Being (mostly) an account of the creative endeavors of an artist and collector whose wings have been clipped by hypersensitivity to the chemicals in our everyday environment.
Monday, December 31, 2007
The Final Bead Round Robin Block
And this is how it looks now:
I have to admit that I had a lot of fun shopping for beads for this one. I bought pink coral pieces, blue glass diamonds that glow in the dark, some pink flower beads I didn't use and purple flowers I did use. There were two other tubes of purple beads I ended up not using but that's okay, I'll use them eventually. I wanted to put a mermaid on the block, maybe to fill the empty space right in the middle, but I was afraid to try a big motif. When I saw that mermaid charm I had to have it!
The mossing of the beads to create a grotto for the mermaid's swing to hang from didn't develop quite the way I had imagined it would but I'm happy with the results. A couple of pieces of the coral broke while I was working with it. Some of the holes were too small for the straw needle I was using.
I turned the blue gow-in-the-dark beads into the bodies of a pair of fish:
Give me the opportunity to be whimsical and I'm good to go! I could easily do more to this block but I'm going to send it on its' way so the owner can finish it up in a way that suits her.
I want to thank those of you who left your thoughts about time/project management. And if anyone else wants to put in their two cents worth I'm still open to suggestions. I just get frustrated that there's so much I want to do and it seems to take so long to get any one thing done. (I've always been an impatient soul!)
I can't remember a time when I didn't have more than one project in the works. Well... maybe in the very beginning, back when I was a pre-teen! Nowadays, however, I'm trying to finish quilts I started many years ago and at the same time I'm exploring new territory with beads and improvisational piecing. My UFO pile has been weeded out over the course of 2007; it's smaller than it has ever been. The quilts/tops that remain are the ones I really do want to have as completed quilts. Maybe this is the year I focus less on finishing old pieces and more on the new work. (Whoa, that looks suspiciously like a New Year's resolution!) I will definitely continue with the Bead Joural Project until its' completion in the middle of 2008. I have committed to the Take It Further challenge for the year. Because of my experience with the BJP I'm thinking very seriously of doing small, postcard-size pieces for the TIF challenge. The essence of the challenge is to develop an idea or color scheme into a "resolved design." Smaller can be harder to do; maybe I'll work at making them simple as well as small. There's more pondering to do on this whole topic, more goals or guidelines to establish for the coming year.
I have come home from DD's with a cold. Actually, I think little Miss M gave it to me for Christmas when they were here. Oh well. At least she's a cute petrie dish!
Friday, December 28, 2007
A Quiet Day at Home
My sister was here for about 24 hours. We talked and shopped for all we were worth! I was pleasantly surprised at how well I held up during our shopping expedition. Even better, I hit the jackpot in terms of purchases. Two pairs of slippers, a new purse, two calendars, a postcard book of rainforest images (if you can buy or borrow the book the pictures were taken from do it!), and a tin heart from Mexico that I intend to use as a focal point on a wall or journal quilt. Seems like there might have been something else as well but it escapes me at the moment. Today I am tired but feeling well. Tomorrow I go to my daughter's to tend the babies while she runs errands.
We had a lovely Christmas. DD had to drag little Miss M out of bed to see what Santa had brought for her. The adults were more excited than she was! She quickly got into the swing of things though :- ) I didn't even turn the computer on for a couple of days so I don't have any pictures downloaded yet to share with you.
I have done a little stitching during the course of the week. First I put some beads and buttons on a Bead Round Robin block that is now on its' way home. Then I started embellishing my December journal quilt. I have beads picked out for my October/November journal quilt and a second Round Robin block that I get to work on. I'm a little worried that I won't be able to get a good picture of the Round Robin block. There's some gorgeous embroidery on it but I'm afraid it won't show up well. We'll see.
Over the course of the next few days I hope to spend some time thinking about my goals for the coming year. Mostly in the area of my creative endeavors. I have to find a way to "just say no" to all of the enticing opportunities I find on the web! I think I'm already over-committed as it is. At the same time, however, those rainforest images are calling to me. I want to use them as a jumping off point for new work. How do you cope with all the ideas you have vs. the time/energy you have available?
Monday, December 24, 2007
Hole in the Barn Door
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Wear A Raincoat Santa!
I figured I'd better take a couple of minutes to do a post before these two arrive 'cause I'll be busy doing other things once they get here!
