Friday, December 31, 2010

It's Too Quiet Around Here

For the last post of the year, I need to do a little tribute to my pets.  This isn't quilty at all, so if you want to skip this post, I'll be back later with a quilty post!

We started 2010 with three pets, Tiger (yellow cat), Skittles (calico cat), and Bailey the dog. 

We got Tiger as a kitten, and had him for over 16 years before he died in November.  He grew up with the boys and was always the most tolerant cat.  He just ignored all the running and shrieking around here when the boys were little.  He was a big cat - 18 pounds once he was full grown.  He spent most of his time sitting on someone's lap, purring.  I have yellow and white cat hair embedded in most of my quilting projects, because he was always on my lap at some point during the quilting process.  We miss him.

We had Bailey for over 13 years.  We got her when she was almost a year old.  I think she had a rough start in life - she had been adopted from the Humane Shelter to at least two families before we got her.  She was a little wild at first, and we took a lot of obedience classes the first few months.  But once we got her calmed down, she was a great dog.  She got along fine with the cats, and was a wonderful playmate for the boys.  She was mostly border collie, so she needed a lot of exercise when she was younger.  She loved to go for walks - she and I logged thousands of miles together.  She loved to play in the snow - the boys would take her out for fort-building and snowball fights, and that was absolutely wonderful.  They played a lot of fetch and had a lot of footraces with her over the years.  She was my buddy, following me from room to room.  She was always in the kitchen with me, waiting for any tidbits to fall to the floor (and they usually did). 

About a year and a half ago, she had surgery and the vet told me then it was cancer and would probably come back.  Then in August of this year, she had surgery again and it wasn't very successful.  Since then, she had been in "recovery" mode and hadn't been able to go out for walks or do the fun things we used to.  On December 8, I came home and found her in distress, so I took her to the vet.  There were no good options left, so I made the difficult decision to have her put to sleep. 

Needless to say, this December has been a very depressing month.  People who have pets will understand how I feel . We still have Skittles, and she has started sitting on my lap every day, which she never used to do.  Maybe she misses the other pets, too.   I'm used to taking Bailey for a walk every day after dinner, so that's been a big change in my routine.  I may have to get another puppy or dog in the spring.  We had some leftover cans of food, so I asked my husband to take it to the Humane Shelter for me.  I knew that if I went, I'd probably come home with another dog and that probably wouldn't be the best thing just yet. 

So this is my memorial to my pets.  Sorry for the depressing post.  I'll be back later to post about quilts!  Thanks for understanding.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Finish, and a Good Start

Well, I can already see that I'm not going to be a daily blogger!  I think once a week will be more my speed.

Last weekend I had a finish - this spring Kathy Schmitz pillow.
It's now sitting happily in my easy chair in the sewing room.

And I got a good start on Wrapped in Paisley.  The blocks are all made and ready in their little stacks.
This has been a fun quilt to make, although some of the blocks have a lot of little pieces.  I haven't done this much piecing in a long time.  I'm looking forward to putting these together this weekend after the Christmas festivities wind down.

Tomorrow I have the day off, so I'm going to bake the Christmas cookies and put the finishing touches on everything.  Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Enough with the snow already

We ended up with 8" or 10.5" of snow, depending on who you listen too.  That's way too much for me!  At least we'll have a white Christmas.  Now it's just really, really cold.

I saw some cute blocks on another blog that reminded me I made a Christmas present I haven't shown.

The picture's a little blurry, but this is a wool basket on a wool background.  It was an "extra" from the set of blocks I made this summer. 

Hope it's warmer where you are.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day!

Everything was cancelled today - church, school concert, even the mall is closed.  The DOT is telling everyone to stay home, so I'm happy to comply!  The snow has stopped, but it's hard to tell how much we got.  It is blowing so much that it's 1" deep in some places and 12" in others. 

So what do I do with a snow day?  Spend it in the sewing room!  I've been working on a Wrapped in Paisley Christmas quilt, but it's not for a gift or even necessarily for this Christmas.  It was just a cute kit I fell in love with and have been having fun sewing.  I've also been making some wool ornaments from the pattern Primitive Gatherings gave away at their open house.

