Friday, December 29, 2017

Surprise Sewing

Well, as the holidays have progressed I too have joined the great quilters' migration back to the sewing room, but rather than pulling out God's Green Earth to work on I ended up starting something new. Sound familiar?

It's a pattern that I had pinned quite a while back and I believe that it's called Snippets. Not sure yet if it will be a lap quilt or a baby quilt, but it's wonderfully scrappy.

There's been lots of cutting and sewing and yes, some of it while in my jammies (I love the holidays!).

And now I have piles of these...

and these.

The block will be 9" finished and I'm getting anxious to see a few of them together. Hmm, just noticed that the yellow hourglass block on the left is turned the wrong way - better get things sorted out before I put it together!....M

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

'Beeing' Me

Now that Christmas and Boxing Day are behind us you can almost hear the pitter patter of quilters' slippers around the world as they head to their sewing rooms to play. I know I will be, and I'll be trying out some of my gifts too.

This cream puff ring started things off Christmas Eve and it seems like we have been eating and drinking for the better part of three days so its time to switch things up a bit!

Bees and quilting seemed to be a theme of several gifts this year including a beautiful and delicate pair of embroidered PJs; I wonder if this is a hint to just stay in my jammies all day and sew?

Maybe it was a hint to curl up in them and read with a cup of tea because I also received this great looking read: A Hive for the Honeybee. It came with a lovely jar of honey, too.

My lovely niece included the pattern for Huddle from Eye Candy Quilts in my stocking which I have long coveted and I can't wait to start. But you know me and square quilts...I'll need to figure out how to make it rectangular instead.

Maybe I need to make a test block today because I'm now the proud owner of a pair of Perfect Scissors and a new fine point Mark-B-Gone water soluble marker. I just have this feeling that I will be decompressing in the sewing room soon with my new toys, and maybe, just maybe, doing it in my PJs.....M

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Quilt Inspiration

It's a wrap! The last of the gifts is now wrapped and under the tree so we're ready to start the celebrations in earnest tomorrow (actually, as I write this I realize that there's one more gift for The Official Cookie Tester that I'd hidden and still need to wrap, but I digress...). Just as I was getting to the end of things I took a second look at a piece of wrapping paper that I was using and started musing about what a lovely Christmas quilt it would  make. What do you think?

It would be fun to try and draft it, but I'll file that idea away for another day. Tomorrow we have a gang in for Christmas Eve fondue so there's no time for quilting right now - I need my beauty sleep so that I'm fresh for baking a strawberry cream puff ring and mince tarts.

That said, Santa seems to approve. Hope things are wrapping up for you too and that you are ready for the fun to begin!.....M

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Saving the Best for Last

Christmas cookie baking is a wrap for another year, and it feels good.

I spent 12 hours in the kitchen yesterday, which is a lot, but it was a lot less stressful than last weekend so everything worked out okay. The Official Cookies Tester was working on his timing and managed to catch the Cranberry Chocolate Chippers while they were still warm.

I think he might have missed sampling the Thimble Cookies though...

But I saved the best for last. Both my Favourite Nephew and The Official Cookie Tester have a penchant for pure, unadulterated shortbread so that's what I baked today. I use my mom's recipe and cookie press. I'm not sure how old the press is but it has to be at least 60 years or so; I've got the original box that it came in but don't see any date markings on it.

We loved watching mom make these cookies when we were growing up - it was the only time of year that she made them and the only pressed cookies that I remember (it can be a killer on the wrist and hand but the payoff is so worth it). I like to stay true to the original, including the addition of a single silver dragée on each heart.

The second recipe is also a favourite - Lynn's Tiny Fudge Tartlets. I got this recipe from a friend of my sister Dori years ago; she had made them for one of our caroling parties and they were a huge hit. Needless to say, they have since become a welcome tradition in our family, too.

Two more tins were delivered today so I've only got three more to pack and deliver. As much fun as it is to do the baking, it's equally good to be able to see the counter top again....M

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Smoothing Out the Wrinkles

These may look like ordinary paper pieced hexies but they have medicinal qualities and have been working their magic of late.

I am, by nature, a list maker, particularly at busy times of the year like Christmas. For weeks now I've been working my list and feeling that I might be in control. Then I was scheduled for a last minute medical procedure on December 22. Not great timing, but I could adjust.

Then, due to a change in travel plans, I had to have several gift tins of cookies ready for this past Sunday rather than for New Years so Saturday found me baking and packing cookies like a madwoman. Not how I like to bake, but I did it.

Sunday it was time to finish decorating the tree that has been up for a week. Lights and garlands were on it but none of the decos. I plugged in the lights only to discover that one of the strings had blown. Aaaghh! This was going to be a pain because I hang lots of garlands and they are hung after the lights, which meant that the new lights had to fit in behind the garlands. I unplugged everything and left the room.

Yesterday, I plucked up the wherewithal to tackle the lights and, after half an hour of rolling around on the floor (it was the bottom string that blew), I had all of the lights working again but patience was in short supply. So, when the bushiness of the tree started impeding my progress I took matters into my own hands.

I finally prevailed and by last evening the tree was finished.

By the end of it all the tree had worked its magic and I was starting to feel Christmasy again so I sat down to enjoy it as I added a few hexies to Anna Levens. Thank heaven for needle and thread - I highly recommend them for removing the wrinkles from a furrowed brow....M

Friday, December 08, 2017

Snow White

My quilting productivity always takes a hit this time of year, superseded by Christmas prep - shopping, decorating, baking, wrapping. You know the drill. But, in keeping with the fresh dusting of snow that we just received I have progress of Betty's white quilt to share with you; consider it an early Christmas gift.

She seems to be flying through these blocks and already has a number of them together.

Those stunning blocks look even more magical when they all come together.

I just love those little snippets of embroidered colour that pop out of heavy lace.

And she is going to work in these two mementos from her daughter Julia's recent wedding - the hankie that she received and the little heart that Julia gave to her dad; it reads: 'Dad, I loved you first'. How sweet.

In addition to being stunning this project is a testament to how quickly a hand stitched quilt can come together. I'm so looking forward to seeing it grow....M

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Gift of Friendship

Saturday's annual Cookie Bakeoff went off without a hitch, despite initial fears that Jen and the girls wouldn't be able to make it. But make it they did, much to the delight of everyone.

It always starts out the same. A few days before the big event favourite recipes (along with a few new ones) are pulled out and the selection begins.

Christmas tunes were the order of the day and the butter was out in full force.

And Betty started us off with champagne and orange juice, just to see what it might do for productivity.

The gals in 'shipping and receiving' were on their game and channeling John Lennon (we got smart this year and had everyone bring their tins with 4 or 5 waxed paper liners already cut - it saved tons of prep time)...

and decorators were hard at it...

... til early evening. Those quilting lamps come in handy!

It always amazes us how much we can get done in a day with just one oven.

Drumroll please...this was the tally for 2017 - 153 dozen cookies! Not our personal best, but right up there.

And, by the end of the day - despite close quarters and lots of jockeying for the oven - everyone was still smiling and happy to have goodies for their freezer. Sharing the day together, enjoying the chatter, the laughter and the singing made me realize that the real gift of this get together is a wonderful string of friendships.

As an extra little treat, everyone went home with a handful of stars for their tree.

I have it on very good authority that sampling has already begun in certain quarters (including with the Official Cookie Tester) and the results are more than favourable. I'm already looking forward to next year!....M