Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thou Shalt Not....., Etc.

New commandment at our house--enforced by the manufacturer's design:  Thou shalt not put anything on top of the washer or dryer--'cuz if you do, it will slide right off!  Reminds me of those German toilet paper roll hangers--where there's a metal plate enforcing the rule that the toilet paper must unroll from the top toward the front!
 Amidst warnings of approaching snow storms, we made a grocery run yesterday.  By the time we left the store seven miles away it was snowing, so we thought it would hit our community within 30-60 minutes.  Didn't happen.  This morning we awoke to less than an inch of snow.  We're told more is on it's way. We'll see.  The high winds arrived last night and are supposed to be worse today.  It remains to be seen if they'll be accompanied by snow.  In any case, it is icy out there, so I'm glad to stay home and work on this:
 This project has been years in the making.  When my niece Barbara announced that she was expecting a baby at the end of January and Nola's room is being decorated in Mardi Gras colors (yes, she's being named for New Orleans, LA), I knew it was high time to get these blocks into quilt form.  The almost baroque design of the printed fabric does remind me of the French Quarter with all those ironwork balconies and French history. Problem was, I hadn't worked on it since November and couldn't find it.  My sewing room has had a partial reorganization--not that there's any visual evidence of such!--but I couldn't find the quilt pieces.  Fortunately, they turned up under the cabinet under the extension of the Singer 66 treadle in the living room.  They're put together and pressed.  The red plexiglas triangle is to make the triangles and half triangles that square up two edges.  Just need to go get some yellow green fabrics from my hand-dyes.  (I hope to get back to hand dyeing fabrics after school gets out at the end of May.)
Obviously too cold and windy for breakfast outside this morning--so I improvised and had coffee and the last of Sweet Teen's scones at my 66--same view, but a lot warmer!

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Pretties...

When we pulled out these so we could take turns reading aloud Christmas Eve...
 I found these.  The Country Living is the January 2005 issue--I'm pretty sure I had never read it.  The Victoria magazines are May and June of 1995.  I've had so much fun reading them.  I loved escaping into Victoria and was shocked when Hearst abruptly stopped its publication.  Phyllis Hoffman DePiano is now publishing it as Bliss Victoria.  They've recaptured a lot of the essence of the original, but I do love the originals!
Several years ago I picked up a size 6 100% linen dress at a thrift shop for $1.00.  Yesterday I finally got around to converting the bodice into a pillow.  Love those delicate mother of pearl buttons and the pin tucks!  And now that my daughter is a Sweet Teen, I'm hopeful it will survive in good shape for a few years (unless her klutzy mom spills something on it).
I also appliqued a rescued doily onto a rescued yellow linen napkin and turned that into a pillow.
The sweet kitty in the center belonged to my father as a baby or toddler.  I'm guessing his mother embroidered it because the stitches look like hers.  About 30 years ago I pulled out the kapok stuffing, gently hand-washed the kitten, and re-stuffed it with polyester.
They all look so happy on the love seat.
My mother had probably a dozen of these elves back in the 70's.  I ran across this one in a magazine--no source listed.  My mom's were all red.  Matthew, who lived next door in Hudson, IL,  loved to visit; at two-and-a-half he made up wonderful stories about the "elfess".  Great memories sparked by a photo in Christmas Cottage, another of Hoffman Media's publications.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peasoup Outside; Pretties Inside

 Because we are a bit beyond a 2,000 foot drop from the Sandia Mtns (and, undoubtedly, as well, for other reasons I can't explain), our area is prone to fog.  This morning it's quite thick, and has been accompanied by frozen snow--teeny tiny seeds of snow.  (This is where I could use some of those dozens of nouns the Tlinget have for accurate descriptions of snow.)

Inside, our little tree is decorated with ornaments that haven't been out of storage in the last several years (attributable to the fact that we traveled for a couple of years and Sweet Teen dislikes Christmas).
I love, love taking out ornaments I've collected over the years and revisiting the memories of the people who made or gave them or where I collected them.  The two hats (one is the circular ornament to the left of the little hat) were crocheted by my mother about 20 years ago.  I made the macrame ornament when I was teaching in Peoria, IL in the late 70's. (I made six, so I'm thinking the others are in other ornament boxes.--I used to put up three to five trees--one for almost every room when I lived in AZ.)
I have three violet and teal cloisonne ornaments that were a gift from my sister around 1980.
I purchased several of these cloisonne fish on my first trip to China.
I love pretty wired ribbon bows on ornaments; love the extra shots of color and "fluff" they add to a tree.
One year I saved a lot of the short ends and leftover plies of embroidery thread from cross stitch and stuffed them into glass balls as memories of that years' cross-stitch projects.  Since I started quilting with Fil-Tec Glide thread, I've been saving short pieces from the starts and stops in quilting to stuff into balls--thinking I'll use them to decorate a wreath in the sewing room--but haven't done so yet.

