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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Wrap Up


     I hope all who are reading this had a wonderful Christmas spending time with family and friends. I finished two quilt related projects just in time for gift giving. The first was a Disney Princesses fleece blanket for one of my youngest cousins. She had wanted one like I had made previously for her big sister.
     I also made a quilt for my cousin and his wife. I was thrilled with how it turned out, but I hesitate to post this photo as the colors are not even close to being accurate. I used Hoffman Bali Pops 2 1/2'' Strips. For those familiar with them, I used the Zinfandel Bali Pops. The borders, which really do have square corners, are a rich wine colored print batik with a soft inner green border.  It's my own fault for not having photographed it at home before gifting it. Why didn't I do this? I guess I had just been too busy shopping, baking, decorating, visiting, wrapping, etc.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Kindergarten Christmas Nativity Program

     This morning I attended a wonderful presentation at the parochial school where my cousin's children had gone to school. Now one of my cousin's granddaughters is a kindergartener at that school. To see those little ones portraying the Christmas story was truly heartwarming. It seemed as if each kindergartener had a small speaking part, and all delivered their lines with assurance. Their singing of the many carols was also bright and enthusiastic. What struck me most were all of those beautiful, innocent, beaming little faces. I am so glad that I was able to attend the performance; I only wish that my cousin could have been there. How she would have loved it. I'm sure she was watching from heaven.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Presents for Pets


    This afternoon I went with friends to Fabric Corner in Arlington. Following that, we went for lunch. Good food . . . good friends . . . a lovely way to spend an afternoon. On the drive home, we were discussing buying presents for pets. Our local newspaper had had an article in last Saturday's edition reporting on the ever increasing number of pet owners who buy gifts for their pets. Isn't that absolutely ridiculous! "But," you say, "isn't that a new t-shirt for Katie under the tree? Well, yes, it is, but really how could I resist? It has such a cute snowflake design and says, "I'm Snow Adorable." Oh, and there may also be a new leash. Finally, there are bound to be a bag or two of Newman's Own dog treats. (Did you know that Paul Newman also had a miniature schnauzer? Besides being a fine actor with incredible blue eyes, he was obviously a fine judge of dogs.)
     I have many, many ornaments; so many in fact, I have to put up two trees to display them all, but I couldn't resist buying this 2011 schnauzer ornament.  Beneath it is a Santa ornament which I have had since I was a little girl. Another ornament with equal longevity is this sweet angel that nestles in the boughs.  She always has a special place near the top of the tree.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Old Scituate Lighthouse


     Yesterday after doing some shopping in Scituate Harbor, I drove over to the lighthouse. As I was preparing to take this shot, a cyclist rode into the frame. I think the human element enhances the photo.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Boston Celtics Quilt


     Today at our guild meeting I turned in another quilt for Wrapped Up in Sports. One of the members of our guild has been coordinating efforts by some of our guild members, and she announced today that she will be delivering one hundred quilts to this organization. The professional sports team-inspired quilts will then be distributed to children in need. For more information about this group, visit their website. Here's the quilt that I made.


  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Shimmery Delight




     Last night I attended a small gathering at a friend's home where I was completely captivated by her elegant Christmas tree. Isn't it gorgeous! Though totally non traditional, this shimmery, pink confection was an absolute delight to the eye. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Late Bloomers

 
      It's December 4th, and some of the flowers on my deck are still blooming. That's really quite unusual for Massachusetts at this time of year. I had cleaned up my garden and had dumped my many pots and hanging baskets into the compost pile, but I decided to leave these two pots for a while longer and I'm glad that I did. Mind you, we did have a couple of inches of snow last month and we've had some pretty cold nights, but these flowers continue to bloom.
     While these summer flowers continue to put on a colorful display, I've have been busy decorating outside. In the back of my yard, there is a pine tree which ten or twelve years ago was a tiny sapling give away at the DPW for Earth Day or some other reason. Through the years it has grown into a lovely tree. I began hanging ornaments on it a few years back and decided this year to add lights. I think I did this in part to celebrate its survival after last winter's many heavy snowstorms. I remember blogging once during that period that I thought for sure the tree was a goner since it was completely doubled over and appeared to be ruined. Fortunately, it bounced back and here is a picture taken yesterday.