I made apricot bread last night - one of our Christmas "must-haves."  Someone asked for the recipe, so I'll post it for you - it's great, although not as healthy as it probably sounds.  One of my loaves is already gone, though, so I'd better freeze the rest pretty quick!

Apricot Bread Recipe

2 cups dried apricots, diced
Warm water to cover apricots

2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 Tbsp.  butter or margarine
½ tsp. baking soda
½ cup water – from apricots
1 cup orange juice
4 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup nuts, chopped

Cover apricots with warm water and let set 30 minutes.  Don’t skip this step or the bread will be really dry.

Drain apricots, reserving water.  Mix sugar, eggs, and butter.  Stir in ½ cup of apricot water and orange juice.  Stir flour, baking powder, soda and salt together and add to creamed mix.  Add apricots and nuts and mix.  (I don’t know how long to mix – I just hand mix until everything is mixed together- won’t take long.)

Grease and flour pans.  Pour into pans.  Let stand 20 minutes.  Bake 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.

This makes seven little loaf pans, or you can make larger loaves if you want.  Start checking after about 40 minutes – the little pans cook faster.  I use a toothpick test to check for doneness.  They will crack across the top when done. 

These freeze well if you wrap them in foil.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's a Blizzard!

We're in the midst of getting 12" of snow tonight, and the wind is howling, so it's a good time to get caught up on blogging!

This week we had our Quilt Guild Christmas party.  I finished a Christmas Joy Stocking for my Secret Pal.  This is a pattern from Cath's Pennies

Our gift exchange is "something homemade."  I made a miniature Twister in red and white from the Primitive Gatherings pattern.

These Twister patterns are great fun and quick to make.  If you buy a charm pack, they go really fast.  My friend Cindy got my gift, and she loves red and white quilts, so I know it has a good home!

The best thing that happend this week is that Candace at Squash House Quilts chose me for her drawing and her gift arrived today - a Lil' Twister template (the next size up from the one I have) and a charm pack of Kate Spain 12 Days of Christmas.

Thanks, Candace - I love my gifts!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Getting Ready for Christmas

A church in our town makes Cathedral Mice all year round and sells them at Christmas.  One of our traditions is to add to our collection each year.  Yesterday was Mouse Pickup Day.  This church has been doing this for 49 years, but I've only been collecting for 18, so I have a little catching up to do.  This year's mouse was Keystone Cop, and I also added the Packer player and Patriot to my collection.  These mice are very meticulously made - it takes them about eight hours per mouse.

Here's a picture of the tree with all our mice

The tree is actually right side up - Blogger decided it looked better sideways, I guess!

Not too much has been happening on the sewing front.  I did spend a little time in the sewing room yesterday with my assistant, Skittles.  She was enjoying a sunbeam, which is rare this time of year.

She loves it there in my box of wool scraps!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hi from Cold, Snowy Wisconsin!

It's cold out tonight - the perfect night for staying in the sewing room and pretending it's not winter!

Last night was the first meeting of Miss Rosie's Snob Club at my local quilt shop.  We will be using only patterns from Miss Rosie's Quilt Company.  I love her patterns - my most recent was this Schnibble quilt -

This quilt is about 32" square and made from a Layer Cake of Sandy Gervais fabric.  It was my first Layer Cake purchase, but won't be my last!  With the Layer Cake and a couple fat quarters, I had enough fabric to make the larger lap-size of this quilt.  This wall hanging will be a Christmas gift for my guild secret pal.

I'm really looking forward to our Miss Rosie's Club.  Our first project is a contest to make a chicken pincushion from the Pollo Loco pattern.  Prizes will be awarded for the most original, so our minds were spinning - maybe an elegant chicken made with satins, a retro chicken, a chicken with tattoos, a chicken with an antique brooch?   I need to dig through my stash of treasures and see what I can come up with.

Keep warm!