Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A bit like Christmas

So how do yo do your Christmas decorating? Not what it looks like - but do you put it all up at once or do it casually a bit at a time? Or do you hire someone else to do it for you (somehow I don't think folks who read my blog are that type but you never know!)

In the past I was really organized...I would put some containers in the middle of the room and go around taking down my year-round decorations, pottery, and some photos. Then I would clean and polish all the surfaces. Then would come the boxes with the Christmas "stuff." I would spend a weekend arranging (and rearranging!) I even have a change out a few of the paintings on the wall to ones with winter scenes!

Well fast forward to this year by passing a couple of moves and MS...I've developed a new method I'm calling Christmas Creep. It started the first week of November as the Halloween decorations were boxed up. Instead of getting the raku vase out of the cabinet when the Jack'o'lantern left the top of the bookcase bare I went right to the Santa Elf.....besides I had to move the Elf to get the Halloween box back into the closet!

This past weekend we also cleaned the garage a bit. (My DH wants to park his new car in the garage...can you believe that?! anyway...that is an entire post all on its own.) I found boxes of Christmas "stuff" that hadn't been unpacked in 5 years (or two moves in "crazy life" time.) As I unpacked I had to make decisions...if I wasn't going to put it up in the house this year it had to go to charity.
Good "quilt" news - I found three quilt tops I thought were lost forever. They were used by one of the packers as packing material around some German nutcrackers! Just what I needed - a few more UFOs!Back to the decorating...the creep continues. Every-room as a little bit of Christmas in it already so even if I stopped now it wouldn't be too Scrooge-ish. It takes the pressure off a bit. (I live in a neighborhood where holiday decorating is a like and Olympic sport....I think some of them have Martha S. on speed-dial)

Still have a few boxes to go and need to work on the front door but I think i will wait until it is December for that!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Turkey Day

I love Thanksgiving. It is however one of the holidays that makes me realize how much different it is living down South than up in New England where I was raised.

(W. Virginia plaid and gingham tree quilt)

First, there is the weather. I ran out to the bakery this morning and most of the other customers were wearing shorts. The day before Thanksgiving and it is 76 degrees out! I can remember in High School in Massachusetts playing my French horn in Thanksgiving Day parades and worrying my lips were going to stick to my mouthpiece...it was that cold...

Then there is the food. My husband is a southerner (born in Virginia.) I don't think I ever had a sweet potato until I graduated from College and joined the army. Oddly I now love sweet potatoes so I don't object to his insisting we have them at Thanksgiving even though he will not eat them. (I also make a large pot of black-eyed peas on New Years...but that is another holiday!)

And who north of the Mason-Dixon line ever thought of deep frying a turkey! This is part of the testosterone driven barbaque mystique of southern men...they may wear pink with no problem but they still still proudly cook like the cavemen. Now don't be thinking I don't like deep fried turkey...my neighbor has some "secret" ingredient that he rubs inside the bird before it goes into the big pot of peanut oil and it makes the entire neighborhood smell just too good to believe. (Luckily he does the entire set up several times in the fall and for one homemade pecan pie will fry up a turkey breast for me.... )

But Thanksgiving is still the same in one regard - it is a time to stop and reflect on all the things we have to be thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Monday, November 22, 2010

There be gremlins....

If you are looking for great photos of all my progress on the Blue and White Guilt Quilt then look no further - my sewing machine died after only a couple of strips. There be gremlins about!
(inked block by Margaret Hunt, strippy borders by me...)
Besides I've spent most of the day trying to figure out why there is dark water intermittently coming out of the taps....can you say "new hot water heater for Christmas!"

So as I waited for the plumber to call back I decided to make a pot of coffee (known to cure most of what ails me) only to drop the coffee carafe and watch shattered glass cover my kitchen floor. The only upside I can see is I needed to clean the kitchen floor today anyways...I just didn't want to do it with a bloody hand. But then again when the plumber did finally call back I did get many sympathy points (he thought I was crying about the water-heater! Silly man, I'm crying for lack of caffeine!)
Oriental fabric sampler wall hanging (45 x 45)
So my sewing today will consist of organizing some of the photos, looking through some old books, and maybe, if my hand heals a bit, basting this little Oriental circle wall hanging in the photo above so I can get it to my niece before the New Year....

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Why not? I'll tell ya why....

So many phrases come to mind describing my current situation...the road to good intentions....aaarrggggh.

