December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas...Nearly There!!

Aine's Angel
Sounds like a lot of America is under a blanket of white. I am hoping my brother, who has to work in Portland till 5pm today (bah humbug boss!) can get to Bend tonight on the bus that runs between them. I'd hate both my brother and my folks to have Christmas on their own.

Ill fated Coffee Press Cozies
My last few gifts are finished, though the coffee press cozies I made for my friend here in Ballina, while looking very cute, do not fit!! In the picture here the xtra large sized cozy only barely fits on the standard size press...and I forgot to make a little notch for the spout, so I tucked it under it and folded the bottom up, eek! I took measurements for her two coffee presses and made the cozies to fit perfectly. Of course I forgot to take in the measurements of the thickness of the battings I used and they fell short by about an inch and a half...so I am giving them to her with some big safety pins till I can take them back and pretty them up with an extra fabric sleeve and velcro to bridge the gap after Christmas. I used up the very last of my insulbrite making them so will have to replenish my stock on my next trip done. Got 6 potholders and 2 cozies with a yard, not bad!

Cushion Covers for MIL
I made lots of red things for Christmas this year, per request of recipients! Dave's mom requested some cushion covers this year, and she is an appreciative recipient of my handmade attempts, so I made these for her with pleasure. They look great on my red sofas with my thrifted Christmas quilt. A few years ago, after Christmas, my dad and I went to a Bend thrift shop that let us take any Christmas items we could stuff in a big brown paper sack for $5. I scored the quilt, a cute mug, some ornaments, some lit christmas villages for mom, and a ton of unused Christmas cards that I am still using!! Gotta love being able to get things at great prices while feeling like you are helping environment by recycling unwanted goods, and helping a charity by buying them. Only wish the charity shops were so numerous and huge here!!

Of course while I was pulling out batting scraps to use on the back of my cushion covers which I free motion quilted for a bit of thickness and texture, my girls had to get in on the action. If they are in the house, even if daddy is with them, I have given up on alone time...I just get on with what I need to do and let them hang out with me. I used to always want time alone at weekends to get stuff done, and to have a little mommy recharging time...I recharge while they are at school now (don't clean during my alone time, just visit, craft or run errands sans kids, cleaning is done in afternoons with kids helping and Aine is actually a great helper, Aisling, not quite there yet, lol!). Here are the designer and model of the newest fashions: batting dresses!! T
The Designer and Her Model Aisling and Her Batting Fashions!

I finished the kitties for the girls, no secrets for their handmade gifts this year. Aine wanted to paint the face of her kitty, and how could I resist? It was very hard to restrain myself from trying to make her do the perfect placements for eyes and whiskers. I did Aislings (on the right) for her, but Aine's has more character and she will be proud she did the face herself.
Girls Kitties

Our Christmas tradition is to bake cookies on Christmas Eve, so we are going to be starting that soon. We do sugar cookies, chocolate chips (have to have these for my Irish family or not allowed in door for Christmas!), pecan tassies and will try homemade marshmallows this year. Daddy will be doing his annual tiramisu tonight, yummmm! Might add some pics later, but the day hasn't started yet!!

Added later:
Here is our cooking so far today. Homemade marshmallows are YUMMMMMMMMMMMM. The pecan tarts turned out well too! On to the chocolate chips and sugar cookies.
Star Marshmallows and Pecan Tassies Leftover bits from star marshmallows...mmmmmm

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas! See next week with some resolution thoughts and maybe a project or two??

December 19, 2008

Getting Lots Done!!

So much so that I am actually posting a new entry in less than a week!!!

I managed to get a treeful of birdie ornaments done in time to give to the ladies at our last patchwork group before the Christmas break. I like the way they turned out and kept a few for my own tree.
A Flock of Birdie Ornaments

I also had a knitathon last night, got on a roll till 2am finishing up bath scrubbies as teacher gifts... Tried to go all Martha Stewart on the presentation... I liked em! I gave the teachers some soap I got in Oregon this summer as well...hope they like them!
My fancy packaging for teacher gifts
Aisling's main teacher gift Knitted Scrubbies for teachers

I also finished 3 little elves I got as a kit when I visited Sweden 2 years ago. It is nice to clear out some of my boxes and get the few kits I have had for a while made and being used!! I think they are cute, might keep them and the soft trees out after Christmas, lol!!
Nisse/elves

