Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009

It doesn't seem possible that Christmas Day is behind us.  I am one of those people who likes to keep my Christmas decorations up throughout the Christmas season.  It seems like I can enjoy the special feelings when all the craziness is gone and there is plenty of time for reflection.

Our Christmas was wonderful.  We always celebrate with friends and family on Christmas Eve.  We had close to seventy people here this year with so much food and good cheer.  Christmas Day was quiet and peaceful.  We went to church early and then just enjoyed the day with our #4 son and his family who were staying with us.  We celebrated our Christmas baby's second birthday even though he came down with the fever bug and was not feeling himself.  Poor baby.  Dinner was a delicious clam chowder (made by DH) and homemade bread. My mother joined us and a good time was had by all.

The contrast between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is amazing.  I tend to rely on photos from everyone else because I am generally too busy to grab any for myself.  I did manage to catch a few as we prepared for  gift opening.

Then there is quiet!!!!

The day after Christmas we celebrate with my husband's side of the family.  For years my in-laws would have large inflatable toys set up in their yard for all the children to enjoy.  The tradition has continued and everyone has a great time. 

Now we march on into 2010.  It seems like it was only yesterday that we were worried about Y2K.  Could it actually be ten years already?  We now start on the second decade of the 21st century.  Yikes!

Today is the day that I consider to be another birthday for me.  It was thirteen years ago today that I was admitted to the ICU for the next eight days.  I had toxic shock syndrome.  Everyone was so ill that Christmas and I assumed that I had the same thing that everyone else did.  When my temperature spiked to 106.2 and my fingers were going numb, I had enough medical knowledge to seek attention.  I spent the evening of the 27th in the emergency room with so many doctors I could not begin to count them.  My blood pressure was plummeting, finally reaching 52/14.  There was not much hope, but thanks to an amazing team, great medicine and a world of prayers, I am still here today.  The only residual from my adventure is a lack of feeling in my fingertips.  I miss not being able to feel the softness of a baby's skin, the lushness of a fabric and the sense of a blood vessel when starting an IV in a patient, but I am here and still enjoying life to the fullest.  Upon discharge from the hospital, my doctor said to me, "I am so glad that you did better than my last patient with TSS,"  I asked why and he replied that she had died.  I am glad too.

My sewing has taken a back seat throughout the holidays and I am eager to get back in and play.  Our December Schnibbles project was perfect for the busy month.  They were tuffets.  I made my first one and was so addicted to them that I made four more for my mom and sisters for Christmas.  Trust me, these are not tuffets that Little Miss Muffet could sit upon, but are precious all the same.  I love how tiny they are.  They are filled with crushed walnut shells and have such a wonderful feel to them.

I won some natural bamboo batting in the Virtual Quilt Show and am so excited about giving it a try.  Have any of you used it for quilting yet?  If so, how do you like it?  I have been wanting to give it a try since I first saw it and just have not done so yet.  It was so much fun to see all the wonderful Christmas quilts that people made.

As we tuck 2009 into the history books, I would like to thank all of you for your friendships, encouragement and inspiration that I enjoy each and every day.  My wish for each of you is for a blessed new year filled with health and happiness.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

My wish for all of you is a very joyous and blessed Christmas to you and to your families.  We will be celebrating our Savior's birth with our family and friends so I will be stepping away from the wonderful world of blogging for a short spell.

Enjoy the season.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

.........Let the Wrapping Begin

Yesterday was a delightful day.  DH had been in the Twin Cities for a few days on business so he played hooky from work yesterday.  The day promised lots of sunshine and warm temperatures so we picked up my sister and BIL and drove up to the wine counrty which is about 1 1/2 hours north from us.  It was just glorious!  The temperature soared to 78* and it was crystal clear as we drove along the beach to our destination. 

They have started to prune the grape vines so we had to get out and inspect the job.  Good job too!!!!!

Loved this old barn that had a simple Christmas wreath hanging above the door.

We also loved the look of this tree still standing proud.

