Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Parker made these yesterday by twisting pipe cleaner around a pencil. He took them door to door on our block and actually sold a few! I think he was asking 25 cents each. He calls them swirlies. He wanted to set up a table and sell some of his art work but I convinced him that it was too cold and that there is not enough traffic on our street during breaks to make setting up a table worth his while.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Old Shed

I like dilapidated old buildings. They have a sense of history and mystery. This is an old mining shed along the canyon road outside of Creede. Again, the photo was taken at retreat in early November. The door reminds me of two half-square triangle blocks.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Creede architecture

Some photos taken on a walk in Creede during retreat in early November. I was looking for texture and took the above photo. Below is the structure. I think it is a car port for a house just up the street from where we were having our retreat. It was for sale, so we walked around it a little.

Below is a photo of the front door. Gives you an idea of the interesting architecture of the house. It had round windows and a separate pod like building in the back.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Approach of Years End

Cattails along the Rio Grande

I spent a few minutes this morning browsing through the photos I took shortly after getting my new camera. I should do this more often - just walk around with my camera taking pictures. I am also considering getting some real photo editing software, not just what comes with the camera or the free program I have been using. (I have edited all photos for this blog with I've had my eye on Photo Shop Elements. I hesitate only because I know it will take me quite a bit of time to learn how to use the software to achieve the effects I want. A time investment that is worth while, but do I have the time to invest right now?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning

Merry Christmas from Alamosa, CO! Parker started the morning at an early hour, 3:15 am! I'm not sure if he went back to sleep before waking us at 7 am. I guess we'll find out if he crashes this afternoon. He sorted all the presents for us. He also started my coffee pot for me. Unfortunately, by the time I got up, the coffee was cold. Oh well! Nothing the microwave couldn't fix.

Parker is wearing his new Mario pajamas, playing a new Mario game on his new Nintendo DS Lite. The game and DS were gifts from Santa. I'm glad all his old Gameboy games still work on the DS Lite.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wrapping Day

Today I have been wrapping presents while Parker plays at Jamie's house for the afternoon. Everything is wrapped now so I'm having a cup of tea and relaxing.

I made these gift bags last year in an attempt to make Christmas "greener." Buying the paper then throwing it away seems like a waste. These also make wrapping go much faster! To make one, a bigger one like the first photo, you need 1/2 yard of fabric. Then you basically make a pillow case with a casing at the top for a drawstring using ribbon. They are easy to make, use up lots of Christmas fabric that I didn't plan to do anything else with, make the wrapping job fast and easy, and can be used year after year. I made them in several sizes. The ones below are for the ornaments I make each year for nieces and nephews. They opened their ornaments while I was at their house for Thanksgiving then gave me back the bags to reuse next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Mystery Continues

Above is the old plan, below is the new one. My little squares were getting messed up so I glued them to a piece of cardboard. Can you find the difference between the two plans?

This quilt will be 9 blocks by 8 blocks plus borders. That means I have to make 72 blocks! I've only made 27 thus far. I'm planning to quilt it in sections, 3 blocks by 8 blocks at a time. It's the only way I can quilt such a large quilt on my machine. I'll have to add the borders after I've quilted the center sections. I've never made a quilt this large but I have quilted a couple baby quilts in sections. I'm using a slightly different technique this time though. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sleep Over!

Parker asked if he could have his best friend over for a "spend the night" during Christmas break. Tonight is the night! They are already in their pajamas and playing Gameboy together, sort of. They are so cute! We'll see how much sleeping they actually do!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the Design Wall Today

We received the final instructions for our guilds mystery quilt in November. Between having company, Thanksgiving, go out of town and the end of the semester I haven't had much time to work on my mystery quilt. I put the blocks I've made so far on the design wall today. Parker and Tony went skiing so I'll have to whole day to myself to sew!

The finished size of this quilt, according to the instructions, is 76" by 88", not nearly big enough for a king size bed. So I've altered the pattern. The finished size of my quilt will be in the 100" by 120" range, give or take an couple inches. This is what I'm going to make, plus some sort of border.

