Friday, December 14, 2012

What's happening to us?

This morning I'm sitting at the table, writing out the Christmas cards, wishing peace and joy to all our friends and family, when I heard my husband in the upstairs bedroom, groaning loudly. That's how I learned about the horrendous shooting today in the Connecticut school.

What's happening to us here in the US? How long will we continue to bow to the NRA and tolerate these senseless shootings and killings? How many children have to die before we get the courage to ban these assault weapons with their hundreds of rounds of ammunition?  I don't own a gun--never have and never will--and my husband says the last time he fired a gun was an M16 in Viet Nam and he'll never have a gun either.  We live very fulfilling lives without guns. We settle arguments without guns.  We feel safe in our home without a gun.  Why do so many Americans think they have to have guns in order to be safe?  It's warped thinking!  Crazy!

I managed to finish my Christmas cards but with such a heavy heart.  I'm literally weeping for the families of those people who were killed this morning, especially the children.  Christmas will never be the same for them--and it shouldn't be the same for us either.  This has got to stop.

Some holiday pix

This is my Christmas cactus in full bloom. Isn't it gorgeous?  From the top of the plant to the bottom of the longest frond measures about 36 inches.  I've had this plant for many years and sometimes I get nice blooms on it, but this year is the absolute best it's ever been. Maybe the fertilizer I gave it last summer had something to do with it???

I finished the Christmas tree skirt that I'd promised daughter Tessa 3 years ago and here it is.  I found the pattern for the ornament in another pattern and machine appliqued them against the cream on cream background fabric.

You can see that I simply outlined the appliques and then did a cross hatch for the background. I used gold metallic thread on the gold bow,m gold fastener thingy at the top of the ornament and on the gold back around the middle.  Looks nice, I think.

I found a video from All People here:  and that helped a lot.  Mabeth talks about outlining the applique and then stitching the straight lines up to the outline and stitching along the outline to move to the next straight line to be quilted. I bury all my threads in the batting as I go along, and not having to stop and cut the thread every time I ended up at the appliques saved me hours of time on this project.  On the back, it looks pretty good although I admit there are a few spots where I got off the outline, but only a few.

Speaking of the back, for this tree skirt I used an old cotton sheet for backing. Several bloggers that I follow routinely use sheets for backing and, even though my quilting teacher cautioned against doing so, I tried it for the first time. And it will be the last time, as well!  I suppose for people who stitch their bindings by machine it would be okay, but I hand sew my bindings and sewing through that sheet fabric was a b_ _ _ _ h!  My fingers were so sore by the time I was finished!  I'll stick with muslin for my backings, thank you very much.

Now I'm working on a tree skirt for myself. Tomorrow Don and Lily and I go to the tree farm to cut our tree and put it up, but the skirt won't be finished by then. Again, I'm machine appliqueing this project--holly leaves and berries--and I'll do the background in a meander so that will go fast. We don't have any gifts wrapped to put under the tree yet anyway so it'll be okay.

My Friday is packed full of things I need to do before I rest tonight, so I'll be busy all day.  With luck I'll have time to work on my tree skirt after the chores are done.   Tessa wants to go to Duluth on Sunday since we weren't able to go there last Sunday and we missed out on The Nutcracker.  We had too much snow--over a foot and maybe closer to a foot and a half--and travel was not advised.  Unfortunately, Ticketmaster refused to give us a refund or even a credit so I wasted a lot of money on that venture.  If we go on Sunday (there's some talk about freezing rain this weekend) we'll go to to lunch, the fresh water aquarium, and the Christmas lights display on Park Point before we come back home.  Should be a fun day for Lily--and us as well!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I always feel as though I'm required to have photos before I can write a blog entry. I love reading other people's blogs where there are lots of pictures, and of course, lots of great text as well.  For me, including pictures is a major production.

I've never been much for taking pictures (and consequently, have only a few of the kids when they were young) and I simply don't spend much time thinking about doing so with my quilting projects. I also don't like to take pix of projects before they're completed although I enjoy seeing what others are working on.  Since it takes me time to finish a quilt in it's entirety, pictures of my quilts seem to be few and far between.

I still want to post entries in this blog so that's what we'll have today--a post without pix. Forgive me if you're so inclined.

I've been working like a trooper trying to get things finished.  After Thanksgiving, I sold almost everything out of my Etsy store, Jolly Ruby, so I was very pleased with that. Lesson learned:  Next year, have more Christmas items ready to go.  However, this means I'm free to work on other things, like Christmas tree skirts. I promised one  to my daughter, Tessa, about 3 years ago and I'm determined to have it ready for her this year. I appliqued pieced tree ornaments on a creamy colored background, and accented the ornaments with a bit of gold metallic thread. I have the skirt all marked to quilt a 1" grid pattern in the background, and yesterday I pinned the sandwich together. If I'm not too worn out after work tonight I'll begin the quilting. Since it's almost all straight stitching, it should go rather quickly.  I told Tessa she would have the finished skirt by the end of the weekend, but I forgot about other obligations I made for this weekend.

Saturday I have to take granddaughter Lily, shopping for new shoes and finish up buying things for daughter Johanna's Christmas box. I want that to be in the mail by the tenth so she'll get it in Bulgaria before Christmas. I also have to make some Christmas cookie/candie "balls" to include in the package so she can have some to share with her friends and her host Mom with whom she'll be spending Christmas.  On top of that, we have tickets to "The Nutcracker" in Duluth on Sunday so that's an entire day spent on that. 

Fortunately, I have Friday, Monday and Tuesday off work so I should be able to get all of this done. Wish me luck, okay?

Tuesday night was my quilt guild's annual holiday party. We had a potluck supper which was delicious (Have you ever noticed that quilters are great cooks as well?), and then a gift exchange. This year we were instructed to make a bag larger than 12".  I made one of very bright blue, yellow, orange and white fabrics that turned out very well, but then I began worrying. What if one of our quiet, retiring members got my bag?  It wouldn't suit her personality at all. Fortunately, it went to one of our most outgoing and vivacious members who said she loved the bright colors.  Whew!  I came home with a very large tote bag made of red and black fabrics--it's perfect for hauling around all sorts of things--at the beach, at the store, on a shop hop, etc.  I love the bag I got!

That's it for a pictureless post.  I'll work on taking a pix or two for the next time.