Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Final Post of 2013

     Here is my last project for 2013. I started working on it during this past weekend of quilting and finished sewing the binding today. The pattern is "Reindeer Holiday" designed by Jan Kornfeind from Country Appliques. I knew when I saw the pattern online that I would have to make it!

The pattern showed printed white fabric for the reindeers against a red background, but I chose to use sparkly white snowy fabric for the background and brown suede-like fabric for the reindeer. I was also lucky enough to find a red and green braid to frame the reindeer. I love, love, love how it turned out! It's time to pack away the Christmas decorations until next year, but I may leave this wallhanging up for a bit.

     Yesterday morning I met friends for breakfast in Hingham. It was good to see them and to catch up on all their news. A few hours later Emma and I had a visit from my godchild Kristin and her little girls. They played with Emma and then after going to lunch we came back and played some more. They enjoy hearing me play my flute and so they sang a couple of Christmas tunes while I accompanied them.  Emma turned two today, so the girls frosted a few small bones and sang 'Happy Birthday" to her. Emma wasn't quite sure what it was all about, but it involved treats and the girls, so she was beside herself with happiness.
     As 2013 draws to a close, it's time to think about resolutions. I think I'll just work on the same few resolutions that I have made for the last two or three years . . . maybe in 2014 I might actually follow through on them.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

For Me???

     Here's Emma checking out a Christmas present from my cousin Kristin's family. The girls picked out some fun toys for Emma and there was also a bag of treats. Emma was a very lucky puppy this Christmas as she received another toy from my friend Janice and two more from Santa.

     This weekend is our regular scheduled quilting weekend in Stoughton. My friend Donna was busy adding the final borders to her one block wonder quilt, and she agreed to let me show you her simply exquisite work. Above is the fabric that she used and here is the completed quilt top.

     Part of the fun of one block wonder quilts is that you are never sure how they will turn out. You can use a special kaleidoscope mirror to get a suggestion of how the fabric might look, but you never truly know until the fabric pieces are all cut and sewn together. Two people using the same fabric will get totally different results.  As you can see from Donna's quilt, sometimes the results are simply stunning.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013

      On Sunday, I had friends come for dinner. Monday and Tuesday were spent doing some last minute odds and ends, baking, and furiously trying to finish a Christmas quilt for my cousin Kristin's family.  I spent Christmas Eve at her home and brought the finished quilt!!! In the rush to get it completed, I didn't get a chance to take any good photos of it, but these

 quick shots taken that night will give you an idea of what it looks like. The colors are off in the photos,  but it really is quite cute. My cousin who is also my godchild pointed out that I had also made a paper doll themed quilt nearly eight years ago when her oldest daughter was born. 
     Christmas was spent at my cousin Linda's home. It was great fun to celebrate Christmas with my seven little cousins and their parents. 
     Today I decided to just relax and go see a movie. Philomena was playing at the Loring in Hingham. The film stars Judy Dench and, as always, she was wonderful. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. Do be sure to bring tissues. Perhaps the saddest and most shocking thing is that this story was based on truth. I would rate this movie an "A."

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Very Snowy Tuesday

     Wouldn't this make a great photo for next year's Christmas card? I totally agree, but unfortunately, my card for this year also features a different red ornament. 

      It snowed most of the day on Tuesday bringing us about another six inches. The tough driving led to the cancellation of our camera club's holiday party. I had been looking forward to seeing a slide show made up of photos by members who had gone on our most recent Italy trip. It's always fun to see what fellow photographers captured. I'm sure it will be shown sometime in the new year.

Anyway, when I let Emma out yesterday morning I grabbed my iPhone to grab these photos. The quality is really quite good. Here's another and if you look closely you'll see Emma and me. 

     In the afternoon I attended a Christmas program at the parochial school that one of my little cousins attends. It was joyful with wonderful singing. The children in their costumes were adorable. My favorite were the kindergarten and first graders singing "Rudolph"and "Up on the Housetop" with their construction paper brown antlers and red noses! Too cute!!!
     Later, my quilting friends met for a lovely dinner at Trattoria San Pietro in Norwell. This was my first time at this restaurant, but I know I'll return to have the grilled pork tenderloin which I sampled.  It was delicious. My dream job would be as a food tester; then I would be able to sample a little of everything before making my choice. :-)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Second Snowfall

     The snow had just begun falling yesterday when I snapped this photo. Emma has never used this doghouse; it's just a decorative feature in the backyard.

