2011 – A very good year.

1. Fall Mini Quilt, 2. Moda Bake Shop Baby Lattice Quilt, 3. Navy Blue and Green baby boy quilt, 4. strawberry fields quilt , 5. Soul Blossoms Quilt, 6. Sarah Jane Children at Play Quilt, 7. Meeting Sandy Klop, 8. Happier Bricks Quilt, 9. Erin Morris Weekends quilt back, 10. Retro Kitschy Christmas Quilt, 11. Christmas Moda Sweetwater Quilt, 12. red aqua pink fabric hoops, 13. Strawberry Fields Bricks Quilt Tutorial, 14. Striped Binding, 15. Red and White Churn Dash, 16. Chrysalis Quilt, 17. vintage sheets qulit, 18. vintage sheets quilt, 19. red pink aqua pinwheel quilt pillow, 20. Modern Churn Dash Quilt at Bryce Canyon, 21. Hexagon pillow, 22. brown and blue baby quilt, 23. patchwork quilt, 24. baby boy navy blue and green quilt, 25. Happier Squares close up

Well, it’s that time of year – time to make a year-in-retrospect-photo-mosaic. (I think it’s somewhere in the official bylaws of being a quilt blogger). So once again I jumped on the bandwagon – a) because it’s fun to look back and see what’s been done this past year and b) because I like looking at them all over blogland as well. Lots and lots of inspiring eye candy.

2011 has been a great year- adventures and fun that I never would have imagined last January: attending spring Quilt Market in my hometown, having some of my quilts hang at said Quilt Market, meeting one of my favorite fabric/quilting inspirations, Sandy Klop, going WAY out of my comfort zone and planning a quilt-blogger’s party, but I think my favorite was meeting so many absolutely lovely people – whether in real life or online – who also hoard fabric share this fun, creative, quirky hobby.

Thank you awesome friends.  Happy New Year and best wishes for 2012! Can’t wait to see what it brings.

Scotty ornaments & sewing with kids

Three years ago on Christmas Eve my adorable grandfather passed away.  He was 3 months shy of 100 years old so it wasn’t a sudden thing but it made it a poignant Christmas that year.  The same day that he passed away, my parent’s 16 year-old dog, Rosie, went missing.   We never saw her again. She was old and frail as well, so our assumption is that she passed away also.  Since that time other people have told us about dogs “going away” to die. I really like to think that she knew my grandpa had gone (they had a special affinity for each other) and that she went with him.
So when I saw the adorable scotty pattern at Allsorts, I thought it would be perfect to make a little scotty ornament to give to my family members on Christmas Eve in memory of that day that we last saw Rosie and Grandpa.  And I thought it would be a fun project to do with my girls.

The girls loved the idea but I was surprised as we started working on them how interested my little boys became. They insisted on helping.  At that moment, I will admit I wasn’t super enthusiastic about doing it with them too – mainly because I figured they would need more supervision and it would take a lot longer. But they were awesome – maybe slightly more careful and excited about it than the girls even. It was so much fun.  Good lesson for mom.  

We used felted (washed and dried) wool-felt which is great to work with – very forgiving – and matching thread. The felt hides so many flaws.  I need to do more stuff like this with both my girls AND my boys.

Hope you are enjoying the week after Christmas. I think this is one of my favorite weeks of the year.  All the busy-ness of pre-Christmas preparations is through and it’s time to just play and relax with the family, but still enjoy the lights and the music and the movies and the FOOD. And to make it especially awesome – no barfy kids this week. Bonus!

Imperfectly Perfect Christmas

To all those who celebrate the holiday, Merry Christmas!
Our holiday from school started unceremoniously last Monday with a kid throwing up. Great.  As the week progressed, various others have succumbed to not feeling so hot either.  I felt so frustrated about how it would all affect our plans for the week with friends and family – and it did. And so, I’ve been grateful for this perspective:
“We have in our minds a picture of how everything should be – the perfect tree, the perfect lights, the perfect gifts, and the perfect family events. We might even want to re-create some magical moment we remember from Christmases past, and nothing short of perfection will do.
“Sooner or later, something unpleasant occurs . . . the turkey burns, the sweater is the wrong size . . . the children quarrel, the pressure rises – and the picture-perfect Christmas we had imagined, the magic we had intended to create, shatters around us. As a result, the Christmas season is often a time of stress, anxiety, frustration, and perhaps even disappointment.
“But then, if we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to the spirit of Christmas, we will recognize wonderful things happening around us that will direct or redirect our attention to the sublime. It is usually something small – we read a verse of scripture; we hear a sacred carol and really listen, perhaps for the first time to its words; or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring that the many minor things of tlife we too often use to adorn it.
“In these precious moments, we realize what we feel and know in our heart – that Christmas is really about the Christ.” ~Dieter Uchtdorf (you can read the whole address here).
So even though it hasn’t been “perfect”, Christmas is already Perfect on its own. And that’s all we really need.

Kitschy Christmas Quilt

Behold: the Kitschy Christmas quilt.  The inspiration for this quilt first came from this Anthropologie Quilt.  I’d been thinking about it for a few weeks when I decided (on Thanksgiving Day) to make a Christmas version using all my scraps left over from last year’s Retro Christmas Quilt.  (I used my Accuquilt GO cutter Isosceles Triangle die to cut out this whole quilt in a very short amount of time.)

