Decking the Halls

For whatever reason, I was tired yesterday. Yes, I'd been cooking for two days, but I can't recall feeling so worn out by it in the past. Maybe it's just age creeping up on me. Also, I haven't cooked the whole dinner in a couple of years, so see above about age creeping up on me. I had to make a short trip into town, but otherwise, I spent the day doing some slow stitching and just a little bit of sewing.

On the sewing front, I finished the third of five sections for the Purrfectly Pieced quilt. I'd left it like this the day before:

There were two square-in-a-square blocks to make. I actually made these twice when I neglected to trim the yellow square portion of the block. It's one of the ways I mess up over and over again, and then nothing fits as it should. I took off the green square, trimmed it, and then sewed it back together. It needed two large buttons.

Incidentally, the pattern says not to sew the buttons on. "Your quilter will thank you." But I'm the quilter here, and so I do what I want. It gratifies my inner rebel.

After that, I had just to add the hot fix nailheads for the eyes on the cat and the two birds, and it was finished. Too cute.

Here are the three sections I have for this quilt so far.

Okay, and then the only other thing I did was to put out all the Christmas quilts and other Christmas stuff. This is my Christmas Star table topper. 

Those are some Jim Shore creations in the middle. I bought those before I'd ever heard of Jim Shore.

If I'm remembering right, this might have been the first quilt I quilted when I got my sit-down mid-arm machine. 

Here's a poinsettia table topper. The candle and poinsettia plate it sits on were some items I found at Goodwill several years ago.

This was a quilt-along with Lori Kennedy at the Inbox Jaunt. It was just for practice and learning, but I like how it turned out. I used a white metallic thread in the center and around the edges.

I used the white metallic in the bobbin too. Here's how it looks from the back.

This is Santa's Village, made for a challenge (Any Holiday). 

It hangs on the short wall between the kitchen and dining room. The table topper in the image below was made by my friend Marei.

This little Gingerbread Man was made for another Project Quilting challenge (A Well-Dressed Man). If you want my opinion, a well-dressed man should look good enough to eat.

This Christmas tree hangs in our family room downstairs. It's decorated with hot fix crystals, although they don't show up well in the photograph.

This is my Roly-Poly Santa. He came from a kit...kind of fun to make. It was my first try with gridded stabilizer. The kit for him is still available at Keepsake Quilting. There's a snowman and a scarecrow version as well.

You might recognize this one from a few years ago. Those are the tiny trees I embroidered from Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread. Those were positively addicting. Once I started, I couldn't stop until they were all finished. And then I combined them with a little "Tiny Tree" sew-along from Temecula Quilt Company to make this little quilt. It hangs in the dining room.

Downstairs next to the fireplace, the stockings were hung with care. The one on the right is Matthew's stocking. The two on the left are for the kitties.

These are my two little Santa figurines. I felted the one on the right when I took a class some years ago. The one on the left is a hand-carved Santa made by my friend Carol from high school. If you look carefully at that, you can see it's the same Christmas tree quilt shown above. The kitties below are Smitty on the left, and Gracie on the right.

A new addition this year is Mrs. Claus' Cookie Team, finished last month. It sits on the coffee table beside me.

Here's one I don't put out every year, mainly because I'm not sure what to do with it. I saw it in a catalog at some point...can't remember when or where. I thought it was cute, but it's just a clay head on the Santa with a weird mop of a beard. Matthew calls it the "Rasta Santa." He's sitting on the piano downstairs this year.

Finally, this little paper mache snowman. Erik made this in about the third grade. I put it out every year. You know how when you put your Christmas decorations away for the year, and something always gets left out? It's this snowman at our house. It's okay...he works for winter too.

Sadie followed me around while I did this. She doesn't like any of this stuff. 

If there's no tree to climb then what's the danged point of decorating at all? Sheesh. Humans. Such cretins.

Okay, so I'm feeling more rested today. There isn't much on the agenda, and so I'll spend most of the day sewing. I'm starting a new project today, and I'll tell you more about it in tomorrow's post. 

Coming up, I'll be starting on my next project for The Endeavourers art quilt challenge. The prompt this time is "Portrait," and I have a photograph I've wanted to do for a long time. I won't be able to show it to you until the reveal on February 1st. (Not showing you is the hardest part of the challenge.) I'll take breaks from that every now and then, however, and I'll get to work quilting the Trashy Triangles quilt. It's been lounging on my machine, relaxing its wrinkles, and I'll get started quilting it probably within the next couple of days.

