Saturday, January 30, 2010

Another Birthday for Emily

It sure has been a year to remember.

A long-awaited graduation.
A wedding.

A new job.

And a move to Washington.

Happy Birthday, Baby. I miss you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday But Seems Like Saturday

It's a good feeling to realize that it's Friday instead of Saturday - it's like I've been given a whole extra day.

We're not going to get the ice and snow from Texas and Oklahoma, thank goodness. It went north of us, but we're going to get some nice rain and maybe thunder tonight. Mike unthawed his door locks and windshield and went on to work this morning. Some of his pictures. I'm glad not to be there! I believe the storm is headed for Ooltewah. I'll have to ask Sherry what's going on there.

I'm rushing around getting the house straightened and working a few hours so my night will be free for the Friday Night Sew-In. I'll try to prove it by pictures, if I get anything worth taking pictures of. Just realized that's in February some time, but I still sewed, so I had my own FNSI. I'm glad I was alone too, because it didn't always go perfectly!

Just to make me feel better, below are some things I HAVE done in the past few years.

But first, this is the smocked dress that my mother made for Elise and Emily. It got worn a lot and has been hanging in the closet for 20 years.

Mama was a self-taught smocker and just did her own thing sometimes. I'm not sure if she had a pleater for this or if it was picked up iron-on dots. She did do the little pearls on the front that made it kind of special for the girls.

This is the first bishop I made. I gave a few of them away, and this is the only one that's left. Pretty basic. I really do need to work on construction skills. I just have a hard time with necklines and plackets, etc.
I did this little flannel blanket last year. I saw some squares of flannel with the holes along the edges for crochet and decided to try one. It worked out pretty well. I'll do some embroidery or a monogram one day. I want to order this blade for the rotary cutter so I can cut my own holes along the edges. But $13! I wish the fabric or craft stores sold them, and I could use a coupon. Maybe if I wait....

It's January, and that is a daisy blooming outside the window.

This is just a very small blankie I found in the Target $1 bins and embroidered a design.

When you do a Grandmother Chest, you have to stick to a no-pink color. I like blue. I did this years ago.

That was just to remind myself that I have finished a couple of things.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

This week's happenings

I almost left a blank page, although I feel like something has happened.

Jacob has amazingly improved. They appreciate all the prayers. He's sitting up and talking to people and even asking to go home!. Although I think he has a long way to go, it's still something to celebrate.

I got my teeth cleaned and am free of the dentist for 6 more months - hopefully. It's usually a pleasant experience. Nice people. I had a new hygienist - new to me and probably plain old new because she acted like she was doing her dental hygienist final exam. Very painstaking - pun intended because she did cause a little of that. I figured with all the poking and prodding she did, she would be an enthusiastic flosser, so I was all prepared and tensed, but that was fine. Every few teeth though, she would go back and poke some more, which did make me tense up.

I went in Home Depot to get a dowel (stick?) for smocking, and the first thing I heard was just wild and noisy hammering. Sometimes they have classes for the public, and I always intend to try to go to one, but I think I would have been pulling my hair out within 10 minutes with this one. On the way out, I looked closer because if I had found anyone with a saw, I was going to get them to cut my dowel, but they were just still hammering. I think it was a class - maybe special needs kids - but young anyway, and they were building little birdhouses. Cute. Noisy, but cute.

Mama and I had the Dollar General experience yesterday. In Andalusia, she went in the "dollar store" pretty often to pick up little things and talks about it wistfully sometimes. She has been looking for a small plastic ruler for sewing and a pocket calendar for weeks, but we can't seem to find them. I checked Wal-Mart, Publix, Hallmark, Hancock Fabrics - everywhere I went this week - but found neither.

So we passed a Dollar General yesterday, and I asked if she wanted to go in there, and of course she did. She happily filled up her little basket, and I found the pocket calendars but no ruler. She then decided she needed a wall calender too. I could have gotten her a pretty one earlier if I had known, but all they had there were children's calendars. She said that was okay and got busy choosing which one. She stared a long time at Sponge Bob, but she finally put him back. She didn't pause over Dora at all but ended up chosing this one:

Blues Clues. I asked her if she was sure, that we could find another one later, and she said, "No, it matches my curtains." She hung it in her sewing/computer room, and it does look pretty good.

