Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Weather Outside Is Frightful!

I ventured outside for a little bit this evening - I already told you that I loved snow. Well, cold is another story altogether.

I've been ready for the snow with my new boots! I'm no wimp. My daughter said I look like I'm headed for the North Pole, LOL. It's cold here! 19 degrees and falling. Wind chill - 1 degree.

 Nobody's out but the two of us . . .

Our goal - can we make it down to the end of the block??

I lasted about 3 minutes. Brrr! I guess I am a wimp.

It's enough to make you run inside and hide under a nice warm table. Maybe someone will take pity on you and feed you . . . .

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let It Snow!

We're expecting more snow in the next few days. I am one of those people everyone loves to hate in the winter. I love love love snow. I don't even mind driving in it, I just slow down a lot. When we get even a little sprinkling of it, I feel my heart lift up. To me, there's nothing like waking up in the morning, looking out my window and seeing that the ground is covered with the glorious white stuff. True, my husband does the shoveling . . .

When I was a kid, I used to get a lot of colds and always had trouble with bronchitis in the winter and so my mother, bless her heart, would keep me inside when it snowed because she thought it would keep me from getting sick. I remember spending much of my childhood winters with my nose pressed against the window, watching the other children play outside while I nursed a cold. Over the years I guess I built up my immune system and so now I can go out and walk in it any time I like! Which is a good thing since I have dogs . . .

I'm not the only one who loves being out in the snow. . .

Or at least being out and then coming in  . . . and going out and coming in again, all day long.

I also love the cozy feeling of being inside, warm, when it's freezing outside. One of my sisters hates winter (actually all of them do, come to think of it) but I never see her wear a scarf, hat or gloves. And she never has boots on. Of course her feet get wet and she's always cold, duh. If you dress for it, it isn't so bad . . . honest.

I have a hard time Christmas shopping or even getting into the spirit until it snows. The area we live in is pretty  urban  but sometimes I take a longer, less-travelled route to get to the mall so I can feel like I'm out in the country a little bit. To me, Christmas would just not be Christmas without snow. I remember the year it was 60 degrees and balmy in the Chicago area - a very depressing Christmas for me! I should probably live in Minnesota or Maine. My husband doesn't think I'd make it past one winter but I'd  like to try. C'mon, it's not like Chicago is Florida and I'm spoiled by nice weather all the time.

Remember to make sure your feeders are filled!

It's also so much fun to stay inside and quilt in the winter when it gets too cold. (I said I loved SNOW, not the cold). This year I'm making some little gifts for people and if most of them did not read my blog, I'd show you. I have to keep the surprises surprising.

This fabric reminded me of poinsettias and will look cute paired with reds and greens, don't you think? I liked it so much, I bought it twice, at 2 different shops, on two separate days, without realizing it. That's pretty dumb, isn't it? Someone has too much fabric . . . But at least now I'll be sure to have enough, LOL. I need a good snow day to calm down and think about things.

I'm looking forward to the next snowfall. So please don't hate me for loving snow or call me that crazy lady if you see me out walking in it at night wearing my fuzzy mittens and sloppy snow boots while it's coming down, LOL. I'm just reliving the childhood fun I missed . . .

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

It's a Book, Finally!

Last week I got my advance copy of The Civil War Sewing Circle! I've been talking about it for almost a year and even though all of you must be so tired of hearing about it, I can't tell you how exciting it is to see it in REAL book format, finally. Yay!  Available at quilt shops on or around January 10.

After working so hard on a quilt pattern book -  designing the patterns, making the quilts, sketching the illustrations, researching, writing the text, you begin to lose a sense of how it will all turn out in the end. I had the title and idea stuck in my head since 2008, after I finished Remembering Adelia, but didn't actually begin working on it until July 2009. When you turn in the manuscript for a book, you wait for what seems like an endless time to see the finished product. Will the quilts look nice in the photos? Will the design be pleasing? Will all the effort and research I put into it be appreciated? Most importantly, will anybody like it well enough to buy it? Essentially all out of my hands.

