12 January, 2018

Making Room

The New Year has arrived and new (okay, old) projects have surfaced (okay, re-surfaced!). Down with the Hexagon Blocks from the design wall, make room for Hexie Garden. This pattern, from Atkinson Designs, has been on my list to finish for three years. I am happy to report that it is now, officially, a completed TOP. Yes!! What accounts for this sudden burst of productivity? A retreat happened. There is nothing more satisfying than to sit and sew, and see results, when you are surrounded by like-minded friends with similar goals.

Yep, last week I packed up enough projects to keep me busy for an entire weekend (maybe for an entire year, if truth be told!) and off we went! It was bitter cold outside but the twelve of us who clustered together in the activity room at the retreat center kept warm and comfortable with non-stop snacks for sustenance and the hum of happy conversation and sewing machines for atmosphere.
Hexie Garden ~ 56" X 60"

This happy guy is the third block that I have finished from Nancy Halvorsen's "Be Attitudes" pattern; he certainly had the right idea last weekend! I am stitching these with raw-edge machine applique and hand embroidered embellishments. At the rate of one a month, I should be done with this in October. This is yet one more of those projects that were all neatly organized (fabrics, buttons, floss, pattern book; in fact, all of the background blocks were stitched together-- and labeled!) years ago; before being stashed in a dedicated bin and promptly shelved. Don't ask why, I do not know the answer!
😉
The Hexie Garden will now take her turn waiting in the "to be quilted" queue; those already waiting will move over, making room. The "Be Attitudes" bin will make room for a new frosty friend as another would-be block comes to the top of the pile and this quiltmaker is energized and making room for lots more finishes in 2018. 
Life is Good!
...and sew it goes...

11 January, 2018

"It Will Be Virtually Dust-free"

This is the state of our home currently. We've been through similar situations twice last year; first there was the "flood" and later, last summer, there was the interior house painting. I believe I have reached my limit, from a living-in-chaos standpoint. This is worse than, or at least as bad as, moving (the single thing that I detest the most in the whole wide world). Groan. So, why have the contents of three bedrooms and two baths all been emptied into the family room?
We're having some of the floors in our home refinished! 😣

 And so it goes. This is being done because of that afore-mentioned flooding. Almost a year ago, when the hot water came streaming from our finished second-story media room through the recessed lighting in the master bedroom and adjoining spaces, enough landed on the floors to cause the oak boards to cup and warp. We have been patiently waiting for a sufficiently long-enough drying period that they can be refinished without fear of them cupping back in the opposite direction. The time is now. The best benefit (I'm seaching for the silver lining here!) of all this are the new flush-mount oak floor-vent covers. 
Nice, huh? 
This almost makes all the pain of sleeping on a mattress on the floor in my sewing room worth it. My sense of adventure is seriously being tested, it is a scavenger hunt right now to find what I need, somewhere in that BIG PILE, just to get dressed and ready for the day.  The first finish coat was applied today. Friday and Saturday will each see an additional coat. Then it all needs to dry. Sometime next week the rooms can be reloaded. Not everything is going back in either; closets harboring unused and forgotten items will be neatly reorganized, some trips to the dump and to charitable organizations are already being planned. Now, that makes me happy! It will all be worth it. I remember when the floor guy came out after the flood, all those many months ago; he told us that there was nothing to worry about, they could take care of all the damage that had been done. Then he spoke the five words that I wanted to believe, with all my heart and mind: "it will be virtually dust-free". Suffice it to say his idea of virtual reality and mine are worlds galaxies apart. It's okay. I have some really good dusting tools! 
Life is Good!
Stay tuned for a quilty post tomorrow... it's about time, right?

10 January, 2018

The Great Cookie Bake-Off

I haven't decorated any cookies for a while. It's time to make some snowflakes, snowmen, Valentine's hearts and other winter-themed cookies. To be honest, the reason that I have been a bit reluctant to return to this hobby craft obsession is because the recipe that I have been using for the cookie itself hasn't been my absolute favorite. It worked, it was sturdy enough and well-accepted but I kept thinking, in the back of my mind, that I needed to find a better, more delicious and delectable, cookie. One that would hold up to the vigors of royal icing and yet was delicate enough to melt in the mouth. Is this an unreal expectation?  I don't know, but nonetheless the experimentation has begun.
This recipe proved to be a good one, really good. I am linking to it here in case you would like to whip up your own small batch. The very fact that this one made only a small amount, perfect for my experiment, was the main reason that I chose it. It was, as indicated, both crisp and soft at the same time. Because there is no icing I did lightly sprinkle the tops with sanding sugar. It passed the taste test but I still feel there's room, maybe a teeny bit, for improvement. 
I returned to my tried and true cookie recipes; this cookbook was one from the early days of our marriage. I tried two sugar cookie recipes from this one, the book was a gift from my mother in 1976. 
This one tasted delicious but didn't stack up-- the sides spread during the baking process. If it can't hold its cut shape consistently it is not a contender for cut-out cookies. However, I did take these with me on retreat this past weekend and my fellow quilters were more than happy to eat up the results of my ongoing experiment!
Again, this recipe (#2 from the vintage book) did not hold its shape either, the sides spread. The flavor on these didn't  measure up either; they tasked okay blah; the whole purpose of my experimentation was to provide a cookie that is more than a mere vehicle for the decorative icing. 
That's three recipes and lots and lots of munching! How many experiments allow you to eat your rejects? Mr. Goodneedle suggests that I stay with the first cookie I tried, the small batch. I'm too full of cookies right now to think straight. I have one more to try, it's a tough job but someone has to do it!
Life is Good!
...and oh, so delicious...

