Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Dancing the Roomba!

I am double-dogging it this week.  We have our grand-dog, Roo, while his parents are visiting Emily's family in Florida.  Kasey and Roo have had a few standoffs and scuffles, mostly when there is a food dish involved.  They are getting along fine now.  Hey, I have a Masters degree in Behavior Management.  I exercised this high-level education by yelling at them to lie down and waving a rolled-up newspaper. They both retreated to their respective doggy beds.  Apparently, both dogs have a good understanding of the meaning of the rolled-up newspaper! 

Isn't this the very picture of innocence?  Who, me?

Yesterday, our local university and Alma Mater, North Carolina State,  played at the Champs Bowl in Florida.  We went to a party to watch the game with friends who have a large-screen TV.  Happily, our team beat West Virginia.  When we got home, it looked like a tornado had been let loose in the living room.

The Finger of Guilt is pointing at Roo, since Kasey has never chewed anything and Roo has.  This time, our two life-like fur cat toys were the victims.  They are actually made from rabbit's fur, I think.  Here is the new definition of "skinning the cat."

These are scaredy-cats!

Just in time for a long-haired dog and a destructive house-guest, I got a Roomba for Christmas.  I have wanted one for a long time.  I love it!  It is a vacuuming robot!

While Kasey is dribbling Kibble, Roomba is sweeping the floor!

Of course, with a long-haired dog, it is not long before Roomba says "Uh-oh!"  Clean Roomba's brushes!"  So, you have to empty the bin, clean the filter, clean the brushes, and get hair off the front wheel.  So much easier than dragging furniture around to clean.  And wasn't I smart to get a dog that matches my floor so well!

I also got a Nook-Color for Christmas, which I am trying to learn.  I am not good at the touch pad yet, since I have a very simple cell phone and have not been too interested in using Charlie's Droid. I think it will be very handy for downloading files of instructions for quilting projects and carrying to the sewing area.  So far I have no books on it, but it will be especially good for reading in the car on trips after dark. 

I also have some lovely new quilting and art books and DVD's, so I will be reviewing some of those in the near future.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying what's left of the snow in the brilliant sunshine.  I have wondered what would happen when Kasey encountered the mallard ducks that live in the pond down the street.

Apparently her DNA is missing the gene to retrieve ducks, which is what golden retrievers were bred to do.  She is not interested in them, and they came waddling right up to us.  Now, if it's a squirrel or a songbird at one of our feeders, that's a different story!

I had fun watching this red-tailed hawk sitting in one of the majestic oaks in the new Majestic Oaks section of my neighborhood.  I heard his screech while he was flying in, and then spotted him waiting for "the lord to provide" while he waited on his branch.

We also spotted two little deer in the woods behind our house.  It is easy to see them in the snow.  They were too fast for me to photograph, but it is fun to watch them.  The snow will be fading soon as the days are getting warmer in the afternoon, and we hear it should reach the 60's by the weekend.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We are home today after a wonderful Christmas with our family in South Carolina.  What a blessing to all be together and so happy on this joyous holiday.  When we arrived on Friday at about 2:00 PM, it was very warm and sunny.  We sat outside with no jacket heavier than a sweatshirt required, and watched the kids play.  The next morning was a different story:  cold and brisk, about 32 degrees.  That's okay, the excitement was high although the temps were low!  Avery delivered all the presents since it is the first year he knows how to read!

Lily was not quite awake at first, but it was so cute to watch her with all the new surprises. She finally retreated under the dining table to play with her Strawberry Shortcake toys.

Here is the reveal of my last-minute quilting project:  a Christmas wreath for Dave and Emily.

It is the same size as the Thanksgiving turkey quilt.  Eventually they will have something for each season to hang in that spot.  The fabrics for the wreath range from homespun to hand-dyes.  I even put in a little bit of Vicki Walsh's sun-printed fabric with pine needles, and some Wear Warm Mittens commercial print fabric.

I quilted with a dark green cotton thread appropriately called "Pine" for the wreath, and a Linen color thread for the background areas.  I did some freehand pine branches that extended into the background.

That afternoon the kids went to visit their mother's family.  We made a fire outside and burned all the wrappings, boxes, and lots of oak leaves in Bryson's back yard.

