Thursday, December 29, 2011

Subway Art

One of the gifts I decided to make for Christmas was a subway art street sign for my husband. Subway art pieces have been all over blogland for a while and in all of the shops, as well.  I decided that I would do one for Gary with all the names of all the streets we have lived on.  Technically Gary didn't live on the first street listed, but if the highway had not turned but continued straight, instead, he would have lived on it.  He grew up in a house that was in a straight line from where I grew up about 5 miles away.

The streets are in 5 different states and several cities within those five states.  Okay so some were suburbs of the city, but still .....

Here is the result of my subway art experiment.

Making it was actually pretty simple, though I was totally frustrated with a couple of office store employees when I tried to get them to understand what I needed them to do with the file I brought to them.

Here is a Tutorial of how I did this.

1.  Open MS Word and create a text box. Mine was 6" x 8".  The canvas I would later attach it to was 18 x 24, so I needed the text box to be the same proportion for later enlargement before printing. You will need to figure out the correct ratio for your canvas/text box.

2.  Choose different fonts and different sizes for the different streets or other words you use.  Choose a color for the text.  I chose white and made the background black.  Play a bit with the fonts until you are pleased with the effect.

3. You will need to go into the format area to format the text box for size, color of font and fill. I used a gradient from top left to bottom right for the fill (background). You can choose the effect you want.

4.  Once you are happy with the look of your text box, you are ready to have it printed.  If you want it larger than 8 x 10-1/2 (you cannot print to the edge of the paper -- there will be 1/4" white all around)., you will need to have it printed by either a printer or in the copy section of Staples or another office supply store.  I chose a Staples at first.  The first young man to help me did not understand how to enlarge the text box proportionately and after some time got someone to help him.  The second young man understood how to do it, but, though I kept telling him that he would need to print on larger paper than 18 x 24, he still printed on that size.  Of course, there was a 1/4" white border which was totally not acceptable since I needed it dark to the edges.  I paid for my copy which was only a couple of dollars and change and left.  Make sure the person making your print understands how to do this!

Note:  You will either need to e-mail the file or take it to the store on a thumb drive as I did.

All was not lost for me.  I'm sure I could have taken it to a larger Staples where someone on staff would have really understood what it was I was doing.  However, since we work in the print industry, I happened to mention my problem getting this printed to one of our printer customers.  She volunteered to print it for me on their proof machine if I'd send her the file.  She delivered the fabulous copy the next day after sending me a file to approve.  How is that for great service?  They even made sure it had crop marks on it and had "bled" the edge.  That's printer talk for making the outside color go beyond where it will be trimmed so no white will show.

5.  After trimming, coat the back of the print with Mod Podge and position it on the canvas using a brayer.  You could use your hands to smooth it down.  When I do another one, I will also coat the canvas also.  You can learn from my experiment -- coat the canvas as well.  There are a couple of places where the print did not adhere as well as it should have.  Once the Mod Podge is dry, Brush more Mod Podge on the front of the print.

6.  The final step is to paint the edge of the canvas black or whatever color you chose as the background.  If you do this in advance, be sure to paint a bit of the front of the canvas as well.  Gallery wrap canvas will look the best.  Cheaper canvases have staples on the edge which is totally fine if you are framing the canvas.  I was not so wanted it to be staple free.  You can attach a sawtooth hanger to the wood frame of the canvas for hanging.

Here is another look.

I'm not sure why the wall looks gray in this picture, it is actually an off white.  It was difficult to get a photo without there being glare.  The printer used really good paper so it has a bit of gloss and the Mod Podge added to the gloss.

I hope you liked my little tutorial.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  As this is the only piece like this I've done, I'm not exactly an expert on it, but I did learn a lot in the process.  It was fun!  Try it!

Yikes it's almost the new year!  Are you ready?

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chocolat Pillows

One of the reasons I did not post a lot before Christmas was that I was busy making some of the Christmas gifts.

Today I'm sharing the Chocolat pillows that I made for our daughter Beth.  She has a suede brown sofa and she really likes chocolate -- especially dark chocolate.  I'm a milk chocolate girl myself, but that's okay!

There are two of these pillows.  The one in back shows the back side of the pillow.  Both have the Chocolat on the front.

