Saturday, December 31, 2011

So long, farewell....

I've never liked New Year's Eve. I used to try and enjoy it - I'd get dressed up and go out and drink toasts and all that stuff, but it always felt incredibly forced. I no longer head out for the holiday - I am quite content to sit by the fire with a box of yarn, a cup of tea, and a certain warm white fluffy pup who is content to sleep the evening away. All of the Christmas things have been packed away, Lola is home and resting quietly on my sewing table, and there's not much else to do but relax and reflect.

I could present to you a mosaic of projects for the year. But then I'd have to learn how to do make a mosaic, and I'm still on vacation :) I could present you with a list of top posts for the year, but I don't really care about that sort of thing. I'm happy you visit and chat and email and comment, and that, quite simply, is enough to make this year on the blog absolutely worth it.

One of my favorite Christmas gifts (it's very geeky, of this I am aware) was a beautiful quill pen and a few bottles of ink. And parchment, which is very necessary for edicts and proclamations and that sort of thing that I am going to have to write now, because what else does one write with a quill pen in this day and age?

If I were to name that photograph it would be called 'Potential.' That blank piece of paper, just like the new year, represents new challenges, new projects, new things to learn, new people to meet, and new places to go, all unknown at this moment in time. Quite exciting, eh?

 One of my favorite quotes, but I have no idea of the source - I've only ever seen it as 'Anonymous.'

I hope your new year is pleasant, and that it lets you leave the aches and pains of 2011 behind you. I will see you on the flip side, my dears. Have a safe and happy time ringing in the new!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winter Brights

How was your Christmas? It was fairly quiet here. I roasted chestnuts on a whim (not really to my taste but it was fun), we played Catchphrase (have you ever? You should--what a fun game!!!), and my nephew played with almost all of his presents (of which my inner child is jealous of most of them--as is my outer adult :) It's been a fair amount of lazing around and taking care of nonsense since.

But today. Today will be my day.

 Because I received a glorious box of candy-colored yum that I cannot wait to dive into.

Lola will be returning to my sewing table shortly, and it will be back to work. So I am going to spend some quality time with my hook before I head to my sister's for dinner tonight.

What are you up to today?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Six Sparkling....

I had a deliciously marvelous day off of work on Friday. I slept in (though I didn't mean to), had cookies for breakfast (meant to), and headed to Joann's for a slow, crafty, motivation-seeking stroll (totally meant to). I bought a few cuts of fun fabric, some sewing goodies I've had my eye on and had coupons for, and some beads for one more attempt at Aunt Ida's bells. To buy those faceted beads you need to buy at least a gajillion of them in one color. This was not an appealing option, so I was very happy when I found a bag (the only one in the store at the time) of colored "pearls." But they're not really pearls--they look more like mercury glass. I was hoping there was enough of each to coax one bell out of each color (there was - but I left the gold ones in the bag. There was enough glitz already...).

I scurried home and set up shop with some tea, some Christmassy TV, some cookies (my dad made a lot and they're too yummy to ignore), and my beads. I got a little bit obsessed...

I sat there all of Friday afternoon with nothing but a dinner break. I was completely lost in the rhythm of it. At times I tried to force things through and a bead would break right in half. In some places I could make it look ok, but in others I had to unstring and restring. A few look better than the others, but they're all sufficiently bell-like to make me very happy with them.

I was limited to buying silver beads (the gold beads were leftovers from the kit) but I love how they add an extra sparkly bit, and some vintage flair.

I had them all piled in a little bowl just to put them out of the way until I could finish off the ends. The sunlight hit them in just such a way that the only word to describe them is dazzling (of course I have no picture of that).

Aren't they just the prettiest colors? Even when all the loose beads were in a bowl I kept smiling when I looked at them - something so simple and silly....but it doesn't take much to make me happy.

And they catch the light just so when hung up:

So that's my final Christmas craft for this year (and I promise it's my last bell post for a while). I have some crocheted holly bits that I had no ideas for what to do with them, so I'll leave them be and see if inspiration strikes next year. Unless I lose them first...definitely a possibility.

I'll see you soon--I'm off to see 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.' I hope they didn't butcher the story...that always irks me. Bye for now!

I'm sharing here this week:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the night before....

Apparently, my love for A Christmas Carol and other tales notwithstanding, 'Twas the Night Before Christmas is my favorite Christmas book.....

This doesn't include all of the versions included in those Christmas anthologies that you buy simply for the delightful pictures. I haven't read this story in yeeeeeaaaarrrrsss...... But I can tell you that the two most important lines in the whole book, two lines we should all take to heart and remember each year at this special time, two lines that should be stitched on a sampler, are: "Gave a luster of midday to objects below" and "I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick." I know this because I deemed them important enough to highlight:

Before I bid you adieu today and get back to my bell-making antics (I'm quite obsessed and can't wait to show you those I've made for no good reason other than the joy that comes from mastering something that had seemed impossible before) I'd like to wish each of you a merry Christmas! I hope your homes are cozy and filled with love, your travels smooth sailing, and your presents all keepers so you don't end up in those awful post-Christmas return lines. And if your hearts are heavy this season, I hope that you find peace and solace in the beauty of the day. If we all lived closer, I'd invite you each over for some Christmas tea and Christmas crafting  :)

Merry merry Christmas, my lovely friends! See you soon!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cherry Bomb

Emphasis on the bomb. And not in that good 'da bomb' way but in the 'Wow. I really bombed on that one' way. Yes, it's my next quilt block. Or quilt mess. Me no likey.