The younger adults stayed up until past midnight, because there was a chance of snow in the forecast.  They finally gave up and went to bed.  And, sometime during the night, the snow began to fall.

In fact, the entire east coast had a day after Christmas snowfall that was one for the books.  For the first time in our married life, we did not make it to the Western part of the state to visit Charlie's relatives.  They were all snowed in, and we decided to just go home.  But it was hard to say goodbye!

It was like driving through a Christmas card!  We traveled along I-95, the "snowbird route" between New York and Florida,  instead of our usual route through smaller towns on Highway 15.  I have never seen I-95 looking so beautiful.

There were so many gorgeous landscapes.  I shot pictures all the way.  Here is a little church.

I loved seeing the farms and barns in the snow.

But mainly, the white pines stole the show, blanketed in heavy drifts of fluffy snow.

We stopped in Smithfield, NC for a bite to eat, and were lucky enough to get inside a Golden Corral just before they closed the doors for the day.  The roads were getting bad, and there was a multi-vehicle wreck in the Southbound lanes of I-95 just before our exit.

Traffic was tied up for miles in that direction.

Trees were starting to get bent over and break from the weight of the ice and snow.

But truly, the roads were in good shape.  The first road we encountered that was not plowed was Rogers Road, on the way to our own neighborhood.  But it sure was pretty!

Our own street was lovely with all the snow-covered trees.

And our own house was looking beautiful in the pristine snow.  We had seven or eight inches.

Glad to get safely home.  Glad to pick up our doggy from the kennel, which fortunately is only about a mile away.  They were closed, but allowed us to pick up Kasey since we were there (and I think they were a little short-handed due to the snow.)

I hope that you and yours are safe and warm and happy, where ever you are today.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Finishing Up...

So, the house got clean enough, the lasagna got made, and I am putting  the last few stitches in my last-minute Christmas gift!

Kasey is in her "luxury suite" at the kennel, with a real bed and doggy movies on her TV, and we are leaving tomorrow morning to spend the weekend with all our kids and grandkids in South Carolina.  It is supposed to snow in North Carolina on Christmas day for this first time since I have lived here (45 years).  But, there is a chance of snow even in South Carolina, so we will see!

I wish you all the peace and joy of the season.

And, here is a little bit of me that has made it into a national publishing blog.  Remember when I attended Art of the Carolinas in November?  I took a class with Suzanne McNeill on Zentangles and Watercolor.  When I met Suzanne and Cindy at their booth, they took my picture with the Zentangle hand quilt that was a challenge for my Anything Art quilt guild.  I am featured on their blog today, along with my friend Roberta Morgan. 

Need to finish that little quilt, too!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


So, having finished the last of the customer quilts required before Christmas, I started a little patchwork project of my own, hoping to finish in time for Christmas giving. Guess what...regular old patchwork is pretty boring when you have been making nothing but art quilts!  I did enjoy choosing the fabrics.

I decided to use a birthday gift from last June to cut out the squares...a Big Shot die-cutting machine! 

Yes, the very same type that was used to make all the flower applique quilts that I have quilted in the last year.  (And no, I am not planning to make one for myself!)  Mine is the electric version, which means no cranking.  It will cut about eight layers of fabric in each pass. I have a template that makes four different sized squares, one of which was the two-inch size I needed for this project.  After a while, I figured out that I didn't have to cover the whole template, just the part I needed.  I have lots of extra squares cut for other projects now!

It wastes some fabric, but saves some time.  And my rotary cutting for all the squares in this project.

So... after a couple days I finally finished piecing the top yesterday.  The pattern was more complicated than I thought.  And when I was all finished, I discovered...

THE MISTAKE.  You know, when you see that you reversed a patchwork block?  And you have to decide...

Do I leave it in as a Humility Block, as the Amish supposedly do?  You know, to show, nobody's perfect?

Or do some "unsewing?"

Can't show the whole quilt yet, but you can see the decision I made.

There is hope of getting this done, cleaning the house, making lasagna, and packing for the Christmas weekend...maybe!

Have you finished making your Christmas gifts?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Doing the Happy Dance

I did it...finished all the customer quilts that needed to get finished in time for Christmas!  Yippee! 