The graphic is from the Graphics Fairy who has an amazing variety of graphics available for use!  This one is displayed both in reverse for use with transfer paper and the correct way for just printing.  All I did for these pillows was to print the image in the size I needed on t-shirt transfer paper from Avery for light fabrics and ironed it on Osnaburg fabric.  Easy, peasy!  Just make sure to check that the image has transferred before removing the backing.

For the back, I went to the local Jo Ann's fabrics looking for a blue and white ticking, but instead found this wonderful brown "zebra" print.  The brown used for the cording was already in my stash.  The pillow forms are from Jo Ann's as well.  I did put a zipper in the back so that the covers could be removed for cleaning.  For that I cut two pieces of the backing, attached the zipper with a zipper foot and then cut the rectangle the same length as the front fabric.  When I make another of these pillows, I'll do a real tutorial with all of the steps in case making pillows isn't on your list of accomplishments.  They really are NOT hard to do!

Here is a closer look at the French Chocolat label on the front of the pillow.

Sorry this photo is a little dark.  I have a new Photo Shop Elements version and haven't quite learned how it works yet.  I jumped about 8 versions so there are differences!  Once I've learned this one, I'm sure I'll like it better than the old version 2 that I've used for YEARS!

Later I'll share the subway art that I did for Gary.  It was a first for me, so I learned a LOT about what to do and more importantly what I'll do differently the next time.

Guess it is really time to take down the Christmas decorations, but I'm not ready yet.  Yes, I am procrastinating as I like them up until New Years and then I wipe the slate clean so I have a few more days to enjoy the Winter Wonderland musical theme.



             and The Graphics Fairy Brag Monday

Monday, December 26, 2011

Chrstmas Day 2011

Okay, it is the day after Christmas, but lot went on here yesterday.  All of these "guys" were here plus their parents!

A lot of these needed to be opened.

So there was a lot of this....

And a whole lot of that!

We hope you had a Joyeux Noel!

We surely did!

Lots of laughter, lots of fun.

We ate way too much!

But it comes but once a year and we are so glad it does!

Getting ready for this took me away from blogging for quite a few days.  I'll post some more pre-Christmas photos this week while we wait for the New Year to arrive.

The best to you!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Stockings & a Banner

I hope you are better prepared for Christmas than I am!  There are still a couple of presents to purchase and cookies to bake, plus some of the already purchased gifts are not wrapped yet!  Yikes! It is getting way to close to have this much left to do!

Last week when we went to Tucson, I had the opportunity to photograph our daughter's family's stockings.  The don't have a mantle so hang them on this really cute bench by the front door.  This makes it easier for Santa since he can't come down the chimney anyway!  He sneaks in the front door!

Except for the denim on the left which was made by the other Grandma (Hi, Mary!) these are stockings I've made over the years for grand kids.  The red with the lace is made from fabric and left over lace used for the bridesmaid's  and flower girl dresses from M & M's wedding and belongs to their oldest daughter A1 (she is A1 because another granddaughter's name also begins with an A and because she is very special!).  The stocking with the Princess Feather quilt pattern was made from a pattern in a Country Living magazine several years ago and belongs to L, I think.  I made two of these and one belongs to E who is our other daughters second daughter.  The ticking stripe belongs to H or maybe the Princess Feather belongs to H and the ticking stripe belongs to L!  I think I've made too many Christmas stockings to remember any more which I made for whom!  Mindy saw a ticking stripe stocking in a magazine and we tried to duplicate it with a couple of changes.  I think the lace at the top of this one is the other half of the lace I used for the coffee bag stocking.

The yellow and brown Sunbonnet Sue I made for Mindy when she was a little girl and I had first started quilting.  I know, yellow and brown, what was I thinking?  Well Sunflowers are yellow and brown, after all!  The other stockings in the back belong to Ehrwen (I probably misspelled that!) their cat and Prince, their dog.  You can also see part of Mindy's Rudolph collection here.

On the bench is part of Mindy's collection of Rudolphs.  She has been collecting them since she was quite young.  One year all she said she wanted for Christmas was a stuffed Rudolph.  Try as I might, I could NOT find one that year.  So, I did what any self-respecting mom would do.  I found stuffed deer and painted it's nose red with finger nail polish.  She did figure it out, though.  She loved it anyway even if it wasn't a REAL Rudolph!

Here is the banner I made for the china hutch in the dining room. 

