Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Quilting Process

The question has often been asked - which is your least favourite part of the quilting process? Today, I would have to answer - cutting, piecing and squaring the quilt backs. I just finished doing this for six quilts ranging in size from lap to queen size and it wasn't fun. However, they are all now ready to be quilted so bring on the new machine! Quite some time ago, Darren made me this quilt rack where I store all my tops and backings - he's so handy!

I usually try and match my backs with my fronts whenever possible - some people are of the opinion that the back is never seen so it doesn't matter what goes on it, but unfortunately I'm not one of those people. The 'matchy matchy' gene in me is just too dominant.

I spent most of yesterday cleaning up my sewing room - again! I think part of the problem is that it occupies the smallest room of the house and it contains more 'stuff' than all the other rooms combined. My solution - bigger room. Leo's solution - less stuff!

Now that it's all cleaned up, I'm inspired to start something new or at the very least finish some UFOs - heaven knows I have lots to pick from.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Fat Lady Finally Sang

Yes, it's finally over and I, for one, am not sorry. We did have a nice Christmas and Ben had lots of fun opening all his presents. He loves tissue paper so we always wrap his presents in it and I think he has more fun with the paper than the toy or goodie inside. I got some great quilty gifts which I just love:

- Two of Mary Eddy's freemotion quilting books - Flowers in Motion and Mary's Whimsies which both give step by step instructions for flowers, leaves, holly wreaths and some really whimsical animals.

- Judy Laquidara's Nine-Patch Extravaganza. Judy is well known for her great borders and this book has some good ideas for border designs.

- Fellow Canadian, Sue Patten's Freehand Filler Patterns which takes some common blocks and gives lots of great freemotion quilting ideas for each block.

- A Quilt Calendar with 12 great patterns and instructions

- A Quilter's Home Magazine which on a quick glance looks informative and amusing

- A needle threader which I didn't even know existed! I have been complaining lately about having more and more trouble threading a needle - couldn't be my age, could it? Santa must have been listening as he brought me this handy dandy little tool.

And finally, today I placed my order for a new APQS Millennium longarm

I've had a Nolting Fun Quilter for about a year and a half and let's just say it wasn't a happy experience - after all, my Mother always told me if you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all. So today, with my dear husband's blessing, I ordered the machine I really wanted and should have bought two years ago.

I really am a very lucky lady!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

To all my friends, both old and new, and all those who may have stumbled on my blog, Merry Christmas.

Ben was very good for his photo shoot yesterday - the collar he doesn't mind, but the hat is a whole other story!
Have a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Breakfast With My Girls

This is Britney and Madison - my 'adopted' grand-daughters. My good friend has these two beautiful little granchildren and I don't have any, so she kindly let me adopt them. Britney just turned 7 (she's wearing the sweater and blouse we gave her for her birthday) and Madison will be 5 on January 2nd. With all our busy schedules, we managed to fit in breakfast this morning to exchange gifts. Britney is a real girly girl (my kind of girl!) and loves to dress up in pretty dresses - the fancier the better. She's really into jewellery this year, so Santa obliged with a ring, bracelet and necklace. Maddie is more of a tomboy but is such a little sweetheart. Santa brought her the cute little poodle purse in the picture at the top and lots of My Little Pony goodies.

Seeing the girls was what I needed to bring back the wonder of Christmas. They are so excited and assured me they had been very good so Santa was bound to bring them everything they wanted. They both love Ben and sent me home with lots of goodies for him - including a great Santa outfit - stay tuned for pictures tomorrow!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It Might be Looking Like Christmas but....

I'm certainly not feeling in the Christmas spirit - whatever that may be. I am totally stressed out and have already had one major meltdown and can feel another on the way. No matter how much I try to simplify the holidays, there is still an awful lot of things to be done - most of them by me.

I always start feeling resentment at this time of year - Leo buys one gift (mine) and gets Sandra to wrap it. I lay awake one night this week and mentally counted 35 people that 'we' buy gifts for. Don't get me wrong, I love giving - I get much more pleasure out of giving than receiving - but I hate trying to come up with different gift ideas every year. Then my resentment that I get no help with the ideas or the shopping starts building and next thing you know, watch out!

