Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Just Checking In . . .

 We certainly have been having some spectacular sunsets lately. This was a quick grabshot taken with my iPhone from my deck on Saturday.

 It was a quilting weekend in Stoughton, but instead of lugging my sewing machine, I worked on my current wool applique piece. I truly enjoy hand stitching and find it to be very relaxing. The wool piece is nearly done, so I should be posting a photo of it soon. I had intended to begin it during the AFC Championship game two weeks ago, but that had to have been one of the very most stressful New England Patriots games ever! No stitching got done that day at all.

Another project that is coming along nicely is this hexagon quilt which I started while I was recuperating from my recent breast cancer surgery. During that period I just couldn't get interested in or concentrate on any of my quilting projects. Then I read a blog post  English Paper Piecing Hexagons and Grandmother's Flower Garden Blocks on A Quilting Life. I had never done any English paper piecing before, but let me say that it is addictive. Here are some of the finished blocks up on my design wall; I have yet to determine how large my quilt will be.

Now for a few recommendations . . .

Every evening before turning in I watch HGTV's House Hunters and House Hunters International which I usually find relaxing and enjoyable, but now, I have found something even better, Escape to the Country. It's basically the same premise; in this show couples are usually seeking to leave a hectic city life and are hoping for a more relaxed life in the incredibly, beautiful British countryside. I love this program!!! In each episode, the home seekers are presented with two houses and then another "mystery" third option which usually has some truly unique features. The rolling hills, the fields of green, the architecture,  the lovely villages, each place more special than the last; it's enough to make you want to pack your bags and head across the pond. (This series is available on Netflix and you may also find many episodes on YouTube.) If you like House Hunters, I promise you will love Escape to the Country.

I was talking about this program while at quilting on Saturday afternoon when someone told me about a mini series called Dr. Thorne.  It's a four-part miniseries available on Amazon Prime. It is based on the novel, Dr. Thorne, by Anthony Trollope. Julian Fellows known for writing Downton Abbey penned this adaptation. Let me just say, Dr. Thorne is wonderful. I have never binge watched anything, but I watched all four parts Saturday night in one sitting. If you have Amazon Prime, please watch this wonderful period piece. It's a delight.

Final recommendation . . . Let me start by saying, I never go to super hero movies, nor to the best of my recollection, have I ever read any super hero comic books in my life. BUT I saw that Black Panther was available on Netflix, so one night I decided to check it out. Even with all the accolades that this movie has received, I was not expecting that it would appeal to me. I was wrong; it's a very good movie. The visuals are truly stunning, and I regret not having gone to see it on the big screen. I read today that it will be brought back to the cinemas in February, and I would definitely be tempted to see it then on the big screen.

Well, this is a bit long, so I'll stop here. Have a good week and keep warm. :-()

Go Pats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Super Bowl Bound and Brrrrrrrrr!!! It's Cold Outside!!!

On a frigid day such as today, this amaryllis adds a much needed touch of warmth and color. For those not from this area, let me just say that we are covered in ice. I don't plan to go anywhere until Thursday when hopefully, warmer temperatures will work their magic. I'm so glad my backyard is fenced for Emma's sake as both the back and front stairs are accidents waiting to happen. The  pet safe ice melt has done nothing, but on closer inspection I noted that it doesn't work below 10F. That explains it. I bundle up Emma and out she goes for a few minutes by herself.

It may be frigid outside, but our hearts are warm with excitement, pride, and joy. The New England Patriots are headed to the Super Bowl for the third time in three years. Beyond Amazing!!! Nothing could possibly motivate Tom Brady and the team more than being called the underdogs for yesterday's game. Really???  Tom Brady has been to the Super Bowl nine times!!! What were they thinking??? Anyway it sure worked in our favor. It was an incredible game as was the Saints/Rams game before it. Truly a great day for football, and did I mention that the PATS won . . . Super Bowl hoopla here we come. [Hoopla . . . a great word and not used often enough. Being a word geek I just looked up its etymology "Hoopla from the French  . . .  hoop la` first used 1865-1870, a command {as to a child}, move take a step.]