These are chipboard letters from Hobby Lobby.  I painted them white and sparkled them up with a bit of clear glitter.  They are simply hot glued to twine.  It does make it a bit difficult to open the door of the cabinet, though. LOL  My SIL, Joyce, made the ceramic high button shoe that sits on the side of the hutch.

The stocking is from a heavy grosgrain fabric with a lace doily cuff.  I love this neutral combination highlighting the textures instead of a color.

The kerosene lamps are wearing their holiday bows though they are hard to see.  Many of them are from family and a few I got from an antique dealer in Wisconsin.  I didn't buy them exactly.  She needed antique clothing repaired and rather than paying me, I would earn pieces in her shop.  One dress I finally gave back to her without completing it as I had put so many hours into this Victorian era ball gown that I told her she couldn't afford for me to finish it.

There are a few more Christmas things to show you, but they will have to wait until the next post.  I'll try not to be so long between posts, but there was shopping to do and I do have to go to work, too!

Until next time, enjoy the season!


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Angels Aware!

Hello my dear friends!

What an incredibly busy week it has been!  It seems there are never enough hours a day to do all the things that need to be done, much less the things we want to do!  Sunday we were able to go to Tucson to see two of our grandchildren perform in a musical and have lunch with their mom (our daughter), dad and brother and sister.  Then we drove back to the Phoenix area and had dinner with two more grandchildren and our son.

Monday was work, but after work we had dinner with another granddaughter and various other relatives before going to see her perform in her school Christmas concert.  When did 7th graders become SO sophisticated!  Not to mention the talent we saw!

I took a few photos of the angels we hang on the tree before they came out of there box.  Have you ever seen so many angels in such a small space before?

That's just the first box of angels.  There is this one also.

These angels have personalities, too.  Here is one with a sweet face.

She is one that I made for a ladies tea at our church one year.  I made a LOT of these for the tea and a few for our tree.

This one was made when we lived in Alabama.  I made quite a few of these, too, but I gave all but one away.  I think I used them on top of packages, too.  She is made from a silk rose and silk leaves plus a wooden bead with a pipe cleaner for a halo.

The following two are definitely Arizona Angels as they are made from cotton bolls.  Of course, they could have been made in a number of places in the South.  I just know these were made here because I made them from a kit.  I made more than I kept, but these two have distinct personalities.

This one has a heart for a mouth -- kind of Betty Boop, don't you think?

But, this one!  don't you just love the quirky smile?  She's the angel who has the fun!  Can't you see her saying to the other angels -- "Boy, we sure scared those silly shepherds, didn't we? That was FUN!"

These remind me of a friend in Alabama who called everyone "angel".  I miss that and her!  She is a quilter, too!  If she didn't call you "angel" you were in BIG trouble!  She's the one who is an angel -- love her to pieces!

That all for today.  I'll do better this week, I hope.  I have more photos and plan to take more of Christmas quilts to share with you.

In the meantime, don't overdo it.  It's only 11 days before the BIG DAY, but it will all get done, it always does!

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sheet Music Cone Wreath 2011

Hello wonderful friends!  Do you feel it?  Christmas is in the air!!

Every where you turn you see Christmas!  I know, I know it's been in the stores since BEFORE Halloween, but now it is in our homes, too!

I'm very excited about the new decorations I made this year.  I learned a lot and will do some things differently if I repeat any of these, but mostly I'm pleased.

I promised to show you the wreath next, so here it is! (This is not where it will stay, it just needed to be photographed here for the light source.)

Here is how I did the wreath, but I didn't take photos that day.  I was actually home sick and decided to try to accomplish at least one thing, but taking photos was too much!

1.  Cut a circle out of chipboard with another circle cut in the middle -- like a donut.

2.  Roll sheet music into a cone shape and fasten with hot glue. (I used an old piano book that I had and no longer use.)

3.  Starting a 12, 6, 3, and 9 -- on a clock face, begin attaching the cones with the pointed side toward the middle.  The size of your wreath will depend on two things -- the size of the music (or book page) you use and how closely you put the points to the center.  If I'd known I was going to cover up the center, I might have put the points closer together.  This wreath is HUGE!

4.  Fill in between the first four cones to fill out the first layer.  Then add as many layers as you want on top of those using the same method.