The fun thing is that I happen to have a Christmas stocking that Baby Susan can use this year. One of her aunts has been making stockings for every new member of the family as they are added in. This year she finds herself very pregnant, due a few weeks after the holidays, and has taken a pass. Understandable! My mother was a knitter and made a Christmas stocking for each of her four children. Mine was the first, done in real wool. Some time ago we noticed that it had been chewed on by a moth or two. By that time she was knitting stockings - from the same pattern - for her sons-in-law and grandchildren so she replaced my wool stocking with one made of acrylic yarns. Obviously I kept the original stocking, and now I'm glad I did! (The wool stocking is the one on the left.)
And, just to make it official, here's our tree:
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
A Few of My Favorite Things
Erin was recently tagged to do a 5 Random Things Meme. She left the tag open for anyone who wanted to play. I decided to take her up on the offer with a slight variation: mine will be 5 of My Favorite Things During the Holidays:
1. My favorite Christmas CD is Christmastime by Ricky Tims. I fell in love with it when I was working in the gift shop of the La Conner Quilt Museum; I played it all the time! Finally I had to just break down and buy a copy for myself ;- )
2. My favorite holiday movies are "A Boyfriend for Christmas" and "Borrowed Hearts." Confession time: one of my favorite things about this time of year is all the hokey, cheesy, wholesome made-for-TV movies. My television is almost always turned on to either the Hallmark channel or Lifetime these days. I'm a sucker for a happy ending. On the other hand, I can't bear to watch the animated holiday movies of the 1960's anymore, even in the name of nostalgia.
3. My favorite holiday treat: Teuscher's champagne truffles. DH and I used to share a couple of these on New Year's Eve to celebrate the anniversary of our engagement. Now that we know about my allergies to butter and cream we've had to substitute other treats. None of them are worth mentioning in the same paragraph with Teuscher's truffles. (Can you see my lower lip sticking out from where you are?)
4. My favorite gift to receive: books. In the past I especially loved to get quilt or art books with lots of color pictures. Now I content myself with works of fiction (or fabric or beads!). I also love to give books!
5. My favorite dish from Christmas dinner: my mother's frozen cranberry salad. I'm sure she got this recipe from some magazine, cookbook, or ingredient package in the 1950's. I can't eat it anymore either, but I thought I'd share it with those of you who can:
*Mom just eyeballed these ingredients. I have no measurements for you. The nuts were probably chopped walnuts or pecans. The candied cherries were sliced or chopped.
In a bowl, blend the lemon juice with the cranberry sauce, mashing the berries slightly if necessary.
Line the bottom of a mold with the cranberry sauce mixture.
With an electric mixer (remember the Sunbeam Mixmaster?) cream the cream cheese with the Miracle Whip and confectioner's sugar until smooth.
Whip the whipping cream if you have chosen that route. Fold the whipped cream or Cool Whip into the cream cheese mixture; fold in the nuts and cherries.
Spread the whip cream/cream cheese mixture on top of the cranberry sauce in the mold and freeze.
This makes a very colorful presentation when unmolded. The bottom is white and the top is red. Of course you can garnish it anyway you like, and some of you will undoubtedly be much more creative than we ever were! I loved the texture of the foamy white layer and the coolness of the cranberry layer. :- )
And just in case I haven't whetted your sweet tooth enough:
P.S. If anyone wants to take this meme and use it on your own blog feel free to do so. Leave me a comment so I can come and see what your favorites are!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It's Time to Make a List
And so are we. Here's the finished tote bag for my aunt. If I were to do it again I think I'd make the pocket taller. But not by much.
We finally went out and bought a tree last night. Being so fragrance deprived most of the time, the scent of pine is almost overwhelming! DH and The Boy (DS#2) will probably string the lights when DH gets home from church. DD and the granddaughters may be over this evening; we might wait until then to put the ornaments on so they can participate. Or not!
I'm getting a little panicky about the last minute details. Do I have gifts for everyone? Do I have enough stocking stuffers? I've still got to get someone to print out the little note I want to include in our Christmas cards so they can be mailed soon. It's very hard to have to wait on others to take care of things I used to be able to do myself.
And then there are the non-Christmas projects... I still have my Oct/Nov. journal page to embellish. I know what I want to do for December's page but haven't pieced it yet. I have to embellish a tote bag for a challenge due in mid-January. I may have two more blocks to work on for the Bead Round Robin. (They arrived in the mail yesterday; I'm waiting to find out whether the owners want me to take the time to work on them or whether they just want them back.) I committed to participating in Sharon B's Take It Further challenge which begins in January. Eeek! How did this happen?! See how much trouble you can get into even when you're stuck at home?! This doesn't even account for the ideas for projects I have floating around in my head. There are so many things I want to try and to make! No fair!
