Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Is Over??? Already???

No, it's not over, for as Dickens wrote:

"I will honor Christmas in my heart,
and try to keep it all the year."
                   - A Christmas Carol

Hopefully, you had a lovely Christmas. On Christmas Eve, I attended Mass with my cousin Kristin and her family and then returned to her home for a delicious meal. On Christmas Day, I went to the home of my cousin Linda where all of my cousins gathered along with extended family members. What fun! I loved seeing the excitement and Leggo building skills of my two youngest cousins. 

This is a short post as I am heading out in a few minutes to join some fellow quilters working on Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery quilt, "On Ringo Lake."   I had wondered why she chose to post her mystery quilt at this time each year, but she explained why in this recent post. Besides being a a wonderful quilter and a force of nature, she is a good, good woman.

Have a great day.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Llama Drama

The one-l lama; 
He's a priest.
The two-l llama:
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.

                                                                                     Ogden Nash

One of my little cousins, Miss T, loves her stuffies: especially elephants, giraffes, and llamas. I purchased the "Little Llama Softie" pattern from Jennifer Jangles Etsy shop. When I was taking this photo, Miss Emma came over for a closer look. (BTW . . . Emma is sporting red, glued-on jewels on her ear tips after a visit to the groomer on Tuesday.)

I finished the final hand stitching on this little llama last night while watching a wonderful movie, "Christmas in Connecticut" (1945) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. It's one of my favorite holiday movies.

My baking is done and I just have a few more presents to wrap. Now on the eve of Christmas Eve, Emma and I wish all our readers a Joyous Christmas . . . Happy Holidays to all!!!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Santa Wool Stitchery

Yesterday I finished this little wool Santa piece. The pattern is from Calico Patch Designs - Calico Christmas Sampler - Block 1 - "Ole St. Nick."   I used three strands of floss throughout for buttonhole, lazy daisy, and stab stitches. The eyes were two strand French knots. I am not doing the entire sampler; I just did the Santa which is 5 by 7.

I also made this little mug rug to accompany a box of chocolates for my ever patient flute teacher.

On Wednesday, I attended the Christmas show at the parochial school where two of my young cousins go. As always, it was one of the highlights of the season. This Christmas program would put a smile on the face of Scrooge, the Grinch, and even Old Man Potter of Bedford Falls. In the first half, each grade from PreK to fifth grade performed one or two songs complete with choreography and costumes. After a brief intermission, the sixth and seventh grade choir accompanied the eighth graders as they presented the nativity story.  My favorite part . . . the third graders rendition of "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree." Why? Well, Miss T. is in third grade. If you know me, ask to see the 56 second video that I recorded on my iPhone. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face, too!

Marry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Christmas Crafting and Vintage Finds

Last week, a friend came to spend the day quilting. After a quick lunch at Niko's, we went across the street to Landing Antiques in East Weymouth. It's a fun place to wander around in search of treasures. I found this green Avon vintage bottle and another Christmas tree pin to add to my collection.

I also bought this candle holder. As I was studying it, I had in mind how I would use it. I added some sprigs from my pine tree, a few gilded pine cones, and red candles. It came out just as I had imagined it. 

I can envision decorating and using it for various holidays, seasons, and reasons.

I also did a bit of crafting. My forever friends and I exchange small gifts at Christmas, and this year I made five little Christmas/winter scenes. (I refer to them as my forever friends as we have known each other since childhood.)

In case they are hard to see, some jars featured deer, some a mother bear with cubs on a sled, and one with a cat for my friend who has Mimi. :-) It was an easy process. I bought the jar at Michaels and added the decorative elements with E6000 glue which will adhere items to glass. (Be sure to use it only in a well ventilated area as the fumes are strong.) I let them dry for twenty-four hours before adding the snow.

I finished all of my shopping today and have only two more gifts to make, so I am in good shape.

Don't get stressed trying to get everything done; take time to enjoy this magical time of year and never lose sight of the real reason for this season.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Holly Jolly Good Times

I am happy to say that I have finished stitching this wool piece which was a pattern from Buttermilk Basin.

It looks sweet in this corner of my dining room.

