Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eventually, I finish things...

Sometimes it takes me a while to 'circle back' to a project. Sometimes, it is a long while...

This is one of those projects!

These tea towels were part of my Christmas gift to Dearest Sister. When she and her guy first got together, she moved into his house, which was heavily influenced, decor-wise, by the mountainy outdoors. After combining their things, it was less of a focus, but still predominates, as they are both mountainy outdoorsy people.

A few years ago, I was preparing needlework projects for travel and decided to stamp a few tea towels to throw in the bag. I had picked up the Aunt Martha's "Northwoods" transfer set with them in mind and had a few tea towels in the stash, so I picked out my favorite three of the seven days-of -the-week designs (because who really needs seven tea towels?) and stamped the towels. They are not complex designs (although I did consult a bird book for ideas on the colors of the geese) but I started and finished several, well...many, things before I finished up all three.

Sometimes I get frustrated with my scatter approach to projects. And, when it is to be a gift, that sometimes means I have to keep the secret a loooooong time! But it feels good to finish and send it of to the intended giftee.

(And she might have just been flattering me, but DS said her guy thought they were nice, too!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Going With The Flow

We have had a quiet weekend.

Since our Christmas guest did not arrive as originally scheduled, we were a bit at loose ends. Well, truth be told, I was at loose ends. The Mister watched football on tee-vee, as was his plan.

I decided to start a quilt!

Over the last few weeks I had gathered the material to make a quilt that had caught my eye on display at the lqs. It is a Moda pattern called 'Sweet' (you can see it here). It appealed to me because it was kind of vintage-y and the colors were very bright.

After studying the pattern, though, I decided that perhaps it was a bit beyond my current skill set. So, I decided to do something different with the fabric.
I started a 'Wonky Log Cabin' quilt.
These are the first four blocks.
I used a tutorial that Quilt Dad had posted in September.
Quilt Dad works in graphic design, or some sort of artistic endeavor, and even though he is relatively new to needle work, he has the advantage of an artistic eye.

Although I did not intend to follow the usual log cabin tradition of lights on one side and darks on the other, I was trying to be aware of the different color values and print scales, but it was pretty much an experiment in progress.
The blocks will be trimmed down to 15.5 inches. The tutorial suggested making 15 blocks - five across and five down.

I cut a bunch of strips and I it really doesn't seem like I have made much of a dent. I might have enough for six across and seven long!

I think the hardest part, so far, is cutting into the fabric. I didn't have a problem with cutting up the fabric in the kit for my class, because it was purchased with a particular goal in mind. But, just cutting into fabric that I have already changed my mind about once, was hard.

I started out washing and pressing all the fq's, and then I washed some other fabric, just to fill up a load in the washer doncha' know... Then, I thought I should look through some other fabric and see if I had any others that coordinated (even though I had forty coordinating prints already!)

Finally, I just told myself to get started and I stacked up six fq's and started cutting! After that, it was easier.

Maybe I should just buy kits!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Redwork

I hope everyone had a great holiday! The weather prevented one of our guests from arriving. She will get here late Sunday, if all goes as 're-planned', so we will have a bit more Christmas to celebrate with her.

Now that the hand made gifts have been opened (except the one that was finished too late to send...)I can share the redwork project that I worked on a couple of weeks ago.
I showed a sneak peek here, but now I can reveal!

This motif is from the Sublime Stitching Craft Pad. It is meant to be a occupational representation of K - Dearest Sister's first girl. I am not really sure what she does at her work, but it is scientific in nature, so I thought this would be appropriate. (I am sure she will be too kind to tell me if I am entirely off base, which is quite likely!)

This one is for V, the second of three. The design is from the Sublime Stitching 'Vital Organs' collection. V is a nurse and works on a floor that has neurological patients. I don't really think that she stabs needles in their brains. Again, it is a representation.

For B, the third girl, I chose these little sister fairy girls. (The design is from Annie Oak Leaves.) B's main occupation is mother to two little sweetie pie girls. She does other work, but her main job is mama.
I stitched the designs on these totes that I got on sale (of course!) a couple of years ago. They have been waiting on the shelf for inspiration to strike and this was the year.

I really have entirely too many 'gift blanks' in the closet - items bought with embroidery projects in mind.

I think that I better get started on next Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a happy holiday, full of peace and joy!

Image from "Christmas Magic - The Art of Making Decorations and Ornaments" by Margaret Perry (no relation)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Flowers

On Monday, Sister G and I visited the Bellagio Conservatory to see the holiday floral display. It was gorgeous, as usual. There are five displays a year, spring, summer, fall, Christmas and Chinese New Year. This is the fourth Christmas version that I have seen and each one is different, spectacular and amazing. Sometimes elements are 're-purposed' and sometimes there are entirely new elements.