Littlefield is having "weather" today. Mike's weather report for today: We are supposed to receive today...thunder-snow and also thunder-sleet. It is raining hard right now and the wind is howling like a banshee.

And when it was over:

Here in Alabama, we have beautiful sunshine and a fairly warm day. Makes me want to go out and dig something.

Now 8 inches in Littlefield and still snowing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prayers Needed

For a small cousin. Only 12 years old. He was accidentally shot in the chest/abdomen yesterday and is struggling for life.

This is Debby's youngest granchild. He's headed into surgery right now, and the doctors can't give them any encouragement. There are so many obstacles.

Please pray for Debby and Tom, his parents Tate and Renae, his brothers and uncles and all the ones who are there at the hospital praying and so scared.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beyond Cute

Lydia has truly outdone herself.

This is what was just delivered to me.

I had asked her to make me a baby gift to give to a couple at church, and after a few discussions about nose colors, this is what she came up with.

Here are both items all done up in a pretty package.

It's so perfect. And knowing that I would be jealous, I had her make the same thing for me with no name for Future Baby. He/she is getting a wardrobe already.

Thank you Lydia. If I ever get my embroidery machine out of hiding, I'm going to come take lessons from you. I can't imagine doing anything this pretty. The new parents-to-be will be so excited.

Lydia's shop is Layne James Embroidery and Designs . The good thing about being a designer is that she doesn't have to do cookie-cutter designs; she can picture things and do what you want with them. Unlike me. I'm a cookie-cutter embroiderer - and not a very good one at that.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Little Sweetness

Just to get away from Stephen King's Dome.

I have to say it's an interesting book so far although it could have been half the size if he didn't feel compelled to describe everything so graphically. I'd like a small plane crash aftermath to be left to my imagination, but with other things he does a very good job at making you feel what the characters are feeling.

Anyway -

I'm washing and documenting some of my past sewing, back when I had someone to hold my hand and make me finish things and tell me when I was doing it wrong. I had done a couple of smocked bishops before and was ready for a little challenge, so I tried this collar. It turned out really well, but I don't like the finishing up parts, the construction, so it sat in a plastic bag for years. I finally decided last year to do something about it. I still can't put a bias band around the neck to amount to anything, but I'll keep trying.

I love the sleeves. I see the ribbon is twisted, but it can be fixed.

I made this quilt for a gift but decided halfway through to do something else, so I got to keep it. I saw this fabric one day in a fabric shop in Greensboro, I believe, and they happened to have these coordinated prints and ginghams, so it kind of designed itself. I ended up hand quilting it. It was fun to do, and I'd like to use this pattern again.

I'll have more pictures when the things get through washing, including a little dress Mama made the girls in the 70s, back when the pleats were made by ironing on dots and gathering the material to make pleats.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Big Boy

1072 pages.

I was already thinking I had started too many books when the call came from the library today that the book I had requested was in.

I loved Stephen King's The Stand. I mean really loved it. I thought it was one of the best books I had read at the time - back in the 70s. Therefore I couldn't wait to read more of his works. Unfortunately, I didn't find any of his later books very likable. He's a good author, but you can read just so many descriptions of scary and awful things before you stop paying attention to the story. Except for The Shining, of course, one of the scariest books and movies ever. Emily, Elise, and Stephanie and maybe Mike got into the Dark Tower/Gunslinger series, but I never did.

So I haven't paid much attention through the years to anything new he had written until I read a review lately about Under The Dome, comparing it to The Stand. That intrigued me. And the fact that it was long. I figured I would reserve it at the library and get it in a few weeks or months. But I got it today and have 3 weeks to read it - or 6 if I renew. The 2 books I'm reading now will have to go on the back burner - one I own and one of Debby's that she won't mind me keeping awhile - while I escape to the Dome.

