Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I also have to share what my sweet friend Merry did for me. She had no idea that I have been really sick for almost a week...but she must have sensed I needed her...because I received a wonderful envelope from her in the mail this week. What was in it?? - a pair of cuffs she knitted especially for me - I knew she was working on them, because she asked me for my palm measurements, but I had no idea they were done and on the way! I absolutely love the dungarees blue she used - it was the perfect color choice for me...and they fit, well, "like a glove". Also included - a fun floral pink folder (shown in the photo) with several quilt and sewing patterns and some gorgeous pieces of fabric. How is that for a "care" package??...and she didn't even know I needed one.
Friday, December 24, 2010
As the snow continues to fall here in Iowa, I am going to enjoy my Christmas Eve day. I already have a big pot of homemade chili simmering in the crock pot and plan to do a little baking this afternoon. Once the house is tidy, the last couple gifts are foofed, and my fun in the kitchen is done, I plan to relax this evening with my husband (who will be home on Christmas Eve for a change!)...a nice fire in the fireplace, maybe a good movie...and of course I get to unwrap my mystery gift...
Thursday, December 23, 2010
This fun surprise box was filled with things I love (a TON of thought went into it!) - fabrics, tea, miniature rick rack, ornaments, a journal, a book, stationery, and multiple other treats...to be honest, I am overwhelmed....she must have started collecting items months ago...
I have always said I have the most thoughtful and giving friends - they just "get me"...my quirks, my hectic schedule, and my control freak perfectionist personality. I truly feel like a little kid this Christmas - I don't ever remember a year where there were so many treats and surprises. I am truly thankful for my many blessings.
I hope you are receiving an abundance of surprises this holiday season...and have the chance to celebrate the great gift of friendship...
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I spent a little time this afternoon working on one last Christmas gift...a fun patchwork table runner and matching kitchen towels. I finished all the piecing today and hope to do the quilting and binding tomorrow morning....then my Christmas list of handmade gifts will be complete. I have found much joy in my sewing studio these past several weeks...and lucky me, I have two baby quilts to do for expecting friends, so I have plenty of after-holiday quilting to keep me busy!
Now I am off to my stitching nest to work on the model for my upcoming bookmark sampler (it still needs a name)...it is about half done and I would really like to finish it up this week. But before I get my needle moving again, I plan to make a cup of Christmas Tea in my fun new Longaberger Top Hat Snowman Mug! This super special mug arrived in the mail today from my dear friend Robin - she is so very thoughtful - and she knows how much I love my Longaberger (I'm addicted, it's a sickness) and hot tea, so this was the perfect surprise. Robin you truly brightened my day - THANK YOU!
It's that time of year when we find joy in unexpected places - a season of surprises...take a few moments see the beauty and joy that surround you....
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
After picking up Simba (and my husband who was having some work done on his car), I returned home to find Travis had cleaned the garage (that was a shock!) - and he actually did a little organizing instead of just getting things up off the floor. After admiring his hard work, it was time to get focused - I had a HUGE pile of work to get done and I felt like my day was flying by...I was at my desk for quite some time - only to look at the clock and realized it was after 6:30 PM. I could hear the mailman delivering mail (his truck is super noisy) - we are the last on his route, so our mail arrives quite late every day. I ventured out into the cold to find the most lovely surprise in my mailbox - a package from Ruth! Ruth is part of my stitching family - she attended the Stitcher's Hideaway Retreat (Mystic, CT) in October and we immediately hit it off - I never expected in a million years to receive a package from her and I couldn't wait to tear it open! What I found inside immediately made me smile - a pine pillow (I think I mentioned here before how much I love the scent of pine)...and it is a special pine pillow - the fabric print looks almost identical to the miniature Maple Leaves quilt I recently finished - it is absolutely perfect! This amazing package also contained new K-cups for me to try (woo hoo!) and chocolate (a kind I have never tried before and it is delicious!), a fun snowflake pin, and a very thoughtful card. I think Ruth is one of Santa's elves in disguise - this little box truly brightened my day - it was fabulous! Thank you so much Ruth - I am enjoying everything you sent...and I can't wait to see you next October at the New England Stitching Retreat....