The constant...

...the tree. About four stories high, from Mount Shasta.

New this year...

... the polar bears. Made of 36,000 carnations that have to be changed out once a week!

Mama Bear takes 12,000 carnations, Papa Bear needs 16,000. Baby Bear (not pictured) uses 8,000. They are surrounded by white poinsettia 'snow'.

The rocking horse is back...

...but this year, it really rocks!

There are always crowds of tourists in the conservatory, most of them taking photos of each other. I thought a Monday afternoon might be less crowded, but no, it was just as busy!

After we watched the fountain show, I took her to another 'can't miss' place. For Christmas, or anytime - In 'n Out Burger!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas - part one

I am passed the Christmas rush! I took a vacation day from work on Friday to finish up all the loose ends and get the out-of-town packages shipped. It was kind of a frantic day of looking for gifts that were purchased early and then misplaced, (I still haven't found one of them!) and getting everything wrapped and packaged for shipment. The post office web site was down for purchasing on the internet, so I had to go and stand in line, instead of just printing the postage at home and dropping the parcels in the bin. It wasn't too bad when I got there, though the line was twice as long when I left. Timing is everything!

Saturday evening, we had a Christmas gathering with part of the family. Sister G is visiting the desert, staying with L the doctor neice, through Wednesday. She and I hung out most of Saturday, though, and had a good visit.

We have plans to get together on Monday to go see the Bellagio holiday display. We might also go see the new City Center that has opened in stages over the past couple of weeks. It is a shiny new complex of everything you can think of that rich people might want to see and do. There is quite a lot of public art at the shopping mall that I would like to see, though. (The mall is made up of shops from Rodeo drive, but the LV versions are bigger than the LA versions...)

Donald Trump publicly dissed the whole project and called it 'a catastrophy'. The head of MGM, which owns the City Center (in partnership with Dubai), said he 'couldn't imagine an opinion that would matter less'. I take that to mean that he would value my opinion over The Donald's! I must go see it and put my two cents in!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Featured Fabric

Part of the fun of collecting something is finding others who enjoy the same thing. I feel that way about feedsacks. I love them for what they are, but I like to share the joy!
On Wednesday, one of my feedsack fabrics -

was featured here! This is the second time one of my fabrics has been selected as a representation of the 'Daily Swatch' theme. Its not an award, or a reinforcement of my great taste in textiles. (I self 'nominated' by tagging the photo and adding it to the Flikr pool.) It is fun, though, to open up a blog and see my little piece of fabric heritage!

This piece of fabric is a good example of how color can 'date' something. Even though green is a very current color, these greens just say 'vintage'. Maybe it is the combination with the brown, but I just get a 40's feeling from these colors.

My favorite modern quilt fabrics are the reproductions because they have a classic vintage look. The new designers make beautiful things, but you don't have to look very far into the blogosphere to find examples of things that were beautiful when they were introduced, but sadly 'tired', 10, 20 - or more - years later.

I am working with a very modern fabric in my most current project. I will post a photo in a few, (read: seven) days! ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Self Indulgence, pure and simple!

Okay, two posts in a row is a bit much for the same project, but - oh well!

I am really pleased with my quilt project!

Last night, since I already had my blocks sewn together, I was ahead of the rest of the class, who had stuck to the script. The first border went on quickly and the instructor showed me how to do a mitered corner for the outer border (which is a very neat trick!)

When I finished up the borders, I decided to look at fabric, with a goal of picking a backing fabric. I had a coupon for 25% off, as well as the refund of my $20 deposit for the class that was burning a hole in my pocket.

Once again, when faced with buying fabric for a particular project, it was too much choice! I just couldn't pick! So, I bought a fat quarter stack and a yard of decorator fabric for a potential project that I will tell you about, later (after I see if it turns out okay!)

I am thinking of making a few more blocks and using them to make a stripe across the reverse and piece the rest of the backing. Maybe with a solid color from one of the prints, or white.

The winter class schedule comes out in a week. I hope I can get in a quilting class pretty soon! I am really anxious to go to the next stage of the process!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Spirit

This weekend, I intended to accomplish some holiday gift goals - and I did! Not my original goals, I had to scale back my plans a bit when I realized there was no way I was going to get everything done, unless I adjusted. So, I adjusted.

