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Sunday, December 25, 2011

2011 Blessings

There are only a few more days left in this roller-coaster year...we have seen the best and the not-so-good on this beautiful, but delicate, planet we call home. Politicians who know nothing of reality and continue to waste our time and monies, corporations continuing to behave badly, weather disasters that took lives and homes, saying goodbye to loved ones - the sad things are endless. Then the images of joyous reunions as our troops return home, people who give with generous hearts to those who need it most, advancement in the treatment of diseases, the good things are endless too. 
I hope 2011 has been kind to each of you, dear readers...so during this week before we receive the gift of a new slate, new opportunities, new experiences...take time to remember the Blessings of this past year.

My own dozen Blessings - the computer doesn't have enough storage space to list them all...

1. A family that is as "constant as the North Star."
2. Having my Mom (86) and Dad (93) with us.
3. Knowing our Dave and Jena are well and happy in Alaska.
4. Losing 6 pounds!  :o)
5. Motivated to lose more...
6. Making the Christmas turkey stuffing with home-grown herbs.
7. Molly and Kelsie and all the sweet memories of our Sasha.
8. Each of you who take the time to read my wandering thoughts &     the online friendships that have formed.
9. My sewing room studio
10. Books
11. Beautiful music
12. The special groups of ladies that I meet with regularly and share the bond of quilting with. 

Always keep the child in you nearby - as a toddler, there are misty memories of sitting in a rocking horse and about 15 years ago, I found one exactly like my memory - it had to come home with me.

Wishing each of you Blessings in 2012!

Linking up with Alphabe-Thursday over at Miss Jenny's - be sure to visit all the other postings for this week.













Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Wish For You...



In a winter garden,
I saw the snowflakes gleam,
Just like in my childhood -
Winter wishes, winter dreams...

What ever your faith, where ever you are around the globe, near or far, I would like to wish each of you in the spirit of this special time of year, blessings and all that is good in the New Year. 







(Taking a little blogging break - back soon)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The "E"yes Have It!

This week over at Miss Jenny's, our class letter is "E" - so the little set of matching Eye balls has made a return...

You might remember them from back in October when I had the first cataract surgery...had the left eye done on Tuesday of this week and now have a matched set...so brighter days ahead and hoping for clearer vision. Just a smooth, quick procedure - all of 10 minutes or so, a little cup of ginger ale with a straw to speed me on my way and a huge pair of dark sunglasses to dampen the glare off the white snow.


Today is dedicated to doing a few more simple Christmasy tasks - and doctor says no snow shoveling for a week...aw shucks:o) 


Be sure to visit the other "E" postings for Alphabe-Thursday.
Wishing everyone days filled with clarity and light.
Back soon...




Monday, December 5, 2011

Quilters Christmas Party

We had our first Christmas gathering with quilting friends last Thursday. The Liberty Ladies group I belong to does an annual Cookie and Gift Exchange. This year, as always, everyone had a great time...visiting, sharing and planning for what we will be doing in 2012. This year has been focusing on the Anniversary of the Civil War and next year is the War of 1812 (visit Barbara Brackman's blog)

Everyone brought cookies to exchange and we all came home with a nice variety of sweet things for ourselves family members.

And then the gift exchange...oh my! We drew numbers and each gift had a corresponding number, so we had no idea what was in it or who made it until the final reveal. 
Fun little wool appliqued purses for going out and about...

Unique needlecases...a wooden case with 2 levels and silk ribbons...

A tiny Whitman's Sampler tin outfitted to hold needlework tools...

One of the ladies does a cross stitched Santa every year...
This little wool table mat featured beading and also included a Santa ornament...
A Christmas wreath made using the Lil' Twister ruler and a vintage-look ornament...
And some little quilts - from dolly size complete with a pillow pincushion and crocheted angel...
A little nine patch made with William Morris reproduction fabrics...
This lovely star is made using Lately Arrived From London fabric
And lots of HST's in this nice quilt made from a Lori Schmidt pattern..
This is the little quilt I made from Jo Morton's Small Quilts and Vintage Charm book...
And so another holiday is kicked off with fun and friendship...with busy days ahead...
Wishing each of you days filled with friends and special moments.



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"D" Is For Dogs Rule...

For 45 years there has always been at least one special dog occupying our home...no matter where we lived. From an amazing German Shepherd (who eventually served in Vietnam as a Sentry Dog) to classic Standard Collies and then to our love affair with shelties...dog bowls, kibble, trips to the vets, buying sticky rollers in bulk and endless bags of collected fur have been part of our lives.