Okay, what about all the things I was going to accomplish this weekend? Well, as you can see my cutting surface has been cleaned off!!! That's a start. Whoopie!!!

I also managed to straighten out some of my threads. I sorted it by color families, not by type. My other larger spool and special threads were already organized.

I was then about to start sewing Saturday when I realized that I had to make a dash to 4:00 Mass; the pastor said it looked like Christmas Eve as all the pews were nearly filled with the storm approaching. :-)

True confession time: while I was recuperating from BC, I went through many, many magazines and culled articles that I wanted to save. I was positive that I had purchased a large binder, but try as I might, I couldn't find it anywhere. . . not in any of my bookcases . . . not buried under projects . . so, the other day I bought another one. Look closely at the cutting table photo. Yup! There's the big, beautiful turquoise binder practically in plain sight under the cutting table. Please tell me that I'm not the only one who does things like this. :-)

Did I get any sewing done at all? Yes a bit, but I'll show that in my next post. Stay warm and safe.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Get the Milk! Get the Bread! A Storm is Coming!!!

Yes, it seems our fairly easy winter is headed for a drastic change this weekend. We are expecting snow, sleet, freezing rain, and frigid temperatures. How much snow will we get? That's unclear, but it's the ice that may will be the biggest problem. You know things will be bad when Weather Channel storm chaser/meteorologist, Jim Cantore, has headed to Boston to be in the thick of things. :-)

I have big plans for this three-day weekend: 1.) I'm going to straighten out my sewing room, 2.) prep a new piece of wool stitchery, and 3.) hopefully, start on the Crosstown Quilters guild mystery/BOM. Of course,  Sunday night it will all be about the Patriots in the AFC Championship game. Fingers will be crossed that we don't lose cable or power.

Fortunately, I did my food shopping earlier in the week as I can't imagine how crazy the grocery stores will be tomorrow. This lovely African violet had to come home with me. :-)

I'm in the middle of a number of books, but I did finish the one on my nightstand. It was The Rescue Artist - A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a MISSING Masterpiece  by Edward Dolnick.  It was a very interesting, truly enjoyable read!!! In February of 1994 while the world was watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, two thieves broke into the National Gallery in Oslo and stole Edvard Munch's Scream. This is the story of a Scotland Yard detective's dogged pursuit of the masterpiece.  If you enjoy visiting art museums, reading true crime stories, or just want to read a very well written, well paced book, give it a try. I learned a great deal about the world of art and the world of art crimes.

Emma and I took a walk this afternoon and upon our return, she settled herself on my lap to keep an alert eye on any squirrels outside the window.

And finally, I saw this on another blog and it made me smile.

Go Pats!!!!!!! Never give up pursuing your dreams. :-)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

"Hannah Rose" - Winter Table Runner

While watching the New England Patriots this afternoon, I finished the binding on this winter table runner. The pattern shows using a crocheted doily for the bottom of the snow lady. (The pattern indicates that you could choose to use fabric, but I loved using a doily.)

The pattern, "Hannah Rose," is by Rustic Country HandcraftsI decided to make it using some recently purchased beautiful, deep blue batik yardage along with some other blue fabrics in my stash, and I had just the perfect heart shaped black buttons for the coat.

I added the white tree candle and two reindeer which I had received for Christmas to complete the scene. In fact, receiving these gifts actually prompted me to work on this piece.

I made the squares slightly smaller than the pattern indicated and added a border. Because I had altered the pattern, there were enough squares left over to create another smaller runner for the top of my quilt rack. 

Have a creative, fun week!!!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Mary Poppins Returns - Practically Perfect in Every Way

Have you seen Mary Poppins Returns? It is wonderful!!! Emily Blunt is perfect as everyone's favorite nanny, and Lin-Manuel Miranda simply lights up the screen. In fact, everyone in the cast is perfect. The "Trip a Little Light Fantastic' big dance number is wonderful and though I didn't leave the theater humming or singing any particular tune, the music was perfect for the film. The scenes with animation are truly magical!!!

