Sunday, December 27, 2009

Winter Wonderland


We've had a real winter wonderland here in the north parts of England.  The snow is still around after 10 days and that is very unusual.

I don't know what kind of tree this is, but the birds love to eat the berries off it.

Christmas day was beautiful with the sun shining on all the snow. 

We had fun making a snowman.  In two days time he keeled over and killed himself by decappitation on my garden bench.  We had temperatures above freezing and he just couldn't take the "heat" wave. 

One of the many Robins around our house. 
Hope you enjoyed my pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them.  I want to leave you now with a recipe for super easy holiday fudge.  I used to make mediocre fudge the hard way years ago, then I read a can of
Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk which had this recipe on it.  It's the best fudge I've ever had.  No more dry, grainy, sugary, hard fudge......who knew?   Now you know.  Happy Holidays! 

Easy Fudge

Ingredients:  
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Directions:
Place chocolate chips, milk, butter, salt and vanilla in a double boiler over low simmering water.  Stir until chips have melted and the ingredients have been incorporated.  Stir in the nuts.
Pour into an 8" X 8" pan that has been lined with foil and coated with cooking spray.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to set.  Remove the foil and fudge from the pan, cut into squares and enjoy!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas



It's so beautiful around here all covered in fresh snow.  Just like that great old Christmas song, "It's beginning
to look a lot like Christmas."
 My village is set up in the window.  Some pieces I've had since I was really young.  My Godparents gave me the first set.  I remember it being in a gold colored mesh bag tied with a string. 

These pieces are newer, but I like how they all kinda go together no matter how old they are. 
In this photo, the blue church on the right,The 2 tiny people on the right bottom, the light green tree in the center and the animals in the center with the picket looking fence were the pieces from that first set given to me 42 Christmas' ago.  WOW, I never dated it like that before... scary
  I talked about restoring a friend's quilt in my last post and that I would get some pictures.  Here they are, finally.  There were a lot of tears in the fabrics and along seam lines.  I tried to keep as many of the original fabrics as possible.  Some like the thin light colored fabric near the center of the quilt, had to be replaced completely. 
As you can see, under the thin light colored fabric is a pink striped blanket the quiltmaker used for the batting.  This was a very heavy quilt.  The fabrics used were from old scraps of aprons, curtains, flour sacks, shirtings, ticking maybe from a pillow, and a couple table cloths.  I think the entire backing was a table cloth.  It is tied using floss in two colors.  I replaced a lot of the ties as they had worked loose and some were missing altogether. 
This is the finished quilt. 
One more picture of the finished quilt.  Where we are holding the corner up, you can see that I added a label.  I asked for a picture of the quiltmaker and used my computer to print onto fabric that is treated and prepared to go through a printer.  I use june tailor Colorfast inkjet fabric sheets.  It's very easy to use.
I am off now to relax for a while, watch the fire burn down in the fireplace and an old movie to fall asleep to.  Wishing you all a Merry Christmas! ;o)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ideas

Working on my friend's heirloom quilt has inspired me to make one of my own.  I don't want it to be elaborate or beyond my skill set.  Just a bed topper that says "SANDY".  Something my son (and possibly his future family) will be able to look at it and know what I was all about.   Maybe some photographs printed on fabrics of my first car, high school graduation, pets, etc.... Some of the items can be pieced blocks or applique blocks.  I'll use my favourite colors and motifs in the quilting.  These are my ideas, anyway, and I will have to get them down in my sketchbook before they leave my brain all together.  When I made this quilt for my mother, I had her favourite color and family photos in mind. 

So, I don't want it to look too much like this.  Some of the elements I really like about it, like the frames around each picture and the way they are placed and not quite centered or straight.  
Today I will be starting work on a label for my friend's quilt.  When it's finished, I will post some pictures.

 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! 
Later when the turkey is reduced to a bare carcuss and all that's left in the pie pans are crumbs, I will be getting back to working on my friend's heirloom quilt.  I'm hoping to surprise him with it's completion by December 2nd. 
The holidays are upon us and Santa's warming up his sleigh.  Every year for the last 18, I have been writing a letter with our Christmas cards.  This year, however, I am thinking about skipping it.  Do you read your relatives and friends Christmas letters?  How interested are you in their pursuits over the year?  I've tried different formats, from one line sentences, mostly pictures and comic book style, third person perspective, poem styles, regular letter formats, etc.....just trying to make it different and interesting every year.  It's hard to begin with simply because you don't want to bore the readers with your accomplishments or seek their sympathies for all your failures.  What is a happy medium?  Just a simple "Merry Christmas" in my opinion. 

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Books and more




I wanted a couple pictures for my post, so I dug through some oldies but goodies for today.


