Saturday, December 31, 2011

On Going Gray Gracefully

A man is as old as he's feeling,
A woman as old as she looks.
–Mortimer Collins

I found my first gray hair at the age of 29. My hair was considerably longer than it is now, falling about 8" below my shoulders. I was playing with a lock of it, watching the way the sun hit it, and there it was. A white hair. It was unmistakable in the midst of my light brown hair. And it was the length of all the others. It freaked me out a little bit because my dad's hair was completely white by the time he was 45. I wondered if I was destined for the same fate.

Since that time I've watched and waited for the gray to stage a coup. My hair hasn't changed drastically in the last 10 years like I thought it might, but in recent months I've noticed more and more white appearing. The grays don't really out-number the pigmented hairs. But they have become visible. Noticeable. Their appearance makes my hair look ashy. Dull. Faded.

Aging is a funny thing. Madeline L'Engle said, The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been. It is true. I still feel like a silly schoolgirl when I read a love story or see a romantic movie. I still have freckles like I did when I was twelve. I still like to sit on the floor with my feet tucked up under me "Indian style" like I did when I was five. And I still like sleeping on my stomach, which is how my mom put me in bed when I was a baby. I feel the same today as I did 15 years ago; even 20 years ago. I don't feel old at all.

I've been trying to figure out why it is that a little bit of white hair, a small change in my physical appearance, could change my perception of myself; could make me feel old. Because after looking at that ashy, dull hair for the last several months, I finally got tired of it and I had my super cute sister/hairstylist color my hair this week. It was a huge step because once you color your hair to cover the gray you have to be vigilant.

Coloring my hair isn't anything new. Although I've gone with my natural color since 2008, coloring my hair is something I have always liked to do. But this time was different, somehow. In the past, it was always just for fun. I liked trying out different colors and I didn’t care if people knew it wasn’t my real color. This time I colored my hair to cover the gray that is steadily creeping in. Something about that bothers me. Even though I tried to keep it fun by going a shade darker than my natural color with a copper undertone to it, knowing that the main purpose is to hide the gray kind of takes the fun out of it.

Maybe I'll have my sister go a tiny bit lighter next time. Because there will be a next time. I'm not going to go gray gracefully. I'm going to fight it, kicking and screaming. My next appointment is February 6th.

Constant vigilance.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Coke or Pepsi?

Although when compared in double blind taste tests, the majority of people could not tell the difference in taste, people will swear they love one or the other. –WikiVS

Whew! We made it! Christmas has come and gone for another year. For the most part, it looks like we were all pretty on top of things. I got all of my big projects finished up but had a few little things that didn't get done. The gifts that needed to be mailed didn't go out until yesterday and today. And there are a few little neighbor gifts still sitting under my tree. I better get those delivered. Or, I could keep them until next year and save myself a little stress in 2012.

Today's question popped into my head yesterday when I stopped at the drive-thru for a Coke to help with my headace. The particular place I went to didn't have Coke. I was only after the caffeine and I didn't really care about the delivery method so I went with a large Pepsi. And then I wondered if I was going to like it because I haven't had a Pepsi since about 1998. To my relief I discovered that it doesn't really much matter.

I'm really not a big cola drinker. I mostly use it to boost my caffeine intake when I'm trying to shake a migraine. I'd rather have a root beer or a 7-Up when it comes to soda, but that is slightly off-topic. Mr. Bug is a regular consumer of Coke and keeps copious amounts on hand {which were ironically out of yesterday}. To be honest, I thought I was Team Coke, but my encounter with Pepsi yesterday {and again this morning} leads me to believe that there really isn't much difference.

People started asking it in the 1940's. Coke or Pepsi? There is still no conclusive answer. But still I must ask . . . do you like Coke or Pepsi better?

Since it is a matter of taste we may never find out. But I will say this, Coke has the best ads.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Piano Guys

A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. –Leopold Stokowski

It is no secret that I love music. Nor is it a secret that I love to share the music that I love. So, when my Dad sent me a link to ThePianoGuys it was a no-brainer, because from the first note I was hooked. Group members, Jon Schmidt {Piano Guy}, Steven Sharp Nelson {Cello Guy}, Paul Anderson {"The" Guy}, Tel Stewart {Video Guy} and Al Van Der Beek {Music Guy} combine an amazing amount of finely honed talent, wrought of what I can only imagine to be years of practice, to produce a unique and captivating sound. And, they are Utah boys—another reason to love them.

