Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30: Reflections

Bet you thought I was going to wax and wane about things.  Not quite!  I am just letting you all know that I am reflecting on what I have done and what I want to accomplish before we move back to South Dakota and start setting up shop there.

Hope each and everyone of you have had good moments in 2011 and are planning some memory making activities for 2012.  HAPPY NEW YEAR to each of you!

December 30: Our Latest Adventure

25+ years ago, we were stationed in Brunswick, ME, while Kevin's ship was in dry dock at the Bath shipyard.  We loved the time we had in Maine and decided we were close enough to go check out our old stomping grounds.  Bath and Brunswick have both changes so much that there was very little for us to recognize.  We did find our old house which used to be part of military housing, and the shipyard was just the same.  However, there was a lot more traffic and a lot more everything.  Somehow it did not match up with our memories, but we are glad that the places are looking like there has been some positive steady growth.

Now for the rest of the story..... We left home at 10:00 on Wednesday.  It was snowing but not any huge thing, just in the air.  There were lots of small frozen "waterfalls" on the rock walls by the road.

 We planned to stop at several quilt stores, Woodcraft, and then head for Freeport, ME.  As we drove across Vermont, we had flurries, but then we found clear skies and green.  Traveling the interstate was smooth and uneventful.  Listening to a book on CD also helped to pass the time.

It was a drive-by so blurry happens!

In White River Junction, VT, we when to the Hen House Fabrics quilt shop.  The woman who helped us was delightful and chatty.  The store was not large, but it had some wonderful fabrics, books, and supplies.  I purchased my fat quarter and a pattern for making a table runner.

The scenery changed when we entered New Hampshire.  The mountain chain became the White Mountains and the snow was not anywhere near the interstate although we could see plenty on the mountains.

From there we went to Woodcraft where I purchased two more carving tools, some carving bits, another piece of basswood, and a video.  Kevin was much more conservative and only purchased a book on wood finishes.  He will use the tools, but they are probably going to be used by me more often.

 Once we arrived in Freeport, Maine, it was dark so we found the hotel, ate a great pizza, walked around a bit and had some chocolate.  We saved the real touristy parts until Thursday.  Our first stop was L.L. Bean where we explored several different buildings full of all kinds of amazing "stuff'.  We made two purchases:  A fruit bowl with drainage holes and a sign that says exactly what this whole year is about.

We ate lunch at Linda Bean's Restaurant and Tavern.  Kevin had a lobster roll and corn chowder.  These are both "very Maine" in our memories.  I had a delicious chicken BLT.  Guess you probably figured out that we also had to stop for another piece of chocolate as well.  Then we went to the local quilt store.

The Cotton Weeds Quilt Shop in Freeport, ME, was surprisingly bigger than expected.  There were two floors and lots of HandiQuilter supplies.  There were also lots of punch needle designs and books.  So I splurged on one design that I will eventually do and have Kevin create a box to mount it on for a "cool" thread box. 

As I wrote earlier, we went exploring our old stomping grounds of Brunswick and Bath, ME.  We found one quilt shop in Bath, the Mariner's Compass Quilt Shop.  This shop had a great quantity of batiks and lots of other fabrics.   It also had an "escape" cat who tried very hard to get out the door with every customer.
After finding our old house and kind of checking out how much Brunswick had changed, we head back to Fairfax, taking the shorter more scenic route through the White Mountains and up by Mt. Washington.  There were lots of resorts along the way, but the evening was setting in so no photos of all the mountains.  Just memories for our minds.

Just before the light changed, we did discover another quilt shop.  The Calico Basket Quilt Shop is located in Windham, ME.  The woman that waited on us told us she was fond of South Dakota and the Black Hills.  The shop was located in a residential area, but it was easy access and fun to explore.
I have decided that because I really do like to make HSTs, I am going to make my travel quilt a scrappy light/dark pattern of HSTs.  The blocks will be 4 inches finished.  There will need to be lots of them and it is going to be scrappy, so I can sew as I go from here on out.  I plan to make the binding scrappy too, so I will cut two strips from each fat quarter to make it all belong together.  The fabric I purchased came from 4 shops this week, but I was having such a delightful time chatting with the woman at the Hen House Fabrics quilt store that I forgot to get one of her cards.  I also bought 2 fabrics at the Mariner's Compass simply because my mind was telling me I needed more light colors for my HSTs.  (My rules!  -  See sign above!)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28: Rainy, Icy, Slippery, Warmer for the Moment

Last night we fell asleep to the drip, drip, DROP, drip, DROP, drip, drip, DROP, DROP of rain and melting snow and ice.  The tin roof sure seemed to be more of drum than anything else. 