I enjoy looking out my kitchen window and seeing it, and hopefully motorist going by will as well. Now if only I could just start putting up the inside decorations and begin my Christmas shopping, I would be all set.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Sparkle

     One of the many things that struck me at the Houston International Quilt Festival was the wide use of crystals to embellish many of the pieces on exhibit there. As I was looking at this wallhanging which I made a few years back, I realized exactly what it needed . . . sparkle, so I added crystals all over the tree. I really like how the whole tree sparkles when the light hits it. Unfortunately, this photo doesn't quite convey just how bright and truly sparkly it is!




Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend


    I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving; I know that I certainly did.  The fun started on Wednesday morning when I went with my cousin and her family to a brunch and puppet show at her little one's nursery school. On Turkey Day, I actually sat and watched the entire Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade before driving to a family dinner in Berlin, MA. Friday through Sunday was spent at a quilt getaway at a local hotel. Well, it wasn't exactly a getaway since we did go home each night, but we are able to leave all of our things set up and ready for when we return to quilt. On Friday afternoon, I drove to Beverly, MA. My cousin and her husband hosted a pizza party before the annual Tree Lighting ceremony on the common. There was even an appearance from Santa who arrived in a police car with sirens blaring and blue lights flashing. The temperature was warmer than usual, and that was much appreciated. Sunday meant one final meal of turkey leftovers at a friend's house which brought the weekend to a fitting close.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whimsical Xmas Tree Forest

     I just finished a wallhanging of a forest of Christmas trees. The cover of the pattern, Christmas Glitter, by Dandelion Seed Design showed the trees in various shades of green to which sparkles and trim were added. It looked lovely, but I decided to use some bright, contemporary Christmas fabric instead and here is the result.



     I'm not one to rush the holidays, so I won't hang it up until December. I'll put my fall leaves quilt that I made a few years ago back in this spot.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

'Tis the Last Rose of Summer

  
     Indeed, this is no doubt the last rose I will see in my garden until spring, but on the other hand you just never know with New England weather. Mark Twain, one of my favorite authors, in a speech in 1876 spoke about the uncertainty of New England weather, "Gentlemen: I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all, makes everything in New England - but the weather. I don't know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the Weather Clerk's factory, who experiment and learn how in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don't get it. " You can read the rest of Twain's weather speech at http://www.twainquotes.com/18761223.html, and I guarantee it will give you a chuckle especially is you live in these climes.
     Those weather clerks have sure been doing some experimenting lately. Just two weeks ago some areas of New England were buried in deep snow; today it is sixty-five degrees, shirt sleeve weather! Balmy days like this are unheard of at this time of the year. Mind you, I am definitely not complaining, only observing. The only downside to the warm weather has been the mediocre autumn foliage display. Here's a shot taken in my backyard yesterday with a hint of what the leaves should have looked like.


     Finally, have you ever seen a moose antler up close? I gave myself quite a start when I opened the back of my Rav4 after returning from Houston and saw this. A friend who lives in the North Country was 


giving this to another friend of mine who teaches after school science classes, and I was the intermediary. I forgot that I had it. Let me tell you, this antler is pretty gosh darn heavy. I feel somewhat sorry for the poor moose. It must be a relief when they shed them each year. It's missing a few tips as I was told that when they fall off, the other small creatures nibble on the antlers.
     Well, it's time to get out and enjoy this beautiful weather.

