Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Recap and Quilting in 2013

At the end of each year, I like to review what I've made. This year I find myself a bit short when compared to what I accomplished in 2011. In the collage below are the eight quilts completed in 2012.

Top row: Beach Cabanas Among Friends; Circle of Geese; Friendship Medallion (and the bed headboard that says, "It's another beautiful day..."); Disappearing Four-Patch

Bottom row: I Spy; Great Granny Along; and Stairs to Heaven and New Life, the latter two which were donated.

Of the nine UFOs I challenged myself to complete in 2012, disappointingly, only three were finished (Circle of Geese; Friendship Medallion; Disappearing Four-Patch). 

As far as "things" go, these are the 11 items I made, fewer than the 17 in 2011. There's a shower curtain; purse; several buntings; a runner; Christmas stockings; bench cover; owl rice bags; and earbud pouches. Oh, and the headboard seen above.

Granted, I spent a lot of time getting ready to move - sorting, purging, donating and selling (including selling a house!) and packing. Then there was moving, shopping for a house and furnishings and... well, all of that took time away from sewing. But I have absolutely no regrets. The whole moving-to-a-new-house thing was a happy, once-in-a-lifetime experience for which I'm extremely grateful. Sewing-wise, let's just say I hope to create more, and finish more UFOs in 2013.

Already in my future, at least for January, I see lots of free motion quilting. After yet again resetting my sewing room, I'm ready to get started.

I'll be quilting with my Pfaff Grand Quilter which hasn't seen the light of day for at least eight months. In the past few months I've been sewing and quilting on my Bernina QE 440, but I've decided I prefer quilting on the Pfaff, without a stitch regulator, and on a machine that has a 9" throat (distance from needle to the body of the machine) to accommodate larger quilts.

I still love my varnished, hollow core doors - a big slippery surface for supporting any size quilt.

Three pin-basted quilts are waiting for my attention. To warm-up, I'm starting with this BQ design by Maple Island Quilts. The top was quick to sew - about a year ago! - using up great hunks of fabric. It has lots of open sections in which I'll try out modern quilting designs from the book "Free Motion Quilting."

BQ will be a good practice piece before I begin quilting my Madrona Road Challenge quilt that must be finished by January 28.

This blog is a great outlet for sharing, while simultaneously creating a chronological diary of my creations and activities. Therefore, this is my last 2012 post which will appear as the final page of my printed, 2012 Flourishing Palms blog book.

Now let's bring in 2013 with joy, and anticipation. Happy new year! Linda

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gifting a Merry Christmas

The last gifts for friends have been bottled and labeled. It's homemade Madagascar vanilla that volunteer instructors, neighbors, and a favorite gate attendant are being gifted. I learned how to make this from Stephanie

During the next few weeks, this is what I'll be working on. It's the MQG's Madrona Road challenge using Michael Miller fabrics. I have piecing, a little hand applique, and lots of FMQing to do.

We're spending Christmas here, opting not to travel into snow and cold weather which we moved away from six months ago. Though I dreadfully miss not being with our Kansas City family, it's very nice to have our other little family only 90 minutes away.

To Iowa friends who are seeing a 10-inch deep white Christmas;

To Australia friends who are not seeing a white Christmas;

To international friends in Switzerland, Singapore, New Zealand and Canada;

And to US blogospheric friends in Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, Georgia, Connecticut, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania;

I wish every one of you a warm and blessed Christmas.

Christmas is when we remember that Jesus was born, given by God as a Holy Gift to express His love for us. May each of us find joy in extending that love to those around us.

Love, Linda

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Gruffalo and Earbud Pouches

Have you heard of the children's books, "The Gruffalo" or "The Gruffalo's Child"? They're wildly popular in the UK, and are a favorite video of our two Kansas City grandsons. 

During my November visit to their house, we put these Gruffalo clings on a bright green wall in the boys' bedroom. I came home with measurements for making a window valance and buntings. 

Using the same pattern that I used for bunting in my sewing room, I made one bunting that's 150" long, to hang above the Gruffalo decals. Fabrics are: V&Co.'s orange chevron from the Simply Color collection; and the zig-zaggy green-ish Center City print by Jay McCarroll... which is also the fabric used for the valance. 

I scanned several pages from the Gruffalo story book and printed them on Printed Treasures to create the fabric for several pennants.

In addition to the long bunting, I made two 40" buntings that include each of the boys' names. They will hang over their respective twin beds.

These buntings aren't Christmas gifts, per se, but should arrive in time to be opened, hung and enjoyed over Christmas. Can't wait to see pictures of the finished room.

This week I was reminded of how worthwhile it is to read blogs, not only because I'm keeping up with friends, but also for the tips, tricks and links they share. Such was the case last week when I went to Rene's blog and read about the earbud pouches she was sewing for Christmas gifts. Great idea! With credit to Erin Erickson for her tutorial, here are a few I made.

 You might rightly guess that the palm tree print pouch is mine.

To say I've done a lot of sewing and quilting in the past few years is an accurate statement. This week I finished off this 6,452 yard spool of Aurifil white thread! I used up the white thread, but that doesn't include the cones of gray and beige threads I've used for sewing and quilting. Fortunately for me, I had another cone ready to go. I buy many of my sewing and quilting notions, including thread, from JHittle, an on-line business with great prices. No affiliation here; just a happy customer.

Also on the happy front, I learned I won Cherry's giveaway of a fabric "smoothie" and both of her Christmas patterns. I love these designs for their simplicity which is right up my alley.

Here's wishing that all is happy and merry and bright in your part of the world. Linda

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like... Home!

July, 2012
We've been in our new house almost six months now, and finally the furniture and decor shopping and buying is coming to an end.

