Friday, December 31, 2010

A Time To Reflect

New Year’s Eve – a time to reflect back on the year, to celebrate its passing, and all you’ve accomplished [or not].  A time to resolve to do better, to make the new year a better one, to do things differently.  That’s what this post is about.

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So, in that spirit, how did your gift giving go this year?  Were your gifts from the heart, finished on time, without stress?  Were they stitched up and wrapped up with plenty of time for relaxing in front of the tree with your loved ones?  Or were you like me......stitching up to the very last minute, frantically trying to remember who you forgot, and surfing for ideas at the 11th hour.  If so, you might be interested in joining me in 2011!

Let's think about Christmas all year long.  Starting January 5th, I’ll be doing a post every month.  Except for January, it will be on the first of the month.  I figure you need time to recuperate in January – I know I do.  I’ll do a blog post every month, with links to gift idea tutorials, and a Christmas movie suggestion [to get you in the mood, you know].  I’ll add Mr. Linky to the post [and if anyone can help here, it would be appreciated] so you can add your blog name if you’d like to play along.  We’ll be making ONE gift per month – if you make more, that’s excellent!  Then, at the end of the year, if you play along every month, you’ll have at least 12 gifts completed.

There will be small give-aways each month.  I can’t afford to buy for my give-aways, so it will be something I’ve made – and this is an open invitation to anyone who’d like to play along, if you’d like to do the give-away in any month that would be wonderful!  But I will never pressure you to do that.  Like I said, it will be small – maybe a fat quarter or a mug rug.

At the end of the month, you’ll have to post a picture of your gift you’ve made on your blog.  So be careful who you make them for!  By posting your finished gift, and letting me know, you’ll be entered into the give-away.


This bloggy club will remain open all year – if you want to do it that month, you’re in.  If you skip a month, no problem.  I’m doing this to help myself stay on track – so I have gifts on hand – instead of waiting until October or November or even December to start making gifts.  In January, the year stretches out ahead of me, with plenty of time until next Christmas – but somehow, it shrinks and speeds by until I find myself at the last minute, giving up because I waited too long.  By posting, perhaps we can help each other get more accomplished, and stay in the giving spirit all year long.

So come on back January 5th, and let’s see if we can’t get some things done in 2011 – and have some good fun along the way!

*If you'd like to add the button to your blog, just right-click the picture, save, and use the "add a gadget" on your dashboard.  Choose "picture", then add the link to my blog.  I don't know how to make a "real" button! *

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cue Heavenly Chorus

Well, I hope you all had a good Christmas, from the looks around blogland it surely would seem that way!  I did too - and I'm finally getting onto my computer to join the show and tell.

On Thursday, a very special package arrived from a very special person.  Midge from Soggibottom sent me a bag that she made, and I'm the only one in Michigan [or the country?] to have one.  I love it so much, and she even put a tag on it that says "Soggibottom".  Thank you Midge, my new bag brightens up my room and my heart - I shall carry it with pride!

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Gorgeous, isn't it?  I want to carry it everywhere!

And two days later it was Christmas.  I knew there was a box under the tree, a couple of them, and you know what I was hoping for......a new camera.....

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And not just any camera, but the exact one I wanted.  They're no longer available, but hubby found the perfect one on ebay, and now it's MINE.  I love it so much, I can't even tell you - it fits perfectly in my hand, the pictures are crystal clear, it has a million different settings and manual settings as well - I can get a few different lenses for it - it has ZOOM - it takes movies - oh my.  The only problem?  The camera has to be turned on to download the pics to the computer.  And right now, my old re-chargeable batteries and worthless charger aren't doing the job.  So the pictures on the blog today are using my old camera.  I can take about 5 pics, but then the batteries have to be charged overnight again in order to download the pics.
So there is a new charger in my future - it better be soon, I want to play!

There was also a smaller box from Amazon.com. 

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I'm so happy to own this book!  Can't wait to play with it, too.

Other than playing with my new toys, it's been slow here in Allie-land, eating leftovers and having cousins stay over.  No sewing, but some planning....I'm going to start something next week, and I hope you'll join me!  I'll be posting about it in a day or two.  Stay tuned!

