Part 4 of Scrap Dance Mystery 2 Step

Say that 3 times – Part 4 of Scrap Dance Mystery 2 Step….Big title for a fun project.  I love a mystery, so I am having FUN with this little  project.  Little for me, as I decided to do a “twin size”.  Lately everything I have made has been double or king!

I am enjoying each month an hour or two of sewing something totally different than anything else I am working on.  Carole has great directions. If you are interested in playing catch up – check out the instructions on her blog here – Scrap Dance 2 Step – April info  . Carole releases the directions once a month and I “schedule” some time on my calendar so I can play along.  Carole has a great blog.  She writes about a lot of things besides quilting at From My Carolina Home on WordPress.

The directions for April have me using the hourglass (quarter square triangle) blocks and join them with a scrappy square –

Part 4 of Scrap Dance Mystery 2 Step

Of course there are 2 Steps, joining “bar units” and scrappy squares –

Scrap Dance 2 Step April Units

Now, I am second guessing my scrappy square choices……………I’m not sure I love them like I should…..but I am going to leave things alone and wait and see what happens next month.

(Note – my extra ironing board right now has 600 or more 4.5″ scrappy squares stacked up on it……waiting to be bundled up for the quilt show….so it must be scrap fabric envy!)

Overall, I am happy to say that all the fabric used for this project except the background neutral came from my “scrap box” and my scrap storage system.  I like scrappy quilts and I like the way each of Carole’s patterns have turned out; so I just need to practice a little patience today!  My units for this step are complete, and filed away in big zip locks and on the tray on the shelf to wait for the next part of the Scrap Dance  Two Step in May!

 Don’t tell anybody I spent time with the vacuum this weekend !  I thought when we bought that cute little Dyson Animal Stick Vac last week that the HUBBY would be the only one using it.  Honestly I would rather be quilting too, but the windows & doors have been open and the pollen has been coming in the house, and the darn cats refuse to operate the vacuum or the swiffer or even the dusting cloths.  It is “almost” time to set up our free standing a/c units, and the one for our bedroom needed a good cleaning before the season starts….(because we didn’t do it at the end of the season last year).  Hubby helped me get the entire cover off so we could get the vacuum in on the coils. We have 5 of these units, between the house & the garage sewing room,  and the filters are easy to remove and wash; but there are “intakes” that get covered in dust, lint, cat hair etc that you can’t easily get to, in order to clean.  It was like major surgery yesterday. And of course, all this took time away from any progress in the sewing room until evening!  Hubby agrees that the other 4 need to come apart, one at a time for thorough cleaning.

I was lucky to squeeze building these units in on Saturday night after I made binding for 2 quilts.  I did manage to get the binding made for 2 more quilts, and got 3 of the quilts trimmed and ready to attach the binding after dinner on Sunday night.  One more quilt on the table ready to trim, and then it will be time to get busy sewing the binding on those 4 quilts.

I am saving the binding attachment for my 3 day “sit & sew camp” later this week.  The good thing about “going to a sit & sew camp” is I won’t see the dust bunnies rolling down my hallway, or the laundry piling up all week!  Out of sight…..golly I need a housekeeper to follow around and pick up threads that I drop!

Since Downton Abbey is off the air, do you suppose the staff is looking for a new position?  I could give a few of them room and board!  I suppose they would require a paycheck beyond my meager means, so I guess I will have to continue “scheduling” the domestic chores…..My sister-in-law, Carolyn, who writes the great blog – One Block Wonder Woman reminded me that BALANCE is the key; and her formula is 2.5 mins housework, 2 hours in the garden and 8-10 hour s for quilting!  My schedule is Monday laundry – Tuesday toilets-Quilting the rest the week.  (I keep forgetting about those floors…..which is why I bought the hubby that cute Dyson….)

My projects are stacking up.  How about in your sewing room?  Do you have “more than one” going at a time?  How do you keep it all straight?

Note – linking up this post to Oh Scrap !!  Check out the button on the sidebar on this blog or use the link in this paragraph!  (I love the full name of that blog by the way, because I believe it!)

Gardens,Quilt show and Talkin’ Turkey

I spent 3 days in the garden this past week, working on 9 months of weeds! Yes, it is true, I gave up sewing time for working in the garden.  I made multiple trips to our compost pile in back in our woods to empty the trailer of the debris.  I still have “many” days worth of work in the yard.  I decided that I like quilting better than gardening.  I should be outside right now with a tool and a bucket working on some of that stuff, but then, who would write my blog post, or read yours?  Seriously, I have had to force myself to “schedule” yard work time on my google calendar!  But at least now, I can see the remaining tulips blooming, and know that the hostas are emerging from their winter sleep, and the sad looking azaleas will bloom once more.  The sedum have all been dead headed, and I started to split them for transplant in to other areas of the garden.