From their home page, The Piano Guys started out as a piano store in the small town of St. George, Utah. One day while Paul was selling pianos, Jon Schmidt walked in and asked if he could use a piano to practice before a concert. Paul was blown away by his talent and they began to create music videos together. At first the videos were very basic, but as time went on we created more and more involved productions. After we filmed a few videos with Jon, he introduced us to Steven Sharp Nelson, a cellist who was beyond anything we had ever seen. Jon and Steve had been performing together for several years, and we could see that together we'd all make a great team. The rest is history in the making.

OK, so I went a little overboard with the videos. I had a hard time narrowing it down to just one favorite. You can pick one or two {you really can't go wrong}, watch them all, or go to ThePianoGuys YouTube channel and find your own favorites.

Desert Symphony

Available on iTunes and at Amazon.

The Cello Song

Available from The Piano Guys and on iTunes.


Available from The Piano Guys and on iTunes.

Classical Music at 180 MPH

Available from The Piano Guys and on iTunes.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Available from The Piano Guys and on iTunes.

You can purchase music directly from The Piano Guys or you can find them on iTunes.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Glad of Heart

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart. –Washington Irving

I hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and that you all got everything on your wish list. I've had a very nice few days. I got the last of my Christmas sewing done Saturday afternoong and then headed to my family's party. We ate and exchanged gifts and visited and had a wonderful time. Sunday morning we went to church with my mom, dad, two of my sisters and their families. My sister, my twin-ten-years-younger, played her violin with the choir. She did such a beautiful job and I was so glad I got to go. We finished Christmas off with a relaxing afternoon at home, with the Little Bugs bouncing from gift to gift to gift, enjoying playing with them.

This is my last Christmas table runner.

It is a bit busy, but I absolutely love how it turned out. I quilted each of the hearts a little bit differently. This is the center heart.

Here is the heart on the left

And this is the heart on the right. I love these patchy hearts and am definitely going to use them again.

Here's a closer look at the quilting in the borders. I had so much fun putting this runner together.

I was going to post this on Saturday, but just ran out of time. Getting to the party seemed more important than blogging. So, I hope you'll indulge me in one more Christmas song. I think it is my new all-time favorite.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Christmas Story

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. –Isaiah 9:6

Friday, December 23, 2011

More Pillowcases for Christmas

I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. –Charles Dickens

I've got eight more Christmas pillowcases finished! I really liked this green dotted fabric so I made a total of four; three here and one I finished earlier.

These stripey pillowcases make me so happy! The fabric is Quilter's Showcase from JoAnn's and it is a really nice weight and a really great price. I happened to catch them on a 50% off sale, so that made the price even better!

And these pink pillowcases are SO cute!

Click on the button below for instructions to make your own pillowcases.

Fancy Pillowcase PDF

I'm really excited about getting closer to being finished! Hooray! The wrapping will begin shortly, and here's a little something to help with the holiday spirit while we all finish things up.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Are You Ready for the Holidays?

Christmas is the gentlest, loveliest festival of the revolving year — and yet, for all that, when it speaks, its voice has strong authority. –W.J. Cameron

I loved hearing about your holiday wish lists! Let me recap.

Shay wants a new car and quilting supplies. Me too! Me too! Make my car red and my quilting supplies plentiful.

Mommarock wants a day at the spa. Sounds heavenly. Can I come too?

Michelle wants a gift that is thoughtful. I know exactly what you mean. Those are the best kind.

P. wants a vacation Alice Cullen style. I'm right there with you!

Mr. Anonymous {a.k.a. my dad} wants his children to be happy, loved, employed and grateful. Thanks dad! I think that's a pretty good wish.

I think my favorite Christmas wish is from my good friend, Jenna, who said: No restraints on my Christmas wish? OK, you asked for it. I would like a check for $100,000 please : ). That would take care of our student debt and buy us the second car that we need! Is that asking too much? No? OK, I'll take a house of my very own to go with that. With a big red bow tied around it! And a wreath on the door? Furnished and decorated by someone who knows what they're doing? This is fun! Ha ha ha, I'm killing myself with an overdose of "dream-on, lady." Heh heh.