5.  For the center, I used a paper doily with the words Joyeux Noel.  The words were printed on photocopied sheet music using MS Word Word Art.  If When I do another one, I will use a bolder font.  The scrolly one is hard to see from a distance.

Here is a closer look at the center.

Now you can actually read it!  One side of the wreath isn't as symmetrical as it could be, but once the glue is dry, you just can't change it!  That is the second thing I'd do differently.  On the other hand, if it was perfect, it would be hard to tell it was hand made, right?

It would be fun to do wreaths using the pages of books in different sizes.  It might look quite elegant using paper doilies, but that would be a lot more expensive than using an old piano study book! LOL  Any way, I like the look of the wreath.  It will not stay where it was for the photography.  I haven't quite decided if it will be in the foyer or the Master bedroom.  Maybe I do need to make another one!

What kinds of wreaths do you use?  Do you use real greenery or artificial?  I use mostly artificial, but I miss the smell of the real thing.  However, with artificial, I can decorate earlier and enjoy it longer!

Next time, I think we'll either talk angels or have a stocking show.

Until then, enjoy the season!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Coffee Bag Stocking

Hello Friends!

Are you getting excited yet?  I am!  I absolutely LOVE Christmas!  It's even COLD in AZ so getting in the mood is easier than when it is 80 degrees!

Saturday I had planned to take some photos of Christmas quilts and other stockings that I've made, but it was gloomy and rainy all day  -- but I am NOT whining!  Sunday was better, but I had other things to do, so today I'll show you the stocking I made this year from the coffee bags I scored not long ago.  I told you about theme here

This stocking is made from the back side of one of the bags.

It will hang this way in my house as I usually hang stockings with the toe to the left and heel to the right.

But it could be hung this way and look just fine:

The sun was bright and shiny the day these photos were taken.  That's not a flash you see reflected in the armoire, but instead it is the sun shining through the window.  It had to be morning as those windows are on the East.

My dad finished the armoire.  He used a glossy varnish.  Though I've had this for years, I've never taken the time to refinish it with a lower gloss finish.  I really like rubbing the wood with oil and then using a paste wax on them.  That's how I did our antique oak kitchen table the last time.  I had used a polyurethane when the kids were small, but took it off and refinished it several years ago using tung oil.  But that's another post for another time.

The cuff on the stocking is left over from another stocking I did in the past.  It is actually a crocheted doily I purchased and cut to use as the cuff.  I like the contrast between the burlap of the bag and the lace of the cuff.

This weekend I also made some more ornaments for the tree.  I had edited some that I've used in the past which left holes in the decorations.  I'll show the new ones I did in another post.  I did make a few more of the pleated music with the rose, too.  This time they were made from photocopied "Winter Wonderland" sheet music.  I just couldn't cut my original as it sits on the piano during the holidays.

Next time I'll show you the sheet music wreath that finally got photographed.

How are you coming with your decorations?  Are you done?  Do you wait until later to decorate?  Do you do a LOT or a little decorating?  Do you use a theme or just use whatever you have collected over the years?  Be sure to leave a comment and tell me about your decorating habits.

Until next time!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sister!

Hello Friends!

Today, Saturday, Dec. 3, is my sister, Janice's birthday.  She's older than me -- sorry couldn't resist saying that, but she is.  She was a Senior in High School when I was a Freshman.  This is a good thing, I think.  She cleared the way for me, but this post is about her, not me.

She was a CUTE baby.  See?

We do not look alike.  Not at all!  She and my brother look like my Dad's side of the family.  Me?  Just put my mother's face on my body and that's us!  I took after Mom's side of the family except for height - mom was short!  Janice is taller than me, but we are both tall.  We both like to sew, though!  In that way we are alike and like our Mom!

Isn't this a sweet picture?  Look at that sweet face!  Just look at that crocheted dress!  Not so sure about the socks, though -- maybe a little too Pippi Longstockings!  Mom made the dress.  I have one just like it that she made for my girls.  Hmm, I'm thinking it should be displayed -- it is cute!

Those photographers sure loved those piano benches for portraits didn't they?  Now look at the mischief on that cute face.  You can just see that she's thinking of something to do that is more fun than sitting still!

