Friday, December 24, 2010

Semi-Famous 2

I had an amazing and eye opening experience the other day.  I was walking across campus to a meeting, when a very sweet woman whom I did not know approached me.  She said she was a regular reader and that she loved my blog.  We ended up having a lovely conversation during which I invited her to come to a lunch-time quilting bee that two co-workers and I hold about once a month.  It was a very fun, unexpected encounter which ended up creating a connection with someone I probably would never have had the priviledge to know had it not been for this blog.  Thank you Yasi, for being brave enough to stop me.  I'm really glad to know you!
You know, until Yasi introduced herself, I believed my little band of twenty followers, most of whom are family and friends, were the only ones who checked out my corner of the blogosphere.  I assumed that anyone who was a regular reader would sign up to be a follower and make a comment now and then. Of course, I don't know why I thought that since I am a regular reader of several blogs to which I don't follow or make comments.
I call it lurking and now that I think about it, I wonder why I do it.  Truthfully, I do it because I am intimidated and just plain shy.  I think it is hard to just jump on to the blog of someone I don't know and start commenting.   I mean it isn't really something I do in the real world.  For instance, I would never just jump into a conversation I overheard while sitting next to two people in a restaurant or on an airplane. 
But, blogging and social networking encourages us to do just that.
So here is what I propose.  When I get back from my holiday vacation, I am going to host a give-away!  YAY!
Here are the rules. If you read my blog, but haven't yet signed up to be a follower, sign up to follow me.  Then, leave a comment to let me know that you did and why you haven't before. I mean, are you a bit shy like me or just too busy? If you have already signed up, get someone else to sign up and leave a comment giving you credit.  They will then be entered and you will be too. 
DON'T SIGN UP YET.  Several people have said they have problems leaving comments on my blog.  I need to research what the problem is and get it fixed.  Also,. I don't yet have what I am going to give away.  Next week, while I am in Salt Lake, I am going to go to my favorite quilt shop, Pine Needles and pick up a fat quarter bundle for the give away.  When I have everything ready, I will post a photo of the bundle and then, let the sign up's begin!
Until then, I ho-ho-hope you all have a wonderful holiday season.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Still here

I know it may seem like it, but I have not abandoned my blog. I have just had a huge family drama to deal with since I got back from our Thanksgiving trip. 
As we drove back from Utah, I received a call that my beloved Aunt had collapsed and was in the hospital. She ended up being there for a week. After that she suffered every elderly persons nightmare as she was transferred to "The Nursing Home From Hell". Don't even get me started!  The stories I could tell you would turn your hair white!  I am simply appalled that, here in America, this is how we treat our elderly.
I have spent the last two weeks working to get her released into home health care with full-time caretaker in her home and wow, it has been a trial by fire but, yesterday I was able to get her released and settle her back in her own home.  I am worried about whether it is the right move, but it is what she wanted. 
Yesterday, as I was driving her home, I voiced my concern that this might not be the best thing for her health. She took my hand and with tears in her eyes told me not to doubt myself.  She said,"Tacey,  if I die tomorrow, I will be forever grateful to you for getting me out of that place."  She is one of the most special people in my life.  I am praying every day that this will work for her.  I am asking my friends to do the same.
Of course, that isn't the only thing that has been going on.  Amid all the turmoil and stress, the Lord did bless me with some special moments...

First, may I introduce the newest little peanut to come into our family.  That's right, I'm going to be a Grandma!  My son, Damen and his wonderful, wife Christy are expecting their first child.  To say I am elated is the understatement of the year.
It will be the first grandchild on either side of the family.  My friend Jeff says this fact makes him/her "The Golden Grandchild" or "The Anointed One."  I can get behind that statement.  After all, I did spontaneously break out singing the Hallelujah Chorus when I heard the news.
We will find out the baby's sex sometime in January and as soon as that happens...let the quilting begin!
Speaking of baby quilts, my wonderful, niece Amy sent me some photos of her new son Jack wrapped in the quilt I made for him.

I thought the quilt was cute before but it looks so much better with baby Jack and his proud papa on top of it.  Congratulations Amy and Zack!  I know it was a long, hard battle to get him here, but he is worth it.
And, just because I want to, here is a little eye candy from my favorite Utah quilt shop, Pine Needles.
I love this little quilt made with raw edged squares sewn on white fabric.  As luck would have it, I happen to have a charm pack of "Charmed" fabric in my stash.  I'm thinking that if my little grand baby turns out to be a boy, this would be perfect for him. 
Look at the awesome quilting on this little number.  I have an unfinished, heart patchwork, quilt top hanging in my UFO closet.  I am thinking this quilting would look great on it. 
And last but not least, quilting inspiration can indeed be found everywhere.  Here is the front of the wine list from a local restaurant in Ogden.  I see another wonky quilt somewhere in my future...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Picky, Picky, Picky

