Sunday, December 10, 2017

First Snow of the Season

The trees were dressed in glistening white early this morning, and the sky was briefly a deep, clear  blue before later clouding over. I grabbed my camera to capture these snow bedecked ornaments.

Yesterday at our holiday Herring Run Quilt Guild meeting, MaryAnn, who follows my blog, gave me two adorable gold toned teddy bear Christmas tree pins to add to my collection.

I finished my nine patches for Part 1 of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt, "On Ringo Lake." 

Speaking of trees and ornaments, my White House ornaments are this year displayed on a small white tree, and yes, that is indeed a replica of the Lincoln memorial under the tree. 

 I am, you see,  a bit of a history geek. How serious am I? Well, this afternoon I ordered Ron Chernow's biography of Ulysses S. Grant which I believe is over nine hundred pages. I have eclectic taste in reading, and sometimes I crave something of substance; this book should fill the bill. :-)  I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a wonderful week.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Emma's New Sweater

On Tuesday . . .
I entered the pet shop
and what did I see?
This little reindeer sweater
hanging in front of me.

 It was on sale and Emma didn't have a holiday sweater, so it would have taken a stronger woman than I am to resist. :-) You have to admit; she does look pretty darn cute in it . . . I put it on her yesterday when my little cousins and their mom came for "Ladies Lunch." When their school has an early release day, they come to visit. The sweater was a big hit and we had a fun afternoon. After going out for lunch, we headed to The Christmas Place in Abington. We have a tradition of going each year to pick out a new ornament or two. (For those not from this area, this store has everything Christmas-related you could possibly need or want.) It's fun to watch the little ones mesmerized by the giant train set, the lit trees, and Santa and everyone loves the large animated penguin band!) When we returned home, while I helped Miss T. (age8) sew a school project, Miss L.(age11) decorated the tree on my sunporch which was awesome!!!

After Kristin and the girls went home, I met friends at Navarro's in Milton for a holiday dinner. It was a full, fun day and evening.

Today, I concentrated on doing a bit of quilting. I'm working on Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt, "On Ringo Lake." You may click here or on the title to go to her tutorial page for this quilt. Bonnie has a mystery quilt each year, but this is the first year I have attempted one. Friends made her mystery quilt last year and they picked up many pointers during the process. Her directions are clear, and she offer tips and mini lessons along the way. Bonnie Hunter is a very generous, wonderful, positive quilter with a large following. If you are a quilter, you should definitely check out her Quiltville website.

As I sit here writing this post, the weatherman is discussing our first plowable snow for this Saturday. We've been so fortunate with our weather, but it looks as if winter is about to truly arrive. :-)

Friday, December 1, 2017

Outdoor Christmas Decorating

It's a rare day in November when the temperature is close to sixty in New England. I took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to do my outside holiday decorating on Wednesday. This sled was from my father's childhood. I drag it out of the garage each year as part of my decorating. Another standard feature is this heavy, old metal bucket. This year I had a stroke of genius . . . well . . . perhaps "genius" might be a stretch, but I did have a good idea. Usually, I gather the pine boughs, tie them,  and try to arrange them in the bucket, but not this year. Look what I came up with.

I trimmed the branches at the bottom and inserted one in each of the holes of a turned over plastic flowerpot which when it was done led to this.

Last but not least, I decorated the pine tree in my backyard. It was once a six inch sapling given away by the DPW (Department of Public Works) at least twenty years ago. In years past, I would only need a six foot stepladder to reach the top of the tree. For safety sake, I have abandoned the stepladder and now use a long-handled gardening tool to pull down the branched and attach the ornaments.

The stepladder wouldn't work anyway as the tree is now about twenty feet!!! I'm only able to decorate the bottom half. It's fun and colorful, and I'm sure it surprises folks as they are walking or driving by.

Now it's time to start on the inside.

One other note: I finished The Red Coat - A Novel of Boston, and I rally do think you should add it to your reading list.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Busy Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving is truly one of my favorite holidays with family, food, and fun. For Thanksgiving, I went to my cousin Brian's home in Berlin, and the next day I attended my cousin Linda's "Holiday Lights" party. She lives in Beverly where folks gather on the Common on Friday night to listen to the high school chorus sing Christmas carols. Then a very busy, red suited, jolly, bearded man arrives in a patrol car followed by a fire engine with lights and sirens blaring. Santa then leads the crowd in a countdown and the lights on the tree are lit. It's a small town America/Norman Rockwell scene.  

