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I’m not late for Christmas, I’m early!

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At long (long) last, my Christmas scrap quilt is finished!20170220_151555 The original intention of this quilt was to use up all my Christmas fabrics so I could be done with them once and for all, as I was tiring of seeing the same Christmas fabrics in my stash year after year. Well, that sounds reasonable, but of course I did end up buying additional Christmas fabrics and not even using up all of what I already had. The thing with Christmas is you’ve got red and green, but which red? which green? In this case I have a forest green as my main shade. The reds lean to the orange-red.
There are plenty of novelty prints, and lots of fussy cutting. I chose my old standby favorite-subway tile. Uniform width, but just random lengths of the strips.
The main body of this quilt was finished before school started, with the thought that it only needed a couple more days of work. Oh, silly me. I ended up putting an extra floating piano key border on it, and then with my finished top, continued to just put it off. The backing needed to be pieced together and it took me a while to decide what to do (blah blah blah.) I’m pretty pleased with the back. The main part is an adorable Mary Englebreit fabric that was handed down to me from someone cleaning out her stash. I made the corners and sides symmetrical.

Christmas Scrap Quilt-done!This quilt was a wee bit too big for my machine to quilt, and I really didn’t want to hand quilt. I opted for tying it, figuring it went along with the cozy charming feel of it. I did tie the knots in a very uniform way-in the middle of every strip, evenly spaced.

Sometime before Christmas Paul took himself to Joann Fabrics with a giant coupon and sale and bought lots of Christmas fabric. I loved one of them very much and wanted it for my binding. Last weekend was the annual Midwinter Stitchathon and I decided to buckle down and finish this thing once and for all. I stitched and stitched through Step Up and The Cutting Edge and got 3/4 of the way done. A couple of days later I finished-hooray!

I had grand plans to applique a tree on the back and the tree would have my name and date. But you know what? I really just wanted this done. So I took it outside for photographs even before the basting safety pins were taken out.Christmas Scrap Quilt-done!Then I brought it in, took the pins out, and just embroidered my initials and the year. I had noticed, to my dismay, that a few of the knots had come out already. (WHAT?!) I grabbed some embroidery floss that is green, but not the same shade as what was used throughout, and just tied it up. And then I decided that it was a bad decision to not have tied or quilted around the border and I machine stitched along intervals of the piano keys. And now I can finally say it is truly done.


I really love the look of this-it’s cheery, Christmassy, has lots of fun fabrics to look at, and is big enough to snuggle under while watching Elf or Arthur Christmas. I’m looking forward to pulling it out the day after Thanksgiving and enjoying it all season!img_7635

And, Liesl approved:


Anything Else?

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So anything else from this fall? Let’s see, we went to a Princeton football game and a Princeton hockey game, and had a grand time at both.
2016-12-13-19-32-35 Hockey is more my speed than football, and as the far less popular sport, it was super cheap and easy to get to for a quick weeknight game. The rink was great and the rows only 6 back from the ice (we sat right at the glass.) 2016-12-13-21-10-12
Clark and Paul went on a couple camping trips with his Boy Scout troop, including a fantastic trip to Harpers Ferry, which included a hike up to this beautiful view of three states. See the beautiful view here and the proud hikers here .

In doing all these scout activities Clark was able to rank up to Tenderfoot at the December court of honor. This achievement made me finally get some sewing in, in the form of embroidery.2016-11-12-19-59-49 The tradition in this troop is that when a boy achieves this rank he receives a hand embroidered neckerchief. Pretty simple embroidery-all satin stitch and the design is printed on the kerchief. (You receive a kit.) Satin stitch is not my favorite, but it’s certainly easy to do and while this was a little tedious I was happy to do it and think it turned out beautifully. (I can only imagine if you didn’t stitch that this would have been extra tedious.)

Congratulations, Clark!

Tabby and I went with our troop to see a Disney on Ice spectacular and that was a lot of fun, too. I didn’t do any other sewing, despite getting that Christmas quilt top finished right before school started. I finally took a day and made the back and yesterday I put it together and began tying it. My hope is to finish tying it today and do the binding tomorrow, thus finishing it in 2016. It may need to be a “finish by the end of vacation” goal, though. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy it very much and it will be brand new to us when we pull it out at the start of next year’s Christmas season.

There will not be a Garden Wrap Up post this year because there really wasn’t a garden. I will do my usual Top 10 Books of the Year post, and possibly the big annual look back. In the meantime, I’ll wrap up with a couple pics I especially liked, from a day at a conference.