Some of you many have seen a post by Bonnie Hunter a few days ago asking for photos of one of her patterns in different colorways. I happened to read that at the same time as I was clearing up my cutting table. I just happened to have a bag of blue and white strips left over from a blue and white log cabin so I figured - why not....
An hour or so later - ta da! - a blue and white. I quickly snapped a photo and put the block in the mail pile intending to send it to Bonnie. My DH usually does the trips to the Post Office - insert trouble here.

Later that evening I found the block on our bed...I put it back on the mail table. The next morning I found it back on the bed..."gremlins!" I'm thinking. So as I put it on the mail table my husband stops me and said, "I think you should make that one King size so we can use it on our bed. You can make it for me for Christmas!" He left for work before my ability to speak came back....

I called him at work, " no way could I finish a King size quilt for you by Christmas...at least this Christmas."
"Why not?" he asked. Why not? Why not...let me count the ways...
1. I have five quilts waiting for binding that I have to finish before the end of the year.
2. I have a list of people to make cookies for which when added up means I'll be baking over 50 dozen cookies over the next couple of weeks.
3. I will be on the road for one week in December with no access to a sewing machine...
4. I've already pulled fabric to start Bonnie's new Mystery Quilt...
5. I just made a blue and white quilt and I never (well not often) use the same fabrics two quilts in a row...

You are all quilters so I don't have to go much further...his reply to all of this..."I thought I was helping by letting you know what I wanted...besides you made one for your Mother one year in December."

So today I am cutting up strips to make a king size guilt...if you don't hear from me soon send coffee and chocolate.....

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Christmas Quilts...

Christmas is one of my favorite holidays so no surprise I've made several Christmas quilts! When I spotted Sew Cal Gal's Christmas Quilt show I decided I would just have to figure out this blogger quilt show thing!
Finding the photos was half the battle! This first little wonky tree quilt was given to my sister so is up in New Hampshire (where I thought the bright colors would help with those cold winters!)

The next is a sampler quilt in much subtler colors. While I was making this quilt an older member of my quilt guild asked me how many fabrics were in the quilt? When I said I didn't know She told me you had to have 76 (or some random number like that) fabrics in a quilt before you could call it a scrap quilt. So I went home and rummaged through my stash, Tonya's stash, and made a trip up the road to Mary Jo's just to make sure I could "legitimately" call it a scrap quilt. For all scrap quilters out there - relax. I have never heard that "rule" from any other quilter....(BTW this quilt has well over 100 different fabrics...and yes I counted....and yes that was the last time the quilt police intimidated me!)And finally I bought a red and green quilt top at a flea market in Pennsylvania many years ago. It was in good shape so I hand quilted it. It comes out and decorates our guest room for a few weeks each year....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fall Cleaning

The last week has been so busy with getting the house ready for the holidays...and of course I overdid it. The good news I left the "heavy lifting" such as power-washing the house, cleaning the windows inside and out, and cleaning the carpets to the professionals.

Brownie's idea of helping with clean-up...

Gathering all the wandering quilting materials however wasn't something I could leave to anyone else...I think it is safe to say there was not a room without some quilting/fabric item in it. This was definitely a roundup!

So my Dining room is now a dining-room again...there is no risk in the kitchen of getting cookie batter on the cutting mat...the treadmill no longer is a fabric auditioning rack and if for some reason a guest peeks under the sofa they will not find a pile of quilting books and magazines (and a bag with my missing hexagons!) To be honest it is a bit blah now but there is however now lots of space to put out my Holiday decorations!

Part of the clean-up also involved refolding some quilts in the guestroom closet and rotating some of the quilts on display. I do this at least twice a year. This is a "rescue" quilt I found many years ago...the quilting is amazing but the applique fabric is in poor shape. I love the design though. I've heard it called both a pinecone and grapes. (I love pine but I think the leaves make grapes more appropriate.) Each time I take this out of the box and refold I get the urge to make a reproduction of it...my fingers are itching again!

But I still have to "de-quilt" the library...it had great light in there for handwork but for the next month I will remain relegated to the sewing room (not grand enough to be called a studio!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Ok, so I am not the wordless type...I was cruising through my photo files looking for inspiration for an abstract quilt. This photo may be it. It was taken at the Snowhill Lavender farm in England about 3 years ago.

I think I was biased towards photos with purples and greens since those are the fabrics I am refolding right now!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Near and far quilts and a recipe...

Yesterday I spent a lot of time loading and editing photos from Quilt Festival in Houston. I also spent a lot of time unloading my suitcase and carry-on bags...the joy of travel!