I hope you are enjoying surprises this holiday season...or sending some yourself!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
For Kimber's friendship quilt, I started with the idea of the "Broken Dishes Quilt" found in the book - but I did not add the extra borders. I had fun picking fabrics for this quilt out of some "scrap bags" I had purchased at local quilt shops - Kimber likes scrappy quilts with character, so I tried to pick colors that would appeal to her and her home decor. I cut 96 quarter square triangles (using the GO! Quarter Square-4" Finished Triangle by Alex Anderson die with my AccuQuilt GO! fabric cutter) for this tiny quilt. It was quite fun to piece this quilt - and although I wanted it to be scrappy, I found myself trying to make it more "balanced" as I placed each block. I wasn't sure if this small quilt would be used as a wall hanging, but I wanted it to have that option, so I put sleeves on the back and included a hanger, just in case....
For my dear friend,
Then I added "Happy Holidays 2010!" and my signature. After printing the labels, I serged a 3-thread rolled edge around each one to keep them from fraying - used fusible web to hold them in place in the lower right-hand corner - and then hand-stitched them down with white quilting thread. I am not an expert quilter by any means, but I was thrilled with how well these friendship quilts turned out - and any little imperfections give them "character". I hope this blog entry will inspire you to make a friendship gift for someone special...
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
I spent my morning and early afternoon with my two dear friends Merry and Kimber - we had a very special holiday gathering at Kimber's cozy 1885 farmhouse. The three of us had so much catching up to do and so much to share, it was pure joy to get together. First, we spent some time in the kitchen - Kimber had a phenomenal assortment of hot teas (see all the tins - it was hard to choose which one to try) and snacks...plus Merry brought a selection of her delicious homemade sweet treats (so very yummy!), and I brought cinnamon rolls, so we had a cornucopia of delicacies to choose from!
Monday, December 13, 2010
Lorrie's surprise package couldn't have arrived at a better time - after finally getting over my head cold, my husband (who just gone home from a hunting trip) brought home a case of the stomach flu - ugh - I have just a touch of it and hope it doesn't get full blown - I am doing everything in my power to stay healthy - I have even been following Travis around with a can of Lysol and disinfecting everything he touches....hopefully the worst of it has passed.
I was able to do a little sewing and quilting today - finishing up some more holiday gifts. I did the quilting and binding on a project, cut 96 miniature tumbler blocks and did some piecing, and prepared a baby quilt for machine quilting (hopefully tomorrow). I am enjoying a few hours in my studio sewing each day to complete my Christmas presents. Over the next couple weeks, I will have lots of show and tell for you...for now, it is back to model stitching...
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I decided it was the perfect morning to do a little baking, making my "go-to" coffee cake recipe. Cinnamon is one of my favorite spices, so this recipe is for a Cinnamon Coffee Cake. My time in the kitchen did a wonderful job of warming up our home (not to mention it smells amazing!).
Cinnamon Coffee Cake
3 cups plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
6 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted and cooled
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Grease and flour a 13" x 9" baking pan (my personal choice is a 9" x 9" round pan, but it is so full it almost bakes over the sides).
- Mix 3 cups flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in the margarine until tiny pebbles form or mixture resembles cornmeal. Blend in eggs, vanilla, and milk. Stir just enough to thoroughly combine. Pour into prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Mix brown sugar, remaining flour, cinnamon, and melted margarine. Sprinkle topping over batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes - until a toothpick inserted in the center removes cleanly. When cool, drizzle with your favorite icing, if desired. Enjoy with your favorite hot beverage!
A fun note: My husband and I typically don't exchange Christmas gifts - we normally just purchase a couple things we need/want for our home....this year, a new Dyson vacuum and Keurig Platinum Brewer. My husband is a HUGE coffee drinker - the bolder coffee the better....I am more of a hot tea drinker, so this was a good compromise. I am quite impressed with how convenient this brewing system is...and how quick and easy! I have been enjoying an assortment of teas and several coffees (which is a treat, as I can have a lighter roast for a change). We already have quite an arsenal of K-cups...including several refreshing iced teas, which I have been sampling. This morning with my coffee cake, I enjoy a nice cup of Vanilla Carmel Cream coffee - yummy!I just might be ready to go out and tackle snow removal and dog walking duties...and I am positive when I get back inside I will be ready for my cozy stitching nest...