Friday, November 11, 2011

November 11th

     On this day, November 11th, in 1918, an armistice agreement between the Allies and Germany was signed in a railroad car in the forest of Compiegne, France. The fighting officially ended on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The Treaty of Versailles was later signed on June 28th, 1919, and the war to end all wars was officially over.
     Each year on the day before Veterans' Day, I would read with my eighth grade students "In Flanders Field" by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD. I felt it was important that when they saw veterans selling poppies, they would understand the significance. If it has been a long time since you have read this poem, take a moment today and go to  http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/flanders.htm to read the poem and a short paragraph on its background.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Final Thoughts about the Houston International Quilt Show

     Here are two more shots to give you an idea of just how large the display of quilts was. I stood in the middle of the display and shot these photos from both directions.




     While there are men who quilt, most men there were accompanying their quilter wives.  Check out the area set aside just for husbands. :-)


     On Thursday evening we attended a dinner with TQS members. If you don't know what TQS is, you can learn about it at The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  A fun way to end the week was attending the Ricky Tims concert on Saturday night.  Ricky stood at the door and personally greeted everyone entering the concert. I think that says a lot about the man. He is a phenomenal  quilter and also


a brilliant musician. After the concert I picked up his Christmas in a Small Town CD; the title song of which is lovely.
     After reviewing this post, I realized my camera had recorded the date as 2012. I never shoot with the date, so I must have accidentally turned on that feature which in this case is a year off. :-) Maybe it means that I should go back to Houston next year!
    

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Doing My Part to Help the Economy


     One of the overwhelming things about the Houston International Quilt Festival was its sheer size. Nothing can  prepare a first timer to the festival for this. There were over 1,000 magnificent quilts on display and also over 1,000 venders selling all kinds of quilt related goodies.  It made for a dazzling display looking down from the second floor of the convention center.




     See what I mean? So, are you wondering what I came home with? Well, let's see . . . there were three t-shirts, three books, nine patterns, five fat quarters, two yards of fabric, some angelina fibers, foils, four stamps, a roll of twenty-four yummy dyed pieces, and a few other items. I will certainly have lots to play with in the months ahead.

Monday, November 7, 2011

More from the Houston Quilt Festival

     At times during the week my head was absolutely spinning with all that we were seeing and doing. There were wonderful lectures throughout the day, and we attended three special events: the Mixed Media Miscellany, the Friday Sampler, and the Saturday Sampler. Each was held in a large ballroom or series of connected classrooms. At each, there were about thirty teachers demonstrating their special techniques and offering wonderful information. It was a bit like speed dating as you sat listening to one teacher after another according to your interests. You would move through the room acquiring all kinds of tips and ideas to bring home to explore.


    Unfortunately, we did not get into the half day classes that we had hoped to with the exception of a class on Hawaiian applique. While it had not been one of my top choices, nevertheless it was very interesting. Here are some of the student pieces; mine is the pink one in the lower left corner. It will be good to have this piece to work on at our weekly quilting get togethers. I enjoyed the class so much that I later purchased a book on Hawaiian applique. Here are some of the others.


       Speaking of purchases, later this week I'll share my attempts to turn around the economy. Oh my!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Houston International Quilt Festival

  
     I returned late this afternoon from a wonderful trip to the Houston International Quilt Festival which was simply amazing! The quilt festival was held at the George R. Brown Convention Center which in typical Texas fashion is huge. From the outside the venue resembles a massive cruise ship.


     My friend Laurel and I stayed at the Hilton America which has a walkway connecting the hotel to the convention center. This proved to be very convenient after long hours at the festival.


     Over the course of the next few days I will be sharing more photos and impressions of the festival.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Little Pumpkin


     Happy Halloween! Now before you think I've gone round the bend, let me explain about the costume.  I was in Pet Smart the other day to replace Katie's worn out dog bed, and they had a big sale on these pumpkin costumes, 75% off. What a bargain!!! This outfit cost me under $5.00, so really, how could I resist? No, Katie will not be out trick or treating tomorrow night, I just thought it would make a cute picture for my blog. Katie didn't seem to share my enthusiasm for the outfit as you can see by the disgusted look on her face in the photo below.