Spring Celebrations

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This weekend we had two special events-my mom’s birthday and Clark’s Arrow of Light ceremony from Cub Scouts.  The latter was a pretty big deal-he started Cub Scouts in 1st grade. He’s continued on and is now moving on to Boy Scouts.Arrow of Light//’ve had a lot of fun with other families in the pack, camping and other crazy events, and Paul enjoyed being the Cubmaster for the past 2 years. Lots of great memories were made, so this farewell was bittersweet. It was quite a ceremony and as the boys walked over the bridge they were welcomed by their new Boy Scout troop. Clark is quite excited to join his new troop and looking forward to good times and making new friends.IMG_5945

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My mom’s birthday was also this weekend and I always see it as a sign of spring and enjoy coming up with a good menu for a special birthday dinner. I made cherry chicken spirals (chicken with cherries and some other stuff, rolled up), rice pilaf, asparagus, and a delicious salad of Boston lettuce, red onion, and avocado. Of course it’s really the cake we were all looking forward to. Happily my mom likes coconut, so things for her are always a good opportunity to make coconut things.  I made the Tropical Carrot & Coconut Cake from Baking by Flavor. Happy Birthday, Mom!// I had not made this before and it’s definitely a keeper. Super delicious. The cake had shredded carrots, coconut, and crushed pineapple in it. Happy Birthday, Mom!// better it had lots of fresh nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and cinnamon it. So much that those flavors really came through. There was even a tiny bit of freshly grated nutmeg in the cream cheese frosting. The frosting was delicious, though there was a lot of it. Actually I thought this cake would be fine with just a little powdered sugar on top. Happy Birthday, Mom! Happy Birthday, Mom!//

The final spring celebration was the now annual Midwinter Stitchathon with Liz and Eleanor. This lovely event is an afternoon spent stitching, watching tv, and eating special snacks and seasonal candy together. Midwinter Stitchathon// menu this year was tea brack (an Irish tea cake with lots of dried fruit and demands to be eaten with butter), apricot turkey pinwheels (forever known now as “Yoshi Wellingtons”), cherry cola cake, and, as always, carrot dip and prosecco (not mixed together. Carrot dip eaten up with pretzels, prosecco guzzled down.)
Midwinter Stitchathon//
Midwinter Stitchathon//
My stitching project is an embroidery pattern I’ve had a couple of years and have decided would be just the thing for when I have a little time to want to do something stitchy. I actually went and bought all the suggested color flosses for this. Midwinter Stitchathon// was a grand time! And, oops! This is indeed quite a catchup. I’ll also mention another special event-the Father Daughter Dance for Girl Scouts. Tabby was so excited, felt so glamorous and excited to be going with Paul to this dance. It was a lovely event for them. Father Daughter Dance 2016So many special events!


The Last PWD

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As we wind down Clark’s last year in Cub Scouts we are beginning to have “lasts”. Tonight was the last Pinewood Derby. Clark and Paul made a car that looked exactly like a Wii remote. In our pack the scouts get to vote on design categories and a new one this year was “video game theme”, which is what Clark was hoping to win. And he did!2016-01-31 18.45.22 He was so pleased, especially that this is the third time he’s won. Previously he won Most Original for his fantastical dragon design, then Best Animal for his alligator, and now this one. 2016-01-31 20.55.15Recently he and his den made display things for their derby cars and it looks great to see all five in a row.
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Also this weekend Paul and I went to (another) concert. This time it was the Indigo Girls!

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They sounded wonderful–just as good as they did 30 years ago. I had seen them in concert once before at, of all places, an ALA conference. They did a benefit concert and it was lovely, though an unusual venue. This was a more standard concert and I’m so glad we could go.

This weekend I did a little prep work on the Christmas scrap quilt I’m making. I cut out the rest of the pieces (including the lovely new fabric I bought on Friday) and began to lay out.A new quilt to work on// I was kind of unhappy with it. I knew that it would be a crazy hodgepodge but it turned out I just had two different sets of fabric and there was no way I was going to be happy with blue reds mingling with orange reds. Willow took over the role of meddlesome cat by lying down right on top of it. Why do the animals love fabric on the ground so much?2016-01-30 14.21.39 I decided to take out the blue reds and was much happier with the results. I also am strongly considering putting a thin strip of solid fabric between the rows, and I just so happen to have a favorite green that would look great. That will also add a little more to the overall size.  Today I did the final design layout and Tabby helped me with some placement. She was a good advisor! After I numbered and carefully picked up all the pieces Sweetie came into the room. There is nothing more she loves than to dive into the middle of a carefully laid out quilt, so she was quite disappointed to be too late. A new quilt to work on// made the best of it by just sitting next to my stack, rolling her head against it, and purring.A new quilt to work on//
I’m not sure how much sewing and creating I’ll be doing in the next few months, given some forthcoming news and the fact that I’ve recently begun a graduate level online course. I’m quite certain I should have been doing my readings today, but I did want to at least set up this project so it’s ready to go when I can turn to it. I also have decided on embroidery projects for the year and gotten those ready. I anticipate I won’t be keeping up on the blog so much anymore, too, but I’ll definitely try to post about finished projects and big events.
Cheers, friends!Hanging out with Gordon//


