Saturday, December 31, 2011

Family Christmas

Here are just a few photos of Christmas doings this year (if you're just here for the CQ, skip this post):

Trystan, Jared, Rachel in the background, and Corbin on the floor. Behind Trystan is the Netflix video of a cracking fireplace, which we played throughout the evening. We have a real fire place, but with 20-some warm bodies in this little house, it would get too hot. So we had the ambiance without the heat.

My sister-in-law Sherry holding Barbara's grandson Jeremiah, and Barbara.

An ill-tempered teen elf finishing up some gifts.

Paul relaxing before the big holiday crunch. The light-up Santa on the hearth is very old; I've had it since I was about 6. Yes, we had electricity back then....

Some of the Popish family here for Christmas eve dinner. The handsome fella in the grey shirt is grandson Zack.

Ooooops! How did that get in there?? Oh, yeah, he's here to wish everyone an extra terrific year in 2012!

Outlander round robin

This block belongs to Maire in NY. All of her blocks are fan shapes in some really interesting colors. Each one that has been embellished so far has a focal motif in the open corner, and I think they're all beautiful.

The block on the left was embellished by Jacque in NE, on the right by Colleen in NE.

The birds are finally up!

The last block in the bird RR that I participated in early this year was to be finished by me, but when I was at the retreat in September, I asked my friend Gerry Krueger if she would do that one for me. She graciously agreed, and sent it back to me a month or more ago. I found a shadowbox frame at Salvation Army that had a square of handmade paper inside it that was exactly the right size for the little 6" block. I glued some batting onto the paper and was able to stretch the block over it (it had a hard backing on it) with 1/4" to fold to the back side and glue down. I think I spent $1.99 on the frame, and I was thrilled with how it came out.

So just before Christmas, I got out the bird wall hanging and rearranged items on the wall to fit it in. I also was able to hang my "Wolverine" painting that Michaela did for me for Christmas last year. Quite a grouping, don't you think?

Merry Christmas at the bookstores

As a little treat for my delightful coworkers and employers, I made each of them a CQed Christmas stocking, complete with their name on it.

I did one for myself, also, so the customers wouldn't think I was the bad child.

Here's how they looked hanging behind the counter at the store.

When I worked on Christmas eve, I brought in a little baggie of Hershey's kisses and a candy cane and tucked them in each stocking!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

A very merry Christmas and happy new year to all my family and friends!

This is a pine martin, peeking around an aspen tree to wish you the best holiday season ever!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Retreat block progess

Here's how my block stands right now. I added a bit of height to the pine tree and extended the swirl of leaves up towards the butterfly.

The butterfly is not attached yet; I haven't decided if it's flying up or down.

The leaves remind me of my favorite line from The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore:
"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky..."

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Book review 2

With all the zombie literature, TV, and movies out lately, I had to read World War Z. It's also been made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. Not sure when it will be out in theaters, sometime next year though. It's written as a compilation of interviews with survivors of the great zombie wars, so it feels very real, like reading a soldier's reminiscence of war time. The unabashed words of those who made money off the plague-frightened people, and the high learning curve of trying to fight something that no one had ever had to deal with before really made me feel like I was reading nonfiction. The idea that dogs would continue to be man's best friend into this apocalypse, and how they would be used is a bit heart-wrenching. If you're ready to jump on the Zombie Apocalypse bandwagon, this is as good a place as any to start.

There are scary books, and then there are SCARY BOOKS. One Second After is one of the latter. I was weaned on Stephen King books, so there's not much that scares me when it comes to zombies, vampires, werewolves, aliens, etc. Sometimes it's fun to read about "scary" things that are so easy to dismiss as grown up fairy tales. But this is a story that could happen later this afternoon (hopefully not till after I get the carpet vacuumed). An electromagnetic pulse is set off over the US, and most anything electronic just stops; cars, TVs, computers, phones, air conditioning, refrigeration, water and gas pumps, etc. The older cars without computer components in them keep running, but getting gas for them, or finding available parts if one breaks, is a challenge if not impossible. For most people, instead of thinking in terms of how long it takes to drive somewhere, the question now becomes how long it takes to walk there, and how much can one physically carry in the process. Without refrigeration, food spoils, and since no more is being shipped in, people eat the spoiled food and get sick. Clean water may or may not be available. Pharmacies are looted of their supplies, and the drugs that must be refrigerated will have a very short shelf life. Communication with the next town requires that someone walk or drive there to talk face to face; communication with someone beyond that distance is impossible. Those who have guns are able to hunt for food, at first. But as game animals and bullets become more scarce, even that option closes. And then there is the threat of gangs of psychotic wanderers.

I hesitate to recommend this book, but as "forewarned is forearmed", if you think it sounds like something you'd like to read, please do, and let me know your impressions. I was left with the impression that I should have had a bigger garden this summer, and I should have canned food from it, and I should have snapped up that "grandma's home remedies" book I saw at the store.

Book reviews

Two of the books I've read recently are The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Painted Caves is the last in the series called Earth's Children,that began with Clan of the Cave Bear close to 30 years ago. I truly enjoyed that one and all of the other books that followed.... until this one. And I so much wanted to love it! But it was a slog to get through. I felt like the book was simply detailed descriptions of the prehistoric paintings in the famous caves of southwestern Europe, with a little bit of story line to tie them together. Half way through this very long book, I still wasn't convinced that I would even finish it. Three fourths of the way through, and I was complaining to my coworker Claire that I just wasn't enjoying the book, but felt like I'd invested so much time and effort in reading not only this book, but the other 5 in the series, that I didn't feel like I should quit. And I just hate to quit reading a book. It feels like a failure on my part. Claire suggested that I could skip ahead to the ending, and I thought that seemed like a good idea, but I ended up skipping an important part and had to go back and read it in order to make sense of the ending. So, I finished it, completely, but I found it disappointing.