If you know a trick to rid my flowerbeds of the “mums gone wild”, let me know. Backstory – I planted several pots of “mums” one fall and they have turned into weeds, taking over the beds.  I have dug and dug and dug until I am crazy.  They never bloomed again after that first fall, and I just want them “out” of the garden.  The other thing I want out is the lighting system and soaker hose system, until at least I get the weeding done.  Over the years the lights have been damaged and the hose has felt the edge of the shovel when I was attacking some wild thing that sprung up.  Perhaps it was a great idea “way back when” but not today.   I’ve been ruthless removing sections, as I come to them, and will put the hubby back to work “laying fresh hose” once I have the mulch down.

More work to be done

There is still more weeding and mulching to be done!!  And, I have some time “blocked out” on my calendar!  

Meanwhile, between all the garden work, I went and picked up “more” donations for the quilt guild “Second Time Around”. Two trips, and two vehicles, and just when I saw light at the end of the tunnel, I have more “stuff’ to weed though.  I have had several workdays this month and lots of great helpers getting things pressed and trimmed and folded and priced to resell at the quilt guild and at our quilt show in July.  Gosh – if you are on the East coast in July you should plan a visit – details here – Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show – in Lewes Delaware.  Last show we had over 200 quilts on display, and lots of vendors.  Of course, you can stop and say hi to me at the Second Time Around tables and get some great bargains!!

I did get a couple of opportunities to work on my Talkin’ Turkey project since my post about making those Flying Geese. This quilt pattern, is by Bonnie Hunter, in her String Fling Book.  By Friday of last week – I had a few blocks on the wall. — Do you recognize those flying geese from my last post?

Talking Turkey 19 to go

(Do you see the blocks all stacked up under the ones pinned to the wall?  Those are 4.5″ squares that were donated, and they are being sorted into “pretty stacks” for sale at the Second Time Around Table at the show!)

I got a bit of time on both Saturday and Sunday evening to sew, and I did LOTS of assembly!    There are 21 blocks up on the wall now, and lots of pieces “ready to sew” for the last 9.  I have all the units prepped and pinned on the blocks, and when I get an extra hour, I can zip right through them.  

21 done Talkin Turkey

Of course, at this point my brain has moved on to “other things”, like the next step in the assembly process.  (There are LOTS more steps to go in this project, with multiple pieced borders.  I saw a “finished” Talkin’ Turkey for sale on Etsy for $1200…… ) Anyway, I had to count out how many more neutral  and red squares I will have to cut, and check if I have the next neutral sashing cut yet or not.  I won’t start that step until all the blocks are assembled and I have a chance to really “arrange them” on my design wall so I get a nice balance of the “scrappy”.  I have several blocks that have “bright bits” that I want to spread out; like stripes in the center of the nine patch or polka dots (both black and white) that do jump out at me.  So, a bit of “design layout will be in order, and I will have to “clear my wall” to make room for the entire project. It is very satisfying to see it come to this point.  

A busy week ahead for me with a Quilt show meeting, 3 mornings with 2nd Time Around helpers coming over, an all day quilt bee and two days where I have ladies coming up to church to help “tie” quilts for our graduates.  (Hmmmm….when will that garden work happen or any more of my own sewing happen…..)

I hope you are having fun with your projects!

