Happy New Year!

About an hour to go until the west coast of the US steps into 2023. Farewell 2022! Good riddance! Welcome 2023, full of possibilities and promise.

Took Rico for his weekly sheep herding lesson this morning and was horrified to realize that I had left my rubber boots in my utility room. Dammit! I was afraid that I wouldn’t get to do a lesson after driving all the way to Battle Ground, WA. Poor Rico would have been distraught if that had happened. He definitely knows where we are and what we’re going to do when we make that drive. He starts screaming the minute we take the freeway exit ramp!

But we were able to work on some closer in maneuvers and my feet stayed almost mud free. And Rico was such a good boy. We both did some really difficult work. Our brains were very tired at the end of our lesson.

After our lesson I stopped at a big field on the Washington State University campus and let the dogs have a good run. I’m so glad we did this! It was good for me to get out and stretch, and they had a blast!

Here’s our last dog photos of 2022.

Running, running, running.

You can’t see me!

After we got home I had lunch, did a little bit of work to see how our last day of fundraising was going, and then I went through my finished quilt tops. A friend of mine used to do long arm quilting as her business. She doesn’t do it any more, but still quilts. She offered to trade me quilting for finished quilt tops. So I picked out the ones I was willing to trade and shared them with her. Here’s the four I’ll be trading for her quilting skills.

this sort of improv batik number with the indigo sashing.

This Lucky Stars quilt made from KFC fabrics and a really cool batik background.

This blue Algorithm quilt. It’s the first Algorithm quilt I ever made.

This scrappy batik 16 patch. I think this was the second 16 patch I made. it was made from left over 2.5 inch strips that I had cut from scraps.

I have four quilts I’m going to have her quilt for me. click on each one to see photos.

The red KFC Fractured quilt my friend helped me make this fall.

My Ice Storm quilt with the Octopus backing.

My orange, pink and purple Another 16 Patch.

My red Algorithm quilt that I love!

After I got all those quilt tops organized we took a nice three mile walk as the sun set this afternoon.

It was a good walk.

My boss delivered a fantastic dinner of tamales with all the fixings just after we got home from our walk.

It’s become a bit of a tradition. I look forward to delicious tamales every New Years Eve.

We took another walk after dinner. I was very aware that there might be drunks out on the roads so was very careful. We saw two cars. One was definitely celebrating New Years a little early. I had to jump off to the side as he gunned his car and didn’t move over at all. I’m glad I was paying attention. I’m guessing he thought it was funny. No wonder car insurance for young men is so expensive.

And now we’re home and snuggled in. We just watched a nice and sweet movie and the dogs are out cold.

I’m going to play pickleball in the morning. I haven’t played for five weeks! It will be a really good way to start the new year!

Happy New Year! Health, happiness, creativity and inspiration to you all!

Friday Night and Exhausted

We finished up our three days of on-air fundraising this evening and I’m wiped out. I will do a little work tomorrow then I won’t be back at work until Wednesday.

Today was a busy day, but since I was up early and working late. I took a little break this afternoon and made a little progress on the Frankenbag I started last night.

I got the handles made and the outer bag all sewn together. I decided to flip one of the panels because I really liked how the bottom of it finished up and I wanted it to show on the top of the bag.

I’m really glad I saw that because I think it’s pretty cool. Plus, this means that the two sides of the bag will be more different.

It took a minute or two to decide if I would make the handles brown or black.

The right choice was definitely black. Plus, the black handles make black zippers make more sense.

After dinner I got the lining cut and fused the interfacing on. I also cut and fused the zipper placket. I was pressing the black fabric in the center of this photo so I could cut out the pockets when my friend called. That put an end to my productivity.

My boys were a little bored tonight. We had a nice three mile walk this afternoon, but it was raining this evening so we stayed in the house.

Bender perked up when I asked him if he wanted to go to bed.

Rico got into a little bit of a pickle with his shredded frisbee.

His face tells you how he feels about this situation.

Rico has his regular sheep herding lesson tomorrow morning. Then I think we’ll go for a nice field run if the field isn’t completely under water.

I have no plans for the remainder of the weekend, except to get some sleep, get some sewing done, get in our daily walks, and maybe go to the coast on Tuesday if the weather holds.

Like a Terrier With a Squirrel

I had even intention of sewing two more rows of my Jewel Frames quilt top together tonight, but like a terrier getting distracted by a squirrel, I chased after another new project.

Several months ago a friend of mine told me she would love me to make her a Frankenbag for a trip she’s taking. She wanted it made out of pinks and teals. I’ve pulled different fabrics over the last few months but hadn’t landed on a combination that felt right for her. And tonight it hit me.