Now this little gem is another story...ahem....I was intrigued by the cover, and the title. I know we're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but really, the publishers pay much money to make the covers of books appealing to buyers. And in this case, it worked. But the insides of the book don't disappoint either. This story is built around and woven through old photographs of anonymous and yes, peculiar people. The author gives them identities through the story, and it's easy to come to care about them. I highly recommend this book; it's a quick read, even at 348 pages, as some of the pages are the photographs or other visual additions.

Retreat block

Here's a bit more work done on my block.

I might have continued to swirl those flying leaves all over the block, had I not run out of thread! I suppose I could dye some more (or ask Lauri to dye some). I used a whole bobbin full of some that she dyed and gave to me, and the whole chunk that I dyed at the retreat, which wasn't an exact match, but it blends well enough. What do you all think? More leaves? There will be more of that rust/orange color added to other parts of the block as I continue.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I've been up to....

Since the retreat, I've been working on a counted cross stitch project for a friend who just became a grandmother...

...but now I will get going again on my block that I started at the retreat. Here's how it looks right now. I used all fabrics that I got in the stash dash, except for the painted piece, which I took with me to the retreat. I ended up selling all of the elk paintings and several of the birds. And spending all (and more) of the money I received on lace and crocheted butterflies. A good time was had by all (especially me).

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Outlander Round Robin and a good day at Sally's

I'm in a RR that has as its theme the book series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. For the first block I got to work on, I painted the emblem from the front of the book that I have, stitched the Fraser clan motto, and then did some seams.

The last time I got to go to the Salvation Army store near my house, I found these buttons and a lace motif that I've never seen before. The buttons on the left are mother of pearl, still on the card and priced originally at 39 cents each. Anybody care to guess how long ago that might have been? I paid a quarter each for the cards, and will portion these beauties out judiciously. The buttons that are two to the card are glass and equally lovely.

The lace motif is on its way to a new owner. Hope she likes it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Colorado Retreat, part 9, the end....for this year....

It seemed like we had beautiful sunsets every night, so here is just one evening's worth.

Much admiration, love, and gratitude go out to Leslie E. She cooked for us, she planned for us, and due to obligations at home, she barely got to enjoy any of it with us. I didn't get any photos of her this time, but here's one from the retreat in 2009, with one of her creations.

Colorado Retreat, part eight...8...VIII...

On Thursday, I taught a lettering on waste canvas class, and on Sunday I "demonstrated" painting images on fabric. I didn't really feel like it was something I could teach, but I invited everyone who wanted to to paint along with me. We had a bird book, some Colorado Outdoors magazines, an Ideals magazine with flowers, and some bird magazines from which to get inspiration and images. This photo was taken of the table from the loft. Everyone except Claudina opted to paint a bird.

Here's Sarah and Juli...


Diane's bird....


Helen's bird....

Gerry H's bird....

Claudina's bears....

And my bird.

Colorado Retreat, part VII

Most of our meals were provided in the cabin, with breakfast and lunch being continental style, and Leslie having cooked dinners and it just needing to be heated up. But one night 10 of us ventured out to an Italian restaurant, where we had to keep certain members (almost all of us) from stealing the grape-motif tapestry window valances. Here is Diane, Cathy, Sandy, and Holly....

Claudina and Connie...

Helen and Gerry K.....

Diane, Cathy, Sandy, and Holly, again....


And our waitress was kind enough to offer to take a photo of all of us...

Colorado Retreat, part....uh....5? 6?

Hazel brought a CQed wedding memory quilt, which included lots of sentimental images. These frogs are trapunto-ed, which means they've been stuffed to give them a 3D quality.

This is a framed photo that was over the head of my bed. I thought it was a lovely little pine tree; something that could be stitched on a CQ.

I was having a hard time getting enthused about stitching on any of the projects-in-progress that I'd brought with me, so I took one of my painted elk and using just fabric I'd gotten in the Stash Dash, I pieced myself an Estes Park Retreat block to work on. Here it is just getting started, and I'll post more photos of the progress soon!

Colorado Retreat, part 5

The Chinese auction is always a favorite part of the retreat. The idea is that each person brings a CQ gift (worth approx. $25, but with CQ, it's hard to gauge a dollar value) that can be either stash or tools or a hand-made item. They are wrapped so no one can tell what is in the package until it's opened, and all are placed in a pile for all to see. Numbers are drawn to determine the order, and the first person chooses one and opens it. Much oohing and ahhing commences, and then person number 2 takes a turn, BUT they have the option of stealing the gift from number 1 or opening something new. This continues, with gifts being stolen a maximum of twice before being declared "safe". These photos are all out of order, and I didn't get photos of everyone, but here is a sampling of the fun:

Here's Helen, Josie, and Connie having a closer look at the tea cozy Diane made...

Gerry H opening a gift...will she get to keep it? Probably not!

Me opening a gift. I think I was declared the winner of the "most stolen from" award (which doesn't really exist), but I must admit I did a bit of stealing myself!


Me again...

Holly, the first to get to call Lauri's magnificent CQed teddy bear hers. I promptly stole it, even though I knew it would be stolen from me. Sure enough, Helen snapped it up and being the 2nd stealer, got to keep it.

Helen, Connie, Pam, Sandy, and Shari....


Me again....
And Connie finished....