It has been a fun two days. Last night, the Dancing Queens met for a holiday dinner at the Scarlet Oak Tavern in Hingham. These lovely ladies were all fellow teachers with whom I worked in Weymouth, and we have known each other for many, many, many years. Thanks to Carol, our social secretary, we try to get together every month or two. It's wonderful! [Let me explain our name for those who may be new to my blog. The first time we got together we went to see the movie Mamma Mia  with Meryl Streep . . . hence our choice of name. :-) We are all retired now, but the fun and friendship is as strong as ever.]

This morning I attended a holiday luncheon of the Crosstown Quilters Guild. One of the members brought in a beautiful selection of her treasured nutcrackers to grace each table. Here are just a few:

There was delicious food and lots of laughter, and you can't ask for anything more. The only unfortunate thing was that the guild meeting prevented me from going to lunch with another group of teacher friends. This group also meets each month, and hopefully, I will make their next lunch. Yes, I know what you are thinking . . . I am a lucky lady and life is very good!!!

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. :-)

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Buck Stops Here, Literally

I was coming down the back stairs a little before 8:00 when I was stopped in my tracks stunned to see this buck on the other side of my chain link fence. Yikes!!! Fortunately, Emma hadn't spotted him, and I quickly ushered her back inside. (She had not received the memo about daylight savings time, so I did not want to deprive my neighbors of their extra hour of sleep. Lord knows how she would have reacted had she noticed our woodland visitor.)

I don't know how you judge the age of a buck, but his antlers appeared to be about eight to ten inches long. (A few years ago, a buck with a magnificent rack was seen in these same woods.) Now when I say "woods," it's a bit of a misnomer as it is merely a stretch of trees and brush which separate houses on my side of the street from the houses on the next. If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know that deer have on occasion been spotted here . . . right in the middle of downtown suburbia. He didn't seem to mind at all when I returned to capture some photos. Eventually, he bounded off. . . an interesting start to the day.

On Friday, I went with my friend Marilyn to the Christmas Craft Festival at the World Trade Center. She had never gone before, and I haven't been for a long time. Since it was a balmy 70 degress, it was a bit difficult to embrace quite so early the holiday spirit though I must say the booth selling Christmas fascinators was doing a brisk business!

One always popular feature is always the display of gingerbread creations.

Now for Emma fans, here she is just after returning home from the groomer the other day spotting a cute little pumpkin doodad..

I liked the purple ribbon against her fur so much that I bought her a new purple and black print collar at the craft festival. (Don't tell her as it will probably go in her Christmas stocking. :-) There were one or two booths for cat lovers and quite a few more for dog lovers selling apparel, treats, etcs. and they were jampacked with owners eager to buy things for their furbabies.

Buck Update: Turns out there are a number of websites that explain how to determine the age of a buck. This was a big, healthy buck which based on the info is probably only about a year and a half.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Thrifting Fun on the Cape

On Saturday, I drove down to the Cape with a friend to meet up with seven other ladies to spend the day thrift shopping. Our caravan of three cars headed to shops in the Yarmouth area.

It was a perfect weather day, but unfortunately, there was no foliage color down south either though I did manage to find some touches of autumn.

What were the treasures found? Pam came home with two small, painted tables. Another bought a solid wood rocking horse and a rocking chair for her grandson. Others came home with new jackets, coats,  and even a nifty pair of sleek black leather pants.  Jewelry, glassware, and all sorts of other items were found. It was fun to see what caught others' eyes, and of course, there was always a group of encouraging advisors.

What did I come home with you ask? This is Tommy Leafowitz, a Boyds Bear. I don't collect bears, but his leaf decorated olive green overall outfit was just too cute.  I already had this wooden bench and tiny pumpkin, so I thought it would be a cute fall decoration. 

The purple silk tie will go in my stash for crazy quilting. The glass boot mug may hold flowers  on my sun porch table next summer. I love the six pumpkin colored napkins and the old fashioned boot. It's narrow enough to sit on a windowsill to hold flowers or on my table to corral pens and pencils. It was made in 1973 and has the maker's name on the bottom.

Finally, I  had to rescue this cute little guy in one of the storefront windows. After all, I wouldn't want him to melt! :-)

Total purchases for me . . . under twenty dollars; a day spent thrifting with friends . . . priceless.