In going through my Jewel Frames project box the other evening I noticed that there were about a half-dozen spare blocks there… just waiting for a project. It hit me the other day that they would make a great Frankenbag for my friend. So tonight I pulled them out and pulled some other fabrics to combine with them.

Because I know someone will ask, here’s a link to my Frankenbag tutorial.

I liked this combo better than the fabrics I had pulled previously because it was darker, for one. And it was less frilly. A really frilly pink and teal bag didn’t feel right for my friend.

So I decided to dig in and start working on a couple of panels for a bag. I limited the fabrics to the fabrics that are in the quilt blocks.

I left two of the blocks intact and sliced up two others, then reassembled them into a vertical column. Then I sewed strips and pieces on until both panels measured about 17.5 x 17.5 inches.

I got both panels finished, made my quilt sandwiches and actually got both panels quilted! That’s actually a lot of productivity for one evening.

I just LOVE the view of these panels as I’m quilting them. I might have mentioned that before.

Here’s the panel that will be the front of the bag.

And this one will be the back of the bag.

There’s not much difference in these two panels. The only real difference is the section below the large pink block. And, frankly, most of the difference will be hidden when the gussets are sewn in. the parts that are different will be on the bottom of the bag. But I’ll know what’s there! Plus, the right side is the side that gets the tag sewn on.

I’ll line this bag and make the placket out of that jade millefiori. The interior pockets will probably be made from the black paperweight.

Here’s a little eye candy for you.

I’m going to finish this up this weekend. She needs it by February, so I want to get it to her in plenty of time for her trip.

After I finished working on this tonight I took a few minutes to set up my “radio studio” on my cutting table. I’m going to be live on the radio at 7 am for our end of year fundraising drive. I have to do it from my sewing room because I need to be hard wired into the internet rather than on wifi. My router is in my sewing room. So that’s where I am when I’m on the radio.

I have to be ready to go at 6:50 in the morning, so I plan to make it an early evening… well, an early evening for me. I’m planning on being in bed by midnight. To help me along, I’m enjoying a nice stiff egg nog as I type.

I won’t tell you how much whiskey is in that, but it should be as effective as an Advil pm!!!

I took the boys for a nice long afternoon walk while it wasn’t raining and before it got dark today. All the flotsam and jetsam from our wind storms had been cleaned from the path since we walked yesterday.

I forgot to mention that I ran into a co-worker on this trail during our afternoon walk yesterday. He often rides his bike on his commute and he came up behind us and slammed on his breaks when he recognized Bender and Rico! It was really fun to get to talk to him in person. He has dogs and knows my boys.

I usually keep a gate up across the guest room door so the dogs don’t spend too much time in there. It helps keep that room clean. I forgot to put the gate back in place today and Rico definitely exploited that oversight.

He was a little miffed that I woke him up from his nap.

My Mojo Might be Creeping Back

I’m not feeling a rush of creativity yet, but I am feeling a bit of a draw to my sewing room the last few days. It feels more utilitarian than creative. But I can live with that. I’ve seen this pattern in my creative life before. When I’m not inspired to create, it’s a good time to tackle some UFOs… chunk away at the repetitive and almost meditative tasks needed to wrap up a project.

So I hit my sewing room after work this evening and sewed two more rows on my Jewel Frames quilt. Then I took a break and took my boys for a walk. When we got home I sewed those two rows to the two rows I finished the other night.

That photo just shows half of what I have done so far. This quilt is big and It won’t fit on my design wall. This piece is folded in half. I pinned it up on this small design wall because it’s all pressed and I don’t want to have to deal with creases and wrinkles.

It’s all going together quickly. I just love looking at the design and colors as I work with them.

That must be one of the reasons I sort of enjoy pressing a quilt at this stage… when it’s coming together but is still of a size that it’s manageable. And I love putting my hands all over it as I press. I enjoy it less as the quilt top gets bigger.

More eye candy just because it makes me happy to look at it!

Ane one more just because I can…

Four of nine rows are sewn. That means five more rows. I might have this top done on Friday night. Then I will add a couple of borders. I’m on track to finish this before I wrap up my New Years holiday on Tuesday.

We said farewell to Ernie and Bogart this afternoon. Their mom was feeling well enough after her surgery to have them back at home. They’re such good boys while they’re here. It’s really easy to have them around and they get along so well with Bender and Rico. And Ernie is such a good cuddler. I’ll really miss him now that he’s gone.

I will also miss having all four dogs accompany me to the bathroom five times a day!