I can't show you the finished effort, yet, though. I don't want to spoil anyone's surprise. Here is a peek, though...

I love redwork and these look really cute !

I had to finish them all today, though. My fingers are going to be too sore tomorrow to do any more stitching, for awhile!

The fabric is heavy, so lots of pulling on the needle to get it through the fabric. On the upside, though, I didn't have to use a hoop!

I also finished piecing the blocks for my quilt! For class tomorrow, we were to have 25 blocks ready to put together. The instructor said, "if you want to sew it together, go right ahead". So, I did.

I ended up adding an extra row. Since my seams run to the narrow side, I ended up with it a bit longer than the pattern intended, anyway. I figured I would have to adjust the measurements for borders, etc either way. I checked to be sure that I would not run short of border fabric, but there is plenty. Now, it can be a baby quilt, or a lap quilt, instead of just a 'project'.

It is such a good feeling to start the week with some things checked off the list. Now, I can start looking forward to Christmas!

Good thing, since it is right around the corner!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Seven Day Time Warp

This last seven days have been something! This time last week, we were just getting home from a two hour trip to go 'over the hump to Pahrump' to get our car trailer from the storage lot so we could drive 9 hours to look at (and buy) a car that we do not have room for!

We have run out of space, after parking the two campers (one is for sale, but it is the off season, even in the desert!), two classic cars (the tiny one has to share the garage slot with the workbench), two daily drivers and two car trailers.

We have been storing the big car trailer in Pahrump for a couple of months. Pahrump (which I can never say, without adding 'pa-pum-pum' in my head) is in Nye county, about an hour away, over the mountains. It is in one of the huge Nevada counties that has very low population. And low storage fees.

Low population allows them to have legal prostitution, so there are lots of 'ranches' in Pahrump. With names like the chicken ranch, or the bunny ranch, or mustang ranch, etc.

There is also The China Date Ranch, which grows date palms. I understand that it is not uncommon for them to get a lot of confused customers late at night...

Anyway, after our whirlwind trip to buy the car, and bring it home, it has been a very busy week! It seems all the evenings were spent outside of the usual routine, so any idea that I had to catch up on holiday preparations was out the window.

We decided early in the week that we would look at paint colors for the Falcon on Saturday, since the shop is across town. Luckily, they are open a few hours on Saturday mornings. I made a list of all the other things that I want to accomplish this weekend, too. My plan is to really make an all out effort to get some gifts done (well, started first and then done!)

This evening, The Mister shared his idea of the important things to get done this weekend. Surprisingly (not!), our lists do not intersect, other than at the paint shop... His list involves shuffling of cars and trucks and sorting of parts, etc.

I think I might try to convince him that we should just leave the car in the trailer and think about all that in January! I am guessing that I will not have any luck...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My New Ride

Just a quick show and tell!

This is my new ride. Actually, it is a 'potential' ride, since it does not have a drive train, or interior, yet. It looks fast, though, don't you think?

When The Mister and I were married a short time, I realized that he gets a hankering to buy a car about every 12 to 18 months. Early on, it was new cars, but that is very hard for me, since I love not having a car payment.

Later, it became vintage cars, which are much less expensive at the outset, at least... (the expense is accumulated gradually, as packages of car-booty treasure are delivered by the UPS truck, and sometimes, the purple one)

Last year, it wasn't even a car, it was a Go-Go Scooter mobility thingy.

This year, it is a 1963 (and a half) Ford Falcon. Ostensibly, it will be 'my' car. You know, when I retire and want to look good tooling down to the grocery store...

It is more of a 'real' car than the Isetta, which I may never be brave enough to drive anywhere, other than around the block.

I don't think I like the Rangoon Red paint. Since it is about a twenty foot paint job (it looks fine if you are 20' away), we will probably have it re-painted. I can't decide what color, though. I do like red cars, but this color is a bit to tomato-y, I think. The Rangoon Red and Burgundy are the only two 'reds' in the 1963 Ford colors. It doesn't really need to be a stock color for me, though. I just want it to look good, I am not a purist!

We will go look at paint colors on Saturday. Maybe we will go with something completely different.

The 1969 Ford color chart has "Thanks Vermilion", "Freudian Gilt" and "Anti-establish Mint". An effort to inject a bit of cool-groove, I guess. In 1970 they went a little farther with "Bring 'em Back Olive", "Last Stand Custard", "Young Turquoise", "There She Blue", "Good Clean Fawn".

In '71, it was back to "Medium Green", "Dark Green", and "Bright Red".

So much for Ford hip!

