Friday, December 30, 2011

Starting at the End

I know it's been pretty quiet around here lately, but fear not, I have not been sitting on my hands (much).

Today is a gray day with light snow falling like powdered sugar.  Although nothing has yet accumulated in the way of the fluffy stuff, I do have a couple piles of quilt squares to show for this week.

In fact, I have all the squares pieced, I just have to lay them out on the floor and fiddle with the order before sewing the top together.

I'm working with a pattern by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter, called Chain Linked.  The colors of the framing squares don't show true against the beige carpeting with camera flash, but that is a gorgeous dark brown called Mink, and the gray is Ash, both solids from Connecting Threads.

I'm linking to Sarah's Can I Get a Whoop-Whoop? linky party, the last of 2011.  She suggested we show one of our favorite accomplishments from the past year.  That would be my kaleidoscope quilt!

I love the bright, happy colors and fabrics that went into it.  It makes me smile!

Wishing you all your creative best in 2012!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 52 - Christmas 2011 Edition

Merry Christmas!  I hope you've had a wonderful day with you and yours!

Me, Russ, nephew Cody, and niece Shaina
We spent some time first with dear daughter and her boyfriend, exchanging gifts and visiting for awhile.  It's always great to see them.  She was feeling a bit under the weather, however, so went home to rest afterwards.  Hope you feel better, sweetie.

Norm and I then headed to my brother's house.

I brought a pan of enchiladas, salad, fresh pineapple, and a pecan pie. There was no shortage of good eats.  Russ got us started with some margaritas.

We have a Dirty Santa gift exchange after dinner.  The cheese head was a hit.  Brayden, my niece Shaina's oldest son, is modeling it here:

Shaina and youngest son Chandler.  He's such a little peanut.  

Nephew Nathan and Chandler:

Here he is with his Grandpa Russ.

And his Great-Grandpa Don.  A chip off the old block, huh?

Russ shared some of his toys with us.  We played with his Dr. Dre Monster Beats headphones. 
Darrell checking out the music.
I'd like a pair of those next Christmas, Santa, please!

Russ, Terry, and Norm
Watching 3D TV.  We're on a mission from God.

Sure, we look funny, but it's pretty amazing what you see with those things.  

I am up to no good...


Me and meine schwester (my sister):

Norm and niece Samantha, giving the festivities their smirk and seal of approval. :)

Hope you had a wonderful holiday.  Thanks for visiting!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Miscellany

I couldn't get it together yesterday for a Sunday Sundry post, so here I am with some miscellany, a day late and a dollar short, as the saying goes.  

There has been minimal sewing going on, because other things have taken priority.  Final Christmas shopping and other retail therapy, for one.  Work, for another.  I did buy a sewing aid, of sorts, while I was shopping—a new pair of bifocals.  My other pair seemed to be a little weak.  So I indulged what there is of my girly-girl-ness with some ruby red, swirly star embellished jobs.

The only sewing that has occurred lately has been of the mending or altering variety.  I know, boring but necessary.  I fixed a pair of pants for Pa, and then I let the hems down on three new pairs of "ultra tall" jeans/slacks.  Yep, I had to let it all out, even on those.  Gangly would be an understatement.
 Greta Von Riding Crop still wants to know
if you've been naughty or nice.
Also?  She knows from gangly.
Also too?  She would like 
something red for Christmas.

Hey, who likes fruitcake?  You know what, I do!  Or at least, I used to back when I could eat my mom's homemade fruitcake, which was the bomb, and I'm not talking about what it felt like in my stomach after I ate it.  No, not the sickly-sweet brick with neon green candied cherries not found in nature.  I'm talking about just a good, dense, fruit and nut inspired cake. The kind you eat a small slice of at a time with a steaming cup of coffee.

As you may know, I have been trying to stay on track with my diet (no gluten, no dairy, no refined sugar), but my craving gave way to caving this past week and I broke down and baked.  I can't call it a fruitcake, really, but I can call it good.  It is a minimally sweetened, dense, flavorful cake that seemed to hit all the right buttons.

I started with a gluten-free zucchini bread recipe and added a few other things.  Here is how it came together:

Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl:
1 c. teff flour
1/4 c. sorghum flour
1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/4 c. sweet rice flour
2 t. xanthan gum
1 t. cinnamon
2 pieces of crystallized ginger, chopped fine
2 t. baking powder
1 t. egg replacer

In mixing bowl, mix together:
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. melted coconut oil
1/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice 
Grated lemon zest (of about 1/2 lemon)
1 c. grated yellow summer squash
1/2 c. pumpkin puree

Add in the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  If necessary, add 1/4 c. water (or more orange juice ~ or even rum, maybe?) until mixture is the consistency of thick cake batter.  Stir in about 1/2 c. dark chocolate chips and 1/2 to 3/4 c. chopped walnuts.  Spoon batter into a greased and floured (with rice flour) Bundt pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.  Cool for 10 minutes, then invert and remove from pan to continue cooling.  Slice when fully cool.   

