At a recent JoAnn's sale I picked up two long arm quilting books.

Mindful Meandering by Laura Lee Fritz
Quilting Inside The Lines by Pam Clarke
Obviously I had to try out my new techniques.  Fortunately for me I never seem to have a shortage of quilts to practice on thanks to quilting family and friends.

This quilt was done out of Theater t-shirts my sister had kept.  Mom made them into a quilt when she came for a visit this time.  I quilted musical notes, bass and treble clefs in a sheet music pattern all over.  This turned out well, but I really need to study more of Jack's sheet music prior to my next attempt.
This is a ready made quilt panel I purchased of the bolt at Hobby Lobby.  They had several designs in both boy and girl patterns.  I love that they are flannel, chenille, and terry cloth.  So soft!  I quilted a leaf pattern around the border.  For the body of the quilt I used a meandering Banana Leaf pattern that turned out Fabulous!

I am sure you all recognize this quilt top.  Thanks to a friend and die hard OSU fan,  I have quilted about 12 of these this year!  This one is for Mark!  I have had this for about 6 months and now I am finally quilting it!  Only another 6 months and it should be bound!  (Yeah, yeah, the shoemakers kids don't have shoes either.)  This was fun to quilt.    I used a different pattern for every border and and fabric in the quilt.  Lots of practice here.  I didn't change thread color, which I usually do but I am happy with the results.  Most importantly, Mark is too.
I also quilted this solder quilt, which mom graciously offered to assemble for me.  I just did a basic loop meandering.  I was experimenting with polyester batting, which I rarely use and wasn't sure how that was going to work out.  It is a little "puffier" due to the high loft of the batting but I was surprised the polyester worked out well.


Golf in El Paso

It seems that this year is the year for golf in the
Hoog house.  The boys took golf lessons over the summer, which lead to Emma's request for her own set of clubs.  Thanks to Grammy Emma's wish was fulfilled this Christmas.   Mark received new clubs for his birthday.  And now it appears everyone is outfitted with a new set of clubs.  Daddy has been bombarded with requests to go golfing for weeks, therefore this past weekend we made a trip to the driving range.  Now, it a city that is built in the desert you wouldn't think golf would be that popular, and you would be correct.  Even so, we were able to find one and indulge our kids requests.  The driving range is far from what one would consider a driving range in the Midwest.  Basically what it consisted of was a trailer for the office, a patch of over-watered muddy grass, and a ground water collection ditch (very high end). As you will see in the pictures, the kids and all of those at the "driving range", set their tees up on the edge of the culvert and proceeded to hit their balls into the cement ditch.  Sound appealing?  The other interesting feature the driving range had was the markers it used for judging distances.  Most driving ranges have flags or posts to mark the distances.  Well according to the wipe-off board in at the trailer the patch of AstroTurf was 150 yards, the red metal snow plow blade was 100 and the broken down truck was 137 yards.  Always an adventure here.

Needless to say the kids had fun, and we were able to escape without anyone getting hit with a club or ball.  An all-around good day.


All Boys

Sunday Jack had a piano recital.  Funny how kids think of things.  Jack says he is not nervous about playing in front of an audience because no one knows what it is supposed to sound like.  However, when he went to the Texas Student Affiliation Concert where he had to play alone in front of a Judge, then he was nervous.  This weekends recital was a Boys only recital.  It was very encouraging for Jack to see the large number of older boys who enjoy the piano as much as he does.  And what talent they had!  Jack played a piece called The Juggler with a few modifications in octaves higher and lower.  He enjoyed the piece and was pleased that Nonna even new the words!  He said, "Nonna said it is a really old song they used to play when she was a kid.  How old is Nonna anyway?"  All went well, for Jack.  Mom, however was not so lucky.  The family was less than pleased when we all got ready and showed up at the Church a day early!  Jack even exclaimed, "Awe man, you mean I brushed my teeth for nothing!"  Next concert I check the date (and Jack's teeth) before we leave.
Jack with Ms. Booth and fellow students.