I might have to pick one of those colors, just for the name!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A '3-G' Cutter Quilt

One Christmas, when I was a teenager, my mother cut up a quilt and made this coat for me.
It was a quilt that she made with wool that she got as a wedding gift, I believe, or maybe a graduation gift. It was not a pieced quilt, it was two pieces of fabric with carded wool sandwiched in between, and hand quilted. I am not sure what the fabric content was, but it was shiny and slick and never stayed on a bed (It is kind of a heavy-ish taffeta). But, it was very warm! And beautiful! One side was burgundy and the other was royal purple.

It was not really practical as a bed cover and it had some damage that was inflicted by a small wiener dog pet (who made the most unfortunate choices of things to chew on).

I was so surprised on Christmas morning! I couldn’t believe she had cut it up!

For me!

It kept me warm on the coldest days!I wore it for several years, but it was not a good coat to wear shopping or running errands. Since it wrapped around and tied in the back, it really couldn’t be worn ‘open. ’

It really was too warm unless you were going to be outside for awhile in below freezing temps. So I put it away for ‘safe-keeping’.

The scraps were saved in a brown grocery bag that found its way to my basement and when Ms A was small, I thought that it would be perfect backing for a Christmas stocking. I kind of followed a pattern that was in a needle-craft magazine, but also just sort of winged it as far as embellishments.

I lined it with fabric from an old sheet, so it is very soft, inside. The embroidered ‘label’ was back in my days of stamped cross-stitching. I didn’t know any ‘real’ embroidery stitches, so it is pretty wonky.

The fabric in the coat has some breaks and it is too small for me now, (and I live in the desert ...) so I would like to think of some project that would use the quilt/coat for something that would not suffer the wear and tear of a garment.

Any ideas?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

We take a break...

...from our regularly scheduled programming... visit V and the little bean.

...And to pick up a new project for The Mister. A Ford Falcon, in Rangoon Red, with no engine, but everything else (in the trunk and in assorted boxes!) It looks like it will keep him busy for quite awhile.

(I didn't drive 450 miles to the snowy North just to make Dearest Sister jealous, but....)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Opposite Day!

A few weeks back, I shared my unfortunate experience with Estelle, who advertised a 'mother lode' of quilting supplies that she thought were worth waaaaay more than I thought they were worth.

Well, yesterday was 'opposite day'!

I met Sharon, who had a sewing machine for sale that I thought was worth more than what she was asking!

So, I bought it!

Meet the new girl!

She is a 1950's model (atomic, don't cha know!) Singer 221. A Featherweight!

In my quilting class, some people bring their own machines, but if you don't bring your own, you get to use the fancy schmancy Berninas. Which are very impressive! The one I used threaded the needle by itself! (It came unthreaded about five times in 3 hours, but that was probably due to operator error...)

As we were packing up, the store worker came into the class and there was conversation about the machines, and prices etc. (And oh my, the prices! Most cost more that what my car is worth!) While there was certainly appeal in having a machine that winds the bobbin automatically (and fast!), and threads its own needle, etc, I just kept thinking that I would rather use the machine that I have and spend the money on fabric! (If I were going to spend that kind of money, which I am not going to do!)

But, this is Las Vegas and a common phenomenon here, is that people sell their belongings, for various reasons, at a fraction of what they cost new. So, just for fun, I thought I would look at Craigslist to see if anyone bought a fancy machine and, would now rather have whatever it would bring on the open market.

And that is how I met Sharon. She was not in desperate straights, just downsizing to move in with her daughter and son-in-law. She has another machine, but this one was extra. Sharon said she always thought that she would do more sewing when she got old, but found that she just couldn't sit still to do it.

I was so pleased that it looked even better than in listing photos! And for $150!

Then, I asked if she had any fabric for sale. It turns out that she does, but it is in a storage 'pod' in the back yard. She said that it was all cottons because her mother was a quilter and she has some vintage quilt tops as well!

I left my name and number and asked her to call me when she was able to get into the storage unit!

I told her I might be interested ...

(Dearest Sister has claimed dibs on sharing, if a transaction comes to pass. I told her that I am going to need some wool socks this winter...)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Quilt Progress

Last night was session number two of my quilt class. To be accurate, my piecing class. I completed seven blocks during the class and I finished eight more this evening. I need to have one more done before the next class.

I am having a lot of fun making the cute little 6 ½” blocks! The first one that we did in class was ‘rail fence’. I cut the three strips and sewed them together, but my seams were a bit generous, so I had to take them apart and re-do. Not a great beginning, but it certainly made me more careful with the rest of my seams.