Road Trip to Pittsburgh

I took a road trip with the hubby this past weekend and went to Pittsburgh. My husband was involved in a model railroad gathering and we attended seminars all day on Friday and Saturday. The delight to the model railroad folks in the area is the opportunity to model many railroad lines in the western part of Pennsylvania, and the very real availability to physically “see” what they are planning to model.  This group of modelers do “prototypical modeling”, so they want as much “realism and accuracy” as they can get.  A lot of the “fun” of modeling in a prototypical fashion is the historical research.  Which rail lines went through, what industries they serviced, what commodities were being moved etc. are all factors to consider.  Some fellows were modeling from Pittsburgh to the West, while others were modeling Pittsburgh to the east.  Some folks considered a geographic area as small as 1 mile, while others spanned hundreds of miles. Throughout the seminars, one thing was readily apparent. These folks take their trains very seriously. Walking around the hotel lobby, you could hear discussions on what type of engine was used during a particular era, which line interchanged where etc.  For someone like me with a background in logistics, I am always fascinated about how freight moved before the invention of a C-141, C-5 and C17 aircraft. That is where my area of expertise makes we want to delve further back in time. I understand freight priorities, cargo tonnage and distribution concepts.  We had a speaker who fascinated me.  Charlie Blenko, was 16 years old, a sophomore in high school, and he spoke with more confidence and poise than almost any of the other presenters.  He was researching a short line railroad that had operated not very far from his home over 100 years ago.  His use of various tools, such as US Geographic maps, tax maps, and other on line sources from places line Penn State’s library were fascinating.  He really put together a presentation that was worthy of a boardroom in a business setting.  We attended a presentation by his father also, who introduced himself the next day as “Charlie’s Dad”.  You could certainly tell that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.   Charlie’s dad has been building his model railroad at home for the last 15 years.  Charlie has become quite the railroad fan in the process.  It was nice to see this relationship between father and son over the shared hobby. Charlie’s dad, Andy Blenko, was pretty proud, with good reason.

Part of the RPM Meet (Railroad Prototypical Modelers) involved “operating sessions”.  We were included in a group of 11 to “operate” the train layout at a private home in western Pittsburgh, about an hour away from our hotel.  I am SO glad we were able to drive over in the daylight.  We were up and down, and around and across streams and hills and valleys on 2 lane country roads.  I am also very glad that the drive was worth it.  We went to operate on James Pinkney’s layout, and he was modeling the Western Maryland RR.

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HO Equipment – Western Maryland

I was the “conductor” while my hubby Bill was the engineer.  I was a little “less than confidant” operating on a strange layout but all went well.  My job was to make sure I was “sorting the cars” into the right industry as we passed through various parts of the train layout. Operating is a bit like a giant game.  We pick up the train from the appropriate rail yard. The yardmaster gives you an engine or 2, set up with 20+ rail cars, and the documentation to go with each car.

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Rail Yard

The engineer (Bill) contacts the dispatcher for permission to enter the “main line” of the track and proceed to our first stop, where I advise (as the conductor) which cars are to be dropped at the various industries, and which cars are to be picked up from sidings and included in the train for transfer to their next destination.  The engineer attempts to do this without tying up the main line, and with the minimum number of switching moves.  We proceed with our drops and pickups around the layout, all the while getting direction from the dispatcher.  This particular layout had several yards and a helix to help us enter higher or lower levels of the train layout.  We ran two trains between 7 pm and 11:30 pm.  One was a “local” that had a great deal of switching and was very entertaining. We learned a lot about the layout along the way.  And of course, at the end of the run, there was a beer for the conductor!   I enjoy this aspect of model railroading and had forgotten how much fun it could be.  I haven’t “operated” in a long time, so I was a bit nervous, but it came back to me quickly, especially once I figured out the paperwork, the drop points etc.

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Port interchange

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Steel Mill

As I mentioned, model railroaders like to depict particular era’s and industries, and this layout was nicely done.

On Sunday, we had a couple of hours to go do a little “rail fanning”.  We drove out to a steel mill area and checked out the bridges – both auto and rail, and how everything came together.  We had a good time getting off the highways and up and down and in & out of the neighborhoods and back sides of some of the industries. I was enchanted by the George Westinghouse bridge, built between 1929 and 1932, which “George Westinghouse Memorial Bridge in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, carries U.S. Route 30, the Lincoln Highway, over the Turtle Creek Valley near to where it joins the Monongahela River Valley east of Pittsburgh.” (source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Westinghouse_Bridge )

Before I arrived at the RPM Meet, I knew very little about the G. Westinghouse bridge.  The lecture by “Charlie’s Dad” introduced it to me and I could understand his excitement in modeling the bridge when we drove down to view the area.

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Of course, we had to do a little “off highway” driving to see more!

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We took a turn just before the bridge and found this road.  It was still paved, but grown over.  No longer a means to access the bridge, but I bet they were glad of the guard rails when it was in use.  We went back up to the main road and took the very NEXT turn and found another road that took us down “under” the bridge.  There are 3 rail lines in this photo and one rail bridge, along with the Westinghouse bridge and a more modern bridge on the right. There was a group of about 6 or 8 homes down this road, under the bridge.  Those folks “knew someone” who kept fresh asphalt on their road.

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That railroad bridge is for the Union Railroad.