One blogger emailed and asked me to name my favorite quilt from the festival. Ouch...I really liked so many quilts but for very different reasons. Not sure I can choose just one.
This giant Wedding Ring by Keiko Goke is amazing if for no other reason than it was one that Tonya and I both loved! (we agreed on a quilt! stop the presses!) This quilt is equally impressive at a distance and up close. Something I find disappointing with many quilts. You see a quilt across the hall, you catch your breath, you battle your way through the crowd only to find that when you are arms length away you aren't so excited anymore.

On the other hand there is this quilt from Japan (insert "my-bad" here...I tried taking photos of the nameplates instead of keeping notes only to find the quilt photo and the nameplates photos didn't load in order on my camera...)
This quilt has so much happening and has really impressive workmanship. I admit to not being a bit sunbonnet sue fan (ok, sometimes she makes my skin crawl) but this quilt took yet another pattern I had sworn off of and made me like it. That is saying something.
I have to include this quilt as well....inside the face of the young boy are a multitude of other faces....for reference this a a large quilt! Now I have a new goal for my own quilting - to make it equally as interesting up close and at a distance.

So why now a recipe? I had promised to post this before I left for Houston but I got overwhelmed by packing, planning and all that "stuff." I received a reminder email last night by a blogger overwhelmed with zucchini!Zucchini Quiche

1 9-inch piecrust
salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon of each)
2 cups of zucchini chopped to about 1/2 inch cubes
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
1 cup of shredded cheese (I use whatever is leftover in the fridge...usually a mixture of cheddar, Monterrey Jack, Italian or Mexican mix)
2 Tablespoons of flour
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced mushroom
2 large eggs
1 cup of half and half (I usually split this 1/2 half and half and 1/2 milk)
1 teaspoon of mixed herbs (Italian or Fine Herbs)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim Zucchini and cube. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Allow to drain/dry for 15-20 minutes. Add olive oil to a hot pan and cook zucchini until just tender. Remove zucchini with a slotted spoot from pan. Add the onion and mushroom to the pan and cook until the onion is tender. Again using a slotted spoon remove the onion and mushroom and add to the zucchini. (you do not want this mixture to be watery.) Sprinkle with the mixed herbs and flour then toss.

Spread half o cheese over bottom of the piecrust. Spoon the zucchini mixture onto the cheese. Top with remaining cheese.

In a medium bowl beat eggs until frothy. Beat half-and-half into the eggs and then pour into the pie shell. Bake until the center appears set when the pie plat is gently bumped. About 35 minutes. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before cutting.

Quiches are sort of like soups to me...I use whatever I have available! So feel free to add some chopped peppers, a small bit of tomato, or some different cheeses to this.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Houston Show

Is it really past noon and I am still in my PJ's? Yes, the show wore me out that much!Tonya and I...

Where do I start? The quilts were gorgeous...the vendors outstanding...and meeting up with old (and new) friends priceless!

Quilts from Mulberry Lane Booth...great selection of quilts.

This was my first time to the IQA Show in Houston so I guess I'll make this first post about what I learned as a newbie to Houston....

1. Go to the preview on Wednesday night. There are less folks there and you get first shot at the vendors. (If you are interested in the Antique quilt vendors this is important...I delayed on a vintage scottie dog pincushion and it was gone by Thursday morning...)

2. Make a plan on what you want to see. The whole experience is a bit over-stimulating. The first night it was like walking MacBeth - oh, look at that bush (quilt) oh, no (change direction) look at that....(fill in the blank...) I have photos of quilts I don't even remember seeing at the show!

On Thursday Tonya and I went in with a "plan" to see a specific display in the show and stuck to it...we did the same after lunch and hunted down the Alzheimer booth...the rest of the time was a bit of a free for all but it did ensure we saw what was on the show "bucket" list. The show is so large we saw most but I am sure not all...

3. Do not wear sandels or flimsy shoes. Heck I'm considering wearing steel toed shoes next year! By Friday I was being stepped on repeatedly and even run over by the scooters (drivers should be required pass a test before zooming into the crowds...just sayin'!) On that note the elbow I got to the head could warrant a future helmet. I'm not complaining...just giving fair warning. (It all brought back memories of big sales at the old Filenes basement.....)

4. If possible stay walking distance to the show...mid-afternoon mini-siestas kept me going for the three days!
5. Quilts just look better in real life. On Wednesday photos of the winning quilts were posted on the IQA website...good photos but nothing close to the experience of seeing them in person. For example this quilt that won has amazing machine quilting that just doesn't show up in the web photo. (Also the open backed cording that holds the borders on isn't clear in the photos either...the white-glove volunteer was good enough to hold the edge up for all of us...for long periods of time I may add!)

More later...blog is being particularly slow on uploading photos today...