Here is Janice holding our Cocker Spaniel.  I think her name was Lassie.  Janice will tell me if I'm wrong.  That's what big sisters are for, right?  I think I wanted out of there!  Maybe it has to do with the chicken in the background.  Did I tell you about Janice and the rooster?  Hmmm, she didn't think it was funny that the rooster chased her up on the roof of the chicken house, but mom and I did!  I've always wanted to do a quilt with a little girl on a roof with a BIG rooster lurking nearby.

Here we are again.  We look like stair steps.  The middle "step" is our cousin Louise.  (Hi, Louise!)  She's cute, too!  We are all squinting at the sun.  This must have been taken at a family reunion.  We used to have those.  We should again -- it's been years since the cousins have been together!  The three of us are almost the youngest of the cousins.  We only have one younger than us. We all have brothers that are older.

Eventually we all went to school.  I think this is a school photo.  I still see mischief on her face, don't you?

She's a good sister.  I miss seeing her.  We have fun together!  She's made me pillows, pillow cases, crocheted a pineapple doily for me and shared books with me.  The candle holders on my dining table this time of year were gifts from her.  They were purchased in an antique store because I told her I'd rather have things like that than something brand new  She listened to me -- she's like that.  We share that interest.  She likes antiques, too.

So, here I am wishing my sister a wonderful birthday!  Hope it's the best yet!  Love ya, sis!

Tell me your sister stories -- I'd love to hear about what you share with your sister, too.

Now I have to go work some more on Christmas stuff!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Past and Preparations

Hi friends!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had three tables full of people with overflow sitting on the sofa and chairs in the family room.  I love it when the house is full of family having fun together! The cousins can't wait to play with each other as they don't see each other too often.  Of course, the older of our grandchildren don't so much play as talk.  And talk.   And talk!  Granddaughter, K3, also celebrated her birthday (which was actually Friday) turning 13, so in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving pies, we had a birthday cake.

Now we turn our attention to Christmas.  I absolutely LOVE everything about Christmas.  I love the sounds, the smells (cinnamon and pine being my favorites), the tastes, and the sights of Christmas.  And most of all, I love celebrating the birthday of the baby who grew up to be our Savior!

So far we have the tree up, but not decorated.  Here is a view of what it looked like last year.  Hmmm, maybe that was the year before last!  It will have additional ornaments this year.

I'll do close up views this year when the tree is decorated so you can see some of the ornaments better.

The foyer area also gets a different look for December.  These are pillows I've made over the years.  Sometimes I put a Christmas quilt out there, too.  I haven't decided about this year yet.

I think my favorite is the Christmas version of the honey bee traditional patchwork pattern.  That is the one with the holly leaves in the four corners. I think I might make more of those this year if I can find some time.

Another favorite area is the Santa collection that in this house "lives" in the loft.  That's where all the grand kids hang out when they are here.  Some of the Santas are hand made, but many have just been gifts or purchased.  These used to always be on the mantel, but we have no fireplace in this house.

Normally this area has photos of all the grand kids continuing the family theme of the wall above it.  The two frames in the back are of green pine tree quilt and red school house quilt that were purchased as greeting cards.  They are embossed and lovely little miniature paper quilts.

Today I have a bone density test scheduled so did not go in to work.  After the test my plan is to do a little shopping and then spend the rest of the day decorating.  It takes more than one day for me to get all the things out and in place.  Can't wait to get the Christmas quilts out -- they just "cozy" the place up!

It's the most wonderful time of the year -- savor the season!

Until next time,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Ornaments 2011

Today I planned to show you both the Christmas ornaments I've been making and the Christmas stocking I made from the burlap coffee bags I showed you here.  However, for some reason the stocking photos did not get uploaded from the camera to the computer!  As the camera is at home, and I'm not, those photos will have to wait.

One of my favorite blogs to read is Miss Mustard Seed   She had shown some Christmas ornaments she was selling at Luckette's in Virginia that I really liked.  As going to Luckette's isn't an option, I had to come up with my own.

Here are the results of my version of her ornaments.

The main differences between hers and mine are that she used sheet music so hers are two sided, I added a red (except for 1) ribbon rose to the middle and also used ribbon for the hangers.  I also think mine are smaller.  I sort of like small ornaments.

I am also working on a wreath that is actually from sheet music.  It is HUGE and is taking a while.  It probably won't be finished until after Thanksgiving since we are having 20 or so for Thanksgiving dinner!  That's another story!

