Traditions are great!  There is no time like the Christmas season to bring out the traditions.  Like many families we have our traditions.  Getting together with family, playing with cousins, and baking cookies are some of the traditions our family upholds over the holiday season.

Some of our traditions are long standing traditions that we enjoy year after year, while others are traditions that we have only just started, perhaps without even realizing it.  One such tradition is our annual Rocket Launch.  The boys and dad, although more recently Emma has been included, build a rocket and we launch it over Christmas Vacation.

We have our own make shift launch pad (C-B antenna and old license plate) and our ignitor (a rechargeable battery from one of the boy's remote control vehicles).  We head over to the soccer park on a day that has reasonably calm wind (or no wind) for the official launch.  The kids are always excited and this year was certainly no exception!  In fact, another tradition usually involves Emma becoming injured in one way or another.  Usually this is due to a rowdy brother. AH! Feel the love!

Once the rocket is set up the official countdown can begin. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, BLAST OFF!!

This year we launched a two stage rocket, something we have never done before.  Boy did that go HIGH.  For several second the rocket was lost in the cloudy sky.  We followed the rocket for at least 10 seconds as it descended through the troposphere.  As it got closer Mark took off to see if he could, get this, Catch IT!  HELLO? it is falling to the earth without a parachute, please don't impale yourself on the nose cone.  As I screamed at Mark let it hit the ground, I noticed that the rocket, despite our best efforts to launch on a calm day, was being blown into a stand of trees. Uh-Oh.

Yep, another tradition, the annual search the woods for the rocket.  Sadly this never ends well.  While living in South Carolina we have yet to recover a single rocket!  Ah.. nothing like a good tradition.


How do you spell....

If you have kids, one thing you will get from time to time is the question, "Mom, How do you spell...?"   And for a while those questions are easy.  Words that are not spelled as they sound are common questions.  As time goes on the spelling becomes more difficult. One day you find yourself saying, "I'm not sure. Let's look it up."  If you are a really bad speller from the beginning, like me, this may come sooner for you than for others.  Thank goodness for spell check!

This week Emma came to me with just such a question.  "Mom," she said, "How do you spell Aposta?"  Well, my immediate response was, "What?"  After I considered this I said, "Could you say it again?"  And "Could you use it in a sentence?"  because for the life of me I could not figure out what she was asking.

The boys just happened to be hanging around, looking for trouble, or food.  Mark replied, "A posta isn't that what you hang on the wall."  Jack chimed in "Yea, Its gansta for poster!  Spelled 'a-p-o-s-t-a'  You know, 'Yo, dawg.  I got this new aposta'" A few giggles, and laughs and one irate 5th grader later.  I shooed them out of the kitchen.

It wasn't until she said, "You know.  Like, I was aposta unload the dishwasher but I got distracted."  OH.  "Do you mean 'Supposed To'?" I inquired.  She thought for a minuted and said, "say it again."  So I did, to which she replied, "Yes, I think that is right."  So I spelled it.  I could here her mumbling the word to herself all afternoon.  She came back and asked at least twice more how it was pronounced.  Finally that night as we were getting ready for bed she said, "It's your fault I cannot pronounce words correctly!  If you wouldn't have made me move all over the USA.  I might be able to talk correctly."

My fault of course.



I have an e-reader, which I love.  I often browse through the free books, and every so often I download one.  Last week I stumbled upon a book called.  The Last Noel, by Michael Malone.  The reviews were positive, with many of the reviewers giving the book 5 stars.  I read the "warnings" stating that the book was an emotional story.  "Grab your Tissues and settle down for a great read," the reviewers warned.  Despite my tendency to avoid emotional tear jerking stories, I occasionally need a good cathartic cry.  It helps me remember all of the things I am thankful for,  all the love I have in my life and forget all of the negative things I tend to 'stew' on.  

The book did not disappoint.  The characters were memorable and real; I connected with them; I became connected to them and yes, I cried and cried.  My connection to these characters was so strong, I could not stop thinking about them.  This continued well past the conclusion of their story.  I laid awake one night thinking about them.  As tired as I was I could not let them go.  It was then I decided if I was going to be awake I might as well do something I like.