We had another wind storm over the last couple of days, with lots of rain. I got about three inches of rain from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning. I emptied this dog water dish on the patio on Sunday afternoon. It was full Monday morning!

And then it continued to rain and the wind howled. So many trees and power lines came down. So many people have been without power. I was lucky that I didn’t suffer another power outage. I think I heard that six people have died in Oregon with that most recent wind storm. Most were killed when their cars were hit by falling trees. And this storm was a different storm from the ice storm last week. We’ve had some really crazy weather.

It was calm and dry today and I took some photos of the damage around the neighborhood.

Mostly what I saw was lots of smaller boughs on the roads and driveways.

Most of these are from Douglas fir trees. In the areas where there are no Doug firs, there are few boughs on the ground.

Our regular trail was pretty much covered in some sections.

We did come across a spot where a tree had fallen across the trail and smashed a fence.

Looking at the other side of the trail in this spot, I noticed that this tree was just completely uprooted and tipped over. You can see the root ball at the upper center of this photo.

With all the rain we had the ground becomes saturated. Combine that with the high winds and it’s not unusual to see trees just topple over.

That was a big tree! I’m hoping it came down when no one was near.

I ran across another tree that fell right along the curb along our walk. This photo was taken today, but this tree was already down during our walk last night.

You can see on this one that the tree just split and fell.

These wind storms can be really scary when combined with huge trees and lots of water.

I also ran across the downed three that caused my power outage last week. Another huge tree. This one was all due to wind.

And more of this tree across the street.

That pile of logs is in the EXACT spot where I scored that green rain coat a few weeks ago.

We’re supposed to see a lot of rain later this week but we’re not supposed to see the return of the winds we’ve had so much of. I was so glad to see the winds finally stop yesterday!

I noticed today that the daffodils in my front yard are finally up. They’re usually up a week or so before Christmas. So they’re late this year. We’ve had a relatively cool winter so far.

I was happy to see they’re up.

Merry Christmas… the Wind-down

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas, if you celebrate it. My boys got a little pose in to celebrate the occasion.

Poor Rico was so traumatized by having antlers on his head that he hid behind the couch for an hour to recover. He’s so sensitive. Bender suffered no ill affects.

I had today off work. I love having the day after Christmas off. It’s a lazy, easy day with no obligations and no responsibility. It was a good way to prepare for a very hectic work week.

I wanted a few things out of this day. Number one, I wanted a good night sleep. So I took some Advil PM before I went to bed last night. Number two, I wanted to sleep in… nothing specific to get up for. I got that done too. Number three, I wanted to stay home all day, putter a little and maybe actually get some things done. which I did. Number 4, I wanted to start work on finishing a UFO quilt that has been sitting unfinished for far too long.

It was really rainy all day so we didn’t get a walk. But we did get a little excitement. I have four dogs in my house again this evening and this was all unplanned.

Holy cow… that’s a terrible photo, but it serves as proof that they were at my house and being taken care of.

I got a text this afternoon from their mom that she was in the hospital and had to have her gallbladder removed. She asked if I could take her boys. So I met her neighbor at her place and gathered Ernie and Bogart up, along with all their stuff, and brought them home. It’s likely that their owner will be going home from the hospital tonight, but I’ll keep these boys until tomorrow afternoon. I’m glad I was here to help her out.

After some rambunctious play when they arrived, everyone needed a nice nap.

I had a nice Christmas holiday. I had friends over for dinner on Christmas Eve. I usually go all out for this meal. Most years I cook traditional northern Italian fare from my childhood. But I wanted to do something different this year, so here’s my menu (click on the dish to link to each recipe):

Bacon wrapped pork tenderloin. I found this recipe in this article. If you like thinking about delicious things to make for Christmas, you should take a look at this article. It certainly got my salivary glands moving! Here’s a photo of mine when it came out of the oven. This recipe is definitely something I’ll make again. (I just got up and ate a couple pieces right out of the fridge!!! It’s so yummy, even cold!!!)

The meat is rubbed with garlic, Rosemary, olive oil and other spices. Next time I make it I’ll probably put it under the broiler at the end for a few minutes to crisp up the bacon.

Waldorf Coleslaw. I make this recipe a lot! Partly because it’s a favorite of one of my dinner guests. And partly because I just love it! And I’m always happy that it makes a lot because it keeps for a few days in the fridge and I love having it for leftovers.

Roasted Kuri Squash. I had never had Kuri squash before. I helped harvest this from my brother’s garden when my friend and I visited earlier this year. Kuri is one of the winter squashes. This recipe is made using coconut oil and maple syrup and lovely warm spices that go so well with the squash and with the season.