Bill wanted to see a little bit of another steel yard, so we headed out from this location, and using our faithful GPS, we found the spot he sought!

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Of course, he took lots of photos of the steel mill and I wandered around looking for interesting things.  I happened upon Joe Maragac!  The story on the blue plaque was quite fanciful.

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Joe Magarac is a fictional character, depicting a Croatian steelworker.  There are many legends attributed to Joe.  I spent this morning learning a bit more about his story, and the fable that depicts him – http://www.croatia.org/crown/articles/9492/1/Joe-Magarac-a-legendary-Croatian-steel-worker-in-the-USA.html   .   The descriptions on this Croatian website are quite poetic.

On another website, I learned that Joe Magarac, the story goes, was a man made of steel. He was born in an iron ore mine and raised in a furnace.  Some versions of the story said Magarac was seven feet tall. Others claimed he was as tall as a smokestack! His shoulders were as big as the steel-mill door and his hands like the huge buckets (ladles) used to pour molten steel. He ate that hot steel like soup and cold steel ingots like meat.”

  source – http://www.jaha.org/edu/discovery_center/work/folk_hero.html    .  

An article I read from a Penn State website gave a little grimmer part of the tale.  It put the reality of the immigrant unskilled labor into a totally different light.  The article addresses the issue of fair pay, and working conditions of the steel workers, and takes all the glamour right out of the steel industry. ” Conditions were not exactly comfortable in the mills or the mill towns. Steelworkers were both overworked and underpaid at 15 cents an hour for the average 12 hour day. These wages were considerably below the living wage of the time, $3 per day. Jobs in the steel mill were hot, dangerous, and grueling but immigrants considered it better than no work at all. Not only were conditions uncomfortable, but the jobs were segregated. Prejudice ruled the mills as easier jobs were given to citizens and Northern Europeans, while the most dangerous tasks were assigned to Eastern Europeans.”  Source – http://pabook2.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/JoeMagarac.html

So, for me, the glimmer and gloss of the steel mill is not so shiny.  As years have gone by and labor unions struck and demanded safer conditions and fare wages, the industry changed. In Pittsburgh, the decline of the US steel industry is very apparent. There were so many areas we drove around that depicted the living conditions addressed in the article above. Turns out, the steel barons were much like the railroad barons of the 19th century.

Further along we stopped at another point and browsed around about.

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This shows a hearth from the “Superintendents Club”.  On the left is another bronze  plaque that sent me to the wonders of Google this morning!

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I wanted to know who this Braddock was and why they named a community for him, and what battle took place in 1755.  Turns out it was the French and Indian war, and Braddock was a British officer.  George Washington accompanied him in this battle, and survived, where Braddock did not. Braddock’s Defeat as the event was called made quite the impression on George Washington.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braddock_Expedition  . The more I read about General Braddock, the more I realised he was lacking true leadership skills.  George Washington penned a letter to his mother, following the death of Braddock and described the defeat in general terms. He tells his mother “I luckily escaped without a wound, though I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me.”  http://www.nationalcenter.org/Braddock’sDefeat.html  Other accounts are not nearly as generous to General Braddock.    “His rudeness and arrogance made a thoroughly bad impression on the colonials and were to contribute to a jaundiced view of the British officer class.”   http://www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/general-braddock-defeated

We are still trying to decide why the area was named for this General!

Across the street directly from this monument was another memorial, this one to the US military.  Sadly it is in a terrible state of disrepair, which is indicative of the community that surrounds this steel mill.

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As I left Pittsburgh, I thought a lot about the human side of industry.  This monument in such terrible condition reminds me of the human side of the US Military too, who work those very long shifts, in often poor working conditions; much like the steel workers did. Gratefully the pay is much better, but often not always a living wage for the lowest ranking. I also know why so many people I had contact with in the Air Force over 37 years, had left the rust belt, looking for better lives for themselves and their families, and finding the Air Force offered those opportunities.  Some of the folks I knew from the Pittsburgh area were among the hardest working and hardiest people I encountered.

In closing, I want to express that the hobby of model railroading is so much more than a “bunch of men playing with trains”.  There is so much history to be learned, along with the logistics of moving freight. It is a great hobby to introduce to a young person, as there are so many directions to make the hobby your own.

