Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Farewell 2019

 Here is one last finish for this decade.  I quilted it on Saturday at our monthly quilting get together in Stoughton and finished sewing the binding last night while watching a Ron Howard documentary on Luciano Pavarotti. I am not in the slightest an opera fan, but this was a wonderful look at the life of one of the world's greatest tenors. Opera fan or not, I highly recommend this documentary which is in theaters and also on streaming services. Google "Pavarotti" to see where it might be available for you.

This fireman-themed quilt will be passed on to a wonderful group which coordinates efforts to give quilts and pillowcases to the children of Massachusetts National Guard soldiers being deployed.

I have two more projects that are almost done; one, a wool appliques piece begun earlier this month, and the other a small Christmas piece. Technically, I still have time to finish that piece before packing things away after the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6th. :-)

Speaking of "finishing," I have decided that "finishing" will be my spirit quilting word for 2020 as I am great at starting things, but sometimes lag behind on "finishing" things. :-) That is not to say that I have not accomplished much quilting during this past year; I plan to document my 2019 work perhaps in my next post. It is to say that I could accomplish a whole lot more if I was a bit more disciplined. :-)

Resolutions for 2020??? Nah, I'm not making any. What's the point? I've already admitted that I am not disciplined. :-)

Goals for 2020??? I'd like to travel more and basically continue to have fun. :-)

Yesterday, my cousin/godchild Kristin and her girls came for a Ladies Lunch day and brought Emma some birthday cards and treats. She was thrilled to see them. You'll notice that I adjusted the age on the birthday cards. It is hard to believe that Emma is now eight. (They thought that she was only four or five.) The time has flown by since Trixie was only a toddler when I got Emma.) She continues to be a joyful presence.

Two more recommendations for you . . .

Do you need an escape from the news and turmoil of the day?  If you have Netflix, visit the good folks in Virgin River. The series is based on the books by Robin Carr, and I promise you will enjoy watching her words brought to the screen. The casting is darn near perfect. There are eight episodes available, but more will be coming in June. Trust me; you will enjoy it.

The Two Popes . . .  I viewed this intelligent film on Netflix last week, and I am still thinking about it. The acting is brilliant. Anthony Hopkins as Pope Benedict XVI  is as always masterful, but Jonathan Pryce as the future Pope Francis is equally Oscar worthy. It is actually three films woven into one: a conversation between the conservative Pope Benedict and the Jesuit trained, reformed minded Bishop Jorge Bergoglio, a mini biopic on Bergolio's life, and a look at the horrors of the 1970s in Argentina. Now, you might think that this doesn't sound all that interesting, but truly it is. It is especially thought provoking for those who practice the Catholic faith, but it is well worth anyone's time. It is a beautiful film, brilliantly acted. While it works well on Netflix, I wouldn't hesitate to see it again on the big screen. See it.

Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Purr-fectly Lovely Christmas

Well, I don't know about you, but I  took a nap a couple of hours after I got up this morning. Only an early appointment and Miss Emma kept me from sleeping in. Z'zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz  . . . . . . .

About three weeks ago, the Annie's catalogue arrived with the pattern, "Humbug" depicting a grumpy cat wearing a festive Christmas sweater. My cousin Kristin's family has two cats. Bella is white with patches of grey and is sweet and friendly, and then . . . there is . . . Franklin. . . Oh, my! Franklin can be nice, but he can also be very naughty. One pats Franklin warily as it is never clear how he will react. (I speak sweetly to him and may give a treat, but seldom take the risk of trying to pat him. :-) So, when I saw the grumpy cat pattern, I just had to make it. It makes me laugh! Woe to anyone who would attempt to put a holiday sweater on Franklin!!!

It was so much fun to make that I decided to make one featuring Snowy. Santa brought Snowy all the way from the North Pole for two very good little boys last Christmas. Snowy is sweet and cuddly and the purr-fect addition to my cousin Linda's family.

Because Snowy is all white, I used two different snowflake fabrics. I love how the quilting with light thread depicts Snowy on the backside of the wallhanging.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was trying to get three gifts done. By Christmas Eve afternoon, I  had completed both cat pieces, but as evening approached, I had only completed the body of the tote for my other cousin Lynda. One of my mantras is . . . "You can only do what you can do." By that afternoon I had decided I would just put the body of the bag in a gift bag and then take it home to be finished. 

My cousins, Miss L. and Miss T. were serving at 4:00 Mass which I attended, and then I went to their home for dinner. It was late when I returned home, and I decided that it would be more prudent to get a good night's sleep than to work on the tote bag. 