Big excitement for me this week was receiving my angel from Kris in the Netherlands. Barbara hosted an angel doll swap and look what landed on my doorstep: this gorgeous angel with its windmill trim and wooden shoes. Not only that she spoiled me with chocolate, tea, some yummy fabrics , and a nice needle case with quilting needles.
Amazing Angel Swap goodies

And before I go....don't tell Cathi, but here is what "Dave" got her at the local lady who sells fabric (it is a pretty decent quilt shop for running out of her garage, despite crazy prices!!) How amazing he picked out just exactly the right poison green and cheddar orange civil war repros for her and all the little goodies she wanted to try that could fit in a stocking!! He also got her a new filofax there, she is forever trying to get herself organized!
Shhhhh! My stocking stuffers "Dave" got me!

December 15, 2008

A winner...and a loser...

Without further ado, the random number generator picked the number 11 which means Tracey has won the lovely sewing caddy kit!! Hope you enjoy it!! I'll get your address and try to send it out early this week.

The big loser this week: me!! Last week I was measuring my second pink Marilinda sock against the length of the first one and noticed a major problem...I forgot to do ALL of the cable stitches that are part of the pattern and were done on  the first sock. Don't know how I skipped it completely...geesh... I will be ripping it back to the first pattern repeat... I think I am going to cry. I know it isn't really easy to see, but when you look for it, it is obvious and I really want to fix it before I give the socks to my friend. Some friends think I should buy more of the pink yarn, but that would take weeks to order from the States and I don't really want to do this pattern twice in a row in pink...so a frogging I will go!
December 2008

The other project I wanted to show is an amazingly easy method for using up scraps of fabric and batting to make a two sided quilt!! A lady in our Wednesday morning patchwork group showed me a vintage quilting book with the method in it, but I could make any sense of it!! She was working on it during our group and I saw how it was done and it is so simple, and what a cool way to use up my small wool batting pieces I can seem to throw away!

You basically start with any rectangular or square based block and build from the center. I decided I am doing a Civil War repro side and a neutral side on my quilt and will do scrappy wonky log cabin blocks. I started with a 2 1/2  inch square quilt sandwich, then added 1 1/2 inch strips (CW repros on its side right sides together, neutral scraps on its side right sides together and sewed down the right side of the center square (so that would be 4 fabrics and one batting scrap sewn on that seam)). I flipped the two 1 1/2 inch strips out so right sides showed and stuffed little strips of scrap batting in between the strips... I tacked down the right side of the new strips I added and then continued adding on log cabin strips in the same method. When I got to 8 1/2 inches I stopped and tacked down the edges of the block...I will use natural muslin sashing to sew blocks together eventually. This method lets you use up small strips and scraps and small batting scraps and pieces and quilts as you go...so cool...and a two sided quilt at the end too... I am thinking this will be a favorite method for using up scraps and general quilt making in the future, we shall see!!
December 2008 December 2008
December 2008

If that makes no sense but you are interested in the concept, let me know if you want me to do a tutorial on the method...it is probably out there somewhere already, but this is the first time I've come across it and wanted to share!!

Well...I have been under the weather for days now, and am started to feel a bit better, so wanted to catch up on the blog before I fell asleep again!! Next week I hope to get some little gifties done for teachers and friends, and maybe a block or two for my new quilt. I miss crafting when I am under the weather!

December 8, 2008

Traditions....and 200th Post Giveaway!

December 2008
Once again I let time fly by without posting. We had an impromptu Thanksgiving meal with roast chicken instead of turkey, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes and carrots and green beans, a bit of stuffing and American style biscuits (i.e. bread not cookies, lol!!) and of course some yummy desserts (pecan tassies from a recipe from Kristin, a bought apple tart, and some kid and mommy-made Thanksgiving day sugar cookies). The kids had school and I went to our knitting stitch and bitch Thursday meetup, but after school and in between Aine's Irish dancing class I whipped up dinner (mind you I put the chicken in without starting the oven and lost 45 minutes of roasting time pushing dinner back!!). The kids loved making the cookies while watching the earthcam coverage of the Macy Parade!! We watched lots of balloons go by, but I missed the NBC commentary, lol, from my childhood. I had planned on skipping Thanksgiving, as it is just a regular day here, but an Irish acquaintance who had lived in the States was doing a big meal for friends and family and I felt guilty for not doing it myself and skipping a tradition the girls really love.  We have celebrated it the Saturday after the last few years with other American friends, but they have since move back to the States, and I like the idea of a toned down but still  special meal on the day, with one set of friends over maybe... I would like to keep the celebration alive for the girls!!