 

 

Embroidery resources

Welcome to my new “readers & followers”.  I don’t say that often enough, but I am glad you found my blog and hope you will find something helpful, amusing, interesting or motivating in my posts.  I started this blog over 3 years ago, and use it as a “journal of sorts” of my hobbies – which continue to expand.  I originally wrote about quilting and sewing for the grand children; and have expanded to paper crafting, card making / stamping; and machine embroidery.  (Note – I flunked out of knitting 101, so you don’t have to listen to that story unravelling). Occasionally, I will chat about other things, like domestic life, my pets and travel.  Mostly, I am a stitching grandma!

I had a lot of fun on Monday, meeting ladies from Ocean Pines MD at the Embroidery Club they have established.  They have been meeting for over a year, and this was my FIRST chance to go.  I went immediately after the Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting and it was a 45 minute trip.  Thank goodness I had so many helper to “pack up” the Second Time Around shopping and help me “get out the door” quickly.  My wonderful husband came over to the church with my car, and swapped out for the loaded SUV, and took it home. Next month, there is a luncheon at OWQG, so I will be able to “grab my dish” and head out on time.

What I enjoyed about the meeting with the Ocean Pines Embroidery Club was the willingness to share SKILLS that the experienced stitchers had acquired.  We learned about various stabilizers they like, design sources, and techniques for “in the hoop” designs.  They have been creating some wonderful projects.  Of course, I have terrible “machine envy” right now.  My little Brother PE500 can only accommodate a 4×4 design, and they were showing some projects that needed a 5×7 or larger frame.  I’m not investing in a new machine any time soon, so I will just “admire” and learn from the “bigger machine operators”.  I want to learn all I can, so when I eventually take the leap to something bigger, I will have “proof of use” of the little machine to satisfy the hubby……     😉

I mentioned to several ladies at the Embroidery Club that I had a blog, and had recently written about “transferring designs” between the computer and the embroidery machine.  If you are interested – that blog post can be found here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/moving-files-to-the-embroidery-machine-tutorial/  .

A few years ago I wrote a detailed post on resources for embroidery machines.  I shared lots of websites for free designs etc, places to buy designs, and supplies you might want to consider.  Again, if you are interested – that blog post can be found here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/machine-embroidery-resources/

I spent yesterday attending to normal domestic life stuff, with NO sewing/stitching. (Have I ever mentioned that I would rather sew than clean house or grocery shop???)  I deserved a nice cold glass of wine after the “stuff” was taken care of, and sat out in a rocker on the front porch and watched the traffic go by!  Can you believe it was 70 degrees yesterday?

After dinner, I had some time to “surf” on the computer.  I did find some interesting new “sources” for free designs and spent several hours   downloading things. I joined a group a few months ago on Facebook – Resources for Free Machine Embroidery Designs, Sales, Tutorials, Networking . https://www.facebook.com/groups/624604440941908/  Those members share links to FREE designs.

Following some of those links that had been posted on the Facebook group, I ended up at http://www.krisrhoades.com/  and picked up the cutest little elephant.  (Of course, I ended up window shopping for other designs too).

I also dropped by http://www.thebikestore.com/starling/index.html and picked up the mug rug pattern for March.  Once I downloaded the design, I was disappointed to find it was a 5×7, too big for my machine. Oh well, I have it saved now.

Then I popped over to http://missmarysembroidery.com/free-stuff-sales/  and picked up a “Luck of the Irish” free monthly design and an SVG cutting file too.

While I was browsing around on the Resources for Free Machine Embroidery….. group, I saw a link for Janome.  I don’t have a Janome EMBROIDERY machine, but I popped over to Janome’s website to see what they had, and was surprised to find FREE designs in multiple formats.  I need to subscribe and start downloading.  There were over 70 that would work for me, and I think I will be a little selective about what I download.   http://www.janome-embroidery.com/c-132-free-embroidery-designs.aspx

Another place on Facebook that I have found free designs is StitchDelight . https://www.facebook.com/groups/StitchDelight.FREEBIES/   I’ve collected some great alphabet  designs in the last month; new letter daily.   This is also a group you have to “join” to be able to download.

I am subscribed to a mailing list from Artistic Thread Works and get lots of freebies there every week.  You have to “subscribe” to the email list to get the free stuff – http://www.artisticthreadworks.com/public/main.cfm

As I mentioned, I am working with a Brother PE500; which is an embroidery only machine, with a 4×4 (100mm x 100mm) capability.  My machine has a “cable connection” to my computer, and uses PES files.

So, no fancy photo’s today because I have stitched not a thing!  Maybe later.  Grandbaby # 4 is having a birthday and I saw something tempting…..