Over the weekend, I also joined friends at our monthly quilting get together in Stoughton. I didn't bring my sewing machine but instead worked on this wool piece. It's a Buttermilk Basin pattern called "Vintage Truck," and it's more than half way done.

This morning I attended a meeting of the Crosstown Quilters and brought along the completed rag doll which is destined for the boutique table at our quilt show in the fall. After presenting her during "show and tell," I put her back in the bag and brought her home to spend the holidays. :-)   :-)    :-)

I've been reading quite a bit, but with one exception, the books I've been reading have been only so - so.  The exception is Dolley Carlson's The Red Coat - A Novel of Boston which I have nearly finished. The story involves two families whose lives at some points intertwine: Norah's Irish working class family in South Boston and the Boston Brahmin Parker family. The story is good, but a tad long. Why then am I recommending it? Who would enjoy this book? If you grew up in the Greater Boston area, you will probably enjoy this novel. If you are of a certain age and ever went with your mom in town to shop at Jordan Marsh and Filene's, you'll enjoy it. The book will bring back many memories.  For those not from this area, the author provides many sidebars with photos and explanations/identifications of the people, places, and events which are mentioned. I'm not sure of the book's appeal to a wider audience outside this area, but if you like family sagas, give it a try.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Craft Fairs and God Winks

This post will be a bit long, but I wanted to share something amazing that happened to me yesterday. My friend Laurel and I went to a number of church fairs in my town. While large craft fairs are wonderful, I really like the smaller, church holiday fairs. At one, I purchased this little vase with a lovely fluted edge. The potter lives in my town, and I thought it would be perfect for displaying a single, large blossom such as a peony. I couldn't figure how why I was so drawn to it beside the design until I realized that its colors perfectly echo those in this wool summer candle mat that I recently completed. Besides the vase, I also bought a Patriots fleece scarf, the perfect accessory for any outfit, and a number of other items to add to Christmas gifts.

We decided to stop at the senior center where the "Naughty Needlers" were having a sale. (Isn't that a great name for the ladies who meet there regularly to knit and crochet! They also donate many items to charity.) My friend purchased knit hats for her grandchildren while I perused the display of gently worn donated jewelry. I'm always on the lookout for Christmas tree pins to add to a wall hanging that I made. You may see a photo of it here. None of these four pins that I purchased are valuable or marked, but they are still fun to add to my piece.

Okay, here's where this post gets interesting. There are many definitions of Godwinks; here is one that I like.
Noun. (plural God winks). An event or personal experience, often identified as coincidence, so astonishing that it is seen as a sign of divine intervention.

After I made my purchase, a woman approached and asked if I lived on - - - - Street. I replied in the affirmative and then she said, "You were Walter's sister."  I nodded and she said, your mother was a lovely lady and your brother was the most polite, friendly young man. She had worked at a local bank, and she told how upon entering Walter would always greet each of the tellers, and she proceeded to tell me a couple of quick stories about him. She said everyone at the bank had been so sad when he died, and she said she had always wanted to stop by my house and let me know how special they all thought he was. (My brother had passed away suddenly at the age of forty-nine after a lifetime of dealing with many medical issues.) She said she never passes my house without thinking of him.  What's unusual about this? Well, my brother went home to God eighteen years ago. To think that he is remembered so fondly touched my heart more than words can say.  I left with a smile on my face . . . But . . . That's not the end of the story . . . After a quick stop at another fair, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. A young man came to our table, and my friend and I could not help exchanging smiles when he said, "Hi. I'll be your server; my name is Walter." Godwink . . .

I have always felt that my brother is still with me. Let me tell you another amazing story to convince you. As I mentioned, my brother died in April of 1999. In October of that year, I was sitting in the school auditorium with my eighth graders waiting for whatever was going to happen. You see, the Commissioner of Education had come to visit our junior high for what purpose we did not know. Then a truly, truly amazing thing happened. It turns out that the commissioner had come to announce that I had been named a Milken National Educator, a very prestigious award. How could I out of all the thousands of excellent teachers in Massachusetts been selected for this award.??? (This is not an award you apply for and, in fact, I had never heard of it before.) That's still not the most incredible part . . . the award was announced on what would have been my brother's fiftieth birthday. A few of my friends in the auditorium knew how difficult the day had been for me, and they said when the announcement was made, they couldn't believe it. Thankfully, they were not surprised that I received the award, but they were speechless that it happened on that particular day. Godwink. . .  