     Lovely, light, fluffy snow soon dusted the branches of the fir tree which I have been decorating for the past few years. Unfortunately, the snow we woke up to this morning was not light and fluffy but rather, it was very, very heavy wet snow. Since the temperature was predicted to soon drop, I spent quite a while shoveling my driveway and walkways. I'm usually a true snow lover, but not when it is this type of snow. 
     Later this afternoon when I was passing the fully decorated tree in the corner of the living room I noticed it beginning to sway slightly. Holding the tree upright with one hand, I began to quickly remove all of the ornaments, glass ones first. When it was stripped of decorations, I discovered the problem. One of the legs of the stand had not been fully opened. . . my bad. Thank goodness I was able to prevent a disaster from happening. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

First Snowfall

     After attending a wake this snowy evening, I stopped at the supermarket to pick up a few things. As I was driving out of the parking lot, these snow covered trees under the streetlight caught my eye. I circled back around, popped out with my iPhone, and grabbed this quick shot. The 'purple-ish' glow cast by the light was a surprise when I viewed the photo on my computer, but I love the effect it created.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Holiday Get Together

     Last night I attended a holiday get together at our local quilt shop, Heart in Hands.  For my "show and tell," I brought this recently completed wall hanging.

The pattern came from a new Art to Heart book, Ho Ho Ho Let It Snow which contains many wonderful, fun projects.

At the end of the evening, everyone received two gifts. One package from the shop owners contained a pattern and a fat quarter, and the other package from Sharon and Claire who run our group contained an adorable little bag and way too-cute tape measure earrings! 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

     Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. I made this stained glass turkey probably thirty years ago, and each year it hangs in the front window. Thanksgiving this year was held at my Cousin Brian's home, and it was a relaxing, wonderful, delicious day. On Friday after a day of quilting, I headed to my Cousin Linda's home for her annual party before the annual Beverly Tree Lighting ceremony on the common. The high school chorus performed and then three or four police cars with sirens and flashing lights escorted a fire truck carrying a very special guest. Yes, it was Santa Claus!!! Honestly, I don't know how he is able to fit so many appearances into his incredibly busy schedule.
     The rest of the weekend was spent quilting with friends. This morning as I headed to early Mass, what should appear but this rafter of turkeys crossing the road in front of me, and they were taking their very sweet time doing it. It's a good thing I had left early.

        It gave me a laugh, and it certainly was an appropriate ending to a fun Thanksgiving weekend.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Very Productive Weekend

     Regular readers of this blog know that once a month I get together with a group of about forty other quilters for a quilting weekend at a local hotel. We don't spend the night, but instead just quilt during the day. This month, the organizer scheduled an extra weekend, and I'm happy to say that I got a lot accomplished. First, I finished this mini turkey quilt just in time for Thanksgiving Day. The flip side features a pumpkin.  Next, I added borders to a music themed quilt upon which I have been working. The graphic design is made up of black and white musical note fabric. I love the borders that I have added and will post a photo when I can get someone to hold up the quilt so that I can get a good photo.  Wait . . . there's more. Maybe two years ago I purchased a kit for an adorable Christmas quilt. I was able to get a lot done on it this weekend, but that photo, too, will have to wait. All in all, it was a very productive weekend.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Milton Teacher's Big Surprise

Dr. Jane Foley and James Moonan

     I spent yesterday morning at the Pierce Middle School in Milton, MA. Only a very select few knew the reason for the visit by Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester, a few legislators, and a number of invited guests The spirited high school marching band traveled over to the middle school to get the program started. After a few welcoming remarks by the superintendent and the principal, the eighth grade girls chorus performed. What beautiful voices they had! I could have listened to them for an hour. Next,  Commissioner Chester spoke about the importance of dedicated, wonderful teachers. He then introduced Dr. Jane Foley, senior vice president, at the Milken Family Foundation in California. She had come from California to notify sixth grade math teacher, James Moonan, that he had been named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator. To learn more this prestigious award, please visit MFF NAtional Educator Award. James was the only teacher named in Massachusetts this year to receive the award and only one of forty who were named across the country. The announcement also comes with an unrestricted $25,000 financial award.
     From the thunderous reaction of students and teachers, it was clear to see that Jim is a well loved and respected teacher. Pierce Middle School was a very happy and exciting place to be. Why was I there? Well, for those who don't know, back in 1999 I was sitting with my eighth graders in a junior high auditorium when then Commissioner David Driscoll made the equally stunning announcement that I had been named a Milken Family Foundation National Educator. Overwhelmed and shocked don't begin to express the feelings that I had. Each year, we veteran Milken Educators are invited to the notification ceremony to welcome the newest member into the family. Watching the ceremony brings back a flood of wonderful emotions for each of us lucky enough to have received this award. Jim became the forty-first educator from Massachusetts to be so honored. The entire process is very, very mysterious, and one never knows how the recipient is found and selected by the Milken Foundation. To read more about what the foundation is doing to help make advances in medical research and in education, please visit the Milken Family Foundation.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This and That