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I woke up this morning thinking about my annual end of year post and thinking about the year in sewing. I realized I had one day left to finish off that Halloween quilt and count it done in 2015. All that’s been left to do for over a month has been the binding and label applique. A not too onerous task, and I meant to do it while watching Christmas shows, but somehow the month got away from me. I’m pleased to say I can now count it done!
Spooktacular finished!// Halloween quilt was made from a bundle of fabric I received last Christmas. It is Spooktacular by Maude Asbury. I love the shades of orange and the whimsical and clever illustrations.  I wondered how best to preserve these prints and make something fun and lovely.  I came up with the idea of squares pieced together to form a large overall jack o’lantern.  Here’s the pattern I made for myself: Spooktacular finished!//
I drew a picture of a jack o’lantern on graph paper and got to calculating.  The eyes were the most difficult to figure out and I did make an error. Stylistically I wished I had made them bigger (which, ironically, would have eliminated my calculations difficulties), but I didn’t have the spare fabric to redo this section.  [This is the point where you give yourself a reality check, too. This wasn’t a wall hanging, intended to cuddle under during chilly Octobers. No one was going to nitpick over this on their lap.] I cut and sorted the fabrics into 3 1/2″ squares that were predominantly black or orange. The “orange” pieces do have black in them, and of course the overall design isn’t as easy to see as it would be if I was using solids, but I think you can see the design and I’m charmed by the prints.
Spooktacular finished!//  I decided to frame it out with the grey corner pieces (like picture corners), and then a wide black border.  A dark orange would be the binding. Both the binding and border fabrics were purchased after the center was pieced and are not from the Spooktacular collection.  For the backing I ordered a couple yards of the grey spiderweb design from the collection. Spooktacular finished!// the machine quilting I opted to do concentric squares. And because I wanted to keep the stitching lines very geometric I did a sawtooth around the border (thanks to Mom for that inspiration because I couldn’t quite figure that idea out.) I used black thread on my spool so that you’d see the lines right across the squares of orange and black, Spooktacular finished!// put grey in the bobbin so you wouldn’t see the thread on the back. I was really pleased with how the quilting on the back looked-it enhanced the spiderweb design.IMG_5406 Overall I am very pleased with how this turned out! I think it will be so much fun to put out in the fall. For my label on the back I embroidered on one of the bottles from the large print, cut it out, and appliqued it on.Spooktacular finished!// Halloween! and, a Happy New Year to you! May your 2016 find you time to enjoy the creative and beautiful things in life. Spooktacular finished!//


Wiener Dog Races!

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And a lot more, but who could resist starting off with that enticing sound bite! October is consistently our busiest month of the year. I think it’s because there are so many beautiful fall days and nice things to do outside and frankly not enough weekends. This weekend we crammed in lots of fall fun, including an extra day because the kids had off for Columbus Day.

As you may have seen from time to time, my friends and I have a seasonal stitch-a-thon. What started out as a MidWinter Stitch-a-Thon was not enough, so now we had a Mid Autumn Stitch-a-Thon. Here are the necessary components for a stitch-a-thon: seasonal candy,  tv viewing that invites commentary, assorted decadent snacks, and some stitching projects.
Pumpkin Cremes// For this time that meant: creme pumpkins, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, carrot dip, fancy donuts and danishes, and a dishtowel I’ve been embroidering forever. It turned out that the dishtowel barely needed anything else done to it and all I have to do is the words on it. Hot From the Oven//
We shook things up this time by adding on extra fun that everyone could participate in–we headed down to Nomad for some fancy pizza and then we all went over to Howell Living Farm for the first year of the Amazing Pumpkin Carve. It was a perfect chilly fall night, smelled wonderful, and what a cool thing to do.
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There were about 50 pumpkins on display, all elaborately carved. Some were spooky, some fanciful, some were funny. It was marvelous!
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On Sunday Tabby had a respite from field hockey games, so we were able to head out to our new favorite town, Bethlehem, for Oktoberfest.
Oktoberfest// was much smaller in scale than Musicfest and the whole thing was held at Steel Stacks. Clark & the Stacks//
It was such a pretty sunny day and everyone was very merry. Before even getting down to the beer and sausages we walked up along the stacks to check out the alpine horns being played. Look how pretty they are:
Beautiful Inside of the Alpine horn// our absolute delight we were invited to all give it a try and told that there were certificates for people who could manage to blow a note for 20 or more seconds. Clark has begun trombone lessons and they told us that it is the same mouthpiece and method and the guy was so nice about helping Clark try it out. Blowing the Alpine horn//
Then Paul gave it a whirl.
Blowing the Alpine horn