Saturday, December 11, 2010
Before heading down to my stitching nest for more model work this evening, I decided to play a little "catch-up" with my my Accuquilt GO! Fabric Cutter block of the month series - if you keep up with my blog, then you know I have completed the first four months (June, July, August, and September)....but then things got "out of control" with BRD business and I just haven't had a chance to do October, November, or December. I had previously cut the October and November blocks....so I pieced them tonight. Block #5 (October) is the Louisiana Block...but if you are a knowledgeable quilter, then you know my block is a little bit of a variation. Seems like several of the blocks have a pinwheel style center (in fact 5 of the first 7 blocks have a pinwheel of some sort in them) - and when I laid out the pieces, (being a typical non-conformist) I decided to make a little change and reverse how I attached the flying geese to the rectangles, so I have a diamond in the center and more of a star look...I am sure my variation block has a special name - I am just not sure what that is...
Block #6 is the Magic Pinwheel Block (note: another pinwheel). I really enjoyed piecing this particular block - I am not sure why, as I made a couple errors and had to do a little frogging - but I learned a little something new...and I really like how it finished!
My goal will be to finish Block #7 (December) by the end of the month. It is the Magic Triangles Block and it of course has a pinwheel in the center (I am seeing a bit of a theme here - my pinwheels should be perfect by the time I finish this BOTM).
Now that I have spent some time creating a few holiday gifts and we have snow on the ground, I am feeling a bit more in a holiday mood. I haven't done much in the way of decorating this year...I have put out my Christmas needlework and a couple machine embroidered holiday pillows I made last year...and of course I have the applique table runner I recently finished on our dining room table. To answer the BIG question...no, I have not got a tree yet...I know, I know, what is my problem??...one day I will have a tree and when I do, I will make sure to share it here first!...I just need to bite the bullet and do tree shopping....well, there is always next year....
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
The class project (I am still undecided on the title) focuses on an 8” miniature Shaker chair. The floral design, simplistic in nature, was inspired by my research on the Shaker culture and gift drawings...and my trip to Enfield, NH last spring. We will be stitching a “seat” for the chair - along with a scissor fob “pillow”, a pin pillow (which is tied to the top rung of the chair), and a needlebook “rug” – giving you a unique display set of needlework smalls...plus a framed sampler I designed to "pull it all together" (seen below, unframed, of course).
I must share, designing the seat for a miniature Shaker chair was an idea from Nataly (I know many of you have met her or visited her blog) - she shared her idea with Marie last spring when she attended the first retreat...Marie shared it with me (and the other retreat attendees) and I was immediately inspired to work on this fun set of needlework smalls - I truly hope I did her chair seat idea justice! Nataly is now one of the fabulous hosts at New England Stitcher's Retreats...
The response to this retreat has been wonderful (thank you!) - so wonderful, that they have added a second set of dates! The first retreat is being held October 7-10, 2011...and I am pretty sure it is close to being sold out - the second retreat is being held October 11-14, 2011. Both retreats are being held in Enfield, New Hampshire at the Shaker Great Stone Dwelling House - a truly amazing (and intimate) location, during the peak of the autumn leaves season! The retreat is all-inclusive...plus you enjoy the company of fellow needleworkers, fabulous views, delicious food, and a full schedule of great events. I really can't say enough positive things about the hosts, the area, and the entire experience!
Last May, I did several blog posts about this event and posted lots of photos....and for more information, you can visit the New England Stitcher's Retreat Website, The New England Stitcher's Retreat Blog, and/or ABC Stitch Therapy.
A few tiny details, before I get bombarded with questions....
The project is stitched on 32-count hand-dyed fabric from Lakeside Linens with Weeks Dye Works cotton floss. This very special design will not be available to the general public until at least one year after the retreats are held...so if you can not attend, you will have to be very patient...and I do not know if the miniature Shaker chair will be available at that time. I will be getting project details and the title finalized in the next week and then more information will be posted on the retreat website....