DISCLAIMER – With most of these websites & Facebook groups, you need to “subscribe” or “join” or “set up an account”.  Be careful about what information you chose to share when doing this.  Honestly, one of these sites wanted my “birthday”….but I was not giving up the year….too much identity information!  And of course, Be careful about clicking on unknown links etc.  Make sure your “virus software” is up to date and running, and scans your downloads BEFORE you open them.   FYI – I have not had any problems with ANY of the links or the websites I am sharing, so if you ‘know and trust me’ you know that I won’t ever knowingly steer you wrong, but there are “evil doers” in the world who like to trick people; so be cautious when clicking on links in emails; on websites etc.  

Have fun with what ever you are working on today!

Happy New Year!

Gosh, we finished 2016 off with a big bang!

 The week between Christmas and New Year were very busy around our house.  I did lots of cooking, cleaning, shopping, and celebrating.

My quilting bee friends gathered for the first Annual Queen Bees Christmas Party luncheon at my house on Dec 27.

Table set for the Queen Bees

We had a “pot luck luncheon”.  I made  a lovely broccoli cheese soup and served it with croutons, sour creme and extra cheese for toppings. We had 3 different salads, and fried chicken and rolls, and LOTS of sweet goodness like chocolate dipped pretzels and fudge too.  We had a fun “gift exchange” and then got prizes for UFO completion. And of course, the project finishes.   The most exciting finish comes from Pam.  She had a project she started hand quilting YEARS ago and put away. She has kept it all these years with SOMEDAY in mind.  She joined Ocean Waves Quilt Guild and was inspired to finish. Our UFO challenge enabled her to “break it down” into smaller goals.  I know she has achieved great satisfaction from this finish!  This will be a treasure in her life!  Our bee members have been cheering her on for the last 12 months!

The 30 year quilt!

There were a few other projects shown at this bee too –

Suzanne's Crazy Quilt

Suzanne's baby quilt

Dotti Christmas wall hanging

On New Years Eve, we kicked the party tempo up a bit!  We had a New Years Eve party/anniversary celebration.  When we got married 10 years ago, we had a big New Years Eve party/wedding reception at a local mansion, called Sunnybrae Mansion in Milford DE.

Bill & Mary's wedding reception

Bill & Mary’s wedding reception

 

 

NYE wedding reception

NYE wedding reception

We were told it was the “best” New Years eve party people had been to in quite a while!

On our 5th anniversary, we held another party at home; and then our friends asked if we were going to do it again “next year”.  I told them “every 5 years”.  Bill asked me earlier in the month what I wanted to do to celebrate our anniversary, and I said “throw a party”.   This year we did quick “email invites” and kept our fingers crossed that we were not “too late” in planning a party. Silly me, we had a great turnout! (I even invited a new “quilting” neighbor at the last minute.  I was so glad that Barbara and Robert were able to join us.)  Our friends consisted of folks we know at church, my quilting friends, old neighbors, new neighbors and Bill’s railroad club buddies.  It was an interesting mix and was enjoyable.

So, this New Years eve was our 2nd “every 5 year” party!  And silly me, I did not take ONE photo during the party or as I was getting the table set up!  (Well, I did take a picture  a few days before, while I was inventorying the liquor…..and determining what I needed to buy etc)

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So shopping commenced in the middle of the week to round out the liquor and mixers and soda’s and food choices.  I had the expertise from my daughters who know how to host a great party on what to make etc. I borrowed a 3 unit crock pot from my daughter and filled it with hot spinach /artichoke dip; grape jelly meatballs, marina meatballs. On the dining room table we had chips & 7 layer taco dip; bruschetta, shrimp with 3 dips, (avocado cream; ginger remoulade and cocktail sauce); baked brie with puff pastry, a lovely vegetable basket, and nuts chips & dip etc.  We had cheesecake, we had cookies and fudge and caramel popcorn.  And again, those great friends of mine brought things to round out the choices on the table. We even had a big bowl of black eyed pea soup with dumplings.

It is not often that we make it to midnight on our anniversary, but this party went on past 1 am and everyone seemed to have a good time.  I judge the party satisfaction by the conversation. Over the course of the evening, wandering around the house talking to people, I could hear animated conversation in  every room.

We opened the prosecco, the champagne and the non-alcoholic bubbly  at midnight and toasted !   Of course, there was lots of leftover food to put away when everyone went home, and I am very thankful to a husband who helped deal with that quickly.  I did break out the box that held the original New Years eve party hats and noise makers, and a friend added to the noise makers with another package! Bill brought out his train whistle to add to the midnight sound effects!