     Here's a table runner that I recently completed. I love how it looks with this ruby glass bowl that my parents received as a wedding gift.  This bowl, which my mom always loved, has been on the credenza for as long as I can remember.

      Most of the trees in my yard have lost their leaves, but this maple in my neighbor's yard is still providing a bust of golden color.  I raked up a big pile for my cousin's little girls to jump in 

when they came yesterday for a visit. Later in the afternoon after leaf jumping, playing with Emma, going for lunch, and visiting the park, they thought it was great fun to help gather the leaves into a big barrel and roll it to the edge of my property so I could then dump it into the woods. Who knew? Somehow it's never that much fun when I'm doing it by myself.


  One last photo . . . last week I snapped a photo of this impressive pumpkin outside a local breakfast/lunch spot.  Pumpkin pie anyone???

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Busy, Busy Weekend

     It was a jammed packed wonderful weekend. My friend Laurel came on Friday for a day of quilting. I worked on my Venetian landscape and finished preparations for a talk that I was giving that evening at Heart in Hands on how to create an art quilt from one of your photos . I'm happy and relieved to report that my presentation was well received.  Thank goodness! It was great fun to once again to be in full teacher mode. Speaking of my quilt piece, here is where I am with it now. You can see that one home finally has windows and a bridge to get from one side of the canal to the other. :-)
      The Herring Run Quilt Guild met on Saturday morning. You should have seen all the wonderful quilts and wallhangings that were shown during the Show and Tell portion of the meeting. (The same could be said about the Heart in Hands meeting the night before.) There are some extremely talented quilters in both groups.
     After the meeting, I dashed home for a bit before heading to Watertown for a birthday party for a very special little five year old. There is always a cacophony of joyous noise when all seven of the little cousins are together.
     On Sunday afternoon, I went to a birthday dinner at the Mill Wharf in Scituate Harbor in honor of my Aunt Joan's 90th birthday. I took a photo of her standing surrounded by her five sons. . . "Joan's boys." I don't recall any of them ever calling her "mom;" they have just always called her with affection by her first name. When I was young that seemed strange, but of course by now it seems totally natural. Aunt Joan is doing well and still lives in the house that my Uncle Buddy built for their young, growing family in the fifties. I'm going to get a frame for the photo and perhaps Emma and I will stop by for a visit later this week. Yes, Emma loves visiting Aunt Joan, too!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Little Ladybug - Halloween 2013

     Emma and I have just finished filming a mini birthday greeting for one of our favorite little girls who turns five on Halloween. Emma stood still just long enough for me to warble out a quick, shaky chorus of "Happy Birthday." She loves my cousin's little girls, and they love her right back.
     We are presently in the eighth inning of what all of Red Sox Nation hopes will be the final game of this year's World Series. Though we have a comfortable lead, I'm still anxiously watching the game as I write this.  Favorite sign of the night - "Ortiz for President or MVP." Even if you are not a Red Sox fan, you have to love David Ortiz's amazing hitting prowess and spirit. The last time that the Red Sox won the World Series at home was 1918. Let's hope it happens again tonight.

     Here's a shot of my front window which greets those passing by and will welcome all of tomorrow night's trick or treaters. 
     We are just three outs away from clinching the title! Now just two . . . The roar of the crowd is absolutely deafening. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!! BOSTON STRONG!!! 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unexpected Surprises

     The clouds were thick this morning, but the weatherman said it would eventually be bright and sunny, so a friend and I headed south to Rhode Island. I had recently seen some photos from the Little Compton area taken by some photographers from the camera club to which I belong. I didn't plan anything but instead just drove around. Imagine my surprise when I encountered this literal fork in the road.

I'm not exactly sure which town this was in, but one direction indicated River Road and the other Harbor Road. We chose the river road. A mile or two down the road, surprise number two, this rusty relic.

These cows sure had a magnificent outlook.

We weren't the only ones out for a little ride as we later passed this lovely family.