As for an ideal Christmas gift that I really could possibly ask for, I would probably love to get a Kindle or something of that sort. But the reason I DON'T want that is because I manage to read about 10 pages per week. Is there anyway to guarantee time to read with a gift like that? (Could I ask for a chef and a maid to move in with us in our new house?)

So what do I want that I could actually use? A gym membership so I could play racquetball again. That would be great! But I'd need that new car to go along with it . . . Doh! I guess I'm kind of hard to buy for this year!

Jenna, if I had a million dollars, I'd buy you a house! {And all those other things too.}

As you might have noticed, I've got Christmas on the brain. How could I not? I love Christmas. I love making and buying thoughtful gifts. I love sharing a bit of myself. But it is less than three days away and I've still got a ton of elfing to do before it gets here. I got a little sidetracked with putting together some ornaments for neighbors and trying to fit in photographing for a tutorial while I finish up one of my gifts. Plus, I work. Sleep has gone out the window, the adrenaline has kicked in and the ideas are flowing.

Early on, I decided to skip sending Christmas cards this year {because it worked so nicely for me last year}, but I very nearly bought some yesterday on clearance because I kind of miss it. I realized that I absolutely don't have time for it and have decided that henceforth I am sending Christmas cards in July. I have a fair amount of sewing still to do, odds and ends to finish up on the shopping and then the wrapping.

Christmas is coming, whether I'm ready or not. So why am I blogging? Because I must ask . . . are you ready for the Holidays?

There's not much space over in my sidebar, so I've given you the key here. Select the number that corresponds with your level of preparedness in the poll and if you're so inclined, leave me a comment telling me how you're doing.

1. Done for months, wrapped and ready to go.
2. Done for weeks, wrapped and ready to go.
3. Done in the last few days, wrapped and ready to go.
4. Mostly done, with a few odds and ends to tie up.
5. Still have a lot of things left and nothing wrapped yet.
6. Started, but going to be staying up for the next 72 hours to get everything together.
7. Got a tiny start, but most of the list to go. Wrapping? Put wrapping paper on the list.
8. Got a list together, but nothing checked off. And don't even talk to me about wrapping.
9. Haven't got a list. Haven't got a clue. I'll pick something up at the 7-Eleven on the way.
10. Bah humbug!

While you put your last minute preparations together, enjoy a little Christmas music. Please note, this is not a political statement. I just really like the song. Collin Raye is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's All About the Ornaments

Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money. –Unknown

Our personalized 2010 ornaments finally arrived. I think I'm going to register a complaint for the huge delay.

Funnily enough, our 2011 ornaments were in with the 2010 ornaments. Imagine that.

Our 2012 and 2013 ornaments are scheduled to arrive on Saturday. And when I pulled out my Christmas things, I found some really cool glass ornaments I'd started to embellish, but never finished. I'd completely forgotten about them and did a face-palm because these could have been for 2010. I finished getting them together, and now I have ornaments for 2014.

And 2015. {Personalizations to be added later.}

I had left-over beads, so I thought it might be fun to put together an assortment of snowmen and Santa Claus ornaments to give to a few special friends and neighbors. I bought these particular glass ornaments a few years ago and knew that I'd never find more. I was hoping to find some clear glass balls to use instead. I went to eight stores today. No one has clear glass ornaments. Silly stores. Don't they know that some people have crazy last-minute ideas? I did find some really nice red and silver ones that I'd resigned myself to using, even though they wouldn't be as cool as clear ones with colored beads inside, but when I went back to get them the store was closed. At 8:30 pm. Silly store. Don't they know that Christmas is in four days and everybody wants to shop round the clock?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mele Kalikimaka

Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts. –Lenora Mattingly Weber

Right about now I'd like to be sitting on a beach in Hawaii {wearing a giant sun hat, sunglasses, SPF 50 and a swimsuit cover-up to my ankles} with Mr. Bug, sipping a fruity drink with a little pink umbrella while reading a good book and listening to the sound of the waves hitting the sand. Sounds very relaxing, doesn't it?

