Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Okay! I've got just a little time left to wish you all a Happy New Year before 2008 turns into 2009!

That's it . . . not much to add to my blog tonight but that. Here's to a good and Happy New Year to all of you.

I'm looking forward to another new year with lots of ideas for moving forward.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting in the Groove

We had an opportunity to see our older son and his girlfriend yesterday. Being able to visit with both sons was a nice addition to our Christmas holiday this year. It's fun to talk over the phone, but even better to see one another. It was a long day trip to drive the distance, but the visit was much appreciated - and enjoyed.

Now I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of a new year. I haven't made a new year's resolution for awhile. I have a few things I want to accomplish this year so am considering writing up my list of goals as new year's resolutions. I'm looking to make some changes in my life over the next year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

We enjoyed a fairly quiet Christmas with one of the boys and his fiance home for a visit. Since it was a small gathering we used the phone to "reach out and touch someone." It was fun to visit by phone. We made phone calls to some other family members to do some catching up and to see how everyone has been doing. It's good to learn everyone seems to be doing well.

This batch of blocks are made from some of my scraps.I'm progressing slowly with some scrap quilts. Whenever I get an opportunity I try to sew a few seams here and there. It's a little easier to do that with my sewing machine set up on a full-time basis so I don't have to set it up and take it down each time I want to sew.

These photos show some of the scrap blocks I've been working on. The blocks aren't typical with their bright colors, but I've been having fun sewing them together. It's something different for a change from my usual color palette. The centers of each of these blocks is a black tone-on-tone print. I have some additional fabric left of this black print to use on an outside border of the quilt. That should help to tie it all together.

Two of the brightly colored blocks - eye popping big daisies.Once I get the rest of these blocks sewn together I'll lay them out on the floor to see how they look together. That way I'll be able to see if they work well together. Some of the prints are so different from what I normally choose that I'm feeling a little uneasy with some of the fabric combinations. I am undecided at this point as to their compatibility. The brights obviously go together, but I don't have enough to complete a lap quilt. I threw in some others that are color related, but not real good matches. I'm hoping they will work. In the meantime I can enjoy the sewing process of putting them together. That's half the fun - the other half it being surprised by the outcome. Scrap quilts are a good surprise kind of quilt.

All the blocks are developing from this pile of scraps.I selected the scraps from a variety of fabrics I had on hand. Some were given as left overs from friends; some were sitting in my scrap pile for quite some time. I've got lots of newer fabric, but it seems it's the scrap quilts that keep drawing my attention. Once I get caught up with the scraps I can then move on to some of the newer prints I've accumulated.

I want to keep working away on my scraps to use them up. It may take awhile since it seems I have collected so much over the years. I feel I need to use up some of what I have on hand before I purchase more. It is one of my goals/resolutions this year to whittle down that collection of fabric before I bring home more. By making an effort to get more sewing done this year and use up my fabric I'll have more room to do other things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preparations for Holidays

We've been busy the last couple days doing some final preparations for the holidays. Only one of our sons are able to come home for a visit. We're looking forward to the visit though it would be extra fun to have them both home. Today my dh and I re-arranged the furniture in the living room. In the process I finally got a chance to get some of that deep cleaning done that doesn't happen often enough. I have to say this furniture arrangement looks a lot better than what we previously had. I'm glad we took the time to do it. There's still some details I will take care of tomorrow. Stuff like hanging pictures and getting books and small stuff positioned and in place on shelves and various places. The change is really encouraging. This particular arrangement makes the room seem so much larger even though the same amount of furniture is in place. There's much better flow.

I've had my heart set on getting some more sewing done again. It seems to have been a long, long time since I just sat and sewed. It's been more than a week and a half at least. I also have some patterns and instructions I want to type up. Perhaps I'll have an opportunity to do some of that later tomorrow.

This week is Christmas week. Yeah!! Christmas is such a fun holiday. We get off early on Wednesday at 2:00 pm so I'll have a little extra time to do some last minute baking and prep work the day before the holiday. There's still some tidying up to do before our company arrives. Tomorrow will have to be laundry day also as that has been piling up and needs to be dealt with. It is adding up to be a busy week.

This afternoon my dh and I watched a few shows on the History channel about Christmas. It was interesting to hear so many different perspectives and theories of the origins of some Christmas beliefs and traditions as well as the historical and religious perspectives of the nativity and Christ's birth. All in all it's been a good afternoon.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

No Day Like a Snow Day

We were getting snow and wind all day. I was outdoors for awhile earlier today to help shovel and make sure the dogs could get through to do their business. At first they objected to going out. I guess I would too if I was a little dog and the drifts were taller than I was.

My hubby got to get out the snow blower once again. He and a neighbor across the street took turns with it clearing the walks and some of the driveways up and down the street. The forecast holds the possibility of more wind and snow for the duration of this blizzard through tomorrow.

I made fresh homemade bread today. It sure was tasty and it kept the kitchen a little warmer with the oven on for awhile. To top it off, we've got leftovers for tomorrow, too. Yum!