Creativity Abounds!

This weekend everyone seemed busy doing projects.  I knitted and quilted away while assisting with various projects the kids had going on.  Here are some of our results.
Mark finally finished his market bag.  He started over Christmas break and then would work on it from time to time.  After his part was done it was up to mom to sew up the bottom and knit the handle.  Now we have a spiffy new bag to help save the environment.
Jack, as always, was knee deep in Legos.  While I'll admit he doesn't really appreciate my design advice, I do come in handy when looking for parts he needs.  Here are two of the vehicles he built this past weekend. The Dragster being from a Lego pattern and the Tank a "Jack Original" complete with missile hatch.
Emma decided to paint this weekend.  Here is her picture entitled "Falling Sky"


As promised here are pictures of the MSU quilt I made for friends of ours.
Awesome embroidery done by Mary!


Murphy's Law

Our dog Ginger is a woman after my own heart.  She loves SHOES.  Not to wear obviously, but she picks out shoes and hides them.  Sometimes I think she is thinking,"Oh, I love these, now they will never find them."  
Mom, came in last week and is currently set up in our downstairs bedroom. Thursday, Ginger discovered her shoes.  While, I don't mind so much if my shoes are scattered around, and perhaps decorated with a little dog slobber, it is really not something everyone enjoys.  Mom, and I set to work and gathered her shoes to find a NEW hiding place, where hopefully Ginger couldn't find them.  Unfortunately for myself, Ginger is much faster than me.  She was sneaking into the room and taking off with the shoes at a rate much faster than Mom and I could retrieve them, and hide them from her.  On one such attempt at sneaking out of the room with a rather attractive pair of boots, I stuck my leg out to try and block her from exiting.  I rammed my toe into the door jam.  Well, anyone who has stubbed their toe can certainly sympathize.  I hobbled after ginger, retrieved the shoe, helped mom finish hiding the shoes and then we moved on to quilting.  After about 15 minutes I noticed the bottom of my sock was wet.  In mid sentence I stopped, sat down, talking all the while and took off my sock.  BOY-OH-BOY!  It was then when I looked at the toe in question, noticed the wet sock was actually blood not water, that the pain finally set in.  I had blood on my newly knitted socks!   The socks were not actually my only source of pain.  My big toenail was hanging on by a cuticle, really.  My plans for the day were scrapped as I decided where I would go to receive medical treatment.   Just when things are going smoothly....
Now, I have a rather large swollen toe, covered with  an equally large bandage.  The Urgent Care Dr. said it could take 6 months to a year to grow the toenail back or on the other hand, it may not grow back at all.  Lovely.  Comically, now the only shoes I can fit my sore and bandaged toe into is a love pair of Adidas flip-flops.

If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.--Murphy's Law



I have a good friend who sent me several skeins of yarn, in Gryffindor colors, to complement my new Harry Potter Knitting book, Charmed Knits.  I had been eyeing the Hermione hat and mittens set and knew instantly that is what I would make with one of the skeins of yarn.  My downfall was that I had no idea how much yarn was left on the skein.  When I finished the first mitten with the end of the skein you can imagine my sorrow.  Here are the lonely hat and lone mitten.  See how sad the look, because they are incomplete without their mate.
Now, I could go out and buy a new skein since there is no dye lot of this brand and color.  But, what is the point of having lots of knitting friends if not to share from each others stash.  I am begging and pleading if anyone has in their stash a yarn from TLC ESSENTIALS by Red Heart in claret that I could have and use to complete my mittens I would forever be grateful. Please let me know by post, email, or owl.  Thanks a million.


Many different squares

This year I have taken over the Block Of The Month (BOM) office in my quilting guild.  Basically this involves creating a quilt using 12 blocks of my choice.  Each month I print out the directions to that "block of the month", choose colors and make up the block to show what the next months block will be.  I chose 12 blocks with pinwheels in the center, calling the quilt Pinwheel Pandaemonium
(not the greatest picture but you get the idea)
This month I choose a very simple patter with scrappy fabric, hoping to make it easier on everyone, due to the chaos of Christmas and the new year.  Those who wish to make the block bring their block in and we raffle off the blocks to one person.  Here January's block

We had a good turn out with about 50% of the members making blocks.
February's block looks like this..