I had a solid eight hours and awoke feeling as if I just might, possibly, be able to finish the bag. It needed a bottom insert, straps, and a button closure. The force was with me, and I was able to finish it before heading out to Christmas at my cousin Brian's home.

I am happy to report that my gifts were all well received. It's so much fun to make things and then see the reactions of the recipients.

It was a wonderful day with all my cousins and extended family members. At the end of the day, we had our traditional Christmas Trivia game. I had difficult questions and easy questions depending on the ages of my young cousins.  There were "swell parting gifts" for those who eventually were out of the game. Everyone received the exact same prize, a large plastic candy cane filled with chocolate. The kids all enjoyed this activity, and I was told that after I left the adults said that they would like to play next year. That should be fun!!! (In case you are interested, you may find many lists of Christmas trivia questions online.)

It was a really fun day, and I hope you enjoyed your Christmas as well.

In case I don't post again before New Year's Day, let me wish you a year of creativity, joy, peace, and good health. Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Lobster Trap Christmas Tree - Cohasset Harbor

It has been pedal to the metal, sewing machine pedal that is, for the last week as I try to finish up a few gifts. Two are ninety-five percent done with just a bit of hand stitching to finish, and one I am starting after posting this. (No rush . . . I still have two days.) I cannot wait to see the reaction of the recipients when they open their gifts. :-)

Friday after a late appointment, I took a drive down to Cohasset Harbor to see the lobster traps Christmas tree. According to an article in The Patriot Ledger, this is the seventh year in a row that the lobstermen have constructed a Christmas tree out of lobster traps and buoys. It is located on the patio of the Olde Salt House at 44 Border Street.

The tree is "more than 30 feet tall and built with more than 300 lobster traps, a 5-foot nativity star, and decorated with more than 2,000 white lights and lobster-buoy ornaments. Cohasset lobsterman, Ricky Barrow and his team, loan the traps and construct the tree." 

Could this new coastal New England tradition be any more wonderful!!!

Last night after a family gathering, I stopped on the way home to photograph this magical display in Braintree. To visit it in person, get off at the Union Street exit. It's across the street from the Braintree Armory and almost diagonally across from the entrance to the Braintree Police Station.

One more thing . . . I saw this on another blog . . .

Now it's time to get back to work as I still have some baking to do.

If I don't post again for a few days, let me wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Whatever your faith traditions or beliefs, may you find peace, joy, and comfort in the days ahead.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Christmas Shopping - A Cautionary Tale

 A foot problem had prevented me from doing much shopping until Saturday. Much of my shopping was done online, but I had a number of items that I wanted to purchase for my young cousins. So, late in the afternoon on Saturday, I headed out figuring that many shoppers might have been out earlier in the day. It was awesome. I figured correctly, and I breezed around the store happily adding items to my cart. When I returned home, I hauled the bags in and stashed them in the corner of the dining room. Later that night, I wanted to set the table for the company that would be coming the next day, so I gathered the packages and brought them upstairs. I had a gift bag with each child's name and began adding things. I was feeling pretty darned pleased with myself until it struck me . . . Where are the HotWheels??? Where are the books??? Clearly, I was missing a number of items. I checked my car, but there wasn't another bag. Oh, no!!! By now it was 9:30. Had the clerk not put all the bags in my cart??? She was honestly a tad scattered, and so I had been focused on how she was ringing things up. 

 Since I had church in the morning and a meal to prepare, I knew that I would not be able to go back any time on Sunday. Realizing that I might be on a fool's errand, I decided to drive back to the store as it would be open until 11:00. When I entered the store, there were many late shoppers, but the customer service area was in darkness.  I found a young clerk and asked if he could check to see if a bag had been turned in. By now, I had recalled about three of the missing items. After a few minutes, he came out of the back room carrying a bag with my purchases. WHEW! Attached was a slip indicating that the items had been paid for and a notice that if the customer did not inquire about said items within two day, the items would be returned to the appropriate shelves. 

How many times in the past have I gone shopping, especially at Christmas, and just stashed the packages in a corner of some room to be wrapped at another time . . . usually Christmas Eve day.  From now on,  I will try to have one eye on the cashier and another on the bagger and I will try to remember to check my bags as I put them in the car. 

It occurred to me that you might not know what a bowl cozy looks like. The photo in my last post didn't really give a clear picture of what a bowl cozy is. Doesn't this bowl cozy color coordinate well with my oatmeal? Of course, if one side is eggs, the other side must be chickens. :-)

You can find a link to an easy bowl cozy tutorial in my previous post.