I stitched up this journal cover one of the nights I couldn't sleep.  I used my Go!Baby by Accuquilt, with my tumbling block die to cut out these cute shapes for this cover.  It was a quick hours work, where I sat and enjoyed Christmas music and was able to forget the sadness that plagued me.

After I finished the Journal cover, I finished up a soft baby book for a little cutie I know.  Then I fell exhausted into bed.  My reprieve lasted less than 6 hours when once awake the story of Kaye and Noni, continued to twirl around inside my head.  I was not surprised when the next night I was once again laying in bed unable to sleep.  I was up out of bed quicker and this time knew exactly what I planned to do.  Yes, another Journal cover.  This time I went with a South Carolina theme.  

These covers were quick and easy when following the pattern provided by Rachel at Stitched In Color. (you can find it here.) and a great distraction from a sleepless night.  The third night I fell exhausted into bed at 9 pm and slept blissfully for 12 hours!  I still though of Kaye and Noni periodically through out my week.  There story beautifully told will give you pause to think of all the gifts you have in your life, and perhaps even stimulate a creative streak! (perhaps even a journal cover or two.)


Too Much Holiday?

Over the past few weeks Emma has been a bundle of holiday excitement.  From putting up the Christmas decorations to wrapping present there hasn't been anything she won't tackle.  She has been a huge help with all of the decorating, even if a bit ADD.  Holiday decorating can be stressful for me so I was glad to have the help.  It was also incredibly frustrating.

That brings me to my question.  Is there such a thing as too much holiday spirit?  or am I just being a Scrooge?  

You see, along with the cheery, upbeat, sugar coated holiday excitement there has also been tears, sassy comments and Mornings up at 6:30am (every single day)  This would be fine if it was her norm, however,  Em does not do mornings.  We never say "Good" Morning to her because we have been informed that Mornings are never, ever Good. 

I guess like any other childhood 'stage' this too shall pass.  There may come a day, when she doesn't get excited about Christmas.


Squeezing-in some quilting time

I snuck in a little quilting time over the last few weeks.  I put this heart quilt on the frame over the week of Thanksgiving. I had a friend in town who wanted to see how my long-arm machine worked.  We did a little long arm quilting in between, catching up and visiting the sites around Columbia.  After she and her family left I finished up this heart quilt.  I started a swirled heart design for the border and then added feathers inside the strip blocks.  My feathers need some work but overall I was happy with how the quilt turned out.

The next quilt I put on the machine was this football quilt.  Believe it or not I was able to piece this quilt with only fabrics I had in my stash! I was in a rush to get this quilt out to it's recipient so I just quilted a basic meander.   Between running around with busy kids, and maintaining my status as super-mom I was super happy to get this quilt finished!


T-shirt quilt tear down

Recently, I was commissioned to make a t-shirt quilt.  Unlike the usual college, high school or sports t-shirt quilts this quilt was a Travel quilt.  A quilt full of t-shirts from places all over the world.  What a fantastic idea!

I have made many t-shirt quilts.  I am always surprised that very few of the people, I make quilts for, have any idea what they would like.  I usually get a comment something like, 'I don't care what it looks like.  I trust you."  or "You're the expert.  What ever you choose is fine."  This quilt was no exception. The only criteria I was given for this quilt was "we like the color blue."  I searched and searched for fabric, wanting something travel themed and something blue.  I finally settled on a Brown travel worded fabric and a blue tone on tone travel pictorial. I know they said they liked blue but the Brown was a nice contrast, and it did have blue words written on it.

My initial plan was to use the brown fabric for the front and the tone on tone for the backing and binding.  Once I had the t-shirts cut and fused I sashed them all together with the brown fabric.  I laid the quilt out over my long-arm machine and stood back to admire my work.  The only problem, I wasn't so sure it was pretty.  Now if I was making this for myself I probably would have left it.   However, since not one person in my house had a positive comment on the quilt, I knew I had to take drastic measures.

I laid out the quilt and sliced it apart.  GASP!   I know it was the first time I had taken a quilt apart quite like this.  It was the only way.  I knew I could not take the seam ripper to the t-shirt squares.  I have snagged t-shirts too many times to even consider this option.