     We didn't get much snow from the storm which blanketed areas all along the East Coast last night.  Some places in western MA received two feet of snow and a few hundred thousand customers are still without power. Unbelievable. Here are a couple of shots that I took this morning when I was out and about.


I sure hope this isn't a clue to the type of winter we will be having.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arabella, The Good Witch


   
      A couple of years ago I took a doll making class with Sandi Bard at the Herring Run Quilt Guild in Norwell, MA. The project that time was a winter inspired doll which I completed. At that time, I also purchased a pattern for this witch. The body was completed at least a year ago, but I didn't get around to finishing it until this Halloween season. Stiffy was used to coat the hat to get it to stand up. I love how the hat turned out! I decided to name her Arabella because that seemed to be a good name for a good witch. The pattern is actually called "Willow and Licorice," and you can visit Sandi Bard's website for information should you wish to obtain this pattern.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Moneyball

     On Thursday, I met friends for lunch and then went to see Moneyball starring Brad Pitt. The movie centers on Oakland A's general manager, Billy Beane's use of computer generated statistics to assemble a winning baseball team. Now, I'm not really a baseball fan, so I thought that while the movie was interesting, it was also very slow moving. My friends are baseball fans, and I think they felt the same way about this film. I would give it only a B-.
     Later that evening, I attended a concert at Boston College sponsored by the Gaelic Roots program. Monsignor Charlie Coen from New York played traditional Irish music on his concertina, tin whistle, and flute. He was very entertaining. I believe that he said he was eighty-seven, but you should have heard him delivering jokes. There was a joke it seemed between each musical selection. What a memory he has for stories and, of course, the music. Being a flute player myself, I particularly enjoyed those pieces, but I was equally amazed by the music he coaxed from his concertina. For more information, visit the Gaelic Roots Program.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Surprise of a Lifetime

     On Tuesday, I attended an assembly at Waltham High where one unsuspecting teacher received the surprise of a lifetime. Dr. Jane Foley from the Milken Family Foundation in Santa Monica, California, and Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester were there to announce that history teacher Derek Vandegrift had been named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator. Derek became our state's thirty-ninth Milken Educator.


     Along with this prestigious award, Derek will receive a monetary award of twenty-five thousand dollars. Pictured above are Derek, Dr. Foley, Commissioner Mitchell and eight other veteran Milken Educators. It is always a great thrill to attend these notifications ceremonies as it brings back such wonderful memories of when I, too, received this surprise of a lifetime in 1999.
     To learn more about this award, please go to Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back to the Bogs




     Since the weather was again beautiful, I headed back down to Carver this morning and found another bog being worked. Here's the type of machine that I mentioned yesterday which is used to churn the berries off of the plants. It was just completing this area.


Once the berries were floating on the surface, the men began corralling the berries.




     On the way home, I stopped at the Lobster Hut for lunch. While my friend and I were eating, I saw people gathering on the dock. Thinking they might be watching a seal, I grabbed my camera and headed outside. To my amazement, a small whale was swimming near the boats in the harbor.


While it was remarkable to see, I was concerned that the whale was far too close to the shore.  Later today, a spokesperson from the New England Aquarium said on TV that this was a young pilot whale which had become separated from its pod. He went on to indicate that this whale should not even have been in these cold waters. He also said that by law, they were not allowed to intervene. Unfortunately, the prognosis for this creature is not good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Bog on My Blog


    Leaving Mass this morning, I glanced up at a brilliant blue sky filled with white puffy clouds. Now I had many things that I had planned to do today, but instead I went home, grabbed my camera bag, called a friend, and headed down to Carver in hopes of finding a cranberry bog being worked. After driving the back roads for a while, we finally found a bog being worked right along one of the main roads.

