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,