Beautiful day today. Although I love rain, I can appreciate a day of sparkly sunshine. It puts people in a better mood. While Mama was getting a permanent, I went and changed my cell phone from T Mobile to Verizon, mainly so Emily and I can talk free. The time difference makes it too late for me when her free minutes start. I just realized Elise is on Verizon also, so that's a bonus. Nice young guy helped me through all the stuff, and I now have a phone that actually rings instead of grunting and one with an alarm that works. No more getting up 5 minutes before time to go to work.

I'll try to wrap up some loose ends before the week is up.

Suzanne was in Thomaston at Christmastime and took a picture of 202 Monroe Street where the 5 of us lived over 20 years. I'll find that and some earlier pictures to compare when I have more time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Rain, books, and needlework

What a nice day. Rain and more rain. Even some thunder. After work tonight, I was able to enjoy a little sewing. I was struggling with the smocking on the daygown, but I remembered that there is a new blog, that I've discovered where there are some wonderful smocking tutorials - videos, not just pictures and words.

So I sat down in front of the computer with my sad little rectangle and listened to Laurie's soothing voice tell me exactly what to do. It really helped. I think it was all math. I was trying to sneak in an extra stitch, and it was causing my diamonds to go all wonky.

I couldn't wait to finish working tonight so I could start anew. But then the rain was there and the thunder - and Dickens - and coffee. I'm about halfway through A Tale of Two Cities and beginning to sort out the characters and enjoy it, even though his descriptions of London in the 1700s are a little hard to take, so I didn't linger too long with him.

I finished listening to The Rottweiler last night, and it's funny how I miss those characters and their British accents. The reader was good, a lady who didn't feel compelled to read men's voices in a stern hoarse tone. Some do, and in those stories I never like the men.

To keep me company while I smocked, I got my next CD - Light on Snow by (of all people) Anita Shreve. I just finished her excellent book, A Wedding in December earlier this week. I think it's going to be sad. Told from a 12-year-old girl's perspective, and the reader is a young girl.

All of the above and eight hours of work made my day and no housework or anything worthwhile. I did answer a few more emails and deleted even more. Still behind though.

Tomorrow if the weather is good, Mama and I are going to venture out. I'm not sure where. Maybe to Hancock Fabrics and most likely Wal-Mart. It's good to do things like this because it makes coming home so nice.

I have a correction. On the post a couple of days ago, I called Gaby's new knitting project a scarf when it's actually a light sweater. I'm terribly sorry. Here she is modeling it. Wonderful for her first knitting attempt.

She says, "It was very easy to knit, just knit a rectangle (15 inches by 55 inches) and when it is finished just stitch the ends, like 10 inches per side and there is, a semi sweater for the summer. I hope you like it."

I do. She looks good in red.

Just now when I went to find these pictures, I saw an email from Mike waiting with the title TAX. I'm going to pretend I didn't see it.

I'm going to sneak a picture of the smocking in here just so I can look at it after I get good and laugh about it - grubby little frayed thing. I probably started too close to the top and am just kind of making up the pattern as I go. I should have put someting in the middle of the diamonds. I may if it's not too late.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


What a good word. Doldrums. It's one of those words that sound like what it means.

I've avoided coming here to write anything lately because I figured I would just whine about something. It's that kind of week, and it's my own fault, so it won't do any good to whine.

It seems like every day I get more and more behind and can't drum up enough energy to make things right. If I use my middle-of-the-day break to read and do needlework, then the floors not only don't get vacuumed, but they accumulate more thread and other things.

If I don't clean the pet areas, I can't depend on them to wash their dishes and empty their own litter boxes.

If I don't put up the things I pull out, the house is going to look messy.

So today I did vacuum, at least part of the house. And did pet cleanup. And put away a few things.

So when I finally did sit down to read and smock, I could look around me and see some order and clean carpets.

Speaking of smocking, that's another thing to whine about. I have proof that I've done smocking before and not done such a bad job of it. But this last project, you'd think I had never held a needle. I guess I should have started with a simpler pattern and maybe not white on pale blue. It's pretty discouraging to have to take out 2 rows of stitches, but that's what I did last night, and today things went much better. Besides this is on a little thing that a baby is going to sleep in, and it really won't matter if every row is even or not.