I have been working on a bunch of little projects for Christmas since last I updated. I finally got the binding on the tree skirt I started years ago. I also did a table runner for Christmas...
December 2008
I am also starting a tradition of one handmade gift each year for the girls, I am making another Tilda pattern from one of my books, this kitty needs eyes and a dress and her sister is now done, but unphotographed... They are made from tea-dyed muslin.
December 2008
I also have made some soft trees from this pattern and made one into an ornament for my patchwork group exchange, complete with little lights for the tree. The rest will just go on shelves around the house for decoration.
December 2008
We've got our tree up this weekend and the tree skirt finally in place!! I am hoping to get more Christmas decorations...I have been pretty Spartan with my decorations in years past, but would love to add some garland around the house, more quilts...I have a Jim Shore Santa I love, just wish they were easier to find here!!
December 2008
I love this quilt I found last Christmas in Sisters Oregon in an antique shop, nice hand quilting and I love that it is hanging off an old wooden spoon, it isn't antique but it is sweet.
December 2008
Aisling is afraid of Santa, but managed to get Aine and the big guy...December 2008

Another tradition I want to follow is the 200th Post Giveaway!!! I finally, after 3 years, got to my 200th post...not a prolific poster as you know!! I want to give away this gorgeous kit I got at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham UK. December 2008
It has all the fabrics and goodies for making a Quilter's Friend, a lovely organizer for threads, needles, pins, and projects!! Just leave a comment and I will draw a name out on Sunday December 14th. I just don't know when I will ever put this on my list to make and would rather someone else enjoy it!!

I have more crafty news but I will save it for another post...a very cool new quilt I am working on, and a knitting disaster...more on that later!

November 25, 2008

My Head is Spinning!!

Have you ever had so many ideas in your head and started and stopped on a half dozen projects without focusing?? That has been me for the last while!

While killing time during the hour of Aine's Irish dance class last week, I did a shop hop in "downtown Ballina" the group of about five shops in our village on the Tipperary side of the river... Cross the Shannon River on the old stone bridge and you enter the metropolis of Killaloe, Co. Clare, approximately one minute's walk away (at least 2 streets with shops there!) I love my town/s and this is the first time I checked out some of the small gift shops. Look at the lovely wreath I found for 4 euros (6 dollars) at the local hardware shop. I found the cute stitchery at the little gift shop.
Goodies from Downtown Ballina Village
I also got this great group of gifties from Lissa in Australia. I sent her some triangles on a roll to try out, and some civil war repros, and I got Homespun, some yummy repros for me and a lovely drawstring bag with some goodies for the girls!
Goodies from Lissa in Australia!
I've also finished another angel for a swap, which will soon make its way to......???? It is a Tilda kit and is so pretty, I nearly want to keep it!
Angel Swap angel
I am also making a flock of these which are also a Tilda design. Can you tell I like her stuff?? These will be ornaments for patchwork friends.
Birdie Ornaments

I have started working on a table runner as well...kinda making it up as I go along...maybe tomorrow I will pick a project and focus on it... I've also tea dyed some muslin and am making some stuffed kitty softies for the girls for Christmas! Focus, must focus!!!
Table Runner

November 16, 2008

Getting Behind With Things...

I need to find balance in my life again...it seems to move forward at the speed of light and I barely remember what happens from day to day.

We had a great trip to London and Paris. The kids had a blast in Disneyland even with their poor mom limping after them (I managed to swan dive into a Paris tree on the way to the Eiffel Tower...was looking ahead of me and twisted my ankle when it landed half on the pavers and half in the dirt where the lovely Parisian tree was growing near a cafe, graceful I tell ya...and what a lovely shade of black, purple and yellow my foot was for a while!)... The kids got autograph books and pens from their nice momma and proceeded to stalk any characters in their vicinity for autographs...we have minnie, daisy, snow white, donald, goofy, and Aine's favorite, Robin Hood.  We really enjoyed our time with Katy and her family as well...the kids loved their London Halloween and just loved hanging out with their buddies! Moms and dads enjoyed time to read, play games, and mommas got to sew and knit (well I knit...) it was a lovely time...