Remember how happy I was last week to be making progress on my quilt for Kyle?  Well, what a difference a week makes.  The more I quilted, the more I hated the design I had decided on.  That's what I get for trying something new on an important project without auditioning it on a practice piece first.  The worst part is, I had gotten about 2/3 of the way through before I decided it just wasn't working.
My husband assured me that, as a guy, Kyle will not really care about the quilting but that really isn't the point.  I just can not, in all good conscience, give a gift that I don't think is top quality.
So anyway, I have been spending my evening picking out all my stitching.  TORTURE! Ugh!
To keep myself from going completely insane, I took a break and sewed the current block for my bee.  It was fast and very therapeutic.  I loved the fabrics Debbie picked out.  I have some of this fabric in my stash.  I am definitely going to get it out and start using it.
And by way of correction, last week it showed a photo of what I said was our next Christmas gingerbread project.  Well, after I posted it I realized I made a mistake.  Kade and I were deciding between the tugboat and something else and I forgot we had actually decided to go with the other project.

Here is what we actually decided on.  Believe it or not, we chose it because it was more complicated and would take more time than the tugboat.  We wanted it to take the whole day.  After looking at it again, I'm starting to think we will be lucky to finish in one day.  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Say hello to my little friend

(Cue heavenly choir singing Hallelujah chorus)

After 20 years with my old Babylock (the last five of which were a miserable struggle), my wonderful husband gifted me with this. 
To say I was surprised is the understatement of the year.  Oh, in my heart of heart, I hoped one day to be able to get a new serger.  My Babylock ran so rough that while using it I was forced to completely clear the sewing table or whatever was there would bounce off.  Plus, toward the end it only ran for about a minute before it died. Then I would have to stop, let it cool off, sew again for a minute until it died again, etc., etc.  This process made for very tedious and frustrating sewing.
I'm sure I casually mentioned these facts once or twice in passing (she said sheepishly) but, we never buy expensive gifts for our birthdays and there are about a million other more important ways to use our money, so I had resigned myself to the idea that it wouldn't be coming anytime soon.
On Monday, for her maiden voyage, I whipped out a Christmas apron. She runs like a dream, smooth as butter.  I am in heaven. Thank you, thoughtful husband, for once again reminding me why you're my lobster.
Speaking of Christmas aprons.  I am making them so that everyone in the family (even the guys...theirs are called "maprons") will have one for our annual Christmas Eve gingerbread fest.
The tradition of putting together a gingerbread house came about when the boys were young and needed something to occupy them during the endless hours preceding Christmas morning.  Over the years, as we got more skilled at it, our houses became more elaborate. Here are some photos from last years creation, "Santa's Barn".


Kade and I were discussing what we should make this year and here is what we decided on:

First a tricked out sleigh with it's own barn and now a tugboat, I guess Santa is a typical man who has to have his toys.  Stay tuned to see how it turns out.
I can't believe it's already time to be thinking about Christmas, but here we are.  I have already started on the Christmas sewing.

This is the quilt I am finishing for Kyle, aka The Best Trainer Ever.  His uniform at the gym is black and red.  I incorporated in some gray and pink because those are the colors of my gym outfits.  I hope he likes it.

Here are my three new favorite quilting books.  Material Obsessions 2 is amazing but since the quilts in there look like they would take a lifetime to finish, I think it will serve more as inspiration for color, texture, pattern, etc.
The other two are filled with modern, simple block quilts that better fit with the time constraints of my life.  I have already picked out a pattern from The Practical Guide To Patchwork for my next quilt.  I promised Kade I would make him a quilt from Circa 60 when it comes out in December.
Hang in there, Kade!  It's coming.  It's coming.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So, let me 'splain. No there's too much. Let me sum up...

It's been a whirlwind around here, lots to talk about. 
Believe it or not, even with all the decorating, Halloween managed to sneak up on me.  I don't know.  There is just something out of whack when Halloween falls on a Sunday.  It seems a bit of an oxymoron. Never the less, we managed to have fun with it. 
The Friday before,  I hosted a yummy "Groan-up's" Halloween dinner party complete with pasta bar for the main course and cream puffs with pumpkin pie ice cream for dessert.  I bought the most delicious butternut squash ravioli from Costco and topped it with a browned butter/sage sauce...2D4!!
After dinner we played Werewolves of Millers Hollow, a fun party game similar to Mafia but more appropriately themed for a Halloween gathering.  I even threw on a CD with Halloween sound effects, such as screaming women and chomping zombies, to make the atmosphere down right creepy at times.
Halloween night I broke out the pumpkin carving kit and proceeded to give a lobotomous makeover to my unsuspecting pumpkins.
No Halloween would be complete without a bit of The Joe, so a pumpkin with his face on it was definitely in order.  However, I don't think anyone got my Emoticon pumpkin.  Matt thought it might have helped if I had carved it horizontally instead of vertically.  I'll have to remember that for next year.
 This warty fellow caused quite a stir. 
But the favorite, hands down, was The Pumpkin King, Jack. 
Here they are, my quartet of wacko Jacko-s ready to haunt the night. 
In between all the revelry I've been getting my quilt on as well.
I bought Camille Roskelly's new quilt book, Simplify.  What a great book!  Wonderful, modern quilts that go together in a snap from pre-cuts.
I had some Halloween fabric from several years ago in my stash and I decided her "Little Man" quilt would be a perfect fit for it.
The top went together very quickly and turned out great.  Now all I have to do is quilt it.
And, speaking of quilting...
Remember this little baby?  Well, I made two of them at the same time.  I finished the one for my Mom and will give it to her when I see her at Thanksgiving.  This is the extra one.
My friend Kathy, showed me a cool, over-all quilting technique I have been dying to try so I thought I would give it a go on this quilt. 
It turned out great.  I love it! 
So now it is on to Thanksgiving and then Christmas.  Yay!  It most definitely is the most wonderful time of the year.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year

