10 November, 2015

With Laser Focus...

Life has been hectic lately; lots of things going on daily that occupy my time and mind. I had a friend who used to say she had to fly sideways just to keep from taking off... that's an apt description of recent activities for me. Anyway, on Monday I loaded a quilt onto Snowbird and quilted it using this pantograph, Paisley Max. There was something so relaxing, so centering, about switching on the machine and following that laser dot with intense concentration. I couldn't veer from the path, I couldn't stop midway and come back to my laser and line later, if I even hesitated en route I feared losing course or changing direction inadvertantly. And so, I pressed on. The quilt is all paisley-ed out now with this lovely, swirling texture on its surface.  I was able to clear my mind and focus with clarity... on this one thing. It was liberating and empowering at the same time. Knowing now that I have the ability to keep competing thoughts, activities and concerns at bay gives me the encouragement I need to actually accomplish the many things demanding my attention, one at a time; and a peek at what it may be like to reach the end of "quilt tops to be quilted" queue!
Life is Good!

04 November, 2015

This Week's Cookie Is Brought To You By...

Sesame Street used to have the number and the letter of the day, do you remember that? Well, in that spirit, today's post is brought to you by the number 5. Our favorite red-headed grandson's birthday was yesterday, his 5th! Gregory requested cookies for his class party from Nana; "anything you want to do" my daughter-in-law told me, "you decide". I thought for a while and consulted some cookie blogs before settling on a Number 5 theme.  These cookies allowed me the opportunity to try something new: royal icing transfers. I baked 3.5" plain, round, cookies and prepared waxed paper on the countertop with sheets of paper printed with a series of #5s underneath to receive the transfers-to-be. I piped the colored icing directly onto the waxed paper and let the numbers dry for twenty-four hours. You'd better believe that I prayed for a smooth release of those numbers!
Learning my lesson from the week before, I  s-l-o-w-l-y paddled the color into the icing and let it sit for a few hours before piping the shapes to eliminate any surface bubbles. It worked! Progress!! The prayers worked too, I was able to lift the 5's off of the paper smoothly and cleanly with just one break... I had made plenty of them to allow for breakage.
I flooded the cookies with white icing and dropped a #5 onto the surface of each iced cookie while they were still wet, one at a time, and gently pushed the number down for this dimensional effect. these cookies sat, untouched, for another twenty-four hours before being wrapped and stacked for the birthday boy and his class. I believe they were a big hit. They were grandson approved, and that's all that mattered to me. His smile is all the affirmation I need.
Life is Good!

03 November, 2015

Standing The Test Of Time

I adore wrist watches, I've collected many over the years. These two are the latest additions to my watch wardrobe, they're not new; they've stood the test of time. We lived in Europe a few decades ago, specifically in Geneva, the watch capital of the world! One of my favorite shops downtown was the Swatch shop! At that shop I found many seasonal watches, including these, which were gifts to my mother-in-law at that time. This past summer she cleaned out her jewelry boxes of things she no longer wears and asked me if I would like to have these. Would I? Did she have to ask? The Halloween watch was especially exciting because I had owned one previously and had worn the band out completely, the timing was perfect. I will enjoy wearing the Mother's Day watch too, it is unique. When my husband traveled for work  he would sometimes surprise me with a new, colorful watch that he found while he was away; besides being fun to wear, each one has a special meaning to me. I heard recently that watches are going the way of dinosaurs, young people today don't wear them because they have the time on their omnipresent phones. I was surprised, and saddened, to learn that. I look forward to choosing my daily watch, for me it's like deciding which shoes to wear for the day.  Looking at my wrist every day not only informs but delights my heart.

Marking time by whatever means does little to slow it down though; today our grandson, Gregory, turns 5 years old! Tick-tock, tick-tock... time marches on, another milestone to add as a souvenir, just like my growing collection of watches.

 At least we gained one hour on Sunday, 
every little bit helps!
Life is Good!

01 November, 2015

And Suddenly...