And here is where I wish I had taken a photo of the result.  I suppose I could break out the hunk I froze for sharing later, but between you and me, I feel safer with it stashed away in the freezer while I try to recover my willpower.  It looked a lot like this though.  This is the basic zucchini bread that I've made in the past.  Just imagine it studded with chocolate chips and not quite so green with zucchini.

I've been listening to a German musical artist named Clueso lately, whom I discovered by happenstance while perusing YouTube.  I don't pretend to know what he's saying, except for the simplest words, but I like the music a lot, which transcends translation.  The gist of this song is that he doesn't want any more space, not a single centimeter, between he and his love, "ein Fleck ohne Kontur," or a spot without shape, to put it rather poetically.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Favorite Things Friday ~ Pins

I suppose the more accurate, fancy word for them is brooches.  But I have a hard time with the word brooch.  For one thing, it doesn't sound like it looks, although why that should bother me, I don't know; the entire English language is filled with words that don't sound like they look.  

So to keep it simple, I just call them pins.  I like them.  They're my favorite thing this week!

I'm not big on wearing jewelry, in general.  I wear no rings, and necklaces only occasionally.  I'd rather put a pretty pin on my sweater.  Here are a few from my jewelry box.

A lot of these are old, as in outdated (maybe most), but I still keep them.  I wore the pink one on a fuchsia sweater set to work last week.  It's one of my favorites.

Some are old, as in antique.  This one on my wool dress coat, for instance, came from my late mother-in-law.  

The green one is also one of my favorite antique pins.  It the only one I've bought from an antique jewelry vendor.  

None of these are expensive.  I just like them for one reason or another and have kept them to enjoy now and then.

If you're old enough to remember the late '80s or early '90s and big, poufy shoulder pads, you might also remember pins that looked like medals.  Was the military look in back then?  All I can think of is Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation.  I played the heck out of that CD.

The fish pin is another from my mother-in-law, but it's not that old.  I love the colorful enameling—cloisonne, if you're fancy.  (Miss Jackson, if you're nasty... I've got that song lyric in my head now.)

The swan pair is a set I think I got for Christmas probably 30 years ago.  Does that make them (and me) antique too?  Don't answer that!

Here's another real cheapie (but blingy) snowflake from mom-in-law.  No, I haven't pinned the family pet, silly, that's a fake fur collar on a sweater vest.

That's it for my last Favourite Things Friday linkup of the year.   Thanks for visiting!  Feel free to head over to Quilting in my Pyjamas for a look at other fab faves!

Edited to add:  I just had to add this.  Still love it!  I like her pins too!

Giveaway Day Winner!

How awesome was Giveaway Day?!  I didn't get around to nearly as many places as I'd like to have, but it sure was fun watching the comments come in here and reading about what you might do to change how you celebrate the holidays.  

Many of the responses came down to having family together and spending more time with family.  There were also a lot of people wishing they'd started their Christmas projects sooner, as well as some who would like to have a more handmade Christmas.  Others would focus more on charity.  All very good things!

I feel a bit shallow in the fact that I was wishing I could hire someone to decorate for me (and un-decorate when it's over).  Oh well...keeping it real!
The winner of the vintage fabric and "Pieces of Time" 2012 calendar is......

#21 - Kirie, who blogs at Shape Moth!

Congratulations, Kirie!  Look for an email from me, and please respond with your mailing address, so I can send your sweet package to you right away!

I visited Kirie's blog, and there are oh-so-many pretty things there!  She even sells her own paper piecing patterns, like this one:
Shape Moth Fawn Deer PP Pattern
Isn't that just the cutest thing?  I love it!

Thank you ALL so much for entering my little giveaway.  I hope you had fun!  I know I did, and I look forward to visiting many of your blogs in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Giveaway Day!

Have you seen all the wonderful giveaways going on over at Sew, Mama, Sew?  It's pretty exciting to see so much generosity and handcrafting talent in one place!

I'd been meaning to do a giveaway here before Christmas, so it made sense to link up.  Welcome faithful friends and visitors alike!

As much as I love to sew, I also love thrifting and finding interesting vintage items.  So my giveaway today is for six half-yard cuts of vintage fabrics from my treasure hunting, along with "Pieces of Time," a 2012 Calendar featuring vintage fabric illustrations by Erin Ink Design. Click the link to see more views of this cute 6x9 inch calendar in her Etsy shop.  

Erin also sells fabulous Pyrex inspired note cards and other beautifully illustrated items.  (Yes, I have Pyrexia too!)

The fabrics are all 100% cotton and there is one-half yard of each.  Note that because these are vintage, they measure approximately 34-35 inches wide from selvage to selvage, instead of the modern day 40-42 inches wide.  All have been prewashed and pressed.

Here are the giveaway details:

* This giveaway is open until December 16, 2011 at 7:00 CST.  I will ship internationally.

* Winner will be selected at random and notified by email.

* To enter, leave a comment answering the following question:  If you could change one thing about how you celebrate the holidays, what would it be?  (Shop less?  Eat more?  Do more for charity?  Forget the snow and fly to Mexico?)

* Please include your email address in your comment, or make sure your reply contact setting is not set to "no reply."

That's it!  Thanks for visiting, and come back again sometime!

