Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year's Eve!!!

I think I see some sun out there! That's amazing here in Portland - very rare this trip. We leave here the 2nd and am trying to think of a way that we can take Miss P home with us. Oh, we can think of lots of ways - but they all involve drugging her parents - and since they know where we live ... that probably won't work for long!

The dogs will be glad to see me gone - they practically live in the garage while we're here.

J's parents stopped down yesterday and joined us for dinner at Chevy's. We hadn't seen them since the wedding 3 years ago! Always fun to get caught up and to hear about all the changes and adventures in their lives.

Been reading Stashbusters digests - good thing - cause it would take a week to get caught up. This computer doesn't really like long emails - so I've been pasting them to Word and boy - this morning the 4 digests pasted added up to 146 pages!!! Granted that's a lot of headers and enders and large type - but still - 146 pages!!! And that was just one day's worth! I do miss sewing along with all the gals that ware working in their sewing rooms. But been hand quilting during one of the daily naps Miss P still takes. Have to admit - I nap during the other one! Only one thing harder than being a 15 month old - and that's following a 15 month old!

Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday. Poor dear - has to put up with football every birthday. So we're going to escape the football games and do a little shopping again. DH is making his famous Eggs Maranara for breakfast. Think Denver omelette with sausage instead of ham. And I'm making pizza for dinner (rice krispie treats for her "cake"). And we'll have to start packing up. We're out of here Wednesday morning!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Snow on Christmas Day!!!

Yes, right here in Portland OR we had the biggest fluffy snowflakes on Christmas Day! So pretty against the fir trees in the back yard. And of course, unlike Nebraska snow - it didn't amount to enough to shovel! What a relief! :>

A and J2 came Sunday night and 6 adults, 2 dogs and a 15 month dynamo sure make a house seem small! But we survived. I usually put a dozen Eileen's Cookies in everyone's stocking - but DH pointed out that we were probably over the allotted suitcase weight already and we could do without this year ... darnit - don't you hate it when they're right? So I made rice krispie bars with M&Ms here and put a giant piece in a baggy in each stocking. We opened a few presents Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning after a breakfast of Eggs Maranara. Miss P made out like a bandit! And J2 taught her a new game - you open the door and I'll shut it - and again and again and again - thanks J2!!

I joined in the Stashbuster's UFO challenge this year. I forgot my FQs, but remembered Cher's address - so I actually went into a quilt store and bought just the FQs I mailed to Cher. That's a first for me! So after almost 2 months - I'm still legal in "No Buy!". It's a miracle!

Tomorrow L is off work so we plan to do a little after Christmas shopping. Then Friday DH and I head to the coast for a "ride-about" and our favorite restaurant in Oceanside for our 35th anniversary! How fast the time flies. Like one quilter said - "I keep forgetting it's my children who are 30, not me!"

Happy New Year everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas from rainy Oregon

We made it. It was not a sure thing! There were LO-O-O-ng lines at the airport; I always get tagged in security because of my new knee. We sat at the gate forever (we left 45 minutes late)! We got lucky - came into F4 and left from F12 - that may be the closest connection we've ever had! We hustled thru the airport and they were almost done loading our connecting flight! Woohoo! Glad we made it.

Always tired after a day starting early and traveling - but have to admit - seeing Miss P at the airport was a joy. We've been playing and watching all that energy is amazing. She's so-o fast - only one speed as far as we can see - full out! No wonder her momma is thin. Hope it works on Grandma while I'm here!

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Time

We have a small group at work that quilts once a week at lunch. We laugh, sew, consult and even talk with our mouths full! I found some wonderful wood ornaments that you can insert a picture into at JoAnn’s. One said “Joy” – that’s the last name of one gal in our group. Of course, she collects “JOY” – who wouldn’t!!! And then there was a penguin – P collects penguins, and snowmen (me, me!) And I had grandiose plans to paint them at home and present them … that went by the wayside! I could just save them until next year – if I could find them again! BUT instead I brought them, paints, brushes, a plastic tarp for the table and we did it together! It worked out great – everyone enjoyed it, each did their own ornaments and whenever I see mine, I’ll think of the group laughing together while we painted them. A better memory than what I had planned!

So-o as you are panicking about how close Christmas is and how much you have left to do … what can you do together with the recipients? It was a stress-buster in more ways than one!

We head out early Friday morning – and I do mean O’dark-thirty. So I probably won’t blog again until we reach Oregon and catch our breath! And get reacquainted with Miss P.