Today is my last day of work until January 2nd so I'm hoping that some time off will help give me an attitude adjustment. I need some Ben time - time on the snuggle chair wrapped in a quilt with my baby. This is a picture of Ben the day we got him - 6 years ago on the weekend before Christmas. He was the best Christmas present I ever received!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Ben is decorated with his little Christmas bow - it's very small but tasteful. Mrs. Paws, his mobile groomer, came today to give him his Christmas clip. She has a van which is fully equipped to bathe and clip him and he's in and out in just over an hour. The less trauma the better. He always gives her such a nice welcome, then all of a sudden he realizes exactly who she is and his little tail goes down and he starts shaking. Getting groomed isn't one of his favourite things.

The house is finally decorated too. I love this collection of nutcrackers. They are all from Germany and all were gifts to Leo from one of his suppliers. I always really appreciated these gifts - more so than the wine (which I don't drink) or the booze (which I rarely drink). Back in the days when there was a lot more graft given out, this company always gave these nutcrackers and I have always treasured them. When Ben was a puppy, he used to love to take the chimney sweep's brush - he never chewed it, he just wanted to play with it.

The tree is up and here is my baby admiring it He always seems to have evil eyes in pictures - I'm sure my camera has an adjustment for that, but since I'm electronically challenged, I don't have a clue how to use it. It took me six months to figure out how to delete more than one image at a time.

This is another favourite Christmas decoration which was made by a very talented lady in her 70s. Every tiny detail was handmade - all the goodies in the basket, the doll's coat and hat, the toys and presents in the sleigh. She has way more patience than I'd ever hope to have.

This is my group of Santas - and not a red suited one in the bunch! Actually, I do have an authentic red Santa which I've had since I was a child. He has a rubber face, hands and feet and a beautiful red velvet coat and furry beard - probably circa 1960. He does, however, have one slight problem - his arms are open wide because at one time he held a large shock absorber. Yes, a shock absorber - he was a promotional Santa for some shock absorber company. The shock absorber is long gone, but the Santa remains. He'd probably fetch a pretty penny on Ebay but I wouldn't part with him for the world as my Dad gave him to me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What I Should Be Doing...

And what I did are two different things. I should be Christmas shopping, or writing Christmas cards or quilting my Jewel Box or even, heaven forbid, be doing the laundry, but what I DID today was some machine embroidery. I have a set of floral medallions that I've had for ages that I was dying to try out, so I put everything else aside and decided today was the day to try them.

I love machine embroidery - it fascinates me to sit and watch the designs take shape and the detail being added, and today was a good day when all the embroidery gods were watching over me and I didn't have any problems. That doesn't always happen - trust me!

I have more embroidery designs that I will ever use in this lifetime - it's kind of like a quilter's stash - you just never know when you might need that design, or that piece of fabric.

These designs finish approximately 4" x 4" and I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to do with them. I thought I might put three together and make a tablerunner (maybe I could send it to Dorothy) or perhaps I could even make a table topper or a wallhanging. They are kind of fussy and I know not to everyone's taste but I like them! I've never been known for my practicality. There are four more in the set, but those will have to wait until another day.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I Thought It Was Done....

In my last post I told you my Jewel Box top was finally finished. Well, I was wrong! As I was putting the pattern away, I realized there was another border after the piano keys. So, guess what I spent last night doing. At least now the top is FINALLY DONE.

You haven't been filling my in-box with suggestions for the quilting thread colour, so I have posted on one of the longarm chat groups and hopefully I will get some ideas from the ladies (and gentlemen) there.

I went to a funeral today for a 92 year old lady who was the dear Aunt of a co-worker and friend. When my friend was going through some of her things to find pictures for the funeral service, she came upon a piece of paper. The wording on this paper said that you need to live your life with three bones - a backbone, a wishbone and a funnybone. Very true words......