We also did 9-patch and 9-patch with a variation and one framed square block. It seems that the kit was designed with lots of room for error, so I might have enough extra to add a row of blocks to make the finished quilt a bit bigger than the plan.

Next week, we will do log cabin, flying geese and friendship star. The final class will be the following week and that is when we will put the blocks together.

The next class schedule is due out at the first of the year. I hope I can enroll in the next session of ‘Beginning Quilting’. Most of the classes are during the day, though, and that doesn’t work for me. After the quilting class, I will need to enroll in the ‘Borders and Binding’ class. So, it will be quite awhile before I have a finished project.

Dear Sis shared some of her tiny pieced ornaments here. Maybe I will try something like that if a quilting class is not available right away. (I will have to try to talk her out of that book....)

Monday, November 30, 2009

"20 Pages of Nostalgia"

Putting up the Christmas Tree during the Thanksgiving Weekend has been a tradition at our house, since The Mister and I were married. Previously, Ms A and I might get it put up that weekend, or the next, but the Mister is always anxious to put up the tree. He loves everything about Christmas!

Since we were having guests the week of Thanksgiving, we put up the tree before the holiday, this year.

As I have mentioned, I have begun thinking a bit 'down the road' and have been going through some of the boxes of 'stuff' that accompanied us to the desert. On Sunday, I decided to go through a box that I had come across in the storage shed, while I was getting out the Christmas things. It was a box of craft magazines that Ms A had collected at various estate sales over the years.

Look what I pulled out!

McCall's Needlework and Crafts from '69-'70.

With 20 pages of 'Nostalgia'.

Martha at Q is for Quilter was nostalgic about this project a few weeks ago! (The Victorian house, not the dog...) You can see her original 1970's version here.

This is the 'un-creased' photo from the inside pages. (You can find the instructions here.)

The 'Nostalgia' mentioned on the cover referred to a section of projects taken from earlier McCall's publications, from the '20's through the '50's.

I have book-marked a few pages - some pin cushions, quilt patterns and some crewel designs that I think might translate well to embroidery.

One down and 20 or 30 more magazines to go!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bloggery Love!

Last week, Kate, at High Altitude Gardening honored Dearest Sister and I with a Blog award!

I know that many of you have received blog awards for various aspects of blogging or crafting, or designing and so forth. You may be jaded and used to the honor. But not me! I am thrilled! Thanks, Kate!

Dearest Sister gardens in high altitudes - the high desert, as opposed to the low desert, where I am... She found Kate's blog long before I even 'knew' about blogs. Last summer when babies were being born right and left, in our family, DS and I were in Salt Lake City to meet the newest and we met up with Kate and another blog friend, Wunx.

We had a delightful 3 hour breakfast, talking non-stop! They are both really fun and funny women and we really enjoyed the meet-up!

Since Kate honored the pair of us, DS and I decided that we would pass along the award love, jointly, as well! The award 'rules' say that we should pass it along to 15 other blogs that we have recently discovered, but we usually make up our own rules, so these are the blogs and bloggers that we would like to honor: (in no particular order...)

Miss V at Our Growing Family - because we want to encourage neophyte bloggers with content that is precious to us.

Tish at Big Well Girl - 'cause we go waaaay back to singing together in church in the '60's!

Martha at Q is for Quilter - Martha's projects are the ones I would do, if I had 20 years of quilting experience! Honestly, I think she and I have the same taste in just about everything fiber related!

Allie at Allie-oops Sweet Happy Life - Allie's posts and projects are inspiring, creative and beautiful!

Lynne at “New” Jersey Girl - She has wonderful photography and photography subjects! Dogs and Kitties and Bears, oh my!

Liz at Lizzzknits - a knitter extraordinaire!

ChaCha at Noodleroux - Turns out she lives in the old stomping grounds (that we are anxious to stomp again, in a few years!)

Mary at Snit’nKnit - a knitter blogger from The. Big. City!

C & V at Stick Horse Cowgirls - Friend/Sisters who blog together and are in the middle of mid-life adventure!

If you would like to 'play along', grab the award and nominate 15 (!) of your recent blog discoveries (or however many you want). Please don't feel compelled to participate. We just wanted pass along the love and to say that we consider you all some of the best!

And, thanks again, Kate!

(I am posting this on DS's 'scheduled' day, because if I wait until tomorrow, it would be old news! )

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Taking Care of Old Friends (& New!)

The smalls and their mom have been here for a few day's visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. L always travels with her best friend:

This is 'Meowy'.