  
     If you have never seen a bog being harvested, let me attempt to explain the process.  First, the bog is flooded. Then a machine comes in which works similar to a giant egg beater to loosen the berries from the plants. The berries float to the surface.  The workers then corral the berries, which are then suctioned up and shot into a large truck which hauls them to the processing plant.


  
     On the way home, we stopped at Peaceful Meadows in Whitman for perhaps the last ice cream cone of the season. That was where this shot was taken.



     All in all, it was a great weekend as yesterday I attended the birthday party of my cousin's triplets. It was a joyous, boisterous, fun afternoon. For entertainment, there was even a wonderful juggler who delighted everyone both young and old.
     It's hard to believe that these beautiful children are now six years old. Amazing!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Harvest Wagon

     Over the Columbus Day weekend we had phenomenal weather, sunny and very warm for early October. That's why we really cannot complain about the rainy, drizzly weather we are currently having.  This afternoon I did some shopping at the Derby Street stores in Hingham. No matter what the season, the entire area is always beautifully decorated. The photo below was taken there in the afternoon drizzle.


     Happy news . . . The vet called yesterday with confirmation from the biopsy that the growth that was removed from Katie last week was benign. Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Two Things

     I haven't been blogging for a few days since Katie, my miniature schnauzer, had to have surgery on Friday to remove a growth on her inner back leg. There is a two inch incision with many stitches, but our wonderful vet assures me that Katie will be just fine.  She is not too thrilled, however, with the collar that she has to wear until the incision heals.



Collar or not, she maintains her post, ever vigilant at the back door and goes into full alert mode sounding the alarm when a squirrel is spotted.

  
   On another note, I just have to say that I really missed Andy Rooney last night on 60 Minutes. While he lacked the avuncular charm of say a Walter Croncite, there was a certain curmudgeonly perdictability to Mr. Rooney which I always appreciated. His musings were sometimes thought provoking while other times amusing. At the age of ninety I guess he has every right to give up his day job, but his commentary  always provided the period at the end of the sentence and 60 Minutes won't be the same without him.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mums the Word

  That's chrysanthemums at this time of year. One of the many thing that I like about New England is that we experience four very distinct seasons, and yes, I even enjoy the winter. 


It seems that everyone is decorating his or her doorsteps with pumpkins and colorful mums in rich, autumnal colors. 
     On the way to the gym this morning, I saw something interesting while stopped at the intersection near Roche Brothers grocery store on Quincy Avenue. A young man had climbed a ladder to the base of the billboard and was in the midst of changing the billboard display. I guess I had never thought about how this was done. The sign he was hanging was one very large piece which was bunched up along the base of the sign. It appeared to have loops of some kind along the top at regular intervals. The man was using a long pole to place the loops onto hooks at the top of the billboard. At this point, the piece was loosely hanging  askew. I'm not exactly sure what he did next, but it looked as if he then began pulling ropes or loops at the bottom. As the light changed and I proceeded on my way, the whole piece tightened up into place. It was a fascinating process to watch. Who knew this was how they changed billboards?



Sunday, October 2, 2011

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer 2011

  
     This morning under cloudy skies, three friends and I stepped out in the American Cancer Society's 19th Annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk in Boston. This was our third time walking in the event since my diagnosis in 2007. As you can see, my friend Maribeth is also a survivor and we both proudly wore the sashes provided to us. Such a lovely word, survivor, and there were many, many of us there today.


     We added the pink boas which molted as we walked and the mardi gras beads for a festive touch. Part of the fun each year is to see what various teams are wearing. There were even some dogs sporting pink bandanas.

Left to right: Marilyn, Donna, Me, Maribeth

    Our friend Liz had also intended to walk with us, but she was unable to do so this morning. Here are my teammates enjoying a few moments of rest after the walk.


     Through the generosity of our friends and families, our team, the Wednesday Night Quilters, as of this morning had raised $1,163.  Isn't that wonderful!!!  There is still time to make a donation should you wish to do so by simply going to Wednesday Night Quilters Team Page