Monday, December 3, 2007

It's About Time

It's about time I got this top finished - it seems like I've been working on it forever. This isn't a very good picture as I just threw it over our bed which is a king, and the quilt is for a queen bed plus the lighting isn't great at night in our bedroom.

Now it needs to be quilted which brings up one of the biggest problems I always have - what colour thread do I use? If anyone can help me out with this decision, it would be greatly appreciated. I'm never happy with my thread colour choice for some reason.
I have gained a new respect for those of you who blog every day - my life just isn't that exciting and I'm sure you don't want to hear about how many loads of laundry I did or how many shirts I ironed. I keep telling Leo ironing shirts is a dying art but he has never liked the way his shirts were done at the cleaners so it is one of the few things I do for him, albeit grudgingly.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

For Lack of Anything Better to Do/Say

I saw this on Rian's blog and thought I'd give it a go.

1. How old I will be on my next birthday:

2. A place I'd like to visit:
Not sure why, but I've always wanted to visit Austria - in the summer, of course!

3. One of my favourite places to visit:
Antigua - love the beaches, the people, the SUNSHINE.

4. My favourite object:

5. My favourite food:

Lobster - preferably the tails - makes me wish I lived closer to the east coast.

6. My favourite animal:

What a silly question - Ben, of course, but I love all animals.

7. My favourite colour: Blue - and if they are blue shoes - so much the better!

8. Where I live:

On the shore of Lake Ontario.

9. My middle name: Strangely enough, I couldn't find a picture of my name in English, but did manage to find it in Japanese - it's Margaret.

10. A bad habit of mine: What can I say - I'm addicted.

11. My college major: While I vaguely remember taking other subjects, the only thing I really remember learning is how to play euchre.

12. My favourite holiday: I don't really have a favourite holiday - it's certainly not Christmas, so I just picked Easter.

Well, that managed to waste over an hour......

Sandra just called and told me Ugly Betty and Grey's Anatomy are re-runs. That has ruined my whole evening - it doesn't take much!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Counting Down the Days

It's getting near that time of year again. I'm not a big fan of Christmas as I really think you need little ones around to bring back the sense of wonder to the season. Since my 'little ones' are in their middle and late 20s and with no hope of grandchildren in sight, I have to make the best with what I have. Sandra still has a lot of kid in her as is exhibited by her penguin fettish. Her apartment is full of penguins in all shapes and sizes - glass penguins, ceramic penguins, crystal penguins - you get the picture. So when I saw this Advent Calendar, I just knew I had to make it for her.

The inside section was a panel and I bordered it with some matching penguin fabric. I actually made this earlier in the year which in itself is a miracle, but true to form, when I went to fill the pockets yesterday I realized I'd forgotten to make a label. You can see in the close-up that I actually USED one of the hundreds of decorative stitches on my machine. I was quite proud of that!
I've had fun for the past several months collecting small things to put in all the pockets - a lot of them penguin related. With all the penguin movies in the last couple of years, penguin items are a lot more plentiful than they used to be. Of course, Sandra would be the first to tell you that she has loved penguins long before the current craze.

She got engaged this summer and her darling husband to be arranged the most special engagement ever. They visited the Penguin Connection at the Aviary in Pittsburg where you get to interact with the penguins and they draw a picture for you. Darren arranged for a private session and this is Elivs, an African penguin drawing their picture.

While the painting was drying, they had the opportunity to play with the penguins and one jumped into Sandra's lap which just thrilled her.

Then they went back to retrieve their 'foot' painted picture and Sandra was greeted by this sign alongside Darren, on bended knee, asking for her hand in marriage.

I wish them all the happiness in the world!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Adding Some Bling

I saw a lot of denim jackets in Vegas that were embellished with crystals - some were really gaudy but some were very nice. This got my wheels turning......I already have a hot fix crystal applicator and lots of crystals - I have a denim jacket.....all I need is some imagination and I too can have an embellished jacket.

I've been trying to pluck up the nerve for quite some time to embroider on my jean jacket, so maybe this could be a stepping stone. No guts, no glory - right?