Kürbis im Hausgarten

It was fun to eat this squash that was grown by my brother and his wife. My sister in law even tested this recipe for me a few days before Christmas because the recipe said it wasn’t necessary to peel the squash. She informed me that it, indeed, was not necessary to peel the squash.

Asparagus with olive oil and garlic. I didn’t use a recipe for this. I just put the asparagus in a zip loc bag and put in a little olive oil, a couple cloves of chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Then I cooked it in a skillet on top of the stove.

For Dessert I made a Meyer lemon cake. I made this cake for Christmas a few years ago and remembered it and wanted to make it again this year. You should know that I’m not a baker. I rarely bake. I think it’s been ten years since I made cookies. About the only time I bake is at Christmas. This is a really good cake. You start by simmering a pound of whole Meyer lemons in water until they’re soft. They you remove the seeds and puree it all in the food processor… skins and all. It’s a little more involved than I would normally make, but it’s worth the effort.

You have to separate five eggs, whip the yolks with sugar, and beat the whites into soft peaks. This is not the type of thing I would normally do. But, it is Christmas after all!

Here’s the finished product. I served it with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

I was really happy with how it all turned out. It was fun to watch my company eat seconds and thirds of everything!

Christmas Day I had most of the day to myself. I took the boys for a nice long walk. Opened some gifts and made some calls to friends and family. Then in preparation for heading to a friend’s home for Christmas dinner I whipped up the stuffing I volunteered to make. My friend made a turkey breast and legs for dinner but didn’t want to make stuffing. Her husband was so disappointed, and so was I. So I volunteered and she was all over it.

I made a recipe that a friend of mine has brought to my last four or five Thanksgiving dinners. it’s a good recipe. I’ll definitely make this one again.

I did not opt to add water chestnuts. What kind of lunatic puts water chestnuts in Christmas stuffing?

That’s mine all ready to go into the oven. It came out all crispy and brown. So yummy! You could easily make this recipe with the regular bread stuffing rather than corn bread. But the corn bread is really good.

I had a great time at dinner last night. We laughed a lot and ate a lot of good food. Once I got home, I took the dogs out for another walk. I was so stuffed that I was physically uncomfortable the entire walk! I just wanted to get home, take my pants off, and lay down the sofa. Which I did!

So, back to today.

I actually made it into my sewing room and fired up my Bernina! I’ve decided that I want to finish up my Jewel Frames quilt top before my New Years weekend is over. Here’s the quilt all laid out on my design wall (and floor) a year or so ago.

When I took it down from my design wall I carefully stacked and numbered each row and placed them all in a project bin.

All I have to do is sew each numbered stack together into a row and then sew the rows together.

I got two rows completed tonight and then sewed those rows together.

This quilt will be another one for my bed. It’s 9 blocks by 9 blocks. I’ll also put some borders on it to make it big enough.

My friend gave me this kit quite a few years ago… maybe six years ago. I added more blocks than the throw-size kit provided. It’s a free pattern that came with my kit, but a quick Google search gave me a couple of places to get the pattern. I can’t vouch for the sites that are offering it, so I’m not including a link here. You’ll have to go find it yourself.

I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered a couple of quilt backings. The first was Kaffe’s purple damask flower which will eventually be combined with my recent orange/pink/purple quilt top.

That will be a bold quilt when it’s done, but that purple for the backing gives me a very good reaction!

The other backing is this Philip Jacob’s design. It’s called Luscious. The color way is ochre.

I mean… COME ON!!! Isn’t that the most amazing fabric! I don’t have a quilt in mind for this fabric as of yet, but I do have a couple of ideas.

Here’s one idea. I found this quilt on Pinterest. Unfortunately, someone pinned it in a way that it doesn’t acknowledge the maker. I would like to give someone credit for this. It’s basically larger fabric squares (which would be this fabric) alternating with 25 patch blocks. It will be fun to find fabrics to combine with that gorgeous luscious.

I feel like this pattern might be in one of my many Kaffe books but I haven’t had time to look through them yet. It would be easy enough to figure it out without a pattern. I would want to figure out an efficient way to make those 16 patch blocks. They are very random, but they could be made with somewhat random strip sets put together in some what random ways. I’ll noodle on it.

Tonight is my regular melancholy ending to a long weekend. The good thing is that I’ll be really busy this week so it will fly by. Then I’ll have another long weekend and I’m thinking I will try to take an additional day off next week. If the weather cooperates, I might take a drive to the coast. That would make me, Bender and Rico all very happy!

