Monday, January 27, 2014

Quilting and Celebrations

This weekend seemed to be about quilts one way or another. We spent Saturday at our favorite quilt show, "Road to California" in Ontario, CA. There is always so much to take in and study. My ever supportive hubby went with me/ We have learned from our many trips to Disneyland (yes, this is a tangent - but stick with me) that the first hour is quiet, easy to get photos or go on rides. Dear hubby applied that lesson to our day at the show. We arrived early, were one of the first into the show area, and had many of the quilts to ourselves. Makes it so much nicer when you can actually spend time looking at details and handy work.

First up, another beautiful painted and stitched piece from one of my favorite artists and teachers, Patt Blair. I love studying her stitching on her quilts. They add so much of the detail.

We kept coming back to the dragon and his foe. He was quite beautiful. Her details were incredible.

This was one of the first quilts you would see as you came in the door. It was a big winner. The color and quilting technique was amazing. But this is not the side that you see first.

This was the first sight you were greeted with. The back of the quilt, which show cased amazing quilting, beading and crystal work.

I don't remember how many times we came back to study something about this quilt but it was quite a few. Every time we would find something else to oooh and ahhhh. My favorite is the variation on a Migrating Geese Border. I really have to figure out this one.

The show entries and even the vendor booths were inspiring. I came home excited to get back into my sewing room. I have finally convinced myself I need to bite the bullet and just start stitching my Sea Dragon I created in Patt's class.

Today, we celebrated  a first birthday with friends and family. Miss BL received a hanging height chart from me. Yes, I did cheat a bit by buying an adorable panel, layering it, quilting, and adding a bit to hang from.

I hope you all have something fun to celebrate this week. Find inspiration to create something.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book of Notes and Christmas Tea

Over the past two years I have been following the lovely Danni, and her blog "oh, hello friend: you are loved." One of her posts talked about creating a "Book of Notes." I found them intriguing, but I could never find much info on what these actually are. Then last year Danni and her husband opened a shop near me. It is a wonderful place, full of all sorts of goodies, many of which could be used in letter writing.

Opening Day, Oh Hello Friend. This is Danni welcoming her first visitors.

Danni recently started offering classes at her shop. So, naturally I signed up for the Book of Notes class. Danni is a wonderful, generous teacher. She is quick to help and praise those of us a bit unsure of what we are doing.
So on to a Book of Notes. All of my Book of Notes have started with 2 sheets of white card stock (8.5" x 11") folded in half, making two 5.5" x 8.5"halves. The two full sheets were stitched down the middle with a jeans needle on my sewing machine. Then to begin adding contents. The photos I show you next are photos of the Book of Notes I made in Danni's class.

Each page had various types of stationary, tags, stickers, gifts, and washi tape added.
Pages 1 and 2, with tag notes, a heart shaped sparkler, and a fun little note capsule.

Note capsule in glassine envelope. The plastic capsule has a very small note rolled up and tucked inside.

Small note card inside an envelope.

Page 3 and 4, more notes, cards, letters, and fun.

Pages 5 and 6, A few more notes, a greeting card, and a Fortune Telling Fish, for fun. That is me in the picture, holding the sparkler I sent my friend.

Envelope, ready to send.
After my friend received I learned a valuable lesson. When sending a Book of Notes, especially those with items like sparklers, capsules, and lollipops use a bubble wrap envelope. She opened the envelope to find powdered sparkler and crushed capsule and candy. Oh well, she still enjoyed it. I loved making this one so much, I had to make more. I made six more for Christmas. These Book of Notes were for 5 of my closest high school friends, and myself. We have known each other 35+ years.

But the notes were only part of the fun this time around. I have really wanted to get everyone back together, but we live in 3 different states. Only one of us is still in our hometown. I have had fun writing letters to each of these wonderful ladies for many years. I took an idea I had read about at Letter Matters, a "Virtual Tea," and made it work for us, but not all of us had stayed in touch in the same way. I wanted this whole idea to be a bit of a surprise, so I started by sending a private message to each friend asking if they could be available online on the specified date, no questions asked. Each answered yes, so the plan was set in motion. I created the Book of Notes with a group letter, explaining my idea, along with the invitation.

The rest of the pages were pictures of the group, and individual shots that represented various memories, such as weddings... Each Book of Notes also contained a personal note from me to the recipient.

Each Book of Notes was placed in a box, with a fun Alice in Wonderland tea cup and saucer, cookies, sweets, and several types of tea, hot chocolate, and coffee.

I made cloth napkins to make the set up even more special. The Book of Notes was laid in a place of honor, on top of all the goodies, packed up, and shipping them off. I had a great deal of fun creating this whole thing and kept my fingers crossed, that my friends would also enjoy my idea. You see, I added to the original idea I had read about, an online discussion with all the gang. As the boxes arrived I received all sorts of happy remarks. And a request for a second cup set so that a daughter did not steal my friend's cup. The night of our virtual tea, we all met up online, with our tea and treats.
My tea that night included Trader Joe's Decaf Candy Cane Green Tea, and a variety of Christmas Cookies.