With anticipation and joy each has been welcomed, and spoiled beyond logic. And with each sad goodbye, they have taken a part of us with them.

If you are a regular reader, you might remember that back in September, with such heavy hearts, we let our Sasha go.

I contacted the breeder where we found this loving sheltie to let Patty know Sasha was gone. She sent the most comforting email to us and included this eloquent little essay.


"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be Dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are."
(Anonymous)
It has become a favorite of mine and I hope you enjoy it too.



In 2008, I read this beautifully written novel...a mystery, a coming of age and an amazing story of dogs and humans...

Now rereading it and finding that I missed so much the first time through - have a special dog(s) in your life?...this book is a must! So when you think about all the things to be Thankful for this week, remember your sweet companions who only ask to be treated with kindness, fed when their tummy clock goes off and who serve as an example of how humans can also love unconditionally.


This week's Alphabe-Thursday is for the letter "D" - you can see all the other "D" postings over at Miss Jenny's.





Saturday, November 26, 2011

Civil War Blocks...

Was starting to get a tad nervous at being 3, no make that 4 blocks, behind on Barbara Brackman's weekly Civil War Quilt blocks. If I start losing momentum, projects tend to get pushed off to the side...not good when you consider we are at Block #48 and there are only a couple left.

So, since this post Thanksgiving weekend has been very Novemberish...cold rain, very dark sky and drifts of fog weaving back and forth across the fields...I warmed up a mug of Honeycrisp apple cider, plopped a cinnamon stick in it and headed to the sewing cave studio.
Hours later, I emerged, blocks in hand and this is what was accomplished...
 Yeh!!!! Caught up....
 On one of the blocks - #48 West Virginia (blue and brown) I decided to do an inked inscription. Our paternal side of the family has roots in that State and so I got out our copy of the History of Martinsburg (Dad's hometown.)
 ...and picked out Company C, 3rd Regiment, Berkeley County to include in the center of the block. 
Written in 1888 - only 23 years after the Civil War - the book refers to the War as "War of the Rebellion."

I like to incorporate inked inscriptions on some of my quilts - this was a little Album quilt I did earlier this year in connection with a short talk I gave in our Quilt History Study Group (Liberty Ladies).
It is a tiny version of the quilt that was presented to Clara Barton by a group of soldiers in recognition of her tireless nursing service during the war.  Each block was inscribed with signatures.


Back during our November quilting retreat, I worked on this tablerunner - a birthday gift for Jena. Since she has received it, the completed project can go up for Show and Tell....it ended up as a very large tablerunner....about 52" long!
Included with the tablerunner were two little linen towels I had added simple borders to.
Happy to say, Jena really liked her gifts! And I really enjoy making things for her!!


That's about it for now...a busy week coming up with stitching friends coming for lunch on Wednesday and then on Thursday, our Liberty Ladies gift and cookie exchange...the holiday pace is picking up speed.


Wishing everyone a good week...I can hear those sewing machines humming around the world...





Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Arrival...

of colder weather, finds me drifting over to some favorite blogs that originate in the Deep South or as far away as Australia...gazing at their green grassy lawns and blooming flowers or shrubs will satisfy my craving for growing things now that our own surroundings are blanketed in snow. Our temperatures may fluctuate in the days ahead and the illusive sun might show itself long enough to melt some of the cover, but we can rest assured that it will be late March or early April before a bare ground is revealed.  Now the evergreens are coated with the recent snowfall - their long branches bent towards the ground as if acknowledging acceptance that the growing season has come to a close and it is time to rest. 

Few birds show themselves on such gray, overcast days. The migratory flocks left the Northwoods many weeks ago. The ice on our pond, which started as a tentative edging along the bank, has advanced to seal the entire surface in its embrace.
It is dark by 5:00 p.m.  A pot of chicken soup and hearty pumpkin spice muffins provide a "comfort" dinner on a chilly night.
There are weekly treks over to the wood storage area to replenish the supply on the front porch. Fires burn continuously in the fireplace and in the evenings we are drawn to its warmth, perhaps to read or pick up a stitching project. Football on TV or a movie make for diversion. The dogs seek out their favorite spots, content in knowing their people are close. Quiet descends around us like a heavy wool cloak, insulating the house from the outside world. Winter has arrived at Taylorsoutback.

Wishing each of you a warm and cozy week and a Thanksgiving filled with Blessings.