Ben is very happy to have us home. I think a layer of skin has been licked off my face - who needs a facial or exfoliation when you have a dog! He was very well taken care of in our absence by our future son in law and I know he enjoyed all the attention Darren gave him.

As you can see from this, his back is a lot better!

I'm having trouble getting motivated after our trip but I better get out of my lethargy or that C word will be here before I know it!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Where was I....

We got home last night and went from a sunny 77 degrees to a freezing 25 with a light dusting of snow. We had a great time but it's nice to be home and breathing smoke free air again. The smoking really got to me in Vegas and I don't see how they can call it a family destination until they change some of their smoking laws. Even non-smoking designated places aren't enforced so there is smoke everywhere. (Stepping down from soapbox now.)

This is one of the windows of Dolce & Gabbana which really took my fancy. All the flowers were real and I found it really eye catching.

I'm writing my letter to Santa today asking for a new pair of legs for Christmas. With all the walking we did I really think I deserve new ones that are arthritis free! We walked from The Mirage to Mandalay Bay which according to Mapquest is 1.98 miles, but that doesn't take into account all the casinos you have to walk through to get there or all the up/down escalators and skywalks. We took a cab back which brings me to another rant - don't you think you should have to be able to speak and understand English if you are a cab driver in an English speaking country? Since Sandra doesn't like my references to motion sickness - let's just say the cab ride wasn't very pleasant and leave it at that! I went in here at Mandalay Place and paid an outrageous amount for a Vegas toy for Ben. I had promised him we'd bring him back something special, so what was I to do? Ben only likes toys that squeak or make a noise. If it doesn't, he bites it all over trying to find 'the spot' and if nothing happens, he looks at you like you've given him a defective toy.

This was one of the table decorations in Mandalay Bay - yes, they are all real and just outstanding. I'm beginning to figure out why my stash is full of florals....

This is behind the front desk at Bellagio - I don't remember seeing this before, so I assume they change it seasonally. At least it gives you something nice to look at while lining up to check in.

The name says it all - it's all about the shoes!

While we didn't get to see Elton - at least I did get to see a pair of his shoes!

We did see The Phantom of the Opera and it was very well done. I've seen this at least half a dozen times before when it was in Toronto, but it's one of Leo's favourites so once in a while I have to let him do what he wants - after all, he very patiently stood by while I took pictures of all the amazing shoes! Of all the Phantoms I've seen though, I still think Colm Wilkinson is the best!

I can hear the laundry calling my name so I guess this means I'm back to reality.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm Not Sure What Day it Is...

As promised, here is a picture of the inside of the Dome at the Mirage complete with beautiful orchids everywhere.

I also snapped a picture of one of the Christmas arrangements - they all contain dozens of red roses and any wilted blooms are replaced every morning.

We walked the strip yesterday logging at least another 50 miles thereby negating the calories of anything I ate. There are a lot of changes since the last time we were here - 2001 - most notably Caesar's Palace - I swear we walked 20 of the 50 miles in there just trying to find our way out.

We look a gondola ride at the Venetian (wasn't that romantic!) and I also managed to fit in a bit of shopping.

We made it to The Fashion Mall this morning which was a small miracle in itself considering how much Leo likes to shop. I thought their Christmas decorations were worthy of a couple of pictures.

A couple of observations - they have figured out a way of not allowing you to use the fridge in your room to cool beverages other than from the mini bar. In very tiny print at the bottom of the mini bar price list is a notice telling you that it is operated by sensors so if you move anything, you will see it on your bill. So, you can pay $3.75 for a Diet Coke from the mini bar or $2,75 for a bottle from the store downstairs. Either way you are being ripped off.

We noticed the busiest slots are the 1 and 2 cent machines. These are also new since our last trip but I'm quite happy to put my $5 in and play for ages - at least it takes longer to lose your money.

I hope somebody is reading this as it takes forever to rearrange these pictures - there must be an easier way than how I'm doing it, but I'll figure that out another day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.