We stopped for lunch at a new Greek restaurant in the area, browsed through a couple of art galleries and then headed back home.  The Channel Islands were clearly visible and just gorgeous.  They are miles out, normally shrouded in fog and are not easily seen so this was a perfect day.

Last night was the last Friday Night Sew In over at Heidi's blog and I did get a bit of sewing done.  We were suppose to go to two of the grand's birthday parties (combined), but the stomach flu was going around over there.  NO THANK YOU!!!!!  We will reattempt tomorrow.  Anyhoo.....I worked on my Schnibble project for this month.  They are small tuffets.  Mind you this little pincushion is only 4" big.  It was a fun project and I can definitely see myself doing more of these........after I clean up the spilled ground walnut shells that poured out when my funnel flipped out while filling it.  GRRRRR.  Somehow, I do not think my rotary cutter is going to like running into one of those little grains while cutting.  Now I ask, why did I fill it over my cutting table????

The cutting table is now stacked high so let the wrapping begin.  I have to make sure that I have accounted for all 21 of the grands before it is too late.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

............It's Beginning to Feel Like Christmas

Can you believe that Christmas is almost here?  Somehow, things don't seem as hectic out there as they have to me in the past.  I was actually able to go out on Tuesday and finish up with the shopping and the crowds weren't disturbing at all.  There were no lines and everyone was pleasant.  Yeah!

We were blessed to have our two year old grandson for five days this week and we really enjoyed our time with him.  His birthday is actually next week - on Christmas Day.  One of the fun things that we did while he was here was to take our two youngest grandsons to brunch with Santa.  I must say that neither one of them thought much of the jolly old man. 

This one wanted to hide and pretend he wasn't at the table saying "hello"

and this one wasn't really sure about that lap thing that Santa likes to do.

Speaking of Santa......We have a roadside Santa statue that sits along the 101 Freeway near us.  We often pass him on our jouneys here and there, but this week I stopped to take a picture of him to share with you.  He once sat along the 101 Freeway in a beach community near Santa Barbara atop a faux chimney on Santa Claus Lane.  He had been a landmark there since 1948.  Although the Lane still remains under the same name, the community wanted to update it's look to a New England fishing village.  Out with the old and in with the new for Santa.  Fortunately, in 2003 he was rescued and moved to a new spot, still overlooking the freeway.  His upper torso is 22' tall and in the summertime he switches to sunglasses.  If you want to read more about it you can find some information here.

Two of the granddaughters came over for a sewing marathon of Christmas gifts for their friends and family.  We had so much fun together.  They were going through my fabrics and trying to figure out what material they want to use for their spring dance dresses while they were here.  Their lives will be forever enriched because of their ability to sew. 

My Siggy blocks were returned from Melissa and they are awesome.  After the holidays I will get to the task of putting them together and I can't wait.  Melissa did such an incredible job on this swap and even included a very cute strawberry stick pin with the blocks.

Another Siggy that I have participated in is sponsered through Annalies in the Netherlands.  It works on a one on one swap basis.  I have so far received four blocks and each are fabulous.  One of the blocks is from Dorine who was my swap partner in the Friendship Bag Swap.  I am looking forward to receiving many more blocks in the future.

I also worked on scarfs for the girls this week.  I made them with flannel on the outside and minkee on the inside.  They are so soft!  They will come in handy if we have another week of chilly weather.

We had a week of really cold weather (for us anyway).  We actually had two nights of freezing temperatures.  It is always so hard on the farmers in our area and we could hear the wind fans blowing all night.  We lost many plants in our yard and I am sure that the farmers are assessing their damages as well.  We can ocassionally get such cold temperatures, but it will normally occur in January.  This week it is back into the 70s which is the weather that I thrive the best.  I always have so much more energy when it is warm and sunny.  I know, I know.....we NEED the rain, but could it rain all night and be sunny and warm all day????

If anyone is looking for something to do on Friday night, Heidi and Bobbi are hosting another sew in - the last one this year.  There are a couple of small projects that I would like to make so I am going to try to participate, but we have a couple of grandchildren birthday parties this week.  I will have to see what the plans are first.