"Santa, I've changed my mind. I no longer want the complete inventory of my favorite Local Quilt Shop for Christmas. I want to be able to work faster, manifest my ideas more quickly and efficiently. Is it too late to make that change to my wish list?"
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Early Delivery From One of Santa's Helpers
So the guild Christmas party was on Tuesday and now I can show you what I made for the gift exchange:
This pillow was really fun to make. It's a combination of a couple of really old prints and the new ones I bought recently. To make it even more fun I used rickrack to create jingle bell "tassels" for the four corners. I may even make one of these for our house!
My friend C~ brought over the gift I received in the exchange:
They're all things I'll use: The box of snowpeople notecards has two different designs in it (and they're very cute!), the notepad is magnetic and is the size I normally use for my shopping lists, and the little potholder is to protect fingers from hot dishes coming out of the microwave oven.
Apparently there was a big turnout for the party so it's probably a good thing I decided not to go. The hostess was the one who ended up with my pillow; that pleases me. I know she'll enjoy it. She has grandchildren who will have fun playing with it too!
C~ also loaned me her copy of the PBS video "The Art of Quilting." I may have to invest in a copy of my own! One of my favorite quilt artists of all time is the first quilter featured: Jane Burch Cochran. As she talked about her quilts and the way she works I felt like she and I could be kindred spirits. The segment about Laura Wasilowski and the Chicago School of Fusing is a hoot. I had no idea the CSoF was so well developed! They even have a school song and everything! When I first heard about this production I was a little afraid it would be all about all the artsy-phartsy art quilters whose work is impressive but not necessarily inspiring for me. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
One more note: I'm on Fabric.com's email list. They sent me a notice of their "Just Be-claus" sale. There are some totally cute flannels on sale for a little more than $3.00 a yard. There are other fabrics on sale as well (they carry a full range of fabric types and sewing notions). I have no affiliation with them, etc., just wanted to pass along the good news.
The Darling Granddaughters were over here yesterday afternoon. As delightful as they are, they wore me out! At least that's my excuse for not doing any of the things I'm supposed to be doing and I'm stickin' to it ;- )
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
One More Gift...
I'm very happy with the way it turned out. Now my plan is to make a big pocket to sort of flesh out the side of the bag. I'll use the same fabrics I used in the band, and maybe even some giant red rickrack to edge the pocket!
Today's block is my Christmas version of the Twin Star. I should probably mention that I'm taking these blocks from a top that is waiting for final borders. Eventually I will show you the whole top (still without borders in all likelihood), but for now I thought it would be fun to highlight one block per post.
Sunday, December 9, 2007
All of our holiday decorations are still in their trunk out in the garage too. I can't go get them because the garage is currently full of toxic fumes from the printer. DH has been printing out some of the photographs he took yesterday. At least the living room is back in order after the chaos of the photo shoot. DD had three sets of pictures she wanted to try to get; we were lucky to get one! Miss Margaret does NOT like to have her picture taken. You'll have to take my word for it that she and her sister looked adorable in their Christmas dresses because those were the pictures we did not get. When DH gets done fiddling with the images maybe I can post a couple of the shots we did get here. In the meantime, here's Miss M playing peek-a-boo with me last week:
Those of you who cruise the quilting and crafty blogs may have seen the Pay It Forward challenges going around. I was too slow to get in on a couple of them, and had concerns about being able to fulfill the obliagation if I did commit to participating. But yesterday I saw that BeadBabe over at Beading at the Beach is playing. I signed up quickly so I could get one of her beaded face pins! Now it's my turn to offer the challenge. Essentially I'm offering something I've made with my very own two hands to the first three people to sign up. When you sign up, however, you have to commit to "pay it forward" by doing the same for three other people. The first time I saw this challenge on someone's blog they stipulated that they had a year to fulfill their obligation to make and send three gifts. I'm adding that caveat to my offer as well ;- ) At this point I haven't decided precisely what I will make for my recipients. (Some bloggers have been specific, others have left it open-ended.) I am mulling over the possibilities... Stay tuned for further developments! If you sign up today by leaving a comment I may even consider taking special requests!
Saturday, December 8, 2007
When the after-effects of the exposure finally wore off yesterday I was able to finish those Christmas stocking ornaments I showed you a few days ago (last week?). I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out:
DD and her daughters are scheduled to come over today for a Christmas photo shoot. DH will transform the living room into a photography studio, probably using the sheet off our bed as a backdrop. It would be nice to have a decorated tree in the background but we don't have ours yet. Depending on how the photo shoot goes maybe we'll go out and get one afterward and DD and the girls can help us decorate it. Oh wait, I forgot. By then I'll be needing that nap!