So Merry Christmas to everyone. I’ve enjoyed remembering favorite Christmas memories and activities back when the house was full of kids and pets … I hope you enjoyed it too.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Stash busting Report - woohoo!

Tonight was the best Christmas party of the season - the Scrap Happens party! We had a great time and got a lot of loot! 10 FQs, needles, thread, a cool zipper small bag, a tin, magnet, mug,cooking whisk with kisses!, binding corner tool and then personal gifts too! It was heaven!

I can now tell you what I've been doing to bust stash. I cut 70 pairs of nickel squares for 8 people - mostly beige-ings from my stash. That's 18 1/2 yards!!!

I made a chicken block clock (1 yard) and for my mom a cushion for her walker seat for the dog to sit on and a walker bag to match (2 1/2 yds) For a grand total of ... drum roll here ... 22 yards! Now that was fun!!!!

I had to pack the chicken clock in a pizza box - so I got a second box for a quilted bag. My DH asked what the boxes were for - I said the clock and a quilted bag - and he said, "So you're giving her a watch???"

Now we can relax and enjoy the family Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Now is the time for all good quilters ... to reevaluate!

My deadline is earlier than yours - I leave for Portland next Friday and I can't take my sewing room with me! Although you know, we always try to do that!

We often push ourselves to the limits to prepare for the big day - that we're too exhausted to enjoy it and the week before. So we meltdown!

That's what happened today for me. I got a lot done yesterday - had a full list for today though and it just didn't happen. So like every woman a week before Christmas -I'm reevaluating what exactly is needed. What can be finished fast, what can be left by the wayside.

The music at church was wonderful today and I enjoyed the baby shower. But when I got home I was ready for a nap. So I took it! Made the day go too fast for my list though! Revision time!

Wrap my secret pal gift (had to get special boxes today)
Finish mom's walker bag
Cookies are off the list

I'll report on stashbusting tomorrow - you'll be surprised!

Does anyone else summarize the year and make plans for next year? When the kids were little, the week between Christmas and New Years was the time we wrote predictions. When they were real little, they drew them and we wrote what it meant: "I'm going to a circus!" Then we sealed them in an envelope and put them away with the Christmas decorations ... to be opened the next year. It was always interesting - we didn't remember what we'd predicted and were surprised when we opened them.

An easy prediction/resolution is more quilting, UFOs finished and a stash busted!!! Now all I need is the details! :> A good quilting friend once said her resolution was "Gain 10 pounds and read trashy novels!"

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Santa's bringing books

Do you tend to buy alot of one item for gifts? One year I was on a DVD spree! Gave one to my daugher L; but she already had it. I took her to the closet in my sewing room and let her pick out another one - she promptly announced I had a video store up there!!! Miss P is getting alot of books this year. It seems like the thing to do with the lead paint scare, etc. I've had alot of fun trying to find the books my kids grew up with. Barnes & Noble and make finding old books easy. What are the favorite books you think of?

Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day
The Runaway Bunny
The Monster at the End of this Book
The April Rabbits
The Pokey Little Puppy
Penrod's Pants
5 people in my family

Miss P's getting some of those I just listed - but I've wrapped alot of books tonight!

On my list:
Completed my secret pal's gift [what a relief!]
Made the dog pillow for my mom and 1/2 done with a walker bag for her.
Wrapped all the presents I could find :>

All in all - it's looking pretty good! Good night, sleep tight!

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's the weekend!

Is everyone else planning on sewing til the cows come home??? My list of things to do this weekend is LO-O-O-O-O-NG! It's also my last weekend at home before Christmas. No - I'm not complaining about getting to Oregon and Miss P a few days early ... but I'm not ready for the last weekend yet - it's time for a list!

Finish secret pal gift
Wrap the rest of the presents
Make dog pillow for mom's dog
Bake cookies
Go to a baby shower???

Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Homemade Christmas Presents

What's your favorite Christmas present to give? I've made a LOT of Christmas presents over the years. I made pillows for 5 years for my sisters and my mom. The first year I didn't make one for my mom - and then I heard about it for MONTHS afterwards. From then on I made one for her also. The first 4 were seasonal pillows. Little kids with a poem about mittens, a pumpkin, a RWB basket of flowers and fish with an American flag. The fifth one was 3 angels. I also made a redwork Santa pillow for my sister who always ends up having Christmas at her house. [Hey, she's the one that added a giant family room and then decorated it red and green!]