An Ice Storm as Christmas Approaches

I’m sitting in my warm and bright living room tonight listening to the wind blow and the sleet hit the windows. It will probably turn to freezing rain at some time tonight. I stepped onto the patio and scraped up some of the ice balls.

As these little ice balls pile up they solidify together and become a sheet of treacherous ice. The streets are already looking pretty slick.

But I’m really happy to be in a warm and bright house tonight. My power went out around 9:30 this morning. It was windy all night long and continued today. It’s cold too. Actually temps in the 20s. Wind chill takes it down to the low teens. A power line a few blocks away was knocked down and it affected my neighborhood, while the the street that runs parallel to mine never lost power.

It was a long day of waiting for the power to come on and trying to work on my phone and iPad (both operating on cellular connection), and watching the temperature in the house steadily get lower and lower. I did several meetings for work and kept on top of email, but that was about all I could do.

I took the dogs for a walk around 11 am, thinking it would be a good way to warm up. So I bundled up and headed out. We walked for about 2.5 miles. It was blustery and cold, but it was dry. When I got home the 60 degree house felt nice and toasty!

I ate a sad little lunch of crackers with butter (because Bender ate my half-loaf of bread while I was in the shower) then had a couple more meetings. Around 2:30 I took my phone and iPad to my friend’s house one street over so they could charge. Then I took the dogs for another 2.5 mile walk. It was still dry and blustery. I stopped at the park on the way home to let the dogs run free for a while. Then I dropped the dogs off at home and headed back to my friend’s house. They gave me a nice hot cup of coffee, filled some thermoses with hot water, and filled a thermos with some hot soup. The husband then took me for a drive to see if we could locate where the power outage was and we found four power company trucks about a half mile from my house. They were working on a downed power pole. It was a relief to know they were on the task. They estimated that the power would be back on around 6 pm.

My power actually came on around 4:30 and it was the most amazing feeling! I was so relieved that I wasn’t going to spend the night in a cold house! It’s amazing how wonderful a bright and warm home feels!

We had an ice storm two winters ago. You can read about that storm here. It’s kind of scary to see another one approaching. They can cause huge amounts of damage and power outages that can last days.

I’m going to work tomorrow morning and then take the afternoon off. My plan is to get my house ready for company for Christmas Eve dinner. I also need to plan out my menu and when to make what. It looks like the weather will keep me at home so It’s a good thing I got all my grocery shopping done earlier this week.

The fabric my friend purchased for me at her local quilt store that’s liquidating their KFC fabrics arrived earlier this week.

I bought a few yards of that white buttons fabric on the far left because I thought it would make an interesting neutral background for something… much more interesting than a solid white background. I saw a quilt made with this as a background earlier this week and it was interesting.

I bought the two pieces of feathers in the center because they’re so gorgeous!

The black octopus on the far right…. well… I just love it and have a kind of ridiculous amount of it. I have two pieces of it that are each large enough for a quilt backing. This piece is four yards. I have no plans for it but it makes me feel happy to know it’s in my stash.

Then a few days ago I got an email from Hancocks of Paducah… who is having a nice sale on KFC fabrics. So I purchased two pieces that will be eventual quilt backings. One for my recent orange/pink/purple quilt… this one…

The other one for a quilt that will be made FOR this particular backing. I have an idea on this. I’ll share more when this fabric arrives. It’s already in Portland, according to my package tracking info. Happy Christmas to me!

Yesterday was the winter solstice. It’s usually a good day for me. I really dislike how early it gets dark in the winter. I really do LOVE the long summer evenings with hours of light. I always think that if I can make it to the winter solstice, I can make it through the dark winter. I love knowing that the sun is slowly coming back to these northern climates.

I took the boys for a walk yesterday afternoon in the glorious sunshine of the shortest day of the year… when the sun is as far south as it will get.

It was a nice walk.

We decided to take another walk last night in the dark… knowing that bad weather was on the way. When I got home I was greeted by an un-invited quest in my kitchen.

Yup. That’s a mouse perched atop my backsplash. OMG!!!

It’s not unheard of to see mice in the house when it turns cold. I probably get a mouse or two every couple of years. So I pulled out my mouse traps (I always keep some on hand) and set a couple in the kitchen.

Then later last night I went into my guest room to find a Kaffe quilt book and noticed two intact hazelnuts on the floor next to the closet.

What an odd place to see two abandoned hazelnuts. So I had the bright idea to set a trap in that closet.

It’s very common to catch a mouse the first night you set out traps. So when I woke up this morning I checked all the traps I set. Nothing in any of the traps I set in the kitchen. But when I checked the trap in the guest room closet… there he was. Departed. Former mouse.