A few years ago I started moving my ornaments to mostly white ornaments and mostly angels.  One of the first of the angels I did was for the very first Christmas Tea that our church did.  I made over 100 of these angels and they are still a favorite of mine.  The ladies loved them, too.  We had fewer people come than expected and we were surprised when those in attendance asked if they could buy the extras we had made.  We were able to buy a vacuum cleaner for a Missionary with the proceeds.

Here is a photo of that ornament.

This photo is unedited as I was trying very hard to create the bokah in the background.  It's not too bad for a "point and shoot" camera for a first try.  Well, at least I don't think so -- you excellent photographers will probably laugh, but I'm just learning about this stuff.

Do you do a "themed" tree?  Or do you have ornaments from forever that you just add to from year to year?

I used to change the theme each year, but decided I was getting too many ornaments to store.  I still have FAR more ornaments than go on the tree every year, but for several years running now they have been mostly white and mostly angels.  There are some snowflakes that I crocheted and macrame'd years and years ago, too, that always go on the tree.

Do you make ornaments or do you collect special ones from places you have visited or from a particular designer?  Which are your favorites?

Our tree usually goes up the day after Thanksgiving and the rest of the decorations go up within days of that.  The Christmas quilts come out and it begins to feel quite festive.  Oh, how I love the feel and smell of a Christmas ready house!

For the next couple of days, though, it will be the Thanksgiving dinner that will have my attention -- turkey and dressing, pecan pie, cranberry relish and always, always home made yeast rolls,  Mmmmmm! 

Until next time -- have a wonderful time preparing for the holidays!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autumn Table

A nasty cold caught me!  Usually I don't get sick -- I am not a patient patient!  I want to feel good NOW!  Thank goodness for DayQuil and NyQuil!  I will be fine tomorrow.  Today, I just could not push through.  I got up at 4AM as usual, got the breakfast things out and promptly went back to bed.  The next time I woke up it was 7:30!  I NEVER sleep until 7:30!  Even on weekends!  Tomorrow will be different -- I believe in mind over matter and tomorrow I will be fine.

In the meantime, I thought you might like to see the way the dining table is dressed for Autumn this year.  I made a burlap table runner that I found instructions for on Confessions of a Plate Addict blog.  It is a little longer than I would like it to be, but it will stay this long since burlap would not be easy to "unsew"!

This table and two others will be FULL to overflowing next Thursday for Thanksgiving!

This three tiered stand will be in the kitchen with desserts on it.  There will be a pumpkin pie, a pecan pie and I'm not quite sure what the other one will be, maybe apple as it usually is.  This is such a versatile piece!

I did not notice that the candle had leaned to the right when it was moved into place -- too late now!  The little quilt underneath these things is called Anarchy in the Forest.  It is from my anarchy workshop and is one of the first I made without using a ruler -- that's why it is an anarchy quilt -- no rulers allowed!

The French pumpkin seed packet is a graphic found on Confessions of a Plate Addict as well.  She found it on a French web site and shared it on her blog..

The little pumpkin in the tea cup is from WalMart as is the metallic one in front of the fruit.  The others I bought there, I painted white and they are in the kitchen with the one remaining white ceramic one I have.  A couple of the ceramic ones were broken in the last move cross country.

This little basket is on a small antique trunk that was a gift from our older daughter several years ago.  The basket was a natural color, but I decided I wanted it to look old so I painted it a mocha color and then used a white wash over it.  Most of the dried flowers were in another arrangement, but a few new ones were added.  I like the look of the basket, but may add a French graphic to the front with Modge Podge.  What do you think?  The basket has been moved since the photo was taken and is now on the Longaberger Pie Carrier next to the china cabinet, but it may go back on the trunk.  Things tend to move around as the mood strikes me.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?  A big dinner?  Lots of family?  Football on TV?  Making your shopping list for Black Friday?  Hmm I don't do Black Friday shopping -- too many people! 

We will have a houseful of people Thanksgiving Day.  I LOVE it -- can't wait.  Next week, I WILL be cooking and baking a lot!

Hope you are having a wonderful day, dear friends!  I feel better already just spending some time with you!

Until next time,

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

Hello friends!

It is finally crisp and cool weather here in the desert!  We've even had rainy days.  This is a treat and a retreat from the HOT weather we had been having.