One more great present from our thoughtful children who know we came to Vermont to play.  We opened another Christmas game.  It was from Jon's family and is a party game for the Wii.  I could not seem find a good technique for throwing the bean bags, but I won the shuffle board game.  The photo shows a not so promising score, but in the end I was victorious!

My profile for this game is a sexy gray-haired little minx.  My weight loss must be going to my head.  lol

We took another snowy walk yesterday and wore our new "Vermonter" hats.  They actually say "Dakota Dan" which is pretty funny since I could totally see our friend Dan, in South Dakota, wearing one.  Never thought of myself as a hat-woman, but I do seem to be accumulating winter head coverings.  Maybe it is because I am more active?????

We went out for a movie, Ghost Protocol, and then when to the Texas Roadhouse for steak.  We over indulged and loved every morsel.  There was plenty of hand holding and sweet memories shared.  Love that kind of evening!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27: 36th Wedding Anniversary

We have been married for a very long time, but most days it seems that we are way too young to be have children let alone 5 grandkids and be middle age.  This year in Vermont has really brought out the kid in both of us. 
Asked Kevin if he would like to be married another 36 years, and he said it sounded like a good plan.  Doing the math makes it seem so distant - 36 + 58 = 94.  I would definitely be old then but probably still young at heart if I continue to hang out with this man.  He is my best friend, soul mate, my counterbalance, and the one person who has always been there for me no matter what. 
I know that I am a very lucky and blessed woman to have him in my life. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26: What We Did for Christmas

We went to our friends for Christmas Eve and ate far too much, laughed often, and had a great time.  We are blessed to have such caring friends who will open their home to all their family and friends.

 Then we enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Eve mass with lots of traditional music. Love going to Midnight Mass, but that was not an option this year.  When we came out of the church the sky was filled with twinkling stars and gave me pause to think about the awesome power of God.

Christmas morning found us sitting in front of the computer about 6:00 AM so that we could "open" gifts with some of our grandkids via Skype.  What a joyous time they were having.  Again, loved watching and hearing all the excitement from Dean, Bryson, and Anna.  Skyped a second time later in the day when things slowed down a little at their house.  Missed being in the thick of things, but loved being able to see what was happening!  Thank you to Jon and Aleah for inviting us!

We had a leisurely breakfast and then spent a couple of hours carving.  I excavated the area around a heart and Kevin practiced some of the lessons I had learned from Terri. After vacumming up the chips and sawdust, we went for a snowy walk on our park path.  Chilly but gorgeous!  Made a stop for 12 AA batteries, which we had not realized we needed.  Then headed home to play with our Christmas gifts.  We are actually very responsible adults, but we do love our fun.  Kevin got a blue helicopter and I got a red one.  Good thing the rotor blades and not metal, and floor has a cushy carpet!  The poinsettia plant is hoping that I learn to fly better very quickly!

We continue to expend our best wishes and prayers for everyone during this wonderful season of peace and goodwill.  Hope you all find ways to play and enjoy that special feeling of relaxing with those you love.

Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23: Another Day of Play

Kevin is on school vacation and was not working up at the school today, so we slept in, had as leisurely breakfast and headed to our walking trail so we could enjoy the fresh 2 inches of snow.  Not time for snowshoes, yet.  Thought I would share some of the photos including another self portrait. the photos that are less sharp were taken as the snow started up, again.


We pulled off the road and snapped this on of one of
the many rivers in Vermont.

We decided that we would go find an air pump to blow away the small bits of wood when the Dremel is being used.  Ended up being out for several additional hours which included lunch and finally picking up our truck.  Once we were back home I had a call from my good friend, Sharon which included many laughs and sharing.  Then we went to work to reorganized the carving table to accommodate the Dremel, air pump, and all the other bits and pieces we have accumulated.  Decided to wait until tomorrow to really fire up the carving juices.  We are just going to kick back and watch a Christmas movie or some sort.