This week we were doing applique. The hard kind that my grandma does and enjoys. The kind where you hand sew it and take your time and that my psyche was not built for. There were several different methods, for which I watched all the videos. But one of them required freezer paper, of which I have none and was not trekking to the store just for a few inches of it, so I skipped that method. I chose to do the needle turn method and the gathered circles method. It's kind of a least in my eyes.

I had no idea how to do a layout of just plain circles. I didn't want to spend the rest of the month sewing this one, but I wanted to have a go. So I figured a few different sized circles would be good practice, so I went with that and ended up with the most random looking block ever.

I started out doing needle turn, but cut out my stuff before I watched the tut. Party foul. So I had to modify what I was doing. Either way, it's not a method I'm comfortable doing, and I don't know how my grandmother can stand to do so much of it (she actually is in LOVE with needle turn applique). Here are my shoddy results:

Halfway around I realized I was supposed to be doing a blind stitch, not a random whatever-you-feel-like sort of stitch. 

 This one I did the proper way but I am just very awful at it. It didn't feel more comfortable as I went along, either. I'm going to have to pick Grandma's brain the next time we visit.

Maybe it's because they're circles and circles and curves are kind of hard? I don't know. Perhaps I'll try something straight and see if I have more success. Next I tried the gathered circle method. It was pretty easy, but I apparently cannot cut circles out of cardboard without making them look...angular. So these shoddy circles are a result of my cutting and not so much my sewing as the edges were already pressed under nice and neat.
This was a pretty small circle--they're kind of hard to do. I apologize, tiny circle, for the things I said to you. But let's face it - you weren't cooperating.

 This one came out the best. But it's still not that great.

I very much prefer doing raw-edge "cheater" applique. My pieces stay nice and neat and flat. They stay the shape they were intended. I don't find my shoulders up around my ears due to sewing stress. I certainly extend major kudos to those who can handle needle-turn applique. I lack the patience to want to try and perfect my technique with this. I don't find it necessary, either. Different techniques were devised so that anyone interested could experience the fun of making fabric pictures in a way they find enjoyable. No sense in making yourself crazy.....

This was a timely block, though. My sewing machine is still in the shop, and I'm having some withdrawal symptoms. My back-up machine doesn't do curves well, and hand-sewing sounded cozy. This block probably won't make it into the final quilt, though. We'll see.

I'm off to finish some final Christmas stuff on my day off (or what's left of it--I slept later than intended but it felt soooo good). See you soon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Three Links

I came across three lovely little links this past weekend that I read/viewed over and over again. I think all of them create/contain imagery that would translate into excellent fabric. That has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that I like fabric :) If you've got a few minutes to yourself, here they are for you to (hopefully) enjoy::

A Girl You Should Date - Posted on Facebook by my cousin, I bookmarked it to enjoy again and again. Avid readers who can lose themselves in a book for countless hours should be able to relate. I found myself nodding and saying "Yes!!" to myself, and wishing that the male species would read this and take it to heart.

The Coat - what Christmas is all about. Or how we should always treat each other, I suppose. You may have seen this one kicked around on different blogs here and there, as that's how I came across it.

Winter Song - such a sweet video for a pretty song...

So that's that for now. I've been finishing up Christmas preparations, looking forward to my last day of work for the year on Thursday, and trying to think of all the things I want to buy at Joann's on Friday. It's been a while since I've been there and I'm geeky excited to have a morning (afternoon? I'll probably sleep in) to wander around. I have a quilt block I haven't even started on, so I suppose I should do that....

See you soon!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Makes

I was going to do my baby blanket reveal today, BUT my gifting plans fell through and I don't want to reveal before I give it (or until I get sick of it being here--whichever comes first). So I puttered around the house in my fabulous red and pink polka dot PJs taking pictures of handmade thingees. And now you get to suffer through that. Merry Christmas :)

This is one of the first quilty things I made. It's a table runner for the dining room. It's before I learned about smooth borders and munched points. It's hand-quilted too.

I don't know if this is good stitching or fingers were dead to all sensation for a few days. I only went in one direction but I should have finished the criss-cross.

 I found the instructions for these over at Allsorts. This was a cheery evening spent in front of the TV. They look a wee bit Dr. Seuss-ish, no?

 I used my pinking sheers, and the stitching makes it look more scalloped. On my to-find list: scalloped sheers. I've heard they exist...