...just like that, it's NOVEMBER! Wha-a-a-a-at? I know, right? Today I am busily trying to catch up on my Bible Study blocks, this one (the buggy block, left) is representative of my efforts to get myself back on track. The sewing machine has been gathering dust as the cookie adventure has accelerated. Stay tuned to see what's new in that arena for this week coming up , my plans are exciting!  In the meantime, I'm humming along in the sewing room... making up for lost time. Looking back, I did accomplish a lot this past month, but was woefully negligent about blog posting; sorry about that! A few weeks ago I had several items to machine embroider for the grandchildren only to learn that the security key which allows access to the software program (on my laptop) had become corrupt!?! Thank goodness, my LQS was super helpful in contacting Bernina for me and getting that key replaced, for a moderate fee, without my having to upgrade to the new version which would have been a considerable chunk of change! I'm perfectly happy with the older version (it takes one to know one!), since it was still available, and was able to complete the task to the happy delight of both Nana and the little ones. Whew, crisis averted!
October saw personalized aprons for Lucy Ann's art party...
... four special Halloween pillowcases for four precious grandchildren...
...four pumpkin placemats for our own dining table... (Framed Seasons pattern by QP Quilts & Co)
...Snowbird and I teamed up to quilt this black and white beauty for a friend...
...and last, but certainly not least, the ongoing upholstery project that Mr. Goodneedle and I are working on together. When we started this we asked ourselves "how hard could upholstery be?"; now we know, it's hard. But, we're nothing if we're not determined and tenacious. This project will be  completed!
 On Friday this past week we took the youngest grandchildren and visited a friend whose daughter's horse had welcomed a new little one only six days earlier!
It was a beautiful day to create a totem pole!
And, one last parting picture to bid adieu to October. Lynnleigh (with her minion jack o'lantern) last evening dressed as Milli from Team UmiZoomi. Have you ever seen anything cuter? I know I'm prejudiced, but really... have you? I didn't think so. Now, it's time to finish adjusting the clocks back an hour. Yes, suddenly it's November! Bring it on...
Life is Good!

30 October, 2015

Bubble Trouble

This week it's all about pumpkins; the cookie learning curve continues, and if we don't get these out of the house, my latest creative venture could become a weighty matter!   I'm learning slowly...
You can see, in this "ghost" pumpkin and acorn close-up, that air bubbles are currently wreaking havoc with the finish on the icing. I have consulted many cookie blogs and websites and, I believe that I might know now how to rememdy that situation with a turkey lacer tool and an offset spatula, along with some less vigorous mixing on my part... we'll see.   Next week I'll work on ridding that nuisance along with acheiving some sort of icing consistency knowledge. However, on the up-side, how many mistakes can simply be eaten and forgotten? 
In the meantime I've got some sweet treats for neighbors and friends, I don't think a few boo-boos will matter to them.  And yes, in case you're wondering... I am still sewing! I hope to have a month long wrap-up post tomorrow.
Life is Good!

21 October, 2015

First Fruits

It all began so innocently... don't all adventures? Mine was born from curiosity after reading this blog post by KaHolly earlier this summer. "I wonder", I thought to myself, "how hard would it be to learn to decorate fabulous cookies such as these?" I did some research, watched a gazillion you tube videos and began ordering supplies... ready or not, I was on my way.  This was something entirely new to me, something I felt compelled to try. "Hey, if the results weren't any good we could always eat the mistakes, right?" I set aside an entire day... and it took every bit of that.  I used a sugar cookie recipe that I found online and, rolling out the dough with rolling pin spacers on my rolling pin, I found it simple to achieve the perfect, consistent 1/4" cookie dough as recommended. My first batch from the oven saw a few of the smaller cookies over-browned. Timing is everything and this, like everything, has a learning curve. I'm up for the climb.
First cookie blanks... all ready to be dressed up!
The first fruits of my labor, with some acorns and leaves thrown in for good measure. I'm learning... one cookie at a time!
Life is Good!
...and oh, so sweet...

20 October, 2015

I'm B-a-a-a-a-ck!

Did anyone guess New Hampshire as an answer to the question posed yesterday? If you did, you were right. Here's another shot of that wonderfully picturesque farm stand where we stopped while visiting my parents last week. This stand is Moulton Farms in Meredith, we had to (yes, we had to!) swing by there to buy some cider donuts (Cider Bellies) for breakfast the next morning... they're made, fresh as they're ordered, right back there in that little building. Oh. My. Goodness! Suffice it to say they didn't all make it 'til the next day! Now that I've tasted one I believe every word from the website that brags about their #1 ranking and the fact that folks drive from all over New England around to buy them. Yum doesn't even begin to describe their deliciousness.
On Wednesday last week we drove to The Busy Thimble in Litchfield, ME. Mom and I had a great time, this precious little cottage is filled to overflowing with Civil War reproduction fabrics and owned by the warm and welcoming, Cyndi.  Surprisingly, Cyndi and Mom have a mutual friend from my hometown... small world! Cyndi's full size Log Cabin quilt (made from miniscule 1/4" logs) is on display in her shop (you can see it as her blog banner by clicking the above link), it's utterly amazing!
These two miniature quilts of Cyndi's hang near the check out. The Log Cabin blocks measure in at three inches and the Nine Patch blocks finish to one and half inches! Proof again that here's no such thing as scraps too small to save!
Mom loved her Bull's Eye Quilt!  She's ready to sit and add the button embellishments now.
The texture that developed after washing and tumble-drying was completely wonderful.
I'm going to leave you with this parting shot: autumn in New England; it just doesn't get any prettier than this!
Life is Good!