Meowy has been her companion for seven and a half of her eight years. He started out as a 'Boyd's Bear' kitty - I don't know his original name, but it was probably something elegant. These days, he only answers to Meowy.

Meowy needed some TLC when he got here. His feet were in shocking condition! His bead stuffing was showing through and was only contained by a thin layer of plastic... something.

And, his chest was almost worn through as well.

L and I went to the stash and picked a couple of fabrics for repair.

We used blue chenille for the feet and wool felt for the chest.

Of course, when there are two smalls, both must feel the love equally, so I was pressed to add 'something to something' for H.

We came up with a McDonald's beanie baby wolf and added a car to his belly. H drew the car pattern. Thankfully, a simple one!

I think tomorrow, we may need to stitch up a jacket and pants for Meowy. I think he needs a bit of protection from the daily wear and tear, if he is to survive the elementary years.

At that point, he will probably be put on a shelf or tucked in a drawer. Still loved, I imagine, but no longer needed to be close at hand...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 'Non-traditions'

I hope everyone is enjoying their Thanksgiving traditions with loved ones all around!

We do a pretty traditional t-day, turkey and all the trimmings, with whatever family that is in town. Sometimes that is more than a dozen, sometimes closer to a half dozen, but always enjoyed.

Dearest Sister used to be the traditional hostess. We only lived a few hours apart and employment obligations did not allow her family to travel on the holidays. So we traveled to her. She related a story here, of a 'tradition' that arose in that place and time that cracked us all up, every time we did it!

When she left that place, she left two of her girls behind. One to start college and the other to finish her senior year of high school. So the first year of her Colorado residency, two of her girls joined Ms A and me for the holiday!

I asked them what they wanted to have for Thanksgiving and Miss V said, "I'm sure! What else would we have but turkey?" and I, always one to take the challenge said, "We don't have to! We can have crab legs if we want to!" And so crab legs it was!

It was a lovely evening, so after our seafood supper, we went to see the drama of the Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony.

This photo shows the plaza from across Brush Creek. The blue light in the background is the 'light steeple' from the Community Christina Church. The church building was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He designed the 'steeple' before the technology was developed for the light. The lights were added in 1994, 52 years after the building was dedicated. (The Luxor Casino in Las Vegas uses the same light technology...)

When Thanksgiving comes with cold weather, the crowd at the lighting ceremony might be 50 or 60 thousand. When the weather is mild, (above 40 degrees), it can be 80 to 100 thousand, and when it is warm (above 60), there are people as far as you can see in every direction.

So, it is necessary to get there early!

Which we did - about two hours early. We parked up Main street and walked several blocks and took up our space near the stage at a light pole. We had a good time talking and laughing and the time passed pretty amiably.

Then the 'ceremony' began. There was a little singing, a little 'pumping up' of the crowd by a radio personality and then the countdown began! Ten, nine, eight...well, you all know how a countdown goes... three, two, one! The switch was flipped and millions of lights came on at once!

I immediately said, "Okay, we are out of here, come on!" And we headed to the car.

They followed me, a bit confused. Did we just wait over two hours to see something for less than 10 seconds? Yes, we did, because the key to enjoying the plaza lights is to not get tied up in traffic! And also, because I knew that our parking space up the hill would give us a better view! It's all part of the 'strategy' - be in the midst of the excitement, then head up the hill for a panorama!

The next day, we did Black Friday shopping. And I posed as their mother so V could get a new piercing in her ear. (I had forgotten that part until V reminded me this summer!)

We all had a great time, and having them with us, made an easier transition of not having 'everyone' together.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Farm Journal Christmas Book

This past weekend, while I was out and about, I stopped in at a thrift store, just to poke around, you know. Like all shopping establishments, they were gearing up for Black Friday and had a whole shelf of Christmas books. I picked up a few interesting ones, a couple will be xmas gifts to some small girls in the family.

This one turned out to be a treasure trove of fun ideas and vintage goodness!

The copyright date is 1970, but the content is from The Farm Journal from 1948 through 1968! It is interesting to see the differences in the older photos. I think that between '48 and '68, there were some major technology improvements in magazine color printing. Still, the older ones are very fun to look at.

Some of the projects are very agricultural, making a Christmas tree stand from an old plow disc, for instance...

...and this tumble weed centerpiece!

Some years back, I heard a radio program about a woman and her daughter, from Wyoming, I believe, who had started a mail order business, selling tumbleweeds. Tumbleweeds were apparently very intriguing to folks who do not see them regularly...