So the first thing I did (well, the first thing after disposing of the recently departed one) was to clean and disinfect all the kitchen counter and backsplash surfaces. It’s a relief to know that my hunt was successful. I’ve left a couple traps set in the kitchen and one in that closet just in case this guy invited his friends. But I’m thinking he was it.

I’m looking forward to this storm being over. Hearing on the news tonight that two major interstates around Portland are closed. I’m really glad I don’t have to travel anywhere.

Keep you fingers crossed for us!

Another Hectic Week Gone

It was another crazy week. I don’t know where all the time went. But it’s the weekend with just one week until Christmas and I’m enjoying some free time.

I didn’t get any sewing done at all this week. I feel like I didn’t have the time. Part of the reason is that I have visitors again. These two hooligans showed up on Tuesday after work.

They’re really good boys. They get along really with Bender and Rico and my boys just accept them in the house. And they’re pretty easy to take care of. But I have twice the number of dogs in my house that I usually do. So there’s extra work and effort involved.

They will be here until Monday evening.

The end of the calendar year is a really hectic time if you’re a fundraiser. So I’ve been swamped at work. The rest of December will only get worse. Luckily, we get a bit of a reprieve after the first of the year. I’ll probably take a couple days off. And my friend who visited last September is planning another trip in February. So that’s something to look forward to.

So with all that… not much sewing has been happening. But there has been fabric. My friend called me last weekend to let me know one of her local stores was liquidating all their KFC fabrics so everything they had was half off. She sent me photos and I had her pick up a few pieces for me. I was a little disappointed I didn’t see anything I thought I needed for a backing. A half off sale is a great time to purchase fabric for quilt backs. These fabrics will arrive on my door step on Monday.

Some really exciting fabric stuff happened today. Many months ago I pre-ordered some fabric from the Kaffe Fabulous at 85 collection and it finally arrived in shops last week. The collection is all rebooted out-of-print Kaffe designs. I didn’t buy everything from the collection, but I bought enough.

I typically buy half yards when I’m stash building. But these fabrics will only be on the market this one time. So I bought a yard of each. And I know I’ll want more of some of them and will regret not having more.

I mean… look at this!!!

And this…

That photo shows the entire yard of fabric, so you can see how big the scale of the design is.

And speaking of scale… this photo shows one of the original Kaffe oriental trees in green, and the new blue version from this collection. The scale of the new print is much larger.

And now I’m wondering if all these fabrics are at a larger scale than the original designs. I don’t remember hearing anything about it. Maybe I missed it.

It’s a quiet night here at my house. I have four dogs who are all sleeping soundly so I’m laying back and having a quiet night myself. Tomorrow morning I’ll go and play pickleball and try not to freeze my ass off. Then I’ll come home and start finalizing my menu for Christmas Eve dinner. I’m making some bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with a really good Waldorf coleslaw that I make often. It will work really well with the pork. I’m going to make a really yummy lemon cake for dessert. Now I just need to decide on another side and a veggie. I’ll share my recipes later once I get everything planned.

And here’s these knuckleheads making themselves comfortable on my new quilt!

Sunday Night and Forcing Myself to Sew

I haven’t felt very inspired the last few weeks. I’ve been looking at the work of others and thinking about upcoming projects. I have a lot of ideas, but I’m having a hard time finding the inspiration to get into my sewing room and get something done.

But tonight I forced myself to get in there and get something done. I’ve been planning to make some pillow cases for my new bed quilt and the fabric arrived a week or so ago. So there were no more excuses. It took me about 1.5 hours to get these two pillow cases done. And I’m really happy with how they look on the bed!

I’m so glad I went the pillow case route rather than making some kind of shams. I just don’t think my life is formal enough to justify shams. But these simple pillow cases make it look more finished while not being to involved and complicated.

As a reminder, this is the tutorial I used for the pillowcases. I followed the pattern for the queen size pillows except that I cut four inches off the length and I’m glad I did. There would have been way too much fabric flopping on that open end if I hadn’t.

One thing I love about these pillow cases is that they’re made with the burrito method, which means you sew the pillow case body and accent band inside the cuff (the pink stripe in my pillowcases).

You roll the full width of the pillowcase into one long burrito and then sew one long seam. The accent band and body of the pillow case are all rolled up in that burrito.

Then you turn it right side out and all those raw edges are buried inside. It’s really quite brilliant!

Here’s one pillow case with that burrito seam sewn and all turned right side out.

The side and bottom seam are French seams. The third side is on the fold.