Every tree, and every heart, needs a singing bird.  This one sings only in imagination, but it's there in the branches anyway.

Crocheted angels were things my mom loved to crochet.  Unfortunately, she starched hers with a commercial product that when washed turned the angels (and anything else) gray (and can't be removed).  I still prefer homemade starch since it can be washed out when the years add layers of dust to the pretties.

I do hope Sweet Teen gets over her dislike of Christmas.  A lifetime is a long time to dislike what for most of us is a highlight of the year.  My favorite celebration is Easter, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are tied for second place.  Sweet Teen is willing to take part in social outings that have to do with Christmas, but that's because she has relatively high social needs. However, I had to give firm instructions that she will sit with family at church services--her friends are welcome to sit with us too--some attend without family.  I'm glad that at least she appreciates the important part of Christmas, the gift of Jesus, but even the peaceful, traditional, orchestral, piano, and jazz Christmas CD's in which I find great comfort and peace just make her feel "sad." However, she did just say that she might put the "peppy" tracks from Amy Grant Christmas CD's on her i pod.

Christmas cookies, some sewing projects, and, hopefully, some quilty stuff on the agenda for me today...and a trip to the grocery store for the eggs I forgot to buy yesterday.....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Is A'Comin.....

 For the first time in decades, I purchased a real Christmas tree--to the benefit of an out-of work roofer who moved here from SC.  I always have a problem deciding what to put on the front door since the space between door and screen door is so narrow.  Here's a branch and a couple of twigs I removed from our little tree (it's just over 3 feet tall)--Looks like it's working better than anything else I've tried in the last few years.
 A kind of Christmas present to myself.  This sweet little lamp was a thrift shop find several years ago.  I'm sure it originally had a similar chimney, but when I picked it up, it had only the original socket inside.  Yesterday a friend helped me pick out a new socket and I picked up the white chimney so I could use a compact fluorescent.  The extension cord I purchased to rewire it was too thick to go up through the bottom.  Fortunately, today I found some wiring left from an old science kit--not as nice as the white, but at least it went up through the bottom.  So I lit it so I can see if I need to be concerned about heat from the bulb. So far it's staying cool.  I loved the little curved edge base because I thought it would make a perfect place to drop rings or earrings before dropping off to sleep at night.
Thirdly, here's sweet teen the night of her Christmas Concert.  (It was for school, so I'm sure they called it something else.)  Out here the bands have not only marching uniforms but also concert attire.  Black satin.  It was about an inch short.  I was told to lengthen it.  Having spent about seven hours hemming it by hand last year (no machine stitching allowed),  I said no thanks. This was taken a couple of days after her latest haircut--and doesn't represent what her hair usually looks like--I'm gently reminding her that she needs to learn how to style it with her flat iron. She's had a little more practice so her hair usually looks a bit different now--but I don't have a more recent photo.

Two more days of school and those looooonnnnnnggg commutes for me, and then I'll have a few days off.  I'm dreaming quilting--although I really need to finish decorating the tree--something Sweet Teen won't do since she doesn't like Christmas.  And I haven't quite decided how I'll finish it.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland???

 Beautiful--despite the fact that a few seconds later as I looked toward the highway, I inadvertently touched a branch and it jumped snow down my neck!
Over twelve inches here--still coming down.  Therefore, unplanned personal day from school--we have two more days next week before "Winter Break" begins--it's still Christmas Break in my heart and mind.

Hard to believe that it was 65 degrees Wednesday afternoon!

It took me a loooooonnnnnnng time to make the commute last night--and despite the five inches of snow we had at home, I really thought the worst that would happen is that I'd get to work a couple of hours late.  That's not in the cards for today.  The snow shovel was still in the shed out back.  Alex plunged into it--sweet teen that she is--and shoveled a path to the house and a path down the drive so we could get the garbage can to the street, in case the garbage truck makes it.