I hope everyone can slow down and enjoy this upcoming week. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

...........Favorite Christmas Quilt

Insights from Sew Cal Gal is hosting a virtual Christmas Quilt show open to anyone who has quilted a sewing item that they would like to have included in the show.  It is always so much fun to visit other quilters and see what inspires them and what they have created.  Be sure to visit her site and then go and visit the other quilters to see what they have done.  You are definitely going to find inspiration in all of the gorgeous work.  Also.....if anyone wants to add a quilt to the show, please do so.  I would love to visit all of yours as well.

My contribution is something that I have posted before, but I absolutely loved the project and I love displaying them each year.  The grandchildren love seeing them come out of the cedar chest.

It is my Skating Santa and Mr. Snowman quilt pair.  They are done on a fusible grid, much like the watercolor quilts.  It was the first time that I had done that technique and I loved the way they turned out.  I believe the pattern was from Keepsake Quilting several years ago.  They can be used for table runners, wall hangings or, in my case, draped on the floor under the Christmas tree.  I have also used them draped across the back of the sofa which looks adorable as well.

I keep telling myself that I do not NEED any new Christmas items, but I find myself loving to make Christmas pieces.  Can anyone ever have too many?????

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Another Saturday and the weeks just keep zipping past.  Why doesn't life get a virus like the computers and slow things down once in awhile?

This week has been busy getting the fall out and the Christmas welcomed.  Having a large Thanksgiving here last Saturday night and then a big Christmas dinner this weekend makes me feel as though all I have done is cook.  Hmmm.  It's a good think one cannot put weight on by all the cooking that they do. 

I am ready for dinner tonight.  The appetizers and desserts are done, the house is reasonably clean and decorated and I am trying to remember all the things that I should be doing.  After tonight I will spend my time getting ready for Christmas.  I recently read on a blog about a gal who will not be blogging for the last two weeks of December in order to celebrate Christmas.  I thought that was such a wonderful idea and am considering doing it as well.  I know how much time I can spend on the computer and I know it could be better spent in most cases.  How about all of you?

Tables are set.....ten people at each.

Last evening was our second sew-in with Heidi.  Although I did not finish much, I did manage to complete the hand quilting and binding on my Fall Swap.  It isn't due until January, but it feels good to have it done ahead of time.  I used the center motif from my Schnibbles this month (because I didn't have enough fun doing all of those half square triangles).

The Chrismas lights are up and the tree is decorated.  We have a "real" tree as well as the tree that I inherited from my in-laws.  I like the pre lit tree only because I can leave it up forever and not worry about it drying out.  Although I must admit that I do like the real tree for the smell it leaves in the house.

Grandpa and Mr. J checking out the train under the tree.  I wonder why the train is always off the tracks.

Someone in our valley puts up the biggest cross on top of his hill each year.  It is visible for miles and miles.  At night it looks as though it is suspended in mid air.  I tried to capture a photo of it, but this is not really clear.  You can get the general idea of how spectacular it looks.

This is the view from our back yard.  The lighted cross looks small here, but is quite large.

I will close off for now and finish up getting ready before our son and his family arrive for the weekend.  I hope to have more to share in my next post.  We are actually suppose to get rain this next week so we may have some excitement around here.  Let's hope they are correct in their prediction.  I think that is the only job in the world where you can be wrong so often and still NOT get fired!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Onto December and November Schnibbles

It's very hard to imagine that tomorrow is the beginning of December.  I really do not know where the year has gone.  They seem to be going faster and faster all the time.

We, like so many others, had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Our family celebrates it on the Saturday after Thanksgiving which allows everyone to go to in-laws or do their own thing with their families.  Our family celebration was made ever more thankful with the announcement that our daughter and SIL will be adding another wee one to their family next year.  All were thrilled with the news.