I made ornaments for years too. Counted cross stitch Santas, mini stockings ... skinny hanging Santas who tote sticks ...

One year I made dog blankets. There was really cute dog fabrics out that year - they were whole cloth quilts. But I had just gotten my Janome and I put a strip across the back that said the dog's name and "sit, stay, good dog!"

I'm finishing my secret pal's present this weekend - I hope - the exchange is MONDAY! Hope all your presents are made and you're ready to relax into the holiday!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Dogs at Christmas

We got a Christmas puppy in 1988. We had to pick her up at the beginning of December - her parents were leaving town and couldn't wait until Christmas. We decided that we'd bring her into our house early - after all, she was about to be part of the family. We hid notes around the house and the kids followed the clues to their dad - sitting under the ping pong table with Pepper, a miniature schnauzer on his lap! She was in the kitchen most of that Christmas. But the next Christmas she discovered the Christmas tree in the living room. Pepper, the forest dog! She loved laying under the tree - it was next to her favorite window too.

We don't put the presents under the tree until 2 days before Christmas and that was the year I bought 3 Eagle Chip tins. They were big. So big I wrapped them in white tissue paper. Pepper came bounding up the stairs and around the corner, heading for the tree and spotted them under the tree and started barking at it! Every time she came around that corner for the next 3 days!!! We miss that dog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No snowday for the likes of us!

The University didn't close - it was a long shot anyway - the university hardly ever closes. Especially in the winter and that's my DH's fault!! In 1970 there was a HUGE snowfall. At that time Othmer was under construction - and for some misguided reason they were stockpiling the snow removed to there. Enter the frats vs the dormies. Yes, the biggest snowball fight - no war is the correct word - in history. The 2nd floor of the dorm was "jock city" and they jumped out of the windows into the snowbanks to join in the fight! Well, the campus police came down 16th street in force - and united the teams - against the police! The police calmly backed away and since then - the university never got over it. There are no snow days here!! Well, hardly, anyway. That IS a true story - I live with a witness/participant!

No more snow or ice expected, but highs in the 20s for the next 5 days! Brrrr!

String quilts are a hot topic in Stashbusters group right now. Strings are interesting - they grow when you're not paying attention! One summer my mom, my sister, G and me started making string quilts. There were more strings at the end of the projects than at the beginning!

I made string stockings this year for Santa socks for guild, I saw the neatest string stocking by a friend. C started with a panel and cut strings out of the bird, a hunting dog and some other details - combined it with some other strings to make an awesome stocking for her hunter husband. Great idea.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Another winter storm headed our way ...

Is it too late to move to points south? (way south) We're all doing our "snow day" dance - but we need to keep electricity, please - or what's the point??!

Here's our Christmas tree. My parents tended to put up designer trees - not my favorite so my tree has ALWAYS been homemade, treasured ornaments. That ice cream cone at the top was made by A in preschool! He's going to be 33 this year!!!

Our favorite time of day during the holidays was bedtime. The kids got ready for bed - and if they got ready fast enough :> we turned off all the lights except the Christmas tree lights and sat and sang Christmas songs. The kids usually had a song to memorize for a Christmas program; each picked one and then we usually sang one more ... cause we're softies! I'll always remember the little voices singing. Our favorites were Holly Jolly Christmas; Away in the Manger; White Christmas and Up on the Rooftop.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Winter has set in

My DH does most of the cooking around here - I admit it - I'm spoiled. He works from home and quite frankly, he's the better cook. A wizard with a grill, etc. Well, winter seems to be my cooking season. I do the soups, the lasagna and the heavier meals we crave in the winter. The high this weekend was 20 something... so we hunkered down and I cooked both days. Soup yesterday with biscuits and lasagna today.

Meanwhile I worked on my quilting group's presents. It's all hush hush for another week - but I've put alot of time into this year's. We'll see if they like it! BUT I'm afraid I may be avoiding finishing my secret pal's gift. It wasn't totally planned out - I like to do my own thing! - I can't avoid it for long - we exchange gifts the 17th.

Finally bought my mom's present yesterday - a talking clock. She has borrowed one and it doesn't have the booklet with it - and she wants her own. My mom is legally blind now and it has narrowed down her life so much. It's hard to shop for her ... so we talked. For the remainder of my present to her I'm writing a check to one of her favorite charities. - she has 5 she supports. We'll see which one she picks.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

2 weeks and counting!

Okay - major panic time here. We'll be in Portland babysitting two weeks from today! I'd better get busy!

