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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Quiet Day to myself

I had a quiet day to myself today because my boys went skiing without me. I injured my left big toe a few months ago. The bruise underneath the nail has moved up enough that the nail is now separating from my toe. Ouch! I got a lot done though. I slept in a little then quilted one of the charity quilts I pieced at retreat. I will start on the binding tonight. I made another note pad cover and a tote bag, both for potential gifts. I finally finished the bag I cut from the "what was I thinking" fabric, photo above. It made a really cute tote bag. I cut up the rest of this fabric to use as backing for charity quilts. The bag turned out so cute I may have to find other backing fabric and make a few more totes with it instead.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Notebook covers

I've had company and been out of town so I haven't posted for a while. I made these little note pad covers last week. They hold an 8" by 5" note pad. It took me longer to figure out the pattern than it did to make them! These are just my practice ones. I hope to make some fancier ones to give as gifts.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flu Shot gives 7 year old boy Super Powers!

Parker has always been a bit of a wimp when it comes to shots. My husband and I have both had more than our fair share of crying and whining at doctors offices and the health center with Parker getting vaccinations. So when the note came home last week that they would be giving H1N1 vaccinations at Parker's school on Tuesday, we braced for the worst.

They were offering both the shot and the nasal spray, but warned that anyone who had ever been diagnosed with a list of conditions should not get the nasal spray. One of the conditions is asthma and Parker was diagnosed with asthma as a baby. He has not ever had any asthma symptoms while he's been healthy. But when he gets sick it usually goes to his lungs. Then we have to use the nebulizer and after a few days he's better.

We told him that some kids would get the nasal spray but he needed to get the shot because the spray could make him sick. Then Tony told him a story about how he distracts himself and doesn't look at the needle and before he knows it the shot is over. So Parker decided he was going to be brave, but he took a blankie, just in case.

I worried all day. Kept my cell phone in my pocket all day in case he needed me. It never rang. When he got home I asked him how his day was. He said it was great. Taking this as a good sign, I asked about the shot. He said the needle was tiny and hardly hurt at all. He told me all about the procedure. Then he says, very serious and kind of quietly, the shot has given him super powers! It took some serious mommy super powers not to laugh out loud, but somehow I managed.

So ... have you gotten your flu shot? If you are feeling like you could use some super powers, give it a try. Be sure to let me know if it works for you too!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Visual Texture Homework

My art group meets today. Last month we created some visual texture pieces using black and white copies of textural fabrics. Our homework was to recreate one of our paper pieces using fabric. Here is the paper version I made last month.
And this is my fabric version.

I haven't put any binding on it yet. I did this yesterday afternoon and didn't have time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Navajo Stocking Ornaments

I have finished the first set of ornaments for this year. I have the others ready for the blanket stitching. These have turned out very cute!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vase of Flowers

More beautiful artwork by Parker. This one was done at the end of first grade. I bought frames for this one and the monster yesterday morning. They are too good to just put in a box (and bigger than the box I have)!

Yesterday afternoon I made 9 dinners for my freezer plus a 10th that we ate last night. I now have about two weeks worth of dinners in the freezer. Yay!

This morning I started basting my nephew Zeke's quilt. My mom made the top for him and gave it to me to quilt. I realized this morning that she is coming on Thursday and expects it to be ready to sew the binding on! So I'd better go finish basting it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

No school today for Parker, teacher work day, so I won't get much sewing done today. His best friend Jamie is coming over this afternoon and I plan to spend the afternoon tending to them and refilling my freezer with dinners for the coming month.

Since I'm trying to make this blog mostly about art, I'll share this recent piece of art that Parker brought home from school. He was so proud that he received a 4 on this assignment. I'm not sure what the grading system is for the schools around here. I grew up with the standard A, B, C, D, F scale. They seem to do 1, 2, 3, 4 with 4 being the best. According to Parker, 3 means that you followed the directions and 4 means you did more than you needed to. Regardless of the score, I love it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Charity Quilt

This is the fourth charity quilt I pieced at retreat last weekend. My mom gave me 14 of these house blocks some time ago. I found them recently and put them up on the design wall. Fourteen is not an easy number of blocks to design with so I figured out the measurements of all the pieces and made a fifteenth block. My sister recently gave me some fabrics she didn't want (the planet border fabric and blue setting squares) and I found the green sashing fabric in my stash. The blue setting square fabric has raised plastic-like multi-colored stars on it. It looks cool but is a pain to sew with and you can not iron directly on the stars (they melt and stick to your iron!).

The houses are made from funky bright prints. The green sashing would not be my first choice, but I had enough of it. The planet fabric doesn't go with anything, but again I had enough of it and I needed the quilt to be wider. I call it "Houses in Space." Someone at retreat suggested that I quilt aliens in the windows of the houses. I think I may do that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charity Quilts

Here are some of the photos I promised yesterday of the charity quilt tops I completed at retreat. I haven't done anymore on them since cutting the backing yesterday morning. I'm not even sure that I have enough batting for them all.

I finished my 12th Navajo Stocking cross-stitch Monday night and spent some time yesterday figuring out how I will finish them. I decided to use a satin stitch on my machine to sew them to some red wool and finish the edge with a blanket stitch. When I get them done I'll post a photo. They are turning out really cute!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Canyon

This photo was taken on my walk Saturday up the canyon at the bridge.

I'm still unpacking and sorting my stuff from the retreat. I'll post photos of the tops I completed tomorrow. This morning I cut backs for these tops and I hope to get at least one quilted this week. I already have the binding made for three of the four. I'll start with one of those.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I'm Back

I got home from retreat a little after 3 pm today. I had a wonderful time and got four small charity quilt tops pieced, a couple of blocks for the raffle quilt made and I learned how to play Mexican Train.

These are just a few of the photos I took on my trip. The first is the view up the canyon taken from the just outside the back door of the building where we sew. The one below is of the main street in Creede taken as we are on our way to lunch on Saturday. I took a walk up the canyon later Saturday afternoon and got some nice pictures along way but those will have to wait for another day to post.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Today I am packing for my guild's annual retreat this weekend. Three days and two nights of sewing, food and fun! I'm taking my new featherweight now that I have learned how to thread it.
I've got a bin full of projects, more than I will probably have time to work on but I never know what I will feel like doing. I am leaving some room in the bin for any fabric or other goodies I may purchase during the weekend. We will stop at a quilt shop on the drive up tomorrow and two other shops will come up on Saturday. There are also cute stores in Creede to peruse.
I've got my list and I'm checking off items as they get packed. In case you are wondering, I am taking a small suitcase of clothes and toiletries. I just didn't take a picture of that. I do have my new camera. You can see a part of my new camera case in the last photo above, on the right of the photo.