I'm not going to leave out a block! The missing block will be another Ohio Star. I made this pattern by copying the given pattern and then cutting three of them apart into the individual blocks so I could try out different ideas. I just ran out of Ohio Stars and didn't feel like cutting up a fourth copy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Funky Santa on the wall

Well ... it's not done but I hung it up anyway. Notice the batting sticking out on the edges. I just did some basting stitches about 1/8 of an inch from the edges to hold things together. I even left some of the basting pins in places in the middle of the quilt. All the appliques are attached though. I'm thinking that it needs a couple more appliques, two or three, then quilting it with some overall designs and a few motifs - snowflakes and candy pieces. I am also considering doing the quilting by block or small sections of blocks instead of an overall pattern. While it is hanging I am weighing my options and trying to make decisions. I hope to have all decisions made by the time I take it down in January so I can just get to work and finish it up.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another Favorite Ornament

Some people's Christmas trees are perfectly coordinated with a theme or color scheme. Mine is "eclectic." I love that every ornament has meaning to me and/or a story behind it. This ornament was a gift from Parker. He bought it for me at the local Farmer's Market in 2008. At times he acts like a crow - if there is something shiny and sparkly within range, he is drawn to it. He thought this angel was beautiful and that I needed to have her. Every Saturday this past summer he went to this lady's booth at the Farmer's Market to see if she had a May angel, his birth month. (Mine angel is January, my birth month) She never had May, in any size. I think this summer I will ask her if she will make him a May and hold it for us. I'll pay her up front if necessary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Perfect Snowball

For Christmas last year Santa brought us this snowball maker and a set of sleds. It makes perfectly round balls.

Great for throwing! Parker is using one of the sleds as a bat. The sleds came in a pack of four, each a different color. They are easy to use and light weight to carry back up the hill.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mom's Special Chocolates

These are the result of my Sunday afternoons work - truffles. Parker calls them "Mom's special chocolates." They take a while to make but are pretty easy. The recipe is called Easy Oreo Truffles and is from the Kraft Foods website. It only has three ingredients! They are 1 package of Oreos (I use the store brand equivalent), 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese and 2 packages of semi-sweet chocolate squares, don't use chocolate chips because they don't have the same consistency when melted. Basically, you crush the Oreos in a food processor or blender. Then use a mixer to blend the cream cheese and crushed Oreos. Roll this into balls and dip them in the melted chocolate. Set them on trays lined with wax paper or parchment paper and put them in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Parker and I made snowflakes this morning. He was given a pattern book recently and we have been having lots of fun making our own snowflakes. Here is a close-up of the one he is holding.

This afternoon Mother Nature made some snowflakes for us too! What a treat!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Day Derailment

Parker woke up this morning with a crusty, oozing, swollen red eye - pink eye. At 8 am I called the school to tell them that Parker has pink eye and won't be coming to school today. At 8:02 am I called the doctor's office and made an appointment, 11:30 was the first they had. At 1 pm we picked up the eye drops from the pharmacy. Parker has been in his room ever since we got home, about an hour and a half ago. He will not let me put the drops in. The pharmacist told me they may sting and Parker heard her. I guess the look I gave her was pretty severe because she added that if it did sting it would only sting the first time. Well the damage had been done.

I have tried reasoning with him. My husband came home briefly and he put a drop in his eye and said that it did not sting. Parker is now in his room until he will permit me to put a drop in each eye (the other eye has it too but not as bad). His best friend comes over every Friday after school and his mom said it would be okay if he came today even though Parker has pink eye. I told Parker that he will not be allowed out of his room to play with his friend until he allows me to put a drop in each eye. If this doesn't work will I tie him down and pry his eye open to put the medicine in? At this point, I don't know.

In light of the above I have gotten almost nothing done today that I wanted or needed to do. That makes me grumpy. I don't like to be grumpy, which makes me grumpier. Where did I put my emergency smile?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Next Project

This is the center panel for my next project. It will eventually be a baby quilt for one of my cousins who is due in March. I'd better get busy! Luckily the pattern just calls for a variety of borders around this center panel. I made another quilt for another cousin using this same panel, but the pattern was different. Here is what that quilt looked like.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Count Down to Christmas

I made this cute count down calendar a couple of years ago. The quilt is just a panel that I quilted and put 24 buttons on the tree. The ornaments are fused to felt and then cut out. Then add a string for hanging. It all came as a kit. The button placements were all marked and there was even a guide for which ornament goes where. We don't follow the placement guide though. Parker picks out an ornament each morning and I put it where ever he wants.