From practically nothing (a computer armoire and the guest room bed) to the few pieces we lived on for two months, we can now call our house "furnished. "

Except for possibly purchasing an occasional tchotchke to accessorize, our house looks like home.

In late October our concrete lanai floor was painted and coated. Many homeowners around here do that to their lanai floor, garage floor or driveway, to make clean-up easier. It also looks a whole lot nicer than bare concrete.

For our lanai floor, we selected colors based on the 18" floor tiles in the living area of the house. Amy, who did the work, started by power-cleaning the 9' X 26' space. Then she sprayed on a beige base coat. 

Using masking tape, she marked out "grout" lines that aligned with the tiles and grout in the living area.

Then, she sprayed on different colors...

... layering them to get the right combination to coordinate with the in-the-house tile.

When the paint was dry the last step was to roll on a clear-coat finish. It's wonderfully easy to damp mop it clean. Having the finished floor makes it look like we put an addition on the house!

At the top, the lanai floor; at the bottom, the tile inside the house.
This week the lanai furniture arrived. Hers (L) and his (R) chairs. Yep, my chair reclines, and I can put my feet up. Book reading and napping may happen here!

We can also eat and entertain in this space. Those sling chairs are padded, and really comfortable. We're loving this space.

Inside the house, this is the chat corner we created in a space intended as a dining room, separate from the breakfast nook. We couldn't imagine that we'd ever have so many people at the house that the breakfast nook (seats six), bar (seats four), and lanai table (seats four) wouldn't be enough. Our chat room is a good place to sit to put on shoes, read, watch TV and... chat! Something is still needed for the wall, and it's been suggested we put an artificial palm or bamboo plant in the corner. BTW, I made that palm tree quilt in 2005, never suspecting it would be perfect in a future home.

This is the master bedroom "before" with my "Dashing the Churn" quilt on the king-sized bed. The blocks were a swap with my friend in Switzerland, Edith. When I put the quilt together in 2008, I never guessed I'd live in a home where I could use it. If this quilt looks familiar, it appeared in April/May in the 2012 Quilting Arts calendar.

Look at the bedroom now, since the wall has been painted! Doesn't it make the room pop? The paint color is "Rift" by ColorWheel, a brand I'd never heard of until we moved here and learned that's what was used to paint our house.

With the palm tree print above the bed and the paprika-color lamps - all purchased online - we like it a lot! Again, who would have guessed I'd ever paint a wall in my house this color! It's so fun to live here in Florida with all this brightness.

The house doesn't appear to be decorated for Christmas, does it? Since no one's coming to visit us, and we've never owned an artificial tree (at one time my parents owned a Christmas tree farm), decorating is at a minimum. However, to show that I'm not an utter Christmas Scrooge, here are some of the quilts I have out.

One of my favorite Christmas wall hangings is this Dilys Fronk nativity design from an old issue of "Quilt It, for Christmas" magazine.

This lovely, and very special Christmas quilt was made by Jenny Reynolds of Elephanz. In early 2011, she donated it to raise money for Queensland (Australia) Flood Relief, and I was the fortunate high bidder.

One of my new quilter-friends, Cindy, surprised me with this adorable Churn Dash ornament. She knows I like Churn Dash blocks since seeing the quilt on my bed. With no tree on which to hang the ornament, it's in a place of honor in a room I spend a lot of time in - my sewing room.
In that same room, several sewing projects are in the works. Pictures soon. Linda

Monday, December 10, 2012

No Snow, Florida Snowmen

The "Snowmen A to Zzz" top is a finish and is awaiting basting and quilting. I can't believe that when I bought this pattern in Iowa more than three years ago, I would ever be living in a place where I'd never see a snowman again - or if I do, it will be some kind of fluke!
48" X 72"
The fly stitch (stitch #48) between the blocks, worked a treat when stitched on my Bernina QE440. A single strand of turquoise-colored #50-weight Aurifil didn't show up enough, so I threaded two strands of Aurifil through the machine - one thread to the right and the other thread to the left of the disk on top of the machine. Then, I threaded the two strands together through the eye of a size 90 needle.  I was pleased that it worked and gave the depth of color I was hoping for. The bobbin was threaded with gray-colored Bottom Line.

Border fabrics are Denyse Schmidt (red) and Riley Black (aqua snowflakes) playing nicely together. 

Last week, sewing took a back seat to two days of watching our 2-1/2 year-old grandson, in Tampa. He has a track record for being a screaming demon when it's time to get his haircut. Thinking Nana might have better success than Mom or Dad, I took him to Great Clips. You can see by the progression of photos that he didn't much care for it, but he eventually became resigned.

Here's to hoping your haircuts all end with a smile. Linda

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Heralding Christmas

It was a year ago, at this exact time that we visited The Villages for our first "lifestyle visit." For two weeks we stayed in a beautiful house to try on what it would feel like to live in such a place - driving a golf cart - and experiencing some of the many activities. One of the things we did was go to the annual Christmas tree lighting event.

Last night, we did it again, this time as resident Villagers.

A Christmas tree lighting with its associated activities happened three times this year, once on each of the three squares. We decided to (golf) cart to the event at the newest square, Paddock Square in Brownwood. We're guessing that about 2,500 to 3,000 of our fellow residents joined us! During the four hours of music and entertainment, we saw cheerleaders; Aloha O' Ka Hula Dancers; singing and tap dancing by a troupe of Villagers who are performing the musical "Holiday Inn;" and line dancers. 

Also, The Villages Drum Corps and Twirlers (baton) captured below in a 17 second video. Yes, it was a very lovely, mild evening. About 74 F (23C). Behind the twirlers you can see the soap machine that was used to create the appearance of falling snow... like anyone here misses that!

The prettiest part of the evening was toward the end, when everyone was holding a red or green lit candle and singing.

I could almost believe that "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas." But honestly, I think not. Linda


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