It's basically been a quiet, restful day off.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Feeling Yucky

I've been taking it easy and sleeping a lot the past few days. I had a sinus infection a few weeks ago. At that time the doc prescribed medication that seemed to have taken care of it. Apparently I'm having a rebound. This time it seemed to hit me quickly with being dizzy, nauseous, pressure in my head and feeling very weak and just plain worn out.

I hate being sick. But staying home from work the last couple days has enabled me to get lots of extra sleep. For that I'm grateful. I'm sure it's better to help get healthy quicker. Back on some medication, I'm starting to feel better already. Still lots of pressure in my sinuses, but not dizzy or nauseous anymore.

I had big plans of doing some deep cleaning and getting the house decorated for the Christmas holiday on Monday. That didn't take place, so now I feel further behind. We've got one more Christmas party to attend for the year. After that it's bound to be a quiet Christmas for the two of us here at home. My dh says not to worry about putting up Christmas decorations since it's just the two of us this year. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I like all the decorations up for the holidays, especially the lights. So I think I'll just go minimal and put up some lights and a small Christmas tree. Going minimal seems to fit well for us this year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tossed Chickens

Tossed Chicken fabricTossed Chickens - that's what this type of fabric is referred to . . . tossed . . . when the images are scattered across the surface. Somehow that strikes me as funny. Okay, to really "toss" chickens isn't funny, but the idea, the cartoon image, of chickens being "tossed" strikes me as funny.

Too many goofy cartoons as a kid? Nah! Just a unique way of looking at the world! Tossed chickens is funny, it's just one reason I like this fabric. Another reason is I've noticed I kind of have a thing for chickens. I've been noticing how many chickens I have around in the house. I've somehow been collecting them for a long time without really noticing or trying. (Maybe I have some farmgirl in me). I'll have to one day do a chicken inventory and see just how many it adds up to. In fact I recently purchased an embroidery design to make accessories for the kitchen with chicken designs. I haven't embroidered them out on my machine yet, but that will come someday soon.

Scissors with hand made hanging ID labelI made this hang tag to label my scissors. It is one of the projects I did for a recent class I taught. These quick, easy little hang tags can be used for labeling items, gifts and packages, organizing labels, even on a tree as a Christmas ornament. They would tuck into a holiday card easily.

Here the little chick is the featured image on the front side of my scissors fob. When it is flipped over the label reveals the owner's name (that's me). It's a great way to identify your items when heading off to attend a class and to keep track of your personal items.

An easy way to identify your items in the classroomI printed info onto card stock with my computer to use on the back side as a label. It is an easy project and really doesn't take that much time to make them.

As demos for the class I taught, I made some hang tags at each class session. One doesn't need a fancy sewing machine to make these. Any old sewing machine will do the job. If you want to sew the basic little hang tag, your simplest machine will work. Those who want to make the embroidered ones would need an embroidery machine. And fussy cut fabric is a great way of making use of printed fabric images. These would also be fun with photographs cut to feature the faces of family members as well.

I used a punch from my scrapbooking supplies to cut the circle shapes from the printed paper labels. It is fast and easy. You can get perfect alignment of the words by turning the punch upside down and viewing the words from the back side as the paper is being punched. The cording that forms the handle and the tassle is a polyester or nylon cord used to string window blinds. I also use a similar thin cording like this to make my Piping Hot Binding for quilts. It's fun to think of other ways to make use of these tools aside from their original designated purposes.

This chicken tag features the fabric fussy cut to highlight the chick. The others shown are actually cast offs of embroidery projects that were goofed up and had flaws in them. I didn't want to just throw them out - I save them thinking I could use the flawed sew-outs some day in another project. This was the day. Cutting circle shapes from parts of the sew-outs yielded these cute little hang tags/ornaments.

A variety of tags/ornamentsI glitzed up the hang tags with heat set crystal embellishments. That is another very easy thing to do. The heating tool (mine is a L'Orna Heat Wand) heats up the glue on the back of the crystals. When applied properly the crystals don't come loose even with machine washing and the heat from a clothes dryer. Once set, the crystals are adhered for good.

The heat set crystals certainly add that extra touch of glitz and sparkle. I like the way these little beauties turned out. I'll make a few more and use them on our Christmas tree.

Zoom in close to see the crystal embellishments.This project is also a good way to make use of those practice sew-outs when doing machine embroidery. There's always times something doesn't turn out right - a mis-alignment of the black outline from not stabilizing properly, a mis-threading with the wrong color thread sequencing or something along those lines. I have quite a few un-used embroidery sew-outs I can make use of on small projects like this. Using them up with another project makes it so much better so I don't feel so bad (and wasteful) about embroidering something out that I don't end up using right away.

The idea that's very popular right now - to reduce, reuse, recycle - is manifested perfectly in this project. It goes right along with the current "hand-made" craze that is all the rage and getting so much press of late. I picked up a book a month or so ago called Handmade Nation. To read the book one would think this current generation is the leader and inventor of all things crafts. They've certainly got their spin on things in the current craft world today, but a lot of it is certainly not new. Some of the "new" crafty ideas seem very nostalgic to me. They're not re-inventing the crafts of yester-year, but updating some of the techniques that have been around for awhile for a re-vamped look.

I love it though. To see some of the "new ideas" is pretty cool. It takes me back to younger days in many ways. And I always like to see a new twist on ideas.