02 January, 2018

And The Hex Continues...

It's cold outside; too cold to do anything but stay indoors, and as long as I'm inside I might as well be sewing-- right? It's a new year but I am still under the hex; I've completed the latest hexagon block (okay, I did five!) for our block-of-the-month classes at my LQS. My newest blocks are all on the top row of this photo. This month we were to make 3-grid blocks. These end up being 6.5" (unfinished); in order to have them play nicely with all of the other 8.5" blocks (again, unfinished) they are banded all around with a one inch strip. I love the complexity that they add to the mix in all their faceted loveliness. We are using two indispensable tools for these blocks: the Hex N More and the Sidekick by Jaybird Quilts. I'm telling you, without a doubt, you can't go wrong with these rulers. This is month number nine, I can't wait to see what's next. I am using scraps for these and have no idea yet how they will be set. But then, with these blocks arrayed just so for now, why would I think too far ahead? What's on your design wall this year?
Life is Good!

01 January, 2018

Resolute

How did you spend New Year's Eve? I spent Sunday afternoon moving data from my 2017 planner to my new, 2018, version. My January calendar is almost full already. Can you stand the excitement? Wait; there's more. This year I am color-coding appointments and events. I love a planner that I can write in. My husband and I share an electronic calendar too, through Microsoft Outlook; that is his preference. That's fine, I suppose by putting all of my information in two separate places I am jogging my memory even further; not a bad thing! I am already planning good habits and disciplines for the new year from the RESOLUTE desk. (Not to be confused with the furniture in The White House, this is what I call my own area from which personal resolutions are hatched.)
The definition of the word RESOLUTE, an adjective, is as follows: admirably purposeful, determined and unwavering. "She was resolute and unswerving". Synonyms: determined, purposeful, resolved, adamant, single-minded, firm, unswerving, unwavering, steadfast, staunch, stalwart, unfaltering, unhesitating, persistent, indefatigable, tenacious, strong-willed, unshakable.
I might have been described by one or two of these words over the years; after all, I am nothing if I am not purposeful, determined and unwavering! And so, on this first day of a brand new year I will commit to the following:
Yes, this will be the year that I read the Bible all the way through, cover to cover! In fact, our entire congregation is doing this (it's always good to have others on board to keep each other accountable). If you would like to join us you can download your own brochure here to keep up with the daily readings. The tri-fold brochure is a good size to use as a bookmark as we travel through the books and chapters, there's even little tick-boxes next to each day's assignment so that you can chart your progress. I am looking forward to accomplishing this; it's a bucket-list item for me. 
And then there's this. EQ8.  I bought this new, enhanced, upgrade-version as soon as it was available and downloaded it to my laptop back in October. I love to work and design in EQ. I bought the hard-copy manuals so that I could work my way through the lessons without having to toggle back and forth between screens (I like to hold a reference book). Have I practiced yet? Only a little. I do want to be proficient in this software; however, wanting won't make it so. The manuals have been moved to my RESOLUTE desk. Yep, now I am committed. I am dedicating a set amount of study time (it's written, in blue(!), in the planner) every day until this program is familiar and second-nature to me. So, here we are again: day number one of a brand new year. What are you determined to accomplish in 2018? When we come around once again, 365 days from now, to the next day one-- what will you proudly claim as that which you were steadfast, staunch and adamant about? If I can do it, so can you. Let's be resolute together!
Happy New Year!
Life is Good! 
 

25 December, 2017

It's A Wrap!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

So, where has December flown to? Seriously. Yeah, I know, I say the same thing month after month but has someone tweaked the speed button this year? It seems as though the days are passing like lightning. If you think that's a stretch look at these babies above. They're growing up at supersonic speed! This month, in particular, has passed in the blink of an eye. It seems as though yesterday was Thanksgiving and I was beginning to decorate the house for Christmas, now the day is here! Come, stroll through the house with me in the quiet early morning before this day has zipped past.
"Sing, choirs of angels..." Joining my vintage white angel this year are the three on the right, I inherited these from my MIL. These angels are at least fifty years old. They now have formed an angel band on the buffet in our breakfast area to herald in this Christmas morning.
 Our tree stands guard in the space between our family room and kitchen. A few weeks back I baked gingerbread people, filling the space with their aromatic goodness.
Our family room is filled with many Santas, these are among a few I have made over the years.
This Santa quilt resides under glass in our coffee table, this is another "vintage" piece: circa 1992. I taught this Santa Star quilt class all those years ago at a local quilt shop, such happy memories this piece evokes.
This sleepy Santa rests on a chair next to our fireplace with a quilt of his own, it's been a long night!
A grouping of Jim Shore Santas joins the mix: three of these were likewise inherited in this past year, they've made themselves quite at home here.
"Santa's" basement workshop was a busy place in December. This Maple bed for our youngest grandchild will be delivered today. It features sixteen dovetailed drawers for storage.
That wasn't the only bed to come out of the workshop this year-- this triple bed for our oldest granddaughter 's American Girl dolls stopped in by my sewing space long enough to get outfitted with sheets and pillows before it made a trip to the Capital City yesterday! Hannes wonders where his bed is. 
Yep, just like that-- it's a wrap! Thanks for stopping by today. From our home to yours, I wish you special joy and abundant blessings on this holy day. Let us take time to reflect and remember why we celebrate today and carry true Christmas love in our hearts each and every day of the new year to come.
So, what's been going on this month at your house? 

Merry Christmas!
Life is GRAND!
Gregory (7), Mason (9), Lucy Ann (7), Lynnleigh (4)