This picture was taken 2 years ago at the Henry Ford museum in Detroit Michigan. On display were the "Stars cars and gitars", it was a memorable show.

There is something so wonderful about buying a new book. Is it the smell of the freshly printed pages, or opening the book for the first time and hearing the faint crack of the spine? Whenever I buy a new book I just have to look through all the pages, not necessarily reading anything, but visually "getting an eyeful" of all the colors, graphs, tables, charts, patterns and finished pictures of the project I could make in the future. I do the same thing with my magazine subscriptions, however, it is a little different. The advertising for drugs between almost ever page or so is extremely distracting and I find it a bit intrusive. Trying to sell me something completely unrelated to the how-to article I am reading about prairie points or how to make the perfect apple pie is just rude. I am convinced that people with emotional problems, insomnia, ED sufferers, and diabetics read Better Homes and Gardens, Redbook and Women's Day. I usually end up ripping these pages from the magazine in disgust. Sometimes my DH will enter the room and see pages strewn all over the floor and wonder if the cat has gotten to my magazines.

Anyway, back to my brand new books!
"Inspired to Quilt"......yes I have high hopes for this one to help me with my stalled creativity at the moment.
"Paper, Metal & Stitch"......this one should be a good one with the multimedia work I want to do.
"1000 Artist Trading Cards"......love the idea of this one. It's like a shot of espresso, isn't it? You get a creative fix from making just one tiny card. These titles and so much more can be found here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

November already?

I have taken quite a few fall walks, enjoying the beautiful color show.

Believe it or not, I had 5 big beautiful sunflowers in my garden this year. Three weeks ago, high
winds came through and ripped every petal from them and they hung close to the ground before
DH chopped them down.
The heather in August was just glorious!

So, what have I been doing for the last 3 months? Is it just me, or does anyone else think that time has sped up over the last couple years. I can't believe it's nearly the middle of November already. If I look back at the year as a whole, I feel very inadequate as far as quilting goes. What do I have to show for it? Last year about this time, I joined a challenge to finish my projects before the New Year began. That didn't happen. I finished 2 of the 6 items I had in my basket. However, I can safely say that I haven't added to the pile. DH's pants were hemmed, 4 sets of shoe fresheners were crafted and given as presents, 1 table runner was completed and gifted, 1 large quilt top was gifted to a charity, a cheater quilt was completed, and blocks were sewn. A pretty meager count, I may be forgetting the odd thing or two, but close enough to all that I did this year. I am hoping to do much better in the next year. There's always room to improve! ;o)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bonnie Scotland


We had a fabulous holiday in Scotland. The weather was better than we expected, dry for the most part and partly cloudy most days. The Military Tattoo in Edinburgh was the absolute highlight of our holiday and it was the perfect day for it. Even the sun setting behind the Castle was spectacular.

As far as quilting interest goes, there is a lot going on this fall in the UK and Europe. Purchasing tickets beforehand will save you a couple quid. Go here to find out more.

Juliet sent me some wonderful fabrics for my birthday, thank you so much. Now I must find time to sew and quilt this fall.
My Schoolhouse block is still on hold. To solve my problem with the block it would involve a lot of ripping out or setting these aside and re-piecing the same block in a different layout of colors. I hate to rip out seams so now I am thinking about scrapping the entire block and choosing a different one. Possibly an applique block. I love the thistle picture at the top of this posting, so maybe I will play with that image a bit and see if it's something worth doing. I can't help thinking that I am turning this row quilt into a complicated nightmare and it has stopped me from sewing anything else. Have a good week everyone :o)







Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cheater quilts....... Who's cheating?


Love this 50's painting scene, so I just had to start my blog today with it.

I don't take credit on making any cheater quilts I've ever bought. I only praise their beauty and functional qualities. About 11 years ago, I decided to buy one for our bed. It was gorgeous and lasted about 9 years and went through at least that many washes in my home machine. Recently, I saw one in the store and thought how nice it would be to have one again. I bought the king size (yes, we are one of the few couples who still sleep on a full size bed) since my DH and I usually fight over the covers at night. This one goes to the floor and is like a coverlet so that when I make the bed, the pillows get tucked in at the head of the bed. I also bought the shams for our extra pillows. It is just wonderful and there is no way I could've made one so cheap. The quilting is very elaborate with hearts and vines and swirls all over it. The blue and white colors look great next to my dark furniture. I am very proud of my find and I am hoping it will last for another 9 or 10 or maybe more years! Have you ever bought a cheater quilt or wish you had?


Ok, remember my last post I talked about working on my row quilt. Here it is. I did in fact get some houses done. After sewing the first one, I made an adjustment to the pattern that I found for free on-line. The next picture shows it better, but I combined a step and took out one of the 90 degree triangles. This was an easy paper pieced block. Before I go any further with this row, I would like some opinions about what you think about the layout of this pattern. Maybe the white strip at the top of the windows doesn't look right?





