Did I enjoy the movie? You bet I did . . . every joyous minute of it!!! Go see it today!!!

The original Mary Poppins movie was, I think, the very first movie that my friends and I went to see by ourselves. Of course, my dad drove us to the theater and picked us up, but we were old enough to go without an adult. I loved that movie, and I loved this one, too!!!

If you haven't seen it yet, please do so as it's guaranteed to lift your spirits.

Now, as for the photo above . . . When I was in college, I was given the great honor of becoming my baby cousin Kristin's godmother. I was thrilled and wanted to make something special for her.  I found some books with images of Mary Poppins and inspired by them designed this crewel piece . The umbrella even has a a parrot head!. My dad made the frame for it, and it hung in her bedroom as she grew up and today hangs in her daughter's bedroom. :-)

While writing this post, I had one eye on the John Ford classic, Young Mr. Lincoln, starring Henry Ford playing on TCM. 1939 was a phenomenal year for films. Here are just some of the other films from that year.

Gone with the Wind
Wuthering Heights
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
The Wizard of Oz
Of Mice and Men
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Dark Victory

In case you are wondering, at the Oscars in 1940, Gone with the Wind won best picture, Vivian Leigh best actress, and Robert Donat, best actor for Goodbye Mr. Chips.

Again, be sure you go see Mary Poppins Returns!!!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Fish Bowl Snowman - First Craft of the New Year

 Have you seen the latest craft craze on Pinterest? It's snowmen made from fish bowls! I spotted photos of them a few weeks back, but since I didn't need any more Christmas decorations, I decided to wait and make one for my sunporch in the new year.  It's a pretty simple craft but fun! In retrospect, I should have gone looking for design elements in early December as the crafts stores had packed away most of the holiday items before Christmas; Valentine's Day items were already on the shelves. Still, I was able to pick up a garland of clear crystals which I put in the bottom of each bowl. I didn't hot glue in any of the items as next year I might find things that I like better. Case in point, the second bowl has a gingerbread house which would be fine in a Christmas snowman but not so great in this winter themed snowman.

I also picked up a fairly realistic looking pine branch with snow which I cut apart. I anchored small pieces by simply sticking them in the garland. All of the design elements were raised up. I used coffee jar lids which I keep on hand to raise up my African violets in their pots. Next I added the snow which was a pain in the neck. I couldn't find the glistening flake type snow, just a bag of these teenie, tiny beads of snow which went everywhere and stuck to everything. :-)

Now I can hear you saying, "Wow! What a swell snowman's hat!!! I wonder where she bought that???" Okay, you might not be saying that, but I'll tell you anyway.  I made it! I had a lid which fit the top of the bowl perfectly. I took two pieces of heavy stock black paper and cut two large circles which I glued together. Then I tackled the top of the hat. I happened to open the refrigerator and spotted a container of Legal Seafood Chowder. Eureka!!! I had the chowder for supper then washed, dried, and painted the container black. I glued container on the top and another lid painter black to fit on the bottom. :-)

Two cute gifts to show you. First, among other things, my "Ladies Lunch" cousins gave me this cute,  (2.5" by 4")  seaglass piece which I have hanging in my kitchen window. If you follow my blog, you may remember that after our lunches, we often go to the beach in search of sea glass. . . Here are my two little cousins, their mom, and me!

The other day a friend stopped by to bring me this adorable schnauzer Christmas pillow. When you press the corner of the pillow, the strand of lights blink on. How cute is that!

New Year's Resolution: Do more crafts, read more books, take lots of trips, and spend more time photographing, and start/make/finish quilt projects, so that I will have lots to blog about this year. :-) [Note: a friend gave me a notebook and I have begun listing my UFOs and project that I want to make. I stopped after I had filled up a page and a half. At this rate, I'll have to stay hale and hearty until I am 105 to finish them all.]