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful week.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rag Doll Project

On Tuesday, I attended a lively meeting of the Crosstown Quilters Guild. We had a visitor who was curious about our group. Thank goodness we were all on our best behavior, and before the end of the meeting we had a brand new member. 

 I had brought three or four things for the give-away table in the back of the room. Unfortunately, someone else had brought a large white trash bag chock-full of tempting pieces of lace, some of which as you can see came home with me. :-)

During the meeting, Anne who is in charge of the boutique table at our quilt show next fall, asked if anyone would be willing to take this rag doll home to dress it. Someone had donated the doll and pattern book. I took one look at the hank of curly red yarn/hair and up went my hand to volunteer.

 Unfortunately, the book wasn't of any use as it was for a different type and size of doll. Undaunted, I began by making a lace trimmed slip. The slip wasn't quite full enough, so I cut it part way up the middle and turned it into a pair of pantaloons. The second attempt at a slip turned out much better.

How was I to make a dress without a pattern? I watched a number of interesting "how-to" rag doll videos on Youtube to get some ideas, and as you can see, I used some of the lace which I had just brought home. Lengths of overlapping pieces of lace were sewn together to create the base of the dress, and then I added pieces of a different lace for the sleeves.

Other videos showed various ways to create the hair. I would love to be able to show you a close-up of her hair and face, but my various devices aren't cooperating. Click on this photo to see a larger image if you wish.

Now this sweet little miss is set for the boutique table at our quilt show next fall.

Are you looking for a good movie to see this weekend? On Tuesday afternoon, I went to see Judy Dench in her portrayal once again of Queen Victoria in Victoria and Abdul.  I would give the the film a B. 

Note: In my previous post, I indicated that I have a new email address, but unfortunately,  I typed it in incorrectly.  I have corrected the last post and here it is again in case you are interested . . .  
Of course, you should replace at  with the symbol. Sorry for the confusion. Did I mention that technology is driving me crazy lately???

Monday, November 13, 2017

Technology Is Conspiring Against Me

Life used to be so simple . . . up until about a month ago that is. Then technology started to conspire against me. No one was receiving any of the emails that I sent. I was able to receive emails, but whatever I sent apparently just when out into the great cosmic void. I have no idea how many emails never got delivered. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent on the phone with various  "experts" at Xfinity/Comcast. . . hours and hours and hours and the solution/reason has yet to be found. So, I have a new email address . . . jesmith2828"at"  (Symbol written as "at," but use the symbol if you would like to reach me.)

Next, my blog posts appear to be blocked; some folks who follow by email have been receiving them while others using the same server have not. What's up with that??? If you do see this post, I would suggest you bookmark it and then if you want, check in every once in a while to see if there are new posts until the problem is resolved. Did I mention that I also have a brand new modem? That's another story. . .

So, last night I settled into my comfy chair and put my feet up all set to watch the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. Fifteen minutes into the game the cable went out: no TV, no phone, no Internet. I didn't take this personally, however, as the outage effected others in the area. What did I do? I went up to my sewing room and watched the game on a small TV set with rabbit ears! I am never ever ever getting rid of that rabbit ears TV! (By the way, is it just me or are we all more than just a bit crazy to be paying so much for phone and TV cable service??? )

Okay, since I was up in my sewing room watching Tom Brady lead the team to a 41 to 16 win over the Denver Broncos, I decided to finish putting together this batik quilt top. The blocks had been made probably three or four or more years ago, but they just sat in a bag waiting patiently to be sewn together. It's colorful and fun and hopefully some young person will enjoy it. Many quilts get donated for babies and children and that's truly awesome, but because I taught eighth graders for so many years, I like to occasionally make quilts for that age level.

There's more to this sad technology story, but I'll spare you the rest of it. Thanks for listening and I promise to keep trying to post to this blog. :-)