I then went back to the drawing board.  I decided to leave the blocks framed by the  brown fabric and this time added a tone-on-tone fabric for the sashing.  (fortunately Just about this time a quilting companion of mine swooped in for a visit and helped me salvage this quilt).This time the quilt reviews were much, MUCH better.

The quilt heads out to the client today.  Hopefully their reviews will be one of Joy and Happiness!


Baby Quilt

One of the Teachers at the Elementary School is going to be a Grandma for the first time this February. She sent me an email a month ago and asked me if I would make her a quilt out of her son's old clothing.  She had saved 5 pieces of clothing, a cross stitch and a crib sheet for her someday grandchild.  She gave me the clothing and the crib sheet and said she wanted the clothing look like clothing.  Basically she didn't want me to cut up the clothing to the extent that it was unrecognizable.

Since the crib sheet was green gingham I added blue, yellow and red gingham to the quilt to tie it together with the baby clothes.

I took the pockets from the vest and the plaid jacket and turned them into corners for the exterior border.  I left the sleeper fronts snapped together when I cut them out and included the collars to make them look like sleepers.  (let me tell you it is not easy to quilt around a collar!)

For the final touch I created a bow tie, the original having been lost, to finish off the Easter outfit.  How precious!  This is going to be one lucky grand-baby.  Now she just has to Wait.


Just Hangin'

This weekend everyone had long term projects they were working on.  M had the typical high school assignments papers, tests and quizzes.  J had a spanish assignment and E had a power point for English.  Therefore I felt absolutely no guilt at working on a couple of my long-term projects (aka. UFO's).  
It was a wonderful feeling to be back sewing and working with fabric.  Being sick this fall I haven't had much opportunity to work on quilting at all.  Truthfully I haven't felt like it.  At one point  I contemplated selling all of my quilting things!  Now that is sick!

I finished up this Star blossom from my summer foray into paper piecing.   It was a quick finish with almost immediate results! John and I just had to staple the finished project onto a canvas.

This was my second finish.  I have been working on this since February!  Well, not continuously.  I bound the quilt, sewed on my rod pocket AND hung it! (talk about an accomplishment).


Dog Bed Sewing.

Our Dog, Ginger has an attitude.  She doesn't like other dogs, or men.  She loves to chase and play with small animals, such as cats, squirrels, voles and rabbits.  She loves children and tolerates them well.  Basically she rules the roost, at least she thinks she does.  Last week I walked into my bedroom and found her lounging on my BED!  We have never ever allowed her to sleep with us.  She has a crate which she sleeps in at night.  She likes to take naps under our bed, or next to my side of the bed.  Not only did I find her on the bed but her long nails had snagged the  bed spread!  UGH!

I have several "practice quilts"  that I have laying around.  My definition of 'practice  quilts"-- a quilt I made with scraps, that is quilted with less than beautiful stitching, that is unbound.  I never know what to do with them.  They are not pretty, are usually and odd shape or size and the stitching is well, "just practice."  I had and idea swimming around in my brain.  I took some measurements and decided it just might  work.  I'll make a new dog bed for Ginger, perhaps then she will not need to sleep on  my bed.

I started with this quit that measured 32X64.  I squared it up, folded it in half and installed a heavy duty 22 inch plastic zipper along the long side.  Once the zipper was installed I sewed up the two remaining sides.  I measured and boxed the corners, and added a piece of 2 inch foam.

and TA-DA  Instant dog bed,  just add dog, wait and enjoy!

***For those of you wondering the bed frame does say "Rosie"  M and I made this when Rosie was alive and M was 9!  WoW!  Now it has a brand new look****


welcome to the 60's

Let me just Clue you in. I have been doing a bit of sewing lately.  However, not much of it has to do with quilting. Don't worry I have got it together. After having "the time of her life" sitting through the Hairspray production, Emma has decided to don her own "Hairspray" themed costume this Halloween.  But first, I needed a pattern.
I chose this Burda jumper pattern because of its drop waist and front pleat.  I went with this over the top polyester floral, which I must say it is Groovy!

Emma has been dancing around the house belting out tunes from the Hairspray soundtrack for the last week.    I'll just Lay it on you, Jack is about to Loose his Cool. I am afraid if she doesn't lay off, we might just have a rumble.

We picked up a belt and those "Hip" boots up at Justice.  Sure they are not exactly "go-go"boots but at least she can still wear them after this all goes down.