I loaded Carolyn's applique quilts on the machine all together, with one backing fabric. 

Usually if I am doing picture-type quilts, I like to face the quilts in the vertical orientation so I can "draw" better with the sewing machine.    But, I rued that decision this time, because I lacked just about three inches of space before having to roll the quilt to finish the bottom edge!  If I had only pinned them on horizontally, I would not have had to roll at all.  Oh, well, why should I think of something so simple when I've only been quilting on my Gammill for seven years!

Roll 'em, roll 'em, roll'em!  LOL!

I decided to use different thread colors to enhance the different quilt tops.  I would do all the red in one pass, then do the same for the other colors.  I used cherry red, pear green, iced blue, sand dollar, and wheat Signature threads.

Here is the one I call Umbrella Sue. 

I had fun with the borders on this one, adding lots of loops between the squiggly lines.  Each corner got a posie, since April showers bring May flowers!

Here are the apples and pencils.  This would be such a cute gift for a school teacher, wouldn't it?

Next, the flower basket.

I put in flower in each corner that sort of resembles the appliqued flower shapes.  I also added some little quilted hearts in the borders.

Finally, we have the watermelons and sunflower.  This one may be my favorite of the four.

I gave the flower a few friends in the background.

I used a lighter green to make some stripes on the watermelon rind.

Now Carolyn has to get them bound and sleeved in the next week so her granddaughters will have these treasures on Christmas morning.

And, guess what?  It's snowing again!

A Pre-Christmas Visit

Yesterday we went to Cary to visit our son Dave and daughter-in-law Emily.  Since we are all going to South Carolina for Christmas to visit our other son and his family next weekend, we brought this big package for Dave to open early.  There would be no way to fit it in the car with all our other stuff next weekend!  We could barely get the dog in there!

Dave is about six-feet-five, so this was a big package to wrap!

It was a guitar case for the present we gave him LAST year.

We had a nice steak dinner and a soak in the hot tub last night.  We went by this home in their neighborhood that has a light show synchronized to music by Trans-Siberian Railroad broadcast on an FM radio station.  Very impressive!

This morning we took the dogs to the greenway and big field near their home.  It was fun to watch Roo and Kasey running loose.  Kasey could not quite keep up with Roo the Rocket.

The weather is gray and cold again today.  Here is the forecast:  Cloudy with rain and snow showers. Some sleet may mix in.

We are on a roll with the winter weather this month!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Some Cheery Quilts on a Blah Day

Remember that rare December snow I mentioned a couple weeks ago?  It did it again this morning.  We woke to big chunks of snow falling, and the ground and roads covered.  My hubby took Sweet Sue the Subaru to work and had no trouble.  She is made for the snow!

Now it is just alternating between wintry mix and plain old rain.  Very gray.  Here are some cheerful quilts that I have done for customers to brighten the day.

I have finished two more of the die-cut quilts for Martha.  The first one is in the same fabric line as two that I did for her students Jean and Tammy back in October.  This time, Martha used a shape that is used to make stars or Dresden Plate type blocks, covered the petals with scalloped circles, and ended up with a quilt resembling a Grandmother's Flower Garden!

Again, the shapes are just basted onto the quilt top with glue stick.  They are narrowly overlapped at the sides.  I was somewhat fearful of my fingers as I zoomed around the shapes trying to catch both petals with the quilting to hold them together!

The raw edges will fray and become "shabby chic" if Martha chooses to wash the quilt.

Look how cute the backing fabric is.

Well, if that's not perky enough, here is a second quilt made from the new Stampin'-Up fabric collection by Martha's student, Susan Elise from Norfolk.  It is just like the one Martha made.

For this quilt, Susan wanted a cherry red thread.  No problem....except that the backing is a pale blue solid fabric in a high thread count.  And that red thread kept breaking.  It is hard to disguise any knots or blobs when the thread contrasts so highly with the fabric.  But- I "gotter done!"

Today, I have a special project:  four applique's in summery motifs!  These were the pieces that my friend Carolyn used to learn how to applique from Jean, the expert in our bee.  I need to take some of those private lessons- these turned out so cute!

The last one insists on changing its orientation to landscape...don't know why!