Good luck, and have fun exploring the other giveaways at Sew, Mama, Sew!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Sundry - Vol. 51

Can you believe I've been doing these Sunday Sundry posts for a year already?  Wow, time does fly!

Friends, I am so tired right now, having worked two of my jobs for a chunk of the day, that I'm not sure I can make sense anymore this evening.  And yet here I am, so I guess we'll give it a go.  This will be particularly random.  In fact, perhaps I will just do a list of 10 various and sundry things, in no particular order.

1.  My African violets are so blooming happy right now!  I just ignore them, maybe water once every 7-10 days, and they do what they do.  Awesome!

2.  Something else that made me happy this week was this post about the Veggie Market Quilt over at Three Old Keys.  I loved her writeup about it!  The auction is slated to happen on eBay in January, with the proceeds going to Japan quake relief.

3.   How many episodes of Parks and Recreation does it take to put a single string of 100-bulbs on a 4-foot pre-lit tree which is no longer pre-lit?  Two.  And two not-at-all-enthused older adults to share a pair of needle nose pliers to cut and twist the pre-lits off, and attempt (twice) to wind the new ones on. If it weren't for Ron Swanson and Andy Dwyer to distract us with comedy, we'd have been in a foul mood.

Did you know that pre-lit just means some worker in China did what we did in probably under 60 seconds on a moving assembly line, fastening every other bulb to a branch with the equivalent of super-strong green plastic bread closure tabs and lightning fast reflexes?  Yep, you can probably Google it.

4.   I just found this picture on my computer as I was uploading Ron Swanson above.  It's from Christmas 1982.  That's my brother Russ and I in my parents' kitchen, back when he had hair and we both had perms.  I love this picture.

5.  That blouse I was wearing reminds me that I've always liked that color red.  In fact, I just bought a red wool coat from JCP.  All the reviews said the sleeves ran super long...meaning I could hold out hope that it might fit my monkey arms.  And it did—score!

Then I scoured the internets for a black and white houndstooth scarf to go with it, because that neckline makes me cold just looking at it.  It is the land of frozen tundra here, folks (and how about those Green Bay Packers, hey? 13-0!).  I found and ordered this one from

6.  A coworker's Americauna chickens started laying and she gave me one of the first dozen.  Their eggs are such a beautiful shade of pale blue-green, almost a cement color.  This picture makes them look more brown than they are.  Sorry, it's late and I had to use flash.

7.  A really good movie just out on DVD now is called The Debt, starring Helen Mirren.  It's a suspenseful tale of espionage that flashes between the mid-1960s and 1990s.  I was really into the story.  It's probably one of the best movies I've seen in awhile.  (Yes, better than Twilight: Breaking Dawn, and I can't believe I just said that.)

8.  Speaking of vampires, I started the audiobook Dead Until Dark on Friday, and ugh.  I.So.Don't.Care.  A lot of people loved these books, and the "True Blood" TV series is based on them, I believe.  But meh.  For one thing, the reader, who is female, makes every male character sound exactly the same, flat, monotone, and uninteresting.  The story takes place in Louisiana, and the reader affects an inauthentic sounding accent for the heroine, Sookie Stackhouse, that also puts me off.  I will finish the book, however, while I'm waiting for a Lee Child audiobook to come in at the library.  Maybe it gets better [edited to add: it did] , but I have a feeling I may be done with vampire stories, unless Stephenie Meyer writes another one.

9.  Here's a handy household tip for using batting scraps.  I cut mine into rectangular pieces about 5 x 10 inches and use them as dust cloths or cleaning rags.  They work great wet or dry.

10.  Young the Giant is a new music discovery for me.  Here's one I like.

Have a good week, all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nick of Time...or Maybe Not

I finished my holiday wall hanging just a few minutes ago, wanting to get it done in time to link up to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop?, which I thought closed at noon today.  

Turns out I was wrong about that—it's midnight—but I'm grateful for the self-imposed adrenaline rush to fuel me through the finish!

The idea for this project came from Karen at Laughter in Quilts who had made a lovely one using the Carpenter's Wheel block pattern on Quilter's Cache.  Since my front hallway was desperately in need of something seasonal, I totally stole borrowed her idea!  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

I used some scraps of Christmas fabrics I'd bought at JoAnn last year, along with Kona Snow.

The backing is a vintage piece I thrifted this past summer.  The batting is likewise thrifted.  I'd found a craft-sized package of bamboo batting at Goodwill, and it worked perfectly.  This is the first time I've used bamboo batting.  Is that stuff ever soft!  It quilted nicely, too.

I need to put up a decent rod in the hallway to hang this, and the hallway is pretty dark for pictures anyway, so I took it out on the front porch for a few shots.  I couldn't be bothered to sweep the sidewalk first (I thought I was under the gun for time, remember), and besides, that's what Picasa's "Retouch" button is for.  Virtual sweeping—no more debris, dead bugs, or whatever they were.

It's beginning to look a little more like Christmas around here.  With any luck, I'll get the little tree re-strung with lights that actually work today.  I hope your holiday is coming together nicely too!