I’ve been collecting those retro-vintagey fabrics and now my stash is seriously depleted. But I’m okay with that since they’re far better appreciated in a couple of finished quilts than in closet in my basement.  The solid greens are Kona’s: Palm (lighter) and Holly.

I also used the last of my Holiday Happy fabric for the back. Perfect.
The perfect thing for my big blank wall during the Christmas season.  And I’m well-pleased that I finished it in time for the actual holiday.  It even goes well with my throw pillows from Christmases past. (Snowflake here,  Circles here, and red and white pillows here.) 
And since we’re talking retro-Christmas, Merry Christmas from me (and my little sister) ca. 1978.  I’m pretty certain my mom made those gingham dresses.  I could have totally used some of that green gingham in this quilt!

Christmas is practically here!

Christmas break has begun. And it’s been a little more lively than I’d hoped, but I was still able to squeeze in some basting and quilting yesterday. Hoping to get this one finished by tomorrow. What I should be doing with my sewing machine is making Jedi robes for Christmas presents. But I still need to actually procure the fabric and since I didn’t want to leave the house yesterday, the quilt took priority.  Hopefully I will have a minute to hit the fabric store today for some durable (and cheap) brown fabric, suitable for Jedi robes. And maybe I can pick up another roll of red pearl cotton and finish that Merry Christmas wool project while I’m there.

Yesterday we also tackled some Christmas baking, and gifts for neighbors.  I let the kids help me put together these Stove Top Potpourri kits from Calli at Make it Do. A quick, attractive gift. And it smells heavenly. I have some simmering right now. 

Each year I like for my children to make something and write a note to thank their sunday school teachers/youth leaders at church.  I decided I wasn’t in the mood for the extended sugar cookie process like last year, but I still wanted something the kids could feel like they were contributing to. This is what we came up with and I thought I’d share – partly because you can learn from our trial and error – and because I think they made a good quick, last-minute Christmas cookie option.

Basically we used a quick Cake-mix-cookie recipe (like this one at Make and Takes) to make quick cookie dough.  Then we embellished with those Candy Cane Hershey Kisses (I promise Hershey has not paid me any money for these endorsements).

This was our first experimental batch where we put the kisses on the balls of dough (we used Chocolate Fudge cake mix, by the way) before we put them in the oven. As you can see – this did not turn out that well – at least in terms of attractive presentation – they were still delicious and we did not mind keeping them for ourselves.  M&M’s however worked just fine.

The next batch we tried we put the kisses on a minute or two after the cookies came out of the oven, but while the cookies were still warm. Perfect!  The kisses melted slightly and looked festive without weighing down the cookie. Attractive, delicious and really fast. A winning combination if you ask me.

JAQS Fabrics
Finally – FYI – JAQS Fabrics is closing and Q is selling her whole inventory for 20% off (orders of $15 and over) with the code JAQSFabricClose.  She has some lovely things (including pre-cut FQ’s). You may find just the right last minute present for yourself.
UPDATE:  JAQS is not closing (lucky us!) but the same sale applies through Jan 5, 2012

Random December stuff

Oh. Why hello again. I’m back and I survived the week of holiday-parties/recitals-bonanza. Barely. (I fell asleep on the couch last night at 8:15 while watching Elf with the family.) 
So not a ton of new stuff to share today, but here is a little wool work-in-progress that I started, oh, 4 years ago. I found it the other day when I was digging through my wool to make more Allsorts ornaments. I’m determined to finally finish it this year. (This is the pattern.) It’s been nice to have a little handwork project to carry around, but I’ve misplaced my red thread half way through the Merry Christmas, so I’m feeling stymied.  Grrr. 

I also received some very nice post this week.  These goodies came my way from my swap partner. They looked so cute all wrapped up. And I loved that red and white zipper pouch. So scandinavian looking to me.

Here is my fabulous haul, thanks to Amy at The Needled Fig. Thank you again Amy! One the bottom right is a sweet sewing pouch/needle book. Just what I really needed! (Maybe now I won’t loose my red thread when I really need it.)

And speaking of Scandinavian, my wonderful Norwgian friend sent me a little surprise package for Christmas. Also included, but not in the picture because I already ate it, was a tin of mackerel in tomato sauce. I LOVE that stuff. (I know you think I’m crazy).  But look – it was gone even before I cracked open the chocolate = proof. I think the 4 smaller chocolate bars are to share with the kids, but I may hide them and keep them for myself. (Not really, but the thought has crossed my mind. :) Takk Julie!!

And finally another sweet surprise. (Christmas surprises are even more fun these days, because when you’re the mom, they’re extremely rare.) This one from sweet Trish of Notes of Sincerity.  A handmade scarf! I love it and it looks so great with my gray coat (and it covers the missing button that I need to sew back on = pathetic). Trish and I have been blogland friends for a while now and in October I got to meet her in real life at the Sewing Summit.  It is so much fun to meet virtual friends in person. Thank you so much Trish! Trish has a cute etsy shop and sells these beauties, so if you’re looking for a special gift or one for yourself, you might want to check them out.

And finally, one of my other favorite parts of the Christmas season: Mint Truffle and Candy Cane Hershey kisses. I still can’t decide which I like best.  I guess I’ll have to keep eating them to help me make up my mind.

Finally: December Giveaway winners are posted! Many, many thanks for your kind comments, your reassurances that I’m not the only one who feels slightly frenzied right now, and reminders that the Christmas calm will come. :)