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas


From my family to yours - I wish you a safe, blessed, and joy-filled Christmas, and hearts filled with wonder at the miracle He has given us.
Love, Jeff, Allie, John and Sam

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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Happy Birthday Mum!

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We love you!

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Unfortunately, mum couldn't wear her party pants today - she flew to Florida over the weekend with my aunt, to attend a birthday party.  Some inconsiderate soul brought laryngitis onto the airplane and mum found it.  So she spent the day in her cozy  slippers and comfy clothes.  Rock on, mum, you're lovely no matter how you roll!

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Abundance of Blessing

I have a bit to share with you tonight, my friends!  First, I want to tell you about a website my bff shared - Missing Money .Com.  You can go there, type in your name, and find out if your state or ANY state is holding money for you.  I tried my maiden name, my first married name, and my name now - guess what - my state has some money for me!  They didn't disclose the amount, so it will be a surprise.  I'm sure it won't be much - it's from an auto club I belonged to several years ago.  You can believe I tried the name of everyone I know, lol.  And found out my aunt was there twice!  You have to fill out a form, including with your social security number, which made me nervous - but it is a secured site - and then you print the claim form.  My friend Shirley, who lost her hubby last year, has money coming to her from her hubby.   She'll have to provide a copy of her marriage certificate and the death certificate to make her claim.  Sadly, the state doesn't pay interest on your money....*snicker*  Did I mention it's free?  You don't have to sign up to this site or anything.  Give it a try - I sure got a pleasant surprise!

And now to blessings by mail.  I'm getting that old Christmas spirit this week, I tell ya.  I got a package this week from Michelle at The Raspberry Rabbits, if you're not familiar with her site go check it out - such beautiful creations!  And one of them is now mine!

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This beautiful sachet [oh the smell is HEAVENLY], a gorgeous handmade card, some white and green tea, and a Bliss chocolate that sadly did not make it to the photo shoot.  YUM.  Thank you Shell, you are a doll! Go check out her BOM, A Sentimental Journey Through The Months - if you haven't seen it, the patterns will be up until January 11th - her new BOM will start on the 12th!

Today, the mailman woke me up to hand me this.

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An envelope from Paula at Quilt Happy, Quilt Often - her pattern company is Pacific Patchwork.  Inside was one of her darling patterns!

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Isn't that sweet???  And I love the name of it - I love 'happy'!  Thank you Paula!  This is on my list for the week after Christmas!~

And then the box...I had won a give-away over at Lyn's blog, Blue Bird Quilts Patterns.  It was for a charm pack of Lilac Hill by Brannon and Patek, and a mystery gift for reaching 50 followers.  OH MY.  This is what it looked like when I took it out of the box.

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My Christmas spirit came back with a ~whooosh~.  I felt like a little kid again!

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The charm pack was there, a darling cross-stitched card, a felt Christmas tree pen that jingles [kitty LOVES this], a beautiful notepad, Santa tissues, sweet little sewing-themed buttons, bon bon soap that smells delish, and a gorgeous tote pattern complete with grommets to make it - I've never tried grommets, I can't wait!  Oh my gosh Lyn you blessed my socks off and made my Christmas.  Oh and the market tote that folds up and snaps for easy carrying - I should have gotten a better pic of it, very stylish - and of course that darling stocking!  Lyn, you are too sweet, thank you so much - and thank you for helping me fight the grinchies!

Are you all ready for Christmas?  We are going to put the tree up this weekend, and probably start shopping next week.  Yeah.  A wee bit behind.  Neither of the boys can think of a thing they want.  Trying to find something for teen boys that won't break the bank is hard!  Hubby says "socks and underwear, that's what they need".  Of course he says that every year.  He's a lot of fun to get a gift from [not] - I still remember the year he wrapped a huge box for me, and it was speakers for his garage stereo.  I think I might have to bring that up in the next couple of days *evil grin*

I hope you all are enjoying the build-up to Christmas.  My prayer for you all is for cozy nights by the light of the tree, peace in your homes, and loved ones surrounding you.  I pray that the wonder and joy of the birth of our Savior fill your heart to overflowing.  Merry, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Still Autumn???