What I'm up to is the very opposite of a day at the beach. There's still too much to do for Christmas. I've trimmed my list considerably, trying to keep it realistic, but I've got so many ends to tie up before the 25th hits that I'm passing myself coming and going. Mind you, I'm having a marvelous time putting it all together, but I wish I had more time. I hope to have a few finishes to show tomorrow. In the meantime, enjoy this lovely Christmas greeting from the sandy beaches to you.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol. 21

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.
–Thomas Tusser

Christmas Concert Cuties
Both of the Little Bugs had concerts last week. I promised to show pictures and here they finally are. Grasshopper started in the 6th grade orchestra in September and last Wednesday was their winter concert. It was short, with only four songs, but the orchestra as a whole sounded lovely. It was a really nice evening and I enjoyed so much hearing them play. There are two cellists, two students who play viola and a dozen or so violinists. I am really proud of Grasshopper and the work he's put in. If only I could get him to hold his bow correctly and practice a little more.

On Thursday, LadyBug performed a lovely selection of Christmas songs with the entire 4th grade. Their performance was at the mall, so lots of people could attend. There wasn't much opportunity for photos, not to mention I forgot my good camera {for both performances} and had to resort to the camera on my phone. I made the vest LadyBug is wearing about 14 years ago. It was for my youngest sister, who was just about LadyBug's age at the time. I actually made vests for all three of my sisters, my mom, my grandma, Mr. Bug's mom and me {that's seven, if you're counting}. At our Christmas party, you can usually spot one or more of those vests every year.

Glad of Heart
The Glad of Heart table runner, which I'm taking to my family's gift exchange, is all quilted and ready for binding. We ended up only taking one runner for the gift exchange at Mr. Bug's family party {besides the one I made for Mr. Bug's mom}, so when I get this one finished, I'll be done making runners for Christmas. This is all you get to see until it is done.

More Donation Pillowcases
A few weeks ago, I showed you some pillowcases that a group of women in my ward {congregation} got together and made to donate to local facilities in need. We finished 15 on our service day and several more kits were taken home for completion. These are the remaining 11 pillowcases, making a total of 26 we'll be dropping off for donation tomorrow.

I love the Dora pillowcase. It is positively aDORAble. The two in the top right corner are flannel. The jungle animals are so cute, even though they got sewn on upside down. And I love the Tink pillowcases.

I love the red fabric on the Spiderman cases. I bought it several years ago as a remnant because I thought it had interesting texture. Someone else donated the Spiderman fabric and I rummaged around in my stash for the red because I knew it would be perfect together. I was glad that so many great fabrics that would work well for boys were donated.

Monday Music Spot: When Christmas Comes to Town
Christmas is in six days. Is anyone else worried about getting everything finished in time? I have lots of sewing done, but still lots left. Same with the shopping, but on a smaller scale. And the wrapping? I'll probably be wrapping in the car on the way to my family party, and then staying up late after we get home to finish wrapping gifts for the Little Bugs. Still, Christmas will come whether everything on my list gets done, so I might as well enjoy the season.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sabbath Songs: Silent Night

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God.
–Luke 2:8-13

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sunday Squares

Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven’s making. –Leigh Hunt

I love how this table runner came out.

I used Charlie Scott's Sunday Squares tutorial, adjusting it from a 32"x 32" wall-hanging to table runner size.

I decided to go with the white between the center squares and the sawtooth border. I think that the green binding is just the right touch.

I gave this table runner to Mr. Bug's parents at his family party tonight. I kind of wanted to keep it. But Mr. Bug's mom really liked it, so I'm glad it went to a good home.

And here's a fun holiday song if you need a little background music at your family Christmas party.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Friday, December 16, 2011

Favourite Things Friday: A Really Great Find

Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall. –Larry Wilde, The Merry Book of Christmas

I love to find something marvelous. Something that tickles my fancy. Something that makes me happy from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Whether that something is a tangible object or an idea or a moment in time, finding something marvelous is one of my favorite things.

In the category of tangible objects, getting that something marvelous on sale makes it even better. I have a post label called "50% off," which I mostly reserve for cool stuff I get at {what else?} 50% off. As much as I love getting something for half-off, I won't turn up my nose to any other discount, either. Because a discount is a discount. And discounts are good.

The other day, I posted about some fabric I'd gotten to make pillowcases for Christmas. I mentioned that all the fabric was at least 50% off. Marianne left a comment I really liked. She said, do some people actually pay full price for fabric? Silly people. I laughed and nodded. Paying full price for anything when there are deals to be had out there is silly.

OK. This post seems to be going nowhere. Let's sum up and see if I can tie this all together.