Another bit of sunshine today - besides what's outside - is that I got coffee delivered to my front porch. I've had such a wealth of K-cups since September when Mike sent all those sampler boxes with my birthday present that I guess I thought I would never run out. I don't make decisions very easily, and so I put off ordering a supply of them and just never made it to Target or Bed, Bath, and Beyond where they now sell them (but more expensively). For 2 days now, I've had an empty carousel and have had to use bagged coffee in the little filter. It's still good but messier than usual. So now I have my month's supply and celebrated just now with a nice cup of Cinnamon Roll blend. Yum.

I feel better now. No more whining. If I'll use my time better, I won't get in a panic over the phone ringing and being terrified someone is going to look at the house. I probably should get to the point where I WANT someone to look at it, but I'm not quite there. I just want to wake up one day in Littlefield with all that behind me.

Not really. There's a lot of good to be experienced before that, and I need to savor each day.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Any Old Excuse

Not that I need an excuse for doing nothing, but it makes me feel better. Especially when I plan to be productive and then I'm not.

My head was spinning the last few days with what I was going to get done this weekend, starting with Friday night. I had a bunch of fabrics washed and ready to cut into strips and then squares for my 9-patch quilt. I had a sweet piece of Swiss flannel washed and starched and ready to pleat for a smocked day gown. I have a basket of yarn and needles, one sock, a half-finished dishcloth, a partially embroidered bib, and a cross-stitch panel of frogs that just need outlining to be used for something later.

So why didn't I do any of it?

Here's one reason.

I've gotten involved in A Tale of Two Cities, and it's a good rainy day book to read. It's not very fast reading though, because I have to go back and read sentences more than once sometimes to get Dickens' humor and sometimes just to understand the way he phrases things. So for times when I just want a change of pace, Debby brought me these 3 books yesterday. Help. I want to do nothing else. I'm halfway through A Wedding in December. Turns out it's one of those "can't wait to get back to" books. And then there's the new Southern Living sitting there invitingly. There just aren't enough hours in my day.

Another reason (although not a very good one). I really did go in to thread the pleater and didn't want to disturb Baby Cat. I wonder if I would have done it if she had not been there.

I did work 6 hours today and 4 yesterday, so I really should do what I want to do. I keep telling myself.

Yesterday was fun. I finally got my hair cut, which I had been putting off for a couple of months. That helped my feelings. Then Debby and I met for lunch and poked around TJ Maxx. That was also interesting, not to need anything especially but just to look around. I did get these.

They're actually spoon rests, I discovered this morning, but they were in the pet section and half the price of the other bowls, so I'm using them as Fancy Feast dishes. The cats were less than pleased to see them at first. Kind of like your dishes staring back at you, I guess. But they got used to it.

This was my Christmas gift from Debby. We ended up not getting together during the holidays. She knew when she saw this little angel that she needed to live with me. Right now, it's in the kitchen window, but it's also been on my bathroom vanity today and on the bookshelves in the den. I'm not sure where she'll end up, but it makes me happy to look at her.

Emily dutifully sent me pictures of her own Sew-In.

I think it was about 3 years ago about the time she moved to Mobile and started school that she saw this Garnet Hill afghan that she loved.

I was slower to fall in love with it, but it grew on me. I think the price was well over $300, so Emily wanted to try to make one. All we had was the picture, and we experimented for weeks with how to make the hexagons, what type of yarn, what color. It was pretty frustrating, and she really didn't have time over the 3 years of school to get it out much. So I was pretty excited to run across a pattern a month or so ago, and now she has something to go by and a little bit more leisure time - not much but some. This is what she's done lately, and I have warnings that if I mention tension, it'll all be thrown into the fire.

Looks good to me. Who am I to criticize someone who actually creates something?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Night Sew-In

I've been looking forward to devoting my Friday night to working on one of my projects, knowing that bunches of other people were doing it too. This is my favorite post. I think about 70 people signed up for it, and I even encouraged a few people myself.