Election Day was only a few days after we returned home and I stayed up till 5:30am Irish time watching the amazing returns come back. I actually burst into tears when they flashed the announcement that Barack Obama was the next president of the United States, who knew I would be so emotional. And then I cried again when the future First Family came out and when Obama gave his speech. It was a great night and I'm glad I stayed up to see it happen. 

I haven't been producing a lot lately, we've had lots of playdates and activities, the normal pace of life here, and Aine has just had her 6th birthday party just yesterday which needed organizing as well...an Art Party for her and 10 friends (a SMALL party, woo hoo!) I had a local art teacher come and do some projects and face painting with them and it worked out really well...
Aine's Birthday Cake Blowing out the candles
My kids like chocolate cake, so I do a Betty Crocker special and then print out on photo paper whatever character/graphic they want that year to personalize it. When it is time to cut cake just lift off the paper and go...very inexpensive, personalized and easy! Love it!

I have managed to finish one pink sock and here is the current status of the second one...
Marilinda Sock Progress

Here are the slippers I knit for Aine at Katy's house, slightly smaller and felty now...Aine's Ballet Slippers

I made this angel for someone...for Christmastime...DSCN2517

I am verrrrrrry slowly working on marking my ocean waves quilt with this celtic knot pattern in the muslin areas..
.Celtic Knot motif for Ocean Waves

I am also slowly doing freehand fans on my tree quilt...
Freehand Fans on Tree Quilt

So I am doing things, but nothing finished but the angel at the moment.

Tomorrow I start my diet yet again...I am tired of being the weight I am...maybe if I can find some balance to my days, more exercise, more sleep, less running around...a better rhythm to the days, that might help. Here's hoping that I can do that...and find more time to QUILT too!!

October 27, 2008

I See London...

And soon we'll see France! We are having a nice time so far in Katy's house. I even managed to get a quilt started and completed for her daughter Olivia's Birthday! Thanks for letting me raid your scrap basket Katy!! Olivia loves dolphins, so...
Birthday Quilt for Olivia

I also finished another of the ballerina slippers that I will felt. I finished Aislings and they look very sweet, but she has been wearing them and I couldn't find them to photograph before we left. Here is their size beefore they are felted, it always amuses me!!
DSCN2146

I also wanted to show the Halloween stitchery and cute pumpkin we had in the house before we left on holidays...guess I will finally be starting some seasonal decorating!!
Stitchery and Halloween Decorations

We are heading into Central London for some sightseeing with the kids tomorrow and then our adventure starts in Paris. I have learned that the Paris quilting shop Le Rouvray is not far from Notre Dame so I think a small stop might be arranged during our afternoon in Paris. Then it is off to Disney for a few days before coming back to have Halloween in London with Katy and family!! You might see me blog again if I get inspired by Katy's good habits, but more than likely I'll be updating after our visit to France.

October 17, 2008

Golf Widows Sewing Retreat!!

Last Friday DH left for 3 days of golfing, and I got down to work!! Don't worry, I still managed to feed the kids and even go on some walks to clean up the rubbish on the roads (Aine's idea to tidy up the environment, so cute!!). I managed to get several projects finished and even a few project started and finished over last weekend!! Tell me, why is it easier sometimes to be more productive without "help" from DH :)

First two long term project finishes!! My ocean waves quilt top!!
Ocean Waves Top Complete

And the first of the pink socks...now to start and finish the second one before Christmas!!
First Marilinda Sock done, but...when will I get the next one done??

I also decided to make some jack o lantern bags for the girls to bring on our trip to London (to see Katy and family!) during our midterm break at Halloween. (We are also spending 3 days in Paris at Disneyland for the kids!!) I made up the bags as I went along and they are machine quilted and using up scraps of batting. I wouldn't want them compared to really nicely finished bags but they are lined and have strong but not perfect straps...and are cute :) I had the girls design their own faces for the pumpkins and I translated them to fabric...Aine's is the scarier one! I used strips of halloween fabric I got from someone ( I can't remember who anymore, how sad am I?) so the backs of the bags are cute too.
Patchwork Pumpkin Trick or Treat Bags

With scrap strips from the Halloween fabrics I inserted a muslin center and downloaded a halloween stitchery I traced the design over the weekend and started stitching this week.
Halloween Stitchery

I also made a pillow out of a hand quilted motif I did at a class in April when I was visiting mom in Bend. I used tons of small squares in the same variegated colors of the quilting thread for the back. I like how it turned out!!
Quilted Pillow Back of Pillow

Not to mention I built the two Ikea bookcases and a drawer unit from my successful shopping trip that DH didn't get around to making during his evenings home during the week. And made homemade (can't buy pancake mix here!) pancakes and sausage dinner for the girls one night, and did our little walks and litter collections...and kept the house tidy...very productive few days I had!!!