I tried to make every quilt in the book inspiring in some way and that wasn't easy. I wanted the quilts to be simple enough for beginners to make and yet also give experienced quilters patterns that are, if not exactly challenging, at least interesting. Some designs got cut and others filled in at the last minute. Some I wish I had had more time to plan.

It's a lot of work on the author's end that needs to be completed in a relatively short time so that the publisher can put it all together and get it on a publishing schedule. But, all in all, I think most of you will like most of the quilts, if not all of them.  Heck, I rarely like every quilt in my books myself and after I'm done often wish I'd changed my mind about the fabric or the setting but there's never time to switch and substitute another right in the middle. Sometimes decisions have to be made quickly and there's no going back.

If you haven't heard, The  Civil War Sewing Circle contains patterns for 8 doll quilts, a few larger quilts and a couple of sewing accessories. And lots of old photos to entice you even more. Here's a little preview.

The flat shots of quilts in most books don't really give you a true idea of what the quilts really look like, in my opinion. This quilt, for instance, looks much nicer up close than it does in the photo, where you can't really see the lovely (and lively!) border fabric.

This is the Friendship Album signature quilt that contains blocks made by my SmallQuiltTalk yahoo group. So special to have signatures of many in the group. I love how it turned out.

Pretty  little hexagons!

I sort of hated this quilt after I made it - too dark, I thought - but now it's growing on me . . . and I think it's actually good. Again, the photo in the book does not do it justice.

It's fun to see the pages with old photos and text, excerpts from letters written during the Civil War.

After my last blog post on gifts for friends, here's a shameless plug - I would like to say that this would make another really great Christmas present for a special friend, but unfortunately, it won't be available until January. Darn! Ask your friends if they mind getting their gifts late . . . my friends are used to it, LOL. You can always pre-order a signed copy here and hope for the best and I'll get it out to you as soon as my books come in from the publisher. Better late than never. And possibly, just possibly, a teeny bit early.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Little Gifts

Christmas will be here before you know it. As you're rushing around this weekend, facing crowds, getting shopping done and taking advantage of sales - don't forget that the best gifts are often those we make ourselves. Make someone a little quilt (or a big one if  you have the time!).

I made this quilt for my friend Julia. We share the same birthday and I was in the hospital for the last birthday in September. After that, I became so involved with my recovery for such a  long time. But I still wanted to give her a little something I made.  She broke her wrist and her right arm has been in a cast for a long time so she hasn't been able to do any quilting at all. How awful would that be? It took me awhile with everything else I had to do but I finally finished it and gave it to her last week. She liked it (!) and even forgave me for giving it to her so late.

I think even a simple little doll quilt makes a great gift. Or should I say, for many of us, a simple little doll quilt ESPECIALLY makes a great gift. I'm still working on a copy of this antique doll quilt I started while I was recovering. This one may be going to someone else . . . Don't you love the muted colors? So easy too.

I'm a little behind with all this birthday stuff. I visited my friend Linda recently to celebrate OUR birthdays, which are two days apart, and had to show you this tiny quilt - made many years ago for her by her aunt. Even before I became a quilter, I fell in love with it, so cute and small. I had forgotten about it for a long time. This is so funny, because one of Julia's other gifts was this pendant, which I bought BEFORE I saw Linda's quilt. I wonder if I may have unconsciously been thinking of it and my upcoming visit when I bought the pendant? ("You think too much," my husband, Mr Practical,  says. "Maybe it is what it is.")

I will make this into a  small quilt someday, with repros and black background fabric - wouldn't that look cool?

You can see just how tiny the quilt is (on the wall, behind her).

Serendipity? I think so. I may be seeing Fan quilts everywhere I go now . . .  By the way, that movie - "Serendipity" - starring John Cuzak? One of my all-time schmaltzy favorites, I'm not embasrrassed to admit. A good, sentimental chick flick in the vein of "Sleepless in Seattle" if you're in the mood for something light and romantic. I like good films too, just so you know (and in case my son, a film buff,  reads this and shakes his head . . . "Oh Mom, c'mon." ).

If you don't have time for a quilt, you can always make a small quilt accessory. Like one of these "huswife" needle cases from Remembering Adelia. I even give them to non-quilters to use as credit card or gift card holders - just omit the felt flap. Lots of pockets.