Something Marvelous = Awesome
Something Marvelous On Sale = Even Better Than Awesome

Today, I found something marvelous. I'm doing a little happy dance right now. If you've been following along, you'll know that I like to get a personalized, dated Christmas ornament for each of the Little Bugs for Christmas. If I can find one that Mr. Bug and I can share, I do that as well. If not, then we get individual ornaments too. Last year I was grumpier than the Grinch and stingier than Scrooge and did not get ornaments. So I decided to browse the interwebs for ornaments to back-date for 2010. I found a whole lot of ornaments I loved. So much so, that I scrapped plans for making ornaments {I am running out of time, here}, and got ornaments for this year too. As a matter of fact, I found so many great ornaments that I had a hard time deciding which ones to get and which ones to leave behind. I ended up getting ornaments through 2013. What can I say? I like to be prepared. Also, this means that I can postpone any major ornament making projects I might be contemplating until January of 2014.

Among the ornaments I ordered today, these beautiful laser-carved wood ornaments are pretty high on my scale of awesome. One of the best things about them is that they accommodate up to 10 letters. I have a hard time finding personalized ornaments that will fit my name because lots of them only allow 8 letters. So unless you named your kid something weird, like Grasshopper, fitting your name on the ornament isn't a going to be a problem. Of course, the ornaments I ordered don't really say G-Hopper or LadyBug. They have our real names on them, but I wanted to show you just how amazing these ornaments are.

These glass ornaments are also really amazing. Both of these were so different from the ornaments I've gotten in the past that I couldn't pass them up. Again, they have our real names spelled out on the ornaments and in the background is our surname and the year.

Both of these ornaments came from Personalization Mall. They have a fun selection of wood and glass ornaments, as well as porcelain and resin. I could have spent all day there trying out different personalizations on all of the ornaments. You get a preview of exactly what you're ordering before you add it to your cart to make sure you get what you want.

To make things even better, I got free shipping on the order I placed for the ornaments I didn't show you and Definitive Deals had several different discount options for Personalization Mall.

To tie things up, hopefully into a nice, neat package, if we substitute the known quantity for the unknown quantity we find:

Personalized Ornaments = Awesome
Personalized Ornaments On Sale = Even Better Than Awesome

And here's a little something to enjoy while you sip hot cocoa by the fireplace.

Today's post brought to you by:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I Must Ask . . . What Is Your Ideal Christmas Gift?

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. –Roy L. Smith

Thank you so much, everyone, for weighing in on your favorite holiday traditions. Hands down, spending time with family took the most votes. I think that getting together with loved ones is one of the best things about this time of year. On the other side of the coin, one of the least favorites was decorating. Not one single person voted for it. to be honest, hauling the tree out of storage and putting it together is not my favorite way to spend an afternoon. Even less fun is stringing lights on a real tree. But I really love how excited the Little Bugs get about putting the ornaments on.

I didn't include this on the poll last week because I'm not sure if this is a tradition, per se, or if anyone else does this but at our house Santa always puts socks and underwear in our Christmas stockings. It is a great way to fill them up fast without spending a lot of money. And my mom always gets everyone new pajamas to open up before bed on Christmas Eve. We all pretend we don't know what's in the package, but new jammies to sleep in the night before Christmas is firmly embedded in our family traditions.

During the Christmas season, people tend to open their hearts and their wallets to give to others. Donations for those in need abound. I love to give gifts that are well received. I especially like finding just the right thing for the Little Bugs. I've yet to give Mr. Bug the perfect gift, but I keep trying. It's also hard to know what to get for my parents in light of how much they give to me. But today I want to talk about the receiving just a little bit. The anticipation of unwrapping something wonderful is part of what makes Christmas so magical. I know we all have a list of things we'd like, whether it be a mental list or one that is actually written out on paper. I would love to open up anything related to my fabric and quilting obsession, from a new pack of machine needles to {AURIfil} thread to fabric or fabric gift cards. At the top of my list is the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen. I'm holding out hope that I made the “nice” list this year.