It's pretty---but cold!

Friday, December 3, 2010

EQ Christmas Freebie

Since I'm not accomplishing much in dora's quiltland, I'm passing this link on to you: a table runner or wallhanging that's free to EQ7 users at this link:

If you're not an EQ7 user, I hope you still enjoy just looking at this pretty creation.  (It's been available for a couple of months, but since I'm not keeping up with much except miles and miles of driving, I thought you might enjoy this.--Earlier this week there was a fatal accident that kept I-40 closed for hours; yes, that included my morning commute.  Traffic was redirected to old Route 66, where it clipped along at 5 mph then 2 mph and then stood still.  Since the roads were dry, I was able to turn around and take a substantial detour over a winding mountain road--so I'm guessing my 70 mile a.m. commute became 100 miles, but at least I got there.  Some co-workers said they'd have turned around and gone home.  Since my work ethic wouldn't allow me to do that, I just found a way to get there anyway.)

Stay warm and dry, friends.  And may you have time for some fun holiday creativity of some sort--as long as it's pretty and fun!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sock Advice?

I'm hoping a blog reader has experience with socks made from a yarn like this one.
This is Knitpicks Gloss Fingering yarn.  It's 70% merino wool and 30% silk.  It comes in absolutely beautiful colors.  No nylon; I usually look for yarn that has a bit of nylon so it will maintain its shape. So, I'm hoping someone has experience using a combination of fibers like this and can let me know how well it works for socks. Does it hold its shape through a day of wear?  Are they still comfortable at the end of a day?  Do they wear well or wear out quickly?

Yes, winter is on its way--we may have snow over the weekend or by the beginning of the week.  I'm not much of a winter person.  I love looking at snowy landscapes, but I hate driving on snowy or icy roads--kind of a big deal with a 135+ mile commute.  (Of course, if I worked really close to home and/or could just stay home and bake cookies, make quilts, and knit, I'd probably like winter a lot better!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Weekend Quilting????

See my weekend quilting?  Actually the quilt was made quite some time ago--it's the one my daughter's been using lately when she's cold while watching TV or doing homework.
The magazine is one I hope to get to sometime before bed tonight.
The flash drives?  I've been copying and editing files for learning tasks for my younger students at the Gulag.  I hope to get them converted to pdf-s for printing so these students can start being productive--instead of screaming all day "No no no no no no no!" or "No!  I want to play!"

Here's what I made last weekend when I felt "stuck".  Preprinted panel.  It's now hanging on my front door at home.   First picture isn't great; I thought I used the flash, but it doesn't look like it.  Other pictures are details.

 Back to file editing and conversion.  I'd be happy to get to any sewing today, even if it isn't a quilt.  (It  could happen.  My daughter's off visiting and then working at our church's Halloween festival.  I do need to make yogurt--but that's less than an hour of work followed by three hours of letting it make itself in the playmate cooler.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wonderful, Versatile Quilt Pattern

Check out this link to a wonderful, fun quilt from the Moda Bake Shop:

Lots of fun, easy, entertaining for quilter and recipient.

Then stop by Mary's blog to see another quilt made from this pattern.

Love it!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Autumn Cooking and Getting Stuck

One of the things I love about fall is the fact that using the oven is so much more pleasant.  On my treadle sewing machine list a topic of conversation has been cleaning pans after cooking.  I confess, that's something I don't really concern myself about, since I can always clean my pans in a few seconds.
That wasn't always the case.
About six or seven years ago, one of my friends told me about DeMarle at Home.  By now most people probably know about Silpats, even if they haven't bought one.  At that time I hadn't even heard of them; then my friend began selling DeMarle products--and I fell in love with cooking nutritious meals and cleaning up (in a hurry).  DeMarle products are made in France to extremely high standards.  Their products are made from silicone and a glass mesh--and have almost nothing in common with the silicone cooking products you may have used or purchased elsewhere.  They literally clean up in seconds!  Other people make gooey or messy foods in pans that they throw away or soak for hours after cooking.  I no longer hesitate to make gooey or messy foods.  I do make the concession of using a silpat on a perforated aluminum tray beneath the Flexipans when there's likely to be a spill or bubble-over. The acorn squash above could have been a mess because I had to cut off the very pointy end of one of the squash halves to get it to sit upright--and then before it was done cooking, the buttery, spicy sweetness inside ran all over the bottom of the pan--creating what would have been a caramelized challenge if I hadn't had access to a Flexipan.
(The other cool thing about these pans, a trick I use with the muffin pans, is that they can be turned inside out to make clean up even easier!)
I don't work for the company--but I would if I could manage it!
Next up:
Ever just get stuck during the quilt-top process?  I'm stuck right now--and neither EQ7 nor a mechanic ;-) would help. Over a month ago I picked out these for a quilt for Mary's birthday.  Some of these fabrics are gifts from Mary--she's given me quite a few fabrics for prayer quilts, and she really, really deserves a quilt.  But I just can't get moving on it.