Hope all of you have fun plans for the weekend.  No matter what your faith, I wish you blessings.  Merry Christmas to all, and peace on earth to people of good will!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

December 22: Quick Thoughts

Earlier in the day, yesterday, we made our first trip to Burlington. I is a 40+ minute drive drive that we don't usually do more than once a week, but I knew we could find exactly what I wanted.)  We went in search of a ceramic pie plate for my Brie appetizer.  Once that was accomplished, it was time for making  another attempt to snap a photo of the fish tails sculpture near the interstate...can't pull over to get a good shot, so I just keep trying.  Can't wait to try to capture the tails in the snow.  I do not even like to eat fish, but these tails fascinate me.

Also wanted to share the hat and scarf my daughter made for my Christmas gift.  She said she knew I probably did not want a skull cap so she made it a bit bigger.  Blue is my favorite color.  I love it, but I am wondering if it was a bit bigger on someone else because it is very "roomy" on my tiny head.  That does not mean that it is too big, but actually I think it is just right!!!!  Now if we can just get some real cold and snow to test it out.

December 22: Still Cutting

Kevin came home early yesterday, so we had a quick,early dinner and then went off on an adventure.  Therefore, I did not get much more piecing done until this morning.  Even that is behind because my husband is on school break and I love hanging out with him.  He is up at the school until late this evening doing some odd jobs and touching wood.  (Kind of the way that I get such a happy feeling when it is time to play with fabric.)

Last night's adventure started by going to the jewelry store to pick up a cameo pin.  Kevin purchased just the cameo 28 years ago when he was on a Mediterranean deployment.  He went on a tour of the DePaola Cameo Factory and watched the artist carving the cameos.  Although this is not the one he saw being carved, he said it was very similar.  Money was tight, so he thought it would be a simple thing to get cameo mounted as a pin in the future...28 years later, when we had my emerald ring restyled he talked to the jeweler and planned the design for the cameo.  Since it was already mine, it was not a Christmas gift, but with our 36th anniversary just days away, he thought this would be just the gift.  He is right!  It is gorgeous and will be worn on Christmas Eve. Isn't she a beautiful lady?

Just past the tails we detoured to Lowe's where we bought a Dremel.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have taken an interest in carving.  I have lots of hand tools, but have discovered that the Dremel helps to clear away or excavate all the unwanted wood (negative space).  Kevin is showing a lot of interest in the carving as well, and since he will not even be able to go to school and work in the shop next week, we are planning to carve.  This will be worth lots of post time.

Remember that I had posted that i did not sleep well yesterday?  I thought I would collapse when we got back, but instead I sewed more HSTs while Kevin did some paperwork.  I am going to finish trimming all of those HSTs now and start making table runners.  Love to do that kind of piecing!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21: Exhausted

If you read this morning's post you know that I was up way too early.  I actually slept less than 5 hours and that is not normal for me.  I felt great and accomplished my errands, and a few table runner bindings, but now I wish that I could nap.  I am not a good napper!

Guess that means I need to go and make more HSTs and put together the last of the table runners.  Fortunately, sewing is a great pick-me-up!  I will give you a count tomorrow.

December 21: Way To Early!!!

Even in this house, I consider 5:00 AM to be a little early for the computer, but I woke up with a full head of steam and decided to do something quiet so I don't wake Kevin.  I started by doing the hand stitching on a small table runner, and then remembered I actually had some photos for today's blog.

The first is a picture of one of my Christmas gifts.  For the last two evenings we have g-videoed with our daughter and her family and opened our gifts because they have other plans on Christmas.  Monday we watched as the kids opened our gifts.  Being the grandparents, and far away, we loved to watch all the fun that Zoe and Henry were having with the packing peanuts -- Jamie and Wayne did not seem to find it nearly as funny.  Last night we opened their gifts to us. Part of  Kevin's gift were a large package of deer jerky and chocolate - two of his FAVORITE things.  Jamie knitted me a scarf and hat in my favorite color - blue.  I also took a photo of me wearing my new monkey socks.  There was also some Grinch fabric that will be turned into something fun (Missed watching the show this year because everything is in storage.)

Please note the color changes in the bear version,  I think the
group colors are way off, but the others are fairly accurate.
Photos were all taken about the same time but in two different
rooms.  Oddly the green walls did not have a color-altering
effect, but the white walls did.  Go figure!