While others of you are busy raking leaves, this is a messy time of the year for the palm trees.  They grow these nasty nuts by the gazillions and need to be trimmed up to keep those little buggers from starting new palm trees throughout the yard.  This crazy guy was hanging from one tree whilst swinging to the next for the task.  It absolutely made my knees weak.  I doubt that I could even climb the ladder that high.  They look so nice now.

Can you see the huge cluster of nuts hanging from the back tree on the right?

I did manage to get my November Schnibbles quilt finished and quilted to display while it was still autumn.  I am looking forward to seeing the Parade of Schnibbles tomorrow morning and to seeing what our next pattern for December will bring.  I am hoping there are not as many HST as this month.   



Quilt Taffy has a Giveaway each Thursday and I happened to win the holiday fabric ( one half yard of each) of your choice giveaway.  I selected Valentine's Day as I know that I won't have a lot of extra time for quilting in the hectic month ahead.  Look at this great fabric.

Earlier this fall Karen did an "I Spy" swap for 5" squares.  They were all returned this week and I am simply amazed that there were NO duplicates from the 100 participants.  As well, Karen enclosed an adorable chatelaine to wear around your neck while sewing.  She made them and they are fabulous.  I will definitely be using it when I am working on my various projects.  Thank you, Karen.

I also managed to finish up the quilting on my Panda quilt in time to present it to our newest granddaughter.  I have made a quilt for each of the grandchildren and enjoy seeing many of them still using them. is onwards to December.  The house is starting to look as though Christmas is coming.  We have a big Christmas dinner here on Saturday night for twenty people.  Tomorrow is menu planning and shopping, but I must get all the autumn decorations put away for now and transform the house into something magical.

Be sure to join Heidi this Friday night again for a sew along.  It is great fun to sew or craft with others in spirit and then log on Saturday to see what everyone has done.  I'm not sure what project I will tackle this Friday yet.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday's So and Sew

Did everyone have a good time at Heidi's Friday Night Sew In?  It was a great idea and inspired me to pick up the needle and thread and work on a project that has been sitting, and sitting, and sitting.  I made some great progress and am actually glad that I now have more drive to finish it up.  It was ...........


A Christmas stocking.  As you can see, I still have some work to do on it, but it is definitely getting there.

The past week I have been spending a lot of time at the sewing machine and loving every minute of it.  I took the patched border off of my Twelve Days of Christmas quilt and replaced it with a solid border.  It looks so much better (I think).  I got that one quilted and bound....another project done for the Joy in the New Year Challenge.


I also got my Schnibbles quilt pieced and ready for quilting.  I tried doing it in autumn colors since I figure to have it finished this weekend and ready to display next week.  It is still autumn....right????  The way time is flying past, I am never sure these days.


There were certainly a lot of HST in this little project.  Deary me!!!!!

Then I worked on several items for the grandchildren's school auction.  One of the biggest selling items each year has always been the 18" doll uniform that matches what the girls wear.  The school kindly donates an old and torn uniform and I transform it into something usable again.  This year I made two.  The bidding got so fierce last year that I ended up making two and they got the money for both which was agreeable to both bidders.


Then I made a small Nativity hanging with the machine embroidery.


I signed up for six completed projects for the challenge and I have completed five of them.  I have another quilt that I want to finish up and I would also like to get my Fall Swap quilt done soon. feels so good to check all of these off the list.  That will definitely bring JOY to my life.

The weather has been delightful this week.  I know we need the rain, but I love working in the yard when it is so warm and pleasant.  I decided to establish a morel mushroom patch.  I grew up eating and loving them, but I refuse to pay $27/lb. for them at the store.  I ordered my spores and then went to visit a friend of mine who lives up in a canyon near here.  Her property is covered with oak trees and I needed some of that for mulch.  We enjoyed lunch together and then went to collect my mulch.  This is what we encountered as we rounded the corner of her garage. 


They were not a bit afraid of us either.  Needless to say, she is a frustrated gardener.  My flowers, on the other hand have no threat from deer.  The roses have been gorgeous and continue to give me vases full of flowers.