But unfortunately it was not to be. I ended up working to catch up some last minute reports since the pay period ends tonight. I figured I could just fudge a little and sew to my heart's content tomorrow while it rains. I have a 9-patch quilt that I can work on. I can pleat and smock the blue day gown. I can cross-stitch. I have a sock to finish. I may just have fun all day.

Lydia came through with flying colors tonight though and just emailed me some pictures. She made only a pair of pants tonight, I think, but these are some things she's made this week. So cute. I love the moose shirt. She says Jacob is expecting his dad to catch a moose when he goes hunting.

With Barbara's wrist putting a damper on her sewing, I have to brag on the quilt she's just finished. I saw it in person, and the pictures don't do justice to the colors and how intricate it is. Click on them to see it close up. She says it's not as hard as it looks, but she should be very proud of this. The pattern is "Blooming Nine-Patch."

I hope I can one day finish something!

Gaby has taught herself to knit from TV, and here's proof. It's going to be a scarf.

As she explains it: I know how to make crochet, to me was easier than knitting until the last week of December past year. I have never do anything knitted, but I bought a knitting needles anyway; one day I was watching my favorite TV show about crocheting and knitting and the girl explained how to start to knit so beautiful and easy that I start to knit the same day.
I have some talented friends. Now tomorrow I hope to hear from the relatives - and me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's a hard job, but somebody had to do it

Sherry has been scouting out a quilting retreat, and so far I haven't heard any complaints. It looks like a beautiful big house near Cullman, Alabama, that is open for small groups to convene and do whatever you want to. In this case, they're quilting.

According to her email, "You don't even need to get out of your PJs if you don't want to. There is a smaller house across the street for smaller groups. The only bad thing across the street is you can't smell the food cooking all day. Yesterday for breakfast we had ---eggs, sausage potato casserole, sausage, home made biscuits. For lunch--Jambalaya, coleslaw, corn bread muffins, lemon squares. For dinner--baked ham, Waldorf salad, home made mac & cheese, green beans, home made yeast rolls and chocolate cake."

Mike thinks too much emphasis is being put on the food and too little on quilting, but take a look at this:


A cozy sitting room. Pretty.

The second story railings make good places to hang and admire your quilts. Sherry has finished two since she's been there.

This one...

And the kitty quilt.

It looks like a great place with few distractions and beautiful surroundings. Look at the view from the dining room windows.

I would think you might not want to leave when your time was up.

Maybe I'll get a chance to go one day. Sherry and I went to the Alabama Quilt Symposium also in Cullman last year (2 years ago? time flies). It was fun, but there were classes and lectures going on all the time and not too much time for being on your own and relaxing, not to mention so-so food and the chef who yelled glared at us because of some dining room tray omission. This looks more like my cup of tea.

My free time today was spent taking Mama's computer downtown to the guys to fix it. My friends Sam and Luay. I'm still not sure what happened to it, but it mysteriously lost its IP address and wouldn't connect to the internet. She's had terrible withdrawals pains the past 2 days, so it was good for it to be fixed.

I just realized that it was exactly a year ago that I got my new computer from them, and it's been perfect. I meant to compliment them on having had all the potholes in the parking lot fixed too, but they got busy just as I was leaving. I appreciate having someone I can trust tell me what's wrong (even though they do pretend to be about to charge me a fortune for their work - "What do you think you should pay for this?") But they are very reasonable and probably don't charge enough.

I'll end this cold winter day with a few flower pictures from Guatemala sent by Gaby. Not that it's that much warmer there - 6 degrees C - which I just learned is around 43 degrees F if I did the math correctly. They don't normally need heaters, so they're having to bundle up more than usual. Hopefully the 43 degrees is the coldest it got.

Is this a raspberry? Or maybe a blackberry with the thorns?

Bird of Paradise. Amazing how beautiful this is.

Poor Alejandro and his boo-boo. He fell on some stairs around Christmastime while running and had way too many stitches in his head. Nearly gave his parents heart failure. But it's looking good now. I hear he was very brave! (And look at those eyelashes!)