Of course, once the week starts I am off and running again and it took me till this weekend to get this blog post sorted...Only have worked on the stitchery in found moments this week, and catching up with the emails in my inbox. I really appreciate all the comments and encouragement from everyone and hope that you all continue to visit, even if my blog posting is fairly sporadic at the moment!!

Haven't given an update on mom in a while. She is finished all treatment and the cancer is gone, may it never return!! Her hair is growing back in and she is so much better within herself, getting out on her own, having a lot morre energy... I am so glad she is in a better place these days. Love you mom!!

I hope to do some shopping on my own tomorrow when DH is here with the kids...need to get a new laundry basket and a new basket  for their dressing up clothes...not thrilling but a little retail therapy on my own will do no harm at all. I hope to layer and quilt the halloween stitchery this weekend as well...and work on the angel story quilt...very slow progress there.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!! I'll leave you with the crazy poses the girls did with the sock when I got it out to take a photo of it.
Supermodel Poses (and marilinda sock)

October 4, 2008

Are You Still With Me??

What was that about trying to do weekly or more posts? I have fallen far short of that goal. It has been a busy month, lots to do but not a lot of crafting to show for it. We have also had our fair share of colds and flus coming through and holding on to reinfect us...the joys of seasonal changes.

One thing DH got done for me was getting my Dear Jane up on the wall!!Dear Jane on Display at Home

I'm making progress on the pink Marilinda sock, I've done the heel and am working on the foot now, then to start the second sock...ugh...I do like that 2 socks at once thing...I like finishing a pair together. It is a complicated pattern, but I am enjoying it, keeps me on my toes. I think that I will do some more scrubbies and facecloths for Christmas gifts, but my next project to start will be a felted bag, it will be weird using big needles again!! I also need to make some socks for Aisling and ballerina slippers for Aine...add to this list all my quilting and stitchery stuff and I need 48 hours in a day!!
Marilinda Sock

Last weekend I decided to make a few birthday presents. I had some insulbrite for ages and so made 6 potholders. Two to replace the sad ones I have (why it took me years to do this I don't know). I did some green ones for my mom's kitchen, some purple and turquoise ones to match a tea cozy I knitted for Dave's mom, and some red ones for me, and just free pieced them with scraps and some pieces that I had in my scrap stash already pieced by other quilters and passed on to me with fabric scraps I got!! I used them as practice for my free motion quilting...I think they are actually a bit too big, so I may have to whip up a few smaller ones next week...
Quilting on Potholders DSCN2098 DSCN2108 Potholders for Maura

I also did a little DIY decorating for the girls room a few weeks back...some dust ruffles for their bed to hide the ugly storage containers I have under there... I used pink scraps, and then put the gorgeous quilts Barbara made them on top.  I like it much better than the Dora and Tinkerbell covers!!
DSCN2091
I also got a Betz White covered tape measure kit on Wednesday and whipped this up in record speed...aint it cute!!
Betz White Cupcake Tapemeasure Kit
I also have to say a big THANK YOU to Paula who sent me some great Civil War repro fabrics from Australia, I owe you big and will gather some embroidery goodies to send back in return!!
Fabrics from Paula
I am very excited about a road trip to IKEA up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I am going up with the girls for DH's mom's birthday tomorrow and DH will be home from his weeklong trip to Barcelona for work (poor guy had to have a sea view at his hotel and visit a winery too!). Sunday he is taking the kids for the day and I am doing a road trip!! I will take my sister in law with me and get some bookshelves, and then just browse and get tons of little bits and pieces too I am sure. We should eventually get an Ikea in Dublin, hopefully next year...

I really hope I don't take 3 weeks again for my next post. I am going to make an effort to finish the 21 blocks I need for my ocean waves quilt, so maybe next week I'll have that to show!

I'll leave you with a quilt I made in action at a teddy picnic... More soon, sooner rather than later, I hope!!
DSCN2066