Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy holidays!

"Merry Christmas" to my Christian friends and "Happy Holidays" to those who follow other religions or are nonbelievers!  I like Christmas even though I am not religious - the lights, red and green and a few other colors thrown in, the food, the ritual. 

There are a few things I usually do, such as make Chex mix, put up the tree, and light up the Christmas village.  My many Beanie babies come out of hiding, although their ranks are a little thinner this year.  I sent a batch to my niece in Holland since she has a new baby.   I always plan some nice meals, including one with friends on Christmas eve and brunch with Chris on Christmas day.  I like a low-key Christmas day, and we usually have one. 

I have only spent two Christmases with my parents since I became an adult, which is really a shame.  I hate to travel during the holidays - too much hustle bustle, too many chances of getting hung up somewhere.  But this year is especially bittersweet since Dad is gone.  I'm really glad my sister can be with Mom since the rest of us are scattered around the country.  My friend Karen, who lost her husband last New Year's Day, is heading to the Bahamas for a non-holiday with her son tomorrow.  I said to Paul and Chris, "why didn't we think of that?"  It sounds quite nice!  

The new year is right around the corner and promises plenty of fun - hoped-for trips to Alabama and the Grand Canyon, lots of quilting, our local quilt show, plays, concerts, and surprises of one kind and another.  Best wishes to you for 2015!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A baker's dozen of good books

When I review the the books I liked best in 2014, I see that many were light and involved women, some of them "of a certain age," finding their ways.  Here's the list:

Under the Wide and Starry Sky - Nancy Horan.  Amazing fictional biography of Fanny van de Grift and Robert Louis Stevenson, ranging from France to California to Samoa.

Longbourne - Jo Baker.  Pride and Prejudice as seen through the eyes of the servants.

A Single Thread - Marie Bostwick.  First in the "Cobbled Court Quilts" series.

The House at the End of Hope St. - Menna van Praag.  The house only appears to those who need it.

Lost Lake - Sarah Addison Allen.  Another mystical family story.

Through the Evil Days - Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Latest in the series featuring Claire and Russ, set in the middle of an ice storm in a remote area of the Adirondacks.

Sweet Expectations - Mary Ellen Taylor.  A young woman returns to the family bakery in Alexandria, Va., to keep it going.  (I also read The Union St. Bakery)

Goodnight, June - Sarah Jio.  Story about a Seattle bookshop run by a friend of Margaret Wise Brown.

The Care and Management of Lies - Jacqueline Winspear.  What were the women doing while the British men were off at WWI?

The House on Tradd St. - Karen White.  First in a four book series set in ghost-ridden Charleston.  I gobbled them up, one after the other.

The Long Way Home - Louise Penny.  This mystery does not disappoint a long-time fan.  Probably the best book of the year!

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good - Jan Karon.  A welcome reunion with the Mitford characters in Karon's wonderfully funny style.

Still Life with Bread Crumbs - Anna Quindlen.  Wonderful story of a middle-aged photographer finding love in unexpected circumstances.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A fall top

This fall, I coordinated an online swap of 6" fall nine patch blocks but hadn't gotten around to putting them together until we were snowed in Tuesday and Wednesday.  My personal challenge for 2015 is to use more orange, so the orange batik I bought recently pulled it all together.  I've been quilting it very simply, criss-cross style.
I have enough of the batik for the binding, and I may fuse on a few leaves from an odd fat quarter before it's done.   I like it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A nice picture

Last week, we attended a public presentation of  Barre historical documents and artifacts from the Aldrich Public Library to the collection of the Vermont Historical Society.  This was a long time in coming, but it is really going to mean better access to the items as well as better storage and preservation.   Above are three librarians and the president of the VHS - my dear friend and our public librarian Karen, Laure of VHS, me, and Paul C. the VHS librarian-extraordinaire.  I'm biased, of course, since I volunteer on Fridays at VHS.  I'm also a huge fan of our public library.  Actually, there are four librarians in the photo, if you count Paul's side, behind me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Where does the time go?

As I was coming in from taking a mountain of catalogs to the recycling bin in the garage, I noticed it was already 3:00 pm.  What on earth did I do all day?  It's another gray day - almost time to make dinner.  These days, I often wonder where the time went, but then I remembered that today I:
  - cut out 15 6" squares, divided up a few bags of candy, and made party favors for the library staff appreciation dinner tomorrow night
  - cut and ironed a large piece of backing fabric for the log cabin star quilt, folded two tops, and wrote out instructions for quilting to take to the longarmer's on Saturday if the weather is OK
  - made a blue cheeseball for the library dinner tomorrow - what a mess cream cheese can make, but I loved licking the spatulas
  - made a Cathedral Window ornament to take to quilt guild later in the month for an exchange
  - went to a neighborhood ladies' luncheon
  - shopped for food since we nearly out of flour, sugar, etc. and I am hoping to bake a loaf of artisan bread Friday or Saturday; was pleased to run into one of our Tuesday walking group while at the store - we lamented the lack of places to walk when it starts getting icy
  - sorted through said mountain of catalogs

Another day gone and no exercise to speak of.  Maybe tomorrow?  Time to sit and read til time to make dinner.  I'm nearly finished with the latest Guido Brunetti mystery set in Venice.  Very satisfying!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"Toujours Paris" is done!

Yes, it is true that if you work steadily enough, you will finish a quilt top in a week or so.  I have proof!  "Toujours Paris" is ready for quilting, and took about 17 hours over several days to make.  Granted, it was a fairly simple pattern despite the fact that the post card motifs were a little skew and an odd size (those center pieces were 5 1/4" x 6 5/8").   I decided sashing would make it look even busier and like the scrappiness as it is.
Yes, it's very pink!  I had Yve look at the longarm quilter's website to choose an overall quilting pattern, and I will try to deliver it Saturday (weather permitting).  I thought I'd buy the backing fabric from the quilter and have her seam it also.  Maybe a black and white print since I still have some pink batik for the binding.
I'm looking forward to working on a few other projects in the coming days, including a few Christmas gifts.