This past meeting we had to make a Presidents block.  We all make 6"X6" blocks in the colors of her choosing and give them to the outgoing president as a gift for her hard work.  She chose jewel tones with some type of 3 dimensional touch.  Many people made crazy quilt blocks. I found this link for a dimensional cathedral window quilt block on you tube and had a great time making it.

Happy Birthday Mark!

Happy 12th Birthday Mark!
(Don't they grow up fast!)


Christmas Vacation

Now, that the kids are back in school I finally have time again to blog.  Here are a few pictures of the things they did to keep themselves busy over break (when they weren't painting)
Emma Painting a beautiful picture of a rainbow with her new easel and paints.

Mark checking out birds with his new digital binoculars.

Jack, doing what he loves most, battling Pokemon.

Jack's Bike

After much deliberation and painstaking decisions Jack has finally picked out his new bike!
to all who contributed to the Birthday Bike Fund!


The Epiphany

This Sunday was the celebration of the Epiphany, although the actual day is January 6th, today. For those of you who may not be aware, the Epiphany celebrates the arrival of The Three Kings.  In many Latin American cultures this is a day for celebration and one of the days where gifts are given.  It is celebrated with Rosca de Reyes  a traditional wreath-shaped bread and chocolate caliente (hot chocolate) and tamales.  Hidden inside the rosca are several small figurines of Baby Jesus.  Each person cuts a slice of the rosca and whoever gets the bay figurine has to invite everyone to a party on February 2nd, Candelaria Day.  We celebrated Rosca de reyes last year with friends and the kids throughly enjoyed it, of course Emma still carries her Baby around in her purse for good luck. Father presented this scenario and the rebuttal to us during the homily.  I got a chuckle out of it and thought I'd share.  

What if 3 Wise Men were Women?

What would have happened if it had been three Wise Women instead of three Wise Men? 
They would have asked directions, 
arrived on time, 
helped deliver the baby, 
cleaned the stable, 
made a casserole, 
and brought practical gifts. 

But what they would have said when they left...? 
"Did you see the sandals Mary was wearing with that gown?" 
"That baby doesn't look anything like Joseph!" 
"Can you believe that they let all of those disgusting animals in the house?" 
"I heard that Joseph isn't even working right now!" 
"And that donkey that they are riding has seen better days too!" 
"God only knows how long it will take until you get your casserole dish back?"


A Beautiful way to start the New Year

We spent New Years Eve with our neighbors and their 2 kids.  The kids played the wii and assorted make-believe games, while the adults played spades.  Believe it or not everyone was able to stay awake until midnight.  It was touch and go there for a while.  Well after 2 mojitos and a glass of wine I was so sleepy!  The kids and adults had a blast!  All were sufficiently worn out.  (Although not enough because they were all up by 7:30.)

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day!  The sky was clear and blue with not a cloud present.  It was hot but, there was a breeze just light enough to keep you comfortable.  It was so pleasant I was able to forget that the sun could be so strong here and we all ended up getting a slight sunburn!  Even as I write this at 10 pm it is still 62 outside.  What a way to start the New Year!

We have been very fortunate that the weather has cooperated with our painting.  Today we were able to finish the front of the house (with the exception of the garage doors).  We moved on to one side and almost finished it.  Unfortunately the days are short and we ran out of daylight.  There is always tomorrow. 

The kids have been real troopers keeping themselves occupied while we painted away.  Even Ginger was content to lie in the shade and chew on her bone.  Other than paint we had our evening family walk in which we played follow the leader and ran relays and sprints.  A little unorthodox but it keeps them from whining.  Tomorrows agenda holds more of the same...Paint.