So the yellow one on the left shows the triangle on the roof and the purple one on the right shows the triangle taken away with the front roof being one odd shape piece. However, the more I look at these blocks, the more I am unsure of the white strip above the windows. Maybe I should remove that as well?
Well, it's been overcast all day and it has finally decided to rain. And I mean raining buckets. Before we get any thunder and lightening, I think I will post this and power down my computer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Perfect Day

Today was, in fact, the perfect day. My DH hurried and got his work done, came home around noon and we skipped off to take pictures of the countryside and have a picnic. We have to cherish our summer days as we don't get very many of them. We couldn't travel too far from home as DH had to go back into work and meet with some people. But, I will take any time my hubby will spend with me. I don't have any pictures to share at this time. The camera I used today was a Canon Rebel II and it's old.....I think 18 years old. So it uses 35mm print film. Now the challenge will be to find somewhere that will print not only the color film, but I also have black and white film to be developed. It's a good little camera, but I am thinking of selling it. I have a 3 year old Canon digital that I absolutely love, so there's no need to keep the old one.

I couldn't end this post without a flower picture, so I chose this beautiful poppy. These flowers are so delicate and the petals look like crepe paper to me. Tomorrow I plan on staying home for a change and working on my row quilt. No, I mean it this time. Definitely. It's a done deal. For sure. No, really. REALLY!..........really.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Angel Wears Prada

The beginning of this month brought the annual Angel Festival in the city near us. It was so much fun strolling through the streets looking in the shop windows spotting these creative handmade angels. This one was in an art gallery which is made of paper and cardboard.


Sorry about the shadows on this window, it was a hard one to capture. This was in a florist window and is made from gauze materials, twig framing and a garland of silk flowers.
This one was near the top of the city hall building and looks to be made with tin foil and celophane for the wings.
Here's a unique one. It was in a bay type window and one one side it read, " The Angel Wears
Prada". She looked to be wearing a wig and made from cardboard, foil wings, and fancy fabrics and trims. Though you can't see her feet, she had crafted cardboard shoes on and held several shopping bags. I didn't get a picture of the right window pane, but it had a crafted pair of shoes on display. It was very creative. This whole event was to generate money for the local church, not the cathedral. We purchased a street map with the location of all angels entered.
These are just a fraction of the entries.


A few weeks ago, DH and I went driving and discovered a Chocolate shop where you can go in and watch them create handmade chocolates. Go here to see what they sell. Check out the chocolate shoes, they are awesome in reality. I literally felt like a kid in a candy store, only difference is that I actually have money now that I am somewhat older, and can buy anything I want to. When you're a kid and only have 25 cents, you're pretty limited. Chocolate was a bit cheaper in my kid years. DH remembers 5 cent candy. I don't think my parents let me have sweets until I was a bit older. I remember my Dad bringing me candy cigarettes once. Boy, my mother didn't like that one bit. She thought it would encourage me to smoke later on.


DH and I worked all weekend in our garden. There was just too much to do, however, I can say it looks 100% better and I am sure the plants are loving it. We have a pick-up truck so we packed the bed full of ivy. We pulled out what looked like years of over growth. We didn't pull anything out when we moved here last summer. Seems like everywhere we've lived, we had to pull out tons of ivy. I personally can't stand the stuff. I don't even like it appliqued on quilts or printed on fabrics. I am sure there are people that love ivy, but I am definitely not one of them.
I actually got something sewn yesterday. My son had a reuseable grocery bag that needed mending and a pair of pants that needed a button. Yep, both jobs took about 10 minutes in total. UUUGGHH. I really need to schedule some time for my projects. Today, however, is another one of those busy days where I am in and out most of the time.
Have a good day and I hope you have time to create! ;o)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Flowers everywhere


I made it to my favorite garden spot to get some pictures of the tulips in bloom. These were just gorgeous, even though the sun didn't want to shine that day.

Here's some more! This purple is my favorite!
I don't have a clue as to what these are, but they were blooming as well. Here's some more flowers in bloom. Love this one, it looks like a lamp shade to me. The tiny blue ones are just adorable, but again, I have no clue as to what they are. Periwinkle, maybe?

"So much time and so little to do....... strike that reverse it!" As Gene Wilder said in the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. That's the way I feel today. There must be at least 100 thoughts going through my mind today with so much I need to do. Being the treasurer for our morning bowling league has just taken all my energy. This is our final week for the season, so I will be tying all the loose ends up and getting everything ready for the presentation of prizes next week. Do I want to do this again next season? Right now, I'm thinking NO. However, I am sure come next week when we go to vote for officers I will volunteer again.