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Like most of the rest of the country, we're having some January cold here in Michigan.  Yesterday, we got 6.5 inches of snow, officially - nothing compared to other folks.  And people are stranded on the 402 in Canada.  In their cars.  One man [from Michigan] had been there 13 hours, and they told him they might be able to get him out by Tuesday afternoon.  ???  Apparently the truckers who are also stranded have been opening their trucks to folks, keeping them warm in the cabs.  God bless the truckers.

Last week, when we went to the library, I almost didn't go in - I have so many projects going, I didn't want to get any books.  But I did go in, and of course a book jumped off of the shelf into my arms, demanding my attention.
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This project in particular caught my eye.

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I thought it was possibly the cutest family tree I'd ever seen.   Maybe someday I'll find time to make it!

The snow has stopped, and now we're just dealing with bitter cold.  You'd think, since I'm staying home, I'd be getting a lot done...but no.  This cold weather is sapping my strength.  I think the hardest part of dealing with fibro and arthritis is the lack of energy.  In my head, I'm still a Type A person, full of grand plans and always overestimating what I can do.  The pain is easy to deal with in comparison!    Staying busy is one way to keep my mind off it.  Right now I can't stand for more than maybe 10 minutes - hard to cut out a quilt in that amount of time.  [Even a teeny one!]

Tell me, at what point in the race to Christmas do you decide you're NOT going to do something you planned?  I had planned on making Christmas cards this year.  Today, I decided it wasn't going to happen, and I'm not even sending pre-made ones [since I didn't purchase any].  The little gifts I'm making for some special friends will not be finished by Christmas, let alone shipped.  Is it time to throw my hands in the air, and just get a bunch of Christmas movies at the library?  I feel like a slacker!

I think I'll go watch Everybody Loves Raymond and read your blogs.  Pretzel, anyone?

Friday, December 10, 2010

She Loves Me

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This is Greta.  She's my friend's dog, and right after I took this pic she jumped up and kissed me.  She's a very lovable pup.   Mum and I visit my friend every Thursday night.  This past Thursday had a twist - I dropped mum off, and then went to the SE Michigan Crafters Meetup, hosted by Rae from Made By Rae and Karen of Patterns By Figgy.  Very fun - although I wasn't able to stay long, I got to talk to a lot of interesting folks.  The highlight of which was getting to meet Rebekah, from Don't Call Me Becky.   She's so sweet!  I think most everyone there had a blog.  Then I went back to pick up mum and go for donuts.  Blueberry filled.  With hot chocolate.  I found my hot chocolate in the car this morning....totally forgot I had it.

Today was a mixed-emotion day.  I went down the street to my best friend's house, to help her pack up her sewing room.  She's moving.  Only to the next city, but I won't be able to run down in my jammies anymore to borrow a sewing notion.  We actually met several years ago, on an international machine embroidery yahoo group.  What a happy day when we discovered we lived so close!  I was happy to spend time with her today, but sad at the reason.

Tomorrow will be spent baking with my mum.  I honestly don't know when I'll get any sewing done.  Stuff is still in piles everywhere, maybe Sunday I can get to it - we're supposed to get some snow Sunday, and it will turn very, very cold.  Sounds like a good reason to stay in, right?

I'm going to go take a look at my Google Reader now, I'm sure it's bursting at the seams!  If you don't hear from me for a couple of days, I'm either sewing, baking, or have exploded from eating too many ginger snaps.  'Tis not the season for self-denial!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Baby It's Cold Outside

So. So. Cold.  I'm typing this post with a t-shirt, hoodie and sweater on, under a quilt and with my heated rice bag on my knees.  Our guaranteed-for-life windows leak quite badly, and the company is no longer in business.  But it's still summer in my heart!  Sweet Carrie sent me a package and warmed me right up.

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The loveliest towel, hand-stitched with a bucket full of seashells, reminds me that it's still summer somewhere, and will be again [she has me pegged, you know, I love all things beachy], the darlingest little reindeer ornament [the nose is a red bead!] and some vintage buttons with, yes, ANCHORS on them!  Thank you so much Carrie, you're a darling.  This is where they live:

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I had bought that cupboard years ago, loaned it to my mum, and now twenty years later it's come home to roost in my sewing room.  PERFECT for the towel and reindeer!  The buttons are on the shelf with the vintage picture.