// Tabby Blowing the Alpine horn//
And finally, I did and I managed a whopping 22 seconds on my first try! (I’ll have to ask Paul to send me his photo/video of me.)The alpine guy was very impressed and people clapped and it was all very fun. There were fun games set up amidst tables and lots of delicious wursts and German pastry and beer.
Oktoberfest// real highlight was the Dachsund Races! (sadly we missed the barrel race and race carrying filled steins. I totally would have done that.) There were so many people there with their little wiener dogs. They raced them two by two and the announcers were hilarious, maintaining preposterous accents and running funny commentary. 2015-10-11 15.23.50 Some of the dogs raced quickly to their owners (it was a run from one owner to the other type of race), but most amused the audience by wandering away, visiting the other dogs, sitting down, etc. Many of the dogs were named Oscar. It was all in super good fun and we had a really nice afternoon.

Monday was Columbus Day and while Columbus may have been an ass, it was nice for the kids to have the day off and take them for a hike at Hacklebarney State Park. Clark brought a friend and all had a good time clambering over giant boulders and exploring. The forest was so pretty and it was a gorgeous spot to spend much of the day. (Despite some tears, hitting, and bickering among the younger set.) Here’s my new favorite picture of me, surprisingly taken by Tabby! 2015-10-12_08-20-07//

Exploring the rivers// a cave and trusting these rocks will continue to not move for another few hundred years//

A couple of other updates–I finished my Halloween quilt top! I may get this thing finished before Halloween after all! I’m undecided about the quilting style and also if I want to insert a small patchwork orange stripe in the midst of the wide black border. I’m pretty pleased with how this is coming along!
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I’m super aware that I haven’t bothered to do a garden wrap up, nor clean out the garden. It all just sort of fizzled this year. However, I’m delighted that my new rose bush is blooming again, and even more so that my heavenly blue morning glories are in full bloom every day now and are stunning. I can’t stop taking pictures of them!
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Today was Willow’s last dog class and I’m so proud to report that she successfully graduated! I was worried she wouldn’t but she has really come a long way since the first class. So much so that the instructor praised her for it. We are going to move on to Level 2 next week and later this winter we’re going to enroll in the agility class. She really is a wonderful dog and we love her so much!
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Sorbetto #2

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Sorbetto tank #2! I made this one up pretty quickly in the afternoon (with plans to wear it out that very evening!). It went together really quickly and this time I added an embellishment underneath the pleat.
Sorbetto #2

Since this basic tank is all about adding whatever you want I did want to do something, though I wasn’t so sure how I felt about what I chose? Bohemian or folks adorable? Or too cutesy and juvenile? Well, either way I did wear it and ultimately liked it. I used a beautiful voile that I bought last summer and it felt great. (Ok, this is not the best picture of me. Please ignore my uncombed wet hair and squinting)

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The yellow scalloped trim is actually rick rack inserted underneath the pleat so you just see one half of the bumps.
Sorbetto #2
Sorbetto #3 is going to be a regular cotton green and white print I bought on my birthday fabric trip and this time I might do a contrast neckline binding and some buttons.

I have no good segue for the next topic-bright colors? creative outlets? Anyway, this week I also spruced up our front porch furniture with some new paint. I love the brighter colors and I think they suit the vintage metal furniture (best ever yard sale find!)
Fresh Coat
The spring/summer of concertgoing continued last night with Paul and I going into the city to see Belle & Sebastian at Radio City Music Hall. It was a great show, fun to be out and about in the city (though I had griped about going in) and really, Radio City Music Hall is magnificent. You feel transported back to a more elegant time. The art deco details are gorgeous and it’s preserved so beautifully. And so many things happen there! I enjoyed the blase way the bartender said “Well, the Tonys were on Sunday you know,and I don’t think they adjusted the air conditioning since”-just a normal workplace comment, except that the work event was the Tony Awards! Here’s Paul and I afterwards out on the street. I don’t know why Philadelphia’s iconic LOVE statue is on 6th avenue, but um, here it is
LOVE  in NYCOnly 2 more full days of school, plus 4 half days! We’re all just going through the motions at this point.