They make good secret Santa gifts too.

Or try this small needle case from American Doll Quilts - the book is out of print, but is still available in a digital version, which you just download to your computer as a pdf file, now on sale  here  for only $5.50! This weekend only, Martingale & Co. has a sale on all of their books. Such a  deal. So make a friend happy - make her something!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

We're spending a rather quiet Thanksgiving today. One of my sisters will be here with the four of us but the others are spending it with their own kids and grandkids who are spread out all over. My son came home from college and it's so good to see him! Even if it means sharing the good TV and running out of food . . .

My daughter made a pumpkin pie - her tradition since she learned to bake years ago. I made my first attempt at a pecan pie - uh oh, I burned it a little. Oh well. I'm sure it will taste just fine served with ice cream to cover up the burnt parts. Martha, if you're reading this, forgive me, LOL. The creamed spinach turned out great.

I hope all of you in the U.S. have a wonderful holiday surrounded by family and loved ones. Don't forget to count your blessings. And that means being especially grateful for the crabby, cranky relatives too . . . There's a few in every family (not mine, of course) -  just don't let yourself be one of them!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Quilter's Gratitude

I used to keep a gratitude journal but that fell by the wayside a few years ago during a time when life just got too busy. I must have felt that I had been blessed enough and didn't need to write down my blessings anymore.

Nothing to be grateful for??

Thanksgiving week is always the week it comes up again and lately I have been reflecting on just how much I have to be grateful for. Loving family, good friends and health are at the top of the list and even though there have been so many stresses this year, there's still much to be thankful for, even when it sometimes seems like there's not. I'm grateful that my illness wasn't more serious than it was and that I was able to recover nicely.

Being grateful for material provisions may seem . . . materialistic . . . but I'm thankful nonetheless to have a house with a bed to sleep in, food on the table, surrounded by nice things and being able to help provide for our family in these uncertain economic times. 

I may not write in a gratitude journal, but I say a silent "Thank you" often during the day. Sometimes it's for the little things, like:  I finished another quilt without having to stop and thread the bobbin, which was almost empty  . . . The dog went out to pee a few minutes before the rain came and so we didn't get wet  . . . Even though traffic was heavy this morning and I was running late for my doctor's appointment, I found a great parking spot right near the door and I got in before it rained again  . . . Or, the grocery store was not one bit crowded last night while I shopped for Thanksgiving dinner food, I finished in 40 minutes flat, and they weren't out of cranberries or cornbread stuffing as in years past! It's the little things . . . .

I know being grateful can seem silly to some people, so "Oprah" if you know what I mean. I don't care. I'm grateful my daughter bought me this lovely journal awhile ago to help me remember to keep track. I'm going to use it.

So what else does this quilter have to be grateful for?

I couldn't quilt for a few weeks because it hurt to sit for too long - so I'm really grateful I now can be back at my machine if I don't overdo it. I'm grateful I took it in for a tuneup before I got sick.

I'm grateful for the automatic threader on my machine, every time I use it.

I'm grateful for all the tools we have to make quilting easier for us than it was for quilters long ago. Can you imagine cutting everything out with scissors and not having any choice but to piece everything by hand? It works for some people and some projects, but only when I choose. I can use modern technology if I wish.

I'm grateful for the abundance of fabric I can choose from to make colorful scrap quilts. Overflowing sometimes and almost never ending.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to have had four books published and that people actually want to buy the books I write and make the quilts I design! And even though I'm a Sentimental Quilter, I won't get too sentimental about it here . . .

I'm grateful that quilters are the nicest people you'll ever meet, much nicer than say, fiction book or movie critics, LOL. Also, some politicians and cable news anchors . . . . I definitely chose the right business to go into.

Look, they're all so nice - listening, enthralled, hanging on my every word. Except for that one lady - I suppose she was probably looking for her camera . . .
As we celebrate this season of gratitude, what are you grateful for in your life? Look around you, there's so much. Me? Today? Kids and puppies, as always. Even puppies with bad hair days.


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