Sunday, after 4 hours sleep I was up and clearing up the dirty dishes that didn’t make the first run of the dishwasher the night before.  We had a casual New Years day and I puttered around putting things to rights, in between napping.  I have determined there is enough leftover liquor/beer/wine/mixers to have a party every weekend for a month!

The “bar” was set up in the kitchen and the bulk of the food in the dining room, buffet style on the table.  Guess where the people were hanging out??  The kitchen.  I’m beginning to understand why people would want an “open concept” kitchen.  Somehow it doesn’t suit this 110+ year old house.

I am thankful for my friends Nancy and Bob who came back over on Sunday afternoon!  I was able to “share” with them some of the leftovers.  The kitchen floor got swept, the rugs vacuumed of any crumbs, the holiday cups and wine glasses put away; and the liquor stored for the next go round.  We munched on leftovers for lunch and snacks. I hoarded the wonderful “fresh veggies” that Gayle brought.  (It is always tastier when somebody else did all the cutting!) I figured if I was going to snack the day away, the carrots and cucumbers would be a good choice!

I had told my hubby we needed to plan “undecorating” for Monday and Tuesday this week, to get it done before our next two “very busy” weeks.  He looked so sad.  He decorated right up to Christmas eve.  So; I am relenting.  I will LEAVE IT all up through Epiphany.  And, the undecorating will be postponed until next Tuesday.  It always takes several days to put it all away properly. We have two busy weekends back to back with the DelMarVa Model Railroad club open house, but having a “target time” set aside will leave me not to worry about the “stuff” for a week or so.

I hope you are able to keep the spirit of Christmas and love alive all into the New Year.

Happy 4 years!

Wow, can’t believe I have been a somewhat “active” blogger for 4 years. WordPress reminded me that I have written 351 posts; had 41,004 views from 21,859 visitors.  Gosh, I hope you have enjoyed something along the way!

My goal when I started the post was to share my projects, mostly in a journal style.  I ran out of “space” on the “free platform” for photo’s early this year and thanks to another blogger, Carole, I starting using FLICKR as my photo site and linking into the posts.

Once a year, I like to go back and “recap” my projects.  I find this helps me feel better about what I have been able to get completed. This year, I feel like I am staring at a lot of UFO’s. And, I am kind of like the person who sees something shiny, and gets distracted by the glitter of something new. I want to work hard at “finishing what I started” over the last 4 years.  But, I do want to play with some of the “shiny objects” that pop up!

Since I last wrote, I made a batch of “Thomas” pillowcases to sell at the DelMarVa Model Railroad Club open house. I was disappointed that only 3 actually sold last weekend.  I think I better come up with a better “display”.  It is not really a “craft” venue, more geared towards the train hobby and the trains running on the various layouts. But there are lots of little children coming in and out during the Open House, accompanied by Grandma’s.  I think I will “wrap” up a gift in a Thomas Pillowcase to showcase the possibilities.  Meanwhile, I won’t be making any more until I move some of the 13 I have left.

I haven’t been sewing since last Friday. On Saturday night I whacked and broke a toe, so I have been “grounded” to the recliner between visits to the doctor for examination etc.  The good news is, a toe will heal without much other care. It is buddy taped to it’s nearest toe and other than trying to stay off for a few day, it will be fine. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t worry with a doctor visit etc, but on Monday morning, I couldn’t put any weight on my foot and had to resort to a cane.  By today, I am well enough to leave the cane and just hobble. Hoping to maybe find my sewing room again! (I need a seam ripper from up there…as my handwork that I did under the influence of a pain pill leaves much to be desired!)

Before I go, let me again extend an invitation to visit —

2016-train-club-flyer

and do check out some of the great video’s shot at this club –DelMarVa Model RR Club videos

Enjoy!  (And here is a more recent shot:  2015 Open House video

Happy Day after Thanksgiving

Well, it has been a busy but successful week. Since you last read, I managed to pull together the luncheon at church with plenty of food and hungry people fed. My chicken and dumplings were delicious, and there was just enough left in the crock pot to get me lunch a couple of days this week. I also had a nice gathering Tuesday of the Queen Bee’s. Though we were small in number there had been plenty of progress made on the monthly UFO challenge.  I put photo’s of their projects up on my Facebook page –

I had fun getting ready for the ladies – deciding on where to set my Autumn Jubilee creations.