You might remember this when I sewed it together. It was made from cut off bonus triangles accumulated over many years. 

So there's plenty to keep me busy, as usual. Right now, it's time to get back to my nemesis quilt, Calendula Patterdrip's Cottage. One day it will be finished, and I can throw it on the floor and walk over it, just to show it who's boss.


Turkey Report

Good day-after-Thanksgiving morning, my friends. I hope you're all recovering from your food comas. We had a nice dinner here. I didn't overeat, and enjoyed a reasonable plate of food with some of our family favorites. We had a small gathering. I don't have much to report since it was a busy day in the kitchen. Mae brought dessert, and Mike did the turkey on our Traeger grill. The turkey was especially good. It was brined, then given a spice rub, and basted with a 1:1 mixture of melted butter and triple sec. The skin was like candy, and the meat was moist. The only Thanksgiving-related picture I took was this one of our table after it was set:

Those plates are from a set that belonged to Mike's grandmother. These particular plates have a green rim (although it looks black in the picture). I almost never use them, but figured I put them out with the green tablecloth. The silverware was some I inherited from my great aunt. The wine glasses belonged to Mike's mother. She bought them when she visited us in Oregon many years ago. When she passed away, we found them in her California home, and brought them back to Oregon. So our table was an homage to our family, both living and deceased. This was one of just two pictures I took yesterday.

Before everything got started, I took the first stitches on the dreaded Calendula Patterdrip piece. I'm hoping this will be one of those stitcheries that ends up being easier than expected. Aside from not being able to see the pattern for tracing, I'm also dealing with stitching on almost the entire quilt top, which makes it heavy and awkward. 

So here's the thing about me and embroidery: I'm an unapologetic stabber, if that makes sense. I stretch my fabric tight in the hoop (and, yes, I prefer the heft and stability of a hoop), and then I push the needle in with my hand on top, and pull it through with my hand on the bottom. With smaller pieces, I pin back the excess to keep it out of my way. This quilt is simply too large for that, and so I'm spreading it out in my lap and keeping the least bulky part toward my body. Yesterday, I decided I needed to put on my big girl panties and do embroidery the way some folks consider "proper," by keeping my hand on top. It'll be slow going until I get used to it, but it'll probably make the job easier. 

I had one free hour yesterday when I could have done some sewing, but instead, I flopped into a chair and gave my aching feet a break. I'll get back to my sewing today. And today, there was a pretty red sunrise.

It was a beautiful day yesterday, but we're promised at least a week of rainfall. And you know the saying...red sky at morning, sailors take warning. So I'm considering myself warned this morning. It'll  be a good day to spend in the sewing room where it's warm and dry.

Also today, I'll put out all my Christmas quilts. We haven't put up a tree in several years, and we even donated all our Christmas tree ornaments and lights to Goodwill when we cleaned out the basement this past summer. I have Christmas quilts for pretty much every surface in the house, and I'll pick up a little pre-decorated tree from the grocery store along with a pretty red poinsettia. It's enough Christmas for this old codger and codgerette. I'll take some pictures and show you in tomorrow's post.

Until then...take it easy today. Have a turkey sandwich and enjoy this short lull between holidays. Also, get your ears ready for the deluge of Christmas music. It's already started here. 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody! It's my favorite holiday of the year. I was able to get quite a bit of our dinner done yesterday. Today there will be more, beginning with stuffing the turkey. And, yes, I know there are naysayers out there who will tell you not to stuff your turkey, but we do it anyway. We just check the temperature when everything is done to make sure it is hot enough to be safe. 

But let's back up to yesterday, shall we? Mike and I are endeavoring to get more movement in our lives. To that end, we recently purchased a Bowflex, and we are liking that a lot. It's filling in the space left behind when we sold our pool table earlier this year. We also moved our treadmill down with the Bowflex, and now we can watch TV while we do our walking. But I'm also going to try to get outside for more walking when weather permits. It looked as if yesterday would be my only chance for some time, and so I did that first.

The sun was shining at the top of our hill. We were above the clouds. It's the same this morning. 