One of the things that will be happening soon is the sheep returning to the lower pastures.  When we first moved to AZ many years ago, sheep were driven down Ray Road in Chandler which is now a major Road with heavy traffic.  It was so much fun to see the sheep, so it was a pleasant surprise when we moved to this area that the sheep are wintered close by.

Notice the black sheep was not cooperating and showed me his back side!

There is an irrigation ditch and a fence separating me from these lovely wool batts er, sheep.

Have you ever used a wool batt?

These sheep are lovely to look at and willingly (?) give us their wool for clothing and batts.  Isn't that nice of them?

This year I hope to get photos of the baby lambs shortly after they are born.  I missed the opportunity last year.  Soon they will be bringing the sheep down and shortly after that they separate the mamas and babies from the rest of the sheep.

There is that stubborn black sheep turning his back on me again!

The sheep are moved from one fenced off area to another as they eat the alfalfa from the fields.  You can see the ridges that help keep the irrigation waters in the sections that need watered.

Too many kids only see sheep this way -- fenced in a small area in a petting zoo.

These lambs have already been shorn and their wool on it's way to becoming batting or clothing.

Wool batting is really nice to work with, although I've only used it a couple of times.  I love the feel of the Hobbs wool batting.  It is also preshrunk which is a bonus!  (No affiliation with Hobbs, I just like their batting products.)

A good way to see if you like to use any batt is to try samples side by side in one project.  I've participated in this kind of project a couple of times.  The batting companies change the types of batts available from time to time so it's good to test new types.  Put strips of batting side by side and sandwich it between a plain back and a plain or pieced top -- small, not a large quilt. Make a map of which batt is located where and proceed to quilt.  This is especially helpful if you are a hand quilter.  Once you have evaluated the batting products, you will know which ones you like to use and which ones are harder to use.  Be sure to include a wool batt.  I think you'll like it!

It's quilting season -- get busy and quilt!

Thank you for stopping by!  See you next time.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

1st Blogiversary - Let's Talk Cotton!

One year ago today, I took the plunge and started this blog.  It's been fun!  I've "met" a lot of people in blog land.  You've shared back with me!  I love your comments -- both those you post here and those you e-mail or tell me in person.  YOU are awesome!

My regrets are that I haven't been able to post as often as I'd like.  I haven't made as many quilts as I'd like this past year either, but life happens and gets in the way sometimes.  It's a new year in blog land, so my hope is to do better this year than last, to hear from more of you than before and mostly to continue to have fun.

Now...let's talk about cotton.  You may not know this, but a lot of cotton is grown in Arizona.  We pass cotton fields daily.  Cotton looks like snow on the road when it escapes the cotton picker.  It is illegal to grow cotton in the city of Montgomery, AL or so I've been told.  Yes, I've lived in two states that are cotton producers.

This is what cotton looks like in the early summer.

And here is a closer look.  The sun was very bright that day!

A few weeks ago, it looked more like this.

And this.  Note the mountains in the background.  Those are the San Tan mountains.  They would be dwarfed by the Rockies, but isn't it cool to see cotton and mountains in the same photo?  This is farm country out here!
Yep, there are cacti, too, but not in the fields!

I love the look of the cotton boll.  A few years ago I made angels from cotton bolls.  They are really cute.  They were in a kit I bought somewhere -- don't remember where I found them, but they go on the tree every year.

This is my favorite photo of a cotton boll.  They are such a nice soft tan color, but they are hard and "pokey" as they are dry at this point.

Then, these guys show up to do their job.

After the cotton is picked it goes into one of these.  They are called modules.  I mistakenly called one of these a bale, but was quickly corrected by a FB friend who is a cotton farmer's wife.  She should know!

The family name is spray painted on the side of the module and each family hopes to have a LOT of these.  After they are stored this way, they head to the cotton gin before becoming our favorite thing.  You know cotton batts and cotton fabrics to make QUILTS!  Sometimes I pass the fields and quietly call them quilt fields! 

So there you have my version of where quilts come from.  Of course they have to pass through many hands before the final stitch is taken, but Quilts and other Good Things grow in Arizona.  Friendships grow here and in blogland as well.

Thank you for visiting.  Stop by any time!  Don't wait until the next blogiversary!  Leave a comment to let me know you were here.  I love hearing from you!

Until next time friends,