I finished a project this weekend, unfortunately it wasn't for me - my aunt asked me to make some placemats from some napkins she'd bought, as a gift for her friend.  Of course I said yes.  So she purchased the backing fabric and brought it over.  Both fabrics were stretchy, and what should have taken about 20 minutes took all weekend.  Midge  suggested I use interfacing on the back, which would have worked very well, had I seen her email before I finished the first few.
 
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The picture was taken before I snipped the threads and ironed them.  Just so you know - nothing leaves my house looking like that, lol.

Must tell you about a couple of things.  First, Jenny of Elefantz has a new pattern out, Christmas Tea, so, so darling!


And bonus, right now she's having a 50% off sale in her shop!  You can't beat these prices, gals - and right here, I want to publicly thank Jenny for keeping her pattern prices low enough so we can all afford them.  Even when they're not on sale.  I'm not an affluent quilter - I can't pay big bucks for patterns - and I really appreciate Jenny's doing that.  Should I ever sell my own patterns, I'm going to follow her excellent example.  Go check out her shop, and if you already have all of her patterns, you can tell her you'd like to purchase some and send them to a fellow stitcher!

Also, I wanted to tell you about a give-away over at Val's blog.  Val is yet another lovely Aussie designer [something in the water down there, folks, Australia abounds with talent!] and is having a wonderful give-away.


She has some really sweet patterns - and some free ones, go check her out!  I really need to make the hanger covers for my aunt.  DARLING.

I think that's all for now, I need to go into hyper-top-secret sewing mode between now and Christmas day [and probably beyond, to be truthful].  So I doubt I'll have any finishes to show anytime soon.  For the new year, I'm planning on some more free designs, a give-away, and who knows what else.  So be well, stay warm - cuddle up with someone you love~!  And if you're Down Under, stay dry and cool...although my imagination won't even go there right now.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fail

Good evening my friends.  Remember my great project I was doing a tutorial for?  Remind me not to do that anymore, at least without finishing the project first.  It was going to be a table runner, then somehow morphed into a table topper.  And it's Awful. 

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Me and my big mouth.  I do like the trees, and I do think they'd work just fine if I'd chosen a different background.  AND shape.  Table runner is what those trees need, not a big fat square.  After I'd agonized over it for hours last night, it dawned on me that my mum and I are baking for Christmas, and everyone is getting food gifts - including the person I'd tried to make this for.  So, back to work on other things.  Meanwhile, I'll share how I made the trees, it's easy and I think they would look cute on a card.

First, find your greens.  They don't have to match.  Cut strips 1 1/2 inches, 1 3/4 inches, and 2 inches.  My strips were from 14" to 18" long.

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Arrange them on your design wall in an order that pleases you - I went from light to dark, sort of.  Start sewing them together.

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 Press - I press the seams open, it lays better.

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Now it's time to make some trees.  Draw a straight line on a sheet of paper, or directly onto your fusible web.  You're going to draw 3 lines, not equal - 2 longish ones and one to connect them at the bottom.  Alternatively, you could add fusible to the whole piece, then free cut your trees.

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 Cut them out [not on the line yet!] and fuse to the wrong side of your pieced fabric, following manufacturer's instructions.  Make sure you change the angle and direction to make them wonkier.

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Now cut them out on the line, and arrange them in a PLEASING formation on your background.  Um, somehow I totally didn't do this.

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Then blanket stitch in place.

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If your machine doesn't have a blanket stitch, you can do them by hand, but that would defeat the purpose of being fast and easy.  I've done applique with just about every stitch on my machine, including straight stitch.

Now - I'm envisioning these trees on fabric cards.  I'm going to try a few, and add some decorative stitching to look like garland.  I can also see them on a table RUNNER, with a light blue background and some curvy white fabric to look like snow. 

The reason I showed you my failure, is so you know that everything doesn't always work out perfectly, and that's ok.  Unless it's Christmas time and you're swamped.  Then it's not ok.  The star in the middle?  I was mimicking the one in the background fabric, somehow I thought it would show up bolder - tried ribbon, but couldn't sew it on straight.  I forgot to lengthen my stitch, and it puckered.

Quilting and designing are both learning processes.  What can I say - it's better than trigonometry, right?  Now will someone please pass the chocolate.....

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