 My grandma made this (it's on the kitchen table right now)--no matter how I take the picture I just can NOT get the colors just right. She explained to me the super-easy way to make this, but as soon as it got too math-y sounding my eyes glazed over.

She machine-stitched the pieces but did the quilting by hand.

Hers is reversible. Because she hand-stitches her binding. She's not lazy like me.

I  was looking for light-blue felt a few weeks ago, but saw this instead. Simply yum polka dot felt. I had an ornament idea, but it was real oogey looking (that's not a real word, but describes perfectly how it looked), so I made yo-yos instead since I had already cut circles.
 I still have no idea what I'm doing with them. They're just fun to look at.

A few years ago these were on super-sale and I bought about a half dozen. I don't remember who got them all, but I assembly-line painted them. There were supposed to be lights in the holes, but none of the lights fit, so I used pearls to fill in the holes instead.

Can we take a moment and look at the nifty stars in the eyes, and the plaid scarf?

  Sister Alicia painted this nutcracker a few months ago. She said she can point out all the mistakes but I can't find any. The nephew is a wee bit disappointed that you can't actually crack nuts in it. I remember that feeling well...they should just call it something else, then.

And would you look at that! It's a bell. And it looks like a bell! And not a pile of mush.... I had my sister look at it (she makes jewelry) and she agreed with those commenters who said I had a tension problem. Now that THAT bit is sorted I'm going to spend my Friday off this week at the craft store looking for fun-colored beads. I'm tired of pearls and gold.

Have you got any fun handmade stuff going on right now?
Linking up here this week:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I want to go to there....

My sissie Alicia made this for a friend of hers. She never took art lessons or anything. We have a local craft store that offers them, but every time she tried to sign up they were full--of the employees who worked there, which I don't think is right, but whatevs because I think she does just fine on her own. These are on my phone so the quality isn't great, but you should be used to that by now :)

Don't you want to be there? 

I do NOT want to sit under this particular tree in case a coconut were to choose that exact moment to fall.

I love things done in silhouette. I want her to paint me a wintery scene done this way.

My official favorite is how the sun is reflecting off the water. I think just this cropped pic would make a great painting...

She texted me a question about the color of the sky. I had missed it and answered her too late for her liking as she "requires immediate responses" lol. She did the exact opposite of my belated suggestion, and I'm glad she did, because seriously...what was I thinking?

So that's that. It's in the spare bedroom and it makes me smile when I walk past and catch a glimpse, so I thought I'd share. Ta!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sprinkles and Drizzles

It's that time of year when there's too much chocolate, too many cookies, and yet...never enough of the two. I was doing pretty well on my calorie-counting diet, but for December it mostly gets tossed out the window. I have no will-power. There's no way I will ever be able to avoid all that sugar and those yummy munchies. Unless everybody adds raisins and black licorice to everything. Because then you can have it all...

To make matters worse better, on Sunday sister Alicia and I (minus sister Rachel this year--who said she was coming but changed her mind, and then changed her mind back and came for dinner after the work was done, but that's neither here nor there so why even mention it?) opened up our annual one-day confectionary in the kitchen, and put together oodles of yummy chocolate covered pretzels. We have the operation down to a science, between the melting, dipping, sprinkling, and drizzling, not to mention prep and clean-up.

So you start with all this stuff...


...melt and dip, adding sprinkles and drizzles along the way....

...being careful not to drop any because dogs can't have chocolate (and I know this is white chocolate, which isn't chocolate but is technically buttercream (forget where I read that) but why take chances? And it's less for us anyway...

...and then when you're done you have pretty, festive, yummy treats that might make it in to work on the sweets tray....might make it in.


Mmmmmm.....I heard my dad mention baking the other day...yes, please!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

O' Christmas Tree

This weekend our home obtained that loveliest of Christmas symbols, the Christmas tree. The economy and crazy prices being what they are, we had to downsize and get a smaller tree this year:

Obviously a little Christmas miracle was needed. Good thing I just invested in some magic Christmas socks:

And we had some magical ingredients on hand:


True magic can't happen until you take a few sips of tea sweetened with peppermint mocha creamer (I know--mocha flavor in tea? But yes!!! Yummmmmyyyyyy!).

Voila!!! One super-magical Christmas tree! It's a little skinnier than last year's (but it's quite tall). There's one odd branch that sticks out towards the right. Even though mine was the sole vote for keeping it, majority did NOT rule, and so we clipped little birds to it. It is now my brother's worst nightmare of a tree branch (but he doesn't know it yet):

It has been declared (officially) the nicest tree we've ever had. Until next year when we say the same thing. And just because I figured out how to take blurry-light pictures (OK - I didn't figure it out happened when I forgot to turn off the macro setting):

And just because my sister said she does NOT feel like looking at a bunch of pictures of blurry lights:

But I'll spare her the rest. I'm not going to mess with the lady growing the baby, bwahahahahaha.

Our tree is up a little earlier than usual this year, which is fine by me. It smells heavenly. How are you doing with your hall decking and holly hauling?

Linking up at the Craft-O-Maniac Christmas Tree party!!


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