It's not the only quilt top I'm stuck on.  I'm also stuck on a purple/gray/white one for a nephew--it's a prayer quilt.

And I'm guessing that despite how much I need quiltmaking therapy, I'm not likely to get much of it with the really long commute that begins Monday and will be part of my life for the rest of this academic year.
Trying to stay positive--a lot of niceness from fellow staff members at the school I've been at for seven years has been gratefully received in the last week--and I banked it in memories and am going to be drawing on it frequently, I'm sure.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Night Sew In - October 2010

Okay, no actual sewing--but it could be the planning part? Maybe???
There was also the long soak in the tub with 2 cups of Epsom Salts and a few drops of lavender oil.  I'd forgotten how taxing packing all those boxes, lifting them, sealing them, shifting them could be.
Hope I can move in the morning!
Sweet Teen is marching in the parade that precedes the Estancia Punkin' Chunkin'.
Then she plans an outing with friends to a mall.  Her mama hears the call of the fat quarter sale at Busy Bee Quilts.  I really hope I'll have enough energy that I will be able to participate in quilt therapy tomorrow!
Sad thing: it takes a lot of work to pack up a thirty year teaching career. I threw away a forest full of trees in paper. Makes me sad, but on such a short time frame, I had no choice. I still have all the teaching stuff in the store room that hasn't been pulled out this year. What an immense job!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Storm Damage

I lost.
67.6 miles--1 hour 23 minutes according to Google Maps
Yes, that's a daily commute of more than 135 miles!!!!
--Except I'll be driving during rush hour.
Terrible things have happened at that work site.
Having trouble figuring out what good can come of this.  (And, yes, I know it's not about me--but I'm the one who has to live it!)  Ooooooo, looking forward to winter, right?
140 days to go! (plus weekends and holidays, of course!) picture...and really don't want to post one of my tear-swollen face (the normal one is scary enough!)

Only good thing so far.....aside from the principal negotiating enough extra days for me to participate in parent conferences at current that one of the boys who's had a notorious reputation for several years shared why he and another guy used to have such outrageous behavior.  "Well, those teachers just kept giving us warnings over and over and over.  They never did anything, so we figured why not? Then we got in here and you only warned us once or twice and on the third time---hot slip!"  Wonder what will happen with their behavior after I leave?

Post Script: Today this same child, who once was so angry that he was incapable of empathy, brought me a little stuffed toy from the Madagascar movie [I think], and a letter expressing appreciation that I will treasure for the rest of my life.
The local NEA-NM representative brought me at least 20 boxes to help with moving--and said they will do everything they can to be sure that the next collective bargaining agreement has a clause that in cases of involuntary transfer during the school year, the district will provide a truck and personnel to load and unload it.
I wish we could negotiate a contract that would require them to pay for additional mileage (not that that would truly compensate).
Ah, well...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Storm Clouds - Prayers Needed

Thank you, friends, for your prayers and kind words of support. My Sweet Teen asked why God does these things to us. I reminded her the doesn't but there are evil people who do evil things. Think I'll make sure my Bible travels to school with me for a while.

I don't think I've ever done this before--but I really need prayers from prayer warriors.
I think we've all had too many reminders of how desperate the economy is.
I really am grateful to have a job and that my job is one that makes insurance possible, and at reasonable prices.

One of the downsides of my job is that it's over 60 miles from my house. it takes 60 to 70 minutes to get there and an equal amount of time to get home--that's on a "normal" day.  When my children were little we used the time to our benefit.  It been harder at times of busy construction on the interstates or local streets.
My school district has told me I'm being reassigned to another school another 20-30 minutes further away--if this happens, I'll be spending 3+ hours commuting each day.
I believe that I should not have been reassigned because my qualifications outweigh those of the other teacher according to our collective bargaining agreement.  Some administrators made a decision without all the facts.  If we can't get them to take into consideration the "real" facts, my long commute will begin Monday.