It's been rainy around here lately.  Most people might be a little depressed about this but I love it.  It's the signal that my favorite season of the year is here.
I absolutely love autumn.  Granted, each season has it's charm. Winter is quiet, Spring is fresh and Summer is laid back and relaxed.  But there is something about Fall that inspires me.  I am sure that part of the thrill is because it is the gateway season to the holidays but it is also the cooler, crisp days and cozier nights.  It just makes me feel "homey", like all I want to do is bake treats and feather my little nest.
Speaking of feathering my nest...
This is the time of year when my digs get transformed into my own version of a haunted house.  I guess you could call the decor "Witchy Kitchy".
I just love my crystal ball.  The witch hat is made out of an old cornucopia and a grape vine wreath wired together, spray painted and decorated with black and purple flowers & netting.

This is Boney.  Every evening he tickles the ivories with eerie melodies to haunt our dreams.

I love masks.  There is just something elegant yet creepy about them.  This mask hanging from one of my guilded pumpkins is one I covered with paper punched leaves.


These photos are truly my favorite decoration.  I found old black and white photos of graveyards and old houses online and printed them out and put them in all of the frames I have.  I even have one of Edgar Allan Poe that is genuinely hair-raising.

I've added a bit to this mantle scene since I took this photo.  I have to post a better photo later.

 Moving into the kitchen, even a witch has to have a cute apron for concocting a bit of witches brew.


Recipes and a menu for the ghostess with the mostess.

 And of course, we must set the proper table.




 This is my little menagerie of feathered friends and furry little fiends.
 



Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble
Something wicked this way comes
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Something wicked this way comes

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Excellence

I think it was Hannibal from The A Team who always used to say, "I love it when a plan comes together!"  Well, so do I, baby, so do I. 
For a while now, I have been working to put together our annual Evening of Excellence program for the young women of our church youth group.  The evening is basically a night to celebrate  the achievements and accomplishments they have made throughout the year.  Our church has a program called Personal Progress based on 8 different values. It is a wonderful program that helps the girls understand who they are and helps them gain self-esteem through setting and achieving goals. 
Each value has a colored assigned to it so our theme for last nights event was Personal Progress Let's Us Color Our World. 
Before I show some of the highlights, I want to give credit where credit is due.  The idea for the rainbow cake and the printables of the frames for the self-portraits came from One Charming Party.  A wonderful website with ideas for some of the most well, charming, parties I have ever seen.  Be sure and check it out, I am sure you will be as inspired as I was. 
The paint can centerpieces and self-portrait gallery ideas were something I ran across on Sugar Doodle.
Thank heaven for internet!  Party planning inspiration is no more than a click away.
Here are some of the hightlights:


I labeled each paint can with the purpose statement and scripture from each value.  The wording and tissue paper insert were done in the value color.

Our beehive class painted this giant palette with the color and purpose of each value.

Each girl made a funky, little self portrait which we displayed gallery style along one wall.

 

The hit of the evening were the cakes.  I'm no Bakerella, but I was pretty happy with the way these turned out. 
The best part is the surprise inside!  The rainbow layers were the perfect compliment to our theme.

I made custom labels with the name and date of the event for our water bottles.  I got the striped straws from Kikkerland.

I made a few cupcakes with any left over batter I had from the different colored layers and frosted them with off-center, Suessical swirls.


We had each girl and leader put together a presentation board of one project they had completed during the course of the year.  Here is mine.




For my Faith value project, I decided to memorize "The Living Christ".  It was no easy feat, but I finally did it.  In fact, I will be giving a talk this Sunday during which I will recite it from memory.  Say a prayer for me that I will be able to remember it under pressure!
Can I just show you what, out of the entire evening, I was most proud of making?!  Check out the little 3D, paper Ipod I made for my display!  Don't ask me why, but this tickles me. :-D
Yep, I love it when a plan comes together.