This is one of the older projects in the book. The topiary is made from... egg cartons!
I thought this project might be something that I would try. I have picked up several fat quarters of holiday fabric and of course, all the holiday prints will be on clearance in a few weeks. I am thinking this might be the perfect project to practice applique. The detailed instructions in the back of the book suggest not worrying about making the circles perfectly round, as "they are more interesting if they are not perfect"! Sounds like just the thing!

This page of projects illustrates the transition into the '70's. Crazy 'mod' colors and motifs! The purple candle holder is papier mache over paper plates and bowls with a 'Coffemate jar' and a canning lid thrown into the mix. The turquoise 'vase' in the upper left is a barbecue sauce bottle. If you look closely, you can see the plastic forks that make the design around the base.

Lots of fun ideas! I don't really need additional holiday decor at this stage of life, but there are some edible projects and things that might be fun to do with the smalls. Or maybe I will perfect my papier mache technique and make candle holders for everyone next Christmas!

(I think Dearest Sis has been knitting all year towards holiday gifts. She and I are not alike in that way... I may have to shop at AtomicSisters, this year!)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Run-ins With the Government

First, I think that the US Postal System is one of the best in the world. Aside from the annoyance of the cost of a first class stamp rising so frequently that I can't even tell you what the cost is. (The Mister always buys the forever stamps, to try to mitigate the irritation of the price increases.) Our system is usually reliable and pretty cheap, when you think about the cost to take a first class letter anywhere in the country. Compared to other country's systems, I think ours is 'first class'!


In the past year, they have been scamming me.

Actually, scamming Dearest Sis

It seems lately (in the past year, anyway) every time I send her a parcel, it is delivered postage due.

Besides the embarrassment of sending something without enough postage, it also means that the delivery is delayed. I suppose the stamping of the front of the envelope or parcel is done by a person who only works certain days?

And the most annoying thing? I used the machine at the post office to tell me how much postage to put on!

Last December, while doing some post holiday sale shopping, I found a 'bubble gum machine' that had tiny trucks and construction equipment. I bought a couple and sent them to DS to use under her tiny beaded tree. Several weeks went by and they did not arrive. Finally, after a month or two, they showed up - postage due!

In the past week or so, she and I have been discussing button choices for the Baby Surprise Jackets that she has been working on. I have a pretty reliable vintage button stash, so she asked if I had any that would be perfect for the BSJ's. I looked through the buttons and picked a couple of styles that looked likely and mailed them off in a padded envelope. I weighed the envelope, which weighed less than 2 ounces and figured the postage from the on-line postage store on the weight of 2 oz.

When they arrived - sure enough, 51 cents postage due!

And, since I had not asked her to describe the colors, just relied on the blog photo, I was looking for the wrong button colors!

So - back to the button stash!

I picked out these.... (push-pin for size comparison)
...and these and sent them to her.

But this time, I made The Mister take them to the counter and have a postal worker put the required postage on the package.

DS confirmed that they arrived today, with no ransom required.

I foiled their scam by making one of their own deal with a customer (and for some of them, that seems to be quite a cross to bear!)

The next time I send something to her, I am going to the counter to find out how much postage is required, then go to the self serve machine to purchase it. If it ends up with postage due, my theory will be proven!

And I will expose their shenanigans to the world! (or maybe just post about it here...)

(DS said she might post photos here of the BSJ's with the buttons, so we could advise her on which ones look best. Check for other de-stashing efforts here!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

It is good to dream...

This is the quilt that I will be making in my class (that starts in four days!!) It is a sampler quilt and ends up at about 40 inches square, when finished as the pattern. Since I bought the fabric in the 'kit', I won't have more to make additional blocks to increase the size.

I have seen lots of advice to beginners that recommends beginning with a small project, but to me, quilts are blankets, so this one is a baby blanket!

I know that starting out with a variety of pieced patterns is a good idea. You know, building on elementary skills, up to more complex projects...

But I really want to make a quilt like this:

I am guessing it is not rotary cut...

(Baltimore Friendship quilt was made by Gladys Shockley of Nortonville, KS in the 1960's)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

School Supplies!

It has been a long time since I enrolled in school to learn something I really wanted to know.

When I was 10 years old, I begged my mother to let me enroll in summer school to take typing! I really wanted to be able to type. I don't remember why, exactly, but I was willing to give up a month of summer weekday mornings to gain the skill. My end of the class typing speed was about 24 words per minute, if I recall correctly. I am sure I have the certificate somewhere in the vast archive of flotsam and jetsam, but you'll take my word for it, I know!

In five days, I will start my quilting class!