 

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"C" Is For Cabin

 "There are elements of intrinsic beauty in the simplification of a house built on the log cabin idea..."
Gustav Stickley
 It all started with a set of Lincoln Logs...I would sit on the floor with legs crossed and build a little log cabin, make up stories in my head, take the logs apart and rebuild in a different layout...maybe someday I would live in a real cabin...that first (circa 1940's) set is long gone now & that dream came true.
This is a group of logs from the '70's that our son grew up with...





He often talks about living in a log cabin someday...

High on a shelf in the sunroom sits a tiny cabin my brother made for me years ago. The roof lifts off and there is even a Christmas wreath on the front door.
While out for a drive recently, not too far from home, I came across an old, abandoned cabin which was in the middle of a field. It appeared to be melting into the ground around it...
Closed and no longer occupied, it looked lonely and forlorn and I wondered what its story was. In an age of manufactured homes, the idea of harvesting logs from the land and removing the bark, hewing and fitting them into place, all by hand, is so foreign to most of us.Our area is still sparsely populated and the homesteaders who lived there years ago were surrounded by deep forests and abundant wildlife. I hope they had a good life.
On our travels we have come across other memorable cabins....this tiny one room log cabin, which nestled into the hillside, was in danger of disappearing because of the new highway being built that runs around the shores of Lake Kluane in the Yukon. 
A photo of a photo! This from our scrapbook.
On our 3rd trip to Alaska in 2010, the little cabin was still there, a testament to its ability to weather heavy winter snows and blowing winds off the huge lake and the advancement of road construction.

Last September as we approached the Alberta/Montana border, this wonderful cabin caught our eye. Judging from the lack of windows and wide doorway, it might have been used for housing early farm equipment...or perhaps shelter for animals?
Hope you have enjoyed visiting these old cabins and that you also wonder what their history is...
Be sure to visit the "C" postings over at Miss Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday.









Monday, November 14, 2011

Two More Blocks...

...And one of them is really kind of odd...in between non-related quilting commitments, progress has been made on two more Beyond The Cherry Tree blocks.
This first one has got to be a very strange arrangement...as I worked on it, I kept wondering what the quilter was thinking about. Where did she get the design? Was it her own creation or something she saw and laid out from memory?

Well, nevertheless, I will honor her and stay close to the original design...but I just had to attach all the stems...unlike the 1850's block where flowers were floating off into space. 


The 2nd block is pretty straight forward though the little hills and valleys were somewhat tedious. 

Now they are safely stored away with the other completed blocks and I can begin to see a little light at the end of that proverbial tunnel...only 5 more to go and then the long journey around the borders. 


It has been somewhat quiet in our neck of the woods. Ever since an October doctor's appointment where words like Body Mass Index, more exercise needed, diet changes, etc. were thrown at me & a very discouraging weigh in on the clinic scale...well, let's just say the treadmill in the basement has renewed its acquaintance with me. The goal? Three miles each day...up to 2 now and there is no longer a little secret stash of chocolate to feast upon. 


Wish me luck! I am going to need it...the other night, after our power had been off most of the day...well...confession time...I had a Haagen-Dazs melt down & polished off about a cup of refrozen butter pecan - I'm bad :o(


Have a good week and hope you have more self control than I...





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The "B"est of Times...

Have just returned from our annual Fall Retreat and feel refreshed...oh, life's stresses of before are still there and new ones have been added, but there is a little less befuddlement and the energy level has improved. Spending the weekend with 18 quilting sisters, being called to the dining room when meals are ready and non-stop sewing have a way of brightening these November days.


Bad blogger...I didn't even take my camera along...but can't show one of the projects I worked on anyway as it is going to be a gift. The rest of the time I did add to my stack of little 1 1/2" nine patches...
And a bit more piecing of HST's for the Canadian Rose quilt....
Was pretty good about the chocolate - ate in moderation - a big step for me!
Drank a little wine....


And had lots of good laughter, sharing and forgot about life's trials and tribulations...



Slowly I am gathering quilt history books from states & Canada that have a place in my heart...where we have lived, family roots, special trips...

This is the latest for my library...
 Interesting to find that many of  the quilts feature black fabrics...
Unknown pattern - circa 1877 - sold at auction in 1912 for $2.25!















This spectacular Whig's Defeat - a quilting triumph!

Love this Evening Star with cheddar...1900...
This one from Alamance County - I went to Elon College there (now University) back in the '60's. Wish I would have been more focused on quilts rather than parties! If I only knew....
"Cucumber" pattern - completely hand pieced including seams for backing.
Home for the day with much to catch up on...good thing as this is what we are having outside today...

Hoping you have the Best of Days this week...and be sure to visit Miss Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday for lots of other "B" postings.