I believe I only have one Christmas gift left to make for extended family members. This one was optional but I think I'm going to go ahead and give it a try. It will be sort of a practice run for a challenge I'm participating in with fiber artist friends in the area. The challenge involves embellishing a pre-constructed tote bag. This gift will be another of those tote bags, embellished for my aunt instead of with the challenge fabric and requirements. We'll see how it goes.
Speaking of challenges, I've committed to participating in Sharon B's "Take It Further" monthly challenge for 2008. Essentially, Sharon will post a key concept on the first of each month and the challenge will be to take the idea, develop it, and push it towards a resolved design during the month. To quote Sharon, "The actual thing you design can be any thing you like in any medium or format you choose. It can be a crazy quilt block, a postcard, a journal quilt, a piece of embroidery, a sampler, a fabric book page or whatever sparks your imagination. It can also be visual journal work. In other words pages spreads of designs worked in a visual journal will be seen as a valid entry and included as one of the formats acceptable for the challenge." I don't have a clue at this point what format I will use. I probably won't be able to make that decision until I see what the first challenge actually is. If you're intrigued by this or just want more details, click on the link above to be taken directly to the page where she introduces the challenge.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I've chosen this Seesaw block to share with you today because I feel like I'm on my own personal seesaw. I finished my gift for the quilt guild's holiday party yesterday and it turned out very cute! (Up!) Then this morning I found out that the home where the party is being held will not be as safe for me as we originally thought. I've made the difficult and unhappy decision not to go. One of my friends and fellow guild member will take my gift for the exchange but I won't get to bask in the fellowship I was looking forward to. (Down.)
I'm also suffering the after-effects of being exposed to fragrance this morning when someone visited the house. There have been the physiological reactions, but there's depression too. That's almost the worst reaction. In the midst of it, it feels like it will never end. I am physically capable of sewing but have no desire to do so. That scares me. At least my brain seems to be functioning this time around.
To make things (seem) worse, I've called around and searched online to see whether I could get more of two fabrics I've been using lately and have fallen in love with. No luck. Nobody seems to have them in stock anymore. In fact, I can't find evidence that they ever existed! I don't remember when or where I bought them but I guess that's a moot point now.
Guess I'll just have to make something for myself that uses these fabrics so I can keep them around and enjoy them every year! :- )
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Our Feet Are Still Dry
On a happier note, I did engage in some retail therapy yesterday. Went out to babysit for DD. On the way out I stopped in one shop and on the way home I stopped in another. Between the two I collected a palette of fabrics for a less-than-traditional holiday quilt:
(The yellow print is little bananas!)
Whether this quilt gets made this year or not remains to be seen. I'm very tempted to join Tonya's Winter Class and at least get it started for next year's holiday season. I'm just not sure where to start...
Sunday, December 2, 2007
It's Starting to Look Like Christmas...
When I finished these gifts for far-flung family members I got down my box of Christmas UFO's. Turns out there's more yardage for backs of Christmas quilts than actual projects! (Of course I didn't think to photograph any of the contents of the box - duh.) I did find a few orphan blocks that I then tried to make into placemats for DD and family. Only succeeded in making one:
Not quite sure what, if anything, I will do with the remaining Christmas orphans. May have to wait until there are more to work with. There are a couple of block collections still in the box. One is from a swap I did with members of my church. The other group are blocks I think I won in a block lottery at my local guild. I knew I didn't have time to play with them so I didn't even look at them when I had the box down.
What I did find and leave out to play with were some abandoned crazy pieced ornaments. There was a tree, a completed stocking that had no means of being hung (I probably forgot to insert the ribbon when I was assembling the ornament, got disgusted with myself and put the whole project away at that point!), and another stocking with just the front pieced. I cut some additional batting and pieced a few more just for the heck of it:
These are still raw mind you. They will be backed with a solid piece of fabric - with a ribbon loop for hanging! - and be smaller when finished.
My dilemma today is what to make for our guild's annual gift exchange. Our Christmas party is held at the home of one of the members so it's a safer environment for me than the church where regular meetings are held. We can either make or buy something for the gift exchange but you know that amongst quilters a handmade gift is generally preferred! Unless it's an especially luscious bundle of fat quarters... Maybe I'll do my part for the local economy and visit the quilt shop tomorrow. I do have some options I'm considering that I could complete before the party next week. Guess I'm just feeling the need of a little retail therapy ;- )