I acquired four more Christmas tree pins for my wall hanging.  Christmas trees are everywhere in my house.

The wallhanging above has colorful crystals which catch and sparkle in the light.

I spent the day working on a Christmas wallhanging which is too cute and fun for words. Hopefully, it will be done in a day or two, but since it is a gift,  I will show it to you after Christmas. While working on this project, I listen to the sad, divisive rhetoric of the impeachment deliberations. 

On December 18, 2019, our forty-fifth President, Donald J. Trump was impeached.

 Regardless of your politics, this was a truly sad, historic day for our country.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A Very Busy Week

How are your holiday preparations coming along? I have a present that I haven't even begun working on, but I hope to spend a good part of the day working on that piece. It's been a hectic, lovely week. Since this blog acts as my journal, let me share what I have been up to.

Last Sunday (12/8), my cousin Linda and her boys came to deliver a wreath which I had purchased from her younger son's cub scout pack. I don't know who was more excited to see them, Emma or me. Emma spend most of their visit on the cub scout's lap or snuggled beside him in the chair. They are both all boys, and it's always fun to see them. It wasn't a long visit as the ten year old had a sports activity in the afternoon. He is quite a good lacrosse player, but I believe that afternoon he was going to basketball. They have promised to come back to visit some Sunday morning soon, so we can have breakfast at the diner around the corner. :-)

As you know, that night I attended the Cher concert.

After a few days of rain, I finally had a chance to do some outside decorating including gussying up the wreath. (Wow, that's a good old fashion expression that you don't hear all that often these days! :-)
This very old sled belonged to my dad's family.

Tuesday started with a holiday party at the Crosstown Quilters Guild. There were more than seventy small teddy bear blocks turned in which were divided among five lucky winners. Each block had a white on white background. The green bears had red hearts, and the red bears had green hearts. With sashing and perhaps a border added,  each winner should be able to make a small lap quilt. 

It was a lovely holiday party with good friends, good food, and laughter. We, Crosstown Ladies, know how to have a good time! That night I also attended a neighbor's cookie/Yankee swap party. Being diabetic, I didn't take part in the cookie swap because I have very, very little willpower, and it's best not to have any tempting sweets in my house. The Yankee swap part was, however, lots of fun.

Here's Miss Emma after a recent bit of snow. The best thing that I ever did when we got our first miniature schnauzer Katie was to purchase a copy of Dogs for Dummies, and the best piece of advice that I took from that book was to train your puppy to stand on a towel. Rain or snow . . . whenever she comes inside and sees a towel on the kitchen floor, she will stand there patiently and wait to be dried off. You can see how her furnishings can become caked with clumps of sticky snow. I keep a hair dryer handy for occasions such as this. She may have 'selective' hearing occasionally when I call her, but she excels at standing on a towel to be dried off. :-)

On Thursday evening, I attended a performance of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - The Musical" presented by the Arlington Children's Theatre. My young cousin, Miss T., had her very first speaking part in a production. Yeah!!! She loves acting, and everyone in the cast did a fine job. Not only do the children act, but they also move all of the sets around for each scene. They are totally involved in the production. It's a wonderful theater experience for children.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the holiday party at one of my other guild on Saturday morning. 

Sunday I hosted friends for our annual Christmas get together. We have been friends for many, many years . . . Sometime during the week, I managed to make some handy, quilted microwave bowl cozys to tuck into their gift bags. There are many free online tutorials; I used "Soup Bowl Cozy Pattern" at Happy Hour Stitches.

 That was about the extent of my quilting last week although I only have the edge to stitch on a fun wool applique piece on which I have been working.

One last thing . . . do you enjoy the Kennedy Center Honors program each year as much as I do? If so, did you know that you may watch sections of some of these shows from years past on Youtube? Those show are always so entertaining.

Have a great day and enjoy this special time of year.

Monday, December 9, 2019

CHER in Concert - Here We Go Again Tour

Did you guess which special event I would be attending based on the hint given in my previous post??? Last April, I read about Cher's "Here We Go Again Tour" coming to Boston. I then casually mentioned it at a luncheon of some retired teacher friends and remarked that I would really, really  like to see Cher once in concert. Well, my friend Linda responded without hesitation that she would like to go to this concert as well. So that is how she and I found ourselves at the new Boston Garden last night along with about 12,000 to 13,000 of our fellow concert goers. It was quite a night!!!