A French seam means you first sew your bottom and side seams with the wrong sides of the fabric together first. Then you trim the seam allowance, turn the pillowcase wrong side out, press it, and sew a 1/4 inch seam all the way around the sewn edges. So all those raw edges are contained inside they seam allowance. This photo shows me approaching the sewn corner of this pillowcase.

They’re really beautifully finished and really easy to make. I really appreciate things that are well made.

Several years ago I made about a half dozen sets of pillow cases out of batiks and gave them as holiday gifts. People loved them. I still have one set left in my drawer. I should pull them out and use them!

Here’s more photos of putting these pillow cases together tonight.

It was a bit of a dreary week here last week. There were at least two days that were so rainy we didn’t get out for a walk at all. Days like that are really difficult and my boys are almost sad on those days. I get a lot of this on those days…

We did manage to have a good weekend. Rico had his regular sheep herding lesson yesterday and then we stopped for a nice field run before we headed home.

The creek that runs along this park had left its banks and my boys thought that was so much fun! The creek was so deep they actually got a little swimming in.

They are quite sure that I should be throwing sticks.

On Saturday evening I had an impromptu pot luck dinner and a few hours of conversation with friends. It’s been a few months since I hung out with these friends as a group and it was a great and much needed evening.

I met another friend for brunch today to celebrate the holiday and exchange our gifts. It was a lovely meal of delicious lattes, beignets and eggs Benedict. After that, Rico had another sheep herding lesson and he was brilliant! It was a lot of brain work for both of us and I was happy with how we did.

I didn’t get home until a little after 4:00. The good news is that I got my outside holiday lights up earlier this week and I was welcomed home by warmth and happiness!

I took that photo the other day after I got the lights and wreaths up. It wasn’t quite dark enough to show the lights well. But I just love coming home and seeing my outdoor lights on. It’s so nice to have them all on a timer. I love seeing them when we come home from our night time walks. And we did get a nice three mile walk in once we got home.

I love sending holiday cards every year. I like to have the cards ordered by Thanksgiving. And that gives me a couple of weeks to get them all written, addressed and in the mail. I got the bulk of them done on Friday night.

I sat down t my dining room table and finished up around 40 cards. I dropped them in the mail Saturday morning.

I’ll finish the rest of them up in the next couple days and have them in the mail before the week is over.

After the rainy streak we’ve had over the last 10 days or so, we have a clear streak coming up. But it also comes with some cold.

I’m perfectly happy to trade some warmth for some sun!

The most amazing thing that happened this week was that I walked past a free table in my neighborhood that had a brand new Patagonia rain coat in my size and my favorite color!

That was a pretty sweet find! It will probably last me the rest of my life.

A Week of Gathering Inspiration, Waiting, and Planning

I haven’t hit my sewing room since last Sunday. Honestly, I just haven’t been inspired to. I’m thinking that I went on such a feverish productive jag over the last couple of months that I’m a little burned out.

So this week I’ve been thinking a lot about future projects… I looked at a lot of pictures, savored color and fabric combos, bought a pattern or two, and spent way too much time on Pinterest. I also ordered a few more pieces of shot cottons for my stripes and shots quilt, as well as some KFC Fabric to make pillow cases to go with my new bed quilt.

An order of a few more pieces of shot cottons arrived a couple days ago. So I did get into my sewing room tonight and pressed and cut a few more strips for the stripes and shots quilt. I now have 20 sets cut and ready to go. That’s half of what I’ll need for this quilt.

I have a few more pieces of shot cottons that should arrive this week, then I can start pairing up the duplicate strips of the solid shots with the additional 20 unique stripes I have waiting. I may start sewing these pairs together this week. I want to sew them on my Featherweight.

I had one last quick project I wanted to make tonight for a holiday gift at the request of a friend… before I put my Bernina away for a few weeks.

Several years ago I made a bunch of “corn bags” for friends and for people at work as holiday gifts. Basically, they are a flannel bag containing feed corn that you can put in the microwave and use as a heating pad or to help take the chill off. I was first given one by a sister in law many years ago and I used mine so many times and so often it literally fell apart!

This time of year I heat mine up a couple of times every day to warm my hands while I’m working. I just get so cold sitting all day and when it gets dark so early.

I make two different styles. One is a simple rectangle about 8×12. The other kind is about 7×20 and has baffles or section filled with corn. It’s great to throw over your shoulder, around your neck, or to wrap around your hands.

Since I had made a bunch of these a few years ago I still had some feed corn in the garage and had pieces of flannel left over. I like to use a dark flannel since it will get lots of use and the corn bags are not washable. If it gets too dirty and ratty, you just have to throw it away.