On the quilting side of my life, I finished the last of 4 comfort quilts that I will be donating to a group that works with patients that have cancer.  The pattern is "Spring Cheer".  The quilts are 45 x 45 and are meant to be small and easy to take everywhere, especially on treatment days.  There is something about a little warmth from a handmade quilt that has seemed to help my friends who have gone through treatments, but a bigger, bulkier quilt always seemed to present issues for transport.

"Spring Cheer" 45 x 45

I tried a suggestion I saw about using my circle Groovy Board
to make circles randomly all over the quilt.  It looks okay but is
something I need to work at for placement.

Another view of the circles.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

December 20: HSTs

I have been piecing half square triangles (HST) all day.  I am just about done using all the bias squares from my Twister quilt leftovers.  I added a cream with white stars to this batch, but actually had enough of the Christmas snow flakes to make a second table runner.   More table runners will be piecedfrom these  later today.  Quilting should begin tomorrow.  Love these quick projects.
 I love using HSTs.  Thought I would share the tool that makes them so easy to get right.  This my second Precision Trimmer 6" - someone else loved using my ruler, too, so I needed to replace the original that I gave away.  I do use Thangles at times, but this tool is so easy and less wasteful, so I generally opt of it.

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19: The Plan

After making a queen-size and a lap size Twister quilt with my Christmas fabrics, I had many, many 4 1/2 inch bias cut squares.  I was not willing to put them into my stash because I was not certain I would remember the bias part.  I plan to quilt them and attach the binding, but I will leave the hand sewing for later in the winter.  However it is time to deal with these bias squares, so.......... Therefore, today marks the beginning of using them up.  I am making Christmas table runners for next year.  I love using HST in a variety of ways, so I imagine I will make a few more with them.  It should be noted that all the orange is really a nice red, but did not photograph that way.  (Someday, I plan to figure out how to make the colors be true to what I am actually seeing.)  The binding for each runner is laying with it.  I plan to quilt all of them at one time, or maybe do two runs with two different fabrics for the backs.

Does it bather you that the striped fabric is not going the
same direction?  I did not notice until it was all together,
so it is staying this way.

This is my favorite.  I love the cream fabric with the snowflakes. 
Wish I had more, but I am NOT buying more Christmas fabric.
Still have squares, though, so I might cut up some other fabric.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18: Out for a Drive

Kevin and I decided to drive up to Smugglers' Notch and see what it looked like with snow, etc.  Problem was that the road was closed.  We got close but had to turn back to Stowe  probably because of the snow.  Still, we were able to drive to Stowe and took some pictures to share.  Not not much snow in Fairfax, but the slopes are open.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

November 17: Lost Thursday and Friday

Actually, I did not, but I was busy.  Decided that before we mailed the last two Christmas boxes I would whip up a quick texture/tactual quilt for my younger granddaughter, Anna.  Kevin and I had found the top fabric (yes, it was already pieced) at Joann's and thought it would do the trick.  Anna seems to love textures.  The binding is flannel backed satin.  I had never worked with it before, but it handled nicely and washed up fine.  This is not technically a Christmas gift, but she will get it Christmas day if her parents follow the directions on the mailing box.

In the next couple of days I will begin the quilt that will be made of all the fabrics she picked out plus the ones I added.  I liked working with the flannel back satin, so I bought some more for the binding on this upcoming quilt.

Thought you would like to see another shot of Rob's finished screens.  He got them finished just in time so no incomplete for him.  However, more to the point is that he did a good job and I heard some really positive feedback about his efforts from others at the school.

Kevin finished his last evaluations for the first semester on Thursday, which is good because the truck needed an emergency trip to see the dealer for service.  It was making some awful noises, but the power steering went out just as we turned into the dealer's lot.  Lucky for us.   Turns out we need two hoses.  One was in stock, but the other one won't be available until mid-week.  We were fortunate that the dealership had  loaner.  The price of this repair is about $250, so we were lucky with that, as well.

We left the dealership and dealt with a number of piddly errands, came home and did a little rearranging to fit the additional furniture built at school, quilted and attached binding to another small quilt, watched a movie, played cribbage(I won!), and worked on another binding.

I tried another quilting technique for today's small quilt.  I am not certain I love it, but after all the threads are tucked and the binding is stitched down I will share.  I used the circle groovy board and made different sizes of circles all over the top.  It was definitely a learning experience.  I will try something different with the board later, but I am going to have to think about what fits with my way of quilting.