There are plenty of other things I'd love {clothes, shoes, cash, a European vacation}, but I want to hear what you'd like. Today I must ask . . . what is your ideal Christmas gift? What would you really love to find under your Christmas tree? Don't be shy and say that you want something altruistic, or that you don't want anything. This is your chance to say what you really want without worrying about looking like a tool for thinking of yourself. Today's poll is a short list of possibilities because it is hard to poll someone's desires. Vote for the most closely related category and leave a comment telling me what you'd like!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Merry Christmas From the Family

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other. –Burton Hillis

Today is a busy day. I have work and chores and a meeting for the volunteer committee I'm on with my church and Grasshopper has a concert with his orchestra tonight. I'm so excited for him. LadyBug has her class Christmas concert tomorrow. They'll be singing at the mall. Any Christmas sewing I do will be really late this evening, so I'll show you what I'm up to tomorrow. And I'll show you both my concert cuties then, too.

In the meantime, here's a fun but non-traditional Christmas song to entertain you. It's another bit of Christmas silliness that I enjoy. Don't worry about watching the video. Just listen to the song.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pillowcases for Christmas

Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love! –Hamilton Wright Mabie

I've got five pillowcases done! I started with the ones we're giving away the soonest. Mr. Bug's family party is coming up and this tweet pillowcase is for the cousin exchange. I love the little birds.

Here's another one for the cousin exchange on Mr. Bug's side. I really liked this fabric for boys, so there will be four total like this.

One of these is for LadyBug and one is for my brother. LadyBug happened to see the stacks of cut pillowcases and asked who each one was for. I kind of fibbed about some of them {I told her I lost my list, which isn't entirely untrue. I lost the original and then made a new one} to throw her off the scent. I was a little bit pleased when she said, those fabrics are cool. I want a pillowcase out of them.

And this one is Grasshopper's. He's my Little Boy Blue, so I hope that the red turquoise stripes aren't too obtrusive for him. I did my kids' pillowcases in the first batch to get them out of the way. With them hidden away, I'm hoping they will be less likely to figure out that I made pillowcases for them too.

These pillowcases are fast and fun to put together. Click on the button below for instructions.

Fancy Pillowcase PDF

And here's a little Christmas music to sew by. I love the song and the girls who put the video together did a cute job.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Monday, December 12, 2011

Various and Sundry Monday: Vol 20

From a commercial point of view, if Christmas did not exist it would be necessary to invent it. –Katharine Whitehorn

I'm not sure how long ago I started this little table runner, but I pulled it out to add to my pool of table runners for the gift exchange parties I'm going to. I used a Moda Bakeshop "recipe" called Sunday Squares by Charlie Scott. I won the charm pack at shop hop a year or so before I started the runner and thought this would be the perfect project to use it in, only there weren't enough squares in the charm pack to make the whole quilt, so I decided to make a table runner. I had probably a half a yard of the background fabric in my stash, which wasn't enough to finish the top. By the time I got some more and got it washed, I'd either lost interest, needed to move on to something else more pressing or was kind of stuck on how to proceed. I'm thinking it was a combination of all those things, with being stuck the major factor.

I think I couldn't decide if I wanted to do a white border between the center and the sawtooth border . . .

. . . or if I wanted to do green. I still can't decide. I put the white border on last night and was all set on it. But when I got up this morning and looked at it again, I kind of like the green. While I was taking pictures, I was pretty set on sticking with the white. But after looking at the pictures, I'm pondering the green again. Opinions, please. Tell me what you think.

A Little Christmas Silliness
Christmas is in 13 days. Thirteen. Days. People. The pressure is on to get everything ready. If you're feeling stressed, here's a little something to make you laugh. There are some really great lines in here.

15 Yards
of 100% cotton fabric washed, pressed, cut and assembled into thirteen pillowcase kits. I got all my fabric on sale for at least 50% off and didn't pay more than $3.49 a yard for any one piece. I think there was even one piece that was $1.99 a yard. My favorites in this bunch are the Quilter's Showcase fabrics from JoAnn's. The fabric is a really nice weight/quality and it washes and presses really nicely, but the best thing about them is that they were on sale for $2.49 a yard, with an additional 10% off!

Glad of Heart
This is another table runner in progress. The top is finished and it is basted and ready for quilting. The fabric is Sanibel and I just love it. I know it is a little bit busy, but I think/hope that the quilting will help with that.

A very kind friend sent me five fat quarters of this fabric line at Christmas last year. I made a couple of Hexie Art Journals with it and had roughly a fat eighth left over of each fabric. This summer, I went to a fabric shop I don't visit often and they had one of those bins where everything you can cram into a gallon-size ziplock from the bin is $10. I was immediately drawn to the bright plaid. It was a big piece, just over 2 yards, and I thought it would be great for a table runner. When I saw Sanibel on the selvage, I knew it was meant to be. And just a few weeks ago I found a couple of different prints from this line on clearance at the quilt shop near my work. I was really glad to find them and I can't wait to start quilting on this.