I start with cutting a piece of flannel 8 inches by width of fabric. Then I trim this folded piece to 8 inches by about 20.5 inches — so unfolded it would be 8 inches by 41 inches. .

Then I press a 1/2 inch hem along one long side of this piece.

Once that 1/2 inch hem is pressed, fold this piece of fabric in half, right sides together, so that what were the selvedge edges are together. Sew along the long edge that does not have the hem pressed over and one short edge. Use a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Leave the long hemmed edge at the top un-sewn.

Turn this piece right side out and press. It should now measure 20 inches by 7.5 inches.

Using a piece of chalk or a chalk pencil, mark off five four-inch sections.

The edges with the folded hem should line up nicely. You will basically have a long flannel pocket with five open sections. Sew along each of the lines you marked, back tacking at the start and end of each line of stitching.

Now it’s time to fill these sections with corn. I get 50 lb bags of whole feed corn at the farm store. You can buy smaller quantities on Amazon but it’s a lot more expensive.

Make sure you get whole corn. You don’t want to get cracked or ground corn. And you want feed corn. Not seed corn.

And for the love of God… don’t use pop corn!!!

So, why do I use corn instead of rice? The corn seems to hold the heat longer. I think it also holds up better over time than the rice.

To fill the bags I make a funnel from a piece of paper and some tape. I put about 1-1/4 cups of corn into each section. You can adjust to be as full or loose as you like.

Once the corn is in the first section, hold up the bag so the corn falls to the bottom, away from the opening. Then put in a couple of pins horizontal to the opening to keep the corn away from the opening so you don’t sew over corn when you close this.

Continue filling and pinning until you have all five sections filled and penned.

Then take this whole thing to you sewing machine and stitch one long line along the open tops of the bag, making sure to keep the two sides of the bag with the folded hems lined up so that your line of stitching catches both edges.

And that’s your corn bag. I heat mine on high heat for 3 minutes. You should test this out in your microwave and for your personal preference. I like mine really hot! Try 1-1/2 minutes first. If that’s not warm enough, try 2 minutes. Go up in 30 second increments until you find the right time for you. Be careful because you can get warm and cold pockets in the corn. I shake mine up a bit when I comes out of the microwave.

When I woke up this morning it was snowing. We don’t see a lot of snow in Portland and people usually do panic a bit when a storm comes through. It snowed almost all day. This is looking out the front of my house across the street during the early afternoon.

Here’s a view of my back yard first thing in the morning.

After snowing most of the day, here’s the accumulation we got.

It’s a little sad as snow storms go. But it was a great day to be inside and warm just watching the snow fall.

Since it wasn’t much of a day to be outside, I managed to get my living room cleaned and got my basic holiday lights up.

I love having all these lights during our dark and dreary winters. It makes me feel so much better and makes the house feel warm and cozy. I don’t typically put up a lot of holiday decorations. I might pull a few out of the boxes in the garage, but for me it’s really all about the lights.

I also took advantage of a snowy day inside and got most of my Christmas cards addressed. I’ll work on them over this week and have them all ready for the mail later this week. Here’s the photo I took for my card this year. I wanted to show one of my quilts and just couldn’t leave the dogs off.

We had a few windy days early this week and it all brought down a lot of leaves.

I have two huge Sweet Gum Maples on the south side of my back yard. They provide lovely shade to my yard during the summer months. And they drop A LOT of leaves all through late November and all of December.

My yard guys came on Wednesday and got them all taken care of. That’s a lot of leaves!

They were working in an absolute downpour. But once they were done and gone, the sun came out.

One of those big trees is still full of green leaves. I’m glad my yard guys will be back next week.

I’ve decided I’m going to make pillow cases to go with my new bed quilt, rather than making shams. I had hoped to use fabric from my stash rather than having to purchase more fabric, but I didn’t have any pieces that are in the quilt that are large enough. So I ordered a couple yards of the Lotus Leaf fabric, shown at the bottom of this photo. That will be for the body of the pillow cases.

The cuff and accent band will be made from the stripe and zigzag that are from my stash. All three fabrics are in the quilt. The zigzag is left over from the backing and the stripe is left over from the binding. So once the Lotus Leaf arrives I’ll be ready to go.

I’ve made a god number of batik pillow cases over the years. I’ve given a lot of them as gifts in sets of two. Here’s the pillow case pattern I use.

I went and played pickle ball Saturday morning. It was cold and windy but the sun was out. Someone took a photo and posted it on Facebook. I’ve drawn a black arrow to show where I am on the court. I’m wearing a teal fleece and black baseball cap.

Happy work week!