs you get a third of your choice for free.  I, of course, did not stop at 2.  Her prices are extremely reasonable and she was a delight to work with today.  Just click on the link and check out what she has to offer.
Feeling a little bit proud of myself today.  Thanks to our first measurable snowstorm I found time today to spend an afternoon with Lorenzo (for those who don't know someone named my sewing machine Lorenzo back in the 80's and it stuck).  Not only did I work on Christmas presents I figured out how to bind the project for the first time ever.  I am now down to blind stitching the binding on the back side of my project.  Yes, I did a little happy dance when I had the AH HAH moment when I finally understood how to bind!  
I also got a pretty good start on what all these strips are going to become.  I can't wait to share my completed project.

Friday, December 6, 2013

No - I Didn't Fall Off the Face of the Earth!

I know it has again been quite some time since I posted.  It just seems like there are just never enough hours in the day to accomplish all I want.  

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We ended up with a Thanksgiving Eve upset (Keith was physically attacked by another consumer at his vocational workshop).  Keith ended up with only minor abrasions and scratches about his head and neck but was terribly scared and upset (who wouldn't be when somebody bigger than you puts you in a neck lock).  I spent an afternoon there to among other things state my concern that I did not receive a call on my cell phone when it happened early in the morning but rather found out several hours later upon arriving home and checking messages on my answering machine.

Thanksgiving went beautifully.  I would share pictures but can't seem to get them to move from camera to computer.  Grrrrr!  Dishes turned out perfectly and enjoyed a nice long visit with family.

Christmas decorating started the day after Thanksgiving.  As it was so late in the month, just couldn't procrastinate putting them up this year or there would be no time to enjoy them.

This is the display I've set up this year on top of my buffet.  I always do a small pink tree as a tribute to Mom who passed from breast cancer in 2010.  Christmas was her favorite holiday and I get my love of decorating for the holiday from her.  The white ceramic tree on the left was the one she made for herself and was her favorite which she passed on to me in 2009.

This is a new display for me this year on a shelf of my bookcase.  It has a few of the ceramic pieces Mom made for me as well as my own stitched pieces.
My coffee table sports the Santa's workshop that was Mom's.  Again another one of her cherished favorites that she gifted to me before she passed away.  As the saying goes, they are priceless to me.

My tree for this year.  Went back to the all white lights as the multi-colored lights we tried last year just did not show off my ornaments very well.  Yes, that is the string tinsel you see all over the tree.  Yes, it is an artificial tree and I have to pick every single piece of that off before I can take down the tree for the year.  So worth the extra effort.  The quilted tree skirt is one that I made several years ago.  I took a fabulous class while we lived at Mtn. Home AFB, ID back in the 80's.  Since then I've made several for family and my good friends.   

I am terribly behind on the making of Christmas gifts for my friends.  I finally got a start on my first gift the other night.  I'm further along than the picture shows but have a long ways yet to go.  I also spent my afternoon this afternoon cutting out fabric for some gifts that I'm going to sew.  Hoping for some time on Sunday to get started on those.
I also signed up for Carol's Stitch A Long (IStitch) and we are up to Day 6 and I've yet to put my first stitch in this project.  We get a bit of the design each day for 24 days so in theory we will have a finished project on December 24.  I'm trying to decide which night I'm going to skip sleeping to get started and catch up - LOL!  It really is a lovely project and really would like to finish on Day 24.  Wish me luck!

Don't ask me where I found the time but managed to finish two books.  The Bride's House by Sandra Dallas and A Quilter's Holiday by Jennifer Chiaverini.  At first I didn't really care for the Sandra Dallas book but that changed by the time I got to the 2nd generation story of the book.  Ended up liking it.  The Quilter's Holiday was a very quick read and really enjoyed it.  Perfect read for this time of year.

Looking forward to date night tomorrow night as well as the predicted first measurable snow storm of the year.  It is usually a good time to get some stitching/sewing done and I'm planning a Sunday of crafting for myself while the guys enjoy their sports on tv.