Focus on Free-Motion Quilting
Vickie at Sew Inspired is hosting a little quilt-along during the month of January and I'm playing along because I am ready and anxious to learn as much as I can about free-motion quilting. Pop on over and have a gander.

Monday Music Spot: Santa's Got A Brand New Bag
I love this sassy Christmas song by SHeDAISY. It's just what I need to motivate me to do a little Christmas sewing, even though I'd rather go to bed.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sabbath Songs: Away in a Manger

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. –Luke 2:7

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Let It Be Christmas

Elfing: /ˈɛl‐fɪŋ/, verb. a. to be enthusiastically engaged in various Christmas preparations, including but not limited to, shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking and caroling. b. to give a gift anonymously. c. to spread Christmas cheer.

The Christmas preparations are in full swing. I've made lists. I've checked them twice. I've lost my little list notebooks and had to start over again. I've got yards and yards of fabric to sew. There is a never ending supply of ideas to try. The only thing I haven't got is enough time. Christmas will come whether I've got everything finished or not. I guess the trick is to prioritize my list and work hard to get everything done.

One of my favorite traditions is to get a new ornament for the tree for each member in my little family. I have brass ornaments. I have silver ornaments. I have porcelain ornaments. I have cute little molded resin or plastic ones. I make sure to have the name and year for each person put on their ornament somewhere and somehow. Sometimes I get an ornament to commemorate a special event or occasion. The years that LadyBug and Grasshopper were born, their ornaments were little baby buggies. They year we all went to Disneyland for Christmas, I got teacup {like the Teacup Ride} ornaments with Mickey for the boys and Minnie for the girls.

Last year, I was not in the mood for Christmas and didn't bother to look for ornaments. I'm going to get last year's ornaments this year and back-date them. I'll probably just buy something for last year, but I am making this year's ornaments. I thought something in fabric would be fitting but have been stumped for ideas. Herein lies the beauty of the internet. Barb over at Bejeweled Quilts posted these Christmas Balls the other day, and I've decided to make those for our ornaments this year. I'd like to make some for little neighbor gifts too, but they are a little bit time consuming. I'm still not done with the first one, so I think making them for neighbors will have to go at the bottom of my list. Perhaps I can get a good start for next year.

This morning, instead of getting the grocery shopping and Saturday chores done, I spent a few minutes {read: hours} looking for other fun fabric ornaments. I blame Barb. She posted some cute Santa ornaments she put together and was kind enough to add a link. It spiraled out of control from there and I have ideas for the next five or six years. I'm not sure which I'll start with.

Christmas Ball by Bejeweled Quilts
Felt Bauble Ornaments by My Fantastic Toys
Felt Peppermint Ornament by PinkSuedeShoe
Felt Reindeer Ornament by PinkSuedeShoe
Half-Eaten Gingerbread Ornament by Elsie Marley
Matroyshka Doll Ornament by My Sparkle
Santa Ornament by Pinwheel Ponders

If you haven't found your Christmas groove yet, perhaps a little Alan Jackson will help.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Must Ask . . . What Is Your Favorite Holiday Tradition?

It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air.
–W.T. Ellis
I had a fun time hearing about your favorite holidays. I forgot a few, most obviously Mother's Day. It wasn't intentional that I left it off, although I'm not entirely sure it was an accident. I'm not very fond of Mother's Day. I think it is a day full of reminders of unmet expectations. But maybe that's just me. I couldn't include every holiday across the globe and I also left off Hanukkah, which was entirely accidental. I also added some silly and superfluous holidays just for fun. I was a little disappointed to see that no one voted for National Pink Day. Christmas won by a landslide, which is a good thing because when I posted last week, I planned to ask about holiday traditions this week.

Christmas can be a difficult and stressful time. Last Christmas, I just wanted to skip the whole thing. Our financial situation was bleak, even though I started working at the beginning of December. Our savings was gone and Mr. Bug didn't have many prospects for employment. I was discouraged and trying to adjust to a new life and didn't have it in me to bridge the gap between our lack of funds and the gifts we needed to give. Making gifts was work instead of fun because I didn't have the luxury or the choice of going out and buying things if I ran out of energy or time.