So let so, go, go of the past now
Say hello to the love in your heart
Yes, 1 know that the world's spinning fast now
You gotta get yourself a brand new start
Hey Mama, welcome to the 60's


halloween treats

With Halloween just a few days away I couldn't resist whipping up a batch of yummy goodness. (drool).  Carmel Apples!

I stuck, mostly with the recipe on the back of the Carmel bag, through in a had full of candy corn for extra bright orange color. (you know you cannot get that color in naturally).  I melted the Carmel and the candy corn in the microwave.  How simple?!  I could have made plain old Carmel apples, but with all of those yummy gourmet apples out there I couldn't resist adding MORE!  I chopped up some Oreos,  M&M's and melted some chocolate.

 Talk about 900 calories of sweetness.  OH!  it was soooooo good. I made enough that each child could have two, one M&M and one Oreo.

The problem I encountered is going to sound so bizarre.  Yesterday it was HOT,  81 degrees here.  We have had the air off for a couple of weeks enjoying the cooler temps.  Well, when the temperature outside rises, so apparently does the temp on the inside. (who knew? heehee:)  The temperature got hot enough that it remelted the Carmel.  OH, NO!  OH, YES!  Now we have 3 apples sitting in a pile of Carmel, Oreos and chocolate.  Somehow I don't think that will stop the kiddo's from chowing down after school.


Quilting patterns

It dawned on me about 2 weeks ago that I had quilted in several months! Granted I had been using my new Handstitched skills to 'quilt' but I had not used my long-arm machine.  The layer of dust covering the machine was my first clue.  The second clue was the layer of things, most of which did not belong to me, that had built up on my quilting table.  Why must every flat surface announce "Please drop everything on me!" Ultimately, I took down my color wheel quilt, loaded it on the machine and got to work.

You might remember this quilt from the Curves Class I took back in February.  (really, was it that long ago?)  sigh.  I had the quilt top finished, the backing cut and even a piece of batting ready to go.  Then the poor thing hung on my "to be Quilted" rack for months.

Such an extended period of time has elapsed that I can't even tell you what got in my way.  Life.  I guess.

Bound and determined to get this baby quilted and hung up on the wall I went to work.  I quilted the background in three colors of gray, ranging from light to dark on the corresponding light, medium and dark areas of the background.  I divided the background area up into wedges by simply extending the wedges from the color blocks.  Within each wedge area I quilted wavy lines, alternating between horizontal and vertical.

Within the center of the quilt I used the pebbles quilting design.  Then I got a little crazy.  I tried something new.  I used my long-arm machine to baste the color wheel.  (gasp!) I then took the quilt off of the machine and starting using my table top sewing machine to quilt the individual color wedges.  (totally out of Control!)

I have 4 wedges quilted with different straight line designs.  Now, what I cannot decide is should I repeat the designs I have or try to make a new design for each wedge?  Or should I only quilt every other wedge.  I have to admit I am leaning towards this idea because it means less quilting time but also because it gives the quilt depth bringing some wedges forward and pulling others back with the dense quilting.

When I am finished I hope to hang the quilt on this wall. This series of wooden wall art has been "hanging around" our house longer than I can remember.  Truthfully I am tired of looking at it.  That and tired of straightening the four individual pieces every time I walk by.


Adding a little color

Emma and I had a girls day Saturday.  The boys were busy winterizing the boat.  (sniff) yes it is sad.  Autumn inspired us to change our colors a little bit.

Emma and I got pink streaks in our hair!


and that's the end of round 3

I finished up these little beauties 2 weeks ago.  I cannot believe it has taken so long to post!  These dogwood blossom appliqu├ęd blocks are part of the 3rd round of my Modern Medallion Quilt. (Yes, I am still working on that quilt.)  It has been the biggest Handstitched project to date.

These dogwood blossoms were fused onto the background fabric.  I used a blanket stitch to applique the flowers to the background, as well as adding a decorative flair to the edging.

And here they are added to the third border.  The next round should go quickly. (HA!  That is a relative term around here.) When I actually get to it, it will go quickly.  Solid grey or green will surround the quilt in the 4th round.  It will make a beautiful setting for the hand quilting!