Needless to say once again, I haven't had any time to do any quilting. My sewing room is near the back door, so everyday I breeze through there without stopping, practically. I was able to sew up hems in 2 pairs of my DH pants last week, but that's it. It comes down to prioritizing my time, so usually quilting loses out. Hope you enjoyed looking at my pictures. Have a great day.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beautiful Spring


What a wonderful time of year! Everything is blooming and beautiful. Needless to say I cannot be bothered with staying indoors working on my sewing projects. I guess I should, but I'll reserve those gray dreary dark days for that. So, I will share with you some of the pictures my son and I have been taking over the past 2 months. The snowdrops were everywhere in February and March.

Soon after followed the crocuses which were in gorgeous colors of purple, white and yellow. There were carpets of these in the village. They've died off and have given way to the daffodils.

The grape hyacinths are blooming.
And I even found some regular hyacinths.
The tulips are blooming now, but I haven't had a chance to go out and get some pictures. Maybe next weekend. I hope you've enjoyed looking at only a small fraction of our pictures. I just love all these vibrant cheerful colors. Enjoy the rest of our spring season.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

dreary day ahead

This gorgeous flower was taken in 2006 in St. Stephen's Green, Dublin, Ireland. DH and I took a vacation there. It's so bright and cheerful, something I need on a dreary dark day like today.

A friend of mine asked me "what is my row quilt theme?" Not sure I have an answer other than using 30's fabrics and my favorite old fashioned looking blocks. Summer also comes to mind, but that might just be due to the colors in these fabrics.

Yesterday, I drew up a schoolhouse block and tried to scan it into my computer. The scanner didn't want to work so I searched the web for some free paper piecing patterns. Found one I really liked and it was similar to the one I had drawn earlier, so I'll use that one. My goal today is to sew up a couple of these schoolhouses.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday, Monday

Yes, I did it! I actually sewed for about 6 hours straight yesterday. So all the posys' are done and the row is sewn on. Next will be the school house block which is paper pieced.

We woke up to SNOW! Lots of it and it's been snowing on and off all day. London has been hit really hard and transportation has nearly come to a stand still, even the tubes are only running one now. It's suppose to continue to be cold and nasty, so it's a good time to be inside sewing.

Didn't the SuperBowl game end with some excitement? The Cards tried to come alive in the last minutes of the 4th quarter, but they just couldn't hold their meager lead. Holmes was awesome when he caught the Steelers winning TD in the end zone. Way to go Pittsburg!
On that happy note, I am retreating to my sewing room to get those school houses drawn up.
Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Where did it go?


I just love this statue of a horse's head made from bronze with a very pretty patina. Very surreal. My son took this picture in July last year at one of those parks and gardens that showcases students work. Some of these were for sale, however I don't think we could afford these beautiful pieces.
Here's another statue made from marble.

January is gone already. Where did it go? I don't have much acccomplished for the first month of 2009. But, I am working on getting those posy's done. I have 2 made and 9 to go before sewing them into a row and onto the row quilt. Here is a picture so far.

They look a little boring at the moment, but maybe when they're all in a row and on the quilt they'll come to life. I've decided on a row of pieced teacups AND the schoolhouse. Afterwards I will measure the top and see if it needs more rows before putting on the borders. It's a haphazard way, no exact measurements, but that's the way I've always done things. It only has to roughly be a queen size to fit my bed.
Hopefully, if all goes well, this weekend will be my sewing marathon weekend. If so, I'll post on Monday as to my progress. Have a great weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inspired


Believe it or not, I've actually been sewing! Yep, I finished up the kimono blocks for my row quilt and added some sashings to them and got them on the quilt. Whew! I must be slacking after being out of it so long as I had to rip out 3 times before it was right. Here's a picture so far.

Here's the top so far. The backing will be a violet color with a floral pattern. The outer borders will be a random brick type pattern. I'm sorry my picture is so wonky looking. It was laid out on the floor when I took the picture. Oh well, this gives you an idea anyway. If you can't tell what the blocks are in each row, they are; kimono, sailboats, hearts, scotties/westies, pinwheel, butterfly, courthouse steps, basket, and sunbonnet sue (holding an umbrella).

The next 2 rows will consist of a posey applique block and a pieced block. The pieced block was going to be a paper-pieced school house, but now I'm not quite sure about it. Maybe something else pieced. Any suggestions? I will spend the weekend drawing up the posey and cutting those out. UUUGGHHH! I am anxious to get this thing done and am hoping to mail it off to be long-arm quilted by the start of February. The finished size will be somewhere close to a queen size.

Everyone have a wonderful weekend :o)