The girls were all dolled up in their finest outfits.

Sometimes wandering the backroads you discover the most wonderful things!!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Venice Landscape Update

     I've been working on this landscape on and off this past week. I've added a bridge in the background, the posts in the foreground, a couple of wooden pilings, and have just begun to add some of the windows. Hopefully, I'll be able to work on it a bit more this week.
     This was the weekend for getting together with quilting friends in Stoughton. I managed to finish the bindings on both a table runner and a one block wonder quilt. I'll post a photo of the quilt in a day or two, but the table runner photo will have to wait as my dining room table has my landscape project materials spread out all over it. I do have a sewing room, but I like this big surface to work on. That's another reason to keep working on this piece, so I can get my my dining room back in order.

      I grabbed my macro lens early this week to record what will surely be the last rose of this season. As the backyard fills up with leaves waiting to be raked, it's lovely to have this last vestige of summer to enjoy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Autumn Reflections

     I was running an errand this afternoon when driving by Whitman's Pond in Weymouth this site caught my eye. On the way back after completing my errand, I pulled into the parking lot and took this quick shot with my iPhone. 

     I've been making some progress on my quilted landscape. The water has been a real challenge. I debated between three different fabrics and finally settled on this greenish batik fabric. It was originally too bright, so I mixed up a wash of water and a little black Setacolor transparent fabric paint. After a few attempts at toning it down, I'm finally happy with it. I've also changed the colors of some of the buildings.
     The individual sections are adhered with MistyFuse, a lightweight fusible web. After the entire top is completed, the piece will be layered and quilted.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

In Search of Autumn Color

     I didn't make it to the backroads of Vermont this fall, so I've been waiting for the leaves to change in my area. Finally, there is a bit of spotty color here and there. My neighbor had made this little house a few years ago as a winter shelter for a cat which used to hang around our area. When I got Emma, he brought it over to my yard, but she has never used it. It's merely a yard decoration which I have been meaning to paint for the last year.

These photos were taken of some trees in the woods behind my house.

 A neighbor's tree . . .

Yesterday, I attended a fun birthday party in Berlin, MA, for my cousin's triplets. It doesn't seem possible that they are now eight!!!

     It was so lovely this morning that after Mass I called a friend and we headed to Concord to the Minute Man National Park. I had visions of taking photos of the wooden bridge with canoeists gliding by under  a canopy of colorful foliage. No such luck! Most of the trees along the river had already lost their leaves.

 There were two tree which were glorious, and it was a perfect day for a visit.

  Quite a few people had the same idea, and many were walking with their dogs. Whatever you do, please don't tell Emma. :-()

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Starting a New Quilted Landscape

    This photo was taken on our camera club's 2012 trip to Tuscany. At the time, I knew it would make an interesting subject for a quilted landscape. Actually, I've been debating between this photo and another taken in San Gimignano. Okay, not so much debating as just plain procrastinating, but finally, I've begun working on this new piece. Documenting my progress here will hopefully keep me focused on finishing it.
    First, I printed out my 8x10 photo. Next, I taped a sheet of clear plastic over the photo and used an extra fine point permanent marker to trace the edges of the key elements in the photo. At the copy center in Staples, I asked for an enlargement of this plastic sheet that would be 18" in length. This seemed to be a good size, but eventually I returned to get the piece enlarged to 24" in length as some sections of the first enlargement were just too small.  Here is the enlargement.

Isn't that cool? You don't have to be an artist to make your own pattern. Even better, the enlargement costs only a few dollars. This is my master copy. I taped it to the window, placed a sheet of freezer paper over it, and traced over all the lines to make a working copy which I will then be able to cut apart as I work on each section.
    Next, I put down a piece of black fabric and over it a piece of Transdoodle, chalk side down. (Don't you love that name? It's works like carbon paper used to, but this is intended for fabric. One side is smooth and the other side has a chalky surface. The same sheet may be used many times.) I taped my working copy over it and once again traced all the lines with a pencil. When done, I removed the working copy, the Transdoodle sheet, and here's what I had.  The black fabric clearly shows where each fused appliqué piece will go. It's magic!!!
     To fuse the individual pieces, I will use Misty Fuse.  I learned about using Transdoodle and Misty Fuse and the process of creating a quilt landscape at an incredibly fun  Quilting under the Tuscan Sun workshop in Tuscany with Esterita Austin back in 2010.  

So that's how it starts. The process isn't difficult, but it does take time.