This year, we are both gainfully employed, and while money is still tight, I'm so excited to put together some really fun Christmas gifts. I'm making table runners for Christmas parties on both sides of our families {two down, two to go!}, and I hope to be able to put together some really pretty Christmas ornaments to give as neighbor gifts. I'm making {note to my sisters: please skip this next sentence so it will be a surprise} pillowcases for my nieces and nephews. I'm really excited to make gifts this year. One of my favorite things about the holidays is giving thoughtful gifts and if I can make them, that is even better!

I also love the parties. Parties with family. Parties with friends. Parties with co-workers. I think that work parties are my favorite. Spending an evening out, with food, entertainment and gifts provided by someone else is really one of the highlights of the season for me. Tonight was my work party. Mr. Bug wasn't able to make it, but the Little Bugs and I went bowling with my co-workers and it was SO much fun. My high game was 112, which is pretty good considering I haven't bowled in about five years. And it was probably 10 years before that. There were gifts and food and a really good time. The Little Bugs were so cute with their 6 lb. balls and their funny approaches and their bumpers on the lanes. I'm definitely going to have to take them bowling more often.

Winter and cold and snow aren't my favorite things but Christmas makes it a little more bearable. {I realize that it is summer in the southern hemisphere, but Christmas on the beach just seems weird to me. I've actually been there.} I love the sharing and giving, the kindness, the service that goes on at this time of year. How about you? I must ask . . . what is your favorite holiday tradition?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Apron № 109: Roses in Winter

A good friend is a connection to life — a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. –Lois Wyse

My co-worker and office-mate, Sherri, had a birthday today. Over the past year we've become good friends and I knew that I wanted to make an apron for her for her birthday. As I got to know Sherri, I discovered that her favorite color is green. I knew I had the perfect fabric for her apron. I'd bought it a little over two years ago intending to use it for an apron for another friend, but changed my mind and did something else for that particular person. I loved putting it together and I think this is one of my favorite of all the aprons I have made. The colors are so pretty together. It is such a sweet feminine apron. I'm pretty sure that Sherri loved it as much as I did.

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Music Spot: Keen on Keane

Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. –Shunryu Suzuki

Occasionally, I have to work on a Saturday. On those days, I put on my headphones to make the day more pleasant. I wanted to share a bit of something I enjoyed last Saturday. Despite the seriously overplayed, Somewhere Only We Know, which only rates a meh on a scale of one-to-awesome, I love the overall sound of this band.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sabbath Songs: Stars Were Gleaming

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
–Matthew 2:1-2

Stars were gleaming, shepherds dreaming;
And the night was dark and chill.
Angels' story rang with glory;
Shepherds heard it on the hill.
Ah, that singing! Hear it ringing,
Earthward winging, Christmas bringing.
Hearken! We can hear it still!
Hearken! We can hear it still!

See the clearness and the nearness
Of the blessed Christmas star,
Leading, guiding, wise men riding
Through the desert dark and far.
Lovely showing, shining growing,
Onward going, gleaming glowing,
Leading still, our Christmas Star.
Leading still, our Christmas Star.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Poultry in Motion: Le Chanticleer

The rooster may crow but the hen delivers the goods. –Unknown

I went to Google Translate to find out what Le Chanticleer means. I thought that it might be a particular breed of chicken which would make a nice title or subtitle for this table runner.

I translated it from French to English. Guess what the translation was? The Chanticleer.

Then I tried translating it from French to Portuguese and came up with galo doméstico, which means domestic rooster. Clearly, I was absent the day they read Reynard the Fox in school.

I don't know. Poultry in Motion: Domestic Rooster just doesn't have the same panache as Poultry in Motion: Le Chanticleer.

Perhaps I'll leave the subtitle off. After all, it's only a table runner.

The quilting: About three quilts ago, I got tired of using a walking foot for straight lines and stitch-in-the ditch. Two quilts ago, I decided to do the ditch work with my free-motion foot on. It wasn't the worst ditch work ever. So, I gave it a shot with the last project I quilted, and it was pretty OK. This quilt is also 100% free-motion and the straight lines aren't too bad if I do say so myself. Hooray for another Christmas gift exchange table runner finished!

Today's post brought to you by:

My 2011 Finishes