We typed away, chatting over one another, just like old times. 2 + hours later, those farthest east had to call it a night, and we slowly logged off, with the promise to do it again soon. We are talking about doing a Skype this time. I am so glad I read Mrs. Duffy's post about the long distance tea. It was a well received Christmas gift that we all will remember for a long time. Consider "having" tea with someone soon. If you can't afford sending the cups and goodies, add a tea bag or two to a letter to someone special. That way they can enjoy a nice cuppa "with you" while reading your letter.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Resolutions, Goals, To Do lists?

It is the second week in January, do you know where your Resolutions are? Mine are still in my head. I haven't really finalized my goals for the year. Of course the usual suspects of weight, exercise, eating well are all on the list. Keeping up on projects and housework are also on the list. I want to FINISH things this year.

First, I have pulled out my FLYLADY info to get me going on the housework end of things. Do you know about It is a wonderful place to learn simple, straight forward habits to keep clutter tamed and your house together. I had been using her Zones and daily tasks. The last year or so I became more lax and needed a tune up on my personal lists and tasks. I pulled down her suggestions and tweaked them to fit my house, family, activities, and schedules. I then typed them, printed them and mounted each Zone and daily list on scrapbook paper. This was mounted to thin card stock and all of it was laminated. I bound the pages into two booklets, one for the Zones (weekly focus), and the other basic daily/weekly tasks. Since it is all laminated, I can use a dry erase or visa vi pen to check things off, cleaning them with a damp paper towel at the end of the week. I am hanging them on the refrigerator for easy access and constant visibility. Zone lists.

Daily Checklists.

As you can see in the Daily list, I actually added a chunk of time for one of my many hobbies. I am hoping if I dedicate a specific time each week to various interests, I might actually get something done. Check out There are many wonderful ideas and helpful hints to help you get your life uncluttered.

I also finished two placements I promised a friend.  These were an unfinished project or UFO, floating around my sewing room.

One project checked off the list but several dozen more to go.

I can't very well leave this post with just boring old goal setting, house cleaning tips and unfinished projects. I had a kick yesterday at a "Fan Event" for the upcoming STARZ original series, "Outlander." This series is based on the book series by the same name, by Diana Gabaldon. This is one of my all-time favorite sets of books. It has a little something for everyone, mystery, intrigue, time travel, romance, and history. Oh, and a really hunky hero, Jamie.

Yesterday, Diana, Ron Moore (producer), Caitriona Balfe (Claire Randall), Sam Heughan (Jamie Fraser) held a gathering and tea for fans of the books. I traveled to Los Angeles with two coworkers. We were joined by a red headed, kilt wearing chauffer, my husband Dennis. We had a wonderful time hearing about how filming is going, how they first heard of the books, and even a few little tidbits of the first season.


Ron, Diana, Caitriona, Sam

The spread for Tea.

If reading more is on your goals for the year, may I suggest Outlander, and the rest of the series. As for the other things on your lists, I hope you accomplish all you set your mind to this year.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Long Time, No See, No Post, No Share, ...

It has been quite awhile since I posted. I could do the usual apology and excuses. But I think I will just say life got in the way, and then the habit of posting was broken. I had a nice break from the push to finish a project to share with you, but I miss having a place to share what I am up to. Since I had time to consider what I would do next on this blog, I thought I would share some of my thoughts.
  • Create a focus for various days of the week - Teaching Tuesday, Mail Monday...but this seemed a bit too much for me. I would be putting the stress of several post deadlines a week back into my life, not good.
  • Create one focus for the blog in general -  A Teaching Blog, A Cricut/Paper Craft Blog..., but that isn't really a reflection of who I am. For instance, if I just blogged about Quilting, I would post more between September and March than any other time of year. I seem to get into bigger stitching projects during those months, than any other time of year. I would end up with a blog that sits dormant half the year. - just like it did this year.
  • Create a specific day of the week to post, regardless of the topic I am posting.
After all of my deliberating I think Option C is the best. One day a week can be doable. If I get back into the groove then I can always add to the number of dates.
It is a New Year, so I will make this my Resolution for 2014, post each Monday. I hope that you will help keep me accountable to this resolution.
Ok, that is off my chest, now I can actually share something with you. My best friend's daughter's cheer team had a craft fair in November. I volunteered to have a table of quilted items. I had several lunch bags already made, and fabric cut for a dozen more. That was my "product." After coming home each night to sew for several hours, I had about 15 bags, plus a dozen pillow cases, larger totes and a bunch of lunch bag napkins.
My table at the OVHS Cheer Craft Fair.

I only sold a few things, but I had fun. I took the rest of the bags and things to school, and sold them to coworkers. I also ended up with several custom orders. All in all, I would say it was a success.

It was nice to get back to sewing. The only problem is I have very little for my Etsy shop. I had to close it temporarily. I will reopen later this month when I get a few new things made. I suppose this is actually a good problem to have.

Thank you for being so patient with my lack of posts. I really do want to live up to my goal of once a week. Please keep me going by commenting, and nagging as needed.