Obviously, it's pretty difficult to pack up a teaching career and move to a new site in so little time.  The collective bargaining agreement says they have to allow the teacher two days to "settle in" before teaching duties begin, but that means they don't have to give me any days to pack up.

Prayer warriors, I need your prayers.  I'm praying that the person whose program and experience I outrank will be the person who has to go.  (It will not impact her commute as it will mine.--I'd hate that she'd have to do it too, but at least it wouldn't wreck her life.)
Please pray for us.

As soon as I can get a decision, I'll post at the top of the post that the situation has been resolved--whichever way the decision goes.

Obviously, in this economy and with the financial mess our publicly funded schools are in, there's no such thing as a job closer to home.

In the meantime, I'm trying not to cry--more able to do that sometimes than others.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Eye Candy - POV

These are my idea of eye-candy.  Sweet Teen informed me yesterday that her idea of eye candy is the high school cross country team!
Ohhhhhhkay!  Definitely different points of view!
See that crib and railway crossing in the first photo?  That picture could have been a portrait of  Enright Elevator between Gridley and El Paso in Illinois---or any of hundreds of rural elevators at other sites that dotted the Midwest 50 to 75 years ago--or more. In autumn I really miss such sights (although I readily admit I'm not missing all the dust from harvesting corn--since corn is one of my big allergies).
Since I won't be getting back to the Midwest this fall, I was so pleased to learn of Wilmington Prints Autumn In the Air fabric--it brings back soooooo many memories from past decades of activities and happy events that are probably a lot more treasured because of their distance. (The fabric became available months ago, although at the time I was busy with other things and didn't even notice it had been released; that turns out to be a good thing, since I got it on sale.)
The fabrics are not in my usual colors--and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a hard time finding the violet and red-violet fabrics I want to put with these.  However, I just couldn't resist.
As for the yarn, it's time to add a few more pairs of socks to my cool weather wardrobe.  Sweet Teen really dislikes socks and wool too--another difference in point of view.
Hmmmm....I'm thinking I'll stick with my preferences although her preferences do make me wonder what Maxine, of cartoon fame, would think of as eye-candy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Dreamin' By the Big Muddy

A couple of years ago I was given the left over fabrics from someone's Mark Twain quilt. The Mark Twain fabric was a kind of multi-colored toile from Windham Fabrics.  I'd already purchased some Mark Twain fabric and some coordinates (although they weren't from the same fabric line), and ended up using them in a quilt for my brother-in-law.  However, I still had the original gifts to use and began piecing them into blocks.  I put those blocks with some more fabrics and came up with this:
I finished it this morning.  It's not shaped like an hour glass, but the wind was blowing, so it looks a bit deformed.
Here are some details:

The center panel of the steamboat was quilted with Fil-Tec Bobbin-Line around the details of the scene.  The rest of the quilt was done with a variety of  Fil-Tec Glide--one of my very favorite threads.  Some quilting stores and on-line shops carry them, but I order them directly from Fil-Tec.  Their on-line site is and they now manufacture and sell a wide variety of threads including pre-filled bobbins and what they call "mini-spools" of a wide variety of Glide colors--their minis are 1,000 yards!
This is a prayer quilt for our Victory Quilt ministry--in truth, all my quilts are now prayer quilts!
These are soooooo not my colors, but that Mark Twain toile just inspires me, and I have loved making both quilts and hope I have enough of the toile to make one more for a friend. Next time I'll do a few things differently.
I really wish Windham would print a lot more of these historical celebration fabrics because they are so inspiring--and if they printed more of the Mark Twain fabric (originally part of a fund raiser for the Mark Twain museum in New England), I'd have to buy more!
Of course, it's true that growing up near the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers while loving to read Mark Twain  and watching nature and clouds meant this quilt gave me ample opportunities for reminiscing.  (And, yes, I sooooooo wish I could be in Central Illinois for fall festivals like the Spoon River Drive.  I wonder if the Spoon River Mission Council choir festival is still held?)
Of course, it's been busy in central New Mexico, what with Albuquerque's Hot Air Balloon Festival. We've been blessed with truly beautiful days and even a couple of evening rains--a double blessing out where I live.
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