My Nosegay quilt came back home this week.  I had dropped it off this summer at my cousin's next farm neighbor, an Amish woman, to do the hand quilting.  She did the most amazing job on the quilting.  I do hope that the pictures show her perfect work.  The fabric that I used in the nosegays was fabric from my grandmother's stash, which I inherited.  The green fabric was only 36" wide and I feel so lucky to have been able to use it and now to have it quilted.


Other things that have gone on this week was a little bread baking.  My sister has been wanting to learn how to make bread and the sweet gal who helps my mother in the daytime also wanted to learn.  So bread making it was............



So....that has been my week.  I am trying to stay out of trouble and keep healthy.  I read about so much sickness out there and I feel so bad for those that have gotten this junk.  The bug sounds dreadful, but I did hear that the cases have decreased this week.  Yeah!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Friday Night Sew In

Want to put a little pressure on yourself, but have fun at the same time?  Check out this fun sounding evening.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Inverness and St. Andrews

One last vacation blog if everyone can handle it...... then I will move onto other things going on in life. 
As I said in a previous post, we took advantage of the wonderful trains that are so easy use in the U.K..  On Sunday we boarded our train with no particular destination in mind.  The trip was so delightful that we took it all the way to the end - Inverness.

Along the way we were able to sit back and enjoy traveling through the Scottish Highlands.  I was on the lookout for some Scottish cattle (the big furry sort), but didn't not find any.  We did see many, many sheep and the scenery was just gorgeous.  There were clouds nestling right in among the trees and the autumn colors were so warm.

We passed many small towns and villages along the way, including this charming one that is within view of the Firth of Forth.

When we arrived we had to find a place to eat (of course).  There is nothing quite like the Sunday meal at the local pub.  This was no exception with the Sunday "roast."

Can you tell how delicious this was?  It was so cold outside and to sit down to roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted potatoes and veggies was the perfect solution for warming the body.

The castle on the hill in Inverness. 

View from the castle grounds.

Looking the other way.

Of course there were some very interesting cemeteries to walk through and read the headstones.  It is amazing how many families lost small children in those days.

The next day we headed off to St. Andrews, the golf capital of the world, I'm sure.  We were able to walk the Old Course and watch some pretty good golphers having a frustrating day swinging a club at a little white ball.

The city is also know for it's university - the oldest in Scotland.  It sits in the heart of the city and anyone can walk through at any time.

This was a wedding that was taking place (on a Monday morning).  Check out those cars.

How would you like to study Logic and Metaphysics in this building?  The back of the building is on the Firth of Forth with spectacular views.  Guess it would be great for that daydreaming student.

They even had charming little gardens around each building.
From there it was onto the castle at St. Andrews. 

The castle sits on the Firth and is amazingly well preserved after so many years in the elements of the sea.  The marker to the castle stated, "George Wishart 1513-1546.  A powerful Protestant preacher, he was betrayed to Cardinal Beaton, brought here, put in the sea tower, condemned for heresy and burnt at the stake on 1 March.  His friends conspired against the Cardinal, and on 26 May gained entry to the castle, killed him and hung his body from the battlements, then together in the castle they created the first congregation of the Protestant Church in Scotland."

Walking through the town, one can sense the antiquity of it all from the size of the doors of the residences.  People must have been much smaller back then.

A few blocks further on our walk we came to the cathedral at St. Andrews.  Again, the preservation is amazing, but this was a massive building.  What was once the inside of the cathedral is a cemetery which reveals current tombstones. 

This wall with the curved doorways was the midpoint of the building.  You can sense the size of it in total.

One memorial that we particularily enjoyed was this one.  The caption below it was precious.

Anyone want a haircut.....check out the freebee that goes with it.....

After a delightful trip we did have to return home, but we did it in style.

Thanks to a medical emergency (which is another whole story) that I volunteered for on our last flight back from London, we were able to fly home First Class.  What a treat that was!  This was my very own little cubicle - a chair and a footstool that actually folded out into a real bed.  I was able to sleep soundly for the better part of the flight.  I wish I could do this on every flight that I take.