The opening act was Chic,  a funk, rock, dance-pop, disco band which definitely got the crowd on its feet. It may not exactly have been my cup of tea, but the musicians and singers were all excellent. They played for forty-five minutes and then after the intermission Cher made her entrance. Her part of the concert was a full hour and forty minutes. She looked incredible and sounded even better .  . .

Her performance highlighted various aspects of her long career. She made at least a dozen quick costume and wig changes to fit each segment. Accompanying her were an enthusiastic dancing troupe, videos, and extraordinary lighting effects. It was a true spectacle of splendor and sequins!

Her final number was "If I Could Turn Back Time." Time has been kind to this talented seventy-three year old, and she joked about her next final retirement tour. If there is one, you might just find me there again.

I have not gone to a concert of this magnitude before, but it will be a memory that I will always CHER-ish!

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Very Fine Mini Adventure

This morning my friends Edith, Laurel, and I headed to the Open House at The Quilted Crow in Bolton, MA. The parking area was packed with eager fabric shoppers which must have caused major consternation for the other businesses in this mini shopping area. The Open House continues tomorrow, Saturday, and on their website you will find a coupon for twenty-five percent off one item. The shop was mobbed with happy quilters and wool applique lovers. This store features a lovely wool section and believe me that small area was packed with customers. :-) I was among my people!  I found a piece of green wool to complete my current project, and another wool applique kit happened to come home with me. I have other things to work on before tackling this fun new project, but I used my coupon on this purchase and will tuck this kit away for awhile. I also purchased a Christmas tree wallhanging pattern which I may start this weekend.

Wasn't it only a day or two ago that I remarked that I wouldn't think of starting any new projects??? I am incorrigible. In my defense, both (yes, I'm thinking of starting not one but two) new projects are holiday related. One is the Christmas tree pattern that I bought today. I don't think it will take long to make that one. The other project . . . well . . . I may be nuts to start this one. It will be fused, raw edge applique, but there are about a zillion pieces!!! Here are the four pages of applique from the pattern, and some pieces must be prepped multiple times. Do you have any ideas what it might be???

Now, I may not finish both projects this month, but that's okay as I want this to be a no-stress Christmas. 

In 2015, I began this Christmas Tree pin wallhanging. In the beginning, there were only seven tree pins. Over the course of the last few years, I have been gifted colorful tree pins from friends and blog readers. These are not rare and expensive pins, but that does not make them any less special.  I love them all. There are eleven spaces left. What will I do when this piece is filled? Why, begin another one, of course.

Speaking of trees, Wednesday and Thursday I finished decorating my three Christmas trees. I have a small white tree on which I display my White House ornaments. I also have two 6' artificial trees, one on my sunporch and one in the living room.  If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you may recall that last year my Christmas decorating was limited as I was recovering from my second adventure with breast cancer. I'm doing great, so this year all the trees are up along with my Christmas quilted wallhangings and other decorations. It might all be a bit much, but I love it!

This has been a fun week. Wednesday night I went out seven friends for our annual holiday dinner, and I am super, super excited to be attending another very special event later this weekend. I'll give you a hint: gypsies, tramps, and thieves . . . 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

But, It's Not Even Winter Yet . . .

 Parts of the western area of our state and points north got quite a bit of snow yesterday, but we only received about three inches. By the end of the day, it had basically disappeared, but overnight the second half of the storm brought us our share of snow. This morning it was like waking up inside a snowglobe. By the time the snow stopped in mid afternoon, we had received about six inches. The top layer was light and fluffy, but it was wet and heavy underneath. You won't hear me complain thought as some areas received twenty-five inches over the course of the two-day storm. Yikes! The first day of winter is not until December 21st.

I think I had been in denial as I hadn't put my pink plastic adirondack chairs under the porch. The mighty oak at the end of my driveway still hadn't dropped many of its leaves, but most did come down with this snow. Hopefully, we will get a warm spell next week so I can tackle raking them up.

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day as I did with my cousins. Did you know that according to an article from The Atlantic Journal-Constitution which was published in The Patriot Ledger, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association estimated that 46 million turkeys would be consumed on Thanksgiving. The article also suggested that we would eat about 89 million pounds of cranberries in various forms, 214 million pounds of potatoes, 50 million pounds of sweet potatoes, and . . . 18.9 million pies.  :-)

On the quilting front, there has not been much accomplished. I'm trying to finish projects before beginning any new ones. (I know what you are thinking . . . good luck with that idea. Though it sounds like a practical plan, it probably won't work in my case. ) In my next post, however,  I may be able to show you a completed piece of wool applique that is presently about ninety-five percent done.

Tonight our reward for all that shoveling . . .  the colors were spectacular.