Today I met a friend at the library meeting room and we sewed - oblivious of a "winter mix" coming down outside! When we went out - someone had frosted our cars! We were both working on projects that not our favorite things to do [pink disappearing 9patches, anyone!] And it was great distracting ourselves, getting caught up while accomplishing that.

Advent calendars is my topic today. I love my advent calendar - you see the 25 days in December below and you decorate the Christmas tree and it gets fuller and fuller as it gets closer to Christmas. It never fails to surprise me how fast Christmas comes. Yes, I'm 55 and my children are grown and gone ... and I do the advent calendar every year! It's a tradition - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas Programs

Sorry I missed writing yesterday ... long day.

We had the most beautiful snow. I started to work from home and nothing. I got to 66th st and the radio mentioned it was snowing in South Lincoln. I was in North Lincoln and figured I'd get to work without problems. About 56th it started snowing. About 40th I had to turn on my windshield wipers! And by the time I got to 14th st - my parking lot - I put on my boots to walk the 4 blocks to work. It was big flakes, fluffy and it snowed for two hours. We got close to 5 inches. I enjoy watching snow from inside. Unfortunately, I was looking out my office window! The streets were, of course, terrible and Lincoln had over 100 accidents yesterday. It's official - I drive like an old lady - but I made it to where I needed to be without a scratch.

After work I went to Mom's and we waited for my sister to pick us up for a Christmas program at Capital City Christian. It was wonderful. Church programs are "a must" for the season. If you don't have a church home - look in the paper - there are hundreds of special programs this time of year. Go to one - you won't regret it.

We also go to church services on Christmas Eve. Usually the 11 pm service - there's something magical about coming out of church at midnight, hearing the bells and knowing it's Christmas. My favorite part of the service is the lighting of the candles. Our church passes out candles to everyone as they come in and at the end of the service the we pass the flame. When everyone's candle is lit - it's a beautiful light. Reminding us of the change we can make - if we only do our part - nothing big - just a little light.

This weekend I have do our Christmas cards, wrap some presents and finish some quilted Christmas presents - first I have to decide what to make! Man! It's way too late to not know WHAT you're going to make!!! What have I done to myself????

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Cards - what's your take?

I'm almost done with our Christmas letter. Truly, I'm not one of those that you hate! I use 1/2 sheet of paper and there's a picture at the top! But we all get those letters that when we see the envelope we groan and set it aside until we are feeling stronger!

One letter that we get is TWO pages, single spaced!!! I have to have a cup of hot chocolate to tackle that one. And DH relies on me for the "executive summary"!

How is it possible that Christmas is approaching at the speed of light? In two weeks and 2 days we head for Oregon. Time to panic.

Miss P (14 months old now) went to see Santa at Daddy's Starbucks - don't like the looks of Santa!!! Nope, not at all!

I finished my Stashbusters fabric Christmas post cards tonight - they'll go out tomorrow. They turned out cute - I'll show you a picture later when they've been received. A friend is mading a calendar with monthly mini-quilts - the Santa was so-o cute that I threw him on the copier and reduced him to PC size! Easy peasy! C, my friend from Arkansas was here last weekend and she helped me cut all the pieces ... both nights, poor dear! Good friends are irreplaceable!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My husband's bookcase story

Two days ago I showed you "my" bookcase decorations in the family room - this is "my husband's" bookcase. Mine cheerily says, "Merry Christmas" in wooden blocks. DH's grumpily says, "Bah Humbug!!!" My mom always wrote things out in wooden blocks and I love doing that!

Favorite presents for kids: We went thru a really lean year or two. One year to fill the kids' stockings I made surprise balls. They were preschool and elementary age that year. Take one roll of crepe paper per child, some penny candy, small toys and a pile of coins,[if they are different-dimes, pennies, nickels, quarters it helps them learn their money -or not to trust their brother!!!]. Wind the crepe paper around the first toy and then keep adding other treats as you continue wrapping. The kids were so excited - at one point the crepe paper was unwrapping so fast that the coins and candy were flying thru the air! LOL!

My mom and dad wrapped a present without a box one year for me - and at bedtime I was allowed to squeeze it and try to guess what it was! Doesn't sound like much - but it was fascinating! It was a HARD stuffed pink poodle! Everything was sticking out - 4 legs, the nose, the tail, the top of the head ... I had no idea! It was the first present that I opened that year.