And I have gathered all my school supplies!

I even bought a special tote bag. I am sure I already have one that would do, (The Mister would guess that I probably have 20 that would do!) but I wanted one just for 'school'!

I didn't really have to buy much, I have been to so many estate auctions that I have multiples of just about every sewing tool made in the past 50 years! It was fun to gather everything and check it off the list, though! I did purchase fabric. (that really puzzled The Mister!) Since the class is essentially free (the $20 reservation fee is refunded at the end of the class) I thought I should at least purchase fabric from the shop offering the class.

So these are my fabrics. They were one of several pre-cut assortments put together especially for the class. At first, I thought I would look around and pick my own, but I got paralyzed by stimulus overload! There was too much to choose from! So I went back and pick this group.

They are all washed, pressed and in the bag!

As always, I look to my sister 'Betsy' for inspiration and leadership.

I will be sure to wear clean socks and smile! (I don't think there will be room in the bag for a rug, though...)
(Yesterday she wagered that I would probably be up to no good - why does she have to be a hater? It is not even legal to gamble where she lives! Go see what she is up to here! I will be in the shop, if she gives you any trouble... )

Monday, November 16, 2009

Litter and the Litterers

On Saturday, The Mister and I took part in a 'clean-up' at Callville Bay at Lake Mead. The original Callville is under Lake Mead. It apparently was only ruins when the lake was created by Hoover Dam, being off the beaten path, as it was, and next to a river with 'difficult navigation' in the nineteenth century.

The National Park Service and the resort concessionaire that runs the marina partnered in sponsoring a project to pick up trash on land and underwater. The Mister used to be a diver, but hasn't for years, so we were on land litter patrol.

The Mister with about half of what he and I collected, brandishing his trusty litter-picker!

Some of the litter was wind-borne (I hate plastic shopping bags!) and some was trash left behind by careless picnickers and campers.

And probably under-aged drinkers. We meandered up and over a hill and came upon the 'mother lode' of litter! Beer cans with old fashioned pull tabs and new ones that hadn't been there long enough to fade.

We collected litter for two hours, along with about 80 other folks, so alot of trash was removed from the landscape and underwater. There was much head shaking a tsk-tsking about litter-bugs and careless campers.

Callville Bay is about 45 minutes from our house. Not far, but we decided to stay overnight in the 'rv park' (five spaces at the end of the year round mobile home park). We recently upgraded from our 20 year old truck camper to a 10 year old, short, fifth wheel camper and were anxious to try it out! The Mister went out early in the day, so he could get it all set up before dark (which happens at 4:45, this time of year and we are not even to the shortest days!) I came out later, after work.

After the litter pick up, we ate lunch with our group, then packed up the camper and headed out. The Mister was leading, pulling the camper with the pick up and I followed in my car.

We had gone less than a quarter of a mile, and two trash bags flew out of the bed of the pick-up. We had taken a box of bags in case there was a shortage (which had happened on a different clean-up outing) and left it in the bed of the pick-up.

Well, after picking up trash all morning, I couldn't leave big black trash bags to litter the side of the road, so I pulled over and hopped out and grabbed both. Around a bend, The Mister had pulled over to wait (and to get the box out of the truck bed, I hoped!) As soon as he saw me coming, he pulled out and headed down the road again. And another bag flew out of the truck! He had no idea why I was stopping!

So, I pulled over, hopped out and grabbed it, jumped back in the car and headed back down the road. About 300 yards down the road, a black trash bag was in the ditch and another in the middle of the road. So, I pulled over, hopped out, grabbed the bags, jumped back in the car and drove to the next bag around the next bend.

This scene repeated seven more times until I caught up with him, pulled over a couple of miles down the road. He had finally seen a bag come out of the box! He said it went out of the box, up and over the tailgate in a flash. He wasn't even sure what he had seen, but then remembered the bags. I pulled up with a huge pile of trash bags in the seat next to me, relieved to see the box in his hand!

The road we were on is about four miles from the lake shore to the main road that goes around the lake. I was praying that he would figure out what was going on, or that the box would empty before we got to the perimeter road! Luckily, there was no traffic where we were, because the road was very winding. That is why he couldn't see what I was doing, and I couldn't catch up with him to flag him down with a trash bag! If any one had been watching, though, I am sure it would have been a funny sight!

But, at least we didn't litter!

(Dearest Sister and her guy don't even use plastic water bottles! I can't imagine her 'shock horror' if I hadn't been able to collect the bags! See all of our 're-use and recycling' efforts at our Etsy shop - AtomicSisters )