When I drove down to the bottom of the hill, it was foggy and gray. It wasn't raining, though, and so it worked for me. It was good to get out and see some of the winter things that grow there. Here's my favorite local barn.

This is how it looks on a better day.

Despite the cloud cover, there was still plenty to catch my eye. The blackberries were making their way across some rocks that line a drainage ditch.

They were dressed for Christmas with their red and green leaves.

Nothing is blooming at this time of year, but the carcasses of things that bloomed earlier are still interesting. In better days, this was Queen Anne's Lace.

Here's how it looks from the top. Just look at all those seeds ready for next year's bloom.

Beside them were these little guys...about the size of a quarter.

Even the crispy grasses were interesting.

But at this time of year it's hard for anything that stands still to escape the moss and lichens. It's another good reason for us to get more movement in our lives.

This mule was contemplating where to graze next.

This was one of the few trees that still had some leaves attached to its branches.

I saw lots of trees with just one leaf attached. It always reminds me of that O. Henry story, The Last Leaf. I saw a dramatization of it when I was a little girl, and it has stuck with me ever since. It's a good story, and appropriate for Thanksgiving, I think. If you don't know the story, you can see a dramatization of it on YouTube:

Walking on, there were lots of pyracantha berries hanging on. These are often red in other parts of the country. Here, they are orange.

Also, I saw the first holly berries of the season. I regret not getting better focus on these.

These next ones are known as snowberries. Some experts will tell you they are edible if cooked at the right stage of maturity. It would be risky, however. They are considered mildly toxic to humans and other animals.

And I don't know about you, but cold weather gives me a runny nose...always. I'm like my grandmother these days, and I never go out without a packet of kleenex in my pocket. It was the same yesterday, and I pulled an unopened packet from my pocket. Generally, I'm using regular generic kleenex, but yesterday's was a surprise. I knew you'd want to see it.

Walking on...despite the moisture in the air, it didn't seem wet unless I noticed the dew on the grass and dripping from wire fencing.

I've walked by this "barn" hundreds of times, but never photographed it. It isn't really a barn, but more of a garden shed. The fog made it more picturesque than I remembered it.

I saw this single robin...no friends anywhere that I could see.

I passed by some apple trees with apples that were never harvested. It always makes me sad to see this pretty fruit go to waste.

Here, someone had gone to the trouble of putting miniature pumpkins on every fence post.

Every post for the whole length of the fence had its own pumpkin or two.

These ghostly trees were interesting.

Some of the fields have been planted, presumably with winter wheat, although this could also be red clover.

As I returned to my car, a blue heron flew overhead. I watched until he landed and then posed for his portrait. Isn't he a handsome fellow? Such excellent posture.

Here are some shriveled wild rosehips.

And a cattail that's seen better days. Smitty would be appalled at such a scruffy tail.

By the time I reached my car, I was cold and ready to go back home where the sun was shining.

It was time to head into the sewing room. Sadie was my sewing cat yesterday.

I found my applique cat right where I'd left him. It still needed topstitching on the birds and their legs and feet added.

From there, I was ready to stitch the yarn coming from the yarn ball entangling the cat. I wanted to use a thicker thread than regular sewing thread. Looking at my wall of thread, I was pretty sure I had something from my quilting fairy godmother, Ila. Ila gifts me with some wonderful threads...stuff I've never seen before. In this case, it was this 12-weight thread.

I always like the names of colors. "Red tomato." It brings a picture to mind.

And I love that Superior threads often tell you what needle to use. In this case, it was a 100/16 top-stitching needle. Well, I didn't have anything that large, and so I stepped down to a 90/14 topstitching needle. For good measure I used some Sewer's Aid to keep it lubricated.

And that performed amazingly well. It gave me not one bit of trouble. And take a look at this! I used the triple stitch on my sewing machine. Is this just too stinking cute?

Okay, so that block is nearly finished. I need to add a couple of pieced blocks to the left side, but I set it aside there so I could finish up December's Books & Roses block.

Now all the blocks are finished and ready to be sewn into a quilt top. Here are all the blocks for this quilt.

We had a pretty sunset last night. The sun actually sets looking in the opposite direction, but it lit up the sky to the north.

Okay, so here we are Thanksgiving morning. I hope y'all enjoy good food and good family time. As for me, it's time to get cooking.