This type of calendar is a MUST if you have child in your house during December. When the question arises, "how long until Christmas?", just point to the calendar and tell then to count the buttons without ornaments. It is also a good daily math exercise, one they are motivated to do and don't realize they are doing.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Parker's big prize for popcorn sales - the reason he sold so much - was this telescope. You can see the moons around Jupiter with it!

Doesn't my new camera take great night shots! I'm really impressed. There were no outside lights on at our house. Of course Tony got frustrated with me because the flash was interfering with his vision as he was trying to line up the telescope to view Jupiter.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Quilt

This is Parker's latest quilt. He titled it "Christmas." We made the background about six weeks ago. The week before Thanksgiving he cut out the applique and fused it on his background. Yesterday I did a blank stitch in black around the applique and then finished it using the pillowcase technique. It is now hanging in our dining room and will probably go to school on Friday for Show and Tell.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cub Scout Christmas Party

Parker's Cub Scout Pack had their Christmas Party this evening. Badges and awards earned were handed out. Parker got some things for his belt for archery and BB gun shooting done at camp this past summer. He also got his popcorn prizes - a telescope; an adventure pack which contains a flashlight, compass, multi-tool and binoculars; and a second marshmallow shooter. In addition, he got a $100 gift card to Wal-mart for being the high seller, selling $1115.00 worth of popcorn! That is a lot of money for a 7 year old! Tony and I were so surprised. We had not been told that he was the high seller. I hope I can convince him to wait until after Christmas before spending his gift card. It will be interesting to see what he buys.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Favorite Ornament - one only a Mother could love

Parker made this ornament when he was 4, one of his first sewing projects. He had been insisting that he wanted to sew and I had been putting him off. One day I caved and told him to pick out some fabric from my scrap bag and I threaded a needle for him. This is the result. He was done in about 10 minutes once the thread got so knotted that he couldn't continue. The hanger is made from a large loop of the knotted up thread. He was so proud though. I asked him to "tell me about what you've made" (a trick learned from his kindergarten teacher - how to comment on an unidentifiable art piece without hurting the child's feelings). He proudly held it up and told me it was an ornament and it was for me. I love it! I have many nice ornaments but this one is very special and will always have a prominent spot on my tree.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mt. Blanca Chicken Soup

Okay Alison - this one is for you.

At a playgroup lunch a few years ago the hostess made chicken chili. The recipe she used is from Better Homes and Garden. Here is the recipe, called Wasatch Mountain Chili. Well, it was really good and we all asked for the recipe. A couple of weeks later I made it. My family thought it was okay but they didn't like the lime. They didn't know it had lime in it and couldn't really describe what they didn't like about it, but the next time I made it I left out the lime and they said it was much better. I've been making it for a while now and the recipe has evolved to more of a chicken soup rather than a chili. Here is my version which I have called Mt. Blanca Chicken Soup:

1 whole roasted chicken from the grocery store
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans of hominy, drained
2 cans of great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans of chicken broth
black pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)
dried herbs, about 1/2 tsp. (I use Mural of Flavor from Penzey spices, but Italian spices would work or just some basil. Fresh herbs are also good but I usually make this in the winter and don't have any fresh.)

Cut the chicken off the bone and then into bite size pieces. Put everything in the crock pot and top it off with water if your crock pot isn't full. Let cook all day. Sometimes I add diced carrots, celery or some mixed vegetables (canned or frozen are fine). What I usually do is buy two or three chickens when they go on sale. Cut them up and freeze them. Then buy all the stuff so I can just pull the chicken out of the freezer in the morning and defrost it in the microwave. Dump everything in the crock pot and sew all day.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Home-Made Phaser

Look what Parker and his dad made tonight before dinner! A replica of the original Star Trek series phaser. They have been watching the original series a little a time each night after Parker reads to my husband. He's been wanting a phaser to play with, but you can't buy one like the original any where around here! So they found an image on the internet and made this in about an hour before dinner tonight. I'm pretty impressed! Parker does great sound effects for it too.