Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Doh!

This is what we awoke to this morning...a decapitated Christmas tree!  It blew over a couple of times yesterday (it is the windy midwest, after all...), and I had my husband wire the tip top of the tree to the gazebo ceiling before we went to bed.

It was windy last night, and the top stayed, but the base blew sideways...WEIRD!!  This tree is my infamous indoor tree that failed a couple of weeks ago (remember me whining about it?!?).  I threw the base away (it was the most broken, with saggy branches).  We put more lights on the top and middle and put it outside in the gazebo.  I'm beginning to think this artificial tree is haunted!

On a related note, look at these FABULOUS cannibal gingerbread cookie ornaments I ordered from CrookedSister on Etsy...they are right up my twisted alley!  Happy Birthday to me! 
OK, OK, I'm not completely weird and twisted.  My nativity scene is pretty normal (when my daughter is not sneaking things into it...an outhouse ornament, the abominable snowman doll, Harry Potter
figurines...).

I still love to get Riley's Fisher Price nativity scene from her toddler years out.  Riley likes to arrange that one as well.  (I removed The Grinch, Buzz Lightyear, and the Freud and crazy cat lady figerines before taking the picture.  Apparently there were more guests than just the 3 Wise Men at the manger...who knew?!?)
They don't call me "terrible T" for nothin'!  But look at THESE fabulous T's.  Look at this beautiful quilt my BFF, Ola, made me for my birthday.  Yes...I am still pinching myself and mumbling, "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy..."
Apparently, spreading out a quilt or quilt project makes the same sound has shaking the kitty treat pouch.  Weasley just can't help himself.
I love how the T's tessellate, and they are all made from repro fabrics.  I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy...

This is my favorite bumblegum pink.  I'm pretty sure this was quilted my Rhonda Loy of Dexter, Michigan.
I am frantically trying to finish getting this string star hand quilted.  I think I will make it...I am almost there.  I went ahead and bound it so that I can finish it on the road, if I can keep Wee Willy Winkie awake long enough to take a shift driving, I just might do it.
Shamefully, it is a gift promised LAST Christmas.  Note to self: NEVER show an incomplete project to the future recipient...it removes all momentum from finishing it.

Fortunately, this Bargello quilt hangs in my living room all year, but it looks like I hung it up in preparation for Christmas.
I did manage to find one little unquilted place - right behind the front door - to hang this little vertical sampler banner.
I managed to get a second tree decorated on the piano (and I only had to do it once!!).  It contains our musical instrument ornament collection.
 I love those tiny little rice lights...
And I just had to show you one of my guilty little obsessions.  I just love old antique bobbins and spools.  I only buy them if they are cheap, and they bring such joy for some reason.
Guess what I am baking later today...
Good luck with all your last minute Christmas preparations!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Boxer Rebellion finish...

The big underwear reveal!  The hand quilting is done, it is bound, and it is time to take it to Steve's work place and hang it up.  Boxer Rebellion if finished!
I quilted a diagonal cross-hatch on the applique blocks and just followed my heart's desire on the other ones.
There are quilted hearts on the boxer shorts, which did not photograph well...
The stripe and plaid patterns in the poly/cotton blend boxer fabrics were really wonky to work with, so the stripes make the blocks look crooked and squirmy to me.  Oh well...part of the charm, I guess.  This next block was my favorite to quilt.
It's funny...I picked the pieced block patterns solely based on their funny names (in relationship with the subject matter...).  You know...Darting Birds, Hands All Around, Young Gentleman's Fancy, Grandma's Favorite, Jack-in-the-Box. Pride and Joy, etc.  Yuck-yuck-yuck!


(I can't believe I embroidered the word "butt"...my grandmother would be so proud...)   Oh, and then there's the whole issue of depicting my naked husband in cloth...with nipples, no less...
 I guess there is no longer anything sacred...



I quilted an irregular piano key pattern in the wonky border.  The stretch of the plaid makes my vision swim!  Some of those boxer shorts were so old, thin, and thread bear, I'm surprised the weave of the fabric  held together at all.
How about those abs...awesome, babe...
I will go to Steve's workplace in the next couple of days and install Boxer Rebellion in his desk suite...I hope he doesn't get ribbed too much from his fellow workers...there are a couple of quilters there - I know THEY will appreciate it.
Some of my favorite ornaments on my tree were either made by my daughter or were made by teachers or myself with Riley's pictures.  I love all the glitter on this Popsicle stick star.  Steve calls glitter "the herpes of the craft world."   Even after 8 years, the glitter on this puppy is the gift that keeps on giving.  Weasley has had a speck of it on his nose for over a week...he runs every time I try and remove it.


The peanut wrapped in foil was the first ornament Riley made at age 3...hilarious.  I'm not exactly sure what the humble peanut has to do with the Christmas story...maybe peanuts were served at the inn in Bethlehem??