First Autumn Jubilee runner

The “first” Autumn Jubilee runner fit perfectly on the top of the buffet.

Autumn Jubilee Tablescape

The “second” Autumn Jubilee runner I made a tad longer, and it worked well on the dining room table.

Autumn Jubilee placemat tablescape

Then I decided to use the placemats on top of my 2 treadle sewing machines in the dining room.

Autumn Jubilee Placemat Tablescape

Which of course, I had to remove so the quilters could see the machines hiding underneath.  One of these days, I am going to thread those machines and do a little stitching!

And then of course, the big day on Thursday, with Thanksgiving.  I was asked to bring the sausage stuffing; the cranberry sauce and an apple pie.  I did some of my cooking on Wednesday and the rest on Thursday before traveling a very short distance to enjoy the afternoon with family.

I posted and shared to Facebook my favorite Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce (must be over 21 to enjoy).

Cranberry sauce

The recipe can be found on Epicurious . com .  The adults seem to really love this recipe.  I have made this for the last several Thanksgivings, from fresh cranberries.  This year, I doubled the recipe, and think the “doubling” of the liquids was a bit “much”.  At least, I felt that way when I made it Wednesday.   You introduce the vodka and triple sec into the cooled cooked berries.  I felt like it was too watery.  I left it to chill over night and it did thicken up, but not as much as I had hoped. Thursday morning, I strained the chilled cranberry sauce and drained off into a kettle the excess liquid and reduced it down to a more syrup like consistency.  After the syrup cooled, I reincorporated it back into the cranberry sauce and refrigerated for several more hours.  It did help with the “less fluid” look of the cranberry sauce.   And, there was only a little bit left to have as leftovers, so I guess it was well received.  So, maybe I boiled off the booze, but I think the overnight “steeping” allowed for much absorption by the berries.  If I double batched again, I think I would not fully double the liquor.  All was well and those that eat cranberry sauce seem to love this recipe.  Of course, now with a little one in the family, I may be asked to forgo the favored recipe for one that is made in a more traditional fashion.

My son-in-law likes apple pie, so I did a deep dish.  It is fun to get out the gadgets when it comes to cooking. The Apple-peeler-corer -slicer device is a Pampered Chef item, as is the big measuring cup behind it.

Apple peeler corer slicer in action

Apple pie prep

Setting the peeling blade depth just right takes some practice, and if your apple is odd shaped, sometimes you get left with a bit of peel on the slice.  I like Granny Smith apples for pie the best because they “hold up” to the cooking.  I used the Pampered chef stone “Deep Dish baker” for the pie, and was surprised how much my crust shrunk in places and how much these apples “cooked down”.  My next pie (note to self) will be stuffed with even more filling!  Epicurious had a great article called How to make the Best Apple Pie . It talked about the liquid in apples and how to use that to your best advantage.  I followed their suggestion, and no soggy bottom pie!  (It also helped when it came to those cranberries!)

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We had a delightful  time and enjoyed everything.  My granddaughter was decked out for dinner in  one of my latest bib creations.  (I got to sew on Wednesday, and after I finished up the table runner I was working on, I got busy making 4 new bibs!!)  I can’t believe I failed to take a picture of her “first Thanksgiving”.  She did look adorable in her Turkey football bib!  (The triangle shape is so stylish when worn, and great for a teething baby; but not the “best” for keeping mashed potatoes off the clothes or out of the hair!)

Fall fashion bibs

flannel backed bibs

Traditional bibs

Flannel backsides

There was to be some fun with the food and the eating at Thanksgiving.

Turkey platter

My daughter made this creative platter!  It was hard to reach in and spoil the design!  I can report it was delicious!  I had some  fun while cooking, taking and sending pictures back and forth with my daughter who is many states away.  My saute pan full of onions, garlic and celery was aromatic, but the picture doesn’t do it justice.  Somehow stuffing never made the photo book!  (It was however tasty.)  Both daughters are fun to hang out in the kitchen and share cooking duties. They share their recipes, menus and ideas freely.  So, even if we are far away from each other, it is like we spent some part of the day together.

Today is “my day”.  I have some sewing that needs to get done before tomorrow – TRAIN pillowcases.   No black Friday shopping – no mystery quilt (either one) for me !  Then the next 2 days are TRAIN days —2016-train-club-flyer

Maybe I will see you this weekend.  It’s worth a drive if you in the mid-Atlantic area.

 

note – The Autumn Jubilee pattern is by Carole – From My Carolina Home