Nowadays, our favorite stocking stuffer is a dozen "Eileen's cookies". This bakery in Lincoln stacks their cookies in a round plastic bag. It takes up just enough room that we don't go broke filling stockings and each one of us has our favorites - Monster cookies anyone?

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Best Christmas party

Me (on the left) and S last year at the Scrap Happens Christmas party. It was at J's house and we loved all her decorating. I made the snowman pillow for Sue.

Tonight was Scrap Happens - my small group. There are 9 of us and we meet at each other's houses. Cozy, if not well lighted! I need this group - we laugh and relax and get to see each other's projects. A little consulting, a little kvetching!! It's fun.

In two weeks we have our Christmas party - one of our favorite Christmas parties every year. Everyone gets gifts for everyone ... there are alot of FQs given! We take turns handing them out and we take our time. And then you get a present from your secret pal - and get to find out who she is. It's wonderful - "quilt-y" gifts that your family just doesn't get for you.

Being spoiled by friends - it's just what you need before the holidays!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Now that was a busy weekend!

Today's picture is one of the family room bookcases. The Santas are counted cross stitch by Prairie Schooler. They started designing the yearly Santas in 1985 - I have all 22 patterns, 16 of the Santas are stitched and pillowed and displayed, 3 are stitched, but need to be pillowed - just finished them this fall and I need to stitch the last 3. Luckily, Christmas comes around every year!

I love Mary Engelbreit Christmas tins - can you tell? One Christmas my daughter L came into the room and said, "Everything is me,me,me around here." I thought, now what? and asked her what she meant. "All the tins have ME on them!!!!" That was a relief!!! LOL!

Most of the decorations are up. The trees are decorated and we watched our first Christmas DVD last night. Love Actually. Darling movie FOR ADULTS - there are so many big names in it and I can never remember who they are! Hugh Grant is the new prime minister of England! Others include Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Laura Linney, Colin Firth, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, January Jones, Rowan Atkinson

Judy L is having weekly accountability in reducing stash. We should report on Sundays - I'll see if I can get the link to work. This week I made 14 - er make that 13 Christmas post cards. The wonder under should NOT be ironed upside down! I did on the first card [insert your favorite cuss word here!] ... but if you get a sticky iron, leave it on and place a dryer sheet on the edge of the ironing board, "scrub" your iron against it. Works like a charm.

The PCs were from stash of course. PCs aren't very big but in groups they add up. The backgrounds were almost a FQ! Last weekend - before I joined this effort - I made borders for Birds of a Feather all from stash. Ice cream cone borders in greens and a few blues ... still haven't gotten them actually on the quilt - there were spacer borders to be figured out! ICK - math.

On the "No buy" front I managed to go into JoAnn's twice without buying anything extra! The first time I needed to get a ruler and timtex for the PCs. I had the 40% off coupon and got a 90" wide back for Birds of a Feather. That's all - no unauthorized purchases!!! A FIRST!

Today I had to go get some tiny jingle bells for the PCs. I did buy Quiltmaker to see Bonnie's article and two skeins of 738 floss that I was out of ... it feels like such a hurdle but I'll bet some people can do this any time they go!!! Amazing!!!

Nancy Rose, a week ago, asked us to list what we've accomplished - I thought she meant for the year after seeing her list ... she meant for the month of November! YIKES! I just don't move that fast anymore!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

And the countdown begins

December 1st! Wow - that was fast! Lincoln is an "almost northern" city that thinks that it isn't! On the first Saturday of December we have the Star City Parade - it had to be cancelled today. We've got ice. We haven't been to the parade for years. We went a lot when the kids were little. I remember sitting on the hood of G's car with my two kids, G and her three kids. [Cars were bigger with flatter hoods back then!] Huddled under blankets with a thermos of hot chocolate.

Then there was the year that my girl scout troop was one of the troops picked to carry the banners announcing each entry. The girls were dressed in angel gear and the wind really whipped that glitter edged wing into their cute little faces. Ouch! That's Miss L - the mischievous angel on the left in the picture above. One thing I discovered about walking with the girls in the parade - on a cold day you can see a bunch of quilts in the crowd. Most were "picnic" quilts but there were a few that were not. "Grandma's best" is not the one you take to keep warm at a slushy parade!

Also pictured above on the right is A as one of the three kings in the annual church Christmas pageant. Another activity we were involved in every year. Something always happened that made you smile. But not like one of my favorite movies: "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever." Loretta Swit is the emergency choir director! Really fun if you can find it!

Decorating commences today - I'll let you know how it went tomorrow.