I'm a little embarrassed over how stressed I got over my tree ordeal last week.  There are so many people worrying about REAL issues this Christmas, and I'm going on and on about my silly, saggy, scrappy, screwy, synthetic tree.  I felt very silly and humbled by that as I delivered gifts and food for the Giving Tree to the church today.  The mission team took on 29 local families this season.  The need is great in Michigan, as I know it is in many places this year.  We are grateful that there is still some sort of local social safety network, trying to gather and assist these otherwise undetected families.  It is painful to think that for every family identified, there are many more out there, too embarrassed to come forward and ask for help.
This ball ornament was fun to make...you roll the circle-shaped picture cut out a little to get it into the tiny hole at the top of the glass ball (did I say tiny?  let me reiterate, it was TINY!).  Then, using a chopstick, you stuff tinsel in behind the picture to flatten it uniformly against the inside of the ball.  Of course, you do this while trying NOT to break the fragile glass ball (I broke TWO while trying to make this ornament years ago - I was a crazed, drooling maniac with that chopstick).  Then you hide the edge of the entombed picture with a circular bead of glitter glue dots on the outside.  It was a lesson in patience for me...I only made one.
I'm so very grateful for teachers, Sunday school teachers, and parent volunteers for these ornaments sent home as Christmas gifts for parents from the students (and the time and patience it took to make them)!  They are such a treasure!  I remember Riley being so proud as she would place the stapled mystery brown lunch bag parcel under the tree.
My Ola angel ornament watches over the tree when I am not around...it's a wild collection of ornaments I've gathered over the years, and someone has to keep them in check.  I think of my tree, sometimes, as sort of a "Night at the Museum" or "Velveteen Rabbit" sort of affair.  When we are asleep, I like to imagine the ornaments coming to life and frolicking around the tree all night until we wake up in the morning.  This probably only happens in the portion of the night when Weasley is sleeping (either plastered on, or around, me).  If the cat had witnessed this conjured ornament orgy, the tree would be in shreds in the morning and there would be many ornament casualties littering the family room floor.  I remember making up this story with Riley when she was really small, and to this day we are careful about what ornaments go next to who when decorating the tree.
Last Sunday on my birthday, our church choir sang the Rutter "Magnificat" with orchestra.  All the hard work and rehearsals pay off...it was truly joyous.

I hope you are getting some time to sew mingled in with your last minute Christmas preparations!

In stitches,
Teresa   "o)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A small finish is better than no finish at all...

Finally!  A Christmas finish to share (never mind that it is only 4 inches square...but it is hand-appliqued and hand-quilted). I love the back fabric on this ornament...the Santas are perfect and they came from my stash, which makes it even better.  Any time I see good, "concentrated Santa" fabric, I pick up a little.
The idea and pattern came out of this book by Nancy Halvorsen.

I was also inspired by my friend Julie Hacala's beautiful Christmas tree to make this silly little ornament.  I was careful this last week to crack the breakfast eggs VERY CAREFULLY so I would have some nice egg shell halves to paint.  I used a high gloss red craft paint and yellow pom poms.  I wish I had used smaller beads for eyes, but this is what I had on hand.  Thanks for the inspiration, Julie!
 They aren't very Christmas-y, but they sure were fun to make!
I made these ornaments for our annual Sit & Stitch potluck and ornament exchange, which was held yesterday at The Quilting Season (thanks for the group picture, Ellen!).

 We had a smaller group than usual due to illness, etc., but those of us there had a fabulous time.
 Ellen, Beth, MaryLiz...
...Ursula, Margaret, Barb, Margit, Cheryl...
 ...Marilyn, Debby, Mary, Judy and Chris.
The pot luck food was awesome and the ornaments were all secretly stashed in identical plain brown bags in anticipation of us drawing numbers and playing our little selection game.
Lucky me!  I received a lovely reproduction log cabin ornament, made by Margit...
...and this cute Santa Claus, so cleverly made by Ellen.  I look forward to this ornament exchange all year, and I love putting up my tree and seeing all the handmade ornaments from years gone by.
Two or three posts ago, I showed this beautiful quilt made by my friend Mary Jones.
A few of you asked about the source of the pattern.  I dug around in the quilt cave (finally!) and found the right Nancy Halvorsen book..."Tidings."  Sorry for the delay in answering your questions.
The Christmas season seems a little "off" this year to me...anyone else experiencing the same thing?  We finally decorated our big indoor family tree last Sunday night.  After years of harvesting our own fresh tree, we bought an artificial tree last year.  It didn't seem right, but we suspect I have an allergy sensitivity to live trees.  This was the second year we struggled to put the 9-foot monstrosity together.  Finally, by 9:00 PM that Sunday night, the ornaments were on and everything all cleaned up so that we could just turn the lamps off and enjoy it.

Something didn't look quite right after about on hour. It looked like we didn't fluff the limbs enough or something. As I started fussing with things a little, I noticed a gap had developed between the middle and bottom tree sections.  Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the limbs had either broken or stretched the plastic that was supporting them.  I have a lot of ornaments on my tree, but they are mostly lightweight.  The plastic was almost stretchy...what a crappy tree!

Monday it was worse, and on Tuesday, I "undecorated" the tree to reveal this:




The lower, splayed branches were "pancaking" and sagging toward the floor.  We bought this tree because it wasn't very dense and could accommodate lots of ornaments, all through the tree.  So I drove to Plymouth to buy a NEW artificial tree...one with METAL HARDWARE and a WARRANTY.  I came home to a message on my phone that the store had loaded the wrong tree in my car and that I needed to come back for a swap.  I came home a second time, removed the rest of the ornaments, and kicked the old tree to the curb.  The old tree had LED lights that were too stark, the lights were only at the branch tips and they didn't have the charm of the older lights.  The new tree has more traditional lights and also has a slimmer profile, so it fits in our house better (still 9 feet tall!).  I ended up driving 140 miles to get the new tree, return home, get again and come home again, and I spent the rest of the day trimming the tree...again.  It's funny...now.




MUCH better!  I had never heard of a tree actually failing before.  The branch-looking things at the top are sprigs with leaves and red jingle bells...ho-ho-HO!

It just seems like everything is harder this Christmas...schedules are harder to pound out and coordinate, small tasks are taking a long time to accomplish, people are grumpier and some people are downright SNARKY!  I hope things get better for the last 2 weeks before Christmas.  When out in public, I'm trying to smile more, be more patient, open doors for people, put more money in the "red kettles," and try to "pay it forward" as much as possible.  I think the bad economy and uncertain times are affecting everybody.  I think we all need a big "group hug!"

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)